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Prepared.

28 Aug

The good news is that I had the day off work.

The bad other news is that it’s because of a typhoon.  Allegedly. 

…but it does explain yesterday’s 200% humidity increase.  On my face.

……………

Yesterday, my boss called me when I was trying to get my visa for next month’s Beijing trip. NBD.  It was a sunny, cloudless afternoon when she told me not to come into work because of a typhoon.  To which I responded: “It would be really cruel if this was a joke, AND you’ll have to fire me because either way I’m not coming to work now.”

Then she told me to stock up on food and to stay inside all day.  Which is what I call Sunday.

I immediately realized that I had no idea WTF a typhoon actually was.  Being from the most landlocked of all the continental states, I’m good at waiting out tornadoes, and being really bored.  I’m not, however, knowledgeable about typhoons, monsoons, or tropical anythings.  (To be honest, it all just makes me think of some sad, new reporter in a huge yellow raincoat, getting pelted with rain and wind on some abandoned beach, while telling us “Conditions are bad on the southernmost tip of Florida.”  Totally.)

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Just to clarify, your report is telling me NOT to go to the beach today?!

Three hours later, I asked the mom of the girl I tutor what a typhoon realistically meant for my Tuesday.  She got as far as “roofs can blow off” before I sprinted out her door and to the elevator, but NOT before I heard her laughing at me.  Rude.

………..

24 hours later, it seems like we all overreacted.  From what I could scientifically gather between frequent naps, it has been rainy and windy all day.  Like every other miserable day in August.  That being said, thank you Typhoon Bolaven for giving me yet another reason to stay in and watch TV instead of actually doing anything like work or going to the gym.  (But in a misguided bout of energy, I did attempt to make polka dots on my nails using a bobby pin.  Results: Pending.)

………..

Despite already having written a post about hibernation and avoiding people, here’s a quick list of any typhoon-day-in must haves:

-Enough Dr. Pepper to last a week.  It’s better to overestimate than find yourself in a dire situation.  (If you think I won’t be highly caffeinated up until the minute I die, then you’re sorely mistaken)

-Gummy Bears, Goldfish, Subway sandwiches, and On The Border take-out.  While I always believe cooking to be a waste of time, that goes double for freebie no-work days.

-Nail polish. Der.  Bobby pins optional but recommended.

-Internet, as this is the perfect time to catch up on any Facebook stalking you may have neglected.  Also, if the internet goes out, just assume the typhoon is for real, and your life is over.

-A smartphone to: 1) Text friends about the lack of typhoon action and all the TV you’re watching 2) play Angry Birds Space 3) check Facebook from the bed since you’re ghetto and must use an ethernet cable for your laptop.

-Books!  I’m currently on sabbatical from all things high-brow and am switching back and forth between Chelsea Handler and David Sedaris. 

-As many illegally-downloaded TV shows and movies as possible.  I took today as a sign that it’s finally time to start watching Breaking Bad.  Verdict: I’m into it. Also, meth is scary.

-A bed. Naps are key.

Enjoy your slightly above average windy day!

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Write This Down

8 Jun

“I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. I believe that loving is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”    -Audrey Hepburn

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…I also believe in Instagram, electric blue lace, and shameless hipster pics.

Today I’m thankful for …coffee.  And the delightful ladies at the Starbucks across from my school that know my order, notice my haircuts and accessories, and make sad faces when I have a cold.  It’s the happiest place on earth.

Parent Trap

7 Jun

Pardon my absence.  I become completely worthless when stressed – I’m not one of those proactive, solve-the-problem type people…instead I have reoccurring anxiety nightmares (where all my ex boyfriends and high school nemeses try to ruin my prom night – as if, bitches!), and I watch a lot of the Real Housewives of Orange County, which always soothes me.

The main source of my recent stress-induced worry lines, has been the parents at my job.  What began as a small thing, went around and around and around, and circled into a big thing.  And I felt attacked.  And I panicked.

And then it all sort of ended up as nothing, something brushed under the rug as a “misunderstanding,” one in which I think I’m the only one still thinking about it, and still feeling hurt.

The thing about, well everything, and especially teachers here is that there are two groups:  the ones that care, and the ones that don’t.  In all honesty, it’s not the most difficult job to coast through – many of the people here just want to travel, or didn’t study to be teachers (both me)But in January, in the midst of feeling like I couldn’t do this job, or simply didn’t want to, I made the decision to care – to really go all-in, and see what happened. 

And it only took until April to see results. (hence the wrinkles and stress-shopping)

And I’m really happy I did it.  And I’m proud of myself.

But the thing about caring is…you care about everything.  So when a “parent complaint/ misunderstanding/personal attack happens – it really feels like shit, and it really feels personal. 

As Monica and I discussed (and baby bro was there too, but he just pretended to text the whole time – hi Eric, get a haircut!) I will never be the kind of person who is indifferent…about anything except Carrie Underwood, who is so damn boring.  That’s just not my personality, and I can’t spend my time that way – I’m just not that cool, despite my new hipster haircut.  And so…stuff like this is going to happen, and I’m not going to be able to laugh it off.

…so thank god there’s bad TV to download, and an endless supply of cropped blazers to buy.

Crisis: averted.  Blogging: resumed.

Today’s quote:

Sometimes when we were in Dublin, Dad would just wander off and get lost, and I would just stop and scream ‘ THIS IS MY NIGHTMARE.’

This is what my little brother said when I asked him how his recent Ireland trip with the parents went.  And then I laughed for days.

….

Today I”m thankful for perspective, which I admittedly don’t have much of. A lot of friends tried to put this mess into perspective for me…and I realized that did nothing for me.  I then reasoned that my only source of perspective is Tator Tot – if that baby is healthy and happy, then things are good, and most of the other stuff doesn’t matter.  And ironically Tator had to have little baby surgery this week, but happily wheeled his tiny suitcase outta there today.  While wearing Elmo pants.

Because he’s baller.

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.

Because I Find Myself Infinitely Interesting

25 Apr

This is a list of currents – just so we can continue to get reacquainted after my shameful absence.  Please note that I stole it from a delightful blog called Lauren From Texas.

Current Book(s): I just finished up Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays and Betsy Israel’s Bachelor Girl: 100 Years of Breaking the Rules–a Social History of Living Single, which despite being one of the very rare non-fiction books that I’ve ever read, was really interesting and conversational.  And as of yesterday,  I finished reading Mini Shopaholic.  Because my copy of War and Peace wouldn’t fit in my suitcase.

Current Playlist: “Turning Tables” by Adele and “Power” by Kanye West.  Literally only those 2 songs, on repeat. Let’s just chalk this up to hormones and move on.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Um, I could sit here and list every TV show I watch, because they are all uber-shameful.  But the number one guilty pleasure this week? Carmen Sandiego on Facebook.  Where in the world is my grip on reality?

Current Color:  Purple. Delish.

Current Drink: Dr. Pepper and Tom n Tom’s Americanos.  They are the only way I get through the “challenging” (re: punks) classes.

Current Food: Bibimbap!  Not only is this meal about $3, it’s really filling and actually very healthy.  It’s rice, assorted Korean vegetables, and chili pepper paste. I get mine meat-free with a fried egg on top.  This is my dinner about 4 times a week.

Current Favorite Show: Dexter. I love dark humor.  And he’s not bad to look at either.  And The Office, because Steve Carell is about to leave (RIP Michael Scott), Will Ferrell is guest-starring and the writing has finally picked up.

Current Wishlist: A dryer.  Some new cute flats in bright colors.  A spa pedicure.  And some spring scarves and dresses.  Oh, and world peace – obvs.

Current Needs: A better sleep routine, so I’m not always tired from lack of sleep or groggy from too much sleep. Perhaps I can Ferberize myself.

Current Triumphs: Just put a decent amount of money into my US bank account. . . which almost makes all the saving and scrounging every week feel worth it.  And I just completed a weekend temple stay, that was really really cool. (more on this later. . .with less vague adjectives)

Current Bane(s) of my Existence: Any class involving children under the age of 8.  I’m not your babysitter.  I’m not your mother.  Stay in that seat or so help me God I will tie you to it.

Current Celebrity Crush:Anna Paquin and Alexander Skarsgård – every weeknight at midnight, the Korean TV station plays True Blood, which is a nice break from America’s Funniest Home Videos. (called USA Funny Video here, but still just as stupid)

Current Indulgence: Carmen Sandiego.  There’s just no getting around this.

Current #1 Blessing: My health.  For a number of different reasons, I feel good these days, and I know that won’t always be the case.  So I’m trying to remind myself to be thankful for how good this feels.

Current Slang or Saying: “What am I, a wizard?!”  I can’t even get into this right now. But I’ve been saying it a lot since I moved to Korea.

Current Outfit: Distressed jeans. Patent-leather blue Sperry’s.  Flowered button down shirt, with a black tank/makeshift sweater vest over it.  Swarovski bracelet.  Leopard headband.  Oh, and 2 huge bags under my eyes.

Current Excitement: Starting my new book Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby. Watching all new episodes of the Real Housewives of Orange County and New York City this week.  A work get-away this weekend (for free!).  And a day off work next Thursday.

Current Mood: Resolved.  That I will get through Monday.  Because I have to.  And because relaxing after this workday is going to feel so good.

Anyways. . . how are you?!

The Claw

11 Mar

The month of March has brought many decent things my way: 50-degree weather, an exercise routine, Ms. Megan.  It has also brought me in influx of “special classes.”  Special classes are 50-minute themed classes with the kindergarteners, an age group I will inevitably scar for life am definitely not an expert in.  But the March calendar says that I am now teaching 4 special classes every week: 2 arts & crafts classes (how many gluey hands does it take to make Cla Teacha start sniffing the markers?), 1 game class (daycare), and 1 science class ( someone help Cla Teacha with the experiment because this stuff is hard yo).

And today was science class.  And I was dreading it, much like I used to dread science classes when I was a student. But as I began preparing for the class, my heart started racing. I couldn’t believe it.  As I confirmed that yes, in fact my wildest dreams were coming true, I triumphantly stood up and yelled “OMG YOU GUYS WE ARE MAKING CLAW HANDS IN SCIENCE CLASS!”

No response from the faculty room.  Typical.

Not that this deterred me in any way. Claw hands mean more to me than I can even express, but allow me to try.

This all began many years ago, when inexplicably Claw became one of my nicknames. This was before I ever thought about teaching Korean children who would call me Cla Teacha approximately 6 million times per day. My older brother in particular, really latched on to the nickname.  He also happened to have a claw hand toy from his childhood.

Please keep in mind that my brothers are almost a full foot taller than me. (don’t cry for me Argentina, I got the pretty face. Obvs.) And during my senior year of college when I moved into my own apartment, I would joke that I couldn’t reach anything.

So for Christmas last year, my older brother gave me his claw hand.

Christmas 2009: Claire's life is forever changed.

He may have thought it would be some huge joke, but in fact, the claw hand changed my life. I took it back to college, and proceeded to use it around the apartment, while simultaneously managing to bring it up in casual conversation with friends.*

*Please note that Bossman routinely brings up the fact that I showed him my claw hand on our first date

Unfortunately, the claw hand could not come to Korea with me, due to my mom taking it out of my suitcase space issues.  But now, everything is right with the world.

I not only made a claw hand in science class today, I showed the magic of the claw to a whole new generation of impressionable short people.  Things came full circle.

That is until I had to dismantle my own claw hand and give its various parts to students who had already managed to break their own (and consequently why I don’t have a picture to show you from today)

Le sigh.

There are no dinosaurs here. . . of course.

8 Nov

Last Saturday, Ryan, Betsy and I headed up to Seoul to tour Gyeongbokgung, the main (and very famous) palace from the Joseon Dynasty. (Yes I googled that for spelling)

A prime learning tourist opportunity, on what turned out to be a really pretty day. (Autumn in South Korea looks fake because it’s so pretty)

Before starting our guided tour, we watched the changing of the guards. It began with one, loud drum beating which caused me to ask what was happening.

Ryan responded with, “dinosaurs.”  An older Korean woman then approached us, and said: “It’s drums. There are no dinosaurs here.  . . of course.” She then looked really sad for our general ignorance and walked away.

 

Palace at the entry way. Note the lack of dinosaurs.

This is the inside of the palace in the previous picture:

 

The King had the same decorator as Teresa Guidice.

We then headed over to the stage and watched a dance performance.

Fabulous use of color, just sayin'.

After this, we realized we needed the help of an actual tour guide because we couldn’t find anything. And when we did find stuff, we had no idea what it was. Our tour guide was an adorable lady who would concentrate on one English word at each stop, and repeat it loudly. It was actually an effective tactic because her enthusiasm was contagious. So, I came away from the tour with a lot of one-word descriptions. (CHIMNEY! QUEEN! ROYAL!)*

For the first part of the tour, we thought she was saying “lawyer” instead of “royal.” As in, this is where the lawyer wedding took place. This is where the lawyer family slept. I seriously just thought they had a strong appreciation for rules and billable hours.

This is where the King had parties. Respect.

This is the Queen’s garden:

The original Real Housewife.

The queen got her own palace to sleep in, but unfortunately so did the Queen’s mother-in-law.  Apparently early Koreans were much like modern-day Italian men, in that they can’t let go of their mothers. The King’s mother chose the Queen, and 5 or so concubines for the King. The concubines slept in their own little house on the grounds. This caused me to make Tiger Woods jokes for the rest of the tour.

Where the King and Queen drank tea and chillaxed

Sophisticated and cultured:

Next Christmas card

A fabulous day – thanks Ryan for making me get out of bed and do this.

As they say, a girl never forgets her first palace.