Tag Archives: the blues

Cloudy with a Chance of Dying

Erin wrote about it the other day and I’ve been whining about it on Facebook to anyone who will listen all week. It’s hot. And humid. And miserable. As a result, I’m one drop of sweat away from a breakdown. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every conversation I’ve had this week has revolved around how hot and wet and straight up pissed off I am.  I really almost lost it yesterday afternoon when I walked by my principal’s office and realized that all his windows were closed because he is the only one in school allowed to have the air conditioner on. I dare him to look at me today.

To spare you the pain of a whole new ranty blog post about it (it is seriously the only thing I can think or talk or write about, I’m sorry), I’ve reduced my daily gchats to a “word cloud” that shows exactly how climate-centric my life has been in the last ten days. August 26th, where are you??

Heat Stroke

Humans are warm-blooded, maintaining a near-constant body temperature. Thermoregulation is an important aspect of human homeostasis …. High temperatures pose serious stresses for the human body, placing it in great danger of injury or even death. In order to deal with these climatic conditions, humans have developed physiologic and cultural modes of adaptation. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

I would like state for the record that Korea has not made any physiologic or cultural adaptations. They are a people willing to accept discomfort.

But I am an American.

So I do not accept discomfort.

So I am on the brink of a sweaty, dehydrated breakdown.

Have you ever gone to the zoo during the summer? Have you ever checked out the polar bears while you were there? Know how depressing and crabby they look because they’re very obviously in the wrong climate? I am that crabby polar bear.

Heat makes you do crazy things

This is one of those horrible times when your spoiled middle class  American-ness gets thrown in your face. “Pardon me sir, but your country is not chilled enough for me to properly enjoy my champagne and caviar and money.  See to it tout suite, my good man.” What can I say? I have led a comfortable, dry existence prior to this, and I would like to continue on that less-sweaty path.

Like any developed nation worth its salt, everywhere is air conditioned in Korea. (Please do not get on my back about the environmental ramifications of this. I will tear off the widest part of you and use it to fan myself. I AMHOT.) But somehow, the Republic of Korea has not deemed June worthy of turning on said AC. That means my bus, full of unwashed high school boys, smells like unwashed high school boys.  Coffee shops are stuffy, ATM bank alcoves are nearly unbearable, going outside in the damp, jungley heat will make you pray for death.

I was willing to overlook this heat intolerance as a problem limited to my foreignness. I simply not used to it and do not understand, like I didn’t understand wearing coats indoors during the winter.

But today, drowning in my own useless sweat, my classes of NATIVE KOREAN CHILDREN did nothing but bleat the two relevant words they know: teacher, hot, teacher, hot, hot, hot, HOT, HOTT, TEACHERRRRR.

So much unnecessary suffering.

Erin’s Problems are Hipster Bands

We are Erin's Problems. sitarmustachehat*fart*

I’m coming to you live, internet, from my office. I’m eating a Tootsie roll pop. It’s Friday afternoon. The kiddies are gone for the day and I get to doink around on the internet, writing frivolous blog posts and what not.  They pay me to do this guys. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of actual work involved too, and I’ve had a few crappy weeks prior to this. But today was a good day. And tomorrow will be a good day because I’m going to Seoul to stare at some North Koreans and then I’m going to bathe myself in IPA. (More on how orgasmically exciting that is next week.)

The thing is, I can’t think of anything to write about.

At some point, I transitioned from being Uberforeign, to Mute and  Uncomfortable, to Not Terrified Anymore, to Partial Understanding of Everything, to I Get It, to I Live Here, to I’m Stagnant Again.

Yeah, we're called Uberforeign. You've probably never heard of us...

“As Erin awoke one morning from uneasy dreams she found herself transformed in her bed into a gigantic ennui-machine…”

We are Ennui-Machine. Here's a 20 minute keyboard solo.

It’s a welcome feeling, I mean, compared to the first few weeks of peeking cautiously out of your windows and around corners lest you come in contact with a native. And I couldn’t claim to be acclimated. I just claim to be much less surprised. And that makes me sad.

We are Dread the Hipster. This is a song about....Galesburg. Whatever.

But in 90 days I’m out. And in 90 days I have no idea where I’ll be. Safety net = home, but home is so full of hipsters….how I dread the hipsters…The answer is, I guess keep moving. Which is what I did when I got bored with Chicago. And Omaha. And good God, who wouldn’t have been bored with Galesburg? And Cheyenne!? Come on.

So tell me Hipster Band, am I doomed to constant movement? Am I lost to the world of Normals and Happies?? Will the conclusion of 90 days find me in my parents’ basement or living out of a van somewhere?

Here's my pocket Nietzsche. There are no Normals and Happies.

 Cold comfort, hipsters. Cold comfort.

Imma Set It Straight, This Watergate

My coteacher is undermining me. This is not Euna, the tiny, terrifying ball of badassery, but someone we will refer to as B. What you need to know about B: he had never taught a day in his life prior to mid-March, nor does he speak English. Likes: picking lint off his suit. Dislikes: Me.

I cannot figure out why we were paired together to teach young children English when we can’t even communicate with each other. (I reserve the right to punch the balls off the authority figures responsible.) In our first week of teaching together, I tried a few questions to get him to open up.

Me: So did you always want to be an English teacher?

B: No.

Me: Ha. Um.

B: <scowling at sidewalk> I have no skills. I am English teacher.

I then tried to decide if this comment was directed at me. He is Korean (thus, incapable of sarcasm or direct insults), so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. However, now that we’re over a month into the semester it is increasingly clear that B’s entire purpose is to undermine my every move and push me toward a psychological break. At first I chocked these incidents up to the language barrier, than to simple stupidity. But the trouble is too persistent…his attitude too sinister…he is here to destroy me.

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Striking

When the school year started up in March, I received the best gifts ever: coteachers. Prior to this, I taught English to like 600 students who had no idea what I said. The autonomy was awesome, but the success rate was…well…middling. And of course, effective discipline was nonexistant.

Is this seriously the first Kindergarten Cop reference on here? Shame.

The first day of class this semester, Euna (who is shorter than some of our 3rd graders) rolled in and immediately made 3 boys cry from vigorous scolding. Their crime? I had no idea. But I was in awe. Holy Cow. No one was going to talk too much, no one was going to punch their classmates or stand on their chairs or not have their books. The boys weeping in the back of the classroom, personally, I liked them. And I didn’t understand exactly what they had done wrong, but I didn’t care either. Things was going to change in Erin’s English classroom. Fall in, ye students, or know Euna’s wrath. As for me, I’m just going to stand over here and look disapproving.

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First I Was All…But Then I Was Like…

Vacations – they’re the greatest, right? You leap into a distant time zone, reset the wristwatch, listen to the strange but beautiful language, smell the air, taste the food, make out with the locals, sample the music, note how the light is just a little bit different at sunrise and how people dress just left of how they do back home.

And then you’re on a plane again with a camera full o’ memories and at least two months’ worth of dinner conversation. “Oh you simply must summer in Sardinia, Geoffrey, it’s divine that time of year! And the natives do the most darling thing with cheese…

Ah, glossy candy-coated travel memories! Like this:

Geoffrey, I’m telling you, you’ve never even seen a chin until you’ve seen his chin.

Immigration – now that’s a whole different bag. You get Vacation Wonder for a few weeks, a couple months if your lucky. Then things starts to look like this:

Ugh. Nobody cares about your gross exposed musculature anymore, Korea.
Ugh. Nobody cares about your gross exposed musculature anymore, Korea.

So that’s where we’re at. 7 months in, and the shine has worn off. I still love teaching and my students and stuff. But nothing is….weird anymore.  Which is sort of the whole point of me being here. Everything has settled and I find myself back at Normal. I hate Normal. I flee Normal by doing things like moving to Korea. And yet stupid Normal finds me. Everything is boring and I hate it.

Even worse than being discovered by Normal, though, is that I’m getting close to dropping the Polite Foreigner Act all together. Things driving me to an American outburst include the following: The from-the-depths-of-your-rotten-lungs spitting; the trend of getting off an escalator/stepping into a doorway and then stopping as if you don’t know the people behind you are on an irrevocable crash course towards your ass; walking up to me to look into my shopping basket; getting asked if I’m Russian (that is, a prostitute)…

I hesitate to go on; nobody likes a whiner. But I think maybe it was this, that tipped the scales against Korea:

The old man that changed everything.

Obviously the most comfortable place to sit on a bus is between my legs, slowly settling in against my junk as we ride merrily down the mountainside. Because there is nothing uncomfortable about this at all. You’re bumming me out Korea. You’re bumming me out.

Take a Sad Song and Make it Sadder: A Norebang Tragedy

Mullets: for classy hobbies

Norebang: (n) a personal karaoke room rented out by the hour

It is Wednesday. Your coworkers, heady from raw fish and soju, decide you must all go sing songs in front of one another in a basement. You are not convinced, and you say as much. Many times. But then you begin to feel like a douche, and everyone but you is sort of drunk, and only hours before you’d reestablished yourself as a key volleyball player and generally awesome person to this crowd, so you go. Before, these excursions only led to you clapping on the fringes like an idiot. Safe. Painless.

But upon entering the ‘bang, you are sandwiched between two jovial old man coworkers that thrust the song book in your hands and gesticulate wildly at your face. “Balls,” you mutter, because you know you are doomed. So you fish out some innocuous old tune and pass the book on, praying you are forgotten amid the beer, the old Korean pop songs, the frenzied tambourine shaking. Continue reading