Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Part I

I was not feeling very christmasy at all this year. It's hard being away from the comforts of home and I didn't do gifts this year for anyone so I wasn't wrapping and getting all excited. Liz and I are going to see Eric Clapton and going to Hong Kong in February so we decided no gifts just yet.  Lizzy had been feeling pretty much the same way so I decided to make us an advent calendar and fill it with small trinkets and gifts to try to get us Christmased up. I cannot take credit for the numbers Liz did all of those without a stencil. I love it!
I'm a crafty little devil!
Next up on the holiday schedule was my school Christmas party.Now we all know that I'm not the biggest fan of my work environment or most of my co-workers but it did prove to be a great night. We had a budget of $50.00 which is a little excessive for a holiday party but whatever. The co worker I bought for is named Martha and she wanted a really expensive face wash. She loved it!
Martha co-teaches 5 of my classes with me
My one friend from work Josh had me so he knew exactly what to get me to make my Christmas. Purple Converse chucks and a gift card for Starbucks.
Always psyched to get new chucks
After dinner and more Soju than I care to think about we headed to Norebang. We had a decent time although my one co worker who is mayor of douchebag city kind ruined it by singing out of tune and just in general being a jerk. The following photo is proof that the holiday spirit brings people together.
Me and my boss Brian singing Journey together
Laura's mom was in town visiting from Maryland and the next evening she took us out for a delicious meal at our favorite German restaurant Chef Meili's in Itaewon. We gorged ourselves on salmon, Cordon Bleu, Stroganoff and of course decadent desserts all prepared in house. We also had the "treat" of home made schnapps. It was what I have always imagined moonshine to taste and feel like. My entire body was warm and my cheeks were instantly red.
Getting ready for our schnapps
none of us were really ready
Liz and I tired and tried to get a good photo of us. We have decided that this should be our holiday card photo next year.
Merry Christmas from Wierdoville
This one is much better
Then we had a Yankee swap to exchange gifts. Among the loot was a tiger paint by number, drinking straw glasses, hello kitty speakers and a Starbucks mug. Liz had number one and got this electronic luggage weigher which she switched with me for a teddy bear blanket and some peanut M&M's at the very end of the game. Either way we both get to share the gifts anyway. 
We have yet to weight luggage with it but we will use it for sure
Look I'm a bear
After the gifts we got a beer at Polly's and did a little dancing and then everyone headed home. It was a wonderful way to start my holiday celebrations.

Laura's Birthday Celebration

Well it has been quite some time since my last post so I'll update you on my life since Thanksgiving. I feel like the Andrews car curse has been passed on to me but with electronics. My camera has a broken lens, the LCD on Liz's kick ass big ol' camera broke, my computer had to have the memory replace and both of my watches have died. So needless to say many of the photos in this post have been stolen from my friends (thanks everyone).
So the next big event after Thanksgiving was Laura's 24th birthday celebration. The theme was dress to impress so of course I went all out. Everyone knows how much i love feather boas so you know I was psyched when I found this super sweet headband!
The most fabulous and ridiculous headband ever!
Laura came to my apartment early we had lovely strawberry pomegranate cocktails and a mini birthday cake while I helped her get her hair did right complete with Tiara. 
Liz decided to rock her magenta skull fedora again and go the sexy mobster route with her dress up outfit. OH and in case you hadn't noticed we like to take photos in parking garage's and such. 
Yeah this is going to be a good night!
We then me the rest of the crew at On the Border which is a great Mexican Restaurant in Sincheon. The service was a wee bit slow but that didn't stop us form having a great time. After dinner we went to Hongdae to dance our asses off till about 4:00 am. A great time was had by all and the Birthday girl had a great night which is all that matters!
Dave, Laura 2, Tim, Brittny, Wade, Maresha,
Liz, Me, Carl, Laura (Birthday Girl), Barbara, Sophia, Nuala

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

This was my third Thanksgiving away from home however it was my first time actually hosting a Thanksgiving feast. While I miss my biological family dearly my expat family helped make my first Thanksgiving wonderful. I began preparing early in the week to make sure that everything would be ready. It was pretty interesting to create the entire menu from scratch with 2 pots and one frying pan. The first guest that arrived really set the homey feeling for the day. I was able to wrap my arms around someone from my home town for the first time in 8 months. 
Jordon fit right in with my ROK family
We ordered the turkey from a company that delivered it completely and beautifully prepared. I had never had the honor of carving a bird before and it was a nice feeling. I felt like the head of this great family I have here in Korea. 
There was not an ounce of meat left on that bird
Our menu was as inclusive as could be to everyone in our ROK family. Classic Thanksgiving favorites like turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and dressing for the 'Mericans. Lizzy prepared Yorkshire pudding and shortbread for the Brits aka "Pilgrims fathers" and we had vegetarian shepherds pie for our vegetarian buddies. 
Liz's perfect Yorkshire Puddings..
I know.. pudding? Who knew..
Delicious regardless!
The other items on the menu were corn, home made apple sauce, broccoli salad, Parmesan coated zucchini and carrots, a green bean casserole that didn't quite come out right but thanks for the effort Carl. Maresha made macaroni and cheese and Claire and Wade hand whipped our whipped cream for the tollhouse pie. I can't forget the outstanding effort put forth by Laura who slaved over the canned cranberry jelly. Cheers Ms. Walker the shape was perfect! Josh and Sophia made sure that there was plenty of wine and beer to go around, although I'm not sure I let anyone else drink any.
The spread
Carl kicks off the feast 

Sophia, Cat and Ben can't wait for dinner.
Nice Photobomb Carl
Nothing says Thanksgiving like a little post dinner arm wrestling
I deserved a cocktail (or 10) after my hard work.
Baby Monkey

Monday, November 15, 2010

Oh Korea

In Korea there is something called Konglish. Konglish is almost a sublanguage of Korean and it is when there are English words used in Korean as if they are Korean words. One good example is orange. The Korean word for orange is o-ren-ji 오렌지. The Korean word for Christmas is  keu-ri-seu-ma-seu 크리스마스. There is a much more entertaining part of Korean language which is when English words are used in the completely wrong way. A lot of times the words are used on accident because the way that the word is said with a Korean accent sounds so close to the actually word in English. Here are some gems I've found along the way

Strawberries : a nice tasty FOOT

Is that anything like a PORK cutlet?

Yum Yum stir fried POKE

Pretty sure Todd Cole said this to me 500 times
before I left for Korea.

This is the gem of all weird English I've found since I've been here. I wonder what occasion this greeting card is meant for.
Yep you read that correctly it says Good Cock.

Sunday Funday

The last two Sundays I have gotten together with my buds to play. Last Sunday I started my Sunday Funday at the last FC Seoul game of the season. It was the championship game and the energy in the World Cup stadium was amazing. I was in rough shape for the first part of the game due to a little too much fun the night before in Hongdae. There were thousands of fans there clapping, chanting, singing and in general just enjoying the merriment of a championship game. Not the most comforting place for someone with a killer hangover and a headache that made every inch of my body hurt.

Brittny, Sophia and Barbara
Me and Lizzy
The FC Seoul Fan club
The fan club really helps to make the day a great time. They chant and sing and wave these huge banners. Can you imagine a sporting event in the states that would allow a fan to light up a flare in the stadium? That shit would get shut down in a second.

Flares and all
The team won the championship and although I didn't follow them the entire season I was very emotional when it became clear that they won the trophy. To thank the fans the team and their coaches bowed all the way to the ground showing the fans the ultimate respect.

The team giving the fans the ultimate bow. Very nice.
Not to worry though my hangover subsided and I joined the rest of my friends at the Wolfhound for some pitchers of Cass, yummy pub food which is always wonderful for a hangover. We laughed with each other, shared stories, mended strained relationships and made fun of people. Making fun of people is one of the things that we do best. Not just in a mean you don't deserve it way but in a "You haven't worn shoes in 6 years? You are a fucking freak" kind of way. Of course we took the time to make fun of this girl who passed out at around 7:00 pm.

Who hasn't been there.....

Yesterday we got together at the Wolfhound again to celebrate Sunday with some pitchers and laughter. This time Laura and Carl were able to join us for the entire day although some of the girls were missed because they had to be responsible and stayed home to do report cards. I really love my life here and I am so lucky to have found such good friends to have fun with. Sunday Funday can make Monday a rough way to start the week but I wouldn't trade it for a second.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Would the real Cassie Andrews please stand up

Today was a day that was so amusing I am going to have to write many posts about it. I have decided to start not at the beginning of the day which was my trip to my doctor (i'm fine by the way). When I arrived at school one of the Korean teachers and I had a very humorous conversation, well for me anyway. Jennee is a pretty hip Korean she wears the super short skirts with the super high heels ( yes that's fashion not hooker wear). She always has on 2-5 different types of animal print and an excessive amount of lace to garnish her cheetahzebratiger wear. She doesn't hide her feelings for the shortcomings at our school and whenever she looks at our boss her eyes impersonate Weebles. I saw her in Hongdae on Halloween and she was partying it up with one of her buds who declared to me upon our meeting " I just meet Jesus". I informed her that Jesus was wearing a one of a kind Cassie design.  Anyway as far as female Korean co workers go Jennee is a pretty fun one.
So here's tour conversation.
Jennee- Mowning Kessie
Me- Hi Jenny
Jennee- You know Illauohabitch
Me- What?
Jennee- You.. You are Illauohabitch

Now at this point I really just think she is trying to make a joke about me being a bitch that I don't understand. Ravi who is our head foreign teacher turned to me and asked if she was calling me a bitch. He then rolled his chair over to her and whispered that is sounded like she was saying I am a bitch.

Jennee- "ohh NO NO NO OHMYGOD NO"

She then turned to her computer and was feverishly typing. She then pulled up the following photograph on her screen.

Jennee- Do you know her?
Me- Umm.. No she's a model or something I think.
Jennee- Who is she?
Me- I don't know her name
Jennee- No you know who she is. Who is she?
Me- ummmm...
Jennee- Illaohabitch (Milla Jovovich)
Me- Oh ok
I was looked at Ravi and he looked at me and we were completely at a loss for what the hell was going on.
Jennee- Yoo ahr Illaohabitch ( which i now realize is "You are Milla Jovovich"). You look just like her. Same hair. Same eyes. Same smile. You are so beautiful just like her.

I politely thanked her and smiled. Now I know that all white people look alike to Koreans but seriously. This was as funny as when one of my dad's friends who hadn't seen me since I was a baby said I looked like I could be Drew Barrymore's sister. Now i'm not lacking self esteem here I know that I am a beautiful woman. I know that I am better looking than a lot of people ( whatever I believe it so I said it) but let's get real. I don't look like Milla Jovovich. I mean I look more like her than like Drew but wow. I am thankful for the compliment I just wonder how funny it will be if I ever meet one of her friends who believes they are going to meet a Milla Jovovich look alike. I mean I don't even know if I could say i'm a fatty version of Milla but hell maybe she'll use me for her doppelganger photo the next time that comes around on facebook.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Where's the weed?

In the shadow of the recent election and the sadness that has swept through California because marijuana hasn't been legalized I want to share a story that one of my students recently wrote. This story would be taken completely differently with a western point of view than from a Korean child's eye.

When Oliver asks his friend Nate the Great to find his lost weed, Nate can't say no. This isn't just any weed. It's a super weed that Oliver bought from Rosamond's ADOPT-A-WEED sale.  First Nate must figure out where to look for the weed. With his trusty dog, Sludge he searches for clues in the woods and the Park and even the library! But is the biggest clue right under Nate's nose?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm exhausted

I am seething and mercurial
Climbing higher, I am starting to burn
Do not ignore me
Let me catch your gaze
Look in my eyes when you sputter such ignorance
My mind is on fire
The flames both devour and ignite my responses
Idioms are fuel t like alcohol-laden tinder
You are exhausting
My coals are still white
I am exhausted 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween

This year was the first in a long time that I recycled a costume for Halloween. Well two actually. For school I wore the Mario costume that I created for Liz for my 30th birthday bash. I felt like The Beatles must have when they touched down in NYC. The kids were going crazy for Mario. It was difficult when we played charades though and they thought every clue was something about Mario Bros. Picture me in the Mario costume trying to act out The Korean War ( thanks to my boss and his "creative" imagination) "Mario kill" "Mario guns" "Mario breaks" "Mario Korea" it was ridic!
My kids called my "Mario teacher" all day
For Halloween fun with my friends I revamped my Rainbow Brite costume to make it fit better. Only a few people knew who I was supposed to be but I wasn't offended since most of the people we saw were Koreans or under 24.
Hanging out at Beer O'Clock
Love me some bagged drinks! 
Don't Stop Believin'
Liz's costume however was brand new. We were not sure if her costume would be offensive or not to the average viewer but no no... She was the hit of Halloween I mean how could she not be? Who is cooler than Jesus? Yes that's right my love went as Jesus and everyone loved her costume. She really hammed it up too which was awesome.She was blessing people and "saving" people all night long. Our cab driver thought it was especially funny when I said "Jesus" and Liz responded " Las Vegas". We are completely ok with going to hell if there is one because this was a damn good costume.
Yes, even made some water into wine
We has to walk a couple of blocks to get to Beer O'Clock and the looks and comments were really funny. One girl simply looked at Liz and in a very aww filled voice said " Jesus Christ?" It was really great.
That lady is about to slap you for making
her sell fruit at the subway entrance.
It was hard for me to look at her because I just kept laughing.

Jesus saves yet another Korean Cowboy

Jesus and Rainbow Brite get a photo
with Buck and Go-Go from Kill Bill aka two of our
best buds

Jesus getting his groove on

Jesus even had enough time to dance with some nuns
Overall it was a really great Halloween. We had a fun time as usual and even though there was a fair bit of drama the combination of rainbow stars, a spiked weapon, Long Island's in a bag, kebabs, a vixen, a male nurse, a ninja, two awesome cab drivers and... well... Jesus made for a great time with great people.Thanks Y'all.
Yep pretty much the best costumes ever!

Monday, October 25, 2010

I'm sorry

How difficult is it to say that you are sorry? Especially to a lovely old lady like that. I found myself saying I'm sorry to her repeatedly in my head on Sunday when I met her. I didn't bump into her on the street or accidentally take her seat on the subway. In fact I didn't do anything to her at all except hold her hand and give her about ten deep hugs and each one screamed I'm Sorry
I'm sorry for all that she and the other halmoni (grandmothers) who live at The House of Sharing had to endure during their time as "comfort women" during WWII. The term comfort women was created in relation to a comfort station which in most Asian countries is a bathroom.A place where you could relieve yourself. Comfort stations were set up throughout Japanese occupied east Asia as placed for the men "to relieve their violent nature so that they could focus on fighting." The hundreds of thousands of women who were forced to live in these comfort stations experienced hell on earth every day for years. 
Every dot is a place where comfort stations existed.
The way that the halmoni imagined life.
This copper work represents the life that the halmoni wish that they had. A traditional wedding crown above her head. A husband over her right shoulder and a family over her left. Open loving hands. 

The way that life really turned out for the halmoni. Feeling impaled by bayonets that rise out of the Japanese flag. Traditional wedding outfits impaled and shredded. Hands unable to hold the dreams of peace and the pride in Korea.
The way life really turned out for the halmoni.
The Japanese government systematically used rape as a war tactic in a way that it hadn't been used before. Rape has always been and is currently used as a war tactic however the Japanese government actually set up rape stations for their soldiers. The woman in the video above is just one of thousands that was forced to "service" 60 or more soldiers a day. 
When I listened to her sing and saw her smile I just kept feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt.I have done nothing to hurt her. The Japanese government still has not issued a formal apology to the women that were used as sex slaves during WWII. Just say you are sorry!
The women just want an apology. They want Japan to admit what they did and say that they are sorry. The halmoni that live at the non government supported House of Sharing protest outside of the Japanese embassy every Wednesday. They have protested over 900 times since 1991 and the Japanese government still refuses to say "we are sorry."
A sculpture of the weekly protests against the Japanese government.
The halmoni have faced discrimination in Korea because of what they went through. Many of them were shunned by their own families upon their return to Korea. Of all of the women who went through the pain and torture only a few have had the strength to come forward and admit to what happened to them. They live together at the House of Sharing.
They have the courage to wear yellow each week at the protests so that everyone can identify them.

Pak Ok-son halmoni (my favorite) at a protest.

So I've realized that the only thing that I can do to make change about the past is to let people know about these women and what they have gone through. Many of these women were only 13 or 14 when they were first abducted into the world of sexual trafficking. They are in their 80's and 90's now and they know that the Japanese government is pretty much just waiting for them to die so that they don't have to make and apology. It doesn't matter what the Japanese government is waiting for because enough young people are ready to fight for the halmoni when they are no longer able to fight.The best way for me to let the halmoni know that I believe in their fight is to help them with their fight. 

This 93 year old halmoni loved the Moose Song
and couldn't get enough hugs.

Please read about the halmoni and tell everyone that will listen. The House of Sharing The next time you are feeling giving make a donation (international transfers really aren't that hard). Japan has to take responsibility for what their government did. Korea has to accept these women as citizens and humans and support them in their quest for an apology.
Rape is an act of violence!
It is unacceptable!
 End Of!