Out of the Turkey and Into the Classroom

Location: School

I've been on blogging hiatus for quite some time. Maybe it was the article I read about saying that blogging is going out of fashion, or maybe it's everything else in my life. Maybe I'm blogging anew because I read that blogging is going out of fashion.

Thanksgiving was delicious. A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to cook a 20 lb. turkey. My brother receives free turkeys from his work and still had the Christmas Turkey from last year. Since that roasting was such a success my brother and I thought it would be good to have has many family and friends over for this thanksgiving. 20 people and a pound of turkey for each person. There were many other delicious treats as well, pies, tira misu, twice baked potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, the list goes on and on.

Andrea, Daniel, Mark, Rachel and I all went up to the Sandi Peak on the world's longest tram! I always love going to the peak and this day was beautiful. It was Andrea's first time experiencing snow. As we the tram pulled us along the cable to the top of the mountain we entered a cloud. And chunks of ice assaulted the tram car. Traveling further up the chunks become snow. The first time Andrea experienced snow was while traveling inside that cloud that produced it!

Once on the top we had many snowfights and made snow angels. :D


It's Been A While

Location: My Sanctuary

Since my last entry I've been to: Alabama,Ohio, NYC, DC, Arkansas and have settled in nicely with my brother in Albuquerque. During that time it was wonderful to pay some much needed visits to friend and family. Thanks to Airtran and Kayak for making much of that traveling possible. A big thank you to Denise, the Jeters, Louis and Ji-Hae and of course my Grandparents in Arkansas.

Being back in NM has been... enchanting. My brother and I are making great strides in turning the house into amazing, functional, technologically updated Bachelor Pad.

There was some very sad news concerning a good friend of mine John-Wolfie Smeltzer. My love goes out to his family, especially Mera.

In other news it's been a mostly warm welcome here in Albuquerque. Between my family, green chile, the temperature, art openings, graduations and a Wii Tea Party, it's been envigorating and relaxing.

Grandma is coming tomorrow and Daniel and I have a big delicious dinner planned. He and I have been having a ton of fun together: cooking, playing video games and working on the house.

I can't wait to go to LA!



Location: Kansai International

Well it's been a fun trip to Japan and now it's time to go back to the US. Osaka was a fun, creative city. The fashion was amazing and I was awed by the bike traffic. I spent some time by the Yodo river one day, had some excellent sushi and delicious udong. On Tuesday I took a train to Kyoto and met up with Denise (Reiko) and the group she was traveling with. They had just come from taking the Buddhist precepts at Hokyoji Monastary and had spent a week in shesshin, an intense practice session based on the monastic schedule. The leader of group, Tahaiku, was gracious enough to let me go on pilgrimage to the temples of Kyoto with the group. At one of our meals I found out that the group had a very powerful experience. In the 700 year history of the Monastary they were the only foreigners to take the precepts at the Monastary.

I have some more pictures up in my web album.

Now I am waiting at Kansai International to board my flight back to the US.


Why AM I in Japan?

Location: After Some Sushi

Okay, here's the deal:

Everything was going fine in Seoul until the end of January. At that time the man who hired me, supposedly, contracted a stomach ulcer. He resigned and a new man was brought in. At this point the new "boss" proceeded to threaten our job security and basically be an all around... insert your own creative expletive here. He offered an "out" from my year long contract. Which I promptly accepted. Unfortunately, he (the new boss) had absolutely no authority to make this offer. I found this out in my talks with the Principal of the school. Somewhat embarrassed, I decided to stay, mainly because I thought the principal was a good woman and I realized the power lay with her and not the new guy. He would just be a slight nuisance I had to put up with.

Another major point of the "new regime" is that my job function changed. Instead of being there to help develop an acting/theatre program for young children it shifted to: Kindergarten Teacher. While there is much honor and necessity in being a kindergarten teacher that is not what I came to Seoul to do or be. Quickly the incentives for being Seoul are diminishing at this point, which would be about March.

March arrived and with it so did the new school year. This brought in 3 new teachers in addition to the other 3 that were already there. There had still been no meetings about how to run the school and organization was nil. As the month progressed it became apparent that the Administration was basically extorting the other teachers in order for them to change the contract that they had signed into something more "beneficial" for the school. I was being treated well, mainly because I had the bulk of the classes. So I was slowly becoming infuriated, and with no desire to continue working there.

Something else to keep in mind. This school is a private school and the tuition is quite high. A year's tuition at the school (which is a preschool and kindergarten) would easily cover a standard college education in South Korea and probably rent too! Where was all this money going though? The facilities where not in excellent shape. Wall paper was torn, mosquitoes where flying around, somehow there was never enough paper towels or paper tissues. All forgivable and not a BIG deal, unless you take into account just how much the admin was charging. And it was never put into the school. Repeatedly I told the admin that there was no reason for me to be there. I walked out, telling them to get their act together. Finally, they withheld the passport of one of the teachers at the school whom they had been employing illegally. After almost going to the police in a (probably vain) attempt to get his passport back I decided to turn in my 2nd and final letter of resignation. The teacher did end up getting his passport back, but a day late and at the last possible minute.

As far as resigning goes.... I could've just left and pulled a "midnight run". And that probably would've been the most lucrative thing to do. However, I wanted somehow to help the school get on the right track. If I simply ran away, in their eyes I would be the bad guy.Some irresponsible foreigner who couldn't take living abroad and who just ditched them. Even though I realized I probably wouldn't be paid for the final month, largely because of the immaturity of the administration, I decided not to run away and instead turn in my resignation and let the school know as clearly as possible why I was leaving. This is mid April.

After I turn in my letter the principal never talks with me again. I continue teaching my classes hoping in 2 weeks they can find another teacher. They do not. And true to form they have not paid me yet for that final month.

There are of course many other details that could be filled in but those are the major points as far as the businesses aspect of me working in Seoul goes.

The next post will be alot more... fun ;)

Made It!

Location: Osaka

Just a quick update. I made it to Osaka this afternoon and right now I'm about to take a much needed rest. Everything went fine.... well there was one minor hiccup. I'll write all about after some tea and sleep, and maybe some food... and..and .and.


Enoch's Funeral

Location: High Above the Atmosphere

There is much to report and there will be many blog entries in may. Tonight some... sad news. Enoch has passed away.

Many of you don't know Enoch. He's only been with us for a short time. In fact, only a few months.
Enoch was Paul's (a teacher at the school)friend. Or pet. Well, pet beetle.

Maybe the pictures will help: http://picasaweb.google.com/patmce/EnochSFuneral

In any case there will be much traveling in the next couple of weeks and I'll keep you all posted.

It's been a crazy couple of months :D

Good things.


Bowling, Books and Bangs

The last few weeks have been very tumultuous.

Ambivalent news first: There's a new 'director' in town. And after some initial misgivings things are working out fine.

Good news follows: I've scored the highest bowling score of my life. A strikingly admirable score of 153. This time there were even witnesses. This beats my previous record of 143 and that time no one was around to witness my bowling prowess. I've also been introduced to a variety of "bangs" which is pronounced more like "bah-ng". There are PC Bangs where you play video games with your friends there are norabangs where you rent a room with your friends and sing karaoke. That was a lot of fun. It made me long for my days playing Rock Band.

Teaching News:This week was my first official week teaching Kindergarten children. I have a class of 8 children. They are all very intelligent and energetic. I think we'll have a fun few months together. In Drama class the Theatre Troupe performed Shakespearian Sonnets. I was very proud of the 3 members. They are only in early middle school and they each memorized a Sonnet and performed them very well. Especially for being ESL. Right now we're making masks and will put on a show at the end of the month.

In other news I've taken up gardening. Kind of. I bought a plant and it's first blossom bloomed earlier this week. It's exciting to have something like to attend to. Also, a new teacher came to town last week and it turns out we have a mutual acquaintance in Alabama. Small world!

PS I've uploaded some more pictures.


Happy New Year, Again!

Location: Back from the Villiage


Check 'em out.

I stayed in Seoul for this 5 day Chinese New Year Weekend. The city has been virtually empty this week. Everyone has gone to the country side, or skiing, or to visit family and the city was practically closed for most of the week.

Some of the other teachers and I went to Namsan Tower. This structure resembles the Space Needle to some degree and is located right in the middle of Seoul. There is a revolving restaurant and you can see the enter city from up top.

After we left the tower we found ourselves in the "Traditional Korean Villiage". There were many games being played. Some resembling hop-scotch and hacky-sack. The dances are beautiful and reminded me of some of the Indian Pueblo dances back in Albuquerque. Probably because of the drums :)

The next day I simply rested.

Friday I went to the National Museum and had a wonderful experience. I don't know what dance was going on, but the performers used gigantic drums and the space itself is humongous. Beautiful.

Today I joined a photography group. I found myself back at the "Traditional Korean Village" and took some more photos. The highlight was eating a Korean pancake called: buchimgae (부 침개 sp?) and drinking makoli.

Later I think I may go to a sauna. Other than that I've been playing a lot of Magic Online and enjoying life.

Enjoy the pictures and may you have a productive Year of the Rat :D

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What a deal!

Location: Back from the Banks of the Han River

Hi Everyone! This week was a snow filled winter wonderland of goodness. Not to be confused with goddesses. Although, that would be good. Maybe some day soon. The city was cold and white earlier this week but today it's cold and Sunny! Hooray.

Yesterday I went to Namdemum (I think I'm spelling that wrong) and bought a "Prada" bag for about 30 bucks. I still think I probably got ripped off. :) I also bought a new pair of glasses and then went to the local Spa for some relaxation and a Haircut. I LOVE SEOUL! Today I walked near the river and took some pictures. Enjoy!

Sidenote: Can we bring back the interrobang? Or maybe invent some new punctuation? Or make it academically sound to use smiley's in our writings? :D

Speaking of academically sound a former teaching colleague of mine posed these questions:

1. What do you think is the most important thing to know to be (fill in the blank--successful, happy, a good citizen, etc)?
2. What do you think is the most important thing to be able to do in order to be (fill in the blank--successful, happy, a good citizen, etc)?

Any thoughts? From anyone? I think I'll take a cue and withhold my answers until I hear from a few others so I don't "taint" the data.

Speaking of tainted, does anyone know Shakespeare's Sonnet XIX? Some of the students I'm teaching are working on it. Any other favorites?

Since I'm asking so many questions... there's a five day break coming up next week. What should I do? So many options... maybe travel... maybe relax, maybe read maybe... I don't know.

The must read article of the week that was already outdated by the time I found it: http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/magazine/16-01/ff_byrne

Till next week...


Stuck on Sticky Stuff

Locale: Jazztastic


What's happened lately? Well, I'm teaching Speech and Debate right now. And what a great time to be teaching it. It's almost the celebration of the birth of one of the greatest speakers to ever grace the earth with his presence: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Also, I bought some stickers to decorate my kitchen and bathroom with. And some sticky insulation to put on my door and keep the wind out!

Things have settled down from the initial buzz of arriving in a foreign country. The school schedule is relatively calm. I can get groceries on a regular basis. So I'm not worried about eating or any of the essential aspects of life. The Chinese New Year is coming in a couple of weeks so I'm thinking about traveling somewhere. Maybe to North Korea. One of the other teachers is interested in that. Or maybe I'll just relax and sleep... :)

The weather's been kind of cold lately. It snowed last week. Other than that it's been pretty uneventful here. Maybe next time I'll have more adventures to report on.

Hey! Did you ever watch Fairy Tale Theatre on PBS? Goolge Video has a great selection of the program if you're interested. Also, Juno is a good movie, although not as great as I wanted it to be. Time to put more stickers on the wall!

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I've Got Seoul But I'm Not A Soldier

Location: Out of the Cold and into Hagen Daz

It's almost 2008! I have a webcam. I'm tired. Been eating some pizza from Mr. Hand. I mean Pizzahand. But just imagine a big hand walking around in a suit. That's Mr. Hand. Teaching is going, well, very well. SFS, SIS and soon the "regular" classes will start up again. If you check out the photo album you'll see some pictures of me at Christmas with my new Korean family. Saw the Golden Compass. It's good. Oh, the kids are starting to write their own play. Good group. Chris bought a computer and I helped him. Grocery shopping, delicious food.

So that's the stream of consciousness-exhausted-portion of the entry.

Days later....

I LOVE skype. I've been able to talk face to face with my family and a friend or two. Invaluable in this world away from the world I know.
We have a performance tomorrow called: Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow. The class has created a short play/presentation about The Joy of Now, the Sadness of the Past and Hope for Tomorrow. Or anyway that's kind of an explanation for the performance.

Regina Spektor is a delight, if you can take it.

So, Seoul far Seoul Good. And no I will never, ever run out of puns involving the word Seoul.

Oh, and It's 2008 now! Happy New Year to everyone!

I learned how to make Curry from Mr. Lee the other day. I was planning on going to the grocery store and it ended up being an adventure in making curry. Then I set up a photo printer for Mrs. Kim!

Seoulong, until next time.

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