Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Read A Banned Book

As I learned from Grace, this week is the American Library Association's Annual Banned Books Week. It's every year during the last week of September. In honour of it, I'll be reading "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton, which we conveniently have at school (since I am on a different kind of book ban of my own - I've banned myself from buying any.)

The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2001 (the ones I've read are in bold):

Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
Forever by Judy Blume
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Giver by Lois Lowry

It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Sex by Madonna
Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
The Goats by Brock Cole
Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
Blubber by Judy Blume
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
Final Exit by Derek Humphry
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls by Lynda Madaras
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Beloved by Toni Morrison

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
Deenie by Judy Blume
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
Cujo by Stephen King
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys by Lynda Madaras
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
Fade by Robert Cormier
Guess What? by Mem Fox
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Native Son by Richard Wright
Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Jack by A.M. Homes
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
Carrie by Stephen King
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
Family Secrets by Norma Klein
Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
The Dead Zone by Stephen King
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
Private Parts by Howard Stern
Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
Sex Education by Jenny Davis
The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

There We Are Again!

2 Minutes in Heaven.

30 is Old

I had something funny to share.

But I forgot it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dazed And Confused

These pain meds they gave me are either very good or having had a broken toe for several weeks already, I was already accustomed to having a constantly sore toe and am just enjoying the lack of pain. Either way, I'm a bit spaced out.

It turns out I can visit my good friend Kim Jong Il without any worries of metal detection issues. When my boss translated my info sheet, it turns out that it's not a metal pin they've stuck in there, but some sort of odd material that will eventually dissolve into my foot.

What kind of material is hard enough to hold my bone in place and then dissolve? I find it a bit of a gross idea, actually. Almost as gross as the appearance of my toe with all these stitches - and they will all just dissolve away too. My poor boss had to look up the translation on the Internet for me - I'd google and put a link up here but I'm feeling very lazy. And spaced out.

In other news, I only have a couple of report cards left. I'm leaving them off until tomorrow, because I have to first mark their SAT prep essays and those are going to take some time. They suck. Suck. The thing when teaching ESL is that it's hard to predict if fluency in English is going to translate out into any particular skill at using English. So far, this particular class isn't that impressive - and the two French boys are a horror to mark. Their vocab choices are incredibly odd and I often can't figure out what they are trying to say.

I'm glad the new TV season has started. I'm going to have a lot of lying down time.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

She Never Did Learn to Conjugate Etre

Facebook has this little function where it suggests people you might know based I assume on large numbers of shared friends.

Oddly, the girl who bullied me in ninth grade French has popped up. It was weird seeing her name and face again.

For a geeky high schooler, I was very lucky. I really didn't experience much in the way of bullying at all. I hated school for reasons that even all this time later I am not sure I understand. All that skipping - it was about a lot of things, some of which I have worked out in my mind.

But that French class... Not only was it boring because it had been destreamed only the year before and the teachers hadn't had time to think about how to teach all the different levels in one class, but it was the class that made me dread coming to school. My teacher did that horrible thing where she made some students help others with their work - sure, you do learn and perfect your skills when teaching them to others, but teachers might want to remember that ninth graders who still can't conjugate etre might not be all that pleasant to the kid forced to try and help them with it. Instead, they might steal stuff from her and occassionally spit at her.

That class made me forever against destreaming.

Nearly 1/4 of All the Bones In Your Body Are in Your Feet


To help prevent an injury resulting in a broken toe, sturdy and supportive shoes should be worn.
So, basically, if you actually broke your toe a couple of weeks ago, you might want to reconsider going out dancing in flip flops. If only I had read this last time I broke the damn thing - and it was healing nicely too, with only some buddy taping at home.

So, here's what happened. A friend stepped on my toe. Unfortunately, she sort of slipped across it as well, thus moving the broken bit completely into the wrong position. I decided to try and yank it back into place, which wasn't particularly successful. In fact, it was quite disgusting. It was sort of pointed in the wrong direction and not feeling like the tip was at all attached to the rest of my foot anymore, internally.

So, into a cab I went. I got to the International Clinic of the hospital and was told that I needed surgery immediately. My first instinct was to say, "But don't you at least have to call my mother first?" At that point, no one had any idea I was even in a hospital, much less about to have surgery. I managed one phone call before my phone ran out of credit and the hospital demanded I turn it off anyway.

The surgery was, well, interesting. Korean hospitals are all about the immediate discharge, so I had just woken up and was incredibly groggy when the next thing I knew I was in a cab with a pain perscription and my flip flops in the plastic bag next to me. I had about 25 text messages - my phone was off for about 7 hours and somehow everyone had heard and texted, but I couldn't call anyone back. I've been relying on Facebook chat and people calling other people on my behalf ever since.

Thank god for fantastic friends. They've all been calling to make sure I'm ok - I live on a hill, so running my own errands today was not going to happen. Alex kindly came over with takeout from Indigo, so I didn't starve to death and Jenn's advice has allowed me to open my jar of pickles, which is what I will be eating for breakfast apparently, since I am rather short on food.

One of my first thoughts after I returned home was that if I was a more responsible person, I'd at least be stuck rather immobile in a house with food in it. That and that I wished I had a contact phone.

I have also pondered the effect on the metal bit in my toe on metal detectors, as that might become relevant on a trip to North Korea...

Stress fractures frequently occur in the bones of the forefoot that extend from your toes to the middle of your foot. Stress fractures are like tiny cracks in the bone surface. They can occur with sudden increases in training (such as running or walking for longer distances or times), improper training techniques or changes in training surfaces. Most other types of fractures extend through the bone. They may be stable (no shift in bone alignment) or displaced (bone ends no longer line up). These fractures usually result from trauma, such as dropping a heavy object on your foot, or from a twisting injury. If the fractured bone does not break through the skin, it is called a closed fracture.

Several types of fractures occur to the forefoot bone on the side of the little toe (fifth metatarsal). Ballet dancers may break this bone during a misstep or fall from a pointe position. An ankle-twisting injury may tear the tendon that attaches to this bone and pull a small piece of the bone away. A more serious injury in the same area is a Jones fracture, which occurs near the base of the bone and disrupting the blood supply to the bone. This injury may take longer to heal or require surgery.
Yep. So, I broke my foot doing the Scottish fling in my own bedroom and then dropped an entire bathroom sink on my big toe. Do you think the person who wrote that paragraph thought someone would do those sorts of things, so close together in time?

But it could be worse. I may not be insured right now, which sucks and makes this all very expensive, but I might be able to claim it back once I sort out my alien card...

Friday, September 26, 2008

I Need to Wake Up Earlier

Because the season premiere of Grey's Anatomy downloaded only moments before I had to leave for work.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

So Tired

It's funny that I find monitoring and marking tests about ten times more exhausting than I ever did taking them. I don't know if it really is more tiring or I'm just that much older.

For two nights I didn't get enough sleep - my own fault. I knew I had to get up early but I just didn't make myself go to bed at a decent hour. Last night, after a horrible quiz, I finally got some sleep. Ten hours, in fact.

And yet, today was long and exhausting. This new job is great, but the amount of paper shuffling is just incredible.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Need To Read More

Got this over at Grace's and Frog's. These are 75 must-read women's books, as per Jezebel. The ones in bold are the ones I've read. The ones in bold italics are the ones I actually liked.

The Lottery (and Other Stories), Shirley Jackson

To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton

White Teeth, Zadie Smith

The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allend

Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion

Excellent Women, Barbara Pym

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys

The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri

Beloved, Toni Morrison

Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

Like Life, Lorrie Moore

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

The Delta of Venus, Anais Nin

A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley

A Good Man Is Hard To Find (and Other Stories), Flannery O'Connor

The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx

You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down, Alice Walker

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Fear of Flying, Erica Jong

Earthly Paradise, Colette

Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt

Property, Valerie Martin

Middlemarch, George Eliot

Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid

The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir

Runaway, Alice Munro

The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston

Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

You Must Remember This, Joyce Carol Oates

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

Bad Behavior, Mary Gaitskill

The Liars' Club, Mary Karr

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

Bastard out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison

The Secret History, Donna Tartt

The Little Disturbances of Man, Grace Paley

The Portable Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker

The Group, Mary McCarthy

Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi

The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag

In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez

The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck

Fun Home, Alison Bechdel

Three Junes, Julia Glass

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft

Sophie's Choice, William Styron

Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann

Love in a Cold Climate, Nancy Mitford

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin

The Red Tent, Anita Diamant

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

The Face of War, Martha Gellhorn

My Antonia, Willa Cather

Love In The Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Harsh Voice, Rebecca West

Spending, Mary Gordon

The Lover, Marguerite Duras

The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

Tell Me a Riddle, Tillie Olsen

Nightwood, Djuna Barnes

Three Lives, Gertrude Stein

Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith

Possession, A.S. Byatt

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

That Was Hillarious, As Always

Ahhh, the joys of doing things in Korean. First off, we were supposed to start at Door 2, Radiology, however the door was closed with several signs in Korean that looked important. We knocked, but nobody answered, so I voted for skipping to station 3.

Station 3 was classic. Pee and blood. While we got lovely closed containers to put our pee in, the area was mostly filled with urine in what looked like the kind of Styrofoam coffee cups you get out of those horrible machines in subway stations. Anyone or anything could be contaminating the samples, since they didn't even have lids. Of course, since we were in a public bathroom unsupervised, it could also be anyone's pee. Korea may need to look into how drug testing is actually done. As for the blood, it took quite a while and they could not find my veins.

Next up was the color blindness test (am good there) and the hearing test. I couldn't hear several of the beeps, but I sure as hell could hear everyone talking through the earphones, so I'm going to guess that I'm good on that front there. Couldn't figure out what was going on with the eye chart - she kept pointing at completely random numbers in different rows rather than having me read the last row I actually could and didn't seem to be listening to carefully to my answers at all. However, one must assume they aren't startled if I did a bad job on that one, what with my glasses and all.

Next the blood pressure. In Canada I am always told that I have slightly high blood pressure, but that it is within an okay allowance for white coat syndrome. I really can have an almost full blown panic attack while waiting to see doctors, so this seems right to me. However, in Korea, I have perfectly acceptable blood pressure - whether this means that Koreans are physiologically different, if it's okay for them to be a bit more stressed out, or if the factor of being bizarrely amused by all the randomness just causes me to relax, I don't know.

After being weighed and my height measured and tape measured around the chest line, we went and talked to someone about our medical history. That was interesting as it started out in Korean. When I say that I speak only a little Korean, I should learn how to state that none of my little Korean has anything to do with medical terms. I thought I knew how to say that my toe was broken, but it turns out that the word I use is really only meant for inanimate objects, not people's bones.

Finally we were ready to try door number 2 again. That was a laugh and a half. The radiologist did speak a bit of English, but he kept forgetting to do so. There was a scuffle about who would go first. There had been a man sitting waiting, because one might assume that a closed door in a hospital would indicate that you should wait outside. When nothing happened for a while, Shaun and I decided we were going to take the initiative and open it. Turns out that was exactly what you were supposed to do, but apparently it wasn't what was written on any of the signs in Korean because even the Korean guy didn't know what to do.

So, we changed into our gown thingies - that caused some confusion when the man seemed unsure if we were willing to share a change room or something. Then there was the fun of trying to get all my hair to stay up with a very tiny clip. A random Korean girl who was there with her English speaking boyfriend was recruited to translate and pin my hair up while I was chinned up to the machine. Two attempts later and they had a picture of my lungs.

That done, we were left standing around with our forms, unsure as to what to do with them. We attempted to give them back at reception, but she gave us a look that clearly said, "What are you two doing back here again???" Finally someone took pity on us and came over to take them. We were told that the results might be back as early as Friday.

What The Fuck

You know, there are actually parts of the new E2 visa requirements I can get behind. Naturally we should all have criminal background checks. Although, to be honest, the one I got was a joke. In spite of - I assume, anyway - checking the validity of two pieces of government ID, the check I got only covers Ontario and refuses to even say that the check really was for me, in absence of fingerprints. This requirement seems entirely logical. And in spite of the fact that I personally feel that racism is driving the drugs/AIDS tests, fine, whatever.

The problem I have with these things is not that they are required, but that no one in the entire fucking country appears to know what exactly is required and if you give it maybe a month, the regulations will have changed anyway. My last health check was sprung on me - I went home that day at break to grab my passport and headed to the hospital to pee in a cup and nervously give up some blood. I passed, but the damn thing expired. Plus, I've been back to the immoral country of Canada, where some people I've talked to seem to feel that every second person is on heroin and has AIDS. Fine, whatever. We're in good company, anyway, since the Chinese eat babies.

After postponing the damn thing due to my inability to wake up early (which is due to my inability to go to bed early), my forgetful nature so that I never remembered to ask Ben where the hospital I was supposed to go to was until after I left work, and, to be entirely honest, a healthy fear of doctors, I finally bit the bullet and went. As anyone who has heard the story of how I finally got glasses after being unable to read the board in class for at least two years or even able to pick out the gender of individuals standing more than 20 paces away from me knows what I need is some sort of incentive. Back in eighth grade it was the upcoming trip to see Les Mis when I knew we'd have horribly bad seats. This time it was a combo of a possible trip to North Korea to see the city of Kaseong and the fact that Shawn now needs to get one to renew her visa too.

We met this morning after I'd had far too little sleep. However, last Sunday I finally got around to buying some coffee for my French Press, so I had coffee AND since I had to buy milk for my coffee, I'd also purchased some bananas. In an attempt to embrace a more healthy lifestyle (and we're talking baby steps, here, but still...), I have been giving breakfast a whirl again. I'm still not entirely convinced, and really, my breakfast is kind of my lunch anyway, but fruit is fruit, right? Though fruit really isn't helpful in healing a broken toe. Not that I ever actually thought it was, but the fruit kick definitely started then.

So, banana. Coffee. Cab to random hospital that I have only a vague idea of the location of. Wandering around the car park for the right building - interestingly one of the few that is not signposted in English, though it is where the foreign folk need to go. Shawn and I marched up, ready to be cleared of having pesky foreign diseases, when...

... the lady took one look at my coffee and her smoothie and informed us we needed to have been fasting for the last eight hours. I protested, what with having done this same damn thing only 4 months ago and having eaten my face off right before passing with flying colors. But no. We must fast.

Though we probably don't have to. Because Jenn didn't and neither have half the people I've talked to. Granted, some have had enforced dental checks and mental health checks performed in Korean with a very dodgy translation in addition to the tests. I have searched several official Korean immigration websites and they state that the check must contain only the drug (minus cannabis now - not only did Korea not have adequate testing facilities, I sort of think too many applicants were failing) and STD tests. So why precisely am I fasting???

Why does no one appear to be able to tell me what a minimum health check is? Why is everyone having completely different kinds of health checks? 'Cause I gotta tell you, I don't personally think too highly of a lot of the Korean medical establishment. Half the time you see a doctor, all that happens is that they check your symptoms off on some sort of computer list and then, without every examining you, issue you a computer generated prescription - which appears to be the same whether you have a cold or pneumonia or your arm has fallen off. I personally was once told that my eardrums are malformed on the basis of one bad cold that created the kind of weird, echo-y pressure that I get descending in planes. Never mind that my eardrums have worked just fine for 30 years - this can't possibly be an abnormal cold, nope, it must be my eardrums themselves.

God only knows what they will be up to tomorrow. I am rather dreading the whole experience. Everyone seems to have those Korea stories where some doctor told them they had some serious problem that needed immediate action that turned out to be absolutely nothing when examined back home. I don't want additional bullshit tests, I want to have the basic required tests - but no one knows what they are, not my boss, not immigration (well, they must, but they sure as hell won't actually tell you), not the lady at the hospital who was completely unable to tell me what test I was going to have that required fasting.

You know what I think? I think I'm about to be screwed. I think they are going to run as many unnecessary tests as possible and charge me for the lot. And I say this knowing people who get told they might just have something, say syphilis, which after 500,000 won worth of tests and lots of stress just so happens to turn out to have been a false positive. In every single story I've heard, these things always turn out to be nothing. Interesting that.

Korean immigration and all the people involved in the new requirements should really get their act together. My kindie class can communicate more effectively.

But my one real concern is - are they checking for any signs of inappropriate fan use that may lead to fan death???

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Feminist Voice in Teen Novels

I didn’t realize Freaky Green Eyes by Joyce Carol Oates was for young adults when I bought it; however, it fits in well with all the books I kept borrowing from school. It’s a book that deals with feminist issues – spousal abuse and date rape. The main character is a fourteen year old girl who is caught between a father whose approval she craves and a mother she is upset with. A girl who suspects her father is physically abusing her mother but doesn’t want to confront it. A girl who fights off an older boy at a party-the first party she’s ever drunk alcohol at. And it’s got a great thread of body acceptance running through it – Franky is a diver and on the swim team.
“I stood in front of my bedroom mirror naked, as I’d never done before, liking my hard little breasts with the dimple-nipples, and the pale-flame swath of silky hairs at my crotch, and my lean muscled swimmer’s legs, even my long, narrow, toad-stool white feet. I didn’t stare or ogle, I just looked at myself like you’d look at a flower, or a tree, or an animal, anything natural, unclothed. Especially, though, I did admire my carroty-red hair, which I was letting grow long, frizzy and static with electricity, past my shoulders.”
It also deals with the complexity of mother-daughter relationships during puberty, which I thought was well handled, amongst the seriousness of all the other issues the characters were dealing with.
“Suddenly, one day, I heard myself lying to my mother. Not for any special reason – just I didn’t want her to know my heart.”

“At the same time I was wishing I could escape somewhere. At least that I was sixteen and had my driver’s license. That way I wouldn’t be so damned dependent on Mom to drive me places. It was too intimate, this mother-daughter thing. Too much!”
Big Mouth & Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates focused on equally serious and feminist topics. A loner, but a strong, athletic female character, rescues the boy in this story that also addresses the atmosphere of fear in schools following the high profile school shootings of recent years. Ursula examines what it means look like a girl:
"I laughed, and it wasn't a nice feminine laugh like my mom encourages. It was a real laugh, deep in the gut.

I would never be ashamed of my body again; I would be proud of it. (Except maybe my breasts. Which I strapped in like I was on swim team, and kind of flattened, in a sports bra.)

My hair used to be this pretty fluffy blond, the baby pictures show. Now it's darker. For the hell of it someday I'd like to shave my skull, like a skinhead. Or maybe trim my hair in a crew cut. Or dye it black. Or bleach it. Except my dad wouldn't approve and my mom would die of shame. They had their prissy notions of girl like my kid sister, Lisa."
Matt, the Big Mouth, makes a joke about blowing up the school, a comment that sends his life into a tailspin. Ursula hears the comment he made and is willing to stand up for him and report what happened truthfully. Ursula saves Matt with the truth, but she has to stand up to not only those who might not believe her, but also those who would prefer she didn't get involved.
"The 'obstacle race,' the author called it: trying to maintain your own integrity and your own talent, no matter how others tried to influence you. Germaine Greer was talking mostly about how men oppressed women, but I could see, women and girls did it to themselves, too. Why?"
In the process, the two become friends. The two characters work through what it means to lose faith in fairness and the goodness of people. One of the ways that they bond and escape from the difficult parts of their lives is by hiking in a nearby nature area.
'"The hard part of humanity is history. All that's been done to human beings by other human beings." In the Rocky River Nature Preserve you didn't have to think of such things.'
The story has its villains, notably the daughters of a religious man, who are the ones who reported Matt's comments.
The Reverend Brewster, disapproves of "mixing", bumper stickers "Jesus Saves" and "Welcome to America, Now Either Speak English Or Leave It." "I guess 'religious' people like Reverend Brewster don't have a clue what America means."
Two insecure teens become friends and become better people by reaching out to people they would not, under normal circumstances, reach out to. It's an important reminder that sometimes little attempts to help others can have more of an impact on them than we realise.

The last book I read by Joyce Carol Oates was Sexy. It didn't speak to me as much as the other two, but the material is equally fascinating: a young boy deals with how he feels about his changing body and sexuality. He has an uncomfortable moment with a male teacher, which slowly spirals out of control, with very serious consequences.


Via Bomboniera and Sweetpea, a list of things I particularly remember my family using combined with things I've picked up from notable people along the way.

1. It's all copasetic - Dad.
2. Tootle-pip - Grandpa.
3. It's cheaper than kimchi in Korea. (Kim? Steph? Jen?)
4. She has the memory of an ant. (Vanessa)
5. Stomp-stomp-stomp-slam. (Sofiya)
6. What happens in Thailand... (Sheila)

She Borrowed the Shirt From Her Mom, Apparently


A Danish Island Living Off the Grid

Thanks to Sofiya for the heads up.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My New Motto

"If my life weren't funny, it would just be true...and that would be unacceptable."

~ Carrie Fisher

Monday, September 15, 2008

How Not to Cure a Broken Toe

Lots of hiking around Ullengdo. The trip was fantastic, though. More on that tomorrow, as I am doing laundry and then promptly going to bed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Toenail Carnage

At work.

Though some of it is still attached...

Damn that small child for stepping on my foot.

Going to Dokdo, Woh-oh-oh-oh...

I have no idea what song is suck in my head, but I keep singing the same tune about the trip that starts tonight - about to go do a super pack in ten minutes, as that's what I've got available...

There will be a boat ride at one point, so I'm going to visit a Korean island on a three hour tour...

(Please do the music in your head there. I should figure out how to add music to my entries...)

And as we all know, DOKDO IS KOREAN!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Heart Wordle

© 2008 Jonathan Feinberg

Collateral Benefit

Ever since the broken toe, I've been eating considerably more healthily. Not that increased vegetable and fruit intake is likely to fix a broken toe any faster, but there you are.

Also, I have a sink. It's very, very attached to the wall.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Need to Waste Hours of Your Life?

Timeline of Internet Memes


There is no easy, bite-sized way to explain how your toe was broken if you dropped a sink on it.

Just sayin'.


* Broken toe is doing well. I walked to the subway from my hilly house and then from the other end to work, traversing about 8 million stairs along the way (if you've been in a Korean subway station, you'll know what I mean). It doesn't hurt too much and I've learned how to stop my foot at the ball, so I hobble pretty damn fast.

* Still a 50/50 chance that toenail isn't gonna make it. I was a real little MacGuiver today and tacked it to let some of the pressure underneath out (and then covered it in a ton of antibacterial crap). It's looking less purple. We'll see.

* A grade 5 student was wearing a T-shirt that said Junior Hussy - and I didn't have my camera!

* Smoked some hookah tonight - I have been craving it for a couple of weeks.

* Won a quiz at the Orange Tree, but with a friend's team, so it wasn't quite the same. Still, I like to win.

* Overheard someone while walking by Phillie's say, "I haven't seen the book or read the movie." Laughed my ass off.

* Love, love, love my SAT prep class. Sooooooo funny. And it's grammar class!

* Am reading the best book right now.

I'd Rather Have Acne Than Give Up Cheese

Your Health: Acne diet
Your Health: Acne diet

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Broken Toe - the Photo Essay

It should be noted that half the problem was that my sink was not attached to either the wall or the floor. It was loose enough that it moved if I put any weight on it at all. Unfortunately I did just that and it crashed to the floor.

I Broke My Toe

When my bathroom sink fell on it and then smashed to smithereens.

I am not entirely sure what to do with the sink. Or the fact that I'm bleeding from under my toenail.

Gah, gah, gah.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Gotta Be True to Your Roots

So I'm going to eat galbi, sing cheesy 80s tunes at norae bang, perhaps hit some balls at the batting cages, and likely hit up McDonald's. In fact, I hope to take the subway home, cause I'm broker than broke this month.

But first, I'm gonna go teach a novel to some cheeky kids. And then I'm gonna do it again with some different cheeky kids, ones who bring snacks.

Very Amusing Article

Hollywood's Five Saddest Attempts at Feminism.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Summer Reading

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is a book that I picked up off the shelf in What the Book because of the cover and then bought because of a couple of well-written sentences that I read while browsing. It starts with a quote from one of the main characters of the book, the author Vida Winter, in the fictional Tales of Change and Desperation:
"All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Hear, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won't be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story."
It's a book for booklovers, as most of my favourite quotes from the book were all about reading and writing. The author is dying and wants to tell her life story to an amateur bibliogrpaher.
There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so entralled you can not move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.
The bibliographer has her own story to tell, that of a twin sister who died at birth and the result that has had on her life and family. The Vida Winter story has at its core the story of twins too. I didn't at all see the ending coming, which I much prefer in a book. I don't read mysteries to figure it out myself, otherwise the book ends up boring me.

Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes - characters even - caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you.
This happens to me all the time. I often have the hardest time getting into a new book - particularly if there is a noted difference in style between it and my last book. I've been known to take a couple hundred pages to get into a book but end up loving it.
There are too many books to read in a single lifetime; you have to draw the line somewhere.

The quote from The Thirteenth Tale hits the nail on the head, and if you are looking to only read good books, you should definitely read Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz It's a novel with an odd tone, so detached. The main character is a boy whose name you never really know and you watch him try to make sense out of his world, as he slowly moves from normal life to life in a concentration camp. It was the detached tone that really moved me.
"I would have looked for water next, but unfortunately it turned out that there was none; hell, I fumed, don't say we'll have to go thirsty again after all this, just like on the train."

I also read Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami, mostly at lunch time during my last couple of weeks at Poly and also on the plane back to Canada. I must say, I didn't like it anywhere near as much as I like his novels, but the stories were still good. I like his ability to write about the mundane and the fantastic, all in the same story.
"A poet might die at twenty-one, a revolutionary or a rock star at twenty-four. But after that you assume everything's going to be alright. You've made it past Dead Man's Curve and you're out of the tunnel, cruising staright for your destination down a six-lane highway - whether that's what you want or not. You get your hair cut; every morning you shave. YUou aren't a poet any more, or a revolutionary or a rock star. You don't pass out drunk in phone booths or blast out the Doors at four in the morning. Instead, you buy life insurance from your friend's company, drink in hotel bars, and hold on to your dental bills for tax deductions. At twenty-eight, that's normal. ~ New York Mining Disaster
This collection of short stories mostly left me with a desire to read another of his novels.
I don't write novels and you don't import furniture. You know what I mean. In university I learned there were lots of realitities in the world. It's a huge world, there are lots of different values coexisting, and there's no need to always be the top student. And then I went out into the world. ~A Folklore for My Generation

The Flirting, the Hilarity

So, I'm teaching the oddest schedule this semester - all "morning" (I start work sometimes at 2 p.m., sometimes at 3 p.m. but if you are eating your first meal of the day while you prep, then it's obviously "morning") I teach speaking (really listening, but that's another blog post there) to young kids - three levels of kindergarten and second and third graders. Then as I move into my afternoon (so, around 6 p.m.) I start teaching older kids more interesting things - mostly reading, but also one grammar/writing class.

It's the last class that is the funniest. I'm teaching an SSAT class - to be honest, I don't actually know what an SSAT is. However, the kids range from 13 to 17 and these kids are all teenager. And not just any kinds of teenagers. The five girls are quintessential American teenagers and the two boys grew up in Paris and are the most amazingly French teenagers ever.

I will be spending the next five months trying to control hormones, and for once they aren't even my own. The flirting is incredible. Before I even had a chance to teach them, the boys had complained to the bossman that the girls weren't studious enough and teased them.

Boys, boys, boys. Seriously? You need to look again because you are clearly being flirted with. Clearly, and loudly, and oh, so obviously. All those comments on your adorable French accents? The requests for you to teach the girls how to say things in French? The girls aren't commenting on your lack of English skills, you goofs. They are trying to get into your pants. Well, okay. Possibly not that far, but at least all cuddled up against your lips. I have never in my life seen such flirting.

Keeping everyone's mind on grammar is going to be a challenge. But, my god, I've never had so much fun teaching. These kids are hysterical! They are all rather rich, spoiled, private school kids and yet, so fun. Between them we have four attendees of Seoul Foreign School, one of the school on the American army base, and two who attend the Seoul French School (obviously the boys that my entire class of girls find so delectable.) A couple of the girls, though really one in particular, never stops trying to shock me. The things that come out of her mouth! I can barely keep myself from laughing, it's just so funny. She has no idea that I was the most evil teenager in existence and am now an English teacher in a country where the expats are just ridiculous. I am not sure I can be shocked anymore. And certainly not by a 16 year old girl, who certainly has skills in the shocking department, but is no prodigy.

It's actually perfectly balanced. All morning I nearly expire from the cute of kindie. Then I have the personally enjoyable experience of teaching novels, which is my favourite thing to teach of all. And I finish it off by biting my lip in order to not spend an hour and a half laughing at my students, because they just are that funny.

It's going to be an interesting semester.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


While at Poly school I reread some books I had really liked as a young adult. Homecoming and Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt were just as good as an adult. The story of a family of four, abandonned by their mother in a parking lot, on the way to their grandmothers, a journey they complete by walking over a summer was not popular with my students - they got points for reading AR books, but for all that it was worth tons of points, it was just too long for them.

Eva by Peter Dickinson is an awesome book - a young girl is in an accident and to save her life they somehow transfer her consciuosness into an chimpanzee. She tries to readjust to life in her new body and discovers that she possesses some of the memories of Kelly, the chimp. The entire book is set in a future where there are almost no wild spaces or wild animals left. At the end of the book, Eva is leading a group of chimps into the wild and humans are committing mass suicide. It's a fascinating look into what wilderness means to humanity.

I also read a new book, Toning The Sweep by Angela Johnson. The main character goes on one last trip to visit her grandmother and help her pack up her house, so she can move in with her family in the city.
"I can't imagine Ola knitting me anything. She does send me pamphlets on world hunger and the environment. And she sent me a T-shirt from Jamaica when she went there to a reggae festival. Ola has sent me beads from Africa and incense from India, even a case of olives from Greece 'case she remembered that I hadn't tried them. "You have to try everything if you want to live in this world" is what she always says.'
The story examines the effect on the grandmother and mother of the death of the grandfather, in Alabama in 1964. It's a really good book.