Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas, Everyone

So, I'm a bit late with my well wishes but MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone.

D and I are off to Tawain tomorrow evening and I can't wait. I probably won't be posting while I'm away so this will be the post 'in your face' until I return.

And, the joke that never gets old, see ya next year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm So Excited...and I just Can't Hide it

I'M ABOUT TO LOSE CONTROL AND I THINK I LIKE IT!

People, HOW GREAT is it to walk?

Last night, I was given the a-okay from the doctor to walk again.

"Good" he said "All finished'.

That's allI needed to hear.

I shreiked with glee, shook his hand and wished him a Merry Christmas. And I wanted to hug him. But instead, I just kept saying 'gamsahamneeda' and Merry Christmas, through a gigantic grin to all the hospital staff.

And although there is still quite a LOT of pain in walking (think of the entire bottom of your foot badly bruised. Then walk on it) I am amazed at how the ache is not affecting my ability to smile with each step I take.

I am me again. I haven't felt like this in awhile. And I can't tell you how grateful I am for the mobility. I suppose you can get used to anything and if I ever permanently lost the ability to walk, I know I would turn lemons into lemonade but just waiting for the cast to come off was more than I could bear.

I have a permasmile planted on my face and am slowing getting used to the fact that I don't have to perpare myself to stand up, I can just do it.

And so, it's time to get Christmasy! Off to the shops tonight to get myself in the mood. And the upside is, I won't have to wait TOO long for Christmas Day as it's 5 days away.

More on other excitement like kiddie Christmas concerts and plans for Tawain later...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Holiday

You know that feeling that you get when you've been at work too long? When you know you need a break? When it's the little things that are driving you crazy?

Like, you're pretty sure you aren't NORMALLY this pissed off at an elevator that stopped to pick people up? Or the sound of your coworkers voice is becoming just too...much...too...bear?

See? Similarity. We are the same. Or I'm just the same crazy as I am everywhere else.

I suppose I'm lucky to get a week off at Christmas as our Korean teachers are only being given like 3 days - not really even enough time to jet off to Jeju Island - although, with tempertures trying their hardest to hit zero (people: I can't resist. I now have WINTER to complain about again), I can't imagine why anyone would go to an island.

That being said, D and I are set to spend a week in Tawain. Not exactly the Thailand I was hoping for but definitely a good deal since we only found out about 2 weeks ago that we would actually be let free for awhile.

I'm looking forward to being a tourist again. I've never really been all that good at this 'normal life' thing. Then again, I think I was never all that good at travelling for long periods of time either. And here's the part where I point to that blinking neon sign above my head that says 'Could she BE anymore Gemini?'

Speaking of totally switching tangents, I'm also off to see the movie Holiday with some funky ladies. Forget Jude, bring it on Jack.

And so ends another rather random post...I GOTTA get walking again..

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hite and Soju

I am now the proud owner of the tiniest fish you could every imagine, named in honour of all that makes Korea great, Hite (the beer) and Soju (the drink).

They were a housewarming gifts from the two Brit boys, B & M, who, after many late night trips to Homeplus, decided they needed to purchase something a bit more substantial then cabbage and soju at the superstore

I feel very lucky to have found such wonderful friends in such a short period of time.

Our house party was a magical night, full of laughs, drinks and unfortunately for my guests, TOO much Christmas music (Thank you DJ B for reasoning with me and getting some music that EVERYONE wanted to enjoy).

Plus, I have two little swimmers to remind me not only what a wonderful night we had but also, what great people there are on this planet.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful

But at least the sun is shining. And there isn't any snow.

But there certainly is snot somewhere in Korea because all my kids keep skipping school, only to return days later to say, "Teacher, skiing' or "Teacher, snowboarding". A bit surreal when there's no sign of the white stuff where I am.

I am getting a little more giddy about Christmas, if only because our advent calendar has gotten to the point where there are TWO chocolates each day which means I get one too and not just the chocolate monster I live with.

Also because I'm around kids all day and they're getting excited - so much so that they never sit down for more than 5 minutes and are continually saying 'game teacher game' or 'free time'.

Yes, free time. Trust me, I'd like some more free time too. But that will not help you learn english. And the nerd teacher in me is far too dilgent, even for a Friday afternoon.

So, I'm finished for the week and am ready to leave my cold desk (who knew your fingernails could go numb? more later on Korean heating systems) and enjoy what I hope will be my last weekend in a cast.

I'm planning a late night shopping trip this evening (read: going to the 24 hour place AFTER some socialising) just so I can hobble around without people in my way.

And on Saturday, I'm hoping to enjoy a lovely evening, in my home, with friends, gathered around my little Christmas tree, which has a few presents - no thanks to the no-shopping-me but more to the greatest-mothership across the water.

Until then, enjoy your weekends. Warm. Cold. Wet. Wherever you are.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Radioactive? No Problem!

You can never really get through a day in Korean without someone saying something is either 'good for health' or 'bad for health'.

They seem to be a culture obsessed with being healthy. That and if you're a woman looking younger and being skinny. So, not far off from Westerners then.

Except perhaps things that I've always learned make the most sense to stay healthy.

Like washing your hands before you eat. And after you go to the bathroom. Not sure what bathroom sinks are meant for as Korean women are usually stood in front of them, preening themselves, looking ready to pounce on you if you need to get through to wash your hands.

And then, there's the temperature. It's always cold. I have seen women in the saunas throw down cold water where they walk or where they were sitting after they leave, in an effort I can only guess to 'cleanse' the area so that someone else can sit in their place.

But, it's...cold...water. You can't freeze the germs away.

And now, after my experience with the hospitals, I guess radioactive rays don't exist in Korea.

I went last night to have my foot X-rayed again to see how well it was healing. There is a big yellow and red sign, with an image that looks like radio waves and some BOLDED KOREAN WRITING which I can only assume means DANGER or CAUTION or BAD FOR HEALTH.

But when you walk through the door, it's just a room. With an overhead projector like thing attached to the ceiling. And a medical bench.

And this man, who doesn't seem to have smile muscles and looks like he's constantly hung over from soju. I've seen him 3 times now and, except for a few grunts, he has never spoken a word directly to me.

The man has no protection. None of those bullet-proof-type vests that you put on to stop the harmful rays like back in Canada. (I always wondered why they protected your body and not THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR BODY: your brain. Like, if the rays are SO harmful, where is my rubber helmet?)

So, you sit on the bench, he positions your foot (or whatever you may need x-rayed) and this is the scary part.

He LEAVES the room. He LEAVES you with the machine-that-releases-dangerous-rays and gets as far away as he can from the danger. Either that or the button is in another room. Oh..ya..how conveeeeenient..

Then the machine gurggles and he returns to grunt you out of the radioactive space.

I can only suspect, consdering that this country has more doctors, pharmacists and xray professionals per capita then ANY OTHER COUNTRY that there is a perfectly logical explanation WHY you don't get the space suit to be xrayed.

And anyway, if you're THAT worried about, simply douse yourself in some cold water.

That'll do the trick.

******

Thank you all for your kind emails, txt and finger crossing. Although it was not enough sadly to get my cast removed, it was enough to have the bone healing VERY WELL as my doctor told me .

(which, by the way, gave me the 30 seconds of hope that I had last night of having the damn thing removed.)

Doc: Very good. Excellent. Yes, this bone is healing nicely. Here is you new bone. Your baby bone. It's all healed over

Me: OH GREAT! THAT'S WONDERFUL NEWS!! I AM SO HAPPY!

D: Yes, very good. I will be taking this (pointing to foot) off next week.

M: (a moment of slience) uh..next week?

D: (happily) Yes, next week.

M: aww. thanks

Perhaps it was the hope that made the tears flow a bit on my way home (god I'm a wimp!!) .

Or perhaps it was PMS.

Either way, I'm over it and happy to count down the days to cast freedom!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cast Day - Not to be confused with Cast AWAY

People of the world
Every boy every girl

(Spice Girls? Anyone? C'MON who DOESN'T remember girl power all packaged up in skimpy outfits?)

Today is the day I go visit the doctor to see if I can become cast free.

I'm not getting my hopes up - as D and teacher B have been telling me all week, along with scolding me for any pressure applied to the foot by myself - so I'm really just looking for some finger crossing.

I have been a very good girl for the most part and have done minimal walking...I SWEAR...so please, Internet, if you could all cross your fingers and your toes that the TINY TINY FRACTURES will now be healed.

Either way, a big glass o' red wine is in order for this evening.

My Toys are Books

When D and I had a roomate P, I remember one of the running jokes was 'I didn't have any toys. Books were my toys.'

They used to say it in this voice that made it sound much funnier than it now looks on screen and I'm sure it was passed down from many a night with his O-dot friends but as with many of their jokes, I can never really remember who started what. I'm sure neither can they.

But the phrase struck me today, as I was observing one of my classes in what we call the Block Room - essentially a room full of oversized Legos and a great place to give the kids a 10 minute break from the insanity. Yes, because it's the kids who need the break from the insanity. Uh huh.

So, on this much needed break I happened to observe one of my bright young ones, Little B, kinda looking around at the other kids, nose scrunched, mouth curled, as if someone had just offered her the most disgusting thing to eat.

Me: Little B, what are you doing?

Little B: Teacher, no block room.

Me: (blink blink)

Me: (after I got up off the floor from FAINTING at the thought that a small little rascal WAS NOT INTERESTED IN PLAYING) Well, do you want to go to the library and get a book?

Little B: (face lit up like a Christmas tree) yaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

And off she ran, to get herself something more 'fun' to play with.

She came back, sat amongst the other students, content to simply read...her...book.

Who needs toys? I think I've found the child who has ACTUALLY REALLY invented: 'My books were toys'.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Korean Drivers Manual

1 - First and foremost, you are the only car on the road. Please drive this way.

2 - Be sure to keep a tally of the number of pedestrians you hit. 10 points for old ladies, 20 for young children (they can run faster you see). You can also add 5 points for each near miss and pat yourself on the back for trying.

3 - Red lights can tend to get in the way of your driving. Simply proceed through them if you need to. Honk your horn to make sure the cars that actually have the right of way know you'll be sailing through the intersection.

4 - Signalling is recommended but your car does not have blind spots. Just go ahead an change lanes.

5 - It works best if you keep one foot on the gas and one foot on the brakes at all times. This will allow you to continually pump the breaks all the way down the street avoiding 'other cars' while still revving your engine and going at the speed of light during those intervals when you are not slamming on your brakes. (By 'other cars' I mean ones that aren't 'really there' as, we'ver already discussed, you are the only car on the road)

6 - If you're driving a standard car, make sure you rarely change gears. If you must, wait until your engine sounds like the space shuttle and be sure to jerk and grind the gears to their maxiumn capacity.

7 - Lanes don't really exist. Just drive wherever you like on the road. If you find yourself amongst those elusive 'other cars' simply drive around them in any fashion if they are in your way.

8 - When turning right, never look to your left to see if there is another car coming. Simply pull out. Again, see rule 1.

9 - If you encounter the zebra-lined pedestrian crossing, be sure to ignore it. These lines are only to give the pedestrians a false sense of security that you won't hit them so they'll attempt to cross the road. We need them to cross the road. Otherwise, how do we tally up the points to win that karoke machine?

10 - As a general rule, never pay any attention to what's going on around you. Don't look or double check anything. Koreans must do all they can to keep up the reputation Asians have of being the worst drivers in the world.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Happy Anniversary M & D

When I was in my teens, I would get the occasional guilt pinge (well, as much as a self centred 16 year old can get) of not really DOING anything for my parents' anniversary.

I heard of friends buying lavish gifts, organising dinners, putting together surprise parties and I suppose I thought, 'am I sucking at this daughter thing?'

On her anniversary, my mother always used to say, "It's not today that matters. It's the other 364 days of the year."

Part of me thought that was a score for me - (my mother is the least guilting person in the world and we actually have to REMIND her that sometimes, as the person that laboured not only to bring us into this world but also to raise us right, she is, on occasion, entitled to throw some good old mother guilt our way.) Part of me wondered, oh my god, will Chris sit next to me in music class? (did I mention I was 16?)

But most of me didn't realise exactly what she meant until I fell in love with D. That it really is all those other days that are important.

And although it's very nice to stop and appreciate how far you've come over an nice dinner and some wine, it's also nice to make sure you do that every once in awhile, not just on the day you started the partnership.

The greatest example they have given me - besides being great people in their own right - is to always keep the laughter rolling.

Even to this day, I have seen my mother in tears, holding her stomach in laughter, about something my father did or said. To me, that's amazing.

Today my parents are celebrating 31 years of love, laughter and happiness.

And their 30-year-old daughter still feels guilt over not doing more. But perhaps, it just seems too overhwelming: How do you show appreciation to a couple who's partnership has overcome so many years? Who have set such an amazing example not only as indviduals but as a pair? Not to mention surviving four kids - four VERY LOUD THEATRICAL SLIGHTLY SELF ABSORBED KIDS? Can a bouquet or some dinner really show that?

To cliche it up, if I could be half as happy as they are today, I will be one lucky broad in 30 years time.

Missing you both and sending you hugs from Korea :)

Monday, December 04, 2006

What's Up With These Scary Animals??

I found another cheeky monkey:


Another day of kid pics - you'd think I was getting a bit broody? Ha ha...
Mostly I believe it's because I'm thinking of Little Miss NA, my middle-namesake, who has been very ill over the past couple of weeks - she scared a lot of people back home with menegitis and I wish I could be home to give her a great big hug.
But I hear she's getting back to her normal little cute self and for that, I'm very happy.
Fingers and toes crossed she continues to keep smiling.

And the pics are back...

Check out this cutie:





Welcome little Miss SC. Thanks for brightening my Friday.

You look pretty hip in this outfit:





I actually bought this for you when I was still living in the land of Green in Belfast. I had forgotten all about it but remember picking it out. You look even sweeter than I could have imagined the outfit looking.

And it was just the shot from back home I needed.

Keep up the cuteness!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Brighter Day

After a great weekend of mild socialising, a great movie and a Korean wedding I feel fantastically refreshed.

Now, if I could only get this new blogger to allow me to post pictures!! I think it partly has to do with the computer I'm on at work but it is only giving me a blank box with no editing functionality.

So, the cute picture I was going to post today will now have to wait another day!

The Korean wedding - mostly like a western wedding except that all of the guests have their picture taken with the bride and groom and immediately after the ceremony, people just eat.

There's no waiting for the bride and groom - they didn't even EAT in the room we were in. There's no speeches or fond farwells or boo hoos. There's just eating. A LOT. This wedding had EVERY SINGLE KIND OF KOREAN FOOD available for you at the buffet.

And of course hobalong couldn't really browse properly - although I must admit I did try and put a little too much weight on my foot I'm sure (but I promise Bone Gods, I am REALLLY trying not to become impatient with my foot and REALLY TRYING to simply use the crutches - which should also be known as wrist-wrentching-armpit-bruising-torture-devices).

But it was lovely to get out of the house. And see a lady from my work take her next important Korean steps towards enlightenment.

Because in Korea, if you're not married, you're not much.

Just another reason for me to celebrate on Canada Day.