The Christmas One

Alright, so I'm a few days late but Merry Christmas!! To make up for it, I'll be a few days early for the New Years one so Happy New Year, too! I've been holed up in my room watching The Cosby Show. My Christmas presents arrived on the 27th and let me just say, this was the best Christmas ever! I got a whole bunch of stuff and I won't list it all. The Cosby Show seasons 1-3 just did it for me. It reminds me of home, even though I didn't grow up with 4 brothers and sisters. My parents weren't doctors and lawyers either. And I didn't grow up in New York City. But amazingly, The Cosby Show still feels like my family. So, even though I couldn't be with my real family this year, my stand-ins are doing a pretty awesome job :)

So, it's the end of another year. I'm feeling somewhat reflective. I'm not one of those people who says things like, "I never would have dreamed this would be happening to me..." because the truth is, I DID dream this. Last year, I dreamt about these moments. I didn't know where I would end up exactly, but I knew I'd be in another country. I toyed with Thailand, I tangoed with Buenos Aires, I pondered Peru. I even dallied with Dubai. I just knew that once I had the idea, I set out to making it happen for me. Come hell or highwater. And believe me, the highwater (like my credit card debt) was steadily rising. Once I left New York and moved back with my parents, I was beginning to think my dream wasn't going to happen. My Dad would ask me everyday, "So, when are you leaving? Got a date yet?" And I'd have to reply, sadly, no. Just when I felt the highwater was going to drown me, I got a great offer in a good place. I took the risk and within a couple weeks, I found myself on an 18-hour flight to Seoul. About to start living a dream.

I don't know where 2008 will take me. Maybe around Southeast Asia. Maybe around China and Japan. I do know that those dreams are just ideas right now, but I'll find a way to make them happen. A lot of my friends tell me that they can't believe I'm out here, that they wouldn't have the balls to pick up and move across the world, not speaking a lick of the language. But I don't think what I've done is especially outstanding or remarkable. I think it is just how I am. I am not impressed by what I'm doing at all. For me, there was never a question of whether this would happen, only when. But if what I'm doing gives someone else a little more courage, a little more gall to stand up and take their dreams by the neck, then I'm all for it. No matter how crazy it may seem to outsiders, hold onto it. That dream is yours.

A Dream Deferred
by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?


A Day in My World...

I usually update on weekends but I'm trying to be better. I've only done 3 posts in 20-something days! Once you start blogging, you can't stop. People start to expect and anticipate your updates, which I love!

I've officially settled into my environment though. Now I truly FEEL as if I live here. This is my home right now. Feels weird to say but it's true. Everyday is not a mind-blowing experience. Yes, things happen but I have a routine. So I decided I'd just talk about my routine :) Many of you will never make it out here to see me so here's what a "normal" day is like for me here. The past couple of days had some interesting moments that I'd like to share.

I wake up around 10 or 11. Sometimes I wake up at noon though when I've stayed up chatting and doing nothing til 430am. I may go to the gym if I feel motivated enough. Yesterday, I went to the HomePlus because my fridge left a note on itself saying, "Put some food in me, dangit!!!!" I eat out everyday because it ends up being the same price anyway. It took me an hour to find 10 items. It's not that supermarkets are laid out any differently here - produce in front, meat in the back, and everything else in between. But I really have to be sure what I'm getting. So I've developed a system to help me out - I take pictures of what I like and what I don't to make sure I buy the same thing each time. For instance, the dumplings I really love have pork and vegetables in them. One time I bought some that had spicy kimchi in them...that was a no-no. The outside of the packages have wonderful pictures that tell you NOTHING about what's inside...and of course, the writing is in Korean.

Going grocery shopping is usually a brainless task...but for me here, it requires all of my senses. Koreans probably think I am nuts but there I am, in Aisle 6, shaking and sniffing everything in reach. I also like something called bulgogi, marinated beef with vegetables. I've learned how to order it now. I walk up to the guy and say, "Hana saram..." or "one person". He smiles and hands me about a pound of the stuff. Nice and easy. I really wanted some nice, big Jersey tomatoes. But I can't find them here. What I thought were tomatoes was actually a fruit called a persimmon. They are sweet, almost like apples.

As I wandered down the condiments aisle, I saw the canned fruit. Oooh, peaches!! I got really excited. Right as I was about to reach for it, I looked up and saw....canned silkworms right next to it!!! YIKES!!! I used to grow those back in 2nd grade...never thought I'd see them sitting next to my canned fruit. They are somewhat popular though. Steve told me that they sell them on the street, too. There's a really annoying van that always drives around blaring its speakers...yeah, he's selling silkworms. Needless to say, I passed on the canned fruit...kinda lost my appetite after that. : \

Checking out always makes me nervous, too. I don't know why but it does. The clerks are really nice and I appreciate them always trying to give me a chance to speak Korean. However, I'm not having full conversations here. One thing that's interesting about grocery stores here is they don't give you bags for your stuff. Like, you know there's a whole separate job back home just for people to put your stuff in bags. But no, you have to ask for plastic bags AND they charge you extra for it. I think it's only like 5 cents or something. So now I've started bringing the old bags to re-use. When you exit, they have an area at the door that looks like a gift wrap station, but people are just putting their stuff in boxes, like at Cosco. Correction, people are FIGHTING over the boxes.

Then today, I had to go to the bank to pay my gas/heat/electric bill. I was already angry that I had to cough up $170 this month. My hole-in-the-wall BOX of an apartment cost $170 last month to heat!! Angry....anyway, so the bill was due today. I'm a member of Woori Bank and Steve told me I could just do a transfer to KB Star for my bill. But NO, I could not. I walked into my bank holding the bill in my hand, looking like a helpless puppy I'm sure. The greeter led me over to someone who spoke moderate English and they called KB Star. The lady told me I couldn't transfer, had to come into the bank. Fabulous. So, that meant a hike across town. When I walked into the bank, it felt like the NY Stock Exchange - bells going off, people shouting numbers in Korean, some random guy selling cell phones in the corner, babies crying. I walked in and walked right back out...I thought "Oh God, it's too much..." It was really overwhelming at first, but I took a moment to scan my surroundings. There were 3 different sections, all with different numbers showing and different tickets to be taken. Which one do I take??? If I take the wrong ticket, I'd get sent to the wrong window and have to wait all over again. So I picked the area that looked most "normal", meaning without fancy chairs and glass partitions. #212 - Great...they're only on #195 and creeping along.

So I sat and waited quietly while the chaos swirled around me. I watched everyone and tried to practice understanding my numbers (sahm-o....3...5...crap, I lost it). My brain started to hurt. After 15 minutes or so, my number was called. The teller greeted me with, "How are you today?" A little dumbfounded, I almost forgot that I knew English. We chatted for awhile. She asked me how long I'd been here, when my birthday was, what I'm doing, if I like it, etc. Her English was slightly broken but she was damn good! Not shy at all...so that was a bright spot in my otherwise chaotic day.

Those are usually my morning adventures - simple tasks that are suddenly a challenge when you have no idea what anyone is saying. I'm learning more Korean though, a few words a week. I can now say when I like something ("Cho-wy-yo") and That price is too high ("Nomu pissayo") and I speak a little Korean ("Hangung-mal-rul chom hae yo"). I'm trying!! It comes out a little jacked up but the effort is appreciated. Once I start taking classes and understanding how the words are connected, I think I'll learn it quickly.

Well, it's 12am and I have about 3 more hours of doing nothing....so I'd better get to it!!! Until next time, J


Well, I'm Not Bald!

So I did it....I went to Seoul and got a perm. From Koreans. And it was great! This also happens to be the same place I get my brows done. It's called Family Hair Shop and it's a gem! So, I was a tad bit nervous about the experience. I was going to get braids but since I'm officially coming home for a quick visit in February, I couldn't afford them. After 11 weeks with no perm, you can just imagine how my roots were looking. I mean, my hair still looked nice but only on the first day I washed it. Anyway, I arrived at the salon and I was the only customer there (930am!) which was nice. I sat down and selected my relaxer - Motions. They also had some other random one but I wasn't up for experimenting. I ran through my mental checklist. She did everything correctly. She not only based my scalp but my entire forehead and my ears! (basing, for beginners, just means putting oil on your scalp before applying a chemical to it) I swear I was the greasiest thing you ever saw! I watched her meticulously put the perms on my roots....HOWEVER, my only complaint was that I think she used too much perm. She was grabbing like heaps of it and slathering it on my roots. I thought to myself, "Dang, lady! You'd think I had Brillo pads coming outta my scalp!" That made me nervous...and there was also perm starting to get on the shaft of my hair - BIG NO NO!!! So I told her it was starting to burn, which it was, so she'd hurry up and rinse me out.

That went well...and she gave me a good deep conditioner! CHECK! As I sat there basking in the deep conditioning, one of the stylists was getting a pedicure. Why did it looke like her feet were snowing though?? This woman was scraping so much crust and skin off the bottom of her feet. I nearly threw up a little bit as the flakes just fell softly to the floor. Then she swept it up, ever so gently. It was like a little mound of coconut shavings. INSANE! Pedicures are not the same here...I need the whole relaxation part. I want the massaging chair and the whirlpool at my feet. I want the lotion and the hot towel afterwards. But that was nowhere to be found here....this place is definitely bootleg. Looks that will have to wait til I get home. Then my stylist, who ended up being Coconut Foot Lady, blowdryed my hair and gave me a nice trim. My hair is bone straight, which I hate. After about 2 weeks, my hair will be perfect. It'll have more body and be back to normal - fluffy and Oprah-esque!

So, here's a pic cuz I know you're dying to see it (Michelle).... I got all of those wonderful services for $50! What a steal! I remember when relaxers back home used to be that price. Then one day, they were 70...then 80...and yes, I did pay $110 for a perm once! Good ole NY....never again! Overall, a great experience and oh yes, I will be back there. So, for all of you who were worried about how my hair would be over here, rest your minds :) Although I will probably end up getting braids at some point. Too much work doing this!!

I'm going to see the new Will Smith movie tomorrow....um, can I just tell you how pumped I am?!?! My love affair with Will Smith started many years ago. I must've been about 11 or 12 and it's only gotten stronger as the years went by. He is timeless....he is vintage and amazingly humble. He is everything a movie star should be - down to earth and outta this world. I used to have albums of all his pictures. I had articles from every teen magazine and even a Spanish magazine (before I learned how to speak Spanish!) I had the poster for Independence Day on my ceiling so I could see him before I fell asleep every night. He was in my locker and on my notebooks - "Joia and Will Smith....Will Loves Joia...." with an unimaginable number of hearts surrounding our names, as if this sealed our destiny. There were others along the way - Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jodeci, Penny Hardaway (whatever happened to him!?), and Mark Wahlberg. But they've all faded from my mind...Will Smith is the one who has remained all these years, stood the test of time. Wow, I've rambled quite a bit about him....but he is truly my most favorite actor on this planet and I will run, not walk, to see him whenever I can. Now, I realize he doesn't know I exist and these fantasies only have breath inside my imagination, but I still feel like if I met him on the street today and told him of my love for him all these years, he'd give me a big hug and say, "I LOVE YOU TOO, GIRL!!!" Yup...that's Will :) So here's a little tribute to the deliciousness that is, Will Smith....

The end of my day was pretty boring...I was just monitoring my middle school kids. They have tests coming up for regular school so we just give them study time. And I started writing a letter, to no one in particular. But it soon turned into an ode to my favorite teachers. I know I am a teacher over here, but I don't feel like a teacher all the time. I feel like I'm an ex- Assistant Buyer moonlighting as a teacher. I came here with very high expectations for myself. Some days the kids don't respond and they're tired. Somedays I just don't feel like teaching, but I still have to put on that smile and give them a show, so to speak. I realized today that I won't make these kids fluent by any means in English. I'll be perfectly happy if, by the end of my year, they can speak to me in a complete sentence. Talk about lowered expectations...but honestly, they're learning a totally different alphabet. Totally new characters and meanings and sentence order. I remember how I felt taking Chinese - like the biggest moron on Earth. The difference was I wasn't afraid to be wrong...and my kids are. They won't just say something. It's very calculated. I only have one student, Olivia, who is fearless. Actually, she may have Tourets now that I think about it...but I got to thinking that all a teacher wants is to connect with ONE. Just ONE and suddenly, all those grueling lesson plans and hours after class and before class and between class become worth it. A teacher wants that lightbulb to go off for just one....

I know my kids will have countless English teachers throughout their schooling, but I hope at least one remembers me. I started feeling sad because I'm totally attached to these kids already. I will miss them dearly. They are leaving footprints and handprints on my fragile heart...and they have no idea. This is why I don't know if I could be a teacher back home. I get too involved, too emotional. I'd be walking a tightrope between parent and teacher, not being able to draw the line and not knowing when to just walk away. I'd fight tooth and nail to preserve those precious minds, those developing identities. Then I started rambling off a list of some of my most memorable teachers...this is not all of them but I ran out of time:

Mrs. Flack - my first teacher when I moved to Cherry Hill and the sweetest face I'd ever seen. She took me under her wing..

Mrs. Powell - my 3rd grade Math teacher for 2 days...she gave me the "Math complex" and I've been afraid of the subject ever since. She made it crystal clear that I did NOT belong in her Advanced class....why, I couldn't even do my double digit times tables!

Mr. Heller - my 5th grade homeroom teacher, a wonderful guy who had zero control over the class...we tormented him

Mr. Murphy - my 7th grade Social Studies teacher, a man whose energy transcended this world. The sky could fall and Mr. Murphy would just dance on the stars. That's how much he loved what he did...

Mr. Lee - my 8th grade Math teacher and quite possibly the smartest man I've ever known. His patience was phenomenal, his sense of humor impeccable, and he had an uncanny ability to breakdown math to its essence, allowing me to finally (somewhat) embrace the simple science

Miss Chanowicz - my 7th grade Reading teacher. a plump woman who danced around in her rolling chair and stirred anew my passion for printed word, she was the epitome of dedication

Coach Garrity - my basketball coach from 9th-12th grade who saw my potential. When I didn't believe in myself on the court, she always did. When I messed up, she'd scream and yell but she'd send me back out and say, "Do it again...do it right this time..." She never gave up on me and I never gave up on the team

Miss Biello - 12th grade AP English teacher, a literary Nazi in many ways who sent every one of her students hurdling towards suicide but who always brought us back from the brink with dry humor and witty one-liners. She forced on us "The Epic of Gilgamesh", "Heart of Darkness", and "Wide Sargasso Sea" (one of my favorites to this day). I can appreciate her madness now because it unveiled my love and search for something deeper. I developed my ability to analyze some of the world's greatest novels.

Mr. Mann - my high school Spanish teacher, all 4 years...I fought every year to get into his classes. I knew I'd learn a ton and have fun doing it. I think his class planted the seedlings of my wanderlust, to see what else this world had to offer.

Dr. Pyatt - my college Finance professor, the hardest teacher I've ever had. I literally sweat trying to pass his Managerial Finance class. I was up til UNGODLY hours studying and re-studying for his insanely hard tests. Most people were thrilled to get a D. I sat in the front everyday, took notes, bought a tape recorder and everything else....I passed...with a C. I came back next semester for Investments and I got an A-...he remembered me after that for sure. :)

Mr. Krantz - my certifiably insane 10th grade Bio teacher...after all these years, I can still hear his monotone voice saying, "Let your conscience be your guide..." Anytime someone asked a question about "what to do" about anything, that was his response...and it's actually served me pretty well. And he also claimed that his dead Aunt Shirley was living in our classroom garbage can....I couldn't make this stuff up...

This list is not complete for there are so many teachers, formal and informal, who've shaped me today. But it's like looking at things through a different lens now. I'm realizing that being a teacher means everyday is a chance to impact someone and leave your footprint on their heart... Until next time, J


My {Imaginary} Korean Boyfriend...and Weekend Fun!

If I ever had a Korean boyfriend, I'd want him to look like this:

His name is Daniel Henney and he's like the hottest thing since sliced bread here. He's an actor/model and he's half white/Korean. Gorgeous doesn't even sum it up. So, he is my imaginary Korean boyfriend. :) His acting skills are pretty mediocre from what I've seen. He's made a fabulous career of being eye candy....and I have no objections to that! He looks Western, which is not to say there aren't really cute 100% Korean guys cuz I've seen them all over, but well, I'm a Western girl. I can't help it. And he has muscles, which is something many Korean guys don't seem interested in acquiring. Anywho, onto my weekend!!

I had fun (and expensive) times with Margot! We literally hung out all weekend. On Saturday, we ventured into Seoul during the day and braved the freezing temps. We visited an area called Insa-dong which is mostly known for the arts and crafts kinda stuff. There were a lot of adorable shops with stuff made from natural and recycled products. You can buy a lot of souvenirs and there's also a museum somewhere in the neighborhood. We also saw these random cartoon characters

I don't know what they are but this one had a big ole strawberry head so I jumped in a picture! I also bought this fabulous scarf for 11,000 won. It's like a blanket and it's so warm. I tried to haggle the lady down to 10,000 but she wouldn't go lower so I sucked it up.

Later that evening, we had dinner at Bennigan's. YES, Bennigan's! It was hella expensive but it was worth it. The only thing that could have made it better was if they'd known how to make a frozen margarita. There was like an entire ingredient missing. It really tasted like salty snow. Just godawful. Outside of Bennigan's, they were building a big Christmas tree made out of Heinken bottles. Now, I can only imagine the complete pandemonium this would cause back home. Literally, every beer would be gone in 2.5 seconds. I felt bad for the guys who had to do that job in the butt cold. Wouldn't be me!! Maybe they were drinkin the beer to keep warm....not a bad thought...

I got lost on the way home. Not really lost so much as I'd missed my stop and got turned around. A nice, young couple stopped to help me. The woman spoke decent English and the man sure tried. He even followed me downstairs to make sure I found the place...so I took a random picture of the subway stop. Yes, this would be the WRONG one

The craziness continued on Sunday as Margot and I went into Itaewon for brunch at Suji's. This place felt like a NYC diner and the food was amazing! The only thing they were missing were grits, but I dunno if I really trust Koreans to get it right...that takes lots of practice. But, as you can see, I ate heartily. Man, I've missed eating bacon!!

Then we walked around Itaewon in search of some designer Evisu jeans for her boyfriend. I mean, these alleyways we walked down were clearly places of ill-repute. I would never be caught at night back there...or alone. So, she must really love her man to do that. But we did take a funny picture of a random statue...just because we could.

Next we headed back to Yongsan (about 2 miles away). We weren't ready to head home yet so we decided to catch a movie. We saw Hairspray at 630 at the CGV Movie Theater...incredible theater. Nice and clean and big screens. At Korean movies, you actually have to pick a number before you buy your ticket (like when you're buying deli meat at the grocery store) and you also have to select your seats. So, you can't just roll up in there and sit wherever you want. It gets printed on your ticket. Interesting...so while we had 2 hours to kill before the movie, we engaged in the usual foolishness. I got my feelings hurt (not really) in the shoe department. The salesmen were really nice and asked if we'd like to try anything on. And then I told him my shoe size and for a split second, his face screwed up all funky like this:

I couldn't help but laugh...and apparently neither could he! The average shoe size here is like a 7 or something so my size 9.5's get NO love. They were funny though. I appreciate their {lack of} help. We walked around some more and were shocked to find BLACK mannequins at the United Colors of Bennetton kiosk. So you know we took pictures...

Then we saw, quite possibly, the ugliest handbag I've ever seen in person. It was a powder blue, like, muskrat fur with black patent leather and gold hardware...or something. Oh yes, I got a picture of the foolishness. And I promptly got yelled at in Korean by the employees. I mean, I don't blame her for yelling. She probably thought I was gonna splatter it on the internet with captions like "ALL WRONG!!" and "NO, KOREA, NO!!!" And she'd be right....BAD, KOREA, BAD!!!!!!! DOUBLE BOO BOO!!!!

But seriously, Korea has the handbag game on lock. And I mean the affordable handbags for common folk who cannot afford to go running to Chanel and Gucci all the time. These bags are gorgeous and they range from like $10- $150. Yes, I may be back. I just might bring home an entire suitcase of bags. A girl can never have too many...:) Lastly, we went to Popeye's for dinner. We both ordered kids meals and I was a little appalled at our toys. Yes, that would be a cockroach...Really Popeye's? Is that the kind of image you want associated with your food? Makes me suspect...but I still ate it...

Hairspray was good...I kinda slept through the beginning. Everytime I'd wake up, I'd be thinking, "Dang, they're singing AGAIN!!" Obviously not big on musicals here...I like action movies! Anyway, I had a pretty cool weekend! I was pretty happy....I may be coming home in February but that's still developing... :) Until next time, J


Burned My Dumplings...Again

It's not a euphemism for something. It's becoming a weekly tradition now. I make dumplings every Sunday. Ok, let me clarify. I don't "make" dumplings. I de-frost them and throw them in a pan. But I burn them everytime. The first time I did this, they were perfectly bronzed and wonderful. Now, they always have a slight black hue and a faint smell of charcoal. I'm working on it. By the time someone actually comes to visit me, hopefully I'll have a better grasp of the fine art of frying dumplings. :) Let's hope.

I had a pretty crazy weekend. I have 3 new friends and lots of memories to show for it. Quite frankly, I didn't think I still had it in me. I haven't stayed out past 2am in a long time. Usually, I start to get cranky and itching for sleep by midnight these days. Well, when I'm out and about anyway. I can sit at home on my computer til 5am but being out is different. Anyway, the afternoon started out around 3pm. I met up with a young woman who's the friend of one of my former book club members back in NY, Margot. She's also an English teacher but she's located in Gimpo, about 1.5 hours north of Seoul. We met in the dreaded Itaewon. She hates Itaewon as much as I do. She was working in NYC before she came out here. So we've concluded that something about NYC's swankiness and modernity spoils you for other places. But honestly, Itaewon is a cesspool of sorts, especially after dark. I mean AAAALLLLL the freaks come out at night there. And some even crawl around during the day.

Margot showed me where she gets her hair braided. A place with steps so steep I don't know how I didn't break my neck getting in there. Very nice African ladies watching TV and just working those magic fingers. I may make an appointment soon. She also showed me an all-purpose salon down the street. Korean women who do black hair! And this place was quite crowded with young black women waiting for sew-in weaves and relaxers and blow outs. Little old Korean ladies were doing some serious hair and the prices were very reasonable. I will need to return for a better assessment of their skill levels before I let my precious locks loose on them. Suffice it to say, I'm glad I'm finally gathering options. They had the usual arsenal of respected black hair care products (Dudley's, Mizani, Cream of Nature, and even some Kera Care!). More importantly, they did eyebrows!!! Thank you, Jesus! It's not just like home but it's damn sure close enough. Sure beats me trying to do it myself.

So Margot and I were meeting up with this Alpha named Rio because he was selling tickets to the stepshow that night. Such a cool guy! He's also an officer in the Army. I don't remember the rank but he's pretty high up. He was speaking in acronyms all night and none of us knew what the world he was saying but we nodded anyway! :) But you really forget that people like this exist in the world when all you hear is negativity spewing from the news. He ended up being our new best friend. He took us to dinner at a really cute Thai place called Buddha's Belly. Granted, it's in an alleyway but very nice atmosphere. It was like we stepped into Buddha Bar, a ritzy NYC Thai fusion spot. The food was pretty good, too. We all just chatted it up like old friends. Margot went to Fisk, Rio went to Howard, and I'd gone to Hampton. We immediately had HBCU love. And that's nice to know.

Then we met up with my friend Aeri and her friend Kayla. Kayla is tall and skinny, like a model. And she's ridiculously funny. In fact, I can actually say that my stomach is hurting today from all the laughing I did last night. The stepshow was held on the Yongsan Army base, which is right around the corner from Itaewon. The show itself was okay. Only 4 groups stepped (AKA's, Alphas, Zetas and Sigmas) but it was still 3 hours long. Just like in college, we all snuck in some Burger King. The Burger King is amazing here! They use a different bread or something. I think I swallowed most of my food whole. :)

After the stepshow, Rio took us over to the Dragon Hill Lodge, which is a really nice hotel on base. But there are bars and lounges downstairs so that's where we went and had some drinks. We all talked some more. I had a heaven-sent sangria and everyone else downed 2 bottles of Riesling. I have no idea what Riesling is, but apparently it's a very good wine. And we watched some basketball!! I didn't even know the season had started yet but we were pretty excited. Felt like home. Then we went to the afterparty which was across the street. I bumped into 2 more Hamptonians, too! One was in the Army and the other was here teaching English. I also hung out with my buddy Sheron. She was in town from Daegu and was cuttin' a rug on the dance floor. She's lucky I didn't take video! So, the world shrinks...and my circle expands.

The afterparty was pretty fun. There were some old school folks up in there of course. Now, I've come to the conclusion that some of these Greek outfits I saw were just ridiculous. One woman, an AKA, had on a short, pink pleather jacket with a green dog fur trim. And a Neon green baseball cap and pink boots. Like, where in the devil did you get this outfit?! I wish I could've snapped a picture of her but I only saw her once. With an outfit like that, I can see why she wouldn't wanna be showing her face again. I saw the smallest leather jacket EVER on a man masquerading as a Kappa. And I thought, "So, did you wear this jacket the day you crossed? Because that's probably the last time it fit you properly..." Damn shame. To all of my Greek friends, don't be THAT one. When you're 50 and 60, still repping your letters hard, don't be that one who just isn't quite right. Don't be the one who's in denial about those leather pants still fitting your hips. Don't be the one who's buttering up your arms trying to get into a tight ass turtleneck that probably didn't fit when you crossed in 1976. Just don't....

So, the party ended at 2am. We had all missed our last trains home so Rio was nice enough to let us crash with him. This guy has a 4 bedroom apartment...just for himself! We were all thinking how unfair it is that our studios are the same size as ONE of his rooms. Just not even right. He let us raid his kitchen, too. Like hungry, little thieving mice, we ate taquitos, chips and salsa, soda, honey roasted peanuts and anything else within arm's reach. We kept saying, "Rio, you're so nice man!!! Thank you!!" as we shoveled food into our mouths. He gets a monthly ration or something and he buys the maximum so um, yeah, he has waaaaaay too much food for one person. Then we all stayed up late laughing and joking, just like in college. We talked about everything like how we all ended up in Korea, what we did in school, what we missed about home, etc. I slept on the floor because I literally just passed out from being so tired. Luckily the floors are heated! :) We'll be back soon though. We have a new hangout spot and Rio has 4 new roommates! Lol. He even gave us the code to his place and said we're always welcome. We can just show up. That kind of niceness in a stranger is pretty rare and I'm very thankful for his kindness. Overall, pretty amazing weekend. Not surprisingly, I took the wrong bus home and I ended up on the other side of town. I had one of those "oh damn" moments when I looked around the bus and I was the only one left. So, I went up to the bus driver and said, "SaveZone??" And he said, "No, fool, you're on the wrong bus! I don't go to SaveZone!" Ok, he didn't say that. What he told me was to stay put and he'd help me get home. Another bus pulled up and he said, "SaveZone!" And I hopped on. It was a nice ride. I like riding the buses here, especially when I have a seat. So I got home around 1030am and slept all day.

Time to get ready for a new week. My semester ended on Friday so we have a different schedule and different classes and different books. Each semester is like 3 months so when I started, they were midway through. Looks like I may have a class of high school kids this time around. Oh joy! *scathing sarcasm* You would THINK high school kids would have an advanced level of English because they've been studying it for awhile but NO, they're usually worse than my little ones. And they don't freaking talk! Which brings to me a point. One of my other mothers (I have about 5 other mamas after my biological one!) suggested that my gum dreams may have to do with my students and my frustration at not being able to get them to talk! How interesting...I never thought of that. And she could very well be on to something. So thank you, Mama Webb :)

I've learned a few words in Korean though not that much. It's enough to get me around.

Ajumma - old married lady
Ajushi - old married man
aniyo - no
ye/ne - yes
mulayo - i don't know
Hanguel mal - do you speak Korean? (my answer is always aniyo)
chuseyo - give me (in a nice way)
gamsa-hamnida - thank you
pal yi, pal yi - hurry up
I can count to 10, though I always get confused with 5,6, and 9
yeoboseyo? - this is how people answer the phone
on deh! - oh no!
I know most of the curse words
yeok - station
pop - rice
migook - American
waygook - foreigner
aprika saram - black/African person (get this a lot! haha!)

Let's be real - I'm usually pointing my way through life over here. It feels weird not knowing the language but it's not as hard getting around as I thought it would be. I usually try to get directions before I leave for somewhere and if I get turned around for some reason, I just keep looking. I don't really get flustered about it. I have a very nonchalant attitude. We'll put that to the test when I try to go see a gynecologist in a couple weeks. Should be loads of fun. :) Well goodnight! <3 J