Friday, October 21, 2011

Korea is a Silly Place Episode 2: You Want What Now?

This is an actual conversation that I had with my co-teacher the morning I ended up going to the doctor about the stabby hurty:

Caroline: "Hey, are you doing anything this afternoon?"
Mrs. Kim: "I have a meeting after our last class, why?"
C: "I have a pain and I want to go to the hospital." (For those of you who don't live in Korea, they go to the hospital for everything.  It's like when we go to the walk in clinic at the doctor's office.)
K: "You have a pain?  Where is it?"
C: "It's here.  It hurts when I move certain ways and when I cough or sneeze and I want to make sure it's not my appendix."
K: "Your what?"
C:  "It's a thing on your intestines.  Anyway, I want to go to the hospital."
K:  "Ok, do you have an appointment?"
C:  "Uh ... no.  I don't speak Korean."  (She knows this.)
K:  "Well, which hospital do you want to go to?"
C:  "I don't know.  I was hoping you could help me with that."
K:  "Do you want to see my husband?"  (Her husband is a surgeon.)
C:  "No, I just want to talk to a doctor to make sure that I am ok."
K:  "So ..." She looks confused.  "You want to go to the hospital but you have no appointment?"

Pause while I think about how to rephrase my request for her to help me go to the hospital.

C:  "I know an English speaking doctor.  I will just go to him."
K:  "Yes, I think that would be best."


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Love/Hate/Overworked/Look what I got!

There are days when I am absolutely, madly in love with Korea.  Days when it can do no wrong.  The weather is perfect, my kids are happy, my co-workers make me laugh.

There are days when I am not so in love.  Days when I would give anything to be able to walk into a store and buy come frosting in a can.  Or maybe some vanilla extract.  Or some black beans.  Or green beans.  Good beer.  Pork chops.  Or being able to find nice specialty shops, like {nice} yarn shops.  OH THE YARN SHOPS.

This week I have been overloaded with work from a special project I have volunteered to help out with.  I didn't realize that it would be this much work when I signed up.  I have been feeling slightly under valued while being horribly overworked.  I'm pretty sure that I have already worked over 40 hours this week - normal working hours plus all the extra time I'm putting into this other project - and it's only Wednesday.

I asked the other people who are involved to help me out - that I am on the verge of being burnt out.  I'm sure they will come through.  They are good people.  This is a good project.  I'm jazzed to be a part of it; I'm just hating the amount of work that I have had to do in one week

The work has made me horribly cranky.  I have no patience for some people ... some students too.  I feel angry and sad and tired and empty all at the same time.  But I know that this week will never repeat itself (I am going to make damn sure of that).  This is a one time push and then it's easy street for the rest of the project.

I will show you what I've been working on, I promise.  I am too impressed with myself to not show you.  But that is a post for another day because I'm still not done working on it.

On a happier note, I got a fish!  She is a betta.  Her name is Star Shine.  She lives in a big jar.  She likes to stare at me when I eat breakfast.  Long story short: she totally rocks.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ouchy Stabby

Last week I had a bit of a health scare.

The short version of it is that I coughed one day and it hurt.  Really hurt.  Like, stabby pain in the area where my appendix likes to hang out.  When the pain didn't go away after a few days I took myself to the only English speaking doctor I know of in Gwangju (he's in the university backgate area - email me if you need the info) to see if I was going to die from a ruptured appendix needed to worry.  I ended up getting a sonogram of my entire torso and the happy news that my appendix was totally not trying to kill me.

As of now I still don't have an official diagnosis of the stabby pain.  But Ryan (being the sporty guy he is) had me do some stretches and we are both pretty sure that I just pulled a muscle.

 Fact:  When you are an expat in Korea you will drink.  You will drink like you have never drunk (drank?) before since university. 

Fact:  Drinking like you are still at university won't do much for your girlish figure.

Bonus fact:  You will also start calling college university because no one from outside the US will know what you are talking about if you don't.

I decided that I didn't like the direction my waist was going (out and over the top of my pants) so a couple of weeks ago I decided that I would join a bootcamp.  I'm pretty sure that the super intense ab workouts we did were the cause of my stabby pain.

The best part of all of this?  The doctor declared that my liver function is normal.  Which I wasn't worried about but is always reassuring to hear from a medical professional.  Especially when you live in Korea.

AND I now have a foot long print out of crappy sonogram pictures of my insides!  I'm thinking I might frame them - but I'm open to suggestions.

Friday, September 30, 2011

I am in South Korea?!

I like that there are some websites that feel the need to let me know where I am located in the world while I am viewing their website.   At least now I know why no one is speaking English around me anymore.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Day After

Wake up. 

Take asprin. 

Consider getting in the shower.  Decide that going back to bed is the better idea.

Wake up later.

Remember last night.

Get in the shower.

Think about last night.

Worry about that one thing.

Make coffee.

Think about it some more.

Become convinced your friends hate you.

Freak out quitely.

Continue to think about last night.

Berate yourself for being stupid.

Continue to think about last night.

Berate yourself for drinking more than you should have.

Try to convince yourself you had a good time in an effort to make yourself stop freaking out.

Freak out more, less quitely.

Swear to never drink again.

Ignore friends who tell you it was FINE stop WORRYING (because they are your friends and clearly biased to you and your crazy behavior).

Think about that one thing some more. 

Continue freaking out.

Write vaguely worded blog post about last night.

Worry about not having friends anymore. 

Realize that you are being ridiculous.

Feel better.

Move on.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Belated thoughts on ten years of 9/11

This is my second year being out of the country for 9/11 and to be honest, the only reason I spent any time thinking about it this year was because of the fact that it happened (now, over a) decade ago.  Which, holy cow, ten years?

Ten years ago I was running around as a junior, dealing with all that nonsense that high school throws on everyone that passes through those doors.  I had a driver's license but no car.  I was on the swim team.  I was dating a guy I don't date anymore.  I'm pretty sure that I had a solid D in physics and was thrilled about it.

That morning Tanner walked into my first hour and said that a plane had crashed into a building in New York, which my teacher brushed off as a joke because Tanner was late to class (again) and was known for saying things that were only based loosely on facts.  By my third class I was being told that the White House was on fire, a plane had also been crashed into the Pentagon and that we were being invaded.  After third period everyone in the school was glued the news, only tearing ourselves away to go to our next class or to run to the bathroom.

Ten years later,  I have grown up.  I pay my own bills.  I have to feed myself and do my own laundry.  I moved so far away from my parents that I live half a day ahead of them.  I date a different boy.  I have dogs that are all mine instead of family pets.  I have had office jobs and quarter life crises and broken hearts and hangovers.  Flying on airplanes turned into a test of patience and a game of wills.  Suddenly people were scared of other people for no reason.  There have been times of love and unity and times of people pointing at each other screaming lies because they are scared of something they can't see.  Osama Bin Laden was killed.

That is a lot of stuff.

Ten years later, I found myself in Fukuoka, Japan.  Half a world away from those white high school hallways, drinking cocktails out of cans with new friends.  We held our drinks in the air, said a short prayer of goodwill to sky, tapped our cans together, took good long swigs to be sure that our good vibes would travel far out into the night.  We told each other about where we were when we learned about the history that was unfolding that day.

Ten years from now I can only hope that I find myself in another place with cocktails and friends.  Maybe our memories will be a bit more fuzzy.  Maybe there will be kids running around screaming, making it hard to have a conversation.   Maybe we will also get to talk about when the war ended.  Hopefully we won't have another infamous date to talk about as well.  Where ever that place is, I hope it's full of the good feelings and love that we tried to articulate in that toast.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Brief Hitory of May (Part 1)

Well, the most important thing to mention is that it is finally starting to get warm here. FINALLY. I walked home from knit night tonight with bare legs and was totally comfortable and not even a little cold. That's pretty remarkable for me since I have somehow turned into that person who is always cold.

Pretty, pretty Spring flowers.

Next most important thing to mention is that Ryan's little sister came to visit us along with her wonderful friend.

Ms. T is going to not like me much for putting that Dunkin' Doughnuts picture up but really, how could I not? It would be a crime, I tell you. Too cute.

We did all sorts of crazy stuff with them ...

We went to Jinju to see Korean bullfights.

Which, just in case you are wondering, is an extremely humane sport. I was expecting the worst since Koreans are pretty well known for how poorly they treat animals. I once was at a festival petting zoo where there were two rabbits, a skunk having a panic attack, a tortoise and the saddest monkey in the world all in the same cage. It was heartbreaking. I have have teared up a bit and run away.

Anyway, this is how it works: they bring two bulls into the ring and put them face to face. If it looks like one of the bulls is just going to run away, they call the fight and move onto the next match. When the bulls do fight, they just sort of rub their heads together until one of them gets tired and turns tail. The most exciting match we saw was the first one and those two bulls kept taking breaks to give each other kisses. Not to mention these bulls are some of the healthiest looks animals I've seen in Korea. True story.

But enough about Korean bullfights.

Green tea fields. Purdy!

We also took them to the green tea festival in Boesong. If you are ever in Korea and want to go to a festival, I would tell you to come to this one. It was the most un-Korean festival we've gone too since we got here and therefore was the best. Because I am a lazy blogger and Ryan does all the heavy lifting when it comes to blogs you can check out his post here.

We also spent some time on an Island called Namhea-do (I think. But that's probably wrong. I can never remember the name of this place. Hopefully Ryan will blog about it soon so that you can have accurate information) that was caked in fog the entire time we were there. But even covered in fog the island was beautiful.

Roman candles

In Korea beach = fireworks at night. So we did as the Koreans do. In fog of course.


On this island there is a German village, populated by German speaking Koreans, and an American village, populated by Koreans who lived in America and then moved back to Korea to live in stucco houses next to the ocean and make tons of money by having home stays.

And who also happen to be Redskins fans.

We saw some beautiful rice terraces.

In fog.

And drove up the steepest driveway ever ever EVER to see a really interesting monastery all decorated for Buddha's birthday.

Nice view, right?

By the end of our time on the island we were all starting to wonder if the rest of the world was covered in fog. Good news though, the world is not covered in fog. Hooray!

Part 2 is coming soon. Keep your eyes peeled.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Anatomy of a Night In

My nasty cold has turned into a truly nasty cough which kept me in tonight despite the fact that my boyfriend and my friends are downtown at this moment drinking St. Patty's Day beers and enjoying their evening. But I stayed home because I wasn't really in the drinking mood and also because my pharmacist friend from university has told us many times about how taking cold medicine after a night of drinking is like dropping a bomb on your liver.

Not like I'm doing my liver any favors with the amount I'm drinking these days anyway, but I choose to ignore that fact.

Back to the point. I spent my evening:

Wasting time on the internet. Also, my new internet obsession is Pintrest. You can find me here. This website is pretty much the coolest (and prettiest) website ever.

Boiling water for my Theraflu and letting the kettle whistle just a little more than normal as a thank you to our neighbors for that time this afternoon when someone stood outside and rang their doorbell non-stop for about 10 minutes. We can hear everything that goes on in the hallway.

A cup of medicine and a good book.

Snuggling under the covers on the futon. I have been kicked out of the big bed with Ryan until I can make it through the night without waking up coughing like I have TB. And believe me I am looking forward to moving back in because our neighbor in the building opposite ours leaves their light on full blast all night long so that when I wake up at 3 every morning the room looks like this:

No joke. The only nice thing about it is that I can be sure that no monsters are climbing out from under the bed. It's like the biggest night light ever.

PS - I forgot how much fun it is to take pictures that are black and white or sepia.

PPS - Just in case you were curious I wrote this post about two months ago and yes, I am just posting it now. It's partly due to not thinking about it and also partly because my Macbook got very sick and erased everything on my hard drive including all the fun pictures that I had been taking for posts like this one.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A quiet morning ...

My 5th graders went on a field trip to our local planetarium (a place I plan on taking myself soon; who cares if I won't be able to understand anything? Stars are still stars, no matter the language) which means that I have had a fairly quiet morning all to myself in my shared office.

So far today I have been hard at work cleaning out my Google Reader, checking out Pintrest and debating the merits of baby girl guinea pigs names with my cousin via Facebook photo comments.

So far the main contenders are Maxine and Ginger. Isn't she cute??

I also recently acquired the entire Beatles discography and have been listening to it on shuffle for the last two hours. Auditory bliss. The White Album is my favorite cooking/baking music. I have also realized that my cooking and baking habits have some very specific rituals attached to them. Ryan is just glad that I'm going to start playing something other than Ghostbusters (another cooking time favorite) when I cook dinner.

This afternoon should be a little more productive, however. I (hopefully) will have all my lessons planned and worksheets made and emailed to my co-teachers, will have made it to the bank to get a piggy bank's worth coins turned into cash and have Skyped with BFF Hilda - who I have been missing more than normal lately. I really hate not being able to call her whenever I want to, stupid 8 hour (or so) time difference.

I would be a much, much crazier person if it weren't for Hilda.

On a completely unrelated note:

I think I'm going to change the format of my blog posts a bit. I've realized that when I feel like I have to write about something, I can't (won't?). For example, I've taken two HUGE vacations in as many years and have written a total of 2 posts about them. Combined. That's just sad.

So look for this space to evolve into a bit more of a weird stories about my life/weird pictures of my life/hobby type things rather than the life journal type thing that The Flip Side has been up until this point. The beauty of this being my blog and all is I get to change it up whenever I feel inclined to do so. HOORAY!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Health Day

I have a terrible cold and as soon as my co-teachers told me we were going to climb the Mudong Mountain (our local mountain - a 30 minute bus ride gets you to the base) for our health day, my nasty cough suddenly got nastier. I'm not really one for climbing mountains and, just so you know, Ryan and I climbed Mudong during another little break we had from school on a day when the weather was nice.

See? We even made it all the way to the top!

Even though getting back down from the top almost killed us. The path up there was caked in ice and if a nice Korean man hadn't stopped to give us his hiking spikes we would have ended the day black and blue and with me in tears. But! I didn't cry even one time! In fact, I would go so far as to say I enjoyed it. Weird right? I don't even know who I am anymore ...

Anyway, I opted to come home and rest. And by rest I mean clean. I don't know what has gotten into me but I have become obsessed with getting our hamper to be empty for at least 15 minutes before we fill it back to overflowing with dirty clothes.

I don't think that's too much to ask for, do you?

And when you have to hang up all your laundry to dry it, you're kind of limited in how many loads you can do in a day. And while I'm all for saving electricity and line drying your clothes (I used to do it all the time in my apartment back in the states) it's a smidge depressing/aggravating when you're really motivated to wash and fold everything that's in the hamper you can't because there just isn't enough space on the rack.

Black and white makes pretty much anything look interesting and arty.

And I would totally invest in some extra floor drying racks but there is just not enough floor space. So instead of being a crazy laundry lady, I settle for washing as many clothes as I think I fit on the rack at once. And usually that's too much. But I look at it like a challenge. Usually I end up the winner. Take that laundry.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Return of Zombie Caroline

After 3 weeks of vacation and 3 days of being back at work (which means staying up because you can't sleep and getting up at 6:30 - gag - to go deal with kids who don't really understand what you're saying and don't care because they are only in school for two weeks before we have another 2 1/2 week break) I can honestly tell you that I am tired.

So tired that I don't really remember the walk from the bus stop to my apartment. I do remember that I wrote about 6 different blog posts in my head about my vacation and how wonderful it was and my birthday and also about how I have a list of things I have to do tonight and about the kind of blogs that I love to read because they make me laugh ... and now I don't remember what this post was supposed to be about.

The long and short of it is that I am (dead) tired (heh) and that I have many wonderful things to tell you about my vacation and about how I did not have a breakdown on the morning of my birthday even though I am now the oldest I have ever been.

... I just re-read that sentence. I am now going to bed. Here are some pictures of said (much missed) vacay in hopes that they will lure you to come back when I have have recovered enough to write a post with fewer (possibly none but I'm not promising anything) parentheses and run-on sentences.

Entrance to the Bantu Caves, Malaysia

Boys in skirts.

Monkey friends!

P.S. - I realized as I was putting captions for these pictures that they sum up my vacation quite nicely: we saw some temple-y type places, there were boys in skirts and lots of monkeys. Awesome.