Saturday, December 30, 2006

Three Daze

So I have 5 daze of holidaze.
Day 1 was the coldest day I have experienced for 3 years. Damn cold. And somehow I replicated the pointless sightseeing escapades that characterised my time in Eastern Europe... It's documented on Ethan's blog. Basically we went to a boring cultural site, an abandoned museum, a closed arboretum. It was insane cold. But the second part of our plan was Dongaemun market, which is collection of high rise and sprawling building packed with tiny stalls, thousands of them. I went there the first week in Seoul and was totally overwhelmed. This time I went back with cash and a sense of purpose, which helps.
Bought my brother some cool jeans ("most popular style in Koreahhhh") and a cool grey hoodie ("you are the most beautiful girl in the world"). Found at coat for Ethan and a $6 v-neck for me... Just what I wanted.
Day 2 I lay around in bed, read 'How to be Good', spoke to a very hungover Sweet Charlie, watched some of '21 Grams' and 'Dr Phil', thought about how I'd spend the next few daze... Couldn't imagine getting the energy up to head into Hongdae with Gyeong-Ah to see some music. Weirdly I did, got ready in 10 minutes and raced into town. Was SO GLAD I DID. I was just so happy to see Gyeong-Ah, she is just the sweetest thing. Cute, but REAL. A real person, warm and affectionate and honest and lovely. She took me to a bar in a street I know well, and the music started shortly after. Mmm the singer was a really cute folk-style girl who did samba-beat ballads with a bit of jazzy skatting. Very nice and a friendly atmosphere. I'm gonna buy the CD. One of Gyeong-Ah's friends brought her cute boyfriend, Chandler. I asked him why he chose that name... He said cos Chandler from 'Friends' is cool... I said but he's so stupid! We laughed and agreed he was still nice and funny. Whatever.
Day 3 I randomly was called and asked to do some dodgy work at some random suburb, promotional stuff for a new Engrish school. Free money. So I was up early and catching a train to some place far away from Seoul. I didn't care, though the friends came with me were getting paranoid about doing 'off-contract' work. It was a fancy new English school, half-built, with a suspicious air of a failed investment about to happen. I was given a green apron and told to work in a 'charity shop' that was set up for prospective students to shop with play money in. Talk English, smile, mingle, pretend you work here. I did it. No problem. 5 hours, including a breakdancing show and lunch trip, posing for umpteen photos with random guys, asking dozens of kids 'how are you?' and 'what's your English name?'. My face is very sore from smiling. Easy money though.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Buffet Hate Rant

I hate buffets. Hate.
They take all the joy out of eating.

Last week I went to an 'American Style Grill' place called 'Ashley' that had a Laura Ashley theme... As in, lots of floral decor. Awful. It was a Christmas dinner for the teachers at my school. I had a plate of salad and stuff, finished eating and then sat back and watched 7 women shovel mountains of food into their faces while talking in Korean. As I sat I thought about why I hate buffets so much and how I was going to live the rest of my days not attending any buffets.

I thought I'd ranted about this to all and sundry. Evidently not. Yesterday JD Whatever took me to Marche in the COEX. It's a 'European Style Buffet'. As in, the hostesses are in ridiculous 'Bavarian' dresses... Ah! Check out the Marche site to see what I mean. As soon as I entered I got a bad feeling. I was told I could order something, that I didn't have to get the buffet. But then the hostesses talked JD into getting the buffet for us... It costs 24,000 won, about $30 Aussie.

Anyhow, after a couple of minutes I insisted we leave. My reasons for hating buffets are::

  • The group doesn't sit and eat together: friends or family get up and wander away as others are eating.
  • You have no idea how much you've eaten: plates can be infinitely refilled.
  • People use extra dishes, discarding each plate after each use.
  • I can't sit down and relax and eat; I have to get up and walk around, plate in hand.
  • It's expensive.
  • It's often weird international standard cuisine. Stodgy. Flavourless.
  • It's mass produced crap.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Suddenly

Hey it's less than a month. That means that there's a lot of stuffs I gotta do in the next weeks. Sights, shopping, photos, all that. The things you think you'll do later. Then you leave, the chance is lost. When in Lithuania, I never went to the Hill of Crosses, one of the many wacky sites that country offers... It was something I wanted to do, but stayed on the list. Now I guess it becomes a reason to go back.

Back at work today and yesterday, and tonight I taught 3 extra classes at our sister school which -ooops- doesn't have a native speaker teacher for a couple of weeks and -ooops- haven't organised a replacement. It was good for me, some extra money, paid cash, and the kids were all well-behaved and brought their textbooks. It was actually pleasant... Not being facetious neither.

There's a few TV shows that I find myself watching semi-regularly that I'd never heard of until I saw them on TV here. Maybe I'm watching them in a kinda vacuum. They might not exist outside of my crappy pirated Defence Forces Network channel. They are::

  • Close to Home
  • Without a Trace
  • American Dad
  • Arrested Development
  • 1 Versus 100
  • Nanny 911
  • Boston Legal (oooh, James Spader, sigh)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Mall Christmas

It was Christmas. But it didn't feel like it. Not at all. Not even when Ethan gave me a HAMPER of AWESOME gifts... Kinda felt like a birthday or something. It wasn't merry. It wasn't sad or lonely, neither. I had a good day. Just strange and unChristmassy.

Spent ages on the phone to Ma and Jack in the morning, lovely, also strange cos it was cold and unSummery in Melbourne - similar weather to here - where it was a gorgeous mild Winters' day. Headed to COEX to meet Ethan and Jen, the plan was to see Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg in The Science of Sleep. Unfortunately every bastard in town was at the mall and we had to get 6pm movie tickets... Meaning we had 5 hours to burn in the mall. Why it didn't occur to us to get out of the complex, I don't know. Whatever. If we had have been in a hurry I wouldn't have this photo of me in the promo booth for The Science of Sleep::

Ok, so it was a little scary when the movie started and they were talking French. And Spanish. And the subtitles were in Korean. But we stayed cool. Maybe the movie was 55% in English. And I could understand maybe every fifth French word. We missed some jokes, but it's a highly visual film: great cinematography; mini animations; beautiful actors; lovely music; totally surreal in the Eternal Sunshine way.

Back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

It won't be a white Christmas. Last Saturday's snow is all but gone and the weather is kinda mild. And I haven't any mince pies. Dammit. At home, Jack's made a summer pudding with $50 of berries. Last year I made one and was so nervous cos the fruit was worth so much. It was delicious.
Far from home, Christmas is meaningless. My other Christmas 'away' was in Ireland, 3 years ago, and we had a typical working class Chrissy lunch at some stranger's house. It was rainy and we all drank a lot. The food was terrible. Classic.

Yesterday my afternoon disappeared into the subway. Hours riding around getting grumpy, occasionally getting off to run an errand. Eventually went to meet up with Gyeong-Ah in Itaewon. We went to a foreigner's bar where Hey-Young just started waitressing, and ordered a drink while we waited for her to finish her shift. It was so good to see the girls - last time we hung out was when we went bungy-jumping. They are just so much fun. Meeting them is a highlight of my time here. We always laugh so much and talk absolute garbage. Anyways, they had devised a night of activities, of which I agreed to some - I wasn't up for a noraebang just yet. So we headed up Namsan, to visit the tower. For Christmas, I guess, it was all lit up like a giant kaleidoscope. The view was great from the base so we decided we'd not got up to the observation deck, and instead spend our money in the cool gift shop. Then we got some strange chewy ice-cream. Unbeknownst to me, the girls had sneakily bought me a gift and written a really cute Christmas card for me, which they sprung on me later at the subway as we said goodbye. Love!

I feel like there's a whole something to say about Otto, who's 21st birthday would have been last week. If he hadn't 'left' when he was 18. Dad and I spoke about it, about how it's impossible not to remember him. Which means sadness.

Finished Gorky Park. Damn, so good. Was it really good or do I just secretly like pulp fiction?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Which Is For Me?

Considering the next chapter in my working life. So, two different organisations I might (like to) work for. Each has a set of 'attributes' or 'values' which should underpin the work I do and the way I do it. So which could I align myself most easily with?

EXHIBIT A ::
Deliver quality results
Work collaboratively
Behave ethically
Respect and value others
Develop self and others

EXHIBIT B ::
Building Organisational Capability
Builds and Maintains Relationships
Demonstrates Personal Integrity
Sets Direction
Drives Service Excellence

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gorky Park

Gorky Park is so the right book to be reading now. All the snow. Not to mention vodka and intrigue.

I love the opening line::

"All nights should be so dark, all winters so warm, all headlights so dazzling.'

Yesterday while carefully walking over the snow-covered ice, a woman in step with me (as much as one could be) broke rank and started to skate on the ice in her sneakers. It was much quicker but she did get amused looks from the people at the bus stop.

It's only a matter of time until I post saying 'Today I fell on my arse. It hurt.'

Monday, December 18, 2006

Things and Time

Things I didn't realise I'd be doing in my working life ::
1. Fixing lil girls' hair;
2. Teaching how to tell the time;
3. Posing as a teacher in school photos;
4. Discussing the weekend's lego achievements.

Time for a k-shit? Here's one on a little pink jumper::

WAWA girls

I want to with you
Work's one way
around the world

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Snow Drifts

Real snow!
Forecast was for -8 so I knew I didn't wanna go out and see a band late, and when it snow started dumping around 10pm last night, I was glad I wasn't stuck in town. But gosh, it's so beautiful. Made me feel giddy and happy. I hung out my window taking photos and watching the first snowman of winter be built, and the first snowball fights take place. Wow.

Snow makes me think of the beautiful times in Lithuania. And the icicles on my window ledge... Take me back to my gorgeous apartment in Vilnius.

Yesterday I was nearly recovered from my sickness so I went to see a movie at the huge COEX mall. I hoped I was gonna see The Departed, but no... Saw The Holiday instead. It's this year's Love Actually, as far as I can tell. I think I liked it. Can Kate Winslet save any movie? And I think I'm starting to see some appeal in Jude Law, who I never cared for. It's just that he says 'definitely' like Dear Sweet Charlie.

I wanted to see a movie here in Korea cos I thought I'd been to the movies in every country I'd been too, but on pressing from my Ma: "Really?! What movie did you see in Belarus? Finland?", I realised I hadn't. Ah well. Might just have to go back.

Had my first meal after nearly 3 sick days... At Jackie's Kitchen. Yeah. Ordered a grapefruitade to go with my dim sum, and listened to some cute Korean girls in high white boots and tiny Santa outfits play classical mash-ups of Christmas carols. Awful. But funny.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Inupiat

Me very sick.
I blame the yummy hot chocolate I had on Wednesday night at Ordinary Cafe in Hongdae.
Me nearly dead.

But. Recovery is scheduled for tomorrow.
I watched a DVD this arvo. Flight 93. Yeah. Not sure why it is entertainment.

I'm all about Iceland today. My dear friend JoJoHannahHannah is living there making me very jealous right now. I found a cool website of a dude from Reykjavik, checkit. Also I discovered 'Inupiat', the people and language from wayyy up Alaska way, and in the Bering Straits.

What was I going to say?
Ugh. How about them bushfires?
I'm outta here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

LOHAS and Zeitgeist

PC bangs are the internet cafes of Korea.
They are cheap, hi-tech, dark, smoky, open 24 hours, and full of boys and men. I have a regular, and a backup, in the street behind my house. Tonight I've gone to another one, and it is so different. First of all, the lights are up. That's what caught my eye when I was buying apples from the one-armed man the other day. But, more importantly, it is not called 'kin.com pc' or 'black hole' or anything like that. It's called 'LOHAS: Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability'. Wow. No shit. (Did anyone else not know that LOHAS was a thing? Google it!) LOHAS is still full of men/boys though.

Anyhoo. It's six weeks til I'm home. I've been focussed on finding a replacement for me. Please lemme know if you know anyone who'd be interested in coming to Korea for a year to teach. It ain't that bad a break.

Met a blogger peep on Saturday night. Cool, huh? She was damn cute. Though she did keep me waiting in the cold for a bit... Grr. It's so ace that I met Ethan and her through this geek machine. And in Korea too!

Just rediscovered the best tv show ever made. Had a marathon session watching the sixth and final season of Oz last night. Nearly killed me. Damn it is just so good. So many quotables. So hardcore. So clever.

"Maybe instead of forgive and forget it should be forgive and remember. Remember that you might wake up tomorrow and have to forgive all over again and again and again, the way the heart keeps beating like a drum. Forgive. I can't. You can. Forgive. Forgive. I can't. You can. Forgive."

Reading Richard and Dave's blogs and remembering the horror that was Meredith last year. You win some, you lose some. That was one weekend I coulda done without. Maybe next year I'll go back, work the bar again, but this time, not get sunburnt, not go with a shithead, and look after my KP better.

Thinking about trying to memorise the African capitals. They are my Achilles' heel in the capitals game. I'm thinking 50+ is possible, if other smarties can remember all the USA state capitals. And I already know some, like Ouagadougou for Burkina Faso. But I got all side tracked on the crazy weird history of Liberia. I had no idea. I had no idea it was established to provide a homeland for the free-born or formerly enslaved African Americans... It accounts for their flag and name, eh? Am I a geek?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Minis

No photos of me today: I'm doing my hobo-chic down at the PC bang. Pretty much wearing all hand-me-downs, including, Charlie, Bunny on my head... Is that ok?

Hope nobody mistakes me for the crazy lady that I see crouched and rocking in the stairwell sometimes. She gives me the heebie-jeebies.

This week I saw someone riding one of those infernal mini-bikes... But I didn't mind - the dude was short-statured. Seriously, a good reason to ride a mini-bike: being a mini-person.

Last night I watched Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Satisfying adaptation. Says she who can barely remember the book save for a few scenes and a memory of excessive adjectives. While watching I thought about how it's a story about smell, and in the book they used all those words to express the cornucopia of smell as that is the book's medium - words. In the movie, it's the image. I think the images and cinematography were evocative in a similar way. In this way it was a success. Of course the actor playing Grenouille was better looking than the book would have you imagine, but I think this was one of very few 'Hollywoodisations.

Anyhoo. This week wasn't too cold. But rainy and dreary today.
I can't help noticing that women here are wearing more mini-skirts this winter than they wore in summer. They look very cute in their high socks, high boots and short coats.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Big, Full, Orange

The moon looks amazing tonight. Big, full, orange. Kinda like the 5 kilos of pumpkin I just got suckered into buying. Can you freeze pumpkin? I can't possibly eat it all.

Still a bit sick, but spirits are good. I got a birthday present today - from a very very sweet woman. It was such an awesome surprise. It's been months since I got any mail.

Sunday I got outta bed and outta my apartment and went to the National Museum with Ethan. There's a big show there with stuff from the Louvre but we didn't see that - we just saw their permanent collection - it woulda been too much to see both in one day. First thing to note about the museum was the sheer size of it. Huge! Makes the Tate Modern look like a playroom. Reminded me of the coolest building I saw in France - La Grande Arche, in La Defence.



I knew I'd tire before seeing all the exhibit, so I asked Ethan if we could start in the part that I thought would be most interesting - the Asian Artifacts section. There was art and stuffs from Indonesia, Central Asia, China, etc. I discovered a passion for celadon pottery. Love the stuff! Check it out.



Headed off to buy DVDs after and I convinced Ethan to eat with me at Lotteria - something I wanted to do just once. Yep. It'll be just once. Gawd I just don't do fast food. I still remember my first trip to McDonald's with horror.


One of the DVDs was 'Perfume' - one of mine (and KP's) favourite books. I had no idea it had been adapted for the screen. Haven't watched it yet.

One of the books my Dadda sent over with Dearest Charlie was the best Australian Essays 2005 - thanks Dad. I read a really beautiful story from it today. Very Australian in all the good ways. It's by Mark Tredennick. Check him out - especially you, JCW, if you haven't already. Here's a poem of his.

Oh, if you wanted to see my *new coat* and *new boots* ::

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sugar Plum Farm

I took a sickie yesterday and lay in bed watching DVDs like Neverland and Fever Pitch. Nearly cried in both. Heh heh. My boss called in the evening to see how I was and she was so sweet it heart tore a little. This morning I felt much better and watched V for Vendetta from bed before getting up and doing a lil spring cleaning. It felt good. The sun was shining so I thought stretching my legs was a good idea. I need a coat and boots, so I thought that was a good excuse to head down to the market. As I'm a cheapskate, I really wanted to find the cheapest coat ever. I'll only need it for the next seven weeks, so why go all out? All I could find were daggy granny coats for cheap. Ugh. Then I spotted a 'recycled' clothes stall in the market and headed in. Grabbed a long grey coat from the wall and checked it on. 15,000 - $20 - SOLD! Too easy. Went to a granny shoe shop and found some boots that fit the bill - only not long boots, but at this point I just need to stop wearing those damn espadrilles. They have a long pointed toe like witches' shoes, and the bossman in the store gave me a once-over before overcharging me. But 45,000 - $60 - Not bad.

Done, I headed home quite pleased with myself. Watched a movie with Colin Firth in a threesome, Where the Truth Lies. Thought about my employment prospects. Thought about Doc cos it was his birthday yesterday. Thought about my friends' home being auctioned today.

Now I'm thinking about Finland, Lapland, the Sami people, and their flag::

Friday, December 01, 2006

Gillard for PM

"This is the most important election for Australian in a generation.
This is not an election we can afford to lose.
It is an election we must win."

Is this really happening?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Snow, and Back

Woke up to snow.
I knew it was cold last night!

Walked to school experiencing not so much cold as thrill. It was great, seeing snow all over the ground, trees, cars. Then in the morning I had the littlest, cutest kids and while I was teaching it started to snow... I couldn't resist gazing out the window watching big, soft snowflakes leisurely descend.
I recalled the first time I saw snow fall, in my first week in Vilnius, studying Lithuanian, a classmate pointed to the window and I was entranced. The rest of my Euro classmates were underwhelmed, but I'd never seen snow FALL. It was wonderful.

I have just booked my ticket home. Back for Australia Day. Ain't life grand?

We have one chance
One chance...
To get everything right

My friends, my habits, my family
They mean so much to me
I just don't think that it's right

I've seen so many ships sailing

Just heading back out again
And go off sinkin'

Thanks, Modest Mouse, for those lyrics...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Truly, Back

Found the CDs of photos from the Party Like it's 1985 shenanigans. Oh my joyful goodness and bright hilarity. I've just uploaded a heap. Want to post some here but so hard to choose a favourite. What a great night. What a wonderful week home.


Hey I know it's cold here but I had no idea IT WAS THIS COLD. Sub-zero... Snow will be here for good soon. Definitely time to stop wearing espadrilles and buy a coat. Damnit.

I got to name my first student today. It was exciting. Ethan has been in the game ages so he's named heaps but it was the first time I'd got a new student with no English name. He is Sally's brother. So I called him Steve, after my godfather. I was rapt.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Back

"You're getting your life back—and just in time!
A recent lunation at the end of your 12th house capped off a crazy-making transit of Mars. Politically speaking, it wasn't quite as disastrous as the Dallas motorcade, but whoever was taking shots at you certainly kept well hidden. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising if you experienced a flashback to the darkest days of the 1970s. Now that it's over, you can kick into high creative gear, reappear stronger than ever, and show everybody that you were only playing dead."

My horoscope, as told by Vanity Fair, hot off the press and SO TRUE as usual.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

K-shit Heaven



Need I say more??
Well, they were 5000 each (AUD$6 WOW)
And I smiled all the way home after buying them. Joy.
Watched Munich tonight and marvelled at Bana doing his Israeli accent. Erm?
Oh, I uploaded some more Autumn shots from my walk to work.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Salute to Autumn 2


Glorious. This is on my way to work. Can you see why I smile?

Also - ' I hold a beast, an angel and a madman in me, and my enquiry is as to their working, and my problem is their subjugation and victory, downthrow and upheaval, and my effort is their self-expression'. Thanks, Dylan Thomas.

Happy Happy

Spoke to a dear friend last night and she suggested that I have a good day today. Well, I started it right by waking with my alarm, instead of hours before, so that was good. Chose a cute outfit, put on Modest Mouse, called RACV and got sense into them. Stepped outside and it was a glorious day, not cold, leaves falling everywhere. Thought about sweet things and Charlie. Took photos. Got to work and am eating fried chicken and listening to the translated flirting of the lesbian photographer who's here cos it's birthday party day at work. She's pouring me pepsi.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Remocon

Funnies at school this week. Teaching my students the various objects in a living room, they volunteered 'remocon' - typical K-abbreviation of remote control. And when discussing definition of 'party', I suggested birthday party, Halloween party... And a student chirped 'snack party'. Ok, sure.

Walking to work each day since I got back has been amazing. Korea is beautiful in Autumn, it's true. The Zenit would love it so I must forgive it for not winding on and get more film. It's so beautiful I reckon people smile just because.

As I was admiring the leaves in my street this morning I heard a noise like a giant kazoo. What the hell? Then I realised it was a person. A child. Screaming. Across the street. My student. Screaming at me in a high-pitched shriek: 'Good morning! Jessie! Teacher!'. So funny.

So my finger WAS healing really well... Very quickly and cleanly. But now I think the stump has been rejected... And is just a glorified (??) scab. Gross, sorry. At least I'm not posting a picture.

As of yesterday I'm no longer teaching my boss' husband. I'm so glad. It was a bit of a drain cos the preparation took me hours. So no pocket money. But more free time to watch DVDs and read the pile of books I brought back from home (aka stole from Dad). And to see some K-sights.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Finger-lengths

I'm miles from where you are,
I lay down on the cold ground.
And I, I pray that something picks me up,
and sets me down in your warm arms.


Thanks, Ethan, for puting this on my birthday compilation. And thanks Snow Patrol, for the beautiful lyrics that take me to Dear Charlie.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

DVD Weekend

I've been loaned a DVD player and a stack o' DVDs so this weekend I watched Closer and Super Size Me. Sweet. Natalie Portman is so much hotter than Jude Law. Mmm yeah.

Didn't got to poker - went upstairs to Olivia's apartment and ate pizza while watching Crash (race-relations, not Cronenberg). Didn't go teach at the dodgy home-school either - she postponed til next week but... I really can't be fecked with MORE teaching. I feel like relaxing. With my DVD player and the mountain of books I brought home with me.

Saw Ethan today. Have I mentioned I ADORE him? I found his blog before I came to Korea, before I decided to come, actually, and then we met up when I got here. He is proof the internet is a force of good. Heh heh. Maybe I'm just saying this cos he gave me EXCELLENT birthday presents, including a piece from his exhibition earlier this year. It's hanging in my apartment already ::
Today was my first real venture back into Korea. Since I got back a week ago I haven't been far from home - just to work and back, so I've not felt like I'm anywhere. Weird feeling. So I got the subway today, to go to Ethan's, and had a funny interaction with a guy selling funny scarf things on the train, which amused and embarrassed me. I bought one of the scarf things and no-one else was biting... The peddler said "I hate Koreans" to me in English. Funny.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Mandarins and Poker

A few things.

A box of mandarins at work (more like a crate - huge!) cos it was one of the rugrat's birthdays - Mimi is 7! Yum. Free food.

Apparently France might get a hot young Socialist President. I mean, 52 is young, right?

K-shit on a puffa jacket::
Oriental traditional out-door mix
sportive soft casual retro soft jean

Invited to poker tonight. Hmm. And tomorrow I'm supposed to be teaching at some dodgy home-school on the down-low. But I've got cold feet and can't bothered. Grr.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Everyone Says Hi

Don't stay in a sad place
Where they don't care how you are

Everyone says hi

If the money is lousy
You can always come home

We can do the old things
We can do all the bad things

If the food gets you leery
You can always phone

We could do all the good things
We could do it, we could do it,
we could do it

Thanks, David Bowie, for those lyrics. G-g-gold.
Thanks for the birthday sweetness, everyone.
'Specially feel special for getting greetings from Iceland. Woah.
(And Rio, and Amsterdam, and Brunswick, mwah mwah mwah)

Last week, this night, I was eating roast lamb up at the ranch, wearing fur, drinking and drinking and talking with the lovers and peeps. I was sunburnt. I was delirious with happiness.




[I feel an apology for all this self-indulgence is necessary... No 'issues' on the lament of late. Sorry. Must get back to reading papers news. Get out there out of my head. Or my arse. Sorry.]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Another Year

Today is my birthday.
I turn 26 today.

Although I've been away from home for a birthday before, this is a verystrange birthday. Verystrange.
I woke up on the right side of the bed and started the day feeling good. Kids were fine at school and I managed to keep it on the down-low that it was my birthday so my colleagues didn't do anything silly. I walked home for lunch and chatted with My Dearest Charlie about a bucket of eels, which made me so happy and chirpy he thought I'd been on the sauce.

I think the past year has been a pretty good one, and the year ahead is full of promise. Truly feeling optimistic. Last year when I had my super birthday day I couldn't imagine the year ahead: graduation ecstasy; relationship demise; misery; my day in court; Tassie shenanigans; Helena's arrival; Korea idea; vipassana; joy; meeting Dear Sweet Charlie; living in Korea and the craziness of late. And so much other stuff.
Now I look forward to a year full of surprises. So many things that held me back no longer exist or matter. Mmm I sure there will be challenges... But I know I live a blessed and sweet life, and my future is bright. Yeah. Happy birthday me. Heh heh.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Where are my pants?

There has been too few photos posted on the lament. I'll try to fix this. Let's start with a classic moment from Jack's Party Like It's 1985 shindig. Semi-naked toasted boys writhing on the dancefloor. Does it get any better??




When Baby Doc complained he couldn't find his pants, my reaction was: 'well, if you hadn't taken them off (to reveal white hotpants), you wouldn't have lost them'.

In other news, it's freezing here. Open Class is postponed. It's my birthday tomorrow. My head cold is abating. I forgot to announce that I finished reading Zen and the Art of Shit... Let me just say... A crappy read, I wish I hadn't bothered. Don't feel bad if you quit half-way through, there's hours of your life you didn't waste.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lost

Lost a few things in translation. Well, they may be recovered sooner rather than later. And some are just things.
I lost my apartment key so when I reached Seoul I was locked out.
I can't find the photo CDs that Doc and EJW made me.
I lost the opportunity to spend quality time with some of the truly special people in my life.
And of course I lost more of my heart.

But I guess I'm back safe. It's damn cold. I can't believe I'm here.

We will keep saying 'it was worth it'. It is worth it.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunrise in Singapore

Here I am alone again, trying to balance between capable automaton and emoting human mess.
On the way 'home' but of course... It's not really home. That was my place, my people, back there, in Melbourne. I'm confused about why I'm doing this to myself and to those who love me but I'm also clear that stay or go, stick it or shove it, I have a direct line to happiness and freedom.
As I stand at the gate, the golden edges of the cloudscape suddenly reveal the giant orange sun. It's magnificent. I remember that the sky is all obscured in Seoul, dirty and often colourless.
This next little chapter will be another tale of me being strong, 'staying the course', but also, maybe I do need to consider a slightly bigger picture in order to see the importance of the small stuff I value that makes me happy... Oh so unclear in my expression. But I need to consider my ambition, my passion, what do I want to do, if I can chose anything, now I have my degree, etc etc...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Whirlwind

Youse all know that it's all about love.
Well. It's been a superkalafragalisticexpealadocious few days of loving, partying, eating, drinking, photographing, being spoilt, sneezing, driving, loving, and sundry goodness.
Oh my gawd, life is indeed sweet.
Massive props to my blogging compadres, 'specially KP and TT who were HOT HOT HOT and Mack Daddy and Richard who I met in the fleshhhhh for the first time. Yay.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Skillful

Friday morning. The day is here. I'm a-quiver!
Woke up early, from a dream about EJW telling me off for picking on the father of her child. Mmm.
Anyways, finished packing. Hope it weighs in under 20 kilos and they let me on with the colossal amount of carry-on I have. Anyways. Excited.

Last night I went back to Dr Park's Orthopedic Clinic to get a look at the digit and see how it's going. While I was in the waiting room with two dozen others, a nurse came over and unbandaged my finger so that while I sat there everyone could get a good look. I had to soak the last bit of gauze in saline so it would soften and then the Doc came and started cutting through the stitches. We were both AMAZED when it came off to see that the graft had worked and it's all healing very well. Ace. I can prolly have all the bandages and shit off on Monday. Wikkid. The Doc said "You are very lucky. You got a skillful surgeon." I was like, skillful my arse, HE was lucky. Heh heh. Maybe the cutie medicines also helped ::



A couple of my friends have started blogs that I'll be checking on on. One is KT, who is a nerd and a divine woman who I've known since grade 3. The other is Luis, a brilliant poet who is trekking India. He was one of the first people to give a shit about The Lament. Onya.

Thanks to everyone for your sweet emails and goodness during my whole time away but especially this week when I had this unexpected digit crisis. Thanks to Ethan, for his tribute to my shoes. Whataguy.

Oh, and I keep thinking and writing about the market near my place that was reduced to rubble. This is what it looked like yesterday::

Monday, October 30, 2006

Call Me Stumpy

Yesterday was just another day on struggle street.

That was until... I sliced my finger while chopping carrots, then it just went silly.
There was blood everywhere and I think I may have been in shock cos I just wailed for ages as the blood poured down the sink. I called a girl who lives in my building and works at my sister school. She called her boss who came and picked me up. It was a long 40 minute wait for her, and the ride in the elevator from 4th floor to first was horror-show, blood everywhere.
We got to the hospital where they asked me to go back home and collect the 'stump', previously known as the pad of my tall man finger. Whaaaa?
Did so and then came back to hospital for an xray and for a doctor to look at me seriously and say I needed an operation and 3 weeks' convalescence in hospital. Then I lost it again.
The afternoon disappeared as the school's owners appeared, much to-ing and fro-ing as everyone wondered what was best. I called JD Whatever, hoping he could get me better translations of what the hell was going on. I called Dad, knowing he's cut of the tips of his fingers and would have both advice and soothing words for me. Which of course he did.
Upon Dad's advice I decided no operation, no reattach-ie of the stump-ie was called for... Then waited an hour, watching sick babies and injured footballers come and go and wail and wince. Suddenly a doctor called me into a room and held a huge syringe in front of me... Whaaa? I screamed for JD: I don't want an operation! What's happening?! Help me! He and the owner appeared and said: It's ok, just relax, it won't take long. Whaaaa?
I got two anaesthetics near my knuckle and watched the wall while the young surgeon stitched cadaverous piece onto my finger, then attached a huge splint up to my elbow then asked me if I liked drinking and if I lived nearby.

I was really tired and upset and hungry at 7pm when I left the hospital, after 4 hours. JD got me some pinenut porridge and my boss, Sidney, came by with green tea rice cakes. Later I tried to sleep but was so upset, uncomfortable, in pain... I woke constantly.
I went to work cos it was gonna be easy, Halloween party day. The kids all looked cute and one kid had the nouse to ask if I was from Egypt. Not bad. But all those trick or treat candies couldn't keep me going and I was a mess again by lunchtime so headed home. I went to a different doctor (Dr Park's Orthopedic Clinic... Whaaaa?) and he took my splint off, told me the skin was probably 'necrosis' and please go through for an injection. Hmm. Now my bum is all bruised from the needles. Gross.
Anyways. I'm feeling pretty sorry for myself. Sidney just called to see how the doctor was this arvo and I told her the little I understood. She is worried I'm gonna do a runner and not come back from this holiday. I didn't want to lie and say that that's not crossed my mind so I told her the truth: I'm coming back from this holiday and I wouldn't leave without telling you.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Buzzkill Goes Shopping

Can't sleep. There's a weird pain behind my left boob (that's where my heart is, right?) and it keeps waking me up. So I interrupted the weird waking dreams to just say feckit and compose a post.
Many people will know I'm not really crazy about shopping, not the best person to spend an afternoon in a shopping centre or strip, going from place to place spending money. Ethan definitely knows this - he calls me 'buzzkill' cos I'm always telling him not to buy shit and can we go have a sit down cos this is boring and purposeless and indulgent. There are some exceptions though. Earring shopping at second-hand stores, for one. Gift shopping, another. So my trip home next week in birthday season gives me the occasion to gift shop. And shop and shop.
I got quite a few things last week - I mentioned that I'd finally got what I hope is the perfect gift for lil bro Jack's 21st. But yesterday, that was something else. I had to teach in the morning, til 1.30, which, weirdly, was totally pain-free. Then I headed to Hongdae to get my hair cut, which was fine, and the JD Whatever met me out the front and we started pounding the pavement of that neighbourhood.
Seoul seems to have two clear purposes: allowing one to eat and drink oneself into a gluttonous frenzy; and allowing one to shop for disposable fashion and cutie ephemera until you reach an orgiastic delirium.
I had: a shopping list and a few ideas; JD to be my interpreter; no food in my tummy. We made a strong start, picking up the cutest most stupid shit that will have to remain TOP SECRET until KP and TT open their el-cuto-rama pink boxes with rainbow ribbons. Then we went to a Hello Kitty store and looked at baby shoes. At some point later I remembered that 'babyshoes' was a pet name for me that an ex came up with...
Anyways, Jack had asked me to get him some '$2 What The?' so I headed to Artbox where I found the perfect thing... Also picked up a CD I wanted for Jack at the awesome Purple Records. Oh and we had to weave through a throng of giant soju bottles and dogs.. Hongdae was getting crazy as the day disappeared. Halloween idiots everwhere. I was overdue for a feed so we ducked into a Thai place and ate noodles, chicken, salad, and drank Singha while thinking we had done pretty well already.
The most important gift of the day was for Dad, and we had to drive to Insa-Dong for that. We parked and hit Insa-Dong-Gil right by the awesome Ssamzie, where the show 'Wake Up Andy Warhol' had generated massive crowds. Sssamzie is a kind of open three storey boutique shopping centre, with a plaza area in the middle. For the Warhol show, they have wrapped the entire building in Warhol print, hung hundreds of umbrellas from the atrium space and, inexplicably, parked a Mini Cooper on the roof.
We walked and walked, looking for the right shop to get this special little customised gift for Dad. We'd been to one place in Hongdae and were alarmed that the things were made out of ivory and buffalo horns and stuff I couldn't conscience buying. So we had narrowed my odds by wanting one made of marble. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little storefront, we went in, just on closing time, spent nearly an hour with one of those cute old man artisans, who regaled us with jokes and gruffness and advice.
I was now laden with bags... Happy happy. Got some perfect things for some wonderful people. Can't wait to get home and share the love.

Friday, October 27, 2006

I'm a Beautiful Man

Went to see a band last night.
I'd got a barrage of text messages at 4am on Wednesday for the beautiful Ahri. She wanted me to come see her 'love band' peterpancomplex. They were launching their third album. So I've had a crappy cold this week cos of the weather change and me being totally unprepared but I wanted to see Ahri and see music, so I went to Hongdae last night. First we ate fried pork cutlets with cabbage salad, rice and miso. All for $4. Ahri knows all the dodgy student cheapo places to eat. It's great. Anyways the gig was at a venue with NO bar and NO smoking... What?? Weird. And the music was what Ahri described as 'modern rock' but is what I call 'epic sook' even 'shit'. To Ahri's credit she said that this was supposed to be their breakthrough album and it was sponsored by a mobile phone company... Seems they had lost their edge.

Today I walked home for lunch along that street where the market was... Not only has that gone but this week workmen appeared and either dug up or cut down all the trees. There were playing fields for some kinda team football with nets, pagodas for people to ogle me from and shade for old men to stack cardboard. All gone. And today, a bulldozer raking over the dirt. As I was walking I noticed a guy on a bike pass me twice. What? On the third time he reached out and grabbed me as he rode by. Kinda on the arm. It was REALLY strange. Dunno if it was a grab like 'tag' or a grab like 'grope'? I may never know.

I could write about the mystery that is Halloween; about me cranking up the floor heating in my apartment; about how Zen and the Art etc is killing me; about how I have to work on a Friday night and a Saturday; about the yummy cheesecake I'm anticipating; about the great convo I had with Birthday Boy LTR; about all the mixed up feelings I have all day everyday about being here and not being there. But.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Still a Democracy

Here in Korea, I've become more aware of the happenings in America, as the only TV news I get in English is CNN and the papers are derived from big papers in the USA. So I'm acutely aware that there is an election on 7th November. And I'm also aware there are some reasons to hope for change in America - change for the better. Three reasons I'm know of today ::

1. Barack Obama
2. Nancy Pelosi
3. Kevin Tillman

Obama is a very sexy Congressional Senator who may/not run for President and be the first black person to do so. He wrote a book called 'The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream' and is a Democrat with lotsa good ideas.
Pelosi is the representative for San Francisco and currently the first woman to lead a major political party in either house of Congress. Talk is that she who could become the first female Speaker of the House. Her Democrat credentials are convincing.
Tillman is not a politician but rather a champion sportsman, however, he has just written a very political piece about the War on Terror and the upcoming election. He joined the US Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan 2004 by 'friendly fire'; and Kevin was discharged in 2005.

If you are American, please vote! It's only 2 weeks away. Make sure you are registered and if you are away from home then please get your hands on an absentee ballot.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Happy Birthday

Birthday season has commenced in style. I spoke to a hungover Sweet Charlie this morning who was sleepily adjusting to the fact that he's 26 now. Friday is LTR's 26th as well and then it's Dadda's, Jack's and my birthdays in quick succession. Sweet.

Yesterday it rained and poured and was chilly and then last night I was thinking of the poems Mumma had written about the rapid change of seasons in Turkey. For some reason I couldn't carry the knowledge with me when I left the house this morning sans umbrella or warm clothes. Feckin freezing today. The bitter descent to winter has also commenced.

Charlie is on the cusp of submitting his geek manifesto but somehow still manages to make time to calculate the minutes til I land in Melbourne :: 16957 minutes. We're not excited at all. Happy birthday, beautiful boy.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Su Azucar

Think carefully.
What is the logical love-child of canvas nanna shoes and nineties platform sneakers?
The espadrille!
So yesterday I was badly, badly hungover. On Friday I'd played poker 'with the boys', 'in the hood' and played ok, for a girl, so was paying for my celebratory tequila shots with some serious pain. Anyways, at about 5pm I managed to get it together to leave the house. I had to go to the department store where my brother's 21st present was waiting to be collected from a feisty saleslady. I was glad I went when I did - Mac cosmetics had a demonstration on and for some reason next to the make-up artists there was a nearly-naked hot Korean guy wearing a few feathers on his head and shoulder and waist. I WISHED Ethan was with me. I got the gift ok and thought I'd wander the store and the underground shopping mall nearby. Wow. It had amazing restorative powers. I bought the handbag I've needed and been looking for for ages - for a 'nice price' cos I'm a 'pretty lady'. Then I found a shop with these ::

Of course another feisty sales pitch, but I'm pretty happy with my purchase.

Received some mail this week containing music love and photos. The music is gold. Lyrics from Joan as Policewoman ::

it's true what they say about me
that I'm out of my mind
but I think that you like it
so take the chance,
be reckless with me

Stayed in last night admiring my new shoes and watching Arrested Development (and Two and a Half Men, but shhh!), so slept well headed off to see the Basquiat show. Not bad. Not a huge fan but picked a favourite, a tiny little piece from a great year... 1985 ::

Oh, and, my Mumma, Helen Lucas, is a poet... And she was raved about on the blog of a good poetry night in Melbourne where she featured last week. Nice.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bow on a Bike

I've been meaning to post about seeing guys here bow on their bikes as they ride past acquaintances. I think it's really funny. And then tonight the owner of the photo shop had just mounted his scooter as I approached the store, so he was bound to bow to me from his scooter. Love that.
Some old lady grabbed me on the arm tonight -hard- as I was trying to enter my building and said a whole lot of stuff I didn't understand. She wouldn't let me go, and pinched my cheek. I deduced that she thought I looked melancholy and should smile at the world. So I did. It made me happy. So happy I thought I would call KP and tell her about this little sweetness. But first there was mail in my box -a phone bill- great. Tore it open as I went up in the lift and felt myself perspire. 372000 won. That's $514 Aussie. That's for a month.
Makes me wonder for the billionth time if it's all worth it. This week I feel really conflicted. It's all in my head. Should I stay or should I go now? I end up wishing it would become unsafe so I would have an excuse to go home. But I don't need excuses to go home - there is so much there that draws me. But financially... Ugh.
Anyways tonight I went to yet another of these restaurants that feature a particular ingredient. This time it was pumpkin. Everything decorated orange and giant pumpkins and sacks of pumpkins all around. Dishes were served inside pumpkins. Pumpkin juice. It was tasty but the side dishes were all pickled radish and I'm not a huge fan.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Trashed

I write a lot of posts in my head as I walk to and from school. Then forget them til I do the walk again, or they just ebb and disappear without ever being written. I'm glad I walk instead of getting the bus now, the exercise is good, even if the air ain't fresh. Today I walked home to make lunch as well, so I reckon it was about 8 kays of walking.
Anyways, when Charlie was here we found a different road between home and work and that's the route I've been taking. The first week I saw a market on the corner and was rapt - another place to get groceries, nice. But then the next week there was a giant claw ripping the marquees apart and pulling out power lines. The lot where the market was has been kinda derelict since, half torn-down. Then Monday I saw the place had been trashed. There is a small building next to the market that was the agricultural co-op's office and shop; everything was thrown out the windows and the doors were asunder. It made me really sad.
I didn't know why the market and co-op were 'decommissioned' or 'trashed'. Like the apartment blocks that are perpetually being demolished all around my neighbourhood, they seemed operable and viable to me.
Then this morning I walked past and the building had been set on fire. Inside there was a big black hole, with charred crockery, office furniture, spectacles, baskets, stuff... I felt shocked and sad all over again. What's with this? Why wasn't the stuff cleared out?

Monday, October 16, 2006

this mellow ride

Picture if you can an 8-year-old Korean girl wearing a white k-shit with a picture of a zebra and the following text ::

PROI

66

The best quality Action and spension
Sports & system light nr-0989
unit PROI Basic & people of world
PROI jeans NO-4012
From sessioning a handcrafted
spinning laps the park, the Dominant
With a ture twin-tipfreestyle shape and
flex, this mellow ride look jibs and

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Another Leap

I survived the bungy jump. That's the most important thing today.
And I had a *super* day yesterday. Nice weekend all round...
Friday night I got shouted a big platter of fried duck and wayyy too much beer at a late dinner with Olivia (who lives in my building and works at my sister-school) and her boyfriend Ken. The placed had closed but that didn't stop Ken ordering more and more longnecks. Nice.
Saturday Ethan and I planned to knock another something off THE LIST which was a flower market. Ethan was running late so I spent 10 minutes discovering a second-hand clothes market that was massive... Heaps of people with newspaper or blankets spread out and piles of shoes, daggy clothes or junk piled up. When Ethan appeared we explored it a little more and I made a significant purchase:: more blue shoes!! These ones were 3000 (4bux). Best price yet. Though I mayyyyy have compromised a little on style.



We got fed and I caught up on Ethan's trip and stuff and then realised that the cut flower part of the market would be closed by the time we walked there. Fuckit. So we headed off anyways, not sure what we would find. There were a bunch of warehouses and greenhouses which we wandered into and found some kind of floristry school where there were maybe 100 students at desks in a big space with tiered seating around. They all had baskets of flowers and there was a panel of what looked like judges half asleep at the back of the room. It was amazing. I took some zenit photos so I'll have to wait to share that.
Mmm we wandered around the potted flower greenhouses and saw some calligraphy guys at work on ribbon banner things. Then we wandered and wandered, finding empty shopping centres, black rice ice-cream, people feckin staring constantly, a forest, a photo shoot, a memorial to a citizen's rebellion, and eventualllly, Jack's birthday present! That was the icing on the cake. I love Ethan for suggesting we check out just one more store before heading home.
Stayed in last night cos I was knackered and had to get up at 7.30am (on a Sunday!) to go bungy jumping with some
Korean girls. Maybe it's a cliche, but I think I discovered something about myself in doing the jump... I wasn't scared at all. And it was familiar, that feeling of everyone freaking out but me being all calm. Funny. I stress about stuff I oughtn't, and then something like that doesn't faze me. One of the girls we went with chickened out on the platform. And GyeongAh and HeyYoung both stalled, but I practically ran off. I saw stars and crapped myself a second into the air. And coming back down, I landed in a little dinghy, I couldn't stand, everything was jelly and a-quiver. A very strange feeling.



We headed to the closest restaurant for lunch... So hungry. Un/fortunately it was a Chinese onion restaurant so I think between the four of us we ate maybe a dozen onions. Yum-o. Briefly spoke to the girls about the nuclear test and they thought 'nothing to worry about' and said 'let's just enjoy now'. Ok, fine. Spoke to Dad yesterday as well and he seemed to think that unless I felt really uncomfortable, I shouldn't be racing back to the 'safety' of the antipodes.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Stop Worrying?

Ma called last might all worried about the bomb. Neither of us were convinced by my limp argument that as we live in an 'age of terror' I'm as safe here as anywhere else. Then kp called and we thrashed it out as best we could but were stumped by the proposition of an article I read (lost the link but this is similar) when said that there were 4 possible reasons why there wasn't much evidence of an actual nuclear test other than bluster::
1. It was a failed test;
2. It was a fake;
3. USA made it up;
4. It was a short-range weapon developed to attack South Korea.

Yeah. Not that crash hot. So today I checked the DFAT site and it mentions the test but hasn't elevated warning about visiting Korea - it remains at the lowest possible level. So, ok. I asked my boss what she reckoned and she said HER Ma had called from Japan where she lives to check my boss had her passport ready so she could flee to JAPAN if the shit hits the fan. Then my boss, Sidney, said that North Korea is just like a baby and nobody pays attention to anything they say. She said none of the teachers at my school were talking about it and that nothing has changed.

I'm trying to know a bit more about the players and the trends so I can piece together a feeling for this. So many questions... Am I any less safe now that I was 3 months ago? Am I any more safe in Melbourne? Is worrying part of the problem? Are South Koreans not concerned because they've spent decades like this? Or are they not worried because they are indoctrinated into hyper-capitalism? Is that mean? Am I crazy?

I've been reading various blogs, trying to get a handle on what others are saying. There's just a massive diversity of opinions. Check out the Marmot's Hole for some DIFFERENT views...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Giant Leap?

Can't believe it's been days and days since I posted. Not to worry. All is well.
Thought I better show I'm alive as I've been getting some worried emails from people who've heard that North Korea has been playing with fire... The short version is, I have no real idea what's going on. I don't watch the TV news or listen to the news radio, and I get a newspaper once a week when I go into the city and see a newsstand with an English paper. I get my news in dribs and drabs from The Age and BBC news and a few English-language Korean websites. So my guess is as good as yours regarding whether I need to summon a knight in shining armour to rescue me...
But last night I asked my boss' husband what he thought the tests meant and he said 'suicide', meaning that the USA doesn't like instability and that this latest performance was brinkmanship. (By the way, I'M teaching HIM English and he uses words like brinkmanship in casual conversation, after class.) I asked what the South Korean public were reckoning and he said it was the final straw and that there was no more tolerance left. I'm not sure about that. Anyways. Then I went for dinner with a guy I met in the hood and he said 'looks like this could kick it all off, eh?!' and said his friends reckoned the Won would fall and we should get our cash out of Korean banks and send it home before it's devalued. Yeah, not sure about that neither.

I'm going bungy jumping on Sunday. Was there ever a better time or place?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

My Island Catfight

Well a day away from the intermenet and I got some excellent emails. Thanks. Some really pleasant surprises. I also got some lil sunburns as I sat on the beach in the sun, soaking it up.
We didn't get to Muuido, but we did get to an island to some beach - ended up going to Yeongjongdo, which is the island Incheon airport is on, now joined to the mainland by big bridges over the mud flats. Steph and I went the long way there, catching a ferry and then a suicidal bus to one of the beaches on the far side of the island.

Ferry ride was a highlight, though it only went for 10 minutes. I love ferries. And memories of other great ferry rides came flooding to my mind as I watched the Koreans throw prawn chips to the seagulls. We were absolutely knackered when we finally got off the bus - I'd had some god-botherer pestering me with questions about the semester dates for Uni Melb and what projects UNICEF had going in India. Erm? So knackered and hungry that we weren't sure which town we were in. Didn't matter. What did matter was that I don't like seafood and every single restaurant had MASSIVE tanks out the front from which diners chose fish, sea dick, mussel, crab, prawn, or whatever for dinner. We ended up desperately asking one of the spruikers where we could get barbequed meat and got the hook-up. Steph and I instantly fell silent when the meat was ready and we stuffed our faces with pork, chili sauce, kimchi, and garlic all wrapped in sesame leaves.
After stopping at a hof and drinking 2000cc of beer while we watched guys and drunk girls test their strength on those annoying boxing machines, we bought some longnecks and parked ourselves on the beach to watch and listen to the fireworks everyone was setting off. Yeahhh.
Had a bit of a sore head when I woke up, which was fixed up by going for a really lovely walk all the way around the bay, climbing out to some rocks and gazing out over the fisher people to the water and sun. Lots of big granite rocks, families having expansive picnics, men scaling tiny fish, tiny crabs running across out path and fresh air. We went back to the same restaurant for some soup and rice and as we were arriving the ajumma spruiker was starting a fight with the ajumma spruiker from the restaurant next door. (Ajummas are a Korean phenomena, basically women working in businesses... they are older, terrifying... it's hard to explain. And in this case, all of the restaurants there had painted ajumma spruiking invasively as the cars crawled along the dense, neon beachfront) All the customers and staff watched with interest, amusement, then horror as the fight quickly became physical: pulling each others; hair; ripping t-shirts; and grinding faces into the wet, fishy gutter. Another highlight!
Whiled away the arvo lying on my Singapore Air blanket reading the beginning of Zen and the Art etc and watching the tide creep in. Also noted the Koreans don't swim at the beach; don't wear swimmers; don't read at the beach; don't use rubbish bins at the beach and don't much play sport at the beach. They do, however, wear high heels on the beach, ignore the smell of piss and shit coming from the toilets; ride around in circles on noisy quad-bikes; fish and cook their fish anywhere in the sand, using noxious smelling accelerants to ignite briquette thingies; and stare stare stare at me.

Felt sad as I was coming home, via the Airport Limousine. Last time I caught it was when I'd just farewelled My Dearest Charlie. It's hard not to think I'm crazy. Anyways. Home. Thanksgiving holidays over and less then a month til I'm in Melbourne.

Friday, October 06, 2006

West Sea Isles

Yeah I had three or more days waking up all wrong and feeling low.
But I think I'm past it... A few good phone calls from home, small sleep-ins, and idle time spent not angsting. I finished The Plague and started reading Fury, by Salman Rushie, which I'll finish today. I haven't checked the reviews of it but I have a feeling it's not regarded as one of his better works, though it is entertaining.
Today I'm gonna embark on an adventure. Steph and I are gonna head to Muuido, a tiny island not far from Seoul. We've made no bookings and speak no Korean and it is the peak holiday time of the year. So we'll see how we go. Yay.

Lots more on my mind but I'm damn inarticulate lately. Hmm.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wrong Side

Woken up on the wrong side of the bed. Again.
Woke up with a line in my head. Two lines, one from the Mountain Goats, one from Sandon McLeod, nearly identical ::

"spend each night in your arms, always wake up alone"

Check out Steve Smart's mp3 spot and listen to some of the bestest poetry ever.
That's my tip of the day.

Over and out.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Jung Chul

Jung Chul is the name of my school.
Today I finally remembered to take my cameras in to take photos of the rugrats. Of course today was the bestest day to do so, as every single kinder kid wore their hanbok, the traditional getup which is consists of brightly coloured stiff pajama like things. I took photos of the kids clowning around and also playing 'traditional' games like hopscotch and arm wrestling.



And I took photos of Albert, Thomas, Amy and Lisa from E1A elementary class. They are wayyy naughty and obsessed with my boobs. Albert called me an 'angry dinosaur' the first time he met me. I teach them heaps. I have to teach them from a little white 'conversation' book that has 'conversations' like this ::
A: Hello
B: Hello, is Euri there?
A: Yes, she is. Who's calling please?
B: It's Andy, Euri's friend.
A: Hold on, please.
B: Thank-you.
The kids have to rote learn one of these each class. And only one. So that's it for an hour. They hate it. So do I. I spice it up by letting them do it in 'frog' voices, 'monster' voices, etc. Wow.

Anyways, I think the photos give a good sense of my school, the kids, a bit of my life here. I would post more right here but blogger is being a pain, so just go to my album if you want a shot of cuteness.

In other news, one of my kids was apparently on TV on the weekend cos he was playing soccer and some strangers who saw him set up a fan site cos he is so cute! What the....?

Tonight I taught my private lesson out the front of the library cos it was closed due to Chuseok. While I was pressing my pupil on the marketability of low-alcohol soju, my eye caught a movement - A RAT! Just a metre away, wandering around. I JUST READ THE PLAGUE! Why now? Ahhhhhhhhh.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Lazy Sunday

Things I'm thinking about. Websites I've found. Interesting photos. Intriguing histories. More questions than answers.

  • The manipulator, Jill Greenberg. A photographer who got in trouble for making children cry for her photos. Ethical? Art?
  • Are Jews Smarter? Thinking about this after a friend got spammed with some anti-Arab rant about how many Nobel Prizes Jews have won. Quote: "We’re living in a new golden age of scientism—the idea that there are scientific answers to all human questions. People are so rattled by the speed and complexity of their lives that they need rock-solid certainty. They cannot bear to live inconclusively. Religion provides one definitive answer; science provides another. The important thing for most people is to feel that the way they live is an inevitable outcome."
  • The blog of Hongik professor Ahn Sang-soo featuring photos of people covering one eye.
  • Uprising and massacre in Korea at Gwangju in 1980. 207 people killed or maybe more when the army opened fire on demonstrators, many students. What was the Carter administrations' role? So many websites with too many opinions. I can't figure it all out.
  • Blog of a Finnish PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at University of Helsinki with great photos, fascinating stuff about Korea.
  • Morbid interest in the death of Daniel Smith, Anna Nicole's son. Weird, tragic, awful. Why? Do I care.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Good Morning

Why do I wake up at 7am on a Saturday? Especially when I went to bed at 1am? Especially when the day stretches out before me, weird and empty? So annoying. When it happens, I usually try to go back to sleep, fail, get up and put music on, potter around, fold some clothes, take photos out my window, then go to the pc bang.
Today I thought I was going on a day trip to some lake with JD Whatever, Steph and maybe some other girls. But JD had weirdly disappeared... So, I dunno. Maybe later if he doesn't call, I'll go hang out with Steph. Anyways.
When My Dearest Charlie was here, he read a book. It was The Plague, by Albert Camus. He'd actually started it long ago, and one of the first best memories (and photos) I have of him is him sitting quietly at my place in Eltham reading it while I hurried about, preparing to depart. Anyways, KP kindly leant her copy to him as he was heading to the airport to visit me, and when he finished it, he kindly left it behind for me.
Everyone seems to agree it is a brilliant book, and I really wanted to read it, but Dad cautioned me to wait until the lament of Charlie's departure had eased. So after a pause, I started reading it. Most way through now and golly, genius. And yeah, beautiful. And some humour. So many quotable, all the stuff about love, especially. And ideas put some simply ::
" The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding."

On my way here I noticed all the flags on the lamp-posts. Another series of demonstrations of nationalism. Hmm. I feel so removed from it. When I was in Lithuania I felt so much more connected to these happenings, cos I was studying cultural anthropology and ethno-nationalism. But here, I understand less.

Lyrics for the morning come courtesy of The Shins, and my brother Jack, who gave me the CD ::

Eyeless in the morning sun you were
Pale and mild, a modern girl
Taken with thought, still prone to care
Makin tea in your underwear

Friday, September 29, 2006

Thanks

Next week is 'Thanksgiving' here in Korea. Actually, it's Chuseok. So that means a lil holiday for me and lots of rice cakes for everyone. Yay. Dunno what I'll do with the time off but Steph and I are working on a plan. It might involve catching a train to the coast, or it could just be shoe-shopping in Seoul. Hmm.

Last night I met up with Steph, and as we were walking to a new! cute! bar! I saw a men's jewellery store that I thought was one Ethan has recommended. So I thought I'd best check it out as I'm currently in the market for some men's jewellery. As I stepped in to the store, though, a guy came out from behind the counter and said 'This store is for men only, so you must leave'. I was taken aback: 'I'm looking for a gift for a male, can I not have a look?'. The reply 'No, it's the store concept, you must leave, you can come back with a male.' Steph and I stepped out of the store and I stood on the step and asked 'Can you recommend another jewellery store?'. The answer: 'No'.

We needed a drink. Badly. After this.
The basement bar she took me to had nice low chairs, some terrible art, good tunes and a LIBRARY with maybe $10000 worth of THE BEST ART BOOKS ever, for customer's perusing pleasure. And the bestest magazine rack. I'm soooo going to while away my hours there.

T-shit of the day was on a student. Bright pink with a hood, puffy sleeves, teddy bear print and in big gold lettering ::

O'lord you
BESTOW GLORY ON ME
AND LIFT UP MY HEAD

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My Cup Runneth Over

It's happening! My brother Jack turns 21 on the day that stops a nation. And so I wanna be there, with him, in Melbourne. And so I will. I've just booked a ticket home for the first week of November - arriving the morning of my Dadda's birthday, in time for the PARTY THAT STOPS A NATION, then leaving the following Saturday.

Things I wanna do:
  • kiss
  • hug
  • drive
  • breathe Eltham air
  • eat scones
  • drink good coffee
  • bask in the sun
  • hold babies
  • buy sexy undies
  • celebrate birthdays
  • go op shopping
  • party like it's 1985
  • just be and talk with my peeps and my fam

Oh my. So excited.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Japan Down!

Walking through the subway Charlie and I saw a poster for a disaster movie - we wondered what it was and looked for some English and were shocked to see the website was www.japan-down.co.kr ::



I assumed it was some anti-Japanese creation of the Koreans. I shouldn't have. It's a Japanese filum called 'The Sinking of Japan' and the synopsis kinda goes like this: Japan has just received its death sentence. In less than a year, the island nation will sink! Earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions roil the country, leaving millions dead and stranded. Japan’s only hope lies with one plan… and one man!

It opened at number one in the Korean box office and took US$3.2 million here in its first four days. Not bad.

Random word of the day:: onomastics: the study of naming and proper names. I was reading about Korean names and how the popular names change each generation. And I learnt a new word.

Oh yeah. And I went to the Prom party with Ethan last night. This is us all dressed up and excited about going. And this is me today in the gear I was gonna wear to the Prom but just wore today for no reason instead.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Juicy Bunny Slope

Yep, yesterday I saw some shit::
JUICY
BUNNY
SLOPE

Terrible. Also saw that a street food vendor had an anti-FTA petition. Hmm.

Also saw the shit that I wanna buy for KP - which says something about a lost dog which answers to TOBY. Ah perfect.

So last night I bought a skirt for this Prom thing that I'm Ethan's date for tonight. Then I spent 2 hours painting my nails a weird opaque blue colour. The picture shows my stupid nails, the skirt and the Singapore Airlines blanket that Dearest Darling Charlie was kind enuff to steal for me on his way over. Nice.

Today I've been reading up on parecon. Ever heard of it? Am I the last to know? It's the funky abbreviation for 'participatory economics', which was developed as an alternative to capitalist market economics.

Why has this song been in my head on PERMANENT ROTATION FOR WEEKS even though I haven't actually heard it for years n years?

Picture yourself on a train in a station,
With plasticine porters with looking glass ties,
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstyle,
The girl with the kaleidoscope eyes.


Thanks Lennon n McCartney, for that foolishness.

Ohhh it's the most beautiful day outside. I'm gonna try to find a lunch date, go for a walk, take a book, work on my tan (freckles).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hung, drawn

I've been here 3 months now. That's a quarter of my way through my contract. Christmas is the half-way mark.

So in three months I have::

  • fallen in love;
  • got 3 pairs of pants taken in;
  • worn stilettos to work;
  • written about 60 postcards;
  • sweated more than I thought possible;
  • had my first coldsore;
  • taken photos I'm happy with;
  • affected an American accent day-in, day-out;
  • made some very good friends;
  • rocked out;
  • eaten kilos of kimchi;
  • heaps of other shit.

Guess I feel good about my life here. 'Specially since Charlie the One and Only came to visit, this place feels good. I'm not feeling as lonely and now my kinder classes all have textbooks so my teaching is easier. I've found a place that prints my photos how I like. I know my neighbourhood better and better, and have started running into neighbours and students, which is nice. Still don't know much Korean but I learn little bits everyday.

Hmm.

Another day I may write a list of all the shit I miss at home and all the shit I hate about here. Heh heh.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Blown Away

One of my students was sporting a new tshit today; navy, with jeans appliqued on. He's about 13, has braces and an attitude. His shit::

KNOW THE FUTURE
READ THE PAST
BLOW AWAY
THE DARK CLOUDS
AND WALK
THE AIR
HIGHWAY
LOOKING FOR
A
WORLD
OF
DELIGHT

Maybe it's private, but... I think Charlie is right when he says Mr Jose Gonzalez is spot on with these lyrics::

Ten days of perfect hues
The colors red and blue
We had a promise made
We were in love

Also, my solitude ended on Sunday when I met up with Ethan and his lovely mate for lunch and some tomb-spotting. Dunno why but the whole day stunk like fish. Just got worse. Anyways, all was good and I had some yummy tofu lunch and then cast an eye over some martyrs tombs. Zenit came so photos later. But! My Zenit album has been updated with photos from the previous month - the lake trip, randoms, chairs, My Dear Charlie, etc.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Still Life

Been meaning to post this still life from my place for a while now.
It's the wall above my bedhead. On the left is my fabulous map of the world that has been keeping me entertained for 2 years. Next is some funny car perfume thing that Ethan brought me back from San Fran. Then, the blue bag that I take to work everyday - which actually belongs to KP, and can be traced back to the Australia Centre at the Uni of Melbourne. Up top is a postcard from KP, of the amazing Federation Square. This came in her care package to me. Yay. Then there is a black-and-white postcard from Samos, written by JCW from the idyll of the Aegean, which cracks me up everytime I read it. And makes me sick with jealousy.

Also, one of my students was wearing a tracksuit that had French on it. Mine is rusty and I think there might be some non-words but can anyone reliably translate... something about would you like to dance with me? ::

Se prendre dami tie pour on voulez vous danser avec moi?

Anyways, I think it's safe to say that the tracksuit is actually a trackshit.

So I have spent the past 40 hours by myself. And it's been ok. The solitude has been pleasantly interrupted by phone calls from JD Whatever, Ethan, Oh My Goodness Charlie! and... Ilona! What a wonderful surprise to answer my phone and hear Amsterdam calling. It's been more than 2 years since I left Europe, well over 2 years since I saw Ilona in Holland. I have so many good memories of the time I spent with her in Vilnius, and Minsk, and on the roadtrip from Kreuzberg to Huizen. And she inspires me about life and the world. Definitely makes me want to be in Europe next summer. She threatened to bundle me into a car, and drive across the Alps to Slovenia. Wonderful.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

69: Two Girls and Dead Fish

There's a few tiny restaurants in my street which I never stop at or consider eating at. One has a tank out the front full of seafood to choose for dinner. It changes, and today I noticed it had some prawns swimming around and some small silver dead fish floating. Yuk.
Then I remembered that JD Whatever told me the place was called 69: Two Girls and was disgusted all over again. A crappy fish restaurant with 5 tables with a dirty name. Yuk.

Been reading and thinking and learning some stuff. Just random.

I have a Bladerunner soudtrack CD, with 'Vangelis' written on it. I like the CD, it was cheap, and it is funny and atmospheric. But I never knew what 'Vangelis' was. Well, 'it' is an old Greek guy, who scored Bladerunner and Chariots of Fire and... erm... Mythodea, a piece that was used by NASA as the theme for the Mars Odyssey mission. How do you get a gig like that?

Any Mussolini fans out there? What about fans of the nutty Italian fascist-era architecture? I wanna go to EUR, aka The Esposizione Universale Roma. It's just 15 minutes on the subway from the Colosseum, and is a 420-acre complex, built in 1935 as a symbol of the success of fascism the world. It was never fully realised, owing to the interruption of that was World War II, and then the eventually the collapse of Mussolini's regime in 1943. It's an example of the utopia the fascists wished to contruct... with large, symmetrical streets and austere buildings, inspired by ancient Roman architecture, or Rationalism, and built in limestone, tuff and marble.

Lyric of the morning::
"God does not need Abraham, God can raise children from stones."
Thanks, John Darnielle. Again.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Tea for Two



Ohhh yeah. There's some tea and rice snacks... for Charlie and I... Served variously on polystyrene and my journal... On the corner of my bed. I think it's clear from this picture that life can indeed be very sweet.

In other news, yesterday I saw a t-shit - black and red striped with big white messy letters - which said 'Free The West Memphis 3'. Intriguing.When I had a look-see on the intermenet, I learned that Eddie Vedder also sports this t-shit sometimes. The three are three guys who were convicted of killing three 8-year olds. There is a campaign to free them as it's reckoned there was a miscarriage of justice and the three are innocent. Hmmm.