Thursday, November 20, 2014

A "Lately" Post

I don't always have interesting things to say (a.k.a. like today), but it's been awhile since I gave a good, old-fashioned update on this here blog. So here's what we've been up to lately:

Lately, we finished our fall season in the Korean Ultimate Frisbee league. That kept us busy a lot of weekends the past two months, so we're both sad and happy that that's over! Weekends!

Lately, Jeremy and I celebrated birthdays. He turned thirty and I turned twenty-seven. Woot! Woot! Three cheers for being alive: "Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!" It just never gets old.

Lately, I've been trying to record a little music on my guitar, just to keep myself accountable to practicing and it's been fun. Jeremy's been learning the mandolin, so we've been having nightly jam sessions together. We've gotten darn good at the Lumineers' "Ho, Hey."

Lately, I found out who my Anonymous Commenter is and I feel a lot better. Some of you kindly asked if I was doing all right and I do feel relief knowing. Mental illness is a scary and strangling condition. Prayers for this acquaintance who's fighting this fight. 

Lately, our life in Korea has been more recognizable. We've been here for more than a year, which means that a few things begin to repeat. Like, Oh yeah, it's October, there's that random testing day where they don't let planes fly overhead so they don't disrupt the testers. No biggie! Or it's fifth grade sports day, which I've finally realized means: Come to school. Bring food to share. Eat food together. All day. We're getting the swing of things, if only the second time around!

But just because Korea is "recognizeable" does not make it predictable. Oh no. There are still random moments in taxis and sidewalks that leave us utterly baffled, but I suppose that's what makes life here interesting. For example, did I tell you all the story about the time I had the hiccups in a taxi? By and large, I've been under the impression that taxi drivers fall into one of two categories: I want to practice English with you or I don't give a damn. After we gave our directions to the driver, I wasn't quite sure which camp he fell into. But after my first hiccup at the red light, I knew I needed to create a third category: I don't speak any English, but I think you're funny. We spent the next fifteen minutes trying to communicate get-rid-of-hiccups methods only with hand gestures. Not. Easily. Done. But still a grand 'ol time as he gives me a method to try, I do it, we all wait in silence and then...and then..."hiiicccuuuuupp!"

Lately, I have a new mantra when I am on the street in Korea: "I am not entitled to personal space." It's a hard one to practice and a hard one to admit that I need. My super-chill husband, Jeremy, seems unfazed by being cut-off on the sidewalk or near collisions, but for some reason, this feels like such an easy fix, if we could just ALL AGREE!....(see where this is headed?). Whew. Deep breaths. Long story short, I liked Korea a lot more before I started riding my bike here. It's a jungle out there. And instead of suiting up for war every morning and growing more upset with every block. I'm just taking it slow, looking both ways (twice), and reminding myself that--though I may want it--I am not entitled to personal space.

Lately, I've been drinking soju with my principal. This is not a daily occurrence (especially since I really hate the taste of soju), however, when the teachers at school have dinner together it is customary that people pour a drink for the principal. It is a sign of respect. I am not expected to do so as it is usually the responsibility of the head of each department, but I leaned over to my co-teacher over ginseng-chicken soup and said, "Hypothetically, what would happen if I offered to pour a drink for the principal?"

Her eyes got real big and excited and I knew there was no turning back. She said, "Oh, you have to do it!" The principal is kinda, sorta the "king of the castle," so understandably, I got real nervous and sweaty. I asked a lot of questions. I double-checked my Korean pronunciation, but then, I went for it.

I got down on my knees.
I didn't make too much eye contact.
I held the soju bottle with two hands.
I covered my mouth to smile.
I turned my head to laugh.
I asked (in Korean) if he wanted a drink.
I poured the drink with two hands.
I accepted his offer to pour me a drink.
I turned my head to drink it.
Everyone laughed.
I wanted to hide.
But he seemed impressed.

Lately, I've found a particular joy in teaching the difference between words. Some sounds/letters just don't exist in the Korean language, so many Korean English speakers make the same predictable mistakes. For example, confusing "L" and "R", which inevitably means my kids say, "I eat lice." And once I explain it, they think it is hilarious! Or the difference between "Z" and "J" most frequently confused with the words "zoo" and "Jew." But hands down, my favorite word confusion is "chicken" and "kitchen." It's a good one. So good, that someone made this video that I always use in class. 

Lately, I realized that the holiday season is coming. It's easy to forget over here because Thanksgiving is an American holiday and Christmas in Korea is not a big deal. But hopefully, we can do small things to make it special and not feel too far away. We won't be here forever. Some day, we'll sit around a Thanksgiving dinner back home and think of our memories here.

Ebbing and flowing.
Pushing and pulling.
Here and there.


Vickie Bohlender said...

Loved your Hiccup story. It had me LOL invisioning this happening!