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But how do you know…?

11 May

...if you’re good at your job?

With some jobs it may be easier to measure general proficiency and/or success*:  doctors whose patients live, lawyers who win their cases, Taco Bell employees who make delicious tacos, or Forever 21 assholes employees who won’t let you take more than 7 items in the dressing room NO MATTER WHAT.

*I just spelled success wrong. Not one shred of this irony is lost on me.

And I think certain teaching jobs at certain schools can yield impressive results, but let’s get real because we aren’t all that white lady from Freedom Writers.  My students are from wealthy families, whose parents are committed to their education. They began studying English around age 4, and when I met them 3 years later, they all had a ridiculously advanced grip on the language.

So of course I can improve their vocabulary, grammar, and dance social skills…but so much of their progress and success happened before me.  And with the parents they have, I’m pretty sure they would find a way to improve their English in any circumstance.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure I’m adequate amazing at my job.  Or at least, I hope I am…because I’m really trying.  I joke about this job and everything else A LOT, but when I’m actually in front of my classes teaching a lesson, I’m trying.  I also like teaching more than I ever thought I would.  I really just wanted to travel around after college…but lately I’ve been tossing around the idea of making a serious go at this.

…but I keep coming back to the same question – how do you know if you’re good at your job?

Some things I am sure about.


Today’s quote, courtesy of Phoebe from Friends (and further proof that 90s sitcoms were and are awesome):

“I may play the fool at times, but I’m a little more than just a pretty blonde girl with an ass that won’t quit.”



Today I’m thankful that I have any job at all, because I do love spending making money. I also enjoy not sitting at a desk, the general hilarity of children, and working in a foreign country.  And I may or may not enjoy song time, Play-doh time, and freeze dance time….a lot.


I Can’t Quit You

7 May

What started as a fun travel blog, later became a chore.  So I took a break; I felt like I was too focused on writing about my experiences instead of actually experiencing them…but after another fab conversation with Monica, and a writer’s-dilemma post from my friend Jenna, I realized it was time to get back to it.

Writers write.  So if I’m not writing, I’m not a writer.  And that made me uncomfortable.  So in the hope that motivation will win out over my penchant for self-indulgence, I’ve decided to make myself write every day.  Even if it’s just a paragraph.  Or a quote.  Or a picture with a caption. Something. Anything.

But, let’s quickly catch up.  During the last 8 months, I…

-met and fell in love with my nephew. I happily wear the crazy aunt hat.


-got my TEFL certification, despite my best efforts to avoid scholarly pursuits outside of Jeopardy

-left Korea, amid a flurry of parties and tears.   3 months later I came back, amid a flurry of parties and tears.

-Dated someone I thought was really amazing, but we broke up because he wasn’t.

-Went to Malaysia for New Year’s Eve.  And Taiwan for a 3-day weekend. (pics of Taiwan to come- Malaysia will not be mentioned on the blog again due to aforementioned break up and my self-respect.)

-Became a kindergarten teacher.

-Got violently ill à la Bridesmaids at the Incheon Airport.

…and today I cut all my hair off, which was much needed.  I am metaphorically and literally lighter.  The last 4 months have been a challenge, and now that I’m finally coming out on the other side of it, it’s time to write again.  You’re so welcome, friends.


Today’s quote:

“And in the spring I shed my skin
And it blows away with the changing wind”     
  –Florence and the Machine, “Rabbit Heart”

And lastly, to stop the constant self-deprecating humor, and for my own spoiled peace of mind, I’m going to write something I’m thankful for everyday – which is cheesy, but significant nonetheless.  Like a good episode of Gilmore Girls.

Today I’m thankful for how utterly humbling the last 4 months have been. (please see public food poisoning in above list) And I’m thankful they’re over.


15 Aug

Due to my constant desire to buy things I don’t need, I voluntarily decided to teach summer intensive classes at work in order to make some extra money.  Summer intensives are for children whose mothers don’t want to take them to the pool signed them up for what is essentially English camp, during their one-month break from public school.  The students come every day for a million years 24 days, BUT WHO’S COUNTING, while still attending their regular English classes.

So I’m now essentially working from 9 am – 8:30 pm everyday.  Le sigh. 

Now I have never, ever, claimed to be “highly ambitious.”  Hardworking, sure, but never a “come early, leave late” kind of gal.  And this is just downright exhausting.  It’s not difficult, and I actually like the classes, it’s just  By the time I start my normal classes at 1 pm, I’m ready to go home.  And by 8 pm every night, I can’t stand the sound of my own, hoarse voice. Or the English language. Or people.

Then I like to come home, stare at my computer for 30 minutes, and fall asleep by 9:30 pm without ever actually accomplishing anything like showering, blogging, actually talking to my friends, etc.  I’ve basically shut down in order to preserve all my energy for work (and spin class – post coming soon!)

Today was the third day in a 3-day weekend.  It was also the third day I’ve worn this shirt.

While my friends did some fun stuff in Seoul this weekend, I did what I like to call Claire Bear Hibernation. (copyright)

In case any of you would also like to live like Drew Barrymore in “Grey Gardens” hibernate, here’s how:

1) Do not shower or apply makeup.  However, manicures and pedicures are encouraged, as are experimental face masks.

2) Watch as many TV series and movies as possible. I watched Cleopatra this weekend.  It was 4 HOURS LONG. But for real, Elizabeth Taylor’s wardrobe was to die for.

3) Only leave the apartment for food runs.  Bonus points if you can grab lunch & dinner in one run, therefore eliminating the need to go out again.

4) While texting and Facebooking are OK, avoid actually speaking on the phone. (everyone knows I do this normally)

5) Nap between movies.  Also, fall asleep while reading a book.

6) Channel all random bursts of energy into stupid Facebook posts and solo dance parties.


Good luck, I honestly think you’ll find a weekend of hibernation relaxing.  It’s like a really poor person’s spa.  (but you have to provide your own robe) But please note, if you start hibernating for more than one weekend in a row, you’re probably depressed.  Or you have mono.  Either way, go see a doctor.

Oh, and just to really solidify my nosedive into lame-balls adulthood, I went to the dentist on Saturday.

Fret not friends, there are only 7 more days of intensives – because I’m counting.  By the minute.

Tell me about it

Rehash, Rewrite, Refresh

1 Jul

As my sister-in-law says, “When you’re not writing, I know something’s wrong.”

So I decided to stop being lazy and catch you all up.  In my defense, I haven’t written this month because my mind has been elsewhere.  About 6 weeks ago, my personal life literally imploded.  I’m talking my love life, my relationship with my friends, everything.  And I feel like I’ve spent the weeks following working through all that.  And I don’t write about that stuff, or at least I try not to.  So I’ve been avoiding y’all, while slowly moving things back on track.

Without further ado, Awesome Things I’ve Done While Not Writing:

1) EVERLAND!!!!  To celebrate Teacher’s Day, which was anticlimactic to say the least, some of the ladies and I finally ventured out to Everland, which is basically Korea’s own Disneyland.  Everland is an amusement park, zoo/safari, and full-on entertainment venue, with performers, parades, singing, dancing, and of course, lots of merchandising.  It was beautiful, and SO FUN!  And unlike Disney, it didn’t cost a million dollars:  we got in for $19, and all the food was about $5.  Please for a minute imagine if Disney or anything theme park in the US was like that.  You can’t, because it will never happen.  But don’t worry, we’ll always have Everland. And I finally rode the famous T-Express roller coaster – a huge wooden monstrosity, that has the scariest vertical drop EVER.  And it.was.awesome.  Honestly worth the nearly 2 hours we waited in line for it.  Oh, and it also gave me infinite street cred with my students – most of whom are too scared to ride it.

Bad things don't happen here. That's a fact.

T-Express: Please note the pee-in-your-pants drop at the beginning

2) Buddha’s Birthday/Lantern Festival

Earlier in May, we headed out to Seoul for the annual Lantern Festival and parade.  It was really pretty, colorful, and tame – meaning we sat in chairs and no one got into a fistfight because this is Korea, not the US.  Happy Birthday Buddha, you look great!

Not Buddha


3) The sweet escape:  Earlier this month we had a 3-day weekend for Korean Independence Day (or something like that, my students weren’t exactly clear, or helpful).  We decided to take advantage of the time off and head down to Busan, a huge city on the southern coast.  And while the city is broken up into many different parts, we really only explored Haeundae Beach, which kept us more than entertained.  We spent our days relaxing on the beach, which was hosting all kinds of contests and activities because this was a huge weekend for travel.  And we spent our nights partying.  Please note, I saw more foreigners this weekend than I have in the last 10 months.  White People Spring Break 2011 was a great success.

The ratio of Koreans to umbrellas is approximately 1:1

4) FINALLY going out in Hongdae, the university party area in Seoul.  (Also home to Korea’s 2nd Taco Bell, but that’s another story) Hongdae is just a huge, winding maze of club and bar-filled alleyways.  It’s full of foreign teachers, military guys from the US, and more drunk Koreans than you can count.  While Koreans are the epitome of prim and proper during the day, they have no shame in their drinking game.  It is absolutely normal and acceptable to get black-out drunk, stumble around while balancing on a friend’s arm, or just straight up pass out in the street.  No one will look twice, or rob you.  My favorite of the night  was a guy driving a Vespa, with his comatose friend sleeping on him on the back.  That is love people. And that is Hongdae.

5) Getting my early morning meditation on: the ballet studio changed owners, and so we are now taking yoga class 3x/week.  While this is not “hot yoga” it is a veritable sweat lodge in there, due to my sadist teacher’s aversion to air conditioning.  Oh, and did I mention it’s now at approximately 300% humidity here?  So despite losing at least a pound in water weight every morning, I’m loving the class.  They’ve finally hired a replacement ballet teacher so next week we start ballet on Tues/Thurs., meaning I will be working out before work every day.  I will pause for my parents to express their surprise, pride, and utter delight.

6) Preparing for the apocalypse: and by that, I mean the rainy season.  As I said, the humidity is stifling, and it’s been raining for the last week.  Every day.  All complaining aside, I really do prefer this to the cold.  And since everyone has been warning me about this for months in advance, I knew what was coming.  This weekend I bought my first pair of real rain boots (in eye-assaulting teal), and my 3rd umbrella in Korea (while buying rain boots, I LOST my umbrella in the store. . .only to have to buy another one in the same store.  Both ironic and cruel) Either way, I’m now fully outfitted for this season, which is best described by Forrest Gump:

“One day it started raining, and it didn’t quit for four months. We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain… and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night… “

This is basically how I look and feel everyday.

At least it’s given me a plausible excuse to wear my hair in a ponytail every day, and whittle my makeup routine down to eyeliner and chapstick.  What can I say, I’m a sweaty kid.

7) Reading like a mad woman.  I’ve been geeking out, and devouring books left and right lately.  Currently finishing up the 19th Wife, and just finished an engrossing non-fiction book called Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, written by an amazing journalist.  Like I said, geeking out.

8) Contemplating how the hell an entire year has gone by since I graduated.

9) Crying over pictures of my nephew (no really) and getting really excited to see my parents and younger brother in LESS THAN A MONTH!  I might literally pull a Scarlet O’Hara and faint with heatstroke emotion.

10) Freaking out that I am the next teacher to leave.  Granted, that’s not for 3 more months, but it’s still pretty weird.  There is absolutely no other word to describe it than bittersweet.

11) Bungee jumping!  Some of the teachers and I peed our pants had our first bungee jumping experience at Yuldong Park in Bundang.  It is insane how long the free fall feels (say that 3x fast).  It’s just like falling. And falling. Forever.  Then you bounce up, and do it again. And again.  And finally, we were lowered into a  row boat, with a less than enthused teenage driver, that would take us to shore.  Nothing makes you feel more like cattle than being lowered via crane, into an awaiting boat.  I also used this prepaid harness time to work on my Circ du Soleil moves, but like I said, the boat guy was less than impressed.

Peer pressure: If all your friends jump off a bridge-type building, are you going to jump too? Why yes, yes I am.

And lastly, I’ve just been trying to figure out what the hell happened the last 6 weeks.  Not that it has been terrible, or in any way unbearable, just confusing and at times sad.  And like I always try to explain, everything is magnified when you’re in another country.  As my very wise friend Betsy said, “You just feel so vulnerable here.”

So, onward and upward.