Friday, September 21, 2007

All my t'ings about me


I feel like Maureen O'Hara, in The Quiet Man. I don't remember the exact scene, or if it's before or after the items in her dowry finally arrive at her new home. But in any case, she says something to the effect of how all a bride wants is to have "her own t'ings about her," with a hard "h" from her Irish accent.

I was so happy to see all our wedding presents and books and cooler-weather clothes and realize that nobody was fencing them on a street corner someplace. Having some of the nonperishable food we sent (Kraft Mac'n'cheese, Quaker Oats S'mores-flavor granola bars) has already made a huge morale difference and, I hope, may help my stomach out. Wedding dishes. Linens. Comfy chairs. Bookshelves. Dog hair that stuck to things while we were packing. It's all here.

I'll be honest and admit that when I opened some pillows and they smelled so much like home that I lost it and cried for a bit (although not as much, I suspect, as Thoreau would have cried over the fact that things could make me cry at all). I am enjoying teaching and I do like Korea, but yes, I get homesick. And for some reason, when nothing here was familiar, it didn't make quite so much of a difference, but when I was opening box after box of home things, I wanted to know where the rest of it was. Where's the box with comfy sofas from Justin's house in Pittsburgh? Where's the box that puts our friends on this continent and lets us go grab a beer with them? Where's the box with my mom in it? (Yeah, that image is unintentionally hilarious... but the sentiment is there).

Anyway, I'm glad it's here, even if it did make me homesick.

Off to revel in my squishy comforter and firm pillow!

Apple for the teacher

There is supposedly a way to post on Blogger when you're firewalled out of logging in to Blogger, which is to send an e-mail to a particular address. I have never tried it before but am trying it now, since the school has blocked it. And when you think about it, this whole paragraph is a waste of your time, because if I got it right, you don't care, and if I got it wrong, then you'll never know. But who said this blog wasn't about wasting your time?
Next week is Chusok, more or less the Korean Thanksgiving, except they get a whole week off of school instead of five days. Woo! And it is apprently a time of much gift-giving, and teachers are often recipients. Which brings me to what really is a nice thought, but leaving us in a bit of a quandary: a parent has given us a box of some 40-odd apples the size of softballs. Each. So between the two of us, Justin and I have eighty apples and, short of acquiring a potato gun, no idea what to do with them.
So I'm trolling for recipes now. I don't have an oven, but some teachers are thinking of getting together this weekend and doing a big apple bake. I can also do anything on a stovetop or in a microwave.
Apple pie. Apple bread. Apple cake. Apple butter. Apple dumplings. Apple anything. If you got it, hit me up with it! It's harvest time. Let the traditional panicked preservation of produce commence!
PS. The shipment people SWEAR it comes tonight at 6. Be braced for overwhelming joy or catastrophic depression by 6:30.

(Note: This post is actually from Nana, but it was sent from my address.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Typhoon Lagoon

First of all, let's get something straight. I'm from the Midwest. I have a check-down list for tornado shelters that's eighteen qualifications long, but my options for severe ocean-borne weather boils down to about two: stay in town, or leave town. I don't know about the details, and I never bothered. If any hurricane made it all the way to Columbus, I would be much more concerned with the Four Horsemen accompanying it than I would be about a storm surge.

Hence my complete inability to understand how I should react to the news that Typhoon Wipha is headed for Shanghai and may knock us around after it goes by. I mean, I don't even know what a typhoon IS. I know it's a lot of fun to say, and was the name of the wave pool at Wyandot Lake when I was a kid, where Angelique Zeune got a three inch splinter through her foot on a sixth-grade back-to-school trip. But that's probably not the fault of a typhoon.

After some research (i.e., the textbook I teach geography from), I learned that we refuse to call the exact same weather the same word if it happens in different parts of the world. A typhoon would be a hurricane in the Atlantic, and the one that might get near us would be labeled Category 4.

In any case, for those of you (i.e., moms) who are panicking right now, calm down. Yes, Typhoon Wipha is a bad one. But it's aimed very far south of us, and even if it does loop back around to dump on Seoul, it will have shed a lot of strength going over land. We will probably get soaked, and we'll probably get some heavy wind, but Seoul's not about to turn into Katrina-land. Which is a shame, because I've been looking forward to looting the stores downstairs. (Oh, I went there. Yes, I did.)
In any case, do send good vibes to the Shanghainese. But don't panic for us. Not about typhoons, anyway. As far as lesson planning goes, panic all you like. I certainly do!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Nevermind. (Argh.) (Notice how half-hearted.)

The SlingBox is not, in fact, working. At least not anymore. (Though Nana did get an Ohio State game out of it this afternoon.)

I suppose I should get in the habit of never announcing any remotely tentative good news on this site, as it seems good news, too soon made public, can only lead to reversal and frustration. (See previous post on shipping.)

And on another note, I guess I should take down those silly School of ROK Quick Guides, since none of the advice contained therein has done us a single shred of good.

Beginning Korean and Victory over the Slingbox

I amazed myself by totally understanding a security guard last night, without actually understanding almost anything he said.

Nana and I were hanging out in the rooftop garden of a coworker's apartment building last night, indulging in some, ahem, beverages and burning some proverbial midnight oil. (We were there so late that the giant neon 2001 Outlet sign shut off!) When out strolls one of the ubiquitous upper-middle-aged security guards of whom every building seems to have at least one (and no more than two).

Now, you have to understand the utter terror that can come over you when you see a fifty-to-sixty-something Korean approaching with a set frown on his or her face. Apparently, such folks have made it the national mission of their generation to shoo disrespectful Americans from places where they're not supposed to sit. (Hint: if it's a level surface, and people aren't sitting there already, you're not supposed to sit there.) And we, troublemakers all, were alone on the roof, sitting on a structure that might or might not have been a bench. So I, for one, prepared for the inevitable apologetic smiles and confused shrugs.

But then, when the guard started talking, some ghost of comprehension welled up from the depths of my soul. Inspired, I told Josh, our host, to tell the man his room number. Success! And then, when the guard pointed disapprovingly to our beverages and then vaguely towards the stairway, I didn't panic. No, somehow I decided that the man wasn't wagging his finger at our preferred choice of thirst-quenchers (nobody drinks like the Koreans, especially in public, or in the morning, or in public in the morning for that matter), he just wanted to make sure we threw our things away before we left the roof! (And no one is quite as fanatical as Koreans about proper waste disposal.)

Of course, as luck would have it, I hadn't actually bought us too much time, since our reserves of both energy and drink were rapidly dwindling. But, hey! When you're dealing with Korean, any shred of comprehension is something to celebrate, no matter how inexplicable. (And no matter how completely independent of anything the speaker actually said.)

In other news: Thanks to some help from my intrepid father, we appear to have the SlingBox working (finally)! Just in time to watch Ohio State's 33-14 victory over Washington! And maybe even today's/tomorrow's Steelers game. (Am I a bad fan? I won't watch if they don't win.)

To the anonymous student who let one in my class on Friday . . .

. . . I am duly impressed.

And also worried that, come Monday, it'll still be there.