Thursday, December 28, 2006
Moreover, the kids were all excited when I walked in and, sorry Shane, but they told me they like me better ;) Look at Ryan's face as he rascally covers Brian's face ;)
It was quite comforting because ever since I got back to Seoul, my grandma's death has been haunting me a little and I needed the diversion.
Yesterday in ABC we worked on the letters "G" and "H" and the little ones were just like busy bees! My heart literally melted when I saw them because I realized that, although i'm quite clumsy with very young children, I really love them!!
As for the rest, we had our intensive session meeting so it's official: i'll be teaching 2 intensive classes - which means that for the whole month of January i'll be at work 9am-8pm MWF and 9am-10pm TTR! Aaaaaaaaaah!!
My mom knit me really cool leg warmers and i got them yesterday. Awesome, thank you mamasita, i'll definitely need them!! The weather is getting pretty cold. And Nicolas also sent me the Hush Puppies boots with a "mix tape"... you are the best!!
We're having new year's party at a big theater in Seoul because Erika knows the owner so I look forward to that! Apparently there will be a bunch of people including actors and, of course, stranger, my friends and co-workers!
Right now i'm carefully following Ellen Degeneres's clever advice: i am procratinating!
Gotta go to the post office and the bank before I get to work. Gotta wash my dishes. Clean my place (sorry Rachelle, it was a mess!!!) Throw away the compost (ah dear environmentalist Koreans, I love you!)
But I can't get out of my bathrobe. It's so comfy. Feels so warm..... arrrrg ok!
But before I go, you HAVE TO check out this video, it's hilarious! In French of course, a 30 seconds parody of fashion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctrt5BYhejk
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
In Montreal a porn actor inflicts pain and death upon other people because he doesn’t want to face reality.
In China, the story deals with the traffic of blood. It’s pretty harsh. One father uses his daughter’s blood to earn money but she mysteriously dies. The government doesn’t give a damn about the situation and diseases spread across the country.
In Africa too many children are dying everyday and 3 nuns are there to convert them to God before they reach the heavenly gates. But there’s much more to deal with and their love for the children leads them to jeopardizing their very own salvation. There’s AIDS of course, rape and a rich wealthy Afrikaans plantation owner…
Anyway, a good and shocking movie I highly recommend! It stars Chloe Sevigny (as a nun!!), Sandra Oh and Lucy Liu (she actually speaks Chinese the whole time!!)
Oh and speaking of movies, I also recently saw “Thank you for smoking” – a pretty good movie about tobacco companies and society. Deals with morality issues and makes you think quite a lot. Stars Katie Holmes and a dude I don’t know but who’s pretty good.
Last one is “Everyone says I Love You” – Woody Allen movie starring Goldie Hawn, Julia Roberts, Edward Norton and Drew Barrymore. REALLY good and a great parody of the world of love. It also deals with how so many crazy things cross our mind and how life would go if we actually gave those thoughts a little more consideration. Excellent film.
But I recommend grabbing your hiking shoes and climbing a mountain ;) Just a thought…
Everyone’s leaving for Cuba tomorrow to attend my sister’s wedding! Still wondering if I made the right choice…
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Indeed, every apartment building has recycling and compost bins – Koreans care about the environment. Moreover, there are a considerable number of mountains in Seoul and Bukhansan, the biggest one, is actually quite huge.
See, that's the view from the subway station but if you refer to an earlier post from the last time I went there, it looks more gorgeous from the other side!
Cars, I guess – although the subway system here is simply outstanding and people use it quite a lot... it’s always crowded!
As for factories, I haven’t seen that many but it seems logical that they would account for air pollution since cars can’t be the only ones to blame! Nonetheless if anyone has an answer…
So I went hiking today and here’s what Seoul looked like from above. Smoggy, eh? Especially compared to the blue sky.
I was up at 6am, cleaning my apartment and I decided to get some exercise.
Since I’ve been back last Saturday morning, I’ve been sick and slept a lot. On Sunday night my friends and I rented a cool hotel suite in Seoul and we had a lot of fun – giant shrimps for dinner, swimming pool, sauna, etc.
Real nice view from the place too! I think we were on the 17th floor. They actually had a special check-in for us on the 16th floor so you don't wait with the other "regular" costumers in the lobby. Hahaha we so didn't look like people renting an executive suite, they must have been shocked!
But I couldn’t sleep because of a bad cold so the next day I was up at 7am thinking that the steam room would do me good. I ended up crawling back to the room, throwing up and lying on the couch as the others were packing up. Chris was exhausted too and Twyla was also sick. All fun.
So I was a pain in the ass for all of them but I just didn’t feel like talking. I felt so nauseous, it was killing me. The cab ride was especially traumatic. Then the elevator all the way up… I barely reached my apartment and there it was again.
So merry Christmas to me! I still dunno what was wrong. Fatigue I guess. Still on jetlag (twice in two weeks!) and tired from the big fat flight. I don’t know but I spent the whole day sleeping so this morning I needed to move!
Just got back and it’s early but I’m wiped. Not hungry either but I should eat.
Today was actually nice – I read, took a nap on a big rock on the sunny side of the peak, wrote a few thoughts near a semi-frozen stream, and enjoyed the wonderful smell of wet earth and pine trees. I even took off my earphones to listen to the sound of dry leaves cracking under my feet.
I can’t believe I’m going back to work tomorrow. Do I even want to?
I miss my family. My sister is getting married in Cuba on January 1st and I can’t even be there because of work. It sucks. Maybe I should have been stronger and gone there. But then I would have either gotten fired, or they would have treated me pretty bad upon my return.
I’m a chicken. A push-over. Gotta figure some stuff out. Feels like my soul is as contaminated as Seoul!!
Meanwhile I visited a Buddhist temple in the forest and it reminded how I gotta be zen! You too my friends; don't let meaningless thoughts cluster your brain. Clear your mind. Clear your mind. Clear your mind I say!!!
Monday, December 25, 2006
Anyway, my point is that we really don't need big commercial events to tell our friends and family how much they mean to us. And to enjoy their company. And to wish them all the best. And to tell/show them how much we love them.
Nonetheless, most of you are probably celebrating around delicious Christmas food with a nice Christmas tree in the background, exchanging gifts and hugs. Well, enjoy!
I wish I could be with my family, especially so soon after the death of my grandma. But things don't always work out the way we'd want them to, so just know that I love you all very much and I'm thinking about y'all.
Friday, December 22, 2006
No choice anyway since there was no screen on the front seat... However while I was stretching out near the fire escape (never know ;) a really cute Korean-Canadian came up to me and we talked for a while (we had time hehe) so it changed my mind a little.
I'm wiped, getting off the plane, waiting for my luggage for what seems like forever, thinking about catching the bus to MokDong. Then I pass the gates and Christine's there with Youngah!!! How awesome is that, at 4am, Seoul time?
We rode the Caddy (well Youngah did, pretty wildly too ;) and I got home. Nice chat outside, it's cold but I don't mind. It's really good to be back in Seoul, feels like coming home, really!
Take the elevator, the whole 15 floors pass by slowly and i'm only thinking about going to bed. Then I see my apartment door hahahahaha Twyla and Kelly did that I think. Are they the best or what?!
Feeling a whole lot of emotions right now - missing grandma, my family, friends, speaking French and the beautiful Quebecois scenery but i'm really excited to be back. Just don't know what to say but my heart is pretty much filled with joy and love.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
5 hours layover, jerking around, totally exhausted, taking a nap in the bathroom.
Flight to Boston. 1 hour layover.
2 hours flight to Quebec. 2 hours car ride. Finally home.
3 times I took off. 3 times I landed.
The night I got the news I slept about 3 hours, woke up, packed my things and got on the first plane. 3 fucking million won and my school is giving me shit for having a heart.
I'm still jetlagged and exhausted. I cried like a baby on the plane.
It's the first time ever that someone I love more than everything dies. I don't know how to deal with it and, no offence but, all the spiritual stuff doesn't calm me down. I don’t care what Jesus said; I just wanna know where’s my gandma.
She was beautiful in her coffin. They managed to put a subtle smile on her face.
Her hands were so cold. She looked so peaceful, it was almost painful.
All I wanted to do is yell "wake up now! let's go grandma!" That was heartbreaking because I knew she's never ever gonna wake up... she's gone forever.
I won't hug her, kiss her, see her smile ever again. We won't share our deep conversations, she won't make me laugh, hold my hand. We won't meet for lunch, go shopping or just have a beer on her balcony while the train is passing by. My cool grandma. It's all over. And it's really unfair.
The place was packed with people I'd never seen before. Funerals are so morbid. People were crying to see that I'd come all this way to say goodbye.
My brother showed up too - he'd come all the way from Bangkok Thailand. Grandma was a wonderful woman and we just couldn't let her go like that.
I stared at the wooden box the whole time we were at church. How could she be in there? When we walked behind the coffin I was dying inside. But at least I think she's much happier now.
As I was walking away from the tomb, the clouds scattered away for a minute and I ray of light pointed my way. I cried even harder, just because.
Now i'm home with everyone and I want to yell at them. How can things return to normal so quickly? I just want to go back to the graveyard and stare at her tomb forever and ever. I feel so empty. She really was my everything and I love her so much.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
What amazes me the most though is how everything seems to happen at Church!
You make new friends, you meet your boyfriend, you find a job, and you meet music stars. It’s pretty impressive. Is it like that back home? I guess I had never realized how powerful religion can be!
And so on this beautiful (and sunny) Sunday morning, I got up at 9am and met Rachelle for an hour and a half subway ride to Yangjae. Yup, I was going to Church in Korea!
When I was a kid my parents would take us there on Sunday and I didn’t really like it; sit down, kneel down, sit down, stand up, sit down… I did not really get it. To be sure, I enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere, but I wanted to play!
Moreover, I have this weird thing where as soon as I walk into a church, I all of a sudden feel incredibly tired and my whole body hurts. Especially my back. Anyway.
I hadn’t been to church in quite a while but my Korean friend was a guest speaker and it was really important for her so I went.
I found myself in a big auditorium filled with both Koreans and foreigners, and there was a band playing contemporary Christian songs. The real deal: guitar, back-up singers, bass player, drums and keyboards.
While it was entertaining, I couldn’t get into the whole religious mood. And that’s ok. I’m not in that place but the people around me were and they seemed pretty happy.
Chris gave her speech and she was crying like a baby when she saw me! Thanks to her, and in line with the whole “politics of church” spirit, I got to meet a lot of people that she and Rachelle introduced me to.
Greatest surprise of all, I bumped into Alice, a really good friend I hadn’t seen in a long time since she had “show business” problems. It was my best hug of the day!!
I like church because it’s a peaceful place to meet people and everyone in there (I assume) has a good heart. I kinda feel bad that the whole “God” concept doesn’t really speak to me, but I think it has to do with the story that comes with it.
When the preacher reminded the crowd that we are all sinners and that God sent his son to die for us in a big gesture of love, I felt really uncomfortable. No actually… it made me smile because I thought “couldn’t we all have discussed this beforehand? There might have been easier and less painful alternatives!”
I used to be a die-hard Hobbes fan (“man is wolf for man”) but the more I go through life, the more I want to believe that we are good people. I’m still puzzled with serial killers and rapists but that’s not the point here…
Anyway, I went to church and it was fine. On our way out I even passed by a homeless with no legs (a legless homeless if you will) and did my good deed. It’s a really harsh world and we gota make it as easy and peaceful as possible.
Yesterday I was still pretty sick but I spent the day with Twyla. We went to Kyobo bookstore to buy a lonely planet guide for Vietnam (yes! We bought the plane tickets so it’s official: 8 days in Nha Trang for lunar New Year!!)
See how nice is the view when you get off the subway? The street is decorated with Christmas lights and you can see Bukhansan (mountain...which I hiked and could've died there!!) Ah, beautiful Seoul!
I ended up with a Vietnamese phrasebook, Paulo Coelho’s book on love and a Brazilian whore, a great Romain Gary book and, of course, Kundera (“L’ignorance”)
On top of that, I bought… “Being zen” and “The little zen companion”. I really want to give this a try. I’m already a pretty relaxed girl but there's definitely room for improving.
After Kyobo we went to Costco, where I bought salmon, cheese, cider (apple cider! Just like back in Quebec wouhou!) and other stuff. Was pretty fun.
We ended the day moving Twyla’s apartment around, buying organic fruits, cooking dinner and watching Adam Sandler’s “Click”. I must say I’m not a big fan… it’s just a modern version of “Family man” ... nonetheless, it reminded me how much I love my friends and family. And how, even though sometimes some moments suck, they still are important parts of your life.
And yes, it’s already Sunday night. I got a lot of stuff to do around the apartment and I’m in a Jazzy mood so I’ll dance it all away ;) Praise the Lord!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Michael Richards, who played Kramer in sitcom Seinfield, flipped out on stage a couple of days ago. He insulted African-Americans in the most blatant and shocking way you could ever imagine.
I must warn y'all: this ain't for kids to watch. There's so much rage, it really scared me. Seriously, i'm still pretty shaken.
Then again, he appeared on TV for public apologies but he really looked all spaced out.
During an interview on the Letterman Show, he said "I'm not racist, that's what's so insane about this."
I'm sorry... WHAT?!?!
And: Are you kidding me?!?!?!?!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Good news: didn’t hurt at all. My dentist is my hero.
Maybe it’s a Korean thing because everyone so far who has had to go to the dentist in Korea was happily surprised. Back home you’d be in pain for days.
I went on Saturday and then again yesterday.
Up to now, it cost 20 bucks. Pretty good insurance system eh!
Since I was in Yeouido, I decided to look around.
Yeouido is a small island in Seoul, surrounded by the Han river.
I went for a long walk and visited the National Assembly. There’s also numerous parks and bridges. We can see Bukhansan mountain. Pretty nice.
Funny thing in Korea is that instead of flowers, you can find cabbage on the street! After all kimchi (spicy cabbage) is a big part of the culture…
I saw those cute bird-shaped boats, still no idea what they were doing there. But my mouth was numb and I was tired so, standing on the bridge, looking at them… it made me smile.
I’m coming down with a very bad cold – feeling feverish, my tonsils are like two giant golf balls. Hope my ABC kids won’t be a handful tonight.
This week-end I plan on being a big potato couch. I volunteer at church on Saturday to give away Christmas presents (Rachelle’s idea!) and on Sunday I also gota go to a different church for my friend. Maybe God will give me a couple of answers ;)
The week-end after, the school is taking us to a small island, about 2 hours bus ride from Seoul. They call this a “cultural excursion”. Apparently the beach is great and there are a couple of mountains so I’m pretty excited.
After that it’ll be… Christmas! We’ve rented a suite in a hotel so we’ll enjoy the swimming pool, cook and celebrate. Koreans don’t make a big deal out of Xmas.
Twyla and I got days off for lunar’s new year’s (thanks JeeSoo!!!) so we’ll spend a little more than a week in Nha Trang, Vietnam. I can’t wait for February!
Monday, December 04, 2006
What if I had been born with AIDS? What if I suffered a physical malformation? What if I had a leg missing?
What if I was blind and couldn't catch even a glimpse of this beautiful world?
What if I had been born deaf and had never heard the sound of music, of the wind, of the ones I love and those passing by?
What if my mom gave me birth in the middle of a civil war and my dad had been slaughtered in front my eyes when I was a child?
Do you believe in reincarnation? I’m sceptical but…
What if I come back on earth as a giraffe trapped in a crappy zoo somewhere in China? Where my legs burn with anxiety as I see green spaces through the bars of my cage? Where my head aches just to smell the perfume of the nature I was born for but can’t even reach out to.
Do you believe in luck?
What if I had been born unlucky and had no liberty to change a thing?
Spending a life-long of suffering and enduring a sentiment of powerlessness day after day… Could I handle it?
We make choices, hope for good luck and smile when things go well but…Do we even control anything in our life?
Is the wise thing to do struggling until the very last moment or just letting it go? Until what point do we even have anything to do with what happens to us?!
Perfection scares me. Good things scare me. It just doesn’t seem right to be happy and free while others were just born on the wrong side of the world.
Hope is killing me. The more you get, the more you want and the more you hope for. I guess resignation is a better attitude. Or just acceptance. But what's with all the temptation? Arrrg once again i'm confused
Sunday, December 03, 2006
In Korea, it ain’t called a nightmare; it’s just a sauna. And nobody’s pointing.
I spent the most relaxing Sunday ever with my Korean friend Christine. We met for lunch, went shopping in Sinchon and at night we went to the movies (“The Prestige”… good but not excellent).
After that we got manicures – where my hand was covered in wax and massaged.
Then we got naked.
I actually had done this back in Jeju island but we were sunburned so it wasn’t the same.
Let me tell you about saunas. It’s NOTHING like back home.
A lot of foreigners are a little scared to experience public nakedness, especially far away from home. So here’s a quick peak, no big deal I swear.
You walk in, take off your shoes and go to the front desk. Pay the 6 dollars fee (some saunas are cheaper) and take your tiny towel and key. Pick up your shoes, put them in a shoe locker and walk to the changing room.
In there, it’s simple: take off your clothes and walk to the sauna. If you’re thirsty, hungry, if you need shampoo, mud masks or whatever, there’s a small stand where everything is charged on your key.
Men are in a separate room. For a Sunday night around 11pm, it was not as empty as I expected.
The rest is basically like any sauna back home, except that here you’re not wearing clothes.
They have really hot and really cold baths, as well as the steam room. As for the feeling, after 2 seconds you totally forget that you are naked! Indeed, some people do look at you because you’re white but if you act naturally it’s all cool.
Koreans are obsessed with being beautiful and having perfect skin so saunas are really popular. You know what else is popular? Scrubbing!
Chris and I got body scrubbing for 7 dollars and it was niiiiiiiiice!
There’s a corner where naked women (some of them are just in their underwear too) work your body like you’ve never experienced!
You’re of course naked on the table and they scrub every single part of your body! Then, if you want, you can get the massage!
The lady yelled at me “shower” and when I came back, she literally poured a bottle of baby oil all over my body. Then she sat on my back and started slapping me! And massaging, and slapping, and massaging. It was pretty funny at first, but eventually relaxing.
At some point she covered my face with what obviously smelled like cucumber dip – it was soooo refreshing!
But I was afraid I’d fall off the table since it was so slippery because of all the oil. At the end she turned me around (a 360!) and washed my hair and massaged my head. She smiled and slapped my butt. It was over.
We went back to the steam room, took a shower and went home. My skin has never been so soft and i've never felt so relaxed!!
Now I really think westerners make too much of a big deal out of nudity...
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Bori taught me an interesting fact last night concerning Koreans – she said that their mouth is getting smaller!
Have you ever noticed how most Asian people’s jaw is always bigger than most Occidental people’s jaw? Well, it’s because Asian food requires more chewing!
But with fast-food becoming more and more popular in Korea, kids chew less so the overall shape of their chin/jaw is getting smaller! Isn’t that fascinating?!
Ok so about work. Got my killer classroom and everything’s just perfect.
I had a great time teaching ABC – the kids are very funny and easy to entertain so I can act like a total child and it makes them laugh. We worked on A, B and C. They don’t know much but one little girl had sparkles in hey eyes as she pointed to her eraser and said “Pigggggggg”!
They only had Korean names so I put a bunch of English names on the board and ended up with a Jennifer, a Sandy and a Harry (yup just 3 students in my class!) I also taught them how to spell their new name, and the alphabet. They had to write within the lines and everything… it sooooo made me realize how I don’t even write correctly!
Then I had a 2 hour-break… much needed because I had been crazed all day and I was tired and hungry.
The break doesn’t suck. As for the 7:30pm class, there are 3 adorable boys.
One of them is really good in English and also quite sensitive. He played some Kenny G on his ipod – which is very surprising for a 10 year-old kid. Kenny G is this great (and romantic) saxophonist whose music is on the soundtrack of “Dying young” (you oughta watch that movie if you haven’t!)
As for my Friday classes, they are good too! They talk a lot, I don’t seem to have any trouble makers and I was lucky enough to get again one class I had last semester – 5 girls, pretty smart and we have a lot of fun together!
So Friday was alright but it’s pretty crowded in the teachers’ room since the teachers from TPC moved to our building.
At night we went for sushi (I know, I know it’s an obsession! But at least it isn’t junk food!!) while waiting for Catherine, the newbie, to be done teaching. Kelly counld't come because her family thinks she's too fat. I'll explain that one later, it's really upsetting. At 10pm we headed to Paganini, the really cool jazz lounge near Hongdae.
Christine is friends with the owner so even if it was Friday night, we got the best table in the place : ) He also gave each of us a Jazz CD, how sweet is that?! I actually do enjoy having friends that have connexions!
For example when we go out dancing, we always get the best table and free drinks all night. Everyone knows us and that’s all thanks to Erin’s boyfriend, who’s a Korean actor (oh yessssss!! ;), and Erika’s friends, who also are in the show business.
Anyway. We had wine and pina coladas and chatted for a while. It’s a nice lounge. Catherine was really quiet but we dragged her to a noraebang (karaoke bar). We had a blast there – especially when Rachelle sang her rendition of Sweet Child of mine!!! Oh man!!! She totally sounded like Guns N Roses!!!
We tried getting Catherine to sing but she wouldn’t. I think she’s more the introverted type and that’s alright. Or… we just really scared her hehe
After that it was getting late and everyone went home. Except me and Chris – we went to Andrew’s going away party. Andrew is an Irish staff member who’s been working at school for a couple of years.
They were in a lousy bar - the occidental guys on one side, and the Korean girls on the other. Not a big deal but it struck me as I walked in. Anyway, everyone was having fun I guess and Andrew was so drunk.
As usual Janie was hilarious and we joked around telling each other “wo ai ni” (I love you) because Andrew is moving to Taiwan and he’s learning Chinese. She kept asking people with her Korean accent “A you bizi?!” (are you busy) whenever she wanted to chink glasses. And she almost fell off her chair "high-fiving” me : ) Come on Sharon!
I had a really intense conversation with Bori about fat people in Korea. This girl is really cool and I realized that we do get to know people better over a beer or two. It’s sad, but true.
As for fat people… they’re doomed. The mentality here is: if you’re fat, you must (so you CAN) lose weight. The society cares a great deal about looks and since their industry is people-oriented, pretty people have better chances of getting hired.
The school’s big shots were also there and it’s always fun to hang out with them. Young A, the new president, is really nice and adorable! In a word, we had a good night and I went to bed at 4am. Just like back in college. Do I really have to grow up?
Got a dentist appointment on Saturday at 11am. I think my old filling let bacteria in and I bet I’ll need a root canal treatment. I can feel it. Grrrrrrrrrr what’s up with my teeth?!