im just one person. for more soko info, please check the fb group BSSK, focused on expats of color

Monday, April 30, 2007

email: my hair

Subject: tv miracle!
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 17:07:02 +0000
dear mom and dad,

oh my gosh, i got home yesterday and you know what: the damn tv WORKS! i guess it wasnt broken after all. ha! well, i've already bought a new one, so i will do in the spirit of teresa and give this tv to my coworkers, they just live in the next building.

i was out with some friends the other night at a bar in itaewon. a brotha (English or African, not sure) came up to me to ask on behalf of the woman he was with at the bar (she is white) how i get my hair to look like it does. i explained to him that with hair as naturally curly as ours, locks are what happens when we dont comb it. he asked me how i wash it, b/c my hair doesnt smell. :)

as a side note, i have to admit that my hair did used to smell sometimes; friends told me after i cut them off once. it was b/c i didnt wash often, i didn't know how to care for them properly. now with time and experience, i know the idea of not washing your hair to make it lock is untrue (wash everyday if you want to, just dont comb it). hair locks easily w/clean curly hair. ive met several white self proclaimed rastas that dont wash b/c they claim it's better for their naturally straight hair... well, do what you do, whatever. anyway for me i now wash half at a time, it cuts the drying time (with the whole head, it'll stay wet for a day and smell of mildew), and i can wash more frequently. especially here in korea, i swear my hair dries 10 times as faster; i really do wash half of my hair every single day.

i explained that i wash the front half on one day, and the back half on the next, rotating so that i dont get all my hair wet at the same time, which is problematic b/c of the time it takes to dry and the incredible weight it has when it's wet. he thanked me and brought his report back to the woman at the bar.

"isn't that annoying" asks the sister next to me that i came to the bar with, referring to the hair question. she sports braids, and gets a lot of the same questions im sure.

"sometimes," i answered. "maybe i wouldnt have been so nice if she came and asked herself." sorry, but hey maybe...

it got me to thinking about how positive attitude means just about everything, everywhere. we talked about how sometimes there are things that you just cant control, and in such situations, one can only work on one's own reaction rather than the situation.

also i very much now believe in the power of positive thinking. at least the brotha came up and asked me about my hair. countless idiots have just come up and started talking to me with no introduction, and every jerk has a story about a friend with locks who cut them off and found bugs in his hair. (jeez) And at least the brotha didnt come reaching out to touch my hair, which happens often. maybe like pregnant women having their bellies rubbed: people think it's nice or complimentary, but really can be really annoying. so yeah, i did yet another interview about my hair, but it was nice that he was attentive and respectful.

anyway my parents, this is why i always write you with good news; because really there is no bad news. work is great, the kids are great, everything here is great and im happy. uh... i DO look forward to those magazines, tho :) ~daughter

Saturday, April 28, 2007

fo real

i'll be damned, y'all, i got home and i turned the tv on, and do you know that it worked just fine! ha! ah well, i've already got a new tv on the way, so i will offer this one to a married couple (coworkers) that live near by.

i feel like i must have magical powers or something. the whole afternoon i was thinking how lucky that the moniter didn't shatter or that no one was close by to get hurt, or that it's good i have money to buy a replacement, etc. i truly do believe in the power of positive thinking and when bad things happen, i consciously look for the good in it. but when i walked into my apt, i admit it was with my lip stuck out and thinking, "boo-hoo, poor me, i dont have a tv." i turned it on just to see... and *boop* the picture comes up!

next im going to use my special powers to fight crime. none of those students are going to steal that ibt test from my classroom! *that last little bit is really funny if you work for cdi...

Friday, April 27, 2007

email: tv

Date: Sat, 28 Apr 2007
dear mom and dad,

wow wee wow the weather is friggin gorgeous here right now! the sky is blue and the sun is warm and im loving it. i was chatting with a friend of mine (who has teased me about how i wouldnt leave the hotel for the first 3 weeks i was here) says to me, "you do realize that if you lived anywhere other than san diego, you would be unable to function for like 200 days out of the year? 'It's 40 degrees and misty outside, i need to stay in!' " he mocks me, but hey, he doesnt know the beauty of daygo.

so i think my round of cancelled classes will be over this week, and im glad. i have for sure enjoyed the free time, but honest to gosh i missed the kids! i havent seen little johnny (you know, the "Sister Sha, can we say asshole?" that johnny) in two weeks!

the adrs i sent you last does work, by the way. i bought some dvds from another teacher who's leaving korea, and she mailed them to me and they got to my place no problem. feel free to send me presents anytime! just kidding... not really... no, fo reals, just kidding. i dont need a thing. this job that i still love allows me to live comfortably and im rather happy. i actually was able to pop over to the store to buy a new tv today. not that there was anything wrong with the great big wonderful tv teresa gave me; it worked great up until i broke it.

oh if Professor Domingez were there to see! The major rule of sculpture class: always PULL heavy items when youre moving them, never PUSH b/c you run the risk of knocking it over. and while i tried to move the tv closer to the couch so i can watch without wearing my glasses, i PUSHED instead of PULLED and of course i knocked that tv right over! it made a loud bang, it was scary! mom, dont worry, nothing happened. you can hear a lot of little things rattling inside the tv when you move it now, and there's no sound nor picture, but luckily the screen didnt shatter/break, so all that happened was that i broke my tv.

so today i went to emart and bought a new tv. none of the sales people spoke a word of english, so i just pointed to my adrs (which i keep in my bag, written in english & korean) and kept saying "deliver, delivery" and gestured like a weirdo, and they understood. they showed me a calendar and circled the 30th to let me know they'll deliver it on monday.

my rice cooker is a dream, by the way. i had some this morning. made me think about how when brother dave would make rice, and he'd always put too much water in it the pot and it would come out all soggy, and ketso would say, "why didn't you let me check it first before you cooked it?!" :)

Monday, April 23, 2007

email: chamchee yummy!

Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2007 07:24:51 +0000
dear mom and dad,

hi! last week i had two classes cancelled, and one class where only one student showed up. i did have to stay for the one student, but he is so smart and wonderful that teaching one on one with him for 3 hours was actually pretty ok. the days that classes were cancelled and i got to go home early were wonderful, b/c i have cable tv now! there are a good chunk of english channels, so i can lay on my couch and watch Alien VS Predator for the zillionth time. i love it.

i learned how to say tuna in korean, it's "Chahmchee" i think. i asked the kimbap woman "hanna kimbap, chahmchee kimchee" she looked at me strange and i was a bit embarrassed, but after saying it a couple of times and using lots of gestures to imply mashing two things into one, we got it done. im eating it as i type, it's the most delicious thing ive ever eaten in my life. that is, mom, the most delicious non filipino food ive ever had in my life. i was thinking of elephant ears the other day. ~daughter

Friday, April 20, 2007

email: all hail canada

Subject: hail canada
Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2007 07:26:09 +0000
dear mom and dad,

it's mad raining today! has grandma still been praying for me? b/c the weather was so gorgeous these last few days and then BOOM thunder and rain this morning. please ask grandma to put in a good word for me to her special connections.

you know i really like kimchee. not as much as everyone around me, but for sure i eat it when it's served as a side dish (which is with every meal). and you know, i've not noticed the smell! maybe b/c i dont have any at home, i've only had it when i eat out. ive been told it stinks, in fact when you move into a place there are often 2 refrigerators: one for your food, and one for kimchee. i dont have a second fridge. if i did, i would of course use it for coke zero. hey, doesnt bagoong stink too? b/c i love that with mangoes but it's some smelly stuff. mom, what else do you eat bagoong with? i cant remember. hey mom, please know that i think of you every time i eat, b/c i use chopsticks and laugh about how you cant use them at all :)

a couple of my classes will be cancelled this and next week, as well as everyone else at my job. the kids have exams at public school, and they'll be studying and not have time for hogwans. they are diligent students, it seems, every one of them. they'll shush each other during class if they're trying to listen to me and someone else is making too much noise. if a student isnt listening and keeps bugging the kid next to him for help, i'll hear an exhausted sigh and a "Please listen!" it's too too cute.

there are so many canadians here at my job. really, i thought canada must've been a made up place before i got here. "Canada? Yeah right, there's no such place as Canada! I've never met anybody from Canada!" :) i think half my coworkers are canadian. i learned this b/c i noticed that all the men stopped shaving this week. when i asked, they told me it's b/c it's the hockey playoffs.

the candaians all come in wearing caps when it's cold. pointing to it they ask me, "What's this?"
"a beanie," i answer.
the canadians will look at each other and say "they just dont get it." and sigh and shake their heads. they explained to me that what i call a beanie or skull cap is called Toque or Tuke in canada."A beanie has a little propeller on top. really, i googled it." the canadians gloat.

hmm. ok. all hail canada, b/c they sure know their hats!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

email: wrapping

Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2007 07:18:40 +0000
dear mom and dad,

hello again from korea! as i type this, im eating one roll of tuna kimbap and one roll of kimchee kimbap. i want to ask the woman at the restaurant to mix them both into one roll, but i dont know how, so instead i buy one of each and eat them both at the same time. i need to learn to ask her soon, tho, b/c she makes the rolls fatter and fatter every time i see her, and the food is getting to be too much. ya know, breaking all those old habits slowly but surely.

hey we're so close to the end of the term here at work! one term is around 13 weeks and we're at week 8. Leah, the sister who helped me with the phone, is leaving the school i work at and going to another branch. im sad to see my sister leave, but it's a change she seems excited for, so im excited for her. i think she will stay in the same apt, so perhaps i can still see her here and there.

ah, i wrote an article for the school e-newsletter and got a gift certificate to outback steakhouse for compensation! well actually, we were told we'd get 50,000 won, and instead were given 50,000 won gift certificates. >:( ah well, it's free food. i asked leah and Maima (the sister from new zealand) to join me. uh, i hope 50,000 is enough? it just occurred to me that outback is probably on the pricey side. meh, it'll work out. i hope outback has coke zero.

how is brother dave doing? tell him hi for me. or dont, b/c he wont acknowledge or write back anyway. :) has teddy been by with recycling? i hope so. we only have one planet. the other day i bought cookies at the supermarket, and when i got home, it disturbed me to discover that the cookies were individually wrapped in little foil like wrapping. but then i remembered that they recycle that stuff in my apartment complex! knowing that made the cookies tasted even better! go korea!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

email: haircut

Subject: haircuts
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2007 10:29:54 +0000
dear mom and dad,

225 today! yeah! i attribute it to the v8 and coke zero. classes are going well. the students are great. they've actually become really comfortable with asking me for money all the time. i guess the other teachers sometimes buy their kids candy and other such treats. i tell my students that im concerned for their dental hygiene and cannot in good conscious buy them candy. when they persist, i use the good old cur------ trick of, "Ok, Wait right there." :)

im learning new things here everyday... peter, a friend of mine who's been here 3 years and in need of a haircut schooled me on barber shops here. the standard red/white/blue spinning poles is where you can pretty much only get the standard korea haircut: hair parted to the side, snip snip short. if you want more of a stylist, then you need to look for the spinning barber shop poles with pictures of women on them. now the interesting thing: if you see dual spinning barber shop poles spinning side by side, then it means you can get a haircut as well as a sensual massage. peter told me he learned this... uhm.. .the hard way. he went in for a haircut and when finished, the guy asked peter if he wanted a massage for 30,000 won. not wanting to pass up a good deal, he says yes. he's directed into a smaller room where the woman tells him to take all his clothes off and lies down. being that peter had only been in korea about a month at the time, he figured it was just a "korean thing."

"so she starts massaging me..." peter says, "and then she gets closer and closer to the danger zone!"
"oh my gosh, what did you do?"
"nothing, i wanted her to go on with what she was doing!"

he told me that at that point the woman asked for an additional 70,000 won, when peter realized that this woman was business, not some lovely korean woman hot for the white foreigner. when he told his friends about it later, they explained to him what a rip off it is, b/c the woman never actually fellates the penis, just strokes it and puts her mouth on it to make it LOOK like a bj.

"they block your view with their hair," he explained.

uhm, ok, good to know! ~sha

Friday, April 13, 2007

email: forks

Subject: forks
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2007 09:24:37 +0000
Dear mom and dad,

Yeah, cleaning is not one of my strong points. Although I do better than teddy! When we first got married, he scrubbed everything everyday. A month later, I’d complain about dust for several days before he’d do something about it. Well, I could’ve just done something myself, but hey I agreed to marry him! That was part of the deal!

And lucky me, I met felix here in korea. The toilet is sparkling, it’s so clean!!! Sorry mom, but he offered to do it for me! I had to let him!

Classes are going really well. yesterday I learned that the number 4 is bad luck here in korea. My students told me. They asked if I noticed how buildings never have the 4th floor, instead it’s titled F floor; it was b/c of back luck. Another korea mystery solved!

I learn a lot of cool things from the kids. We were discussing something about height earlier this week and I told them I was 5 ft 3inches tall. They asked what that was in centimeters, and I told them that I didn’t know the metric system and they were dumbfounded. It’s always a shock when “Teacher” doesn’t know something. in another class I told them that we don’t use chopsticks in America, and all their eyes widened so much I thought maybe eyeballs would be rolling out of sockets! “But how do you eat noodles?” they asked. One kids yelled out, “Oh, I know, they use a fork, I saw it on tv!” too too cute

Thursday, April 12, 2007

email: clean house

Subject: clean apartment
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2007 07:08:36
dear mom and dad,

oh i had a GREAT old time shopping the other day!!! ok parents, before you go on thinking that i wasted all my money, i want to let you know that i only bought things that i needed. and i've already saved a whole lot of money thanks to teresa. i ought to call her, take her to dinner.

anyway, i live right by e-mart (like wal-mart) and went shopping there. man, it is tough to find second hand stores around here. i'd rather not buy new if i didnt have to, b/c you know the environment and all, but meh. i've talked to my colleagues and some of them buy things off the teachers leaving korea, but that can be tiresome: searching, calling, arranging to meet, etc, when everyone schedule is so odd. the 2nd hand shops that i have seen around here are clothes only. there is a website that a few coworkers used to buy their furniture at pretty good prices, but it's all in korean and had a korean friend help them. i didnt need the website anyway, i only needed a few things...

i bought a trash can, a wall clock, toilet brush, toothpaste, rice cooker, rice, broom & dustpan, laundry detergent, lotion, spray cleaner for my counter tops, tea kettle, q-tips, toilet paper, v8 and coke zero galore! man i missed my v8. i remember when i first tried it i thought it was so gross, but not having had it in a while, i was feenin for it. i drank one this morning and i felt all the vegetables strengthening my immune system.

my friend felix (the guy that was so shocked that i dont cook at home for myself) helped me carry my bags from shopping and when he got to my place he teased about how dirty and dusty everything was. all the dirt started to upset him so much that he actually cleaned the apartment for me. seriously. i hardly did a thing. everything i started to do, he came over and let me know i was doing it wrong and then would finished cleaning whatever it was for me. he swept and dusted and beat the couch cushions and took out my trash, it was friggin awesome! the whole time i was watching tv thinking that if mom were there with me right now, she'd be yelling at me for being so lazy :)

i've found out that half my classes will be cancelled for next week and the week after b/c the middle school kids will be taking exams. im glad for the time off, but it does affect my paycheck. i was all excited to have all this money after getting paid, but now i know i best spend with caution b/c im not sure what the next check will look like. it's still plenty, but best to prepare, yeah dad? i knew you'd understand. so, i'll be sending you some money for that little old credit card bill next month... *blush* but i know this is how you'd want it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

just got paid! (s'not friday night)

today is my first payday. wow, and i got here like feb 10?

shit, yo, whoever said money cant buy happiness is so wrong, b/c right now i got a lot of money and I'm a whole lot of happy.

my pops and a couple male friends cautioned me to be careful with my money, blah blah blah. why do men think women don't know how to do things? jeez. and i just got here to Korea, i mean damn y'all can i buy a broom?! please?! b/c i want to sweep the floors! fuckers.

so today i bought trash cans, a wall clock, toilet brush, toothpaste, rice cooker, rice, broom & dustpan, laundry detergent, lotion, spray cleaner for my counter tops, tea kettle, q-tips, toilet paper, v8 and coke zero galore! extravagant? dude fuck you then. i still have plenty of money to pay the rent, to live off for the month, and still send half a G home, more if i wanted to. it's nice here in korea, folks, really think about doing it!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

email: coke zero

Subject: coke zero
Date: Thur, 5 Apr 2007 06:03:09 +0000
dear mom and dad,

my voice is almost all the way back. my second class yesterday (very small class, only 4 students, all teenage boys), delighted in telling me over and over how husky my voice was. when practicing the skit, they made efforts to have half the characters speak with a husky voice in homage of me. gotta love them! for extra s&g's during this class, i also had a student throw up. it's becoming a pattern with me?! different class than last time. the boys begged for the last of my coke zero (b/c you knwo i have my other bottle where i mix it with water). and this begging was AFTER they told me that i shouldnt drink coke b/c it'll turn my teeth into powder.

there was maybe a little under half a liter left of the straight coke when i gave it to them. how excited they all got, it was too cute. so they're passing the coke around, joking and all, and the other three made the fourth boy charles laugh so hard that the coke went up and out his nose and then he promptly threw up. i did not hold it together nearly as well as i did last time when the elementary aged girl threw up. maybe boy vomit is more gross? one of the korean staff cleaned up the room... thank goodness... it was way WAY more vomit than the little girl from last time.

while walking around class today checking students work, one of my elementary aged boys asked me if my wedding ring was real. i smiled and said, "that is not a class related question." he smiled. on the first day of class, one of class rules (along with no cell phones in class, no food, etc), was "Teacher answers class related questions only." every once in a while a student will pop out with a question "sister sha, did you change your hair? sister sha, what is that tattoo on your arm? sister sha, is that ring real?" my standard answer, "that is not a class related question," makes them smile and then drop it.

so hey i found where get dvd player! on tuesday, my day off, i took the subway and ventured off to Youngson Electronic Market: everything technologically related that you can think of. i thought of brother dave, and what'd he might advise if i go back there for a laptop computer later. i friggin love the subway here, you can go anywhere and when you get to where youre going, there's a sign or two in english somewhere to help you out. things in korea is all good for me. ~sha.

Monday, April 2, 2007

email: flush

Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2007 22:10:0
dear mom and dad,

i got my voice halfway back today. i attribute it to the massive quantities of water. well, my mix of half water, half coke zero. i went into work today, rather froggy, but my students were absolutely wonderful.

the first class was was actually super DUPER quiet, too quiet! the major goal is not to get everything in the workbook finished, but to get the kids to talk! anyway, their parents did a good job with them, i had no discipline issues at all, they didnt get rowdy and stayed on task the whole time. pretty much the same with my second class. im a lucky lady.

since i couldnt work on saturday, i hung out with a fellow teacher (from a different school) that lives in the building across the street from me. she arrived in korea around two weeks after i did. she works for a public school (cdi is private) so her class sizes are upwards of 30-40 students! she likes the job, but doesnt feel as though she's making a difference, not with so many kids in so many different levels. another reason for me to like my school. anyway, i hung out with my colleague michelle, she has a cat. i spent the day with her and her cat, i about cried. i miss my cats so much!

michelle is really cool, it was nice to hang out with someone who's not so negative and about korea as many of my co-workers are. my friend Leah, as much as i like her and how much she's helped me, she sounds about ready to leave... everyone does. wow, so check in with myself 6 months from now, huh? maybe i will be changing my tune soon enough.

hey here's something i didnt know: youre not supposed to flush the toilet paper in most places! michelle did a teaching gig in thailand before coming to korea, and complained about how her current school here in korea has, just like the one in thailand, the smelliest bathroom due to the overwhelming build of pissy toilet paper in the trash cans. she explained to me that most new places are OK, but older buildings arent equipped to deal with all the paper and instead of flushing, you're supposed to toss it in the trash cans. it was then that it connected in my brain why there are often trashcans in each stall loaded with paper. i just thought people were some trash throwing people or something. well, we can add that to the list of reasons of why i like my job: no pee smelly bathrooms.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

email: no voice

Subject: froggy
Date: Sun, 1 Apr 2007 14:23:29 +0000
dear mom and dad,

hi! it's sunday night, i actually did NOT work yesterday. I've done so much excellent teaching that ive lost my voice. i called my boss and talked to him on the phone as best i could. i actually ended up having to send text messages to his phone, my voice was so soft that he couldnt hear me. im much better today, a little bit froggy, but for sure above the whisper i was yesterday.

i remember when i was very young i would periodically lose my voice for a few hours, but i dont know what's happening now. i attribute it to not enough liquids (i havent had coke zero in days!) and lack of activity... counting down the days til payday so i can get that dvd player. im doing just fine tho, i dont feel sick at all. i woke up friday morning with a bit of a sore throat, and then it got progressively hoarse throughout the day, and come saturday morning: gone. edit: i came to find that many people lost their voices around this time. something about the yellow dust, i guess.

i actually was rather disappointed to have to miss class, b/c it would've been a day that i'd get to see my students richard, caitlyn, and of course little johnny! i was a bit nervous too, thinking that my job would be mad or something, and i wasnt even going to bother to call in, i was just going to show up and hope my voice would magically return during my walk to work! but around noon, i called and told them that i feel fine, but the whisper was about the best i could audibly do. i guess around 11:30am it occurred to me that sure, I didnt want to miss class, but maybe THEY wouldnt WANT ME there if i cant talk! my boss was super nice about it and told me to call back on monday. *sigh* i missed richard!

i met up with some coworkers, Mayma and her husband ike. mayma is a sista from new zealand. her husband ike is from nigeria. dinner was cooked by a friend named is Felix, he's from nigeria as well. he cooked rice and some sort of hot soup with vegetables and soup that made my throat feel wonderful. i asked him to teach me how to cook it. he asked me, "Do you eat out for every meal?!" as if my momma didnt do right by me. dont worry mom, i explained to him that My MOM is an excellent cook and did her best to get her daughter to learn too! but i got that Cur------ stubbornness that just wont let me do/learn anything that i dont want to. you know, dad, like refusing to accept my destiny to become a teacher? :) my love to hector! ~sha.