Sunday, July 12, 2015

End of the Semester Fatigue and Phantom (Not the One You're Thinking Of)

It's been a long week of upper 80s and 90s with high humidity. I basically just sit in front of my fan for hours. Thankfully we can use the AC at our school mostly freely now.

The end of the semester is hitting hard, along with the weather. The kids are tired and don't want to study. I'm tired and don't want to study. 

I like routines, but sometimes, after almost 2 years, the constant routine of going to school, rushing through dinner and going to Korean class gets mundane, especially when I'm getting into harder grammar and I want to give up. Most days it's going well and I'm certainly understanding a lot, but sometimes I'm still annoyed when I can't quite understand why everyone is laughing in the office and I'm left out.

This is how I feel studying Korean

How I feel about giving like 500 speaking tests 

But, even though I'm having some fatigue with teaching and learning, I was reassured after discussing some of my misgivings with Young Ah. She's pretty helpful about boosting me when I'm feeling down about my Korean or my kids, and reminded me that some of the kids in our classes just aren't good students, and it's not all on me if they don't want to pay attention in class or can't quite get it, and that she thinks I'm doing well. So that helped. 

It's not all doom and gloom over here, though I am still annoyed with some micro aggressions in Korea. This week's annoyance is bus etiquette. Bus aisles and seats are small and it's hard to maneuver, I know. My pet peeve comes in when it's rush hour and people sit in the aisle seat and don't move over or make space so someone can slide through to get the window seat. If the bus isn't crowded, fine. But, if it's rush hour, then please, make room. Now, if these people were getting off at an early stop, I'd vaguely understand that maybe they don't want to have to crawl over people. But, (and I always watch), they get off at the main station like Hongdae, about 97% of the bus gets off there too. YOU CAN MOVE OVER AND LET SOMEONE SIT DOWN.

Yay oblivious old men on the bus who don't
care about letting other people sit.
There was another person doing it on the other
Honestly, Korea isn't famous for it's public transportation etiquette. It's quite notorious for it... 

Since I was annoyed about that, Cesca and I calmed ourselves down with a delicious bingsu.

Great Hope Make Great Men
... close

mangoooooo bingsuuuuu

Lunch was so so this week, great some days, annoying some days. Honestly, if I never have to pick fish bones out of my lunch again or eat plain bean sprouts, it'll be too soon...

I also finally got a ricecake that I was happy to eat, since it didn't have a weird filling or toppings.

It was to celebrate 100 days of something.
Possibly marriage. I think. Could also be
some baby's 100 days. I didn't get to read
all of the note.

On Friday, Lauren, Sarah, Cesca and I met up for some Gusto Taco to unload about our weeks, mostly Lauren's and Sarah's more stressful weeks because Lauren has to transfer schools and Sarah is leaving. It's a crazy time for a bunch of us here, with lots of changes and goodbyes and I don't like it, so we kind of just put off talking about serious stuff and laughed about our silly students and teachers at school over nachos and taquitos. 

I got some more organizer stuff from Daiso and spent more time organizing my closets, desk and dressers. I was standing on the street corner with Cesca and, being type A, exclaimed, "I can't wait to go home and reorganize everything!" because I was legitimately excited to do so, and Cesca told me I'm lucky we're sisters cause that was the lamest thing for anyone to ever say on a Friday night. hahaha. She's just joking cause she knows I love that stuff. And my stuff does look nicer and less scattered. Woo!! 

Oh you know, just gonna be like 95 and humid
today. The rain temp was a lie. It didn't
get that cool.

My most exciting event by far was my trip to see a musical, which I haven't done in quite a while. I've been debating seeing this for a while, and WOW do I wish I had gone before. Although, if I had, I probably would have gone a few more times... it's better for my wallet this way.

Musicals, especially new ones or beloved ones, are the most magical escape for me imaginable. I haven't seen this show live before, and I was completely sucked in in awe and wonder at the talent, the sets, the songs. It was 3 hours of excitement and oblivion. 

The show, Phantom (Yeston and Kopit, not to be confused with The Phantom of the Opera of Andrew Lloyd Webber fame), has been running since the end of April, and at first, I didn't pay too much attention because I was mostly disappointed that it wasn't the ALW version. 

The story behind the inception of this musical and it's relatively unknownness is that in the early 80s, Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston (they wrote the musical Nine) were using Gaston Leroux's source material, the original novel, to create their own Broadway musical that would explore more of the Phantom's history (more on this later). However, in the mid 80's, word of the ALW musical got out, and it's success on the West End and subsequent plans to transfer it to Broadway led investors and backers to drop the Yeston/Kopit musical for fear of competition or looking like they copied, even though the shows were in development at the same time and the stories are completely different.

Giving up on their musical idea, the rights were sold and in 1990, a TV miniseries was produced, starring the amazing Charles Dance (YES, the Imp's father, Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones was once the Phantom of the Opera). The series did not use the songs from the musical, just a bit as background music, I think, maybe not even that. I haven't watched it in a while. 

In the 90s, they also decided to sell the rights to the musical to allow independent companies to perform the musical, which has never been produced on Broadway, but has achieved moderate success worldwide, even having a German and Japanese production and finally reaching Korea this year. 


My decision was spurred because my school had suggested seeing the musical for our school wide teacher bonding trip, but had decided against it, and I realized I was way too disappointed not to go see it. I had been toying with the idea of seeing the singer Park Hyo Shin in the role of the Phantom, having heard that he was famous and also having heard his work in the musical we saw last year, Das Musical Mozart (we didn't see him perform, but I saw clips later and was impressed). 

I bought a ticket last week and honestly wasn't expecting to enjoy it as thoroughly as I did (which was silly of me to assume about myself, because I adore musicals and anything related to Phantom). 

Now, the tagline is "this is the real phantom" and some of the discussions will like to tell you this operetta, French style musical stays closer to the Leroux novel than the rock opera ALW version. As an unofficial expert, I can tell you this is approximately 97% false, and that the ALW included many more homages to the novel than this version, but that also meant my enjoyment could be separate because they are so incredibly different.  This show humanizes the Phantom much more, meaning he's on stage way more than the ALW counterpart, but he is also much less mysterious. It's interesting to see how each musical handled the story. 

I'm already rambling about this musical so I'll probably post another, more in depth review about it later so you non musical fans can skip my musings about the actual show, which I'll just say was gorgeous but with an 85 minute first act and 65 minute second act, it runs quite long when you include intermission. Even with that running time, I only barely noticed the time drag in just a few small places, so the pacing was great and it didn't really feel its length (on my second viewing I did notice a drag in the second act, but that could also be the result of a loooong day).

I basically went because I heard about Park
Hyo Shin up in the center and was curious about
how he'd sound in this role, never having heard
him sing something quite this intense.
 I arrived early, a hot sweaty mess because it was about 95 degrees in the afternoon. I headed up to get my ticket, where the lady looked at my reservation name and told me how cool my name was since I was seeing a show where the main woman's name is Christine. It was cute.

I bought a program, which was full of great interviews and information, but I still miss Broadway and West Eng programmes, playbills and brochures. Korean programs are nice but constantly disappoint me with their lack of ACTUAL production pictures. They usually have 'atmospheric shots' and rehearsal pictures only... 

The lobbies are always decorated with the pictures
of the actors. Here's Park Hyo Shin. He's not
wearing any of the outlandish masks used in the show.

I tried to rent opera goggles, but everyone had the same idea and they were all rented out. Sad, because I was sitting up top in the nosebleeds, as I normally do,being a poor teacher. Also, if I'm gonna pay for VIP, I want first few rows. I don't know why the entire orchestra section is premium priced, at 110-140,000 won. The back row of the orchestra is NOT the same as the middle or front. Anyway.

I headed up to my seat, where the usher told me my Korean was good even though all I said was "I understand" when he explained that I shouldn't lean forward (I did understand, but also they had a diagram for how to sit so you wouldn't block the views of everyone else haha) and the normal camera spiel. I was the only foreigner I saw there, no surprises, since this isn't a famous musical really by any standards and it's all in Korean.

Casts in Korea rotate much more than they
do in America, so the main actor
doesn't play 8 shows a week like the actors on
Broadway, which means you must plan
more to see your favorites. 

I ended up sitting next to this very lovely high school student who was a huge Park Hyo Shin fan. She was very sweet and concerned that I didn't have binoculars, so she dug through her bag and lent me some! I was surprised and sooo touched! She's seen the show more than once, so she gave me some tips about where PHS would appear and what I should look out for. It was amazing and awesome, and she was so excited that I could speak Korean and that I like PHS. 

I was blown away by how incredible his voice was, and was again sorely disappointed in the lack of Original Cast Recordings of Korean productions, because they are such short runs. Halfway through, I was seriously considering buying another ticket, because it was just a great production. Don't get crazy, it wasn't the Phantom I love so incredibly dearly, but it's a great show in it's own right.

(There's a cute Korean comic to introduce it too) 

In a daze from my excitement and emotion from how incredibly impressed and elated I was, I met up with Cesca and we ended up at a cat cafe in Sinchon, as one does. 

This one was making the best faces


this one was our buddy for a while

Ces snuck a picture on my phone

This one is huuuuge

We got home late (with ddeokbokki) and hung out, but Ces had had a busy day so we went to bed kind of early. It was super hot last night and I just couldn't sleep. I'm gonna be honest, when I see a musical, I'm usually pretty wound up after it. When I see Phantom of the Opera, you'll be hard pressed to see me settle down for hours after the show, and most of the time, I can't sleep after seeing it. I haven't seen that show in over a year ㅠㅠ, but this one wound me up just as much, so I was pretty tired today (Sunday), since I didn't go to sleep until after 3 am and woke up around 7:30. 

Since I was up early, I chatted with my mom since she's been busy and we haven't talked much, then I bummed around and waited for Cesca to wake up.

she sleeps like she's dead sometimes

We finished the show we were watching together, and then she left to run some errands in the afternoon. I watched one of my dramas and decided to take a break from something I'm editing for my students (it's super cute, I'll show you all when it's finished), because the editing it taking foreverrrr. I was too excited to write about Phantom

I have another few days of speaking tests and filler lessons this week, with maaaaaybe another trip to Phantom this week (Young Ah mentioned she wanted to see it and I'll use any excuse to see Park Hyo Shin again). More Korean classes await, but it's ok. I was in a slump, but I've got energy again. I can do it!!! 23 months almost down!

A typhoon is hitting now so it's been raining all day, but it's not 95 degrees so I'm happy. It will be quite hot again for the foreseeable future. Ugh. I'm dealing, I just hate being a sweaty mess at work when I arrive. Why don't Koreans sweat like me!?!?


My favorite song from Phantom is this duet between Erik and Christine during one of their music lessons. 

Since I'm also just now talking about Park Hyo Shin, here's a song of his that makes me tear up every time I listen to it.  FYI he sang this live for the MV, it's not a lip sync. Cause he's just that good.

song starts around 35 seconds

Be right back I have to go drown in a puddle of tears.

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