What I’ve Been Reading
Mostly Cosmo magazines, to be honest. I have quite a stash I acquired from other teachers and have been gorging on Season One of House and flipping through Cosmo and the like for the last week or so. I am also reading “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” by Christopher Moore, “The Brooklyn Follies” by Paul Auster, and “Popper” by Frederic Raphael simultaneously. I really ought to finish the Popper book, it is a tiny synopsis of Popper’s work and I am almost finished already. Lamb is hysterically funny, which is exactly what I thought of the other Moore book I read. Books that make you laugh out loud are few and far between, especially as an adult. And the Auster novel has quickly demonstrated exactly why my coworker Deanna calls him her favourite author and what exceptionally good taste she has at the same time. I also read Welcome to My Planet: Where English is Sometimes Spoken” by Shannon Olson. It was amusing enough, but nothing special, a story about a 30 year old who isn’t quite sure what she is supposed to be doing with her life. A bit like looking in the mirror, I guess.
… is so much better when you can watch whole seasons at a time. This break in showing new Grey’s Anatomy episodes is enough to make me want to pull my hair out, but I’ve been kept happy with House and The Ghost Whisperer and Eureka and The L Word. I have a ton of other series to get through as well, as Rodger kindly stuck a bunch of stuff on my hard drive for me, after buying it for me on base. And I must say, I do love my new toy. It’s odd. I was never really the kind of person to want the new gadget or technology, but somehow I am now enamoured of all things electronic. Well, okay, not all things. But as each thing seems to blend into the next (I need the hard drive to hold my photos and copies of TV shows and the insane amount of downloaded music I have, which I then play on my iPod or watch on my laptop. And just wait, I intend to get a much more exciting cell phone the next time around. I want one that can give me a breathalyzer or let me watch TV on it or show me the subway map and calculate the time it will take to get me where I am going. All things that Korean cell phones can do, in fact), I find that I increasingly want all the new toys.
As predicted, I have been using lots of fun new stuff lately. I am presently wearing Skin Food Carrot Collagen Eye Sheets and sprayed my feet with some sort of anti-smell mist. I’ve used any number of random face masks lately (not to the benefit of my skin, it has to be said, but fun anyway.)
So, Samarra finally moved to Seoul. In my last proper post, I mentioned that I was off for free drinks on a Wednesday at the Cage. Poor Samarra missed the free drinks AND the guy accidentally setting his pants on fire, but she did come out. I somehow managed to miss the strip dance, though. Anyway, there was lots of dancing and a little drama, as per usual here in Seoul. Everyone was out, what with the next day being a holiday. I spent the next day chilling with Rodger and then went out for dinner with Margaret and crew for her birthday at Pattaya. After that we chilled in Geckos for a bit, for reasons I do not recall, as the free drinks were on offer elsewhere. Joel claimed he was only out for dinner and Sheila claimed she would not be caught dead in the Loft. Naturally, they were both there until the eggburger-buying end. It was Beth’s last night – it seems there has been an endless stream of goodbye nights out lately. Such is life in Korea, I guess. Uniquely, Erin did some meditating in the bar. Not sure what exactly she was meditating on. Perhaps the lack of handsome guys? That Thursday was also the night that I met Candice’s friend Darren and he met us. I hope he enjoys crazy girls in bars, cause that was what we were, as per usual.
Pretending to be a Tourist
My lame ass didn’t make it out on Friday, as it often hasn’t lately. I suppose that is what they say about feeling your age. No more weekends that involve Wednesday to Sunday, I need a Friday night break in there to hibernate in my apartment, watch bad reality TV, and catch up on my sleep. However, that meant it was easy (well, ok, only sort of easy) to get out of bed on Saturday morning and go and meet Derek in Insadong with Laura. The day was gray, but I decided it wouldn’t rain, so I left all ten of my umbrellas at home. It promptly started to rain. This is why I own so many umbrellas in the first place. However, we were snug on the bus and then the subway. While Laura and I were waiting (and it turns out that Darren to was waiting, but upstairs at the exit rather than inside) we got to witness a highly amusing fight between two ajummas over prime umbrella selling locations. The rain turned to snow and it was gray and cold, but the three of us were off for bulgogi and tea and by the time we had all be nourished, the sun had come out. We first went to Tapgol Park, which I have seen many a time but never ventured into. It has a few statues and a pagoda from the 1470s, which the park is named after. On our way to see a palace, we wandered into a park with a singer and a large group of ajoshis singing along and dancing. No idea what it was all about, but it was rather fascinating. Follow the noise is always a good traveling rule of thumb. We ended up at Jongmyo, which is where the spirit tablets of the kings and queens are kept. Along with the ceremonial booze cups, which are far nicer than those at the Loft. And I bet if you put down your cup and misplaced it, they wouldn’t refuse to give you another spiritual beverage either! There were bizarrely several phone booths in the palace. This seems odd. I mean, really, what kind of tourist feels a burning need to call home while touring a palace? And all Koreans, down to my six year old students, have handphones, so they don’t need them. Weird. There were also some charming trees, which I decided to pose with. To see all the pics, go to www.kodakgallery.com/chinook. Then we hit the palace, took a few more touristy pics, wandered into a greenhouse full of mini-garden like creations, and came across a rather odd marker. I am not entirely sure that I need to know where the placentas were buried, but now I do. And as they say, knowing is half the battle. Granted, the real GI Joes aren’t doing much of a good job of following their own slogan these days.
We split up to head home to change before hitting the bars of Itaewon. Managed to fit in Geckos and Bricx with Laura and Hanna along for the ride, and then once they left we went to Queen. Now, if you are in a gay bar on the aptly named Homo Hill (just one hill over from Hooker Hill, natch), it can be quite amusing to start doing Blow Jobs. The shots, not the thing itself (get your minds out of the gutters!) And more amusing to have them shot out of your cleavage. (For those not in the know, these are done without using your hands, though usually off of tables and the counters of bars.) Anyway, we’ll leave the description of the wildness at that, to save my poor mother, who is doubtless reading this in horror. We did indeed end up wandering over to Hooker Hill, as there are some non-dodgy bars, and danced for a bit in Poly’s Kettle. I wandered off home at a late hour, though before the rest of the crew, only to wander back into Itaewon for dinner the next day. Of course. Somehow we ended up staying out until 5am. Not exactly what one expects of a Sunday night out for dinner. And amusingly, for all that time spent in a bar, I had about 3 beers, because I drink beer with an exquisite slowness that drives most of the people around me insane with incomprehension. I used to drink beer at a normal speed. I have no idea what happened. (It should perhaps be noted that I am now sporting a lovely cucumber facemask that says that it’s refreshing. I suppose it is.) Anyway, it was another round of eggburgers for all on the way home. I wonder if Rodger lost his bet or not? I can’t say I was fascinated enough by talk of 8 tracks to listen closely enough to know exactly what it was about.
Last week passed by. The lovely cigarette burn on my arm was starting to look like it might cause my arm to fall off entirely, which necessitated a trip to the Korean doctor downstairs. Who kindly removed the scab and a fair amount of arm with a scalpel. And no painkillers of any type. This to the girl who gets laughing gas to have cavaties filled. The only bonus to any of this is that none of it was translated to me in advance. I made up for the bad morning by heading for Cage that night, though all that resulted in was me seeing a rather dodgy strip show and getting far too tired to go out for Ladies’ Night, which is far more fun. I even stayed in on Friday night, as I was feeling a need to be a hermit. However, Saturday being St. Patrick’s Day, I was obviously off to the pub.
We started at Geckos, naturally, after a Thai for dinner. It was packed to the brim, full of people who were pinching my ass as I managed to forget to wear green. I’m not kidding. I really am ditzy enough to go out for St. Patrick’s Day and yet forget just as I was dressing that that was what I was doing. I did spend the evening drinking Green Apple Martinis, which perhaps redeems me in the eyes of the diehard Irish types. The night progressed onward to B1, where there was a great number of wedgies given, and then to Polly’s Kettle, where Samarra had her first soju experience. I didn’t get home till the next morning, so basically it was a great night out.
Sunday was basically St. Paddy’s Day, Part 2, with dinner at an Indian buffet, followed by drinks at RMT and Geckos. There was even a guy still dressed up in a leprechaun suit, though since he was stupidly tall he actually looked like the bastard lovechild of a giant and a leprechaun, but there you are. When they kicked us out of Geckos, we wandered over to the Wolfhound, where we played that game where you have a celebrity name stuck to your forehead and have to ask yes/no questions to try and guess who you are. It was fun, played by quite the multinational group, including even the guy who sells the kebabs in the bars.
I’ve just been out having dinner at Bennigan’s and then to see The Illusionist with Sheila, Karllyia and Jane. The salad bar was awesome (I’m still full, hours later) and the movie was entertaining. Jessica Biel is certainly beautiful.
Tomorrow is Persian New Year, I’m told, so I’m off to more free drinks at the Cage. It will be an early night (ending around midnight) as I am determined to make it to Ladies’ Night this week. Determined!
So, it’s getting to the end. I’ll be doing my leaving happy dance soon. I love the kids, I love the teaching, but my boss is soooooo annoying and the curriculum is frustrating. It is starting to get to the point of cleaning up on-going projects and finishing off things for the last time ever. I have gotten all of April’s homework finished for two textbooks already, so that the new teacher has a couple of weeks of breathing space before he gets stuck dealing with it all. I have a ton of damn filing to do; my desk is an unholy mess. My students are cute, though. I recently made my youngest class peanut butter and jam sandwiches, because we are reading the cutest story about two bears who need to buy jam for their toast and end up buying a ram instead because poor Dan is forgetful. They were adorably messy as they ate them. I recently lost one of my favourite classes, only to have it replaced with some very low-level, high-maintenance 5 year olds. Sigh. And one of my students, when answering a journal question about how he helps around the house, amusingly replied that he cleans the dichotomous beetle. Now, I’m guessing that means he has something to do with getting rid of cockroaches, but let me tell you, in a class were most students tell me daily “Teacher, I am a pencil” when in fact they need one, it was a pretty funny word to come across. I tried to keep my snickering to myself. My boss is a nutjob as always.
I seldom keep up with the news. I am not uninterested in world events, but somehow can’t get into reading about them on the internet. I like good, old-fashioned newspapers, but frankly, the Korea Herald just doesn’t cut it. And I don’t have much in the way of TV offerings, with the odd hours that they show the news on AFN, combined with army news (“Recently in Area One, some soldiers washed some trucks. Let’s interview them!”), and CNN. So, I was cooking dinner one night after work (something I’ve been doing a lot more of recently) and I put on CNN for some background noise while I made my food. And a man came on talking about some scandal involving an attorney general or something and some mistakes made in the US. They were in particular commenting on the tendency of public figures to apologize only in the passive tense – no “I’m sorry” or “I made a mistake”, but instead “Mistakes were made” thus allowing the mistake maker to never really implicate themselves in the wrong-doing. This is all very interesting to someone who deals with language every day while teaching it, until the man makes the fatal mistake of stating that this language use demonstrates a whole new verb tense that he likes to call the past exonerative. Now, coining it the past exonerative is very amusing. HOWEVER! It isn’t a new verb tense, moron! It’s the damn passive! As if it isn’t annoying enough that my bloody grammar check likes to imply my use of the passive isn’t grammatically correct, now we have people claiming it is some sort of new grammatical invention. For Christ’s sake. And that is why I will remain ignorant of the news. I hope that Hong Kong has the BBC, though even they seem to be slipping these days.
He appears to have sort of lost it. I mean, really. I left him, I moved to another continent, I have never had any interest in reconciliation. He is now accusing me of purposefully trying to delay the divorce. I tell you, if we could get one any faster, I’d be all over that. However, there are exactly two things I need to fill out on the forms, and one of those is an address at which the formal papers can be served to me. I am about to move to a new country and I don’t have a permanent address, because I don’t yet have a work visa. It may well be May before I get one. And that isn’t a problem for me particularly, except where it happens to concern this form. And sure, I’d love to have it done and all, but it just isn’t possible. So he suggests that if I keep “sitting on the form” he will fly over and get it himself! Hysterical! I mean, he couldn’t find his way around Korea if he tried and once I leave here, what is he going to do? Wander around all of Hong Kong hoping to bump into me? After all, the problem is that I don’t have an address to give him. How exactly does he expect to fly over and find me? And how is it that I married this person in the first place??? I’m sure he’ll send me a scolding email about how I talked about him on my blog, he always does. I’m just gonna say in advance pot and kettle and leave it at that. Let’s hope he gains some sort of a clue and chills out already. I’ll have a permanent address when I have one. Until then, I won’t. The way I live my life includes puttering along for a month or two with no fixed address, and that’s cool. That’s one of the good parts of it.
My face mask is dry and my fingers are tired of typing. I’m sure only my most dedicated readers have made it through a post this massive anyway (Hi, Mom!), so it’s time to hop into bed with all three of the books I’m reading and relax.