Friday, March 30, 2007

Good Day, Sunshine (duh duh duh) Good Day, Sunshine

Spring has sprung here in the big G and what better way to show it off then by showing off the spring blossoms that have just EXPLODED all of a sudden.

I've stolen these from the Documentarist just to have a little more cheery post for the coming weekend...which starts in 4 hours!!!! When you look at it that way, it can't be half bad.
We're off to celebrate teacher B's birthday in Korea's 3rd largest city, Daegu. Looking forward to checking out the scene in another city.
And it's meant to be a sunny day on Sunday so maybe we can even get a hike or a temple in.

Happy weekend everyone...



Thursday, March 29, 2007

Squished

I'm feeling slightly suffocated at work right now. I don't really think there is any other way to describe it.

It's not because I'm battling a cold, although I am so I'm sounding more like a person with their nose plugged and stuffed with cotton balls then my normal teacher self.

It's because this place, this job, it just seems to do that to you.

I made a decision almost 5 years ago to get away from things that stifle me. That prevent me from doing what I enjoy doing. That prevent me from really embracing all the average 70 years I have on this planet. Because, you never know when the one day will be your last.

I'm also not really being that nice of a person.

I snapped at a co-worker yesterday. I snapped at D today. I'm not even finding the energy to be all that nice to the kids.

Like it's their fault I'm feeling this overwhelming pressure.

I'm trying to gain perspective, trying to enjoy what little time I have left here. But the overload of classes and reports and bullshit tests are just becoming too much.

And I realise this time will pass. And that there are more challenging things in this world than living for free as a foreign teacher in Korea.

I guess I just want to make sure I don't sugar coat it.

It's not all roses. And at this point, it wouldn't matter anyway cause I can't smell anything to save my life.

Here's hoping this life vice loosens a little bit. Cause I'd hate to think all that I've done over the past 5 years to free myself from it was all for nothing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More Pictures, Less Words

The Documentarist and Back in the Motherland have actually written nice sum ups to my weekend so I'm being lazy and bumping you to them.

I have also uploaded more 365 pictures and I'm very pleased to say that I managed to get a pic for each day last week.
And I guess I'll leave you with this picture of the view I had for five hours on Sunday. You can see why we didn't make it to the gallery OR the moutain hiking.

Thanks for the great weekend....and you all know who you are....

Friday, March 23, 2007

Eating Crow and Other Plans for the Weekend

The new bell at our school sound a bit like something right out of an insane asylum. Fitting, I guess since all the teachers continue to 'go crazy' with our new schedule.

I did take my own advice and tried the 'quiet voice' in the classrom.

PEOPLE - I could not have been more shocked as it worked. IT ACTUALLY WORKED!

The little human beings actually lowered their voices to hear me. They had no clue what I was saying, but at least they were having no clue..QUIETLY.

The week has progressed to Friday, which I can say I am truly happy about. 'Planning A' has come out again and my weekend is meant to be filled with shopping (G-town-style), culture (art-gallery-sytle) and some hiking (Korean-style).

D is off to be a boy and watch the Korea-Uraguay soccer/football match in Seoul and I will be celebrating another waegook's birthday with a curry in Busan.

I have managed to find some time this week to read a few of my favorite bloggers and came across this post by the Crazy Aunt.

I found it really touching to read about kindness from the internet. I've been thinking a lot about this medium, what its purpose is, what people can learn or gain from it and this kinda has pushed some of my cynicism aside.

Global village and all that. Makes me feel a bit closer to home even though I'm halfway around the world.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Little Hoarse, of Course

Alice the Camel has 5 humps....

(all the way to)

Alice the camel has NO humps now Alice is a HORSE! NEIGHHHHHHHHHHH!

Every day I end my kindergarten classes with this classic and it goes down like a house on fire.

After 7 days of kindergarten, the other thing that is going down quickly is my little voice.

YES people who know me MY VOICE IS NOW LITTLE! I can hardly speak anymore and as I write, can actually feel my vocal chords BEGGING me not to say one...more...word.

I can just imagine the number of people I know across the planet letting out a huge guffaw and a sigh of relief, to think that FOR ONCE I have no choice but to JUST..SHUT..UP.

I suppose I can also take solace in the fact that my fingers aren't broken, as my Uncle D has often accused me of having when I haven't written in awhile and so, I can continue to blather on in writing and simply hope that this will sustain me until my BIG voice comes back.

I've been reading some things about kindergarten teaching, as many of my new students have never been to school before and have NEVER spoken English.

A few tips include:

"Speak at a lower tone so that children know they shouldn't be yelling in the classroom." Uh WHAT?? Okay, I'll just WHISPER for 40 minutes asking them to sit down and be quiet. I'm sure the zero percent chance they will have of hearing me will REALLY help to make the classroom a calm environment.

"Make sure the children know they must sit in their desks for class and that this is not a playroom." Yes, do that IN THEIR SECOND LANGUAGE USING YOUR QUIET VOICE.

"This craft should take no longer than 30 minutes." Dear author, you should be shot. You should also try to do the craft with HUMAN 6 year olds, not the robot ones you clearly tested your craft on.

"Songs are a great way for children to learn English." Yes they are. They are also a great way for teacher to lose her voice, her patience and her mind while trying to control 12 six year olds as they run around the room, screaming at the top of their lungs about Alice and her damn humps.

They're lucky they're cute.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Resurfacing

Our new kindergarten schedule this week has put me, boringly, on no other topic that I'M SO F-ING BUSY AT WORK.

When I worked in Belfast, I felt like that was all I ever said. "I'm so busy." "Things are so crazy." "I'm at a lost for words".

I can't quite honestly think of anything more boring to write about and more importantly more boring to READ about (although I'm guessing the weather is probably up there...)

So, if you're wondering why I've been absent it is precisely because I'm am saving you, readers, from the monotony of, "Wow, I'm not sure how I will EVER survive."

One of my biggest pet peeves, besides ignorance, arrogance and that slurping noise your mouth makes when you chew with it open, is when people tell you all about how busy they are.

Yes yes, everyone gets busy. But not many people are busy enough to actually discuss it at length.

President of a country at war? Yes. Head of the United Nations? Of course. Britney Spears publicist? Oh god yes.

But some average Joe who is adjusting to a new schedule at work? No. Not interested.

And so, I figured neither would you be.

So I can tell you that I have been thinking of a few things I want write about and thought perhaps today I'd give a bit of a preview..

1 - That 'The Devil Wears Prada' chick's new book Everyone Worth Knowing. Let me say I'm less than impressed. I know I only worked in publishing for a couple of years but I have been a reader for about 25 and the name-dropping, pop-culture-reference-overload and the author's I-want-to-make-a-statement-but-too-chicken-to-do-it-as-myself-so-will-create-a-fictional-character-to-do-so routine is making my peaceful evening reading, well, not very peaceful.

2 - How exercising rocks. And how much more it rocks with TV in front of the treadmill.

3 - Kindergartens...from scratch...no English...no classroom skills...bring on the songs and coloring.

4 - How to spend St. Paddy's day in Korea. Not a good sign when I had to explain the day to my coteachers. "It's..umm..about...St. Patrick..and these snakes...and green..and well essentially just getting pissed.' 'So, you dress up as green snakes?' 'Um....'

Here's to the weekend...

(ps - I've updated my daily photo blog, some February and March. And I know, I've missed some days but, you're getting the gist of it. See link to you right...)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Just Call Me Maria

Well, we did it. We actually hiked up a mountain.

And my legs don't feel half as bad as I expected them to. My foot could have done without all the exercise but hey, it's gotta toughen up sometime.

I have to admit, we didn't have time to get the matching outfits OR even walking sticks but I was lucky enough to find one right at the bottom of the path - kinda strategically placed for some waegook like me who came unprepared.

Aside from the spectacular views, the vigirous excerise and the brilliant fresh air, I think the best part of the day was just being with D.

It was nice, just the two of us, taking on the mountain like we try to take on the world.

And even though we got a little bit panicked at the top, wondering when we would ever find the trail down because it just kept rolling over the tops of the mountains, we did it.
Better still, we managed to find a nice little restaurant which served GLASSES OF WINE and some perfect dinner for those who had just run down the mountain for fear of the getting stuck in the dark and dying of exposure.
It was a pretty perfect day. Just perfect.



Thursday, March 08, 2007

Climb Every Mountain

D and I have decided to partake in one of Korea's beloved pasttimes - climbing mountains.

It usually involved matching outfits - men and women in 'hiking' gear, which is basically dark black polyester tracksuits with a little bit of colour along the stitching - hiking boots, metal walking sticks and of course, bags of kimpbap.

Because no event would be complete in Korea without food.

I've also been told there is not much strenuous hiking that actually goes on. More of the rambling, walking, let's-show-off-our-outfits hiking.

This sounds a bit more of what I'd be expecting in a hike.

If you have been reading for awhile you may recal the story of climbing the Mournes just outside of Belfast. Perhaps THIS is why I haven't been back up a mountain since.

But, I think I'm in better shape now. A couple of years of Body Pump at the gym and running on the treadmill have surely strengthend my muscles.

And I'm sure NOT WALKING for 6 weeks didn't weaken my muscles AT ALL.

But it will be better to do something a little more, well, cultural then doing shots of soju for the weekend.

And you can tell that the Koreans are gearing up for the spring season hiking. All the shops are have the outfits out in bins on sale and people are scrambling to them just to be the first to get a look at this seasons HOTTEST polyester outfit.

So watch this space. I may prove once again that perhaps 'hiking' is not my thing.

Then again, being able to wear matching outfits?

C'mon. Who COULDN'T get on board with that?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Happy Big 5-0 The Momma



I'm sending out these wishes to a woman who is probably as I type enjoying some Carib beer or a nice glass of red wine at a beach bar in sunny Barbados.

I'm pretty sure she won't be logging on today to see this entry.

We had a mini celebration when the whole family was together for H's wedding for my mom's big day. She has never been one to like much of a fuss and surprises annoy her mostly so it was a low key lunch followed by, a few momento gifts but no cake or singing, because in addition to not enjoying surprises, she also does not like drawing attention to herself in public.

(And for the last fact, I think all of us Vint kids should get DNA testing since I'm not quite sure how the loudest, attention seeking people could actually have been spawned from one so publicly timid)

Last night, I started to think about my mom and how this is big birthday. They always talk about the big 5-0, middle age, over the hill, time to buy the red sports car and get yourself a toy boy..although I'd say my dad is probably enough work.

It makes me sad to think that I can't share it with her - mostly because I'd like to be on the beach with a nice cold one too - but then I got to thinking:

Surely, all the 'begin-a-new-decade' birthdays are important aren't they?

And I was there for those!

Like on her 2oth birthday, when I was about 9 months old, and I'm sure I gave her a GREAT day of crying, shitting, not eating my food and not sleeping. Sounds like a great party to enter your 20s into.

Ok, ok, well I can't be blamed for not helping it be special as I was too little and I suppose, me just BEING THERE made it all the more special right?

So, I was also there for her 30th, all of 10 years old myself, surely not bossy or obnoxious AT ALL. Oh yes, I remember the best part. I asked if my little friend could stay for dinner. On. Her. Family. Birthday.

And so all the family pictures we have of that day includes me, my father, my siblings and a girl by the name of C, who I don't even speak to now and who probably pressured me into asking just so she could have some cake.

Wow, even better. Entering her 30s with my stupid little friend drooling all over the cake. Nice work A.

Ok, I thought, well, 40 must have been better! I mean, I was 20 by then, in first year university, the classic "I'm-independent-know-it-all-stage", staying in residence and studying on her dime and I'm sure...not..bossy...or..obnoxious.....at...all..

And so, for her 50th birthday, even though I'm not on that beach sipping G&Ts or whatever the bartender's serving, I at least know she's enjoying herself. And that I can remember her years into the 50s had a great start.

And if I have the chance to be there with her when she turns 60, I'm pretty sure I'll find someway to make it as memorable as I have in the past....





Happy Birthday Mom. Love you. Miss you. Hugs across many oceans.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sisters, Sisters and a Brother..or Three...

It has always been a bit surreal to me when something very adult happens to my younger siblings.

I can actually hear them all rolling their eyes as I type this but it's true. I can't help it. I still call them 'kiddo' and my brother has only recently been able to order his own drinks from a restaurant (picture it: "Um..yes, he'll have a coke. With two straws. Pink, please because that's his favorite colour).

I'm sure my mother will tell you I was born about 25 years old. I can never remember a time I didn't want to be 'older', more 'mature' and 'in charge'. Then, of course, I hit 25 and decided I'd like to just..stay..right..here.

And so, as my siblings have progressed - college, marriages, mortgages - I've just kinda stood by, like this proud surrogate mom who kinda feels stuck in this weird surreal world of 'they're all growing up so fast.'

What was so facinating about the most recent sister wedding I went to was that it was incredibly different that sister C's. And just as magical. There was stress, but a different type of stress. And I suppose C took the weight of the 'first one' of H and my shoulders. So there wasn't that first time stress.

In hindsight, one of the funnier parts was the way the 'night before the wedding' was actually played out.

For C's wedding, it was the bridal party, after a dinner with the groomsmen, relaxing in a hotel room, doing last minute things - which included the bride getting down on all fours and showing us how she could do 20 push ups - and definitely NOT A LOT of alcohol.

We were in bed by 11 - and we didn't have to get up until 10:30...

H's wedding, however, was a bit different. After a big co-family party at my parents' house, the Vint siblings decided to stay up and continue to 'celebrate' the union. Until, well, to protect those involved, can I just say A BIT LATER than 11? And that perhaps there was a LITTLE BIT of alcohol involved? And that we had to be DOWNTOWN CHICAGO at 9am?..

But as I looked at the pictures, I realised we captured (or should I say bro-in-law-1 captured) some of the best family faces I've seen in a long time.

And it make me realise that even though we are growing up, somehow, we're still those same kids that used to make each other laugh (yes, and cry) in the back of the GMC van on 2 day long car treks to Florida.

Just a little bit of view of what I wouldn't have missed for the world..