Random photos from my time in Cleveland are now up, in no particular order, and labeled with pith. Click here or look left and scroll down a tad. I make no apologies, nor do I offer any explanations.
Again, though, you benefit from my procrastination.
Christmas 2004 pictures are up, often blurry, and labeled with pith. Click here, or scroll down just a bit and look to the left. Appreciate them, as I should have spent the editing and labeling time working on my film school application. My procrastination benefits you.
"I like Korea, I just don’t like Korea." –me, last night
As I mentioned a week or so ago, I decided to risk everything and put all my time and metaphorical eggs into this job I was offered at CDI. The recruiting pitch was quite impressive, and the position appealed to my need for organization and structure during these last few months of my time here in South Korea. The money offered was also quite the dangling carrot. The only thing that gave me pause (and that still gives me slight pause) is that it all seems too good to be true, and my experience in this country has taught me that when something seems to good to be true it always is. I jumped in filled with a fervent desire to disprove this theory.
So, I took the job, and have spent this week in fairly intensive training courses. The school isn’t as organized as it initially portrayed itself to be, but it is still far better than any of the schools I have worked at in this country. The facilities are impeccable, the curriculum is very well established, and there is actually a waiting list to get in as a student. This is a far cry from the free-for-all hagwons I have worked at in the past, and it is a refreshing change.
The most refreshing change, however, is that I’m going to be a real teacher. I’ll be teaching reading and writing to junior high and high school students, but the reading isn’t just a crappy storybook–I’ll be teaching Hemingway–and the writing isn’t just ABC–I’ll be teaching TOEFL style essay writing. I’ll be a relatively legitimate English teacher, which is something I don’t feel like I’ve had the chance to be here. A babysitter, yes, but not an English teacher. A clown, yes, but not an English teacher. While it will certainly mean a lot more work, I look forward to finally being an English teacher.
Today I signed my contract and got my schedule for the next three months. I’ll be making about $5000 per month, teaching about thirty hours per week. I was told that I made quite the impression on the training staff, and thus the lucrative schedule. Needless to say, I’m going to be staying in Korea for the next three months.
Sometimes things work out.
On Monday night, I finally did my part in contributing to the phenomenon referred to in the name of this website…
I ate dog.
It didn’t taste very good–it was rather flavorless, actually–and it was terribly chewy, so I don’t think I will eat it again, but I did eat dog. The experience was worth it simply for its surreality, and I reckon it will be yet another good story to tell the grandkids. Did I ever tell you kids about the time grandpa ate a dog in Korea? It was a Border Collie, and just a puppy at that! Killed it and skinned it myself, I did.
I go too far. They only eat one kind of dog here–it is a dog specifically bred for meat–and I’m pretty sure it isn’t a Border Collie. It’s a dumb, old, ugly dog that nobody would want as a pet anyway.
And please, save the sanctimonious comments. Ye who have never eaten pig or cow or chicken may cast the first stone. I’m allergic to (living) dogs, anyway, so in a way my eating one of them is justified by all the watery eyes and runny noses their brethren have caused me over the years. Let’s see who wants to play fetch with me now.
I also had some poshintang, which is dog soup. It was much tastier than the plain meat, due primarily to the addition of lots of MSG. As I was eating it, I couldn’t help but think of my very first post. The circle slowly closes.
"I wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me."
"America… just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."
"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side."
"Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism."
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks."
"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
–Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005)
He was a hero to me, and I’m not sure what to do with his death. The world has lost another mad genius, to be sure.
I don’t know what to do with myself.
I have really been struggling with happiness since I got back to Korea. There are good days and there are bad days, but the bad days have been very bad and more common than the good. The isolation, more than anything else, is really getting to me. I came back here (primarily) to make money, and I’m beginning to wonder if that’s a good enough reason to stay.
I need to clean up my room this afternoon, perhaps that’ll help.
There are two ways to look at being (relatively) young and free of commitment. One is to see it as a gift, as being able to do things that many people with families and careers are unable to do. The other is to see it as a burden–what the fuck am I going to do next? Sometimes I really just want to know what tomorrow will bring, to know who will be there in the morning, to settle down. . . but I can’t. My present life will not accommodate settling down yet, but I’m getting really tired of being unsettled.
La, la, la… the song goes. It repeats indefinitely.
“So… how’s it going?”
“Oh, you know. Ok. Better. A little better.”
“Any interesting Korea stories to share with us?”
“Um… no, not really. I have a new roommate who hacks all the time, and he is Korean-American.”
“Yeah, he clears out his sinuses by making an awful hacking noise.”
“Yeah. It wouldn’t bother me so much if he didn’t do it incessantly, but he usually does it at least once every five minutes. It woke me up again this morning.”
“Why does he do it so often?”
“He insists that he has a bad allergy/sinus problem that necessitates it. While I don’t deny that this may be true, I also think he does it more often than his condition requires.”
“Do you think you can deal with it for three more months?”
“I’m going to do my best, but it’s already driving me a bit crazy.”
“I appreciate your empathy.”
“So… anything else?”
“Er… the new job will require me to stay in Korea a bit longer than I was originally planning.”
“How much longer?”
“The end of May, instead of the beginning. A small price to pay for the money I’ll potentially be making.”
“Yeah, that’s nothing, really.”
“I know, but it seems like a lot at the moment.”
“You lack perspective.”
“Is my website getting boring again?”
“Does it really matter? Are you doing this for us, or for yourself?”
“So that’s a yes, then.”
“We liked the new pictures, and the video of your Korean television appearance was cool.”
“But your writing has been a bit sad lately. Difficult to read at times.”
“I’m just being honest.”
“My mood, my state of mind, my feelings. Sadness is compelling, is it not?”
“It can be, but it can also be just sad. A cry for pity, if you will.”
“I don’t disagree, but I’m not going to write happy when I’m sad.”
“Ok, but you should write happy when you’re happy. You don’t write happy enough.”
“I’m getting there. My last few posts have been better.”
“I have a question for you.”
“It’s an English grammar question.”
“Is it correct to say ‘If I WAS a monkey, I would throw my poop at people.’ or ‘If I WERE a monkey, I would throw my poop at people.’?”
“We’re going to have to think about that and get back to you.”
“You do that.”
Ok, so after a week of job shuffling and not-shuffling chaos, I have finally decided to accept a position at CDI. I went in for an interview and information session earlier this week, and left with the impression that they are one of the best schools to teach at in Seoul–both financially and organizationally. I’m taking a risk, as accepting a position there requires me to put all my metaphorical eggs in their metaphorical basket, but I’ve thought about this quite a bit (and consulted my Sister about it) and have concluded that this will be a good place for me to work for my last three Korean months. Worth the risk, if you will. I go in for an orientation tomorrow, and start training on Friday.
Beyond that, there is not much to note. I’m slowly settling myself back into this Korean life, while too-often reminding myself that I’ll be leaving here in about three months. Take it all in–even the stuff that I dislike–for I will most likely be missing it soon enough.
Oh, and the one private student I am currently teaching–a CEO of a biometric scanning equipment company–is taking me out for dog and scotch on Monday night. You heard me: DOG AND SCOTCH. I knew there was a reason I came back to Korea.