TYPE B in TAIPEI, PART VI: Unintentional Phallic Artwork, and Other Hazards of Teaching

2015-10-12 16.01.23The word was necklace. It was a word I had introduced to my junior high students the previous week as we used a dialogue about a woman’s lost wedding ring to practice our speaking and pronunciation skills. The boy reached into the bucket of Pictionary words I’d created specially for this review game and pulled out the piece of jewelry one wears about the neck. I asked him if he remembered the word and he assured me he did. His teammates watched anxiously as I started the 1-minute countdown in which he’d have to draw a picture that they could then interpret correctly to give me the word. I yelled, “Ready, set, GO!” and watched his teammates for a raised hand. Then, after a few seconds, the entire class erupted in laughter. I turned to see what was so funny and discovered the boy, in a hurried attempt to draw a necklace with a small pendant had instead drawn what more closely resembled a penis with urethral opening. My wide eyes must have told him he needed to try again, which he did. Seconds later, more laughter–this time, he’d done a rather fine rendition of a vagina. Thankfully, his teammates were able to guess the word, and he was able to sit down without suffering any more embarrassment. In short, welcome to my life, friends. Continue reading

TYPE B in TAIPEI, PART I: Unintentional Swearing, and Other Side Effects of Allergies

The coral beach at Liuciu Island.

The coral beach at Liuciu Island.

I have accidentally said “fuck” to elementary students in two languages in two different countries, both within two weeks of arriving in those countries. Can you say the same? Probably not, I’m guessing, but no worries. It’s an extraordinarily simple thing to do. For example, in Korean, the word for “eighteen” is ship-pal and the word for “fuck” is sshib-bal (the only real difference is that the entry “s” sound is strongly aspirated for “fuck”). Therefore, you can probably understand how I once said, “I left home when I was fuck [in Korean].” Now, in the Taiwanese dialect of Chinese, the word for fuck is gahn, but the “n” sound is almost silent (on the mainland, this verb merely means “to do”). The main elementary school where I now work in Douliu City has a small English village and I’ve been assigned to teach the Airport class on Tuesdays and Fridays. On my first day, while attempting to say, “ A gun is very dangerous. You can’t take a gun on the airplane,” my voice wasn’t its normal self due to my allergies being particularly bad that day. So, with the help of nasal congestion, what I actually said was, “A fuck [in Chinese] is very dangerous. You can’t take a fuck on the airplane.” This leads me to a new personal goal I’ve established: whatever country I move to next, I want to make it at least a month before I accidentally swear at students in whatever language they speak.

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PERSONAL FILE: Back and There Again; It’s Sorta Like a Hobbit’s Tale, Right?

Jong-no District, Seoul

Jong-no District, Seoul

Everything happens so much. Yes, I know @horse_ebooks is fake, but I don’t care. When I sat down in this random coffee shop in Burien, Washington, to start fleshing out my thoughts on the transpirations of the past few weeks, that was the first quote to slide across my mental marquee. For those just tuning in, I am no longer in Korea. My last day of work at Daegu-Gyeongbuk English Village (DGEV) was Friday, February 27, the day before my twenty-fifth birthday. There were times over the past six months or so when I thought that day would never come and now, quite ironically, it feels a bit like the distant past given everything that’s happened since. Continue reading

THE KOREA KRONICLES, PART VI: Pork-Spine Soup, Fan Mail, and Why My Life is Weird

Photo 2013-04-21 02.32.35 PMI grew up in a cedar thicket. Apparently, that’s hilarious–or maybe it’s just hilarious when I say it. IDK. I guess you’ll just have to ask David and Colleen to be sure. (Inside jokes, FTW.) But, yes, it’s true. I did grow up in a cedar thicket, or something like that. In any case, there were a lot of cedar trees around. OH MY GOD I AM TALKING SO MUCH ABOUT CEDAR TREES. Moving on now, all that to point out that I don’t have any allergies. Cedar trees are notoriously profligate in their shedding of pollen and if I can survive being hemmed in by a Hell’s Horde of them, then, well, I’m fairly confident I can inhale just about any form of pollen imaginable and not degenerate into an inflamed sinus. +15 Bad-ass Points. Every Spring, whenever I hear someone talk about how terrible their allergies are, I’m secretly elated that I managed to escape that common misfortune (knock on wood). Continue reading

THE KOREA KRONICLES, PART II: Oceans Away, Yet Strangely At-Home

I wasn't kidding when I said I was going to Korea.

I wasn’t kidding when I said I was going to Korea.

Almost one full week ago, my feet touched the soil of the United States of America for the last time for a while and I officially became an expat. Life Achievement unlocked, +1000 points. Ever since fastening my seat-belt on the Korean Air flight from Dallas, I feel as though I’ve been hurtling through a warp tunnel. So much has happened, in fact, that if I hadn’t experienced it, I’d say it’s a bit absurd to claim so much happened in such a short amount of time. What I can say is that even though I’ve only been at the English camp for a week, I can already sense myself starting to settle in, which is a lovely feeling. I sometimes think moving to a foreign and unfamiliar country is a bit like an organ transplant, which always seems to carry the possibility that the organ and the new host will reject each other. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened and I’m increasingly confident that Korea and I are going to be chummy in no time at all. Continue reading