Musings from Blue Class

I want to work today. I really do.  But seeing as how Boss Lady (in a stroke of frugal geniosity) outfitted the school with Samsung notebooks sans Microsoft Office, I have nothing better to do than blog the afternoon away. 

*In reality, I have a shit ton of work to complete, but access to the network is blocked. And also, Blue Class is driving me abso-fucking-lutely bonkers today.

That is all.


Hana, Dul, Set... Thanksgiving

Once again, I'm 'bout a week and change late on my annual Thanksgiving post. Maybe it's because in the past week I've become all introspective and contemplative and I soft.  Where did the snark go, you ask?  I ate it.  Along with about two pounds of turkey (we had three this year), Grandpa's homemade stuffing, Justin's hobak juc, Jon's green salad, and a myriad other offerings at this year's Thanksgiving.

This was my third T-Day with Jamie and Jonathan and Jinhee (last year Justin was there in spirit, as he was living it up in Palm Springs.) And for that, I am thankful.

A Very Norae Thanksgiving 2010, the one with the epic game of Trivial Pursuit

Thanksgiving 2009, the one with the most Canadians and an epic game of Dirty Scrabble

Chef and Sous Chef.

Who's gonna drink all this wine?

Jon and Jin Hee.  Walrus Spoons.
Thanksgiving 2008, the one with the Jewish turkey and a bacon yarmulke

I am thankful for my circle of supportive, interesting friends, both in SoKo and at home.

I am thankful for My Weekday Mistress, who, when I first met her, took me to coffee, then promptly told me she wasn't really looking for new friends. She better be thankful that I give second chances.  But honestly, just thinking of going home and not laughing with her everyday is already making me sad beyond belief.

I am thankful for Grandpa, who, in the past three years has gone from being my boss to my best SoKo friendo.  He is quite possibly the most open-minded, non-judgemental person I have ever had the pleasure of befriending. And he can cook like a mofo.

I am thankful for Blue Class.  They may have single-handedly (is that possible since there are ten of them) turned on my biological clock.  Everyday they amaze me with their ability to absorb and retain and apply all the retarded things I teach them.

I am thankful for Stephanie, my BFFAE. She is an amazing listener, a constructive critic, a supportive friend and an epic ass-shaker.  I miss her everyday.

I am thankful for Justin's humor, talent and thoughtfulness.  He wrote this piece for themorningnews.org (which I love and think is fantastic, BTW) and even gave 'ol Idaho a shout out. And he can cook like a mofo.

But most of all I am thankful for my family.  I know I have been an epic pain in the ass this year, and they have always been supportive of my choices.  It's always easier to be the one who leaves, rather than the one left behind, and sometimes I forget that.  As hard as it is for me to miss out on their lives, I know it is just as hard for them to not be an everyday part of mine.  This year especially, I needed them more than ever.  I am glad to know they are always just a skype call away. (You didn't really think I would finish this post without mentioning skype, did you?!)

*Interesting sidenote: I must be all grown up because I was not thankful for one material, tangible thang this year.  AHA! American Materialism, I have finally BEAT you!

The Freak Out, Part One

Ladies and gentlemen, it has finally happened. After two+ years of using and abusing the free (read: I just bought my 15th toffee nut latte this month and I DESERVE it) wireless, Starbucks has finally cut me off.  KT is now sponsoring all ‘Bucks wi-fi and is asking me to pay for the service. Please. As if I wasn’t already paying...

So I’m composing this post on Appleworks (yes, I know).  Hopefully it gets posted in a timely manner.

Alright, about that freak out. A mere six months ago, my blathering and bitching and moaning came to a head when I emailed my stepfather, asking him to get me the fuck out of dodge.  Yes.  I did that. I am not proud of it.  I was in a bad place.  Exhausted, miserable, lonely and full of spite, I was ready to pull the plug on this bitch and start fresh at home.  Besides, he offered to foot the bill after reading this.  Apparently my parents were all sorts of worried about my winter time carousing and thought I was seriously fucked up.  I don’t blame them.  

But then a whole slew of thangs happened that turned my frown upside down, and it started with three little words: Stop being stupid.  Wise words, Grandpa.  Guess he didn’t earn that nickname for nothing.  After a week of playing the “should I stay or should I go now” game, I called up Grandpa from classroom 405 and dumped all my frustration on him .  His response? Stop being stupid. So I extended my contract one more time, and vowed to make peace with Seoul.  I broke the news to the family, assuring them I would do my best to be home for Christmas, and all but promising I would indeed be home at the end of this contract.

In protest, my mother used up all her skymiles and bought a ticket to come visit.  If I was willing to tough it out, I guess she figured it was time to see what all the fuss was about.  To say I was ecstatic is a gross understatement.  I was fucking beside myself!  Suddenly the world was filled with rainbows and unicorns and chubby-cheeked babies all singing We Are the World.  Immediately I started a countdown.
There were so many things to see and do and buy and discover.



In my cloud of excitement, a funny thing happened: my sadness all but disappeared.  With a newfound focus and fresh eyes for Seoul,  I called a truce with the city. Seoul is a bitch, but I decided I could rough it out with this frenemy, as long as she promised to keep it together for moms.

As the summer wore on, My Weekday Mistress and I became closer.  Thursday Night Taco Bell Bitch Sessions turned into weekend rendevous.  Before I knew it, our weekday affair had bled into the weekend and I got to meet her wife. Basking in our newfound love for all things TB and Glee, we planned a trip to Taiwan for Chuseok.  Again, my focus shifted from bitching to planning.  Sadness was staved off once again.

Before I knew it, Halloween was around the corner, along with a two week vacation, and mom’s impending Korean Takeover.  Nothing could stop me; I was on cloud nine.  With the spring’s bitterness all but forgotten, I boarded the airport limo to Incheon to retrieve moms.

For seven fun-filled days we shopped, explored, laughed, and cried.  She was adventurous and outgoing and seemed to really enjoy herself here.  I had an excellent time playing tour guide and wowing her with my shamefully limited Korean speaking abilities (I think I fooled her, though.) The visit allowed her to see my life in a way she never had.  As a thirty-year-old college grad, she was aware (in the abstract, at least), that I am independent.  However, I’m not sure she (or I, for that matter) really understood what that meant before she got here.  For seven days she relied upon me for everything.  I will admit this was an intense burden and by the time the week was up, I was ready to have my life back.  

After a particularly raucous evening of cooking and drinking with Grandpa, Eurohot and Jonhee, we piled into a cab and headed for Gangnam.  We had all consumed copious amounts of wine and beer and were fairly lit when she asked, “So, have you thought about staying?”

The question caught me off guard and I was truly unsure how to answer.  Of course I had thought about staying.  My job is going well, I have an awesome circle of friends who regularly amaze me with their wit, talent, and resourcefulness, and I have affordable health insurance.  At this point, America’s only batting .33 on this front -- Korea 1, America 0.  But I don’t think I had admitted this to myself, let alone actually said it out loud.  Besides, admitting that yes, a part of me wanted to stay, was akin to slapping my mother in the face (at least in my mind.)  

So I said no, not really.  To say she planted the seed is unfair, however, since her visit I have been more and more unsure as to my next move.  To make matters worse, my boss *just* asked me to re-sign for another year.

*Parenthetically: OMFG YOU GUYS, I cannot believe she asked me to stay!!  I have worked my ass off to make her life a living hell this year.  Just goes to show that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t...  Also, I told her no.

Anyway, I feel like I just puked up three months worth of neurosis into one epically long and boring post.  I’ll finish this bitch tomorrow...


And back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Top Ten Things I Did Instead of Blogging: November Edition

10. Sat on my ass in Starbucks for six hours a day, five straight days, and wrote the mother of all essays. Those crazies in the School of Social Work better recognize.

9. Moms came to Ko-ree-yah and brought me a shiny new Nikon. Hilarity ensued.


8. Casey, my Weekday Mistress, is now old, just like me. To celebrate, she subjected all her peeps to a two-week-long game of ASSASSIN! My assassin better pray to god we never meet in a drunken soju haze, because I will cut a bitch. Andrew Haglin, you are officially on notice.

7. To better meet my "laying around on my ass in my pajamas" needs, I bought a couch. Yeah, two and a half years in with four months to go, I finally bit the bullet.  The boys call it the Norae Couch.

6. I read this book. Do not read this book. I actually think I am stupider because of it... See?!

5. It's Christmas Drama time again, and this year Blue Class is doing a rousing rendition of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".  The Know-It-All is the Grinch, Bueller, Bueller is Cindy-Lou Who and the rest of my hooligans play Whos 1-7. Yeah, I got SUPER creative this year...

4. After watching my washing machine fill up with water, then shut itself off for the THIRD time in one night, I hauled my ass up to the Building Ajumma's.  Maybe she could Koreason with it.  Please.  She took one look at the ancient machine, sighed, and started pulling my clothes from the icy water.  I tried my best to stop her, I really did, but when she insisted on doing my laundry, how could I possibly resist?! Twenty minutes later she returned with my jeans and tees neatly folded, along with a few photos of her summer vacation to "Harbar-duh".  So sweet!

3. Flickr finagled me into another year's subscription. I have uploaded nearly five year's worth of vacation pics, from Central America to Asia. If you enjoy perusing the vacations of others (and really, who DOES?), have a look. But don't say I didn't warn you: I am boring. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mindywindy/

2. The Chef (but he'll always be Grandpa to me!) hosted another epic Thanksgiving. More on that later.

These were the die hard stragglers hell-bent on grazing for as long as possible.

1. And the number one thing I've been doing for the past month?

Freaking the Fuck Out.  

In less than three months, my *final* contract in Korea ends and I am set to return to the Land of the Living.  I am literally scared shitless, because after nearly three years of living in this Kimchi Paradise, I'm not sure how I'll fit back into my life in I-dee-ho.

I think these last two deserve entire blog posts of their own. so for now, I'll leave you with this:

*Thanks mom! See, I'm totally putting the new Nikon and two years of high school photog classes to good use.


Winner winner, chicken dinner

I should prolly just go ahead and rename this blog Ashley Kwan: Musings of a 7 Year Old Korean Cutie because, basically, I'm just ripping her off at this point.

Usually Steph, Casey, Laura and I trudge down the stairs each morning to a chanted greeting courtesy of Ash and (her far less enthusiastic counterpart) Ashlee.

"Minnndeee. Steph-an-neee. Cay-seeeeee."

This morning Ash was standing at the foot of the stairs, all alone, hands hidden behind her back.

"I have a present for you, Mindy Teacher, " she cooed, then presented me with a small canary yellow envelope, complete with Aristocats stickers. "I made an eraser for you. Remember our game yesterday?!"

*Let me back up a bit.  Yesterday I was wandering through class while my students dutifully attempted to complete FOUR pages of double-digit addition and subtraction problems.  Some of them are very slow, and some of them are quite fast.  But none are as fast as Ms. Kwan.  I stood behind her in awe as she robotically and methodically wrote each answer, never bothering to "carry" or "borrow" or show her work AT ALL.  It was amazing.

Naturally, I had to show the child who was boss, so I did what any self-respecting teacher would have done: I challenged her to an old-fashioned Math Duel!  36 addition and subtraction problems, winner takes ALL. (Including their opponent's dignity and self-respect, apparently.)

I photocopied a review page from her math book.  We each sat at our respective desks, and when Cailyn yelled "GO!" we flipped those suckers over and counted for our lives.  The students watched over my shoulder, marveling at how efficiently I completed first grade equations.  They taunted Ash.  I finished first and cheered Ash on, because not only am I a teacher, I'm a good sport too.  She finished about 30 seconds behind me.  If only I'd taken those precious 30 seconds to check my work, perhaps I would have seen my errors.  But alas, my confidence got the better of me.

Ash missed only one problem.  I missed three.  Because I didn't pay attention.  Because I did what I accuse my students of doing.  Because I worked too fast and valued speed over accuracy.  Because I added when I should have subtracted.  DAMMIT!

Blue Class cheered.  Mindy Teacher hung her head in shame.

Back to this morning.  Inside the envelope was a homemade eraser and a handwritten note:

Dear Mindy,
     Thank you for teaching us in Blue Class!  Do you remember yesterday we had a math game?  Good game!  I am the winner winner, chicken dinner.  Where did you learn all the silly words?  Like winner winner, chicken dinner and lier lier, pants on fire?  I think you learned it from your mom.  Or your dad.  I like you very very much!  What are you going to be on Halloween?  I want you to lead us to the scary haunted house.  I made this earaser.  Do you like it?
                                                                                                           To: Mindy
                                                                                                                     From: Ash
Your Student 
Ash <3 
 Methinks she made the eraser as some sort of subliminal message.

"Winner winner, chicken dinner"?  "Good game"?  Ugh, I am such the smitten kitten for this kid!


Salinger, Hemmingway, Han and Kwan

Gah. The silence is killing me. Apparently putting fingertips to keyboard proved far too much work for me this month. Lazy ass.  Well, since I'm already in the shitter for October, might as well continue my indolence with a post fit for a Lazy Ass.

Coming to you all the way from Blue Class is Jeffrey Han, Dumb Blonde Thorn in My Side.  Seriously, this kid fell from the Tree of Common Sense and missed EVERY damn branch on the way down.  I can actually see the hamster standing on the wheel. But sometimes Jeffrey pulls a perfectly cut gem outta his ass; one with so much clarity and insight, I am compelled to bow down before him and kiss his stupid little "indoor shoes". (BTW, what is up with the whole "indoor shoe" thang, Korea?  It's not like teachers or staff or parents take off their shoes in our halls or classrooms.  What's the big fuss?  Mindless Drone-ism, methinks.)

Anyway, without further ado, I bring you:

The Strangest Thing I Have Seen
By Jeffrey Han
Something strange I have seen is a monkey.  Two months ago, my family and I went to the animals park in Everland.  We watched a group of Japanese monkeys.  Some of the monkeys have red puffy butts.  It looked so disgusting and dirty.  I thought they got a Swine flue or cancer.  I couldn't leave because they were so weird.  Finally, we found a staff and ask him.  He answered when they wants to marry the male, their butt gets big.  It was so strange I have seen.

 He's right.  That's pretty damn weird.

My second offering comes from Ashley Kwan.  If it were at all possible to bottle up sass, spunk, and pure unadulterated personality, she'd be the fucking Daddy Warbucks of that shit.  She is amazing.  Today, she told Stephanie that Blue Class was gonna take Green Class "down to the town", as in downtown.  She's an epic shit talker.  It's like she was birthed from mine own sarcastic, snarky loins.  Oh, and she's got some wicked vocab application skillz.  (Of note: compromise, a word Blue Class knows well.)

For your reading pleasure:

The Strangest Thing I Have Seen
By Ashley Kwan

I saw something strange it was a turtle with two faces!  I saw that in Coex auwkqureaum (Aquarium. This is why English is hard.)  and I saw a snake with two faces too!!  I thought it was a monster or an eliain, but it was not a monster or an eliain it was an animal.  I am worried that the two faces on the turtle don't compromise!  Because when one face goes to the left, the other one is going to the right!  Then they will have a fight and that will happen to the snakes!  I think the snakes will bite each other.  I was surprized when I saw them!

"Surprised" is an understatement, child.  That is just gross.

On a serious note (I know), Blue Class has been honing their writing skills over the past seven months.  They have been working diligently to development their "writer's voice".  We have practiced informative writing, summary writing, and enough personal narratives to last me a damn century.  But it wasn't until last week when Casey offered them the famous Halloween prompt, "In a deep dark forest there was a deep dark house..." that I realized just how far they've come.  Their journals were full of super sentences; full of details and imagery; full of imagination.  I was astonished.  

I do not fancy myself a writer; It is a hobby I enjoy, and if I happen to entertain a few along the way, well then, fuckin' ay.  But I do think it is important.  At least as important as speaking and listening and definitely more important than most of the rote memorization hagwons cram down my kids' throats.  I guess what I'm getting at is that they're getting it! and I couldn't be prouder.* 

*I actually typed "pruder".  I prolly could be pruder.


An open letter to H&M

Dear H&M,

My name is Mindy Page.  For the past few years I have been living in Seoul, South Korea. Last Saturday I decided to make the trek to one of your two Myeong-dong stores. (BTW, why are there two H&Ms within 100 meters of each other??) On most days shopping in Myeong-dong is an exercise in masochism -- at best it is frustrating and overwhelming and at worst it is downright fucking disastrous.  But on this day I was feeling optimistic.  I was readying myself for an epic beach vacation on the sunny sands of southern Taiwan.  Thinking at the last minute I might need a pair of lounging sweatpants, I crossed my fingers and elbowed my way through the crowds.

Now, I am ALWAYS too much woman for Korea. I live in a country full of leggy, boyish ballerinas who all seem to wear the same size: FREE SIZE. A good 50% of the time H&M is a complete bust for me.  I have a lot of tits and ass (and a little in between) and to be honest, I'm usually too much woman for you, too. But sometimes a big risk reaps big rewards.  I happened upon a pair of cropped black sweatpants in the "sports" section.  On a whim, I took those suckas into the dressing room, tugged them over my ass, and whaddya know?! They fit! At 29,000 won, they were overpriced, but sometimes you can't always get what you want.  But you do get what you need.  I forked over my cash with a smile.

Boy am I glad I did. Typhoon Motherfucking Fanapi decided to blow straight through Southern Taiwan, wreaking havoc and flooding everything in its path, including the beach town of Kenting, my destination. And all I'd packed were my swimsuit, two beach cover-ups, three tank tops and my new H&M sweatpants.

For five straight days I wore the shit outta those sweatpants.  They rode a luxury bus, countless cabs, the subway and one bullet train. They went to the top of Taipei 101 in the day and the Shilin Night Market.  They strolled Ximen and dined at World Toilet. I dressed them up for a night of sashimi, and down for a morning of shepherd's pie. They weathered hurricane force winds, buckets of rain, sand, sweat, and two 100+ degree days strolling the city. All this without stretching out, piling, or fading.

This was the best 29,000 won I've ever spent. Thanks, H&M!

Love Always and Forever,
Mindy Page


"Oh hey guys, wanna see my hair extensions?" Um, YEAH WE DO.

Thursday night I decided to park my ass in front of the Mini-Stop and do what foreigners do best: drink into oblivion.  Of course, this being a school night and all I had to start early.  I decided 6PM was completely socially acceptable.  Besides, the locals in my neighborhood set the bar pretty low; being wasted by 8PM is a total WIN.  Anyway, because I shot my wad before the weekend had officially started, I was retarded by Friday night and wanted nothing more than to curl up in an air-conditioned cocoon and check out until Saturday afternoon, when I would no doubt emerge a refreshed butterfly, ready to take on the weekend.

The ladies had other plans.

Friday night Casey decided to have a yard sale, or as I preferred to call it, "Come take all the shit I no longer want because I went to America and got loads of WAY BETTER shit-travaganza".  This is also when Casey whipped out the hair cape.  Check it out:

And because video is never, EVER enough, we had to strike poses in a hair cape photo shoot.

"Oh hai."

"We are fucking fabulous."

"Do you think god will smite us for wearing really bad hair extensions?  'Cause Paris Hilton's still alive and all..."


Mother's milk, jellyfish, and Andrew Teacher's wandering eyes

This is Andrew, my co-teacher:

He is a tasty dish, no?

On Friday, he got all spiffy and came to work in a tie and dress pants.  The kids said he looked like a husband.  Me?  Well I rolled into work looking like I'd hopped the 6AM train from hell with just enough time to change my clothes, scrub the bed sheet creases outta my cheeks and throw on a hoodie. Or you know, a No-Shower Friday. Typical.

Anyway, after my kids saw Andrew, one of them was apparently inspired to write this gem.  In it's entirety:
Mindy Teacher and Andrew Teacher is married.  Mindy has a baby in her belly. (We just learned 'belly'. Hello, retention!)  When they married Andrew Teacher and Mindy Teacher kissed. (You bet yer sweet ass we did.)  After nine months the baby was born.  Mindy Teacher and Andrew Teacher was happy.  Mindy Teacher made mother's milk.  Mindy Teacher feed the baby mother's milk.  Andrew Teacher saw Mindy Teacher's jellyfish.  (Blue Class slang for boobies.  And also, note the use of possessive nouns.  So proud!)  So Mindy was surprized so Mindy Teacher yelled "don't look at my jellyfish!"  And the baby was surprized so the baby cried.  -Ashley Kwan
There are literally no words for how proud I felt.  Vocab retention and use of possessive nouns?! Hallelujah, they ARE learning!

My favorite color is rainbow

Sometimes a girl needs a break.


You know how when you have a dog and it's the center of your universe? You smother it with love and kisses and peanut-butter filled kongs.  Everything you own is covered in dog fluff because you take that damn dog with you everywhere.  It is your constant companion.

And then one day, you bring home another dog.  This New Dog is in no way a replacement. As a matter of fact, this New Dog is supposed to keep Top Dog company.  But that's not how Top Dog sees it.  New Dog is the ultimate threat, only there to usurp your limited amount of love, kisses and peanut-butter filled kongs. So Top Dog starts vying for your affection in the most pathetic ways. Top Dog is all, "Look at me! Look at me!" Barking and dancing around as soon as you open the front door; using his free time to devise elaborate fetching routines to impress you with; smothering you with love, kisses and peanut-butter filled kongs.

On Monday morning a new student joined Blue Class, and Blue Class instantly became all, "Look at me!  Look at me!"  By lunch time my desk was littered with I Love You cards and Thank You for Teaching Us cards.  They had even turned the entire white board into one giant Thank You note, complete with pictures of Shelby, my *actual* Top Dog.

Most of the cards are tacked to walls around my desk, but this gem had to come home with me.  It's fridge-worthy, dammit!
From Ashley, who is ambidextrous 
and insists upon signing her name with hearts. *SWOON*

And inside:
An explosion of hearts and stars and rainbows and gumdrops. 
No need for words; I think this says it all.

So, how was your day?


Extremely Frustrating and Incredibly Boring

So yeah, I finished the damn book and was utterly... UNDERWHELMED. The ending was so frustratingly devoid of, well, anything. Kind of like this post.

So here:

My second favorite ginger, Josh Homme, lending the "What, What in the Butt" guy a little harmony.

Happy Hump Day!


Extremely Fast and Incredibly Slow

I read very quickly. Last week, I read five books. (I was also broke and on vacation.) None were particularly interesting, thought-provoking, or even that memorable. Perhaps that is why I read them so quickly. However, I started a book last night called Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. He also wrote a pretty famous book called Everything is Illuminated, which I have yet to read. Anyway, I started reading this book last night, and was instantly so engaged that I *almost* passed up sex. Yes, sex. I almost never pass up sex, unless it's for food, in which case I have to play a mental game of Rock, Scissor, Paper to decide which to do first.

But I digress.

This book is heartbreaking. I want to cry every time I open it. Foer writes with a longing that is palpable. I can feel this book.

I usually devour books; I cannot get through them fast enough. When I was a kid, I used to read the last page of every book just to know how quickly or slowly I should read it.  Once, I locked myself in my room on Christmas Day and read Stephen King's Desperation, all 1.8 pounds of it, in one day. The next morning, when I triumphantly announced that I'd finished, my dad was pissed. "Why do I even bother buying books if you're just going to read them in one day?! Make them last a few days, for fuck's sake."

But this book is like my favorite meal.  When placed in front of me, I want to devour it and savour it. I'm starving and yet I want to taste every word. It is filet mignon: juicy, tender and full of flavor. Foer's words roll around in my mouth and in my brain and I never want him to stop writing. But I'm reading it as if it were Taco Bell: quickly, and without thinking.

Dad, I will try to make this last a few days, for fuck's sake.


Hitler has to Desk Warm

Perhaps the greatest thing to hit the ROK since Kickin' it in Guemchon. (Which, btw, was THE anthem of 2008.)  Thanks, Casey.

And also, I was completely unaware of the "pristine beaches of Bangkok." Must have missed those my last time through.


Ashley Kwan: Like Kim Yuna, but with more personality

No, this child has not been sucking on Otter Pops all morning, she's like this EVERY DAY.  Also, this vid was taken around 9:30AM on a field trip day. That's why everyone's got their super special Ajumma Visors on.

Also, moms is coming to visit her spawn in Korea this November.  116 days and counting. One more reason I can't wait for summer to be o.v.e.r.


Wigs, Wizards, and Jacob Black's Abs

At the movie theater, waiting to see Eclipse: We Spent Our Entire Budget on Bella's Wig and Had Nothing Leftover for the Peons.

Me: Ahh, I can't wait for Harry Potter.  BTW, why in the hell does Lithuania have a release date for Deathly Hallows and Korean's got nothing?!
Casey: Because Hogwarts is really close to Lithuania.

And later:

Casey: Mindy -- oh my god... *giggles uncontrollably*
Me: (groggily) What? I was just resting my eyes.  I heard everything.
Casey: I should have known you were asleep. You were quiet for, like, the last ten minutes.

(I have an extremely low tolerance for cheese and have an uncontrollable need to narrate, asshole-style, when the cheese-factor reaches epidemic levels.  Which it did.)

And later still, after Jacob's valiant attempts to battle the vampire Blah Blah (I have no recollection of names here, people) find him with multiple cracked ribs, writhing in pain.   The gang is gathered outside Jake's house, waiting for word from Father Cullen.

Me: Doesn't this remind you of when Baby's dad went to check on Penney after she got that really horrible abortion and everyone was waiting around the cabin to see if she was gonna, like, live?
Casey: Go take off that make-up. You look like a whore.

Aren't movies fun?


This is why you're fat

My new favorite website. As if I needed another reminder.


Today was the big day, the day Taco Bell threw open its doors to welcome me and my bulging wallet with crunchy taco supremes and mild sauce galore.  But I didn't go.  I wanted to go.  I rode the bus all the way to Itaewon with a grumbling belly and high expectations.  When my bus rolled past its doors, however, what I saw made me bust out laughing -- a line o' white people wrapped all the way around to Itaewon station.  It was bedlam!  (This is particularly funny because the bar next door is called 'Bedlam'.  Sometimes I kill me.)  Instead, I opted for a quiet trip to Myeong Dong for some shopping zen.

I know, I know, there was so much build up to this day, how could I possibly bitch out on my beloved, you may ask.  Well, because I ATE THERE ON WEDNESDAY!!!!  Ha ha, suckas!

It started Wednesday morning when Casey heard from a friend via the interwebs that Taco Bell was open.  He said people were streaming outta the restaurant and it definitely looked like business as usual.  Not wanting to get my hopes up, I told her my friend Liz said the same thang LAST Sunday.  We all know how that turned out.*  I stewed on this tidbit until lunch, when my friend James ever-so-politely asked if I was headed to Itaewon after work.

"Why?" I asked suspiciously.

"Because Taco Bell is doing a 'soft opening' before the Grand Opening on Sunday," He ever-so-politely replied.

"Do not get her hopes up, James! She's fragile this afternoon!" Casey implored.

AHHHHHH! I scoured the internets searching for confirmation of this alleged 'soft opening' but could find nothing.  The only way to find out was to haul my ass back up to Itaewon for confirmation.  Uggh.

All my hard work was rewarded, however, when I rolled off the bus to find my lover waiting patiently for my arrival.  She was shiny and sparkling new, just as I'd never remembered her.  I scoured the menu for my favorites; they were all there: Crunchy Taco Supremes, Nachos Bellgrande, Bean Burritos, oh my! I queued up and waited patiently for my turn.  Casey said I was glowing.  Shit yes, I was.

We both ordered and within minutes had our trays in hand, ready to dive in.  And we were not disappointed.  That first crunchy bite was like tasting America herself.  Nothing in Korea has reminded me so much of home.  It was awesome.

Burrito Supreme, Crunchy Taco Supreme, and in true Korean Fashion , a Nachos Bellgrande to share. WIN!

Is it completely vain that I wished for the opening to be a rumor, as I had not showered before work on Wednesday?  Dammit, I knew there'd be picture-taking... 

Nom nom nom...

*I would personally like to thank Marty for being a friend of a friend in this vast abyss we call the interwebs.  Without his word of mouth, I'd prolly still be standing in line tonight, anxiously awaiting Taco Bell Bliss.  Oh yeah, and thanks Facebook for being my home away from home at work.


If people-watching were an actual career, I'd be CEO of that shit

Sometimes (oh fuck, MOST of the time) I need quaint reminders as to why I choose to live 5000 miles from my friends and family.  Last night all it took was a little cheesy samgyupsal, a vinyl bag and some wicked people-watching.  Thanks, Hongdae.

I love street art.

Justin being super creepy at Go-Go's

The Hongdae Biker Brigade

Ho Bar II. One of FOUR Ho Bars in Hongdae. 
Still not enough to service all of Hongdae's Hos.

Open container laws are nonexistent. 
Cue the Instant Bar in a Park, complete with friendly Korean bartenders.

You know I'm a sucker for social sleepers
This is perhaps the finest specimen ever caught on film.*

A favorite.

Shiny, happy people.

*I haven't actually used film in a camera since my high school photography class, but whatever.  You get the idea.


Screw Twilight, Where's My Potter?

Oh all-knowing universe, please tell me why Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has release dates in Kazakhstan, Lithuania, and Slovakia, but NOT in South Korea.


I Told You I was Obsessed

August 24th, 2008:

"Now, if I could only get my hands on some Taco Bell."

Ask and ye shall receive, indeed.

July 4th

Oh yeah, Happy Birthday America!  I love you!

Seize the Moment

My first paycheck was $92.18. It was printed on flesh colored paper and stuffed into a business sized envelope. Miranda Lynn Page was visible through the tiny plastic window. It smelled of office and self-satisfaction. Oh, and tacos.

I think everyone fondly remembers their first job. I don't think anyone is in love with their first job. I am obsessed with my first job. 

During the spring of 1996, a sign went up down the street from my high school announcing the opening of a brand-spanking new Taco Bell.  I was 16 and my dad and step-mom had been hounding me for months to start looking for a job, especially if I wanted a car. (Or school clothes, or CDs or anything else my father thought I was now old enough to foot the bill for.) Throughout that spring I watched as Taco Bell took up residence at the corner of Sprague and University. As soon as the "Now Hiring, Apply Within" sign went up, I was there.  I remember asking for a dozen or so applications, just in case I fucked one up and had to start fresh.  Everything had to be perfect; this was real life and I meant business. With high hopes, I returned the application the very next day. I never even bothered applying anywhere else; my heart was set on Taco Bell. 

A few days later, Rob McLoughlin called me in for an interview.  I have no idea what I wore or where it was or what he asked (I have what my mother calls "a 5 year memory"), but I do remember being scared shitless.  Rob was a middle-aged dad, with a rotund belly and two stick legs. His skin was greasy and blotched like a day old pepperoni pizza.  He was disheveled and scatterbrained.  And he also happened to be a baseball coach. After what seemed like forever, he asked me to be part of his Team. What an honor.

Weeks passed before I was called for orientation. Because the store was not yet open, I had to hitch a ride on the Spokane city bus all the way downtown.  An exercise in character-building, my dad claimed when I asked for a ride. So in the sweltering June afternoon heat, I hopped the bus with the crazies and headed for town.  The orientation was held in the lobby of the dilapidated, but no less charming Taco Bell Downtown.  Joining me was the entire University High School baseball team, and one other lucky lady. It seems that Mr. McLoughlin had reached out to those he knew when looking to man his TB franchise.

After minimal training and one food safety course, I was ready to man the drive-thru like a pro.  And man I did for the entire summer.  That was the summer I learned how to make change and to rotate the walk-in according to the bright orange FIFO stickers. That was the summer I learned how to whisper into my headset at the unsuspecting pedestrians waiting to cross Lincoln Street, and then watch their befuddled reactions on the drive-thru camera.  That was the summer I learned how to intentionally fuck up an order so that I may "stage it" for a mid-break snack. (And let me tell you, nothing's better than hours-old TB!) That was the summer I learned how to "fluff" tortillas, "drop" meat and "bump" orders. That was the summer I learned that "If you got time to lean, you got time to clean." That was the summer I learned financial freedom.

So you can imagine my excitement when I heard through the grapevine that Taco Bell was making another go at an Asian Invasion.  Sometime after Christmas, my friend Lane said his girlfriend's student's dad (I know, right?!) said Taco Bell was opening up shop in Itaewon AND Yeoksam. A quick internet search led me to this.  

Soon after, this appeared in Itaewon:

For months, my trips to Itaewon were dominated by that towering taco.  My bus stop happens to be just to the right of this picture and every time I passed it, I'd peek my head around the banner, searching for signs of... Tacos? Mexicans? Fire Sauce packets?  I'm not sure.

Anyway, somewhere around mid-February I heard the official opening date was March 1st. Fuckin' ay.  I spread the word and set aside an afternoon to Think Outside the Bun. But March came and went with no TB.

Then, on May 29, this banner appeared:

Seize the Moment! Hot damn, Taco Bell was hiring, only this time the "Apply Within" had been replaced with the more modern jobs@tacobellkorea.com.  I wondered how much they'd pay this waygukin, as I'm pretty sure I'd give my left tit for a chance to "Seize the Moment." I'd show those Koreans my mad burrito-wrapping skillz -- one with each hand, y'all!  BTW, I totally went home and checked out www.tacobellkorea.com. D-minus 33 days! Opening Day was July 3rd!

Then, a mere week later:

Things were lookin' good.  I could practically taste the red sauce.

Then, on June 11 after dining on empanadas at a charming little Paraguayan restaurant around the corner:

I could hardly contain myself! Less than 30 days until cheesy gordita crunches and taco supremes. God, food makes me so happy.

So you can imagine my frustration when today I saw this:

Uncle Sam is pissed, y'all.  America's birthday is friends and family day? And you're STILL not open?! I gave you four years of blood, sweat, and tears Taco Bell. 
If I'm not family, I don't know who is.  

As of today, the official opening day per this sign AND the propaganda website is Sunday, July 11th. And on that day Taco Bell better watch out, 'cause I'mma make it RAIN. 


Lunch Booyah?

Thirty days, twenty... six(?) blog posts later, and I'm finally finished.  But before I go, let me leave you with this delicious morsel of goodness.

Monday morning this snack and lunch menu graced my desk.

Click to enlarge, I promise you'll be rewarded!

Most days I like to play a game called Lunch Roulette which usually involves me ducking into the teachers room, rubbing my hands together and exclaiming, "Pizza again?!"  All the Korean teachers laugh as I eyeball what is inevitably a lunch made up of kimchi/rice/murky soup/odd foreign vegetables/mystery meat.

Enter the gambling: Do I wager against my better judgement and wolf down the mystery meat, risking a potential wicked tummy ache later, OR do I fold and hightail it to the Family Mart for a lunch of a Coke and Snickers? (Occasionally I take option number three: edit the existing lunch, which today meant I had  corn salad with mayo and krab, and a bowl of rice. Delicious, no?)

Having this menu is seriously fucking with my head, mostly because now I have nothing to look forward to. I like to be surprised. I like the mystery of not knowing which days are spaghetti or dong kas (perfectly acceptable lunches), and which days are quail's egg in ketchup or stir fried baby octopus (so obviously NOT acceptable lunches.)

However, it does afford me the opportunity to make fun of Google translate.  For example:

1. Monday 6/28: boiled dry fool fish
2. Monday 7/12: environmentally apple milk
3: Monday 7/19: anchovy panbroiling and yellowish overripe cucumbers salad
(Looks like our cooks have def got a case of the Mondays.)
4. Friday 7/16: meat rice gruel... just like in prison

Also on the menu: fiied fish, fiied shrimp, rice punch, and fish sausage soup. Don't be too jealous.