Posts Tagged ‘being a human’

i’ve had this post open and writing for about 3 weeks now. but in an honest-to-blog diary-esque sorta way, i’m all okpo factored out.

(side note: if this post does indeed turn into some sort of raging wordy rant, i’ve taken the necessary precautions and littered my words with pictures of kids, flowers, and baked goods. because these are the things that make everyone feel better. well, except maybe if you’re charlie sheen.)

(additional side note: i actually don’t really even understand my above reference to charlie sheen. i’m just attempting to convince you all that i still understand every single pop culture reference ever happening everywhere in the world. shit man, quit being so hard on me!)

i’ve heard of these bumps happening for any (and probably all) ESL teachers as it comes to the point in their contract where they are exhausted with the daily over-pronunciation of their own words and the consequential simplified downfall of their grasp of the English language (if you pay any attention to detail, notice that i capitalized the “e” in english. if only to stray away from my usual writing style to prove to myself that i still understand english. wait, i mean English. damn.)

i don’t feel like writing about okpo anymore, much less south korea in general. although the novelty of some korean nuances remain, the whole rhetoric of my day-to-day has left me certifiably, in the dumps.

in any event, it doesn’t help that this whole blog attempt has not exactly reached the intended readers.  the most popular search terms that lead people to this site include: “strips clubs in okpo,” “okpo massage parlour,” and “how to get a girl in okpo.” and now those leads are just going to spike exponentially since they are explicitly written in this post. fuck. i’m failing all over the place here.

now by no means is this some sort of indefinite hiatus.

we’re just on a break for now, okay? you can see other people (or read other blogs….whatever really makes this analogy sound wittier).

as for me?

i just really need to figure out why charlie sheen even matters.


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sometimes people ask me (okay maybe like, once) “eh you! what’s the one single thing you miss most about home?”

it takes a lot for me to not quickly banshee out some gleeful response like “NOTHING! THIS PLACE IS DA BOMB DIGGITY. I’M NEVER GOING HOMEEEE!”

instead, i have to try (really hard) not to look like an asshat.

and in doing that, i also have to remind myself that my locational opinion and human being status fluctuates by the minute. (no, for real. forget that “i’m never going home” bullshit. get me on a plane outtaaaa here…. pronto!)



(okay no no. for real this time, i really do like it here. maybe one day i will devise some sort of witty top-ten list on why this place is the bee’s knees. and in doing so, i’ll try not to use phrases like “da bomb diggity.” you’d forgive me, right?)


in all seriousness, the thing that i miss most about home is not really a thing at all. you see, the thing that i miss the most (and am currently missing big-time) are the shows.



i know, i know. single me out for being the lamest girl on the planet.



of course i miss my pals, and the brunches, and the choice of more than two beers on tap. but i know that those things will remain constant. they are still there and will continue to be there. (i mean really, if aunties and uncles ever decided to change up their dill roasted potatoes, they would have to deal with a serious angry mob of starch-driven hipsters).

but those darn shows. the idea of them, the environment of them, the aftermath of them (which inevitably involved more than two kinds of draft beer). all of it. miss. it.



and not only do i miss going to shows, but i feel like i am missing a lot of bands that are touring my favourite haunts and a lot of bands showing up on the same bill together and a lot of things at shows that will probably never happen again ever and a lot of moments that will go underappreciated by the sweaty kids at shows and……no, i have to stop there.


yeah, those things are not exactly constant. and probably as i type this, i am missing some (if not all) of them.



perhaps it was the recent summer festival announcements that got me all nostalgic or austin’s own sxsw (and my lack of attendance) that had me reflecting on those “things” i miss the most. whatever the case may be, i’m restraining myself from reading recent reviews of shows or even searching out the next new pornographers hometown show.



and it’s probably for the best…

i just wouldn’t want to know what i’ve been missing.



(in an attempt to combat this ridiculous influx of self-pity, i recently scoured through pictures of the shows that i was lucky enough to be a part of, just in the last year. these were some of my favourite moments. favourite aftermaths. and favourite underappreciated moments.)


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with the awful nautical disasters happening in japan, all of my mundane musings seem wildly insignificant (and that much more mundane).

normally a st. patrick’s day would leave me giddingly bouncing around and counting down the hours until consumption starts.

but those words can wait for now.

instead, let’s send a little luck across to japan. i think they could use it.


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korean students have a tendency to be incredibly observant…. and wildly judgemental.

a stain on my shirt or a hole in my leggings is pretty much grounds for an entire class worth of distractions. if i slip up and don’t quickly divert their attention to some cleverly inventive game of hangman, the class has the tendency to become more like a vh1 roasting special than an english immersion lesson on the differences between “to take” and “to give.”

on a number of occasions, students will crowd around me like one of those french-canadian quintuplets and gawk at me as they start to create a lengthy list of my imperfections.

“teachaaa. face dot.” 

“teachaaaa. hair. why?”

“teachaaaa. teachaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. funny hands.”

they tell me that my pupils are too small, my nose is too big, or that my hair is the colour of poo. (freud would probably hypothesize that koreans identify with the anal phase of dong-shaped pastries and etiquette bells in all roadside washrooms… because apparently, when you are in rural countryside korea and using a squatting toilet to do your business while you dodge an overflowing trashbin of used toilet paper, the LAST  thing you would want is for someone to hear you doing your business in a squatting toilet in rural countryside korea while you dodge an overflowing trashbin of used toilet paper.)

ANYWAYS, these kids are relentless.

the only thing that i should be an expert in, my english skills, are even the subject of constant mockery.  

“hahaha. teachaaa said ‘clock.’ hahaha teachaaaa. so crazy!”

it’s no wonder i am extremely self-conscious and try to advert all eye contact or any interaction at all during classtime. i even find myself getting slightly anxious as i walk the hallways to class. knowing full well that a grueling judges panel of third graders awaits me on the other side. they don’t know the difference between ‘twelve’ and ‘twenty’ but they are practically experts on why my choice of t-shirt just doesn’t make the cut.

and in the end, i am only perpetuating these tyra banks-like criticisms. because as it goes, there is a direct positive correlation between their judgemental observations and their ever-improving english level.

as their english skills advance… the insults get worse.

last week, some kid in one of those gifted accelerated program, wrote a letter to thank the teachers for doing such a bang-up job of cramming a year’s worth of english vocab into the span of three days. as we all crowded around the letter to anticipate another ego-stroke, it was clear ms. banks (the prepubescent korean version, of course) felt the need to uphold her duties as unyielding critic. 

after complimenting the pretty korean teachers and the entertaining foreigners, she ended the letter by explaining that she was so shocked and “surprise to hear that even the canadian teachers had good accents.”


unlike other posts, i don’t have a witty summarizing line to end this rant.

i feel phonetically deflated.

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if the influx of activity on the book is any indication, new years eve is a kind of a funny human social practice.

next to st. patrick’s day, it is probably the most pressured drinking day of the year. and not only do we often test the limits of our livers, but we also put pressure on ourselves to evaluate our personal yearly accomplishments and size em up in some critical and unstandardized way.



and to make matters even worse, we then attempt to perspective it all by putting tons of importance on the last minutes of any given countdown as a reflective example of our time spent since last year’s countdown. we put on pretty new dresses, order rounds of the harshest shots, quadruple book ourselves with 30 of our closest friends, and make all those other last-ditch efforts just to validate those behaviours and decisions that we have made over the last year.


silly, silly, humans.

those lasting moments of the countdown, the final seconds of the passing year, are even funnier in and of itself. us humans will use those ticking seconds deciding if the way you spend the countdown is indicative of your last year OR predictive of the next 364 days of your life. and before you can even decide which is which, the moment is gone and you are left staring into an empty red plastic party cup and a room full of people who are searching for an unclaimed set of lips.


but sometimes those moments are more significant than new digits on our dated documents. sometimes we unintentionally make certain choices that then become these fate-like predictions of what we are meant to experience. as i write this, with a ridiculous grin on my face, i think of the aftermath of 2010’s countdown. i avoided my inevitable plane ride back to vancouver by head-nodding away in a vinyl booth at a late-night korean bbq haunt on bloor st. maybe this place was chosen because of its convenient across-the-street location from our bar of choice. or maybe, just maybe, this was some sort of ironic fortune-telling experience that would only play itself out in almost exactly the same way exactly one year later (save for the fact that this year’s haunt was a bit more authentic, my bibimap was far tastier, and my intoxicated chopstick skills have improved immensely).

as us humans declare the end of a year, we also overwhelm ourselves with these self-induced “possibilities” and “opportunities” that await us behind door number three (you know, the one labelled “2011”). we have this innate need to be held accountable for these unclaimed possibilities so in doing so, us humans decide to create unrealistic resolutions that we then announce to the world by any means necessary.


even though the motivation to change or even understand our own vices is inspiring enough, the realism of it all is that we most likely forget or probably even fail at achieving these unrealistic tasks before nhl playoffs even start.

but don’t be too hard on yourself ya hear? after all, you’re only human.

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an indescribable china

okay, here i go. i am going to try to write about my time in beijing, china.

ya man, i got nothing.
i could waste even more time (mainly, yours) trying to search my literary backlog for some accurate descriptors of china but inevitably, i would just come up with mumbles and grunts. perhaps a joke or two about china “doing my head in” or the entertainment of haggling with chinese vendors while communicating only through a voice-over calculator. but other than that, i can’t really put china into words (and shift + f7 isn’t much help either. dear microsoft word: please update your thesaurus). 
for starters, how do you even begin to describe the people and the city of beijing without considering the jaw-dropping numbers of the most recent statistical census? this city packs in over 22 million people and has a population density 130 times that of canada (yes, beijing is a city and canada is…not). i’m thinking “cramped” just doesn’t seem to quite fit the bill for a beijinger’s style of living.  

 or even more so, how do you try to describe a city so plagued with pollution that the sky always looks like verging sunset, even at high noon? after all, this is a city which clutches onto the rank of the 13th most polluted city in the world. better yet, within the top ten spots of said list, china appears 4 times. 

with shoulder-to-shoulder living considered the norm; the city of beijing faces the very real potential of running out of water reaallll fast. but don’t fret friends, beijing’s got it covered. when the city worries about running out of aitch-two-oh, beijing will shoot off some cloud-seeding chemicals into the air to induce rain-fall. so not only is beijing tending to those parched sardine-packed citizens, they are also contributing to their ever-increasing pollution index. oh beijing, you are a true multi-tasker.  

at the same time, how do you describe the whole i-just-climbed-the-great-wall-and-i-do-not-see-a-soul-for-miles feeling? the spaciousness that is such a drastic change from the whole downtown beijing that’s-my-foot-you’re-stepping-on kind of feeling.

to try to describe beijing (or even china as a whole) seems like such an impossible task. because on one hand you want to knock it and be like “yo jingers, get yo shit together.” but then on the other hand you realize that this city is so unreal/ surreal that it kind of takes you over….and steals all your witty travel descriptors in the process.

i mean come on, how do you really describe the taste of a deep-fried arachnid?

and i bet chuck klosterman would not even be able to think of a witty yet intelligent passage to describe the contrast between china’s communist/surveillance-heavy regime with such peaceful buddhist and taoist practices taking place at the 100s of temples all over the city. (the irony alone of mandatory bag checks on your way to heavenly temples is enough to stop any pop-culture travelist dead in their tracks).

so with full intent of trying to write about beijing, i get a big ol’ fail.

china: you’re indescribable (and no thanks to you, shift + f7).

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