Archive | December, 2010

Red Scare

27 Dec

Warning: This post is about as politically incorrect as it comes.

Traveling abroad and meeting people from Canada-America’s Tophat different countries, has only increased my desire to make culturally insensitive jokes. Because they’re funny, people. And besides, I’m the first one to make fun of America when given the chance.

All of that aside, my first run in with China left much to be desired. The girls and I left freezing South Korea around 2pm Christmas Day, bound for China where we would spend our 4-hour layover. This was my first encounter with a Chinese airline, and can I just say. . ugh.

The first plane sat on the runway for no less than an hour before finally departing. This was relatively uneventful. We landed in China, ready to find our connecting flight and get some food.  And that’s where all the trouble began. . First we stopped at a bathroom that had a squatter toilet, which I happen to have a terrible track record with. I was contemplating using the sink, when thankfully we found that only 1 toilet in the restroom was a squatter.

We then attempted to pass through customs, which we thought would be pretty quick, considering we didn’t even fill out customs forms since we were just passing through China en route to sunnier, more liberal places. Wrong.

Along with about 50 or so other English-speaking people our age, also on holiday, our passports were promptly checked then confiscated. Along with our connecting boarding passes. We were not told why. We were all told to wait behind a yellow line.

Which we did for 30 minutes. At this point I was fairly certain we were headed for “re-education camp” a la Mao, or a firing squad.  Instead, one by painstaking one, a non-English speaking customs official waved our passports in the air, while our mob awaited, anxious, hoping to win the customs lottery. Total cluster cuss.

And still not totally sure why this happened or what it accomplished – but I’m sure we’re all on the Chinese list of “bad things” now, much like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

30 minutes later, we are back in line waiting to pass through security again, you know, in case some smartass stole a chopstick from the plane or something. While waiting, and growing ever more delirious, Lauren thought it was a good time to loudly read the political quotes off her passport (the newly issued passports have pictures and quotes; Lauren is partial to LBJ). We then passed through security, where Ryan nearly punched the woman who confiscated her hand sanitizer (“THAT SANITIZER HAS BEEN TO 5 COUNTRIES! WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS?!”). It was also during this time that the woman using the hand scanner thing checked me for weapons, and proceeded to TAP me with the scanner, as opposed to just you know, scanning me. She noticeably tapped my ugh, chest, at the end, causing me to collapse in exhausted, immature giggles. (shrugs)

The three of us, now delirious and showing signs of post-traumatic-passport-stealing-syndrome, went off in search of food, before boarding our 11-hour flight to Sydney.

As if China hadn’t pissed me off enough, our terminal was a total dead zone, with only a few overpriced Chinese restaurants open. So we ate some fried rice, which would have been ok, save for the fact that we were downwind of the Persian mafia 2 middle-eastern men who had on more cologne than an abercrombie employee, giving me an immediate contact high.

We then attempted to find some gum and snacks; both searches proved fruitless. Instead of chewing gum, we found the following items available for sale: sheep placenta tablets, vibrators/sex toys, silk robes, perfume, and remote-controlled toy cars. And while I did find a candy bar, I was unable to pay for it with a credit card, my American accent, Australian dollars, or Korean won; which prompted this diplomatic gem:

“In communist China, the candy bar buys you!”

We finally boarded the plane, gumless and annoyed, only to find that the plane was set at a cool 15 degrees. We kept our winter coats on, and covered up in their flimsy blankets the entire time. Despite sleeping 9 hours on the plane (thank god), I continually woke up shivering. I also slept through the 1 meal, so I arrived in Sydney looking like a refugee hungry mess.

Needless to say, Australia was a breath of beautiful, capitalist air. I would love to give China another chance, as both Hong Kong and Beijing are on my list of places to visit, and I probs will. . . assuming this blog post doesn’t put my name on the “anti-communist activities list,” forever barring me from the country.

 

Frequency

26 Dec

I have been teaching my students how to use frequency words, like “often, always, sometimes, never. . .” And seldom. Seldom is by far my favorite, because hearing an 8 year-old Korean child say, “I seldom go to the movies,” is just really cute.

And this got me thinking last night as I frantically packed for Sydney, and cleaned by apartment, and watched the last 4 episodes of Felicity, and called my family on Skype. . .

-“I have never spent Christmas away from my family. I usually spend Christmas Eve with Mama’s family, laughing my genetically ridiculous laugh, and eating homemade cinnamon rolls. I always watch Varsity Blues with my brothers late at night, laughing and drinking and trying to stay warm.”

 

Winter vacation usually looks likes this.

 

 

-“I seldom spend Christmas Day in an airport in South Korea. . . waiting for a flight to China, which will then connect me to Sydney, Australia. It is usually spent patiently opening our gifts one by one, and stuffing our faces with the Papa’s family, and playing heated games of Catch Phrase.”

 

. . . and it sometimes looks like this

 

 

-“I rarely feel so happy and sad at the same time. It’s truly bittersweet to feel so insanely excited for a new adventure with new friends and a break from work, while at the same time feeling about as homesick as I was my first week of college.”

Because my family’s traditions are silly and carefree, but they are wonderful, and it feels weird to not be a part of that this year. (but they did hang my stocking on the chimney with care) But as my dad said, “I’m sure you’ll feel differently when you step onto the  beach.”

Touche.

I had never seen this. . .until today. And it was stunning, even through my jet-lagged haze.

So here’s to one hell of a trip. And if day 1 is any indication, it will be.

Merry Christmas from deliciously sunny, English-speaking Australia! Cheers y’all.

Don’t Kill Yourself: A Guide. Winter Edition.

24 Dec

I know this blog is called the Giggly Girl, not the Sad-Sac, Sometimes Seasonally-Depressed Girl.

But c’mon, winter is bleak, yo. So in order to “just keep livin'” like Matthew McConaughey, I’ve compiled a list of things that keep me going, even on the yucky, cold Mondays.

Music:

“Get it like you like it” -Ben Harper

“Rolling in the Deep”  -Adele, who’s new album is going to be SICK

“Pretty Girl Rock”  -Keri Hilson

“Sleepyhead”   -Passion Pit

“Next Girl” and “Howlin’ For You”  -Black Keys

“Just Can’t Get Enough”  -Black Eyed Peas

“I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked”  – Ida Maria

The entire Beatles collection, which is FINALLY available on iTunes, thanks Sir Paul

The majority of the latest albums by Kanye West and Katy Perry

And old, come-on-get-happy standbys like Aretha, Britney (bitch) Spears, Glee, Lady Gaga, and all other artists worshipped by gay men worldwide

Support:

-small Korean children who say cute things and hug you and make you laugh, in spite of yourself

-amazing friends who continue to keep up their end of the long-distance bargain through frequent emails, pics, and witty pop culture jokes

-super special people who send you unexpected gifts (please see previous post and climb out from that rock you’re living under)

-coworkers, who’ve become friends, who’ve become your retarded, dysfunctional family abroad

-parents who always remind you that you are missed. And loved.

-brothers who write things like this on your facebook: “We need you back here. Ben and Mandy are going to be too busy to watch Varsity Blues with me. Dad still keeps the house at a -30 degrees and has forced me to wear all my t-shirts at once just to stay warm. I think (mom’s) going to start a new tradition by making hot wings. Life here isn’t the same without you, nor as fun.”

-Amazing new additions that bring your family together in all new ways:

Gma & Tator Tot

The Dude abides.

Misc:

-bold nail polish

-colorful tights, tucked into fabulous boots

-trashy reality shows (I’m partial to the Real Housewives franchise)

-Veronica Mars, Felicity Porter, Samantha Jones, Lucille Bluth, and Liz Lemon

-solo dance parties in the apartment

-new books

-holiday coffee cups

-These amazing Sassy Gay Friend videos by the Second City

And if all else fails . . .

A WEEK-LONG TRIP TO SUNNY AUSTRALIA! (hey, it worked for Oprah)

Speechless

23 Dec

Rarely do I find myself speechless. (Pause for a collective duh)

But dammit if I wasn’t just shocked and flattered and humbled last Thursday, upon arriving to work to find  a package for me. If you read the previous post, you’ll understand that I thought this would be my prescriptions, but it turned out to be even better.*

It was a very detailed, thoughtful, surprise gift from a one Mr. Bossman, all the way from a one NYC.

Despite the fact that my job is also my mailing address, and that I happen to sit across from a rather jealous, petty lady, I ripped into that package. . . to find:

-a few BlackBook magazines, where Mr. Bossman’s name can be found, now that his company is part of them

-a picture with a customized frame

Hair: Greasy. Sunglasses: Apprx. $8. New picture frame: Priceless.

-and a pink, Burberry scarf. O.M.F.G. This is where the speechlessness set in. First, I saw the Burberry box, wrapped tightly with tape. I then proceeded to hyperventilate while Alex started screaming “DO YOU NEED A SCISSORS?! SOMEBODY GET HER A SCISSORS, WE NEED TO SEE WHAT’S INSIDE!”  And then we saw it. And petted it. And took pics.

It's easy to look happy when you are ridiculously spoiled . . . and wearing a new shirt and lipstick color.

Because sweet Jesus y’all, that’s a gift. I would just like to say, IT’S NOT ABOUT THE BRAND. I swears. (And I already have a Burberry scarf; an 18th birthday gift that always reminds me of my parents and that special birthday)

It’s about the fact that I got an unexpected Christmas present from half-way across the world. And that someone put in a lot of time, money, and effort into making me happy. After all, it’s the brand thought that counts.

There were also a lot of other cute things in there, but they’re private – losers. Opening the gift was totally worth all the jealous sorority-girl stares I got from my Korean coworkers.

Thanks Bossman. You’re kinda the best.

*And no, the irony that Bossman sent me a package that arrived 3 days later, while my parents’ package has been at customs for almost a month, does not escape me in the least, mkaythanxbye.

Caught.

22 Dec

Again, sorry for my inconsistent posting. My only explanation is that sometimes I really feel creative and expressive, and sometimes I just want to curl up in my pj’s and watch bad TV on my laptop.

Now that we have that out of the way, it’s time to rant. Because I’m beyond infuriated at the self-important, bureaucratic drones that comprise the Korean Customs Department. Because they are holding my prescriptions hostage. (Yo Jimmy Carter! Remember when you spoke to my class at Emory? Great, because I need your help negotiating this whole hostage situation)

Oh did I forget to mention that my amazing, charitable, hippie parents in Kansas are actually the heads of a large prescription drug ring? And that I’m their “in” with the Asian markets?

Pablo Escobar's got nothin' on this cartel

Backstory: Not wanting to cause even more undue stress before moving to South Korea, I set up my prescription meds on a full-proof plan: everything was set to be refilled for 1 year. Every 3 months, the meds are sent to my house in Kansas, where my parents will take them to our local FedEx, and ship them to me, using the  international shipping forms that I already filled out for them. Seriously. I just somehow  assumed that would be sufficient. (because it would be in most countries that are not Germany in the 1940’s)

And please note that I came into this country, and passed through customs, with 3 months worth of medication in my bags. And please note, that I’m not talking about any crazy, fancy “drugs,” just your run-of-the-mill, boring medication.

So, since I passed my 3-month anniversary here, it was time for a refill. My parents, ever reliable and kind, sent my package. It arrived 5 days later. And was stopped by customs.

Where it has remained. . . for 3 1/2 weeks.

Mother. F**cker. (I only used the ** because I’ve been told my Grandma reads this and I don’t want to be cut out of the will after putting in 23 solid years)

Eddie, who works at our school, has tried his best to help me navigate this web of bullshit, but he is already overworked and tired of babysitting the foreign teachers.  And in the last 21+ days, I have sent Customs officials: a copy of my alien registration card and job info, a bribe, copies of the original prescriptions from my doctors, a signed statement agreeing to the rights to my first-born child, a complete handout/guide to the meds, complete with pictures of what they should look like, and a hand-written statement, detailing my predicament and attesting to the fact that I am not a drug mule, but a simple English teacher.

And while I understand that they saw it fit to stop a package full of pills, everything in said package has been accounted for. And then some. And I pay taxes (here and in the US). And I teach English in a suburban city. I mean COME ON. Any seasoned drug lord would have abandoned this sinking ship weeks ago when they started asking the tough questions! Clearly, I just want what is already mine.

Yesterday, Eddie informed me that if I write ANOTHER statement, I can PAY MY OWN DAMN MONEY to have the package . . . SENT BACK TO MY PARENTS. I. Will. Cut. A. Bitch. (Please keep in mind that due to said medication delay, I have not been sleeping and my hormones are out of control, so this ordeal is becoming quite the powder keg)

I’m still looking at my options. I refuse to believe the package has to leave this country. I’m having Alex call customs tomorrow and see what else can be done.

Eddie suggested I see a Korean doctor and get the prescriptions, to which I laughed in his face and walked away. Explaining the ridiculousness of that would be a whole different post, and I’m already heated up just talking about this nonsense.

To summarize: My parents wasted their money. Eddie wasted his time. The meds are sitting in a package at customs. Customs blows. This needs to be resolved soon, or I will terrorize this country faster than you can say Kim Jong Il be very annoyed.

But did I mention that I’m totally jazzed for my Australian vacay in 3 days?!

Clever, Non-Bitter Title Goes Here

9 Dec

If you’re in a really good mood, I hate you please see the above title of this post, and kindly exit this blog. Because I’m not in a good mood. I am the Bitchy Betty of the blogging world right now. Why?

I hate winter. More than social conservatives almost anything. Really.

It snowed yesterday. All day. And while it was pretty from inside at work, I then walked home in this semi-blizzard, leaving my eye makeup somewhere around my nose, and my holiday cheer somewhere around the first half-kilometer mark. I hate winter clothes, shoes, and accessories. (save for one Burberry scarf that makes me feel both sane and sophisticated, and like my mama)  I hate the way winter makes me want to burrow into a blanket and hibernate, and overeat and not exercise. (It’s a testament to my will power and vanity that I haven’t gained weight this month) I hate that I can’t even console myself with college basketball, and that this will be my first Christmas away from my family.

But okay, life doesn’t suck. I really like my job. I really like weekends out in Bundang and Seoul. I really like my friends here.

For the first time in my life, I am paying for and planning my own real vacation – a week (including NEW YEAR’S) in Sydney, for some much-needed sun & debauchery.

And when I truly find no redeeming qualities in a winter day, I take a deep breath, chug an iced coffee (don’t think I’ve switched just because the weather blows), and I look at these pictures that my amazing older brother took:

It should say, "I love my mama Claire."

Yes, that’s my number 1 gal, rocking a bib in my honor. (note: I did not make this bib. It was a present to inform me that I would soon be an auntie.)  Evey has apparently had some adjustment issues to the new baby; namely that she keeps defecating in the nursery, which is really funny tragic.  Clearly, my girl needs me.

She dares you to make a snarky comment about this photo.

And not to be upstaged, here’s my nephew, who appears to get cuter by the day. Can’t wait to meet you peanut!!

Dylan is offering free hugs to anyone suffering from seasonal depression

So yeah. . . winter sucks, but there is much to look forward to. . . and in the meantime, there are nephews and one-eyed dogs to love on.

Blame Yourselves

8 Dec

This is out of my hands.

Y’all are obsessed with my students and their unintentional hilarity.  Don’t worry, I totally understand – I laugh at them 5 days a week. They are pushing me to be a funnier person, and I appreciate that.

So here you go, vultures, have some fun at a child’s expense:

Test Question: What is your favorite food?

Answer: “My favorite food is spaghetti.  It is soft and warm. But sometimes it is greedy.”

Test Question: What would you wear to a fancy dinner?

Answer (from a 13 year-old boy, with a straight face): “I would wear black skinny’s, black shirt, bomb hair, glasses, and *kill heels. They are for girls, but they make me look taller.”

*What Koreans call stilettos.

Vocab word: Dash

Sentence: “I run to the bathroom to make a dash.”

Vocab word: Vibrate

Sentence: “I was vibrating during the English presentation.”

Vocab word: Breed

Sentence: “My mom’s breed is me.”

Vocab word: Favorite

Sentence: “My favorite people is my parents. because they gave me a birth. And they like me.”

Writing Prompt: What will your life be like in the future?

Answer: “I will read an electronic book in my space house.  And my robot will help me a lot too.”

Answer: “I want to be an actor. Like Harry Potter.”

Writing Prompt: Tell me about your personal style

Answer: “I don’t like skirts, because I’m a little chubby. But I’m not a total breakdown. I have better fashion sense than my mom. I hope my mom doesn’t read my journal.”

Book reports:

1. (This would be totally racist, if it wasn’t written by a small Korean child): “Winnie’s house and cat were all black. Winnie was black too. And that is how all the trouble started.”

2. “At first I thought the dentist is trying to kill me with the tool. Now I know, he just cleans my teeth.”

Proof that the person who writes the listening book scripts is both passive aggressive and in a really bad marriage.

Example 1:

Woman: “Why are you so late?”

Man: “Sorry. I just had a bitter quarrel with my wife. She spends way too much money.”

Example 2:

Woman: “How about this shirt?”

Man: “Can I pick out my own clothes for once?!”

Woman: “Fine. Do whatever you want.”

And aside from my problems with the listening scripts, I also happen to loathe half of the speaking books I teach. One book in particular has put me in more than a few awkward situations with the kids. I happen to have 2 sections of this particular class, so I had the joy of explaining what diarrhea was to about 20 embarrassed pre-teens.

Why? Because our practice health dialogue went a little something like this:

Person 1: “What’s wrong? You don’t look so good.”

Person 2: “It’s because I have diarrhea.”

Cut to my favorite class (featured prominently in my Halloween post), who are obsessed with talking about all things gross, namely bodily functions. While trying to make me repeat bad words in Korean, they asked if I knew the word “diarrhea” in Korean. Due to my prior experience (see above), I did, in fact, know that word. Despite my knowledge of the subject, little James decided to help me understand and proceeded to run around the room, holding his butt and yelling “ IT’S WATER POOOOOOO!” as loud as he could.

But this kind of stuff happens to lots of adults at work, right?