Monday, January 29, 2007 


At the least, 11 days of work left. 15 days at the most.

The plan at this point is to go to Israel and visit with my friends there for a week or two before heading back to the States. At the moment, it looks like this plan could be in jeopardy, but I'm hopeful that it will somehow work out.

I have SO much to do. I, until today really, was under this very misguided delusion that I had heaps and loads of time...and while in some ways I do, in a lot more ways I don't.

The good news is that the rest of my working days will be half-days. That, in theory, should allow me to accomplish a lot. But today was the first half-day, and I spent my free time knitting, reading, or sleeping. Thanks to Beth, I have been helped in the whole learning-to-knit process by a website, and found an AWESOME pattern there for this scarf. I also got this cool variegated purple-ish yarn today, and have started this scarf two or three times. I keep on getting stuck on this one stitch...I won't bore you with the details, but I was near about ready to lob it all out the window this afternoon. And then my roommate consoled me...but the opening line to the consoling nearly made me explode with laughter. It was, "You know, when I was learning how to ride a unicycle..." What?! Hilarious. I love her. She's full of surprises.


Tis the season...

for serious nose-picking.

Having lived in Florida my entire life, I'm not sure if this winter-specific nose-picking plague hits all places that actually have a season that can be called "winter," or if it's just a Seoul thing, but this is the third winter I have spent being grossed out way too often by the amount of nose picking that goes on around me. And I wish I could say it was just my students that did it. That at least would be understandable. I mean, nose picking is a universal kid thing. But adults of all ages, genders, and professions...I see them just going to public. It's pretty gross. And I understand that it's dry here...but still. I know there are alternatives.

So today in one of my classes, this little boy was picking his nose. It was in the class of 5-year olds, where I have, for the most part, given up on trying to get them to stop picking their noses. It just won't happen. I'm wasting my breath. Anyway, this very smart boy was picking his nose while listening intently and answering questions - he should get points for an early ability to multi-task. Anyway, he evidently jabbed/stabbed himself, because he abruptly and hastily removed the finger, examined it for any blood he might have caused by the jabbing, and then continued answering my questions while wiping the involuntary tears from his eyes. Poor kid. Perhaps my description doesn't explain it well, but it was really very funny.

Saturday, January 27, 2007 


I just spent some quality time on ebay. Bidding on a pair of purple Crocs, a lot of chocolate-colored eyelash yarn (super cheap too, I might add), and a Samsonite dog carrier for the upcoming plane rides. I only NEED the last one, but given the price I bid on the first two, I figure it's okay.

Anyway, while I was looking around on ebay, I found something SO amazing! Jibbitz! They are these little rubber (I'm assuming that's what they're made of) thingys that come in a wide variety of designs that you put in the holes of your Crocs. I know I'm slightly easily amused/entertained, but these little things just blew my mind. I don't know if I'd ever actually buy any, as they seem to be a bit of a waste of money (as if that has ever stopped me from buying things before). But nonetheless, how cute!

Did I mention that my amazing roommate is teaching me how to knit? She taught Beth a couple weeks ago, and Beth has made a potholder, a scarf, and a poncho for her daughter (AND her daughter's Cabbage Patch doll, which may have struck me as being the most amazing thing of them all). I was amazed at how quickly Beth picked it up, and also by how EVEN knitting looks. I can crochet...badly. Everything I crochet just looks misshapen and more like one of those inkblot tests than anything supposed to be functional should look. Anyway, the three of us went to the neighborhood yarn shop on Friday and I got some yarn and some knitting needles. Lis taught me on some really flat yarn, and I did okay - though I was frustrated by not being able to pick it up instantaneously. But when I tried to work with the brown yarn I had bought, which is kind of fuzzy, it was just SO not happening. Of course I assume the worst about myself, and saw this as just another nail in the coffin of my coordination/motor skills. But then tonight, on a whim, I decided to try the other yarn (which is flatter), and lo and behold! I could do it! I've made a few mistakes, but they're small and not easy to notice - let me put it this way - it already looks 100 times better and more even than anything I have ever crocheted in my life. So I'm excited. Though the eyelash yarn is for making scarves, and I'm about to move back to Florida... hmm... Mary, perhaps you and the girls will be getting matching scarves when I come up to visit! :)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007 

The Mistake of My Life

A window into my life/brain/heart...

As a rule, I'm against posting song lyrics. But on occasion, one will occur to me that fits so perfectly with my situation at the moment that it cannot be ignored. As such, here are the lyrics to the Caedmon's Call song

I'm in love, never been so sure of anything
Then again, could be a tumor in my brain
Tricking me into thinking that we were meant to be
Either way, I'm about to shock my family
And my hometown again
'Cause this time I'm leaving

Once I'm gone I cannot look back
I've got to trust this is right
Maybe I'm on my way to find you
Maybe I'm gonna make the mistake of my life

Since we met my life's been so up in the air
Here today but by next week I could be there
On the street struggling to support my newest vice
With a sign that says 'I will work for love advice.'
'Cause I will mow your lawn
If you'll tell me what I'm doing wrong

But I'll leave the car runnin'
And I'll leave half the boxes packed
For the slim chance I'll go right back

Once I'm gone I cannot look back
I've got to trust this is right
Maybe I'm on my way to find you
Maybe I'm gonna make the mistake of my life

Now, the good news is that, by God's grace and the intervention of a handful of dear, loving, compassionate brothers and sisters in Christ, I am actually NOT about to make the mistake of my life. I have to say though, it was a close call.

Give me a few weeks, and I'll post the whole sordid tale.

Monday, January 22, 2007 

My friend YoonHo was over Saturday night, and we were watching movies together. This is how it went:

Him: The couch is shaking.
Me: That's not you doing that?!
Him: It's not you?!?

And then there was silence, because everything started to shake. In a Jurassic-Park-meets-the-Day-After-Tomorrow moment, I looked over to see the diet coke sloshing around. Then the doors to the living room started to rattle. Daive stood up (well, woke up, then stood up) and started to growl.

It was an earthquake!! An earthquake hit the other side of the peninsula, and over here in Seoul we got just an itty-bitty taste of it. It was the first time I've experienced anything remotely earthquake-ish, and I now understand why they are terrifying.

Actually, right after it happened, I just sat on the couch feeling mostly freaked out. YoonHo got up and (I'm assuming) looked out the window. I'm not sure what he was looking for or expecting to see. He came back in the room and I said, "That had to've been an earthquake, right?" To which he replied, "Or the building is collapsing." Ack! Why would you even SAY that? So then I ran to look out the window, to see if he had possibly missed the presence of a large truck that could have backed into the building and make it shake/start to collapse. Of course there was no truck. Then we looked on the internet, but it had JUST happened, so there was nothing on there. Shortly thereafter, we both got these public service news-bulletin like thingys on our phones, saying that there had been an earthquake.

And I thought YoonHo just had that restless leg syndrome or something. But nope. It was like a 4.8 or something - where it hit. Here it was nothing. But still. My first earthquake.

Thursday, January 18, 2007 

So I was just reading the news, and the picture beside this headline on Google news was of a scientist-looking man moving the hands of the doomsday clock. Can you imagine having that as your job? Being so smart that you're part of this elite group of scientists, and you get to change the time on the doomsday clock. Of course, if you're moving it closer to midnight, guess that's not such an honor. I wonder how they pick? Draw straws? Thumb/arm wrestle? Staring contest? Cast lots?


Besides that, I have little to share. There's quite a bit going on right now, and I'm trying to make some pretty major decisions, but nothing to report quite yet.

Thursday, January 11, 2007 

Living in a foreign country makes one appreciate the simplicity of so many things from back home. It also turns small things into huge accomplishments. For example, last week I called and ordered some chicken to be delivered to our house. The impressive part is that I did it all in Korean. As my friends here can verify, I am not even mildly proficient in Korean. I just know some helpful bits and pieces. Thinking about it now, I think it took more courage than anything else to call and order. Talking on the phone, without being able to depend on gestures and body language (or pictures even, if necessary) is daunting. But I called, rattled off my address, threw in "I don't speak Korean", told them what I wanted, asked the total, said thank you, and hung up. And except for hanging up, all of the above was done in Korean. When I emerged from my room (where I had hidden so I could be embarrassed by myself if it didn't go well), I felt extremely triumphant.

Oh yeah! I almost forgot! I actually called information first to get the number to this chicken place! I was concentrating so hard on hearing the numbers (which would be in Korean), that I wrote down the first two, which is the city code, which I already knew, and missed the next four, and was able to get the last four. (Most Korean land-lines have 8 digits, and cell phones have 10-11 digits.) I actually had to call again to get those four in-between numbers. I was pretty darn proud of myself for that too.

Then today I finally figured out how to say "turn right after the bridge" in Korean. If you were familiar with my neighborhood, you'd understand that's a vital bit of direction that must be given to taxi drivers.

So I'm at least mildly impressed with myself. But then there's that voice in the back of my head saying, "Yeah...great job.'re leaving pretty soon. Seems kind of pointless, doesn't it?" Cynical and semi-realistic voice in the back of my head, you are banished! I'll have none of your talk!

I'm in a strange mood. My stomach started hurting today at lunch - not due to the food, today was a good day. I think it initially started because of the awkward situation I found myself in. One of the kindergartener's moms was at the kindergarten today. She actually has two daughters that attend there, and brought her little 2 year old (whose American age is definitely NOT two). I was sitting at lunch with a couple of the Korean teachers and this mom, and someone said something about me leaving. No lie, this poor sweet dear mom started to cry! I was appalled at myself! More than that, I had NO idea what to do. Should I cry too? Should I leave (like, the table)? Apologize? Try to explain why I'm leaving? In the end, I chose to look embarrassed, awkward, compliment all three of her daughters, and try (without success, I might add) to change the subject. It also didn't help that the Korean teachers (two of them, the kindy administrator, and the cook) launched into a discussion that definitely had to do with me, and me leaving, but I could not understand ANY of what they were saying, and no one would translate for me. Perhaps in another situation I'd get worried about what they were saying, but all the women at these table are just sweet and amazing, and for some reason, seem to really like me. It's just so different from my last job, where I wasn't even allowed to tell my students that I was leaving until my last day, I knew none of their parents - it was just all so impersonal. In some ways it is going to be really sad and really hard to leave. After lunch, the administrator of the kindergarten, who is also a friend of mine, came and hugged me and said, "Please don't go!" Even though I know I'm ready to go, and I'm getting excited about going, it will still be hard. I will definitely cry. But at the same time, it's nice to be loved.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007 

I feel like I've been marinating all day in my own germs and...ick. It was quite a gross feelings. However, I have just emerged from the shower, and I now feel at least mostly human.

Allow me to hit the high points of last week:

Thursday: took the cat to the vet to get his shots before I give him away, he was SO incredibly freaked out by the noise outside that he peed in the soft-sided bag I was carrying him in - of course the cat pee then got all over my new pants and my jacket. Aside from that, the vet visit was rather uneventful. Well, and I found out that he weighs 6.5 kg (the doctor said, "Whoa." when he saw the scale, which I found humorous). Daive only weighs 8 kg.

Friday: increasing anxiety about giving the cat away on Saturday. At some point in the day (thanks to the helpful concern of Adam and Lis) I realized that my anxiety had MUCH more to do with my own guilt and abandonment issues than the actual cat. The cat will be fine, I'm quite sure of that. He's so not even attached to me.

Saturday: It wasn't a dark and stormy night, but it was a dark and snowy morning. Go figure. In addition to the cat and all the cat's stuff (litter box, toys, food, stocking, etc.) I was giving Daive's kennel to these people because they are foreigners doing animal rescue in Seoul, and need all the help they can get. Hard to carry all that stuff. Especially in the snow. Kind and wonderful Lis carried the very full dog carrier out to the main street for me so I could get a taxi. While walking out to the main street, I realized that in my semi-confused state, I had put on my Crocs, which are worn down enough that walking on snow and ice is REALLY not a good idea (especially for me). Then, the cat spent the entire trip yowling frantically/furiously. We arrived and met up with Claude's foster mom easily, and she directed us to her apartment. Of course it had to be at the bottom of a hill. She carried Claude in his carrier, and I was carrying the dog kennel. I slid and fell to one knee while walking down the hill. All in all, I'm proud that's all that happened.

We got to her apartment, unloaded everything, I explained all that needed explaining, and then said my goodbyes and left with only a tear or two. Then I went to the black market store (close to where this girl lived) and paid $8.00 for a box of Benadryl allergy and sinus medicine. I cannot wait to get back to the States! Then I came home, only nearly falling down once more. Not bad for a Florida girl wearing worn-down Crocs in the snow and ice.

Since I got back home Saturday evening, I've only left the house to walk the dog. I had been fighting a cold for awhile now, and when I woke up Saturday morning, I realized that I had most definitely lost. That overpriced Benadryl sinus stuff I got has been amazing, but it knocks me out. Today I didn't even go to work at all. I woke up with a fever, took medicine, slept some more, watched some of a movie (mostly while sleeping), read some (again, mostly slept), and had every intention of teaching my afternoon classes. That SO did not happen. I started feeling more horrible around lunchtime, and warned Lis that I might not make it in for my afternoon classes. I slept from 2 to 6 PM, which would be quite embarrassing if it weren't for the fact that I'm sick. That means I have spent the vast majority of this day sleeping, which has to be good for my body. I know that I do feel much better right now.

I spent some quality time on this weekend, applying for jobs. I was able to talk to an old friend Saturday afternoon and it was during that conversation that I realized something. All my plans for going back to the States were made when I was either living in sin or living in distraction. Now that my heart and life has been cleared, I'm not entirely sure that's what God wants me to do. I received some wise counsel from another dear friend in an email, so right now I'm just praying, applying to some different jobs, and seeing what happens. At the moment, it looks quite likely that I won't be moving back to Dothan. I don't know where I'll be going, and can you believe that, with all of that established, that right now I am more excited about moving back to the States than I have been at all so far? That not-so-little fact alone makes me realize I'm headed in the right direction. So please pray for me. I'll be sure to keep you all updated. And Mary, I applied for some jobs around State College. :) I'll let you know if that works out.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007 

The New Me

So here I am, with my new hair and new glasses. Both pictures are rather crappy, but at the same time I seem to be trapped in one of those vicious "I despise myself" cycles at the moment. Arg. The second pic was taken with my phone, and the first with my digital camera, hence the different colors. I'd like to think my skin tone is actually somewhere between flash-enhanced Casper white, and yellow-bathroom-light nauseated jaundiceish peach. Who knows though.


Misc. Christmas Pictures

What a quaint Christmas scene, huh? Claude thinks so...and you can see him in a peaceful

sleep on the monkey cushion in the bottom left of the picture.

I swear the dog and cat share these cushions. So now it was obviously Daive's turn. And this is my bruise. Up close. It's scary. Actually, my arm this close up is scary too.

This is Christmas Eve at Adam and Beth's. Adam is reading the Christmas story to the kids. Well, trying to. I was being a distraction with the camera. This is Emma wearing the dress-up dress she got for Christmas, and her cabbage patch kid doll wearing the Christmas clothes it got for Christmas. That took me back...I remember getting doll clothes for Christmas...well, I don't specifically remember getting them for Christmas. But I remember having them. You get the idea.
Christmas morning carnage.
I made fried pickles for Christmas dinner. Lis helped me. I took this picture immediately after she said, "You know, this is a lot like God. From my perspective, it just looks like a gross mess. But you have to trust that it will turn out okay." (She had never partaken of the amazingness that are fried pickles. Needless to say, she loved them. As did Beth. Me too, of course.)
Emma and Owen opening their Christmas presents from Lis and I.


Decorating Christmas Cookies on Christmas Eve, Part 2

This would be Adam trying some of Owen's cookie. Same as above, only this time it's Beth. Poor Beth, she had actually already taken a bite, but I made her do it again so I could take a picture. I love this picture...she looks so pretty (as always) and joyful. Check out their construction paper Christmas tree in the background. This family is amazing.
This is easily my favorite picture. This is Emma trying Owen's cookie (these two kids share SO very well - well, most of the times I'm around, anyway). This is an awesome picture.


Decorating Christmas Cookies on Christmas Eve

Bethany sent me a wonderful Christmas cookie decorating kid in the Christmas package. These are pics of Emma, Owen, and me decorating cookies together at their house on Christmas Eve. These kids are absolutely precious...I've grown particularly fond of them over the past almost-year.

Here's the finished products! Check out Owen's cheesy camera grin. I love it!


I really never do learn... Part Two

So, continuing with the story....

He returned with a plastic bag and tape. Like the wide super-sticky packing tape. Serious tape. Not some weak Scotch tape. At this point, I was totally mystified. (And here comes a parenthetical statement that would make Joe Brown yell at me all over again...)

The thing about living here in a foreign country is that so very many things are (say it with me) foreign. But having been here two years, it's semi-rare that I am totally mystified by something. There are many things that baffle me, but few that mystify me. The reason is this, there are many things that happen in Korea that make no sense to me, but I am usually able to at least venture a guess as to why they exist, or what is about to happen. Of course, I'm rarely able to know if that guess is right or wrong, so perhaps I just live in a bit of a delusional world. Being able to observe Korean culture for so brief a time as two years has given me the ability to understand and guess...for sure much better than when I first arrived. So when I said above that I was mystified, understand...I really was entirely mystified.

Okay, so he places the bag (think of the kind of bag a newspaper is delivered in) over the toilet, and begins to tape down the edges. He uses LOTS of tape. At this point, I am obviously still mystified, but am trying to remember everything that happens so I can give Lis accurate updates. (She was in her room reading, and I kept on popping back in there every 10-ish minutes to tell her what was going on. When Joshua left to get the tape, I stuck my head in her room and whispered unbelievingly, "I think he's going to stand ON THE TOILET and use the plunger!" See? I guessed wrong.) Anyway, he taped it all down, and then took a step back. Perhaps he was admiring his handiwork? "That was a good taping job you did there..." that's what I would have said if he spoke English and understood sarcasm. the bag is most securely taped to the top of the toilet. Then he flushed the toilet. The bag sort of domed up, due to the air and all. Then, he placed both hands on the now dome-shaped bag/toilet thing, and pushed. AHA! I get it now! When I saw him do that, I let out an explosive guffaw of awe and appreciation. I think I scared him, actually. Then I kept on saying, "Wow, that's amazing!" Either he didn't understand what I said, or did understand and thought I was strange or a bit of a loser for being so easily impressed. All the same, he did the whole flush-then-push-the-domed-bag thing a few more times. Sadly, it did not remove the tomato clog. Then he told me in Korean that he would be right back. At this point I rushed to Lis' room, opened the door, and hissed, "Hetapedabagoverthetoiletandthenhepushedonitanditwasamazing! I've never seen anything like that before!" (And I did say it like that too, perhaps I am too easily entertained.)

He returned with a wire coat hanger, which he undid, and proceeded to stick up the pipes. Well, I felt quite smug in that I had already tried that and gotten nowhere with it. Yeah, but he did. He fashioned the end he was holding into the shape of a crank, and was just mercilessly giving those tomatoes the what-for. I was standing in the hall, still amazed at all the novelty, when - HORROR OF HORRORS, I saw the bottom half of a cherry tomato start to come out of the flushy hole. Joshua couldn't see it where he was. I stood there horrified...and mostly wishing I could disappear (but secondly wishing I hadn't flushed the darn tomatoes in the first place), and then it just popped out. Joshua stopped turning the coat hanger, looked at it, looked at me, and said, "Teresa....tomato?" (FYI, tomato is pronounced almost the same in Korean, except the middle a sound is more of a short o sound like in Octopus.) I nodded, pointed to myself and called myself an idiot in Korean, which cracked him up (works EVERY time...and believe me, I've used it plenty), and then just exploded laughing.

All in all, I think about four tomatoes came out of the pipe, thanks to the persuasion of his coat hanger. But the line was still clogged. So they had to send out a plumber today.

I think I may have just finally learned my lesson. At the very least, if I want to stop up a toilet, I'll make sure it's mine and not Lis'. :)

Monday, January 01, 2007 

I will return to the toilet saga (which, just to tantalize you and fill you with even more suspense) is not even resolved yet.

But in the meanwhile I had a few random things I wanted to share.

As of today, 8 weeks and two days until I go back. Or, as the ticket on the top of this page says, 1 month, 3 weeks, and 6 days - though I think that makes it sound like an awful lot more than. In fact, I thought it sounded SO much longer, that I counted up the weeks/days, then did some subtraction to make sure it wasn't wrong. was right.

I spent a great portion of my afternoon being productive, but I have to say it put me in a bit of a foul mood. I went through my clothes and packed up a big box to ship back to the States (so I can fit the really important stuff in the suitcases I'll be taking). Then I went through most of that random stuff that just seems to spontaneously generate, and that never really has a set or definite home. It was probably around this time that I began to get a bit depressed. I'm not sure if it was because I had the Muppet song "Saying goodbye, going away" stuck in my head (from Muppets Take Manhatten) or if that song came into my head as a result of feeling a bit blue. Nonetheless, it was depressing. My bed has been transformed into a mountain of... stuff, most of which I have NO idea what to do with. And, I have two entire suitcases full of more stuff stuck under the bed where I cannot currently access them. And I'll be getting rid of the cat soon - I suspect that has a lot to do with my melancholy mood. I just feel so irresponsible, like I'm abandoning him. I'm the girl that, when going away for a night and only allowed to take one stuffed animal, would line them all up on the bed, pick one (the same one every time, I might add), then apologize to all the others and explain why I couldn't take them. (I wish I could remember what the explanation I gave them was, maybe it would work for Claude.)

Anyway, my roommate and I are about to go out to eat, which is pretty exciting. Then when I get back home, I'll have to unearth my bed.

And I did get my hair cut, by the way. I really really like it a lot, too. It's awesome and easy. I'll post pictures later.

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