You have failed and now you must Daegu!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

No much of an update. Just some venting on the staff here.

Our secretaries are bloody useless. . Only one speaks English and the majority of my kids understand better than she does. Incompetence I can deal with, but they just want me to leave them alone. Even if it means lying to me.

The worst is when they make mistakes on my schedule. They have a log that they check. Once, they wrote the same lesson for two weeks straight. I'm supposed to go through one lesson in one class period. I asked about this, she checked her log and said it was correct. I said, "The book has been finished for two weeks. Should I ask Mrs. Kim?" "Oh no! Don't do that! We'll get you a new book." Amazing.

The manager isn't much better. At least he's entertaining. Mr. Choi, very funny guy, but he might as well be a coat rack. I'm still not sure exactly what his job is. It appears to me that his purpose is to change lightbulbs and make children laugh. Once I held two girls after because they were just generally making a nuisance and would not stop talking. He walked into my room like Johnny Carson walking out for the opening monologue. Forget disciplining children, it's Mr. Choi time! I resisted the strong urge to punch him in the mouth and just complained to Mrs. Kim. It worked, he won't go near my classroom now and actually helped with a problem student.

I'm just going to chalk today up to a bad day. That's all. I picture a future showdown unfolding like Sellers' coworker vs. the phone pervert.

Secretary- Your schedule is correct.
Matt- You know what I think? You're a sick motherfucker asshole! Fuck you!
Matt- You know what you can do with this schedule?
*Matt crumples up the schedule and throws it as hard as he lands two feet away...increasing his rage*
Matt-....and another thing, you ever bullshit me again, yer goofy Korean haircut will become a landing strip for AirMatt to land punches.
Mrs. Kim-Matt? What is the problem?
Matt- This piece of shit tried to give me hard time, but I just said nuh-uh! Screw this. I'm playing xbox.
*Matt storms out, but not before trying to push a door that is clearly marked pull*
Secretary- Foreigners...
Mrs. Kim- Foreigners.
Mr. Choi- Hey everybody! It's Mr. Choi time!!!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Quick update. I'm meeting Korean girlfriend in a few minutes.

I played hide and seek with my little kids today. I turned it into a counting game by having the remaining class count everyone to see how many we have to find. They LOVED it and so did I. It was a lot of fun but, afterwards, I was exhausted. Most middle schoolers still loathe me. Fine, I hate them right back. I'm still worried about the drama classes starting in December. I know they're going to stick me with a lot of them, but I'd rather deal with those monsters than some of my middle schoolers.

The essays for my TOEFL class were a little disappointing. One girl did her best and turned in four pretty good paragraphs. One boy write one paragraph, while the other girl turned in NOTHING. We added a fat kid to the class who doesn't like to speak. I'll break him.

My Hannukkah present showed up. Yay! I'm rocking a St. Louis Cardinals alternate hat with the World Series patch. I'm still a champion everywhere I go.

Christmas looks like a go for vacation in the Korean wilderness. I really want to go back to Japan to play video games. Don't be surprised if there's a weekend trip update after the tenth, that's when I get paid again.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mitch and Tim just left on the train for Seoul and Brian has a brand new fully repaired and pimped out computer.

All in all, it was a fun weekend. Mitch and Tim arrived Friday night, we took them out to some of the foreigner bars and caught up on work stories. On Saturday, Brian had to work, so it was my job to entertain both of them. I took them out for breakfast, which Koreans have no concept of. They eat the same stuff for breakfast that they would eat for any other meal. Anything more complex than pastry, donuts or bagels and they've never heard of it. We settled on a Korean/Western fusion joint where they served omelets....stuffed with rice.

We goofed off for a few hours, then went to some ancient Korean burial mounds in an area called Bullodong. We were expecting maybe twenty, turns out there are over two hundred massive mounds along the hills. We traveled to the highest point and got a great view of the city.

We hung out in Bullodong for an hour or so. The biggest highlight was finding pellet guns for sale. We had an OK Corral type battle in the streets of Bullodong.

For dinner, we took Mitch and Tim to one of our favorite bbq restaurants, then hung out for a bit at a foreigner bar. Tim, Mitch and Brian went home around 12:30. I caught up with Keddie and Daren to enjoy their last weekend at the apartment. I caught up with them at the bar of the future. It has a door like the one on the bridge of the Enterprise. Awesome. They were hanging out with a member of the Korean soap opera actors' posse. We talked him into going to a noraebong(singing room). We had a lot of fun. I was worried for the Korean dude, I tried my best to make him feel involved. You know, do onto others....

Keddie and Daren have broken their contracts with LIKE School to take a job at another Hagwon. They want to teach adults instead of children and their new deal is much better than their old deal and they get to go to Japan for 4 days on a visa trip. Yeah, I'm jealous. Keddie and Daren are only moving a few blocks, but they're going to be missed at the apt. I think I'm getting Keddie's room, but I'm moving onto the 2nd floor. Also known as, the insanity floor. We have, at last count, a manic depressive, a borderline functional alcoholic with severe OCD, a megalomaniac and the new guy, whose sickness is still TBD. The day is less great now and actually starting to get a little depressing.

Reminds me. All vacation plans are canceled for now. It turns out I have to be here six months to "earn" my vacation days. Drag. I am going to a cabin in the mountains for a Christmas spectacular with a few of my fellow teachers. That should be a lot of fun.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving.

Turkey is impossible to find in Daegu. I tried and I left a series of confused Koreans in my wake. Guess what the first meal I want when I come back is? It isn't bulgogi, galbi, mandu or bibimbap.

I had four criers in one class and three at the same time. The first was punched in the eye. The second was the puncher. I asked "Why?" and she responded with tears. The third was trying to tie me up with yarn. I took the yarn away and she lost it. She reacted like I shot her dog or something. The fourth occurred a few minutes later when I saw two girls hiding in the back, talking behind a book. I said, "Girls! No kissing." One laughed and the other lost it. It's still not as bad as yesterday. I had all the boys show up ten minutes late for class. I noticed that one had puffy eyes and the rest claimed they were in the bathroom. After about ten seconds of intense interrogation, the admitted who was fighting. I marched them to Mrs. Kim and she called their parents. If they weren't late, they probably would have gotten away with it. Then, in the same class I made a BOY cry when I caught him doing his homework in my class. We both reached for it and it ripped. After class, the boy tried to appeal to a Korean teacher for help. He claimed it was my fault his homework wasn't finished. She slapped him in the head for not having his work finished. The whole time I was thinking, "toughen up, son."

It appears I've gained the respect of my coworkers. I show up an hour early for prep work everyday. I don't really see what the big deal is, I'm just trying to do a decent job.

I have a meeting tomorrow with one of the Kim's. I started a debate class and Hee-Duk wants to talk to me. I have no idea what he wants to say, but I know it will take FOREVER. The debate kids are amazing. I assigned them an essay for homework, fingers crossed that I get something readable.

I went an entire day without having a class insult me in English and I didn't hear any of the Korean insults that I'm trained to listen for. I'm 90% sure I can put this on a resume.

I don't think the new guy is capable of doing anything without getting dizzy or feeling sick. Every time we go out, he has to take off early because he's ill. Maybe he has a drug problem... I've been able to use an adjective to describe the new guy that I never thought I would use, haughty.

Two friends are coming down from Seoul this weekend. I'm looking forward.

Not much has moved on the girlfriend front. I received a strange phone call this week and she told me twice in text messages that I'm cute. My mind is a fucking pretzel. Date #10 looms on the horizon, but I'm not really going out of my way to hang with her. Yeah, leave it to me to run an entire marathon in agony only to wuss out in the last twenty feet.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Rotten weekend.

I had a truly awkward date with Eun Jung. She has twisted my mind into a pretzel. It was essentially a three hour long language lesson. She taught me Korean for about 90 minutes and then complained that she wasn't learning enough English. She then grilled me about things she should say to English speakers during haircuts. Then her brother took her home. I would have met him but I doused myself with gasoline and set myself on fire. I guess it's time we have..."the talk."

Last night was a late night. We started out at Old Skool(possibly my favorite bar, the guys who run it are hysterical and LOVE baseball, so it's fun to hang with them), then Daren and Keddie wanted to go to a dance club. I talked them out of it and we went to another bar called "The Beatles". Remember, no copyright laws here. We ended the evening after a few bottles of bamboo soju(it's essentially hard cider, except with alcohol in it) around 5am.

Next weekend my good buddies, Tim and Mitch, are coming down from Seoul to hang out. Mitch is the most powerful person I know in Korea. Most people see parking lots as a place to park cars, Mitch sees a gym. Mitch does not have a chin. Underneath his beard is a third fist. Mitch once beat Super Mario 3 by shouting at the controller for 20 minutes.

Class was actually good this week. I only made a handful of kids cry. Next week is going to be a ballbuster. I have 8 classes on Monday. That is a lot and two of them are my monster classes. Teaching is starting to get fun.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I hung out with my friend, Kee Young, this week and somehow made Eun Jung jealous. I'm really not sure how. She told me she was busy this week(with what, I don't know), so I didn't bother to ask if she wanted to hang with us. I sent her a message telling her that I was hanging with him and she called me within seconds. We've spoken on the phone maybe four times now. She flipped out a little. "What is this? Secret?" "No, not really. You said you were busy." "Secret!" "No." I bet the same guy that taught her "terrible" and "stupid" also taught her "secret." I have to find that guy and kick his ass.

Now, we have a date for tonight. So much for being busy.

I lost my shit yesterday with a class. It was a review day and they were totally screwing around more so than usual. I asked why they weren't writing and everyone said "I don't know." Unacceptable answer. This is a review of material that they had seen before. Then, some students outside started knocking on my door and got screamed at. Brian said he poked his head out his door just to make sure that I wasn't slapping kids up and down the hallway. The words 'Don't! Touch! My! Door!" were screamed at about a dozen kids. I apologized after class.

Today is Daegu Club Day. I guess I have to go to one of the dance clubs. Fun.

I haven't seen the new guy since Monday. I think he may have fled the country.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Special link of the year.

Yes, there is a demonstration video and yes, it ruins whatever credibility this might have had.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The weekend was fairly dull for me. I essentially goofed off. I did make it to Mr. Kim's 60th/his granddaughter's 1st birthday party. It was very cute and actually very interesting from a cultural standpoint.

Family is VERY important to Koreans. After seeing how the birthdays were celebrated I was surprised we were invited. Everyone in the family spoke(in Korean, I understood more than I thought I would, I even got one of the jokes) and it was very much oriented around Mr. Kim and his granddaughter, more so than most American birthdays that I've been to.

I also picked up a repaired xbox. It works...for now.

The new guy is starting to wear out his welcome. There are things you need to know and things that are nice to know when you first get here. He's more interested in learning the things that are nice to know. For example, he asked me about the AIDS rate here in Korea. Not to downplay the threat of AIDS in Asia, but is this really information that you need to know on your first day in town? He also woke me up at 11 on a Sunday because he was hungry and he borrowed 100,000 won from another teacher that he has known for all of five minutes. It wasn't me. Actually, I took him to CostCo and forgot to bring cash. I had like $20 American in my pockets and Costco doesn't take credit or debit here. I have to go back tomorrow. We'll see about this guy, I guess I can't judge anyone by their first day here. We'll see, but he needs to toughen up. I stopped by his room just to check on him and he was exhausted from observing classes. Dude, if you're tired now, just wait until tomorrow... He claims to get either dizzy or a cramp like every five minutes. I'm three more complaints away from slapping him and telling him to act like a man. I know I didn't complain this much my first week here or my first month or, well, at all. I got pissed, for sure, but there's not a whole lot that complaining will do. Koreans don't understand and I'd be better served just asking my foreign friends for help than bitching and moaning.

I also attempted to reload my phone with minutes. It didn't go well. At the first place I went to I asked(in Korean and English, just in case) for more minutes. The cell phone posse huddled up and told me to go across the street. I did. The second place was slightly more helpful. They said I couldn't get more minutes on a Sunday. Yeah, sure. Completely crushed, I headed back to the apartment to eat pizza and ice cream with my friends. I went back much later with a female teacher and she was able to get minutes. It was from a different store and she knew the people there, but still.

The biggest drama of the weekend was Keddie and Katie hooking up with a Korean Soap Opera star and his posse. They hung out until the wee hours and wound up spending the night at a DVD 방. A visiting former teacher also started a fight at a different bar. I just had dinner with Physics Brian, played a few hours of Starcraft and read. I guess its my turn to be a mutant this weekend...

One of my speech students won first prize in his age group and another won 2nd prize in hers. I'm really proud of both of them. I may have to go up to Seoul for the next contest. Yikes.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A new teacher landed in Daegu today. The Kim's allowed him two hours of rest before sending him to the school. We don't have any apartment rooms available for him, so he's living in Mr. Kim's den. I wonder if they will have breakfast together.

Today was "Teacher Training Day," all classes were canceled and I was the only one who had to come in to work because I have it in my contract that I don't work weekends. I spent most of the day proofreading and helping the occasional speech student(the competition is tomorrow, I have three kids going to Seoul). The new teacher (Andrew) stopped by the school in the late afternoon. I walked him around the 'hood. Introduced him to a few of the friendly locals. Showed him the PC 방, gave him a few tips and helped him locate some groceries. He reminded me a lot of me when I first landed and I see now how important everyone at the apartment complex was to my survival. I wanted to take him downtown and show him the Burger King, but he was too tired. I could actually see the life flowing out of him. Had we waited any longer, I would have brought back his skeleton. He would have decomposed like the Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I gave the kid my cell number. I'm fully expecting at least one panicked phone call before the weekend is out. I owe it to those who helped me to give this kid a hand.

I had to proofread Mr. Kim's autobiography. It is fifteen chapters of PURE pain. Apparently, his uncle left him a lot of money which he used on several failed ventures before hitting it big as an ESL teacher. Once, he bought three hundred chickens and just kept them in his apartment. The heater broke and chickens started dying. Imagine a few hundred chickens crapping all over your home and then they start dying. Kim Poultry Inc. never had a chance.

Tomorrow there are so many events, parties and get togethers that I'm sure I will go to none of them and wind up playing Starcraft for hours.

Korean girlfriend just learned the word "stupid." After asking me a question(in Korean) and I responded "I don't know," (in Korean, "mullayo.") she proudly proclaimed, "Ah! Stupid!" I asked her to pronounce the word, "squirrel." She couldn't. "Now who's stupid!" Actually, things are going well. We still haven't gotten past holding hands. Apparently the social rule here is 10 dates before any extracurricular activity of any kind. I guess they like to make sure guys aren't complete scumbags before hooking up. Actually even when she declares that I'm "stupid," she's still cute. Aw. I'm starting to add vocabulary, I can say tree, bench, shirt, shoes, pants and hat.

The xbox will cost roughly $50 American to fix. I just want my box back and until there are chips for the 360, I'm staying away.

I finally watched Walk The Line this week. It was good. Not great.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I just had dinner with the Kim's and I wanted to blog the experience immeadiately. The Kim's are the owners of my school and I was about three seconds away from throwing up at all times. These people scare the crap out of me. They're your typical nice Korean couple, except they always give off a vibe that they're ten seconds away from pulling my heart out of my chest should they choose to.

What happened was I volunteered to stay after to help one of my speech students. They knew I was sick, but I told them I could tough it out and help this kid. He's a sweet kid and he actually wants to improve his English skills. I'd work with this kid for days in a hospital bed before taking on a class of monsters while fully healthy. Either way, once I finished, they invited me out for dinner. We had Korean food, beef with some vegetables and tofu soup. Good stuff. The atomic level spice of Korean food is helping to clear my horribly packed sinuses. I kept waiting for them to drop the hammer on me. Something along the lines of, "Matt, you have committed the following atrocities..." and then me making the George Karl face(picture confusion+indegestion) while they tell me that my services will no longer be needed. Well, actuallyy I know I'm not the best teacher, but I'm sure I'm not the worst one here, that's for sure. The hammer never came and I was even invited to Mr. Kim's 60th birthday on Saturday. The hammer is sure to fall there. It will be part of the festivities. 12pm hors d'ouvers, 12:30 Matt's beheading, 12:35 cake.

Mondays are bad days. It's as simple as that. I had two classes of monsters, two that were good and one that was indifferent. I'm still reeling from last Friday.

I may have made an error. I have two girls who WILL NOT STAY SEATED. NO MATTER WHAT. They left for the bathroom/water/whatever and I locked the door behind them and taught everyone else. It went well. Then I let the girls back in and they totally lost their shit. Oh well. Maybe they'll learn. Probably not.

I also had four boys decide to spend the first half of class in the computer lab goofing off. They showed up and tried to offer a lame excuse, but I'm not as dumb as I look. The more innocent the face, the more guilty the kid. Four innocent faces= I'm being had. They were instructed to go to Mrs. Kim and confess what they had done. They begged and pleaded for at least five minutes and I gave way. If they're not on time for the next class, I do the same thing, except I march them to Mrs. Kim myself.

I really find myself wondering why some of these kids are even here. They don't want to be here and just make life difficult for everyone. Their parents would be better off flushing their money down the toilet. My last class was more interested in screaming, but only when I asked someone to read. It was maddening. It was also a review class and they threw a new kid in there. Why? Give the kid a week off and let him join with a fresh book instead of the day of a review. Thanks Mrs. Kim. The kid probably thinks we're morons now.

Link of the day.

Link of the day II.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Quick update because I am sick.

These Korean germs are really annoying, In America, I just get really angry and the germs leave my body. Here? No amount of anger can get these things to leave. I have tested this thoroughly. I don't feel that bad, just a scratchy throat, bad things coming out of my head and a smoker's cough. I've had exactly two cigarettes in the past week because I want to get healthy.

Despite my condition, I had a fantastic date with Eun Jung. The purpose was to introduce on of my friends to one of hers, they both got terribly drunk and wound up hating each other. Eun Jung and I left the party at midnight to go on a three hour walk. That's right, we walked and talked for three hours around downtown Daegu.

Also, I can now read Korean. The vowels are still a little tricky(they all look the sameㅏㅣㅓㅗㅜ) It's a big help at drugstores and restaurants. I read a bottle last night for Daren, it was a Taurine beverage and she thought it was a cold remedy.

I had four speech students last week go to competition. Three of them won. I was really, really proud. Now, they're on to the semi-finals in Seoul. I better not have to attend. That would be a weekend of torture.

Physics Brian called out sick and instead of having one of the Kim's teach his classes, they just doubled mine. Thanks Brian. Thanks a lot. I had sixteen middle schoolers in one. It was a battle. I had Han Solo reunited with all his buddies. I moved him to a special seat immeadiately, that bought me maybe five minutes until they figured out, "Hey, now we can throw things across the room at each other. Bombs away!" I made it through most of the lesson, but my worksheet was useless becuase half the class had already done it and the other half was just starting. Oh well.

I drafted my fantasy basketball team this week. I had the first pick so I scored Bron-Bron. I really like my team this year, but it may be hard to compete because I can't actually watch the games, unlike last year where I was an NBA junkie.

All packages will be mailed when I get paid, so probably Friday.