Friday, June 29, 2007

The Next Generation - Double Whammy

During the first half of April, I had this terrible dream that my little sister C died.

I sometimes have these dreams, as I'm sure everyone does about a loved one, that feels so real and intense in the moment, the first thing you want to do when you wake up is actually just give that person a great big hug.

When I woke up, I remembered another dream I had had one time about my brother R, dying. It was C that had said to me:

"Well, when someone dies in your dream it means that their going to start a new chapter, have some exciting, some new, happen to them. Essentially, they life will change so much it will become a 'new life'."

So it's no surprise that I thought of this after the dream I had about her.

Later that week, I heard that she had recieved very sad news about her best friend's father passing away. I knew this would affect her very much, as she has been close with the whole family for many years.

Strangely, I came back to my dream, thinking that perhaps this was the dramatic change that it had foretold.

I called her up that weekend to send my condolences and see how was she was doing.

I relayed the story to her and the converstation went a little something like this:

A - I had this terrible dream about you dying..

C - (possible eye roll) uh-huh

A - and then I remembered what you said about those types of dreams..

C - (possible slight smile) oh yeah

A - one time when R....blah blah blah....

C - (possible tuning out of A's LONG story)

A - (after 5 minute ramble) ....and I thought maybe you were pregnant but then I guess this sad news must be the dramatic change.


A - *listening to dead air*

C - *silence*


C - *silence*

A - anyway, the weather is just getting SO WARM these days..

It was a week later, Easter Weekend, from my parents home, whom she had surprised by driving 10 hours from Toronto to give them the new, that she called with the happy news:

And I couldn't help, in between the excited 'OHMYGODOHMYGOD's, point out that I KNEW IT. Or well, at least I THOUGHT I knew it. because the phone conversation had TOO MUCH of a pregnant pause.

My little sister C is pregnant! I am set to become the CRAZY OLD AUNT ABBEY I promised all my friends in high school I would be. Except, I might change the CRAZY to TOTALLY-AWESOME-WITH-THE-SPOILING-AND-AWESOMENESS.

If that didn't create enough of happy tingling to last me for the rest of the year, I recieved news from sister H just one week later.

SHE WAS GOING TO BE A MOMMY TOO! The girl who asked my parents when she was little if she could live with them forever, was now spreading her wings and starting her own little brood to live with HER forever.

And she was due only weeks after C!! It would be a double whammy Christmas!!

And then my head exploded. WITH UTTER GLEE AND EXCITEMENT!!

Congratulations to my sisters C and H and my patient, loving bro-in-laws K and P (respectively).

May your journeys be filled with adventure, excitement and wonder.

And may you be sure to take many pictures. I promise, I won't post them ALL on my blog.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sometimes, It DOES Sink In

A couple of months ago, I decided one very important lesson I wanted to teach all my chicldren was how to actually GREET people properly.

I would frequently arrive in class, ask individual students 'how are you' only to hear responses such as 'I'm fine', 'I'm happy' or my favorite Korean invention 'I'm so so', which I have learned should REALLY translate into 'I'm okay'.
What stuck out the most, was the impoliteness of their responses.

And so, I wrote 1, 2, 3 on the board and explained to them that when they are asked this question, there are THREE parts in the answer:

1 - your state of being (okay, well I didn't write THAT on the board as it would have really flew over their heads)

2 - a recognition that something nice was asked of you (ie THANK YOU. Or THANKS. or THANKS VERY MUCH. Or even the Korean THANKS VERY MUCHY)

3 - do unto others..(in other words, ASK THE QUESTION BACK. The variations included HOW ABOUT YOU? or repetitively HOW ARE YOU? or simply AND YOU?)

As as teacher, I think most days you feel like you might as well be talking to drying paint. That the only way something might sink in is if you actually carved it into the paint before it dried.

But today, I've been proven wrong. TWICE.

I saw two students today whom I no longer teach but are still at my school.

And in my most courteous Canadian way, I simply asked them how they were.

Do you know what happened without missing a beat?

They both finished their greeting with number 2 AND 3.

Success. Changing conversations two students at a time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

And So It Goes

"...and so it goes, and so will you soon I suppose..." - Billy Joel

I've heard that once you finally begin to 'get' Korea, you leave.

I've heard that many people choose to stay another year because after the first 12 months are up, they suddenly begin to realise what it's all about here.

On Sunday, I decided to head back to the sauna, filled with naked women and young girls, who scrub and sauna themselves to pure cleanliness.

I haven't been for a couple of months because the weather has been so nice but it used to be my regular Sunday routine.

And when I walked it, it just felt, well, dare I say a bit like home? Like home in the way it smells and the sounds and that feeling you get after being away too long and realising it's exactly like you never left?

I suddenly just felt part of it. Part of something that I really enjoy about Korea. A relaxing couple of hours pampering myself. For only 5 bucks.

There are so many things to get frustrated about here that it always catches me by surprise when something feels just absolutely perfect.

Next week, we will have been here a year. ONE YEAR. I remember writing here when we first arrived, wondering how I was going to survive an entire 12 months. And now, here we are.

And although we've extended our contract by a month, to take advantage of making a bit more cash and avoid travelling in the rainy season, we're still leaving very soon.

I'm finally realising how much I WILL really miss this place.

You begin to slowly realise that all you need is comfort and familiarity and anywhere becomes home. Anywhere becomes a place that you feel comfortable in.

And perhaps this is all stating the obvious. And perhaps I've stated it before. I know there was an isolation period both in Leeds and Belfast.

I guess, for future reference, the acclimitization time for Korea is one year.

And so it goes.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Here Comes the Sun

In an effort to will the sun back to Busan so we can all head to the beach this weekend, I decided to post some pictures of the Baseball/Soccer/Football/Beach Festival weekend we had a few weekends ago.

On Saturday - we hit the benches

Lotte Giants on the field.

Crazy Mascot dressed in a traditional Korean hanbok - female dress.

D and B enjoy the game.

I was there...see??

Kiwi D sneaks a peek at the camera.

K and E REALLY enjoyed themselves.

On Sunday - we hit the beach:

Korea E prepares herself for the long day and Sun Hat K give some encouragement to N.

Magazines always help footballers wives pass the time.

Action of their final game.

Way to go waegooks!

Sand, sun, soccer, some magazines, some footballer wives, such great craic.

What a blast.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Get in Shape Girl

Does anyone else remember this bizarre children's gift that appeared in the 80s?

I've recently been trying to get back on the fitness wagon and for some reason, the commerical theme song will not get out of my head.

"Get in Shape Girl, it's so appealing, Get in Shape Girl, you know the feeling!"

Looking back as an adult, how strange is it that this was a young girl's gift.

"Here's some equipment!"

"Look at all the skinny girls in the posters!"

"With matching headbands!"

"And leggings!"


"Surely, you want to look like them!"

"You need to get in shape!"

"You're not good enough the way you are!"

I can just imagine my feminist's mother's face when I told her all I wanted for Christmas was a set of the Get in Shape barbells.

Perhaps that's why I got so many books that year.

To work out my brain instead.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Breathe Again

Okay, incommunicado slightly solved.

And now, after sweating it out all day, I think I should really join FA.

Otherwise known as Facebook Annonymous.

I wonder if they have an online group....


My email for some reason is letting me read, delete, and even draft messages but it will not let me send.

My latest addiction Facebook seems to be undergoing 'technical upgrades' which if I remember correctly from my web days basically means WE'RE F**KED AND CAN'T FIGURE OUT THE PROBLEM considering it would be 'prime facebooking time' in North America and I can't imagine a 'scheduled update' would actually go on during peak hours.


The girl with the gift of the gab has been silenced.

Okay, which one of you jokers out there has had your wish come true?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Just Looking Thanks

For Teacher's Day, I was given a disgusting amount of money in gift certificates at various department stores here in Korea.

One of the certifcates was for Lotte, quite a well known and prestigious place that has beautiful clothes, all far to small for me to squeeze into.

D and I wandered up to the top floor to check out some of the electronics. It was kinda a fun home mission, for when, well, we actually HAVE home, looking at various TVs, dreaming of ridiculously huge entertainment systems and deciding which couches we could agree on.

We also checked out the sports floor, which included shoes and mountain climbing gear. The matching outfits were certainly the hottest item there - you should have SEEN the Korean queuing to get the lastes polyester suits.

Most of this browsing was quite normal, almost like a regular day in a department store anywhere. And it felt kinda nice to just be in a place that felt really like home.

It didn't really last that long, however, before I was reminded I AM in Korea. A place where they pride themselves on hands on customer service...literally.

Picture if you will, the cosmetic and beauty floor in any major department store you've ever been in. You know, it's usually on the first floor, with the beautifully make-uped ladies, smiley their pearly whites and trying to catch you with the latest perfume spray as you go buy.

I decided to check out the Aveda counter, which actually had a 10 foot wide wall with tons of lovely products to browse.

I walked straight up to the end of the wall and proceeded to slide my way slowly to the right, looking at all the products they had to offer.

This is still sounding normal isn't it?

Okay, well imagine a cosmetic lady approaching me, standing to my left, facing me instead of the wall.

She doesn't say anything, although she smiles.

And I give her the nod that, thank you, just looking.

She smiles back. And does not move.

I am staring at make up and to my left about 6 inches away, is a Korean woman, just staring at me.

I discreetly shift to the right, looking at other products to perhaps give her another hint that, I'm not really in need of any help.

It was like she was on a string, attached to my waist, because, without saying anything, she simply just moved over. Towards me. And managed to STILL keep exactly 6 inches between us.

I decide to not look at her. Perhaps this is the problem. I'm being TOO nice. And so, I shift further, to the right, pretending like she's not even there.

But the string still is. And so is she. SIX INCHES AWAY FROM ME.

Do you remember that feeling? When you're like 14, 15, going into a shop with your girlfriends and the cashiers can't help but follow you because they're just WAITING for you to shoplift?

It felt a little like that.

When I finally reached the end of the wall, and had finished looking, albeit uncomfortably, at all the products, I turned around to see D, almost pissing himself laughing.

And now I wished I'd got it on video.

Because can you just imagine what it looked like from behind?

Something out of Monty Python, I'm certain.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Back to Basics

When I was younger, I fell in love with a quote, that I'm not sure where it came from, so I've always posted it as anonymous:

"Life is a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think"

I'm finding myself getting a little caught up in too many emotions right now.

And so, in an effort to change my mind, I'm throwing this out there in hopes that the universe will come smack me up side the head and get me to snap out of it.

Because really, feeling things is great.

But isn't laughing better?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Visually Minded

Although I've always got a lot of words bouncing around in my head, I can't always say that they make that much sense.

So, in an effort to compile some information that might be a bit less scrambled, here is a snapshot (ha ha, i'm TOO funny) I've what we've been up to over the past couple of weeks.

First, there was my birthday

which included tacos

some wishes
a pinyata

and many many MANY songs sung by me

and others, when I finaly gave the mic away.

And then there was my ACTUAL birthday, which I shared with Buddha, and also meant, I got the day off.

Happy Birthday to us, big guy.

Then, there was a trip to Pohang to see some cute kids at an orphanage my friend K used to work at which included some playing

some measuring - of the length of noses that is..

and some hugs

and then an ice hockey game..

in which two foreigner friends were playing!

It included a bit of drama, when a player stormed off the ice, because he lost his glove. More likely, it was because the G-town team was KICKING THEIR ASS with the foriegn contribution and they were embarrassed to be losing.

Boo hoo, toys outta the crib, give me a lollipop.

There was some more frivolity - as there always is.

And a good time was had by all.
Been busy - yes.
Been enjoying it? Absolutely.
Next post: more tacos, a patio bar and a football tourney on the beach.