Before Korea, I Never Thought I’d…

…sing in public all of the time.

And I’m not even talking about a norebang. I’m talking about in class. In front of hundreds of kids. And a coteacher. Everyday. It’s not a big deal when I’m singing along with the book CD or with the class. But one of my coteachers had the brilliant idea to turn everything we do into a song. Before my kids tell me what day it is, they must sing “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday” to the tune of “Oh My Darling Clementine” twice. And after we’ve determined the entire date, I must lead them in a rousing verse of “Today is Monday, Today is Monday, April 23rd, April 23rd, 2011, 2011, That’s the date, That’s the date” to the tune of “Frère Jacques”. I have a really hard time not singing off key at the higher parts, and it’s rough to squish “February twenty third” into like three syllables. Awkward. But I do it. Four times a day. Five days a week.

…eat Spam.

Yep.

I made it to the age of 25 without ever seeing a can of Spam in real life, but August 2010 that all changed because Spam is everywhere in this country. Kimbap rolls…kimchi fried rice…pastries. “Horf”, as Erin likes to say. It’s prevalence is curious and unfortunate. But without access to a real deli (I would do disgusting things behind a Honey Baked Ham for a proper ham sandwich), I was forced to call on ham’s chunky hillbilly cousin to supplement to my egg sandwiches. The key is to buy the “Spam Singles”, the thin, individually-wrapped squares of pre-sliced Spam that you can squeeze right out of the packet without touching it before it’s cooked, which is the critical if you want to avoid/ignore the gelatinous texture of raw spam.

…have a wastebasket of used toilet paper in my bathroom.

I know most foreigners who come here and are met with the ridiculous toilet situation tend to disregard the whole “don’t flush your dirty tp” rule, but I don’t, at least not at home. This is mostly out of fear. And also pride. After a few days at my new home flushing the paper, the toilet started making nasty gurgles and I was forced to recall a situation a few years ago when I lived in Buenos Aires. I had my own bathroom at my host family’s apartment and one day the toilet got a little clogged. My Host Grandmother called the old man super, Ricardo, and after his visit I got trapped in an awkward conversation in the lobby with Host Grandmother, Ricardo and my top secret building Security Guard BF about the plumbing. “The girl must be enjoying the meat here!!” Ricardo chuckled.

A joke about my diet and bowel movements in front of Host Grandmother, Building Super and Security Guard that I was dating is the definition of ‘unwanted’. So now I don’t flush the toilet paper. A Korean version of that situation is about as desirable as a Spam and fish spaghetti (seen it). And as for taking care of it on my own, my building is old, I don’t have a plunger, my coteacher doesn’t answer her phone and I’ve never seen my landlord. I wouldn’t even know where to begin solving a toilet fiasco. I would probably call Erin. Hence, no flushing.

…become bizarrely routine oriented.

We have a date. Every night.

Winter 2011 I adopted a nightly routine that Stalin would be proud of. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but a combination of living without a roommate for the first time, hating Korean booze and feeling old at 25 has resulted in some pretty freakish behavior. After 6:00, I must do the following, always in this order:

  • Workout half-assedly and begrudgingly.
  • Make overly-complicated dinner  for one person and eat it while watching American tv shows on my computer. Favorites include: 6-minute egg over salad with Top Chef or fancified stirfry ramen with Seinfeld.
  • Do consequent mountain of dinner dishes.
  • Wash coffee press and prepare coffee thermos for next day.
  • Set out breakfast fixins for the morning.
  • Take a shower.
  • Watch Jon Stewart while eating dessert. (Weeks when Daily Show is on repeat are the darkest in my existence).
  • Read for at least two hours, usually more until I fall asleep. (I’ve put away 8 books in the last 8 weeks).

If any of these things are not accomplished, I feel terribly guilty and quite cranky. Straying from this routine too much fucks with my sense of control, almost as if I’ve developed a mild form of OCD. KOREA WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?!

…love being surrounded by children.

This statement may be perplexing, as I have been employed as an elementary school teacher for the past 8 months. But it’s true. In high school I was a nanny for a close friends two sons; I’ve known them from birth and I am head over heels for these little boys. But until this past year, they were the only two kids I was comfortable around. Living in Chicago, I was so underexposed to children that when one would cross my path it was like seeing a wild animal. Conversations on the train would go like this:

Megan: (nudging Erin) Dude. Hey dude, look over there…

Erin: (whispering) Whoa, dude, a kid…

Megan: Yeah it’s a small one. Looks at it’s hands, they’re so tiny…

Erin: Look how it’s walking…What’s that in its mouth?

Me: It sort of like an alien.

Erin: Careful, it’s looking at you…

I had a healthy medley of fear, respect and disgust for children. I only chose ‘elementary’ as my preference for teaching because small snotty-nosed brat kids seemed easier to deal with than their older smart-mouthed brat siblings. Obviously I’ve come along way since then. While at least once everyday there is a rotten kid I’d love to torture with rubber bands and spitballs, there’s also a supercute kid I’d like to stow in my suitcase to take home. And that is something I never thought I’d say.

So..what about you guys? Any “I never thought I’d…”s?

6 responses to “Before Korea, I Never Thought I’d…

  1. I’d never thought I would enjoy running and working out, but I crave it like crack now.

    P.S. Spam is great! in small doses … every couple of non-sequential years …

  2. Musubi!

    It’s more of a Hawaii thing, really.

    • Haha yes that’s definitely a picture of musubi. But it effectively captured the mingling of spam and seaweed that I experience here in Korea!

  3. Complain when there has been no kimchi at lunch all week! Seriously, I can’t get enough of it and get really bummed out when we don’t have it for lunch. That means I have to go by some and its not cheap! Great list:)

    onedayillflyway.com

  4. I don’t get the Spam revulsion. Its essentially just chopped pork canned in pork aspic. I KNOW you’ve eaten grosser things and enjoyed them. I’ve SEEN you eat worse with pleasure.

    As for the routine…I need one of those. Badly. The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t have the energy I used to that let me successfully procrastinate so much, which makes it hard when its time to catch up. I’ve been trying to establish some morning and bedtime routines for my sanity. I just have to remind myself that having a routine is a far cry from being in a rut.

    Also, can you tell I’m catching up on your blog today?

  5. Hollie Lucchesi

    Hahahahahaha, the “you liking children” thing is the best…especially since I remember a time when you wouldn’t go into a “family” restaurant because there may have been children running around.

    Look at me catching up on your blog. 🙂

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