Monday, April 30, 2007

What a Difference a Day at the Beach Makes

Sunday was a glorious day as as we have never lived THIS close to a hot beach, we decided to make the most of it and trek down.

It's about an hour on a bus but the time seems to fly by now, more so than it used to when we would go there.

We had sand in our toes by 1pm and didn't look at our watches until 6:30. Magazines, crossword puzzles and books in hand, we spent the day with a couple of friends, alternating to go and get food and chatting about everything under the sun from Koreans to their language to the history behind the civil war to who EXACTLY was the hottest celebrity and why.

These type of days leave me more energised for a week of work. We are really getting down to crunch time here on making decision about when to leave, if to leave. The hours and the communications issues can leave you drained and frustrated. Spending time away to regroup can really lift your spirits.

My kindergarten kids seem to be getting more and more like little students every day. There are less blank stares when I speak to them and more English answers. There is less crying and more laughing. There is also less peace and more fighting but I'm going to guess 5 year olds only fight with each other because they're REALLY comfortable and they have learned the token 'I'm sorry' when I split them up and explain, 'Be nice to your friends'.

I will feel happy with what I have left here when I do go. I think we have come, stayed and will go at the exactly perfect time for us. I'm already gearing myself up for dreamy travel land and can take solace in the fact that all those times I dragged myself in when I had the flu or a cold or hobbled on my crutches was worth it because we wouldn't have saved like this anywhere else.

And without these savings, there would be no more travel.

And I can tell you, even though I will cry my eyes out when I have to leave the little gaffers that can't stop saying 'song sang nim' instead of 'teacher', I will drown my sorrows some glorious drink on a beach in Thailand.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

YIPPEEE! MY FIRST HATE MAIL!

In case you missed Anonymous comment on my blog, I thought I would share it with you.

There are a few parts I like the best, like the fact that there are actually people on this planet with THAT LITTLE of a sense of humour, or the fact that our dear commenter can so eloquently exude a holier than thou attitude with just words, but mostly, that someone with such insight and wisdom decided not to leave their name.

Anonymous said...
I find it incredible that you refused to shut off the music even after your students expressed their displeasure with it--in unison, no less. They didn't LIKE IT, so why would you defiantly FORCE them to endure it? You know, I was looking for blogs by English-speaking teaches in Korea because I'm considering this path next year myself. Your blog was the second one I looked at. The first one was from an American teacher who posted non-stop about the things in Korea that annoyed her including how Koreans "smell like onions and garlic and kimchee". Now I've got your blog where you show no shame--on the contrary, seem to gloat in your own willfulness--in forcing western music on Korean kids who were clearly unhappy. What a shame. Nevertheless, I am learning something from these blogs. I'm learning that if I do decide to go to Korea to teach, I will make respect for my students my number one priority and I will not gossip about Koreans and their way of life on my blog.

Yes, I AM that mean. I also pull their fingernails out if they can't recite the alphabet AND pour hot water over their heads if they don't refer to me as 'Master of the Universe Teacher'.

Doesn't everyone?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Okay Okay, I'm Addicted

Dear Ms. Blog,

I am sorry you have been abandonded by your said owner, that being me.

I'm sure you're feeling neglected and curious as to why, considering all the goings on that seem to be happening here in Korea now that the weather has turned.

It's not that I'm taking you for granted, which I suppose you might think, as you are an old friend, and as people often do with the ones they love thes most, that I am pushing you aside, casting you out, finding a newer younger model.

Well, that's not entirely true. Although I have to admit to you, and really admiting you have a problem is the first step, that I have realised something.

I have an addiction. Quite a serious one. And I'm just going to say it, like ripping a bandaid off really quickly, it's FACEBOOK.

Blog, FACEBOOK has taken over all of my computer time without me even realising.

You can blame sister C for starting the whole thing. She invited me, I signed up and now, I just can't...get...off!

I go on to check if I have any new posts on my wall and the next thing I'm sifting through pictures of people I haven't seen in 15 YEARS.

The interface is so incredibly fantastic (okay, there goes Back in the Motherland's eyes rolling to the back of her head) that you just really can't help but get lost in it all.

Blog, I'm confident that eventually people will have to start to pay for the service, and when that time comes, I know that my addicting ways will have to stop.

Until then, please be patient with me.

And maybe get yourself a FACEBOOK account...

Yours truly
the FB convert
A

Friday, April 20, 2007

Unmmm..Ya I Think We're Finished

When we first arrived in Korea, my mom asked what I needed in a care package.

Besides oatmeal and medicine and EVERY OTHER WESTERN FOOD YOU CAN THINK OF, I also requested something for the kiddies.

I wanted to have a CD with kids songs to teach the little ones.

Little did I know that in the end, I would be the one who was enjoying them as well.

She sent me a couple but my favourite is the Raffi CD. Being a good Canadian, I grew up on the stuff. And if playing with little kids all day doesn't actually make you feel like a kid again, listening to the songs of your youth will do the trick.

And so, I often have the Raffi CD on in the background when the kids are doing writing or coloring, just to have ENGLISH IN THE FACE for the duration of the class.

It also allows me to sing along.

And it was only today when I realised that maybe that wasn't such a good thing.

Because there I was, sitting at the front of the class, quietly singing along, putting in some actions to one of the funner songs on the CD when it happened.

About four children looked up at me, looked up in what I assumed was enjoyment and awe at the sound of the english tones, coupled with my fantastic actions.

They seemed mesmerized. So much so that after about 3 lines, one of the girls couldn't remember how to praise me in English.

She said something in Korean. And then I looked at her friend, to help me decifer exactly what she was trying to say.

He seemed up to the challenge, pleased he would get to communicate with me, looked up at the ceiling, paused before he pointed to the CD player and said,

"Teacher, finish."

And with that he turned his nose up at what was clearly not only an annoying sound but a frustrating distraction from peace and quiet in the classroom.

The rest of the children nodded, as if there heads were going to pop off in agreement with their friends that the 'noise' coming from the CD player AND the teacher was just too much to bear.

Tough crowd.

But the teacher's always right. Which is why Raffi AND I continued singing for the rest of the class.

Power not going to my head. No. NOT. AT. ALL.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Bicycle Built For 2

When I was younger, me and my siblings used to use our parents archaic stereo system to blare music like the Dirty Dancing and Tiffany REALLY LOUD just so that we could make up dances and perform them for the bi-annual video-camera-renting-extravaganza.

When my parents actually bought a video camera it actually got even worse and we did more and more songs with more and more elaborate moves and....then the novelty wore off.

But before it did we also, on occasion, would learn songs at school and then come home and perform various shows for the camera.

There was a classic version of 'A Bicycle Built for Two' - me on bended kneed with my coke bottle glasses at the end of my nose as Henry and my dramatic sister C, pulling a face and being all dainty as Daisy.

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer true
I'm half crazy over the likes of you
It won't be a stylish marriage
I can't afford a carrige
But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two...


I'm sure the video shows that I burst into laughter about halfway through and just only manage to contain myself for C's part...

Henry Henry this is my answer true
I'm not crazy over the love of you
If you can't affor a carriage
Forget about the marriage
I won't be jammed, I won't be crammed on a bicycle built for two...


It ends, as all V skits do, with us standing, facing the camera, stating our names -FULL names, in case anyone might have been confused whether or not we were from the same family - and a final bow.

I couldn't help but laugh this weekend, then, when 4 friends and D and I headed off to historic Gyeong-ju to have a scenic weekend outside.



After cycling around with D on the weekend, we decided THIS is what engaged couples should have to do before walking down the aisle for a day. If you can survive without killing each other, you can survive anything.



K and N - thanks for the photos!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Favourite Colour is PInk

"Teacher Teacher Pink Please!"

During an exercise in kindergarten class today, I was handing out sheets of 'long' paper and 'short' paper, meant to be specifically to be pasted onto a head as 'long hair' and 'short hair'.

This, my friends, is the complex workings that go on during my day. Cutting up pieces of paper to ensure we have both 'long' and 'short' and that the little kiddies can understand the difference.

There was one little child who was frantic - and adamant - that I made sure pink was made available.

Sounds normal enough, although the child was boy.

Helooked up into my eyes, pleading for 'pink please, pink'.

And I just couldn't help but smile and think of my brother.

Because when he was little, his favorite color was pink. And I think that perhaps when my father might have given up hope that he would one day play for the NFL.

Although, I never did see my brother use the colour pink to draw hearts around the picture with the 'long hair/short hair' pieces. Which is what this little boy did, right after he admiringly smiled down at his handiwork and asked for some 'more pink please'.

Well, at least he said please. And in English.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Last Laugh

Dear Mr. Defeated Ragweed,

Due to my enduring curiosity and ingenious research skills, I have discovered that the pescription allergy medication I used in Canada is actually AVAILABLE IN KOREA.

It's under a different name and of course all instructions are in Korean but it is made by the SAME COMPANY.

Not only did I enquire to my pharmacist friend the very day that I wrote you my first letter but I also was able to see a doctor a 7 AT NIGHT and actually get A DISCOUNT on both my vist to see him and my purchase of the said drug.

I celebrated my triumph, again in another language and another country, by having a nice tall well-and-duly breathed glass of merlot - something I KNOW you and your allergen buddies like to use to stuff me up as well AND since the dust arrived, I had not been able to really enjoy a nice glass of red wine.

But HA the joke is now on you. Yes, I see you just dropped that fag hanging from your lip and downed that last drink of yours as a symbol of THE PARTY'S OVER!!

You must have thought you had me beat again but AH HA the wonders of modern medicine and imported drugs strikes you down again.

YOU LOSE!! YOU LOSE!! YOU LOSE!!

Enjoy your weekend.

I know me and a few glasses of wine will while I'm relaxing with friend OUTSIDE in the DUST AIR because oh oh oh...I'VE GOT THE CURE!!

Sincerely,
Snot-Free A

***

Off to a historical city this weekend and preparing to be really touristy, OUSTSIDE amongst all the blossoms and yellow dust....

Monday, April 09, 2007

A Ragweed By Any Other Name

Dear Mr. Ragweed,

After 5 springs of avoiding you like the plague, you'll be happy to know that I am back in the land of now breathing, specifically due to a very unlikely ally of yours....

The Yellow Dust from China.

You see, here in Korea, all of us unassuming foreigners are being attacked by this dusty substance that is blow over the entire country for..well..I've been told the ENTIRE SPRING SEASON.

This means, I'm back to being stuffed up and nasally, except this time, I don't have any of the strong stuff to help me avoid you. The Korean medicine is doing it's best but I can tell you, it's no match for your dust friend.

You must have been in such a rage while I was in the UK, breathing in and out, smelling and eating like a normal human being, while you were stuck all the way back there in Canada, helpless to debilitate me as you usually do during the spring and autumn months.

I'm sure you're partying it up right now, with your allergen friends, smoking and drinking and high fiving each other at the turn around in my sinus cavity.

I suppose, if you ever meet your new buddy the dust man in a bar, you'll be sure to buy him a beer. I'd say he deserves a good gin and tonic for all the hard work he put into making my breathing Darth Vader-ish but you'll never find that easily in Korea.

At least I can take solace in the fact that even though I can't get a good drink in Korea, neither can the allergen community.

Sincerely, long time sufferer, first time re-sufferer
A

Friday, April 06, 2007

No Sense of Humour

Okay okay, since I didn't get ANY comments from my HILARIOUS video yesterday, I thought I would try again with this one....



Happy weekend everyone. I believe the beach festival in Busan is calling my name....

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Elf Show...and My You Tube Debut

I have been uploading some videos over the past couple of weeks after discovering that my camera takes pretty good videos.

Anyone who has seen the V Video collection knows that I'm no stranger to videos and now that I can actually RECORD MYSELF, I see a lot more in my future.

What's even better is that I can INSTANTLY SHARE with the world. Now that's I'm liking.

Here is a little video I like to call 'The Elf Show". This was the REAL halftime entertainment at the basketball game we went to last Saturday.

I won't spoil it, but I expect comments because I all know you've been to a basketball game before and I challenge you to tell me you've ever seen anything LIKE THIS!...



There ya go Awesome Bringer....it's all yours...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Now, If We Could Just Decide...

D and I have recently been having conversations about the near future about what exactly it is we should do.

After numerous conversations and flip flopping back and forth we have definitely decided on one thing.

We have too many options.

I remember watching a movie with Elizabeth Shue and other nameless people about a blackout in LA. She was married to this guy whose single brother comes to stay with them or maybe the brother is only there for the blackout and for the life of me I can't really remember the plot or the husband or the point of the whole movie, which leads me to believe it's not actually a big deal that I can't remember the name because I do remember one conversation that has stuck with me for quite a few years.

Shue's character is in the kitchen with the brother where the contrived sexual tension is building and she turns to him and says:

"You know what you're problem is, (insert dumbass name here)? You're problem is that you have too many options."

Because she was stuck in this loveless marriage with this huge mortgage and more importantly was stuck in the MIDDLE OF A BLACKOUT IN LA and he was this free single guy who had no home and was able to just go and do whatever he wanted. Although clearly NOT during the blackout because he was still hanging out with his brother's wife.

ANYWAY!!!...

I've always remembered that. Always remembered that you can, in fact, have TOO MANY options.

This tends to lead you into this circular conversation as to what would be the best idea or best course to take.

And I'm also becoming aware that our current situation has opened up many more opportunities then I thought possible. That this adventure to Korea has not actually taken us back but has pushed us forward with a whole new set of options.

Which is not to say I'm upset to have all the options. Because, isn't it always better to have choices?

It's just that where you're at the beginning of a decision, you second guess yourself anyway about which option to choose. And the last thing you need sometimes are too many options...

But I also know that time is on your side. Time will eventually make the decision FOR you, as you will get down to the last minute of deciding, the final day you can ponder and then TIME will show up and force you to pick A, B, C, D, E or F.

So, I suppose I'm slightly enjoying this decision game I'm playing with time.

Time always wins but she's been good to me so far. Throwing the dice at her might just be the way to go.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Happy Paper Anniversary

Although this is a day late, I thought I'd throw some kudos out there to my sister and brother-in-law on their first anniversary.

A year ago yesterday, both of our families were joining together and celebrating their official union. Weird to think that a year has gone by and we're all still so spread out all over the place.

In honour of their big day, I thought I appropriate to post some snaps of what was happening last year at this time. Clearly much more exciting that my battle with the yellow dust...



































A fairy tale ending for a prince and her dashing prince...

Whose Blog Is This Anyway?

Okay, I'm TOTALLY stealing again from the Documentarist but she had the greatest shots to show exactly what I was hoping to write about today.




We've been told a little bit about the 'yellow dust' from China, which basically is sand that is swept across from the deserts by winds during the spring season. I wasn't quite sure how I would know it was here but yesterday took the cake.




This is the view of the Documentarist's apartment normally:







And here is what it looked like on Sunday:


It's not smog, it's not fog, it's dust. It has this weird chalky smell to it and smacks me with a headache and nausea every time I step outside. It's not like it's falling from the sky or that it's turning any of my clothes yellow, it's just this stuff that's hanging in the air. Talk about a smog alert.

I think I may have become truly Korean and get one of those masks.

Thanks Lady D for the use of your pics again!