Thursday, December 28, 2006

So yeah. Shanghai, amazing experience. Our flight there on Saturday afternoon was an hour late boarding, but the Seoul airport is like a castle so I didn't bitch too much. Although Bender might claim otherwise. The flight was only an hour and a half and we gained an hour going there because of the time difference. Our hotel was a solid 45 minutes from the airport and really, you don't see much on the way into the center of the city. But when we got there, it was immediately impressive. First off, I could breathe in Shanghai. In Korea, I cough up disgusting fluids all day long, but magically I was healthy for three days in China.

Our hotel was right next to the Pearl Tower, which is a massive television and communications tower that's probably the most visited attraction in the city. At night when it was lit up, it made the Seoul Tower look like a piece of trash. And the Seoul Tower, sadly, probably is the coolest thing to see in Seoul. Our hotel, which was of the five star variety meaning we did not belong there, was along the river and we spent most of the first night just hanging out there taking in the view, making out. You know. I expected China to be different than Korea, but there is seriously nothing similar about them besides them each being home to a billion Asians. Shanghai is basically like going to Europe, minus people speaking English. Tourists were everywhere. The city is just way too clean for anything you expect from China. For God's sake, it's China. After a half hour in Shanghai, I was about to call my office and have them ship my stuff across the sea. But then, and it's a big but, we began to interact with Chinese people.

To put it simply, Chinese people aren't all that friendly. Koreans always seem to be smiling. That may be due to drinking excessive amounts of soju, but still, it's nice. Like last night at a bar near my apartment, there were four Korean guys sitting next to me and they told me their English names were Dirty, Crazy, Penis and Junk in the Trunk. That's good stuff and I don't picture that kind of interaction ever happening in China. The Chinese all seemed pretty cold and lame. While some of this may have to do with the fact that Shanghai has 400000x more westerners than Seoul so the people aren't all that excited when they see Americans, I just wasn't getting the right vibes from them. The worst part of the culture, by far, and yeah maybe it's just because we were in a touristy area, is that you can't go into a bar without being made into the waitresses pet project. You walk in and their only job is to talk to you, play games with you, do whatever to keep you in there and drinking. Within five minutes of walking into our first bar, there was a girl sitting at our table. Ten minutes later, she and another waitress challenged us to a game of foosball. I was still giving them the benefit of the doubt before the game started. They were already up 2-0 when one of them put this on the table: We win, you buy us a drink. You win, we buy you a drink. Bender may also deny this, but I think he was about to accept their offer. But being the huge nerd I am, I had researched this situation beforehand and I knew if we lost that game, we'd be out of money on the first night. Some Chinese girls approach foreigners, ask them to go to a bar with them, the guy buys a drink and the tab is something ridiculous as the girl works for the bar. In the end, it was the smart move to turn down the challenge as these girls had obviously been trained in foosball. They were making shots I'd never seen before and I think the final score was something like 10-3.

Actually, I was wrong. That wasn't the first bar we went into. The first one we got two steps inside and there was at least 40 girls sitting around the bar, all of them wearing Christmas hats. I'm pretty certain there wasn't a single set of twig and berries in there. So yeah, that was an immediate bad sign of the Shanghai bar scene. Later that night, after I refused to pay $10 to get into a bar not knowing what was behind the door, a guy outside led us down an alley to another whore house/bar. I'm pretty sure he promised us it was a normal bar, but no, not at all. There were girls everywhere. The shadiest was also all over the streets. At least every 10 minutes, some guy would come up offering some sort of love massage. The ones who really put in effort would first strike up a conversation, asking where you're from, what you're doing in Shanghai, before they'd hit you with "Do you like girls? No clothes?" Yeah, my favorite was when this young guy came up to us and asked if we wanted "Merry Christmas Sex"? I told him I was taken and continued to hold Bender's hand.

And yes, Koreans girls make Chinese girls look like they've all just gotten smashed in the face with a sledgehammer. No contest.

If you could combine the cleanliness and just plain beauty of Shanghai with the friendliness of Koreans, I think you'd have the perfect country. Overall though, Seoul definitely gets the edge. I could never live in Shanghai for a year. People in Korea leave you alone and let you go about your life and that's a damn big deal when you live there.

Shanghai was also a lot more expensive than I had expected. While we found a few restaurants where we just ordered everything on the menu because it was so cheap, for the most part, as far as beer and food goes, it was on par with Seoul. Meaning comparable to American prices. The best bargain was the $10 we paid for a Cuban cigar on the last night there. That was disgusting. While waiting for our return flight to Seoul on Tuesday, Bender and I each ordered a large orange juice from an airport restaurant after the waitress assured us that yes, in fact, "large orange juice, very nice." That large orange juice, which tasted like something I left sitting next to my bed for a week, ran 75RMB. Or more than $8. I can't imagine I will ever pay $8 for an orange juice ever ever again.

The flight back was also delayed close to an hour, which was great, since I needed every thing to run perfectly in order to get to work on time. Instead I got to work an hour later. Pretty sure no one cared though. For the month of Jan. my schedule changes so I start work at 10 and get out at 5:30. The great thing, though, is that I only need to be at the school when I'm teaching. A big change from the current situation of me watching Mad TV clips on youtube for about 4 hours a day. On Wednesdays next month, I work from 2:30-5:30. That is, well, pretty sweet. Tomorrow night is the monthly Club Night in the university area and I'm getting excited because it looks like Bender will show up this time and I won't be dancing like an idiot on a stage by myself for five hours this time. Who knows what goes on here on New Year's Eve, they might just all spit on each other at midnight. I saw a middle school girl spit on the sidewalk in front of me today. She's never going to get an American boyfriend acting that way. Unless she wants to date John Mark Karr II.

Pictures: 2nd photo- a view of the city from the observation deck of Jin Mao. 3rd photo- view of Jin Mao Building from down the street, the building right next to it being constructed will be bigger than Jin Mao when it's finished and will become the third tallest building in the world. 6th photo- Yu Gardens (that couple in the gazebo making out is not me and Bender.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I figured I'd post a few pictures from Shanghai. After waking up at 6, flying back to Seoul and then teaching six classes, I'm in no condition to form coherent sentences.

1) This is one of the Pearl Tower and our hotel. That part of the hotel is the convention center, but yeah, it was still awesome.

2)This was the view from our hotel room. The building on the right, Jin Mao, is the fifth largest building in the world.

3)This is a shot of the Bund, a row of historic buildings on the river.

4)Apparently Bill Clinton made a visit to this famous Tea House. That's probably why I love it so much.

5)This is the main shopping road in Shanghai.

More to come...

Friday, December 22, 2006

I just walked arm-in-arm back to my apartment with two Korean guys. I don't know how this kind of stuff happens sometimes. Then I went into McDonalds and the cashier spoke fluent English and was a U.S. citizen. No offense to any Korean readers, but if you have U.S. citizenship, there's no good reason to be in Korea unless you are an English teacher or you really love kimchi. Cashier at McDonalds? No, definitely not a good reason.

I had my first crier in class yesterday that wasn't the direct result of me yelling at a kid. We do these word tests where the kids have about 10 words in Korean and all they have to do is write what those words means in English. Pretty straightforward. So this entire class did bad on their word tests. Obviously, I really didn't care. But then a couple minutes later, Jacob starts bawling. I asked him why he was crying and the other kids in the class said it was because his father was going to hit him because he did poorly on the word test. I think Jacob denied this, but either way, since I just wanted him to stop crying, I told the class they didn't have to get the test signed by their parents. In fact. I just told them they could rip up the test. I was not saying this literally, but I should have known better than to say this to eight Korean children. Needless to say, there was bits of paper everywhere.

Once I convinced Jacob that he wasn't going to get his ass beat that night, I attempted to move on with the lesson, but apparently crying is quite contagious. Because then Bryan started crying. This was because his head hurt. He said the light was hurting his eyes. Alright, so I turned the light off. Now I was teaching in the dark. Doesn't matter, anything to stop the crying. When Bryan stopped being a little bitch, the bug moved to the one girl in the class, Ellie, whose name is pronounced Allie. Right. She was crying because as she put it "all of the boys are crazy." Sometimes Ellie speaks Korean in class and all the boys get all excited and want me to make her write 100x that she won't speak Korean in class. What they fail to understand though is that Ellie is my favorite student at the school and she can do no wrong in my eyes. If she screamed "F--- You" to every other student in the class, I'd probably give her a piece of candy.

Everyone in my office is sick. I feel like I'm working inside a giant bubble of disease and grossness. The problem, of course, is that the words sick and day do not compute in the Korean language. You are simply not allowed to get sick. I asked one of the Korean teachers yesterday if she was sick after I noticed she looked like she had just been tossed down a flight of stairs and she goes "Yes, I have very high fever." That's just great. In America, she'd have been home for a good three days now. I remember Erika told me one time she was so sick that she couldn't move out of bed so she called in sick. The next day, all the Korean teachers tore her apart as if she had called up and said I'm not coming in today, I'm gonna go catch a movie. It's just a bit ridiculous. The problem, at my job at least, is that there are no substitutes. If someone doesn't come to work, it just means everyone else has to cover their classes and since everyone already thinks they teach too many classes, this causes utter chaos.

Bender and I leave for China on Saturday. I really have no idea as to what to expect from this trip. I'm just thrilled to be getting out of Seoul for a few days and getting a chance to see some more weird looking people. The hotel has a huge pool apparently so I might just stay in there all weekend drinking beer while Bender wonders around Shanghai in his pink scarf. I'm not allowed to sleep until 3pm on this trip, Bender said, so that might just ruin the entire vacation. As is the usual custom, I'm fully prepared for my death since I will be using that terrible form of transportation known as the airplane, but as is also a custom, I'm counting on Mr. Xanax to keep me sane. I'm sure I'll have a thousand pictures to post when I get back next week. And I'm sure 998 of them will include Bender. Until then, Merry Christmas!

Photos- A Christmas display in Jongno and the giant statue of the Buddha in Gangnam.

Monday, December 18, 2006

John Mark Karr II was complaining all day at work on Friday and I made the mistake of opening my mouth. He kept mumbling stuff about how his desk was too small and he didn't have enough personal space or something. I mentioned, half kidding, that he could switch desks with me. I said this because I have the worst desk in the office since it's right next to the door, which means Korean children touch my stuff all day and things are usually flying onto the floor. I really don't mind it all that much, and since JMK was being all bitchy, I just threw the trade desks offer out there. He didn't really respond to the offer when I first said it, probably because he was complaining about something else by then, but 15 minutes later, when it was just him me and one Korean teacher, he yells something from across the room to me. It went something like this: "Blah blah blah I don't take shit from no one. After you teach for 12 years, 4 years in Korea, then you can negotiate for this desk." I told him I really didn't care where I sat and I just made the offer because he seemed so damn unhappy with his desk. I put my headphones back on and he rambled on for a few minutes. All I know is he is now off my OK to Socialize with List. I will never speak to the guy unless it involves something that is or could directly affect me. He also complained the to school director about David giving him orders, he said he will not have a boss and that's that. His attitude towards work is I'll do whatever the hell I want and if anyone says anything about it, I'll yell and bitch like a little girl.

Granted, I don't do much at work, but I understand that having a job means respecting some sort of authority and following a few rules. This guy would have been fired within three days if it wasn't such a pain in the ass/costs a lot of money for the school to recruit new Western teachers. Actually, I was playing online poker during one of my breaks on Thursday when I was supposed to be lesson planning or engaging in things they pay me for. It was going great until I got AK right before the bell rang and the herd of other teachers came storming back into the office. I think I lost $20 on that damn hand, as well any kind of respect I may have been getting from the Koreans in the office.

Another one of the Korean teachers told me how terrible China is last week. She said had heard I was going and she felt she had to warn me that it wasn't a nice place. I asked her if she had ever been there. No. She said Japan was much better. I asked if Tokyo was better than Seoul and she said they were about the same. Why do I have this strong suspicion that when I go to Japan, it's just not gonna have the wonderful smell of dirt and garbage that hovers over Seoul.

We actually out with a bunch of Chinese people on Friday night. Oh, and also one big fat gay American guy. The Chinese people all seemed like they were stoned and they provided the entertainment value of watching American Idol. Big fat gay guy redeemed the rest of the group with his not-so-subtle homoerotic remarks. At one place, he remarked about the snacks on the table, "Oh, these nuts are yummy." I almost lost it. At the end of the night, I think he was trying to get Bender and I to go back to his place to sleep on his couch.

It snowed for the first time last night. A lot. So obviously it was the perfect time to get stranded at a subway station. It was one of those times when knowing Korean would have been really helpful. We were ready to hop on the train, but then after realizing that each car was already about 50 people over capacity, we watched all the Koreans jam themselves into the car, thinking they were a bunch of idiots. No so much. It was the last train that was going on the way down its line. So we got on the next one, went two stops and then were ordered off by some dude. Then we met a Canadian guy at the station and the three of us attempted to hail a cab for about a half hour. The worst part about the whole situation was it totally ruined my grand scheme to get Bender to go to the QueensBridge hiphop dance club near my apartment. By the time we made it back, his enthusiasm for listening to Sexy Back for four hours straight had waned and thus I was devastated.

We went to Gangnam today, which is like the Beverly Hills of Seoul. All of the girls carry little umbrellas over their heads despite a lack of any sort of precipitation. Half of them were also wearing skirts. The high was 25 degrees today. The place was definitely a lot nicer than the rest of the city, it's got a distinct feel of class. But it's a good hour and a half from my place by subway, so any return trips will need to be accompanied by a few bottles of soju.

I wish my camera wasn't so terrible. These pictures are way too blurry. But that one on top is a real sign for a store in Itaewon. I also have no clue what Happy Walking 2007 means. The last photo is of the main strip in Suyu, about 500 feet from my apartment, during the snowstorm last night.

Friday, December 15, 2006

There are some horrible books for some of my classes. One of them is what is called a think along book. We read stories in classes and the kids stop to answer questions in the middle of the story. The only problem is most of these questions are "What are you thinking about now?" It's the worst possible question. It's so pointless and vague that I can never tell the kids they have a wrong answer. A lot of times they'll just write "school" in the box. It doesn't matter what the story is about, they'll write "I'm hungry" or "I want to go home." Although today I did get one answer that was sort of related to a story in the book. The story was about a mother baking cookies and the question asked "What do you picture the mother wearing?" and one boy wrote "Only panties." I swear to God. The book we use for the top level class isn't much better. The entire thing is about planes and flying. Yeah, I now know a ton about how planes use their rudders and yokes and how there's something called an elevator in a plane, but I still hate my life every time I teach that class.

It's official: the new foreign teacher is John Mark Karr. Sure, he's a bit older but he's the creepiest old guy I've ever met. My opinion of him has fallen constantly everyday since he's been here. Tonight he solidified that I need shower feeling I get when I'm around him. I went out to dinner with him and David after work and he started talking about how he thought our waitress was really hot. Nevermind the fact that she wasn't, but she couldn't of been older than 20 and this guy is 55. He kept staring at her and smiling and I was ready to hide under the table. It got worse. He started comparing Korean and Japanese girls. "I think the Korean middle school girls look much better in their skirts." Yeah, so he'll probably be in a Korean prison by the end of the month. The guy also complains non stop about everything. He said a few times tonight that he was just waiting around to die. All I know is I won't be eating dinner again with John Mark Karr II anytime soon.

It's kind of ridiculous how nationalistic Koreans are. I'm sure it stems from the Japanese raping their country for years, but still, they have a very warped sense of what Korea is. I told Semi, one of the Korean teachers at my school, that I was going to China next week for vacation. I'd best describe her reaction as shocked. Shocked that I wasn't going on vacation somewhere in magical Korea. I tried to explain to her that I had wanted to go to Jeju Island, but that it would be too cold to go in December. She did not accept that answer. Sometimes I really think that all of Korea should take a national vacation to another country, you know, just to see what else is out there. I think they'd be amazed.

I forgot to mention Bender and I got a haircut last weekend. Although it had the potential to be a disaster, my students haven't yelled "ugly teacher" much this week, and that means it's good enough for my standards. I showed the lady there a bunch of photos of myself and then she just started cutting. It really wasn't all that exciting.

One reason I love George Bush: his amazing tenure has destroyed the value of the U.S. Dollar. And every time the dollar falls, my teaching salary goes up. Mmm mmm Bush.

Photo- Top- A shot of Myeong Dong and below, the The Season's Greetings 2007 sign around the block from the first one that pisses me off to no end.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I've been to the Dragon Bar three times now and every time I've left with a phone number of an American guy. Two of the times, I actually left the bar with an American guy. Usually when I talk to other white people, I'm OK with them, but then by the next morning, I don't have much of a desire to ever see them again. The white guy this past weekend was pretty decent. He was wearing a pink shirt. He was insane, though. He kept going on about how there is no such thing as evil, how the U.S. should never have attacked Afghanistan and how North Korea is the best place in the world. I know I'm the most liberal guy on campus, but I was actually spewing Republican talking points to this guy. He was kind of funny, though. Maybe I'll call him sometime when I'm drunk and need a "white guy quickie."

I did blow my shot at a Korean girlfriend Saturday night. This girl was totally digging me and by that, I mean she probably had 12 drinks that night and was acting out some sort of dare to talk to the dorky looking white guy. But anyway, things were going great and Bender was all jealous, but then the bartender joked with me and said she was crazy. I, in turn, joked with the girl about the bartender saying she was crazy. And then she snapped. Calling people crazy here usually works fine in class and the kids love it, but apparently if you attempt to joke about crazy with a drunk Korean girl, your dreams of moving into a Korean home, playing rock paper scissors all day and eating kimchi for every meal, will be shattered. At least I got the white guy's phone number.

I do have to call Bender out on one thing and it involves his new pink scarf. In one of his recent blogs, he wrote that he wasn't the type of person to wear a scarf. Look this is just not true. He wore it all weekend, made me take pictures of him posing with it on and then violated my camera by taking pictures of himself wearing it. While he likes to point out that only a small part of the scarf is actually pink, it is by far the dominant color. Now it's OK for him to wear the scarf here. In fact, it may not be gay enough to wear here, but if he keeps this kind of behavior up he will never be able to return to America. He did give me jacket, though, and that wasn't gay at all.

It's been getting tougher to write blogs lately, I think because most things seem pretty normal to me now. I expect the ridiculous. I expect someone to give me a pair of socks at a restaurant. I expect the doorman at my apartment complex to chase me up the stairs at 7am on Saturday morning trying to explain to me in Korean that I need to give him money for some sort of utility bill. Now there's something I can't understand. It doesn't happen often, but some people insist on trying to explain things to me in Korean over and over even though I've made it clear in some way that I have no idea what they're saying. I don't think these people appreciate the value of the hand gesture. It's amazing how many things you can explain by pointing to things. I'll probably still point to everything when I get home and that will just be weird.

I was explaining to one class what a continent is today and I think they understood it, but their pronunciation was a bit off. They inconveniently replaced the "o" with a "u" and then insisted on yelling it about ten times. For second, I almost thought they were doing it on purpose.

One of my favorite things to do in class is tease the kids, especially if they are annoying me or if they didn't do their homework. The line that hits them the hardest is when I point to my head and go "Your head empty?" All of the classes understand what this means so they all laugh at the bad kid and that's the point. Don't mess with the teacher because I have no problem stooping to your level.

Bender and I both went to the Chinese consulate today to get our visas processed for the Shanghai trip next week. We did not, however, go to the same place. We apparently went to different consulates within a half mile of each other. Since it seems pretty unlikely that there are two Chinese consulates that close to each other in the same city, the logical outcome is either me or him aren't going to China. I think it's him though, cause they took his passport and 75,000 won today. My place took my passport, but I pay on Friday. He's so screwed.

While Bender hinted at the gayfest that was Friday night, let me just come clean here as something incredibly embarrassing occurred that I have sworn with never again be repeated. Yeah, we went to a karoake room together. That will happen again. It's what happened at the cashier of the karaoke place that makes me severely question my intelligence. Since we were going to be singing together and beer is required for that, I grabbed a couple beers out of the mini fridge next to the cashier. Paid three bucks for each one. I had finished about three quarters of mine probably while we were belting out our tenth Oasis song when Bender pointed to the can. Non-alcoholic malt beverage. Yeah, we were pounding non-alcoholic beer. I have two real problems with this, first, I could not tell IMMEDIATELY that it was non-alcoholic. And second, it brought up a troubling memory. The first weekend I really went out here is the weekend we sang karoake for the first time. At that place, we had more than one beer. Probably more like four each. And since I now believe, what I first dismissed as bs, that karoake bars aren't allowed to serve alcohol, it comes down to this: If I drank four non-alcoholic beers while singing It's Gonna Be Me while shaking a tambourine over my head while sitting on a giant red couch with Mike Bender, can I officially proclaim that night as the low point of my life, from now until the day I die? You make the call.

(Photos- top- tall guy and black girl and a couple students)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

After eating dinner last night at a restaurant near my school, as we got up to pay the bill, the owner of the place walked up to David and handed him two brown paper bags. Inside each of them was a pair of socks. Apparently it was a parting gift of some sort. A bit strange, but hey, I really needed socks so I'll take it. The floor of this restaurant was also just rocks and there were small trees all over the place. I felt like I was in the rain forest. The food was cooked on a huge black stone at the table. I don't particularly like that, the fact that you are expected to cook your own food at the table at almost every restaurant. If I really wanted to cook my own food, I would have went to the supermarket, bought the ingredients and whipped something up at home. It's that the point of going to a restaurant? So you don't have to cook your own meal? Really, though, we never end up cooking anything, anyway, because we just sit there staring at the food as it starts burning and the Koreans then realize we're morons and need some serious help. Once the natives remedy that situation and it's time to actually eat the stuff, things get quite barbaric. Koreans don't exactly have table manners. Generally they pile a lot of stuff, rice pork kimchi whatever, onto a leaf or piece of lettuce, roll it all up into a ball and then shove it into their mouths. I kind of enjoy it, but my mom would be disgusted. Also, know how it's rude to slurp your drink at the table when you're finished? Here, it's obviously a good thing. It means you really enjoyed the drink. Right.

I've been teaching a ton of classes this week because we're still waiting for Robert, the new old American guy, to get his visa stuff in order. So I've just been playing a lot of card games. None of the kids use the proper names for Aces, Kings, Queens or Jacks and I hate it. They just say A, K, Q, or J. I don't have many rules during game time, but I have established the refer to the cards correctly rule. The kids favorite card game is basically Uno, except they call it One Card. Whenever I try to play with them, I'm confused within 30 seconds. I think half the cards mean reverse, skip or spin around on your head. They always yell at me when I don't know whose turn it is. The thing about One Card is some of the kids are real assholes and they insist on yelling One Card a half second before someone actually has One Card. So then that person who was about to have one card draws about five cards and of course, the game never ends. I have yet to win a game.

Since it's a new semester, all the kids want to change their English names. And that would just make me crazy. I finally got every one's name down a few weeks ago. The attendance sheet is all in Korean at the beginning of the semester so I had to pass it around in my middle school class so the kids could write in their English names. And though I explicitly told them they could not change their names, many of them attempted to. Hestia changed her name to Mermaid, probably because she had a Little Mermaid eraser. Another girl wants to be called "Jan-n". I don't even know how to pronounce that. And then there's my favorite: Paris Hilton. I might even let that girl keep the name, only cause she's new to my class so I didn't know her name anyway. But I think I'd feel way too dirty and creepy calling a 12 year old girl Paris Hilton. There's probably laws against that.

Bender and I are locked in for a trip to Shanghai, China over the Christmas weekend. We're gonna be cutting it close though. Since we only have the Monday off, we're trying to stretch the vacation as much as possible so our return flight won't get into Seoul until 11:50 on Tuesday morning. Since Bender needs to be at work at 1:30 and me at 2 and the bus ride from the airport to our jobs is taking no less than an hour and half, yeah, no way we're making it. But sometimes you gotta cut some corners if you ever want to get a chance to breathe over here. We haven't booked a hotel yet, but I might try to get Bender to agree to sharing a king size bed. We practically sleep together every weekend, anyway.

Robert seems like a cool old guy, but he's also got a bit of a creepy edge. At dinner tonight, he said one of his favorite things about Korea was the girl. Ok, fair enough. But then he kept talking...the reason he likes the girls is because they are always exposing their feet. I think his words were "they were those thongs on their feet." Alright, I just met you, let's keep the foot fetish talk to a minimum, at least for the first few weeks.

In some ways, my work ethic here is the same as it was back home. I come to work, I fool around on the Internet all day and avoid work until I am absolutely forced to do it. Now that I don't really have a boss, I don't even pretend to be doing work in between classes. Sometimes I feel bad because the Korean teachers always seem to be making up tests or preparing for classes, but then I remember, I really don't care. Today I was watching "Saw II" during one of my breaks. I get the minimum amount of work done, I go to class, they kids have some fun, learn a bit and that's that. Although David mentioned tonight that we have to work on some Saturdays to make up for holidays and with that, I almost blew a fuse. So we get off for Christmas Day and then I need to come in the next Saturday to make up those classes? Hell, that doesn't seem like a holiday at all. Things got a little dicey in the office, but then I realized I might have been scaring the new guy too much, so I dropped it. But that's just not gonna fly. I know how much Koreans love to work, but personally, I enjoy having a life sometimes.

I think Bender might be dead again. He hasn't responded to my emails and he didn't pick up his phone when I tried to call him tonight. He's such a little bitch sometimes.

(Photos- top- a view of the city from a mountain, and Bender pretending to squeeze one out)

Monday, December 04, 2006

The new semester started on Friday and it was ridiculous. I didn't get my schedule until Thursday night so when I got to work on Friday, I had about an hour to find the books for all my classes. You'd think that'd be plenty of time, but the book shelf is in no kind of order. Some of the books aren't even on the shelf. I found them all eventually, but then the schedule changed about six times through the course of the day. I was literally about to walk into a class when someone told me I wasn't teaching that class anymore. Luckily, most of my classes this semester are listening classes, which basically means I go in, throw in a tape and they listen to it. Those classes are golden. A whole lot better than teaching grammar, which just isn't something an unqualified smuck should be teaching.

The kids continue to astonish me with their cruelty. I showed a class a photo of my family and one girl looks at it and goes, "Ugly, ugly, ugly" as she points to each member of my family. Then at the end of class, this same girl has the nerve to ask me why I didn't give her the penny for being the best student of the day. What a bitch.

Erika missed her flight home on Saturday. She got to the airport at 10:15am for an 11:00 flight and they refused to let her check in. She stayed at a hotel last night and hopefully she's flying home right now. I could make fun of her here, but I love her too much and she'd probably fly back to Korea and kick my ass.

It's gotten really cold here over the last week. And I don't have a winter jacket. I've got my Richmond sweatshirt and a hat. I thought that would suffice and I could beat the cold, but I'm already losing that battle. Bender got a jacket from his boss for his birthday. Maybe I'll ask for one tomorrow. They'll probably give me a roll of toilet paper and tell me to wrap myself up.

One of the lessons last week involved naming Disney movies and since the kids weren't paying attention and probably making fun of me, I helped them out and suggested "Bambi." Bambi does not mean cute young deer in Korean, though. It means "Dung." So that was great. Sometimes I think the kids are just messing with me. I asked the Korean teachers what Bambi meant and they had no clue. Or else they were just trying to save me the embarrassment.

Bender and I went to Seoul Tower today, which is easily the most touristy thing we've done here. On the walk there, we got detoured a bit when Bender spotted a casino. So obviously we immediately went off course and headed inside. Thankfully the blackjack tables were full so I wasn't tempted. Bender, however, dropped $50 on roulette in about five minutes. The casino thanked Bender for the donation and we were back on track. Getting to Seoul Tower is a bit of a trek as you need to walk up and around a mountain for a good half hour. Not much of a problem if your body is accustomed to any kind of physical activity, but we were both ready to pass out when we reached the top. Once we got inside the tower and as the ticket lady was about to scan my ticket, the power went out. Lucky bastard. Once we got to the top of the tower, which thankfully involved no walking and just a 30 second elevator ride with about 500 Koreans, most of whom seemed to be making out, we got a stunning view of the city. I use the term stunning lightly because there's really nothing stunning about this city. Yeah, we were up high and you could see a lot of buildings and what looked like bombs going off near North Korea, it wasn't all that exciting. Plus Bender kept insisting that the tower was moving and there was a strong possibility that it would fall over at any second killing us all. The outside of the tower was much cooler because it changes colors every 30 seconds. I was fascinated but Bender kept yelling at me for taking too many pictures.

I'll probably have to work some overtime this week because the new foreign teacher is still in Japan getting his visa worked out. I'm not too bummed, though, cause I'm really enjoying the teaching at this point. Every class, even if the kids are covering my desk in chalk or pouring drinks on each other, provides me with a decent level of entertainment.

I haven't gotten a haircut in three months and while looking like homeless bum seemed kind of funny for maybe a month, it's getting out of hand now. The kids always point at me and ask, "Perm?" They are serious, though so I have to explain to them that guys do not get perms unless they are Korean. They also enjoy calling me "Ajuma" while laughing hysterically. Ajuma means old Korean woman. I guess my hair does kind of look like that, damn it. I'm afraid to go to a barber though because really, there's no way that's turning out well. Most Korean guys are rocking the mullet and that's just not something I'm going to be comfortable with. Maybe I'll just shave my head so I don't have to get a haircut for another six months. The kids would rip me apart though and I'd probably need to start seeing a therapist. Whatever, I'll figure something out.

(Photos- Erika's last night and Seoul Tower)