Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Breakup

Disclaimer: The Breakup was ended by a foolish man regretting a snap decision. (i am no longer Broken Up).

It was a bad week. It was SUCH a tough week. And I made it because of ONE person and that ONE magical hour every day.

The first day, last Monday, April 21, I was so nervous. I almost didn't go. I was coming off a wonderful weekend spent with ETA friends all over the country and ridiculously exhausted. And yet I had wanted this for so long, had worked so hard for it. I wasn't going to let ANYTHING stop it from happening.

So, I got into my city at 3pm, arrived home at 3:30 and was out the door by 4pm. I arrived early. I spoke with other people there. Then, ... I saw him. He was perfect. He was everything I had expected and more. He was tall. He was dark. He was muscular. He was my swim instructor.

Our lesson started off with a polite introduction between him, me, and the head gym coordinator. He instructed me to get into the pool and wait. I jumped in. It was cold. I was nervous. He led me to another lane and emptied it of all other swimmers. He showed me how to breathe. Then he told me to stick my head underwater and try. I squatted underwater and came face to face with his ... crotch. It was awkward. But I practiced and then I closed my eyes on the next try. He had me kick. He had me show him how I HAD been swimming. I cringed and began. He said, "I'd have to start with all the basics." I didn't mind.

He assured me and then he REassured me that I would not drown. Not only because I could stand at any point in the pool with my head above water, but also because he was a certified lifeguard. *Whew* I still felt like saying, "I'm gonna diiiiiiiiiie," in my usual fashion, and yet, I never did. Even when I felt like giving up and walking out, something in his manner let me know that I could do this, that I would succeed.

He was encouraging, he was critical, he was always supportive. Through his words and his actions. He held my hands and walked me down the length of pool when I was afraid I couldn't freestyle the whole length on my own.

***Anyways, I never got around to finishing this entry because I found out halfway through it that the reason I had started it no longer stood. So, the owner of the gym told all the swim instructors that they had to stop giving private lessons and he wasn't raising their base pay for swim classes. they all complained, and he fired them. So, I was going to lose my swim instructor. But THEN, on Monday there were no new instructors, no one would work for him because they had heard what happened to the former instructors and the pay was so little, so he apologized and asked them all back. And most importantly, he told them that they could continue teaching private lessons. So, I got my instructor back AND my parents said I could continue lessons for my last two months instead of taking swim classes. So, YAYY!!!

At least one happy ending in my week of blech!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Random unexpected required writing assignment.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that this post is in response to:

Early Departure Home:* Regarding your grant end date, according to the contract, you are not allowed to terminate your contract before July 18 except in the case of "compelling circumstances". All of your flights will also be to your home address in the case of these circumstances. One of these compelling circumstances may be that your school has requested you finish teaching after finals or the last day of school is before July 18. Another example of a compelling circumstance is that you are entering a graduate program and the first date of class is before July 18. Examples of non-compelling circumstances: You want to go home early. You want to travel. You hate teaching. You are attending a graduate program that begins in August. You are starting a job before July 18. Keep in mind that the ETA grant is also a job that you have signed on to for a certain period of time and that in all of your pre-arrival forms you agreed not to schedule anything that interferes with the end of the grant date period.

Given the number of you who have requested early departures, we are beginning to question the degree to which your cases are compelling. Even if your schools have agreed, they do not all want you to leave early. It's just hard for them to say no. This is particularly true in cases such as Jeju, where the board of education has called us to ask what's going on and expressed concern. Please re-evaluate how compelling you think your reason is and send me a persuasive essay (no more than 350 words or 1.5 pages double spaced) within the next 2 weeks, by Tuesday May 13. If your case falls into one of the above compelling circumstances, please put it in writing and send it to me by this date, also.* Mrs. Shim reserves the right to deny your early departure if the case is not compelling, even if your school has already granted this leave, for failure to clear the first part of the early departure clause.* Those of you who do not submit this letter will automatically have their requests denied.

Christine Lim, ETA 44
Fulbright Korea Grantee 2007-2008

I understand that the ETA grant is a job that I signed on to for a certain period of time. However, I have also known since last year that I would fall under the category of people who request to leave before July 18th. The clause that allows grantees to leave as early as July 2nd if necessary was one of the main reasons I chose the ETA grant.

I am beginning law school in August. However, unlike other programs my program starts in the beginning of August rather than the end. The reason I am leaving Korea early is to prepare for school. To me, leaving July 2nd to enter a graduate program that begins before July 18th is not only foolish, but also somewhat suicidal.

To further explain my reasons for leaving early, I’ve spelled out my anticipated timeline once back in the states.
- July 2-9: Arrive home. Start getting over jetlag. Begin unpacking one year’s worth of life and organizing and repacking to move to another state. Go to doctor, dentist, etc.
- July 10-19: Look at apartments and sign lease. Start shopping for furniture for apartment.
- July 20-26: Assemble furniture. Begin moving into apartment. Set up for life in apartment (secure Internet, TV, etc.).
- July 27-31: Final cleaning of apartment. Move in for good. Gather materials for school.
- August 1: Orientation begins.
- August 3: Classes start.

I truly believe that preparing to enter graduate school requires a lot of time and preparation. Apartment hunting is not something I believe should be done solely over the Internet. Deciding where I’m going to live requires my presence in that city, inside the apartments. Also, coming off a year of saving my Fulbright stipends, I will be spending time shopping around for the most affordable furniture. Consequently, cheap furniture usually requires assembly and thus more time.

I did not “schedule” law school to interfere with the end of the ETA grant date period. This is something beyond my control that I am also bound to by contract. Technically, I signed my law school contract before the Fulbright Korea one, and I only signed the Fulbright Korea contract because it allows for early termination of our teaching duties.

Additionally, my school has known since last October that I would be leaving “early.” This is one reason I didn’t switch homestays over winter vacation when my hostbrother graduated from our school. My hostfamily agreed to keep me since I was leaving after only four more months of school. After the horror stories they’d heard about other ETA-homestay experiences, they were nice enough to spare me that risk. At this point, I feel it would be a surprise burden on both my homestay family and my school (they didn’t budget for either my stipend or the 400,000won for July for my homestay).

In case you do not find this compelling enough, I have a bevy of other reasons, not stated here due to the brevity requirement, but available upon request.

Monday, April 28, 2008

latest and not so greatest

FIRST google image search result of typing in "mehh"

quick summary.

friday - swimming lesson began with more bad news. all swimming instructors fired bc boss is crazy. happiness of my life effectively destroyed.

saturday - day trip to daejeon national museum of science with maia

sunday - nails date with maia, head up to seoul to see my family (stuffed for dinner and dessert-fed more food than i've eaten in the past week combined). get phone call of LIFE. due to crazy korean ajumma rioting swimming instructors have been hired back!!! lessons will resume!!!

monday - more food with family. severance for hospital-type appointments. disappointed by non-english ability of specialist doctors and IHCC's suckiness of providing me a translator (ROSA, WHERE ARE YOU!?!?). get Qtips rammed up my nose and chided for crying. return home for simple dinner (made by me) of cheese sandwich (not even grilled!) *sadness*

this week:
tuesday - no classes. "picnic" day. following 2nd grade to daejeon ZOOLAND. hmm... swim lesson!!!
wednesday - only full day of classes
thursday - no classes: "sports day." massage appt at 1pm. then swim lesson.
friday - no regular classes. only english camp in the afternoon.

starting to feel downtrodden and beaten down again. MUST KEEP PINK LILLY PULITZER DRESS IN MIND for happiness. MUST REMEMBER LV BAG as light at end of tunnel for surviving this mess. MUST REALIZE KOREA MIGHT BE an exercise for me in humility. many updates in draft stages. promise publishing soon.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

stop touching!!!

ok, a little sidenote: so i thought of 2 more revenges.

1. flush the toilet. all the time. but after doing this 2x i realized the only REAL thing i was hurting was the earth. too much collateral environmental damage. so i stopped. (and won't be doing the other things either.

2. learning to play the piano in my bedroom. WITH MY ELBOWS. hehe.

ok and now back to the topic at hand: STOP TOUCHING!!!
ok, numero uno, little kids are gross. they are germy, and grimy, and dirty, and snotty, and capital G-ROSS!!!

2nd, WHY DO THEY INSIST ON TOUCHING MY THINGS/MY DESK/ME??? i HATE it. i don't get it. since WHEN is it ok/allowed/acceptable to just OPEN up the teacher's desk and start rummaging through? THIS happens with ALL my kids. not just one grade, or gender (although the girls are worse than the boys). i HATE it. it's so nosy and annoying. they're PERFECT AJUMMAS IN TRAINING!!! UGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

it's just so RUDE. it's MY desk. it's MY classroom. but they're ALWAYS rummaging. going through my nametag boxes. going INTO my desk and rummaging. it's just GROSS, and UNCIVILIZED, and DISGUSTING. i don't know. am i overreacting? i mean, yea it makes sense bc they're ajummas in training. but i'm their TEACHER. this is MY desk. PLUS they just comment on everything and ask a million questions. AND comment on, "your ID pictures is so pretty. but in real life you are not." and i just wanna be like "yea because of your nasty country and your nasty water and air pollution. eat poop and die" but then i realize that is not usually considered an appropriate response.

anyway, i could've done a much better job with this topic. but i'm so distracted right now. and i realized i SHOULD be in the 교모실 making copies of this afternoon's worksheets. oops, oh well.

p.s. whenever i see my kids OUTSIDE of the classroom i say, "hello, little darlings" and i MEAN it. but somehow IN my classroom it all changes... but i guess i must've been like that, too...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


let me warn you, don't get me mad at you. i'm pretty much the most vengeful, spiteful person i know.

so, clearly my last entry shows i was pretty upset at my homestay mom. so last night i wracked my brains for how to "get back" at her... and here are my top ideas. (okay, my ONLY ideas). you can judge for yourself just how very mean and vengeant i can be.

1. leave my power surges turned on 24/7. early last fall they asked me to turn off the surge strips when i'm not using them/not at home bc electricity is charged on a graduated scale and all devices suck up power even when they're turned off. MUAAAAAHAHAHAHA!!!

2. start running the washing machine EVERY DAY with one pair of underwear inside on a FULL cycle. (thus charging them for electricity and water- ECONOMICS is the new nuclear weapon!)

3. eat tomatoes and strawberries in front of her until i enter anaphylactic shock. (except this is more one of those "hmm joke's on ME" kind of things so i ruled it out)

4. and yea that's where i ran out of brilliant ideas.

now, i was going to laminate some small things and decided NOT to waste a full A4-sized laminating sheet and use "hand coating film" instead because you can cut it to the size you want and not waste a whole sheet of it. buuuuuuuut i went to sign into my "attendance record thing" punch work card thing since i was in the 교무실 anyway and i got all annoyed!!! annoyed that my VP insists i come in early to sign in and that i have to 인사 every day even when they barely acknowledge or care for my existence. SOOOO, instead of getting mad I GOT EVEN.

that's right, i put away my hand coating film, and i took out a FULL brand new sheet of laminating film (from the OFFICE's supply not my OWN laminating film from my classroom!), and LAMINATED the whole sheet to get 3 little cards (probably 1.5" x 2" each). HAAAAAHAHAHAHA. i basically wasted a WHOLE sheet of laminating film!!! TAKE THAT, NAMSUNG ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SUPPLY BUDGET!!!

okay, on a more serious note, i'm gonna channel some momma lim here and say, the best revenge, is to go on living a happy and fulfilling life doing what i love doing and being the best that i can be. and THAT is the best revenge of all- to let GO of the negative energy, not letting it drain me, and just being happy and wonderful and ME!!! so i'm gonna try that on for size, since clearly my future as a brooding dark character plotting my lifelong quest for revenge is not too promising. =)

this is not me:

royally pissed.

i am so royally pissed off right now and i can't even do anything about it. this is why korea sucks. this is why korea is so backwards. and this is why this country is still so un-effing democratic.

ok, i should start with an explanation of histadelia. but i can't. my stomach is actually BURNING up from how angry i am. i can feel my stomach just warming up and being 5 degrees hotter than the rest of my body. i'll be surprised if my face doesn't turn bright red either.

GAHHHHHHHHHHHH i'm so maddddddddddddawoeirjrgsjnwerjfiuyraewhfgjhbvbdaigureituga;s;jklfwheugfurejgnajna;oiserjiowa;jkvnjfdagregaerghfrsfjr;kljngawr-039ii8urjfngvbsae,dg,wrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgffffffffffrliiiiiiiiiiiiijgrlah;grlhjoghloblegwa;o

i HATE KOREA. i HATE my homestay mom. i HATE effing KOREA. I HATE HATE HATE KOREA.

and maybe just MAYBE it's because she just laughed in my face and told me basically to piss off. and maybe just MAYBE she could be right but i don't care because i am so pissed. and indignant. and i wanna punch her in the face and come back with my bloodwork and prove her wrong bc i don't care if she graduated from seoul national med school. she still ONLY went to college/med school in korea. she still ONLY is a podunk professor at a school she acknowledges is ranking middling at best. because she still is ONLY a woman in korea. she still has to do the housework, and cook, and clean in this house because she is a woman in korea, regardless of if she thinks she's smarter than her husband. he has a better (paying) job than her. and her kids are gonna end up messed up because of her. i get SO annoyed that she thinks she is smarter than me because she went to seoul national med school. i'm going to COLUMBIA EFFING LAW. I COULD'VE GONE TO HARVARD LAW BUT CHOSE NY INSTEAD OF BOSTON. I'M IN KOREA ON A CHARITY CASE AND I'M SICK OF BEING THE NOBLE PERSON WHO IS SUPPOSED TO KNOW BETTER AND BE A BIGGER PERSON.

ok, so, last night i googled "benadryl acne" because i find it ridiculously intriguing that taking benadryl reduces my acne and redness and face hives or whatnot. because, seriously, who prescribes an anti-histamine to deal with acne/skin problems? all the research i did on benadryl said NOT A WORD about skin conditions (or even hives). so i google it, and i find a bunch of information on something called "histadelia" or a condition of high levels of histamines and high sensitivity to histamines.

i won't attach all the info here, bc there's a lot that i didn't understand (medspeak) and i don't have the patience right now to cite stuff. but basically a lot of the symptoms and conditions were things that i was like, oh yea i have that. and a lot of pieces fell into place and made sense (my insomnia, excessive sweating, intolerance of pain, extreme exhaustion but not being sleepy, even my excessive crying). anyway, those are just a few examples. so i do a bunch of research all yesterday and today and feel a little better because now it's not like i'm just being a big baby whining that korea is messing me up. PLUS once you identify the problem, you can figure out a solution. that's the american way.

so i tell my friends and family and they're all supportive and i'm getting bloodwork as soon as i get home etc. etc. etc.

and since my hostmom is a dr. i decide to run this by her and see what she thinks. i don't even know why i thought this was a good idea.

so i tell her i was doing research bc isn't she also a LITTLE curious as to what possible relationship could lie between my taking benadryl and my skin clearing up? and she's got this, oh what is coming next is gonna kill me.... look on her face. so i showed her some of my printouts from the internet and she's asking me where i got it and if i am "normal". so, what does this mean, "are you common?" apparently she wants to know if other american patients are like me. and i guess not everyone to my extent, and yes we probably overmedicate in the US and big pharma DOES encourage us with those ads to go to our dr. and tell them what we already have and just to prescribe our meds. i'm not saying our system is perfect. but NEITHER IS THERIS.

EFFING KOREA. she tells me that if i were one of her patients for REAL she would just throw all my research out and tell me to go home. she says patients don't do this in korea. and in korea drs tell their patients that time will heal every/anything. THIS IS WHY KOREA IS STILL IN THE 1980s. WHAT KIND OF DR. TELLS PPL THAT TIME HEALS ALL? that's about heartache and loss and death, not DISEASE AND DIABETES. she brushes it off and then is all like "honestly, if a korean patient did this the dr would laugh and tell them to leave" and NOWHERE in the hippocratic oath does it say you can NOT take your patients seriously and laugh at them.

THATS YOUR JOB AS A DOCTOR. YOU LISTEN TO PEOPLE. TO THEIR CONCERNS, WORRIES, ANXIETIES. YOU LISTEN TO THEIR STORIES AS MUCH AS THEIR PULMONARY MUSCLE. and i would've been ok with hearing, "i know you are really worried about your health and your skin, but i think part of it could be just paranoia and stress and dealing with living in Korea. you're just manifesting your unhappiness here and trying to pinpoint it and find something to blame so that you can solve it. and if you really want you can do the bloodwork, but i really think your specific case is more stress and nerves than anything biomediphysical" and i can ACCEPT that. because i DO agree that part of it is just my unhappiness manifests itself and if i CAN find a reason for it all then it's easier to deal with. a medical condition is something i can work at, something i can fix, something more tangible than "i'm tired and lethargic and unhappy-what should i do?"

but no, she laughs at me. tells me i'm "weird/strange/odd" repeatedly. tells me "this doesn't make any sense" (wait really? the fact that tomatoes and strawberries are naturally high in histamines and i kept having allergic reactions after eating them and especially a lot of them means nothing? the FACT that my skin clears up when i take benadryl and it makes life livable doesn't mean ANYTHING???). koreans are SO into their stupid hierarchies and boxes that they are SERIOUSLY the proverbial ostrich with its head stuck in the sand. bc she is a "doctor" and i am barely a college graduate means SOMEHOW SHE KNOWS MY BODY BETTER THAN ME. THAT'S BULLSHIT. (sorry, mommy, but i'm just SOOOOO MADDDDDDDDD).

i KNOW my body. i KNOW me. and i KNOW that SOMETHING is wrong. i HAVE known that something is wrong. i HAVE known that my skin problems had an internal cause and not an external one. i KNEW how i was washing my face or what i was washing it with didn't have much to do with it. EVEN MY SKINCARE LADY (who is not a dermatologist or actually medically/scientifically trained in skin) said i should go to the doctor/hospital/dermatologist because my skin problems were more than skin-deep. and she thought NEW JERSEY = NEW ORLEANS.

KOREA is NOT going to go anywhere or become anything big because the "knowledged/learned" people are so content with what they think IS. because they know EVERYTHING and seniority means life and anything DIFFERENT is WRONG or not even worthy of being considered. THEY ARE SO CLOSE-MINDED!!! (i put that hyphen in every space but the one where it belongs...). i HATE HER. i HATE KOREA. THEY ARE SO STUPID. THEY ARE SO STUPID. THEY ARE SO STUPID. THEY ARE SO WRONG. SHE IS SO WRONG. I HATE HER. HER STUPID KIDS ARE RETARDED OR SOCIALLY HANDICAPPED. (okay now i'm just being unfair and horrible. i shouldn't take it out on them). but she thinks that they're smarter than me because they're HERS and i don't think that's a fair rationalization.

she ends the conversation with, "i don't want to talk about this i really don't want to hear anything about this. you are living in my house and because this is not a business i don't want to talk about it". so i'm not sure if that means she wants me to PAY her to listen to me or she is being "nicer" to me bc i'm not JUST a stupid misinformed patient. as i walk back to my room trying not to cry and punch her in the face (thank goodness i was never much of one for slamming doors) she starts laughing again and sighs and tells her husband, "it would be so hard to be a doctor in america, the patients are so annoying, they just make things up to annoy the doctors". DID SHE FORGET I UNDERSTAND KOREAN!??!?!

i'm sorry korea is "easy" to be a doctor because you just disregard your patients and treat them like crap and LORD your doctorship over them and your word is BOND/SACRED. in america, it doesn't matter if you have your MD, if i tell you my philangie is hemorrhaging you open me up and take a looksee. and THAT is the beauty of our democracy. doctors are doing patients a SERVICE. they are not elitist screwups.

PLUS, what really peeved me i think, was her attitude of "i'm trying my best not to get mad at you and that's why i'm laughing instead of telling you how retarded you are and how OFFENDED i am that you would even think of self-diagnosing." i seriously got the vibe that SHE was the one who was trying hard not to get mad... and she was doing some sort of angel/saint thing by NOT being annoyed at me and laughing instead.

i'm so out of here.

(ugh. i had SUCH a good day, too!! whatever, i'm gonna keep on smiling and be a fake korean back to her. i already know she'll be passing along the story of her crazy homestay to her friends and family. so let me just put it out on the internet first.)

and don't worry. this was just a stupid annoying thing of today. i'll be back to happy again in the am. =)

addendum: last angry rant i swear.
imo is RETARDED. and i thought of a good example. i can't believe she told me to drop this and never bring it up like i was really starting to annoy HER. anyway the example, when my little sister was an infant, she kept crying and my mom took her to the doctor over and over again and they kept saying nothing was wrong and it was just a cold and she was naturally a crier. then, my illiterate halmunni held her and told my mom "this is a dying child/you're gonna lose her" (the translation is rough) and my mom IMMEDIATELY took her to the ER and told them to do SOMETHING. and the drs LISTENED. turns out she was super pneumonia-ed out and it WAS actually impossible for her to be crying that loud with fluid-filled lungs... (but that just tells you something about my sister-do NOT get on her bad side, she crazy!). but the POINT is. the AMERICAN NEW JERSEY doctors LISTENED. to my illiterate grandmother, to my broken english-ed mom. so do NOT tell me, this cheongju doctor is too good to listen to ME.

this is the beauty of the america i grew up with/in. everyone's opinions count the same. (yes i know in the previous entry i said smart people's votes should count more and now i take it back if only temporarily). the doctor's opinion does not NECESSARILY automatically outweigh MY opinion of what's going on in my body. all our opinions are listened to. or should be, as far as doctors that i know go.

Monday, April 21, 2008

weekend travels


this was a busy busy weekend. i hit up 3 cities on sunday!
it started with saturday, heading to gumi to help jess with her orphanage project. it was a huuuge success (i believe!) and the food was yummy and the kids were fun to see again!

then i headed off to daegu with a few of the 'gu girls and met up with laura and lydia and five of us ended up staying at a hotel together for the night and doing lots of girl talk. =)

next, sunday morning woke up in daegu, train to yeongcheon, wander around and take pics in laura's shigol town. then bus to gumi and meet up with joan for dinner. jess and ray come join us and we all watch the wire and hang out.

oh, best story ever. haha. so joan's hostdad gives us money and beer to order chicken with. so i decided that we HAVE TO HAVE some goldfingers. and so we called her local bbq's and they were out. so then we called a 2nd one and they were out, too. so the LAST one we called FINALLY said they had it. and i told him i HAD to have them but he wouldn't deliver to us because it was "illegal" for him to enter another bbq's territory. so we walked 20 minutes to the edge of our "territory" to meet him and yea. we did. everyone was such a good sport about it. but then the goldfingers were NOT GOLDEN CRUNCHY DELICIOUS!!! grr!!!

buuuuuuuut i got back today and went to my first swim lesson!!! and my swim instructor is sooooo cute and has an amaaaaaaazing body!!! and he's way fun and a good teacher and i'm so excited for 8 more days of him!!! hehe phone with ashley now so will update again!

Friday, April 18, 2008

delegates, voting, and uneducated farmers

sometimes i am un-democratic. i dodge jury duty by going to school out-of-state and never coming home. i don't vote in local elections. i don't know who my senators are or my congressperson is. i don't even know if my town has a mayor or what form of government my town follows. in any case, i DID vote via absentee ballot in 2004 even though i know my vote wasn't necessarily needed in that typically democratic state.

one of my majors was public policy studies. we studied government, how it works, why it doesn't work, why it's inefficient, why it's still better than other systems, etc. etc. etc. we also studied economics and a lot of political theory. morality and ethics was a big part of this "what should we, as guardians of public civility and society, do for the betterment of the majority?" as was "how much do we sacrifice as a whole to cater to a specific minority who still count as part of our society?"

anyway, sometimes i am un-democratic because i think the delegates at the democrats' national convention (and republicans as well) should vote however they want. i also think the electoral college should be able to vote however they want. sometimes. i'm still undecided. i know, this is ridiculous. WHAT!?!?! OUR REPRESENTATIVES NOT VOTE THE WAY THE PEOPLE THEY'RE REPRESENTING WANT?!?!?!

but, for anyone not versed in us political history or whatnot, the whole electoral college thing totally confounded me in high school. why would the delegate count and the popular vote differ? how was that possible? how could such an undemocratic thing happen that if more people voted for Gore he still couldn't be president?

well, the electoral college delegates were originally chosen to vote the way they saw fit and NOT just as their constituencies wanted. when we (the US of A) were founded, the founding fathers deemed it necessary to safeguard election. votes for all, but some votes count more than others (reminiscent of super-delegates much?). the electoral college was put in place to guard against uneducated farmers' votes electing someone who might've been less than optimal for the position of commander-in-chief. because clearly educated electoral college members knew better than the average joe who would be best at being president of our grand ol' nation.

anyway, back to my undemocratic-ness. this whole superdelegate this can seem ridiculous bc how democratic is "my vote is bigger than your vote"? nonetheless, sometimes i think it's ok. SOMETIMES. like when idiotic people/states in the south/midwest all vote for the man who says things like,"
To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say, well done.
And to the C students, I say, you too can be president of the United States."-to Yale University graduates on Monday, May 21 2001.

"Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?" —Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000.
especially after reading, "What's the Matter with Kansas?" by Thomas Frank, i felt like, GAHHHHH AMERICA IS FULL OF IDIOTS WHO CHOOSE THEIR BEST FRIEND AS PRESIDENT INSTEAD OF THE SMARTEST/BEST FOR THE JOB!!!! it's like high school all over again. picking the popular kid instead of the smart, dedicated one. (except for when i was student council president in middle school - i was both popular AND smart haha).

anyway, i know the unelectability that accompanies apparent "elitism" (i.e. doukakis, gore, kerry) is inevitable in a country as retarded as ours. especially with states as big as texas with all their votes and backwards texans. re: map below. all the states with a sizable college-educated population votes BLUE=democrat (2004 election). and it looks like more states voted red but for a population breakdown check out this site and this one.

and as much as i would probably easily be labeled a "latte liberal" i'm much more for hillary than obama. his elitism (i.e. recent use of calling pennsylvanians "bitter) is showing a little too much. i also believe he's a little TOO cerebral for the job. a little too much ivory tower and not enough blue-collar. i can totally see him as an amaaaazing college professor but president, not so much. he's too skinny (to be president) but has the right build for nerdy professor.

anyway, i guess the main point (that i've definitely lost a grip on), is that i kindof think superdelegates SHOULD be allowed to vote independently of their constituency's wishes and shouldn't be penalized for it (voted out next term). (keep them anonymous? but that begs the question of accountability). anyway, since the original intention of the electoral college was to protect the uneducated farmers of the USA from their own uneducated vote, perhaps superdelegates (1 vote = 10,000 regular votes by recent estimates) should also be allowed to just vote independently in keeping with the founding fathers' original intent of our voting system. and yea it's not exactly the most democratic thing, but then again, recently, neither is our country as a whole.

Bushisms 1
Bushisms 2
Bushisms 3

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

more outlets. more christine. more pink.

i've been updating a lot lately. AND writing in my real world journal (like actually using a pen on paper). and i found a new outlet for my thoughts. TUMBLR. it's great.

i will continue posting longer (marginally) more coherent entries here. and my tumblelog will be more stream of consciousness and updated with things i read and things i see that i like as they kindof happen.

it's just a totally different interface and i kindof like it. i also like being able to finally organize my thoughts better. one place for my random thought bubbles and "ooh" moments. and blogger for my longer sit-down and think about issues.

like they say on their website, blogging is like my journal and tumbling(?) is like scrapbooking.

if you are so inclined, follow my thoughts, in all its forms, here, on my tumblelog, as well. (that was a million commas).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

a "year off"

i find it funny/amusing how ppl keep referring as my year in korea as my "year off" before law school because (and this blog attests to that) it is pretty much anything BUT. i keep being told how i lucky i am that i get to relax and "play with little kids" but it's so much more intense and stressful than i think law school will be so far yet.

let me break it down:
law school = oasis from real world. studying, outlining, reading classes is something i enjoy. other ppl think it's stressful and a lot of effort but i love stuff like this. college was 4 years of fun. and that INCLUDES all the reading and studying and writing and testing i did.

real world = boss and stuff, i do not like. i hate working for money. i hate earning it. it's so undignified. and i dont meant that in a like, i dunno, weird aristocratic way (or is that exactly what i mean??). i know my dad does it and i totally appreciate it, but there's something so uncouth about money. i just don't want anything to do with it or have to deal with it.

life would be so much better if i could just study forever.

since i was young, i've wished to be able to study forever. i would tell my mom i wanted to be a scholar in ancient greece and wished that i had been born then. like plato or aristotle or someone, i wish i could've had a wealthy patron and just sat around thinking and talking all the livelong day. and all my mom said was, "that's a stupid wish. if you were born in ancient greece you'd be treated like a servant girl slave and just get married off and have babies and you wouldn't even know how to read." so i think that was one of those times when "mother knows best."

what i wanted to be

what i would have been

Saturday, April 12, 2008

my big bleeding open korean-american heart

ok. so it's another gut-check time. i know i've been a lot more upbeat about this semester than i was last year. also, i do admit that knowing every day is just one day closer to home does help with letting things roll off your back. but i just was on the phone (skype) with my mom/parents for almost 2 hours and we did a lot of soul searching and she was very helpful in getting me to really just laugh it off and even empathize with korea. and her main point was thus: she just wants me to enjoy my time here. to not be stressed. to not let ignorant koreans (or even educated ones) get to me.

mainly i was kinda complaining about some recent events that were halfway amusing and halfway annoying. and she explained to me many different things. i think being here, sometimes i lose sight of why i came and the bigger picture. it IS really easy to get trapped and notice all the little things and let them get to you. it's easy to hear EVERY SINGLE comment said about/to/near me and get pissed off about how rude this country is.

example situation: me, my internationally adopted korean girl friend, my super tall "white" male friend, and a black male friend are walking and playing along musimcheon (mushim river). this 40+ish ajussi yells something at us and we kindof turn and look at him and he says in korean "[i yelled] because you're all speaking another language" in this super annoyed tone. i laugh it off, but only because he's so stupid and rude and crass and in america i've never been treated like that.

koreans and jung and probing vs americans are standoffish and "cruel"
don't you ever just get tired of being an oddity and curiosity? of always explaining yourself to other koreans? well this is how my mom explained it, koreans have "jung" and that means they are all connected to each other and it's this compassion and one-ness and not really friendship or love (although they can coincide) but the closeness/connection that koreans feel with one another and that grows out of proximal relationships.

so apparently, koreans who exchange into america, complain most about how LONELY and ISOLATED they feel. but in a way that is different from american expats in korea. the koreans take issue with how LITTLE interest their host family/school/business/state/country takes in them. they feel that no one takes care of them and looks after them and seriously just that no one "cares" about them. in america, this is just life. i take care of my business and you take care of yours. i stay out of your space and you stay out of mine. it's what we call manners, etiquette, and just social space.

in korea, this is so not how it works. in korea, everyone's business is my business and your business is my business and my business is everyone else's business. koreans will leave all their own business in the corner, just to come over and tell you how to live your life. or why it's wrong and how to make it better. this is the country of unsolicited advice. that's just how koreans do. that's how they are. that's i guess how they've expressed interest and camaraderie. i tell you that you are fat and need a boyfriend/husband/diet/cosmetic surgical procedure because i care.

the example my mom gave was, someone will come over your house for dinner and say, "what!?!? no bean sprouts? why are there no bean sprouts as a side dish? they are so good for you and the health benefits are as follows....only an idiot wouldn't have bean sprouts on their table." this is not so in america. we are such a diverse group that we understand, some ppl like bean sprouts and others don't, and if you don't have them at your house, i'll just eat them when i get back to mine. like we said when i was little, "you say po-TAH-to, i say po-TAY-to."

so, yes, koreans can get up in your face. but only because they care. because that's how they ARE. and i can say, yea well screw that i'm american. but my mom reminded me (as did my hostmom today after lunch), i came here on this specific program because it includes a huge emphasis on "cultural ambassadorship" (which ok i'll admit i didn't know exactly what it entailed). and so my mom's all like "you said you wanted to do the fulbright and learn about korean culture and see where you came from and all you do is call me to complain about how un-american korea is. OF COURSE IT'S UN-AMERICAN. IT'S NOT AMERICA, IT'S KOREA!!!" which was a little harsh, but once i heard it and let it sink in, it was like, "oh yea, duh." of COURSE korea is not like america ... i can't believe i let myself forget that!!!

me, a korean-faced girl, with non-asian dudes

ok next, i actually googled a perfect picture for what i was going to write about. i hate the negative vibes i get from the ajussis and to a lesser extent the ajummas (maybe bc they're actually jealous) when i am seen with nonkorean and non-asian men. i am NOT another one of those disgusting korean girls who are ga-ga over foreigners/english-speakers and latch onto them and will do anything to date them. i am NOT being paid in any way shape or form to "escort" these foreigners. i'm not a tour guide. i'm just a FELLOW american finding solace and understanding and the ability to laugh away my life here in another american's company.

here is one reason why i find this offensive: "Who are those Western men or Americans chasing after Asian female? Aren't they what the Southern Californians would call, UCLA (Ugly Caucasians Living with Asians)? Aren't they at the bottom of the Darwin's food chain that they couldn't get what they want in their own land because of their low social status and therefore only option left for them is to chase after those Asians? I know, without any empirical data, it'll be difficult to press the argument" Prasso admitted that it is true partially and added, "Just street wisdom will give us a telling insight. In England where I used to live, they say that if you can't make it here, that is, to find your girlfriend, go to Hong Kong." (from ).

granted, the majority of my boyfriends and guys i've dated have been white. granted, most of my friends and even family members have said they just can't see me ending up with a korean boy. but these are cultural choices and personality choices not "selling out" or prostituting myself off to white men. i grew up in an all-white town/area of NJ. guidos were my boys of choice. i grew up under a liberal mother and adoring father and got whatever i wanted. i'm not your (stereo)typical docile, subservient, passive, feminine, and sweet asian girl. i'm loud and i'm crass and i do and get what i want. i also am not much for doting on a male solely because he's male. i grew up in post-feminist america. men can cook and clean and raise children just as well as women. and no korean mother-in-law is gonna make me live my life otherwise. many of the korean american boys i've met grew up with doting traditional korean mothers who think sons are gods and treated them that way. there's no way i can deal with that (baggage).

p.s. i know there are "real" inter-racial relationships and i'm not hating on those. just annoyed at how i'm perceived by sketchy old ajussis who totally have mistresses.

koreans are frogs trapped in wells
there is a korean saying/proverb/idiom "우물 안에 게구리" that is literally "a frog in a well" and that just means someone who is narrow-minded or not well-educated or not well-travelled but pretty much knows nothing outside of their own local experience. and korea is like that. as are many koreans in it and especially most koreans from cheongju. they just do NOT know anything beyond korea, and oftentimes beyond the town that they were born in and have lived in.

coming from my background, growing up in the NY metro area, having traveled extensively with my family, studying abroad in europe, community service in uruguay, attending an internationally recognized university, etc etc etc, i should be the more understanding and open-minded about this whole korean experience. it is my responsibility, coming from the greater country (resources and international power-wise) to be above all this petty nonsense and just take it in stride. as my mom always says, i have to remember how 불쌍해 korea and koreans are and not lose sight of how lucky and blessed i've been and continue to be. america has it's problems too but being an american citizen grants a ton of blessings and i know wherever i am in the world i can find someone who speaks my language, local authorities that will bend to my embassies, and a country with the resources to take care of me wherever i am. regardless of our country's reputation, it's ON the map. ppl will never be bewildered or confused as to my country of origin when i answer "i'm an american".

there's so much more to say, but this is long enough as it is and i'm sleepy.

so i'll leave it as this, i am a korean american at heart. and so i wave both flags and must continue learning what it means to be a little bit of both and not wholly one or the other. (and i just realized why it's "korean american" and not "american korean" "korean" is the adjective and "american" is the noun in that phrasing).

anyway, what's awesomer than a lil kid in a batman suit waving my flags?

and i will start blogging on real issues again soon. i have SUCH a backlog of issues i want to comment on.

Monday, April 7, 2008

tis my birthday!!!

and i almost forgot!!!

i woke up and after my shower i was laying out an outfit with my new green dress ... and then i remembered!!! i ALWAYS wear ridiculous amounts of *PINK* on my birthday!!! so i had to change my outfit to my new pink dress. and i know i have a cold but i had to wear it. also, i don't think anyone at school is aware that today is the celebration of the anniversary of my birth. but i kindof like it that way. it keeps me grounded. (is this what normal people's birthdays are like?)

also, i can TELL it's my birthday because today is PERFECT!!! the weather is perfect, it's neither too hot nor too cold. my first class was a no-show. AND i have all these "presents" from fate in my classroom. FIRRRST BAM KAZAAM i have a new beam projector!!! it's amaaazing. you can see everything so clearly even WITH all the lights on and the windows open.

ok, let me explain. my original overhead projector was kinda shoddy. like we would turn off all the lights and cover the windows with feltboards and the picture was still not clear. FINALLY after the english teachers cotaught classes with me AND the principal and VP watched us do an open class with the crappy projector they greenlighted a new one with better picture. and it was all set up and perfect for today!

also, my head english teacher comes in and is like oh did you see? and i'm like YES the projector is awesome!!! and she's like NO we got you water!! and i was like waaaaait nooooo waaaaay... (remember this entry?) and lo and behold in the english "zone" (my 2nd classroom) there's a BRAND new water cooler and there are even 2 brand new full water jugs next to it. i'm so psyched. i can have cold water!!! and i dn't have to boil nasty bathroom faucet water to drink anymore!!! YESSS!!!

and the karmic birthday got better and better. they FINALLY took away the huuuuge TV in the front of my room that i never used and now i have a WHOLE lot more space. and the cute science teacher came to take it away and i was all like woohoo cute science teacher! this'll give me an excuse to go thank him. haha. anyways, i'll take pictures tomorrow and post.

also, exhausted from awesome birthday bash with the girls. so will post later. but life is good. (as always). and this is from an acquaintance of mine from college, but "my life is perfect, even when it's not" and i am so so thankful for that. *^^*

(still beaming!)

march madness ends

(p.s. 12 weeks of teaching left)

and i WIN!!! i won our fulbright eta pool! my bracket won!!! ok, so this is really exciting because most ppl totally scoff at what i perceive to be my "sports skills". meaning, anything related to an athletic activity that i claim knowledge of, or really anything somewhat sports-related that i take on, people kindof expect to fail. i'm one of those people who looks deceivingly athletic. only to leave ppl bewildered and totally disappointed in my complete and utter failure at anything sportsy. so it TOOOOTALLY took me by surprise that i won my ncaa men's bball pool!!! but yayy. ok so enough of that. (haha especially after junior year when i totally organized our girls' pool and then lost most miserably...)

also, my hostfam did a 180 this weekend. and by hostfamily i really mean imo. because let's face it, like any korean family i'm mostly her responsibility. so in the past few weeks, she had stopped making me breakfast AND forgetting to keep a stock of bread for my PB&J sandwiches. she hadn't been talking to me. and just other little things that made me start feeling uncomfortable in the house. so of course this weekend i relay these events/complaints to my fellow ETAs.

and THEN, out of nowhere she calls on saturday to ask me when i'm coming in on sunday so that hostdad can come pick me up at the airport. so i was thrilled and happy. but then wary. so i got suspicious that the sudden interest in my life was so that they could kindof bargain me into tutoring the hostbro in english. (i'd overheard conversations of him wanting to quit his english hakwon and his parents considering other options-and of course suggesting that i could tutor him instead). so i called to say no thanks to the ride, maia and i would find another way in together.

i come home. sick sick sick. and imo ushers me into my room. heats up a heating pad for my bed, has the daughter make me tea, and tells me to nap until dinnertime. she asked if i wanted 죽 and i said, no thanks i'll just eat what they're having. and then she made me another citron tea for after dinner. and got me an appt with her friend (her kids' pediatrician) for today and called ahead to tell her my symptoms in case i was unable to explain sufficiently in korean.

AND tonight she made (well, she told the housekeeper to make) special birthday rice and seaweed soup and my favorite "bulgogi" with no veggies for my early birthday dinner. in all, she's been going out of her way all of a sudden to be supernice. and i would love to give her the benefit of the doubt and just think that she's returning to normal. because to be honest, the last few weeks WERE really stressful for her, too. her daughter went away to boarding school. and then apparently there's this hullabaloo where she works of trying to pressure her into taking on a new responsibility (she already works fulltime PLUS has an extra nighttime lecture). so her and hostdad have been discussing that for a bit. so i thought maybe she was neglecting me because of all that extra stress. if so, then good, i'm glad she's worked through it and now we can resume as normal. because it was getting uncomfortable for a while there. and i don't want that. especially when we've made it this far amiably.

so yea, there was def some march madness going on and it wasn't just sports-related. i'm sick right now, but i'm hoping it's just the tail end/conclusion of the storm that was brewing for all of march. i've been on the brink of this killer cold for about 3 weeks, just barely staving it off, and i guess the travel and excitement of this past weekend just brought it all to a head. well, tomorrow i have a full day (9 to 4 w/lunch break) of classes and then i'll be off to asan for my birthday bash! i hope i feel well enough to really enjoy the company of my girlfriends here in korea. because it's so good to be together and i am so grateful that they all made time in their busy schedules to do this.

i probably won't have time to update tomorrow. but i will do an update later this week (on my bday festivities for sure). also, i'm trying to stop griping on here and go back to my wonderfully witty and intellectual commentary. on life. and stuff in life.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

sick as a dog.

as you can tell i'm still in idiom mode.

jeju conference was this past weekend. got back today. and i'm ridiculously sick. apparently my laryngitis of two weeks combined with a high load of stress equals my suppressed immune system and i mysteriously caught a lil cold bug. and i finally realized that i've had HIVES this whole time and it wasn't just acne. (more on this later).

i'm going to see the dr. that gave me my flu shot tomorrow and i have no classes so hopefully i can rest during the day and then do my schoolwork in the evening. i hope i get better soon.

especially because i want to celebrate my bday funnly. also, will update on hostfam dynamic.

i miss home and my mommy.

must sleep.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

just kidding.

happiness is NOT something you work for.


let me begin.

My first package from america.

From my lovely roommate, Wint.

Ashley's package she sent in September. That arrived last week.

look at my pretty shirt!!!

From this lady.

And my latest birthday happiness!!!




p.s. there is another LAYER of goodies in that box underneath the visible one.

and these are only my perishable gifts!!! i'm getting other non-food gifts in person!!! yayy!!!

Yes, happiness comes in boxes from america as surely as manna rains down from the heavens.

(you may think i'm a spoiled brat for posting this ... but the reality is i have to have visual reminders for things i ought to be grateful for and happy about ... and so this is more about keeping my spirits up than it is to show off my yummy foods).

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

if you hear

about an english teacher in korea who threw a kid out a window ... check my 1-2 class for casualties first...


I have NEVER and i really mean NEVER yelled at a class before. much less on the first time i ever meet/see them.

this class is NUTS. out of control. enthusiastic and energetic. ESPEcially compared to 1-1 who is just before them and sooooo calm by comparison.

even the teacher can't keep them under control. what a rambunctious little group. wow. i might start eating a bunch of sugar in preparation for that class. AND whip out the mean stick.

i GLARED at them. a LOT. and YELLED. i have NEVER yelled before and only glared possibly 5 times. MAX. geez. hopefully they're the worst ones. and theirs is the only class like that. HOPEFULLY.

happiness is earned.

sometimes. perhaps usually.

yesterday could've been really bad. especially after tuesday's swimming letdown it could've been disastrous and life-changing.

but what would be the point in that? it's more fun to laugh at life and "take the bull by the horns" (doing animal idioms with teachers). soooo i get to school to find my computer is DEAD!!! it turns on and then there is some korean error message and then the desktop has NOTHING on it. NOTHING to click, no start menu, NOTHING!!!

and of course i have my first 1st grade class in 10 minutes and an open demo class 2nd period. gahh!!! hehe. so i called the head english teacher who called the tech teacher and they both came. luckily my classroom is superawesome and has 3 brand new computers just chilling on the side. so they swapped a new one into my desk but it has NO programs. just the internet.

so head english teacher is running to the office to see if we can cancel or move the open class and i'm running to the 2nd grade wing to get the files for class via USB. the video clips we're using are too big for my teeny weeny 512mb USB and also for the teacher's 1 gb. (go figure). she tries to email. too big for email. anyway somehow finally 20 minutes before OPEN class (we moved the 1st grade class to 3rd period) i get all the files to find that POWERPOINT isn't installed on my comp. (no MS office).

somehow we make it through open class smiling and in one piece. it's one of my veteran teachers (the scary one, although she IS growing on me-more on that later) so we made it work.(tim gunn was in my head "MAKE IT WORK!") so crisis averted. good.

sometimes you just gotta roll with the punches. not everything is a doomsday indicator. and i know there's def at least one person who would love to hear that i'm starting to lose my "doomsday mode" (so quoted).

stuff like this is only going to KEEP on happening. and you can't let every single one get under your skin (or get to you-there are so many idioms on my mind!).

on the whole, despite the swimming setback and the computer 사껀 (incident), this week is still in the positives. i've been a LOT busier than i have been and although it's kept some of my lesson planning kindof paltry, and i haven't been as prepared this week as i normally am (forgetting books at home and last night i didn't even get to OPEN my bag and connect my USB to do work!), it's def rating on the positive scale.

Smile. (I'm watching!) haha so creepy!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

there is no

wind in my sails.

i'm wiped. absolutely throw me on the ground and wipe the floor with me wiped.

i'll get over i know i will. but it's like anytime i try to puff up my little hope sails, korea comes and slices right through the sails and i'm all deflated.

i'm getting all my metaphors mixed up. i apologize.

swimming is most likely a no-go at this point. how do i go from being super-jazzed about signing up and having my first swim class tomorrow to NO swim class? easy. actually go visit the facility, try to hammer out the details. and get smashed in the face by korea. i TRY not to take it personally, i really do. i think repeating to myself OVER AND OVER again on the the walk out "it's not personal it's not personal it's not personal" was the only thing that kept me from crying.

it's like i get these ideas and i REALLY REALLY want to do something and i get so excited for it and prepare every little thing, and then i get there, and there's nothing. korea just pulls everything out from under me. i know i know. i'm being melodramatic. but right now is the time for that. and the time for rationalizing and dusting that dirt off my shoulder will come later. hopefully in a few hours. more likely when i wake up tomorrow.

so after successfully calling the pool place on saturday and asking the right questions and registering over the phone. i decided to go today to check it out and work out some transportation details. so i had signed up for a 9pm class. and i chose this place bc it was the closest to my apartment that had a shuttle bus. unfortunately the last bus of the day was the one that TOOK me to the class. so i went to figure out how long it takes to walk and if there are any regular city buses that run the course.

of course, the bus i would have to take TO this class is really at 7pm so i would be out of the house (re: not lesson planning) from 7pm to 11pm. UNABLE to lesson plan for longer because i would come home and eat dinner at 6pm and come home around 11pm so i would basically be able to get NO work done all day. ALSO, no buses from anywhere near the pool to my house. so i'd have to walk alone at 11pm or take a cab at night back to my apartment.

there was a 7am class. but shuttles don't start until 8am. and so i would have to cab/walk to class at 7am. then finish around 8am. if i showered and got dressed it would put me at 8:20~30am and the shuttle back would've already left at 8:15. if i take the 9:15 shuttle back, i get to my apt at 9:40 and thus to school at 9:50 which is a little uncomfortably close for a 10am start. PLUS we reschedule classes into my 9am slot sometimes.

the ONLY class time that fits WITHIN the shuttle schedule is at 10am, the start of my first class. and after WALKING 40 minutes to the pool. then talking on the phone with joan unni for 15 min about what to do. then talking with the receptionist for another 30 minutes. i walked out of there with nothing but lead in my heart and tears in my eyes. BUT the tears did not fall. do not miss the wonderful "upside" to this adventure.

UPSIDE to swimming disaster: i am slowly realizing (brainwashing self) that all my setbacks in korea are not PERSONAL attacks on me. but somehow just a "coincidence" of bad luck that happens in Korea. my golden child status has run out. korea does not recognize me for what america clearly does...