Well, I just blew a huge wad at the bookstore. Actually, my budget for the rest of the month and I just got paid. Fortunately, I am sooo thrifty here. Like today, I ate rice w/ kimchi for lunch, and ate shishkebab 1,500 won, giant cream puff 1,500 won (I didn’t know that’s what it was – I thought it was a Chinese bun) and a drinking yogurt for 1,200 won. So that’s $3.50 for the whole day.
Got more Korean workbooks, because the stuff you get with one textbook is never enough. Got two great discussion books for my adult conversation class. Got four great speaking exercise books for the regular class, and the missing CD for a textbook on real speech patterns for the regular class. Also got two English novels for Y: Kundera’s Fear of Laughter and Forgetting (perhaps the only womanizer I can forgive) and Duras’ The Lover, since she’s really into reading English books and she’s bought me so many gifts since I got here and I haven’t talked to her much lately. And (drum-roll please) a book on identifying Korean food at restaurants, called KOREAN FOOD GUIDE; in English. Lists 800 dishes with their names in Hanguel, romanized Korean, English and French, and their cooking categories and descriptions in English, and has them categorized by the Korean alphabet so I can read menus now!!! Which is absolutely amazing, because I was thinking last week that I was going to have to make it my life’s work to create just such a book. (I was at the Seoul Folk Flea Market in the food court, and I literally walked around for more than half an hour, starving, and overwhelmed by all the food, none of the menus of which I could read, unable to order anything, about to cry)
Here’s a small excerpt from the introduction:
…When eating a hot or spicy soup, most Koreans will say siwonhada, which literally translates as “cool” or “refreshing,” and is also used to describe the feeling after visiting a sauna or spa. The highest compliment you can give a Korean cook is to say the food has a gamchilmat. This describes food that wraps around the palate, enveloping the whole mouth with flavor. There is no equivalent term in English, and here we begin to see the delicate subtleties of Korean food.
Everyone who has cried in hunger surrounded by food and unable to order any of it because they are alone, illiterate, and unable to speak so anyone can understand you, absolutely must buy this book!
Oh yeah. Preparing for anything means I am still trying to be a better teacher here and yet I am also researching new jobs at the same time.
From dealing with Holt to now this. And just last week, I was attempting to play my out -of-tune bandoneon, the one I returned last year to be tuned at great great great (at least a hundred bucks for each great) expense for warranty work, and I asked the bandoneon community what to do about it going out of tune, so the maker came forward out of shame and to save his reputation to fix it YET AGAIN (which he admits means it needs a whole new innards since this one just degrades meaning it’s irreparable) and then the guy didn’t want me to insure it because that means he might have to pay German import taxes on it. Then I told him of course I’m going to insure it, it’s an instrument that cost almost 5 grand. So I finally brow beat him into allowing me to insure it, even though I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO PAY ANYTHING since he never really fixed it and I’ve never really had a working instrument from the day I bought it. But then I tell him no, I’d rather go to someone else because he sent it back to me that first time so-called-fixing it uninsured, which means if a gorilla throws it around in the cargo hold of some airplane, then I am OUT OF LUCK. Out of an instrument. Too bad. 5 grand worth of matchsticks. So we go back and forth like this for days until I finally say, “LOOK. You haven’t answered my question. Are you going to make me an all new instrument or give me my money back if it gets smashed in shipping? No.
So I have to threaten him with telling the bandoneon community what a lemon I got and how crappy its been doing business with him. And finally he relents. So add fighting with this guy via email in broken German all week on top of the other crap.
Is this the way of the world?
And here I am in Korea. My school district employer is shafting me for half my airfare reimbursement. My teacher representative for the school district is paid by the school district (no conflict of interests there) and she basically told me to go to hell. So now I have to go to the labor board if I’m to get this injustice addressed and my contract breach recognized.
And In Kyung writes me an email telling me essentially that I should just accept Korean culture and stay positive…I write her back and basically tell her Korean culture has nothing to do with it. Gyeonggi-do schools basically violated my contract and I’ve been doing my best working under a broken contract. The one thing about Korean culture I will reject, if it is Korean culture, is calling accepting injustice being “positive.”
OK. You are a cover girl. Rough-looking beat-up cover girl. Who got to speak to the Korean people about adoption. That was good. Being optimistic.