Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Illegal- no matter

So I know many of you are waiting to hear about our trip to the Philippines, but alas I am exhausted. We came back Sunday afternoon after traveling for 24 hours and then hopped on another bus, subway and finally a taxi in order to get home three hours later. I felt like I could hardly hold my eyes open yesterday. Luckily, however, this week, I am doing one day programs so I didn't have to teach in zombie form. But what that does mean, is that my energies for writing posts are blinking the red light and are running on fumes. Put put put. I can do it, I can do it.... I am sure I will make it to the gas station before I am stranded on the side of the road. Of course that is what I said in the past before having to walk humiliated in the hot sun along the steaming asphalt road towards a gas station.
What am I talking about? I don't even know anymore. I started this post with the intention of sharing something exceedingly funny and now I am rambling about gas stations? Scrambled eggs. Yep, that is what my brain probably resembles right now. Enough with the digressing. Enough I say.
Our school is starting a Korean preparatory school. And by preparatory, I mean that its intentions will be to allow the children graduating this high school, not only an American high school diploma, but the ability to be accepted in any University of their choice, preferably those with esteemed reputations such as in the ivy league. It won't be run by our administration, so that in itself is a major advantage for the school. How the school will fair, however, only God knows, or maybe he is just watching things as they unfold, sitting in his cushy throne laughing at it as his evening comedy show.

The other day, as the students were being herded into the gym like a bunch of obstinate cats, we noticed fliers on the table of the entrance. They were advertisements for the new preparatory school.
Nothing too unusual about that. However, upon closer inspection of said flier, we noticed something or rather someone familiar. Kyle with two students. In the United States, there are strict copy right rules about using pictures of people without permission. In Korea, they don't really pay attention to silly laws such as copyright.
Let's take a closer look shall we?

I am positive these girls don't know they are being used in an advertisement either! And if they did, they would hide their faces in utter embarrassment as all Korean girls do. I swear, trying to take face pictures of Korean girls, you would think we were trying to inject them with some mind altering drug. They hide, scream, cover their face, anything to avoid the EVIL camera!

My handsome husband, on the cover of an advertisement of a school he will never teach at. Korea never ceases to amaze me!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

We're home!

And with so many stories to tell, not the least, our last adventure in CHINA on our way home. But I don't really have time to start telling the stories as Kyle is yelling at me to set up the computer so we can watch a show. He is glaring at me now.... and saying "Vanessa, your about to get in trouble!" Those eyes..I better go, he means business. But I will leave you with one picture from our adventure for a taste of what is to come. I hope you had a good week! We sure did!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I've become a director.

Recently, during a time I had extra prep hours, I used my energies to create a couple of new scripts for our school. We sometimes have drama programs in which the kids, rather than having academic classes focus on putting on a play in only a week. The scripts we have are mostly fairy tales which isn't very interesting for the boy students. Anytime Korean students are allowed to create their own stories, it usually includes zombies, so I felt that writing a zombie script would help encourage the students to be more excited about the drama. As most of you know, I LOVE THEATER. Not just because it happens to be how I met the love of my life, and my best friends, but theater is a creative outlet like no other. It not only allows, but encourages larger than life personalities. It inspires the spring of soul to run freely. And to be honest, I really miss having it in my life. Writing and directing plays has been a completely new and exciting outlet for my creative sparks. Frustrating would also be an adjective I would use, considering I am directing students who often don't understand but 10%-20% of the words that are coming out of my mouth. I have to be even more expressive than in my usual classes, using completely ridiculous and over the top faces and movements to get my point across. And directing dances! Dear LORD! Korean students love their k-pop and they love dancing to them, but directing them is another story.

This play, I directed with another Korean teacher, and he made a few changes such as placing my THRILLER dance in a different location, but the thing that irritated me the most, was at the end of the story the girl was supposed to save the guys life from the zombies, but the Korean teacher, without my knowledge changed it so that OF COURSE the guy saved the girl. I was attempting to make a point with the girl being the strong, courageous one, but I guess I was moving too fast for Korea's feminist movement. I've included the script down below for anyone who might be interested. Mostly I am including the script for other teachers who might find it useful to their students and classes.

Zombie Attack at English Village

14+ Characters:


Sparky (dog)





Teacher 1

Teacher 2

Monster Zombie






Extra students

Extra zombies

Scene 1 (At home)

Mom: Are you ready to go to English camp?

Sparky: Woof!

Bella: Sparky is ready!

(Everyone laughs at the dog)

Dad: Do you have your suitcase?

Bella: Yes dad, I have everything. Don’t worry so much.

Dad: I’m sorry, I just want you to have fun and of course learn English.

Bella: Dad! I will.

Sister: I want to go to English camp too.

Mom: In a few years when you are older.

(Sister makes a pouting face)

Sister: But I want to go now!

Dad: You can come with us to drop Bella off.

Mom: Ok, let’s go.

Sparky: Woof, woof!

Scene 2 (At school in the classroom)

Teacher: Hello students. My name is teacher ________. We are going to play a get to know you game.

Ryan: I like games!

Kyle: Yeah!

Teacher: Everyone write on their paper their name and hobby.

Sylvia; Okay, finished

Teacher: crumple your paper.

Vanessa: like this?

Teacher: yes. Now paper fight

(everyone starts throwing paper at each other for at least thirty seconds)

Teacher: Ok, stop. Pick up a paper.

Ryan: I have Bella’s paper.

Teacher: Good, now introduce Bella.

Ryan: This is Bella. She is 14 years old. Her hobby is basketball.

(Sparky runs into the classroom)

Bella: Sparky, what are you doing here?

Sparky: Woof

Sylvia: Does she have a bite on her back?

Ryan: That looks like it hurt.

Vanessa: Are you okay girl?

(Sparky rolls over and kicks her legs in the air. Everyone laughs)

Teacher: Alright, break time. Bella, please take Sparky back to her room.

Bella: Yes teacher

Scene 3(Outside walking the dog home)

(Bella, Sylvia and Ryan are walking together, Sparky stops and growls at something)

Bella: Sparky, why are you growling?

Sylvia: There is nothing there you silly dog!

Ryan: Dogs can sense things that humans can’t.

Teacher 2: Where are you guys going? Shouldn’t you be in class?

Sylvia: Our teacher gave us break time.

(Howl from off stage (Monster Zombie))

Teacher 2: Alright but be careful guys. There is something strange living in those mountains.

Sparky: (Howls back and shivers before running off.)

Bella: Wait Sparky! Come back.

Scene 4(Later in the evening. )( Students are sitting on the floor during their break time. Teachers are standing in the background talking to themselves)

Bella: Sparky is acting really weird

Ryan: How so?

Bella: Her eyes are red, and her hair color is changing. She is panting a lot.

Ryan: Look here she is.

(Sparky enters walking straight-legged and wobbling)

Bella: Sparky what’s wrong.

(Sparky sees Kyle and runs at him and bites him)

Kyle: Ouch, why did she bite me?

Teacher 2: What is going on here?

Kyle: This dog just bit me.

(Teacher grabs the dog, Sparky bites the teacher)

Teacher 2: This dog needs to leave. She is biting everyone.

Bella: Something is wrong with her. She never bites.

Teacher 2: Did she go into the woods today?

Bella: yes she did.

Teacher 1: You must go see the doctor, NOW!

Scene 5 (In the doctors office)

Doctor: Please explain again. What happened?

Teacher 1: We believe the dog has been bitten by (looks around anxiously and whispers) the monster.

Doctor: (makes a lot of ridiculous noises) he ho hump hogwash. The monster is only a story.

Nurse: Not so doctor, I saw him once.

Kyle: We heard him earlier outside.

Bella: Sparky went into the woods and came back a completely different dog.

Doctor: There is a logical explanation for this.

(Screams from outside)

Nurse: What’s that?

Doctor: Crazy students. They drive me nuts.

Vanessa: Teacher, come quick!

Teacher 1: What’s wrong Vanessa?

Vanessa: There’s something outside.

Teacher: What is it?

Vanessa: I think it’s a monster.

(Everyone runs offstage, lights go off and back on. The monster zombie and Sparky are running after screaming children. Everyone is running circles around the stage. Ryan then tackles the monster)

Scene 6 (In an office with the monster zombie)

Doctor: Who are you?

Monster zombie: (makes lots of noises)

Doctor: Speak when I am talking to you.

Monster zombie: (moves his mouth like he is speaking but no words come out)ma ma ma ma ma ma.

Nurse: Oh my goodness. Is that you Roger?

Monster zombie: (makes a positive noise) uh-hu!

Doctor: My goodness, you are right. What happened to you?

Monster zombie: (bites his own arm and puts out his arm to show that he is now a zombie)

Nurse: Someone bit you and now you’re a zombie:

Monster zombie: (nods his head and begins to cry) boo hooo hoo hoo.

Nurse: poor zombie (patting his head) Can you help him doctor?

Doctor: I don’t know, but I will try.

Scene 7 (Outside students are lying on the ground. Vanessa, Kyle, Teacher2, and Sparky are all there)

Ryan: Oh no, I found Kyle.

Bella: Sylvia is that you?

Ryan: And I think that is Vanessa over there.

Bella: Everyone is a zombie.

(all zombies sit up at the same time when Bella says “Everyone is a zombie”, with their arms outstretched)

Bella: Ryan, what’s happening?

Ryan: Kyle, it’s me, your friend.

Kyle: Hungry (They are all walking towards Ryan and Bella)

Sylvia: Eat people.

Vanessa: Yum yum.

Teacher: Yummy students


(They run off screaming)

Scene 8 (In the doctors office)

Doctor: We need to kill all of the zombies

Nurse: There has to be another way.

Teacher 1: What would their parents say.

Bella: You can’t kill our friends.

Ryan: But they want to eat us Bella.

Nurse: There has to be another way.

(There is pounding and stomping all over off stage)

Teacher: They are going to break down the door.

(The zombies break in and run on the stage from all different directions)

Doctor: Fight!

(A fight breaks out. )

Ryan: Help me, help me! (Three zombies are surrounding Ryan)

Bella: I’ll save you! (Bella fights them off)

Ryan: You’re the greatest!

(The nurse accidently hits the radio and THRILLER starts to play. The zombies begin to dance kind of like robots.)

Nurse: Look, they are dancing.

Doctor: It’s a cure. Music is the cure.

(Everyone starts to dance, even the doctor who is a very bad dancer)

Sparky: Woof

Bella: Thank goodness you are better.

Sylvia: Thank you for making us humans again.

Teacher 1: Being a zombie was no fun. I was hungry all of the time.

Ryan: Bella, will you be my girlfriend?

Bella: Of course I will Ryan. (They kiss)

Scene 9 (Parents are coming to pick up Bella from school)

Mom: Bella!

Dad: We missed you!

Sister: We ate ice cream every night for dinner. So there!

Mom: Did you have fun?

Bella: We had lots of fun.

Dad: Did you learn a lot of English?

Sister: What did you do?

Sparky: Woof!

Mom: Sparky learned English!

Bella: I can’t wait to come back next year.

(Howling from the mountain)

Sister: What’s that.

Bella; Oh that, that’s just the zombie monster.

Dad: Stop trying to scare your sister.

Sparky: Woof! Woof!

(Everyone laughs and walks off stage, you hear the howl again, lights out)

Friday, September 17, 2010


We are leaving for the Philippines for an entire week. The Korean Thanksgiving if you will, is a week of family gatherings in Korea and we are using this time to celebrate our marriage far far away from the craziness of the school. I am not sure how many updates we will be able to send while we are away, as I am hoping to give up the internet for our week of leisure in the sun. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we travel, including that all typhoons as they are called in Asia (rather than hurricanes in the west) decide not to visit our lovely tropical island. We will back next Sunday. I am so excited!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monkey Business

One of my co-workers shared this story with me the other day, and I found it fascinating in its relation with humans and culture. You see this type of behavior, not necessarily so violent, but the same basic ideas in business culture. Unfortunately there is no evidence that this experiment was actually performed, rather it is just a story tale if you will for business folks to think more critically about their behavior in the work place. It's still worth sharing however especially since it is a true reflection of business culture all over the world (at least as far as I can tell.) I would like to hear your thoughts on this.

The experiment involved 5 monkeys, a cage, a banana, a ladder and, crucially, a water hose.

The 5 monkeys would be locked in a cage, after which a banana was hung from the ceiling with, fortunately for the monkeys (or so it seemed…), a ladder placed right underneath it.

Of course, immediately, one of the monkeys would race towards the ladder, intending to climb it and grab the banana. However, as soon as he would start to climb, the sadist (euphemistically called “scientist”) would spray the monkey with ice-cold water. In addition, however, he would also spray the other four monkeys…

When a second monkey was about to climb the ladder, the sadist would, again, spray the monkey with ice-cold water, and apply the same treatment to its four fellow inmates; likewise for the third climber and, if they were particularly persistent (or dumb), the fourth one. Then they would have learned their lesson: they were not going to climb the ladder again – banana or no banana.

In order to gain further pleasure or, I guess, prolong the experiment, the sadist outside the cage would then replace one of the monkeys with a new one. As can be expected, the new guy would spot the banana, think “why don’t these idiots go get it?!” and start climbing the ladder. Then, however, it got interesting: the other four monkeys, familiar with the cold-water treatment, would run towards the new guy – and beat him up. The new guy, blissfully unaware of the cold-water history, would get the message: no climbing up the ladder in this cage – banana or no banana.

When the beast outside the cage would replace a second monkey with a new one, the events would repeat themselves – monkey runs towards the ladder; other monkeys beat him up; new monkey does not attempt to climb again – with one notable detail: the first new monkey, who had never received the cold-water treatment himself (and didn’t even know anything about it), would, with equal vigour and enthusiasm, join in the beating of the new guy on the block.

When the researcher replaced a third monkey, the same thing happened; likewise for the fourth until, eventually, all the monkeys had been replaced and none of the ones in the cage had any experience or knowledge of the cold-water treatment.

Then, a new monkey was introduced into the cage. It ran toward the ladder only to get beaten up by the others. Yet, this monkey turned around and asked “why do you beat me up when I try to get the banana?” The other four monkeys stopped, looked at each other slightly puzzled and, finally, shrugged their shoulders: “Don’t know. But that’s the way we do things around here”…

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A song named for the blog

It's true. I am such a popular blogger that Elton John choose to name a song after my blog, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". He wrote me personally to ask my input for the song. Pay no attention to those skeptics who claim the song was written ten years before my birth and decades before the invention of the internet. Skeptics can't be trusted.

Elton didn't really take my advise on any of the lyrics however, in fact, I don't really understand what his lyrics mean at all. But I am sure they are nothing but a compliment to this blog and its amazing readers :)
So not only did he ignore my lyrical input, he also didn't head my strong plea not to wear such hideous glasses for his guest appearance on the Muppet show. I think he kind of looks like a muppet in this segment. Maybe it was a purposeful choice. But Elton will be Elton, and who will tell a Knight of the musical round table "No!" So without further adeu, this blog's song:

When are you gonna come down
When are you going to land
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man
You know you can't hold me forever
I didn't sign up with you
I'm not a present for your friends to open
This boy's too young to be singing the blues
So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can't plant me in your penthouse
I'm going back to my plough

Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I've finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road
What do you think you'll do then
I bet that'll shoot down your plane
It'll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again
Maybe you'll get a replacement
There's plenty like me to be found
Mongrels who ain't got a penny
Sniffing for tidbits like you on the ground
[repeat chorus]

p.s. I have updated pictures on the blog on the right hand side under all of the quotes of the progression of Kyle and me from the time we started dating to 2008 . I am wondering if anyone noticed or if they are too far down to be noticed by anyone who isn't looking for them. I would really like to hear input about this. Did you notice them before I mentioned them?

Friday, September 10, 2010

We found these signs outside a subway bathroom. Why the government spent money on creating signs such as these for their public bathrooms I have no idea. There are a lot of things about Korea I will never understand, these signs being on the top of that list. But in my mind the conversation went something like this;

Government official in charge of bathrooms (We'll call him GOB): We need a sign outside the bathroom.

Sign maker: I have the perfect sign. Picture this, a mom and her daughter smelling a sunflower with the bright sun shining on their perfect doll like features.

GOB: I agree, that is perfect.

Supervisor aka: decision maker: Wait, what does that have to do with a toilet?

Sign maker: bathrooms make people happy.

Supervisor: Agreed, but what if we made the sign relate a little more to the bathroom.

GOB: hmmmm... like a mirror?

Sign maker: Or a sink.

Supervisor: I mean what if the Koreans don't know what the bathroom is for. I mean, we are using western style toilets rather than squatter toilets that we usually use in public places. Koreans are likely not to even know what these mysterious toilets are for.

GOB: Your right! Squatting over a hole in the ground, without toilet paper available is what Korea is known for. Why did they westernize this bathroom to a toilet monstrosity. Those westerners can continue to fall all over themselves on the dirty, pee laden floor. We shouldn't cater to their needs.

Supervisor: Of course I agree, but what is done is done and upright toilets are what we have. Now we need a sign so that Koreans aren't confused.

Sign maker: I know I know!

GOB: Yes?

Sign maker: Oh wait, Can I tell you have to I go tee tee? (as he is doing the infamous pee pee dancing, crossing his legs jumping up and down)

Supervisor: Sign maker, you are a genius. If we have signs of people doing the "pee pee dance" they will undoubtedly understand what the bathrooms are used for. Get on it!

And that was the genesis of these amazing signs! Or at least in my mind.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I might be a pod person

It began innocently enough, a flea-sized itch on the back of my ankle as I stood in the parking lot of the taxi stand waiting to be taken home after a Wednesday night out with co-workers on the town in Yongmun. And let me tell you we paint that scanty smudge not even located on most maps in Korea glaringly crimson when we go out. The street people cower in the darkened alleyways each and every Wednesday night from our debaucherous outings. Well, it's less of a cower, and more of outright stares or laughter at the curious foreigners eating ridiculous amounts of chicken. We might be loud, but no one even comes close to the ridiculous drunken adjuches (old man) on a subway singing sloppily to no one but himself or the the business man lying flat from intoxication on a sidewalk still adorning his suite from the day.

But I digress. I got a bite on my ankle. It wasn't anything to write home about. The mosquitoes in town believe I am the most deluxe buffet in Yongmun. A treat not to miss. And in fact, they (along with other venomous creatures) are about the only thing I can put on my list that I truly would not like attention from. I like attention in a variety of forms, but mosquitoes, spiders, rattlesnakes need not fear hurting my feelings from inattention.

Thursday, the bite swelled a bit, not abnormally large for the "mountain mosquitoes," just bigger than what one would expect from a bug back home. I was assured by a Korean it was just one of their "special" mosquitoes with extra venom that caused the swelling to spread to a two inch circumference. Besides the hugeness of it, there was still nothing truly aberrant. The itchiness was at it's normal grade. It wasn't hard or extremly painful.

Thursday evening however, I brushed my hand against it accidentally and noticed a roughness I hadn't noticed before. Upon further inspection, I observed small blisters forming around the central area of the bite. I should mention that I have become extremely diligent in my purposeful act of not touching or scratching an] bite. I found some years ago that if I didn't touch a bite, the itchiness wouldn't linger quite as long. I mention this because someone asked if my scratching had caused the bizarre turn in events that unfolded next and I can guarantee that scratching was not the cause. I found the small blisters strange, but didn't worry too much. After dinner, we sprawled out on the couch to watch a few downloaded TV shows. "Dexter" is our newest favorite. After an episode, we turned on the lights and to our horror, the blister had grown exponentially into what looked to be a grosteque piece of artwork by a disturbed artist working in 3D and raised liquids. The pressure and pain had begun to increase from the start of the evening.

Unsure of what action to take, I slept carefully, keeping my leg as still as possible. In the morning it was evident that it had mingled with it's blister buddies in the night and compounded into an even larger water balloon sticking out from my leg 1/2- 3/4 of an inch. I was drastically aware of this disgusting growth on my leg. I felt deformed like a newfangled hunchback. I was sure everyone was staring at my leg and silently pointing and laughing.
"What if your a pod person?" someone asked after nearly fainting from viewing my yellow blister. "What if it continues to grow until it takes you over and you become an entirely new pod person Vanessa?" they continued
"That is a serious concern." I responded, "but what if it's just an alien who has decided I am the protype alien host. I wonder how I good of a mother I could be to this alien child? I hope it doesn't eat me!"

Jokes flew about in this manner. It turned out, according to the Korean doctor who burst the blister, that it was an allergy. It was definitely not a mosquito bite, but whatever it was did not agree at all with my blood. The wound is still healing, but the blister is gone.

In the dark crevices of my mind, the thought that I might be hosting an extraterrestrial being still saunters quietly. If I begin to speak in tongues unknown to you or behave in a stranger manner than usual, I give you my permission to submit me to Area 51 for observation. Only time will tell.

Thursday evening

Friday morning

I couldn't stop staring at it!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

4 years down, 96 more to go!

When I was 11, I had a serious discussion with my friends about what we would be doing at certain points in our lives. By the time we were 16 we would all have the coolest cars. By the time we were 20 we would all be going to the best Universities. By the time we were 25 we would all be making a million dollars, have 3 to 6 kids, a huge house, a boat, jet skis, guns and 4 dogs.

Now that we are officially "old" by 11 year old standards, I think we would all be happy to just be out of debt. Most of us have cars that we pray will last another year, I barely squeaked by with a degree from a fine school that took me 6 years to get and I currently live in a mold infested apartment that has AC that works 15 minutes every hour. Things don't always go as planned.

But sometimes something happens in your life that you didn't plan for that has a profound effect on the rest of your life. 10 years ago I met a girl who's playfulness and melt your heart smile sucked me in like a magnet and sent my 16 year old hormones on overdrive. I had no idea then that this beautiful, hardheaded, fantastically bold person would enrich my life in more ways than I could ever have imagined. She is my best friend, my unending source of confidence, and an ever constant inspiration. And I was the lucky bastard that won her over at 22! Sometimes something happens that looking back you think, with everything in my life that didn't go the way I wanted, one thing did. Four years ago my soul was officially united with it's perfect match. We are different people and sometimes it's hard to believe the puzzle pieces fit but we are truly, deeply and God willing, unendingly bound to each other and as of yesterday, for the 4th year in a row, I am the luckiest man on the planet.