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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bathrooms and Bodily Functions

In case you noticed the title change (which I'm sure nobody did), good job. The two little tykes that were watching me blog the other day helped me correct the title. I still don't know the difference between ㅗ and ㅓwhen it comes to pronouncing words that I've never seen written before. Anyhow they fixed up some of my mistakes (by screaming two different vowel sounds at me), and then helped me navigate that little death trap that the update page sets where you can inadvertently delete the whole blog. They told me the website would die if I hit the orange button. Now some other little ones just ran into the computer lab. One told me to eat something and shoved a little eyedrop-dispenser sort of thing in my face. After confirming with the boss that it was indeed edible, I let him spritz it into my mouth. It was some inferior pixie-stick sort of stuff. Than another one gave me a nice little candy soccer ball. I've also received two bananas today, and last night a student gave me a box of "choco mushroom" mike-look-alike candies.

Anyway, the title stories: one deals with bodily functions and no bathrooms, the other with bathrooms and no bodily functions. The first is merely that as I was walking to school, I noticed a man standing on a strip of grass between the road and the apartment complexes. The area is all filled with trees, so a few months ago he would have been nice and hidden by foliage, and would have been able to take pee in private. However, as winter is upon us here, there were no leaves to see, only his..... Plus, it was probably about 30 degrees (F) outside. It must have been rather unpleasant, to say the least.

The other story happened last night. I intended to go to the bathroom during one of my 45 minute breaks, but when I went in, I noticed that of the two stalls, one didn't have any TP and the other had a jammed door. I had to choose between not going to the bathroom, going without TP, or taking ridiculous and drastic action. So, I went into the TP-free stall, stood on the toilet, hoisted myself up into the 18-inch gap between the little fake stall walls and the ceiling, and then slithered/maneouvred (I'm not even going to attempt to spell that frenchish word right - weird English words are already becoming increasingly difficult to make sense of) myself over the barrier and then dropped into the locked stall. Confronted with a bizarrely (yeah, screw that word as well) jammed door, I started prodding (gently) and pushing (less gently) and kicking (not at all gently) and what not until, well, the whole door fell out of the socket and crashed into a urinal, making quite a din. Luckily, even though there were people in the lobby of my school, which is just across the hall from the bathroom, nobody heard anything. I was terrified that someone would come into the bathroom and find me trying to put the door back in place, and even more terrified thinking that I would be totally unable to explain. However, nobody did, and so I managed to replace the door in relative peace.

Alright, I have 30 minutes before class and need to get get some little "pooloppang" (goldfish-bread) from a street vendor. 4 for a dollar. They're little fried fish-shaped bread with a sweetish bean paste in the middle. Quite tasty.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Holy crap, it's intensive month. Forget all those ridiculous stats I gave you about December. You see, I was sick and tired of waking up when I felt like it, lazing around in bed for an hour after that, and then lazing around in my apartment for another couple hours before going to work. Now, instead of working 2:30-10:00, I'm working more like 11:00-10:00 on the long days, and 11:45-10:00 on the short ones. On the bad days, I get a break from 1:20 to 2:20 and from 6:20-7:05, and on the good ones I have maybe another 90 minutes spread out throughout the day. My reward for this: the staff loves me even more than they already did, and will also give me some extra money on my next paycheck.

Speaking of paychecks, I get my first one in exactly a week, at which point all of the pennypinching skills I've been making use of will become wholly unnecessary. I've been trying to think of ways to spend my massive salary. Top ideas so far include:
- a toaster oven
- a rice cooker
- a swiffer
- a dresser

I don't know what else to do with the rest, so I think I'll probably make some street vendors' days by buying large amounts of fruit from them. The asian pears (or as they're called here, pears - our pears are supposedly called "english pears," though I have yet to see any) are most delicious. Crisp, juicy, sweet, and huge, for about 75 cents each from the lady on the corner, or 1.50 each from the supermarket. And speaking of supermarket price gouging, I'm reminded that I was nearly sent into schock upon noticing that broccoli here, on sale, costs more than beef in america. It's about 14000 won/kg, which works out to something like 5 bucks a pound. As if I needed another excuse not to eat vegetables...

Back to the intensive class stuff - January is intensive month because all the kids have off from public school, meaning they can work harder at private school. One morning class in particular is pretty fun. Most students, even the really good ones, are too shy to talk, so I've really warmed up to this particular kid who is a bit of a jerk but who talks a lot and makes jokes in English. We were talking about music and he said he played the violin; I asked the other student what he played, and the first kid said "Nothing. He's a monkey. He plays the banana." I know it's really not all that funny, but if you put yourself in my shoes, you'd crack up too. Then, we read a little article about the Japanese claiming ownership of an island called Dokdo. This kid then said that Japanese people are "psycho stupid monkey homo donkey lesbians." Impressive vocabulary, no?

Alright, I've now got about 15 minutes to figure out what to do in my next 5 hours of classes. With the older kids it's easy, since they like to - whoa, two little ones just ran in to the computer lab and started pointing out errors in the title up there. Whoopsies. Must leave.