Saturday, January 31, 2009

Korean Proverbs

I've had a wonderful, relaxing week off, running around Seoul, looking at Palaces in the bitter bitter cold, warming up with a Korean dessert filled with warm gooey cinnamon, staying in a hotel with the girls just for the hell of it, going to the Korean sauna (bath house), and in general having a grand old time. I will share more with you about this week of craziness a little later, but now for a Korean cultural lesson: Korean Proverbs (taken from Lonely Planet)

Traditional sayings provide an uncensored insight into a nation's psyche.

  • Koreans' strong belief in the importance of education is reflected in this proverb: "Teaching your child one book is better than leaving him a fortune" (That was illustrated to me in my Korean consulate interview, when my interviewer asked numerous times if I was appreciative of my parents for paying for my college. You also see how important education is with just the amount of time children spend in school, often times not finishing till 10 o'clock at night)
  • The hope of all Koreans of humble origins is to improve their lifestyle and be "a dragon that rises from a ditch."
  • The blunt, peasant humour of the Korean character is expressed by this poor man's lament: "I have nothing but my testicles"
  • Koreans distrust lawyers and governments and prefer to settle disputes in their own way: "The law is far but the fist is near." (In Korea you hardly ever see a cop car, and it is common for drivers and taxi drivers to run stale red lights if they don't see any other cars. This has happened in our taxi's numerous times. I assume this is because either they don't have strict punishments or there is just no one there to catch them)
  • An unblemished character is a Korean's most treasured possession. To avoid any suspicion of being a thief. "Do not tie your shoelaces in a melon patch or touch your hat under a pear tree." (Korea is actually one of the safest countries in the world. After traveling in so many countries such as Italy where thievery is expected and valuables should be guarded with the utmost care, it is strange to let go of that fear that someone is always looking to steal from an unknowing tourist. Forgotten valuables are often returned to their owners and the crime rate is extremely low)
  • Koreans have often needed guts and determination to overcome defeats and disasters: "After the house is burnt, pick up the nails." (Which they have done time and time again. After the Korean war, they used the left over metal to make chopsticks, which is why many places in Korea have metal chopsticks which is even harder to use than regular wooden ones making me look even more like an idiot)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Well gang, things are finally on the move. It's been a very long road but I can finally see the Emerald City. I thought I might take a little time to fill you guys in on how things are going.

As I said before, I am a graduate woohooo! But now it's really official. I have an "unofficial" diploma which is more than official for me and for S. Korea apparently. All necessary papers have been submitted to the necessary persons and I am now awaiting my meeting with the Korean consulate to acquire my Visa. Vanessa is currently finding out if it's possible for me to head on over with a tourist Visa and wait for all the paperwork to go through before I begin my employment. I am finally getting excited. Don't get me wrong, I've been excited for a long time but now I am actually starting to feel the thrill of it! Can't wait to join my amazing wife and finally get started on this adventure.

P.S. Vanessa has updated the videos that we were having problems with so try em again, they're worth it!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

End of camp talent show!

My homeroom class for this past two week camp were walking zombies, lifeless, and without spirit. Having a discussion with them was like banging your head against a brick wall, dull and painful. One of the little girls Sally would continually chat with her friends in Korean but when spoken to in English she wouldn't respond even if spoken to directly with clear body language in case she didn't understand the English words, which I know she did.
Me: Sally, you need to pay attention
( she would nod her head and five seconds later would continue to talk as if I were not in the room)
Me: Sally, mouth closed (squeezing my lips in a duckbill position)
Sally: (blank stare, no smile, no deviousness, no reaction just blankness)
Me: Sally, you need to move closer to the computer screen. ( motioning with my hands)
Sally: shakes her head
Me: yes Sally. Please move now. (gesturing with a hand to the location I wanted her to sit)
Sally: (no sounds come from her mouth, but she continues to shake her head in refusal)
Me: Yes Sally, 5, 4, 3, 2...
Sally: (She would get up at the sound of my counting. I will never understand the power of counting. I haven't said what will happen if I reach 1 and in fact I don't know myself, but counting always works with kids, it is really ingenious!)

In the mornings we taught rotating classes about South Africa. Other classes being taught were India, Wales and USA. The first day we had our homeroom class whom were named debonair, the next day, Terrific class- the lowest of the sixth grade classes, the next day lovely and so on and so on.

Terrific class was Tyler's class next door to us, who made our class of deadpan sixth graders look like a bunch of rowdy geniuses and just happened to be the class we were always paired up with.

Terrific class had girls who liked to giggle and whose favorite response was "I don't know" in a high pitched voice with a flick of the head in an attempt to avoid a confrontation by being cute. One boy Dahoe, always had a mischievous look in his eye, while John, a small and continually confused boy, who we are sure didn't have all of his marbles in the right order was also an added addition to this motley crew. After two weeks he still couldn't answer, what my name was. The Korean boys said he had a bad memory.

On the day we spent three hours teaching Terrific class about South Africa, Tyler asked them once they arrived in homeroom what they had learned about South Africa. They stared at him blankly. Finally John said, "Africa?" After three hours of South Africa lessons, they didn't remember anything. After that day John loved to answer all questions with "Africa!" despite the fact that 90 percent of the questions he was answering had nothing to do with Africa. He could be answering the question, "What is a castle?" "Africa!" "No John, that is not the correct answer."

Can you imagine these two classes being paired up? Once combined it was as if a giant energy vacuum had come through the classroom and sucked out every last particle of energy from the room, creating a negative balance of energy. Silence and dead air hung in the room like a bad odor. After our experience with forcing them to sing "haru, haru" an all Korean song, our expectations of this week's talent show was low, very low, one might even say below zero. If they didn't perform anything we honestly wouldn't have been surprised.

So we told them that Friday was a talent show and they needed to figure out what they were going to do for the performance. As always they had broken into an all girls table and an all boys table. (Coming within three feet of a member of the opposite sex might infect one with a disease far beyond the reaches of cooties, far more contagious in fact that it is considered air born and they must stay far enough away as to not pass it through breath) Of course they insisted on having a boy act and a girl act. We, Tyler, Joy and I did not care, as long as they did something. The girls decided they would sing two songs. "Great!" we said. The boys however, came up with something even more creative, they would have a fashion show! "What a fantastic idea!" That means they didn't have to speak, all they would have to do was wear clothing and prance down an aisle. Of course the following day after speaking with their friends, it was a determined a stupid idea, but we told them it was too late to change. They insisted that they wanted to sing a song like the girls, but after they stood as straight as statues on the stage during the TV talent show, refusing to move their lips in a fake singing movement, we outright refused! Fashion show and that was final.

Here is the fashion show video!

You may notice that many of the boys are wearing my clothes and even some of Kyle's clothes that were packed in our combined suitcase.

John is the boy in orange dress number and he was probably the best runway model of the entire group. It was such a success, the girls in the audience screamed at the boys as if they were truly models. The girls in the class disappeared into the background while they sang a perfect fashion show song, while all the boys had to do was dress in silly outfits walk down an aisle and look cool. (Amigo by Shinee is the song in the video in case you are interested)

Here are some of the other videos from the talent show of other classes. Some of them were very talented.

A note about this video below: The first girl you see in this video was the alpha female. She took charge of this talent show performance, choreographing this entire dance. It was quite humerus seeing her in this role and watching the teachers sit back and let her.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lights out

Bright florescent lights, illuminating everything including my blemishes, and then DARKNESS! Yep, we had a black out yesterday. Unfortunately it was NOT from a dark, electrifying thunderstorm, rather electricians trying to fix electrical things beyond my comprehension. Why they were working on it while classes were in session, I don't know, I am not Korean, but what I do know is that the kids went wild. It was as if an insane zoo keeper had decided to unlock the cages to the caged animals. Lions, zebras, polar bears rolling on the floor in a giant heap.

I remember when I was a child in school, it was the best day if the lights went out. Most of the time it was because of a thunderous storm overhead which made it all the more frightening and exciting. Classes were canceled and we were taken to the auditorium to wait it out. But because there was no storm and the weather was relatively pleasant, slightly above freezing, we took the kids out to the soccer field to run off their pent up energy. Kids race, even a teachers race, and then duck duck goose. And of course the children had to point out my red nose. I don't know why a red nose in the cold outdoors is such a novelty to them or why they feel the need to always point it out. Even complete strangers feel compelled to inform me about my red nose, but it never fails, if my nose is red, a Korean will tell me, be it child, adult, Korean consulate, or complete stranger.

The sun began to set, and after classes were finished, many teachers gathered in the lounge, no lights, no TV, no electronics, nothing but our own sparkling personalities. From the short time we spent discussing in the dark, I can understand why people used to rise and fall with the sun, light is important, we can't see without it. How is it that we forget such simplicities, or maybe it is just me? It was interesting to be left without a plugged in box flashing images to entertain us. I sometimes wish that we could travel back to simpler days, like in the time of Jane Eyre, when they danced, told stories and put on plays to entertain each other in the evening. It is a nice change of pace from our typical zombie position, mouths hanging open, eyes unblinking, as the TV tells us what to do and think. It would be nice if we were occasionally forced to use our imagination, like we were last night for a few short hours. Ironically, imagination is something we are always encouraging with our Korean students who don't normally get encouragement to use their imagination, is something we often forget to utilize ourselves unless left with few other options. Necessity breeds invention.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Egg Drop madness

I have mentioned in previous posts that we are in the middle of Winter camp here at SNET. Part of my job during this camp is conduct the science club class. This class by far has been my favorite class to teach during the camp session. The science project was an egg drop. We gave the kids specific materials, and told them that their goal was to save their egg from dying a cruel death from being thrown off the top of the 4 story building.

Day 1:
paper cup
paper clips
two straws
6 pieces of string
and on Day 1 and only day one, a trash bag. Not one egg cracked, which to some might seem a success, but we realized that providing a trash bag made the experiment full proof, too easy and provided no challenge to the children.

Day 2: We changed the trash bags out for smaller sandwich bags. This time the experiments were a FAILURE!!! Everyone of the eggs broke, and not one contraption floated to the ground, but rather crashed at top speeds. oops! Bad teachers :) (it was kind of funny though and definitely entertaining)

Day 3 and everyday after wards: We substituted for the trash bags/ sandwich bags, newspaper and a balloon. We decided to give the children both a balloon a newspaper to give them more opportunity to be creative and to see what they did with both materials.

My kids never used the newspaper as a floating device. They always used the balloon regardless of my insisting that there was a reason we gave them the newspaper, after which they would often tear the newspaper up into shreds to cushion their egg. Not exactly what I had in mind, but ok, it was their experiment, not mine and their future broken egg, not mine. And hopefully they learned more from the failure and the success of others from the other classes.

Some of the kids were very inventive and some were... well... not.
This contraption used the balloon as a covering device, rather than the flotation device, and used nothing to help it float down to the bottom. Needless to say their egg was DESTROYED in the crash.

One of the cracked eggs after it's non successful fall.

The first video is an example of an inventive and successful egg drop

while the second one is a great example of how a balloon by itself will not help slow the fall of the egg enough to keep it from crashing.

It was a great class that both the teachers and the students enjoyed immensely. I hope we find an excuse to do this again another day. What would you have done to save your egg if you were in this class?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Patience isn't my virtue

I've never considered myself to be a patient person. I am not exactly impatient, just not patient. There is a difference between impatience and not being patient, but don't ask me to describe the difference, just take my word for it.

What has felt like an eternity but in reality has only been a year and a half, my patience has been tried, tested, punched, ripped, shot at, tortured and I am proud to say only once have I threatened to go on a shooting rampage. Overall, I would say that through everything we have been through, I have shown my colors to be on the patient spectrum. No one has left my clutches with bruises, scratches or life threatening wounds. The venom that has started to form at the back of my throat has not caused any deaths. And although, occasionally I turn into the HULK, green, gigantic, and uncontrollable in my rage, the world has yet to set out to imprison me.

We have not had a choice in our patience in reality. We have often discussed the possibility of hiring a lawyer, but in the end we decided that path would not necessarily quicken the process and would probably do more harm than good. Patience has not been a choice but a virtue that has been thrust upon us. But as the clock tick tocks, the days pass, and we hear nothing from UT except to be patient, I find myself falling into a deep dark hole of despair. Being away from Kyle was easy enough as long as I had a life line, hope, something to hold on to, to look forward to. And I still have hope, but my hope which was once as luminescent as the sun now shines as bright as a single candle in a cavern. Kyle's paper work has been accepted by the University which is a huge step towards success, but nearly two weeks later, no certificate of completion has been issued regardless of the fact that the paperwork had a rush order on it from his adviser, and regardless that he has called daily to check on the progress. They told him he would have it in a week, it has been two. When I arrived in Korea we had planned for Kyle to be out here by New Years. It is now the middle of January, and his paperwork for his visa has not even begun. I have begun to wish for Valentine's Day to be his date of arrival, but every time I set a date in my head, something to grasp onto as a life line, I am left thrashing in the ocean, swallowing water by the mouthfuls. The longer this waiting game continues the more I feel like I am drowning. I am trying to find a positive ending to this post, something uplifting, but my words have been saturated and are floating further away with every wave. Soon, very soon, I will find my voice of hope again, but until then I will leave you with this as it is. Patience is a virtue, it's just not my virtue.

p.s. sorry if many of my posts lately are down. I am sure that will change soon when we hear something more from the University .

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bizarre Talent Show

This week is once again camp week, which means that rather than the students being sent by their school for a week, they are sent by their parents. As teachers this is definitely a much welcomed change. The material and lesson plans have been changed, and the atmosphere is very relaxed and activity oriented. We still have our quite groups who never ever make a peep, and the ones that wont ever stop talking and seem not to notice that there is even a teacher in the room.

Tonight however we had a really special event to add to the FUN of camp, a camera crew from a local TV station. They came for the day to film some of the classes, interview students and requested that we put on a talent show for a finale of sorts. We were given two days notice to ask the kids, so to act as fillers, a few teachers signed up in case the recruitment of students was unfruitful. As the list remained quite short, Joy, my partner teacher, Tyler, the teacher next door and I decided that we would sign our two classes up to do a combined performance of Haru Haru, a song from one of their favorite bands, Big Bang. The children Idolize this band. Because we are at English camp almost every child chooses an English name for the week. Inevitably there is always several Tops and G-dragons (the two most popular guys from the band). Sometimes they choose even crazier names like Double cheese burger or this week we have a boy named bunny.

We signed up our classes knowing that they were all very shy and not really into the idea, but when we were called, they willing stood up on stage (meaning I did not physically have to drag them by the hair or threaten with the dreaded blue stickers), the girls sang, the boys stood uncomfortably and the audience went wild. Girls from the audience screamed as if we were the Beatles and hands flew threw the air as they practiced their choreographed dance moves all the while sitting in the audience. Tyler, Joy and I along with two other guys playing the guitar stood on the stage mouthing "Watermelon" for all of the Korean words, the majority of the song, for moral support and to catch any attempted runaways or a child dying of stage fright.

Here is the Haru Haru music video. I actually really like the song.

After all of the performances which ended up being around 11 in total, awards were given. But the award ceremony was the strangest part of the entire talent show since all but one prize was given to the teachers. We were performing not to compete but to help fill the show. The prizes obviously should have been given to the students and as I was handed my SNET umbrella, I swallowed the bitter taste in my mouth. I plan to give my prize to one of the performers tomorrow, as I did nothing, deserved nothing for standing on the stage and mouthing "watermelon" and when the prizes should obviously have gone to the children who were more deserving of these prizes. Obviously this was another cultural issue that I have no understanding of. Hopefully we will be given more answers tomorrow as to this weird event....

The second most popular song in Korea. Fast forward to 2 min to actually hear the song. The first 2 minutes is a weird intro.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The evolution of my (our) blog

It all began simply enough. A father and son , bathing in their nerdiness, and glorifying the deity inside the computer decided to create a blog. (Kyle and his father if you hadn't guessed)

"What is a blog?" I naively asked said when they presented the idea to me. ( This was three years ago! How ignorant was I? When someone doesn't know what a blog is these days, my jaw falls from it's sockets onto the floor, similar to how a snake can unhinge his mouth to eat a hippo, yes a hippo. It is similar to how people stare at me open-mouthed when I admit that I don't know who Kylie Menogue is. Sorry people, that is why I keep Kyle around, I am completely useless when it comes to trivia. But I digress..)

"It's a public space for family and friends to read about our travels when we go to Italy." was Kyle's response to my silly question (We studied abroad there, and it was nothing short of amazing)

I have to admit, I was a bit put out when they created the site with kyle's name . It was our blog together, why did it only have Kyle's name with no mention of mine. No, I don't hold onto unnecessary and pointless grudges. Don't look at me like that. And no I don't have a list in my head to pull out anytime I get angry with Kyle for grievances from years past. Nope, that wouldn't be me. Still digressing....

And although it was our travel blog, with his name as the website name, I was the main blogger. As I continued to write and improve, I found that I enjoyed the art from of writing that I had always abhorred in the past. It was still a difficult task, but it was one that I found I had a talent for, unlike the paintings and drawings I was attempting in my art classes, which my friends were always kind enough to compliment, even when I knew my pieces were crap.

After Italy, we discontinued the blog, as it's main purpose was to inform family and friends of our where-abouts and happenings while in Europe.

The next year however, after hubby and I were hitched, my fingers craved the sweet feeling of the keys dipping into the secret world of the keyboard once again. I needed an outlet for creation and blogging seemed to be the perfect solution. So I created this blog, with the name to allow my creativity to thrive, grow and sprout through words into a beautiful flourishing vine, always reaching higher and further into the sky towards the delicious tentacles of the sun. (There was only a little spite involved when I created the name to the web page) I wrote sporadically, with my readers consisting of mostly family and very few friends . Our Italy blog had mostly been mine except of course for the name and a few scattered posts from Kyle, so I needed to create a space for me. A blank page to express my feelings, and test the watering holes of the writing world. Some of my favorite posts to date were from my early days, because each post seemed like such an accomplishment, something I could feel proud of. Something I created, words, sentences, and poetry that came from my brain.

When we left for Chile, however, the blog once again evolved into our blog to help keep family and friends informed and up to date with our lives while we were in a far far away land. I have always loved blogging while away from the things I know, because inspiration is given freely while away; traveling is my muse. Everything looks, smells and feels different. The low flying birds, the grey sand, and the chickens, something once considered ordinary becomes extraordinary and something worth writing about.

When we returned to the states from South America, a body suite of issues the weight of a grand piano fell from the heavens onto our shoulders. Smaller bricks continued to be loaded on as the months wore on and we continued hearing worse and worse news concerning Kyle and his degree from the University. My fingers rather than craving the familiar keyboard had developed a repulsion, a reaction that two of the same side magnets create when they are attempted to be placed together, a refusal to unite. I was stunned into silence by our continual failures to follow our dream. Only when the brick load began to feel the possibility of being shedded, did my fingers find their way back to their disinherited home.

But not only has the timing and reasons for my blogging changed, but so has my outlook on how and why a blog should be conducted. As it started as a travelers blog, my focus was on the unique experiences that we encountered, such as the strange exploding toilets or my new love of gelato. Once the new Vanessa blog with a freshly hospital white palette was created, so did my writing subject change. I began to write about the ordinary with a twist, as my life was anything but exciting. The true evolution however began this past summer, when I discovered the secret world of blogging. Underneath our noses, like the underground railroad, or the organized crime during prohibition, there has been a thriving community of bloggers sharing their life stories, spilling their blood, guts and pure emotions for all to read and share. Once I discovered this underground community, I realized that there was a specific style unique to blogging which was different to my own. They wrote witty, creative stories, shorter and less pristine, more accepting of errors. Reading their blogs were more like talking with a friend, personal yet light and almost always humorous. While with my writing style, I strove for perfection, an attempt to mold words into a statue of David. In this world, I also found that it was perfectly acceptable to follow a perfect strangers blog. Bloggers who knew nothing of each other besides what they read on blogs became friends, created communities and had an entirely secret underworld from the rest of humanity. I began to imitate other bloggers styles as I waded through this new world. Before I incorporated myself into this blogging world, my only readers were my friends and family, however I soon strove to gain more readers, and more blogging buddies. In reality my motivation for this was for self-actualization, to feel important, to feel like my writing was special, but outwardly my reason was that I had and still have a goal of writing and publishing a book one day. I needed to find out if perfect strangers would take to my writing or if it was something not worth pursuing. (I realize that those who write blogs might not necessarily be the same audience for the book I plan to write one day so I don't worry too much about that.)

As a writer it is important to write what we know, and write what inspires us, but it is also important to know your audience and what inspires them. Before writing a blog, I often find myself asking, "why do people read my blog and why do people not read it? What is it that they find intriguing, what do they find boring? Are the stories too detailed, does it not create enough conversation?" So, my readers it is your turn, what is your opinion. What do you enjoy reading about? In your opinion, what makes a good blog? When you come to my web page what is it that you seek? (And I promise, I will talk much more about Korean culture because I assume many people are interested in the cultural differences here)

As a side note, mostly for other bloggers: Recently I have come across a blog who is hosting an event called Blogapalooza: What I learned in 2008. He is trying to get at least 100 bloggers who would like to share a post from each month of 2008 that expresses their feelings for the past year. If you would like to participate you must enter before January 25th. Check it out. It is pretty cool.

Flashback of the evolution of the blog for those interested
If you want to read some of our old posts from Italy: click here
The start of this blog for Vanessa only: A bamboozeld mess: Trials of marriage , The Yellow brick road (how the blog got it's name)
South America adventures blogs: A post by Kyle

Thank for taking the time to share with us. We really appreciate your encouragement, support and even criticisms as long as they are constructive. Have a blessed day.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Grrrrr... skype!

Have you met my archnemisis?

Skype this is the bloggy world, Bloggy world, this is skype otherwise known as evil incarnate.

So skype is only evil in my mind today. Normally it I consider it to be the next best invention next to the chocolate bar, and I LOOVVVEE chocolate so that is saying a lot. I realized that some of you may not know what skype is... "Take a deep breath" is their motto. I tried that today, but deep breathing only added fuel to the fiery flames spiraling out of my flared nostrils. Using the internet, skype allows long distance calls for dirt cheap. Honestly, I should feel entirely blessed that I can speak to Kyle at all while I am in a foreign country for anything less than $100 an hour. I should be down on my knees, kissing skype's cyber feet and thanking them for allowing the possibility that I may speak with not only Kyle but also my family members whom I miss dearly. And most days, I am extremely grateful for this wondrous technology. However, today, I am on the far side of the spectrum from grateful, one might even call me "a fire breath dragon, pulsating with a furious firery vendetta" I have spoken with Kyle this weekend 3 times but out of those three conversations only one was successful and it was for a total of 3 solid minutes. He is helping his parents out with a weekend work thing, and as his schedule is very constricted he has limited time to speak with me. When I called him yesterday morning, he stepped out long enough for us to have our uninterrupted, 3 minute conversation. However, the next time I was able to call our conversation went something like this.
Kyle: Honey are you there?
Vanessa: I am here?
K: Are you there?
V: I'm here, I'm here, I'm here
K: Hi sweetheart, how was your day?
V: Hi darling, how was your day? (lines overlapping because said at the same time)
K: What?
V: Your day, how was it?
K: How was your day? (obviously he didn't hear my question)
V: I went shopping in Seoul today
K: What?
V: I went shopping in Seoul today.
K: one more time sweetheart
V: I went shopping in Seoul today, I went shopping in Seoul today, I went shoppig in Seoul today.
K: You went shopping? Did you buy anything?
V: It was pretty unsuccessful, I was looking for some new cute boots, but I didn't find the perfect ones.
K: I couldn't hear you.
V: Yes I bought a shirt.
K: I think you said "Yes, you bought a purse?
And on and on like this until Kyle was finished with his ten minute break. Typically it took 20 seconds for one sentence to be accurately understood. This ten minute conversation where we understood nothing of what the other said , and rather than feeling satisfied and in love at the end of the conversation, acidic boiling in my veins was the result. As most of you know, Kyle's patience tether is significantly longer than mine, and we can assume that he has not metaphorized into a firing breathing dragon like his wife. But even if he has, I can't ask him since that is way too long of a question for him to understand. Sometimes it feels like I am talking to an ESL student, constantly repeating my sentences and key words to help them understand. But I need my phone time with Kyle as a moment to wind down, to feel wrapped in loves embrace but instead of a relaxing moment, it becomes a stress-filled one where I grab onto anything that might have a neck I can strangle. When these types of conversations occur, I find myself yelling into the phone (when volume is obviously not the problem) and getting irritated with Kyle, when it is obviously not his fault.

Conversations like these are typical but not quite to this extreme. And honestly it probably isn't even skype's fault, it is the internet's fault for being craptacular on certain days and at certain hours. But what makes this situation even more difficult, is that all but one 3 minute conversation has been as such this weekend and I am especially lonesome for my hubby right now as you can see by the latest post.

The internet like my frustration, has it's good moments and it's bad. I am sure later, it will be behaving better, because if it doesn't, I am not sure what ugly creature I might transform into next. And as for Skype, I am sorry I called you my archnemisis. You are my friend, but would you have a chat with your friend the internet for me? Ask him to play nice please. I would really appreciate a conversation with my hubby if you don't mind. Thanks!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Slacker blogger

I am sorry blogging community, I have been negligent lately. But the blogging spirit hasn't moved me lately. I have plenty of things that I want to write about and that I want to share, but I don't have the motivation or maybe the will to sit down and write about it. I've been missing Kyle a lot lately. I like to visit the blog sometimes just so I can look at the picture of him kissing me in Karen's garden. I like to pretend, I am in the picture right at that moment and I can feel his arms strong around my waist, loving and secure, and his soft lips pressing up against my cheek as his beautiful luscious hair tickles my face. If only he were here already. If only I could close my eyes and when I opened them he would be standing miraculously in front of me. But he isn't here, and the truth is, I still don't know when I can throw my arms around his neck in the tightest hug next to a choke hold there is. And the not knowing is driving me crazy and throwing my spirits into a downward spiral. Maybe I am feeling this way because I just watched "Juno" which could possibly be described as a romantic comedy which always make me miss Kyle. Maybe tomorrow when I wake up I will feel close to normal again and possibly even happy. I hope so. I am tired of this hole in my heart that this distance has caused, and I am tired of the pillow I hug in place of Kyle at night. Come home to me soon my darling. And to my bloggy readers, I will try and be a better blogger, but I'm not making any promises.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Ski Trip

A pic of nearly all the gang.

Me coming down from a successful (no falling) ride!

Ahhhh….. my first time skiing ever! Visions of flying face first into snow crowded my anxious yet eager imagination. Sixteen teachers from SNET, nearly everyone plus an additional two Koreans joined in on the ski trip expedition. Saturday morning was not the glorious typical sleeping in morning; rather, we met in the office at 7:15 am to catch our bus into town. The chilled wind nipped at our few areas of exposed skin, and snuck into the crevices between the loosely woven fabrics. Korean women in their miniskirts exposing long legs and delicately small feet in their high heels to the icy wind, obviously choosing fashion over searing pain passed by us as we huddled together waiting for our bus.
Once we were at our hotel, we were given a room with a heated floor, a balcony, but with no chairs nor beds, we unraveled ourselves of our multiple layers and relished in the warmth of the heated floor. In fact, I might have rolled around on the floor a bit, willing the heat to enter my body at any possible angle. Spread eagle on my back, spread eagle on my front, one cheek, next cheek, forehead, the warmth just felt so good, I couldn’t get enough of it! After my clinically diagnosable insane behavior ceased, we ate kimbop (looks like sushi, but is Korean style and no fish, just veggies) and passed the time with a game of Bullshit as our appointments at the ski rental weren’t for another hour.
Once we arrived at the ski rental store, we discovered that trying on ski wear that looked either like pajamas, warrior gear or a mental patient outfit, was nearly as fun as skiing. The stiff ski boots caused us to walk like robots as ankle use was impossible and walking required lifting the entire 20 lbs heavier leg from the knee. I felt super sexy in my baby blue ski pants, pink ski jacket and robo boots. And what was even more hilarious was going up and down steps. Images of a cracked skull with green brains oozing out at the bottom of the steps, kept my concentration in line. So the images of guts were not funny, but anyone watching our group traversing those perilous steps, probably would not have been able to contain full out rolling on the floor laughter. We looked nothing short of ridiculonkulous.
Like everything else, skiing has a learning curve. One might even call the curve, a hump or a slope for skiing. (Aren’t I soooo clever.) Our first lesson, by our very own skilled ski instructor, a teacher at SNET, was how to get up from a fall. This was by far, the hardest lesson to learn. As you may know by now, I hate the cold, and everything about the cold. I hate how the leaves dry up and wither into ugliness. I hate how when you stub your toe when you are cold, the pain doubles and triples until you can’t imagine anything, even childbirth hurting worse. So in order to protect myself from the horrid cold, I layered; two pairs of long johns, sweat pants, ski pants, a long-sleeve shirt designed to keep cold out, two fleece jackets, and my ski jacket. I felt as bundled as the little brother in the movie “A Christmas Story,” but I would be warm. In fact, not only was I warm, but I nearly sweat to death. A mere thirty minutes after my first intentional fall, so that we could learn how to lift ourselves up on our own, I was able to get back up. Obviously a piece of cake. WRONG!!

Step 1: Hurl your body, pushing with all your might, but not too much might. Grunting is allowed and encouraged. I did plenty of grunting
Step 2: Catch yourself miraculously mid-hurl and then hover over your skis without falling. Requires balance and coordination…. Um, I don’t have either of those.
Step 3: Stop your body weight from continuing in the motion towards the other side of the skis. Yep, I definitely was not successful in that step during my first couple of trys and just ended up on the other side at an awkward angle and in more pain. Yippee!
Step 4: Stand up with nothing to hold onto, using only the strength in your legs and abs. Hmmm…What??!!

Next was stopping. My first attempt at stopping ended with my face eating snow. Yummy snow! It was totally on purpose, I was just… just trying to make my fellow newbies feel good about themselves, yeah, that’s it!
Christy and me showing our mad skills!

As I rode down the baby slope on the bunny hill, I prayed for a miracle that my klutziness would remain under control, and that face first in snow would not be habitual mark of Vanessa, only a first time blunder. It was frightening knowing that if your attempt at stopping was unsuccessful you could very likely roll down the hill or run into an innocent bystander. Somehow, however, my klutziness remained tucked away on all of my rides down the hills only rendering it’s hideous face when I was on flat ground, in crowds of people. Three times I fell from my inability to keep my extended ski feet from tangling together into an unmanageable knot while on solid ground far from a slope. Falling hurts, and my battered hips and bruised ego have the marks to prove it.
We skied Saturday and Sunday. My skiing skills improved slowly but surely as I increased the difficulty level with speed, turns and steeper hills. It was a wonderful experience, one that I will most definitely do again, especially when Kyle finally arrives, as we had always wanted to ski together for the first time. My only complaint, besides my bruises, aching muscles, and my block of ice feet at the end of the day, oddly enough were the heated floors. We were given comforters to sleep on, which is the custom. However, as the night progressed, so did the heat continue to warm the beds and floor, until I felt as if the owners of the hotel might be hungry for some sizzled foreigner meat. My sleep was restless and my body covered with sweat. Others have told me that floor beds are often more comfortable and less like a frying pan than that one, so I will not base my opinion solely on this experience, and look forward to trying out hopefully better future floor beds.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Kyle is a graduate!

Allllright kids,

The day has finally come! I have completely, officially and in every possible way finished my degree. There is nothing left for me to do now than to wait...yet again...I hate waiting. But at least this time I can wait knowing that I am a graduate. YAAAAAYYYY!!! So the next question you all might be asking is, “when are you going to S. Korea to be with your wife. Weeeeeeellll, there's just not a simple answer to that. The problem is, after I get my “unofficial” diploma I will be able to start my application for my working Visa. That can take anywhere from a month to 3 depending on....well frankly I don't know why the hell it takes so long but I guess you have to be Korean to understand ;) This day has been a loooooong time coming so I'm trying hard not to concern myself so much with the long wait to come and simply enjoy the experience of knowing that I am a college grad. AT LAST!

So, for the next couple weeks, I will be helpin the folks rescue the fort from the downward spiral it seems to be in at the moment. Lots of chores may seem overwhelming to some but to me, it's a list of things to do when I have had few productive outlets for my restless impatience. It's also nice to have some time to spend with the parental units, even if it is in a very cold house. Better a cold house than no house right?

Oh ya, and today, I learned something about possums. Apparently they do not burrow in the ground like I thought but rather, do enjoy borrowing in the insulation under the roof! Makes sense now that I think about it, but at the time that I was very cautiously releasing it from the trap we set out for the raccoons that were burrowing in the roof, all I kept thinking was, “stupid possum, this trap was meant for the critters burrowing in our roof! Retard.” Ironic huh?

Monday, January 05, 2009

**Nerd Alert**

Yes, I am a nerd, I am willing to admit it. We are in the middle of a camp here at SNET and today in Science Club we had the kids make egg drops: parachutes to protect their hard-boiled eggs while falling from a 4 story building. It was a really fun experiment that the kids LOVED. And the teachers may of had even more fun than the kids. However, none of the eggs broke, which meant that it was too easy of a challenge. We are going to have to make it harder for the next class. Anyways, while I was in a nerdy mood, I decided to read this article that my darling hubby recommended and I found it incredibly intriguing so I thought I would share it with you, my dear readers. Enjoy!

The 10 Most Puzzling Ancient Artifacts

The Bible tells us that God created Adam and Eve just a few thousand years ago, by some fundamentalist interpretations. Science informs us that this is mere fiction and that man is a few million years old, and that civilization just tens of thousands of years old. Could it be, however, that conventional science is just as mistaken as the Bible stories? There is a great deal of archeological evidence that the history of life on earth might be far different than what current geological and anthropological texts tell us. Consider these astonishing finds:

The Grooved Spheres
Over the last few decades, miners in South Africa have been digging up mysterious metal spheres. Origin unknown, these spheres measure approximately an inch or so in diameter, and some are etched with three parallel grooves running around the equator. Two types of spheres have been found: one is composed of a solid bluish metal with flecks of white; the other is hollowed out and filled with a spongy white substance. The kicker is that the rock in which they where found is Precambrian - and dated to 2.8 billion years old! Who made them and for what purpose is unknown.

The Dropa Stones
In 1938, an archeological expedition led by Dr. Chi Pu Tei into the Baian-Kara-Ula mountains of China made an astonishing discovery in some caves that had apparently been occupied by some ancient culture. Buried in the dust of ages on the cave floor were hundreds of stone disks. Measuring about nine inches in diameter, each had a circle cut into the center and was etched with a spiral groove, making it look for all the world like some ancient phonograph record some 10,000 to 12,000 years old. The spiral groove, it turns out, is actually composed of tiny hieroglyphics that tell the incredible story of spaceships from some distant world that crash-landed in the mountains. The ships were piloted by people who called themselves the Dropa, and the remains of whose descendents, possibly, were found in the cave.

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The Ica Stones
Beginning in the 1930s, the father of Dr. Javier Cabrera, Cultural Anthropologist for Ica, Peru, discovered many hundreds of ceremonial burial stones in the tombs of the ancient Incas. Dr. Cabrera, carrying on his father's work, has collected more than 1,100 of these andesite stones, which are estimated to be between 500 and 1,500 years old and have become known collectively as the Ica Stones. The stones bear etchings, many of which are sexually graphic (which was common to the culture), some picture idols and others depict such practices as open-heart surgery and brain transplants. The most astonishing etchings, however, clearly represent dinosaurs - brontosaurs, triceratops (see photo), stegosaurus and pterosaurs. While skeptics consider the Ica Stones a hoax, their authenticity has neither been proved or disproved.

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The Antikythera Mechanism
A perplexing artifact was recovered by sponge-divers from a shipwreck in 1900 off the coast of Antikythera, a small island that lies northwest of Crete. The divers brought up from the wreck a great many marble and and bronze statues that had apparently been the ship's cargo. Among the findings was a hunk of corroded bronze that contained some kind of mechanism composed of many gears and wheels. Writing on the case indicated that it was made in 80 B.C., and many experts at first thought it was an astrolabe, an astronomer's tool. An x-ray of the mechanism, however, revealed it to be far more complex, containing a sophisticated system of differential gears. Gearing of this complexity was not known to exist until 1575! It is still unknown who constructed this amazing instrument 2,000 years ago or how the technology was lost.

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The Baghdad Battery
Today batteries can be found in any grocery, drug, convenience and department store you come across. Well, here's a battery that's 2,000 years old! Known as the Baghdad Battery, this curiosity was found in the ruins of a Parthian village believed to date back to between 248 B.C. and 226 A.D. The device consists of a 5-1/2-inch high clay vessel inside of which was a copper cylinder held in place by asphalt, and inside of that was an oxidized iron rod. Experts who examined it concluded that the device needed only to be filled with an acid or alkaline liquid to produce an electric charge. It is believed that this ancient battery might have been used for electroplating objects with gold. If so, how was this technology lost... and the battery not rediscovered for another 1,800 years?

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The Coso Artifact
While mineral hunting in the mountains of California near Olancha during the winter of 1961, Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey and Mike Mikesell found a rock, among many others, that they thought was a geode - a good addition for their gem shop. Upon cutting it open, however, Mikesell found an object inside that seemed to be made of white porcelain. In the center was a shaft of shiny metal. Experts estimated that it should have taken about 500,000 years for this fossil-encrusted nodule to form, yet the object inside was obviously of sophisticated human manufacture. Further investigation revealed that the porcelain was surround by a hexagonal casing, and an x-ray revealed a tiny spring at one end. Some who have examined the evidence say it looks very much like a modern-day spark plug. How did it get inside a 500,000-year-old rock?

Ancient Model Aircraft
There are artifacts belonging to ancient Egyptian and Central American cultures that look amazingly like modern-day aircraft. The Egyptian artifact, found in a tomb at Saqquara, Egypt in 1898, is a six-inch wooden object that strongly resembles a model airplane, with fuselage, wings and tail. Experts believe the object is so aerodynamic that it is actually able to glide. The small object discovered in Central America (shown at right), and estimated to be 1,000 years old, is made of gold and could easily be mistaken for a model of a delta-wing aircraft - or even the Space Shuttle. It even features what looks like a pilot's seat.

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Giant Stone Balls of Costa Rica
Workmen hacking and burning their way through the dense jungle of Costa Rica to clear an area for banana plantations in the 1930s stumbled upon some incredible objects: dozens of stone balls, many of which were perfectly spherical. They varied in size from as small as a tennis ball to an astonishing 8 feet in diameter and weighing 16 tons! Although the great stone balls are clearly man-made, it is unknown who made them, for what purpose and, most puzzling, how they achieved such spherical precision.

Impossible Fossils
Fossils, as we learned in grade school, appear in rocks that were formed many thousands of years ago. Yet there are a number of fossils that just don't make geological or historical sense. A fossil of a human handprint, for example, was found in limestone estimated to be 110 million years old. What appears to be a fossilized human finger found in the Canadian Arctic also dates back 100 to 110 million years ago. And what appears to be the fossil of a human footprint, possibly wearing a sandal, was found near Delta, Utah in a shale deposit estimated to be 300 million to 600 million years old.

Out-of-Place Metal Objects
Humans were not even around 65 million years ago, never mind people who could work metal. So then how does science explain semi-ovoid metallic tubes dug out of 65-million-year-old Cretaceous chalk in France? In 1885, a block of coal was broken open to find a metal cube obviously worked by intelligent hands. In 1912, employees at an electric plant broke apart a large chunk of coal out of which fell an iron pot! A nail was found embedded in a sandstone block from the Mesozoic Era. And there are many, many more such anomalies.

What are we to make of these finds? There are several possibilities:

  • Intelligent humans date back much, much further than we realize.
  • Other intelligent beings and civilizations existed on earth far beyond our recorded history.
  • Our dating methods are completely inaccurate, and that stone, coal and fossils form much more rapidly than we now estimate.

In any case, these examples - and there are many more - should prompt any curious and open-minded scientist to reexamine and rethink the true history of life on earth.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Revisiting 2008 (through photos)

November 2007- (Isn't the title 'Revisiting 2008"? But 2007 has relevance in this post because I say it does, therefore it is included) Kyle and I return from teaching English in Chile. We can't even begin describe how excited we were to be back for Thanksgiving!!
December 2007- Take jobs as segway tour guides of beautiful historical San Antonio. I must say, it was a pretty kick butt job, as it took very little effort, we rode on segways around downtown SA meeting and chatting with new folks from all over the world for a living. It was easy, fun, and well paid . What more could you ask for in a temporary job?
-Also we rediscover the beauty of Texas by taking a trip with the Grojeans into Historical
Gruene. A quaint little city with awesome tubing (riding down a river on a rubber tire during the hot summer months) and a famous restaurant with some of the best Chicken Fried Steak in Texas.
- On the negative side, crap goes down at UT and we figure out that our plans to leave for South Korea in March are foiled.

Me on a Segway tour (with the Grojean family)

San Antonio in all it's glory and Christmas lights.
The Riverwalk.

In training for Christmas Lights tour of San Antonio. It was freezing cold that night, and sleeting/raining as you can tell from the splotchy photo.

Jen and me in front of the Gruene dance hall. (Notice our clothing in December)

The Grojean girls advertising Shiner Beer, the beloved Texas beer made in Shiner Texas. But seriously, what a great picture, this should be an advertisement.

January 2008- Pretty uneventful... I can't even think of something interesting to talk about here.
February- We decide to become part-time bartenders and go to bartending school. However, after the school, we made a frightful mistake of being hired my Rainforest Cafe. It was literally only a block away from the Segway office, and also had daytime, non-smoking shifts. It sounded perfect: wrong, it was more like HELL! Tourists suck at tipping I discovered, unless on a segway tour, and the work was hard without enough reward. And although Valentines Day was spent working, it was one of the most romantic Valentine's ever. On our way home from spending the evening watching other couples enjoy their lovely pink heart evenings, we stopped by the store for some chocolate fondue, strawberries, the cheapest campaign ever made, and toasted to our never-ending love. It was really simple, yet incredibly romantic.
March- Another uneventful month except for Kyle's birthday...which I can't remember celebrating. Honey, can you help me on this one? What did we do for your birthday?
April- A trip down to the coast with some of our good friends Susie and Chad. Susie and I have been friends since the beginning of time. Our families have been neighbors since we moved into the neighborhood when I was 8 months old. She is my oldest friend, and one of the dearest. History like that can't be replaced.May- Susie and Chad tie the knot!! What a fabulous wedding with an amazingly beautiful bride!!

June- Preparing for our road trip across the US of A to visit friends and family, starting in Texas ending in Washington State.
July- We have a goodbye BBQ party with friends and family in San Antonio at a nearby park. Too bad we didn't have a moon bounce, that would have made the party the event of the year!
- And I re-start my blog!! Interested in that first post back, click here.
The party that rocked the park!

Me and my mommy.

July-August- The most Amazing road trip ever!!! Dallas, Tx; Searcy, Arkansas; Ann Arbor, MI; Chicago, Il; Mouline, Il; little tiny town in Montana; Glacier National Park, Montana; and Lopez island.

August-October - More bad news with Kyle's diploma and it is determined that instead of flying out to South Korea immediatly like we had hoped, instead we would rockout the Northwest with my Aunt BB with lots of activities such as Bumbershoot music festival, a countrified fair, mushroom hunting and the making of the coolest homemade Haunted House ever!
- Kyle's grandmother dies and we fly back to Texas to be with family. Being back in Texas was bittersweet, but we made the most out of it with fun, affordable yet creative events like pumpkin carving.

November- Preparations for my flight to South Korea solo. Scary business.
December- Thrown in to teaching, but loving it. Christmas in Korea and my first time to be away from my hubby for our anniversary (dating) and Christmas.

What will 2009 look like?

Friday, January 02, 2009

Reflections on 2008

I have been trying to collect my thoughts on this past year as the New Year has slithered it's way in without warning, but I find my thoughts veering in a negative direction. It isn't that it has been a terrible year, because, as my life is pretty privileged in comparison to much of the world, I feel that on a whole, I can't complain. I have never gone without a meal (unless by choice), I have a wonderful loving family, incredibly supportive friends, access to clean water, transportation, and the ability to make my life what I want. I grow to love my husband more and more everyday, and our lives are on the threshold of amazing possibilities. But it is those possibilities that frighten me, that hold my heart hostage with anxiety. My worst fear is that I will fail to meet my potential and as the years progress, along with my age, and our possibilities remain possibilities rather than realities or at least on the road to reality, my anxiety heightens. And 2008 was not a progressive year on this road towards our dreams. Instead I felt as if we were snails, sliming our way up a rugged, sharp, agrivating path, on an upwards slope, only to be thrown down on the hard concrete ground by an uncaring bystander not once but multiple times, causing our shells to crack and leaving us scratched and bruised, with less faith, and more uncertainty in our chosen path than with which we began.

However if anything has been learned by the year of the snail, it has been that perseverance is what keeps us alive, and that we should never give up the fight. There have been times when I felt that the flame within had been dampened, but throughout our adverstity with the University over and over and over again, we have never let the flame die. Life is not something that should be strolled through without passion, rather it is a gift that we should cherish, and for which we should give thanks. Struggles are a part of life and in theory we should give thanks for them as well, for without them, we wouldn't grow or blossom into what we were made to become. So I will not shudder nor hide from 2009, frightened from the many potential threats of adversity or disappointments, but rather as a new day with new and amazing possibilities there for the taking. 2009 will be a terrific year. I know this because my life is my own and whatever hardships come my way, I will survive, and I will continue to live everyday with a passion for this wonderful gift we have been given; LIFE.