Archive for October, 2010

sunday rainy sunday

the weather was the absolute poops.

and okpo seemed more undesireable than usual.

so, if you are anything like me, you will do the following:

have a fantastic meal with pals

have a photo shoot with your coffee mug

write a short tale about an american baseball player recently drafted to a south korean team

(not pictured: a documentary on north korea, laundry, and a quick dumpster dive for an old menu frame from the restaurant by the beach)


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i admit it, i’m on a fall high.

the kind of high where you have just spent hours in a seedy basement staring at a faded poster of johnny depp and wondering if maybe, just maybe, extraterrestrial life does exists (j.depp being the sound argument that in fact, it does). the kind of high where you really can’t even complete a sentence without thinking about…wait, what? yes, that high.

for the last week or so, i have been gushing about autumn on a daily basis to really, anyone that will even listen. and for the most part, my audience is made up of the low-level english kiddies at school or this fantastic korean girl who believes i am a suitable private tutor. this poor girl has not been given the chance to learn about uncountable nouns or the present continuous. instead, she has had to listen to me go on and on about how the leaves change colour on only one side of the street at my parent’s house. truthfully, i believe a refund is in order.

stricken by a one-track autumn mind, tb and myself missioned from the factor to jirisan national park for the day. and just so we’re clear, i’m not exaggerating when i describe this trek as a mission. you see, one of the contributing sub-factors to the okpo factor is the great difficulty in travelling even 30 minutes away. perfect example: our five hours of travel included one city bus, two chartered buses, three transfers, and four diget cookies. (okay, i probably ate more than 4 but i just pulled off some serious literary counting there).  crucial information: the distance from goheyon to jirisan national park is probably only about 150 kms. again, this took us 5 hours. see what i mean?



admittedly, i’d be lying if i said the 10 hour round-trip was sooooo worth it. yes, persimmons cluttered the bus’ route to the park and the koreans’ gortex suits were at their flashiest, but once we finally figured out where the trail started to the temples or peak, we got a big korean x from the park ranger. we would not have enough time to make it back down for the last bus to jinju.

 instead, we spent some time dodging out of the way of the gortexes that were seriously running down the mountain.


and when that got old real fast, we played around on the ‘nature interaction trail.’ a trail that could very well have been designed for the under 6 crowd.  



on top  of the erratic bus schedules, one of my polarizing filters became a casuality to the uneven rocks at the park.

my clumsy dinosaur claws win. again.


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how muju saved autumn.

had i not known any better, the okpo factor (and let’s make the broad generalization of korea as a whole) has two seasons: a mild summer and a somewhat milder winter. even after hearing rumours of a snow day in the factor last december, i remained unconvinced. in my head (and on this “blog”), this country potentially misses out on two of the better seasons the earth has to offer (and meteorologically speaking, i think michael kuss would agree ).

then i went to muju.

prior to this “teachers’ conference,” the last work-related workshop i went to was an hour long seminar in port moody, b.c., on the positive effects of narrative therapy with aboriginal youth in foster homes in rural areas of western b.c. high fives to you, professional development.

speaking of, perhaps “professional development” may mean something slightly different for koreans….especially when you are considering esl teachers as the “professionals.” case in point: the only real professional development involved lecturing the drunk director of our school on why it is wildly inappropriate to a call another foreign teacher a “son-of-a-beachee.” 

but, back to the seasons.

a leisure cable car ride with a hung over tb and a handful of korean men dropped us off at the top of deokyo mountain. and thats when autumn happened.

i instantly became giddy with equinoxes. the colour palate. the air that can only be described as “fresh.” and that feeling of sticking your cold fingers so deep into your pockets that if you just reached a little more, you could probably touch your toes.

and soon enough, the waves of regret and nauseousness from the prior night’s mixing of cass and soju suddenly disappeared (bonus points to you autumn, for also being an incredible hangover cure).

the actual teachers’ conference was really more of a foreigner’s guessing game. we were given a roughly translated itinerary and at times, our korean alliance would toss us some instructions on ridiculous activities like mockery charades or make-your-partner-stand-on-a-piece-of-newspaper-while-he-lifts-you-over-his-shoulders (i picked up 50,000 won for the latter). but for the most part, we followed the large herd of english village employees and tried not to act concerned when someone would gesture towards us while yelling into the microphone.

since we really had no understanding of anything at all, ditching the ridiculous team-building activities was relatively easy. and stumbling upon a sculpture park that was landscaped for guelph (cept for the austrian backdrop) really secured my delirious feelings towards autumn.


you did it again korea, you son-of-a-beachee.

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prior to the okpo factor, i was forewarned that there would be a number of things about this year that could be perceived as difficult. the most common theme from these surprise ruiners?

the bummer of missing those westernized (or more specifically, canadiana) holidays.

having only realized via status updates on the book that thanksgiving weekend was this weekend, it became a personal mission to ensure that i did not feel all sad faced about this long weekend coming…and going without any sort of tryptophan-induced coma. (side note: since i am a vegetable, the whole trypto coma would not really be possible but i mean come on, what kind of thanksgiving discussion would this be without some mention of one of our favourite top 10 essential amino acids?)  

so with that, we were off to busan in hopes of “asia’s best international film festival,” finding a replacement toque (so long lil’ gray!), and maybe even running into another canadiana or two wallowing in a can of pumpkin pie filling.

all hopes (and motivation) were dashed as i found myself yakking up my prepackaged bean bun on the ferry ride (slash vicious roller coaster) over to the b. those 50 minutes were spent white-faced, miserable, and jealous of all the korean passengers who could peacefully hit the snooze button as the boat steered directly into every single one of the tsunami-esque waves.

even though the yaks threw me off for the rest of the day, it also became an excuse to immediately refuel once we stepped onto mainland territory. 

after only coming up for air to retain free department store gifts, tb and myself searched for more fuel at a chain vegan restaurant. the meal was incredibly exciting as i felt the foreign feeling of feeling ‘full’…. a feeling i have not felt since i became a foreigner. (daily ‘f’ quota: successful.)

fearing the onset of gastroenteritis, we opted for the 5 hour bus ride back to the factor….and in the end, we didn’t even find a pumpkin-pied canadian.
traditionally, thanksgivings were spent crammed at the fam’s relatively large cottage. currently, thanksgiving was spent crammed at my relatively miniature apartment.

my coping strategies in both scenarios? sunset hikes and roadside bouquets.



however, there were some adjustments to this year’s actual thanksgiving dinner. unlike in the past, this year  included an american vancouverite and a tofu/bean sprout stew. the real icing (figuratively and literally) were the three courses of desserts scattered about okpo. with an early escape from tb, vancouver-america and i gorged on something that tasted like peanut butter cream on peanut butter….topped with peanuts. (you know what they say, one person’s body bag is another person’s binge eating massacre).

and when all is said and done, this year i am thankful for the feeling that this is exactly where i should be. and this is exactly the kind of thanksgiving that i should have. 

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an open letter.

two years ago i wrote an open letter to the thief that stole my bike basket. it was malicious and mostly plagiarized from that kids in the hall skit with bruce mcculloch. i didn’t feel any better and in the end, i was still bike basket-less and struggling to steer my bike with baguette in hand.

this open letter is of different sorts….but for the record, i am still basket-less.

dear time,

you know what? you’re a real trickster. to everyone, you make it seem like you are a dependable and reliable source of measurement. but i am onto you, time. i know that sometimes you really drag shit out just to piss us off. and then other times, you speed it all up so ‘real time’ becomes ‘reltme.’ jerk.

like for instance, time, you make 5:00pm seem like it is light years away. stephen hawking styles.

and while we are at it, time, i know you think it is fun to make those incredibly delirious hours go by in nanoseconds but i have to admit it, time, it makes my tear ducts wet.

i resist you, time. i really do. on a daily basis, i believe i can change fifteen minutes into a half an hour. i believe that i do not always need to know where you are at to know where i am at. i believe that even though you suspiciously change as i cross hemispheres, i’ll operate on my own clock. you know, that internal one.

so time, even though some people really thrive on your quantifiable agenda, you should know that i don’t really care about you.

for the record, unless i reference “havin a time” please know time, that you don’t count for a thing in my books.

yours never,


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“i’ll never start a blog.”-centre island. summer 2010.

and so was the ending sentence of a rant about the blogosphere and the common self-indulgence or voyeuristic tendencies that could occur (and most likely do) from creating a free account on a free website that the free world can look at….freely.

i suppose i thought (think) blogs were (are) often a non-verbal way to communicate: “hey world, look at all this sweet shit i’m doing while you sit infront of a computer and read all about it… suckas!” but then again, i don’t really do that much sweet stuff (save for those times when i do sweet stuff) and assuming people care about anything other than themselves is a mighty assumption to make.

defensively, i miss writing. i miss writing words that may (or may not) be read. i miss my words being “in circulation.”

writing publicly can also be selfishly beneficial. it is so easy to run your mouth off to another trashbag about all the facts you believe about the world and how the world seems to operate in such a glorious way because of your being. BUT as soon as you have the knowledge that more than one trashbag may (or again, may not) be reading your words you begin to watch yourself….before you wreck yourself.

so in reality, this is my haphazard attempt to remain a human who can change her opinion or adapt to technological advances or remain self-conscious about circulating words.

take that blogosphere! bet you didn’t see it coming….

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