Excerpts from my journal; Mid June 2017

June 14

7 is my unlucky number. It’s unlucky because every morning I wake up around 5:30 or 6am, and so when I go to bed and set my alarms, I tend to see “Alarm set for 7 hours and xx minutes.” And I used to have a mini panic every time. I’m getting less than 8 hours of sleep tonight! my mind would yell. I’m going to be soo tired tomorrow I won’t be able to function, and my skin will get worse, and my health will deteriorate, and my mind won’t work properly, and I won’t be able to be creative tomorrow night!…and so on. I firmly and utterly believed that I needed at least 8 hours of sleep to be okay. Even if the time was 7 hours and 59 minutes, that wasn’t okay. Because I knew that I would spend at least half an hour actually falling asleep, and then I had blown it. But going to bed before or at 9 just wasn’t okay either. Aside from being too grandmotherly (and I already have that image, thanks), it would mean I only had 4 hours of time every evening. Between showering, eating dinner, and the other mindless tasks I need to do every night, that would not be enough time to do all the relaxing and working on of projects that I wanted. I’ve always had a weird relationship with time.

My internet stopped working on Monday night. It’s a bummer. I did a bunch of things to it and tried to fix it myself for two days, but at some point you just have to adult up and call the dang service man. Well, in this case I made my Korean friend call in case the English person asked me questions I didn’t know. But it got done. Now I just have to go home and wait awkwardly until the service man comes, then wait awkwardly while he fixes it, and maybe awkwardly answer his questions. Awkwardly. Boo.

I do love Korea though, because they sent me a text with the guy’s name, number, and picture so I don’t get a creeper. Considerate.

I have become the school editor. Today I had 3 things sent to me by coworkers to be edited. Looked over. Even my boss’s boss has sent me things to be checked before they get posted or sent out. I am the editor. The Editor. I feel like I could legitimately get that on a mug now.

Today is Wednesday. Meeting day. Which means the last part of my work day is always a nasty cold sore on the mouth of the day. Ugh. Usually it’s fine, but always painful. Always just a lot of meaningless dribble.

June 15

The first week I was in Korea, I didn’t have a coffee maker. I bought and drank the cold coffees from the convenience store downstairs, but it was a sad and lackluster replacement. There’s nothing like hot, strong, fresh coffee to wake you up.

I wanted fresh coffee desperately before I got a machine. I had to be creative to get it. I had a saucepan, and paper towels, and a thermos. I made filters from the paper towels, set it in the thermos, added the grounds, then spooned boiling water from the saucepan over it. Hand dripped coffee, bam. It was amazing. But time-consuming. I did that for way longer than I should have. I feel like it might have been a week, or it might have felt like a week.

I ended up ordering a machine, so that delayed the process even more. Eventually, the tiny, red, four-cup maker came, and he’s been my morning friend for two years. Bless him.

Last night the internet got fixed. Kind of. It worked for about an hour and then kaput. I got angry, laid down and read a book for a while, then went out and unplugged it and plugged it back in. It worked. Then this morning it was out again. So I got angry, made coffee, then went out and unplugged it and plugged it back in. It’s working now. It might just become part of my routine. What a pain.

I use a curler on my bangs now. I’d seen girls in dramas use them. Their front hair curled up, looking ridiculous, as they did their makeup or headed to work. Yes, work. It reminds me of the old ladies who would go about with curlers in their hair. I even see some of the high school students at school doing it. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s supposed to be cute? Like, oh, you’ve seen into my getting ready moments. Oh, you see me trying to be pretty. 

Today it seems like many things happened in a very short space of time. But now I can’t actually think of what they were. Just a feeling then.

June 16

My body is for carrying my head around. So let’s not get carried away on vanity.

This morning I was on watch duty in the elementary hallway. Teachers take turns making sure kids don’t destroy themselves or each other. As I was watching, a first-grade girl walked up the stairs reading a book. She was walking really slowly and paused as she stopped by the shelf to change her shoes. She read with one hand while she awkwardly pulled her shoes off with her feet, then, still reading one-handed, she sat down on the floor and slipped on her indoor shoes.

That instance made me want to write a story about her. Imagine who she’ll grow up to be. Imagine how great of a person if she continues to keep up her love of reading. But there’s the potential for mischief too. She’s a little strange. A little odd. It could help her or hinder her. I know. I was always a little off too. Always on the outside. Always.

Yesterday as I was walking home I noticed something new. While waiting at the crosswalk, I don’t usually look up. People notice other people looking up, so they look with them. Most people look at the ground or straight ahead. But I looked up because I was tired. I have stood at that crosswalk a hundred times by now. I noticed then for the first time the tower. There’s a big metal pole that I’ve passed many, many times. It’s much thicker than an ordinary streetlight or telephone pole, but it was always part of the background. As I looked up, I noticed that it was standing alone, and was very tall. My first thought was that it was an alarm, for air raids or bad weather. But there were no speakers. Three-quarters of the way up was a small platform with a ledge you could walk around and a small railing. Whirligigs were placed at intervals all around. The same thing at the very top, with another smaller projection with some unseeable instrument at the top. I assume the tower is for weather. The whirligigs and possibly the rain collector testify to that. It must relay information to the nearest weather station. I looked up and down the street and didn’t see any others.

I tell this story because it was amazing to me to notice something for the first time that I’ve walked by for almost two years. Strange what the mind overlooks. Strange what becomes just part of the background. A lesson, to always look up.

June 18

Yesterday I was out all day. I don’t do that very often. I went shopping with my friends, ate lunch, then watched Wonder Woman. It was…wonderful. Haha ugh.

I did love it though. As a movie, it was just great. Better than good, but not amazing. But as empowerment, it was epic. Gal Gadot is my new hero. She should be the ideal woman. Beautiful, kind, strong, muscled, fighter.

One of my other friends had said she loved the movie so much because it was a contrast to other female superheroes. Many other movies portray women superheroes as men without…uh…man parts. They act exactly the same. But Wonder Woman acted like a woman. They didn’t steal her femininity to make her strong. I agree. They showed a mother’s love, a daughter’s independence, womanly tears, and compassion. They gave her those things without making her weak. It was beautiful. And they didn’t emasculate the men around her either. That was important.

Yeah, I loved that movie. It made me aspire to be her, and that’s what superhero movies are about. They should make us want to be like the hero. Men should look up to Captain America because he is good and just and strong. Women should look up to Wonder Woman for the same reasons. She is good and just and strong. 

Let’s keep our heroes.

Today I have my last D&D session before I go on vacation. Most of my party will be leaving Korea for good, so we’re doing a special Battle Royale tonight. 


June 19

I have strep throat again. I had it about a month ago, and I guess I didn’t kick it. I left it a while before I went to the doctor, so maybe that was why. This time I went as soon as I found out, today.

I didn’t go to my usual doctor though. A friend found an ENT closer to home, and specialists in Korea are cheaper. Win win. The reason they’re cheaper is that it’s usually a very tiny practice with one elderly doctor and a couple of nurses.

This time, I went in, handed over my ID card to get signed in, and was seen about two minutes later. I sat down in a very strange chair. It was kind of like a dentist’s chair, but I didn’t get laid back. There were a variety of instruments next to the chair, also like a dentist’s, that I wish I could have seen closer.

The doctor came out, and elderly he was indeed. He asked me if I spoke Korean, and I said no. I do, enough, but it’s always easier to just speak English in a doctor’s. I’m not up to the phlegm chapter of “Learn Korean Vocabulary.” He asked me what my symptoms were, and painstakingly typed them in English into his program. Then he took a look and said, “Ah. Your tonsils are infected.” Yep. Knew that. So then he told me to say ‘ahhhhh’ and the nurse handed him a metal spray bottle attached by a hose to the console next to me. Uh huh. Okay. What? He sprayed my throat, swabbed it with a metal pole, then sprayed something else after. It tasted like medicine. In a word, awful.

I grimaced as he told me I would need antibiotics. Thanks, that’s what I’m here for.

Then came the strangest part. The nurse told me to come with her, and she led me to a tiny cubicle off to the side. There was a contraption set up I had to sit down in front of. Now, if you grew up with asthma like I did, you’ll probably know what a breathing machine is. If not, pay attention. There is a long plastic hose attached to the main part of the machine. This hose extends and is attached to a head that you typically hold and breathe in and out of. You dispense the liquid medicine underneath and the machine vaporizes it so you can inhale the medicine.

I say typically, because this one was suspended in a plastic sheet to be hands free. So she started it up, the vapor started to come out, and she told me to…in broken English…come close and open my mouth and say ahh. That’s all. She didn’t tell me to breathe specifically but that’s what humans do so I did. I sat leaning forward, about eight inches away from the opening, breathing in the general direction of the vapor. I could taste it, so I know it was working, but really? I couldn’t hold it? It couldn’t be rigged so I didn’t have to lean forward awkwardly for a minute?

The minute passed, and I was done for real. I got my prescription, took it down the hall and got my meds. Done in ten minutes. And the best part? The entire thing cost about 7,000W, less than seven USD. Now to see how fast this works. And if I can open my eyes tomorrow without a headache. Culture day is coming up…

June 20

When you’re a small child teacher, I’d say kindergarten to second, every time there’s an event, you end up with the same dilemma. Students are supposed to do the work themselves. It makes it more meaningful and that’s the whole point of the event. But children can’t make things and decide things, so the teacher inevitably does everything. It’s just easier. I hung the flags and put up the photobooth because it was easier than figuring out how to tell my students to do it well. Plus with the tonsillitis or whatever I have, talking is too hard.

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