Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We'll be back in a minute with more (clap) stuff

...if you've been keeping up with my obscure pop-culture-related titles, here's a challenge: where's this one from? Meanwhile, here's some (clap) stuff:

I've been working on picking up a little Korean, and I don't mean a short local girl. I can make out about ten characters and can spell "Kim" (the bosses' family name) in Korean characters. It's tricky; with Rosetta Stone, I've been trying to make out if "man", for example, is pronounced num-da or num-ta; according to the Korean Made Easy book (and Heeduk), it's num-ja. Things the books say are pronounced with a "j" are actually, to my ear, more like an "s", and so on.

I like the main streets, because they have road signs in both Korean and English. It's helping me learn, much the same way as (according to my parents) I learned to read at age 4 or 5 by reading chirons on tv commercials that matched what the voice-over was saying.
I don't know why, but it seems Heeduk has taken a real liking to me. In the last week, he's asked me to go to lunch with him three times-- once with a student, once with Luke on his first day off the plane, once with just him, though I asked if Ray could come along. Yesterday (Tuesday) I didn't have any duties till 8:15 and showed up before 4:00; he said he was going to Kyobo Books, and did I want to come along? I did, and then he took me back to the waffle house for another banana-split waffle. And, of course, I was the only teacher asked to the family home for the Chosuk ceremony.

He's said he enjoys my company, though I don't know why; I mostly just ask questions. I have made him laugh a few times. Maybe he just wants me to re-up next year. I know I'm young and pretty, but I have no reason to think that he's gay. We certainly don't have much in common; I'm twice his age. Maybe he just respects the hell out of Cornell. I dunno.

In Korea, the "senior" person always pays; as the boss, that's him. Monday, he paid for my lunch and ordered take-out for dinner; Tuesday, his parents paid for lunch and he bought the waffle. Later he brought an "American cheesecake" back to the office. Both my midsection and my wallet are staying pretty hefty.
He's shifting me very heavily to the high-level kids, especially coaching them on writing. This is great. Yesterday, I just had one student all day: 45 minutes of writing followed by 45 minutes of TOEFL speaking. Today, I have one small class doing "Lord of the Flies" and two one-on-one writing sessions. He's rearranged this week's schedule to give me Thursday off and have me come in for some SAT teaching on Sunday. I intend to always come through for him, which may be what he had in mind all along. In return, maybe he'll keep me out of the dorm.
I had lunch in a little storefront in the underground today (there's another huge underground shopping area in Banwoldang, a bit south of what I call downtown.) I seem to recall an SNL skit nearly thirty years ago about a toast restaurant. Maybe it was some other show. Anyway, that's this lady calls her little storefront a toast restaurant. Through gestures and trying to draw a cow and a chicken, both with slashed circles over them, and then drawing an egg, I tried to indicate I wanted a toasted egg sandwich. That didn't work.

What did work, however, was the laminated menu, a foot from my hand, that had "egg sandwich" written in English. I also had a kiwi smoothie and it all came to 3,000 Won (about $2.65). According to the lady, "egg" in Korean is "egguh" and "toast" is "toastuh". That ain't what the books say, but if it works... at any rate, my favorite things on the menu were "nude toast" and "sausage nude toast". Maybe I'll try them next time.
It's amazing what people sell in the street here: there are tables and trucks and people just plain sitting on sidewalks, selling produce, food, jewelry, clothing... yesterday my belt broke and I bought a new one from a guy on the street. Stupid Americano got ripped off... his little sign said his wares were 3,000 Won and 5,000 Won. The belts, however, didn't reach around me, except for one... He held out three fingers on one hand and five on the other, and I thought he wanted 3,500. Wrong. Eight. And I paid it, like a sap. I figured that's just over seven bucks, which seemed like a good deal anyway, and my new belt is way bigger than all the others he had... if I had a six-pound buckle, I could be Toby Keith.

Turns out, later I saw an almost identical belt on another sidewalk table, priced at 5,000, and Ray told me you can always, always haggle, and I probably could have gotten it for 3,000. Oh, and speaking of street vendors, there's a guy right outside our building who sells little pancakes stuffed with cinnamon, fresh and very hot off the grill, for 45 cents. People who have much less willpower than I say the pancakes are delicious. (Burp.)
I was all over town on bus, subway, and foot today, and noticed that all the subway platforms have locked cabinets with gas masks. I looked up "Daegu subway" on Wikipedia; right in the downtown station I always use, in 2003 a suicidal man set several trains on fire and 200 people died.

I also went through two major department stores, neither of which has clothes my size (and they were very expensive, anyway), Daegu Station, the main train depot, which is near the ballpark, and Dongdaegu Bus Station. I walked from the former to the latter, and to work, in ten minutes. I really am beginning to know my way around a bit better. I can be anywhere (that I know of) where I want to be within 40 minutes of home.
Okay, I'm going to post this. I'll be back sometime soon with more (clap) stuff.

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