Sunday, January 22, 2006

Makeup... ACTION!!!

4 yr olds, Ruby and Linda, sat patiently through rehearsal while the other classes ran through their one-hundredth rendition of Peter Pan, Snow White, the Rabbit's Liver, and other hits in Saturday's Musical. They were SO well behaved despite the grueling hours and pounds of makeup applied for the show.

Even Ned was wearing makeup, but he still gets the ladies. Lucy is an odd little lady ... she sat through many rehearsals of our closing scene as the only child turned around and staring at the teachers. If she ever joined the singing it was a loud "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" through all three songs that somehow drowned everyone else out. But on the actual day she pulled through. Wish I could say the same for our "sound man". He messed up SO many times it's embarassing.

Berkeley class was adorable, of course, and performed perfectly. Even when the music cut out (for like 3 whole minutes) these toddlers just stopped in their positions and remained perfectly still. It got awkward after a bit, so they gave little waves to the audience and curtseyed. I, on the other hand, wasn't as comfortable with my sticks in the air during the Korean drum performance "nanta" for our one-minute of silence.

Here is Jana, beautiful and prepared, as always. And Andy, looking less than enthused.

I only wish they had these Korean Costumes in teacher's sizes. I have great shots yet to download that I will add later.

The Ugly Duckling was performed by my main class (Yale). They did very well, after a month of training with Jin (their Korean teacher). I first discovered they were doing this particular skit when I walked into class one day and Chris said, "You are SO ugly." and Eric said, "Yeah, go AWAY, we don't want to play with you!" I didn't know if I was more shocked at their insults or their impeccable english. Then Amy said, "No, you are BEAUTIFUL." I wasn't surprised by her sweet behavior, nor by her articulacy. But then she said, "A beautiful SWAN." I knew then she was quackin' up. She played the ugly duckling by the way.


Well something bad has finally happened in Korea. I know some of you have been waiting 6 months to hear something other than "I absolutely LOVE Korea!", just so you could say, "I told you so." I've had overwhelming support of this decision from the start, but many people were worried and warned me to be careful. (ie: register w/the U.S. Embassy, lock my door, wash my fruits & veggies with purified water) I've heeded the warnings and taken most advice ... but some things you just can't predict.
Don't you just hate those people who say, "You're not gonna believe this, but no no I can't tell you." Why even bring it up, right? Well I'm not gonna tell you. It's just that when so
mething upsets me, I vent. And I vent some more, through every possible outlet.

Yesterday was one of the longest days of my life! I woke up at 3:30am and couldn't fall back to sleep. Most of the daytime was consumed by the musical our school put on. It was wonderful and that will be my next blog (think happy thoughts) but there were even some issues there. Despite my unreasonably happy demeanor throughout the day, I've counted 10 things that went wrong yesterday. Starting with my favorite student leaving our school and ending with a fight b/t foreigners. I helped keep the 2 idiots separated though, can't stand to see people fight. Have I mentioned how much I hate the foreigners here? No? Well I hate them.

But I LOVE Amy. Do you remember Amy? She was the first picture I sent home. Her 6yr old birthday party in my YALE classroom. Well I found out Saturday was her last day at Little America because her family is moving to another dong. She's so bright and sweet, I actually cried a little when I hugged her goodbye. I'm really gonna miss her, but I hope she's placed in a good english class at her new hogwan; she was way too advanced for the group she was in here.

After the musical, the staff had their usual dinner party at a Korean restaurant. More than 20 of us sat on the floor with all sorts of interesting morsels before us. Of course there was soju. And lots of raw, innocent animals frying in front of me. I had said I didn't want to come, but my head teacher didn't seem too happy about that. So I went and wish I hadn't.
Fortunately, the 3 foreign teachers I work with and I are all extra-supportive and protective of one another. If they hadn't been at my apartment when an uncomfortable ordeal escalated, I'd be on a plane home right now. No joke. But all is well now and I can't think of anything but the adorable little munchkin faces I'm gonna see tomorrow morning!
And the grand finale of my complaint session: I'm really sick. AGAIN! I'm not going back to the Korean nurse who sticks a needle in my bum and spanks me or the doctor who gives me pills that don't work. So I'm just waiting it out and hopefully I'll be better for my trip next week. I wish my mom was here to make me soup and listen to my whining. I handle most situations very well, but a common cold has me laying in bed, moaning & groaning to an unbearable degree. My mother's the only one who tolerates that.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

"We're unconventional, fuck off." These were the words of Jordana as she stuffed crackers in her mouth and the Walmart man reprimanded us. I was eating raisins. Even in our North American Supermarkets, we know it's kinda rude to eat the food before purchasing it. But WHY? We're gonna pay for it. I suppose some people would set the box down and be dishonest; and to keep order, one must apply the rules to EVERYONE. But it's fun getting away with things as the "naive foreigner" once in a while.
We always act like we don't know you can't have 5 people in a cab or that it's perfectly normal to ride around in the shopping cart. Jordana needed to sit down and eat something after her heavy night of drinking. As if we didn't get ENOUGH attention as pale girls with long eyelashes.

Speaking of cab rides, this is a shot just after the driver slammed on his brakes and Lindsey spit her Bravo Champagne all over herself. I told her it was "candid". Cabs are everywhere in Korea, but I try to take the bus. The drivers are just as bad, but I'm in a larger unit & assume that means I'm slightly safer. Besides, you have to go throught the whole line of questioning with cab drivers. "Where are you FROM?".
............... "Ahhh, bea-u-ti-ful".
I swear it's like being a celebrity here. See, I'm even in a movie, or Korean boy band. Not sure which. We got lots of looks for this one at Home Plus. Or should we say "Home Plus -a". To get anywhere in a cab, you have to add a vowel sound at the end. "Walmart-a" Guess it's just a pronunciation thing. That's how "way guks" (foreigners) get away with cursing at Koreans. You just don't add a vowel and they have no idea what you're saying. That's mean though, and I don't curse at anyone - except the foreigners who understand me. I'm getting better at my pronunciations with the little bit of Korean I know. Oh yeah, and I'll be walking down the street or through a store and some English pop song will come on screaming obsenities & no one has a clue!

And now for the Korean that got OUR attention. A tall guy. What?

Happy Birthday

Today (January 15th) is the day we celebrate the birth of ..... Dwight!!!

(God's gift to women)

Dwight is SO important, he doesn't allow himself to be photographed, so I have no pictures to share... which is better off, b/c most of you could not handly that much beauty at once. Nor does he allow people to have his phone #, so when I went to call his cell phone today for an 'international shout out', I got the voicemail of "BRUNO". I didn't wish Bruno a happy birthday.
So Dwight, we love you (me,myself, I, and all the rest of my personalities) and here's wishing you a very Happy Birthday!

Though I know Dwight won't be happy about sharing.... I'm gonna take this time to mention someone else's b-day. MOE. Tomorrow is Moe's birthday so we spent all of Saturday night and Sunday morning celebrating at his bar, "The Brick House". It was a good time with some fun people. And I broke my record; closed bar @ 9am!


Lindsey & Dan

Jordana & Me

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thailand That's where I want to go. I will go before I leave Asia; it's my kinda place. I believe South Korea is one of the best places to teach abroad (economically for sure, it's safe, friendly, industrialized) but it isn't the best vacation spot. I want to go somewhere HOT and bath with elephants during my break from teaching. I had planned on going there for my winter break at the end of this month, but I'm going with friends to the Great Wall instead. It was a tough decision, but I doubt I'd work up the desire to go to China again. Why not hit all the countries while I'm here, eh? Damn Canadians got me saying "eh". So I found this "Elephants Nature Park" that you pay $68 to spend the day with Elephants. It includes your lunch and theirs. Mmmm, Thai food. You get in the water and you feed them. The ultimate trip for me would involve monkeys in Africa, but Elephants in Thailand would be just as nice. My friends Troy and Alwyn just went to Thailand for the solar New Yr and they had a great time; took a photo of a baby elephant in the street! They wore SHORTS in January! And everything's dirt cheap.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"Dan teacher Greer teacher kissing!"

Even I must admit.... they are the cutest couple. I usually don't condone marriage, but this couple from New Zealand is the perfect match and I can't wait to fly out to their country in a few years for the wedding. (Especially b/c it'll be during my winter and their WARM summer!). Individually, Greer and Dan are both amazing people and were fortunate enough to meet. Then I was fortunate enough to work with them at our hogwan in Korea and make them my good friends. Along with Taunya (the 4th foreign teacher from Kansas), we do stuff together all the time. You'd think we'd all be sick of eachother after the many hours we put in at Little America.

Speaking of our Hogwan, I haven't shared any stories about the students lately and I have SO many: first of all, they always say "Dan teacher Greer teacher kissing" and ask them about making babies because they know the couple is engaged. This New Yrs shot is probably their 1st public kiss in Korea.... but the kids have imaginations. They always ask me why I don't have a boyfriend and the conversations get interesting; they LOVE to speculate! Every time I have a new piece of jewelry it's "from your BOYFRIEND?"

It seems Love and affection are displayed much more openly in Korea than in New York. Though homosexuality is "unheard of" here, men wear pink shirts and hold hands. Everyone is very touchy: family, friends, business partners, etc. I ordered "duckbogi" tonight (sticky rice in red sauce) and the couple that owns the restaurant HUGGED me and the man said "I love you". The students constantly tell us they love us and today LUCY (who I thought hated me) went into her cupboard, took out a candy wrapper that said love all over it, handed it to me and said, "I love you Nicole teacher!" ugh, tug at my heart why don't ya? I'll never leave Korea! Then there are the funny moments that I crack up over. We have gas heaters in the classrooms and the students sitting closest to the heat always complains. Today it was Jason (who I call goofy)

Goofy: "Nicole teacher, me hot."
Me: "I'm hot."
Goofy: "Me too."

Then in my last class I was grading bookwork for my oldest boys. These were Jake's answers:

"Have you ever been in a blizzard?"
Yes, I have.

"Have you ever had a sunburn?"
No, I haven't.

"Would you like to go on a cruise?"

I wish I could document every little moment here. While I am documenting "funny moments I crack up over", I now have a photo of the boys at midnight.

As far as I know, it was also Dan's first public dropping of the pants in Korea that night. Texas, New Zealand, and Canada unite.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

My Vegan days are over

Well it lasted 6 days, until SOMEONE had to go and send me a huge box of chocolate. My greatest weakness. I came into work and found 2 big boxes on my desk. One was full of Pepperidge Farm chocolate chip cookies and m&ms (melts in your mouth...mmmmmm!) along with Lipton Tea bags and expensive clothes. (thanks Kathy). Ya know people, if you keep spoiling me like the little American girl that I am, it's not gonna be the livin' rough experience I was going for. I thought I was coming here to live in a hut and eat rice, but I'm in a nice "western style apartment" and have all these freakin' kind people sending me stuff I love. JEEZ! Speaking of which, someone just sent me a RIDICULOUSLY nice gift. The best possible present ever! I was shocked to open that other box on my desk and find a DIGITAL CAMERA!!! Along with all the equiptment (cable, memory card, photo cd's, batteries) Wow. I will be putting such great photos on here now & filling up your email boxes with cute kids and oriental images.
My first pictures were of my student's piano recital. John is such a great kid, really smart, around 9 years old. He told me he had a recital Saturday morning and wrote it down in Korean for me. A Korean teacher (my friend Allie) said I could just show that piece of paper to a taxi driver and they would take me, but that I shouldn't go b/c it was a 20 or 30 min. ride. SO? Well that was nearly a fiasco. I was 20 minutes late after taking 3 different taxis and calling everyone I knew who spoke Korean. I walked into a huge hall full of young children who all turned and started whispering b/c a white lady walked in. Seeing some of these kids reminded me of a beauty pageant mom put me in when I was 7. I showed up with my blond curls and simple cotton dress (blue with white poka dots). Then I walked out onto a stage full of girls in Cinderella dresses. They were wearing extravagant silk and lace GOWNS and had talents. The judges in the back room had asked me if I spoke any other languages or played any instruments and I told them NO but that I was in brownies and that one day I was gonna take a BIG truck to New York City and feed all the homeless people peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches. They didn't care & fortunately I didn't care about being the odd-one-out with the dress. I probably liked being different. But mom felt bad. Well anyway, this saturday there were kids there in jeans and t-shirts and there were kids who wore tuxedos and ball room gowns. John and his friend wore suits (and light-up sneakers). When I finally spotted him he was looking all around the hall, turned around in his seat. I'm assuming he was looking for the white girl who came to see him play. His mom seemed happy when I approached to say hello. You have no
idea how sad I would've been if I missed that. And you have NO IDEA how talented these kids are. Playing classical masterpieces like they've practiced for years. Everyone here seems to take piano. Wish I did. Always wanted to - on my list still. A lot of the kids played the same songs (Mozart, Beethoven) but one kid really impressed me. Skinny little thing in a poindexter get up (red bow tie, tux pants too short, hair gelled over) approached the piano with a "shit-eatin' grin" on his face and I couldn't help but laugh when he busted out with "Oblah Di Oblah Da, life goes on". Classic.
So I didn't miss his piano moment, John played very well. I'll add pics as soon as I figure out the software program for my camera .....

And I'm a sucker for milk chocolate.

Monday, January 02, 2006

It was midnight in Korea and we couldn't watch the ball drop ... so these gentlemen all dropped their PANTS instead!!! Gotta improvise, ya know. Interesting underwear to match their interesting personalities. It wouldn't have been a party without these 3 stooges; they're HYSTERICAL and it seems the drunker they get, the funnier.
left-right (Mike, no pants Dan, and James)
above (the blond is Kendra, who is engaged to James, & the 2 girls are their friends from Canada out for a visit ; alcohol consumption has made me forget their names. really nice though)

As an American, I had to supply Budweiser at my party. It went over well, especially with my boss. My boss showed up with his wife and their daughter. They brought me a HUGE bouquet of flowers and a bunch of fruit. They stayed til 11:30pm, then went home to hear the bells ring. I'm glad they weren't around to see the balls drop. We saved most of the drunken behavior for 2006 !!!
(bring in the new year right)

Around 3:30am we were all still having fun and had some booze left, but we decided it was time for the bar. Seeing this blog entry will totally depict me as an alcoholic, I might as well elaborate on the supply of beverages we had at my apartment. 1st thing we did was make VODKA SOURS. My girls from Canada stopped by (dressed to impress) and Greer and I busted out the sour mix packets my friend Wally sent from America. (he's the best btw) So we had a few of those, then there was the bud, the korean beer(Hite), and the SOJU. You can't drink in Korea and not include SOJU. Then James & Kendra brought over Whiskey, Bourbon, Malibu, and juice. I had koolade for the kids and let the puppies run loose. (everyone had fun with them). We had pretzels, chips & salsa to counteract the alcohol. "Salsa" means diarrhea in Korean. We got a few pizzas and I spoke korean to the delivery guy, he spoke English back. Ah, assimilation. It'll be the last pizza I have for a while. Why?

New Year's RESOLUTION: Every year I make a half hearted attempt at doing something different to become a better person. It's kinda hard when you're so damn perfect. But those things I've tried to change never last long. In the past my resolutions have been to stop being such a bitch or stop spending so much money. This year I tossed a coin b/t 2 things I'd like to give up: baseball and dairy products. Literally, I flipped a coin. I'm disgusted with baseball ever since the Yankees bought Johnny Damon - the mascot of their rival team (a good team player I really thought was in it for the SPORT of baseball.) but the evil empire strikes again! I think they should end TRADING in baseball. Anyway, I'd like to give up the little bit of following I do with the sport b/c it makes me angry, but I'd have to discard my big soft Red Sox blanket from MIKE and my Fenway poster from Gina and my hats and shirt.... that would be sad. So I thought about taking the extra step to veganism instead. It's hard enough finding food in Korea as a vegetarian, but I've lasted over 5months now (unlike the many others I've met who've fallen off the wagon.) Seeing I don't have all the yummy options of vegetarian food I had in the U.S. I might as well give up animal BY-PRODUCTS at the same time. I've tried this once before and it lasted 2 weeks. Let's see if I can break my record. And I don't care what you think, I don't tell you what to eat.
(see, still a bitch.)

New Year's in New York: I called my best friend and family back home when the ball dropped there. Greer and Dan invited me over to watch the craziness in Manhattan on CNN (2pm the next day our time). I miss everyone back home and wish I brought in the New Year with Debbie (tradition) but I'm having a good time with the people I'm meeting here. Which leads me to mention Sean. He's the photographer of the bunch, so I owe him a thanks. Some think I owe him an apology as well. Naaaah.