Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chuseok "Fun"

I had a pretty mundane week here, so there's not much to share. It was the week before Chuseok, so my kids were a little, er, not attentive. I had some gems though, like my student who studied in France telling me that he wants to save his Chuseok money for high school and my 6th graders telling me they liked my eye shadow even after I yelled at them for 5 minutes in class about not bothering with class. I was a week. That's all I can say.

In my quest for more organization, I ordered a shelf for my bathroom to make room on my sink counter. My hair, makeup and skincare products and my dental routine stuff all make for a crowded counter. It's still kind of a mess, but it's a slightly more organized mess. 

I get excited about organizational things.
I'm the coolest person around.

Best moment of my week was the baller hair day I had. I don't know what magical combination of humidity, air temperature, hair gel, mousse, conditioner,or wetness produced this, but man, I felt awesome. So awesome that I took selfies, which I tend not to do unless I'm with friends or making stupid faces.

I'm a particular fan of this side. 

How do you know it's fall in Korea?? Not the temperature, that's for sure. We're still hovering at 80 degrees during the day, though the hints of fall are peaking through. No, it's the GOD DAMN GINKGO TREES AND THEIR STUPID BERRY NUT WHATEVERS. 

Seriously. These things are the bane of my existence. The orange bulby seed things are all well and good on the sidewalk.... UNTIL SOMEONE SQUISHES THEM. The consequence of squishing one of these monstrosities is the putrid smell of butyric acid, which, FYI, is found in RANCID BUTTER and VOMIT. Meaning walking around near these (apparently female) trees is an assault on the nostrils each and every day. Apparently, the seeds can be eaten, but only if cooked properly. If not, they are toxic. Or something. 


Thankfully, the smell is really only in the immediate vicinity of the squished seeds, so if you walk fast and hold your breath, you can usually escape the most damage. 

Everyone pretty much left early for Chuseok, so I hung out in the office, lesson planned and listened to Phantom of the Opera at my desk. Chuseok is nothing special for me, since I have no ancestors to pray to here, so I'm pretty much just on my own for the long weekend. 

This is some kind of cookie stand where they trust
people enough to leave it out with a slot for the money.
In an attempt to not be a bum all day watching TV, I headed out to get brunch with Janell on Saturday. The place we went was offering free mimosas, which lots of brunch places overlook in Korea. We were hooked.

They were so good

Strawberry cream cheese stuffed french toast

Sausage gravy and biscuits

Complete set of awesome.

Aside from that brunch and coffee date with Janell, I've been solo studying this weekend. Don't get over impressed, I only manage a couple of hours a day due to my attention span, memory and current shoulder pain difficulties. I'm still trying to get just a few more words and grammar points in my head each day, so I'll be ready for the TOPIK II test next year. I'm shooting for level 3 before I leave Korea. I doubt I could squeak out a 4, but if I can keep up the studying, who knows.

Oh yeah, jam packed fun.

Sunday was pretty much the same. Slept in, bummed around, watched TV (currently I'm not watching any dramas and I caught up on all of my American shows for the week, so this Chuseok, I'm watching Ink Master and various Korean variety shows), took a nap because I could, made a feeble attempt at cleaning, and then I headed to a cafe for like 2 hours to study. I grabbed dinner and then headed to see a movie that I've been looking forward to. 

I saw Everest and was like the only foreigner
in the packed theater. I guess movies are popular
on Chuseok.

This is a disaster film, and I went in knowing that the 1996 climbing season was the deadliest on Everest up until the avalanches last year and this year. In 1996, 8 people were killed during a terrible, sudden storm that struck late on May 10th. A series of bad decisions and overcrowding on the mountain, along with the sudden turn of the weather, made the climb that day the death trap that it was.  

I don't know why I find Mount Everest so interesting. If I could, I'd like to see the base camp, but I'd be damned if anyone asked me to go further. I'm not into cold, hiking or torturing my body by climbing so high that the air is so think and the oxygen so scarce that my body starts killing itself, thanks. Anyway, I knew the gist of the story before I went, but that didn't stop me from being scared or nervous as they got closer to the inevitable end of the story. That's how disaster movies go, right??

I tensed, I bit my nails, I shed a few tears. It was a slow but good movie, and I really enjoyed seeing it. It was a nice, albeit intense, break from my studies. 

I've got another bang up day planned tomorrow. Laundry and studying. Really living it up this vacation. Woop. 

I haven't really been listening to anything new this week. In fact, I've been back to Phantom and Les Mis more often than not, with some R&H Cinderella thrown in. Can't wait to see some shows soon!

Hoping the short work week will be a good one for me. Happy fall everyone!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

September Flying By~

I found another cool copy of Phantom of the Opera.

Hello all! Wow, September is flying by!

It was another busy week of drama club, classes, Korean classes and hanging with friends. It seems like it was a tough week for everyone. The other teachers were all tired and my friends and I all seemed to have some downer classes lately. But, I still had some good classes and good Korean classes/practice, so I had a decent week. I also had some really delicious school lunches!

Here she comes to save the day! Yogurt lady!
They deliver and sell yogurt and juice and stuff

Mandu soup and quail eggs YUM I LOVE IT

I'm also a huge fan of these coffee pouches they sell
now. You can get one for about $1 and they have
lots of flavors. Delicious and cheap!

On Thursday, I didn't have 5th grade because they were on a field trip, but some guy from the drama club festival organization came to our school today to help my students out with their show. I'm not much help in these instances because of the whole speaking in Korean thing, but I just observed and tried to keep the kids under control.

My kids practicing "The Rainbow Fish"

This dude helped out.

He gave us lots of useful suggestions. My handler and I, along with the kids, have a lot of work to do! We perform in November! Yikes!!! That's only a month and a half away!!!

Cesca and I noticed something weird on the
KFC sign...

an odd combo of ddeokbokki, pumpkin porridge, kiwis and
walnut pie. It was all delicious but weird together

sometimes my students draw stuff when
they finish early

a great likeness!!

On Friday, we went to my neighbor's house to meet with a bunch of our waygookin friends to just eat pizza, hang out and play cards against humanity. It was a nice, stress relieving Friday evening. Mom sent us a bunch of cookies in her last care package, so Cesca and I shared some with our friends. And then we ate a whole box by ourselves in my apartment. Chewy Chips Ahoy for the win!!! Except man they are waaaaaaay smaller than I remember. We killed them off in a weekend. Oops. So good though. I digress.

On Saturday, we met up with Lauren and a guy from my Korean class to try this new place called the Vault, which is an escape room. Apparently, these are all the rage in Seoul right now. 

the menu was secret agent style.

our goal was to steal the diamond and escape. We failed haha.
Apparently only 25% of people make it through. We want to try again!
We stayed out at the Vault for a bit because the drinks were also good and cheap for Seoul prices, and it was fun to hang and chill. Then, Cesca and I came home and watched more Brooklyn 99, which is what I've been watching recently cause it's hilarious and Cesca kept reccomending it to me. 

On Sunday we slept in and got some delicious Korean food from the shop near my house (they didn't have galbi mandu today though, whyyyyyy) and watched more TV. We left early and headed to Hongdae because Cesca wanted a Korean book for her language exchange stuff.

I've been in a very Phantom of the Opera mood lately (of course, but moreso than lately), and I almost made it out of the bookstore without seeing this, but while I was waiting at the checkout with Cesca, the cover caught my eye and I thought, "wow, that'd be a cool cover for Phantom!"

Of course it was and you know I can't resist buying things like that. I tried for a hot second and then I saw the inside. 

Keep in mind I have multiple copies in America, and shouldn't need many more. And yet, here I am.

At home I think I have 2 French copies (One from my first trip to Paris where my friends and I found it in a small bookshop near the river and another copy from the Palais Garnier from my second trip to Paris), an Italian copy from my semester in Italy and probably 3 or 4 English copies just because. 

I may have acquired a couple more...

I can stop anytime, I swear.

When I came to Korea, I bought one copy because I liked the cover (I found it at the English bookstore WhatThe Book in Itaewon), one because it had some Korean vocab in it, one because it was all Korean, one in Japan, and now my last one because it has gorgeous pictures in it. I kind of wish there was a whole manga series in this style. Well, my wallet doesn't wish that. My heart does.

I love this artwork

Look at how ghost like he is! Sneaking around, listening to gossip! Ugh it's so cool. Here are some more of my favorites. 

The Phantom harassing people in Box 5

Christine hears the Angel of Music in her dreams

Christine visits the graveyard at Perros and Raoul follows

the Masquerade ball where the Phantom comes as Red Death.
Christine and Raoul are the black and white dominoes at the bottom

Christine disappears before Raoul's eyes
in the dressing room after the ball

Christine confesses her strange tale under
Apollo's Lyre, where the Phantom is
hiding and overhears it all

After Christine's disappearance, Raoul follows the Persian
down to the Phantom's lair

Christine kisses the Phantom on the forehead
and he's so happy he let's her go and dies in peace

arg it's just so pretty. 

I was so excited to take picures of the book, but first, DANCE CLASS. I haven't been dancing in a while because of days off, illness and last week I went to see Young Ah, so it was a rough class haha. I will be sore tomorrow. 

We learned a sexy girl dance today, Hyuna's Roll Deep, which is quiiiiite sexy. 

We only learned about a minute of the dance because our teacher wanted to spare our poor knees, since the dance involves a lot of knee work, apparently. If you're not into Kpop, you'll probably not like this song. It's not super my style, but I like Hyuna and 4Minute, and I like that Hyuna embraces being sexy even though she gets criticized for it. Basically the song is like "yeah everyone is jealous cause I'm awesome."

Cesca posted the video if you want to see it here

My whole body hurts. The dancers work HARD in that video man. Not just my knees, but my arms and legs and feet are all sore. OUCH. But it felt good and was a fun class, so I'm happy to be back. We miss next week because of Chuseok though... sad face...

I went home and cooled down with some Doctor Who (I'm giving it another go even though season 8 was an annoying disaster). Sadly, the weekend is already over and another week must begin. 


Besides Hyuna, I was super into Phantom again (surprise) this week, and I really hope it comes back to Korea soon. Like, next year. Soon.

I've also been back on a Park Hyo Shin kick this week since Cesca heard someone playing Wildflower on the street the other day and sent me a video. She loves that song now. Lately, I've had "After Love" stuck in my head. 

The music video for the song is very sad but beautiful, but it's also 13 minutes long. Check it out if you have time. The song means more that way.

(You can turn on CC for english captions)

The story is that Park Hyo Shin lives in Swizterland with his girlfriend and his best friend lives there too. PHS finds out he has cancer and has a month to live. Knowing he's going to die, he pulls a PS I Love You and sends her a message 1 year later, telling her to stop wallowing and to meet where they first kissed. Enlisting the help of his friend, he sets up clues so they'll meet on top of a mountain, where said friend will sing the song PHS wrote (as he was dying) for her, called "After Love."

If you read the lyrics, he seems to have written the song from her perspective. In the video, she often calls him Babo or babo-ya, which means fool, as a nickname and the refrains start with "Fool, where are you? Can you not leave me?" and the song continues to talk about memories and yearning for someone that left. Obviously it could be a breakup song, but with the video, it seems like the context is little different. In my mind, he knows she hasn't moved on with her life (the message he sends her says some things like "You haven't washed your hair today right? Or changed your clothes yest? Can't do anything without me, huh?") and he wants to inspire her to get moving and go forward. Since I love PS I Love You kinds of things, I love this video.

I like the song a lot and the MV is really touching and sad. Plus it's shot in Switzerland so the scenery is gorgeous. Take a peek if you have time!

Off to another work week! Enjoy the still warm and sunny weather!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Feeling like Fall

I had a busy week at school and a fun, eventful weekend, so I have lots of pictures to share!

Liz sent me this picture from Timehop
and Ted's comment made me laugh
very hard at my desk

preview of my weekend
But first, let me tell you about my week

First of all, I almost had a heart attack in the
office when I went to open the window. OMG

I'm usually at work early, and was extra early because on Tuesdays and Thursdays, my drama club kids have extra rehearsals (lord knows they need them), so, you know, seeing a dead wasp on the windowsill really woke me up.

I also had busy afternoons, because this week, we had the English storytelling contest. I'm a terrible judge for this, because I basically want to tear up, hug all of the kids and sob about how brave they are for getting up and saying a whole story in English.  So all of my scores are in the 90-100 range. Don't ask me to judge these. I'm horrible at it.

My computer also got repaired! I was bemoaning not having it for a few days (I know, I know. Addicted to technology and all that), but the guy actually just did it in the subway station haha. 

we got a lot of stares as he did this in the corner.
What, you've never seen computer repairs before?

So wooo hooo, I'm finally typing on a fully functional laptop! My 6 key even works! That one hadn't worked for years. Turns out that spilling wine on your laptop is not a good idea (I spilled some on it about 2 years ago when I first got it. I am informed that I am lucky that the wine missed the important parts and only corroded the keyboard after a while). I wish I could say I don't eat or drink near my laptop after that debacle, but considering it took 2 years for a maaajor problem to come out of it... 

Haha, I'm kind of kidding. I'm way more careful now. I just drink my wine to the side. 

On Saturday, I went shopping with Cesca for some essentials at emart that we need this week and next week.

we stopped for kalbi mandu 

If I ever need a kids hanbok, you know I'll be
buying this fur ensemble

Cesca and I chilled after shopping and got ready to meet our friends across town, and in the process of getting ready to leave, I found out I've been the victim of credit card fraud in America, which is super great. Thankfully, I have fraud protection and the company noticed right away because they know I'm 'travelling' (ie I'm not in America right now), so that was dramatic but got solved quickly. All I could do was laugh about it. We were only about 15 min late to meet our friends, where my worried melted away on top of the 'camp fire'

camping style BBQ place. So cute

We met these lovely ladies who live across town

After stuffing our faces, we headed over to the bowling alley because we are all awesome bowlers. We got lost trying to find the alley because apparently foreigners don't come to this area a lot? and the signage was not clear, but we made it and had a great time.

I got a strike on my first throw and then proceeded
to continue on with my mediocre abilities

Cesca's unique method

We had to leave after that, because the subway is stupid and the last train is at like 11 something on Saturdays if I don't want to spend a fortune on a taxi, which is lame, but Lauren is back in Korean class and we have plans with them for next weekend, so I'm happy we will be spending more time together, now that the new semester has settled down. 

On Sunday, I took a break from dance class (again) to see Young Ah perform with her music troupe. On Sundays in the fall, there are special cultural performances at Oon Hyeon Gung, which is the last palace in Seoul that I hadn't ever visited. It's not super big or famous. The father of the last king of the Joseon Dynasty lived there. Young Ah explained that he had a lot of power because his son wasn't as smart, and he hated foreigners and persecuted a lot of missionaries. Yikes. Apparently the Queen was also powerful at this time, so they had lots of power struggles. Cool stuff. 

Ceremonial Queen garb and a handmaiden

I didn't catch what all of the dances were specifically, and Young Ah was getting ready so she couldn't translate. All I know was there was a hanbok dance, a knife one, another hanbok one, a fan one and then a small drum dance, followed by Young Ah's group. 

I like the hanbok dances, but they tend to use slower and more deliberate movements, so I can see where some things like the knives are more interesting. I loved the outfits of each group though.

I love fan dances.

The drum one was also super pretty and I love the purple hanboks.

Then it was Young Ah's turn! She normally plays the jjangu, but she has been having elbow problems, and she's also been studying the head spinny thing, so she did that this time. She was upset cause she made a couple of mistakes, but I thought she did great for her first time and it was super awesome! I can't believe she can remember everything and spin her head so much!!

I think the head spinning is called Sangmo

they have to jump and crouch and do tons
of things when they're spinning. It's crazy

She was awesome, so I tried to get a couple of clips before I put my camera down and just enjoyed.

look at her go!

Of course they did a group celebration time and they pulled me up and got me to play the gong. I was embarrassed but then Young Ah came and danced with me so it was fun~ I think her group mates like seeing me there, and I'm glad I could come and support her. Young Ah even thanked me for giving her some of my precious time, but I wish I could explain to her how precious our time together always is, because she's one of my best friends in Korea. I'm so glad I got to support her after she came to my dance event as well!

While I was waiting, I snapped a few shots of the lovely interior of the small palace. 

After that, Young Ah and I went to dinner and hung out for a bit. She was tired from the weekend and her show, so we parted with promises of a good week. I'm sad the weekend is already over, but it was great (minus the fraud) and I've already got fun plans for next weekend, and the coming months as well. 

Korea obviously wants me to be poor, because Les Mis is coming back to Seoul, so Cesca and I want to take our co teachers to see it! It's going to be so fun! I'm also hoping that this is a sign that they're going to start repeating musicals soon, because that means Phantom of the Opera would come back, and that I would die and go to heaven haha. Fingers crossed!!!

The weather is cooling down and while it's still in the upper 80s, the humidity is mostly gone and I can feel fall in the air. I'm so excited for sweater and boot weather. Not snow. Please, fall, last longer this year!!!


I'm sad I missed dance class, cause I love the song they learned, Girlfriend's Me Gustas Tu

I also am in a Les Mis mood, even though I'm seeing Cinderella first

It sounds pretty great in Korean! I'm so excited!!