Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ill!

I've come down with a nasty sore throat.  It hurts to talk.  It made my contribution to a meeting this morning difficult.  It's so bad I almost don't even want to smoke.

Sucks.

I skipped out around three and went back to the Wonj to see the doctor.  He gave me a shot and some pills and told me to stop working so hard.  We talked a bit about his daughter whom I taught for years back in the day.  After, I went home and crashed.

Now I'm wide awake.  I'm going to try and read a bit while drinking some hot lemon and honey.  There isn't any of that delicious Jeju Gigantic Orange tea around, so I'll improvise.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be as right as rain.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fat!

Korea is a great place for innovative and off the wall ideas.  Where else can you buy the seriously awesome Original Butt Bra, or the only 'Secret Tender Wrinkle Eliminate Face Cream'?

On occasion, I've heard many a Korean say that most waegs are super fat.  In the past, I could only sadly agree while feeding their kids loads of high calorie foods during snack parties at the hogwon.  Now it seems that some unknown Korean scientist has taken it upon themselves to share with the world the solution to obesity: Super Boobs!  


Everyone loves boobs.  It's a fact that people with larger boobs are more likely to get the things they want out of life.  Thanks to the special technique developed at Kim's Plastic Surgery Clinicision, now you too can maximize your opportunities!  Kiss that paunch goodbye!  With six easy visits, you can get that new promotion, gain the respect that is owed, and regain your confidence and self esteem!  

So stop thinking that you should get on that treadmill!  In fact, you should eat and drink more!  Why exercise when you can supersize?? Soon you too can be among the high society with your fantastically awesome Super Boobs!

Applesauce!

Yesterday during the Halloween festivities all the rugrats took turns bobbing for apples.  What began as a "I can't do it" moment turned into a full on chomp frenzy once I told them to push the apples into the bottom of the bowl.

By the time we put a stop to it, each apple had several bites and nicks in them, generally rendering them unfit for human consumption.

Unless of course, you make applesauce.

Now I've got two huge jars of nicely flavored apple sauce.  I've got a feeling I may end up chucking some of it out; at least I can look forward to watching it slowly go bad in the the refrigerator.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween!

After an intense and highly productive week, I walked into the weekend completely unprepared for Halloween.

I woke up this morning completely discombobulated: I knew I didn't have to go into work, but felt as if I was supposed to. I did some work from home, but still a sense of unease filled me all morning as I felt I should be in the office. Around noon things evened out a bit after I'd filed the last of my reports on the company server.

June and the girls had carved the pumpkin without me, and while I did think about trying to find another so I could do one with them, 9:30 at night is a bit late to find a nice grandmother selling her delicious orange pumpkiny wares. By the time the afternoon rolled around, I started to work on the girls' costumes: the youngest done up as a mummy, the eldest as a vampire. Now this is more to my liking, enough of that ballerina and ghost stuff.

I painted the youngest's face with white, deep black around the eyes. She freaked out and wasn't calm until we'd washed it all away. The eldest was greatly pleased with her white complexion and blood dripping mouth and eye.

When the party started, one of the waeg dads didn't show up. The smart money is that he had a serious spat with his wife and refused to come. He's also PrettyDamnBusy, working full time, doing extras on the side, finishing up a PhD. His wife is pretty nice, but is rather exacting. She and June share some similar traits, but I have to admit June doesn't ride me so much, in all senses of the meaning.

I felt lame at the party. The other waeg dads were pretty much the same. All the fathers were completely wiped out and couldn't bring their regular spark that has often characterized these kinds of things. I don't think the kids really noticed, but the dads did, and collectively there was a feeling of sadness and mute resignation. The moms were somewhat more enthusiastic, but they too are all carrying pretty heavy loads.

We all promised to make a better go of it next year. I'll drink to that.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

So many kinds of wrong

This week's edition: grab bag.

sNSFW on the first.

So many kinds of wrong



Make up:



That the peeps from this vid got shortchanged:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Urgent!

Tomorrow I've got an insanely important presentation to give.  A rich contract from a company in Singapore is on the line.  The interns and I have been bustin' hump for the last two weeks getting everything ready. 

I'm exhausted, but I can't sleep.  I came home late to find the eldest desperately wanting help with her maths, while the youngest also wanted to work on some writing exercises.  June was nearly passed out, and when called on complained about how tired she was from her busy day.

A long time ago I briefly dated a nice Korean girl who unfortunately had a nasty cold sore.  She'd get quite upset when I wouldn't kiss her on the mouth.  Look darlin', you know I like you, but cmon.  I ain't kissin you when you've got that showin'.

We broke up over it.  She said she hoped that one day I'd end up dating a Korean woman who would truly make me understand about Korea.  Her curse has haunted me ever since, especially when my lovely spouse complains about being so busy and being so tired everyday, yet when I was on vacation I saw her have a good fours to five hours to herself everyday during which she watched dramas, shopped, or went out for lunch.  That she would rip my head off for sitting around reading instead of taking care of the housework or basically just getting out of the house almost made me walk once and for all.   Instead, I obliged and went camping frequently, as any sane man would in the same situation.  Makes me appreciate the motivations of the absent adjusshi father.

Anyway, need to be fresh tomorrow.  Brain, go to sleep.

Blue Folders!

Those who have been in the game long enough in Korea are familiar with the blue folder.

Blue folders are handed out often whimsically by Korean companies and schools as a sign of recognition. The vast majority of blue folders contain awards or recognition for completely inane things, such as being a good sport, having actually shown up for an event, or being able to eat your lunch without dropping most of it into your lap.  Some blue folders are considered more impressive, such as those indicating that you've been hired for a particular position, won a contest, or have been given a promotion.  The goal generally seems to amass as many blue folders as possible.

Back in the day I taught many students who had nearly an entire bookshelf devoted to blue folders.  I would sometimes tease the kids about their blue folder collection.  It happened on one occasion that shortly after teasing one kid about her blue folder armada, she stopped taking lessons.  I quickly learned not to mock the power of the magical blue folder and would act duly impressed when confronted with a bookshelf full of blue folders.

One of the gripes from the waegs at work, myself included, is that there aren't as many opportunities for us to receive blue folders.  This gripe is a well founded one, as personal evaluations have a rather large section intended for people to fill in the specs on all their blue folders.  We always lose points there. 

I've collected a few over the years, but I am somewhat jealous of the eldest, who already has half as many as I do, and I've been collecting them for twice as long.  But then, most of mine aren't about passing naptime.  I suppose hers is well deserved, as I did fail that one in kindergarten.  I still maintain that the teacher had it out for me since at the precocious age of 5 I figured out how to pick the lock to the bathroom, thus giving the entire class a looksee at her while she was taking a dump.  That and the fact that I never slept in the afternoon, thus depriving her of some well deserved down time.

Time for some Max.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Free Food

poor old Korean
This morning leaving for work I was really surprised to see this old guy picking through the food garbage outside the apartment. I stopped to watch him for a few minutes as he carefully went through each bin, placing some items into a plastic bag.

Usually, Korean people are so giving and helping of one another that this kind of situation is almost unimaginable.

Thus I thought for a moment he must be a hogwon English teacher bent on saving some cash, but when he turned around I saw he was way too old and way too Korean.

He might have been collecting stuff for a home composting experiment, but he did stay near the tops of the bins and only seemed to grab relatively fresh stuff.

I will admit back in my youth exploring the wonderful world of dumpster diving outside grocery stores as a means to rebel against the system and because I was also flat broke; you can't do that anymore as the shops back home now generally have sealed dumpsters. Most Korean stores don't put any food waste into their trash, so there aren't many options for senior citizens or other folk on extremely limited budgets.

Makes me almost too upset to finish my second helping of chicken soup.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hitchhiker!

 I never get to pick up someone like this
Not far from work is a bus stop which many nearby factory workers and farmers use. Occasionally when I'm working late someone will flag me down and try to grab a free ride.  I always stop since standing at a bus stop for hours can totally suck, and you just never know when the last bus has gone by.

Tonight I picked up a nice young guy.  He lives on a farm nearby and was heading into the big city to visit friends.  He asked me if I could take him to Lotte cinema.  He was carrying 2 big bags.  Sure dude, no problem.

The conversation was a bit strained.  I was pretty tired and made some stupid mistakes when speaking Korean, my brain feeling a bit like cold molasses.  I apologized, saying that eleven years in country didn't really give me many excuses for mangling the language that badly.  He said that he was sorry he couldn't speak English at all, as he'd studied it for so long at school and it was a language spoken in so many other countries.  I said yeah but dude, we're in Korea, you don't really need to apologize.  Things were a bit quiet after that.

Once we got close to town, I decided to take a shortcut that avoids most of the major roads and intersections.  It's usually quite a bit faster since it has less traffic and lights.  He started to be obviously uncomfortable with all the side streets I was taking, probably wondering just where the hell I was taking him.  It didn't help that I was bootin along, missing cars by inches.  Hey, that's the way things roll in the big city.

The look on his face when we came out right on top of the Lotte Cinema area was priceless: not only did it seem like the first time he had seen Lotte Cinema fully lit up at night, but that we had gotten there through the least likely combination of side streets to suddenly appear at the holy grail of entertainment brought obvious amazement and wonder from him.  He was so incredibly thankful I felt a little embarrassed.  No problem dude.  Have a good time.

I came home and helped the eldest with some math and calmed the youngest down by finding a book she had misplaced.

Time for some rice wine.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

V!

A lot of green waegs will wonder just why Koreans do the 'V' sign when taking pictures.  Some have speculated that it has to do with looking cute, not wanting to be singled out of the herd, or as a sign of future Korean world domination.

What most waegs don't get is that it's really about celebrating the uniqueness of Korean culture, kept pure from outside influence for 10000 years, coming out to the world stage when needed most to share a vision of the world that is true and clean and highly conducive to productivity in a chaebol factory.

Koreans have been perfecting this purest perspective through many trials, tribulations, and victories, and now it is time to impart this wisdom to the world at large to improve the overall human condition primarily through saccharine kpop and overacted drama.  While some may disparage these vehicles,  it has been deemed necessary to use them to separate the unworthy from the Chosun.

With sufficient engagement and will, these provide ample clues to those dredging the bottom as to the heights humans can aspire if only they follow the Korean example.

So the next time you feel puzzled when seeing the V sign thrown out by Koreans during a photo, remember: they are simply sharing hard won wisdom.  If you are willing and able to commit fully, many Koreans will happily share with you these truths, while also offering competitive packages through Lee's English Emporium or Kim's English Palace.  It is your duty to all future generations to sign up now so this special education is spread most widely.

Concert!

Tonight the youngest was to play at a local community concert.  She has been practicing the jing for some time now.

I went to work today.  Things are intense until the end of the month and I'm pulling a lot of late nights.  I was worried I wouldn't be able to attend; I always try to get to these kinds of things.

I was able to finish up sooner than anticipated, and so I booted it to the school where the concert was in full swing.  I get there only to find that June and the girls still hadn't arrived.  I found out from another mom that the youngest's group had already played.

When they showed up, June was nonplussed.  I didn't know what time she was to play, I was tired, I didn't think you were coming.  It took everything not to flip.

The eldest's concert last year was a blast, and she had a great time.  I get annoyed since it often seems that when it comes to the eldest, June makes much more of an effort.  To deny the youngest her chance on stage because "I was tired" seems pretty damn lame, especially since she didn't have to work today and I found out from the girls that she spent the 45 minutes prior to arrival shopping on the internet.

Sigh.  Back into the trenches.

Friday, October 21, 2011

So many kinds of wrong

This week's edition: old people trollin'

Warning: irreverance.

So many kinds of wrong







If you want more old people, check out angry grandpa

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin!

Tonight I made the girls' night when I walked in with our Halloween pumpkin.  It's a pretty big bastard, larger than last year's.

I got lucky once again.  I took a different route home and came across a nice old grandmother selling potatoes on the side of the road.  She also happened to have some nice pumpkins.

Cost: 7 chonners.

This year I need to come up with a more elaborate design.  I'm wonderin' if I couldn't find a smaller squash and make a pumpkin gourd killer.  The girls may be a bit too young still for that.

Time for some Max.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hecate!

Drink Jinro to get white girls!
Spin the cloth.  Measure. Cut.

I've got a feeling I'll be around for more than a bit.

I've got a feeling I won't enjoy it.

That's what you get for stepping up.

Suck it up waeg.

Fuck you.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy 1 year!

Well it's been a year that I've been writing about the mundane boring details of my rather simple life as an expat in the ROK. 

In that time I've written 744 posts.  Many of those were filler, some actually had some meat on em, while others found their way out of the upper pits of hell.  I had been aiming for 1000, but three posts a days is a hard pace.  I blame work and family.

I started writing partly out of a need to just write, mostly out of a desire to work out why my life wasn't as exciting as some of the more vitriolic, virulent and vilifying stereotypes about waegs on this here fine peninsula make it out to be.  Whether I was successful or not depends on your point of view.  My life is far too boring and insipid compared to the idea of the waeg in popular consciousness.  I am a bit cheesed by that, and think that a bunch of us waegs should get together and demand the awesomeness that has been ascribed to us!  We want free money without obligation, and women (men if that is your thing) lining up outside our doors begging to use us as a temporary accessory!  Those would be great perks for having spent 11 of my more productive years shilling plastic.

Instead, I work a middle management type of job, live a middle class kind of life, married with kids, climbing the ladder despite knowing there is a very real glass ceiling just up ahead.  I rarely go out, most of my time shared between family, work, various hobbies and social obligations.  I've had ups and downs, and kept it steady most of the time.  I provide a decent life for my family, and I've often had the best interests of Korea in mind.  Like anywhere, some days are a little too rough, some things are too hard to swallow.  C'est la vie.

Here, there, it all becomes sort of the same now don't it?  Things are partly what you make em to be.  There are things that definitely suck, which is why I'll be sending the girls back home at some point, but those will be other stories for another time.

Where I'm going with this now I'm not sure.  Part of me wants to pack this up and move on to other projects, bring some other things up to speed. Another part of me wants to raise or lower the bar and go for one more term!  I've decided I like writing mindless, ill conceived, and poorly executed drivel though.  We'll see.

In any event, happy 1 year!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lamb Stew in Dynamic Wonju!

I've spent the day getting an awesome lamb stew together. I scored a bottle of thyme the last run through the big smoke, and the local Asian food mart has frozen halal lamb for the same price that I'd pay in Seoul.

I did need to go pick up some veggies and made the mistake of heading down to the Lotte Super since they sell stalked celery and cans of chicken broth: unfortunately, there was some kind of big parade and all the streets downtown were a mess. It's all part of the Dynamic Wonju festival they planned this year instead of the International Tattoo. The city spent millions building a new amphitheater and parade grounds, then the new lot of councilors decided they didn't want to spend the bucks on holding the Tattoo this year, instead they'd offer free school lunches to chodings, or elementary students. Makes sense to me. It's too bad, since I've had some great times at the Tattoo, hanging out with performers from around the world.

Anyway, the lamb stew smells damn fine. Still needs another 2-3 hours to cook, and the girls are already asking if it's done. This will be a lesson in patience for them.

Time for coffee.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Napoleon!

napoleon brandy

If you are a discerning waeg who likes to save money during your tour in the ROK, and enjoy imbibing spirits on occasion, I would recommend you try the ROK finest brandy Napoleon.

At 6 chonners a mickey, or 2 chonners for the bad boy pictured above, it's a nice change from the soju with about the same amount of liver damage.

And it has Royal in the name. Awesome.

New Teacher!

Last night several of the parents got together to meet a potential teacher.  She's 24, slim, large eyes, fantastic breasts.

Nearly all the moms voted against her.  Most of the dads voted for her.  As more of the moms showed up for this thing, it looked like she wouldn't get hired.  This would be a great way to make an argument for the dads to participate more in this kind of thing, but I digress.  I knew I had to step up:

She's highly qualified, has a great personality, and has more work experience than the other two candidates.  Her responses to the questions were solid.  Also, she has stated a lower salary than the other two as her starting wage.  The other two candidates are close friends of the other teachers, and we know we've had more than a few problems with this batch.  Bringing in some fresh blood would perhaps be really good to motivate the other teachers to put more effort into their jobs.

This last was actually quite convincing, since no one would dare deny that the cliquish atmosphere of the teachers has seen them become more lazy in their work habits.  They feed off each other, and something needs to change.

The final result is that they'll wait a few days before giving an answer, as there is one more candidate to interview.

Once home, June joked about how if that teacher were hired, she'd expect to see the men (me) take a more active interest in the kindergarten.  I responded by dragging her into the bedroom all caveman like.  I received an enthusiastic response.

Nothing like a little jealousy to get the engine revving.

Get to it!

This morning I came into work. I've got a massive amount of stuff that needs to be finished before the end of the month. I expect to be burning the midnight oil for the immediate future.

The place is dead. I saw a few others, mostly in accounting, but the place is pretty dead otherwise.

The frog trap has a record number of small brown toads in it. I counted at least ten and a bunch of dead ones.

Now I need to drink a gallon of coffee and listen to some of this to kick start me into the morning.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dinner!


Tonight is a company dinner. They sprang large and took us all to the buffet restaurant. Everyone is stuffing their face, drinking expensive liquor, complaining about eating too much as they stuff still more in.

I'm not drinking. I have to head out to the kindergarten to help look over the new teacher. They were finally convinced to toss the teacher who had locked the kids in the kindergarten while she went for lunch. Apparently she was taking too many days off that always seemed to coincide with field trips.

More later.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

So many kinds of wrong

switchin it up this week, keeping the game fresh and all, even though quite a few of the vids I've posted in the past should have been by rights

So many kinds of right







Just in case you're feeling cheated:


Hambuster from Hambuster Team on Vimeo.
And whatever you do, DO NOT google the new Marilyn Manson song Born Villain.  VNSFW - Art, nudity, eyeballs

Pine Nuts!

Yesterday the eldest came home very excited: the pine trees around her school had begun to disgorge their rich sappy treasure of massive pine cones. She had brought home three, and today she brought home another six.

These are pretty big pine cones. We spent a couple of hours amassing our yearly pine nut collection.

Now I've got sap all over my hands and pants.  Still, big fun.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bongos and Country Bumpkins!

For years I've despised the blue Bongo trucks that are ubiquitous on Korean roads. Usually whenever a Korean driver does something incredibly stoopid, 6 times out of 10 that driver will be behind the wheel of a Bongo.  Whenever you're woken early on a Saturday morning by some dude blasting a pitch at 10000 decibels for the amazing onions he's selling at 2 chonners, guaranteed he's selling those onions out of the back of a Bongo.

I'm not alone in my assessment.  Last night while talking to a Korean manager from another subsidiary, we shared our mutual disdain for the drivers of Bongos.  His reaction was far more visceral: farmers driving on city roads like they would in the country, driving like lunatics, parking wherever the hell they want. . .the amount of venom started to actually make me uncomfortable.  But then, many city-dwelling Koreans do have a huge amount of disdain for their country living brothers and sisters.

I thought about all this: sure, the country bumpkin is generally pissed on in most places by urbanites, and despite being a bit of a country boy myself can get it whenever I see the Bongo drivers driving like retreads and hearing some of the inane shit that passes as public opinion in small villages.  Still, it is those same country bumpkins who are importing wives like crazy, a situation which will continue to have a huge impact on the fabric of Korean society for years to come, so I can't get my hate on that much.  Besides, I've met some great country folk, and would generally prefer their company to some of the snooty nouveau-riche Gangnam wannabees who generally inhabit middle management.  Even if those country bumpkins do drive a Bongo.

Jump!

Yesterday I skipped out of work a bit early to attend a company dinner in Seoul.  I was cutting it close in terms of time, so imagine my consternation when the damn fam van wouldn't start.

Seeing as I'd just replaced the distributor cap, I thought it might have been a faulty install.  The truth was I'd left my lights on.

Idiot.

I scrolled through my numbers and realized I hadn't moved my insurance service number onto the new phone.  A quick call and they'd send a wrecker to give me a boost, free.  I was about to look it up on the web when I decided to go over and talk to the construction guys working on the new building.

It turned out one of them did indeed have jumper cables.  Within 10 minutes of talking to them I had the fam van up and running.

Nice guys.

I booted it up to Seoul and arrived just in time, but then I did hit mach 3 at least once, and got off the main expressway to avoid the congestion at Yeoju.  Next purchase: jumper cables.

Time for coffee.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Resume Suggestions!

Yesterday the waeg dad was sharing war stories from his job for a corporation that runs several English programs and institutes. One aspect of his job is to go through piles of resumes and hire English teachers. We had great fun looking over this one.



He did go through and change his profile picture on his actual job search, in itself a huge improvement, but the fact that a guy with post graduate 'education' couldn't go through and change the obvious spelling errors in a job search ad boggles my mind, especially when you have 11 years of teaching experience. But in the end he did get hired somewhere now, didn't he.  Let's hope it's China.

So protip: double check your grammar, use a passport grade photo, don't send the same email to multiple jobs / recruiters, ensure all correspondence with a potential employer is formal.  Unless of course, you'd prefer to take the piss and laugh when you still get hired.

I wanna call this guy Jerry.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Perfect!


In many respects, today was perfect. We met up with another waeg / Korean family for lunch, which became a full day of awesome.

One of the cooler things happened at the nearby convenience store: the older grandfather gave us a bottle of homemade ginseng rice wine. It was seriously awesome.

I learned a new recipe for fried chicken using the rice flour that had been stored in the freezer: egg wash, rice flour mixed with salted seasoning, powdered garlic and crushed sesame seed, fried in light oil. This = awesome.

It was fantastic to reconnect with an old mate, his wife and kids. A good time was had by all.

More please.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

SGS2!


For the last few months I've been using an SGS2 smartphone.  It was given to me for evaluation purposes by an acquaintance.  They knew I was in love with my iPhone4, so decided to tempt me with some Samsung fun.

I was skeptical at first and was ready to hate it.  I have to admit, it is an impressive piece of hardware.  It's just too bad the software is somewhat unreliable: it will sometimes just shut itself off randomly, will sometimes reset the date and clock when I change the battery, and doesn't have near the selection of apps the iPhone has.

Still, it is fast.  The bigger screen and higher resolution camera are also huge pluses, as is the changeable battery.  I do wish it had more memory as part of the hardware though.

I use both for different purposes.  I prefer creating docs on the iPhone as the keyboard has a better set up.  Anything with graphics or video is better served with the SGS2.

Keep.

Playground Fun!


This morning we hit the sauna, then came home for lunch. Afterwards, the girls wouldn't let up until I took em to the playground so they could ride their bikes.

They're having a blast. It's a pretty nice day so it's alright to be outside.

Later I'll make a three cheese beef lasagna. That'll be good.

Friday, October 7, 2011

So many kinds of wrong

Another Friday met with a never ending supply of

So many kinds of wrong









Thursday, October 6, 2011

Smokey!

I ended up staying late at work tonight.  I've got a ton of stuff to finish by the end of the month and I was in the groove, so kimchi tuna stew at my favorite adjumma restaurant it was.  I ended up clearing out at nine, still revving to do more but knowing that the gate would be locked and I'd be forced to spend the night.  That wouldn't be so much fun.

On my way home I came across smokey out in force checking for drunk drivers.  They hadn't pulled anyone over yet.  They let me cruise through.

For the next 5 miles, I flashed my lights quick at anyone heading towards the roadblock.  I was amused to see two cars immediately pull over.

Better to sit it out for a while then pick up that fine, son.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Small Yappy Lap Dog!

Shamelessly Taken from Here
Sometimes people say all kinds of crap without thinking about it too much. 

This blog is a case in point.  I just speak my mind, when I should just sit quietly.

A popular pet among Koreans is the small yappy lap dog.  I'm not a big fan of the small yappy lap dog.  I figure anything that small shouldn't be making such a racket, especially as they could serve nicely as a football.

I get that keeping a bigger dog in an apartment is problematic; what I don't get is how people will often dress the damn things up and color their hair.

One of the secretaries in accounting brings in her small yappy lap dog to work.  She leaves it in a carrier for most of the day, and it usually doesn't make too much noise.  For some reason it doesn't care for most males in general, only the excessively gentle and lacking in testosterone types.

Around the water cooler this morning Mr. Cha and I were joking about the uselessness of the small yappy lap dog.  He's a nice guy who spent most of his life in SoCal, and is often thought of by some of the older Korean guys as being too much of a twinkie, but I digress.

I made a joke about how pointless it was to keep such a small dog since in case of societal collapse, it wouldn't even make a decent meal.

His eyes clouded for just a second, then he laughed and said 'hey no problem.  I heard far worse when I was in SoCal, the whole Korean eating dogs thing hahaha'

I was appalled.  That thought hadn't even entered my mind.  I was making a serious observation as to viability of how much protein I could get off a small dog in case the supermarkets suddenly stopped stocking mandu.  Fak.

Now I'm concerned that Mr. Cha will at the very least think me more oafish than I actually am. 

Now, I do believe that stupidity is a universal constant, and I'm hoping he won't hold a grudge against me and that his panties aren't in a knot about it.  From experience, these types of conversation never end well.  You can't win and its best to just smile.  When will I ever learn?

Money!

I've been working at trying to save all my coins and extra cash these last few months to pay for the trip home at Christmas.

We haven't been back in two years, so we're about due.  This Christmas plans on being something special, with most of the family gathering together in a single house rented just for the event.  Should be a blast for the girls.  I'd like them to stay there a few months, but June is completely opposed to the idea.

June knows I've been trying to save cash.  Each time we go back, it costs at least 1000 manners, what with airfare, car rental, extras.  So it's in this spirit of "let's save cash" that she's been buying tons of extra books for the girls, expensive eye cream, new clothes, new tires. . . this month she even asked for extra, as the 450 manners she usually has to play with from my end won't be enough.

I crunched the numbers and looked at the spread sheet budget she had done up.  It took me all of 30 seconds to find that she'd tacked on an extra 90 manners by adding a zero to a couple of numbers.  It was undoubtedly an error, but wow, 90 manners ain't exactly chicken feed.  You'd think that kinda thing would stand out, especially as insurance ain't anywhere near 60 manners nor is the electric bill ever close to 40.

Now she's giving me the cold shoulder again because she says I don't trust her with money.  I ignored her and went to work.  I'm beginning to think my compromise came too early, seeing as ever since I stopped being so frosty she's been more so.  Guess I should just continue being a cold, distant bastard.

Time for coffee.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Move!

Leaving yesterday morning, June mentioned that she hadn't reserved a camping spot for the jazz festival. Admittedly, I should have been more committal about the trip. We decided to try our luck and pitch the tent somewhere nearby.

We thought we had scored gold when we found a nice rich spot next to the river about 3 kms from the site. We set the tent up and parked the car in a lot close to the festival and went to enjoy the tunes.

About three hours later, I get a call: hey, come move your tent!  You can't camp here!  They must have found the fam van and got my number off it, but wow, that took some doing.  The issue was that I'd been drinking rice wine for a good two hours and shouldn't drive.  Even though I won rock scissor paper with June, of course I went and dealt with it. 

I left June and the girls and went to pack the tent. Thankfully I hadn't left any of the gear at the site since we'd be off elsewhere, but it still took close to two hours to finish the deed.  The tent was further away then I thought, but I did sober up.

I did get to enjoy some more of the show, and was glad we hadn't dropped the won for the main concert site: the girls got bored after supper, and to really enjoy the music at the main site would have seen us stay there til past midnight.  They did enjoy watching the flying lanterns being set off, and asking me to guess where they'd be headed, but they weren't keen on going into the main site itself, they wanted warmth and sleep.  Letting them sleep on mats bundled up in sleeping bags and blankets would have been an option, but instead we loaded up and went in search of a motel.

We had planned to hit Costco the next day, so heading towards Seoul was the best plan.  Traffic was shit. We had been driving / crawling for close to an hour when the youngest just about lost it: it's a castle motel!! Can we stay there???!?!??

Sure, why not. I'm pretty tired anyway. Let's check it out.

I gave the clerk a dirty look when he said it was 7 manners for a single night, but he knew he had us. Traffic was still crawling, and I was beat. The room was pretty much what I expected, faux marble cupids and a round bed, cheap tacky Louis XIV furniture replete with the lowest quality cosmetic garbage imaginable.  No internet or wifi.  In Korea, for 7 manners wifi or internet is usually standard in most motels.  The fun parts were offering a vague explanation to the eldest as to what condoms were and watching Jackie Chan be a drunken boxer as we fell asleep.

All in all a nice weekend, although Costco took a nice toll. Still, nice to have the freezer full. The only glitch was on the way home when June refused to eat any of the suggestions I put forth for dinner: she was bent on kimchi stew. The girls don't really care for it and would end up only eating seaweed and rice, so I suggested a plethora of dishes I could make with our new found food wealth. No dice. I got annoyed and mentioned how the girls wouldn't really get strong on seaweed rice all the time, and she proceeded to berate me for not eating the food she makes, dragging up the last episode where I didn't eat her marinated beef with glass noodles.

I reminded her that when she had asked me at the time what I wanted to eat, I said I was sick and didn't want to eat meat or any noodle dish, but would really go for some kind of soup. She went ahead and made marinated beef and glass noodles anyway since she really wanted it. I ate a cup of instant chicken soup. I was pretty sick and just wanted something hot with lots of liquid.

She stayed mad at me for about two hours after that conversation, since it wasn't that I wouldn't eat her food, but that she had tried to throw something in my face that came right back on her.  I wasn't really too upset about her asking me what I wanted at the time, then cooking the exact thing I said I didn't want, but that she'd try to use that as ammo in a petty squabble.

She did eat the chicken soup I made for dinner; the girls and I peeled potatoes, cut carrots and broccoli, threw some rice and chicken wings into a pot.  Baguette and cheese on the side.  It was delicious.  As a protest, June ate a bunch of kimchi with it.  I hope it helped settle her stomach as she intended.

Time for bed.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Jazz!


Today we're at the jazz festival in Gapyeong. We've pitched the tent nearby and are now enjoying some fantastic tunes at the main free stage.

I'm the only asshole sitting on a camp chair. Come hang out, I've got some rice wine to share.

Compromise!

I've written extensively about the fights June and I have.  One of the characteristics I liked about June when we first met was her passion and strength.  I've met plenty of guys who will tell you about passionate, strong women who are in fact completely batshit insane, but June ain't that.  I should be thankful, right?  Marriage is about compromise.

My only issue over the years is how I often feel I've compromised far more than she has.  I accept her family and have never, until recently, said a word about any shit that came from them.  I've always supported her decisions and course of action as usually they are based on sound footing, despite how things have rarely worked out the way she intended.  This is worth mentioning as her mistakes have cost us thousands of dollars over the years, but I have tried not to use this as ammunition in fights and to continue to support her.  I've worked like a bastard running my own business, now in corporate, to provide not only a solid financial base for our family, but respect as well.  I've studied extensively the history, traditions, and language of my adopted country, so that I understand her more, despite how she knows next to nothing about mine.  I've sucked it up countless times, been contrite when it was needed to smooth things over, despite how this is a rather distasteful man's job; June, like most women, will not accept responsibility for her faults and admit she is in the wrong, or will at best give lip service to it while riding my ass for months about that time I stayed out till six drinking with the guys.  She's cold, she's hot, indifferent and apathetic, then involved and focused.  Her extremes, while greatly disparate, are usually manageable.  Every three to four months or so they become unendurable, but I remind myself that I do mostly like her and I have two amazing daughters that have me wrapped around their little fingers.

That's just how it should be, right?

So what are my faults?  I drink and smoke too much, I wish I could spend more time with them, I can be too quick to anger, I should exercise more.  I allow myself to react when I should exercise more control over my emotions.  I've gotten better at that over the years, but still there is room for improvement.  Generally, I don't suffer fools, but then I can be willingly foolish at times.  I like having things at least generally planned out and find disorganization irksome, but living in Korea married to June has made me less irritable when dealing with that, and my current job is far less disorganized than many I've had over the years here, but then I am mostly in charge of my own shit. 

So what's this all about?  Reconciliation.  I'm still far from being 100%, but the only other option is to walk.