A Two Month Hiatus

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4, 2011 by kingcal

Well, fear not, I am alive and well. Very well, actually. I know it’s been a long time since my last post (2 months to the day, to be specific). I’ve actually had a couple request I keep better writing habits. That’s kind a nice little ego boost. Here are some highlights from the past two months:

1. Halloween

Halloween at Kid’s College was pretty awesome. We did pumpkin carving and the Friday before Halloween we had our all day Halloween party.  Together with another teacher I was in charge of the haunted house. I was afraid with the time and materials we had to work with that the haunted house would be lame, but I was very pleased with how it turned out. We got creative and it was successful. So much so, in fact, that four of my six students flat out refused to even enter the haunted house after one peek inside.

For the adult portion of Halloween, Friday night was a huge party at Dolce. I was super lame and wore my hapkido uniform again. Pretty much the same costume as last year. I think I exhausted all my creativity on the haunted house. Saturday was a long, crazy night in Hongdae. I went sans costume, but it was one of those perfect nights when everything is going your way.

2. Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving at Kid’s College wasn’t quite as eventful. There was only a special lunch. I actually liked it better than a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Each class was assigned a country, and the parents brought in food from the country for a buffet style lunch. I’m not a huge fan of most traditional Thanksgiving foods (cranberries, mashed potatoes, stuffing, anything heavy on cheese or cream, etc…). I didn’t do anything super exciting. I didn’t attend any of the Thanksgiving dinners other people had. I think for dinner I had tuna curry. Saturday after Thanksgiving I went to Songtan and had Brazilian barbeque, which was basically just an all you can eat steakhouse. I think I ate meat for a solid hour and a half before I called it quits.

I remember there was a bit of a “to-do” last year for me and Thanksgiving. For some reason, I think I was a bit homesick and looking for a bit of comfort from the familiar and not getting invited to a Thanksgiving dinner kind of upset me, but this year I kind of forgot about Thanksgiving all together. It snuck up on me and I was just like “Oh, I guess it is Thanksgiving today.”

3. Weight Loss

I had been steadily losing weight since I joined a gym in May, but since I went to Beijing, my weight loss stagnated. I was still going to the gym, but it just wasn’t as effective as it was before, so I enlisted the help of a personal trainer. I’ve been doing the new workout plan and diet she helped me with for about three weeks now. On Monday I had my two week progress check, and I was shocked. I lost about 3 kilos (6.6 pounds) in two weeks, including a 3.4% drop in body fat, an inch off my hips and chest, an inch and a half off my thighs, and two inches off my waist. I was down to 82.5 kilos earlier this week, but I just weighed myself again a minute ago and I’m up to 83.5, which was where I was at Monday. I strayed a bit from my diet this weekend, but I’m back on it now. I wasn’t rewarding myself for doing well, which can lead to a dangerous habit, but the past two weekends I’d been very strict and pretty much had no fun. I needed to blow off some steam. I’m thinking that might happen once a month.

4. Rubber Soul

Rubber Soul was this weekend. It’s a big event to raise AIDS awareness. A $10 fee got you into six different bars and there were 20 bands performing. I was really excited to see Wagwak. I went with some new friends to show them around Hongdae. We had a nice dinner in Itaewon at a good Greek place, then headed to Hongdae to bar hop a bit. We saw Wagwak at Freebird. They did a great show. After that, we just went to like six different places. I ran into at least 15 people I know from various places, Cheonan, Bucheon, Gongju, etc… Even went to a club that was playing dubstep and danced like crazy. It was at this club I met someone who mentioned that she read my blog, and is honestly a big part of the reason I’m writing this. I stayed out all night and ended up at Seoul Station at 5:30 AM getting a train ticket home. Finally made it home around 7:20 AM and slept until noon. Got out of bed at about 1 PM. It was just another one of those nights like Halloween when things were just clicking on all levels and everything was turning up roses. It was a night you can’t really plan. Halloween was great because the whole weekend was anticipated for weeks and it lived up to expectations, but this was one of those great weekends that popped up out of a decision to go to Seoul on a whim.

Anyway, meeting with a friend tonight to recap the weekend and really bask in it, I was confronted with the realization that I’ve changed immensely in the past year. Probably within just the last six months. Most of it is directly tied to my weight loss. I’m also actively trying to change the person I am. I heard some criticisms of my character and decided that I didn’t want to be that person anymore. Some of it has been keeping some of my snarky comments to myself. I think some people misinterpreted them as hostility or standoffish-ness. The other, larger, part of my personality change has been that I’ve been very active about putting myself into situations that make me uncomfortable to get used to doing things. For instance, six months ago I never would’ve danced at the club, unless I was extremely drunk. Now I’m much more able to go out and do stuff that would’ve made me sefl-conscious before. I’m just a lot more able to relax and enjoy myself. It’s beginning to not feel like I’m going out of my way to do something fun just to prove I can do it. Now I’m just doing it because I enjoy doing it.

Lastly, today I went to a English meeting I found out about. I wanted more Korean friends because I’ve been really lax with speaking Korean lately. I was not expecting to see 20 Koreans. Usually the groups are much smaller. And most of them spoke English quite well. I was impressed. We went out for dinner after, and I told them I wanted to speak more Korean, so they were very accommodating about that. I’ve told Koreans before that I want to speak Korean and they would insist on talking on English, which made me feel like speaking in Korean would be unnatural. Dinner was like 90% Korean and 10% English, so I was definitely challenging myself.

Anyway, I figure this is long enough, and I’m pretty tired. Gotta rest up and get ready for the gremlins tomorrow.

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Back on the Wagon

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4, 2011 by kingcal

Well, this weekend was a long, and much needed one. There was a three day series of concerts in Cheonan, a going away party in Bucheon, and a much needed trip to Itaewon for shoes. Friday I went to Banana Bar to catch the first night of the shows. The bands were all right. Two in particular were pretty good. One was a two piece girl group. The lead singer looked exactly like Johnny Depp in the movie Benny and Joon. I was compelled to actually tell her this. I was kind of proud of myself for that. Especially since I wasn’t drunk. In general though, I’m not the best at cold approaches, and doing it entirely in Korean, that was enough to make me feel accomplished for the evening. Didn’t drink much because I drank way too much last weekend, and I was starting to feel like a degenerate, so I took it easy.

Saturday I woke up at the good Christian hour of 11 AM and went to the gym. There were a grand total of three people there. It was strange. I liked it though. No waiting for anything. I wish I could go there on the dead times more often. It’s usually packed by the time I get there after work. I hadn’t been to the gym for nearly three weeks before I got back into it, and it is very evident. I weighed myself, and I actually still lost a little over a kilo in three weeks with only very minimal running, but I’m also lifting way below the level I was at before I went to China. So this is the second week back in the gym, and I’m already feeling better. Slowly getting back to the rhythm I was in before I took the hiatus. Nothing extreme, but visible improvement over last weeks, so it’s nice to see such immediate results.

Anyway, Saturday night I headed to Dolce for the second night of the concert series. I overestimated people’s enthusiasm for the show and showed up at the proclaimed start time, and was one of very few people there. Most people showed up during the second or third band, but since there were like seven, it wasn’t a big deal. Anyway, the line-up was fantastic. Seoul City Suicides were good. Two bands I’d never heard of but fully enjoyed were Kachisan and Midnight Smoke and Drive. Of course, my favorite band played last, but they were fucking awesome. Black Leather Lagoon. Great image, great stage presence, lots of fun. If you get the chance, check out any of the above bands.

Anyway, after like 5 hours of rock’n’roll, my ears were pretty shot. Spent most of Sunday with a constant ring in them, but I headed to Bucheon for the going away party. They were having a trivia night, and I don’t want to blow my own horn or nothing, but had the hosts not essentially given up and just started throwing prizes into the crowd, I feel like my team would’ve run away with it, largely on the science and, erm, sexual deviance rounds that I completely dominated. It was a pretty late night. Stayed up until 6 AM, then got up around 11 AM. Bummed around a bit waiting for other people to get out of bed, then headed to Seoul.

We all headed to Itaewon for lunch. Found a really good Indian buffet place. Little pricey, but still, damn good food. After that I split off from the group and bought some new shoes. I looked in like five stores, but only found one pair that I liked and would fit. Even in Itaewon, finding shows can be a bit of a hassle. Most stores have large enough shoes, but the selection isn’t that great, and even if I do see something I like, often times they’re out of stock for my size. Anyway, I’m still pretty happy with the shoes I got. They’re pretty pimpin’, I must say.

Took me until about 9 PM to get home Monday night. Obviously didn’t do much then. It was a really great weekend for me. I’d been doing the same thing every weekend for months, so I needed a change of pace. I wouldn’t say I’m burnt out on Hashing, but I’ve recently realized that lots of other aspects of my social life are suffering. There are people I haven’t seen and places I haven’t gone since I started Hashing, because I made it a priority. For other people, it’s not as big an issue. They live in that area, so most of their friends do as well. They’re military, so they’re here for ostensibly less time, and probably don’t have as many contacts in as many places as I have accrued in the past 18, going on 19, months. I don’t really feel comfortable basically saying that some new thing I’m doing is more important than the people I’ve known for a lot longer. It doesn’t mean I’m stopping Hashing either. I just need to find a better balance. I especially miss going out of Cheonan. I pretty much hadn’t left Cheonan since I started Hashing.

Anyway, today we had September’s field trip, which was postponed because of weather concerns, to a chestnut farm. It wasn’t exactly exciting, but it was nice to walk along a nice shady path of trees for awhile. It’s always nice to get out of the classroom, regardless. We hadn’t been on a field trip in awhile because of our summer vacation, and then the August “field trip” being a trip to a lawn pool on the playground. We have October’s field trip on the 10th. We’re going all the way to Yongin for a Korean folk village, which is from what I hear pretty cool. It should be an all day trip, which is even better. Our last all day trip was a blast.

I have a strong sensation that tomorrow is going to suck in a big way. First of all, I just don’t like Wednesdays. They’re almost worse than Mondays. Second, I’m going to go on my first morning run tomorrow morning. The construction crew outside my window has stepped up their game to 7 AM in the morning with hammers and power saws. Even with my mp3 player playing music in my earbuds, I can’t get back asleep. It’s awful. So, I decided I may as well just go to bed earlier, then take the unwelcome wake up call as an opportunity to do something productive, rather than just lie in bed and hate the world for two hours until my alarm goes off. So I’ll probably be fucking exhausted all day.

Stand By Me

Posted in Uncategorized on September 21, 2011 by kingcal

Well, recently I’ve had a big surge in my motivation to learn Korean. No particular reason that I can think of. Just a couple nights ago I got really in the mood. Feeling really pro-active about finishing some of the books I have that I never finished. It comes at a cost, though. I have zero motivation to go to the gym. I actually tried to go yesterday, but I didn’t have my card (lost in my wallet), and the manager wasn’t there, so I couldn’t get a new one. Used the time productively anyway and ran some errands, then came home and studied some more.

I’m currently working my way through a kid’s comic book called The Unstoppable Dinosaur Explorers. It’s pretty funny. Most of it is fairly easy. No tough grammar, since it’s for kids. Just don’t know some words, so I use my dictionary for 2-3 words a page. Though, between every couple chapters are fact about dinosaurs… One page forced me to look up 29 words. They’re written on a much higher level. Makes me feel a bit like a tool. On the subway today, I brought the book with me. I didn’t feel like looking up words, since the subway was really crowded, so I just sat and read it. I read about 60 pages and understood it for the most part. Some words here and there eluded me, but a lot of words are used over and over, so if I had looked them up before I knew them, and a lot of them I could generally guess at by context within the sentence and the picture. On the way back, I went back and looked up words I didn’t know. I had followed the story pretty well, without knowing every single word.

It made me feel pretty good. I mean, this is essentially how kids learn lots of new words. They just read and don’t necessarily understand every word, but they either figure it out through context, or perhaps ask an adult, but I certainly never used a dictionary when I read a book. I don’t really remember ever asking adults what a word meant much either. Finally getting to a pretty good level with my overall understanding. Still, I’d like my speaking to get a bit better. I really almost never ever practice.

Anyway, this week hasn’t been my favorite at work. I don’t know why, but I’ve been a bit grumpy. Maybe because the construction crew that started building something right next to my window on Monday morning at 7:30 AM wakes me up and disturbs my sleep every day now. Fucking blows. Anyway, the kids have been getting on my nerves a lot recently. Really testing my patience.

Wednesdays are also usually my least fun days. I give lots of tests on Wednesdays to take up time. I don’t like my Wednesday schedule in general, so the less time I spend actually teaching, the better. My kindergartners did just okay on their tests. Two really good scores, but a couple others were just okay, and two not so great. I recently started implementing a policy on these tests. If a student scores below a 50% on a spelling test, they have to take it home and have mom sign it, then bring it back. This has had a pretty big effect. The first time one student had to take a test home he had a big crying fit and a near tantrum. Probably didn’t want mom knowing about how badly he’d been doing.

For a long time, a lot of students would never, ever do their homework. I tried in class rewards and punishments, but many students simply didn’t care about gaining/losing check, writing assignments, or time out. In my last student reports, I made a point of mentioning that students weren’t doing homework, and I noticed a pretty immediate improval. One of my kindergartener’s moms actually sent me a fairly lengthy note apologizing for her son and telling me he’d do his homework from now on. It’s true that English hagwons can be glorified day care for some kids, and the parents don’t necessarily care how well they do, some parents really do.

For example, we had a spelling test in my first grade class today. There’s one student that is not extremely far ahead of the others (the class in general is pretty bright), but he’s obviously the highest level. It’s a bit surprising. Usually girls are the best at English. In 18 months here, only two boys have been the best in the class for my classes. Anyway, he told me before we took the spelling test that his dad promised if he got 100% that he’d take him out for fried chicken for dinner. That’s really what a lot of these kids need. For their parents to get interested.

Students to some extent want to impress the teacher, and for most students, in-class rewards are nice, but not terribly important. I’ve noticed that my best students all have parents that are actively involved in their kid’s education, and it’s certainly not a coincidence. I really wish more of my student’s parents cared. Especially for the amount of school that Korean kids have to go through.

Anyway, my arm is still feeling weird from China. It’s mostly normal, but extended periods of typing make it sore and tired. I guess it’s time to wrap this up. My weekend is fairly undefined at this point. I’ve got lots of options, but I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to tie them together.

China for Chuseok

Posted in Uncategorized on September 14, 2011 by kingcal

It’s been quite a long time since my last blog post. Nothing to important has happened, besides China.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from China. There were a lot of weird things going on for me at the airport. It all started right after work when I went to six different ATMs and none of them would read my card. I had all of about $20 on me at the time. Luckily, my travel partner agreed to front me some extra cash she had, so I could actually do stuff in the country once we got there.

Anyway, that kind of got my trip started off on the wrong foot. From the get go I was on edge about everything and really snappy. It’s a side of me that very few people ever see of me. Money is probably about the only thing that really stresses me out, and combined with traveling, the prospect of suddenly not having money was really shitting in my cut. When we got to the airport, I was more relaxed, but I still felt really strange. It was the first time I’d been in an airport since I came to Korea. It felt like kind of a big deal. But since we got there at like 9:30 PM the place was practically empty. It was a strange dichotomy between the feeling that there should be some extreme importance to the moment coupled with the place being completely empty. Anyway, got some sleep on a bench and woke up just a bit before 6 AM to get ready to fly.

I don’t want to dwell on it a lot, but there was a bit of an incident in the morning which didn’t exactly help me stay calm. Because of the amount of people getting ready in the girls’ bathroom, my friend took 40 minutes to get ready, and I was seriously stressing about whether or not we would be able to get to the gate in time to board. We made it there with like five minutes to spare according to the ticket, and then of course sat for like another 15 minutes after that while the last of the stragglers got on. So in reality, we weren’t that bad off, but it still shook me up a bit.

When we got to China, it was kind of a shitty day. Cool and rainy. I had thought about packing a jacket or something, but decided not to waste the space, since I was only carrying one bag with me. We found our hostel fairly easily. The subway in Beijing is constantly packed. Attendants have to stand at each door or each car and yell at people to move aside, otherwise the people getting off would never be able to, since so many people are rushing to get on. The good thing is they run the cars every 2-5 minutes, so it’s not a big deal if you can’t get onto one.

After checking in, we had some lunch near our hostel. The place had literally a 30 page menu. Lots of different food. We ended up eating there for almost every meal and never had the same thing twice. After that, we immediately went to Tianamen Square. We saw the memorial to Mao Zedong and entered the Forbidden City, but the thing was so huge we only got to see like half of it before we got the warning that it was about to close. I was dumbfounded by how large it was. Coming from America I’m used to things that sprawl on forever, but having gotten used to the Korean vertical lifestyle, going back into the spread out stuff felt even more immense to me.

We went back and had dinner, then called it quits a bit early because we were both so tired. I stayed up a bit later than my friend to talk to some people in the common area, but after a day of travel and walking all around, I decided to hit the hay around 11 PM. Sunday we woke up around 7 AM and got breakfast, then headed to see the Temple of Heaven. The temple was a collection of several buildings inside a rather large park. The park itself was already beautiful. It was big enough that there were several parts of woods between paved paths, where there were only dirt footpaths. You couldn’t really see the paved parts, and you could almost feel alone. It was almost like going back in time. Really amazing feeling.

We headed back a little after noon to get some lunch then go our own seperate ways for an afternoon/evening. I wanted to go Hashing. I had the details on when and where they would be, so I got on the subway and headed there. I was early of course, but I still couldn’t help but feel like I had done something wrong. Luckily, I just waited around until I saw someone in running clothes walk up the stairs from the subway. We found the restaurant where we would be having dinner after the run, stashed our bags and got down to it. The run was really different that what I’m used to. I could go into extensive detail, but to most people it wouldn’t be all that interesting. There was one really, I wouldn’t say surprising, since we were in Communist China after all, thing.

They are required to tell the police where and when they’ll be running. And because of this, there’s a lot of importance on staying together. Just in case something did go wrong, they’d all take care of it together. They told me that they’d been stopped by police before, and when they said they were running just for fun, the police didn’t understand the concept. Because they used flour to mark the trail, the cops had a CSI team come and check every dollup of flour to make sure it wasn’t anthrax or something.

Anyway, after the run we had a great dinner. Then after that, we headed to a bar for the normal Hasher extra-curricular activities. I don’t believe I paid for a drink all night, Every time I even got near the end of a beer someone was already handing me another. Friendly kennel, no doubt. They even got me in a cab and made sure I could get back. Unfortunately, the taxi driver was not quite so helpful. When we got to the train station near my hostel, there was a bit of a disagreement about the price. We argued for a bit and I finally handed over some money and got out of the cab pissed off. It wasn’t until moments after the cab had pulled away that I realized while we had argued my wallet was on my lap, and when I got out of the cab it had fallen down somewhere in the cab. I was also not immediately familiar with where I was, which only added to the stress.

I ended up making it back without much trouble, once I oriented myself near the exit I had gotten to know. Got into the hostel and just crashed. I woke up 2-3 hours later quite abruptly when I was being informed that we had signed up for a tour group to go to the Great Wall, and it would be arriving in 30 minutes, so we had to pack up, check out, and catch the van. I was in less than a great mood overall. Luckily I had no credit cards, had seperated my cash so I only lost like $40, but I was still pretty sour about it. Still, once we got to the Wall, it was pretty hard to still be upset about it.

We took a cable car up the mountain to the wall, and then we had about an hour and a half to explore. We actually reached the end of a section, which had a sign to tell people they weren’t allowed to go any further. So we kept going. For the main part of the wall, if not immaculately preserved or reconstruced, it was at least kept clean and functional. The piece we found was completely overgrown. Bushes taller than myself by several feet grew up from the Wall. There wasn’t any more brick to walk on, just a dirt footpath. Even at one of the wonders of the world, you could find a place to really feel alone. It was amazing. I think I had a stupid ear to ear grin the entire time. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a smoggy day, so the pictures I got weren’t that great, but you still couldn’t beat it.

We tobogganed down the mountain. Yes, tobogganed. It was fun as hell. Got back on the bus and went back. During the tour we also saw jade and silk factories, and the Ming Tombs, though those were a bit underwhelming. The tomb was especially disappointing. After the tour we stopped at the hostel long enough to pick up bags and rest a bit, then headed to the airport fairly early. We got there around 8:30 PM or so, and our flight didn’t leave until 1 AM. We just tracked down the gate and tried to rest, but it wasn’t really happening. My friend got me a piece of cake and some milk for my birthday. There was a group of Chinese girls that thought it was really cute. It was. It cheered me up a bit after an exhausting, emotional rollercoaster of a day.

Unfortunately, the adventure didn’t end after that flight. We had a connecting flight within China, and a six and a half hour layover before our second flight. What we didn’t know until we landed at 2 AM was that the airport closes completely, and we got kicked out of doors until the airport opened again at 5:30 AM. Then we had to wait in the lobby until 6:40 AM when check-in started. So much for getting some sleep. So, between Sunday and Monday night, I probably got 4 hours of sleep at the most. Dozed very, very lightly on the plane and bus ride back to Cheonan, but by the time I got home, I was too glad to be back to really bother sleeping. Besides, someone I knew was leaving, so I went to go Hash with them one last time. Talk about tired. I slept like the dead last night. Still got some sleep to catch up with.

My calves are absolutely dead. As well as my right forarm. No idea why. Woke up extremely sore on Monday. I didn’t notice it much, but now it’s less sore, but feels extremely weak. I’ve noticed that fine finger movements are a bit impaired. Writing and using chopsticks feels a little clumsy. Typing is a huge chore. I essentially can’t use my ring or pinky fingers to type. In the typing position, those fingers just curl up like dead, useless nubs and won’t do what I tell them. I decided to skip the gym, maybe for the rest of the week, to catch up on rest and to hopefully let my arm recover. I can barely make a fist, so I don’t know how well I’d be able to lift weights right now.

I Say “Fuck the Gym”

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2011 by kingcal

I’m skipping the gym for the first time in maybe two months or so. I’ve realized in the last week or two how much I really hate going to the gym. Now that I’m getting closer and closer to my target weight, my motivation is dropping. Seems a little counter-intuitive. I guess after losing 3 kg last month, I know I can do it if I really have to, but I also feel like I can slow down just a little bit at least, and I’ll get where I want to go eventually. It’s not like I’m completely sedentary anyway. I’m Hashing Friday night and twice Saturday, so I figure I should about break even.

So, with my free night, I decided to catch up on some TV. Watched me some Breaking Bad and True Blood. Yeah, True Blood. I know I’m gay. I’ve also started getting back into The Wire. I watched the second season over the past three days. Just started the third season right before bed last night. Really good show.

Later tonight I’m going to movie night of course. It’s the “last” one, due to two of the main dudes leaving soon-ish. I’m thinking of taking it over. It’s not like it would take a lot of time and energy to download a movie a week and send out a Facebook invite. Also, it’s someone’s birthday and one week going away party, since they’re visiting Canada. I don’t know how people spend the money for a round trip ticket to the Western hemisphere for just a week. I guess they got the money to spend. Not like I don’t.

Actually, this has been one of the most expensive months in a long time. Probably since I bought my scooter. And definitely more expensive. It was $600 for my ticket to China, $200 for the Chinese visa (for three days, ugh), $150 for two pairs of shorts, $130 for some new shoes and sandals. GOT DAY-UMN. It’s nice that I can have this kind of month and still be like “Oh, no biggie, drop in the bucket.” Definitely a first for me. Things were not nearly as easy for me growing up. Or shit, even in my adult life before Korea.

I’m expecting September to be fairly expensive. Probably not quite as much as this month ,but still pretty pricey. The second week of September is when I’ll be in China. I’m only there for a couple days, but I’ll probably take a couple hundred dollars. Just, you know, for whatever. It’ll be better to go over with too much than too little. I need money for gifts and what not.  Don’t want to be concerned about living on a budget, even if it’s only for a day or two. Then, probably the weekend after I come back, I’m gonna go buy myself a new wardrobe.

I did already buy some new shorts, but I’m gonna need jeans, which I’m fairly willing to spend a good amount of money on. Shirts can be gotten for cheaper. Probably going to get another pair of sneakers for casual wear, maybe even some nice “dress casual” shoes should I ever find myself in a khaki kind of situation. Gonna go the whole nine yards and get new socks, underwear, and belt. I’ve noticed particularly with one pair of pants, the belt rides in a spot that really grinds up against my hip bones. It’s a unique problem I’ve never had before. It’s uncomfortable as hell.

There’s not a ton left to say. My life is incredibly boring during the week. Monday through Thursday, for the most part, it’s get up, go to work, eat dinner, go to the gym, watch TV at home, go to sleep. Rinse, repeat. It might be part of why I hate the gym so much right now. Two months ago, I only went three days a week, so I could afford myself a modest social life during the week. Now I’m pretty isolated other than work. More and more in the past year I’ve been becoming the type of person that can’t spend too much time alone without falling into a rut of some kind. I don’t mean it to sound like I’m co-dependent or anything. I just can’t handle Friday and Saturday being the only times I go out and have fun and relax.

Oh, the only other thing lately has been all the bullshit I’ve had to go through to get my Chinese visa taken care of. First, I forgot paperwork at home. Then my friend forgot hers when she went to drop it off at the travel agent’s. Then we found out we need passport photos, which I didn’t submit. So I go to a place to get it done, but they tell me that I can’t get a passport photo because I’m not wearing a jacket (despite the fact that I told them I’m not applying for a Korean passport, just a Chinese visa). Then they were worried about my shirt being the same color as the backdrop, so they had to digitally edit it. Then there was some bullshit about only having so long on my visa in Korea, so I needed special permission for a visa to China, but the place is only open during my working hours, so I had to have my boss go for me, which added even more paperwork. One thing after the fucking other.

Anyway, I think it’s all good now. I’m done complaining. But it would be nice, next year no matter what, to have a job that would afford me time to run my own personal business errands during the day.

A Long Weekend

Posted in Uncategorized on August 14, 2011 by kingcal

One of the best things about working in Korea this time of year is lots of time off right in a row. The last week of July was my summer vacation. The week after was basically only half a week of work. This week we get a three day weekend. A couple weeks from now we get several days off for Korean Thanksgiving. It’s not too shabby. The occasion this Monday is the Korean Independence Day. Happy Birthday Korea! When I talk about “independence”, particularly with my young students, I generally refer to it as the country’s birthday to put it in easy terms for them to understand.

Speaking of birthdays, mine is in exactly 30 days. I’ve already started a countdown on the board in class. I’m making damn sure all my students know when my birthday is. I don’t expect anything from my first graders, and my older students that like me might bring something for me, but I’m doing it mostly for my kindergartners. They better bring me some good shit, too. I’ll have been teaching them for six months at that point, and with all this forewarning, there’s no reason for them not to get me something.

One of my students from my last class on Tuesday/Thursday quit. I liked her, but she was a bit… Distracted. Almost always drawing in her book instead of listening. The last day I saw her, she didn’t even tell me. I had to find out the next week from another student. I guess her younger brother is switching hagwons, so her parents just decided to switch both kids to keep things simple. Oh well. The nice thing is now that class is just one student, and she’s my favorite, so we’ll be doing a lot more fun things, and I can tailor the class to her interests.

Friday night, I went Hashing. It was pouring rain when I made the trip to Pyeongtaek, but by the time we started running the rain was really light, and before long, it stopped completely. Did that mean I managed not to get my shoes soaking wet? Hell no. Most of what we ran was what you would call “off-road”. We were running along rivers, through mud puddles shin-deep, around rice paddies and up mountains. Someone with a pedometer said it was about 10K all told. I think that’s easily the furthest I’ve ever run. It wasn’t easy. By the end, I was close to surrendering and taking a cab or bus back to the start, but then I realized I didn’t have any money on me because I left my wallet in my backpack. It took just about two hours to finish the trail and then another maybe 30 minutes to walk back to the start. Lots of people didn’t do the whole thing. Out of a group of roughly 25, about 15 either didn’t bother starting trail or quit in the middle. I like being able to say I ran a trail most people gave up on.

Saturday I Hared for another group. I’d Hared before, but since it was my first time, I just let the two more experienced people handle the planning and such, so I just followed their directions. This time, the two of us Haring were both fairly new to it, though the other guy had done it a handful of times, I believe. We were kind of decided last minute because other people had prior engagements that kept them from doing it. When we met up to walk around and plan where we would run, it was pouring rain. Even with my umbrella I got soaking wet. So we didn’t even really plan the whole thing. After awhile we got sick of it and went back to get dry. So a couple portions of the trail we pretty much winged it.

I have to say, it was a lot of fun. I liked walking around and exploring, finding cool ways to slow people down and make them think to find the trail. I was afraid that since not much planning went into it, it might be too short, and that we wouldn’t be very far from the start, so people might think it was boring, but it was quite to the contrary. A couple people actually told me it was really good (one went so far as to say the best in 3 years), which was really awesome. Hashers generally give the Hares a hard time and jokingly tell them how much the trail sucked, so to have them go out of their way to say how good they thought it was  really nice. I think I’ll be Haring again ASAP.

Tomorrow is my day off, of course, but I think it’s going to be busy as shit. I want to go to the gym, I should probably take bike to the shop because it’s leaking a little bit of gasoline, I have to meet a friend and file for my visa to go to China next month, I also want to go and wander around and scout some trail for future reference, and I may pick up some new shoes as well. I actually bought some yesterday before running trail, but I’d like one pair of shoes I can get nasty and a pair to keep nice and dry for the gym.

Anyway, nothing really special going on tonight. I think tons of people are out of town for the long weekend. Just trying to gather some people for fried chicken and beer. I’ll probably call it an early night so I can get my long day started right.

A Shitty Vacation

Posted in Uncategorized on July 31, 2011 by kingcal

Well, my vacation has come and gone. I’m pretty ready for it to be over. Because of my toe, Tuesday through Thursday I barely left the house. It hurt pretty bad and especially when I put on sandal. Also, the rain kept me inside because I didn’t want to get the bandage wet. So I stayed inside almost all day, maybe going out a little bit at night. It really sucked. I used to be a huge homebody, but I can’t do it anymore. If I stay in my apartment alone for too long, I start getting moody and depressed.

Friday I just had a night out on the town in Cheonan. I just went to NV and stayed there until my money ran out, then had a bit of street food and went home. Nothing too crazy. But damn if that food wasn’t good.

Saturday, of course, is a Hashing day. I picked up my Happy Coat — a tradition unique to Asian Hashing, wherein a special coat is purchased with your name, kennel, and seal on it, and the rest of the coat will eventually be filled with patches given out for events, accomplishments, or just the shit of it. Perhaps I’ll get a picture of it some time. I’ve got a good number of patches pinned to it already. I think next weekend I’ll take them to the tailor to have them sewn on.

Luckily, Friday was the first day that my toe didn’t hurt like a bastard, and by Saturday it was feeling pretty normal. Hopefully they’ll take the bandage off soon. I’m really sick of sitting on my toilet to take a shower — so I don’t get the bandage wet. Also hoping that I can start running soon. I haven’t run or worked out in over a week. I can feel it. I’ve been feeling antsy.

Tomorrow, I have to work. It should be interesting doing the summer camp though. Kind of an easy way to get the week started. Should be fun. Starting some new books with my first graders. Watching Lion King on Tuesday and Thursday with my lone student in the last class. Nothing too stressful.