Just got back from my run (seriously, I'm still panting) and I gotta say, it was freaking awesome! I wish I could have taken all of you with me, cause you would've loved it! The Dear Leader could've dropped the big one while I was out there, and I would've melted into the happiest little pile of ooze you've ever seen.
Guess where Rockzilla and I will be in exactly 7 days?!?!? Bei-fucking-jing, bitches!!!! WOO HOO!!!!!!!! Send me your address if you want a postcard (dont dot call dot me dot jessi at gmail dot com), and brace yourselves for no less than 16,537 pictures of some wall they have there.
You guys wanna hear how freaking smooth I am? This morning I rolled out of bed - I mean, I literally rolled out of bed. That's not just a figure of speech. I sort of woke up and heard Ant getting ready to leave for work, so I thought to my self, "Self...you should get up and say good-bye to him like you normally do, instead of being such a lazy ass!" So, I rolled over, expecting to land on the edge of the bed. Turns out I was already sleeping on the edge of the bed, so when I rolled over I landed directly on the floor. Yup, I am the epitome of grace.

I should give lessons in smoothness.


It's been widely reported that Kim Jong-il loves movies and Italian food. I wish he'd go back to his DVD's and spaghetti and leave everyone alone. I don't expect anything to come of all this, but hearing that he's renounced the armistice was a little unnerving.

video Occasionally, when my lesson ends before class is over and I don't feel like coming up with some bullshit time waster, I pick a kid to be the teacher, and they get to teach me and the rest of the students anything they want. It can be quite enlightening, to say the least. The top video is Daniel, and he's such an awesome kid. He stops by to visit me everyday after school, but won't let me tell the other kids because visiting the teacher isn't cool. He's the one who wrote the "Litter beet fun" note awhile back.

The bottom video is Mickey, and he's super smart and also very creative. He's the only one in the class who tries to use different voices for the different characters in the book. He named himself after Mickey Mouse, and he wears Mickey Mouse slippers everyday (no shoes allowed in my school). He totally rocks.

video
Man, today's classes flew by! I had expected a super slow day based on my morning - had a tough time getting my big ol' butt outta bed, didn't have enough coffee, and, knowing I was gonna need a little extra help to get me through the day, I searched high and low for my lucky giraffe underwear. Couldn't find them anywhere!!! Ended up leaving 15 minutes later than usual because of the search, so while I wasn't late by any means, I didn't have enough "warm up to the workday" time as usual before my kids came screaming into the room.

But, the day went quick and my kids were awesome!

Except for one little thing. Ant. My 4th graders are OBSESSED with Ant. They will not stop asking the most ridiculous questions about him! It got so annoying that I had to cut them off from all AntSpeak in the classroom. Now, they have to earn the right to mention his name. Seriously. 5 stars and they get 2 questions about him. You guys can't imagine how well this works! Standing in the corner, threatening to call parents, etc., etc. They could give a crap. But, everyone in the class does their homework and we can call Ant and as a class you can have 3 minutes to talk to him...not only did everyone do their homework, they did all the back homework they had skipped out on!!

Only I forgot to tell Ant, or check to see if he had other plans. So he didn't answer the phone call. And then when I ran to the office to grab something, one of the little bastards grabbed my phone and called Ant AGAIN, which means he was probably cursing my name for calling his cell phone incessantly while he was doing something else.

They were so bummed!! I wish I had pictures of their sad little faces when I had to tell them that there was no answer. Instead, they got to ask some questions, which is probably better because we tried calling Ant before, and the second they heard his voice they got all freaked out and forgot how to speak English and tried to frantically pass the phone off to ANYONE else.

"TEACHER!!! Ant-uh is tall?"
"Yup."
"Woooooooooooowwwww!!! Very good!!!"

"TEACHER!!! Ant-uh likes the kimchi?"
"Umm...he likes a little bit of kimchi."
silence
"BUT TEACHER!!! Ant-uh eats the kimchi?"
"He eats some kimchi, but not with every meal."
silence
"BUT TEACHER!! Ant-uh eats the kimchi sometimes?"
"Yes. Sometimes."
"Uhhhh...OK, OK. Sometimes he eats. It's OK."

They're so freaking cute.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR EINSTEIN....
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!!!


Today, Einstein is 1 year old. I think in car years that's, like, 20 years old or something. Einstein, buddy, I miss you a ton and I thank you for each of the 13,172 miles we spent together!!! I promise to take you somewhere super cool as soon as I get back to make up for leaving you locked in storage all year!!
p.s. - Rockzilla says hi!


Monday morning.

Bleh.

Weekend is barely over, and I feel like I need a break. Actually, that doesn't really begin to describe it. I feel like I've fucking earned a break, and just can't get one, if that makes sense. Friday and Saturday were just fine. Didn't really get up to too much, just some wandering around, skateboarding in the park, that kind of stuff. Nice and relaxed.

And then Sunday came. And not only did it completely run me over, it ran me over, threw it into reverse, ran me over again, caught me in its' bumper, and drug me on the asphalt for a good 60 yards or so before leaving me sputtering for breath in its' dirty black exhaust. Yeah, it was that kind of day.

After typing that, I can totally picture Ant rolling his eyes and sighing, "She's sooo dramatic." And maybe I am. OK, not maybe. I sometimes am, definitely. But whatever. Shit happened, and it pissed me off and it hurt me alot and it made me sad enough that I almost cried in public which I never do unless I'm at the movies and it bothered me on a zillion different levels and it played into some insecurities of mine and it just sucked. It was nobody's fault, it just happened and it sucked.

We woke up early and decided to head to Ttukseom to do some climbing. We got there, and it was a beautiful, sunny day and the wall was uncrowded. Besides us there were only a few other climbers hanging around. Sweet! I wrestled my big feet into my tiny climbing shoes and began some easy peasy traversing along the wall, probably no more than 8 inches off the ground. Within seconds, literally, there was a group of Korean men with minimal English skills surrounding me, giving me unsolicited advice and climbing tips. And it's a bit of a tricky thing to explain, because to Ant and any other outsider watching and probably to most of you reading this, it seems pretty kind and really cool of them to offer help. And in many ways it was, and some of the tips were actually quite helpful. The tricky part is that (1) I'm certain in the way that all women are certain when this stuff happens that if I didn't have boobs and white skin they would not have been nearly so helpful, and (2) I didnt ask for their help. Or their advice. Or to spend my day with them. A brief greeting and a few minutes of shop talk is totally fine, but after that just leave me the heck alone. I like being anonymous and unnoticed. Most importantly, I like being untouched by strangers. There is no reason on this green earth that I need to have my ass groped by two strange men who are pretending to spot me in case I fall. I didn't ask for a spotter. For fuck's sake I was 8 inches off the ground! If I lose my footing I'll just freakin' take a step down!!!

As friendly and interested in my ass as they were while Ant was off doing other things, their demeanor changed considerably when he made an appearance. They were incredibly kind and helpful and respectful of him throughout the entire day, but for every ounce of respect they showed him, they tossed two ounces of disrespect in my direction. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for women, especially foreign women, to be treated poorly in Korea. I love this country and I love living here, but this patriarchal bullshit needs to take a hike.

So Ant and I picked a route and he went about setting the ropes while I belayed him. The entire time I am belaying him, these guys are criticing my skills. Rudely. And loudly. Bitching cause I'm not wearing a glove. Telling me to stand here...no, there...no, here...It was annoying as fuck, but I grinned, occasionally nodded, and kept my gaze firmly planted on Ant. He reached the top, signaled, and I let him down.

Too fast. As soon as he hit the ground, he told me he had dropped too fast. And those stupid douchebags stood behind him and mimiced everything he said.
Ant: Jes, it felt a little fast. Try a little slower next time.
DB #1 (standing behind Ant): YEAH! FAST!
DB #2 (pops out from behind DB #1): TOO FAST! YEAH!
They were like Malfoy's sidekicks in the Harry Potter movies. It wore through my patience quick.

Truth? Maybe it was a little fast. I don't know. I was surprised that Ant had said that, because I had been feeling pretty proud of the job I had done. I felt like it was controlled and smooth, as opposed to what normally happens, which is I drop him a foot or so, get nervous and jerkily break him, ask if he's OK, drop him another foot or so, slam on the break, rinse, repeat as necessary until FINALLY he reaches the ground and begs for some courtesy slack so he can yank his harness down and pull his balls out of his throat. But, he's the one up there, so if he says slower I take that seriously and assure him I was in control and I'll go slower next time. It's his safety on the line - if he wants me to take 3 days to bring him down 15 meters, I'll do it with no problem.

So I took a turn, and you can imagine the English and Korean commentary going on below me. The only person I wanted directing me was Ant, and it seemed like he was the only person in a 5 mile radius that wasn't shouting orders at me.
"NO GOOD!! JESHKAH!!! NO GOOD!!"
"CHANGE HANDS!!!"
"MOVE LEFT HAND!!" "NO, I SAID LEFT!!"
"THAT WAS MY FUCKING LEFT HAND!!!"
"JESHKAH!! NO GOOD!"

It wore through my patience quick.

Then Ant went back up, and seriously, you would have thought they were watching Jesus Christ himself climb his way up into the heavens. I mean, yeah, he's a decent climber and he looks damn good (if I do say so myself) on the wall, but there's no need to break out the hymnals cause he's nailing a 5.8.

And the whole time they are worshipping him, they are continuing to tell me I suck, they are grabbing the rope, they are physically pushing and pulling me, arguing over where is a better place for me to stand.

It wore through my patience quick.

Ant signalled that he was ready to come down, and I took a step back to make sure there was no slack and tightened my grip on the brake. He reminded me to go slow, the morons parroted him, and then he let go of the wall.

And I shot up into the air, so that we were both hanging, and then we were both falling. Only I only had about a two foot drop before I hit the ground and did my best to recover, whereas he fell hard from the top of the wall. He wasn't hurt, but he could've been. It could have been disastrous. We were both a bit shook up, more than a bit scared, and pumping adrenaline. It was my fault, I knew it, I knew how badly it could've ended, and I felt absolutely awful. There was silence, and then he turned and said something in anger. Something implying I had done it on purpose. I tried to explain what happened and see if he was OK, but Ant's small snap (which was fair enough, considering) had given everyone permission to snap at me, and soon I was hearing it from all angles, in all languages. Pointing. Laughing. Telling me I was no good. Scolding me like I was 3 years old.

And then one of them called me a whore in Korean. The other one agreed.

It wore through my patience fucking quick.

The whole thing had happened so fast that Ant hadn't seen what had happened. He thought I was playing because of the comment he made about the last drop I gave him being too fast. I like to play Scrabble. I like to force him into the Hot and Cold game when he can't find the remote or his iPod. I would not play around with belaying any person, especially him. Ever. I see other people doing it and it pisses me off. It's an unneccessary risk to pretend to drop someone from a wall, and I'd be quite vocal (to say the least) if anyone ever did it to me. I was hurt that he even considered for a second that I would do something to hurt him on purpose.

I've belayed Ant before, and I've been pulled a little by it, but never lifted completely off the ground like that. I don't know why it happened this time. Usually it's a weight thing, but in our case it hadn't been a problem until then. I don't know why. I certainly haven't lost weight since the last time we climbed together.

I was defeated. I lost all confidence. I almost hurt Ant, and I felt like crap for it. We talked briefly and he asked me to belay him again, but I was too nervous and knew I couldn't take any more comments and insults. So, I took a break to soak up some sun, pout a little, and eat some food while Ant climbed with the douche bags. I took some pictures, I tried to be friendly, but I have to be honest, it wasn't in me. I felt terrible and I didn't want to be around them anymore. I really would have been fine just laying on the mat while Ant climbed his heart out, but then DB #2 came over to tell me that I shouldn't sit out in the sun for so long because it would make me look old and no one would marry me.

And by then, I had no patience left to tear through.

I knew I was done climbing for the day, so I took off my shoes and went to snap some pictures of Ant up on the wall. While waiting for him to finish a few other foreigners showed up, and I introduced myself to the girl who was with them. Aside from reeking of patchouli, she seemed really cool. We chatted for a few minutes while she warmed up, and then Ant joined us in conversation. Finally - a pleasant part of the day. Maybe, if there were a group of foreigners, the rest of the crowd wouldn't feel so free with their comments. The day might not have to end on a bad note after all!

And then DB #1 and DB #2 joined our little circle.

They didn't know I sometimes struggle with my self esteem. They had no way of knowing that I often worry I might not be good enough for Ant, or might not do enough for him. They wouldn't have known that when they joined our group, looked me up and down, turned and looked her up and down, and then said, "Hey Anthony! You should change girlfriends! Change girlfriends!!" while pointing from me to the blonde, it would cut directly into the deepest, darkest, most painful parts of my insecurity. That's fucking rude in any language.

Ant handled the awkward silence that followed the comments pretty well, but after a day filled with guilt over almost seriously injuring Ant, being stared at, groped, laughed at, insulted, and called names for no reason I can identify, I was done. Just worn out. Worn out and ready to fucking kill someone. I tried. I really, really tried to let it go. But I couldn't. It was a gorgeous day and it should have been awesome from start to finish, but when the Universe sent me a test of compassion, patience, and shrugging off things that won't matter in the end, I blew it. I totally failed. Actually, I may have beaten my own record at taking failure to a whole new level.

And when it should have gotten better, it got worse, because Ant didn't think it was that big of a deal and didn't think I should even have cared about it, let alone cared as much as I did, and what was never supposed to even be an issue between us turned into something ugly and ended with him being much more concerned about things in our relationship (mainly us not always seeing eye to eye on things) than I knew he was.

Who wants to see eye to eye with someone all the time??? It seems so dull. I know couples like that, and they bore the shit out of me. What do couples like that talk about? "Hey, I was thinking, blah, blah, blah..." "Yes, I agree 100%." End of conversation. Yawn. "Hey, what do think about this?" "Well, I think the exact same thing as you. We always see eye-to-eye on everything!" Snooze fest. Ant and I have passionate discussions on everything from the best way to treat addictions to our classroom management philosophies. Discussing things with him never gets boring. For us, we're totally eye to eye on what I think are the important things: our value systems match, our general beliefs on the whole life and death thing match, what we want/don't want in our own futures matches pretty well. He likes beer, I like beer. See? We agree on the important stuff. I love that we don't always see eye to eye on every little thing, though. It means I learn things from him, I am presented with opportunities to see things in a different way because of him, my horizons are expanded and I laugh so much more because of it.

I never expected Ant to see eye to eye with me on this. He has no idea what it feels like for me to live in a country where I am offered money for sex almost everytime I leave the house without him. He doesn't know how much it wears on me to be stared at and touched by strangers all the time. Nobody follows him home from the subway, or treats him like an incompetent three year old ass just because of his gender. He didn't know about the names they called me because he hasn't learned those words in Korean yet.

I didn't expect him to have the same reaction or feelings I had. I didn't expect him to try to fix my feelings, or manage them for me. His take on the day is different than mine, and I'm fine with that. All I wanted was a little kindness, a little respect for the feelings I was having. If one of his close female friends or his mom called him for support after a shitty day, what would he say to them? That's all I wanted. I wanted a friend to understand how I felt and why I felt that way. I wanted someone to say, "Man, it sucks that you feel bad right now," even if I was being a big baby. Cause you know what? Regardless of the reason, feeling bad sucks. Maybe throw a hug into the mix because I like hugs and I fucking deserved one after that day.

Things didn't end because they were really resolved. Things ended because it was late and we needed sleep and there's only so much talking in circles a person can do.

Jeez. I just wanted a freaking hug after a shitty day. Instead I've been given a much larger, more difficult test from the Universe, and I'm scared shitless I'm gonna fuck it up.









The other day I had to meet a friend in Gireum. At 5. And at 5:15 I got a text that said, "Let's meet at 6 instead, OK?"
GRRRRR!!!!!
So, since I had some extra time, I went for a little walk. Here's some pictures of the area surrounding Gireum station.
I can't be sure, but due to my craptacular Korean language skills and my habit of nodding along whenever people insist on speaking Korean to me, I either just agreed to go to church with one of my coworkers, or marry him at the church down the street.

He closed his proposal with this: "When I first see you, I think you have very nice face, very, very good body, and very innocent girl." Well, I guess two out of three ain't bad! :-)

Luckily I got out of it by saying, "Can I bring my boyfriend?!? He's a big fan of lightning, which will surely strike the moment I set foot in a church!" I don't think he got the whole phrase, but he definitely backed off at the word "boyfriend."

Whenever I try to pick up bits of a new language, I usually learn words like "Hello, how are you?" and "Thank-you," "Yes," "No," and "One more beer, please." You know, useful, simple stuff. How is it that most Korean men can't even ask me my name, but they all know how to ask if I'm a prostitute and try to pick me up?!?

GRRR!!!
Last Monday we went to the beach. It was freezing cold, windy, and foggy. Ant was soooo underwhelmed by it, but to me it felt just like SF in the summer!!
We found a cute little minbak just off the beach, so we dumped our stuff in the room and then headed off to find some food. We decided on seafood bbq, and it was so fresh that we had to sit around and wait for it to die before we could eat it. The poor snail tried his best to crawl off the grill, but in the end he lost the battle and we scarfed him down. Luckily for us the ajumma recognized that we were pretty clueless in the area of Korean seafood, so she took extra special care of us. After dinner Ant, being a boy, had to set off some fireworks on the beach, and then we wandered into a chicken hof for beer and fried chicken before calling it a night.
Just waitin' for our food to die...
YUM!
What is it with boys and fire???

Surprise!! I can see you!! hahaha!

Remember back in my early 20's when I totally loved The High Llamas even though everybody else thought they were totally weird?

They're still totally weird and I still totally love them.
This morning I tumbled outta bed and stumbled to the kitchen, poured myself a cup of ambition, and opened up iTunes. The very first song that came on was by the Barenaked Ladies. Man oh man do I ever heart them!! I threw on the whole album and proceeded to dance my way through the dishes, sweeping the floor (because, Ant, that shit doesn't clean itself), drinking a zillion cups of coffee, my shower, and the rest of my morning routine.

Hearing the BNL tunes totally reminded me of the time we (we = me, Sal, Kristy, and T-Ray) took a roadtrip from Allentown to Boston to see them play live. You can consult a map if you don't believe me, but Atown and Boston aren't exactly close to each other! We listened to BNL the whole way. Then we had a freaking blast at the concert. Then we climbed back into my dearest friend Sal's trusty Suburban and he put on BNL again. I made it about halfway through Connecticut before I sent a text to my buddy T-Ray, who was half asleep in the back seat: "If I hear one more BNL song somebody is gonna DIE!!!!" Luckily, he came to my rescue and piped up, "Hey! Why don't we listen to something else for awhile?"

But anyway. I haven't thought about Sal too much lately, so it was nice to have him pop back into my thoughts. In his honor, and because I like adding a little culture to all your lives, here's a poem he sent me a while back.



your little voice...



your little voice

Over the wires came leaping

and i felt suddenly

dizzy

With the jostling and shouting of merry flowers

wee skipping high-heeled flames

courtesied before my eyes

or twinkling over to my side

Looked up

with impertinently exquisite faces

floating hands were laid upon me

I was whirled and tossed into delicious dancing

up

Up

with the pale important

stars and the Humorous

moon

dear girl

How i was crazy how i cried when i heard

over time

and tide and death

leaping

Sweetly

your voice



ee cummings



So...where were we? Oh yeah...I was dancing my way through the morning. I continued shaking my ass through the subway and out onto the streets of Hwarangdae, heading off to mold and shape the young minds of the future. It was a perfect day. Sunshine and flowers lined the path of the park I walk through, I was wearing my favorite sneakers, I had awesome music and happy memories of great friends floating through my brain, I was having the most perfect day and was totally in love with the world. I can't be sure, but I might have been glowing with happiness.

And then I got clotheslined by a tree.

As in knocked over backwards, ripped the headphones from my ears, left me completely reeling clotheslined by a tree.

HEY UNIVERSE, WHAT THE HECK'S UP WITH THAT?!?!?!?

Dude. Total buzz kill.

So I regained my balance, brushed myself off, and staggered the remaining 200 yards or so to school. My very first conversation of the day went something like this:

Students: TEEEEAAAACHEEERRR!!!! HAIR AND...LEAVES...AND...WHY????
Me: Uh....Why are there leaves in my hair?
Students: Yes!!! WHY?!?!?

What could I say??? I suspect my kids are already catching onto the fact that I'm a total moron. I couldn't tell them I got attacked by a tree on my way to school - that would totally confirm their suspicions.

Me: Oh, in America, it's a really popular style. Everybody does it. You didn't know that?!?

And just to prove it, I quickly googled some weird couture fashion stuff with anorexic girls on runways dressed like trees and vines and crap. They totally bought it. SUCKERS!!!

Students: Ooohhhh...Teacher! Beautiful!!!
Got this picture in an email from my cousin today. Isn't it awesome? Of course it came with a load of inspirational crap and a threat that the world would end if I didn't send it to at least 500 people in the next 10 seconds, but I'll spare you guys that garbage. Apologies in advance if the world does, in fact, end in a few minutes...

By the way, did anyone else read that story about the honk tree? This picture totally reminded me of it.

I don't recommend you try this at home. If you guys need me, I'll be mopping the kitchen floor. :-(

Saturday afternoon we had Achilles over for lunch. Fast forward 12 hours and we had somehow found ourselves at a random bar in Sinchon wasted out of our gourds. Especially yours truly, who didn't even think of getting out of bed until 5 p.m. on Sunday. Ant was totally sympathetic to my plight, as he spent most of the day laughing at me and referring to me as "The Barfer."

To sum it up, I'll give you a quote from a text I received from Achilles last night, "As my brain heals I'm realizing what a fuckin' blast I had!!"
Seriously. It was a total blast. And how 'bout the last picture, where Ant tried (unsuccessfully) to climb the walls of the subway? Hahaha.