Thursday, December 22, 2011

Who Has Two Thumbs

...and cannot handle being unemployed with any kind of grace?

Spoiler Alert: It's me.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Sordid Boon

Dear Blogosphere, how do I tell you what's happened? I could say so much, I could say so little.

Brass Tacks: It's time to take my exit from New York City.

(A) Invincible
It can be said that I have had a bloated sense of self. I don't mean your run-of-the-mill self-esteem, but a certain, deep-seated belief in my own omnipotence. Should I wish it, the world would fall at my feet. All that nonsense. Sometimes, I assume that when I choose a path, it will come together in front of me-- no obstacles, no waiting.

(B) Invisible
In a funny little companion piece, I also have a debilitating sense of self-doubt. I am utterly ineffective, non-notable, and unworthy.  There is no path for me and should I try to strike out, my every attempt will end in failure.

I Am Jekyll; I Am Hyde
My foray into the wide, metropolitan yonder was yet another journey from (A) to (B).

When I first moved to New York, I was full of bubbling hope. Headstrong and cocksure, I assumed I would find work within a matter of weeks. I knew people, I was powerful, Fate would bow down to me.

Turns out, I was wrong. In NYC, I am a drop of water in the deep blue sea. Indistinguishable from all my peers. And what's worse? I came to the realization that my little nest egg can't support the rest of my rent AND the cost of living in NYC. I could hold off, see if something pops up in the coming months. Fun fact, though- I've been applying for jobs in NYC since before I left Korea. In five months, I have heard jackshit back from anyone. If I'd landed any interviews thusfar, it might be a different story. It might be just around the corner. But nothing. So what do I do? Squander the last of my money, then stick my roommate with the rest of the bill once I'm dry? Or do I move out now, while I have enough money to cover the rest of my rent and I'll have just a little left over? If it's only the rent, it's doable. But my money won't support my slumming it around much longer.

Clearly, it's time to consider manual labor. If I have to resort to minimum wage, it would be smarter to do so in a more affordable location. Somewhere where there aren't so many people vying for the same jobs, perhaps.

Roommate, money, jobs- oh right, there's also the mental health aspect.

The crushing sense of inadequacy that comes part and parcel with being an unremarkable candidate in the application pool is no small thing. Not for me, anyway. Give me a couple months of increasing isolation and desperation and you get one hell of a basket case. A basket case who, for the first time in her life, is having frequent panic attacks. I've never had a heart attack, but a panic attack feels the way I imagine a heart attack would, plus an emotional outpouring. You get the gist; it's not fun.

I have to pull out of New York City. Too many things could go awry. I don't have any amazing alternatives right now. Who would? My first priority is getting my anxiety under control. Breathing room. I have to dial back my expectations and reassess my options. Where will that lead me? I can't say for certain, but it's not NYC, not now.

Was the whole move to New York ill-advised? Evidence points to yes. As if I wasn't feeling bleak enough already, my parents have to help me schlep all my stuff back to their house a few measly months after moving it all in. And it has to be soon, before the weather becomes too unpredictable. How cumbersome of me.

I want to cut myself a break. I want to be happy that I actively tried something, regardless of its failure. I can't. I made this impulsive, grandiose move; it failed and I keep growing more and more inconvenient for my friends and family.

Lest this post be over morbid, I'll say I've got other things I'm going to try. Smaller ideas. The problem is that nothing feels like a good decision anymore. Tiny echoes in the pipeline. If anything concrete develops, you'll be the first to know.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Green-Wood Again

Here are some more photos from Green-Wood Cemetery.

The quote:
"Find tongues in trees, books in running brooks,
sermons in stones, and good in everything."
-- As You Like It, Shakespeare
(my favorite gravesite)


Hashtag: Disappointment

You know the worst about searching for a job? Applying for a position you care about and never hearing back.



Wednesday, November 9, 2011


JoePa is retiring, a terrible way to end a legacy. Jerry Sandusky's face was painted over in the famous Penn State mural. The Westboro Baptist Church plans to protests Penn State's football game on Saturday.



UPDATE: JoePa has been fired from his position effective immediately. Dark, dark days.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tainted Love

This week, Penn State fans are forced to fly their pennants at half-mast. For anyone who hasn't heard the news, here's a link to the latest story bringing shame to the University's doorstep.

Shame, an interesting word of choice. Any dedicated alumnus/a knows the third verse of PSU's alma mater.

          May no act of ours bring shame,
          To one heart that loves thy name.
          May our lives but swell they fame,
          Dear Old State, dear Old State.

The recently exposed sex scandal is not the first to mar the name of the university. What's shocking about this new disgrace is that the people implicated aren't merely wayward students. The state is calling a lot of big names into question for neglecting to report the sexual abuse of young boys to proper authorities-- including Joe Paterno.

I grew up in a Penn State family. My parents met at PSU and I followed both my sister and my brother before me in enrolling at the Big Ten school. It's been a beloved institution in my family for generations, which includes a pre-disposed love of JoePa.

I'm having a difficult time resigning my feelings around the current situation. It's a travesty that young boys were attacked on Penn State's premises. It's appalling that these acts were committed by a Penn State assistant head coach. It's devastating that Joe Paterno, upon learning the news, wouldn't go straight to the police. I'm not stupid. I realize that big universities are a strict bureaucracy. There are accepted channels every person involved in the school must go through. Joe Paterno had an obligation to report to his bosses, but then those at the top had an obligation to report to the police. With all the admirable stories attributed to JoePa that I heard in my tenure alone, I am disappointed that Paterno, after realizing his bosses weren't taking initiative, wouldn't take it upon himself to go to the proper authorities. JoePa was our champion, JoePa was our heart, JoePa was our god.

Of course, Joe Paterno didn't commit the heinous sex crimes. No, that dishonor goes to Jerry Sandusky, who was involved with Penn State athletics for over 30 years. I won't ask how a man could sexually abuse a child. I won't ask how an authority figure could abuse his power to lure his victims in. I won't ask how he could bring such shame to Penn State. There are no satisfactory answers to these questions, so why bother asking them?

So what now? What do the alumni and fans do? How do we reconcile our love for a University that brushes aside such dark deeds? CNN reporter Roxanne Jones reaffirms that this is hardly PSU's first infraction, but this one pierces the heart. How can we ever again proudly shout our rallying cry? Are we still Penn State? Am I? In the wake of this scandal, my father expresses the way I think all Penn Staters are feeling now: "I feel betrayed."


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Walking With the Dead

I live right near Green-Wood Cemetery, which is enormous and beautiful, and a national historical landmark! I like to take walks there on clement days. There are, allegedly, many famous people interred there. I've only found one of the famous graves (John Matthews, "Soda Fountain King"). Like I said, it's a big cemetery. You can look up some of the famous... residents and find their plots, but I just take casual strolls. I think I've covered maybe .08% of the available grounds. Here are some pictures!

The main entrance is gorgeous.

Guardian of the Underworld

Call Tom Hanks.

John Matthews's Grave

A lot of people leave various coins.

Tree down!

I liked this tombstone because it's pretty.

Civil War vet!

This is the more modern section.
 Mausoleum for cremated remains.

Koi pond!
There's some life in the old girl yet.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Zucchini Cheese Fries

Inspired by Cheese Fries. Perfected with healthy.

  • Zucchini
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground herbs (basil, thyme)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Oil medium-sized baking sheet with olive oil.
  3. Wash zucchini, chop and discard rough ends. I used two, medium-sized zucchinis, which was way too much for one person.
  4. Julienne zucchini. I used a mandolin slicer (easily a favorite kitchen tool) at 3/8ths of an inch. You want the slices to roughly look like french fries.
  5. Spread sliced zucchini onto baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO and toss with garlic powder, herbs, and s&p.
  6. Bake zucchini in oven for about 20 minutes. I wanted the zucchini to be pretty firm in this recipe, so I checked them at around 15 minutes and pulled them out shortly after. If you want them more tender, let them cook longer.
  7. Remove zucchini from oven. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Return to oven.
  8. Remove from oven once cheese is nice and melty. Serve immediately.
Note: This doesn't save too well, so it's best to only make as much as you plan to eat.


Panorama Ding Dong

My camera was out of commission for a while as I searched for a charger with an American plug, but now it's back in action! Which means, as you should all know by now, PANORAMA!

This is where I do most of my living.
That's my room. You probably figured that out already. It's pretty giant. The living room hardly compares. In a strange turn of adulthood, I actually try to keep my room neat. Bed made, even. Wanna know the key to success? Have a reasonable place for everything you own and then keep things in their places. Novel idea, I know.


My So-Called Life

It's not much of an update to tell you I still don't have a job. I almost had a phone interview, but it never happened, and that's the most response I've gotten thusfar. I'm not panicking yet. I am, however, considering part-time menial labor to gather some kind of income as I keep looking for an appropriate job. I generally find at least one new position to apply for per day and I have friends (shoutout: Janet, Jake, and Adam), who are helping to circulate my resume. It's tough (and frustrating), but I'm making moves.

With no work, some may ask what I do with my time. A lot of miscellany, is the answer.

  1. I read (for the sake of sanity and to reach my 100 books read in 2011 self- challenge. I'm at 76.)
  2. I cook/bake (OVEN!)
  3. I take walks
  4. I dog-sit (just for Janet and Jake's dog. He's real cute.)
  5. I sleep (so much glorious sleep)
  6. I look for jobs (this could, in itself, be a job.)
  7. Of course, I watch TV and movies (not as much as you'd think. I mostly tune into SVU and Top Model reruns.)
That's about it. Fairly standard. I'm thinking of spicing things up and adding new activities, but I wouldn't want to get too wild. 


Getting Served

It's been a while. Not that I haven't had things to talk about. There have been a few stories I wanted to share and I'll get to them soon. Unfortunately, SOMEONE cracked their LCD screen on their shiny, beautiful laptop and then had a hullabaloo in trying to fix it and was subsequently without a computer for nearly three weeks. SpoilerAlert: It was me. I cracked my screen. I tried to be proactive about it. I purchased a new screen online, it came in, i took everything to BestBuy for installation. You'd think it'd be so simple.

A couple days later I get a call from BestBuy. The new screen is defunct. Stellar. Also, I need to purchase a ribbon cable (it's the cable that provides power to the screen). Double trouble. I start procedures to return the crap screen, then order another screen from a different seller. I have to go through Toshiba Customer Service to get the cable. By the way, Toshiba Customer Service is the worst. I was on the line with one guy for ten minutes in utter silence as he "looked things up." He transferred me to a different person, with whom I had to start the whole process over again, and after ten minutes, he says he can't proceed without my laptop serial number. Even though I know the make and model of my computer. Apparently, he can't even look to see if they have any ribbon cables without the number. Well, my laptop's at BestBuy, where they agreed to hold onto my laptop until my new parts came in. I go to BestBuy, they give me a photocopy of all my laptop's info. I call Toshiba Customer Service. Inexplicably, I get another double whammy of waiting and transferring. Twenty minutes later, finally able to give them my laptop serial number. They tell me the cable is out of stock. They don't know when it will be stocked, but they'll place my order.

At least twice a week every following week, I call Toshiba for an update. Always the same: Out of stock. No, they don't know when it'll be stocked. How can they not know when it'll be stocked? In the mean time, BestBuy's Geek Sqaud keeps calling to check up. They'd really like to fix my computer for me. Sorry, guys. After maybe two weeks, Toshiba finally finds out when the cable will be stocked in the warehouse. It'll be another week. I call back on the day it's supposed to be stocked, just to see. Turns out, they have no idea if the parts were delivered. And there's no possible way to check. I should call back in two days. At this point, my brain is numb from hurting so hard.

In some miraculous turnaround, I don't have to call in two days' time. My part was delivered to me. Did I mention I had my new screen hanging around nearly this entire time? That whole business took five days, tops. Amazon makes me happy. Anyway, I schlep my new parts over to the Geek Sqaud, who had last called earlier that day, before the cable was delivered. When I first got to the Geek Sqaud counter, I started telling the guy why I was there, and he goes, "Oh, Christine." Yuuuuuuuup. They're really attentive. So attentive, in fact, that the whole of the Geek Squad comes flooding out. I guess my story had gotten around. With everyone in attendance, the guy working on my computer checks out what I've brought. He seems pleased. He tells me he'll fix it that very day. I believe he did. It took a couple days to go through inspections and whatnot, but I had my computer back posthaste. The best part? Even though they technically did two installations, and I was so frustrated I would've paid anything to get my computer back, they only charged me for one service job.

The moral of this story is that the Gekk Squad is awesome and Amazon is pretty great, but Toshiba Customer Service is awful.

Either that or "Oh, hey. I have a computer again." Your call.


Monday, September 12, 2011

My New York Apartment

I have successfully relocated to Brooklyn. My delightful parents carted me and my stuff all the way, where friends Sarah (also my roomie) and Madan were waiting to assist in the haul. The rents pulled the ol' drop and go (a Reedy standard) and I started getting organized. Adam showed up and is actually 100% responsible for the organization in my kitchen. I had three or 4 boxes dedicated to kitchen ware alone, which I needed only unpack as Adam loaded everything into the cabinets. It's quite tidy and much more organized than I would've bothered with. Score! 

Meanwhile, Janet burst in on the scene (with champagne!), causing much delight and a non-stop barrage of speaking for... the rest of the night. Adam and Madan tried real hard to watch the ill-fated Penn State game (sigh), while Janet, Sarah, and I did our best to talk quietly in the corner. Fun Brittany pulled a brief cameo, sadly she had to work in the morning. Pfft. Blah, blah, blah- we went to Manhattan where I met Jack, Janet and Jake's Jack Russell. I immediately fell in love and tried my hardest to make him love me back. I think I've done an admirable job so far. He's in for a whole world of adoration since I can't get a dog of my own. In fact, I've already agreed to dog sit. It's gonna be great.

Right, well, then Mark showed up with his girlfriend, Jen and we all went our for some karaoke. Hell, yes. I know it was a good night because by the time Jake showed up, I was somewhere between Bea Arthur Party-Voice and Complete Muteness. We went to a diner, I ate delicious grilled cheese-- all in all, the perfect inauguration to my New York life. 

And now, two days later, I'm fully unpacked and settled in. A great feeling. It hasn't sunk in that I live here now, no matter how many times I keep saying it. But it's happened, it's real, and now I have to make it stick (aka find a job). Fingers crossed.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oh, We're Moving, All Right. Backward!

TEASER: The Wanderlust Darling has found a new direction. As the post title suggests, I'm taking a jaunt backward. What could this possibly mean? Don't worry my intrepid readers, let me explain.

Thus far, I've been rather pedestrian in my conceptualization of "wanderlust." Despite earlier claims of exploring the depths of personality and the Self, I've largely focused on my transcontinental journeys. The time has come for me to drastically redefine "wanderlust," not by traveling through space, my friends, but through time. Yes, you read that right; my next adventure will take me back through several generations in history.

Have I gone mad? Well, not any madder than before, anyway. Stay tuned, for all shall be revealed in due time.

Hint: It's probably less Sci-Fi than some of my more visionary readers may imagine.


Wake and Bake: Chronicle of a Cake Foretold

Yesterday was my near-and-dear sister's birthday. Months ago, she requested a couple ingredients for a cake, which I planned and couldn't wait to bake. I like baking. In fact, I should mention that just one week ago was my brother's birthday and I baked him a cake, too. The only reason I'm posting about my sister's cake and not my brother's is that my brother's was a box-ready mix, compared to my sister's, a from-scratch pursuit.

I'm not stranger to baking from scratch. My parents got to reap the rewards of all my scratchery goods last year. Baking tames the savage beast within. (Cooking, Baking's close cousin, is also a good time. I made beef stroganoff this week! woo-woot. Alas, there were no pictures.)

Anyway, to the point. Yesterday, I finally got to create my sister's cake. Chaos ensued.

Cake Recipe: Hershey's Especially Dark Chocolate Cake
Frosting: Fluffy White
Special Add-ins: Cherries (jarred Maraschino and fresh Morello)

I woke up early in the morning, a regular happenstance for me now, and straight away began work on my sister's cake. First, I got out all the ingredients.

The Ingredients. Give or take.
(Turns out, no butter. That was a separate recipe entirely.)

Before I got to anything else, I did a little ingredient prep work. I chopped up some jarred maraschino cherries, then sliced and diced the fresh morellos. Protip: a melon-baller is a great tool to use for removing cherry stones. Then, I grated 1/2 a dark chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler (to use as topping) and chopped the remaining half to mix in with the batter.

The next step is critical. For me. Banish everyone from the kicthen until such time as the cake is safely stowed and baking in the oven. I don't know about you, but my family members have this way of hovering and piping in every once and a while. Look, I'm a competent baker. I do plenty of research through Food Network. If I've planned a tag team baking effort, that's great, but when I'm embarking on an intentionally solo culinary endeavor, it's best to stay out of my way. I'm self-aware. I know what stuff I'm made of and I don't mince words when expressing these cold, hard truths to my parents. Luckily, they know when to steer clear. The above does not apply to my sister. She's not a bad baker/cook, despite what we all say. She's had some flubs in the past, but has grown since then. Still, she doesn't have confidence enough to tell other people what to do in the kitchen. As a result, she's a perfectly fine kitchen companion. 

Okay, next up-- further prep. Turn on the oven and grease your pan(s). I'm a big fan of the round, two-layer cake, pans permitting, but if you only have a 13 x 9, that's the bitty you use. Now, it's not essential to flour your greased pan, but it provides a little added insurance for later cake retrieval. Plus, years ago, I used to be friends with a girl whose mom was a professional cake decorator and she always touted the virtues of greasing and flouring. I was an easy sell. Of course, you end up with floured cake edges, which is sometimes off-putting. So, I took it to the next level and instead of using flour, I dust the pan with cake mix (or brownie mix, etc). If you're using a box mix, just spoon out a little of the mix. With the from-scratch method, I combined all my dry ingredients, and used the resulting mix. 

 + =

Physics and a ton of pan-patting are key here.

P. S. Despite appearances, sugar is not a dry ingredient. Let's not argue the semantics. I personally favor a two-bowl method. You mix your dry in one, wet in the other, then you can combine the two. The thing about this is, when you start dropping dry ingredients into wet, it becomes a bit of a slurry. If you've already mixed all your dry ingredients together, the distribution should be fairly uniform. But, if you add one dry at a time, you might get little pockets that don't break up when mixing. So, you could have a big pocket of baking powder, which didn't get incorporated evenly, making your cake flat and dense. Nobody wants that. Of course, nobody wants to deal with cleaning two bowls, either. Solution: Make a crater in your dry mix, and fill it up with the wet ingredients, like so:

Oh yeah, if you've made a colossal error in measuring, this would be a great time to notice. Really, you want to catch these mistakes as early as possible. Say you've mistaken the half cup measure for a full cup, or something, you'll want to realize this before throwing the mess into the oven. The fun thing about baking is that it's a precise art, with little give. If you know exactly what you've done wrong and can easily fix it, go for it. If you only have a slight inkling, but don't really know how deep that rabbit hole goes, just toss the mistake and start over. Really. It's better that way.

When you've got your ingredients right, beat it into smooth silk.

Essential: Finding some intrepid soul to lick both
the beaters and the bowl once the batter has been panned.

I've made cakes without beating them. It can be done, but the consistency of a beaten-batter cake is lighter, which is especially important for a dark chocolate cake. I'm resisting the urge to type, "just beat it." I guess I failed.

Here's the hour for add-ins. Marshmallows, chopped up candy bars, sprinkles, fruit, etc, should be added after the batter has been poured into the pan. In this case, I added cherries and dark chocolate pieces. I was a little too conservative with the cherries, I think. I wasn't counting on the dark richness of the cake. 

Devil's Fruit Cake?
While the cake is in the oven, I like to clean up a bit. Also, make any necessary frosting prep (maraschino juice plus fluffy white icing plus red food dye makes Barbie-pink, cherry frosting.) Also, have your dad take an impromptu photo of batter splatter.

There's cake on my face.
The worst part is waiting for the damn cake to cool when all you wanna do is decorate. And fending off the circling vultures.

Baking from scratch? No big deal.

Finally, the decorating. Protip: The cake will probably be moist or even a bit sticky on top. If you dive right in with the icing, there's a chance you'll tear up the cake. To prevent this, lightly flour the top of the cake before spreading on the icing. 

Bit of a mess.
I had envisioned a much classier result in my head, but like all things Reedy, chaos took over. My sister assures me that she prefers an explosion. She's so sweet. Happy Birthday, Seester!

P.S. From start to finish, that cake was completed by 11 AM. Not eaten until 4-ish, though.

Margarita candles.

In case she forgot what age she was turning.

Not even wearing makeup.

The cake is straight up black. Darkest cake I've ever seen.



Monday, August 22, 2011

Coming to America

Thus concludes a year in Korea. I don't want to mince words, so I'll just affirm that yes, I'm glad to be back. There's diversity, familiar, meaningful foods, and all the appropriate people are excited about my return. In a short couple weeks, I'll be moving into my shiny new apartment in Brooklyn and getting on with my life.

Do I have any culture shock? No. Am I glad I did it? Of course. Would I do it again? Absolutely, although one year is definitely my limit.

If there's a future for this blog, what will it be? No idea. Maybe I'll expand on other topics. Maybe I'll give it up entirely. That remains to be seen. The Wanderlust Darling sure doesn't seem so pressing when I'm hanging out in my parents' spare bedroom. If I find a new direction and this blog picks up again, you'll be the first to know. If not, well, we've had a good run. Thanks for tuning in.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Top 5 Cutie.Adorables

Okay, you may have noticed me mention this a couple times in the recent Facebook album, which photographically lists every student in my Summer Camp. The camp is split into two groups, the AM classes and the PM ones. They're all about the same age, but the PM classes have any of the slightly older kids.

Anyway, like any good group of teachers might, my fellow waygooks and I love to discuss the students during our breaktimes. A particularly common thread of conversation revolves around the camp's cutest kids. Technically, all the kids are eligible, but the boys at camp have been unanimously omitted from the rankings. Don't get me wrong, there are some cutie boys, but they don't come anywhere near the cutie girls.

Each teacher has their own opinion on the cutest, though we all agree on a couple. The factors I like to consider include not only physical cuteness, but also an enthusiasm and energy that serves not only to boost their cuteness to the next level, but also leaves one feeling they would do absolutely anything for said child. Trust me, there are a couple.

Now, we haven't compiled official rankings. I think we all plan to arrange our Top 5 choices for AM, Top 5 for PM, and then our Top 5 overall. We'll debate and discuss the Top 5 Overall and possibly calculate some kind of average to see who lands each position. It's quite possible we won't get to this at all, but I've already prepared my lists. So, I will present the Top 5 Overall, unofficially.

(5) Girl on the Left
She's even cuter than the picture suggests.
Not everyone agrees on her for Top 5 Overall, but I'm sold.

(4) Cheongok Dream Center Veteran
Very talkative and friendly.
Also, uh, just friggen look at her.

(3) Otherworldly Cute
This one is generally considered by all a lock for Top 5 Overall.
Some, however, are not convinced she should be as high as third.
But. Come on.

(2) Hardest to Decide.
This girl is Number One in the AM Finals. She's a total sweetheart.
I want to give her Number One overall, but I can't. The Number One has a total lock.
She marks the beginning of levels of Cutie.Adorable that cause acute pain.
It's too much. She's too cute and sweet and melts the whole heart with her little, toothy smile.
It hurts me to reward her with only second place, but I have to.

(1) The Natural Choice
We all talk about her non-stop. It can't be helped. She is too much.
It's generally agreed that we all want to take her out for ice cream,
crawl over puddles for her, eat her cutie puppy face, we'd even
hop off our deathbeds to dance for her. Best part? She has
no idea that we all find her this damnably cute.
All five of us foreign teachers have been ever so
 delicately wrapped around her tiny fingers.
Whimper-inducing adorable.

There you have it, my selection for Top 5 Overall Cutie.Adorables. If you managed to survive this entry without any heartstrings touched, then I suggest you cart your ass over to the morgue. You're done for. Really. I mean, talking about these kids in particular caused one k-co to say "I think you really like kids." Anyone who's familiar with my general pedophobia can tell you that this is not something they could ever have predicted. Neither could I, friends. Neither could I. Truth be told, I can no longer say with resolute conviction that I don't like kids. I just hadn't met the right ones. I still don't want any of my own. Meeting these Cutie.Adorables has only reaffirmed that particular opinion. I could never produce something that could compare to any of these kids. A vain effort to try. Look at these kids again and tell me I'm wrong.


A Small Note on the Eve of the Ultimate Day

Tomorrow is my final day as a teacher in South Korea. I'll finish up Summer Camp, then the following day, I'm off to Seoul. I'll spend the long weekend in a ritzy hotel (it has a real tub!), the Tuesday afternoon, I finally set off for home. During the year, time seemed to drag so slow. I never thought my term would be over. Now that I can count my final K-days on one hand, I can't believe it. I won't exactly say that from this vantage point, the year seemed to zoom by. I'm not crazy. And if there's anything I inherited from my family, it's how to hold onto a grudge  memory (just kidding, love you). I can vividly recall the way the lower points felt. Oh yes, my friends, I can tell you I still feel every moment like they're etched into my bones. Still, there were plenty of good times, and I'm leaving on a high note. I feel I can give Korea a fond farewell. I'm glad I did it.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Camping All Day- The Kids

This post is tired in with the last one. I figured the last one was long enough and I'd put in a little break. How am I liking camp? As any of my closest friends can tell you, the amount I like something is directly proportionate to the amount of appreciation my person has received. If I feel the love, then I'm having a great time. Ha. Just kidding. Kinda. But, really.

The kids at camp like me. A lot. I figured all the girls would like me because I'm the only female foreigner. Easy win. As it turns out, though, all the kids like me in general. The kids tell me, the Korean co-teachers tell me, I've even been told that the office workers like the sound of my voice and want to sit in on my lessons. Clearly, I'm loving camp. It's more work and I'm much more tired at the end of the day, but I'm also motivated to try with each class. It's a strange phenomenon. The kids have some really great energy. Plus, I've been doing this teaching thing for a year now, I know what works and what doesn't. It helps. I'm not always at my best, but I can say I know how to be a good teacher. If the kids want a clown, I'll be their clown. It works for them, which works for me. And apparently, I'm doing it right.

Trying hard not to look phallic.
On Friday, we had Market Day, just like during Winter Camp. We had a nice fruit selection and the kids got to run amok, buying up fruit with tiny, laminated dollars. This time, sadly, there was little excess fruit for the teachers. Sigh. It's cool, though, because I was hanging out with one of the afternoon classes and-- completely unsolicited-- they started giving me their fruit. It started with a cherry or two, which they hand-fed to me. Then one kid (Romo from Cheongok), walked up and gave me a bag of blueberries. He told me he didn't like blueberries, so I should have them. Another kid gave me a golden kiwi. The I got a banana. And to top it all off, one more golden kiwi.

Maybe I should've refused the gifts of fruit. It was supposed to be a special day for the students. But I didn't ask for the fruit, they gave it freely. And I really wanted it. Do you know how expensive fruit is in Korea? Too expensive. I never even think about buying fruit here. It ain't cheap and it goes bad in a day. Of course I was going to keep the gifts of fruit! Are you kidding me?

Yeah. Camp? It's awesome.


Camping All Day- Story Time

One week of camping down, two to go. Homestretch, baby!

The logistics of my shared classes with Shane have been a little screwy and between the the of us, we may be responsible for the clearing of a small forest, but otherwise, things have been fantastic. The classes are a breeze. Except for that one time where one of my worksheets was all wrong. I did do 15 worksheets all at once at a breakneck pace, though, so there were bound to be some mistakes. Most of the time, I'm overprepared and all I have to worry about is deciding what to cut.

Did I mention the story Shane and I wrote for story time? I feel I must have, but since I don't want to go through the blogroll and check, I'll err on the side of caution. Shane and I desperately wanted to spice up our Conversation classes. We agreed to do an egregious amount of activities and games, but wanted something more still. Then we remembered The Washing Machine. Remember how I told you the sixth-grade textbooks had segments dedicated to story time? And the first four story time installments were about a washing machine, which had nothing to do with the lessons it accompanied? Shane and I figured we could top that. So, we created a tale in nine parts (to go along with the nine units of the camp books) about Shane and I turning into superheroes. It's cute. Teacher Shane and Teacher Reedy took a trip to Japan and got caught in the radioactive rain. When they came back, they had super powers! Shane could make things bigger or smaller, and Reedy could use water like magic! They become Shape Shifter and Water Woman! Then there's their nemesis, Doctor Babble, who uses his Babble Ray to change the language everyone speaks, making everyone confused, chaos ensues, and Water Woman and Shape Shifter have to stop him!

It's basically a vanity project. We collaborated on story elements, then I wrote it out, and Shane's making the corresponding powerpoints. That's where these pictures come in handy:


We're quite cool. How do the kids feel about it? They love it. And this isn't one of those times where I'm really excited about something and I pretend everyone else is, too, ignoring how they might actually feel. There's proof. The kids vocally demand the newest installments of the story. They get disappointed if there isn't time. They want to know what happens next. They ask about it after camp when they see me walking home. They can't get enough of The Amazing Adventures of the Amazing Adventurers. At first, one of the co-teachers was not so impressed. She wanted us to incorporate target language. We would have obliged, but there are three different textbooks at any given time. There's no way we could use key expressions from all three books and still maintain a cohesive story. The Washing Machine never had to hold up against this kind of scrutiny! After seeing how much the kids like it, no further complaints have been filed. Score!