THE KOREA KRONICLES: Dispatches from the Ice Palace

This morning was the first on a day off from work since I came back to Korea a month ago that I didn’t wake up next to someone, and it felt really strange. This weekend is 설날 (“Seolnal”), also known as the Korean New Year or Lunar New Year. Typically, it falls on the second New Moon following the Winter Solstice and is a time when Koreans return to their hometowns to be with their family, eat traditional food, drink soju, celebrate the passage of another year, and perform ancestral rites. The practical effect of this for me is that my boyfriend, who we’ll call DG, won’t be coming to see me until Saturday evening, even though the both of us have a long weekend. He’ll be celebrating with his family in Busan and, as a result, I hope to be forgiven my mild melancholy. Okay, I admit, it’s not that bad. It’s just that it’s cold and it’s nice to be able to snuggle up to someone special when the chill starts to bite, which it does in my sometimes frigid apartment. Continue reading

DIRTY LITTLE FREAKS: Story Arcs of 2013, Part Un

The Teaching Life“If you do not stop talking, I will turn off the air conditioning, open the windows, and make you all sit on the floor,” I said, thoroughly exasperated. “Do you understand?”

Their affirmations of “yes, teacher” were of course accompanied by seismic eye-rolls and I had little confidence in their intention to heed my warning. In fact, I think we barely made it another minute and half before I simply stopped trying to talk over them, walked to the back of the room and turned off the thermostat, then methodically unlatched and slid open each window in the classroom. With the windows open, there was nothing to hold back the hot, sticky, Korean summer air from steamrolling through and turning the classroom into something just short of a sauna, which it did, and in barely any time at all. Continue reading

THE KOREA KRONICLES: Greetings from Bokhyeon-dong, and Other Good Tidings of Great Joy

Bokhyeon-dongIt’s been a while since I’ve posted anything in the Korea Kronicles. I say that while indulging in the slight vanity of thinking that someone might have noticed and, perhaps while noticing, cared, if only a little. That dearth of news specifically concerning my life and work in the Land of the Morning Calm has been primarily a result of there having been little to report. Since my last writing, my life in Korea has quickly settled into a very enjoyable if predictable routine, the heat and craziness of summer is becoming a comfortably distant memory, and, quite simply, things have stopped being new enough for me to care enough to write about them. My kids still say crazily, cutely, and outlandishly funny things from time to time and I’m still learning how to navigate this somewhat strange and definitely foreign culture; you know, same old same-old. As of this posting, I’ve been in Korea seven months and counting and now, at last, I have something new to report. Actually, quite a lot of somethings, so hold on to your butts. Continue reading