Sunday, January 31, 2010

Burns Night in Seoul

Just before Christmas, I ripped open a present from my mother and burst out laughing. It is the funniest gift I have ever received and it came in handy over the past weekend - it was an Instakilt. A towel printed like a kilt? Pure genius! After all, space is limited when you travel and I can now take one item that will serve to keep me dry and outfit me for any formal Scottish occassions I come across. Between that and the see-you-Jimmy hat that Ally picked up for me when he was home, I was fully prepared for Burns night.


Gabby and the Scotch broth.

Ally's address to the haggis.

Gus giving the toast to the lassies.

Lorraine giving the toast to the laddies.

Jay doing the toast to the Queen.

The kilts photo.

The couples photo.

Address to a Haggis
Rabbie Burns

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect sconner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

Friday, January 29, 2010

I Can See!

16 months ago I failed an eye test while wearing my glasses.

Today, I went and had an eye test. It's remarkable how much crisper the entire world looks - new glasses, new sunglasses, and new running shoes (incredibly, ridiculously comfortable running shoes!).

So, I've spent my overtime already. However, at least I didn't blow it all on books!

A Year in Photos: Afghanistan

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Stephano de Luigi / VII

A giraffe felled by drought lies dead on a road in Wajir, Kenya, on Oct. 9. The country has had virtually no rain in several years and is facing a severe water crisis.

Oops - Daily Blogging Fail!

Apparently the two Koreas have been firing missiles at each other. I'd love to claim this is why I didn't post yesterday, but the truth is that I thought I'd be home in time to write on my blog and instead we won at trivia, drank a bottle of vodka and, knowing I had the day off, I stayed out quite late.

Which is why I have so little to say about today - I've mostly slept. Apparently when I got home last night, I turned off the heat. I can't recall doing it, but when I woke up this morning around 11, the apartment was freezing. I did the logical thing and tucked myself back under my blanket and took a nap. After the nap, I mostly pottered about and did nothing.

In the month of January, I intended to try and set myself a stricter budget. That failed horribly - in spite of the fact that I spent two weekends at home, doing almost nothing. I'm not entirely sure what the hell happened, though I suppose Busan was a bit of an expense and I was eating out for lunch every workday. Since there isn't anything under $5 except kimbap, that did add up to quite a lot. I did take the subway at least 50% of the time, so that was good. If I can keep that up and eat out less (which will happen inevitably, as I won't be working mornings), then hopefully February will prove to be cheaper.

February is also supposed to be the month that I look at eating healthier and join the gym again (post-vacation poverty and then Intensives have kept me away.) I went shopping on Tuesday and came back with a seriously large amount of fruits and vegetables - but then on Tuesday night I went out with Brian and folks and ate ribs at Sam Ryans. Traditionally, except the years I was a vegetarian, I've been much better at buying healthy food than I have been at eating it. Right now there is almost no junk food in the house - something I wasn't too pleased about when I was slightly hungover earlier today!

However, it's started off well. Yesterday I went out for Indian food for lunch and ate sushi for dinner. The big fail would be that breakfast was two cups of coffee and nothing else, though I switched to mint tea in the afternoon. I suspect I don't stay hydrated throughout the day and I'd like to improve that, too. Today I made myself two eggs and whole grain toast and then had cauliflower and carrot curry with yesterday's leftover sauce (sag and tikka masala), followed by a giant bowl of strawberries. Every year I'm surprised that strawberry season happens in winter here and not in the summer like back home, but I have no complaints - I love strawberries.

The gym plan will be put off by a day because we have a morning meeting on Monday and I am not a morning person. However, I'm off to buy new running shoes and glasses with Shawn tomorrow - in fact, I've been somewhat startled by my productivity this week. Finally fixing the shower head, grocery shopping, making it to the post office, and now finally buying new glasses, which I've needed for over a year. Granted, if we aren't paid in the morning I'll have to put it on my credit card, which further tanks the budgeting attempts.

It's occurred to me, what with finally fixing a shower head that I broke back before Christmas, that when people ask me about how much roughing it I do on various vacations, I should perhaps prefix my statements with one that covers the fact that I'm the kind of girl who wasn't especially annoyed to shower with a hose attached to the bathroom sink for over a month. I suspect my idea of what roughing it might entail isn't the same as others'.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's 11 A.M. Do You Know Where Your Teacher Is?

It's 11:38 on a school day and I am at home, in bed, waiting for my coffee to be ready. Why is this? Because for once, I lucked out with scheduling. We were supposed to be making up the daily Intensive classes that we missed on the snow day, but he decided that the first period teacher would control all the tests and my first period students finished up on Friday.

I have plans to be productive, I swear I do. I'm also going to eat ribs at Sam Ryans, as it's some sort of special, uber-popular Tuesday night thing. But right now, my plan is coffee and pancakes and an episode of the West Wing.

I have my fingers crossed that something is going to be achieved today. Though I suppose getting enough sleep to wake up without an alarm, feeling refreshed, is not to be scoffed at.

Update: 2:07 - have eaten, watched the West Wing, done the dishes, put away laundry, and tidied quickly. Now to shower and run errands.

The Sun Will Come Out...

Over at Three Bedroom Bungalow, Kat posted about the TV she remembers from the 80's.

I have some general memories - Bill Cosby teaching me to turn off the tap when brushing my teeth to save water, the awesomeness of Punky Brewster, watching the Racoons with the whole family and to this day I like the theme song to The Fragles enough to have it on my iPod. But my most intense memories of 80's TV come from the summer of 1985. I'm sure we spent time playing outside a lot as well, Andrew and I and the three kids next door, but somehow what sticks in my mind about that summer is the TV.

You see, the summer of '85 is the summer my sister was born. Two and a half months early - she was in the hospital for awhile, as was my mom. And in some ways, once she came home, things were just never the same. Some of it great (my parents had less time to pay attention to me!) and some of it not so great (my parents had less time to pay attention to me.) For better or for worse, the summer of '85 was the year that my family life began, as I recall it, to revolve around my little sister.

Since my parents were both spending a lot of time in Toronto at Women's College Hospital, I was spending a lot of time next door with the Cirones - particularly Ginny and Melanie. I remember watching soap operas and I Dream of Jeanie and endlessly watching Annie.

To be honest, I remember that better than I remember anything to do with Lindsay and the hospital.

Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big?

Chunkster Reading

1. Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susana Clarke
2. Consider Phlebas, Iain M. Banks
3. Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
4. Swann's Way: In Search of Lost Time Volume 1, Marcel Proust
5. The Well of Loneliness, Radclyffe Hall
6. There is No Me Without You, Melissa Fay Greene
7. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
8. Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pesel
9. Personal History, Katharine Graham

TBR 2010

Over half of this list is stuff that I didn't finish in challenges I attempted to participate in last year and then forgot all about. However, I do need to get reading because I have a crazy number of books and the desire to leave Korea one day in the not too distant future...

1. At the Point of a Gun, David Rieff
2. Friends and Heroes, Olivia Manning
2. Spoilt City, Olivia Manning
4. The Yacoubian Building, Alaa Al Aswany
5. Losing Confidence, Elizabeth May
6. Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Carcia Marquez
7. Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norell
8. The Gate, Francois Bizot
9. Incubus Dreams, Laurell K. Hamilton
10. The Ethical Imagination, Margaret Somerville
11. House of Leaves, Mark Danielewski
12. Swann's Way, In Search of Lost Time Vol. I, Marcel Proust
Alt.1. In Search of Lost Time Vol. II, Marcel Proust
Alt.2. In Search of Lost Time Vol. III, Marcel Proust
Alt.3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
Alt.4. My Name is Red, Orham Pamuk
Alt.5. The Laughing Corpse, Laurell K. Hamilton
Alt.6. Bloody Bones, Laurell K. Hamilton
Alt.7. Riotous Assembly, Tom Sharpe
Alt.8. Epileptic, David B.
Alt.9. Navigating the Golden Compass, Glenn Yeffeth
Alt.10. The Lunatic Cafe, Laurell K. Hamilton
Alt.11. The Essential 55, Ron Clark
Alt.12. Bodily Harm, Margaret Atwood

For this challenge you should…

** Pick 12 books – one for each month of the year - 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, read one of these books from your list each month, ending December 31. )

By the end of the year you should’ve knocked 12 books off of your TBR list! (of course, if you’re anything like me, you’ll have added *at LEAST* 12 more to the ever-growing pile by then! LOL).

The good news is, though, that you’ll be making some progress! ;o)

Additional rules/guidelines for this challenge:

* the challenge is to read 12 TBR books in 12 months — you can read those all in one month if you want, or one a month, or however you wanna do it.
* you should have a list posted somewhere for others to see
* you CANNOT change your list after January 1st, of the current year!!!
* you can create an Alternates list of MAXIMUM 12 books, if you want, in order to have options to choose from (you can read these in place of books on your original list).
* audiobooks and e-books ARE allowed
* re-reads are NOT allowed, as they aren’t TRUE “TBRs”
* you CAN overlap with other challenges
* OPTIONAL: you can join the Yahoo! Group created for participants of the TBR Challenge, if you want to have a place to keep your list, or just to share with others about how you’re doing!

Might as Well Talk About Failure on a Monday

I totally forgot this existed. Oops!

1. At the Point of a Gun, David Rieff
2. How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster
3. Ordinary People, Judith Guest

4. The Yacoubian Building, Alaa Al Aswany
5. The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan
6. Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Carcia Marquez
7. Race Against Time, Stephen Lewis
8. The Gate, Francois Bizot
9. The Truth About Stories, Thomas King
10. The Ethical Imagination, Margaret Somerville
11. Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
12. Swann's Way, In Search of Lost Time Vol. I, Marcel Proust
Alt.1. In Search of Lost Time Vol. II, Marcel Proust
Alt.2. In Search of Lost Time Vol. III, Marcel Proust
Alt.3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
Alt.4. My Name is Red, Orham Pamuk
Alt.5. What Canadians Think, Darrell Bricker & John Wright
Alt.6. Crimes Against Logic, Jamie Whyte

Alt.7. Riotous Assembly, Tom Sharpe
Alt.8. Epileptic, David B.
Alt.9. Navigating the Golden Compass, Glenn Yeffeth
Alt.10. Pyongyang, Guy Delisle
Alt.11. The Essential 55, Ron Clark
Alt.12. Bodily Harm, Margaret Atwood

You All Owe Me Presents

Wait... what?

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I have been putting off posting today because right at the end of a fabulous weekend, full of Drag Queen Bingo, a bloggers brunch, Brian's birthday party where we had a VIP room at NB2, and then a lovely day of napping and watching The West Wing, someone has annoyed me.

A lot.

And I have added that annoyance to the annoying conversation I had with my sister the other day and now I am a giant grump. It's all that's on my mind and I feel that if I post about it now, I'll be very negative and bitchy and by tomorrow, as per usual, I will have largely forgotten about this particular annoyance.

Though, I suppose in both cases, the actual problem is that there are underlying tensions in the relationships I have with my sister and my friend that I'm not sure can be resolved. With both of them, I feel like I can't really win: if I am myself and express my opinions, they will get annoyed, but to constantly have to do that much bending of my personality to deal with someone is a betrayal of myself.

Anyway, back to The West Wing and a rootbeer.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The New Yorker, June 1

No homage here — this cover is a true original. New Yorker covers are often topical, and they are known for their wit and keen cultural timing. But several times a year, they just run covers that capture the New York–ness of America's greatest city. This cover found a groundbreaking way to do that, featuring a piece by illustrator-designer Jorge Colombo that was created on an iPhone applicaton called Brushes. If it had been done just for novelty's sake, it would be noteworthy but not significant. But this illustration meets the impeccable standards of New Yorker covers — an accomplishment in any medium.

Zombies Have Eaten My Brains

Because Intensives can't have made me feel this sleep deprived and crappy, right? I mean, I'm still only putting in 40 hours a week and in the land I came from that's just a normal week. Sure, I've been reading and prepping classes on A Wrinkle in Time and the Giver and studying up on how to study for the SATs (damn am I glad I'm Canadian.) The problem really is that I'm a night owl extraordinaire and I've been getting up at 7:30 in the morning, meaning that I've been getting five hours of sleep or fewer. Hilariously, Monday and Friday are the days I finish the latest and Friday is the one I teach the most hours. Fun, fun, fun. It all ends next Wednesday though, and if my luck continues, I don't even have to show up Tuesday and not until 11 a.m. on Wednesday. So, before the fog of exhaustion ends, here is the day in the life of a tired hagwon teacher:

7:30: Alarm goes off. I hit snooze.

7:38: Alarm goes off again. Once again, I hit snooze.

7:46: Alarm goes off. At this point, I hope to hell I've gotten up because there really isn't 8 extra minutes to shave off this morning routine, though I can't pretend that it hasn't had to happen. I apologise to my coworkers for my skanky hair on those days.

7:47: Stare blearily at pot, which is dirty because I made chai tea or hot chocolate in it the night before. Curse. Wash pot, travel mug, spoon, mug. Wonder yet again why at the grand old age of 31 I don't own more than one pot (or even a kettle.) Curse again.

7:50: While the water boils, pee. Pack stuff (always minus one important thing) into purse. Put coffee in French press and sugar in mugs.

7:52: Water in coffee, me into bathroom. Teeth, shower with hose (because I'm such a sterling adult that my shower head has remained broken for a month. However, considering how much faster I shower with the hose, this may have been a gift from Maude.)

8:10: Dress. Grumble about need for socks in winter. Ponder that I thought I'd be leaving the house by this time each morning. Brush hair, though no time to dry it.

8:13: Drink cup of coffee, fix one to go. Possibly wail about lack of milk.

8:15: Put on hiking shoes (closest thing I have to winter boots.) Grab key, hat, mitts. Start walking to subway.

8:30: Wait for train.

8:35: Get on train.

8:38: Get off and transfer lines.

8:45: Train number two.

8:52: At Ichon station. Power walk to school.

8:58: Grab books, attendance, and coffee.

9:00: Wait for my SAT or middle school students to show up late, as always. Read a magazine or book. Eventually, they turn up, we talk about either novels or the vocab words one finds on the SAT.

10:25: Bathroom, Facebook, maybe another cup of coffee, but the stuff in the office is shit.

10:30: First graders from hell. Math and reading.

11:55: Do up jackets, locate missing gloves, get them out the door.

12:00: Dodge past students at the elevator and take the stairs. Go eat. Preferably somewhere with coffee. Usually prep the novel for the next day, possibly read magazines, or, in a worst case scenario, listen to iPod and stare into space freaking out all the Koreans around me with my blank, zombie-like face.

12:55: Walk back to school.

1:00: Fourth grade social studies and reading with three awesome girls on Tuesdays and Thursdays, otherwise more first graders, but these ones aren't so evil.

1:30/2:00: On Mondays, go get more coffee. All other days, an hour of private tutoring with Jimin, whose in 5th grade, or Minsoo, who's about to move up to 2nd. Jimin and I read a book all about weird ass shit around the world, like people in Coober Pedy living underground. Minsoo and I read picture books (it's one of my favourite classes - the books are good, the kid is cute and well-behaved, I couldn't prep even if I wanted to, so I don't have to feel any guilt since I wouldn't.)

4:00: Tuesdays and Thursdays I go home! Monday, Wednesday, Fridays, I have a second grade class. They're pretty cool but the books are ridiculous. The story of a boy who picks up a girl in his fast car to take her to a Hollywood interview? Are you fucking with me? A book entitled "Happy Granny" and a picture of a scary woman hula hooping? WTF?!?

5:30: Tues/Thurs I'm at home, likely staring blankly in the direction of a West Wing episode. Wednesday, I leave. But on Mondays and Fridays, I'm lucky enough to teach vocabulary classes to the three most fucking whiny children I have ever met. There is not enough coffee in the world to make this class ok.

7:00: Leave. Walk to subway, take two trains to do what is only a 15 minute cab ride (but I'm saving money, thanks so much Past Amanda, who decided this should be a New Year's Resolution. You are an asshole and I hate you very much.) Walk home, unless I've been tempted by the used bookstore on the corner (in which case all savings instantly disappear.)

7:45: Get home. Peel off layers. Collapse on bed. Bitterly contemplate how the Jetsons have ruined my life by giving me false hope that by now there'd be robots doing my housework and making me dinner.

8:00: Haul self out of bed before I start knawing on my own arm out of hunger. Likely decide I can not be bothered making anything substantial. Decide that there will be no chopping, and once the vegetables I bought back in December ran out, there was nothing to chop anyway. Stare into fridge.

8:15: Accept that there is nothing to eat, really. Either make breakfast or pasta with nothing on it but Parmesan cheese (which has always been my comfort food.) Make a cup of hot chocolate or chai, assuming that I have remembered to buy milk.

8:30: As I sit down to eat in front of the computer, contemplate whether or not I will get scurvy before this is all over, but take comfort in the fact that osteoporosis isn't likely since I go through milk almost as fast as my family used to in a home with four growing children. But by myself. I'm obviously not a candidate for veganism.

9:00: If it's Wednesday, go to quiz. If not, read, stare at TV, surf the net.

12:00: Tell myself to go to bed. Turn out the lights.

12:30: Still awake. Turn lights back on, go back to doing whatever I was doing before.

2~3:00: Finally am so exhausted I can sleep.

I Guess I'm a Creator


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Busan, Baby!

I haven't been down to Busan since the first year I was in Korea and it was about time that I returned to Korea's second biggest city.

Countess and I met up on Friday night, but due to extreme stupidity on both our parts, we missed our train because we both thought it was at 9:40. I mean, the tickets said 9:20 and all, but what do they know, right? So, small fee paid and we were scheduled to get the train at 10 instead, which had us at Melissa's place in Gupo around 2 a.m. We bought a bottle of red and played a game of Settlers of Catan (I love, love, love building nice long roads!) and then went to bed at 5 a.m.

Which was a bad thing, once we all woke up exhausted the next morning. We had to be down at Haeundae at noon to meet up with Thar She Blows, Just Getting Started, and GI Hoe for lunch at a Mexican place. After two coffees and lots of guac, I was ready to hash. There were quite a few of us visiting from Seoul and a fair number of virgin hashers. GITS did a great job with both the chalk talk and circle at the end and the trail was beautiful. We stayed in the Sunshine Lounge bar after circle ended, until about 2ish and cabbed back to Melissa's. I have to say, sleeping on floor heating after exercise is handy for sore muscles.

Today we were all super tired and somewhat hungover (damn those friendly bartenders and all those free drinks!) so coffee and pizza was the extent of our day before Countess and I had to hop back on a train at 3 to Seoul. Since I've gotten home, I've only been able to bring myself to make breakfast foods and watch Grey's. Now, bedtime. 8:30 meeting tomorrow, but Intensives are slowly coming to an end, hallelujah.