Reasons Santa's Not Coming to Korea, Redux

Because I'm all about saving the earth, I thought I'd do my part and recycle -- blog content, that is. In light of my most recent trip to the doctor, I've been working on a "12 Days of Christmas"-style ode to Korea, but I'm not done.

Instead, here are the top ten reasons Santa's not coming to Korea, with updated commentary, of course.

Reasons Santa's Not Coming to Korea.

1.He got sick off melamine cookies in China. (Remember the melamine scare, back when Korea could just blame China? Ahh those were the days, before swine flu and hand sanitizer and common sense came to Korea. Wait a minute...)

2.He's still waiting on his visa. (I hear ya Santa. The glut of visa applicants is sizable, but what else is a recent grad with a Social Sciences degree supposed to do?)

3.Dog isn't the only meat that provides "stamina." Look out

4.Korean parents report, "nice, but not nice enough."
(I think my Korean parents would report, "smart, but not smart enough." And they would be correct.)

5.He's tired of taking his boots off at every house. (Again, my sympathies. Perhaps you should think of trading in your steel-toes for some lime green slippers. I know a guy on the street who'll give you a slammin' deal. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, Santa)

6.Wait... where is Korea? (Right between World Domination [read: China] and The Hot Chick [read: Japan])

7.He's tired of taking hits to the sleigh. Apparently N. Korea takes that whole "DMZ" thing pretty seriously. (Come on Kim Jung Il, the world already knows how much you adore American commerce. Let the fat guy through unscathed and maybe Steve Jobs'll throw down a shiny new iPhone.)

8.He's got all the drunken spousal abuse he can handle at home. Why even leave the house?

9.He's tired of lugging his sack of toys through all those Soviet Bloc apartments. Get a chimney!

10.Mrs. Clause hates kimchi breath. (Tru dat.)

*Thanks to Erica, Trevor, and Justin who helped post this on the whiteboard in the teacher's lounge (oh, the irony) last Christmas.

I miss that job.


Perhaps I should rename this blog "Adventures in Social Sleeping"

So, after spending too much time in Starbucks, they've cut me off. Never deterred, especially in matters of free wifi, I headed to Tom N Toms down the street, where the cinnamon hot cocoa is heavenly. And what did I find? Three people, completely passed out! One in front of her computer, presumably from too much Cyworld-ing; another sitting across from his girlfriend who decided to pay him no mind by taking pictures of herself with her camera phone; and the third splayed across a bench with Korea's Milli Vanilli, two Korean dudes in full dreadlocks whom I'm pretty sure live in my neighborhood because I regularly see them at the Super Deluxe Food Cart around the corner. *side note: do you think it'd be inappropriate to run screaming at them, begging for a photo? Perhaps yes, I think...

Update: the ever doting GF has just tried rousing her sleeping prince by stroking his head and whispering in his ear. It's no use. She gave up and he continues to sleep. In Tom N Toms.


Add this to the list of "Only in Korea"

So, this might possibly be the most ridiculous post ever, but I am ASTOUNDED, I mean utterly amazed at the number of people who fall asleep at my local Starbucks.

My internet went out about a week ago on account of me not paying the bill as I was under the impression that bill was being paid by my school out of the 100,000 won "maintenance fee" I pay each month. Apparently that fee only covers the cost of my Building Ajumma's "trash sorting services," but I digress. Anyway, I'm not paying the bill until after China (so I can spend copious amounts of money on the knockoff Northface jackets and Rolexes my mother has requested), so I am without internet. This is patently unacceptable, so I've been spending a lot of quality time in Starbucks, soaking up the free internet and that fact that no one seems to mind that I only sporadically buy anything. Sweet.

And in that free time I have witnessed a hell of a lot of social sleeping, one borderline pornographic public make-out session and a handful of women snuggled on the couches, sans shoes. When did this become okay?

Last Saturday, after my weekly breakfast date with Amanda, we ventured to the 'Bucks for some coffee and interwebs. The only available seats were a pair of overstuffed armchairs facing a couple, peacefully entwined in each others arms, dreaming the afternoon away. Alright. We turned the chairs to face each other, and did our best to ignore the happy couple. After about an hour, they both decided to rejoin the world, stretching, cooing to one another, and generally making Amanda and I sick with their merriment. And then they started to make-out. And feed each other. And lick their lips seductively. It's like they were in their own soft-core porn, except they were fully clothed and IN PUBLIC. Now, I've been repeating the mantra "Seoul is for lovers" for a good year, but that's because everything is tailored to couples -- the couples set, the couples underwear, Namsan Tower. But public displays of affection of this magnitude are practically unheard of in Korea. Amanda and I were shocked.

Then there are the women who bring their snuggies and a good book, kick off their shoes and curl up on the couches for a nice afternoon of reading, only to fall asleep with the books in their laps. I find this exceptionally weird because, last time I checked, Starbucks was a coffee shop. You know coffee, that drink that keeps cops and college students awake at ungodly hours? How can these people doze in a public place after downing a caffeinated beverage? I've had a hard enough time falling asleep in my own bed on the rare occasions I've milked one toffee nut latte after 8PM.

However, I think my favorite social sleepers are the Korean Businessmen. They sleep anywhere -- buses, subways, park benches, gutters (I've got a picture on my phone of a businessman doing just that, I swear), and Starbucks. For the past three hours I've been watching three businessmen alternate between dozing on the couches, and making prank calls on their celly cells. (Okay, maybe they weren't making prank calls, but since I believe most of the Korean workweek consists of looking busy and not actually accomplishing anything, I think it's safe to assume their calls were of little importance. This is the direct result of the mandatory 80 hour workweek.) It's always funny to see a sharp dressed man sleeping on a couch, his head slumped to one side, his mouth lolling open. Makes 'em seem vulnerable and sad, instead of misogynistic and adulterous.

Of course, one could argue that I'm just as ridiculous, nursing my single cafe Americano for four hours while I pass judgement, I mean blog, on my surroundings. At 3,300 won each, I believe that works out to about 825 won per hour of Internet usage, which is far more expensive than blogging at home. But not nearly as interesting.


Soju wins this round

I'm also thankful for my neighbor's clockwork-like 8AM retch-fest, without which I would have overslept and been flagrantly late for work. As opposed to all the other days of the week when I am just *vaguely* late for work. And we all know how much I hate to be tardy.

Giving Thanks

Hunker down. It could be a long and bumpy ride.

I know I'm about a week late on this whole "Giving Thanks" blog post business, but to be honest, I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself lately and really just wanted to continue the bitching tirade I'd started with Korea about a month ago. But nobody wants to read that.

And to be clear, it IS about Korea. But I'll get to that. For now, I'll count my blessings.

Of course I am thankful for all the usual thangs: my healthy, happy, supportive family who sends me packages full of delicious, fatty American snacks I can never find in Korea and prolly would be better off without. I'm thankful to be gainfully employed (albeit in a foreign country with ridiculous labor laws and zero concept of the 'personal day'). I'm thankful for my health, my sanity, my friends and Skype. God, they should REALLY start paying me.

But I'm also thankful for a whole slew of other thangs that somehow get lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Without them, life in Korea might be a little further from Heaven and a little closer to Hell.

I can't believe I'm going to admit this, but I am thankful for my Building Ajumma. She may be pushy and intrusive, but dammit she always does it with a smile. She regularly brings me Asian pears and apples and homemade kimchi (which I promptly toss in the freezer because I can't throw it away -- she separates the damn trash and just my luck she'd totally call me on it.) She checks on me regularly to make sure my heat is working and that my windows are sealed from the bitter Korean cold. She even replaced my shower head after I hurled it at the tile floor in a fit of rage and tears at yet ANOTHER cold shower. She definitely knows the way to this waygook's heart.

I am thankful for Amanda who lets me psychoanalyze her at our weekly Sunday breakfast date. She takes it all in stride and still wants to be my friend. I love her.

I am thankful for Jamie, whose Thanksgiving dinner made me forget I was in Korea. Added bonus? I'm still eating leftovers. Good thang, 'cause my ass is broke like a social worker's with a master's. Come on, China ain't gonna pay for itself.

American Thanksgiving, complete with canned cranberries just like the pilgrims made.

I am also endlessly thankful for my afternoon students. Without them I prolly would have marched my ass into Boss Lady's office yesterday and quit on the spot.

Me: What genre is our story today.

Third Graders: Realistic Fiction.

Me: What does that mean?

TG: It could happen in real life but it is not a real story.

Me: Is Harry Potter realistic fiction?

TG: Yes.

Me: Ummm. What?

TG (in unison): Harry Potter could happen... In the future! (Followed by self-congratulatory high fives.)

This was followed by a lengthy discussion of Hellboy, in which Kevin proclaimed my "Hell Lady" status because, "Teacher, Hellboy is a hero, but he is a boy and you are a girl." They are self-sufficient, cheeky, and reasonably well-behaved. And I never have to ask them to take their hands out of their pants. God, I loathe kindergarten.

I am thankful for this:

I saw this in a Korean department store and about flipped my shit. Aww, home sweet home.

I am thankful that, in Korea, it's perfectly acceptable to stare at anyone doing anything at anytime, which is exactly what I did two Sundays ago when I witnessed a Russian woman cursing and waving her arms frantically at a car cruising up Hooker Hill. But wait, it gets better. Some follicley challenged Korean officers pulled the car over, and before they could bow and murmur their "anyung haseos" three tempestuous ladies of the night hopped out and fled down the street. The Russian woman was left to flail her arms at her husband/pimp/unfortunate john, while the Korean officers stood idly by, prolly hoping none of the hookers recognized them from the night before.

I am thankful for surfthechannel, without which I would never have been able to watch the lamest season of Project Runway. Seriously, could it have been anymore anticlimactic? Also, Dan's threesome with lame-o Vanessa (I hate her!) and Hillary Duff; Courtney Cox's turn as the lovable yet cringe-worthy Jules; and of course my not-so-secret girlie crush, Liz Lemon. Without my sick Internet connection and online TV from shady Chinese websites, I'd prolly be far more productive. *Side note: did you know Internet is a proper noun? I didn't.

I am thankful for the green oven mitt loofahs that buff and polish my skin raw and only cost 1000 won. In Korea, I am VERY smooth.

I am thankful for cheap, efficient transit because we all know I would be hell behind the wheel in Seoul. I can hardly stand to sit in a cab for more than five minutes without passive/aggressively sighing at the cab driver for taking the longest possible route and making me sit unnecessarily in hellish traffic. It takes every ounce of strength I have to keep my middle finger and mouth in check.

Finally, I am thankful that my life is mine. After reading Amanda's post about her students and what sad, arbitrary, soulless lives some of them lead, I realized how lucky I am. I may stumble and fumble and trip and fall through this life (quite literally, sometimes), but it is MY creation.