Life of Anonymous Celebrity, Part III

(In case you missed it the first time, LAC 1, and LAC 2.)

I'd like to present a definition of celebrity, courtesy of that bastion of knowledge, Wikipedia: A celebrity is a widely-recognized or famous person who commands a high degree of public and media attention.
I'd like to present a definition of Anonymous Celebrity, courtesy of moi: An anonymous celebrity is a widely-recognized, yet nameless person who commands a high degree of public staring and is sometimes approached on the street by strangers and instead of being asked for an autograph, is kindly asked to "please very much dialogue with my daughter." This person is only known by sight and is never understood intimately by the public, due to the lack of in-depth interviews with journalists and the as-of-yet nonexistent English teacher paparazzi (unless you count the countless pictures on the Haba Playschool picture gallery that only parents are privy to).

As I have stated before, people know me. It's easy to recognize me because I'm a breathtaking specimen of ChubbO, not often sighted around these parts of the world. So, if I hop into the Family Mart almost every day for a chocolate milk and a breakfast pastry, the guy behind the counter is going to notice. The young guy who works there speaks enough English to tell me my total is one thousand four hundred and fifty won instead of 천 사 백 오 십 원. Now, I'm sure there are also a few Koreans who work the Fam. into their morning routine, and I'm also sure that Mart Man remembers some of them. But because I'm so obviously white and English-speaking, and there's only one of me (not counting my blonde British colleague, Meghan, whom Mart Man is also on familiar terms with) he knows who I am. Despite my insistence on speaking Korean to him, he always speaks in English to me.

Now, yesterday, I wore my hair down to school for the first time. Because I usually don't drag my chubb out of bed on time, I shower quickly and throw the brunette locks into a wet ponytail or doody ball, as my sister so endearingly calls the messy bun I sometimes sport. But yesterday I had open classes, the ones where all the moms come and watch their kids, making sure they're
worshipping learning English quickly and with as much fervor as possible. So, I decided to spice things up a bit by forgoing the wet ponytail. 
Today, I did not have open class, so I was back to the regular "didn't have time to shower so threw on this headband and a clean t-shirt to fool you" look. I walk into the Family Mart, slap my milk and pastry onto the counter. Our dialogue is exactly the same as every other day. Up until I'm stuffing my pastry and milk into my purse after my wallet so I can hold my umbrella as I walk the rest of the way to school. He says something I don't catch while holding his hands up to the side of his head and then sort of spreading his fingers and waving them downwards, like he's trying to mimic a peacock's feathers. I don't have time to say anything in response because my facial expression has shouted to him that I don't understand. He repeats himself, "Out hair much better." I say, "Um?" thinking he's talking about outside air being much fresher or something because the door to the shop is propped open today. I begin to think it's about time to do the whole smile, annyanghaseyo, walk away routine when he does his sign language again, and repeats "Out. Hair. Much. Much. Better." (See? Sometimes it does help when you talk to foreigners slower and louder.) I laugh and say thanks as I turn to grab my umbrella and head out into the rain. 

Mart Man likes my hair down. It's "Much. Much. Better" that way, apparently. Although it made me feel good that he thought I looked nice yesterday, the double "much" stung a little. But then I got in the elevator with the mirror  and realized he was right. The clean t-shirt isn't fooling anyone. 


What the Crap Wednesday

So, I'm not one for discipline, as you can tell from the random posting here, despite all my sincere intentions to post 8 days a week. And I'm not promising a new weekly "themed" post. Unless I feel like it. End preamble. Which was one of the answers on Jeopardy today in the category Crossword "P".

I also knew the questions/answers, "What is Carbon-14?" and "Who is Matthew Perry?" Why I knew that Carbon-14 was used to date fossils surprised me, for I am stringently opposed to all things math and chemistry related. Anyway... what the crap?

I started my day rolling out of bed at 8:20, the time I'm usually getting dressed and about to head out the door. I'm seriously sleep-deprived, and for some reason I just couldn't muster any sense of actually caring about my job in order to propel me to my feet at a decent time. I'm not sleeping. What the crap?

One of my 6 year old kids came up to me today while I was sitting on the floor, looked down my shirt, double fisted my breasts, and then turned around to his classmates rubbing his own chest vigorously and shouting something in Korean. What the crap?

Jun, one of my 6 year olds passed me in the hallway, tilted his head to the side, gave me a very cool look and said, "What's out, Danielle Teacher?" It took me a minute to realize that he was trying to say, "What's up?" I've been trying to teach my kids the whole "What's up/ Nothin' much" dialogue. Not so much for educational purposes as for my own personal entertainment. I also taught them the "Back it up/ back it up/ You got it/ You got it" bridge from the Gwen Stefani song Crash off her Love, Angel, Music, Baby album, using it whenever I want them to scoot back or move in that direction. Just for kicks. "What out, Danielle Teacher?" Awwwwwwww.... I mean...What the crap?

While we're on the topic of the short people, there is a boy in the 4 year old class who is now calling me Thank You Teacher. Usually at the end of every class, the Korean teachers make all the kids say, "Thank you Teacher!" And I'm not ever this kid's teacher because I keep my distance from the wee ones, but I do co-teach a special after-school class that he's in. So, instead of calling me Danielle Teacher, he calls me Thank You Teacher. "Thank You Teacher, look!" No matter how many times I tell him my name is Danielle, not Thank You, he insists on calling me that. What the crap? (Even though it's kind of cute. I'm becoming more and more immune to the cute. Call me insensitive if you want to. I call myself a teacher of small monsters. It happens.)

In other educational news, half the air-conditioners aren't working again. Specifically the one in the teacher's office, where I spend most of my day. Despite the fact that it's hot outside and I've already soaked the armpits of my shirt with pancake syrup (see previous post in order to insert inside joke type of snort here) by the time I've reached school, there is no hope for them to dry or for me to cool off when I am forced to spend half my time in The Oven. (Meghan, I'm making a sign tomorrow if it's not fixed and putting it on the door. It will read, Welcome to The Oven. Burn, Baby, Burn.) Also, this whole sweating all day thing totally makes my wearing-that-shirt-about-three-more-times-this-week-before-I-wash-it practice obsolete. Thus, costing me more time and money doing laundry. And I smell like deodorant all day. What the crap, Seoul Summer? What the crap?

Not a Wednesday incident, but still WTCW worthy. I was sitting next to Cuddle Ajumma the other day. Her friend was obviously lacking in her seat-stealing skills because she was standing in front of Cuddle Ajumma. It was almost my stop, so I thought I'd get up a little early and keep someone else from being attacked by this Less-Than-Expert Ajumma. I began to stand up, and before I had stood up all the way, Cuddle Ajumma scoots over INTO my seat, UP UNDERNEATH ME. I was basically sitting in her lap. Everybody say it with me now.... WHAT. THE. CRAP.

Anyone else out there having a What the Crap Wednesday?


I Reserve the Right to Rage

So, there's a lot of intellectual debate floating around the Internets over this way. Most of it is about complaining expats and why they complain and what they complain about and... well a lot of stuff. For the last link, scroll down to the comments to get to the meat.) It's kind of taking over the Korean blogs. And when I was reading all that stuff, I was like, Yeah, you know, I complain too much. Maybe everyone is tired of my rage. Heck, I'm tired of my rage. Dang, I wish I could retire the rage.
And so I stepped back. I reflected (as I'm known to do from time to time) and I felt that perhaps it was time to move on. But then, my Thursday morning commute happened. And I snapped back into the reality that is Rage in the A.M. and I was reminded of all the reasons I complain. Korea just lined them up in a neat little row and every single one kicked me in the butt as I passed by.
Then, I also remembered that as author and perfector of this blog, I'm entitled to write whatever I want.
Whatever I want:

So, for a while I'd been avoiding metro purgatory like an ajumma avoiding the sun, with her oversized visor and frilly parasol. But Thursday I needed to be on that train, on the same train that everyone else needed to be on. Normally, if I find I'm going to be in the pancake situation (where everyone piles on top of each other like a stack of lovely IHOP Pancakes and their sweat flows and mingles into a syrup that doesn't smell like maple or blueberries), I take a deep breath and step back from the train, allowing others to go before me, and I wait for the next train. But because I am now required to sign in everyday for work, I have to be on time and therefore, I had to be on THIS train.

We shuffled onto the train, with everyone turning and shifting, trying to fit their piece of the body puzzle into this small space more comfortably. At first I was all positive and thinking something along the lines of "Hey, this isn't so bad." Then I felt a punch in my right armpit. I turned to look at who it was that thought my armpit would be a good place to put their hand in this humidity and found myself pancaked next to a reasonable looking woman. I mean, she didn't look deranged or annoyed or particularly brain damaged. However, her behavior belied some kind of underlying issue. She was determined that she was going to read her stupid morning Metro paper, even if she had to punch me in the armpit to see which celebrity is now a plastic surgery suspect. I just stared at her, trying to psychically break the language barrier and communicate the aggravation and discomfort she was causing. But she would not be persuaded. Maybe my telepathic powers are muted underground, similar to the bad reception my cell phone receives in the elevator of my building. Anyway, she refused to make eye contact and continued to apply pressure to my right armpit and the chub that hangs out in that neighborhood.

I took a few deep breaths. They didn't help. But they did kind of expand my chest so that her hand was shoved a few centimeters deeper into my armpit and there was pancake syrup in there folks. So I felt somehow vindicated by leaving my distinctly American "mark" on this small, rude, inconsiderate newspaperreader.
And because my telepathic powers just weren't up to snuff this particular morning, the lady standing behind me, who had reached across and over a person in order to hang onto a handle she could barely reach, decided that she would press her butt into the back of my thighs. Why? Why, why, why, why, why? Why do you need to mush your butt against me WHEN YOU ARE HANGING ONTO A HANDLE? Oh, maybe she just misunderstood my telepathic pleas. She misinterpreted my silent siren of "GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME" as "Please, anything you can do to make me sweat more, make me more uncomfortable, or hotter, please do it. And do it like it's your birthday."

And mornings like these are why I reserve my right to complain. And because I make you feel better about your life, right? So, it's kind of a win/win situation. I get to vent about my struggle to acclimate to this full-body-contact culture, while you get to sit in your office that you most likely drove to and feel so blessed and thankful for your own commuting bliss.

I got off the train without inflicting any bodily harm on anyone. I wonder how many more days I can get my Rage to keep using its inside voice.


It's My First Time...

Wow. I am sitting here in total bliss, surrounded by a cloud of unbelievable.

I GOT AN AWARD. And even more importantly, I got an award from Quirky is a Compliment, a lovely blogger whose hair I used to admire back when I was in high school with her sister. This is my first award and I'm so thrilled to have it from her! What an honor! So, thank you Quirky! Here it is, displayed in all its glory and splendor:

And now, onto the bureaucracy of receiving awards:
Put the logo on your blog.
Add a link to the person who awarded you.
Nominate at least seven other blogs.
Add links to those blogs on your blog.
Leave a message for your nominee on their blogs.

So, 7 Blogs that are completely Brilliant with an E.
Was It For This: Written by a kind and lovely gal who is also tough enough to participate in triathlons and sleep outside, like on the ground and stuff. I exercise vicariously through this blog.
The Typing Makes Me Sound Busy: A hilarious writer with a life no one could invent and a Boxerbeast that destroys apparently everything but his owner. She also majors in desultory adjectives using the prefix douche-. It's impressive, actually.
Simply Me: The musings of an inspired, crafty young woman with an etsy store and a beautiful, introspective, adventurous life next door to gorgeous beaches.
Gone Dutch: The travels and trials of an expat living in the Netherlands. Hey, she likes Jim Gaffigan, so she MUST be cool.
Ask a Korean: My newest addiction. A highly intelligent, thought-provoking, yet question-answering blog written by THE Korean living in the States. He can answer all your Korea-related queries, such as, "What is an ajumma?" Just ask.
Roboseyo: I like this kid. Another expat living it up in Korea. In a hilarious, culturally-aware, semi-sarcastic state.
Hobocamp: I don't know this gal, but she can 1) tell a story and 2) make me laugh so hard a little bit of pee comes out. Seriously.

So, those are my awards. Not that I am in any position to be giving out awards, much less receiving them.
Thanks, anyway!


The Stealth Ajumma

This weekend, Keun Ha and I headed out to Insadong ( 인사동) to reinstate the Saturday tradition of Isul Cha (Dew/Hydrangea Tea). As usual, the train was pretty crowded on a Saturday. I wasn't trapped in Subway Purgatory, but I wasn't going to get a seat, either. And I'll tell you why: The Ajummas. Now, I noticed on Saturday that although the Ajumma seems to be set in her ways, she can adapt to almost any situation at hand. Because she knows there are some instances when handbag attacks just will not suffice. She understands that in some cases, subtlety will serve her well. So, on the Saturday afternoon train, I discovered a whole new element of the typical ajumma stereotyped character: Stealth Ajumma.

Yeah, that's right. Stealth Ajumma. She moves with a quickness and she's so fast, you often don't even notice that the seat in front of you has been vacated and refilled in an instant. They slip slyly in and out of the great lines of commuters hanging onto handles like monkeys hanging onto tree limbs. They weave between friends, colleagues, and lovers, their eyes open and entirely aware. They can sense when a person is going to leave a seat before they start to shift their bodyweight and gather their belongings. Stealth Ajumma is not joking. She will have a seat. And that is usually why I don't have one. Oh, I saw the guy I was standing in front of get up, but then I blinked before trying to sit down and when I looked again, Stealth Ajumma had already set up shop. Sometimes they swoop in from the back, slipping into the seat as you turn around, preparing your backside for the awesome contact with the cool metal chair, so that you almost sit on them. Luckily, their handbags usually alert you before you place all your Chubb-O weight on a petite Korean Ajumma, thereby preventing what would surely be unintentional homicide-by-squishing. Even the coarse, wizened ajumma has a softer side.

I've often wondered why I see so few reactions to the Ajumma takeover. The young girls who were planning on sitting in that seat never give a nasty look or say a hateful word. The women who have been standing in line and get the handbag smack don't often roll their eyes. It seems the men are oblivious to the Ajumma. Of course, every time I'm standing in a line [ex: yesterday at the ticket counter in the subway station. I'm like 10th in line. But I'm not moving because as each person is helped, another ajumma bypasses the line and steps straight up to the counter], I find myself fighting the urge to punch all these "cutters" in the throat to show them who's boss. But really, I think there is so much acceptance because all these young girls and women know it will someday be their turn. If they wait long enough, survive long enough, and take enough crap from their elders, it will one day be their turn to dish it out. And they will bypass the lines and they will throw their handbags into seats younger people are attempting to occupy. It's kind of a cycle of life thing. Or heck, just a wait your turn, your time will come thing.

And that's why it's so hard for me to swallow. It's so hard for me to adjust. IT WILL NEVER BE MY TURN. At least not in Korea. I will never look Korean and I will never be able to get away with that behavior. And even if I were allowed to get away with it, I don't know that I could justify it to myself. Ajummas are Ajummas out of necessity. I was discussing this with Keun Ha last night and he said something that resonated with me: "We make fun of ajummas and we think they are a bit ridiculous sometimes, but we never go too far because they are our mothers." So, not only does every young Korean know that someday it will be their turn, but they probably have an ajumma at home that has sacrificed her life for them and her family. They have given so much, cared for others so well, that perhaps when they are on the train or in a store, they just need to take care of themselves.

But, DANG. Watch out for those Stealth Ajummas. They are samurai swift, man. Samurai swift. (Is that a mixed metaphor? Using a Japanese warrior to describe a Korean old lady? Hmmm... I'll let you sort it out.)

Sometimes I Forget, A List

Sometimes I forget that Korea is still considered a developing country.
Sometimes I forget that techno-gadgets do not change the psychology of a country, but only the way that psychology can be transmitted.
Sometimes I forget that the people who are in charge of this country did not grow up in middle-class America.
Sometimes I forget that ajummas are ajummas because it was necessary for them to be rough and coarse in order to get their children to adulthood, in order to put food in their bellies.
Sometimes I forget that only a few decades ago, poverty was the norm and that this affluence and wealth is new and fresh. Sometimes I forget that this government is still learning how to be democratic.
Sometimes I forget that being part of a group and a community isn’t necessarily following the herd, but it’s a conscious decision to belong to something bigger than oneself.
Sometimes I forget that although Korea is modernized on the outsides, her insides still run on an agricultural clock.
Sometimes I forget that there are more important things than being on time or making me feel comfortable.
Sometimes I forget that Koreans don’t say, “my house,” “my wife,” or “my office.”
Sometimes I forget that Koreans always say, “our house,” “our wife,” and “our office.”
Sometimes I forget that I’m not here to change Korea, but instead, I’m here to observe and maybe let Korea change a little bit of me.


Korean Hospitals, Part II: Rules that Should Be Rules

In contrast to the rules listed in the last post, which are in effect, my stay in the hospital resulted in a new list of guidelines that I firmly believe should be instituted, particularly on Hall 8B, as soon as humanly possible. We’ll call these the DB rules, well, because they’re brilliant and I don’t mind lending my initials to brilliance. (This also helps anyone just joining us from confusing the actual rules with the rules that should be actual rules but aren’t.)

DB Rule #1: You must sleep in your bed the right way round. This means your head should line up with the heads of the people beside you and your feet should all face toward the center of the room. The Stinker next to me slept the wrong way around all day every day and often positioned herself on her left side, with her back facing me. This strategically aimed her butt in the direction of my face. This woman was Champion when it came to meeting the Passing Gas Standards. And so, every so often, my air supply would become polluted with The Stinker’s generous wind. I had no recourse. Why? Why aim your guns at me? What did I ever do to you? And she wasn’t even that sick. She could walk, and burp, and fart, and eat really loudly, and even got her drip removed the second day I was there! What? You’re not on a drip? Surely you’re well enough to go home. So, stop pointing that thing at me, turn around the right way, and be more environmentally conscious to your fellow patients.

DB Rule #2: Put All Almost-Deaf People in Their Own Room. Outside of the orchestra of snoring and farting that played all night, there was the Screaming Ajumma. She was General Disturber of the Peace. She was one of the caretakers common to Korea that are hired by the family to live in the hospital with their loved one while they are sick. These women are strong and coarse, and should be so in order to do their job. They sleep on cots next to the hospital beds, change diapers, hoist ancient, limp bodies into wheelchairs, and force a lot of food into ailing senior citizens. But the yelling? Oh, God. I have uber-sensitive hearing that makes sleep hard for me on a regular basis. My fridge makes noise, something shifted in the trash, a door 20 rooms down opened and closed. That kind of thing. This woman was like 10 feet from me and if I had been blind, would have sworn she spoke through a bullhorn. And the Screaming had no time limits. 2 a.m. and you just drifted off? Too bad. Screaming Ajumma needs to fluff a pillow or make Deaf Old Lady swallow a pill or turn over. Put ‘em all in the same room and let ‘em scream themselves hoarse. Sleep is essential to recovery and healing. Sleep is impossible with Screaming Ajumma. You do the math. And write your Congressman.

DB Rule #3: Sort patients according to the severity of their condition. Put happy, healing patients altogether. Put grumpy, pain-ridden patients together. The way it is now, the Happy are way too Happy because they compare their slight issue to those of the really ill and think how great it is to be them and this makes them even happier and more annoying. And those of us seriously experiencing pain are not allowed to wallow and writhe in peace, but must feel doubly sorry for ourselves because across the room is a woman who could, for all practical purposes, go shoe shopping and eat donuts. The jealousy factor prolongs pain, in my expert medical opinion, and also induces Rage, which increases pain and decreases already negative pain thresholds. True misery. Put the Happies on a ward so they can laugh and tell jokes together. Put the Weenies Who Can’t Handle It together so they can stop burning with jealousy and focus on getting well.

DB Rule #4: NO PLASTIC BAGS. AT ALL. EVER. Every person who came to visit, every Screaming Ajumma, and even Kenny’s mom carried everything in a freaking plastic bag. The sound of rustling plastic bags is already annoying on a normal not-a-patient-in-a-hospital day. But being confined to a bed, already feeling like you’re going to puke, and listening to the crackle and crinkling of plastic for 5 MINUTES STRAIGHT (oh, it feels much longer than that) is unbearable and makes me crazy. And why is it that you can’t ever just stick your hand in and pull out what you want? You must rearrange everything inside the bag, take it all out, do elaborate origami figures with the bag, try to iron the wrinkles out of the bag, rub the bag between your hands as if you were going to start a fire with it, put all your items back in the bag, shake the bag, tie the bag, forget you need something else and repeat the entire process. Plastic bags in every day life are not so noticeable. Plastic bags at 4:30 a.m., although muffled somewhat by the “orchestra,” are like bombs detonating in your pocket. Please, on behalf of all hospital patients around the world, leave the plastic bag at home. Or, put all the plastic bag carriers in a different room. I’ll take the Green Room, which shuns all plastic bags and only uses handmade hemp carriers to transport our goods.

Can you tell that I’m all about sorting things according to like properties? I believe that in some cases, this is called prejudice. But in this instance, I firmly believe that it is common sense and for the good of the masses that must reside in Korean hospitals for any amount of time.


Korean Hospitals, Part I: The Cycle

I went to the doctor on a Wednesday during my lunch because I wanted to go home and sleep and I had to have a doctor’s note to prove that my stomach really did hurt before the boss would let me leave. So, I wandered into the office, thinking maybe I could get some kind of pills to help me sleep (I’d been having severe insomnia) and maybe some Tums. But when the doctor started pushing The Belly, she drew her eyebrows together and made this noise that only Koreans make which is sort of a questioning little spurt of air over the tiniest quadrant of vocal chord. Then she kept asking me if I was sure it hurt when she pushed there. “Um, YEEEES. THERE. YEP. You got it. Okay. THAT’s it.” And I wondered why, with all my positive affirmation, she needed to go on pushing that spot as if it was the Staples Easy Button and she had run out of Post-Its and copy paper on the same day.
She called another doctor. They conferred in Korean. Second doctor proceeded to push The Belly and confirm that it was indeed painful, “Here?” I just groaned. I thought, “Dang, I’ve got a really bad case of gastritis. Maybe they’ll give me something for that.” And the doctor said, “It seems that you have acute appendicitis.” And, that, ladies and gentlemen is how this whole shenanigan began.
I proceeded to go back to school and wait for the boyfriend to come pick me up from work and take me to the hospital for tests and x-rays to make sure. That only took 5 hours. Then, I changed hospitals, going to the ER of one closer to his house so he and his mom could look after me.

Korean Hospital Rule #1: You must be hooked up to a drip. It doesn’t matter what you came in for. They hook you right up. They made me pee in the cup and then took a few x-rays, which allowed me to catch a quick glimpse of the amazing amount of fat I’ve managed to stack upon my rather petite bone structure. (A bit depressing for the Chubb-O.) Then they promptly hooked me up to not one, but two different drips. I was a mess of chords before they even cut me open! The coffee shop in the lobby looks like a medical forest with plastic baggy leaves hanging limply from short metal limbs. Outside the entrance, patients populate the sidewalks and breezeways, dragging their gangly baggage, a mess of blue hospital -issue fashion-wear and long, snaking tubes curving around legs, arms, and torsos.

I had surgery Wednesday night. I think I came out of the recovery room and into a regular room around 1 a.m. Thursday morning. I was tired, but I was on my back, so sleep didn’t come quickly or comfortably. I dozed a bit, bothered by the snores of the other patients in my shared room. If I didn’t move, I was okay. I waited for morning, because when morning comes, THEY FEED YOU! Woohoo. I hadn’t had anything since Wednesday morning, and it wasn’t even food, just a small coffee from the Family Mart. So, needless to say, this Chubb-O was in a serious state of Hungry. Not to mention thirsty because I hadn’t had anything to drink since that coffee either. Kenny arrived to replace his mom as my caretaker around 9 or so. (All night, I just asked his mom what time it was.) And that is when The Cycle started:

The Cycle: You Must Pass Gas ASAP. This is the only thing of any concern to your doctors. This is the only question they will ask you in English. The rest of the stuff, they blab to your boyfriend’s mother or your boyfriend in Korean. In order to Pass Gass, you must “try ambulation,” i.e. walking. In order to walk, you must get up from your hospital bed and move around without puking your guts up. In order to not puke your guts up, you should have a bit of food on your stomach before they pump your body full of antibiotics. In order to have a bit of food on your stomach, you have to eat something. But, going all Catch-22, you can’t have anything to eat until you Pass Gas.

I have never tried to fart so hard in my life. I have also never been nauseous for hours on end before. Kenny tried to get me to stand up. I did everything super slow, maybe taking 2 or more minutes at each stage before making it to my feet. 6 times we repeated this process of me finally standing up and then promptly lying back down before I doused everything in whatever it was my stomach could find to reject. I only actually threw up once, and I definitely thought I would then pass out from the pain in The Belly. Poor Belly. (Poorer Bellybutton. They did a laproscopic procedure to remove my appendix instead of just cutting me open on the side. They went through my Precious Bellybutton and in two other tiny spots under the waistband of my low-rise undies.) After trying this a few more times, without throwing up, I finally stood up and walked to the bathroom and quickly sat on the toilet. I peed. I waited. I waited some more. Nope. No gas. I returned to my bed defeated by my digestive system’s refusal to cooperate.

A few hours later, I felt something. I felt something moving in there. I felt that perhaps it was slowly shifting towards daylight, towards the outside world. So I focused, people. I willed whatever it was to GO! GO! GO! And the world’s smallest puff of air escaped. I have never rejoiced over a fart before, except maybe for the ones expertly detonated in the vicinity of my sister’s face, and or the dinner table. Kenny ran to tell the nurse. He came back with a look on his face that wasn’t good. He said, “It didn’t count.”
“WHAT! I worked so hard for that fart! Who is she to say it didn’t count? She wasn’t even here!” Oh the Rage! But it had to be more than one. Apparently gas is more plural than I thought. And it should be lengthy. A true escape. Ugh.

Korean Hospital Rule #2: Your Farts Have to Measure Up to Proper Fart Standards. It can’t be just any gas that decides to pass your way.

I eventually did “Pass” the test. But I didn’t break The Cycle until they took me off the antibiotics. I would be okay for a few hours and then I would just feel awful for a few more hours. Friday night I started to feel good. I sat up and walked around more and watched some TV. My Kiwi came to see me and I am convinced that talking and visiting with her is what propelled me toward recovery. I was discharged on Saturday morning.

The End? Of course not. This is only Part I!


The Dream

I had a dream two nights ago about a donut. I'm not kidding. I wish I was. It was a beautiful bavarian cream filled donut with chocolate icing (the thick gooey kind that always gives me away, clinging to the corners of my mouth and my chin and upper lip like a big bright neon sign that screams "I JUST ATE SOME CHOCOLATE!") with sprinkles. Yeah, I don't usually get the ones with the sprinkles, but I'm apparently extravagant when it comes to dreaming. And do you know what? I had taken such good care of my precious donut, but had to step away for a moment and when I returned someone had taken my donut. RAGE ENSUED! I remember specifically in my dream this guy (Sexy David from Downstairs, Exeter era) telling me that he was going to leave and go somewhere else if I didn't stop yelling. For goodness sake it was just a donut. And this other guy (flashback from college, Tyson Hays anyone?) had the audacity to offer me lesser, other donuts to try to appease my anger and hurt. I was insulted at his insistence that a donut was a donut, because ladies and gents, this was no ordinary donut I had been saving for the perfect moment. It was the perfect donut. And someone took it. I was bereft.

Then I woke up. How much more Chubbo can you get, I ask you? Even in my sleep, I'm thinking about donuts. Ridiculous.

P.S. I have not forgotten that I promised to tell you about my hospital stay. It is in the works. Also forthcoming: a post on the traditional Korean wedding Keun Ha and I recently attended. And more Contemplation. (Yeah, sometimes I forget I actually quietly contemplate. I'm so often filled with the burning fires of rage. But I do think. And so, Contemplation #2 is on its way.)

P.P.S. I love comments. I love comments more than I love donuts, if you can believe it. If I have a dream about the euphoric state that comments put me in, will you leave more comments?? Oh, I know you're out there. I have a few tracking devices on you- I'm all FBI-violate-your-privacy-in-the-name-of-comment-seeking. You can't hide; but you can comment!


God Bless the USA. With Some Common Sense. Or a Good Spanking at least.

I am not really celebrating the 4th of July this year, unless you count my foray down to the good old Starbucks for a coffee somehow patriotic. I don't have any close American friends here in Korea and it's kind of hard to get other people excited about our bully nation that continues to shun diplomacy and flex its aggressive muscles of money and power rather than those of compassion and fairplay. Although I am not in full support of our government's decisions and the fact that they refuse to give up their UN veto, I still love my country. There are so many things to appreciate, and being away from home makes those things seem even more precious. I do not think America's government is in the right. But I do know that the American people have the power to change that and I hope change comes quickly. And that's one thing I am grateful for: our ability to change things we don't like. I have been boiling with rage, most of it aimed at our foreign policies after reading up on a few things, like our history in the Middle East and our consistent approval of all things Israel. But today, despite the title of my blog, this post is not about rage. It is about being thankful and looking back at where I came from and how America has shaped me as an individual and a world citizen. And so, I now give you a list. Because everyone loves lists. Lists are like the second best thing to donuts. And a list with donuts on it is tops.

Reasons Why I Love America
1. Krispy Kreme! Thank you corporate America for expanding your borders and setting up shop in countries like Korea so that I can be tempted to devour hundreds of your pleasure-inducing confectionary treats.
2. Noise Violation Policies. In America, you can call the cops and they'll shut down the party or remove the guy with the bullhorn standing on your corner at 3 am. In Korea, there is no such thing. And because the buildings are so high, everything echoes and becomes three times as loud. And when Koreans fight, they fight. Like with screaming and crying and throwing and breaking things. And the election people can blare their propaganda up and down your street at 6 am or midnight from the bullhorn on their stupid truck. And it's not against the law. Dang. Seriously, Korea needs to set up some Disturbance of the Peace Laws.
3. Personal space and the mothers who teach their kids that staring is WRONG. Oh Koreans! Watch some TV. See the white people and GET OVER IT. We're not big news anymore. You don't have to watch my every move. And you can close your mouth, at least. And back up off my toes.
4. Sweet Tea. Oh God Bless the South!
5. I can go to any country and basically have entry for 3 months with only a passport.
6. Chik-fil-A. As far as I know, the franchise hasn't branched out overseas as of yet.
7. My Wifey. I met my Wifey, Kerri, my freshman year in college and I am still convinced she is the other half of me. She's the nicer half! No one on this planet could replace her.
8. Free Condiments!!! Except for Zaxby's. And they need to stop charging for the extra sauce. I mean, it's Zax sauce. It's what they're famous for. Don't you think you should be able to get it in abundance?
9. Voluntary Enlistment in our Armed Forces. Here in Korea, every male must give two years of his life to the military. Unless he claims he's a Jehovah's Witness because then violence goes against his religion. I was accosted by a Korean Jehovah's Witness in the mall once. She was ruthless, man. I told her that I already knew Jesus Christ and had read the Bible, so she didn't need to convince me of anything. Good grief. It took me 10 minutes to get away from her!
10. Reasonable Working Hours. Thank You Lord for the Unions. In Korea, as I've mentioned before, work is your life. It comes first. No matter what. You got sick and needed your appendix out? Well, that's fine, but when can you be back at work because it shouldn't take you that long to recover. You have a family gathering to attend? Too bad. I need to discuss some important matters with you at 10pm that can't wait until tomorrow. What? We told you working hours were until 6:30pm? Make that more like 9:30 or 10:00. This country's obsession with dedication and service in the workplace is understandable, but no longer quite as necessary. Although the country's circumstances have changed, the businessman's routine has not adjusted with the economic and social changes. (Can you tell my boyfriend works late? And it enrages me?)
11. Fat. Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat. I know that America's obesity problem is not one to be proud of and it's something that needs to change. But I like feeling as if I have permission to be over a size 2. I like being able to walk into stores and not have to ask if they have "big-guh siz-uh." I like walking around outlet malls without the clerks asking me if I'm pregnant (true story. Last Wednesday). I cannot believe the superficial culture that reigns supreme here. I can know in my head that I am not a whale. I can tell myself all day long that I am not a whale. But when everyone and everything makes me feel like a whale, none of that can counteract it.

And that's it for my patriotism. I've never been real gung-ho for the whole God Bless the USA. Because I've never understood why He should bless us more than He should bless any other country. But right now, I understand that America need's God's blessing. A blessing of openness and fairness, a blessing of truth, a blessing of caring about people more than caring about power and money. So God, bless away.


I'm Famous. Kinda.

So, my good friend Melanie over at Life is a Marathon asked me to do a guest blog for her while she was on vacation in Florida. And I was all, "Oh my God! I'm so excited! Let me write that right now and do 5 drafts and rewrite it and send it to her EARLY and still have time to revise before she leaves." So I did that. But it was a long time ago. Because, well, I had appendicitis. So, the day after the due date for my guest blog, I went into the hospital and a week later I'm returning to the Internets for real. So, I kind of missed my guest blog, and you did too!
But have no fear, dear readers! Just click here and it'll be like waking up from a bad dream. You'll read my lovely guest post, leave lots of comments on Melanie's blog saying how it's the best guest post you've ever read, and then you'll come back here and tell me how much you love me, how much you hated that I was away for so long, and how you hope I'm still the same person I was before, when I had an appendix. See? Everyone will be happy. Now, go click. For real.

You still haven't clicked?

I'll be back in a few days to give you a multiple-post update about having surgery in foreign countries and Korean hospital rooms. Also, there shall be a large section dedicated to the Noise Pollution Phenomenon in Korea. Oh yes, it shall be full of wrath and rage! All the things you've come to know and love and expect from Rage in the A.M.
So, although I have been gone for a while, I have a good excuse this time! AND, I'm totally having another comeback. Like the New Kids.
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