Sunday, November 30, 2008

Progress on the List - Month 1

23. Win at any of the quiz nights.
26. Learn to play a new game (Backgammon, Bridge, etc.)
53. Eat chicken wings in a bar for the first time.
64. Visit a country from the Axis of Evil.
78. Buy a round for the bar.
83. Buy a frickin' toothbrush.
97. Buy a new iPod.
101. Wash Martha's dishes.

Progress Made
1. Finish this frickin' list. In 1001 days, write a new one. (1/2)
2. Read 101 books. (4/101) Fury, Towelhead, Maus, The Crazed
5. Spend 30 days reading out of the house for at least one hour. (1/30)
7. Go to a book club meeting. Well, we picked a book at least!
8. Read all the magazines in my place. Down two, up two. Hmmm. Is this progress?
12. Complete a month of posts each year (NaBloPoMo or other month.) (1/3)
14. Send 60 handwritten letters or postcards. (3/60) From inside North Korea!
22. Stop saying THAT word (the one Martha doesn't like.) Work in progress.
27. Play 5 board games. (4/5)
57. Eat at 25 new restaurants. (3/25)
68. Go to a sporting event, a play/opera/ballet, a museum, and an art gallery. (1/4)
76. Take the subway to or from work once a week. (3/38)
77. Walk into Itaewon to get coffee at least 15 times. (3/15)
80. Explore 12 new places in Seoul - one for each month. (1/12)

6. Maintain the book ban (no books without trade-in credit) with 5 slips. (1/5)
35. Take the good camera out once a month. (0/30)
84. Finish all my multivitamins.
90. Go to bed by midnight thirty times. (0/30)
91. Start and stick to an exercise routine.
95. Make one day a month internet and TV free. (0/30)

Not Even A Damn T-Shirt

NaBloPoMo is over and instead of feeling the expected sense of relief, I'm actually quite sorry to see it go. I have discovered quite a few cool bloggers this month and joined the 101 in 1001 challenge and a couple of book challenges. I had no idea these things even existed a month ago. I now get to experience a slice of life in places as far flung as Italy, Egypt, and India, as well as a couple of places that remind me of my own North American home. I've loved all the comments and sense of community that this month has brought.

I'd almost like to sign myself up for the December version, but I'm not sure I'd be able to post daily. I might give it a go anyway and be chill with the possibility of failure. After all, sometimes failing is absolutely not a bad thing.

Bittersweet. It's how I find the end of most tasks or times of my life and NaBloPoMo is no exception.

Words and Meaning

Winter is a funny season for me. All seasons are funny for me - no matter how far I go from Bolton, in my mind the weather I experienced as a child defines my notion of seasons even today. However, with every move, I've taken myself away from those simplistic categories of winter, spring, summer and fall.

Koreans are always touting themselves as a country with four seasons. Coming from Canada, the excitement behind that claim boggled my mind - of course you have four seasons. That's just how it should be. Korean springs and falls do a decent job of mirroring my notions of those seasons, but in the extremes Korean weather fails to comply with everything I bring to mind when I think summer and winter.

Korean summers really come in two parts - the nice, sunny, hot months and the humid monsoon months. Korean winters are cold enough for me, but lack the all important snow. In Seoul, snow seldom falls and is unlikely to stay around. Korean winters also lack that impending Christmas sensation that you get back home as early on as Halloween. While people back home bemoan the way Christmas has slowly but steadily pushed its way back into months in which it doesn't belong, I instead feel a bit of sadness that I don't even feel Christmas on the 25th, much less any earlier.

But Korea wasn't the first challenge to my sense of the seasons. Edinburgh had its seasons, but they were so different. Winter was rainy and the damp sank into my bones. Spring started out dry but often quite dreary and moved into more rain. A Scottish summer is just a warmer rainy - one year I was there the radio announced that it had rained every single day in the month of June. I'm pretty sure the rain started as I left work each day - usually without an umbrella. Fall in Edinburgh is dark, chilly, but most importantly, windy.

Vancouver was a challenge to my notion that my seasons were Canadian. I arrived in Vacouver in November, sure that its rainy reputation would not faze me after my years in Scotland. However, the prevelence of trees blocking what little sun there was made the Vancouver fall my least favourite season ever. Once Vancouver moved its way into winter, the sun started to come out more, but there is something disconcerting about walking to have Christmas dinner with a friend and her family in a t-shirt. Spring and summer are the most delicious seasons in Vancouver, however, and possibly the most so of all of the seasons I have experienced as yet.

Travelling has forced me to lose the absolute four-season framework I developed over 21 years in Ontario. I now want to know when dry and rainy seasons are, when the off season starts and ends, what the wind will be doing. But no matter how far travelling expands my understanding of the many shades of meaning that the word season represents, it is still a snowy winter, rainy spring, sunny summer and crisp fall that my mind returns to. There may be many kinds of seasons, but there will always just be four in my heart.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanks, Kids!

The hilarious thing is that I was itching to correct their grammar. Was born!

What is Wrong With People?

Does anyone else get the feeling that people have entirely forgotten the spirit of Christmas?
Wal-Mart worker dies in rush; two killed at toy store

(CNN) -- Three violent deaths in two stores marred the opening of the Christmas shopping season Friday.

A Wal-Mart employee at this Long Island location was killed in a rush early Friday morning.

1 of 3 In the first, a temporary Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death in a rush of thousands of early morning shoppers as he and other employees attempted to unlock the doors of a Long Island, New York, store at 5 a.m., police said.

In the second, unrelated incident, two men were shot dead in a Toys "R" Us in Palm Desert, California, after they argued in the store, police said.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wise Words

When I was back home in Canada last summer for six days, one of the main things I did was to go to Canada's Wonderland with my neices. If you've ever gone to a theme park with jetlag, you can probably guess how that went - I had a load of fun, right up till I ended up taking a nap on a bench. Chloe was napping too, so that actually worked out well. In fact, chilling with nappers works well for jetlag in general.

As we were leaving the park and getting into the van - no small feat with three children and three adults - Emily looked at me and said, "Aunt Amanda, we're very lucky girls." I asked her why, assuming she'd say something about candy apples or rides or the toys they won at the games.

"Because we have so many people to love us."

It still makes my heart ache a little every time I think of it. Yes, Em, all three of you are much loved.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Favianna Rodriguez - Political Artist and Activist

Favianna - love her! I couldn't pick just one image.

I Heartily Approve of Bits

Do you know the difference between Campbell's Tomato Soup and Tomato Bisque? Well, my friends, I found out at 4:30 a.m. in the morning because I can't bloody sleep. Well, that's inaccurate. I was able to sleep and then I woke up and it all went to hell.

Thank god it's Friday. This has been one hell of a long week. I've been over-emotional as hell.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ~ J. R. R. Tolkien
Today Americans and those of us who just like a good turkey dinner will all be celebrating food and cheer (and potentially song). I've always loved Thanksgiving the most out of all the holidays - for sure I like the exchanging of gifts at Christmas and the mail that comes from the sending of Christmas cards and I'd be lying if I didn't think that celebrating oneself on one day a year made for a great time each birthday, but Thanksgiving is by far the best. It's like your birthday without the added age or Christmas without the stress. Like Christmas it comes with incredible food. And like your birthday, if you are lucky, you will be surrounded by friends and/or family.

I hope everyone, American or otherwise, takes a moment to think of all the things they are grateful for. As per usual, my list stretches long; it's been an eventful year. I'm sure the coming year will bring just as many things to feel grateful for next Thanksgiving, wherever that holiday might find me.

And just in case you don't celebrate this holiday, there certainly are enough coming up to throw yourself into instead:

* Thanksgiving Day (US): Thursday, November 27
* World Aids Day: December 01
* Bodhi Day: December 08
* Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: December 08
* Eid al-Adha: December 08 (depends on the sighting of the moon in North America)
* Chanukah (begins at sundown): December 21-December 29
* Christmas Day: December 25
* Kwanzaa: December 26 - January 01, 2009
* Boxing Day: December 26
* Islamic New Year (Al-Hijra): December 29 (depends on the sighting of the moon in North America)
*New Year’s Day/Hogmanay: January 01, 2009

TBR Baby Steps

Since I have set myself the 101 in 1001 challenge, I have found a couple of things. First off, the initial excitement lasted all of about a week. That seemed concerning in terms of making it to the finish line with as many completed items as possible. The next thing that I noticed was that actually, now that I've written these things down as goals, some of them have been falling into my lap. People have commented on fascinating coloring books or I've spontaneously played Scrabble in a bar.

That said, I think that one thing that may prove helpful is finding a way to direct myself through to the end of the big goal in baby steps. After all, accountability seems to be what I need to focus, as NaBloPoMo proves. I did not set out to be interesting for a month's worth of blog posts, I just set out to do them. So far, it's going swimmingly. Thus, I decided that one way to push through some of my goals was to set little mini deadlines for them. And as NaBloPoMo has had me wandering around the Internets more than usual, I've found some reading challenges that might help push me along to reading my 101 adult books and 50 children's books. I was also inspired by this post which introduced me to the acronym TBR. I know, I know - I'm slow on the uptake of the new lingo.

** Pick 12 books - one for each month of 2008 - that you've been wanting to read (that have been on your "To Be Read" list) for 6 months or longer, but haven't gotten around to.

** OPTIONAL: Create a list of 12 "Alternates" (books you could substitute for your challenge books, given that a particular one doesn't grab you at the time)

** Then, starting January 1, 2008, read one of these books from your list each month, ending December 31, 2008.

No thinking involved! Not hard at all. Here is my list:

1. Practical Demonkeeping, Christopher Moore
2. Borderlines, Peter Hoeg
3. Another Roadside Attraction, Tom Robbins
4. Tokyo Cancelled, Rana Dasgupta
5. The Hungry Tide, Amitav Ghosh
6. The Optimists, Andrew Miller
7. Plainsong, Kent Haruf
8. Naked, David Sedaris
9. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
10. What is the What, Dave Eggers
11. The Book of Illusions, Paul Auster
12. Fox Girl, Nora Okia Keller
Alt.The New Kings of Nonfiction, edited by Ira Glass
Alt.Life of Pi, Yann Martel
Alt.The Poe Shadow, Matthew Pearl
Alt.Thirteen Moons, Charles Frazier

February 1, 2009 - July 31, 2009: The Themed Reading Challenge is a six month challenge designed to help readers clear books from their to-be-read stacks which center around a common theme or themes. Here are the “rules”:

* Books should be chosen from the reader’s TBR pile (this may be an actual physical pile or a virtual pile).
* The goal is to read 4 to 6 books linked by theme.
* Overlaps with other challenges are allowed.
* Readers may change their list of books at any time.

Readers may choose three different levels of participation:
Read at least 4 books with the same theme.
Read at least 5 books that share at least TWO themes.
Read at least 6 books that share MORE than two themes.

Choosing the themes proved difficult - and dusty. First I seperated out the small number of already-read books in my bookshelf - it's a small number because I sell off anything I don't love and because all my pre-August reads went back to Canada when I visited. Then I tried to come up with just one theme that covered the largest number of books, which turned out to be books set in Europe. That left me scratching my head and trying to come up with two other themes that'd fit, as I wanted to do the six books level of the challenge. Finally I had it - books by female authors in which the time period is key to the storyline. And here they are:

1. Cafe Europa, Slavenka Drakulic (Eastern Europe, post Communist)
2. The Devil's Arithmetic, Jane Yolen (Poland, WWII)
3. Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky (France, WWII)
4. The Great Fortune, Olivia Manning (Bucharest, WWII)
5. Friends and Heroes, Olivia Manning (Athens, WWII)
6. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke (England, 1806 - Napoleonic Wars)

I'd have loved to manage to focus on WWII specifically, but I lack any more books about the time period in my TBR pile and the book ban doesn't allow for aquiring anything on my mental TBR list. I also wish that I had the middle book of the Balkan Trilogy by Manning, which I may try and aquire as one of my permitted 5 slips of the book ban. Granted, if I can get it second hand, that isn't a slip according to my (self-imposed) rules and the two I had did only cost me 1,000 won at What the Book. Sadly the second one wasn't there. The worst thing about this challenge is that I'm now rather enthusiastic about it and it doesn't start until bloody February.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


This is what happens when a procrastinator does things like Sunday Scribblings. At least this is only three days late, unlike my three month late electricity bill. They finally sent me a bill - one detailing the three months that I just paid. Curious.

Anyway, I was busy on Sunday with friends - brunch, Hello Kitty with Martha, fondue for dinner, and then the usual quiz. My friends are absolutely one of the things I am most grateful for. My family is also at the top of that list, and I've been getting some hilarious emails from my youngest brother recently - apparently I am an "old chap". He's looking into a female version of chap he tells me. I notice that he didn't consider the old part something in need of change. Hrumph.

In addition to friends and family though, I have another thing that this week is high up on the list of gratitude and that thing, my friends, is a turkey dinner. With all the trimmings. As an expat, I am also grateful that I have come to celebrate American Thanksgiving. Here in Korea it is both hard to get turkeys and hard to cook them - ovens are not at all standard kitchen appliances here and, mysteriously, Koreans haven't gotten into turkey. This baffles me even more than the all-pervading love of kimchi. And the overuse of the construction let's.

What I say is, "Let's eat turkey!"

Around Canadian Thanksgiving the best one can hope to do is make the trimmings and have a roasted chicken, which can be easily procured from trucks on the street. They are indeed yummy. In fact, I eat myself a roast chicken for no special occasion at all, and quite regularly. Sometimes I can't even be arsed making anything resembling trimmings and just have the bird all on its own.

However, thanks to the American Army presence in Korea, for American Thanksgiving we can order a bird, some pumpkin pie and many other delicious foods off of the base. Assa! I've been invited to several Thanksgiving celebrations and intend to show up at two. I will wear my most comfortable pants, obviously.

Since I love Thanksgiving, I am also grateful to my expat life for starting me on the road to what will one day be a fabulous tradition - one of these days, after all, I will likely move back to Canada. When that day comes, I will not stop celebrating American Thanksgiving. Why would I? Who doesn't want one more turkey dinner? It makes total sense to me - October, November, December. Awesome!

Perhaps I'd better learn to start cooking it all. So far, I've never been required to do more than participate in a pie plate hunt (Thanksgiving in Scotland, where apparently people only cook tortes at home) and make some mashed potatoes for potlucks, when I am as likely to bleed into the potatoes as not.

My mouth is salivating just thinking about Saturday. And then brunch at Suji's on Sunday.

I am grateful for turkey, brunch, and all the lovely people who have shared, now share, and will share these meals with me. Love and food are two things that go together beautifully.

I Haven't Done One of These Since the Myspace Days

I've been tagged and I'm quite chuffed about it.

Thank you to Strange Pilgram for the honour. I discovered this blog through NaBloPoMo, along with the blog she got the meme from, Wandering the World.

The rule is you can only answer the questions with a single word. And I have to nominate 5 other bloggers to do the same. I'm going to focus on folks I've discovered recently, though since two of my recent discoverees have already done it, that may be difficult. I haven't used NaBloPoMo as an inroads on reading more blogs so much as a tool to make myself blog daily (and not blog something interesting daily either - just blog.)

I think you should go read their blogs, because I like them, but I don't think they should feel at all compelled to do the meme - though for sure, it doesn't take long!

Braja at Lost and Found in India

Andrew at Mariage Equality Amendment

Amy at My First World Problems

Nikki at Snailbird

The Folks at Sunday Scribblings

1. Where is your cell phone? nighttable

2. Where is your significant other? dunno

3. Your hair color? yellow (j/k)

4. Your mother? Canada

5. Your father? also

6. Your favorite thing? coffee

7. Your dream last night? forgotten

8. Your dream/goal? travel

9. The room you're in? mine

10. Your hobby? this

11. Your fear? stupidity

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? travelling

13. Where were you last night? bed

14. What you're not? flat-chested

15. One of your wish-list items? harddrive

16. Where you grew up? sticks

17. The last thing you did? breakfast

18. What are you wearing? pjs

19. Your TV? non-existant

20. Your pet? also

21. Your computer? on

22. Your mood? good

23. Missing someone? yes

24. Your car? non-existant

25. Something you're not wearing? bra

26. Favorite store? Indigo

27. Your summer? monsoon

28. Love someone? many

29. Your favorite color? blue

30. When is the last time you laughed? weekend

31. Last time you cried? also

Monday, November 24, 2008


I've named my pretty purple iPod. She got a much nicer name than poor Lester the Laptop and it was inspired by the Genius function on iTunes, which I had never heard of before buying her.

I love it! It's such a cool way to listen to my own music - it comes up with some interesting playlists and has resulted in me listening to some songs that I had forgotten I even have.

I Prefer Blogger, Obviously


What a bloody boring day - I have giving tests.

I wish I could have spent the day playing Super Obama World instead.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's Sunday, So It's Time to Worship Cheeses

Iran's Pioneer Blogger Arrested in Tehran

A pioneer in Iran's blogging community who spent time living in Canada may have been arrested in his native country, according to an unconfirmed local report.

Hossein Derakshan, known online as "Hoder," has written extensively about Iranian politics. He returned to Iran from Canada less than a month ago.

According to a report in Iran's Jahan News website, he was recently arrested in Tehran on suspicion of spying for Israel.

Along with being a highly influential voice in Iran's fledgling online community, he has also written for Britain's Guardian newspaper.

In a post on the newspaper's website from 2007, he called for the impeachment of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But in recent posts on his blog dated from last month, he defends Ahmadinejad from U.S. criticism.

Derakshan moved to Canada in 2000 with his Iranian-Canadian wife, but the couple has since split. He began blogging from Toronto in both Farsi and English, helping to jumpstart a movement of online commentary in his native country.

Before returning to Iran, he had recently spent time living in England.

Hossein Derakshan appears in this undated image taken from his blog.

This Old Dog Learns Too Slowly

For fuck's sake? Seriously? I purposefully was staying out of making up quiz questions. Refused to engage entirely, even when asked, because I know that I will get told that anything I suggest is too hard, but if I say a question is too hard, I'll be told I'm being ridiculous.

After repeated prods to say something, I finally suggested one question. Unsurprisingly it was "too hard" and got completely alterned to something I actually think is harder by someone who admitted she knows nothing about the subject at all.

I am never, ever doing this again. I don't understand why I bother.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cosmopolitan Can Fuck Up Your Life in More Than One Way

As if fucking with the self-esteem of millions of pre-teens around the world wasn't enough, there was some sort of one year Cosmopolitan party just outside of Itaewon in that club in the Crown Hotel which caused Sara and I to tear our hair out in frustration, as our ride home from work was about three times as long as usual and twice as expensive.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Delta Blues

Photograph by Ed Kashi, from the book "Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta," edited by Michael Watts.

My day, in List Form

* I missed the first snowfall.

* One of my "Elite" students invented his own word - my twelve year old thinks his is a kidult - half kid, half adult.

* A man came today and told me I haven't paid an electric bill for three months. Which I haven't, because they haven't sent me one. Unusual for my luck, everyone involved was incredibly helpful and seemed happy to make an effort to explain to me how to pay a rather unorthodox bill and try to figure out why I haven't been getting electric bills so far.

* My teenagers were ridiculous and hilarious as always.

* One of my students said to me, "Teacher, looks older. Tired (she points at the black under my eyes), wrinkles. Teacher is a little mean to us (I did snap at them to sit down) but we are so cute." I responded by asking how old I looked, exactly. With a look of pity on her face, in the saddest little voice imaginable, she told me: "Teacher looks 28." Bwahahahahaha.

* I forgot my second cup of coffee at home. In an attempt to budget a bit, I've been making myself actual breakfast at home, along with a warm cup of coffee. Then I moved even further and started making a second cup in my travel mug to take along with me. Sometimes I have it hot right when I first arrive, sometimes I drink it cold later in the evening. Today I didn't do either, as the damn thing sat on my counter top all day.

* Amusingly, I ran out of toilet paper. I guess Martha grabbed the last roll, so I didn't notice that I was on my last roll. I'll be making do with Kleenex, because it's cold outside and I can't be bothered to go and get more tonight.

* For two days I've been freezing my ass off. I seem to think that if I just don't wear a winter jacket, it won't get cold enough for me to need one. Not so true. However, today not only was my sweater enough, but it came in handy in a kindie class all about kinds of clothes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Navel Gazing in the Extreme - Read At Your Own Risk

Lately there's been a million things I've wanted to blog about but have felt constrained by the public nature of a blog and the fact that slowly, more and more people I know read this blog. This can lead to situations - for example, I've posted things on the blog and had people misinterpret them, when the reality was simply that I hadn't posted the full story, by far. Once it's discussed, things get sorted out, but it happens. I pondered setting up another blog anonymously, or having one that was private, so that only I could read it, or even trying to start an actual paper journal (I never keep those up!). However, it occurred to me that some of the things I want to blog about, I can, as long as I set boundaries.

When my mom first started reading my blog, she emailed me about an entry asking for more details. I emailed back, evasively, hoping she'd realise that I just wasn't interested in giving more details. Eventually I had to say that outright. I've always thought that in some ways, my parents have a more open access to what is going on in my life than many parents - after all, I don't know a lot of people willing to admit to having their vibrator catch on fire to their family. Friends, for sure, as that makes a great drunken story (or a sober one, in my opinion). But I can also understand that since they are so far away, in some ways I suppose, like anyone I care about back home, they really do lack any sense of my life overseas. I consider myself, on the surface, a very open person. If you ask direct questions, I will often answer. If I refuse to answer, though, I expect my boundaries to be respected.

I suppose that may mean that ultimately I am a lot less open and sharing a person than I think I am. I tend to share my life in jokes and snippets - I make light of things a lot. However, that wasn't really what I set out to blog about. This is going to be very confused and sidetracky, I can tell already.

I've always considered myself a shy person. As a kid I was far more comfortable being by myself and reading a book than I was in a social gathering of any kind, even one full of people I considered friends. I was definitely a shy child - but a talkative one. The thing about my talkativeness is that you'll seldom hear much of any substance - in my opinion. While I find it easy to talk about things like money and my sex life with just about anyone, you'll seldom hear about too much that touches me deeply, unless you catch me drunk and introspective. When I'm sober and introspective, I'm far too shy to talk about the things I really feel. I've always been a bit surprised by my social butterfly year - for sure I've been far more social during my entire stay in Korea than ever before, but my second contract was the height of it. It was fun and felt no less like an authentic part of who I am, but it was... odd.

I'm very quick to anger. Certainly most would consider me a person quick to take offense. I don't hold grudges in anger, however. What I do hold onto, what I have always found incredibly hard to let go or move on from, is sadness. It's not something I would ever tell anyone about - when people hurt me, it is unlikely they will ever know why. They may end up knowing that I am angry, and I can certainly in a bad mood make a list of annoyances and grievances, but the problem is always that the list is just a facade. The things that really hurt, they are the things I will not talk about. I may mention them once, quietly or perhaps at the top of my lungs, but after that they will not come up again, though I will stay hurt for a long time. I wish it wasn't that way, because god knows it's not helpful to anyone at all, but there it is.

So, something happened last night that upset me. It has occurred to me that perhaps I misinterpreted the comment - though I don't think I did. If I did, however, then the thing that upset me doesn't even apply. And the thing that upset me was likely not what was intended to be read into the comment anyway, which I totally get. However, there you are. It's one of those comments that didn't happen without some back story there and, on top of that, pushed something that happens to be a very big button for me right now.

So, I'm hurt. Really, this whole saga will not go anywhere from here. I will get over it in a couple of days, on the surface. Deeper, because it is such a big deal to me, it will sit.

And all over a throw-away comment. It really makes me think, because undoubtedly I do such things to people all the time - those little things we say and do, or don't say and don't do. It's so hard to know which of those little things might hurt someone if said on the wrong day, or about the wrong thing.

I suppose the silver lining lies in the fact that the opposite is true. Because while sometimes the tiniest thing can break your day, other times it can make it.

Another Wednesday Night

Well, we didn't win, but we did get a free bottle of vodka. Oh, that I was drinking and able to enjoy it. The first place team didn't want to host next week, so we got the bottle for promising to host.

To be honest, I'm rather sad about that. I don't mind making the quiz, but I don't enjoy hosting anywhere near as much as I like doing a quiz. Which means that next week will be a wash. Ach, well.

We played both darts and Scrabble afterwards. Good fun.

Also, sometimes life is confusing. Now is one of those times.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's a Real Kimchi Pot Store!

Photo by Ray.

I saw someone buying a kimchi pot the other day. I had assumed up until now that the kimchi pots existed only to allow foreigners to provide directions to places in Haebangchon.

Korea's Heat Is To Die Floor*

*Title courtesy of Martha, who apparently tells worse jokes than I do.

I have heat! I've known for a couple of weeks that my floor heating was broken. First Jenn and then Martha informed me as to how the dials all worked and yet my floor remained cold as ice.

Ok, well not that cold. To be honest last night was the first really cold night and even then I was happy and warm under all my blankets. It was just a horrible experience to have to get out of them.

Some workmen came today and when I got home tonight everything was warm and toasty.

I don't understand why Canada doesn't embrace floor heating. I spent the first 26 years of my life getting cold toes during any nighttime bathroom excursion in the winter in two countries.

Koreans are mighty smart. There is nothing nicer on the toes than a warm floor.

Well, ok. Maybe a sandy beach.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Zen of Washing Dishes

I had forgotten how much you take care of yourself when you take care of others. It will sound silly, but I had my moment of revelation while doing some dishes. Rather a lot of dishes, actually - two hours worth of scrubbing.

You'll think I'm odd, but not only do I not mind doing dishes, I actually quite like doing dishes in large quantities. My mother will be reading this with a look of incredulous disbelief on her face, because I'm sure that I wasn't saying anything like this back in the day when the dishwasher broke. Though the key thing for me is that I not have to dry them. I fucking hate drying dishes. God (who I don't actually believe in, but go with it) put the air in the world so that dishes could dry theirdamnselves.

I had a good weekend, which I entirely credit to having great friends. After Liz's mystery party/birthday, Martha and I spent Saturday doing very little. We both slept in incredibly late and spent a bit of time in Itaewon - she had stuff to do, so I wandered off to buy some new boot socks (and I love them!) and grabbed a coffee at Starbucks to try and finish off Fury, only to find out that this year there is no Christmas peppermint mocha. Bastards!

The book finished, I dragged Martha into What the Book in a search for magazines and Twilight; neither search was successful. We ate at the International Restaurant, which is one of those places I've been meaning to go for ages. It was really good - I've missed Indian food. You can never, ever get enough Indian food, I think. Made me miss Jasmine though. Then we came home and watched some ANTM and Project Runway. I'm addicted and now constantly reminded of Vanessa - she used to riff off of both of these shows in the bar. I miss her and the old crew, though I do also love the new crew. It's funny how groups of friends in Korea morph - it's always sad, but I love how many cool people I've met here. We also played a game of Scrabble, which had me reminiscing about the old games at Beanscene with Jenni, Andrea, and David. Odd how all of those things stacked up to remind me of old friends.

Anyway, I had a very productive morning for a Monday, which was a nice counterpoint to yesterday afternoon's complete shitshow of an attempt at doing anything. I was in a rather horrible mood - nowhere near enough sleep, general bone-deep exhaustion, medication-related pukeyness, and that time of the month combined to turn me into what I imagine a polar bear with a sore paw is like. Martha was an angel for putting up with me and wandering all around Seoul in a series of frustrating non-errands. Nothing got done at all between the attending of brunch and quiz night except me driving both her and myself nuts, though I had a great time at both events.

I stayed at Martha's last night in order to go to Coex this morning to buy a new iPod. It has long been time to admit that my old one bit the bullet, as it had to be restored every damn time I hooked it up to the computer and would refuse to stay turned off, so the battery was always completely dead. The poor little thing was FUBAR and it was time to move on. I wasn't sure what I wanted exactly - Martha used her iPod to watch Jon Stewart while on boring bus rides, so I was pondering getting the Classic with tons of gigs of storage space. Then Brian went and bought a Touch and had me craving all the latest bells and whistles. However, what it came down to was that I really like my iPod small, so I just picked up the newest Nano, which since they are now making 16 gig ones means that I still ended up with more storage capacity than I had. It'll likely still all go to songs though, as really that's all I really want the iPod for. I love me some music.

And it's purple! Purple!!!

It turns out that Project Runway and America's Next Top Model will be my new vices, now that I have had to give up my mainstays. Not really a bad trade-off actually, but they better vote that Daniel out fairly quickly or I'm going to turn into one of those people who yells at the TV.

(I make up an awful lot of words, which becomes rather clear every time I remember to spellcheck these posts - which, admittedly, isn't very often.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Random Thoughts

If I was to take dance lessons, I think I'd learn to dance like a Bollywood star.

I just read in Utne Magazine that the average stay in a refugee camp is 17 years. That's the length of an entire childhood. Mindboggling.

I sing with my eyes shut. Often. Just like in About a Boy by Nick Hornby.


I have found that there are times in life when you become a stranger to yourself.

This has happened to me numerous times - the sensation has been caused as often by external factors as internal: becoming a university student, at the worst of my relationship with Alan, moments abroad when everything around me has been so different I can't figure out who I am much less what's going on where I am, moments of extreme emotion.

Lately I have absolutely found that I am a stranger to myself. Which is just fine, as I have discovered that the stranger phase is one that usually precedes positive change.

Disconcerting, though, isn't it?

Perhaps it's time to spend a little less time wrapped up in my head and more time gazing outwards.

Granted, navel gazing has always been my thing.

Sunday Scribblings


So, because I'm on some medication, I can't drink. As any long term readers will know, I often ignore such warnings, but in this case it's obvious that I can't. And so, I am embarking upon an interesting experience - going out in Korea, sober, while everyone around me gets skunked. It's an odd experience, odder than it would be anywhere else I have ever lived.

Last night was Liz's mystery party. The entire thing was kept a mystery - the location, the reason for the party, the guest list, and the agenda for the evening. It started a couple of hours before I get off work, so I missed the meal and the beginning of the murder mystery itself, but was there to celebrate Nathan's leaving and Liz's birthday. Those of us not doing the mystery (which took bloody forever), just chilled and, aside from me, drank.

Once the mystery was over we went to a mom and pop restaurant for the rest of the night. Ate a little food, drank a lot of beer. Again, aside from me. And we played drinking games - murder charades (act out a person, murder weapon and place), Chopstick Olympics (both who can remember not to put them down all night and chopstick wars), games where you ask ridiculous questions and try not to laugh, and I never.

The awkwardness for me is that in drinking games, there must be a penalty and the penalty must be shots. I felt out of place, for all that everyone else was happy for me to do shots of water (I was well hydrated last night, let me tell you), I felt out of place.

It's going to be an interesting experience, this no drinking while hanging out with a drinking crowd.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Forgetful is My Middle Name

Which is unfortunate, because what with both Joyce and Elizabeth, my name is already long enough. Just imagine what my students with their three-syllable Korean names, think of how long mine is.

However, I have managed to forget all about every single hot thing I have made myself recently, only to notice it when it had gotten cold (doesn't take long - my floor heating appears to be broken, but more importantly, I never close my window!).

Toast, coffee, tea.

What's up with this? I like my hot things hot, dammit!

This Had Never Even Occurred to Me

But then I moved to Korea thinking it was in South East Asia.

Geography - obviously not my strongest subject at school.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

1964 Could Have Been My Year

Phyric victory?

Last week, on the same day that Obama won the election (if you disregard the time difference), we won the Phillie's pub quiz. However, all was not as peachy as one would like. In a room filled with Obama supporters, I experienced what was the worst homophobia I have yet to encounter in Korea.

First off, the quizzes are hosted by the previous week's winning team. I've won once before, though I missed having to host as I was in Japan. Two weeks ago the winners were two women and a gay man. They wrote a quiz, and just like all those straight white guys in their thirties who usually win and write the quizzes, they wrote about stuff they know.

I can't even tell you how much homophobic heckling there was. One team even named themselves "Popular Culture does not mean gay." What really got me about all this is that the quiz was no more gay than it could have been considered girly. Either way, lads, letting out your homophobic sides because you're sore losers is beyond the pale. The stupid thing about all the complaints was that the quiz wasn't actually that inaccessible - we only actually won by half a point (which, embarrassingly might have been my ability to identify Justin Timberlake's voice in a ten second clip, something I will never live down.) Plus, we've been playing their games for weeks and have never complained about the endless sports categories (figure skating has yet to be included) and music that none of our team members listen to. When we don't know, we lose. No need to get all arsey and insulting to the writers.

So, the louder the hecklers got, the louder and more lesbian our team got (and we aren't even all lesbians.) Solidarity - no way were we letting a gay man be heckled without some sort of response. At the end, we won the bottle of Jack and everyone celebrated - we even shared with the second place team, as some of use have gotten friendly in the past weeks. My coworkers showed up just as my teammates were going home, so I ended up staying. One girl and I were chatting about the Obama win and that Prop. 8 passed and discussing how sad that was on a day that was the culmination of civil right victories.

Shawn went home and the next thing I know, there are three arseholes in my face telling me that we were acting entitled to discuss Prop. 8 rather than celebrating Obama's win. It's interesting that three straight white men would feel that was an acceptable comment to make to two bisexual women, one of whom is black. I told them off and had the bartender chuck them out. On top of anything else, part of my anger was to have to deal with homophobia and assholery from people who supported Obama, people I would normally consider allies.

It sort of spoiled both our win and Obama's for me.

So, tonight's quiz has a section on equality and civil rights. I wonder if they'll heckle that?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lest We Forget

I commented to my coworkers in the taxi last night that for the first year in Korea, I didn't have a poppy. I couldn't recall off hand where I've been getting them and then it occurred to me that perhaps it was in the Canadian bar and I haven't been to RMT in ages. Then Sara said that she had just learned about the buttons this year. I was completely confused until I realised that by buttons, she meant poppies. Do Americans not do poppies? So I quoted "In Flanders Fields" to her, which I will never forget after all the years of Remembrance Day ceremonies.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

It's Getting Cold Outside

So naturally the thing to do is to put your son in tights, rather than just switching to pants. Tony is super cute - he's in my K1 class and is the youngest student I teach. He's a little shakey on the names for numbers and how to write all his letters, but his spoken English is pretty fantastic. He's funny and is slowly learning how to color without it being a gigantic scribble. He's adorable and makes Tuesdays and Thursdays that much more fun.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Trip Time!

Axis of Evil, here I come!
Banned items list and other regulations
1). You are not allowed to bring these items as follows,

-Cameras (except Digital Cameras with zooming capability of 10 times and less)
- All Newspapers & Magazines
- Books related to North or South Korea
- binoculars. MP3 player, Radio, PDAs,notebook computers, calculators & CDP
*. If it is not good enough to bring into the North, you will have to leave in the locker and it will be kept safe until return from the tour.

2). You must ALWAYS wear your ID (you will get this before you arrive in NK)
around your neck.
3). You Must carry your passport and ID with you at all times.
4). You are not permitted to bring alcohol, but bring some foods into North Korea.
There are some shops where you can buy alcohol and foods in North Korea as well.
5). Only US dollars are accepted.
6). There are many large rocks with engraving done by the government. Do not touch or lean on these rocks.
7). You may speak with the North Korean people that you meet, but you may not
take random pictures of them, including pictures from inside the bus. In addition,
please be careful of the conversation topics when speaking with North Koreans.
DO NOT talk about politics, diplomatic relations, economics and other such sensitive issues.

[Photo Regulations]
The most annoying part in taking the tour will be the detailed photo restrictions, but then again, those restrictions
are not merely to annoy the tourists. Remember that the two countries are technically still in War!
All photos you take will be screened when departing North Korea. This unpleasant censorship is one of the major
conditions under which North Korea allows the tour operation, so do not try to discuss with them.
The North will enforce this policy nicely, but decisively.
Anyway, some officers control your camera more diligent than others do, so it’s basically luck whether you get
some questionable photos through to the South. You should still adhere strictly to the following rules:

1. No photos from inside the bus
2. No photos of cityscape or the dwellings of people
3. People are only to be photographed with their consent
4. In all tourist spots photos can be taken freely, but photos that violate 1-3 will be deleted.

Umm, yeah

This post is nothing but me feeling a bit of annoyance at someone, that is probably felt more because I'm sick and naseous and exhausted, but... We were making up a pub quiz today and there were two artist majors in the group. Now, while I for sure haven't formally studied art much, I do know a decent amount about it. And when I wanted to alter a question in the section I proposed (which is actually all about equality and civil rights), and I said I thought it might be more accessible to the general audience to include a bit about how the Guerilla Girls are involved quite heavily in protesting Hollywood and the film industry because I feel that might be the bit about them that Joe Blow might know off hand, I was told that the art expert in question that she hadn't even heard that they were involved in protesting the Oscars and lack of female directors. And so because I'm feeling annoyed and sick and petty:

From the first paragraph of Wikipedia:
The Guerrilla Girls are a group of radical feminist artists established in New York City in 1985, known for using guerrilla art to promote women and people of color in the arts. Their first work was putting up posters on the streets of New York decrying the gender and racial imbalance of artists represented in galleries and museums. Over the years they expanded their activism to examine Hollywood and the film industry, popular culture, gender stereotyping and corruption in the art world.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Near International Incident...

...due to sandwich order.

I've been in Korea long enough that basic tasks usually go off without much of a hitch, in spite of the language barrier. Today, however, was a slight deviation from the norm.

On Mondays and Fridays I have a half hour break at 5:30. It's lovely - sometimes I have a desperate need to type up a quiz for those last two classes, but often I can just chill and have a snack. Usually it isn't much, often coffee, but yesterday I had an incredibly lame breakfast/lunch - I had to go to the bank to pick up American money for the jaunt to North Korea on Sunday, plus transfer money, plus pay some bills. It was a lovely banking experience - I work in a KB building, it doesn't seem busy most of the time, due to the location even the greeter dude speaks English, and everyone was incredibly friendly. However, I had a hard time getting out of bed yesterday morning, so there was no time to go and grab anything good to eat.

So, with thirty spare minutes, I decided to mosey on down to Paris Croissant and buy a sandwich and a coffee. Since my favourite sandwich there is the chicken pesto, I figured for once I'd even get it heated. That took a bit of explaining - they are so used to me just grabbing a cold one to go, that I had to use all my Korean skills to try and communicate what I wanted. Turns out that the magic word was an English one.


The cashier tells me (in Korean) that it will be ten minutes, and I reply that it's fine. This is where it gets interesting - once my coffee is made, every single staff member (and there are a lot of them - I haven't a clue how they are all kept busy) is sent over to tell me something fairly long winded in rapid-fire Korean. To say I had no idea what was going on would be putting it mildly.

Finally, they send over a woman who tells me (in these exact words): "Upstairs, relax! Bing! Downstairs, sandwich."

I swear to god I have managed to completely disconcert about ten people because I wasn't waiting for my sandwich in a sitting position! It's not like they needed me out of the way - nobody else was in the shop. They just really, really wanted me to relax already, I guess.

Or maybe there was something else going on entirely. Who knows?

Certainly not me.

Lies! It's All Lies!

The washing machine lies to me. That wash most definitely did NOT take an hour and a half. It took longer.

Granted, it's not the machine's fault that I decided to do laundry at 3:30 a.m.

And now I have to hang it all.



I just made the weirdest meal. My pasta-with-any-random-thing-in-the-fridge is pretty common, but this was even more creative, as I am out of pasta and cherry tomatoes don't make very good sauce (not watery enough when they cook to serve as ghetto sauce!)

I stirfried some mushrooms, a green pepper, a handfull of cherry tomatoes, and some spinach in an Italian dressing pack that I mixed with balsalmic vinegar and water (very much not what the pack instructed me to do, but I don't have any regular vinegar. I just rejigged the amounts a bit). Then I put in a small tin of tuna and some precooked rice. The entire thing was inspired by the fact that the Italian dressing mix suggested using it to marinate tuna steaks.

You gotta work with what you have and I don't normally have much that would logically go together!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Carpe 1001 Diem

I'm finally finished the list!
Start date: Saturday, November 1, 2008
End date: Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as New Year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

Some common goal setting tips:
1. Be decisive. Know exactly what you want, why you want it, and how you plan to achieve it.

2. Stay Focussed. Any goal requires sustained focus from beginning to end. Constantly evaluate your progress.

3. Welcome Failure. Frequently, very little is learned from a venture that did not experience failure in some form. Failure presents the opportunity to learn and makes the success more worthy.

4. Write down your goals. It clarifies your thinking and reinforces your commitment.

5. Keep your goals in sight. Review them frequently, and ensure that they are always at the forefront of your thinking.

1. Finish this frickin' list. In 1001 days, write a new one. (0/2)

2. Read 101 books. (0/101)
3. Read 50 children's books. (0/50)
4. Finish reading War and Peace.
5. Spend 30 days reading out of the house for at least one hour. (0/30)
6. Maintain the book ban (no books without trade-in credit) with 5 slips. (0/5)
7. Go to a book club meeting.
8. Read all the magazines in my place.
9. Read Man Booker Prize and Pulizter Prize winning book from the year of my birth. (0/2)

10. Write a haiku.
11. Finish up all draft blog posts.
12. Complete a month of posts each year (NaBloPoMo or other month.) (0/3)
13. Learn to write my name in 5 scripts. (0/5)
14. Send 60 handwritten letters or postcards. (0/60)
15. Complete Postcrossings.
16. Send Christmas cards. (0/2)
17. Send flowers at random.

18. Do something to put knowledge in, rather than spouting it out.
19. Be able to label a map of Africa.
20. Be able to name 20 foreign leaders and their countries. (0/20)
21. Memorize a poem.
22. Stop saying THAT word (the one Martha doesn't like.)

It's All Fun and Games
23. Win at any of the quiz nights.
24. Participate in a scavenger hunt.
25. Play croquet or bocce.
26. Learn to play a new game (Backgammon, Bridge, etc.)
27. Play 5 board games. (0/5)
28. Learn how to do Suduku. And how to spell it.
29. Complete a jigsaw puzzle.
30. Watch Gone With the Wind.
31. Only use candlelight for one full evening.

Being Creative
32. Do something creative - paint a picture, throw a pot, etc.
33. Take pictures at one of those weird photo places in Hongdae.
34. Take a photo every day for a month. (0/31)
35. Take the good camera out once a month. (0/30)
36. Complete 26 Things.
37. Send a postcard to Postsecret.

Because You're Never Too Old
38. Color an entire coloring book.
39. Climb a tree.
40. Play with PlayDoh.
41. Rewatch the Princess Bride and reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. (0/2)
42. Do a cartwheel in the sun.
43. Make a snowman.

44. Go on a picnic.
45. Try making lasagne in a toaster oven.
46. Try 10 new foods. (0/10)
47. Make pancakes with my nieces twice. (0/2)
48. Bake a cake from scratch.
49. Make a curry dish from scratch.
50. Learn to make good cream sauce.
51. Try a new kind of alcohol.
52. Aa new kind of tea.
53. Eat chicken wings in a bar for the first time.
54. Make and decorate cupcakes.
55. Make banana bread and once again make my poor mother mail me the recipe.
56. Have a banana split party.
57. Eat at 25 new restaurants. (0/25)
58. Make that chocolate/whip cream dessert from when I was a kid.
59. Make popcorn on the stove.

The World is an Interesting Place, So Get Out in It
60. Visit a new continent (South America, Australia, Antarctica, Africa.)
61. Visit 5 countries I've never been to. (0/5)
62. Dip my toes into two oceans. (0/2)
63. Visit 5 UNESCO Heritage Sites. (0/5)
64. Visit a country from the Axis of Evil.
65. Go canoeing or kayaking again.
66. Participate in a winter sport that is not sledding.
67. Go zorbing/hot air ballooning/skydive or something along those lines.
68. Go to a sporting event, a play/opera/ballet, a museum, and an art gallery. (0/4)
69. Take an odd form of trasportation (dog sledding, etc.)
70. Control one vehicle.
71. Encounter an interesting animal in its natural habitat.
72. Sleep in a tent.
73. Watch the sun set and rise. (0/2)

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
74. Take a series of pictures of the neighbourhood I live in.
75. Finally go to the National Museum, which I pass every day, and Seoul Tower, which I can see from my window. (0/2)
76. Take the subway to work once a week. (0/38)
77. Walk into Itaewon to get coffee at least 15 times. (0/15)
78. Buy a round for the bar.
79. Let Shawn talk me into Hashing once.
80. Explore 12 new places in Seoul - one for each month. (0/12)

Because My Body is My Temple
81. Get a tattoo or a piercing.
82. Go to the dentist.
83. Buy a frickin' toothbrush.
84. Finish all my multivitamins.
85. Be a vegetarian for a month.
86. Be a vegan for a week.
87. Buy new glasses.
88. And sunglasses.
89. Buy a bathing suit.
90. Go to bed by midnight thirty times. (0/30)
91. Start and stick to an exercise routine.
92. Buy purple underwear.

Because It Needs to Be Done
93. Pay off half my credit card.
94. Then pay off the rest.
95. Make one day a month internet and TV free. (0/30)
96. Clean up iTunes.
97. Buy a new iPod.
98. Buy another external harddrive and have old harddrive fixed.
99. Find a charity I believe in and donate/join a protest for a cause I believe in.
100. Get my damn hair straightened already.
101. Wash Martha's dishes.

Pics of completed items.

(This is incredibly hard to make up. They say to look at other lists for ideas. Half the examples are things I've done - fly a plane! ride a horse! see the Northern Lights! Other things seem a bit ambitious considering my plans for the coming 1001 days, like specifically stating that I must see the Pyramids or Macchu Picchu. Many of the people whose lists I trolled looking for ideas would have things along the lines of read a book or try interesting foreign food from Korea or pray every day. Ummm, yeah. Or there were things I'm not sure I ever want to do, like scuba dive.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." - MLK Jr.

This is My Life

The hunt to find my glasses, the mere existence of the series "Gogo Loves English", the incredibly low level of both the grammar and content of the books I spend most of my time reading...

Gogo may well love English, but I can't say I love him very much.

Oh, Gogo!


Proposition 8 passed in California?

America elected Obama but has made it clear that the gays can't marry.

Fuck y'all who voted yes.

I'll marry who I like.

And screw you if you think any diferent.

That's kinda all I have to say. I'm seriously disappointed.

So, if we take the time between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Obama, is that how long it'll take y'all to be chill with the gays?

I am so not ok with being labeled as being one of "those straight folks." I'm bi, and proud of it. Enough with the heteronormative assumptions, if you aren't ok with gay people marrying, you aren't ok with me marrying. Let's make that clear.

And then I'm not ok with you.

Fucking seriously? Proposition 8?


Why are my third graders doing a listening dictation activity about a woman talking about wanting to go on a diet? How is that at all age appropriate? And why are my late elementary kids being asked if they are on diets? Who the hell designed this curriculum?

In order to quickly sidetrack the conversation from which of my skinny students should be dieting in 5th and 6th grade, I quickly jumped in and made a joke about how I should go on a diet. Ben immediately pipes up with, "But teacher, you aren't fat for a Canadian person!"

The thing is that I am. So now I am left to wonder what he thinks the population of Canada must look like...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Epilogue

Of the Audacity of Hope. That is what I was reading in bed as the text messages started arriving from English teachers here in Korea celebrating the news of Obama's win. The first one was from a Canadian, in fact.

Let's hope this news is an epilogue to another story as well.

Make Me Happy America

And vote for Obama.

According to Wikipedia, this is quite the race of firsts:
The 2008 election is particularly notable because it is the first time in U.S. history that two sitting senators will run against each other for president, and because it is the first time an African American is a presidential nominee for a major party, as well as the first time both major candidates were born outside the continental United States—Hawaii for Obama and the Panama Canal Zone for McCain. Since the Republican nominee for vice-president is a woman, the eventual winning ticket is very likely to be historic, as neither an African American nor a female has achieved either office. Also, the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, would be the oldest first-term president and the Democratic nominee for vice-president, Joe Biden, would be the first Roman Catholic vice president.
I had to think carefully before I could decide if Wikipedia needed a capital or not. Teaching is making me a little less bright, methinks.

Monday, November 03, 2008

"These are the days when you wish your bed was already made..."

Well, my dinner is what I wish was already made, more accurately.

Mondays are bad restaurant days in the HBC. The HBC being the most incredibly neighbourhood in Seoul, in which I am finally a resident. To give some background, it runs along the side of the American army base, right up some nasty-ass hills (or nasty ass-hills, hahaha.) Itaewon, the neighbourhood reputed for its foreigner friendly night scene, is only a twenty minute walk away or a $2 cab. You are free to speculate about which method I use more often. Itaewon became such a foreigner magnet, as I understand it, because of the presence of the American army base just down the road. There are tons of foreign bars and great foreign restaurants, plus a healthy market selling fakes of all kinds, but especially things like basketball shirts and purses. Haebangchon seems to have earned its foreign stripes as a result to its close proximity to Itaewon, rather than the base - for all that it's close, most of the residents are teachers or workers from various African countries (mostly Nigeria) rather than soldiers, who when they live off base tend to live in Kungridong (god knows how that is supposed to be romanized.)

However, Haebangchon is still a smallish place, and so it really only has four main restaurants: Phillie's (also a bar), Indigo, Jacoby's, and Alexandria's. Three out of four of those are all closed on Mondays, and I've yet to be wowed by the Korean restaurants nearby. Unfortunately, the grocery store scene is not so hot either, and I'm a lazy ass, so cooking at home is a bit of a bore. I have stuff, it just doesn't inspire me. But I guess being forced to cook one night a week is no bad thing. And I do "cook" for myself more often than that, it just sucks to be forced to do it on Monday.

I'm not a huge fan of Mondays - I don't like my two last classes of the day much and it is my most frantic workday if the weekly meeting happens to have run long, thus cutting into my rather meagre prep time. And Sunday is my funday. It's always a bit sad to have to see it end. There is something about staring down the week and knowing the fun is a whole five days away...

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Bringing the Funny and the Nerdy

Last night Martha and I went out for Halloween once again, but incredibly late. We didn't even leave the house until about 10.30 p.m. and stopped for falafel sandwiches on the way at Alexandria's, since it was basically the only place still open and serving food. We made our way over to Wolfhound, but there was a line down the stairs and out onto the road, so we ended up in Geckos, sharing a table with some Poly people - Bethany, who started at Mokdong as I was leaving, Chris and Laura Terry - and Val, Gary and crew. I'm not sure how they all know each other, actually, but that's just how Korea is. Chase and Sam kindly gave me a free jello shooter when we arrived and as Geckos was closing gave both of us a couple of random drinks in IV bags. We meandered over to Soho and I ended up having one of those nights where I meet tons and tons of new people. It was quite a fun evening.

This morning we were meant to meet Brian for waffles around noon, but with Michael in the hospital and his birth mom in the country against his wishes, Brian was off keeping her entertained. Annie called and so we met her and Ceedra for waffles instead, with poor Martha forced as always to basically drill sargeant me out of the house on time. I am not a morning person, to say the least. After waffles we wandered onto the base so Annie could go shopping. We walked over and Martha inspired me to attempt to step on the crunchiest leaves. Since Martha and I couldn't go into the store, we chilled and had coffee. Just before this, we were all sitting outside while they had a smoke and the sky looked just beautiful. Martha pointed it out and Annie chimed in with, "I bet it's not this beautiful in Korea!" It's not terribly funny to relate, but at the time it was hilarious.

After our short jaunt on base, we headed back home so I could shower and Martha could nap before the quiz. We even managed to get in an episode of America's Next Top Model - I do love the show, but it's not one I like to watch alone. It definitely requires someone to make snarky remarks to about the stupidity of so many things the girls say. I was wearing my "Talk Nerdy to Me" t-shirt and the funny came out for the second time of the day when Martha asked just how geeky I wanted it and pretended to speak binary to me.

At Wolfhound there was nary a table in sight, so we popped next door to the little Italian place for dinner. I was quite cranky because I was hungry and it's helpful that Martha was so chill about my bitchiness! It isn't a great Italian restaurant, but it is good. We got the set menu, which involved potato soup, grilled veggies, a pizza (on very odd crust, but yum!), Fettecine Alfredo, drinks, and pannacotta. We missed the first couple of quiz questions, but Annie, Ceedra and Alex had managed to grab a table and chairs for us. We called ourselves the Ambigious Genitals, which won us the best name prize, and came in third with a fairly respectable score. Too bad we didn't know more about Shakespeare, as that was the round we fell behind. It was a good night all round, and Alex was there to provide some moments of comedy as always. It was one of Garret's quizzes, which was great. We've missed quite a few lately and I had no idea where we were on the schedule, so that was nice. His are by far the best.

The walk home was lovely. Ceedra and I talk each other to death and poor Annie can't get a word in edgewise, but hopefully she doesn't mind. It's a bit chill out, but I'm all about the layering. Fall walks are lovely, especially in the evening.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Costume of the Night

I was fan death, a Korean urban legend. In case you haven't heard about fan death, these should enlighten you...

Halloween was great, but exhausting. On top of everything else, I think I might be getting a slight cold. After eight hours of scaring small children (three of them cried, but they were all under the age of three) and standing around in heels in a very, very hot costume having my picture taken with every single child who showerd up, I was soooo tired. I was also incredibly fed up with the green face paint - it dried oddly and was peeling off. So, I went home rather than going straight out and took a shower - though getting green off is harder than one might think. Then I was freezing, as I haven't yet started to close my windows but it is getting damn chilly. So I hopped into bed and started to wish very much that I could stay there. I ended up skipping out on the scavenger hunt part of the evening in order to chill for a bit and then have dinner with Annie, but I went out around 11 to meet up with the Lizzies and Martha and crew. They were at Flam's and then we briefly went to Jane's Groove, before ending up in Lesbos in the early hours of the morning. All in all, I had a great deal of fun for an overtired, not-intoxicated individual.