8.29.2009

Open House

Well, I'm officially a Wonju Wife! We are so pleased with our new apartment. We still have a few finishing touches to tend to, and after I took this video Kenny put up some cute shelves in the living room over the couch. Our home is coming together slowly, but it's simple and we love it! I wish I could invite you all over for some sweet tea!
Enjoy the tour!!


video

And the Winner Is.....



Claire, the Pajeon Princess! She's the only who guessed that we may have bought a rice cooker.
And it's a Cuckoo rice cooker, at that! Home Shopping is seriously addictive. You know what makes you buy things? That little timer that counts down the time you have to order. That's what does the trick. If they just told you, "Hey, you got 3 minutes left to order this," it wouldn't be so darn effective. But you can see your time slipping away! And of course, we needed a rice cooker. Who can live in Korea without a rice cooker? I had one last year. It was very small, very cheap, and very crappy. But now! Now we can cook rice once every two or three days and it stays fresh and delicious and it cooks well. This particular model also came with a "Brilliant Cover" that comes out of the lid so you can clean that part that gets so messy.

And as if the countdown timer weren't enough to convince you that you needed this rice cooker, they threw in some extra diamond coating cookware. So then, when we had three minutes left AND we were offered the awesome seriously non-stick frying pan and wok, we had no choice really.

I'm pretty sure that they should use this in their advertising material, right?

And really, nothing sticks to it. You can fry stuff and it can get all black and crusty in there and it just rinses off with water. Of course, we do still wash it with soap and a sponge, but just for tradition's sake, really.

Anyhow, congratulations Claire! Send me your address and I'll send you a small surprise package from your future home! Claire is great at cooking Korean dishes and is moving back to Korea this winter. We can't wait to have her here with us! If you are looking for some yummy dishes to try out with your new diamond coating cookware, or just your regular cookware, check out her blog for some great recipes.

8.26.2009

Life of Not-So-Anonymous Celebrity

I won't name names, because I seem to have found some miniscule bit of common courtesy in my being this evening, but this is what happened to me today. It small, but it was kind of cool.
Two new teachers arrived at the school today. They are cool. Period. They are also a married couple. Double cool.
New Girl: Don't you have a blog?
Me: What? (Because I'm totally retarded and have no idea what she just said to me.)
New Girl: Don't you have a blog, like on the Internet?
Me: Oh! A blog! Why, yes. I do have a blog. ChubbO Chubbington.
New Girl: Yes! I knew I recognized you.

How weird is that, eh? But cool. And New Girl, in case you read this, you totally made my day today!
And the winner of last post's contest will be announced in the next post. Whenever I find the time to post. Because, people, I am busy living! I am not busy spending all my time watching TV, or eating ice cream (although I pushed hard for a faculty Baskin Robbins trip after our group lunch), or spending ridiculous amounts of time on the internets. No, I am teaching, and planning, and shopping with my husband, and cleaning dishes, and taking morning walks through Yonsei University's gorgeous campus, and organizing our office, and taking bus rides that endanger my life (more on this!). And getting to know my colleagues, who are all friendly and kind. So, life in Wonju is goooooood.

8.22.2009

Short and Sweet and You Could Win!

I am moving today! Moving truck gets here at 1. We could not believe how much stuff we have. It has taken over my parents-in-law's living room completely. So many boxes! We were packing things up yesterday and pulling all my stuff from the attic downstairs and Kenny said, "I thought we were living a simple life." It was funny because we always talk about saving money and living simply and all that. But really we just spend money. Oh, I forgot to tell you that we did some Home Shopping! Like, we bought stuff off the TV. Yeah, I'll tell you about it next time. Now you have something to look forward to. If you can guess what we purchased (and if I already told you, your answer won't count) I'll send you a prize in the mail! If I have more than one winner, I'll let Kenny pull your names out of a hat or something completely objective like that. Let the guessing begin!
So, if you don't see anything posted for a few days, it's because I'm relocating my life and becoming a Wonju Wife!!

8.20.2009

No More Procrastinating

So, I was going to wait until I could post properly, like when I'm all settled and have things to say. But then I realized if I did that, there would never be another post on my blog again! So here we are. First post from Korea again. It was so exciting coming back here for me and I didn't really expect it to feel so great. Walking through my old neighborhood and eating at old restaurants had the same vibe it does when I return to the States and go to my favorite places. Korea really has become another home for me, which is good since I'm kind of stuck here for a while!
We went to Wonju on Tuesday and stayed with one of Kenny's good friends, SuYoung. She just had a baby six months ago and he is the cutest thing, with the obligatory XL Korean head that is completely flat in the back. And he is happy! He never full out cried while we were there, only whined a bit during the night and never for more than a few seconds. The last time Kenny stayed with a baby was during his time in NY before we left. And that was NOT a happy baby. I was afraid he'd be against having kids FOREVER after that. But Dong Myung was a beautiful baby, smiling and laughing all the time and sweet even when he was tired. Not that I'm ready to have kids now, or even soon, but I'd like him to at least be open to the possibility. AND, I kept saying I wanted to name our baby Ready. Not in English, in Korean. In Korean is sounds like June Bee. And I love it. But I do concede it would be a bit ridiculous if our kid's name meant ready and she would probably get heck for it at school. But at Yonsei ELP (my new employer, WOOT) there is a student named JuBi. And it's perfect! It has all the sounds I love, and maybe sometimes I'll still call my kid JunBi just for the heck of it. So, baby fever flare up there for a minute.
Anyhow, Wonju. Yes. It's beautiful. It's in mountain country, so the husband is thrilled. My job is SO MUCH BETTER. It's a bonified English department they've got going on with every teacher having their own classroom. In the teacher's lounge, every teacher has their own desk and computer. It's extremely organized, perhaps a bit micromanaged, but hey. I'm appreciating the micromanagment after the zero management at Haba. It's definitely paperwork heavy, but that will keep me on task and focused. I really want to be a better teacher, and I think this job will help me become one. All my coworkers I've met so far have been so kind and generous.
Our apartment freaking rocks. The master bedroom is a little small for our queen sized bed, but we'll make it work. Having the second bedroom cum study is so exciting and fun for us. And I'll finally have a place to put all my books. We have a bathtub (have I mentioned how rare and awesome it is to have a bathtub?) and a nice size veranda that stretches the length of the apartment. The building is set back off the road and surrounded by forest, so the noise is negligent at this point. We're on the 7th floor, which is in the middle of the building and means cooler summers and warmer winters. No airconditioner, but fans were in the bedroom and living room and it was really comfortable. So we might end up buying one if sleep is impossible, but we'll try going without first.
The only negative I've found so far is that our apartment is a good half hour's taxi ride away. There are buses, which I assume will take a bit longer. I was looking forward to walking to work, but that looks like an impossibility at this point. Having my mornings free is working out well, since we're waking up at 6 am consistently now. Things seem pretty good, and there's a possibility that the school will hire Kenny as well! So, we're on the right track for having the same schedule anyway.
Well, new chapter of my life begins officially on Saturday- Moving Day! And I will be instated as The Wonju Wife! And settle into a routine and start writing here more regularly.
Dearest Readers, I think about you more than is appropriate and find myself talking about the Internet in Real Life, which is SO against the rules and makes Kenny say, "Is this a real friend we're talking about or some person you met online?" Ah, well. He can judge all he wants because he just doesn' t know how awesome you are!
Later lovies!

8.07.2009

Today's Mantra

My new mantra:

Today is the day that matters. This choice is the one that counts.

Like it? I came up with it in the shower this morning. I think it's going to be a good tool to help me be mindful of the decisions I make- about everything! About eating, about running, about spending money. You know, about life. Because I find myself so many times making the excuse that I'll make a good decision next time, that I'll start saving tomorrow, or that the exercise I did yesterday makes up for the bad decision I'm about to make right now. But this mantra puts my mind in the present. Pulls me into the present moment and the significance of the small things. So far, it's worked today! I've made some pretty good decisions. I think it's a way that will keep me from making so many excuses. Which gets pretty ridiculous. And that way I can stop hating on myself all the time and feel like I'm in control. So, that's that.

Getting ready to have dinner for the last time with my husband here in the States. He's leaving tomorrow to go spend some well-earned time in New York with some of his friends. I'm going to miss him. Haven't been apart for a week since, well, over a year! And the past 6 months we've pretty much been in the same room with each other... the entire 6 months. So, yeah.

Anyway. Today is the day that matters! This choice is the one that counts! Onward, lovelies!

8.05.2009

FAAAAAAAAAT!!!



Pardon all the excessive editing done to this piece. It was the only clip I could find.
Anyway, as I was saying, "FAAAAT! Fat fat fatty."

So Matthew Broderick is moi and Nathan Lane is also moi. This is what my insides yelled at my outsides when I found myself standing naked in front of the mirror this morning. Oh yes. You're hearing me right. The Belly is back! In full force, too. But.
I just finished reading Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies this afternoon. For some reason, reading this was so insanely perfect. She has this way of praying that is so simple and full of faith. When she is scared, she says, "I'm scared. Help me." When she is frustrated with someone, she writes her name down and says, "Help me," and slips it into God's Inbox. When she is thankful, she says, "Thank you, thank you, thank you." And for some reason, this seemed so profound to me. I guess growing up in the church, I've always had this idea of what prayer is and what prayer should be for me. I felt like, at times, that my prayers should be "advanced" (whatever that means) because I'd been praying for a long time and usually when you do something for a while you get better at it. So I thought I should be better than "Help me." When I was in high school I started to write my prayers. It worked for me. It helped me to focus and to get down what I wanted to say. And it helped me be honest with myself. And also provided a record to look back at and see who had been faithful. Let me tell you- it was never me. But then it became an obsession, and I began creating rules for my prayer writing. I'm so good at making up rules. And I always think, if I can just follow the rules then I'll have it all together.
I know, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, do you really think anyone ever has it all together? Haven't you figured out by now that this all together mess is a myth? And yes! Yes I know. But somehow the knowledge that all together will never exist hasn't kept me from reverting back to behaving as if it is a possibility. So anyway, I created rules. Then I decided I would break free from my rules. And when I did that, I pretty much liberated myself from prayer altogether. And this has been a seemingly interminable cycle for me. I'll find something that works. Then I'll mess it all up by adding rules and making schedules and disappointing myself fifteen hundred times by not keeping my rules or my schedule and then I feel guilty and then I hate myself for feeling guilty and then I decide to rid myself of the rules and schedules by ridding myself of the thing that was being ruled and scheduled. (Sometimes run-ons are perfection.)
But Anne Lamott, man. She does not have it all together. And she has dreadlocks. And she wrote a chapter on her dreads. She also wrote a chapter on feeding herself. It was perfect. And she wrote about how when her car broke down, she prayed, "Help me." And when her heart was broken, she prayed, "Help me." And when her son wanted to go paragliding off a mountain she prayed, "Seriously. Help me." Her faith is worked out in her life in these tiny small bursts. And these small bursts pile on top of one another and make her faith huge! And I decided that I had put restrictions enough upon prayer, upon eating, upon how my life should go.
And fat works into this how?
I ran today. This evening, actually. I thought about running. I thought about it for a little while longer and realized that I felt like running. I felt like running. And then, I put on my running clothes (seriously, it was a squeeze. The Belly was like, in a hurry to return. No slow weight gain here.) and then, I ran. I just ran. I didn't run seriously far or seriously hard. I ran down the street with my husband trailing along, walking behind me, encouraging me with his little wave and his smile. I took walk breaks to hold his hand. And then I ran some more.
I didn't make up any rules about how far I had to run or how many other times this week I was going to run. Or how because it was Tuesday and not a Monday, it wasn't really the right day to start running again.
I could beat myself up about gaining a lot of my weight back, but really I didn't work that hard to lose most of it. I did work a lot before the wedding and I'm back to wedding size now. The weight I lost while traveling was from hiking for 5 to 6 hours a day, and puking my guts out and then eating nothing but toast for 2 weeks. I didn't get high-school thin because I wanted to. I didn't really have a choice. But this time, I'm choosing it. And I'm not making rules or schedules. I'm going to stop making excuses. And I'm just going to do it.
Anne wrote a chapter on forgiveness. And forgiving myself is something I rarely do. So, I'm forgiving myself for going a little overboard on the American cuisine and for having dessert every night and for lying around doing nothing.
And I'm praying.
"Help me."

8.02.2009

In Preparation

I mentioned before that I have secured a job teaching in Wonju, a city an hour and some change outside of Seoul. What I didn't tell you is that I'm teaching a seriously weird schedule and a serious spectrum of ages. I teach Monday thru Friday from 2:30 pm-9:00 pm. And I will be teaching (if I am remembering right) fifth graders through adults. At first, I was disappointed about the schedule, but did some thinking. Really, this works better for me as I am in a much better mood generally after the noon hour! This gives me my mornings at home with the husband. We've already been looking at some races to run when we return to Korea and we'll be able to get up early together and train together. We'll also have lunch together, which we're planning on making our "big" meal, instead of the usual big dinner. Kenny will be looking for a teaching job as well, one that has similar hours (keep your fingers crossed and those emergency prayer lines open!). So, despite my hardwired distaste for regimens and discipline in general, I am actually looking forward to a schedule and a new and interesting one at that.

However, I am also completely scared out of my mind. I am NOT a teacher. Something that the Korean English-worshipping population does not take seriously. At all. I mean, I have a year's teaching experience under my belt (which has substantially widened! I think I've gained all my weight back to be the size I was at the wedding!! AHHH! I hate America! Or myself and my lack of self-discipline and inability to delay gratification. But hating America is easier. So, yes. I hate America!!). But that year was spent barely surviving 3, 5, and 6 year olds who inspired many What the Crap Wednesday posts back in the day. I constantly felt I was letting my kids down and yeah, maybe they can read now, but I just don't feel that was my doing. That was more like a kids being kids and getting smarter by being alive kind of thing. So, I'm completely intimidated by the idea of stepping into a classroom again, as a teacher. To temper this intimidation, I decided to do some reading.

I found a book called Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire by an amazing man named Rafe Esquith. It's kind of his teaching manifesto and method in a short, well-written, and brilliantly inspiring book. He teaches in Los Angeles and every one of his students speaks English as a second language. But they do Shakespeare plays put to music that they play themselves and they make huge awesome art projects and they watch films and write about them and how they relate to their lives and they read novels and they have a classroom economic system that teaches them about how to earn, save, and spend money and THEY'RE IN THE FIFTH GRADE. They're like, 10, people. I haven't even gotten the hang of the whole earn, save, and spend thing yet! This book is serious. And it makes me wish I was a real teacher here, teaching all the subjects. But I'm not. I'm going to be a pseudo-teacher in Korea, teaching English.

This year should be better than last. I am at a serious school, Yonsei ELP, a partner with the Yonsei University in Wonju. They have a real curriculum that I will teach from, which I'm excited about. I always wondered how much better I could have done had I had sufficient teaching materials last year. And I'm not teaching spoiled, sometimes lovely, most of the time riotous small monsters called children. I mean, I guess fifth graders are still children, but you know what I mean. I'm not teaching preschool and kindergarten anymore. I read the book. Finished tonight actually. But I'm still not feeling super-duper prepared. And of course, why should I? I read one book.

But this was a good book, and I am walking away with more of a teaching ethic than actual material to teach with, which hopefully I won't need to get on my own. And there was one part that really confronted me with my own behavior lately. Esquith talks about the Six Levels of Morality and lists each level. In the sixth level, "I Have a Personal Code of Behavior and I Follow It" Level, the kids behave not for reward, not to please someone else, and not even just because they are considerate of other people. They behave because they know what the expect of themselves and they just do it. And I realized sometimes I'm not even coming close to functioning at Level VI. And it hit me here where Esquith discusses characters from Arthur Miller's play The Death of a Salesman:
Later in the play, as Willy desperately tries to understand his failures and those of his own children, Bernard shows up but is in a hurry. He is a lawyer and has a case. As he rushes off, Bernard's father mentions that the case will be tried in front of the United States Supreme Court. When Willy marvels that Bernard didn't mention this astonishing fact, Bernard's father tells Willy, "He doesn't have to. He's doing it."
And I thought of how many things I'm mentioning, but not doing. I want to shut up and just do it. And with that ladies and gents, I'm shutting up. I'm going to do.

But I'm still scared as all get out about teaching.
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