You have failed and now you must Daegu!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Well, I missed my favorite sporting event for the first time in years. I'm talking about the NBA draft. No sporting event is filled with more unintentional comedy, awkward moments or questionable wardrobe than the NBA draft. I was thrilled that my beloved Bulls snagged Joakim Noah at #8. His haircut alone is going to make highlight reels for years.

Another highligh was Yi Jianlan being taken by the Milwaukee Bucks. There's no way he's ever going to play a minute in Milwaukee. First off, this guy will go down as one of the biggest busts in NBA history. He just looks like a guy who is going to have the record of "Most Times Being Dunked on in a YouTube Clip". Second, he refused to workout for teams, always a red flag that a guy sucks, but his agent doesn't want him to lose whatever hype he might've generated. Finally, there are serious questions about his age. He dominated the 19 and under World Championships, the only problem was that it sounds like he lied about his age to compete. Also, he only wanted to play for certain teams and Milwaukee wasn't on the list. He'll wind up being traded this summer, most likely to Golden State and take over Darko's spot as NBA punchline.

Highlights from this week? High drama in Daegu. I'm not sure where I'll be happy living next year. Su-Jin will not be able to join me in Seoul and I don't know if I can take another year in Daegu. I know I will miss her, a lot, but I want to try a new city. I think I've decided to stay. I was offered a public school job in Daegu. I know the city. It's a better place to learn Korean. It's more money and it's easier to save in Daegu. It doesn't effect my travel plans at all. Right now, I'm doing 5 days in Tokyo at the end of September, 9 days in Chicago for the holidays and a trip to Mongolia with Patrick at some point for a couple days. I want to watch my beloved Samsung Lions tear apart the KBO next year. Not having Su-Jin would be fairly painful. We've both agreed to one more year in Daegu, after that either I'll come back with a boatload of cash and memories for my Master's degree, take another teaching job in Seoul or I'll stay in Korea and start a small business. I have a great idea that I believe would make a buttload of cash.

The Lions are in 4th place in the KBO. It looks like the SK Wyverns are going to take the top spot in the league, they're 4.5 games up. There are 4 teams fighting for three spots with 2 months to go before the playoffs. The last weekend will determine everything. I'm calling it right now.

Not much else to report. I had some difficulty with my history class on Friday. They showed up at 1:30, class starts at 1pm sharp. Then, they told me they didn't want to study, but they wanted to eat lunch instead. I went to Kim Hee-dal, the middle son and manager of the special classes. He told them to study and we had a great class. We did explorers of the 16th century. Zwirb would love this shit. Next week, the Revolutionary War and the 17th Century.

We also have two new teachers at LIKE. Graham and John. Both are older guys and both live on my floor. It's now me, Jerry, Graham and John. I'm changing the name from the 3rd floor to "The Retirement Home."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I headed to the local police station right after my afternoon class ended at 2:30. I had the document that I needed filled out and the phone number of the recruiter, just in case everything went awry.

I walked in and stuck out like a sore thumb. Par for the course in Daegu. I asked, politely, in Korean if I could get a background check(actually, it translated to "Give me this please). After watching some of the local cops scratch their heads for a few seconds. I called the recruiter. After a short exchange, they snapped to it and figured out what they needed to do to make me leave. Some of the cops took a liking to me. I was told I was handsome at least four times and given a bizarre Korean energy drink while I waited.

I had to go to the main police office in Daegu to get this taken care of. This would have been a problem, except they offered to give me a a police car. I almost jumped out of my skin as I rapidly searched my phrasebook for, "Can I run the siren?"

We were about two minutes into the ride when I asked Officer Hwang, "Siren arayo?" Literal translation, "Do you know "siren."" Response "Siren? Ahhh, siren!" Then handing me the control and allowing me to scare some old Korean lady on the street.

I spent about ten minutes in the main office. Mostly sittting. The staff really took care of me. Overall it was a fairly pleasant experience. Except, I had to walk back. I guess it was happy hour at the station and Officer Hwang had to get back before Min Suk drank all the soju.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

This is the big cartoon in Korea. The English name is "My Family." Not sure if it will hit western shores....ever.

I suffered my first rain out of the year yesterday. Thankfully, Su-Jin and I purchased seats in the "expensive" zone behind homeplate, so we were completely dry when the announcement was made. Good thing too, it rained until the next morning.

It's officially monsoon season in Korea. It means a month of grey skies and a constant pissing rain. Not delicious.

I managed to catch Sunday's game after Saturday's rainout. My good buddy Jake accompanied Su-Jin and I to the stadium this time. We watched the Samsung Lions and Hanhwa Eagles play like they spent the entire night out drinking, made it home around 6 am, then got the call from the manager at 11 that they would have to actually play at 2pm. To say the game was boring is an understatement. I've never fallen asleep during a ballgame, but today, I was close. The final was 4-2. The Lions recieved solid pitching from their starter, but the bullpen fell apart faster than me playing StarCraft against Patrick. It went something like this. Leadoff walk, sacrifice, double, walk, homerun, strike out, pop up. It was like watching the White Sox for the past month.

Speaking of, until the trade deadline, there won't be much on the beloved Sox here. Unless they do us all a favor and crash the team plane into a mountain. I'm on the Brewers bandwagon now baby! I'm riding the Crew to October. The Commisioner's Trophy needs a beer!!!

Another bump in the road for me to stay in Daegu. I want to come home for the holidays. Badly. If I take a 4 month or 6 month contract at an Academy in Daegu, this would make travel plans difficuly. Academies don't give much time off. Speaking of, wasn't I going to take a Japan trip...this year?

A bump on the road for me to go to Seoul. I need to get a background check. From a Korean police department. To say that Korean police are lazy isn't accurate. Lazy implies that you're actually doing a little work, albeit, not very hard. A Korean police office is a great place to see Korean guys sleep. Thank god the populace is a law abiding one. If anyone knew...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Good news! I was offered the job in Seoul. It's a winning streak! Eat my balls, hiring managers!!! 3 straight for the good guys!!! Now I have to move back to Chicago and have 573 bad interviews before landing another crummy job or just open a night club in Seoul and rake in the cash. Either way, it's all good.

Bad news! Su-Jin can't move to Seoul in September like we planned.

I'm not sure which way to go. The thought of 6 more months in Daegu is depressing, but the thought not having Su-Jin in Seoul is also depressing. Hmmmm. I'd like to stick to my original plan. Finish my contract with LIKE and then head to Seoul, but I'm at least going to look into a short term contract in Daegu. There aren't many GOOD Academies in Daegu, you know, one's that pay on time and allow me to work on my own.

I refuse to stay with LIKE. They're starting to realize that I'm not incompetent and giving me a real class schedule. After weeks of easy schedules, this actual work is a little difficult. I have 4 history classes starting next week. I might get overtime for the 2nd straight month.

Not much else is going on. Classes are fairly tame. I think I might have finally broken one of my last two remaining monster classes. Then again, it just might be the bribe. They told me on Monday they had a big school test and would like cup ramyon. I agreed to buy them cup ramyon on Friday. They claim I agreed to buy cup ramyon on Wednesday. I wrote down Friday. So, we made it a reward challenge. Behave and get cup ramyon. Spend the class shrieking in Korean, no dice. They barely made it and the last twenty minutes of class were actually palatable. We'll see what class shows up on Friday.

The other monsters remain and will remain. At least they stopped openly hating my guts and just quietly hate my guts. I hope the next poor sap they get is a real hard ass and whips these kids into shape. Who am I kidding. I'm probably the biggest hard ass they'll see and I can't whip them into shape. I can't believe the parents keep paying for this. I really can't. Hmmmm. Woo Min can't speak any English. What should we do? I know! Keep sending him to Academy!!! He's bound to start learning and day now! Genius.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Apparently the hiring director in Seoul called LIKE looking for a reference and she got one. Mrs. Kim claims she gave me a positive reference. I just might get this job after all. Isn't that strange. Assuming I get this job, and I refuse to assume that I will until I am in a classroom in Seoul, that will mean that the last three times I interviewed I got the job. That's called a winning streak my friends.

/licks finger and adds another tick mark to an invisble chalkboard

I caught another baseball game on Sunday and I felt I must blog this experience as soon as possible.

Su-Jin and I headed to the ballpark in time to find our seats, get a snack and see the first pitch. We sat in the covered area behind home plate. I costs about 3,000 won more than the general admission seats and they are a lot more pleasant. The Lions were playing the "Unicorns" again. The Unicorns have a white guy that is the Korean equivalent to Manny Ramirez, minus the dreads. "Purumba" absolutely torches Lions pitching, but it appeared that the Lions were doing everything they could to avoid giving him anything to hit. I was expecting the Lions pitchers to roll the ball to the plate underhand.

The Lions kept "Purumba" in check and won an easy 7-0 victory. The KBO All-Star game is next month in Busan. I was going to go, but its in the middle of the week. I will do my best to "cover" the game for this blog. I can't wait, I'm excited to see the best this country has to offer on the same field at the same time. I'm INSANELY excited for next year's WBC. I'll root for the Americans as long as they're not playing Korea. Screw it. I'll still root for the Americans, as long as they show up on time and at least look like they're interested.

I'm 4-1 at ballgames in Korea. I don't know what my record would be at White Sox games, but its safe to say my record wouldn't be .800.

Patrick told me that when he observed his new job he thought of me. They have a standing "No Korean" rule that they actually enforce. He has to prepare. He has to do paperwork. They don't take any shit. I have tried to do all of these things at LIKE only to be met with resistance and ridicule. I guess I'm not the crazy one. There's an old saying, "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean that people aren't following me."

"In the airport of life, just the baggage. Think about it."- A.C. Slater.

Some people quote Nietzsche, others quote Einsten, some quote Thoreau, but I quote Slater. I'm not sure what this says about me, but it says something.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I just had my interview in Seoul. Strange experience. First off, I took a taxi to the building. Which turned out to be a good thing for the first time...ever. He took me right to the building that I needed to be at. I never would have found the building on my own. Never. It was practically hidden. All that was missing was the camo.

I arrived two hours early. So, I attempted to locate lunch. This was difficult. I didn't want Korean food(it can be messy) and I couldn't find an acceptable alternative. I wound up going to the rattiest PC room in Seoul and dicking around for an hour, before walking back and dicking around near the building. They security guards probably thought I was casing the joint.

I headed up for my interview. I answered the woman's questions and I had a few of my own. I did my best, but I still have no idea what to do in these goofy things. I can't interview. I've tried to play the role and I suck at that. I've tried to be myself and given my, um, unique personality, that's probably a bad idea. Whatever. They've probably already made up their minds about me, why else would they ask for a photo? I have no idea if I got the job or not. I'd say it went well, but given my interview history, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

I headed back to Daegu with my tail between my legs and stuffed myself with dumplings until I felt like heading to PC room in Daegu to dick around.

My history classes are officially a success. The students don't hate my guts and it appears they're learning. The book is painfully easy, but it is in fact a real text book. The Kim's didn't write it. That's the best compliment I can give.


On a happier note, my good friend Brad is engaged. We're all thrilled for him. I hope I can attend the wedding.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I guess I chose the right city. Good thing my recruiter said Daegu instead of Daejeon.

Not much to this update. My first history class was today and it was mostly a success. The class is two Korean high school students. They show up and do their work. One goes to school in Riverside, California, the other in Pennsylvainia. I have little else to say about the matter.

The Samsung Lions are still in contention. Essentially in the same spot.

They even had a player get his 2,000th hit. Congratulations to Yong Jun Hyuk.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Two new startling developments.

1st, the Kims want me to teach two US History classes. I'm an American I should be able to do this. I have to lecture. I have to prepare materials. So, it's a lot more work without any real benefit. The first lesson is on Native Americans. This will either be awful or great. I'm not sure which. The Kims also agreed to write me a letter of reccomendation. I'm hoping to get this done before I have to tell them I want to leave a week or two early.

2nd, I have a job interview on 6/16 with the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education. I think I might throw up. Maybe a haircut and a new suit are in order. I can't decide. I turned down the jobs in the mountains of Seoul. I know I wouldn't be happy there.

The Samsung Lions have one five in a row behind some sparkling D and effective pitching. They're 1.5 games back of first and will likely make the playoffs this year.

I don't know what happened to the White Sox. I think the season's been canceled. Go Brewers.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sorry for the continued lack of updates. My parents visited me in Korea this week and I have been actually busy. No dicking around at pc room for a few hours a day. I have to be places and see people.

My parents arrived last Tuesday. I was happy to greet them after work at the train station. We went to the hotel first to drop off the bags and then hit downtown Daegu(yes, there is a downtown) for dinner. I remembered that my father enjoyed meat and rice. Korean BBQ(galbi) was enough to keep him pacified. We met for lunch the next day. I took them to my favorite mandu(dumpling) restaurant. They claim they enjoyed it. Then I had to hurry to work. We met later that evening for dinner. Su-Jin joined us and we went out to the best place in Daegu for a hamburger, a joint called Burnham's. Burnham's would be completely fine in the States except for two things. The price and the green tomatoes. Other than that, I love the place. The club burger is excellent. After dinner, we headed to Organ Bar for drinks. Su-Jin handled my parents as well as she could have and she didn't break up with me. That's as much as I could have hoped for.

On Thursday, we went for Shabu Shabu(A Korean soup that's difficult to explain). I invited my foreign friends to join, but Daren and Keddie were busy with students and Patrick was in Japan attempting to straighten out his visa. My English friend, Thomas, was the only one who could show up. Thomas was his gentlemanly self and my parents thoroughly enjoyed his company. My parents think I'm a good judge of character. The people I'm closest to in Korea are Su-Jin, Patrick and Thomas. I think they're right. I couldn't have done a better job of choosing my friends.

My parents came to the school on Thursday afternoon. They met most of the weirdos that I've blogged about. Robert was in rare form and Mrs. Kim attempted to bullshit my father. Even I saw right through her. It feels like the worse things get at LIKE, the better my classes get. Strange. The kids loved my parents and apparently don't hate me as much as I would like. I need to start REALLY cracking down on discipline.

Thursday night we headed for Seoul. I skipped dinner to make the last KTX train. We arrived in Seoul after midnight. The line at the cab stand was massive. We walked about a hundred yards away in order to get a taxi before it got to the cab stand. I had to pacify the cabbie with Korean. She spoke zero English and turned down the first foreigner she saw. She got us to the hotel, but the ride was hardly smooth.

The Lotte World Hotel is essentially Korea's answer to Disney World. The amusement park is much smaller and presently closed due to safety concerns. The room was very comfortable and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay.

Seoul was fairly uneventful. I spent time with my parents, we saw some sites and my parents got to know Su-Jin. My father and I saw a ballgame together. The Doosan Bears played the LG Twins. I was rooting for the Bears. The Bears pitching staff took a no-hitter into the 8th before some chump reliever served up a hit. The stadium in Seoul was MUCH nicer than the Daegu stadium. It was an enjoyable experience all around. The cheering section was in rare form.

While I was at the ballgame, Su-Jin took my mom shopping. I think they enjoyed each other's company.

I finally got to see the StarCraft League "stadium." I call it a stadium, actually its the "StarDome." It's really just a big room with chairs and cameras. It was awesome.

I recieved a job offer this week. Its in a suburb of Seoul called Dabongsan. It's in the mountains. I think I can do better. My recruiter won't be happy, but she can go fucking scratch. She works in Insadong(a beautiful part of Seoul in the middle of the city). I don't want to work in the sticks. The best thing about my job in Daegu is the location. I'm a two minute walk from downtown.

Su-Jin and I headed back to Daegu on Sunday night. I was happy to see my parents. I missed my sister though. Too bad she's busy with a real job.