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The 12 Stages of a Korean Spin Class

29 Aug

There is nothing like taking a spin class in Korea.  Nothing.  It’s a cross between biking, disco dancing, and the 4th circle of hell.  Much like I imagine women do with childbirth, I keep forgetting how terribly painful it is, so I keep going back.  Mainly because I can’t think of a good excuse not to.

*It’s worth noting that much like every building in Korea, air conditioning and heating are used minimally.  It’s actually hotter inside the gym than in actual nature.  Gross.

The 12 Stages of a Korean Spin Class:  A Cautious Endorsement

Stage 1:  Tepid excitement: Regular lights off, spinning disco lights on, door to the tiny jam-packed spinning room closed, causing sweating to begin.  Sidenote: Today my spin instructor turned on the strobe lights, which was fun until I almost had a seizure and fell off the bike.

Stage 2: Smugness.  No matter how ridiculous you look, you will always be a better dancer than the moms and dads in this room. And if not better, then at least, you know, younger.  Also, you know the songs.

Stage 3:  Overheating.

Accurate.

Stage 4:  Overwhelming regret.  It’s been 15 minutes. TOTAL.

Stage 5: Bargaining silently with the instructor to: 1) go easy on you 2) unexpectedly stop the class after 5 minutes 3) actually kill you

Stage 6: Irrational anger. Thissucks, thissucks, thissucks, thissucks.  Bonus:  Most of my instructors make let us yell to keep up general enthusiasm and momentum.  What they don’t know is that I’m just screaming the name of whichever student pissed me off the most today. I would bet money that my coworkers could name the top 3.

Guess what bitches? Surprise spelling test tomorrow!

Stage 7:  Envy.  Why is my androgynous spin instructor in such bangin’ shape?  Do I have heat stroke or is she getting way hotter? Also, we have the same haircut. Also, her English name is Gun.  GUN.

Stage 8:  Daydreaming, which helps block out the excruciating pain in your thighs and ass.  I like to mentally run through my fall shopping wish-list. (polka-dot skinnies? Don’t mind if I do!) If I get really bored, I make lesson plans.

Stage 9: Evaporation.  My eyelashes are sweating.  It was a poor choice not to bring water – in that it could result in my actual death.

Stage 10: Party rock! Heat stroke be damned, I love K-pop and I love dancing.  And I look good.  This is also the point where I convince myself that I’ve lost at least 6 pounds so far.

Surprisingly, not that far off.

Stage 11:  Awkward stretching while on a bike. The main goal is not to slip off.

Stage 12:  Avoid the 40 naked old Korean women in the locker room.  Crawl home.  Attempt to drink Vitamin Water, but instead pour it all over your face.  Lie on floor and will your body to clean itself.  Weep.

*Tonight we full-on recreated the dance moves from Gangnam Style (recent internet sensation and the story of my life) Gun knew all the words.

Losing My Religion

18 May

So I was all set to finally write my baseball post, but then I went shopping after work, to spend those gift certificates I mentioned earlier.  So I apologize to the 3 male readers of this blog, because it’s basically another fashion rant but sweet jesus you guys I have looked into the face of evil tonight, and it was made of polyester.(as most evil things are)

Here are my thoughts, so that I can unburden my mind, watch some Community, and put my pretty little self to bed.  Because I work on Saturdays, which is almost as upsetting as the other things I’m about to tell you.

-Shopping for jeans, or any pants, in Korea is the 7th circle of hell.  Living in a world where all pants stop at size 6 (sometimes they have 8’s, for the pregnant Korean women) is the slowest form of torture.  This is why foreigners shop at foreign stores – Zara, Mango (my new jam), H&M, Forever 21, etc.  Korean stores can kindly kiss my larger-than-size-6 sized ass.

-I saw something more disturbing than, well, the last time I saw this.  Skorts(skirt and shorts)  Few things disgust me more than skorts (Crocs, social conservatives, aggressive Southern accents, airports without free WiFi, etc).  I mean where the F are you going that requires you to dress up (skirt) but still need the flexibility of shorts?  Possible answers: A fancy playground, 1995, a pep rally where you will be cheering, a wedding at an amusement park, or Wimbledon where you will be playing.  I refused to buy anything in this store out of principle – if I don’t stand up for the sovereignty of shorts and skirts, who will?

On principle, roller derby scares the shit out of me, but here’s another example of a skort.

-Jeggings, jeggings everywhere.  Real talk (no spin zone style) – if you wear jeggings you’re telling the world that you’ve given up.  It’s a  cry for help.  End of story.

-Non-airconditioned stores + fluorescent lighting + teeny tiny dressing rooms have forced me to reconsider pregaming my shopping trips.

Sorry to be so real just then.  Don’t worry, I found what I desired at Mango and Uniqlo, and hauled it out of there.  Thanks for sticking with me while I worked through some stuff.

…………..

Now, feel free to laugh at this exchange between 2 of my students yesterday:

Girl 1: “What’s your bear’s name?”

Girl 2: “Bear Bear.”

Girl 1: “That sounds Chinese.”

……………

Today I’m thankful that I live alone.  Because I only like to sleep during the day, and my domestic skills leave much to be desired.  I would take a picture of the pile of laundry I have to do, if I wasn’t already bored from talking about doing laundry.

Have a good weekend!

Am I the only one…

17 May

…not watching Downtown Abbey?

…staying up at night trying to figure out who the hell is January Jones’ baby daddy? GIVE IT UP ALREADY

…who attempted to drink a bottle of Hello Kitty wine this week? (spoiler alert, it tastes like hangover)

…who may or may not have cried during the season finales of Parks&Rec and Criminal Minds?

…wrestling with cowlicks every morning? I’m considering placing an emergency call to my little brother to discuss hostile-takeover strategies.

…sludging through The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald? If I wanted to know about the drama that ensues when rich, white people get drunk, I would just watch Gossip Girl.  Which I already do.

…who had the most surprisingly fun time at a Korean professional baseball game last weekend? (more on this later. It was FAB.  And I spent 5 minutes on Skype convincing my parents that I wasn’t being sarcastic.)

…who forgot to blog this week? Let’s blame this on the Hello Kitty wine.

…completely disgusted with Kanye West for dating Kim Kardashian? The only way I could respect him less is if this wasn’t a publicity stunt.

…who thinks bralets are hilarious?  Before wearing a bralet, ask yourself: Am I going to Coachella?  If the answer is yes, then have fun, stay hydrated, and don’t take the red pill.  If the answer is no, then you need to put a shirt on.  And reevaluate.

…who got some awesome swag for Teacher’s Day?! $200 gift certificate to a department store, beautiful bouquets, and hilariously worded cards from my students, makes Claire a happy teacher.

…mildly horrified by Beyonce’s non-dress at the Met Costume Gala last week?  Like…you’re a mother now(shudders)

Image

Once again y’all, the number one rule of fashion is: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Glad we’re all on the same page now guys.

Today’s quote:

Believe me, I wish you weren’t such a Houston foreclosure of a human being, but I need to tear you down and turn you into someone that can actually win this thing!

-Jenna, 30 Rock

…..

Today I’m thankful for Teacher’s Day! Teaching kindergarten totally trumps elementary school in terms of student to gift ratio.

Overheard In My Classroom

9 May

I imagine every job requires one to say ridiculous things. (examples off the top of my head: bikini-waxers, TSA agents, therapists)  But  naturally, I like to think that teaching kindergarten trumps them all.  Below are various comments and absurd things I’ve said in the last month.  Please keep in mind that I get paid for this.

-“You can’t play with the magnets until you wipe the cake off your feet.”

-“…and that’s why we don’t stand on the chairs.  Hold on, I’ll get you a band-aid.”

-“How many times have I told you not to practice taekwondo in class?”

-“Hands out of your pants/fingers out of your nose/crayons out of your mouth.”

-“If one more person falls out of their chair today, I’m taking a sticker.”

-“If we can’t do the Hokey Pokey without kicking each other, then we just aren’t going to do it anymore.”

-“Please stop cheating. It’s musical chairs.”

-“You guys our classroom smells like feet again.”

-“Did you forget to bring your ears to show-and-tell? Because that question has been asked three times already.”

-“OK raise your hand if you did not get a turn during Duck, Duck, Goose.”

-“No, I will not give you some of my coffee.”

-“Please stop trying to take my earrings out.”

-“You’re right, if a person breaks their neck, they can’t move their arms or legs, but they can still think…..Yes, that means they can still think about stars and stuff.”

-“The Easter Bunny is as real as Santa Claus.”

-“Girl spiders lay eggs after they get married.”

-“You brought your pet turtles for show-and-tell?!”

-“If you pop your balloon, I’m not giving you another one.”

-“I’m wearing my Hello Kitty socks too!”

-“Stop speaking Korean…no, that doesn’t mean you can speak Chinese instead.”

-“Please stop crawling. We walk in the classroom.”

-“Oh really? Someone in your class was eaten by a crocodile at the zoo today?”

-“That’s it. Go sit in the Thinking Chair.”

And let’s not forget this little gem that one of my students said to me today:

“I really like your face. But your hair looks like my mom’s.”

Then she walked away.

Image

…………..

Today I’m thankful for the cheap, clean, safe, and reliable public transportation in Korea. Because us poor people have places to go too. And because it’s really nice to listen to music while someone else does all the work.

Suwon’s Hwaseong Fortress

16 Aug

. . .where I got my tourist on.

Ancient temple in the foreground - modern-day Suwon in the background.

Sometime last month when it was still raining, but hadn’t yet flooded, some lady friends and I headed to the nearby Hwaseong/Suwon Fortress.  It’s basically Korea’s “great wall” (without the communism), and with a lot of good photo ops and small buildings along the way.  It’s about 40 minutes from where I live AND it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, so it was about damn time I went.  Rain and all.

First and foremost, I totally underestimated the size of this thing. (that’s what she said)  I figured a few hours was more than enough time, but you could easily spend a day here just walking along the wall.  Or posing with an umbrella:

This is as Korean as I get.

The upside of the rainy season, is that everything is so lush.  Which is also the single most delicious word in the English language.

There were lots of things to climb:

. . .and lots of territory to defend:

In the future, this is how I will protect the world from zombies. Or Scientologists.

We also find a really pretty shrine to hike to.  The statue is of a very important king, whose name I have absolutely no recollection of and which I’m far too lazy to Google right now.

At the shrine, we also found a very inappropriate baby Buddha:

Thus, the Legend of the Pantless Baby was born.

All in all, a good touristy experience.

Well done gal pals.

Blame Canada

5 Jul

I have never celebrated Canada Day.  And much like “Boxing Day” and “Flag Day” I have no real concept of what goes on during these supposed “holidays.”  If I’m not getting a day off work/school, or at least a present of some kind, the day doesn’t exist.

Until now.

In Korea, we celebrate Canada Day.  Why?  Because if you don’t, or if you even show a slight reluctance to celebrate the day, your Canadian coworkers will beat you with hockey sticks will guilt-trip you with so much good cheer and northern friendliness that your natural American shame will force you to celebrate. (That and I’m pretty sure Canadians outnumber Americans here by like 5 to 1.  The irony that I have met far more Canadians in Korea than in the US does not escape me.)

So, for all the shenanigans that happened last Friday night – Blame Canada.

. . .

Two of my favorite people - this was also before I got too sweaty to take pictures.

Literally the entire office staff went out on Friday – and most of the foreigner bars we go to here (not in Seoul) are owned by Canadians, so the places were packed.  And nothing is more fun than drinking with your Korean boss, and I say that with absolutely no sarcasm.  My boss is a no BS woman, who’s completely unfiltered, inappropriate, and hilarious.  We get along famously.  Especially when there’s alcohol involved.

Unfortunately she deleted the only pic I took of her that night, but she made up for it by insisting we do Flaming Dr. Pepper shots.  Well twist my arm, I’d love to!

After that, the night was a blur in the way that only Korean nights are:  too much singing, too many heart-to-hearts because we’re all wandering hippies deep down, too many arguments-turned-almost-fights with rude, ignorant US military guys, too many discussions of college with Jenna, too many new Canadian friends. . .and Korean dance clubs at 4am, where the techno is loud, the Koreans do hipster line dances that are impossible to learn, and where I sweat like the filthy American I am.

It.Was.Awesome.  I was having so much fun that I was hardly annoyed by the Canadians who ran around draped in their country’s flag, singing “Oh, Canada” at the top of their lungs.

So as the sun came up and I finally released my feet from my high heels while in a taxi, I thought. . .where the hell are my coworkers?

And then I remembered: Everything’s fine.  Just Blame Canada. (Which I did all day Saturday)

PS: I was going to title this post, Whatever You Do, Don’t Say Bruins, but I felt it was too soon.

Annoying People on the Group Trips

26 May

Alternative Titles:

A Sociological Study on God’s C-listers

Mein Kampf

People Who Came to Korea Because They Were Exiled From Their Home Country

1. The Stage-5 Clingers

The S5Cs are people who immediately coupled up upon moving to Korea, mainly for fear of spending any time with themselves.  Immediately upon meeting and engaging with a S5C, you will be introduced to their significant other, so that you do not confuse them with one of The Singles.  You will also be  forced to listen to the “totally crazy/random/fateful” way in which they met at a foreigners’ bar, which isn’t random in all.  Much like a high school field trip, these couples treat every moment as an opportunity to hold hands/cuddle/giggle/kiss/make everyone else uncomfortable and annoyed.  According to S5Cs, the above mentioned behaviors are acceptable: on a charter bus, during a group tour, while praying/eating/sleeping, in front of a monk, and while hiking.  Do not befriend the S5Cs if you are A Single, because they will mistake your friendliness for overt flirting with their non-attractive partner.  S5Cs prefer only to befriend other Couples.

2. The Aging Fratter

These gray-haired bros are under the misguided impression that Korea is their answer to that fraternity formal weekend they never had.  Mainly because they were never chosen to pledge.  They see their time here as an opportunity to drink all the time, do incredibly stupid and annoying things, and fail at picking up girls.  While most their age would find this behavior embarrassing, the AF sees these behaviors as Totally Awesome Stories to loudly brag about in group settings.  While the AF does help in proving Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, they are to be avoided at all costs for fear of encountering a bad pick-up line, a drunk fight, and/or projectile vomit.

3.  Bernadette Peters

4.  The Itchin’-To-Get-Offended People

This particularly fun group loves to party be overly politically correct.  Despite being immersed in another country and culture, they cannot discuss it for fear of Offending the Koreans.  They cannot discuss their job with any humor because All God’s Children Are Sacred. (trust me, they aren’t.  I teach a whole roster of future B-teams.  I also find all of them hysterically funny.)  Despite being in a temple, they cannot discuss religion because their parents would get mad at them That’s Private.  They also do not appreciate cursing, drinking, or laughing.  If the town from Footloose was a person, it would be like this and it would try to ruin my trip.  Luckily, much like Kevin Bacon, I’m here to party and start the revolution.  And dance.

5. People Who Make You Feel Bad About Yourself

These people already have a Master’s/Ph.D/ functioning adult relationship.  They awake at dawn to exercise vigorously for an hour because if they don’t, they “just don’t feel right, you know?”  They ask insightful questions on the group tour, in both English and Korean, which they have mastered during their time here due to intense study.  They make friends with everyone.  They read approximately 5 newspapers a day, including both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, to stay balanced.  They are members of various after-work activities, including sports clubs, dance groups, and other things you didn’t know were available to you here.  They volunteer. At 6am on Saturdays.  They go to church, but aren’t preachy or easily offended.  They Skype with all their parents and friends at least 3 times per week.  They have a great social life because they are great dancers, know all about music, and can hold their liquor.  They will never be hungover. Ever.  They have visited every country on your wish list, and speak all of those languages.  They plan to return to their home countries and better it. These people will simultaneously exhaust you and shame you.  Avoidance at all costs is key.

Please print this out and use it as a field guide for any future group tours.  You’ll thank me.