Monday, July 27, 2009

Flambo, Pepto, and the tequila IV

("The flying monkey band started the show for the retired lunch ladies' luncheon" becomes "Consumption of prawn cocktails attracts flying monkeys and causes heads to burst into flames" becomes "The Human Torch and his sidekick Flambo shared their Pepto-Bismol treats with the Witch's flying monkeys." [The last sentence was mine.])

I have been remiss in blogging lately, part of a general lassitude that I choose to blame on the weather; it's been raining, or threatening to rain with humidity of about 130 percent, every day. Also, I haven't done anything interesting because it always rains on my rare days off. Yesterday, however, was gorgeous, a beautiful October day with sun, high fluffy clouds and low humidity; today is almost as nice.

Jesse, one of our new teachers, has been hoping to get to Mt. Palgongsan and Donghwasa Temple, and I promised to take her. Every day we've both had some time free, however, has been precipitional... precipitationous... lousy. Saturday was okay, but she was too tired, and yesterday was perfect but I had an Eat Poop You Cat date.

My friend Suzanne (Bonjour, amie!) introduced me to EPYC. In the game, each player writes a (preferably odd) sentence and passes the paper to the left, where the next player must draw the sentence, then fold the paper over so that only the drawing shows and pass it again, where the next player writes a sentence about the drawing, and so on until you compare the bizarre drawings and mutated sentences.

I played with my friends in the Daegu Writers' Group on the patio of Club That downtown, and we had a terrific time with much laughter, particularly after we all got bag drinks. There are a couple of carts downtown where you order a drink, the guy mixes it up in a vinyl pouch for all the world like an IV bag and sticks a straw in it, and you're good to go. Nothing like a tequila sunrise out of an IV bag to make an already odd game totally bizarre.

This Saturday, I'm going to the Suseong Heat Festival at Suseong-gu Lake-- Squirt gun wars, water park, a giant patbingsu (ice, fruit, and cream dessert), duck boat race, musical performances, and food kiosks-- weather permitting. Wouldn't want to get rained on during the squirt gun wars!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A spectacular failure

In October, I fell on my face (literally, on the sidewalk, quite unlike the figurative sense in which I do so all the time) and broke not only it (my face, not the sidewalk) and my glasses. So I went to get new ones, and the process worked surprisingly well despite the language barrier, other than the fact that they forgot to measure, and I forgot to mention, the distance between my pupils, which is absolutely necessary to get the focal points right.

So I had to order a second pair of lenses.

Ten days ago, I got a new right lens, as the previous one had gotten chipped.

Yesterday, I was cleaning my glasses during class and the frame snapped in my hands. Restraining an urge to bellow, "HULK SMASH!", I muttered imprecations sotto voce (I told you I was an English teacher) involving how it was a titanium frame and thus I should have been able to drive a Hyundai Sonata over it without breaking it. I Magooed around for the rest of the school day and then went to the anngyeong/contacteu (glasses/contacts) place. They no longer had the identical frame, but fit the lenses into a new one, so that was cool...

...aside from the fact that in nine months, I've worn a total of three frames and seven lenses. I know some people would say I should just get LASIK surgery, but I just can't see it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hyun for the money, two for the Cho, three to get ready, and go, cats, go

Here's the roll for one summer session class at LIKE:

Kim Joo-Hyun
Kim Hyun-Joo
Cho Hyun-Joo
Yim Hyun-Jung
Bak Gi-Hyun

That's it: five kids, two of them with the same family (first) name and exactly reversed personal (last) names, two with the same personal (last) name, three with "Hyun" as the first half of their personal names, the other two with "Hyun" as the second half. There's no hint, of course, from the names as to which are girls and which are boys.

Then put the whole thing in Hangul characters.

No wonder I'm old and grumpy. Well, grumpy, anyway.

We're in the summer session, which is proving to be a shock to my system; I've been living college student hours for almost a year, often getting home at midnight or beyond, falling asleep at 1 or 2 or 2:30 or... now I get up at 6:30, work from 8 till 4, spend the walk home thinking about how I'm going to get things done today, fall into bed for a nap, get up, sit around till it's time to go to bed, around midnight, lie awake till 1...

With luck, it's getting me ready for my new, grownup job... and I bought two cat carriers today so at least we should all get there. Thirty-two days till the move.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rainy day people

"Hey sunshine, I haven't seen you in a long time;
why don't you show your face and bend my mind?"
"Cloudy", Simon and Garfunkel

It's been raining, or gray, sticky, and threatening to rain, every day for what seems like forever. The other night the wind came up and the sky opened and it felt exactly like St. Augustine just as you throw everything in the car to evacuate for the hurricane. I'm getting cabin fever here.

Jesse, the new teacher at our school, came to me last week and said that she had heard that I was the guy to talk to about going to Mt. Palgongsan and Donghwasa Temple. I am, in fact, the guy. So we set up a trip for Monday but it rained. So we set up a trip for this morning. I worked till midnight, went to bed by 1:30, set the alarm for 8:00, woke up at 6:00 to a steady rain, went back to sleep, woke up a little later to beautiful sunny skies, birds chirping, sun smiling down as if it had two scoops of raisins for me.

Then I woke up for real to a downpour out of the Old Testament.

We start the summer session Monday, which means working morning till late afternoon every day. I don't know when we'll ever make that hike. If I don't get back to Palgongsan one more time before the move, it will test my serene detachment levels.

I am at one with the Universe; I am at peace. Dammit.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A sidewalk story I'm sitting at a sidewalk table in front of Pizza Bingo when this Korean boy, about eight years old, stops his bike to talk to me.

"Do you live in America?" he asks.

"Yes," I say.

"My father lives in America."

"That's nice," I reply.

"He's fat, too."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

COFFEE. No, not that. 'Snot funny.

You must be careful with your Korean pronunciation; for example, you must say “Keo-pi juseyo”, not “Ko-pi juseyo”; the first means “Please give me coffee”, the second “Please give me snot.” I learned this the hard way, when I told some elementary-school-level kids I liked to drink ko-pi.

There's a sucker born every minute

...adjusting to Korea in a nutshell (to mix food metaphors, as you'll see):

I was in my schoolroom today, proofreading, when Heeduk, who can be very thoughtful, came in and handed me a frozen treat: Papico, it's called. He left, I opened one end of the wrapper, thought "mmm, chocolate" and popped it in my mouth. "Mmm, no taste whatsoever," I thought.

Then I realized that I was sucking on plastic; a Papico is... well, I'm not trying to gross you out, but this is the most accurate description I can think of... basically a condomesque plastic tube filled with a Wendy's Frosty. You let you hand heat melt the Frosty and suck the chocolatesque goodness out the end, which I did.

...but first I had to have the school secretary show me how to open it. I felt like I was about four years old.

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Another day, another dolor

The last week or two have been a definite Daegu downtime... it rains every single time I have a day off (and often when I don't); I can't find people I want to find online nearly as often as I'd like; the Mets are in a death spiral and the Lions are away on the few occasions it's not raining and I have free time; there are no English-language movies I haven't seen (though the new Terminator and Transformers [neither one very good] will play here forever, the latter currently on six screens at a single theater); my friends here always seem to be busy when I suggest an outing; one of the cats likes peeing on the plastic sheet under the litter box; Tug McGraw is still dead.

This week's work schedule includes Tuesday 2 to 11:15, Wednesday 2 to midnight, today off (but I'm proofreading Mrs. Kim's hundred-page dissertation and... huh! It's raining outside), tomorrow 2 to 11:15.

I'm still doing fine, no Eeyoring around here, but, you know, sometimes you're in the groove and sometimes it's a rut.

...forty-four days till the move to Seoul.

Addendum: It's raining, it's pouring, but I am not snoring: in the six hours since I wrote this post, Luke's asked me to join the gang on a long hike on Saturday, Rob (new Canadian teacher, male, my age) asked me to join him for a Winnipeg Blue Bomber football game on Saturday night, and Jesse (new teacher, female) and I made a plan to go to Palgongsan on Monday. So the social calendar's filled again. If only it stops raining...

Friday, July 3, 2009

...have, don't have, love

I sat down to catalogue (yes, dammit, Spellcheck, that's how it's spelled) the Korean words I know; there are more than I had thought. Here's what I came up with:

Hello, goodbye (that you say when you're leaving), goodbye (that you say when the other person is leaving), hi/bye (it's the same word), thank you, excuse me, dog, cat, elephant, apple, *banana, *papaya, *tomato, potato, bag, *cup, *computer, *cake, man, woman, boy, girl, child, good, honeydew (which is in Korean, phonetically, "muskmelon"), rice, bread, rice with vegetables, vegetable, California roll, *pizza, glasses, *contacts, medicine, pharmacy, teacher, school, middle school, who, one through nineteen in the Korean numbers (used for counting), zero through five, and one thousand, in Chinese-derived numbers (used for bus numbers, money, and such), *bus, person, United States, *France, Korea, Japan, *Canada, *Russia, book, cell phone, *chocolate, where, what, car, father, mother, dad, mom, please give me, this, that, over here (said to a waiter), *hotel, *motel, water, milk, *orange, *juice, tea, *lemon, *ice cream, beer, soju, bar, pencil, *pen, room, karaoke, *ski, *skate, *tennis, *camera, *cocoa, *coffee, mister, sir/ma’am, mountain, temple, *sauna, *health club, *golf, baseball, baseball park, *ball, *strike, *out, *home run, hit, *catcher, *first baseman, *second baseman, *third baseman, *left fielder, *center fielder, *right fielder, *strikeout, is, isn't, have, don't have, love.

(The ones with asterisks are derived from English and are basically phonetically the English words.)

Perhaps you can tell from this list where my interests lie (mostly baseball and food), though I only seem to know nouns, which makes it a little difficult to put together even a simple sentence such as "The left fielder is eating a papaya."

Also, I can read Korean letters and make the sounds, though that doesn't mean I know what any of it means.

And if anybody asked me about syntax, I'd probably say, "You mean like the surcharge on cigarettes?"

I have about the same size vocabulary that Koko the gorilla had, but one more cat.