So I was riding on the bus to school today and a simply stating…I guess I was counting my blessings. To my M,W,F school I can take the any bus on the hour, every hour up until noon. I couldn’t get dressed in time to take the 10 o’clock, which is what I prefer…so I opted for the 11:00. I needed to break a big bill so I could pay my bus fare so I stopped and bought an overpriced (but tasty) caramel macchiato. Today is the third day in a row that I we’ve received AWESOME spring like weather. Clear skies, mild wind, and temperatures in the mid 70’s. Beautiful weather I tell ya. I really can’t wait until I’m able to run every day and workout outside. Which naturally brings me to my first reason of awesomeness. I have a finished rooftop in the building I live in that I am free to use. Whats more is I'm able to leech wi-fi from atop my building. So between my yoga mat, push up bars, reclining lawn chair and laptop…. I cannot WAIT for the evenings temp to bearable.

So I make it to my bus and to my surprise, the 11:00 bus is cheaper. Why? That I do not know. But I am happy. Very happy, and I believe this will be my bus of choice from now on.

To recap: I’ve got a beautiful morning, tasty drink, cheap bus, and a window seat with a sliding window to hang my arm out of just like I was driving.  This is going to be a good day I thought. I was going over some financial figures in my head, and thinking about how I’m going to be able to save about a grand each month that I’m here. I will have my new heating unit paid off for my house by the time I return to the states and realized there are several people who made this traveling/teaching experience possible for me.

To my parents: Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Despite the fact that you were naturally and obviously concerned for me and my safety and well being, you never once said a negative word or even showed a disapproving expression about my desire to come to the other side of the world. You just smiled and said be safe and have fun. And you’ve always done that. I can’t remember one time that you voiced a negative thought about one of my hair brained adventures. You went out of your way to tote my trucks back to Elk, and did a selfless job of overseeing the installation of the new heating unit. You made sure it was paid for and that I didn’t get ripped off. You took care of my taxes and insurance, and have volunteered to send me anything I need.

To Kyle, A.I., and Cole: The same goes for you. Thank you. While you might not think you had anything to do with this decision or I that I didn’t care what you thought…It’s just not true. All of you guys were supportive and had no problem with basically accepting all responsibility for the house. I left the kitchen a mess with the cabinets ripped apart, and said peace to a broken heater. In January. A week before Oklahoma got the lowest recorded temperature in the states history. My bad. But more than that…if you guys didn’t tolerate my eccentric personality and annoying requests, I wouldn’t have been free to leave my responsibilities at the house. So really, if you guys weren’t cool with it, I couldn’t have left. I just really appreciate your open mindedness and relaxed attitude about everything. I seriously couldn’t find better roommates. Thank you.

 
The last 2 weeks have been quite dramatic over in this half of the world, after mother nature wound up for a triple punch on Japan, coming severely close to a knockout. Thankfully the positioning of Korea is such that we saw nothing come our way...despite the western coast of America reporting damages.

Last week another fellow English teacher had the idea to make paper cranes to send to a few of the elementary schools caught in the disaster path. She shared her idea with everyone via Facebook and the idea exploded. Someone suggested that the students should help, and within a few hours over 50 fellow teachers had jumped on board to have their classes participate. So we decided to shoot for 1000 paper cranes. Just like young Japanese girl that enriched her nation, we are hoping our efforts will raise the sprits of the affected children this time around.

We were advised early on to expect a small amount of disinterest and possibly even hostility towards this activity by the older kids (5th and 6th grade) because of the historical Korea/Japan wars. By age 12 students have been in their fair share of history classes and as unbiased as the teacher might be, there are still few positive topics regarding the 2 Asian countries. They have bad blood between them that runs centuries old. At one point while under Japanese rule, the Koreans were tortured for speaking their own language, while made to take Japanese names and all but abolish their traditions. From prostitution and slavery to bombs and island takeovers, they've endured a lot.

I had my students write a short note on the paper before folding them into cranes, saying something like "Hi my name is ______ and I'm from Korea. I'm sorry about the disasters and hope you get better." My 5th grade class was the worst, having 2 kids who even after they wrote the note extending their condolences, used the extra space to draw the island of Japan with a Korean flag and a missile heading for it, with a Korean stick figure w/ a gun on top of a Japanese soldier. Tisk tisk. I removed him from the activity. He didn't think I was being fair, so I had my Korean co teacher explain to him that we all have the opportunity and get to decide for ourselves whether or not we want to be angry or happy. I could be mad at him every day, because he is loud, stands in his chair, climbs on the table, and constantly interrupts me. But I decide to be happy. And nice. I was able to finish the bird project with all of my classes and the cranes will soon fly across the sea to brighten some faces and lift some spirits. 

 
We are all familiar with the hands free Bluetooth headset that the wall street businessman uses, as well as the valley girl from California and the mullet headed "jort" wearing redneck that uses it so he can smoke his "cigret". But something westerners take for granted is the hands free shower. You see, here in Korea we have the opportunity to use the hand held version which has a home on the wall that is usually around chest height.
I love my showers, especially the part where I can stand under the hot stream of water for long periods of time in the morning as I start my day. And unfortunately, its not the same when my stomach is the highest part of my body to enjoy said routine. So I took up the idea of rigging up a temporary shower holder for >6' people. After the $2 purchase of a 3-pack of hot glue hooks, and a 7 minute modification to my bathroom, I am now free to enjoy an overhead hands free shower.
 
After recently promoting my two feet as my primary mode of transportation, I’m realizing how much of a luxury having a vehicle that can double as your carry-all really is. I’ve made it approximately 3 weeks using big red, my faithful and world traveling Burton backpack that my cousin gave me for x-mas, but I’m tired of using it for each daily adventure. A woman has the luxury of using a tote, and the occasional straight dude can pull the right one off at the right time for the right occasion. However, I get enough flak for my brightly colored boxer briefs, so I’ll pass on the tote.

The same goes for the satchel. While it varies slightly from the tote, it is still not the first bag one needs to purchase for their more fashionable anti backpack…backpack.

So really last option we’re left with is something that more resembles that of a messenger bag. I read through the Everyguyed Network sites quite often, so I decided to skim the pages of recently reviewed bags on their wallet/bag/case/luggage site called The Carry.  It looks like I’ve narrowed it down to 6.

In thinking about the style, I’d tell you that I want one made from canvas, probably grey or tan, or possibly tan leather. I now find it humorous at my selections because when I reopened the saved pages displaying each bag, it is very obvious I am drawn to brown leather. I’d like to get an opinion, the first assuming I can (and will probably) only get one style. And the 2nd being that I would actually invest in two. I think to really be dressed properly, be it up or casual, there will not be one universal bag. However, everyone must start somewhere, and I’m a firm believer that the first purchase of anything should be the most difficult, because it needs to be the perfect blend of functionality and form. So unfortunately I have to save the lime green/orange plaid satchel for a little later. 
 
I remember my mom telling me one time that it takes 10 good things to cancel out one bad thing. It is unfortunate that the same rule can not apply to people. Specifically Americans. At any given time, we tend to have approximately half a million military personnel stationed overseas. Plus private company personnel, students, and vacationers. And while I believe American citizens, compared with any other country,  are the least likely to travel outside of their own country, we have a huge impact on the the worlds perception because of our military influence. 

Yesterday I went to Daegu to see some fellow teachers. While waiting on my delicious, savory and perfectly prepared snack wrap from McDonnalds, A quite large and demanding soldier also desired a meal. He was apparently famished, because he disregarded the existing line of 13 people (some also soldiers) waiting to also place their order. Instead of properly scouting out what value meal or 3 he wanted, he attempted to order by simply barging to the front counter and shouting "you ready to take my order yet fool! You ready!? You gonna tell me yes or what! You ready for my order! I gotta get back on base!" By this time, half the guests sitting down have shot out the door, while a few other people braved the order line. And as we all know, if someone doesn't understand your language initially, its not b/c they don't speak it, its b/c you aren't talking loud enough. So he then proceeds to shout louder, while also offering some physical assistance in the form of literally punching the ordering computer. The McDonnalds order taker already has his hands on the monitor, but he has to brace it and himself when the lovely gentlemen delivers the right jab. This McDonnalds dude, at best...knows the menu and how to understand the items in english. Think, when was the last time you were able to order something off an asian menu reading the traditional block characters? This guy is already doing more than he should have to. He has to catch the computer the next 2 times its hit...and by now I cant remember if I'm waiting on my food somewhere or I actually enrolled in that boxing and sparing class I've been looking at. 

Now, I'm not a confrontational person...quite the opposite actually. I really don't even get mad. But what I found myself thinking about next was pretty concerning. All these fragmented thoughts were blazing through my mind, along with scenes from Fight Club, X-men, Iron Man and even David and Goliath. Because seriously, there is no way I could ever actually take down someone like this guy....6,4" probably 250 lbs, ANGRY....but I felt myself thinking, if only I had one of those strangling apparatuses or syringe like Dexter uses so gracefully....I think this would be over really quick.

About this time, my snack wrap is finally ready....did you know they put bacon on them here? The US needs to step it up. It was twice as expensive though. Oh well...that goes with my 6$ gallon of milk too I guess. Anyway....


I decided to mingle outside while savoring the small attempt at Americanism and to simply complain to them. But my problem is...I'm exhausted from hearing how rude and inconsiderate Americans are. Its actually pathetic. Americans yell at people in their own country for not speaking english. And we wonder why the world can't stand us and really doesn't care about giving us much support. Complaining about this very topic to another friend today, he informed me that in Seoul this weekend he actually saw a sign on the outside of a building that said, "Because of past issues, we no longer serve military personnel." And I know very few people in the military are like this, and I also know many non military Americans ARE like this, and even non Americans. But I have yet to hear about how crappy the French are, or Italians, Australians, British or Brasilians...when it comes to travel. 
 
Everything will be put to the test tomorrow. I will officially be in charge of multiple children at the same time, attempting to maintain some since of normality while simultaneously trying to implant within them the idea that the english language is fun to learn. I have a Korean co-teacher and a handful of games to play. We will make english name tags and learn the rules of the class room. With a little bit of luck, I will emerge unscathed and victorious. 
 
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(written 2/26/2011)  Today after our Korean Culture lesson I had the opportunity to try on traditional Korean clothing called Hanbuk. We were provided with several styles to chose from with a rainbow of colors. By the time I walked in to chose my outfit, many people had already been dressed by the assistants, so I looked at my buddy Donald and said, “lets go!” and pointed to the rack. As I quickly gazed the rack, I was naturally drawn to the blue and lime green suit so I grabbed the hanger and turned around to get one for Donald. Just as I was about to suit up, I was struck down by a Korean grandma. This was not a “do it on your own” event.

After getting dressed and positioning for pictures, Donald was informed that I had picked a servant uniform for him, and that I was part of the elite. Oops.

After the organized pictures, the young boy that was dressed for the demonstration came up to me and asked me why I was hiding. I was so confused about why he thought I was hiding that I failed to realize he spoke perfect English. And the thing you have to realize is that there are a decent amount of people fluent in English. But they say enGRISH, or flogs instead of frogs or milkoo instead of milk or jew and not zoo…so I complimented his skills, and then with as much of a western voice as me, he said, “oh thanks, korean is actually my 2nd language.” I assumed this was an authentic Korean family that they brought in to show us. But this guy only sees this lady and grandma (not pictured) and little girl (not pictured) about once a month. So basically its his side gig. He does it for free resume points and his actual family owns an English school in Busan. Moral of the story? Don’t judge a book by its cover.