It's amazing the things you can find to do when you have nothing important to do. Currently, I'm reliving my childhood. I found out (okay, I've known this for a long time) that you can install emulators for classic video game systems on a computer. What this does is allows you to run all of the games from that system on your desktop. For example, I have emulators for Nintendo, Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis installed on my computer. Added to that I have seven hundred and eighty-four Nintendo games, one hundred and fifty-three Super Nintendo games and two hundred and two Genesis games. Somehow this must be illegal.

All you do is plug in a controller and it's like having all of those systems all over again. My pick of the moment is Zelda 3 for Super Nintendo. I must have played this game and completed it three or four times in my life, but it's still just as entertaining.

Fun and games aside, my recruiter emailed me and said that now he thinks I'll return to Korea around October twentieth, which is ten days later than we had planned. Not only do I not have the money to survive that long, I don't think I have the sanity either. I've asked him about coming earlier and he is trying. Also, I have pictures of friends and family I've been meaning to put here, but they are on my sisters camera and when she gets them to me, I'll get them to you.


Photos part 2

Here's a little journey through my family's past and present

This is Washington Elementary in Vandalia, IL (those in Korea will remember the girl I meet in Hongdae that went to this same school) where I attended between second and fifth grade. If you look closely at the photo you'll see two doors on the far right. It was there that I first heard about the shuttle Challenger exploding.

This is the house we lived in at the same time.

unfortunately, the lighting on this picture is not very good, but this is the house my parents live in now. My mother designed the house and they built it about six years ago.

The property my parents house was built on is fairly big, so this is how I get around. I love this thing. I've already got it stuck in mud twice since being home.

A shot of the property. The deer is fake and when I first saw it I was fooled.

My parents house from the back. Again, the lighting is not great.

A shot of the lake.

The lake with the ducks. They are new.

And finally, the newest addition to the family, my mom's dog. My mom let my niece name the dog and she chose to call it Bingo, which makes me cringe with thoughts of 'Teacher, Bingo game', but he's a good dog nonetheless.

Photos part 1

Downtown St. Louis

This is the last year the Cardinals will play at Busch Stadium as it's being torn down and a new stadium built. The Cardinals have played in Busch since some time in the 1960's, which includes my entire life-span, so it was nice to see one more game before the place is demolished. Unfortunately, on this day they lost.

A couple shots of the construction in progress. The new stadium (which will retain the name Busch Stadium) will overlap the site of the existing Busch, so they have to wait till the season is over and demolition of the old stadium is complete before they finish the new stadium.

In case you don't follow baseball, the Cardinals have the best record in baseball this season and have secured a spot in the playoffs. I could think of no better send-off for the old Busch Stadium than a World Series win.

The famous sea of red.

One of the highlights of the game was this guy who was sitting a couple rows ahead of us. This picture doesn't do the whole story justice as I had to snap the picture clandestinely. However, every time this man stood up his entire spotty ass hung out of his pants sending the rows behind him into fits of laughter.



As you can see I've very photogenic. Thanks Alf for putting this together.



Like everything else in my life over the past week or so, I've been very lazy about updating my blog. I'm sorry. A lot has happened and I've meant to write about it, but haven't. So, I'll quickly make you a list of what I've been doing.

• Went to a Cardinals game
• Didn't get the job I really wanted
• Accepted the other job
• Watched eighteen episodes of 'Lost' in one day
• Watched six mores plus bonus footage the next
• Bought an iPod Nano
• Took my parents and their friends out for Korean food
• Visited my grandmother

One of the reasons I haven't updated is because I'm having problems posting pictures on Blogger from a Mac. I have several photos to post, but until I figure out what I'm doing wrong it's only text. I'll work on it tomorrow and try to put pictures up.

Finally, I should be returning to Korea around October tenth.



I'm bored now. I've been home a week. I've seen my mother. I've seen my father. I've seen my sister. I surprised my niece for her sixth birthday. I watched football and drank beer on a Sunday. I've eaten real hamburgers, a real steak, barbecued chicken, biscuits and gravy, chimichangas, meatloaf, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, everything I can't eat in Korea. I've driven around in my mothers' obscenely oversized Ford Expedition while pulling my Cardinals hat low and blasting 50 Cent. I've done that thing that if done in Korea equals two years in jail.

Tomorrow I'm going to a baseball game, but after that I've done everything I wanted to do while home. Now, I want to go back to Korea. I knew it wouldn't take me long to get bored here, but I didn't think it would be this quick. It's not that I'm having a bad time. I'm not. I'm just bored. There are only so many movies I can rent from Blockbuster. Only so many times I can drive around and see how things have changed (they haven't). Only so many times I can do that thing that if done in Korea equals two years in jail. Please school hurry up and hire me!!

I thought for fun I would take some pictures tomorrow of things around St. Louis and put them up here. I originally started this blog so people in the States could see what I do in Korea. For the time being anyway, it seems reversed.

Also, today I bought the newest edition of "Top Ten of Everything 2005". Couple of quick facts for those playing in Korea. The number one fastest growing city in the world is Ansan, South Korea. Can you believe that? I guess Gojan really is the place to be. Also, Ireland has the second highest consumption of beer per capita. I know that's not news, but it's also second in tea consumption per capita. And, finally, Canada is still the most boring place on the planet.

Last note: why is the word 'blog' not in Bloggers spellcheck?


Day six

I've been having a good time at home. Friday night I drank a lot of soju with my dad and his neighbor. Saturday I went to a parade with my sister, her husband and my niece. Then Saturday night we had a game night with a couple of friends. Sunday afternoon I went to a friends house to watch the first Ram's game of the season. They lost, barely, but, it was fun to sit around and watch football nonetheless. Now, with the new week starting it's time to get to work on getting things together for Korea. I emailed the job I'm really hoping to get and they won't have an answer until the 16th. I really hate sitting around and waiting.

On a less happy note, I started going through the boxes I have stored at my parents house because I wanted to bring my DVD's back to Korea with me. However, when I found the box my DVD's were stored in, there were no DVD's. It seems my cousin, who was living at my parents house, stole them and more than likely pawned them. I don't remember exactly how many DVD's I had but, it was near thirty. A lot of them were rare and specially ordered, so obviously I'm not to happy about it.

I swear the following story is 100% real. Before I moved to Korea I knew a guy in St. Louis who always reminded me of the Chris Rock skit about guys being addicted to strip clubs (it's on one of his HBO specials, not sure which one). This guy was a decent looking guy in the face, but quite large around the waist. Anyway, he spent the majority of his time not working at strip clubs and was without a doubt the least motivated person I've ever met. At one point I discussed with him the possibility of getting him hired on at my company. Had he gotten the position it would have been a big leap for him both in terms of money and prestige. He was excited about it and after two hours to think it over he came to me and said, with a serious look on his face, that if he got the job he would finally buy a gold membership to the Diamond Club (a strip club). This shows you the level of priority in his life.

Anyway, I ran into this guy last week and after some brief chit-chat about what I've been doing and how I like Korea, he mentioned that he got a new tattoo. He lifted up his sleeve and showed me a tattoo of a girls face with her hair flowing all around her head on his right bicep. I asked him what it was and he told me it was just an illustration by some artist he was a fan of. Fair enough, right? As I started to walk away, he said "It's a great way to get girls". Again, fair enough. I don't have any tattoos myself, but I know there are girls who like them. However, what he said next floored me: "I tell them it's my little sister and that she died last year. Or it's my dead fiancee." Now, at first I thought he was kidding, but there was no smile on his face only the look of a guy who finally figured out how to meet girls. I asked him why he didn't just be himself and he said because when he's himself he's mostly an asshole. I'll say.



After twenty-four hours of traveling, including three lay-overs, one delayed and two missed flights and constant kicks in my leg by a pompous seven year old Chinese-American boy named Alex, I'm finally home. I'm still debating over two jobs. One of which I've been offered and half-heartedly accepted. The other I desperatley want but, won't know for a couple of days if they are going to hire me. In the meantime I'm staying at my parents house, eating all of the American food I've missed and catching up with people. This weekend I'll spend some time with my sister and her husband and next Wednesday my sister and I are going to a baseball game.

Fortunately, my mother has some workout equipment in her basement, so I can work off all of the hamburgers and steaks I eat.


Curse part 2

This is an image of Hurricane Katrina before it hit the southern US.

And this is Typhoon Nabi (butterfly in Korean) set to hit Japan and Korea in the next day or so.

Tomorrow I fly from Korea to America. I'm pretty sure this curse is real.


Last day

Every time I have to wake up early for something important I can never sleep the night before. This happened last night. I had an interview this morning for a job I really want (as I mentioned before). The interview was at 10am and in Seoul so, I had to be up by eight to get ready and spend at least an hour on the subway. 8am is very early for me. Thus, I laid awake in bed most of the night worrying that I wouldn't wake up and that I'd miss the interview. Fortunately, I didn't.

I made it to the interview right on time and was informed that as part of the interview process I'd be required to conduct what they referred to as a "demo lesson". In other words, I'd walk into one of their existing classes, with two managers from the school sitting in, and teach children I'd never met before. They gave me a book and ten minutes to prepare. Obviously, it was a little nerve-rattling as I sat looking over the book and imagined the various ways I was about to make a fool of myself. On top of the obvious pressure, these were pre-school students, which I've never really taught before and who are notoriously difficult to control.

As I entered the classroom, with the managers eyeing me from the back of the room, I discovered that the door to the room did not close completely. So, now everyone in the hallways would get to listen in as well. I mentioned to the class that the door didn't close and a small boy piped up saying he knew how to close it. "Great" I thought and asked him to come up and close the door. Just as I did four to five students jumped out of their chairs and darted to the door to assist. Each of them flailing and failing to keep it shut. So, here I am two seconds into my demonstration and I have half of the class at the front of the room screaming and shoving on the door. I figured I was doomed.

Recognizing how bad this looked, I quickly got the students back to their seats, left the door wide-open and began my lesson. Everything after went very smooth. I worked with the students on contraction, having them make full sentences and followed up with some prepositions. The kids turned out to be great, with most of them living in the U.S. or Canada previously. Of course, I was a little nervous and I'm sure the managers could see that, but I'm sure they expect it as well. Overall, I think I did a good job and the hiring manager seemed confident I would get the job. I should know by next week.

After the interview I hopped on the subway again and headed to my school for the last day. I said before I've never taught pre-school, but it's a little untrue. I've been a preschool activity teacher for the past year at my school. However, as an activity teacher I'm only required to feed the children lunch and then some sort of activity (Arts & Crafts, Song & Chant, etc.). I don't usually do the activities on Mondays, but since I was at school early and the activity teacher had to run some errands, I volunteered to feed the children one last time.

These are the second year pre-school students and I've been eating lunch with them at least once a week for the last year. They are all incredibly sweet and cute, so I didn't mind sitting with them again.

The first year students, while certainly not any less cute, are often more difficult to control. I take the approach of being a drill sergeant with them. When we walk through the halls they are required to march, though they usually just run anyway.

After filling in for pre-school it was time to start my normal lessons. My first class is a group of children that I've completely fallen in love with. They are first year elementary school students and are so enthusiastic about learning. I'm really proud of the progress I've made with them and would put their English against any other students their age. In addition to me loving them, I also know they are quite fond of me and I knew that this would be the hardest class to say good bye to.

As I wandered down to class I realized I'd left my camera in the staff room and went back to retrieve it. On my return trip one of the managers at our school, who is a very sweet lady who has never said a harsh word to me, starting in on me for being late to class. In the whole year I've been at this school that has never happened, so I thought it very strange, but chalked it up to the fact the five teachers were leaving today and it was probably causing her a lot of stress.

As I reached my class I figured out why she'd done this. The first thing I saw were two large arrangements of balloons hanging from my whiteboard and the large heart drawn on the board with the words "I love you" written inside. Then, as I opened the door, I saw the cake and the burning candles.

All of the classrooms in my school are equipped with closed-circuit cameras and one of the mothers from this class came everyday and watched on the bank of televisions in the lobby. At first this was intimidating, but soon I discovered she had nothing else to do and was in fact a nice lady. Well, it turns out she'd set all of this up, for as I spotted the cake I also saw her there in the corner with her camera. I blew out the candles and posed for a few pictures with the kids. Soon after the manager who'd yelled at me for being late stuck her head in my room and gave me a knowing grin.

This is a shot of the white board they'd set up. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the cake. As you can see from the picture, one of my students, Peter, spoke Korean while in class and his name was written on the board.

In addition to the cake and balloons Cathy, the daughter of the lady who did all this, gave me a rose and a letter, written all in Korean.

Here's a shot of Cathy playing One Card (Uno). She was, without a doubt, one of the best children I've ever taught and probably the one I'll miss the most. That grin is because she's about to skip the girl to her left.

Another shot of Cathy with the other girls from her class, Angel and Rose.

Here are the boys from the same class. Robert, on the left, along with Cathy has been in the class since I started teaching it and he likes to refer to the two of them as the "old students". I know it's not nice to say, but when I first started teaching Robert I thought he was a girl. The other two boys, are Peter and Jay.

Since it was my last day and the last day of the session all of my classes had game day today.

As the class finished I lined up the students and said goodbye to them. This proved to be harder than I expected and I had to quickly usher them off before I became emotional. I started back to the staff room and was stopped by another student of mine and her mother. This particular student has been in Germany for the past month and before she left I dedicated half of a class to teaching the students German instead of English. Today was her first day back and she knew it would be my last. Her mother came to me and handed me a plastic bag and said it was a gift from the student. Inside the bag were two bottles of beer from Germany! Nice!

This is a picture of the next class and the girl, Nancy, who gave me the beer is on the far left.

The rest of the day proceeded as normal with students giving me various gifts of chocolate and notebooks. Also, my camera went haywire again so, I was unable to get pictures of my other class. No problem though, the hard goodbyes were out of the way.

As my final class finished I was surprised by how difficult it was to walk out of my classroom for the last time. I've spent a year in the same room and have come to truly view it as mine. All the decorations in the class have been done by my students under my supervision and no other teacher has taught in that room. It's quite strange handing it off to someone else.

Apart from the students it was also difficult saying goodbye to the staff that I've come to know over the past year. This was made either easier or more difficult by the fact that so many people are leaving at once and that at the end of the day the staff room was one big goodbye.

I've had a great time at that school and I will truly miss it. I hope I'm able to find an environment as enjoyable next time around. For now, I'm continuing to prepare to return home. Something I can say I'm not really looking forward to. Mostly because I'll miss Korea, but also it's a place I don't see myself in anymore. I'm looking forward to seeing people and catching up, but I'm looking forward to returning to Korea even more. In the meantime, I'm heading home to open those two bottles of beer and finish packing.



As I gear up to go home I have nearly a thousand things to take care of before I leave. This morning I went into Seoul to pick up my Alien Registration Card which had been lost when I lost my wallet and if I don't have when I leave the country I must pay a W100,000 fine. Tonight is a going away dinner with work. There are five teachers leaving at the same time so we thought it best just to have one big dinner. Tomorrow is my going away celebration with my friends, which is sure to get quite messy. Soju and Norae Bang, I'm sure.

Sunday Yunha is coming over and (she doesn't know this yet) helping me pack. Monday morning I have an interview for a job that I really hope I get, then off to school for my last day. Tuesday morning I'm going to the Pension office to try and get the pension I've been paying reimbursed, then in the afternoon I've another job interview. At night I'll be moving all of my things to a friends to store until I return. And finally, on Wednesday I board a plane for the lovely State of Missouri. I'm expecting a six of Heiniken and some chimigangas when I step off the plane. (doing this from a Korean computer so no spell check. Please forgive me)