Tag Archives: family

Picture This

Like most native teachers in these parts, my classroom is coated in teaching materials. The walls and windows are covered with shades that double as  huge, fully-illustrated English vocabulary flashcards. IT’S RAINING. BADMINTON. TUMMY. HAMBURGER. Useful? Only kind of. But certainly more so than the…extra-curricular shades printed with pictures of American culture. (I do hope this irritated my Canadian predecessor fiercely.)




Let’s just zoom in on this one for a moment, shall we?

Once you spot him, he's all you'll see.

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The Truth About Christmas

Twelve Drummers Drumming
I designed English Club to expose my students to American culture, beyond the super exaggerated commercial society they are shown on the television. Naturally then I planned an entire unit devoted to Christmas. What else does an elementary school teacher do in December? It occurred to me more than once that this may raise eyebrows given how politically incorrect Christmas is in U.S, but as the course designer and the school’s most authentic source of all things American, I decided that operating under the American Culture umbrella I was free to do anything I want. I march to my own drum, bitches, and it’s not a buk. Continue reading


Playing The Foreigner can mean suppressing your personality (at work and in public and such) for the sake of Fitting In or Not Going to Asia Jail. This strategy works flawlessly, so long as no one asks you any questions about yourself, ever. And this never happens, especially in Corea del Sur. Thus, The Foreigner must consider three courses of action when confronted with an inquiry:

A) The Truth

B) The Simple English Response (whatever answer will be easiest to explain in broken Korean/basic English)

C) A Complete Lie That Will Make A Future In Place Much Much Easier

These aren’t always mutually exclusive, but frequently so. Let’s witness this process in action. An Example: “Do you have a boyfriend?”

Possible Answer A) The Truth: No, I do not have a boyfriend. Yes, that’s my age, you heard right. Your frowning and head-shaking and pity are not necessary and unappreciated. What’s that? You want me to date someone  you know? Likely a man raised with a Confucian value system that quite specifically outlines the subservience of women to men? Super great.

Possible Answer B) Simple English Response: No.

Possible Answer C) A Complete Lie That Will Make A Future In Place Much Much Easier: Yeah, I totally have a boyfriend. But, um, heee….doesn’t live here. Yeah yeah, far away from here. I know, it’s totally sad, right?! But that’s okay. I’ll, you know, maybe see him over winter vacation or something, no big deal.


Guess which one I chose? (Hint: C) And for awhile, there was peace in Erinland. My well-meaning coworkers were happy that I wasn’t going to die alone, and I was happy because my answer effectively killed the question, and my 6th grade girl students were happy because Boyfriend meant I wasn’t ever going to date Kyung Hyu – my babe of a coteacher and the man that they are clearly all destined to marry.

Complications arose. First, my 5th graders were to speak with my family on the phone as part of a lesson. As they wrote down their questions, I spotted several “You like Erin Teacher boyfriend?” Goddammit you little bastards…of the four sentences you know… This would end in much shit upon my head if my parents thought I had a secret boyfriend OR if my parents thought I had a secret boyfriend and then I had to tell them I didn’t. They would cry the bitter tears of those with a spinster daughter. Blessedly, the question never reached my mom & dad – proof of a divine, benevolent force at work in the world.

And now, with winter vacation on the horizon, I’m getting more and more curious questions from coteachers about where I’m going, when I’m seeing Boyfriend, what we’re going to do, when we’re getting married, if my parents like him, when they can see pictures, etc. The lies! The tangled, tangled lies!

Anyway, this is all making me feel like Jan Brady.

Update, yo: In efforts to keep my finger on your pulse, dear readers, I need to know if I’m racist and if that bothers you. More specifically, is that picture caption racistly hilarious or hilariously racist? There’s a difference, believe it or not. Fire away.

My Top 5 “Once Was Enough” Travel Destinations

None of us here at TWD are strangers to getting around and seeing new places. But for every excellent vacation and accidentally awesome discovery made on the road, there is a corresponding “What the fuck did I just see?” moment. Here are 5 places I am content to leave off future travel rosters. Seeing them once will last me a life time.

5. Worlds Largest Truck Stop – Walcott, IA. This wasn’t so much a travel destination as a “Oh look there, it’s 4 am, I’m in a car with Rosalita and I could use a bacon, egg & cheese biscuit” spontaneous stop. And that’s pretty much all I would recommend it for…It’s a glorified haven for fast food and gasoline. How it has blossomed into Route 66 nostalgia nightmare is beyond me. But to be fair, it is host to the annual Trucker Jamboree. Which might be fun. If you’re into 18 wheelers. All I know is I have since passed the World’s Largest Truck Stop on many of my cross-I-80 trips without much more than a look at the dash to be sure I don’t need to stop for gas or Slim Jims. Or nasty bathroom trucker sex.

4. Mealy Mounds Archaeological Site – Mokane, MO. With a name like Mealy Mounds, you know it’s bound to be a great weekend getaway. Now, I can’t be responsible if I’m wrong on the name of this one, since I was only 10 or 11 when I visited. But it left an impression friends. I remember being tucked in the family van, driving through pleasant Missouri hills and woods, the only car in the whole park it seemed. We pulled up to the Indian burial mounds we had come to see, just small careful hills covered in grass, really only discernable from normal grassy knolls because we had been told what the were, and the suspect lack of trees upon them. But no one wanted to get out of the car. Not a-one of  us. The air was rife with foreboding and ghosts. We were not wanted here. It’s difficult to describe what this feels like, but imagine what it would take for a white, middle class family to drive all the way out to the boondocks and defer from seeing their destination. Also, at the time I’d already read Pet Semetary and I knew that this is what happens when you fuck with that shit. No one needs a scalpel wielding toddler around.

3. Oliver Anderson House -Lexington, MO – Yet another horrifying trip from my childhood. What, you don’t mean kids aren’t totally into blood stains from the civil war and holes in the ceiling from cannon fire? And ghosts? Creepy creepy cemetaries? Unholy land where the souls of lost soldiers wander just to scare the shit out of your kid? My parents strove to give me nightmares.

2. Medieval Crime Museum – Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany – This one actually scores high on the interesting-meter, but in a beautiful walled city in Germany, where you can eat the best pastries in the world that i never shut up about, it’s a big downer to suddenly get reminded of all the gruesome ways people like to hurt people. Just…bummer.

Yeah. That.

1. Dachau Concentration Camp – Dachau, Germany –  Let me be clear: I include this on the list for completely different reasons than the previous entries. No, I do not think that a truck stop is on the same tier of horrifying as a prison camp. And I do believe that everyone with a soul and eyes toward the future should force themselves to stare at this kind of evil. But once is good enough. You cannot walk on this ground, you cannot look at the chimneys of the incinerator silhouetted against the sky, you cannot notice the quiet German neighborhood backing up to the barbed wire fence, without feeling your heart wrung with anger and despair at the black things man can accomplish. But to keep your heart in that vice grip is dangerous; leads you to your own thoughts of torture and vengeance. And the world has no use for any more of that.