Monday, August 19, 2013

Serials kill me.

I've been learning something about myself recently (though, by recently, I'm pretty sure I mean the past year and a half): I really don't like suspense/guessing.  Surprises are cool; since I don't know they're coming, there's nothing to guess about.  But I really don't like trying to guess what other people are thinking or waiting to see what's going to happen next.  If there's one thing I don't like, it's waiting.  People tell me all the time how patient I am, but I just can't see it, because I HATE waiting.

Anyway, I bring this up because I've spent my 4 empty hours at work (Anyone remember when I was so stressed about not having big enough chunks of time to lesson plan?  Not a problem anymore... too bad I don't really need it anymore) reading up on an experiment that was taking place this Spring.  Basically, these two friends decided to try and get past their extremely opposite dating issues by agreeing to date each other for 40 days.  I started reading it thinking that they had already posted everything, that they had actually been posting daily and I'm just really late to the game.  As it turns out, I'm only slightly late to the game.  They've been posting weekly since the beginning of the summer.

This is incredibly irritating to me.  Usually, I plan to start something I think I'll really like after it's all finished.  For example, while all of you were out watching LOST every week, making sure nothing interfered with that sacred hour of your life, I was at handbell practice (work, as I got older).  Then, that night that you all got upset over the ending, I started on episode one and powered my way through them over the course of three weeks.  Overall, I don't really think it's a healthy habit.  I get addicted to whatever I'm doing, to the point that it affects my dreams.  I once even had trouble remembering which was real and which wasn't.  At least I have that as a cut-off line: Now, if I start dreaming about what I'm doing, I know it's time to pull back.

Anyway, the point of that rather disturbing paragraph is that I'm rather annoyed that I have to wait a couple more weeks to get the end of this encounter.

Have I mentioned that I don't like waiting for things?  Or guessing what's going on?

Yeah.  Serial TV shows were not made for me (or they were... depending on how you look at it).

P.S. 69 Days.

Friday, August 16, 2013

And we're back!

School is back on... for two weeks.  And then I'm done teaching (at least in Korea... for now).   Crazy.

The child standing on the chair was the sweet baby who
had to spend the rest of the day with plastic in his ear.
We weren't allowed to send the poor kid home, but that's
how it falls sometimes.
Vacation was pretty straight-forward.  I stayed in Cheonan after the unfortunate need to cancel Italy, and taught a week of extra classes at my old Saturday School.  The kids were cute, but - oh man - I'm so glad I normally teach middle school.  I had one first grader (American kindergartner) shove a straw wrapper so far down his ear that I couldn't see it anymore by the time I got to him to try and stop him.  Those little babies cannot and should not sit still for two hours.  Good grief, planning team.  I promptly disregarded my instructions to give them lots of worksheets and planned a lot of games and songs.  We also read some books, which I borrowed from my first school, and made some great projects, like our very own Big, Green Monsters.  (I really like this book for teaching.  It's good with the littles for
The kids bigger than her were allowed to
use scissors to cut out their body parts.
body parts and colors, and it's made even better, because you revive it when they get older to teach other adjectives.  Every page follows this form: He has [adjective], [color] body part.  Each series is stated twice in the book; the reinforcement is really nice.)

Hanging around Cheonan turned out to be a better break than I expected.  It was nice to not have to deal with the stress of planning everything and getting to the airport on time.  I also got to sleep in without worrying about wasting my time in the country... Since this is the country I live in (Wow... I just started typing this is my country) and all.  I do have a couple more places I think I should see before I leave, but I won't be too fussed if I don't.

One of the perks of greatly preferring running with her over running alone.  She makes me wish I had a dog of my own, though I know that's not feasible right now, what will all the moving around I'm getting ready to do.  (Also, I feel really irresponsible saying this, but it's awfully nice being able to sleep in on my non-running mornings, and I couldn't really do that if I had a dog... So I'll just borrow them for now.  Hehe)
staying home is that I could pet sit for my friend.  I've felt bad having people pet sit for Bunny, but never being able to return the favor for them, but now I've at least been able to pay it forward.  Not to mention, I loved getting to spend time with sweet Uma.  Uma has proved very helpful in my recent endeavor into running.  She only has three legs, but she has managed to keep up with me pretty decently.  I'm not sure if that's more of a testament to her running ability or my lack thereof, but I do know that I

As for the running commitment, I know that many of you are probably checking outside for other signs of the apocalypse, but I promise you I'm serious.  I chased down a bus a couple of weeks ago and liked it so much that I thought I'd give it a serious go, using the 0-5K app my friend showed me for my iPhone.  Another friend recently turned me on to a site that helps people get serious about the goals they set for themselves.  I'm not sure this is actually the site she was meaning, but I ended up making a contract on  Basically, I and a sponsor report my progress each week, and if I miss my goal, I pay money to an anti-charity of my choosing.  Sadly, Westboro Baptist wasn't an option on that list.  I really wish it was, because I'm pretty sure every person I know would get on me to make sure I don't give them any money.  If you want to keep tabs on my progress and offer me encouragement along the way, please join my commitment as a Supporter by clicking here.  I'm already feeling so much better and confident because of this, and it's only been a week.  The program suggests taking break days from working out, but I hate the thought of that... partially because I have a hard time with gray zones and partially because I really like how I feel after the work-outs.  Sooooo I do what I want. Haha.

Finally, the heat wave through Korea has been so bad that my school is started 30 minutes earlier each day and classes are 5 minutes shorter.  People have been using so much air conditioning that the government is warning about impending national blackouts.  Now, personally, I think that turning the AC on at school, where a bunch of people are all in one room would use less electricity than sending everyone home and having them turn it on in their private homes, but perhaps I'm wrong.  Nevertheless, it's a very welcome change for me from the frigid winters here.  I'll take heatwave over ice storm any day of the year.

For now, I think that constitutes an adequate update.  I'll see you (America friends) in 72 days. :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My Love Affair with the Barrier

One thing I've noticed is how much my friends and I talk about the frustrations of living with a daily language barrier in our lives, and, even if we're not talking about it, we're basically always thinking about it.  You never realize what a big deal it is until you try to live in another country.  For example, try ordering food off a menu that looks like this:
You may be fairly sure you know what you're getting, but if you have any dietary restrictions, it gets pretty stressful.  Or maybe you want to find things after a store rearranges its shelves  Heaven help you if you want someone's opinion about an item or if you want to convince a doctor you'd prefer a natural remedy to medicine.  The language barrier changes our lives in drastic ways here, and we frequently find ourselves discontent with those changes.

As my two-year anniversary with Korea has been drawing closer and my time here wrapping down, I've found myself growing increasingly nostalgic and analytical (those may seem like strange bedfellows to you, but I feel confident that anyone with a background in philosophy or psychology will make the connection).  I've been thinking over all my time here, and I've come to a conclusion: For better or for worse, I'm in love with the language barrier.  Certainly, we have our bad moments, our arguments, but, overall, I think it's a pretty good relationship, full of give and take.  I already drew a picture of how frustrating the barrier can be, but let me show you some of its more wonderful qualities.

  • I think one of my most (selfishly) favorite parts of the barrier is it's ability to hide me when I don't want to talk to people.  Thanks to the culture of my city and its particular barrier, I don't have to talk to anyone if I don't want to.  There are, of course, Korean-speakers here, and there are a good amount of English-speakers, but what you don't know is that there is a decent-sized Russian-speaking population here as well.  As a result, I can sit around and ignore all language that comes past me, and people will just assume I don't speak whatever language they've got going.  It's an introvert's heaven (well... in that aspect, at least).
  • I am now much better at charades.
  • Not being able to find things / communicate what I'm trying to find has helped me learn to prioritize: Do I really need this?  Would it be that big of a deal if I can't find it?  I've learned to let go of things that aren't so important and be persistent about that which is.
  • But the absolute best part of the language barrier is this: I have built friendships that are not based on knowing the trivia of each other's lives.  We are friends because we care about each other.  We see each other on a regular basis and we've learned to read each others' body language.  We cobble together our own language for communication, but that's not the core of the relationship.  Smiles, waves, and laughter; frowns, sighs, and even tears - This is the foundation of these relationships.  These people have actively and repeatedly looked out for my best interests.  I may not be able to tell you their favorite food or type of movie, but I can tell you when they're having a good day, and that, I think, is much more important.