Weekend Gumbo

**My chicas**

**pregaming before Gangnam** Holding my newest baby...

I miss gumbo. When's the last time you ate some? My mom makes really great gumbo but she hasn't made it in years. Anyway, this is my weekend gumbo - a total hodgepodge of random happenings.

I'm so proud of my last post!! So much love and laughter poureth from my readers! :) I was actually gonna write that many, many months from now but then I guess the details wouldn't have been so fresh.

Anywho, another random ass weekend. On Saturday night, I went out to Gangnam for partying. It's a popular area here in Korea, lots of young folks acting a fool. And hey, look at that, I fit RIGHT IN! My friend got lots of good video of the foolishness, too. I will attempt to add it but my technology skills are pretty low. And by low of course, I mean non-existent. I had a great time though. We bumped into a guy who we'd seen the weekend before out in Hongdae. So random...different club, same hot guy. But my feelings got hurt when he stood up. His theme song should've been "Dancing Queen" as he was clearly only interested in men. Waaaaaaaay too much hip action for a straight, non-West Indian man! You know only those Caribbean men get the free pass to shake it like that! DAH WELL!

"Dancing Queen"

Quite frankly, I'm still a little bitter that my Robert's gone. As I rolled in around 6am, I checked my email like a good crackhead and there it was- a long email from him. With pictures! And guess what fool started crying all over again??! This is why alcohol isn't my friend. But at least I'm not drunk texting anymore. Nothing good ever comes from that. But I feel for him - said he's the odd man out and no one wants to "play" with him. Hahaha...play takes on a whole different connotation after age 8, but I chalked it up to him not knowing any better. I made it a point to mention that maybe, he should've studied in the US! Lots of playmates there...like yours truly :)

Men in hoodies will ALWAYS do things for me...always...

Well, let's see what else? Hmmm, I think I may have a semi-stalker. Or maybe you can decide if this is creepy or cute...I guess if you have to ask, it's probably just creepy huh? But for S's & G's, let's ruminate a little...last weekend as I was headed to Korean class (yes, I'm still suffering through it), this guy stopped me in the train station asking if I did tutoring. I said sure...whatever. Gave him my number, told him to call me. But I didn't mean 20 mins later. And I don't care how cute a guy is, a girl NEVER wants to hear from him 20 minutes after she gives him her number. Unless you are Blair Underwood. Then it is okay. But since this was for lessons, I thought fine. He wanted to meet that day and I said you're crazy. Can't do it. So finally, we had lunch this past Sunday. At 11:30am!! Who in the HELL eats lunch at 11:30?! And at TGI Friday's no less! We were the only ones in there for a good hour. So, his name is David and he's a freaking English teacher!! Are you...are you serious....?? This has quickly become a pet peeve of mine here in Korea. It has happened twice now where guys approach me under the guise of needing to "improve" their perfect English when they really want a date. Don't do that...

So, we had great conversation actually, talking about the flawed Korean education system that force feeds children English and why my middle schoolers are comatose. Talked about the US beef scandal here in Korea, which is always a fun topic. *eye roll* I lamented how much I missed eating good salads here in Korea, which is true. I meant to eat one back in February when I was home but hamburgers got in the way. So, turns out he didn't want lessons but rather conversation. He said he can speak English (duh) but when it comes to talking about "deeper" things like politics and controversial issues, he finds himself stuck. So, he proposed this - since I only have 3 months left, he would show me around Korea every Sunday and pay for everything and we'd just talk. I'm thinking, "Wow, this sure sounds a lot like dating where I come from..." After parting ways, he called me 20 mins later once again.

ME: Hello??

HIM: Oh, hi Joia. (REALLY? "Oh hi" like I didn't just see you 20 mins ago? Ok then...)

ME: Yeah, hi. What's up?

HIM: Joia, I lost my words at the restaurant...

ME: Hm, ok. Did you, uh, find them yet?

HIM: *laughs* Yes. I have them now...

ME: Alright. Well, that's great!!

HIM: I just wanted to say...you looked really gorgeous at lunch.

ME: *nervous laughing* Thaaaaaanks... *throat clearing, paper shuffling, palpable awkwardness*

HIM: Ok, well...see you next time.

ME: Yup! Have a great day!

Later that evening, he was blowing up my phone. Called me about 3 times in a row. I didn't answer it because I was hanging out with Scott (more on that later). So I finally answered it and he said he had a present for me. He had been out shopping at the market and bought some stuff for me. A whole range of thoughts went through my head, some quite gruesome. I called my friend who lives in my building and told her to come with me to meet him. And I definitely wasn't bringing him near my apartment...hell no. I met him a good 5 minute walk away and he was holding a big shopping bag. I thought he was gonna reach in and take out my present, but no, it was the entire bag. He'd bought me stuff for a salad - lettuce, dressing, and a bunch of fruit that I would never put in a salad. It was a nice thought but still - is it creepy or cute? What say you, readers??

Ahhhh....Scott. That's not a refreshing-I-just-opened-a-Sprite-can ahhhh. That's an exasperated damn-I-don't-wanna-play-Guesstures-anymore ahhhh. We hung out for about 4 hours and I could tell you everything we talked about in 5 words - music, exercise, food, exercise, and music. Ok, that's 3. Since I didn't know what he was saying most of the time, our conversation was fraught with my artificial laughter. Little sunkissed bursts of fakeness. "Sure, that sounds like a funny word...laugh now!" And then there's my classic puzzled expression which worked quite well. I think I've perfected it. I didn't know this phoniness existed within me but oh it does! I imagined myself ripped from the pages of some stuffy fundraising banquet, hobnobbing with important people. Sans the requisite wine glass in hand. Scott, daaaaaaaaahling! He's nice I guess but I think we're better as work out buddies. He has the two big problems that are non-negotiable for me - crusty, chapped, painfully dry lips and smoking. Just no. No, no, no. I could write an entire post of No's about this. Nothing says "please, don't kiss me" quite like those 2 things. And I'm also baffled by the fact that he's a personal trainer that smokes! He went through all my food in my kitchen looking at the labels and telling me how bad it is for me...and yet, he smokes! Anytime I'd try to suggest something to eat, he'd point at his stomach and say, "No. Very fat." Well, damnit, you have a pack of Marlboros in your pocket!!! Hypocrisy at its best. So, I'm afraid Scott will go the way of the Wooly Mammoth and Do-do bird. But he's still nice eye candy at the gym...

Here's a video of me and my friend in Gangnam. There is some foul language so maybe not a good idea at work. The unconscious man threw up all over his friend...and his friend knocked him the HELL out. So they're trying to revive him. Police are really just a decoration here because they were just chit chattin' and laughing it up. Um, can this man get an ambulance or a hospital? I dunno, just asking. THEN, the man in the corner threw up on himself and right around 2:45 on the video, he wakes up and stumbles his @$$ on down the street. I love Korea.

Until then,


Korean vatos??? Who knew?!


Mortification Has A New Name...

And its name is Joia! You know, we've reached a point, my friends, where I feel I can discuss this with you. Most bloggers might not but I am not most bloggers! This story, while not funny at the time, has become hilarious in hindsight!

You should know that few things strike fear in my heart like the notion of having to do #2 in front of people. I don't know where this phobia came from. But I have to be really comfortable and really ALONE to get the job done. I mean, I don't like anyone being within earshot and for those times when someone is, I usually have a radio or other bells and whistles handy to run interference. Some of my friends can go anytime, anyplace. I'm the kinda person who will hold out until I get home...even if that means waiting hours and hours. Or I will locate, via Batphone, the most remote, desolate, abandoned, isolated bathroom known to man and handle my business there.

Well, one thing more horrifying than going in front of complete strangers is going in front of a cute guy. Oh yes, people. This is the stuff movies are made of. So, I went out with Bryan last weekend for dinner. We just had Pizza Hut, but something told me that my love of sweet potatoes and barbeque chicken on pizza would come back to kick me in the intestines. And it did. Hard. As soon as we finished eating, I got that bubbling sensation. It is singlehandedly the most recognizable and terrifying feeling for a woman on a date. You want the date to be over immediately, make your graceful exit with some cliched excuse like, "Boy, it was fun but I've got a BIG presentation in the morning!!" and he wants to linger around. UGH!!! So, luckily, we were not too far from my apartment. The entire 20-minute train ride was misery. I'm sitting there clutching my legs and butt together so tightly that I pulled a muscle. And that, of course, only compounded my pain. The 15-minute bus ride only made it worse as I sat there with a smile plastered on my face so hard that I nearly cracked a molar. Trying to carry on a conversation when your entire body is in lockdown mode has proven quite difficult. Meanwhile, Bryan is yapping away, totally (and rightfully so) oblivious to the war raging within my very soul.

I'm doing too much. I'm trying to keep my stomach together and also think of a crafty way to make him wait downstairs while I run upstairs. But my brain is overloaded and it totally freezes. I can't even form a single thought and only one word seems to resonate, pounding in my head - BATHROOM!!!! Help....me....Lord....So upon realizing that my biggest fear is about to come true, I just say F**K IT!!! When ya gotta go, ya gotta go right?! So I dash into my apartment and switch on EVERYTHING that will make noise - TV, air conditioner, water, whatever. I would've turned on my washing machine if I'd had time. Bryan strolled in behind me, plopped down on the floor and started watching TV while I jetted to the bathroom. I won't get descriptive...we aaaaaallllllll know what goes down in there...but let's just say the Fourth of July came early!

So, 20 mins later (haha), I was completely mortified and not wanting to leave the bathroom. I just thought, "How in the hell can I face him?? I KNOW he's gonna have something to say..." I peeked my head outta the door, trying to gauge the situation and I heard laughter. I just knew he was laughing at me. But surprisingly, he was watching some program on TV. I had to resist the urge to do my knee-jerk comedy routine - "Gee, I guess I won't be back at Pizza Hut anytime soon!!" **wink wink nudge nudge** But if he didn't bring it up, neither would I. So, I tiptoed over to my computer, sneaking around in my own room and then he blurted out, "Hey! C'mere...watch this!! I love this show!" Ok.. *sigh of relief* so maybe I've escaped this humiliating experience unscathed?? Great!! Now if I can just keep him outta the bathroom for the rest of the time, I'll be smoooooooooth sailin'...

But naturally, because I'm Joia, he jumps up 3 minutes later and appears to be heading straight to the bathroom...OH NO!!!!! I try to distract him by offering him a drink...and cookies...and a noseplug.

"Um....uh...don't go in there!! It....smells...really...damn" my voice trailed off, my shoulders slumped. BATTLE LOST...my embarrassed-as-hell-o-meter just shot through the roof, the atmosphere, and out to Jupiter. It could not possibly get worse. I sat there, waiting for the inevitable smart remark quickly followed by a bolting outta the door, and screaming down the hallway...maybe even jumping from a window. Ok, it wasn't that bad. However, I was preparing myself anyway.

But the reaction never came. He didn't say a single word. He just went back to watching TV and cracking up. There could be a couple of reasons for this:

1) Maybe he didn't notice...doubtful but a gal can hope.

2) Cultural differences wouldn't allow him to say something rude to a foreigner...and for that, I'm thankful!

3) Maybe since he eats fermented cabbage 3 times a day, mine didn't seem so bad.

4) He thinks that it's just natural and not that big a deal...

Since I've decided to NEVER, EVER bring it up, I guess I won't know the real reason. Suffice to say that I'm eternally grateful for his silence. :) After all that, he just helped me get ready to go out. And we took silly pictures. Crisis averted.

This can only mean one thing - no more Pizza Hut for me for a very long time...and if I do eat it, I'll be sure to do it ALL ALONE. In my Batcave. My soundproof Batcave. :)

Until then,



Daddy's Day...

**learning to ride...when he finally let go...**

It's Father's Day back home so I just wanted to do a little ode to my Old Man! :)

I've been extremely fortunate to have a father who was ALWAYS around. I know way too many kids who didn't have that luxury. I mean, my Dad came to every single childhood event - basketball games, soccer games, graduations (pre-school thru college), recitals, concerts, everything. You name it, he was there without hesitation, with that gap-toothed grin that I love. And as I grow older, I grow more appreciative of those memories. As nervous as I'd be at those basketball games or tennis matches with the big crowds, I was most nervous about my final review from one judge - Dad. I'd be thinking, "I missed that free throw" or "Crap, I wonder if he noticed I forgot to box out..." Yes, he noticed. Yes, he gave me an earful about it on the car ride home. Yes, he'd make me practice in the driveway. But no, he never put me down. No, he never made me quit. No, he never stopped coming to support me. And I'm so thankful for that. I'm so grateful that even to this day, I can count on my Dad. I can count on my Dad to support me and my choices regardless of his personal opinion on a matter.

Dad has given many lectures throughout my childhood and I know he wonders if any of it has sunken in.

"Look, Bubbs...sit down. Now, when that big girl tries to move you outta the way, you need to put your foot in front of her..get your hand in her face!!"

"Now Bubbs, you don't need to go out buying more stuff! It's all stuff! What do you need more stuff for?! You're just like your mother!!"

"Listen, kid, nothing's free...I know you're 6 but you have to earn your keep...get the vacuum"

When my Dad decides it's time for a life lesson lecture, it can be hours before he's finished. But thankfully, my brother got most of those talks. For me, it was mostly suggestions...

"You, uh, you sure you wanna wear that??"

"Who is this boy?? Maybe I should talk to him...and find a place to hide the body?"

"Do you feel like getting whupped in tennis today? How about tomorrow?"

"What's up with that? You got a C??"

Yes, indeed. Love with a nice, hearty helping of reality and comedy. So, thank you Dad...for always being there. And oh yeah, the unconditional love never hurts either. :)

I love you,



I Hate Goodbyes

Robert left yesterday. And true to form, I cried. Not full out heaving but a steady stream of quiet tears. I'm such a sap and it doesn't really matter how long I've known you. If you've been a bright spot in my life, oh yes, I will cry when you leave. But I think the fact that we were really good companions upped the crying quotient. I also have no earthly idea when I'll EVER, if I'll ever, see him again and that makes it worse. And it also didn't help that my cycle started and I'm nursing a slight head cold. So needless to say, but I'll still say it anyway, I'll miss him a whole lot. He said he'd "really, really" miss me too.

But I'm also really happy for him. Not many Koreans, or I should say not enough Koreans, leave their homeland. So I'm glad he's making a trip and expanding his horizons. I asked him one night, after a particularly brutal day out on the town when people's staring became unbearable for me, why he was so different from others. Why didn't he stare at foreigners or think it strange to be out with me, holding hands no less??? Especially the hand-holding, which would seem perfectly natural back home, was totally unnerving for me. His answer, which was so sensical that I almost felt like an idiot for even posing the question, was "I am just interested in other people, other cultures. It doesn't really matter." Uh huh. Idiot. But he said that growing up, there were a lot of Chinese people at his father's company and he befriended them all. So I guess he never really considered not having friends from other places, but I'm his first Western friend. So, I think I have a special place in his heart like he has in mine. :)

But Meeka says I still have four months of great guys to meet and I guess she is right. I won't be sad for long. Last weekend, I had a lunch date with a guy from my gym. His name is Scott, 27 and he's a personal trainer in Seoul. He eyed me for a full week before saying anything. He's super cute. And well, his body is fantastic!! No, it's more than fantastic - it looks like a sculpture. I don't really see Western guys with bodies like this so it looks even more shocking in Skinnyville, Korea. He's nice enough but there is one major problem - Scott speaks very little English. And I'm not exaggerating at all. I think his English vocabulary includes about 20 words. So imagine the awkwardness on this date...

ME: "So, um, are you hungry?" **patting my stomach**

HIM: "Oh! Yes, yes. Eat?"

ME: **hands palm side up, shoulder shrug** "What...do...you...want...to...eat???"

HIM: **total confusion, head cocked to the side**

ME: "Hmmmmm....um..." **scrambling furiously through my Korean dictionary** "Mwot...mok-au-hey-yo??"

Our date consisted mostly of him smiling at me and saying my name real loud whenever he wanted to get my attention, even if I was sitting across the table from him. At one point, he even called a friend of his to ask questions and translate them into English. So I grabbed the phone to talk to his friend, who I assumed had a much stronger grip on English, and he was even worse! All I heard were computer keys moving at a ferocious pace, looking up English colloquialisms I imagined. His friend sounded incredibly flustered so I didn't even bother. I just kept staring into my lap. After not hearing from Scott all week, I assumed he was thinking the same thing as me: that trying to go out on another date would be fruitless and frustrating. But oh no, he drunk-dialed me last night, just as I was settling into my sleep pattern. Here's how that conversation went:

ME: *groggy* Hello?

HIM: JOIA!!!! Hello!!

ME: *holding phone away* Oh...Hi Scott. How are you??

HIM: JOIA!!! What you doing?"

ME: Umm, sleeping...

HIM: Oh...JOIA!!!

ME: Yes?

HIM: JOIA!!! I...*laughs* I have drink...

ME: *sleepily* Uh huh...soju...

HIM: *laughs, bottles slamming in the background* Yes, soju...JOIA!!!

ME: Yes?

HIM: I miss you...

ME: **screaming into my pillow**

HIM: JOIA!!!! I want...**laughs** see you again.

ME: Uh huh...ok. Ummm...Sunday maybe??

HIM: Yes, ok. What time??

ME: Um, I don't know. I have...church at 2...so maybe...7??

HIM: 2 o'clock on Sunday?? OK, see you Sunday!!

ME: *mumbling under my breath* Oh Jesus...


ME: Yes?!

HIM: I miss you...

And 2 minutes later, I got a text message that said "Joia, I miss you very thank..."

If I were smart, and I think I am, I would take this opportunity to really improve my Korean with Scott. I think I could. I don't really have a choice. I'll have to call him on Saturday to straighten this mess out. That will be another 20 minute ordeal.

It's the weekend which means more craziness! Last weekend, I was dancing on a table with Margot. This weekend, I expect more of the same! :) Planning to go out clubbing in Hongdae, maybe have lunch with Bryan, play Guesstures with Scott, and go to my Korean class which I desperately need now. I'm also trying to decide where to spend my big quarter-century birthday. Me and my girls need to be on a beach, drinking fruity things and partying. I've got my sights set on Boracay in the Philippines so keep your fingers crossed!! :)

Until then,



I Love the Smell....

...of hate in the morning! I received a nice, ANONYMOUS message this morning from a hater. This person felt it was necessary to take a few precious moments out of their day to express their feelings. While I respect your stupid...ass...opinion, you can certainly keep it to yourself! S/he said:

"you ain't gettin no korean boyfriend girl... you're black!

sounds racist but it's reality"

That's the interesting thing about race, my friend. It's ever-present. Sorta like ignorance and racism. So, thanks for the newsflash that I'm "black". My God, I don't know what I was thinking before you came along!! This has been a fact since I popped out. And I'm pretty sure that anyone who chooses to associate with me will notice this as well, including Korean guys.

So all I ask of my anonymous hater is to please refer to the previous post and his reverberating message. And tell him that he can't do something because he's Black. And maybe, have the courage to stand behind your racist convictions instead of hiding behind your computer screen.

Until then,

Black J

Sign of the Times

THIS....FEELS....AMAZING!!! This moment...this instance...I think Black folks all over the world let out a collective sigh and a fist pump today. I know I did. I woke up this morning thinking, "Barack on the ballot." I brushed my teeth and washed my face and thought, "Barack on the ballot." I skipped, yup skipped, to school thinking, "Barack is ON THAT BALLOT!!!"

There's not much I can say about Barack Obama that hasn't already been said. He is a force. Just the fact that his name will be on the ballot come November speaks to the true state of our union. Words can't really describe how it feels, as a person of color, to have my face mirrored back to me in such a monumental way...at the highest possible position in this great country. And I feel very similar about Hilary Clinton because let's face it, if any woman was gonna run for President and have a real shot, it was her. She fought like a pitbull every step of the way so she deserves that credit. She did not back down, even when everyone was screaming at her to quit and for that, I admire her. They both made ridiculous blunders, but at the end of this marathon race, they are on the same team.

I truly hope and pray that come January 2009, Barack Obama will be standing in that Oval Office, ready and poised to address the nation with his new message..."Yes, We Did!!"

Until then,



My Dating Bubble

I've gotten a couple of emails from readers (and my "real-life" friends) wondering about my dating life out here. So, as promised, I'll do an update about it! Seeing Black women/Asian men couples comes along like shooting stars...or leap years...or some other far-off occurrence. The media (they are to blame for everything, aren't they?) would have us believe that these pairings don't happen at all. But truthfully, I think there is an equal amount of curiousity on both ends, at least in my case. I would venture to say that any hesitation on a Korean's man part to talk to me comes more from cultural differences and not racial ones. Korean culture vs. American culture, East vs. West type of thing. The bottom line is if you like what you see, you'll find a way to make a connection. Unless of course you bury yourself in bookshelves like me! But I think that goes for any red-blooded human being. Koreans may not be as direct, especially with a foreigner, but patience helps I suppose.

Case in point is new guy, Robert, a university student who is planning to study abroad in Australia in 2 weeks! I met Robert when Jar was here. Bro and I were hanging out down by the Han River one morning but had to leave so I could get to work. Now, I, having lived here for 7 months now, knew how to get home. But Jar, having been in Seoul for 12 hours, insisted that he knew better. See why I tried to kill him? He was determined. So I gave up the fight and let him whip out that embarrassing, jumbo-sized tourist map. Along came Robert and asked us, quite calmly, "Do you need some help?"

"No," I said in a huff. "We're fine, thanks." And I turned back to my simpleton brother in utter annoyance. "C'mon Jar, let's go!"

"No, no LOOK!!! If we go THIS way..." he explained to me like I were the visitor. Robert laughed and tried to figure out where we were going and the best way to get there. I insisted that we were fine. I live here, after all!!! I hate being mistaken for a tourist when I'm not. So anyway, Robert showed us to the platform (which I knew!!) and chatted us up. In fact, he rode all the way back to my area and he even took the bus with us to my neighborhood! Why? Because it turned out that he lived right near me! Random...

So, two days ago, Robert texted me to say hello. I had actually forgotten about him in all the madness when Jar was here and I was swamped at work last week. So, it was nice to hear from him. We decided to have dinner that night after work. But we didn't just have dinner...oh no. Our date turned into one of those college-style dates where you spend the entire night talking til the wee hours. As in 7 am. I was cranky and exhausted the next day, but it was worth it! He showed me some interesting areas right in our town, like Aiinsworld. This place has mini replicas of the world's major monuments like the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of China. Granted, at 12 am, it was closed but we were able to walk around the fence outside. I caught a glimpse of the Sydney Opera House and King Kong hanging from the Empire State Building. It was cool. In the midst of looking for bathrooms, we stumbled upon a kids' arcade and whupped each other in Tekken for 30 mins. He taught me the worst Korean curse word and I taught him some colorful ways to drop F-bombs. I am a teacher, after all. :)

Around 1am, we crossed the highway to visit a big park that offered cool views of Bucheon. My favorite part was the massive field of flowers in bloom! People could pick them if they wanted. We saw a drunk guy stumbling through there just grabbing them by the handfuls. I suspect he would present them to his pissed-off wife waiting at home. Robert picked some for me but I ended up leaving them on a bench somewhere. He taught me how to skip rocks by the pond, but that lesson ended abruptly when I hit him with one by accident. Oops!! Then we really just talked. He said he had wanted to call me many times over the past week but he was "so nervous". When he finally did call me, last Saturday, he had everything written down and ready to go, but the call went straight to my voicemail since I was in Japan. Cute points for admitting anxiety. Robert is cool people though. I think he will be a good penpal...and at the very least, we can swear each other silly! :)

I still hang out with Bryan, too! We've gone on about 4 outings...maybe 5. Our interactions are limited to weekends because of my schedule but we've had dinner and just hung out. I actually like it that way because the last thing I want is to see someone everyday. This is definitely casual dating...no love connections necessary. I truly covet my personal time and space being out here and if my schedule is full or empty, it is completely my choice. Bryan is a good teacher. For some reason, when he tells me something in Korean, I remember it. But when that nutjob teacher says it, I get amnesia.

After speaking to my trusted coworker, Terry, we decided that Chinese Food delivery man would be a very bad idea. Hahaha! For one, I can do better. And for 2, he probably doesn't have good intentions anyway. About 2 months ago, I ran into him again and I actually gave him my number. I really thought he wanted help with his English. Stupid me. So, for about a week after that, he would text me in his broken English and he called me late at night. One time he texted me asking if I wanted to have a beer. I was with Terry so I had her respond in Korean, declining the offer. And ever since then, he never bothered me. So I guess he got the message.

In my limited knowledge of Korean guys, I don't see much difference between them or any other guy. Some messages get garbled naturally but in general, they're the same. I don't know what I expected really. Although, one ginormous pet peeve is that they still live at home. Bryan is 29 and yeah, he still lives at home. But that's just how it is - men and women crash with Mom and Pop til they're married whereas in the US, kids are on the first thing smoking to get out of Mom and Dad's house. But it makes perfect sense when I think about it. South Korea is all about community and sharing, leaning on each other for everything. People don't need to "express" their individuality by going out and living alone and racking up lots of debt. I, however, need that to a degree (well, not the debt part). My parents would ask me, "Why Korea??" And I guess I needed to prove to myself that I've achieved a certain level of independence, that I can do this. My favorite story growing up was The Little Engine That Could. I couldn't sleep until I read it. I still have it to this day in all its applesauce-coated glory. So, not surprisingly, I'm still chugging along, saying "I think I can, I think I can..." It doesn't really matter what I'm chugging towards so long as I don't stop chugging. After being here for 8 months, I can only say, "I know I can...I know I can.."

Until then,

Return of the ABW...

So, I went ahead and flipped out on my Directors today. Actually, I flipped out on the messenger, the secretary, since my Directors can't say boo to me in English. Anyway, I just slaved over evaluations and grades for 3 days. I was fair and honest with my assessment of my students. So, imagine my level of pissivity when Steve says to me, "Hey, um, Joia, can you try not to put F's on their evaluations? It just looks bad..." I think I've ranted about this before, but I held it in that time. This time, I lost it. I replied," You what know?? I don't give a sh*t! I'll tell you what looks bad - when the same students keep showing up without homework and getting zeros on tests!!!!! THAT looks bad!! MAYBE...JUST MAAAAAYBE you should tell their parents to make them do their homework if they're so worried about it!!!!" I didn't curse when the kids were around but ohhh, I was really angry. Steve backed off. And I knew it wasn't his fault. The Directors told him to tell me.

So, not even 10 mins later, after I'm starting to wind down from my outburst, here comes the secretary. And I know it's wrong, but she really irritates the HELL out of me because it takes her 15 minutes to spit out one sentence. I know she's trying, but seriously...maybe you should write it down first. And she has godawful breath which only grates on my nerves more. So, she's pointing at the evaluation and stammering and I catch a serious attitude. I'm just continuing to do my work and she says,

"Oh...are you busy now?"

"Nope...what's up?" I snap.

"Oh, well...you....this evaluation...put F...and....duh....the Director say..."

"You know what???? He deserved an F!!!! I gave him the grade he earned!! He NEVER does his homework and he's failed every test!! I should've given him an H! If you wanna change it, fine! I can't deal with this right now...I'm irritated and annoyed. I can't...I'm not angry at you. I'm not."

Yeah, I rambled on for about 5 more minutes while she stood there in absolute shock. This is nothing but a glaring cultural difference. I would never give a 6-year old an F. I can understand how that would totally demoralize a child. But these kids are 12 and 13 and they KNOW they're lazy. And I bet their parents know they're lazy. But I'm not gonna be sucking up to anybody. It's a very simple formula for getting good grades and the fact that these people feel it's unnecessary to adhere to those rules baffles me. They can shove it all the way up their hooha's for all I care. Granted, overall I'm pretty happy with my school but they caught me on the wrong day with this nonsense. I'm over it!

Until then,