Intrepid Girl Reporter

Monday, 12/15: like you and me
December 16, 2008, 1:20 am
Filed under: history, I am not cool, IGR Recommends, life progress, meta, music | Tags: ,

I thought I only had one thing to write about, but actually I was wrong.

1. You probably have (not) noticed that my avatar has changed. Tricia Takanawa seems to fit me, since we’re both essentially Connie Chung 2.0. Given the fact that I do have a job that will be starting soon, I need to make a much stronger effort towards anonymity. I’m also going to try to sort of consolidate my internet identity in the new year, because I have so many damn projects going on. I need to make sure that everything is identifiably me, where “me” is “anonymous” (unless you already know me). At least that’s what I’m thinking right now.

2. I lost my watch. I really hate losing things, which is strange, because I do it so often that one would think I would have established some sort of fail-safe by now. I know it’s in my room somewhere, and what I’m inclined to think happened is that I probably left it out on my dresser and the cleaning people MM hired to come every couple weeks put it somewhere I can’t find. (I don’t think they took it, because there are a lot of other nicer things they could have taken.) At any rate, I am usually okay with trying to find things over the course of time, but occasionally I lapse back into my old panic mode, which usually involves me blowing the whole thing out of proportion (i.e.: this means that I am forever irresponsible, that I have no appreciation for the nice things my parents have provided for me, therefore that I am a bad daughter, etc., etc.). All of which means that although I sound calm, I am secretly freaking out. I am reminded of a story I never liked about my father: when he was little his grandfather gave him a piastre and he lost it and went ballistic, so much so that his grandfather tried to give him another. “No,” he said. “I want THAT ONE.” I hated it for two reasons that should be fairly obvious: 1) even as a child I was concerned with the prospect of buying love and wanted my parents to know that I would never be so materialistic that I would care what they got me (yes, I was the most neurotic six-year-old on the planet); 2) I totally sympathized with my dad and knew that he never got that stupid coin back.

3. I will hopefully write a series of entries re: my favorite Christmas CDs, and I would like to start by discussing a set we listen to with some frequency every year:

We actually have 1 and 5 as well, but they never get as much play. It should be unsurprising that as a middle/high school student, I was far more taken with traditional songs covered in a way that could be construed as “edgy” (well, if you’re thirteen) than anything else. Also that I’m a big fan of what was considered cool in the mid-1990s. NONETHELESS: AVSC2 has an absolutely incredible cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Believe in You,” by Sinead O’Connor, as well as an awesome jazzy version of “What Child is This” by Vanessa Williams (yes, that Vanessa Williams). Meanwhile, 3 features the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Christmastime,” which makes wonderful use of that joyous thing the Pumpkins do so well when they want to, as well as “The Christmas Song,” one of my favorite Dave Matthews songs. SHUT UP. Also “Christmas is Now Drawing Near At Hand,” which is probably the best and weirdest thing that Steve Winwood (!!!) ever recorded.

4. I went to look at house shares in DC this weekend, which was for real almost as difficult as trying to get a job. Demand > supply. Fortunately, I managed to meet a lot of really cool people whom I would like to see again, even if I don’t live with them. Still, though, I got to experience the open house, which is basically like a co-ed Greek rush in which everyone is desperately trying to convince the current tenants that:

  1. they are the most fun person there, except
  2. that they are totally cool and already have friends and thus are not doing the housemate thing to make friends at all and that it doesn’t matter if the housemates want to hang out with them or not, and
  3. that in addition to being fun they are also responsible and employed and
  4. will simultaneously be really clean and not care at all if anyone else is dirty.

FUN STUFF. I will have housing updates by tomorrow at the latest.

We stopped at a Vietnamese place in Arlington on the way out, and it had canh chua tom, which is probably one of my favorite Vietnamese soups ever and is often absent from restaurant menus. I think it’s kind of a pain to make. The walls were lined with pictures of American military officials, all of whom had written notes for the owner. During the meal, I think I asked MA who used to cook for the family when he was a kid, and he started telling us about the nannies and the cook and the chauffeur/bouncer (“He was like a cool uncle”), none of whose whereabouts are currently known. At least not by us. Later he said, “The owner probably knows my mom.”

“Why?” I asked.

There’s a large Vietnamese community in NoVa, and apparently it’s full of ex-military officials and high-ups – which makes sense when one considers its location. Which is the circle my family would have been in. “You should ask to see him,” I said, and he shook his head.

For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about that man a lot, and how young my father was when he lost all of that – a loss for which most people probably wouldn’t have much sympathy. No one has any love for the bougie.


Tuesday, 3/4: New York City, capital of the world

2D – Guess Who?

Lesson: Introduce students to each other through question-based guessing game

  • Teddy Bear Barrette has switched over to rhinestones
  • but she’s doing her work!
  • Eun Jeong actually competed for tickets today
  • Future Vet*, Good Twin*, Super Woman* all present
  • surprisingly well behaved
  • next time don’t have teams come forward, make questions more difficult

2B – Guess Who?

  • Help Woman*, Kind Mother*, Field Trip, that girl with the pink glasses
  • not too participatory but generally good
  • guessing game doesn’t work as teams, maybe have kids find matches

2C – Guess Who?

  • Bad Twin*…oh God
  • those girls in the front need to QUIT talking
  • one of the choir girls still wants to be “social poverty designer” (Catholic girl)
  • Canada, Lisa Loeb*
  • having kids practice easy questions with each other, answer hard questions, find random matches worked better
  • new co-teacher less effective

I moved gyomushil (teachers’ office) yesterday and it was TOTAL CHAOS. Apparently it had not occurred to anyone working at or affiliated with my school to, I don’t know, do this stuff sometime before the first day of school.

In this room I could practically see my breath and I couldn’t feel my fingers to type; the windows were open and no one would allow them to be closed, so we all stood there, huddled around an ancient freestanding gas heater with a teapot on the top. The teapot, in case you were wondering, serves as a humidifier. Those of us who were not gathered round the campfire were counting to eight repeatedly and shouting my name; evidently there was some discrepancy regarding the desk I was supposed to have versus the desk I actually had, and while I was supposed to receive the eighth desk, which desk became the eighth varied depending on where the person started counting. Meanwhile, the students, teacherless, roamed our dirty halls like packs of hyenas, waiting for the first of us to fall. Did I mention that the first graders weren’t even there? I kept asking people if I could help – I couldn’t figure out what to do on my own, as everyone simply seemed to be moving each other’s stuff around and back again – and no one would give me directions, so eventually I just sat at my desk. Meanwhile, the teacher with the broken arm had the papers and folders she was moving propped between her coat and her cast.

My absence from this blog would be inexcusable were it not for the fact that a) I’ve been working for Uncle Sam, who possesses powerful Internet monitoring superpowers, for the past month, b) the Internet at my house on base was more fickle than a Korean middle schooler’s chosen favorite singer, and c) I got a bead stuck in the optical drive of my MacBook and had to have it serviced. Oops.

But anyway, I’m back. And reasonably sure that I can never work for the federal government. To illustrate this point, I would like to offer a series of questions I received from children at the American Corner (like a mini-Embassy) in Busan, via teleconference, during a presentation on American Food: Diverse and Delicious, followed by both actual and given answers.

Q: Who were the first immigrants to America? How did they start American food?

AA: Well, in the seventeenth century, the white man came and pretended to be friends with the natives for a while, but then he killed them off, took their land, and shot the animals and grew the crops that would become the basis of American cuisine.

GA: Well, in the seventeenth century, many immigrants came from Europe. They made friends with the natives, and from the bounty of the land, they all cooked food together.

Q: Why is American food so sweet?

AA: Because Big Food is filling it with high-fructose corn syrup!

GA: Because we have many immigrants from Europe, where they make very sweet desserts.

Q: Can you tell me the story of how New York City came to be your country’s capital?

AA: No.

GA: No.

*These are obviously my actual class notes, with changed names. Hopefully soon I will make a glossary of pseudonyms. In the meantime:

Bad Twin/Good Twin: These girls are not actually twins, but they look like it. One is good. One is not.

Super Woman, Kind Mother, Help Woman: attended winter camp, created Super Woman, Kind Mother, and Help Woman, respectively

Lisa Loeb: v. smart, a little morbid, has dyed hair and Lisa Loeb glasses, as well as a general Loebian aesthetic; I wave at her in the hall and she looks at me and shakes her head

Future Vet: started emailing me because she has a cat (rare in Korea) and I have one too; originally wanted to be a vet, but because this may be too difficult, is currently planning on being a “pet beauty artist”

tell me more tell me more
November 27, 2007, 4:12 pm
Filed under: actual transcripts, IGR Recommends, media, meta, okay seriously Korea, students, teaching

Today’s featured thing is idealist, probably because it is my last best hope for job finding. Idealist also sponsored the COOL Conference where one of my former roommates and I presented, back in 2005, and they treated us well. I support.

Also, I just realized that what I am doing is essentially a personalized version of McSweeney’s Recommends (although nowhere near as funny and interesting), so now I will be referring to this as IGR Recommends. See tag changes, etc. (Also, I am obviously recommending McSweeney’s Recommends, too.)

The Joni Mitchell link is working now. I still haven’t put up the fixed lesson plan links, sorry. Today I went to a TESL conference that was well-intentioned but really, really boring – not that teaching itself isn’t an interesting thing to discuss, but, well, this was really dull. During one lecture I started writing a letter to my friend Captain Badass at home (give me a shout if you read this still, CB) and during two others I fell asleep.

The workshop proved worth it, however, in that I got quality time with Mrs. Yoo, who teaches all my first grade girls’ classes and who is generally really interesting and sweet. She filled me in on a lot of my students’ backgrounds and performance in other classes, which turned out to be really enlightening and possibly useful; 1A, for instance, is the lowest-performing first grade girls’ class, which I would never have guessed based on their work with me. Also, apparently my best Pop-Song girl will not be able to sing in a concert, should we have one, because she will be having surgery for – and I am not making this up – a brain tumor. GOOD GOD. I would like something good to happen to one of my students, once.

When bad news is delivered in a second language it seems to be divested of its weight; when I was in Cambodia with My College, for instance, one of my most distinct memories is of our tour guides:

TOUR GUIDE Here in the countryside there are many temples. Over there you can see (insert temple), which was built by (insert Khmer king). Next to that is the field where my brother was shot by the Khmer Rouge, and over there you can see a gate to another temple. Soon we will have lunch…


Exchanges like that, you should understand, were pretty much par for the course. We had two tour guides like that, and they said stuff like that ALL THE TIME, always without any evident sense of irony. There’s a lot of that here too, and I don’t know if we just have a dramatic culture in America or if something is being lost.

As a result of the workshop I skipped pottery and therefore should have gotten a lot more done than I have. Here’s a brief list in order to make myself feel better:

– sort of figured out budget software

– wrote rec letter for former professor

– half-finished tomorrow’s lesson

What have I been doing?