Intrepid Girl Reporter

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.

“A hotchken, known as ‘the poor man’s turducken,’ is a chicken stuffed with hot dogs.”
November 22, 2007, 2:29 am
Filed under: food, media, things I like, U S of A

”The first one I ever had I was doing a game in New Orleans,” Mr. Madden said. ”The P.R. guy for the Saints brought me one. And he brought it to the booth. It smelled and looked so good. I didn’t have any plates or silverware or anything, and I just started eating it with my hands.”

“Kansas City Pitmaster Peter ‘Pookie’ Thornhill was credited in 2006 with the invention of the turdbutt.

The first of what is likely to be many posts today. God bless us, every one.

you, my darling, would make a terrible pioneer.

Live from the gyomushil (teacher’s office) again, where it is marginally less cold than yesterday. These classrooms have no heat – only the teachers’ offices have any sort of climate control – and I find myself bundling up every day to teach. Soccer said she wore a hat all day yesterday in class. The teachers here daydream about how American schools have central heating/cooling. To be honest, that’s not what I thought I’d miss, but now I, too, think longingly of thermostats, of the ancient furnaces that lined my high school’s halls. Yes. This is the state to which I’ve come.

I got Eun Jeong, the whiniest and sullenest of many whiny and sullen girls, to participate MULTIPLE TIMES today, during a too-good-to-be-true, only-in-the-movies lesson – the other girls were even hooting and hollering at her, so impressed were they that she decided to brush that dirt off her shoulder and join the rest of the world. She was still late to class, but I’ll take what I can get. I wrote my own Thanksgiving lesson*, because a) PCT is already teaching her classes the standard version, b) they’ve probably heard it before, and c) a lot of the lessons I found online were either inaccurate or culturally insensitive – for example, crowding kids into a small space and comparing it to the Mayflower is a lot less likely to work here in Korea, where everybody’s crowded and lives in a small space anyway. I feel like the kids would miss the point. Besides, as we all know, the story of Thanksgiving that we have has a few holes in it, like, you know, the centuries of mistreatment that the white man eventually inflicted on the natives, and the fact that no one even knows for sure if they ate turkey. (Although we do know that they prayed and fasted. I’m sure my kids are interested in that.) So we played a game about tolerance to illustrate exactly how it feels to be hated on, and we talked about old pilgrims and modern-day pilgrims (i.e. refugees), and they were SO into it. I could see them getting it. They know we still have a world in which there are pilgrims, and because of that, they are doubly thankful for the fact that, as one student wrote, “we have happy.”

Which was good, because my second class was a nightmare. I tried to get my low-level second graders to imagine what they’d bring on the Mayflower and they were all like, “mp3!” I told them – the ones who even bothered to do the worksheet, at least – that if that was all they brought, they’d starve, because you can’t eat music. My grandfather used to tell my mother, my grandmother, and I that we would have died in short order on the Oregon Trail. Now I am experiencing a small taste of his contempt.

Notes from Seoul: I got in Friday carrying a bag containing at least twenty pounds of tangerines, and, being late for my interview thanks to the worthless baggage people at Gimpo, took Soccer up on her offer to take my oranges. This proved to be a mistake on her part, because those oranges were really heavy, and she didn’t end up seeing me again for the rest of the night. After having taken a taxi that a) got stuck in traffic and b) charged me more money than I had, necessitating a stop at an ATM, I made it in for the Interview with the Internship, where they introduced me as “the girl who’ll be interning with us,” which means, I guess, that I got it. I was scheduled to meet Scooter and Oregon at the Seoul National University 치하촐 (subway) stop – a stop that necessitated a 45-minute journey, in heels that were too big and weren’t even mine, on a subway on which I could not move – only to find that they had actually meant the Seoul National University OF EDUCATION, which is a totally different stop and is also within walking distance of my original location. Needless to say, I got off the tube and immediately started yelling at Scooter, which was great, because I had been in communication with Oregon, not Scooter, and so he had been unaware of the entire debacle save for the fact that I was late. Then we went to get some non-Korean food in Hongdae, but the taxi driver took us to Kongdae instead, which was not helpful in the least. By the end of the night, however, we had: eaten Thai food, found a mysterious convenience store with the best candy EVER, been stopped in our tracks by both a giant construction crane and a man in a wolf costume, and met a sushi chef/sometime DJ and hip-hop enthusiast who introduced himself as – no joke – DJ Ham. We lost Scooter, who went back to the apartment where he was couch-surfing, but then he called us to say that a) he couldn’t find his way home, but b) he had found ₩10,000 (about $10USD) on the street. It was that sort of night.

So it looks as though I’ll be in Seoul this winter, which is a prospect to which I look forward. I like Seoul, even though it’s really, really cold. I’m not entirely sure about The Internship yet; I’m still waiting on a few things, but it looks good as of right now. And now I’m safely home in Jeju, ready to talk about travelers some more.

Note: I want to start doing something where I post something cool every day, something I like, which will both give me an incentive to post more and provide alternative reading material for those of you who get tired of reading about the smaller details. Here is the first thing, courtesy of Brendan: One Laptop Per Child. This is the kind of thing I want to be doing with my life. Okay, Miguk Oma? I am going to graduate school to figure out how to implement ideas like these in different countries. That is my life plan.

*I’ve uploaded the lesson plans and powerpoints I’ve been using – I think I’m going to start doing that from now on. If you do choose to use it, try to give me a heads-up re: how it goes.

intermediate Thanksgiving lesson (pilgrims/refugees)

intermediate Pilgrims powerpoint

low-level Thanksgiving lesson

low-level Pilgrim powerpoint