Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

I love Halloween. This weekend was awesome. Or. It should have been.

--FRIDAY-- Once home from work, I was real tired, especially considering Thursday night's performance at open mic night. Gloria Gaynor. "I Will Survive." Enough said. Anyway, I was prepared to rally for night one of Halloween festivities. I was real excited about my costume. I was the Devil, but with a carnivale-esque twist.

My natural look.
A little smudged, but who's surprised? That makeup took about an hour and a half to do. Very tedious. Especially if you want to get the coloring just right. I should've closed one eye. That was the best part. Friday's party was fun, but I did feel egregiously warm. I know, you're thinking "Um, isn't that just the way you are?" but this was excessive, even for me. I wasn't even sweating, just baking. I made a couple people feel my neck about it. Of course I did. Didn't drink too much, then went back to Hogye. Some of those kids wanted to play some poker in Queen Bar, despite it being real late. I was really starting to feel awful, but I have that complex about being liked, so I stayed up and checked in on some BlackJack. 

Even though I managed to leave the table 4,000 won in the green, it was still a terrible idea. I got home and fell apart. There were some serious shivering chills, a death rattle, and my favorite- lost-in-the-tumble-of-sea dizziness. Awesome.


Stayed in bed. Managed to convince myself to get up once on Saturday to get 4 liters of water and 3 liters of OJ from the unimart. Got out of bed once on Sunday to get some starchy Paris Baguette fare. Was supposed to party Saturday. Even did my makeup again. It looked even cooler. An hour later I washed it off so I could lie down without ruining my pillowcase. Sunday, I was supposed to have dinner at Yellow.Fever's, a close distance. Couldn't manage. 

My favorite holiday, ruined by my failure of a body.

Next Post: Monday's Trip to the Nurse's Office


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

(Western) Stuff Korean People Like

  1. Paris
  2. The Simpsons
  3. Mr. Bean
  4. Spongebob
  5. Chucky (from "Child's Play." Really.)


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Merry Old Soul

I am in an unstoppably good mood today. My co-teachers even noticed and commented.

Sidenote- 6th grade Korean kids do not know how to process the sight of the foreign teacher singing along to a Nat King Cole vid on youtube. Go figure.


Give Me Liberty

In other news, today marks the beginning of my seodang substitution days. My co-teacher, Seulgi, agreed to do the seodang classes on Tuesdays and Fridays, starting with today. This means I can go home at 5:00, before the sun sets. Hallelujah

Sidebar- So this group of foreign teachers in Korea, be they EPIK, TALK, MOE, Hagwon, or otherwise, has formed it's own little enclave here in the SoKo. Like any enclave, it has its benefits and its downfalls. One thing is for certain- we have a hell of a network for gossip. Everyone knows everything, but they only have scant evidence to back it up. My next bit of news comes from this dubious source.

- Word From the Mill -

Allegedly, someone heard from one of their co-teachers, who heard from an MOE (Metropolitan Office of Education) administrator that the Ulsan Office doesn't have the budget to pay overtime for all the foreign teachers doing seodang. Word is, the MOE will be nixing all seodang programs from the foreign teachers' schedules. They can pay the Korean teachers much less for the same service.

On the other hand, I heard that the MOE is trying to provide more work for the teachers in the TALK program, so any non-TALK teachers will be removed from seodang classes.

At any rate, it seems I won't have to do seodang at all come March. Best birthday present ever? Meh. I don't know how accurate this report is and I shouldn't celebrate yet- knowing good ol' Cheongok Elementary, they'd find a way to make me do it. Still, I can't help but be a tiny bit elated. Of course, I'll let you know how this pans out. Fingers crossed.


Those Who Can't "Do..."

I've been teaching in Korea for about two months now and I figured it would be a good time to reflect on my experience so far. Nothing sums it up better than this clip:

Never did I realize just how accurate and relevant is Arnold Schwarzenegger's vehicle, "Kindergarten Cop." No really, that's about how I feel. I'm absolutely the Arnold in the first half of this movie- including the language barrier. I don't quite get it and neither do the students.

Part of me thought this would be a breezy gig. The work part of the job is simple enough, it's the performance that's killer. These kids don't want to be in school, why would they? And it's difficult for me to commit to an ambivalent audience.

Hey Arnie, when does that epiphany set in?


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Eye Update

After only one day of allergy meds, my eye is back to normal. Thank god. Not that the previous looks wasn't cute and all.


So It Goes: Weekend Briefing

Friday was great. Went to dinner with the Hogye Co-Op, then some of them wanted to head to Busan that night. I was supposed to go Saturday anyway, so I hopped on board. I love spontaneity. We didn't hit the hay until 6 am. Give or take.

Saturday had some bumps. I woke up and looked like this:

No idea why. I don't remember getting into any bar fights. It didn't hurt or itch, my actual eye looked completely normal, the skin around it just blew up. Great. Managed to calm it down a little with "cold compresses" (ie juice pouches, can of coke, iced coffee), but it kept coming back. Still, enjoyed some stellar fireworks in Busan and got to see Adam Flanagan for like a second! Busan's great. We went back home that night and I tried to sleep off a swollen lid.

Sunday, my eye was still awful. Couldn't even open it. So, I assume this whole thing is an allergic reaction to something, god knows what, but here's the thing- you can't just run to a convenience store and pick up some allergy medicine. That'd be too convenient. I tried to go to a pharmacy, but they were all closed. The hospital was open, though (hospital visits are often less serious here than you'd assume. they're in charge of emergencies and regular visits), so I go in. One lady spoke some decent English, so I asked her just for some allergy meds. She tells me Sundays are emergency-only days. Come back tomorrow. Fine. Screw you. Did you see my eye? That looks pretty damn urgent to me.

I skulk around some more pharmacies, willing one to be open, when holy.shit, i actually find one that's open. Go in, get some allergy meds, get to go home.

What a fiasco. It's Sunday night now and the meds have managed to get through my system. My eye looks almost normal now. Yay! The hospital totally called me to say they made a prescription for me, too. Tooooo late.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Potent Quotables

Jaehong: "This is my five month- old baby."

Me: "Oh, look at that little chubby face. Are you married?"

Jaehong (aghast): "Sure. Married one year."

Me: "Aw, that's exciting."

Jaehong: "Not really."


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Potent Quotables

Seodang Student on: My Wearing of Eyeliner

Beckham: "Teacher, eyeliner."

Me: "Yeah."

Beckham: "Nooo. Teacher trashy."

Me: "I hate you."


Update: Reedy vs. Seodang

They cry: ||||
I cry: |

I wasn't even trying that time. This kid was lying on the floor attempting to sleep. My response: "Why?" No answer. I made him stand against the wall with his arms out. I may have threatened to tell his mother about his bad behavior (Repeat Offender). Niagara Falls, friends.


Dear Momsey

In case I don't see you on Skype tonight, I just wanted to spam every available media outlet with your birthday, Momsey.


Did you know that in Korea, they count age differently and you could actually be up to two years older here? Good thing you're so young.

Love you, Mom, take care and have the best of birhdays. xx



Warm It Up

desk. warming- descriptive v. "To come into work and sit at your desk all day, despite not having any scheduled classes."

Today is my first day of desk warming. It doesn't sound too bad and , really, it isn't. Not for one day, at least. It's kind of a relief. I managed to type up nine backlogged lesson plans, make two separate review games for tonight's seodang classes, make a Halloween poster for my room, hang up some student artwork, update my blog, and paint my toenails- all before 2:15. I look forward to some writing, maybe cracking open my Korean language book, napping, and painting my fingernails before the late classes start. I kind of love today.

I've heard tell, though, that during some breaks, I'll have to desk warm for weeks on end. Can't wait.


Subverting Culture: All Classy-Like

We may or may not all know that my favorite time of year is upon us. Halloween, bitches!

In keeping with my blatant pro-Halloween agenda, I'm pushing so much All Hallow's Eve on these kids. Just my seodang class. No one cares what I do with that class, so this week and next are dedicated to Halloween. We've watched youtube clips from "Hocus Pocus," "A Nightmare Before Christmas," the "Monster Mash" song- all of which, the kids seem to enjoy. I even convinced them I was Better Midler in Hocus Pocus. Kids are dumb.

I made them draw Jack O'Lanterns, haunted houses, and costumes. They did a Halloween Word Search puzzle. Oh, and I'm making them watch Halloweentown, which I stream online. They love all of this to various degrees. Especially the candy deal. I'm stingy, so they have to earn it.

The real selling point, however, is my sweet mural drawing. I have a blackboard in my room that I'm supposed to paint images on with neon chalk-markers. I like drawing, it keeps me from committing homicide some days, but these damn kids are so disrespectful. I had a frog on the board a couple weeks ago and they just annihilate it with all the touching and wiping their hands over it. I was more than a little nonplussed. So I attempted to take some proactive steps with my latest drawing.

*Note the passive-aggression

Did the sign work? Sure didn't. Look at all the detail I put into that thing. And all they wanna do is ruin it. Even with the sign, they refused to relent. Sigh. I hate kids.


5 Second Sketch: Korea

Skinny is in. Real in. Too in. Apparently, most of Korea is on a diet to lose weight. This may or may not correlate to their 3% obesity rate. They're doing a bang-up job in that respect. However, women who are totally healthy and what I'd call "slim," still feel the need to diet. Check out this picture I took in a cheap clothing store in Old Downtown:

The pants are so small, they can't even be buttoned when on a mannequin. Seriously, Korea?


The Second Coming

Though technically my third box (all my friends here are super.jealous), this one came alone in a second wave. My co-teacher, Seulgi, was surprised I had yet another box. I told her I'm a rockstar.

J.Lo's package, which I received Monday, was immediately torn open. Box cutters are a regular school tool here- seriously, all the third- sixth graders have them- and I have about three in my desk drawer from which to choose. I shredded that thing open in a second.

This picture was taken later, in my apartment, but you get the idea.

You can learn so many things from a care package. Such as: "Does Kacie Stewart really know me?" Turns out, she sure does. She put in the kind of things I never would have thought to ask for, but actually need. And not just in the moral-support way. I guess I opened the box upside-down, so the first thing I saw was the latest issue of Cosmo. Cosmo! I need this Cosmo! I can't read Korea's glitzy trash. I missed this crap and I barely know why. Other than the completely legit sex tips. (Here's a new trick- Try it with the lights OFF! dun dun dun...)

Also present in box:

- dark chocolate Dove candies (dark chocolate is crazy.expensive here and difficult to find)
- graham crackers (wait for it...)
- marshmallows (almost there...)
- Nutella (YAHTZEE! totally making pseudo- S'mores with Nutella. Priceless. Precious, if you will)
- Betsey Johson Halloween socks (knows me TOO well.)
- a shopping bag that can revert into a stuffed strawberry (this doesn't make sense when written, but it's awesome and, seeing as HomePlus doesn't provide bags anymore, a total necessity. Green living.)
- Halloween stickers (possibly for the students, but I'm having a hard time letting them go)
- Eyeball eraser/bouncy balls (the kids enjoy)
- Silly Bandz (not a fad in Korea yet, but I think it'll catch. I've only given out three as prizes in my seodang classes and the kids are fighting over them. I wanna watch this trend take over.)
- the best for last: MALEFICENT LIP STICK. (A line of Disney-inspired makeup came out with a super.dark red lip color for Maleficent. I. Love. It.)

I've been indulging in this box all week. Care packages make my moment. Props and many thanks to Kacie "J.Lo" Stewart, rival Diva and consummate friend.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

Right, I update this thing so well. Shut up.

Here's a brief overview of last weekend:


Flaked on some Ilsan Beach plans with the Regulars to go to dinner with the Hogye Co-op. To be fair, I had mentioned to Sylar earlier in the day that I didn't feel like going and I may be late or not make it at all. I still probably could've answered some texts/phone calls that came my way later that night. There's really no excuse, sometimes I just do that. Some of you readers are more than familiar with this routine, am I right? I'd apologize, but it wouldn't be sincere. Plus, I think I have an unofficial "No Apologies" creed by which to live.

Long story short- went to dinner in Hogye, played (Spanish) Uno, and went to bed shortly after midnight. Holler.


Got a call early in the morning from Sylar about going to Busan. I was kinda supposed to do that, too. I didn't.

Then I get a text from Yellow.Fever (heretofore known as "Becca") about hanging out. She's in SOS mode because she's with some Korean guy she's hung out with before, but barely knows, and she sure as shit can remember his name.

Okay, I go to hers, get his name (Kim Hoon), and formulate plans to hit up a bar in Old Downtown (as compared to New Downtown. Yeah, we have two downtowns. And a university town- as yet unexplored). Yours truly had to fill up on food before drinking, so we went to Lotte Mart (like Wal-Mart, but better), I got some Jjajangmyeon from the food court:

Not this actual bowl. This isn't even my image. Speaking of, can I take a second to gripe about Blogger reverting to an older, less compatible formatting system for image and video? I don't like it. /End.rant/

Where was ? Right. Jjajangmyeon. Delicious. Thick black bean sauce over hot noodles. Love. But then, Yellow.Fever wanted to stop by this guy's house because he needed to get his wallet or something. No way am I sticking around for that. So we agree to meet up at The Royal Anchor (it's no Sharkies, but at least we're sticking with a maritime theme?) later.

Fast-Forward: I've been at Royal Anchor for two hours. Completely alone. Me, the bartender, and a strong Long Island. I send a volley of needy, passive-aggressive texts inquiring after Yellow.Fever's location. She finally calls to tell me she's not coming out tonight. Fuck me. Even the bartender was pissed for me. Cue righteous indignation.

Here's why it didn't suck so bad: The bartender, Kim (Kim, Lee, and Park are the most common Korean surnames), at one point marches over to me with a blank sheet of computer paper and asks me to make a playlist of songs Westerners like. Hehehehe. This is what happened:

*Note, I realize I mistakenly switched the Title and Artisit for Rise Against's "Savior." Oops.

Kim tried his damndest to find every song on that list. They didn't have a jukebox, just some song-downloading software. Thank You, Mr. Kim.

Readers, this is where this gets interactive. Mr. Kim had one clear favorite in this list of songs. Think: mid- to late- 40s, male, Korean. Your job? Guess which song was his favorite. I'll post the answer in a week or so.

Oddly, the above list may also serve as a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about Reedy. Give or take. Wanna know the really best part? Mr. Kim gave me a free drink for compiling this list. And he didn't skimp. I got this guy, gratis:

AKA: The Many Colors of Jealousy.

Still, i was pissed about being all ditched and stuff. Yeah, I know I totally did the same thing the night before, but they were in a group and had some kind of advance warning. Not this girl. Luckily, the night was still young. Even luckier, all the foreign kids tend to rendez-vous at the exact same locations in either downtown. Chances were, if I waited around at the Megabox (move theater) in Old Downtown, I'd probably be able to latch on to another crew. Which I did. They turned out to be awesome and have the potential to merge with the Regulars. Yay. We went to the Royal Anchor. Mr. Kim thought they were the people I was waiting on earlier and took them to task. New best friend?


Low Key. Slept in. Had dinner with Nadia and Sylar. They gave me the low down on Busan. Then I went home.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Three's Company

Hear Ye, Hear Ye.

Today Reedy received her third care package. Unfortunately, she forgot to bring her camera to school today, so not pictures as yet. Just you wait for it. I'll update on the newest box, also give a recap of the most important part of my weekend. That'll happen at maybe 9 pm, my time. Wait with baited breath until such time.

The most recent well-wisher (by way of care package): Kacie "J.Lo" Stewart. You know it's a good one.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Potent Quotables

Co-teacher Seulgi: "How it's going with boys?"

Me: "Not good. Don't think any are interested."

Seulgi: "Is okay. They will. You attractive enoughly."

Me: "So, if you were a boy, you'd date me?"

Seulgi: "Yes, but I am not tall enough for you. You would not meet me."


Potent Quotables

Student: "Teacher, you expensive?"

Me: "Expensive?"

Student: "Ye, expensive."

Me: "Sure am. Too rich for your blood."

Co-teacher Jenny: "Maybe her parents not want sell her."

Student: "I pay five million dollar."


Squaring Off: Teacher Reedy vs. Seodang Students

Times One of Them has Made Me Cry: |

Times I've Made One of Them Cry: |||


Count it, suckas!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

And Boom Goes the Dynamite

My sister has been living and traveling overseas for years, and I always got to witness the one end of a care package from Mom. My sister touts her the Queen of Care Packages. My expectations for this, my first overseas care package from my mother, were beyond high. The highest.

About a week ago, my mother let me know that a 29- lb box was on its way. Sure, that's a lot of box, but who knows what could be in there? Today, I received that giant box at school. I made someone lug it to the English Room for me, but when going home, I was on my own. Sorta. Some guy called a cab for me. ("Uh, you know number takshee?" while pantomiming a phone call.")

That was all fine and dandy. I hadn't calculate the two flight of stairs I had to climb. Crap. Long story short, I made it. Cool. Now, how do I open this thing? I do appreciate the care and effort that went into securing this box for its journey, but I didn't even know if I had a pair of scissors. I tried to jimmy the tape off with chopsticks. I'm not kidding. (We're in Korea, right? Then, the tiniest bit of effort revealed some scissors. Oh.

It's difficult for me to decide what the best part of my mother's care package was. All the things I asked for, even things I know she hates? (beige-plaid trench coat) All those extra bits I didn't ask for that she knows I love? (Twizzlers, popcorn) Maybe it's the strange stuff she throws in just to make me smile? (bedazzled hat) Or the comforts from back home? (Vellux blanket, dark red) The comforts for my new home? (a billion microwavable meals) Or is it the complete surprise kind of stuff she sends and gift-wraps, just to give it that little something extra? No. You know what? It's the fact that my mother's care packages defy the laws of physics. Check it out:

What's that mountain erupting from the middle of your floor, you ask? That's all of the stuff my mother managed to shove in about eight cubic feet of cardboard. No, really. She must have magicked it in there or something. The result? Niagara Falls. I was sobbing from joy and love about a third of the way into that beast. Satisfaction guaranteed. All hail the Queen.


Happiness is A Received Care Package

So I totally got my first two care packages today (!!) I couldn't be happier. Look:

The picture of happiness. These boxes were sent by Adam "Puppy" Losi and my own dearest mother. Don't worry, I fully made someone else carry them for me. Classy dame.

My mother sent the giant one on the bottom. Sadly, since it's so big, I thought it best not to open it until I get home tonight. Buuuut, I absolutely had to open the box from Puppy.

The box was damaged in transit, despite Puppy's careful and repeated postings of the word "Fragile." Damn them. Luckily only one item was damaged. Well, kinda. Let me list what was sent:

1. Candy, glorious candy. A ton of it. Reese's< Laffy Taffy, Crunch, Butterfinger, and Baby Ruth. Hellll yes.
2. Bugles. Bugles. Ohmygod, Bugles. They have Bugles here, but they don't actually taste anything like Bugles. I found out the hard way. Their presence in the box makes me giddy. I can't wait to turn my phalanges into witch fingers.
3. Pepperidge Farm Cookies- Tahoe and Milano (my favorite). They have a couple kinds of Pepperidge Farm cookies here, but they are crazy expensive and they don't even have my favorites! Score!
4. A Halloween card & letter - We all know Halloween is my favorite holiday.
5. The ENTIRE series of Arrested Development. You should've heard the squeal.
6. Two bottles of Arbor Mist- Yesssssss. Unfortunately, one of them broke, which kinda made everything else soggy. But. But! Aside from the card/letter (still readable, if moldy), nothing else was affected by the wine. Thank God. I tried the Milanos, just to be sure. Fantastic. I haven't tried to play the DVD's but their wrappings were dry, so they should be fine.

I teared up a little while opening this box. I'm so deliriously happy for a package. Per any concern that I might not absolutely love anything sent in any box- bitch, please. I'm enamored by the box alone. Anything in it is icing on the cake. I expect full waterworks when I get to my mother's. I'll let you know what she sent post-haste.

Much love to Adam and my Momsey (and Popsey)(and really, all of you, whose packages are surely on the way...<3) xx


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Potent Quotables

Me: "Do you know who discovered America?"

Student: "Obama!"


Smoke & Mirrors

This is a top-to-bottom comparison oh what my schedule ostensibly looks like versus what it's actually like.

9:10 - 9:50
10:00 - 10:40

10:50 - 11:30
11:40 - 12:20
12:30 - 1:00
1:10 - 1:50

2:00 - 3:00

3:00 - 4:00

4:00 - 4:50

4:50 - 5:40
5:50 - 6:40

In reality, my schedule is a lot more like this:

Yeah. That's more like it.

AS = After School (Seodang)

My lunch breaks consist of eating for 10-15 minutes, then I spend the rest of the time "chatting" with the Vice Principal so she can practice her English. It's even more awkward than it sounds. I don't do this every day. Some days she's busy.

--UPDATE-- I talked to my coteachers about my battle with The Seodang and one of them has agreed to take over on Tuesdays and Fridays, starting the last week of October. Maybe three days of seodang will be easier to tolerate. Hopefully, I can drop it entirely next semester. It's so draining. The kids are awful. I'm not exaggerating in the least. TKO, really.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Potent Quotables

(as I shove a cafeteria corndog into my face)

coteacher Hee Won: "So have you lost any weight?"


Stella Got Her Groove Back

Preface: I had no intention of writing anything about this weekend until I had caught up on the timeline. Just take this blog as a reflection of my jumbled mess of a life.

The forecast for this weekend was not so hot. I had to work 9-5 on Saturday, try as I did to get out of it, and then I had an obligatory kimchi-making festival to attend on Sunday. Compulsory weekend work does not sit well with me. Imagine.

-- FRIDAY -- With above in mind, I might have taken my Friday night a little too much to heart. That is to say, I got wasted. The details escape me now, but there was dancing, phantom wounds, some fisticuffs between my friend Sylar and a guy who was creeping on me with too much zeal. By the time I got home, I'd also elicited the calling card of my cabbie, who assured me he was more than just a taxi driver. (Oh hey, my life. I thought I'd left you back home, but there you are!)

-- SATURDAY -- Had to work the English Festival. A bunch of schools in the area had little, rickety booths in some central school's gymnasium. All the foreign teachers had to show up. I knew most of the foreigners there. So. Popular. Anyone I didn't know quickly became friend. And 90% of them live in Hogye. Count it! Not all of the foreign teachers were as hungover as me, though. Too much fun. My booth was like a photo session. We took Polaroids of a student and then that student could draw/decorate all over the mini- picture. Luckily, my job was to be a greeter. Until that is, our camera ran out of Polaroid film an hour later. Oops. That stuff is expensive. I then had to explain to the students that we were out of film, but we could fuly take a picture using their own cameras or cell phones. How cheap are we? I love it. The morning was pretty rough, but I managed to perk up after lunch. And after I got to have my face painted. I chose a bear. My friend Mark is a stellar artist.
Check out all the extra swirls and shit. Even the one on the ear. Best. FacePaint. Ever. Also, I can't remember the last time before this that I got my face painted. Reliving the Glory Days, friends.

Fun Fact: the kids weren't into having their faces painted. That booth easily had one of the longest lines all day, but the kids wimped out and got the painting done on their hands or forearms. Not this girl. Clearly, if I was going to have some face painting opportunity thrown at me, I was going to live it to the fullest. Everyone watched as he painted my face. Some people even videotaped it. I'm a rockstar, is all I can say.

When the day was over, our simple booth took seconds to break down, and then we were free.

Which is really when the night began. First, I'm on the bus and some not-choice dude somehow manages to convince me to give him my number. Oops. Then I met up with friends for dinner and we migrated to The World Music Festival being held in Ulsan. It was a several days-long festival of, you guessed it, world music. There was ska, jazz, blues, creole, malaysian, indian, asian percussion- and that was just in the small part I saw. I shot many video for your viewing pleasure.

At one point, I was walking around with my friend Sylar and we hit a pause in the walking. We look up to find a Turkish Kebab stand right in front of our eyes! Could it be?! Oh yes, my friends oh yes. And the one guy working there was soooo attractive. Darkly complected, green eyes. Hello, candy. We made a note to come back tomorrow. Not just for the dude, either. Sylar was strangely unaffected by the beauty. Huh.

We met up with some awesome Hogye folk while at the festival and relocated to a bar downtown. Best part: my mode of transportation was as a passenger on a motorcycle! My first time on a motorcycle and I'm in friggen Korea- Amazing. There were billiards played, jokes shared, a smattering of drama, and a lot less drinking than Friday night. Ha. Was there ever. Sidenote- this country is desperately wanting in the ginger ale department. Even the "Westerner" bars have none. I've had to settle for Jack&Coke instead of the classier Jack&Ginger. Woe is me.  But I fully got to split a cab with people from my actual town. Yahtzee!

-- SUNDAY -- Supposed to: Got to Onggi Festival- where they make kimci and the pots that the kimchi ferments in. Note: Really didn't want to. Tried to get out of it. Couldn't. Many people were in the same boat, we all whined about it for weeks. But, the day came, and we sucked it up. Somehow, a little soju snuck in, too. Weird. Okay, we were told that we had to meet at the Express Bus Terminal at 12:30, at which time the shuttle would depart. We got there at 12:15. Found many other foreigners, but neither hide nor tail of this alleged "shuttle bus." We asked around, but no one knew anything- maybe they just didn't understand us. We dawdle around for a solid 20 minutes, finally stumble upon the shuttle boarding area, to be told that the last shuttle departed at 12:00 and another wouldn't be around until 1:30- 2:00. Seriously? The next shuttle comes, but we literally cannot get on because it's too full.

Getting kicked off the shuttle.

At this point, no one really wants to do this thing and it's becoming more and more difficult to even do it. We were all signed up by our coteachers and were told we had to go, so we tried, damn it. Finally, around 2:30 another shuttle arrives. We trudge our way onto it, but then, oh yes, then, we were told that shuttle wouldn't actually be departing for another 40 minutes. The festival itself is about 40 minutes away AND the whole thing was over at 5 pm. Having lost so much time already and sensing the futility of the whole deal, I make the command decision not to wait around to experience five minutes of this festival I don't care to see. Instead, I'm going back to the magical Music Festival. I had called my coteacher twice during this fiasco and texted her three times- starting at 12:30. She knew I at least made an attempt to go. My duty felt fulfilled.

Some people decided to follow my lead and we went back to the Music Festival. It was just as amazing as the night before. I even made a sweet mask with colored foam ball- stuff.

Mmmkay, this is where that not-choice dude from the bus comes back into play. Despite having told him I worked weekends, he still calls me. I refuse to answer. Some other girl answers for me. She thinks this is hilarious. Then she calls back to tell this guy that I have a boyfriend. Later, After having ignored his calls twice, one of my guy friends finally decides to play my boyfriend and tell this guy to stop calling. Ugh.

Whatever, we totally went back to the Turkish Kebab stand and everyone got to confirm that the hot guy was just as hot as I said. Sadly he had no English. He had his friend tell me he thought I was cute. So I gave him my number (#whatlanguagebarrierpffffft). He gave me a free ice cream cone. With both vanilla and chocolate. Score! I love Korea. Too bad he also lives in Seoul. Wah.wah.wah.

I showed my coteacher, Seulgi, the pictures of the mask. She liked it and was happy that I was able to make it to some kind of cultural experience. During the whole ordeal, she was equally surprised about the crap management at Onggi. 

ANYWAY, that was my amazing weekend, despite the working. End scene.

P.S. The Turkish Boy that could speak English did text me. This one lives in Busan and told me to call him when I go there. I probably won't, but the gesture does help the self-esteem.


Seoul Top 5

A couple weeks ago, during Korea's Chuseok, my friends and I (really have to get that cast of characters list done...), decided to spend our week off in Seoul, the nation's capitol. In case you're wondering, Koreans pronounce it "suh-ool," but they say it so fast, it basically sounds like "soul."

Right. Moving on. Here's the thing about Seoul during Chuseok- no one's there. Chuseok is a really big deal and families have traditions they play out during the whole month. You have to be with your family at this time. Many obligations. Families don't really live in Seoul, so all the residents have to travel back to wherever their family lives. Ergo, empty city.

Perhaps because of this reason, I was underwhelmed by Seoul. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun, but it didn't feel as rich and fulfilling as New York City. Maybe I'm biased.

Still, what we did in Seoul was fantastic. We shared a hostel that was a little more like a B&B, slept in, went to this amazing Turkish kebab place everyday (sometimes twice a day- three was out of the question, though), went to the big shopping centers, went to the Seoul Metropolitan Museum of Art, went to Seoul Tower, walked along the river, saw the entrance of the palace (to expensive to actually go in), went to Seoul's biggest bookstore (not so big), oy yeah, and we went clubbing. Like you do. We also took frequent naps. Come on, it's a vacation.

Without further ado:

(5) TigerBunny

 None now know of the TigerBunny's mysterious conception,
but it makes for a great placemark. The cabbie didn't even know
  he knew where the TigerBunny was. "Yogio, yogio, yogio!"

(4) General Lee

This monument is located mid-Seoul, in front of the palace.
This guy is General Lee. Clearly, a Big Deal kind of guy.
(3) Intricate Statue in front of Seoul's Museum of Art

This photo has not been altered. A creepily accurate
depiction of being pressed. This guy is just one member of
the family portrayed in statue form.
(2) Open Mind

Also from the Seoul Museum of Art. The Museum itself had
many mediums of art- photography, video, statue, painting, etc.
Loved it.
(1) Seoul Tower and the Full Moon

Seoul Tower has a kind of light show at night. Kinda gauche, but
looks good on film. And then there's the Full Moon, just hanging out.

Seoul was pretty fantastic, the more I remember, the more I liked it. I did find a sweet hookah bar that served alcohol- double score- and after hookah, we wandered into this small, shack-like club for free and they played a strange survey of music. Jay-Z, Eminem, Michael Jackson, Sublime, KPop. It was weird, but cool. The street food was ridiculous in its greasy deliciousness and I even got a couple bootlegged movie (Ong-Bak 3 and Toy Story 3). Did I mention the kebab place? Istanbul Kebab. Sigh. Oh, and there was this Uzbekistani man who crossed the river to say hi to me. Handsome, if a bit above my age range. 

I expected something else from Seoul, but was happy with what I got. I'm sure it won't be the last time. Especially since there opening a KTX (real fast train) station in Ulsan next month. Two hours to Seoul? Sold. Pun only half-heartedly intended.


Monday, October 11, 2010

When Things Got Ugly

When my main group of friends all formed back at orientation, we agreed to overcome our separation anxiety by having many reunions, especially on each member's birthday. Sadly, our adorable Southern Belle, Becca:

had her birthday right before coming to Korea. So, last weekend, we declared it Becca's KBirthday (1,000 times better than a regular birthday). Boy, did our hubris ever catch up with us.

Here's the thing- the night started off really well. Myself, Sylar, and Becca all met up at Nadia's apartment for a delicious bowtie pasta dinner (complete with real rolls). The soju was flowing, as was the beer, and the maccoli (rice wine). Then we totally drunk Skyped Sylar's parents. They loved it. We even got to see his adorable doggy. Oh, and I would be remiss not to mention the delectable cheesecake.

Also pictured: Soju bottle. Definitely empty.

The entire meal was, of course, consumed with chopsticks. I mean, we are in Korea. Seriously. Even the cheesecake. 

Pinkies up when eating your cheesecake with the chopsticks

Then, we decided to head to Samsan-Dong (New Downtown), to people-watch at our regular Family Mart location. All while "scandalizing" the local community with our brazen behavior. They really do love us.

Anyway, while at the Family Mart, we ran into a whole bunch of other foreign teachers and had a big pow-wow. We even wrangled some local Koreans into the conversation. And by "we," I mean Becca. Yellow hair, yellow fever. If you know what I mean. 

Eventually we decide to relocate to an actual club (probably the Beat Bar), but when Becca and Nadia went to collect their purses, they realized the bags had gone missing. We fumbled around asking people on the street, convenience store workers, friends who had been their previously and left, Koreans who knew some English- everyone- if they had seen the purses. Nothing. Becca naturally had her entire life in her purse: passport, visa, alien registration card (ARC), apartment keys, apartment address, $300, glasses, her good makeup, and probably a small universe. She did manage to hold onto her phone- so there's that. I never did get a full list of what Nadia lost, but I know it included her phone and ARC. The much tipsier Becca took the incident more to heart than Nadia did. They managed to get ahold of their coteachers and someone helped them call the police. They went down to the station to report the incident.

The rest of us wondered if it was in too poor taste to go to Beat Bar in the mean time. Instead, we went to McDonald's. That's compromise, is what that is.


Saturday picked up a bit. I went to Ilsan Beach with some non-core friends, then when we reconvened, Nothing was stolen, some bars were hopped, numbers exchanged, puppies adored:

You know, the usual.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Daegu Top 5

During orientation, I was part of a big old group of awesome. Think the Rat Pack, but with some ladies and a lot more vulgarity. There it is. (I'll give you a cast of characters in a later post.) Sadly, this group was rent in two by our respective city placements. We were split between Ulsan, Daegu, and Kwangju. Yeah, that's three, I know. Thanks, Ron.

Anyway, we collectively decided to try and visit each other as much as possible. And since the express buses are crazy cheap- a round trip is cheaper than a taxi ride home from downtown to Hogye- we've already had two reunions. Daegu came to Ulsan for a beach party, Ulsan (and Kwangju) went to Daegu for Mo's (my roommate during orientation) Birthday. Always a party. Here are the Top 5 photos from the trip to Daegu:

After looking through, my Daegu pictures seem lackluster, but whatever.

(5)  Baskin Robbin's Panda Cake. It should be noted that Mo specifically asked for no cake on her birthday. When questioned about ice cream cake, she still declined. Tom, being Tom, decided to buy this monstrosity anyway. Most people (myself excluded) took a dip into the panda, but Tom and Beard Mike got a little too serious. And promptly felt ill. Too much dairy. Seriously, this whole things was polished off in under an hour.

(4) Some kind of Disney- related theme park. We didn't actually go in, but we could observe from Woobang Tower. Woobang was stellar. You know, for a tower. There were nice views and stuff. It was peaceful and low-key, a wonderful departure from our nightly activities.

(3) Woobang Tower. This photo might have been higher up on the list if not for many factors, including: ambient (visual) noise and poor photo quality. In fact, it probably shouldn't be on the list. Ooh, the editorial power.

(2) Our Nightly Activities. We go to clubs. This is what they frequently look like. 

(1) Some of the group observing from the Woobang Observation Deck. Good people, good scenery.
[(left --> right) Ron, obscured view of Erin (can only see her legs), Tom, Beard Mike, Mo, and Little Mike.]

I hope to have many more trips to Daegu in future. All of the things to do at night are grouped in the same couple of blocks, and there seem to be many more (and more attractive) people than in Ulsan. Though I could be feeling all "grass is greener," as it were.

I really should start a cast list so you have some idea about these people I spend my time with. My normal Ulsan crew, though (mostly) present in Daegu, aren't even pictured here. Right. Well, I'll get on it. Later.