The last day of Intensives started out incredibly well. The sun was shining, the air was fresh rather than something you have to wade through, and I wasn't rushed. I listened to some cheesy 80's on my way into work, where I was all super-prepared (as of last Thursday), with nothing to do but give some tests.
Surprisingly, it didn't all start going abruptly downhill. Generally, that's what my luck tends to bring. But, for all that I had to shuffle around about 10 pieces of paper per student and wasn't at all sure what the hell I was doing, everything was copacetic, with only one minor snafu and that was fairly easily remedied.
Then I had one of those ditzy-professor moments. That particular expression sort of captures me, if you add more ditz and take out the genius, leaving basically a stupid person with a flair for knowing things that no one really needs to know and an aptitude for taking exams and writing poor quality (but apparently decently insightful) essays. Anyway. My boss calls me over in one of our "five minute breaks" and says, "So, you will be in Japan tomorrow. You need to be back on Friday afternoon for a meeting. Do you want to leave Friday morning?" And I'm all, "I'm going to Japan TOMORROW?!?!?! Not Wednesday but tomorrow?!?!?!" I'm sure the expression on my face was priceless. New boss may well think I'm a few light bulbs short.
In my defense, this plane ticket originally was sort-of not real. I mean, it was real. I think. Maybe it was just a reservation. Who knows? I certainly wasn't paying any attention. All I knew was that New Bossman was saying I didn't need a ticket to extend my alien card and Old Bossman was saying I did (and he had the benefit of the doubt, being at immigration itself when he was telling me this), so I demanded one. At the time the dates on the ticket seemed irrelevant, since the pressing problem was that I was about to be 3 days over the expiry date as it was.
And I'm not a total idiot - after all, I've never once missed a flight. I knew I had to print the thing out today, because I had no idea of the details, so I would have figured it out... really. I swear. So then he tells me that he will only be giving me $150 towards the visa (which no one has ever paid for when I have to get it in Canada), hotel, etc. and I tell him that I understand that, I am happy to pay for the extra nights because I have never been to Japan before. His response? "Great! So you have hotel all worked out!" Um, no. Blatantly not. I ask Sara, my coworker, where she stayed when she did her visa run and she asks if I have a Lonely Planet, she'll show me.
And this is when it all hits rock bottom. I say, "Well, not with me. I have the South East Asia at home though, and that might not have much information, but it'll do for a couple of days." And it might if Japan was in South East Asia! Sara looked at me like I had a hole in my head. Now, I was never one of those folks with an interest in Asia before moving here. My obsessions with foreign lands were strictly Africa and Europe, with Cuba, Costa Rica, and the Galapagos Islands covering my interest in the Southern bit under my Northern bit. As geography goes, it's not my strongest point. However, four years ago, when I was coming to Korea for the first time, it just so happened that I thought Korea was, indeed, down around about where Thailand and Vietnam were. You'd think my, "Japan?!?! China?!?! Neighbouring countries?!?! Where the hell am I?!?!" moment might have cured me of the idiocy of attaching entirely the wrong countries to the wrong bits of continent in my head. You'd think so, wouldn't you? Apparently you'd be very, very wrong.
So, all this and it's only lunchtime. The test related snafu hasn't even occurred yet! However, the afternoon rolled on well - my eleven year old one-on-one turns out to be a Dr. Who fan, so he's now heard my story about a Dr. Who episode inspiring a horrible childhood nightmare and he was forced to relate the entire second and third seasons to me, since I've only seen the first. Poor thing had NO IDEA what he was getting into when he asked me what exterminate meant (please do the Dalek voice there for me.)
(I just had a slight nervous breakdown because it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps I wasn't going to Osaka. Maybe I was going elsewhere. After all, we've all learned quite well how much attention I was paying back when my ticket was issued/reserved/created-on-photoshop. Kansai Airport means fuck all to me!!! What if that isn't the airport for Osaka? I've just been madly googling away. They shouldn't be allowed to not name the airport after the city - that's totally fucking obnoxious. And for all those "not-really-in-the-city-but-actually-an-hour-away-in-a-totally-different-city" airports that Europe specializes in, they should also have some sort of time to get to the city included after, along the lines of Osaka 45. Anyway, I am indeed headed to Osaka. Life can now go on.)
(Are any of you wondering how it is that I travel the world and don't accidentally get killed while doing something moronic? If you are, I'm not insulted. I myself am quite startled by my ability to leave my own house unscathed much of the time and certainly have no idea how I not only manage to navigate foreign countries, but generally do it quite well.)
So, back to my day. After the slight test snafu and the 55 minutes of Dr. Who discussion, I figured it was all clear coasting to the end of the day. Last book club class, identify some characters, pick out a theme, write a bit of a summary. Piece of piss, right? And indeed, it was. However, it was punctuated by every member of the admin staff and my boss stopping by every ten minutes asking for some sort of random information about me. "Sign this." "What's that number?" "Do you have this?" "I need to photocopy that." Only two days after a two page memo detailing why we must NEVER, EVER LEAVE THE CHILDREN IN THE CLASSROOM ALONE least they all bully each other and pull someone's hair or steal their pencils or whatever, and I am being instructed to not only wander off about 10 times in two hours, but also instructed to interrupt a class to get my purse and provide them with what they want right now.
But still, aside from the fact that my new boss and all my coworkers now think I am incredibly ignorant about basic geography, the day is going well. Until it starts to rain.
In Korea, the rain doesn't fuck around. No misty, never-mind-if-you-lack-a-raincoat kind of rain here, no sir. When it rains, it really does pour. All this naturally starts up 5 minutes before I leave work, thus forcing me to take a cab (not a bad thing, as now I have to go home, get my bookstore credits, go to Itaewon and buy a damn Lonely Planet and a cab is much quicker even in the hideous 6pm traffic), giving me ample time to get soaked while waiting for said cab. And since I shared with my coworkers, naturally it was still pissing it down while I trudged up the nasty ass hill to my place (I used to feel quite benign about this hill. I've lived here not even a month and I am now quite convinced it may actually have been built by Satan himself.) My flip flops were ridiculously slippery in the rain, thus I was forced to walk in the oddest way in order to keep them on my feet.
Naturally, once I had my stuff and grabbed an umbrella to head to Itaewon to go to the bookstore, it had completely stopped raining. How could it not have?
But I took a cab anyways. I was a bit pressed for time, but let's not pussyfoot around it, I was feeling lazy. The cab costs all of $2. Do you know, I finally realised that the cab drivers are being giant jerks lately? Whenever I get to my turn off and say, "wenchoke" (left), they've regularly responded, "yogiyo?" (here?) and stopped the cab. Since it always seems like more effort to try and explain in broken Konglish what I want than trudge up the hill (come winter, I bet that isn't the case!), I have been getting out and walking. Today, it finally occurred to me that the bastards just can't be arsed getting off a main road and having to turn around to come back! I'm thinking sobriety was helpful in this sudden enlightenment of mine, though that's not the damn point. Bastards!
Just about every other day I curse myself for not bring my camera out of the house with me. Today I saw a bus called BS Tours. Is that not the best thing ever? I saw two other humorous things, but I'll save them for when I go back to Itaewon with my camera and can snap away. Granted, for a year I intended to wander around Hwajung and do a sort of photo journal about it, but I'm sure you've all noticed the decided lack of that happening. I really am the most incredible procrastinator - I am so skilled I can even procrastinate instead of doing things that I want to do!
(Yes, I am recently addicted to italics. You'll have to deal. I know it's rough.)
(Do you know that I suddenly figured out the other day exactly what a split infinitive was? I've taught it before and I get it well enough, but suddenly I just got it. That just flashed through my head and so I thought I'd share. Anyway, this shouldn't surprise anyone who knows that I was about 26 when I finally got it straight in my head the differences between cups, glasses, and mugs. Whatever, I'm a bit ditzy. Move on, nothing here to see...)
So, the bookstore. I went in for a Lonely Planet to Japan, which I now have, though seeing as it was published in October 2000, I'm going to guess it's not terribly up-to-date. At least the country I'm going to is in this one. (Oh, yes. I have jokes.) Wanna guess how many other books I bought? Keep in mind that I had $90 worth of credit on me, burning a hole in my pocket...
Including the LP, I bought 14 books. 14. It was intensely pleasurable - all that scanning the shelves, finding things I really want to read, uncovering interesting sounding books I've never heard of before, discovering one old, academic book for only $2 on a subject I'm becoming increasingly interested in (perhaps more on that in a later post). God, the browsing. It's almost better than sex. Certainly better than bad sex. And it beats chocolate hands down.
The only problem is that I have a new rule (for all of you that have ever been around to hear me state my "new" rules in the past year or so, yes, you are free to laugh your asses off and place bets on how long it's likely to last) and that new rule is that I can only buy books when I have books to trade. No new books, no money exchanging hands, unless it's amounts under $5. I thought it was going to be easy peasy lemon squeezy. (I teach kindergarten. Don't judge me.) Why would I ever think this, knowing my legendary lack of restraint in book-buying? After all, I was the girl who moved to Scotland with maybe 10 books and in just over 2 years had a collection of over 300. I know this, because my ex hated that I bought so many books and counted them one day. But I thought I was safe. I thought I was safe because I had almost $100 in credit just sitting around, for a rainy day.
I suppose it did rain today.
(How is ditzy not a word? Spellcheck sux.)