Monday, July 28, 2008

Shutting Down

Over the next few weeks, I will be copying this blog into a word document and then deleting it.

There's too much information about me on the internet. haha.

Hope you are doing well, everybody.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Sleeping through stuff, unemployment suits me.

New Year's Eve was the night of Meena and Ashlee's big Martini party, which I was actually really excited about! I brought back a metal shaker specifically for the occasion, and even bought some vermouth. But around eight or so Vanessa and I decided to take a nap and next thing we knew it was eleven, and we were both groggy and grumpy and neither of us really felt like going to a party, so we blew it off, pretended it was midnight, wished eachother a happy new year and turned in for the night.
We woke up the next morning, played Mario party, and then cleaned for about four hours. I didn't think it would be possible to clean such a small apartment for such a long time, but two people living in one divided room take a long time to organize. Of course, the spilling of pop corn and sugar onto a wet floor doesn't help either. haha.
And now, Vanessa's back at work at her winter camp, and I am sitting around the apartment, doing some cleaning and going to the gym when she's done work, and otherwise just relaxing, well into my second month of three unemployed. It's fun.

The Wii, games games games, couple stuff

Boxing day morning I walked Vanessa to school. Vanessa was frustrated with her school, because they insist that Christmas is just as big a holiday here as in Canada, but it really isn't. It might only have religious significance, but none of the cultural significance translates over. Anyway, after I dropped her off, I called home and chatted a bit with my family, who were having their Christmas dinner at my uncle Brian's house in Toronto. It was good to chat with everyone. I kept walking about half an hour North to where Jon and Emily live, because a store near their place apparently sold the transformers necessary to hook up my new Wii to a Korean plug. I couldn't find it, so I stopped in and borrowed Jon and Emily's.
SINCE THAT DAY, I HAVE BECOME ADDICTED TO "ZELDA: TWILIGHT PRINCESS". Seriously, this makes my former "Bomberman" addiction look like nothing. Zelda is really addictive, and the scary thing is that the online cheats that I have used (twice, when really stuck) have revealed that I'm only about one thirtieth of the way through the game after playing for almost 11 hours on that account. yikes!
On Saturday Vanessa and I went downtown to do some shopping. Well, more accurately, she did some shopping and I sat at "Angel In Us" coffee and started this whole blog update thing... After that we met with Jon and Emily for Spicy Pork, which was just as delicious as it ever was. We then headed to Provence, and did the most couply thing I think I've been involved in since Vanessa and I started seeing eachother... First, we all ordered the same thing: Coffee with Bailey's. Then, we pulled out travel Scrabble and played in the coffee shop. Then we ate 7-11 snacks. It was very couply. But very fun. I lost.
Vanessa and I have also been also playing obscene amounts of Mario Party since first playing it with Jon and Emily last Sunday. Vanessa made a really good chilli, and then we all sat down and played Mario Party. Vanessa was instantly hooked, and we've probably played it 10 times since.

Christmas Day 2007

Christmas was really nice too. We woke up and exchanged our stockings and ate obscene amounts of candy. Vanessa got me a really nice sweater and a shirt and she really liked the travel scrabble that my parents sent for her. She also enjoyed the 2 pounds of Moritz Icy Cubes that I had at the foot of her stalking. What else did we do on Christmas Day... (in typical fashion, I have put off writing for weeks, and now I'm struggling to remember back through a really busy week) oh, we cooked! Vanessa made bacon wrapped water chestnuts and oysters. I ate enough to officially qualify as a horny Cap'n Crunch. If you don't get the joke, I'm not going to waste my time explaining it. Well, I shouldn't... but maybe I actually should, I don't want to seem weird. You see, water chestnuts are crunchy and oysters are an aphrodisiac. It didn't matter, I ate so many that the only thing I could do was sit stock still in a chair and grunts demands.
I made tea biscuits, but by my usual miracle of mis-measurement they turned into something completely different and unexpected, those being biscuits that were basically deepfried in the excessive amounts of lard in them. Woohoo! The whistling sound you're hearing is rising cholesterol. We headed over to Jon and Emily's for dinner, and they were very gracious hosts. There were drinks, friends, games and one hell of a fine dinner, with a turkey, gravy, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, biscuits and cookies and apple crisp for dessert. We did a Secret Santa gift exchange, and I got this stuffed dog from Bobby that dispenses toilet paper from it's mouth. I've been informed that I am not allowed to take it into the bathroom, even as a joke. haha. Vanessa got a really nice scarf and mitten set from HangBin, and gave Jon a batch of home-made Candy-cane chocolate bark. I gave Vanessa (the other) a gift certificate for a bottle of wine for her and HangBin to share at Provence, but I was most proud of the card, which had hanbok on the front, and then a little lesson on what it was and who wore it, which was only fun for me, because she has been here for just as long as I have, and is dating a Korean guy.
After dinner we played some games, and had a generally good time. The Wii was a hit, and so was Scattergories, although as competition became fiercer I decided to opt for the room where the outcome of each turn was decided by a computer with whom you could not argue. I mean, you could try, but the computer would not listen, and would just move to the next round no matter what you did, which is unfortunately not the case with Scattergories. Vanessa kicked a lot of butt (mine is embarrassingly included) at boxing, and then we moved on to golf. The only frustrating thing about the Wii is that it's actually so accurate that if you break out of the narrow range of motion that it allows for a golf swing or a tennis swing it goes a bit wonky. You have to swing properly, and release the button at the proper time, or it can really misinterpret what you're doing, which can be pretty frustrating. But... you just plough on through and make up for it with your next shot.
I saw Dave brought his guitar, which made me wish I had brought mine, but he never played anyway... too bad, some music would definitely have been nice.
We wound up leaving around ten or so, I think, but I really have no idea, and heading straight to bed.

Christmas Eve 2007

On Christmas Eve, I ran some errands, went downtown to pick up my Secret Santa gift for VCR and get a transformer so we could hook up the Wii to power. I ran into Ee MeCha and joined her and SeungJong for lunch, which was good bibimbap, plus raw fish, which I ate first to get out of the way. Anyway, I got the Christmas gift, then went to E-Mart to get dinner for Vanessa and I (I made a roast and squash) and then headed to Gumho World for the transformer, but it was unfortunately closed, so bad luck for me.
Vanessa and I had a really nice Christmas Eve dinner. The roast was well received, and then we exchanged our big gifts. She got us a couple gift, a three day spa stay in Bali, at a really small little resort where I will be treated like a king, and shower outside. woohoo! She also took one of my favourite photos, which I have wanted to get printed and mounted for a long time, and cut it up and did this basket-weave thing with it, and it looks really good. I almost started crying when I saw it... it must have been a lot of work, and it is really creative and thoughtful. I gave her her big gift, a pair of diamond stud that I got while I was at home. They were also well-received. :)
After dinner, Vanessa and I got dressed up and headed to the Christmas Eve service at Jon and Emily's church. It was not what we were expecting, it was very small, maybe only twenty people or so, and it was a lot of singing! Vanessa managed to entertain herself pretty well with her candle (haha), and after the service we headed out to see the movie "August Rush", which I highly recommend. I spent about three quarters of the movie on the verge of tears. After that we headed to Provence, had some tea, and caught a few of the last songs of their night, mostly the usual highly emo fare of SeungJong.
It was a good day.

Christmas Open Mic - December 23 2007

Sunday was the day of my big open mic at the Speakeasy, a first at the Speakeasy, and something I was really excited for. I was really excited, but there was a problem, and that was I had no guitar. So I had to do some shopping! I went to a bank machine and discovered... no money came out. It said "Can not honour". Well, no u, I guess, but the implicit message was the same whether it was the Queen's English or not. Anyway, I went to a few, almost had a breakdown, and then Vanessa took me to another machine that she said always worked for her, and it did, thank goodness, but only in $100 incremements, and only four times, so I had to stop then. Which was fine, because when I got to the guitar store (Vanessa had some other shopping to do) and tried out some guitars, the owner eventually pointed me toward a 420 000 won guitar made by Cort, which had a beautiful sound (very country) that absolutely blew away the others. Of course, it's no surprise, I had been mostly trying guitars based on looks (I was infatuated with the idea of a coloured guitar), so no wonder the one that gets recommended by the owner kicks ass.
Anyway, he gave it to me for 110 000 off the list price, which was really nice of him, and threw in a soft case, strap, capo, patch cords, some picks, and two sets of strings, one cheap one for "single changes" and one nice Martin DS set for a "full change" (which he was very careful to explain to me).
I started the show off, playing about half of the Hawksley Christmas album, "Almost a Full Moon" (of course). I think it went well.
The open mic continued with a few really nice performances, with Jens Rushing and Ian from Mokpo making a trip down for the evening to spread some cheer. I'll honestly admit that I didn't get Jens at first... I didn't know what was going on, because his performance style and music (especially lyrics) are both so bizarre. But listening to the recordings I have made of him at the different parties, I can finally say that I understand it now, and I really love that he comes out to perform, because it makes my night every time. He played two of his own Christmas themed tunes, first a song about Christmas zombies, and then a tune about Frosty the Snow Demon. The Ian joined him for some more traditional fare, and I especially liked their renditions of The Little Drummer Boy and "Mr Grinch".
Anthony Coppa did his usual set of originals (plus some newbies, or maybe all newbies... he seems to write a lot) and did a really great job, and then did a little run-through of "O Holy Night" and did a good job, which I was glad for, because I was going to do it, with minimal practice, and I was glad to be relieved of it, because that some is a bit of a task, and really should be done well.
Jordan Emmans Band come out for the night and stole the show. They did a few Jordan Emmans originals, including a Christmas song that he set the music for, and a beautiful rendition of "O Holy Night" (again) that blew everyone away, with beautiful harmonies by Dave and some of the nicest drumming (tom-intensive) from Dan that I have heard in a while. I love when Jordan comes out to the shows, because it makes me look like a great organizer. haha.
Then Rebecca Fairless and Brian Bordage took the stage for a cover of "Christmas in Prison" (is that the right title?) with Rebecca on vocals and and guitar and Brian putting in an awesome turn on the dobro (extreme jealousy). The only complaint that anyone had was that the duo only had one song, but Brian continued with a few covers of his own, and I joined him on stage to throw on some harmonies for "The Weight" by the band, which I did well enough to surprise myself.
I took the stage a second time, and then Anthony, and Rebecca joined me on stage to put some harmonies on "Safe and Sound" by Hawksley Workman.
I thought the night really well. I had hoped for a good mix of Christmas music and original stuff, as long as the overall feel was upbeat, which I think was definitely achieved. Unfortunately, I was the only one to share any stories, which I had also hoped would be a highlight of the evening, and get some non-musical people involved in the night. But the night remained focussed on the music, which is also good, but I think that my story could have used some company.
What was the story? Well, sharing time, again.
So, it's the Amond family Christmas dinner, the Tuesday before I returned to Korea. The family is sitting around the table, eating, and my little cousin Ben says "Oh, I should have brought the game that my family bought, it's a lot of fun".
I said "Oh, what game is that?"
He told me about their new game, called "Things", which involves each player responding to the same question, and then everyone trying to guess the other player's responses, with points being awarded for correct answers. Ben then explained it further using the the example of "Super Powers".
I said (I admit this is a terrible joke) "I bet I know what Chris's superpower would be..." then I looked around "X-ray vision." A pause.
"And I think we all know why."
Dad proved he did know why with his response.
"I've always wanted to be a gynecologist."
And that's where dinner derailed for me.
Then my mom chimes in with an even more appropriate sidenote, "But you would only be able to see two patients a day."
Awkward laughter.
And just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, my grandmother puts in her two cents.

Wait for it...

"Well, Gerald, you've always had the hands for it."


I lose it. I spend the next ten minutes in a fit of giggles that leaves me red-faced, sweaty, and on the verge of throwing up. I am so hot from embarrassment and laughter that I actually have to mop my face with my napkin. Then, just when I think I am done, I see that my cousin Sean and my aunt Margaret are in the middle of fits of their own. So there I go again...

The open mic was a good night. Unfortunately, Vanessa had to work on Christmas Eve, so we had to call it a night at midnight and head home.

The Return

So, I'm back in Korea. It has been pretty exciting so far, lots to do, lots to do. This morning I was marvelling to Vanessa that it had only been one week. It's just hard to imagine, it really feels like I have been here for two or three weeks, like I barely even left.
I arrived last Saturday, and I was greeted by Vanessa waiting for me at the airport, which is a great way to start anything, really. I was horribly late getting out of customs, because I got stuck behind a bunch of people who apparently had issues, so they each took like twenty minutes to get through. I was really worried too, because I had never entered Korea on a tourist visa before, and I was concerned that with all the daily changes that were happening with my work visa arrangements (an entirely new blog entry/rant will follow) I was worried that they would stop me at the airport and detain me! But I got through, no problem, although I had a small panic attack when the man asked me "Where is your visa?", because he assumed I was here for work. YIKES! But I just said "Oh, I'm just visiting some friends" (a technical truth) and he said "That's coo" (spelling intentional) and let me pass with a stamp and a nod.
We got on a bus, chatted, and mostly slept, due both to my jetlag and the bus' interior temperature of approximately 7000 degrees. There was a condensation imprint of me left on the seat when I got up, it was that hot.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

On the road...

So, I've been back in Canada for a week and a half now...
It's been good, but I'm not meant to be at home for this long any more. It's a major adjustment back to living with the family. It's not that they're jerks, or that they're cramping my style (what style?) but I'm falling back into bad habits, and I feel myself getting almost bratty at times... I mean, I'm just not used to the schedule, getting called to dinner, that sort of thing, so even nice gestures feel like a hassle.
Anyway, in the interest of not killing anyone, and/or being killed, I have hit the road. I borrowed my grandma's car (a nice arrangement, considering that renting a car is the same price as public transit up north, and neither is cheap) and headed down to Toronto.
I'm staying with my uncle, visiting a few old friends, although in the interest of keeping my visit low-key, I am only seeing a couple of people. I'd like to see more, but I'm worn out, and more stressed than I would care to be right now, for some reason.

I forgot how relaxed I get when I'm driving. It was lovely to pop in a familiar CD and cruise down the (luckily snow-free) highway. SO nice to sing along in the enclosed space, be in total control... I really miss that aspect of driving. It's such a small thing, but when you get it back, that control is really nice.

I should go though, I've been sitting in the car for four hours, I should not be sitting now in an internet cafe, especially considering that there is a beautiful waterfront (snowy) just a few hundred meters away practically begging to be walked.

More news to come.

Friday, November 30, 2007

lots to do, lots to do...

So, it has been an incredibly busy month.

But, I have a new job in Gwangju.

I will return in December.

I'll be working on a huge blog update for the next few weeks, so get ready, baby!

Friday, October 26, 2007

The end of an era!

Today is my last regular teaching day at Munhwa.
I was taken on for two extra months a few months ago, and the plan originally, was that Mr C would take a vacation. But for some reason, he decided not to, and now he is back, and the school is overstaffed by one. So Mr C is sitting in on classes, and just generally being bored.
A while back, I had offered to help with the recording of the listening scripts that can be used in the class. Basically, you put on a short dialogue, and then the kids answers about it. I've honestly never used it. But I have heard that the listening script CDs that exist already are really tough to use because the quality is not good.
So I offered to redo them, and that is my job for the next five weeks! I will be going in to teach one day a week, but other than that I'll just be working at home.
Which is REALLY REALLY good. I am so tired of teaching, and I really really need a break. Yesterday I came so close to dropping the F-bomb in class... I am cranky, and I really just need a change of pace. So this is really good, I think.
I really like Munhwa. I think for a hagwon, it was maybe the best job I could have had. But working for a whole year without any vacation is insane. Especially when your friends all go on vacation at the time of year when your workload doubles. But no matter how good a job, no breaks can kill it, I think. You get into a groove, and that groove turns into a rut, which is where I am right now. I have become mechanical in the classroom, and that's no good.
So it's good that I'll have something else to do now.

So long Munhwa! See you next Wednesday!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

You need to see "200 Pound Beauty"!

I just saw this Korean pop flick called "200 Pound Beauty". It's been out for a while, but I find it tough to keep up on movies when you're single... or long distance. But now that'll change. Time to start reowking the butt-contour in the chair.
The basic story-line is that there is this fat and therefore undesirable girl who has a great singing voice, so she performs backstage while the "face" rocks it onstage into a prop mic. Then she falls for the manager, and discovers that they are using her (duh) and she gets hurt and blackmails a plastic surgeon into making her over (the voice she has also comes in handy as a phone sex worker). So she becomes beautiful, successful, and the manager guy falls for her (sort of).
You sort of sit watching this movie and feel all the time like you are on verge of being taught a lesson, but it never comes. I feel almost like it was written by a bitter foreign teacher. All the things people get together and drink and bitch about were the central themes/characters/motivations of the movie. The Narcissism, the shallowness, the mistreatment/shallow judgement of women, the drunkenness... I mean, all things that exist where we are from, for sure, but things that we see more blatantly here... but somehow this movie just seemed to hit on every terrible vice that is evident to every complainer here... it was really really bizarre to watch. I kept thinking "No, this can't be real!"
It was a cute movie though, if you could turn off your critical thinking... if you could get past the fact that the "EMT"s were struggling to lift a fat girl who was still smaller than a lot of ajummas here, it was at least enjoyable to watch.
But everyone should watch it. It's going to be the movie I show to people when I go home just so that I can nod my head and go "Yeah, it's for real!"

The Fourth Music Party

Then it was weekend again, and this was the weekend of the fourth music party!
This music party was promising to be the biggest one yet, but I must admit that I was a little less prepared for it than I should have been. Everything was arranged last minute, but this was done a bit defensively after the last time, when I tried to plan and a bunch of people fell through/changed their plans, and left me a bit in the lurch and unprepared anyway. Anyway, there wasn't really much to prepare, the alcohol was all purchased (we sold this time) and it seemed like there was a good amount of buzz to draw people out.
Jim and I headed there a couple of hours early to get everything set up, and thank goodness we did. I thought that paying $100 for the use of a place meant that you would receive some assistance, and even though we did, the language barrier proved a real obstacle and meant that it often took too long to solve simple problems. One major problem was that one set-up involved two wireless mics set up through a single channel on the mixer. The problem? He didn't tell me that that was what had been done! So I didn't know how to isolate the mics to turn one or the other up or down! It was a big hassle. It took me three or four acts to figure out that they were controlled from a separate mixer.
Another big problem was that I had my set-up ready to go, with a single output for my guitar and microphone (pre-mixed through my system). And the old guy who was helping us out kept trying to turn one instrument up or down by adjusting the channel that controlled both! gah! There were a few instances of ear-damaging of feedback, but once I got control and figured out what the hell was happening (he disappeared to the store without communicating which channel was which!) I think that things got better.
But, other than that, there were no problems. And those were actually pretty small problems. The sale of the alcohol went very very smoothly, and everyone seemed to be enjoying the show. Of course, with the introduction of alcohol, some people got to enjoy the show a lot more (and a lot more loudly) than others.
I was really happy with the calibre of the performers who came out. I'll do a blow by blow of the performances when I listen to the audio, but I was absolutely blown away with Noel Moes' country arrangements, Kip Jones' incredible viola/violin (which?) playing and I was moved almost to tears by Ian Reid from Yeosu. He really reminded me of Fionn Regan, who I have been a little obsessed with for the last few months, so that's quite a compliment.
The night wound down around 12:30 or so, with Ian Reid ending, and then I took the stage to do a couple. For something that started out as a venue for me and Darren to perform, it has really evolved me right out of it. I'm honestly content to just watch though, I really miss seeing folk-y type stuff just being done by people who love it. I love to see a rock band too, but this is a completely different experience, and I miss it from an audience perspective. I played "The Origin of Love" and then "Almost a Full Moon", and then started part of the night. it was a bit of a stretch even for me to do that much, I've been so busy with other things that I could barely make my way through those songs, and I felt like if I kept going, it would have been more of a public practice than a performance.
Now unfortunately, one of the ways that the night could have been much better would have been if I had announced some jam songs in advance so that we all had some common ground to go on... but I didn't. So I fell back on "I will survive", because I know it, and it's not exactly difficult to teach to people if they don't. It went pretty well, and I got in a little bit of looping, which was neat, I think. We all took a turn soloing if we wanted, and Ian surprised everyone by getting up on the stage with his harmonica.
Then, of course, someone (I think Jim) started "All Along the Watchtower", and that went for a while. It was a little embarrassing, I was the only one with an electric guitar, but it had been a couple of weeks since I had been practising so I felt a little out of shape, and a little loose, but not in the good way. But I think everyone had fun anyway, and I was impressed with what a few of the others brought to the table, improvisation-wise.
After it was all over, we gave the place a quick clean-up, and were about to get into the nitty gritty when the owner insisted that we call it a night, and come back tomorrow. Which was fine, because I know myself, and I know that I would not be able to stop cleaning until it was finished once I had started. So we picked up all the valuables, and headed home to bed.
When Vanessa and I went back the next day, I expected to be there for a few hours, mopping, picking up garbage, all that kind of stuff (kindly she had offered to help). But when we got there, he ushered us towards the left-over alcohol, told us to pick it up, and then called us a taxi. He was going to clean up for us! I guess that the $100 rental fee was worth it after all!
Anyway, I was pretty happy with the event on the whole, but I feel like the vibe has really changed from how it started out. While I really liked the venue overall, I found that it just wasn't as homey as Sajik had been. Now I have the problem of wanting a homey place like Sajik with a great sound system that can accommodate upwards of 80 or so people... it's going to be tough.
Fortunately I have already found a pretty cool looking live club with a very cool owner (his business card says he is a trained "saw violinist"). There's a lot of couches, a groovy atmosphere. Unfortunately, they sell alcohol, so our main means of income for the orphans will be gone. So there will be one more in November, and then when I return in the new year, we will see about having one in the spring, but for now, I'm not sure. I really want to put together an art festival, so I may focus my efforts on that.

Chuseok in Seoul

Chuseok was a lot a lot a lot of fun.
For Saturday and Sunday, Vanessa and I just sat and lounged around. We really needed some time to just hang out with out doing anything... it's been go go go, with her coming back and getting settled in, and all that jazz. So we just sat around and relaxed a lot.
On Monday we went to Seoul. Since we had a "whirlwind" introduction before she went home followed by months on skype, we haven't really had a lot of chances to have "dates". So on Monday night we put on a dress and a tie and headed down to Itaewon. I was relieved to find that my dress still fit.
We wound up at a really nice Indian restaurant behind the Hamilton Hotel (for those of you who know the area). It had a patio that was elevated and surrounded by trees, so the atmosphere was really nice, and made for a good date locale. The food was amazing, hot but very flavourful, and the atmosphere plus the excellent food made the higher than usual price definitely worth it. After dinner, we met up with everyone else who was in town (Jon, Emily, Meena and Bobby, and Bobby's mom and dad) for a few minutes. They headed to another restaurant for dinner, and we went out for some drinks with plans to meet up later.
We wound up on another patio out in front of the main drag of Itaewon, and we had chocolate mousse and Martinis (well, I had maritinis, I felt it was necessitated by the tie, plus, I love martinis). The drinks came with pretzels, which we quickly combined with the mousse. After two martinis, it became clear that I was in no condition to meet mommy and daddy Bobby for the first time, so we called it a night and headed back to the hotel.
Tuesday was an early morning. With it being Chuseok, and most Korean children being involved with the making and eating of "SongPyeon" (a sugar-filled rice dumpling), being bored by grandma or leaving feasts at the feet of graves, we headed to the one place where they would normally be on a holiday: Lotte World.
Lotte World is as close as you can get to Disneyland without actually crossing any legal lines. Imagine magic mountain, or whatever the hell Disney calls it, but with one extra peak, or a Mickey head outline but with pointy ears instead of round ones. It was... special.
Our companions for the day were Jon and Emily. They deserve a big thank you for suggesting the trip, and for being awesome companions for the day.
We started our day pretty early, around 9 am, and had breakfast at the only place that seemed to be open: Krispy Kreme. Forgetting that they give you freebies, I ordered myself three donuts, because it seemed likely that this would be my only food until lunch in the park. Then we got a bunch free too. So I started my day with five (I think) donuts and a large coffee. I could basically pass through walls from the vibrating.
Because most Koreans were busying themselves with the various customs and traditions of Chuseok, we were able to ride all the rides with much shorter than usual lines. Which meant: awesomeness.
We also ate hotdogs, which is much much more exciting than it should be. I loved eating that hotdog, let me tell you.
Anyway, they had a few familiar roller-coaster style rides, plus the drop-zone style thing, with the additional fun of a cork-screw ascent, which didn't really add much to the ride except to show you how high you were even compared to the surrounding very high buildings. That's another cool thing about Lotte World. It's right in the middle of town. It's just like they bought up a city block and built an amusement park.
After our quick hotdog lunch, we headed in to the indoor part to get out of the sun. Inside they had a few more roller coasters, and some more theme-parkish "experience" rides, like the ones you see based on movies. They had one roller coaster with a loop, and it was a bit of a disappointment. We all had our heads pretty rattled by the thing, and I had a headache that lasted about twenty minutes from it. And the line was really long, and it was a bit of a leer-fest. There are some creepy guys out there... all eyes and creepiness.
After that Vanessa wanted to go on the teacups equivalent, which was terribly named "Drunken Baskets". Wait, maybe not terribly. Maybe just terribly appropriately. But we thought that if you're going to ride the drunken basket, you should really make a go of it, so we both worked about as hard as we could to make that thing fly around. So hard, in fact, that Vanessa's pigtails stuck out backward like she was hanging her head back off a swing. So hard that our ride continued for a good minute after the actual ride stopped. So hard that I broke a sweat from whipping us around. I'm serious, I think people laughed at us, because they were starting to get off, and we were still whipping around and screaming, not realizing that the ride had ended.
There was another ride inside called "The Giant Loop", and it was possibly the worst ride I have ever been on. It's just as simple as it sounds. It's a row of cars that drive around a giant loop. They go back and forth until they build up momentum, and then they slowly roll around the loop. whoopee. We sat in the back car, so when it had almost but not quite enough momentum to swing us around in a circle, we were left for about 5 seconds or so with our entire weight being supported by a safety rod that locked in on our crotches. yeah, it was great. Did I mention that it stank like puke? Or that Vanessa was too small so her whole body weight actually shifted when we were upside down? It was a terrible ride.
We also hit up a candy store, which was awesome. We spent ten bucks on candy. I don't know if I have ever done that before. haha. But we discovered two new and previously unknown taste sensations. I hesitate to share them now, because I may be giving away a billion dollar recipe that rivals the Caramilk secret... but here I go anyway.
1) Caramel Apple Jelly Belly Jellybeans with Peanut M&Ms. It rivals Raisinettes for hard to explain explosive-tastey goodness.
2) Fuzzy peaches and Hershey Kisses. Seriously, just press the Hershey Kiss' point through that hole and give 'er a chew.

We headed back outside, and discovered that as they day went on, the lines had gotten longer. Luckily, Lotte World has this thing called "Magic Pass". You just pass your ticket under a scanner, and it prints you ticket that lets you skip to the front of the line sometime into the future. So we got magic passes for the long lines and then did a few of the shorter-lined rides while we waited. We did this one ride twice more, called the gyro swing, which is basically a big swing potato-masher shaped thing that spins while it swings back and forth. It's great because you get the awesome variation of plunging both forwards to a watery grave and backwards to a watery grave. Good times. Seriously though, there are few feelings for me that rival that of my stomach feeling left behind as I free-fall (or close).
Jon and Emily are masters of waiting games, so they were awesome companions for the long lines at the end of the day. Whether we were playing twenty questions (I still say that you technically COULD eat a screwdriver) or predicting how many thumbs would come up, it was a great time.
Once while we were waiting for the Gyro-swing, we were playing a game, and when we got to the front of the line, the girl working there asked me if I had had any beer. I understand, because we were laughing a lot and being boisterous. But when I said no, she leaned in to smell my breath! And then, because that apparently wasn't enough proof, she went to get another worker to come appraise my readiness for the ride. I was pretty offended by this point, because I hadn't had anything to drink all day! And then, when we were waiting in line for the ride for the second time, I saw a guy stumble off, clearly drunk, and almost ready to vomit, and they didn't say a thing! But, it's easy to single out foreigners here, unfortunately, and it does happen, no matter what anyone says, where local people are not questioned at all.
But I don't want to be bitter...
After our last ride (unfortunately this whole thing unfolded in the leadup to the last ride) we headed back to the hotel to clean up/nap/make room for dinner. We went back to Itaewon for dinner, and had a delicious meal at a Greek restaurant, where we all came dangerously close to exploding like that guy in Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life". The Tzatziki was amazing, the company was good, and I have not enjoyed a beer with dinner as much as I did that night in a long time. I don't know why, but I felt like George Bluth with an ice cream sandwich for some reason ("I am making love to this ice cream sandwich"). We ate (at least Vanessa and I did, Jon and Emily shared a dish) to the point of danger, and then we headed to the same little patio where we had martinis and mousse the night before for some more of the same. We met up with Bobby and Meena again, and Jon had a cigar, and good times and great photos followed. And a big bill. Martinis are expensive. Who knew?
The next day Vanessa and I headed to... oh man, where did we go? I'm losing my memory in my old age...

We met back up with everyone around 3 or so at the train station, and then headed to a black market DVD market near the train station... of course, we didn't buy anything, because that would be illegal. But it was nice to just see it, haha. Also, I am now addicted to Grey's Anatomy (embarrassingly so), however that is unrelated. We rode first class on the way back, but I'm not sure it was worth it. We got access to the dining car, which was kind of cool, but they didn't have stuff that was on the menu, and then we saw people eating things that weren't on the menu, and the dining car experience was just a bit of a drag overall. We finally got back, and collapsed into bed.
Then it was two days of work before the weekend. Most people like the short weeks, but I found it to be a bit of a hassle more than anything. Also, I had been led to believe that there was no staff meeting on Thursday because we were keeping our classes form the week before, but I arrived (an hour after the meeting) to discover that I had in fact missed a meeting and now I had to scramble to prepare for new classes.
I also don't really like short weeks because I am a major creature of habit, so I find it difficult to prep stuff for just a couple of days when I am used to doing stuff that lasts a full week.
anyway... venting.

GIC Foreigner Day, September 16

Last week was the big GIC foreigner day. I was the emcee for the first half. I wasn't qualified (they wanted someone who spoke Korean) but I figured that since I was comfortable enough to do it, I should throw my name in in case no-one else signed up. Well, no-one else did, so I won! yay!
What did I win? Well, I won an opportunity to script two and a half hours of banter! Of course, I didn't. hahaha. I told them that I would be very off the cuff, and that I wouldn't have any idea what I would say before-hand. I really didn't. But now they want me to type out what I did say... impossible! hahaha, I'll just give them my notes.
Anyway, it was a horrible day. There was a typhoon passing through, so it was really windy and rainy. I was actually afraid at a few different times because of all the electronics on the stage that someone was going to be electrocuted, and I was more afraid that that somebody might have been me. Because, I'll be honest, I like me.
A lot of the program that I was supposed to be emceeing over was cancelled because of the rain, so my script and notes became largely useless anyway. So my coemcee (Minji) and I zoomed through our part, with many too cheezy jokes from myself, and most useful information coming from her. I was actually a bit bored on stage for a lot of it, so most of the jokes were made just to entertain me. A 30 000 won gift certificate to Shinsaegae (an upscale department store) is way too easy to connect to a joke like "Enjoy the sleeve of your new sweater!" or "Wow, you can buy a napkin holder!" And all the second place prizes were cut out, a decision apparently made by coemcee after each time that I announced who the second prize winner was. So I felt like a jackass more than a couple of times.
When our half of the day was over, the other emcees took over, and they started their program right away, so everything was much earlier than had been scheduled. It seemed really stupid, and frustrated the talent show performers a lot, because everyone had told their friends that they would be performing. They asked me at one point how long my performance would be, and I said ten minutes, just as I had said it would be in the e-mail when they had asked me the same thing a week before. They told me that that was too long, and asked me to cut it to seven minutes. I yelled a bit, I'll admit. It's so terrible to ask people to prepare for a performance and then ask them minutes before they go onstage to cut down their time. Like, what am I going to do? Play the songs faster? People are SO stupid sometimes!
Anyway, there was quite a variety of performances, from highland dancing to Philippino dancing to karaoke to a great performance by the Jordan Emmans Band to close. The judge was BRUTAL though. It's a volunteer talent show. I didn't even know that there were prizes for the performers until I showed up. And I hadn't expected the judge to give individual critiques of all the performances before announcing the winners. And they were really ciritical. He told one girl she was rude for sitting on the floor, he said that one guy's dancing wasn't traditional because he used a pop track (and it was a Nepalese pop tracks, with a definite fusion traditional/pop sound), and he deducted points from one team for having a lyrics sheet while they sang onstage. Okay, these are things you write in your notes for judging, not something you announce to everyone at a talent show that people volunteer for. It was brutal, and it made me really angry. And it's not because he gave me a bad review, I was fine with what he said about mine. He said I did a good job "even though" I didn't play guitar all the time. He also said I was mysterious because I had voices coming when i was not singing, and both those comments just tell me that a) people don't really understand what the looper does, and b), I did a good job of doing it, because a guy sitting five feet away couldn't figure out how I was doing it.
After the talent show, they had some drummers, who were really good. It was like the closing scene of Nanta, minus that amazingly hot woman. haha.
Then they had a raffle. Because of the typhoon, there weren't a whole lot of people out for the day. There must have been around 200 or so throughout the day, because there were about 350 or 400 raffle tickets sold. That meant that the ten tickets that Vanessa and I had had pretty good odds, and they really panned out. We won:
1) a bicycle. The model name, appropriately enough, is "typhoon". We got the man-sized one, and Vanessa is going to inherit my current bike, which is lady-sized.
2) a digital camera. It's a Nikon Coolpix S500. Oddly enough, I was just looking at that exact camera about two weeks ago, and came very close to buying it. It's fun to have a point and shoot again. I really like my SLR, but it's not the most convenient camera for day-to-day use, or just capturing silly little things that I see.
3) A gift certificate. It's for ShinSaeGae, again, but it's only for 10 000 won. Combined with my 10 000 won for performing in the talent show and a trip to the Body Shop, it means that we both smell really nice. Gift certificates are remarkable, you give them away, and they bring in more money. I mean... a 30000 won (about $30) gift certificate for Shinsaegae is like giving someone an obligation to spend a further 100 000. Like at E-Mart, they give away these free fish. Bobby and Meena got some a few weeks ago, and they wound up having to buy a small tank, the stones, and all that other stuff, and then the fish died! So now they had all this stuff, so they wound up going back and buy more fish. Whoever invented free stuff deserves a handshake.
Getting back to my non-tangential run there, it was a pretty good day for us. It was pretty funny that we won the bike though, because apparently Vanessa and Emily had just been having a conversation about how much it would suck to win a bike because you would have to find some way to get it home in the typhoon. We wound up having to pay 15 000 to get a van to bring across town to my apartment, but it was definitely worth it in the end.
That was last weekend. This week, we got a new teacher at Munhwa, Ashlee, who was actually a former coworker of Darren's at ECC. She's been fun to have around, although her stories have reminded me of how awesome Darren (and Mo) was (were) and how much I miss him (them). I think she's going to fit in really well at Munhwa. We have a pretty awesome staff right now, and there is really no drama making things awkward now. Everything is just calm and fun at work.
This weekend is a five-day weekend, because next week is Chuseok, the Korean celebration of harvest and rice-cakes.

Starting to catch up.

Summer in Korea is a hot and sticky wasteland.
It's too hot, and I honestly didn't care to go outside at all.
The result? a whole lot of taxi bills, and addiction to Iced Chai Tea Lattes (with soy), about fifteen extra pounds, and an electricity bill that could reduce people to tears. I also ate a lot of pizza. I know that that's not exactly a summer-time escape the heat food, but the oven would do a remarkable job of fighting my air conditioner. I often make the joke now about turning on the oven and the air conditioner at the same time to let them fight, but it's a joke that is based in fact.
Fact: The oven wins.
So, yeah, that's balls. I've put back on a lot of the weight that I lost, but I'm already taking it off again now that the weather is cool again. It's really terrible, it honestly is. It's so sticky... and then every place is overly-air conditioned, so a lot of people wind up getting sick, just from the transition from hot to cold and back to hot again. I couldn't sing for about a month, just from waking up every morning with a sore throat from my apartment being so dry.
Work has been an adventure. Brooke and Ryan are gone now, which has been tough, but luckily, they left at the same time as two new teachers arrived, Bobby and Meena, who have proven themselves to be super-cool people. And there's Jim, who looks enough like Colonel Sanders to be entertaining on those grounds alone. Luckily, he's also entertaining on other levels. Which is good, because a lot of his friends are blind.
I tried to extend my contract through to December, but I was told that they would only extend to November. Then Mr C decided to use that time to head home for a vacation (Thank God, if anyone ever needed a vacation, it's Mr C). Then they decided that maybe I could stay, but I had already decided to head home for December, and then back here for Christmas. I think I've said it before, but I think it's really important to be here for the people we know, because we're all away from our families, and we really don't have anyone but eachother. So I'll be coming back here.
Anyway, they told me a few weeks later that they wanted me to stay until December after all, but I had already made my plans. Then that changed Mr C's vacation plan, which was about getting a surgery or something, then a doctor's visit, and now it's just a vacation... which is weird, because the illness keeps getting downgraded. Which is good, I guess! So now I'm staying, and there is an extra teacher. So I will be balancing out for Mr C while he is away, and when he gets back on October 15th, I will be taking Mrs Woo's classes while she is off on maternity leave. The weird thing is that because Mr C has shortened his vacation and I will only be covering Mrs Woo's classes for three weeks, it means that most of my work obligation will be over by November 1st or so, which will leave me with almost a month of contract with no apparent work. Mr C told me the other day that my "contract will be honoured", so I guess that means that I won't be kicked out of the country. Which is good news. But who knows what anything really means here until the day? Seriously, everything is up in the air until the moment it's a mess on the floor. But, there is a really cool potential scenario now in which I have no classes for a month, but I still get paid. That would be SWEET! Although I have offered to do some recording for them, since they need to make some recordings for TOEIC tests and for listening tests in the classrooms. It's easy stuff for me to do, since I have all the equipment anyway, and I would be able to work at my own pace on it, and I could work during the day, leaving my evenings free to go bowling and make key chains with cutesy photos in them.
Anyway, this is random, but I'm currently sitting in a Starbucks near Chunnam University with Vanessa. She's working on lesson plans and I am writing in a word document that will sometime become a blog entry. We are reaching new heights of pretentious stereotype embodiment. haha. Anyway, some old guy just walked by, and since I was people-watching, I noticed that he had the finest comb-over ever witnessed this side of the Rio Grande. It was perfect, it was made of several groups of strands glued together with pommade. It made me so excited, I think I peed a little.
So... back to the life recap. Although, I suppose that was more indicative of my life than anything I've already written. yikes.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Two years!

So, I have officially been in Korea for two years!
Pretty neat, eh?
I just finished teaching nine classes a day for almost a month. Well, last week, there was only eight, and that was pretty sweet. But today, and for the rest of the week, there's only four! and next week only five! and then back to four!
I love life.
I'm so glad that the intensive period is over. It was really tough. Vanessa came back early too, so she was here, and I was trying to make time to be with her and not totally neglect my classes. I managed to do a good job of it, I think, but I did have a whole shitload of marking to get through. I did it all though.
I've been worried about the impression I've bee giving off at work lately. I feel like I've been looking very slackerish. I've been doing all of my work, of course, and I feel like I'm doing a good job, I've just got it down to such a routine now, such a smooth machine, I can just show up and everything seems to come easy. So I'm afraid that everything looks really loose with me. Also, I've been reading the Harry Potter 6 and 7 books... at school. The kids have had a lot of reading and writing assignments in my classes, so I've been popping open my own books during that time. I feel bad sometimes, but then I figure that when they're reading and writing there's not a lot I can be doing... they usually cover their papers until they are finished, which i don't understand, I'd rather get help on the way than hand in a final product that is not so good. But not the kids...
Anyway, two years, it's been a long ride, a long time, and I feel like I've changed a lot, and for the better. Especially this year, I feel like I've really figured out who I am, although I still have no idea what the realization of who I am has to do with what I should be doing... although I'm pretty sure that teaching in Canada is no longer something that I want to be doing.
Well... more posts to come. I'm not feeling too prolific right now.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Best 500 000 I ever spent

First pose: Natural wood finish... just the way I likes it.
Second Pose: have a closer look.
Third pose: that's right, baby.
Fourth pose: boo-yeah!
Fifth pose: Doin' my rock n' roll duty!

Thursday, July 12, 2007


So Brooke, Laurien and I were walking home tonight, and we heard a smack.
We looked behind us... Brooke and Laurien made panicked sounds... I was less worried, until I saw their faces... I assumed that it was just a can getting run over or something...
Anyway, it turned out that it was a woman slapping the hood of a minivan.
None of us really knew what happened before we looked, but what we saw after that was so bizarre, that we couldn't even walk away. We wound up sitting on a bench to watch the drama unfold.
This woman was apparently angry at the other woman in the minivan for something that happened before we looked. She leaned down on the hood, and refused to move! So the light changed, and all the cars stacked behind her... this was on like a six lane road... it was bizarre.
Then she started slapping the hood of the van, and yelling. She started kicking the bumper, and a few minutes into it, she wound up bending the license plate right in half! The woman in the minivan called someone, we assumed the police, and I saw her crying in there at one point, because she was trapped, and this crazed woman was hitting her car and screaming at her.
The police came at one point, and they just slowed down and then finally they drove away.
Finally, some guy walked out on the street and pulled her off, but she really fought him, and twisted her arm around running back to her place in front of the van.
They finally got her off the road and onto the sidewalk, and she was still trying to pull her way back onto the road, as cars were driving by, it really looked like she was going to break free at any moment and wind up throwing herself in front a car. She really seemed hellbent on getting back in front of that van.
And the weirdest thing was that the woman in the minivan didn't pull away! She just stayed there in the middle of the road.
Anyway, I finally decided to get outta there before this clearly drunk and insane woman succeeded in throwing herself in fornt of some traffic.

A note of explanation

I am in the middle of writing my first big e-mail home in more than four months.
That's a lot to report, so I thought of just referring to my blog.
Then I realized that I hadn't updates this thing in close to three months, so I went on a major updating frenzy.
Then I wound up with these huge entries with much too much information to properly reference in an e-mail.
So I broke up the large entries into smaller ones and backdates them.
So if the tenses are wonky, or the references in an entry don't make sense, that's why I'll try to fix it up at some point.
I've also left in the big entries for the sake of completeness.

and... scene.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

a good day of teaching.

Sometimes I feel like I'm really not accomplishing much. Especially the last month or so, with midterms, the kids have been pretty stressed and unenthusiastic about most things I have been doing with them.
But this week I had a great idea.
Munhwa has recently introduced a new rule that says the kids can not speak any Korean in class. Every time they speak Korean, they lose 1% on their Korean tests (because penalizing the tests we give them was losing effect). Combined with their usual apathy, it was brutal combo... they were just shutting up completely!
Anyway, with exams, a lot of kids don't come so that they can dedicate more time to studying. So I can't teach curriculum, and I am left to basically kill time with the kids who do come.
I decided to kill two birds with one stone, and I got my grade sevens to make lists of words and phrases that they would like to know so they can speak in class without using Korean. We are making huge posters that I am going to put around the room so that the kids can see the words and sentences and use them in class.
The kids LOVE IT! I haven't seen them so enthusiastic about anything in a long time. They're making long lists, and they're really decorating the posters well. We have one done so far, we're doing three more at the moment, and tomorrow I'll have to go buy more paper. They're going to be poorly organized and jumbled, but it'll still be nice for the kids to have it up, and Brooke pointed out that the other classes will be interested and wind up learning a lot of things from the posters too. It'll be the best kind of learning... sneaky. They won't even realize that it's happening, and one day they'll just know all these extra words and phrases. It's also cool because it's really student directed, so I have to assume that they will be phrases that will stick, because the kids in other classes will think "Hey, I wanted to know how to say that too!"
I'm trying to get my grade eights to make time capsules, which I though they would be excited about, but they aren't. It's going so slowly that I have decided to make it a two-week project instead of a one-week one. BUt one student requested a game, and I asked "What kind of game?" He said a game that involved drawing pictures of me.
So today, I made them come up with three verbs, three adjectives and three nouns, and then they have to write a short story about me that includes all of those words, and they also have to draw an accompanying picture that explains/complements the story. But there's one more twist! They have to write those stories within a scenario that I assign them, such as "Matt can fly" or "Matt is a terrible bus driver".
So basically, I'm having a great teaching day.
Also, I went out to lunch to day with Brooke and Ryan. It's been a while since I've hung out with them, so that was really nice. And I got a new fridge, finally, my Lonely Planet books for India and Nepal, which cost an arm and a leg and have a combined weight of close to two kilos.
Lots of reading to do before vacation!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bad move, Jon Bon Jovi

So, I'm watching the Live Earth concert, and Bon Jovi is performing.
I'll admit to a soft-spot for Sambora/Bon Jovi harmonies. Actually, I love Jon Bon Jovi's voice... not a huge fan, but a fan, I guess.
Anyway, he just introduced the awesome "Wanted:Dead or Alive" with "Please stand for the praying of the national anthem".


Dude, you don't introduce YOUR OWN SONG like that. It was cool when the Doors introduced "Money" that way, because it wasn't their song, and they were making a point.
I know he's in his hometown, but you just don't say that sort of thing about your own song without coming off as being super cocky.

anyway... the performance was awesome... ooh, not liking the next song too much though. haha. oh well, cowboys are still cool.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Getting out of the rut + PARKING LOT FIGHT!

So, I've been feeling lately like I'm in a bit of a rut...
Today I tried to get out of it. Luckily I had an awesome way to do it.
I've been reading this book, "Korea Bug", which is a compilation of article from a zine that was published in Seoul in the late 1990s with the same name. I started reading it way back when I was in Busan, but I put it down, and I never picked it up again, until just last week, and since then I have ploughed through it.
I was flipping through the newest issue of the Gwangju Times, which features a photo I took on the cover (won a contest! Got free Korean lessons!) and a quick blurb and some photos from the music party on June 23rd. I checked out the lecturers that were being brough tin by the GIC this month, and the lecturer for today was J Scott Burgeson. I thought that sounded familiar, and then I looked at "Korea Bug" and saw the author's name "J Scott Burgeson".
I've been really enjoying this book, so I definitely wanted to go hear him speak, and to meet him. I remember when I first started reading it in Busan, and Ryan and I got drunk and made all these plans to make a zine of our own. I still have the paper that I wrote down a number of names of people that I had thoought of to speak to about and/or interview for it.
Of course, it was a drunk plan that never got acted on.
Anyway, the title of his talk was "Is Cultural Revolution Still Possible In South Korea?". It was pretty interesting. Most of his 45 or 50 minute-long discussion was on the factors that led to cultural revolution in the west, and then he talked briefly about the times Korea came close, but that it didn't happen. He talked about beatniks, and the social uprisings in America in the 1960s, and the use of drugs and free love, and how those factors all contributed to a movement away from the other main revolutionary drive - capitalism. It was really very interesting, and I got a bunch of notes that I'm really hoping that I can research and learn more about.
One highlight was this guy, I don't know who he is, but he walks in, holding a very loud conversation on his cell phone, with no hint at an inside voice, totally booming out his conversation to the 20 or so people (mostly Korean) who had already arrived. Highlights included "Yeah I don't know who's talking today so I don't know if it'll be good" and then, when discussing whether his conversation partner should come or not, the shocking "I don't know, there's only two white guys here".
wow. you're a loser.
Anyway, even after his phone conversation was over, he still murmured through the entire talk and chimed in when he felt appropriate. When Scott made a point about the Beatles taking their name from the beatniks, he chimed in that there was also "the crickets". In response to a look that could best be described as "??", he said "Buddy Holly and the Crickets". It was totally beside the point. So that was fun.
Finally, after a lengthy discussion with whoever had sat next to him about something that apparently required medical attention - "Yeah, you should totally get that checked out" - Jim asked him to take it outside. Mad props Jim.
I did meet a cool lady who runs a volunteer organization here in Gwangju, and I'm going to meet with her and her group to help some new Phillipino immigrants learn to use the internet. I originally introduced myself to her because I was interested in getting any people she knew or worked with who might play folk music out to the music party.
Anyway, I feel like getting out tomorrow to volunteer will be a good way to get myself out of this rut I'm feeling. So that's a good thing. I hate feeling like I've done nothing lately. It's been good, I really needed a rest after the last few months, but I'm ready to start doing things again.
After the talk I had a good chat with Jim over some sushi, and a good walk home along the river. I crashed when I got back though, and took a nap.
When I woke up, I was greeted by a beautiful sound I haven't heard in a few months, a PARKING LOT FIGHT!
Just short little bursts of yelling that come in through the window. I opened them up to check it out, and it was full blown. It was by far the biggest parking lot fight I have ever seen.
One of the local purveyors of deep-fried and moderately delish chicken was in the parking lot, big rubber grease apron and all. He was yelling at a group of about ten people, mostly women, and it appeared that I had missed most of it, as a man from the building across the lot took him by the arm and led him out of the area.
BUT THEN (!) he rounded the corner, charged back in and headed straight for the lead woman... my immediate thought was "Holy Fuck! He's just going to drop this woman, isn't he? wow... and terrible!" He didn't hit her, thankfully, he just charged into her! Like, full shoulder bump, with minimal effect. Then she and three other women charged over to him and surrounded him. They were all yelling at him, and a man kept trying to pull him out, and a few times I thought for sure someone was going to get hit. The crowd was growing outside, and at one point I counted 25 people in the immediate area... but there was no way to count all the balcony spectators, and there were a bunch, because I could hear them from all around me as I stood on mine.
Then, the most amazing thing happened. This shaved-head guy from the building across the lot pokes his head out, and then charges down the stairs, comes out on the ramp/entrance, and does this:

I apologize for the "nudity", but how the hell else could I properly describe this?
Needless to say, it was a breathtaking display of manliness. He then walked/power walked up the guy and slapped him full on the back of the head. Like, hard. I heard it from the seventh floor!
Then, the ladies get the chicken guy against a car, and baldy runs over and tries to kick him! He must have been drunk, I mean, there's no other explanation for the shirt thing followed by a missed kick.
Anyways, there was much yelling and excitment, and he finally left, only to return about 40 minutes later to finish the shouting match with a new lead woman, but in a much more subdued manner.

Man, I wish I spoke Korean, because I would have loved to have known what it was all about.

Well, I'm off for now. Have a good one everybody!

Friday, July 06, 2007

weird barbecue cat girls

So, I am continuing to have very strange dreams.
I was telling Ee MeCha about this latest one, and she asked me if I had moved my bed recently. She said that there were different energies based on where your head was pointing... and that this could really affect your sleep. That's neat... I don't know how much I believe about different energies, but it makes sense that moving the bed would affect your dreams. There are different sounds, different spaces, different resonances when you move... you know? And if there was a field, magnetic or otherwise that affected a person, it would definitely be different if you moved the bed.
Now, let me take you on another bizarro subconcious journey...

I was at my parents' home. It was built into a sea wall. There was literally a huge tall wall, with a door, and inside was my parents' house. And on the other side of the wall, there was a beach. The beach rose right to the top of the wall, so that there was a cliff that was also the front of my parents' house. It was under the beach! strange, no?
Anyway, we're kicking around the house, and mom tells me to go out to ask if dad was done barbecuing. I go out, and across from this wall, on the other side of the driveway, is a huge rockface, and the top is covered with glowing red-hot rocks, and possibly lava. I call out to dad, and he steps out from behind some of these glowing rocks and tells me that it's almost ready, but he's not sure about the potatoes... and then he starts to step off from this high rock face! I was amazed to see him bounce down in his flip flops, like when you straighten your feet and slide down the stairs (assuming you have feet as big as mine). he bounced off the car, off the molten rocks, everything, and landed safely in front of me.
Then, I was in my room in the sea-wall house, but somehow it was an apartment payed for by Munhwa at the same time. In it was a bunch of old, out-of-date sound equiptment that they had furnished my apartment with. Old tape decks, a record player, ghetto microphones... a lot of crap I would never use.
I went to sleep.
When I woke up, there were two young girls with long black hair standing in my room, nude. They were both very very thin, and one had very nice smooth hair and a big dark tattoo on the back of her right leg, and the other had dry, frizzy hair (and no tattoo). They stood in my room and talked to me about all this shitty sound equipment, and we just laughed together at how useless it was to have four double tape-decks with no stereo to connect them to.
Then, I awoke again. There was an electric keyboard in my bed with me! But, unfortunately, it was a crap keyboard too.
I got up, and noticed two kittens in my room under the desk. It was weird, but I left it alone.
Then I ran into mom, and she said she was leaving for the day soon. I said goodbye, and I went back to my room.
When I got there, it was filled with clothes hangers hanging from strings, and there were cats everywhere! I saw the kittens again, and one had a dark black mark on the back of it's right leg! I freaked out! Somehow, these cats were familiars of a witch who was spying on me!
I yelled to mom to wait for me, that I had to get out of the house, and I ran to the washroom to wash up. I grabbed the soap, and started to lather up, but something wasn't right... I looked down, and it wasn't soap, it was a sponge or something that was filled with this toothpaste-coloured paint! My hands were painted green, and I couldn't get it off!
My mom ran upstairs and yeleld at me that I was making her late, and I tried to explain about the paint and the cats and the doom, but she wasn't buying it.
Finally, we left, and got into our beaver-panelled big jeep-style SUV, and drove along the beach... I woke up just as we were trying to get into a parking lot by driving up a staircase that led to nowhere.

So yeah, that's messed up. But how the hell do I remember so much detail? I'm not filling in the blanks here, people, I actually remember the feel of the paint being spread on my hands, and I remember (though I forgot to mention) the feel of the fur of the stray dogs on the beach behind the house. Anyway, I'm really enjoying my dreams lately, so I don't think I'm going to move my bed any time soon.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

some thoughts, few happenings

Yesterday was a pretty strange day of school.
I have a new grade five class, which is pretty neat. Grade fives are usually pretty easy, because they don't have any attitude yet. They still volunteer, even in bigger classes. The new class is also cool, because it means that I no longer have to teach the puppy killer. They're doing the usual first weeks stuff, introductions and such. Mr Kang wants me to start them on Basic One, which I think is too simple for them, so I think I'll motor through it. I was going to start them with Intermediate One, but I saw that some of them had already bought the first book without me telling them to... so no dice.
My grade six class has a new dynamic going on. My favourite class, which I have had since I got here, recently got split up and divided according to level, which is good for them, I guess, but bad for me, becuase I really enjoyed that class. Two of the students from the good class got moved into my attitude-rich grade six class, so I'm anxious about whether they will rub on the rest of the class, or if the rest of the class will rub off on them.
I gave my grade sevens easy homework because it's midterms, so it's not worth studying the book, because most kids don't come to academies so they have extra study time for school. Anyway, miracle of miracles, they did their homework. It was basically "Bring something for show and tell", and they both did! (two students attending out of about 15 or so)
One kid brought a really cute picture of himself as a baby, and the other kid had his wallet that he got for his birthday. It was a "Beanpole" brand wallet, so now I'm assuming that the kid's family is loaded. I went in there the other day for the first time, and I didn't see anything for less than $120!. Anyway, he told me that when his father gave it to him, he also got a kiss, which was pretty cute.
My other grade sevens... hoo... I was just told that the reason they are in the calss togetehr is that they are the ones the director hopes will just leave. They're apparently more trouble than they are worth. Too bad, I guess, I actually like the class compared to the one before it. haha.
I started getting sick again a few days ago. I'm pretty sure it's just a cold, but I have that really annoying nasal drip, which is just constant and unstoppable. I can't blow it out, and I can't sniff it, because it jsut keeps coming. Okay, that might have been a little graphic, but I'm jsut being honest. Today it's in my chest a bit, and tomorrow I'll have to decide if it's worth a doctor's trip or not. Luckily, today was a holiday for Munhwa, so I didn't have to go teach. Tomorrow I will, but it's a short week this week, so luckily the speaking test day will be tomorrow instead of today, and I can just say "Write dialogues!" when I arrive and then sit while they write and read to me.
My big project this week has been putting all of my photos into albums. I finished it today, about one third of the way through a third album! I have a lot of pictures. So, I ahven't been going out much lately... obviously. haha.
Actually, I've been feeling today like I'm in a bit of a rut. Too much internet TV and sitting around. It's mostly because I'm sick, but I've also been avoiding things on the social front lately, for a reason I'm not too sure of.
I've also been eating a lot of pizza lately for reasons I'm not too sure of. Like, three in about a week and a half. I've just had the most intense cravings, and actually just writing about it is making me have another one. ugh... it's like I hate my heart. haha.
One neat thing about working evenings and then coming home and eating a pizza is that they lead to awesome dreams. Awesome, crazy, messed-up dreams.
I had one the other night that I was having dinner with Vanessa, Carol, Mel and other Vanessa (haha) and Richard and Shannon, a couple from Mokpo who somehow snuck into my dream even though I have really only met them a few times. We were eating in this bizarro restaurant with moose and deer heads mounted everywhere on the walls. Everyone was shocked by how many they were, and someone started complaining about the cruelty of it all... which struck me as strange, because I had noticed that they were actually toy moose and deer heads, that somehow had antler-shaped cacti growing out of them so that they looked like real heads. Also, one wall was a gently sloped rock wall with moss growing on it, and giant lizards crawling on it. We didn't actually eat, we just sat around drinking colas.
Then I was in New York. I was in a guest-house type thing with a little cafe under it. Apparently it was really hot, because I decided to wear nothing but my yellow golf shirt out that day. Like, literally nothing else. Just nude from the waist down. So I was flashing/mooning everyone, but I remember being pretty cool with the whole situation. I went out, nothing happened, then I came back and that's when I realized that I was travelling with my friends John and Brian from university. They laughed at me because I looked like a crazy person, and then (potential homoeroticism warning) they chased me up the stairs of the guest house and hit me with wiffle bats or something. Now what that means, I don't care to speculate. hahaha.
After the wiffle beating was completed, I went down to the little cafe for a drink, now fully clothed. I got my tea, and then this smoking hot blonde asked me to join her. That's strange in itself, because in real life I'm not much for blonde women... but in my dreams, I am, apparently. Anyway, she asked me to join her, and I did. I started to drink my tea, but I got a little fright when I realized that there was some sort of wriggly creature beneath the smoky/frothy surface. I told the girl about it, and she told me that it was normal, and that I should just drink it, it was part of the tea.
So I did. But it turned out that the thing was actually an alien symbiote and that was how it took control of your body! Apparently it was a sexy symbiote... because the blonde then started fooling around with her friend who had shown up out of nowhere.
Is it weird that I'm putting this in a public forum? aww, who cares, it was a crazy cool dream.
I fought like Kirk against the evil alien symbiote...
and then out of nowhere it was snowing! Very bizarre, considering that just a few moments ago, I had been wearing no pants because I was too hot. Anyways, I realized, rather suddenly, that I had to catch the bus to the airport, or I would never make it back to Korea in time! It was going to be rough, because the bus was sliding around in the icy snowness of the New York winter that had suddenly happened. I got into a bus, which quickly had an accident. So I got into a cab... but the cab got into and accident too, so I got into a second one, and it finally got me to the airport. Luckily, the travel agent had apparently given me maps to everywhere I would have to go, including the terminals... I put down my bag to look, and then, incredibly, I was at the ticket counter when i looked back up. I love miracle dream maps.
For some reason, in my dreams, there are always a lot of ski lifts in dream airports. No idea why. But I usually get taken to my plane via a ski lift. weird? yes. anyway, that's the whole dream.
I had another crazy dream last night, thanks to pizza, but I can't remember it now. Too bad. I remember thinking it was a doozy.
I went into Provence the other night after work to get my recording stuff. Ee MeCha told me that I should "come back home" which was pretty sweet. I haven't been in there much in the last month or so... without the girl motivation to practice my Korean, I've been focussing a lot on other things. Not even anything, really, I just have wanted to be home lately. Rut. haha. I'm totally in a rut lately. Maybe I need to start going back there again just to get out of it. I definitely need to have a change of pace. most definitely. Too much home time lately, not enough of anything that even remotely resembles excitement.
Hopefully I get better in the next couple of days, because I got invited out to "Super Night" on Friday, for my first Korean night club experience, which I am told will be pretty memorable. I don't know what to wear, I'm all out of fop-wear, and glitter. I'm pretty sure that my normal bar-wear of "Snoopy and Linus T-shirt" will be out of the question...
Maybe I should go shopping. hahah.
Okay, I have to stop rambling right now. Goodnight everybody!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Full Frontal!

So, it's been a lazy Sunday (no attempts at referencing intended).
Yesterday was a mess...
I went to Provence at around 4 or 4:30... I set up all the sound stuff, and finally left around 7 or so to head to the Speakeasy. I was hoping for some more downtime after the set-up before going, but I was nervous about the levels so I kept checking them again and again. I showed Seung Jong everything he had to know to work it while I was gone and how to set it up to record and then I headed out, so that I could enjoy some of the rooftop barbecue that was happening before I played at 8:30.
I headed over to the Speakeasy, and chatted with Mike and Dave about the music party and different happenings, and I spent an absurd amount of time discussing chocolate with Dave. haha. Jason Kelly was also playing, which was really nice to see, because I haven't seen him playing in such a long time, and he was so good! I was blown away with the variety he played... haha, Jethro Tull!
My set went really well. I played four or five songs with the looper, and I didn't make any mistakes! woohoo!
I even had some goofball army guys doing pushups to the beat. I can't decide if that was a good thing or not. I mean, they were out on the dancefloor, but doing one-armed pushups to the musical accompaniment of me covering Mika. Either way, it was well received, and I was really happy with how it turned out. But it was so loud, I was sorry to leave and miss the other acts, but I was happy because my ears were already starting to feel like they were ringing.
I got to Provence, and my head starting pounding. Maybe it was the cigarette smoke at the Speakeasy... I haven't been around smokers in a long long time. I hope not... that would suck. If I'm going to get a headache every time I'm around smokers, I'm going to have to cut myself off from a hell of a lot of the social scene in the world...
The Provence party was pretty neat to see. It was almost entirely candle lit, they had live piano music, poetry reading and everyone heard Ee MeCha read excerpts from the guest books that she leaves out for people to write messages in around the cafe. It was wonderful. I've actually never been to something like that before, and I really really wished in that time that I know more Korean. I felt lost for most of it.
But then I got angry... not immediately... but it sunk in a few minutes after being told by SeungJong that he had forgotten to press play on the recording program on my computer. So, my gift for Ee MeCha had bsically been eliminated. At first, I was thinking, hey no big deal, but then I realized, hey, this thing I had planned for weeks for this really nice lady who helps me so much here is now gone, and it's because my friend couldn't even remember to press play! I chewed him out baout it for a while... and we're cool now. I just needed to let him know that he let me down, and not just let it roll off my back. I'm trying to be more upfront about stuff like that lately, instead of just repressing... it's probably healthy. I hope so.
I played a bit too, and I recorded everything that happened while I was there.
It was really enjoyable, and I liked some of the new people that I met, but I didn't meet many, because it was so quiet that mingling wasn't really possible.
Unfortunately, around midnight, my headache got too bad, and I had to leave. I packed up the computer and the m-box so that I could work on the recordings that I have at home (and possibly skype with Vanessa when I got home) and headed out. I got a round of applause as I left (not BECAUSE I was leaving) and I congratulated Ee MeCha on her five years of business, and finally got a chance to tell her that she looked beautiful, which she really did.
I got home and procrastinated before going to bed, because I was hoping that Vanessa would come online... but she never did. haha, turns out she was gone camping... or something. I can't figure out the timeline.
Today, I slept in, woke up with the same headache (it's been a few days) and watched like two hours of Family Guy... then I started cleaning up the apartment. I had another pizza craving (they've been coming a lot lately) but when I called, after a few minutes of yellign at eachother, I finally got that, OH, they're not open yet. They told me at 3:30 they would open, but it didn't work, I got the same message.
I've also started work on my scrapbook, finally. I have about six months of photos to put into it... it's pretty exciting. But also stressful. I keep worrying that I will miss pictures and then wind up with leftover pictures that don't fit into the order of the book. So I turned the apartment inside out a couple of times looking for them... I started, and then of course I found another two stacks of them. But I still feel like I'm missing a stack, but I have no idea where they might be.
Anyway, back to it, before I lose the drive for it, and I put it off for another six months.
I forgot the reason for the title.
I was sitting here, working on putting pictures into my scrapbook, and two little kids from down the hall ran right into my apartment yelling "Annyeong Haseyo!" (I have to door open to air out the apartment, it's cool today) and smiling and laughing. Then they realized that they were in the foreign guy's apartment, and they kind of stopped dead and stared at me until I said "HELLO!", then they laughed and turned around and ran out again.
And they were both naked from the waste down!
Korea is a strange and very trusting place... I can't imagine that would/could ever happen in Canada.

Provence's 5th Anniversary Party

There's a party tomorrow at Provence that is pretty exciting. I should say... it's now June 29th. I'm back at Starbucks sipping an iced Tazo chai tea latte, which is the longest-named beverage I have ever had. So anyways, this party is on June 30th and it's being held to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the cafe. As a member of the "Provence Family" (guilt over Starbucks visits increasing) I have been invited to perform and hang out with the rest of the regulars. It's pretty nice.
Unfortunately, this is on the same night as the Canada Day celebration at the Speakeasy. Dave asked if I wanted to come out and perform, and I said yes, then I had to cancel because the Provence party got moved to the same day, and I really want to play and hang out with the Provence Family. So anyway, a week or so later, I got news that Jeong Hyeon's grandmother had died, so he would not be able to come on the 30th, so it would be moved to another day.
sidebar - this guy just walked by Starbucks in leather pants with zippers all over them, long dyed-red hair, a black mesh shirt with a black wife beater under it, studded riding gloves and big black boots on. Did I mention that it's about +30 degrees and humid as a locker room out there? Oh, and he was carrying a gift bag that was pink. I love this country, if only for it's bizarro entertainment value.
anyways... the party was cancelled. Awesome, now I could play at the speakeasy. So I called Dave and put my name back in the hat there. Then I told Ee MeCha, and she told me that the party was back on. I can't cancel at the Speakeasy again, so I have to do both, which will involve a lot of very hot running.
It wouldn't normally be a big deal, but I told Ee MeCha that I would record the night at Provence to make her a CD. So I now have to leave a lot of my equipment unattended, which I'm not too pumped about. But... it'll be great to have a CD of that for her. It'll be a great souvenir form her party.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Music Party Blog Entry... is forthcoming

This is not the real entry. It's just to let people know that I am currently mixing down the recording, which turned out pretty well. I'll be totally ripping off Dave Martin's awesome idea of posting it to an e-mail account so that everyone can download it all if they want to. It's almost ready... maybe another three or four days, depending on how busy I get over the weekend.
Anyways, I'll also be preparing a blow-by-blow of it as I listen back to it, and then posting it with huge amounts of unnecessary detail.
For example, I may transcribe my short rant about elephant penises!

Good times!

Students respect me?!

There's this phenomena that happens every few weeks here in Korea... EXAMS! These kids have more exams than a proctologist, and then we wonder why they are always depressed. What the hell? I was talking to my friend Gumi at work the other day, and in conversation, I realized that if I had gone to school here, I probably would have been just as lazy and unmotivated as most of my students. I mean, I usually get a little steamed with them, because I try to make my classes a little fun, and I try to make the classes as free and student-directed as possible. I've even told some of my classes that we won't follow the books anymore if they talk for the whole class, because that is better for their conversational skills anyway.
Growing up, I was a pretty self-motivated student. I didn't always do my homework, but I usually did enough to know what was going on, and I always studied for tests. I don't remember getting rewards for good grades, and I don't remember getting in any particular trouble for bad grades. But until calculus, I had consistently good grades (oh, and except for grade nine gym... oh God! I will never be a gymnast, stop testing me on cartwheels!) and no real troubles. I was a chronic procrastinator, but I came by it honestly, and I still am, a lot of the time. But I learned a lot. I did a lot of stuff outside of school, and I feel now like I am a pretty well-rounded person because I wasn't overly scared of failure and I wasn't pushed too hard.
But these kids... I keep hearing stories of being hit until they get welts by teachers because they got a question wrong, and then getting the same treatment from their parents when they get a bad score. Now, I'm not a parent, so I may be out of place to comment here, but maybe this isn't the best approach to discipline here.
I mean, have none of these people ever seen the circus elephants on "When Animals Attack"? Your kids are just like those elephants, except that their noses aren't so "tall".
And instead of attacking their handler (tugs awkwardly at collar) they just shut down, and stop caring. You'd be surprised how little you can learn and still do well on tests designed for rote-memorization. That's all these kids seem to do... just regurgitate. And when a teacher tries to make them talk about something that excites or scares them, it makes them only have two responses.
"I get excited about good test scores" and "I am scared of my report card". I'm not joking. Anyone who has worked here will know that pretty much any writing assignment will always end up with kids talking about being nervous for tests.
I remember being nervous for tests, and I remember my friends being nervous for tests, but when they were done, good or bad, everyone seemed to just move on... there's just way too much pressure here...

Wow, I totally rode a tangent off into the sunset there... I was meaning to talk about my students respecting me!

So yeah, apparently my students like and respect me. I mean, they don't show it in obvious ways (although... I think I did really clean up on teacher's day... thank you for the shopping bag full of candy bars!) like talking in class or doing their homework, but in the weeks before exams, I seem to be the only teacher who still has classes full of students, whereas everyone else seems to wind up with only one or two students, and the rest stay home to study for their school exams.

I guess the flip-side to that is that maybe I have classes of students who are so unmotivated they don't even think to skip... oh Gawd, here comes that sick feeling again...

Photo Contest

I recently read about a photo contest in the Gwangju news. I'll be honest, I usually only breeze through the Gwangju News... but since I had an article published about the Music Party in the last one, I spent considerably more time with the most recent issue. Which is why I noticed that there was a photo contest being held.
Well, I have this new, super-expensive camera that I have been trying to justify having bought, so I thought this would be a good way. The contest was for photo of "Summertime in Korea", so I entered this one, along with two others.
Guess what? I won!
So, the next Korean classes I skip will be FREE Korean classes.

Oh, the drama!

In other news, I have to vent a bit about drama.
You know what I'm talking about... the talking, the awkwardness...
I've always taken a very strong anti-drama stance. But now... I'm forced to admit that I love drama. I hate being involved in it personally, but I love witnessing it around me, because it's honestly the most entertaining thing going on around me sometimes. Which is - in a word - pathetic. But hey, I do what I can with what I have.
And this country... oh man, it is a breeding ground for drama.
There are a lot of crazies and drama queens/kings here, both local and foreign, and it makes life so interesting!
But I often get embroiled in a bit of it myself. No details, of course, it was a misunderstanding that could have been easily cleared up, but instead it turned into this big "thing" and I eventually dropped it and moved on because it wasn't worth it to me. It was so stupid too! There was even the inevitable attempted guilt trip... which I'll admit, is/was useless. Anyway, this really doesn't make any sense until names are introduced, so I'm just going to drop the whole thing.
But please! Foreign community! Local community! Continue involving me tangentially in your stupid little mountains out of molehills arguments. Continue ignoring each other in front of me! It is hilarious to watch two grown adults dance around pretending not to see each other! Oh, and don't get awkward when I laugh out loud in front of you. It's just that it's so good, I honestly feel a little decadent just watching! I swear, if I see another person walk into something because they are avoiding eye-contact and thus can't see their own path, I will piss my pants.
As for me... I'm going to try to be a little less passive aggressive when I get involved directly.

After all, it's only fun from the outside.

P.S. Hey, no, this isn't about you. Relax. It's about that other person we talked about that time.

Highlight Reel - Post-mom to Pre-Music Party

I wish I could say that it had been an eventful month. It really wasn't. At all. First, I became a master of Skype. Oh yeah, I can now hold web-cam chats with the best of them, assuming that Vanessa is one of them, my one and only contact currently.
I had an article written in the Gwangju News about the music party, which was pretty exciting. It was by my new friend Rebecca Fairless, and she talked about the first music party on April 28th, why I was doing it, and encouraged people to come out. I've never had an article written about something that I organized before, so it made me feel a little bit famous, and perhaps more cool than I should have. haha. She invited me to a pancake party at her house, and it was a lot of fun. It was a bit intimidating... lots of new people, very few of whom I had met before. I still get pretty shy in new social situations like that... but luckily the fact that I brought a jar of maple syrup was a good ice-breaker. I also brought my guitar, but I didn't wind up playing, so I just awkwardly carried it to the bar after the party.
After a while at the Speakeasy, I realized that a) it was way too loud for me (Tinitis!) and b) Rebecca was gone, and I wanted to leave, but I wanted to say goodbye first. I figured that she and the rest of the gang had probably gone to the German Bar, so I headed down there. When I got there, the new Gwangju band "The Tent Pitchers" had just finished their set, and all their stuff was still set up. I asked if I could play a few tunes, and next thing I knew I was doing an impromptu (and obviously unrehearsed) set of about seven or ten songs. It went well, I made a good impression on the band, so maybe I have someone I can open for now. Then I headed back to the Speakeasy to say goodbye (for reals this time) got talking to Rebecca, then I got pulled into the hall by Smashlee, the new teacher and former co-worker of Darren's who will be taking my place at Munhwa at the expected end of my contract. We chatted for a bit about Munhwa, and all the last minute panic questions that she had about the place before she signed. We wound up talking for about an hour or so in the stairwell, which is admittedly strange.
Then, goodbye.
What else happened? umm... I bought a reverb-producing pre-amp, which was expensive. And exciting. It was necessary because I had gone cheap-o on my mixer, so I had no internal effects. My own fault, I guess. But it still sucked. It was a big misunderstanding between me and the salesman, but in the end it came down to me not having researched the product at all.
I also rode the subway... twice! Turns out that small city subways are SLOW. It might actually be just as fast to walk from say downtown to halfway home, the nearest stop to my apartment. But in this heat, I will gladly wait underground in air-conditioned comfort rather than out in the soupy humidity.
Vanessa is coming back early now, which is really good news. She was going to come back in August, but then that got bumped to late June, which was really exciting. Well, it's now late June, and she's still not here, and it's looking like it will be another three weeks now. But that's okay. Luckily, we are making good use of the internet-based communication possibilities available to us, and we talk for a few hours every day. Plus, who wants to be outside these days? I'd rather be chatting with a pretty lady, even if she is pixelly.
Speaking of not wanting to be outside, I moved my bedroom into my living room, and made my bedroom into a practice area/studio. The reason? My air conditioner was in the living room. Why would I not want that available to me at sleepy time? Answer: There is no reason, because I am not a clearly insane person. And it's actually made the apartment a little more hospitable, because now there is more sitting room if we employ the bed. everybody wins! Plus, it feels like a dorm room, which it turns out I really missed.
And, I almost forgot, but of course I have to document the most horrific thing I have ever witnessed... or, heard about. I guess I didn't really witness it, but I did almost shake a student to death after hearing it. Well, once again, not really.
Anyway, it was in one of my classes. This is the class that I have been told is not worth much worry, because most teachers have already given up on them. So, that's great. Actually, they are full of energy and they are wonderful and brave speakers for the most part, they're just unwilling to study, so they can't retain any new vocabulary. So I've taken the approach of just letting them direct conversation so that they can practice the words they do know, and I correct and make them repeat when I think it's a situation where they will understand why I am correcting them.
So the other day, I asked them if they wanted to talk about anything, and almost all the hands shot up. Oh man, I would take ALL low-level unteachable classes if they went like this all the time.
I eventually came to this cute little chubby guy who always chuckles at his own stories and is just a wonderful little guy to have in my class. His uncle has a husky, and this husky recently had puppies, so every week we are told a few puppy stories, which are always nice. So last Tuesday, he of course had some puppy stories left from the weekend.
He finished, and then this little girl, who I probably shouldn't name, shoots up her hand, because she is ready to talk. I know that I should choose her next, because she is a little spoiled princess, and if I don't choose her, she's liable to start crying and pout for the rest of the week.
Her face lights up, and she launches into a description of her new puppy, which sounds super cute. She's really happy, and manages to guide me into the breed "cocker spaniel". "Wow, a cute little cocker spaniel!" I say, "I have friends who have cocker spaniels, they are very cute and fun!" (using small word for the benefit of the class). Then she says "Yes, I was happy for new puppy! Old puppy died Friday..."
She looks a little distraught...
"Oh no! How did your puppy die?" I asked.
"He bad. Bark bark bark bark. I was tired, so (gestures punching) him."

and a cloud falls over the room...

I thought for sure that I had misunderstood. I mean, how could that possibly have been what happened?
"You killed your dog?" I asked.
"Yes teacher, but dog was bad."
Holy Shit.
I was honestly in such shock, I didn't know if I should hit her, start crying, or throw her out of the room. My head was instantly filled with visions of this poor puppy being beaten to death by this cute (looking) little fifth-grader. I mean, I've seen her get angry, and let me tell you, she did not just hit this dog once. If she killed this dog, it was not a punch, it was a beating. I can't look at her anymore... I'm trying to put it out of my head in class, but I keep having visions of this little girl beating up a puppy until it dies.
And I'm also shocked at her parents. She beat her puppy to death, so obviously the best course of action is to give her a second puppy to replace it. What is wrong with these people? Oh well, I mean the girl is a spoilt brat... so I guess it's no big shock that they would do something like this. Holy jeez, I can't believe it.

Provence's 5th Anniversary Party
There's a party tomorrow at Provence that is pretty exciting. I should say... it's now June 29th. I'm back at Starbucks sipping an iced Tazo chai tea latte, which is the longest-named beverage I have ever had. So anyways, this party is on June 30th and it's being held to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the cafe. As a member of the "Provence Family" (guilt over Starbucks visits increasing) I have been invited to perform and hang out with the rest of the regulars. It's pretty nice.
Unfortunately, this is on the same night as the Canada Day celebration at the Speakeasy. Dave asked if I wanted to come out and perform, and I said yes, then I had to cancel because the Provence party got moved to the same day, and I really want to play and hang out with the Provence Family. So anyway, a week or so later, I got news that Jeong Hyeon's grandmother had died, so he would not be able to come on the 30th, so it would be moved to another day.
sidebar - this guy just walked by Starbucks in leather pants with zippers all over them, long dyed-red hair, a black mesh shirt with a black wife beater under it, studded riding gloves and big black boots on. Did I mention that it's about +30 degrees and humid as a locker room out there? Oh, and he was carrying a gift bag that was pink. I love this country, if only for it's bizarro entertainment value.
anyways... the party was cancelled. Awesome, now I could play at the speakeasy. So I called Dave and put my name back in the hat there. Then I told Ee MeCha, and she told me that the party was back on. I can't cancel at the Speakeasy again, so I have to do both, which will involve a lot of very hot running.
It wouldn't normally be a big deal, but I told Ee MeCha that I would record the night at Provence to make her a CD. So I now have to leave a lot of my equipment unattended, which I'm not too pumped about. But... it'll be great to have a CD of that for her. It'll be a great souvenir form her party.