Intrepid Girl Reporter


Saturday, 5/24: a laundry list of my obsessions
May 24, 2008, 3:26 pm
Filed under: IGR Recommends, Jeju crew, media, music, reading, television, Uncategorized

In which we take a break from our regularly scheduled programming of constant complaining about all the stress in my life and examine a few things that I really, really love. It’s a special Super Size version of IGR Recommends.

When we were in Japan, I discovered a heretofore unknown fact about Soccer: given any iteration of the game “Would You Rather,” wherein one option is anything in the world and the other option involves Billy Crystal, she will always choose the one featuring Billy Crystal. This is a rule I like to think of as “Soccer’s Law.” At first I thought she was crazy. I’m not going to say that I suddenly had some sort of epiphany about my feelings towards Billy Crystal – they still remain in the indifferent-to-occasionally-annoying range – but I do, now, understand where she’s coming from.

I went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull* with some of the Jeju crew and Co-Teacher D, and I was trying to explain to CTD how adorable I find Shia LaBeouf and why. As it happens, I had also been discussing my love of the show “Cupid” with Oregon and Arkansas earlier, which is another relatively obscure thing about which I am passionate. I’ve also been listening to more Korean psychedelia lately. These three seemingly unrelated occurrences helped me to realize that I, too, have a lot of things I don’t necessarily think are the best in the world, but, given the option, will always choose for whatever reason. These strange little obsessions are itemized for the first time here.

Note: the following list doesn’t include obvious concepts like “favorite artist,” and it’s not comprehensive. Also, most of these do not reflect very well on me.

Note 2: if you have known me for longer than six months, you have probably heard me talk about at least one of these.

Note 3: My sister shares a lot of these. I’m not sure why.

1. “Sesame Street”

I love “Sesame Street.” I have always loved “Sesame Street,” and I probably always will. It still makes me laugh, and not in the “oh that’s so cute way,” more in the “Grover why did you bring out a grapefruit on a hot dog bun” kind of way. I love that it doesn’t talk down to kids, that it features characters who aren’t always sugary sweet to each other, that it takes on Hemingway and Hitchcock. If I create something with as wide an impact – if I even created something nearly as entertaining – I will be very, very proud.

Arrivederci, frog.

2. Shia LaBeouf

When I was in high school, I used to watch “Even Stevens” with my sister specifically for the purpose of seeing Shia LaBeouf. If “Even Stevens” was interrupted by “Lizzie McGuire,” I would complain loudly until that Hilary Duff monstrosity had ended and “Even Stevens” was back on again.

I totally want to hang out with him. I think he is absolutely adorable. I thought so when I thought he was like six years younger than me and he seemed to be the kind of kid I would have loved if he were my age, and I think so now that I realize that he is, in fact, my age. I like the fact that he broke into the movie business in an unconventional way and that he chooses a wide variety of movies. Also, he seems to have trouble with women, which if you know me at ALL you will realize that this, to me, makes him even more endearing. I would date him as well as hang out with him. Just saying.

3. Korean psychedelia/folk

I bought an album by Shin Jung Hyeon yesterday and it’s really good. I also want to listen to more Kim Jung Mi. I can’t believe I didn’t know about this stuff before. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Big Bang okay, but this is a total scene that apparently disappeared and was replaced by NOTHING.

4. My Co-Teacher, ACT

ACT is the most awesome woman on the planet. She hugs me and listens to me rant about things she can’t do anything about. Right now she is in Seoul protesting the Lee Myung Bak administration. I asked her what they were going to do in the demonstration and she said, “Shouting.”

5. KoreanAir

Consistently nice, always helpful, everyone speaks English.

6. Jeremy Piven

No one ever knows who Jeremy Piven is. Which is too bad, because I love Jeremy Piven. I have loved him ever since I watched “Ellen” with my mother when I was in elementary school. I loved him in “Cupid” (see below), and I love him in “Entourage.” (Note: this is a key distinction between the items on this list and actual normal things I find attractive. Adrian Grenier is much, much more attractive than Jeremy Piven. I realize this. I find Adrian Grenier incredibly beautiful. But I would not necessarily go see a terrible movie featuring Adrian Grenier. I would do this for Jeremy Piven.) I think that I associate him in part with this sort of nostalgia for the mid-90s, when I was first starting to imagine myself as something more than what I was then, and the media I consumed featured adults living these lives that were possibilities for me. Also, I watched these things with my parents, and that was fun.

7. “Cupid”

“Cupid” was canceled prematurely. “Cupid” is one of the cutest shows ever, and I mean that in the most positive possible way. Jeremy Piven played this guy who was convinced he was Cupid, and Paula Marshall played this psychiatrist who was convinced he wasn’t and that love was all about science, and they wrestled with it as he tried to hook up every single person in the city, and I was twelve and really wanted to fall in love. Theme song by the Pretenders, which added to the awesome, as I also wanted to be tough like Chrissie Hynde.

8. My father’s boss and his wife

They ply us with delicious baked goods and have really adorable Nova Scotian accents. They are older and, we are sure, make wonderful grandparents. Cute dogs round out the package.

9. GS25

10. The book Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Highly recommended. Totally different from the movie, as previously discussed.

11. Blessid Union of Souls

Again from the mid-90s. Lyrically terrible and incredibly catchy.

12. Men’s style magazines

Esquire and Details feature authors I actually like reading outside of magazines (ex. Chuck Klosterman, Nick Hornby). They also write as though they are speaking to an audience older than tenth grade. While I’m not a fan of the way the dating articles occasionally veer into misogyny, they are far more entertaining than their female counterparts. The only comparable women’s mag would probably be Jane, but Jane was a) a little full of itself, b) targeted towards women who wanted to make it known that they read Jane, and c) halted sometime last year, which means I can no longer subscribe.

13. Reusing and making stuff

My father is a pack rat. So am I. He and my mother are also both bargain hunters, a trait I have inherited. Also, I have always liked making things, as my mother can attest, when she used to take me to the craft store as a treat. As a result, my rooms wherever I live are always cluttered with projects in process.

14. Social marketing

I did my thesis on this. I love good marketing. I’d rather be convinced than preached at.

15. Thomas Haden Church

There was a summer when I was moving and everything I owned was in a box, which meant that the only thing I had available as entertainment was USAm, the USA network’s feeble attempt to recycle old programming for the unemployed. I got really into “Ned and Stacey.”

Look at those crazy antics!

I actually think that “Ned and Stacey” was a good show for what it was – the writing may not have been top-notch, but Debra Messing is kind of endearing. More importantly, Thomas Haden Church is both full of himself and completely unashamed of being crazy, which seems to be the role he fits in the best. (Also, I’m a fan of mid-90s sitcoms that weren’t very good. Don’t even ask me about Caroline in the City.)

My sister understands this, as she watched a lot of Nick at Nite during this time and went through a similar phase with “Wings.” We also both enjoyed “Sideways.” Thomas Haden Church seems to be crazy in the same way we are, which is to say that I suspect that if we played “Would You Rather” with him long enough, we would find his Billy Crystal, so to speak. And isn’t someone we can play such games with what we all want, in the end?

*SPOILER: I briefly entertained the notion that the UFO was there, and looked incredibly cliche, as a sort of tribute to these sci-fi movies of the time period when IJ is set, but Oregon disagrees with me here, and I think she might be right. It’s difficult for me to say, anyway, because I’ve never seen the rest of the movies (don’t start on me). Also, CTE is lots of fun.



Sunday, 12/16: I’ll be that girl

Can we start with a few lists, please?

INAPPROPRIATE VIDEO/SONG JUXTAPOSITIONS (Nix&Nox Noraebang, City Hall)

  • “Jingle Bells”: domestic violence
  • “Summer Nights”: dying soldier

SOME THINGS MY STUDENTS DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT “THE SNOWMAN”

  • “No speak” 
  • “Father, he is fat”
  • “Snowman. I don’t like face”
  • “I hate cat”
  • “Santa, Santa isn’t fun”

My students mostly earn brownie points for liking “The Snowman,” however – regardless of some of their opinions of it, they all – and I mean all – watched it quietly, which is not something I thought I could achieve with an elephant tranquilizer gun. SDY wrote that it reminded her of the days “when I was young.” The fact that SDY looks like a third grader notwithstanding. She’s an old soul, I guess you could say.

The students who have the most brownie points in my book, however, are my PopSong kids, with whom I am celebrating Christmas right now in the most Korean way possible – at a nasty smoky PC방. Today is the boys’ party. Yesterday was the girls’ party, and with the three girls who showed up, I went to Baskin Robbins and the aforementioned Nix&Nox (for Jeju residents, I cannot recommend this karaoke venue highly enough). One of my students, it turns out, is a fan of both Eric Clapton and Jack Johnson, which means that someday she will be able to successfully rush a fraternity at My College. The boys, however, wanted to party by staring at a computer screen and killing things, so here we are. One of them tried to show me how to play StarCraft and, in perhaps my most badass moment ever, I got nauseous from the screen, so I had to quit. My handle was T3ACH3R.

Sitting at someone else’s computer gives me as much time to think as anywhere else, and I think a lot about transience now that I’m so close to coming home, even for a little bit. Oregon said that at the Christmas party last night she was about to say something about the party we could have next year, before she realized that next year we will be in an Ivy law school (Arkansas) or an Ivy med school (The Singer) or bumming around on people’s couches (yours truly). 

It’s all going to end. Just like the time when I listened to Barenaked Ladies ended around the time I started tenth grade. Someday I’ll hear the song again, just like I did yesterday at Hollys (in the first recorded instance of good music being played at Hollys ever), and remember that part of me, but I won’t be there anymore, and I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

At least these kids playing StarCraft are so much more adorable than I ever thought nerds could be.



walking in the air

So I downloaded The Snowman, which is only THE BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE OF ALL TIME*, for use in my classroom, during these last two useless weeks after exams. Playing it, I noticed that this version featured a live action introduction with a narrator who looked oddly familiar. Google reveals that this mysterious fellow is, in fact, DAVID FUCKING BOWIE. Perhaps more importantly, his presence does not improve the movie at all, aside from the fact that you get to see David Bowie.

Moral of the story: The Snowman > David Bowie > the rest of us

I’ve had the past three days off, effectively creating a five-day weekend, which was nice to say the least. “Nice” might not even be the best word for Saturday, where Aewol’s co-teacher’s boyfriend proceeded, at noraebang, to rap along with popular artist G-Dragon, as well as 2Pac. Also, his name was Steve Son. As in, “My name is Steve, son.”

Of course, five free days without drama is an impossibility for the Jeju Crew and for my host family too, I think. We can’t help it, really; being thrown into this immediate closeness, spending so much time together, it’s almost inevitable that we’re going to make mistakes sometimes. When you finally start to know people, it’s so much easier for you to hurt each other. I got in a massive fight with HB; I got into another fight, not as large but just as difficult, with Scooter. I didn’t want either of them to happen. But these things, they feel like fires: you can avoid them, yes, but the brush collects and blazes later. And I’d much rather burn them out now.

But later HB told me that he likes me, although he doesn’t love me, which someone told me means that he does, really. And Scooter and I went suit shopping on Tuesday and had just a good friend day – we ate pizza, and Christmas shopped, and made fun of the guy at Zini’s (who is now – if you are interested – featured on the poster outside the cafe. He is reading earnestly), and split a chestnut 빙수 (sundae). Then today I had lunch with Oregon and Transy, and went to the five day market with HM, and she told me to sleep in the car as the Weepies played in the background. Then we went out for 갈비 and 냉면 to celebrate HS’s finish with finals, and I know it’s such a tired theme, how lucky I am. What should I compare this to, my favorite pair of shoes?

Speaking of shoes: I went into Athlete’s Foot this morning to try to get a pair – I currently have NO shoes that protect me from the rain – and I asked the guy if he had my size in these shoes, and he was like, “Yes.” Silence. After an uncomfortable pause, one that went on far too long, I was like, “…Can I try them on?” Then he seemed to take it as a personal affront when they were too big. As it turns out, they’re for men. Who knew? (Not Korea. Take that, gender stereotypes!)

Now I have a personal statement to finish – I have, rather suddenly, decided to apply to what the Koreans call 대학윈 now that TFANY is out of the picture. I’m applying to Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), which is quite a long shot, but it’s also the only program I’m pretty sure I’d attend sight unseen. I don’t know if I’ll get in this year or not – if I don’t, I’ll just apply next year, although getting in this year would be pretty much unbelievable. It’s so terrifying to think that This Is What You’re Going To Do With Your Life, but as Miguk Oma (in her infinite wisdom) pointed out, one has to make some sort of choice at some point. And as the life of Miguk Apa has proven, you don’t have to stick with it.

In two weeks I’ll be home. But the days here feel so bright sometimes.

Finally, someone found my blog by searching for “burnt toast poem,” and I feel obliged to provide.

Eating burnt toast or kimchi –

The decision seems easy to me.

Beautiful it is not,

But toast don’t smell like rot.

I sure hope that this breakfast is free.

I’ll be here all week, kids.

Today IGR Recommends: The Snowman, and concurrently, bittorrenting. I cannot actually share a copy due to filesize, but I can direct you to Azureus, and from there recommend that you Google “the snowman” + torrent. And realize just what has been missing in your life all these years.

*I do not make such statements lightly.



Friday, 12/7; what suits us
December 7, 2007, 8:11 am
Filed under: actual transcripts, ESL, host fam, Jeju crew, lesson plans, life on Jeju, life progress

“You are beautiful girl! I am luxury guy!”

– a third-grader (read: ninth-grader) tries to seduce me in the hallway

1M (boys) – movie reviews, part 1

• WotD: cinema/quiz: fun/funny
• didn’t get to clip (mostly due to poor time org on my part)
• were they worse than average or do I just feel bad today?
• The Cutest Student Ever’s boyfriend sits in the front row, is also great

2E (girls) – movie reviews, part 1

• not particularly high-level but we got through the lesson in good time
• how can I revise this to cover all the material, make it less of me talking, and get it done in 45 minutes?
• realization: I have been wearing my skirt backwards for the past three hours

One would think that, being suddenly forced to find a new future, going back to bed would not be the ideal course. And it’s not. But aside from the fact that TFANY is gone, I do have a small but nasty cold, and I did have three hours this afternoon that I was supposed to use to go suit shopping with Scooter. I bailed, feeling congested and exhausted, although the truth is that I felt worse for myself than I did skipping out on him.

So this afternoon, instead of doing something productive, I dreamed that I was working at Starbucks. It was exactly like working at Hollister. One of the girls I used to work with was even there, and, in a side plot, was also volunteering with the Fresh Air Fund. I got made some sort of manager within, I don’t know, three days, but no one would tell me how to do anything, so I just hung out in the back all day. I was a manager and I didn’t even know how to work the machines. I’m pretty sure that’s a metaphor for the fact that I’m afraid of being a fraud, of taking on responsibility that I’ve convinced people I’m equipped to handle without actually being qualified. Or it might be a commentary on how many times a week I go to Hollys and Tom and Toms. Tossup, really.

But – in the spirit of celebrating small victories – I slept this afternoon because I was sick, not because I was sad. Unlike the marathon, escapist sleeping sessions of days of yore, I slept today not because I didn’t want to deal with the stress of being awake, but because my head felt like a balloon filled with aerated mucus. Which is unpleasant, but the lesser of two evils, for sure.

I’ve been browsing jobs on idealist.org but, dishearteningly, have no experience with dairy cows or Swahili, which means that a lot of opportunities are out. Hallim’s coming in to town tonight and host fam is taking us out to dinner and to the jjimjilbang, where we can talk about this situation and help me find some method of living productively as we sit in the scented tubs and get pointed at. Congested or not, it’s still a good life.



Wednesday, 12/5; the art of losing

The time between meeting and finally leaving is sometimes called falling in love

– Lisa Loeb

Yeah, I quoted Lisa Loeb. You want to make something of it?

2L (boys) movie reviews, part 1

  • okay for the most part but loud
  • got through everything

2M (boys) movie reviews, part 1

  • usually lower-level kids seemed interested
  • except for that kid in the back who kept asking why he had to do it
    • I thought I made real progress with him but maybe not?
      • although he is obv smart because when he wrote “fuck” on his paper and I yelled at him he told me that it was just a joke, and that maybe it was bad in America, but “I am Korean”

1J (boys) – personal ads, part 2

  • TOTALLY redeemed themselves today
  • v. participatory
  • titles: “‘Who Likes ‘Muhan Dojeon’?”
  • Malcolm X is my favorite kid ever
    • ad title: “I Am Seeking My Future Wife”

1K (boys) – personal ads, part 2

  • as usual, not as adorable as the class before them, but reasonably well behaved
  • made The Smartass hold his hands above his head
    • should have been a desk, but he claimed to have some sort of rib injury (?)

Malcolm X is fat – not obese, but unquestionably fat – and he has Malcolm X-style glasses, hence the name, and he has the sort of permanently disgruntled look that only the fat kid can possess. I wish I could put his roster mugshot on here; he’s looking at the camera as though he’s asking it, Are you serious? But his English is amazing and he, himself, is pretty great. Today I let him rent a pen – the pen costs a shoe, which they get at the end of class when they return my pen to me – and he managed to finagle another one shortly afterwards and kept demanding his shoe back. When I forgot, he yelled, “Teacher! MY FOOT IS LONELY!”

The Smartass, on the other hand, is whom I suspect to be the ringleader of this whole groping Thing. For his level and his age, he speaks English pretty well as well – and I have so few of those students, maybe fifty of my thousand, that I’m loath to alienate any of them – but he’s become the leader of this gang of maybe four boys in the class, all of whom need him in some way; he’s already hit puberty, obviously, and he’s reasonably tall and good-looking, and the other boys who circulate around him are, in order, incredibly short, a little chubby, and…obviously forgettable, because I can’t remember exactly what his thing was. At any rate, they tend to talk about sex a lot and ask really inappropriate questions, which I ignore, because I don’t want to encourage them, but what I thought might have been a groping incident happened with one of those boys a few weeks ago. I’ve seen him around my classroom when I’m not generally there, e.g. at lunch, and I’ve seen him try to get in through the window too, so I suspect him – or someone associated with him – with the vandalism I’ve dealt with, too, but I can’t prove anything. The major thing I hate about him is that he’s a terrible influence on kids who might otherwise be decent human beings. Plus, you know, he could be one of my best students if he weren’t one of my worst.

So. Progress on a few things my loyal-est readers will have followed: TFANY is almost surely out. I talked to The Program today about what would happen if I terminated early, aside from the fact that I’d have to buy my own ticket home, and the answer was that I would no longer be able to claim any association with The Program at all. Ever. Which is problematic in that I’m depending on The Program to help me get into grad school, and also psychologically demoralizing in that my entire year would be annulled. If that was what I wanted, I would just have done TFA in the first place. I’m trying to see it as liberating, but really, honestly, right now I’m just depressed. Because even after the fact that I have to lock my classroom, that a few of my students see me less as a teacher and more as the object of some sick game, I still wanted to be part of TFA. And I know there are other things I can do, and that I should probably cultivate my interest in things besides education so I get a wide range of experience before I figure out on which area of development I want to focus. This is, however, a dream I’ve had since the age of sixteen – and, honestly, much longer. I’ve only wanted to do TFA since the age of sixteen; I’ve wanted to teach kids who needed teachers since (and this is rather embarrassing) I read the condensed version of My Posse Don’t Do Homework in my grandmother’s Reader’s Digest. See, my life is almost unbelievable, but not in the entertaining way, more in the are-you-SERIOUS-that’s-really-dumb kind of way.

So there’s that, and the aftermath of yesterday’s incident – ACT is horrified, as I believe I mentioned, and held a powwow with the other teachers today about teaching the other kids about respecting women and the fact that, if you’ll pardon me, I AM THEIR FUCKING TEACHER. The student in question continues to insist that he did nothing, that it was a “mistake,” which I am absolutely positive is not true. This was not a misunderstanding. I am still so angry, so appalled, and more so that he can sit there and say that it didn’t happen, that he can lie with such sincerity. Miguk Oma suggests taking that kid out of my class, and I’m starting to think that it’s not a bad idea, but I am also about 98% sure that it is not just him. Honestly, I don’t entirely know what to do.

But then there are moments of such unbelievable delight – I LOVE Malcolm X. I love being bowed to by one of my most disrespectful students. I love how my students scream my name in the halls. Today I gave Canada a copy of one of my favorite YA novels, The Westing Game, to read instead of doing classwork, and she was so excited. And one of my students from PopSong – who also, of course, happens to be in 1J – turned in a personal ad describing himself as a “just student.” I love him so much; he is the kind of boy whom you just know loves his mother, and she him. He will be teased by his friends for being “the sweet one” long into his twenties. AND I received this personal ad from another student, which I sort of promise is the last one I’ll ever offer:

I am a 1. dark and bright, 2. don’t need glasses and 3. kind person. I like 8. warm 9. sleep and 10. friend. I have 6. brown eyes and 7. short hair. I am as attractive as water. I am 155~ cm tall. If so, please send me an email at 15. you look like happy.

This has nothing to do with mistranslation and everything to do with the fact that a magical alien has apparently landed on my doorstep.

I met with Soccer at Zini Book tonight to finish writing our grant for the after-school program. We talked, as always, about how it is with emptiness and changing love, and the unchanging (thanks, Coleman Barks). Also about Jeremy Piven. With all the stress I’m dealing with right now, there are other shifts in my relationships here that make me afraid I’m going to lose the state of affairs with which I am very happy – but surfaces change, and I can’t do anything about that. And I know that no matter how ruffled the water on the surface becomes, the floor of it remains the same. But it’s hard not to flail out in fear, and also hard not to get more specific, so I’ll leave it at that.

We also talked about the island and the year, and how we’re all here together for a short period of time before we get thrown apart again. But that’s how it is with everything, right.

I would recommend something, but my congestion is making me lightheaded, so maybe not tonight.



But if you must know, I have some babies. Mainly by black ladies. But some by white. And a China-baby.

This is the bunny I made with Soccer. (Hers is pink.)

I think I’ve finally got this filesharing thing figured out.

Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans

This is the album I listened to today, instead of going to Mass. I am tempted to say “instead of going to Mass, as I should have,” because really, it probably wouldn’t have been a bad thing, but aside from the fact that I was being legitimately productive and couldn’t really go, I’d rather listen to this and think about the highest than listen to what passes for worship music at most religious services. I’m not saying that “traditional” church music (or, in the case of most churches I’ve attended, the contemporary pop that’s become institutionalized) is necessarily bad. But I’ve never been a huge fan of so-called “Christian” music, and one of the things I really like about this album is how he makes the spiritual personal – i.e., he understands that the power of the stories lies within the stories themselves, and how we’re not so different from the people about whom these tales are told. It’s been said before, but half the time what he sings about could be a lover or a loved one as easily as it could God or Jesus, and I’m pretty sure that’s part of the point, that these things are found everywhere. Besides, the music itself – that banjo! – does so much more for me than most hymns ever have. The joy feels real.

A few housekeeping announcements re: blog: I’m going to continue to post some daily Thing I Like, esp. now that I (roughly) know how to share files, but I think I’m also going to start posting my notes on various classes – I’ve been doing it on paper, for me, but more and more people have been finding this blog lately based on ESL/TEFL searches, so that will provide a look into TEFL life. And for those of you (not many) who revel in the tiny human dramas of my classes, this will provide a better way to keep track. Look for a relaunch of KFB soon too.

Today: watched “Project Runway” with HM (downloaded), translated poorly.

ex. CHRISTIAN I don’t know what the f*ck I’m doing.

HILLARY 말허요, “기부니 나빠요!” (“He says, ‘I am very upset!’)

She loved it, as she should have. So far I’ve seen both episodes, and I have to say, I thought Sarah Jessica Parker came off very well in the last one – plenty of guests have been unkind, even out-snarking Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, but she was consistently tactful and diplomatic without being a moron (hello, Paula). And Ricky’s dress was gorgeous. Surprisingly, Elisa’s was too – despite the fact that, much as I do with Quagmire, I found myself staring at her in puzzlement for most of the show. I actually didn’t hate Marion’s dress, at least not until the belt came off, at which point it immediately disintegrated into a potato sack. But mostly I was sad because Marion got kicked off despite his striking resemblance to Tim Calhoun.

I also had dinner with Arkansas and The Singer (who also teaches in Seogwipo) tonight, and got a good dose of the heckling I have so missed. We went to El Paso down in Sicheong – it’s the equivalent of what I imagine eating Mexican food in Canada is like. I.e., it is not authentic, but it isn’t bad, except that they need to quit with the putting of ketchup in the salsa EWWWWWW.

Now I will try to fix the busted file links of before. Check back.



the truth is

…that I am hungry now, and I probably wasn’t a very good sport earlier, and my room needs to be tidied firstthingtomorrow, and my blog is the first thing to come up in a Google search of the word “hotchken.” And I’m coming to peace with all of that. Today I woke up late and I ate some soup, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same soup we’ve been eating since Monday, and while I haven’t gotten sick yet, I still have to get over the mental block I have that says that cooked beef is only good for three or four days at the most. (Or do I?) Then I ate a pretzel at the new, revamped Tom and Tom’s in Sicheong (City Hall), which now features an extensive variety of soft pretzels – I can think of ten off the top of my head – and is so pleased about these pretzels, in fact, that a detailed explanation of what pretzels are (it starts by describing them as “a salted biscuit”) is permanently written on the front of the shop. Then I ate at Bagdad with Aewol (my friend who teaches in Aewol) and Transy, a Program kid out in Seogwipo who went to the university of the same name. (Incidentally, I made him my de facto brother in the second week of the Program’s training, but “Transy” is shorter.) So that’s one meal today, pretty much. Now it’s midnight and I just spent five minutes deliberating over whether or not I should make myself a piece of toast. The whole situation seems to parallel every problem I have in some deep way, but I’m not entirely sure how.

Scooter and I went to Expat Ultimate Frisbee today, which was fun, except that – if you know me personally – you know that I have absolutely zero hand-eye coordination, and also no experience with Ultimate. I was not a top pick, shall we say. The problem with me playing sports has always been that I have trouble focusing enough to be coordinated – I can do solo things better, because then it’s just me, but when I’m with other people I get self-conscious about the fact that this sort of thing just doesn’t come naturally to me, and then I’m really in a bind. Point being that at one point I forgot the rules and completely flubbed the one chance I had to do something worthwhile, and what I really wanted to do was stay on the sideline and watch some more so I could get a feel for it, but they convinced me to stay in and practice, which is difficult to do when you’re not sure what’s going on, and then they definitely felt sorry for me as The Girl Who Couldn’t Play Frisbee. (Who Can’t Play Frisbee?) And if there is one thing I cannot abhor, it is people feeling sorry for me. So I played until I could get a sub and then got out – I’m afraid that getting out, and the fact that I was visibly a little frustrated with myself (even though it’s just a game!), probably meant that I came off as a bad sport, so I’ll have to go back and redeem myself. I mean, I got back in, but I still wasn’t any good, and although it’s immature, part of me will always want to be good or go home. I need to grow out of it, but I’m thinking it might just be a part of who I am.

At any rate the Expats were v.nice – I recognized many of them, after all, from rhymeswithjeju, the mailing list for English speakers on the island – and it’s not their fault that they were concerned about a person with such appalling athletic skills.* To be honest, I think the language barrier has been getting to me a bit lately – I find myself increasingly frustrated with people who are only trying to help me, like, you know, my pottery teacher. Or my yoga teacher, for that matter. They know I speak very little Korean, and I know their English is equally limited, but sometimes they’ll just start speaking Korean and be surprised when I keep messing up, because I don’t know that my foot is supposed to be flexed or that I’m pulling the clay too hard. Maybe it’s the relatively stressful week I’ve had, although I might just need to come home for a bit.

It was a good day for Frisbee though; the sun was up, the sky was blue, it was beautiful (and so were you). Scooter coached me on some basic Frisbee catching technique after learning that I didn’t learn to catch anything until I was six, and to his credit, didn’t laugh at me too much when it bounced out of my hands. I also crashed a pickup soccer game between these two boys who were probably in fourth or fifth grade; I meant to just play, but they ended up giving me some technique tips for my kicks. Overall, it was an educational afternoon. Afterwards we went to Tom and Toms and met some Jeju National University students, one of whom is going to be my language partner. She has a puppy and the same name as Teddy Bear Barrette. Interestingly enough. Soccer’s been sick all day, so I visited her later with some Gatorade and some leftover naan, and we watched Muhan Dojeon and made one of those sewing kits that they sell at the stationery stores here – this was a stuffed cell phone charm in the shape of a bunny’s head. Mine is blue.

Here is my cool thing for the day: the New York Times wedding section. No, I don’t know why I read it, but yes, I always do.

*How unathletic am I? Here’s a story: The summer before my freshman year of high school, I swam competitively for the first and last time, on my neighborhood team. I had no natural talent and no experience. All the girls in my age group had been swimming for years. Ergo, I could not keep up with them; ergo, I had to practice with the elementary schoolers. No joke. But, in the crowning moment of my summer, there was one race in which I did not come in last, which meant that I was not the slowest, and let me tell you, fifth place has never been so sweet.