Monday, October 24, 2005

a strange day

I made myself lunch. Then I forgot it at home. Not in the fridge, but all ready, in a cute bag next to the door. I put it down when I was putting on my shoes and didn't pick it back up. Strange, but I feel that this was the thing that just set me off for the rest of the day.

I often wonder if it is my students that make me insane and wacky, or if after extended periods of time in my presence I wear off on them and make them crazy. Maybe it's a bit of both. I always seem to encourage a little bit of chaos. I try to make them question stuff and spend a lot of time giving them opportunities to explore their creative abilities. I guess sometimes it gets a little out of hand, on my part or theirs, and I'm left simply shaking my head. Today was a perfect example.

In my first class I discussed why calling the Native Americans in our current story "Indians" could be offensive. Later, I had to address why saying "Teacher is an Indian! Teacher is an Indian" followed by hooting and sound effects that might have been in an old school cowboy flick (woo-woo-wooo-woo-woo), is considered culturally insensitive. Then I lost it and ended up lecturing my group of 8 and 9 year old students on why it is simply not nice to say "Indians are ugly." I'm not sure they were picking up all that I was laying down, but... well, it was interesting. I couldn't help myself. I couldn't just let it go.

In my second class we discussed religion. I didn't bring it up. One girl raised her hand with that curiosity and spark that looked like a real question, instead of the typical disappointing "can I get a drink of water?" She asked me, out of nowhere, "Teacher, you believe in God?" Now, one must realize that though these students have slightly more developed English speaking abilities than my first class, the vocabulary for this level includes words like telephone, suitcase, and upstairs. They hardly have the vocabulary to to discuss such a topic and they're only 12 to 14 years old. However, it was a fascinating conversation. Completely unexpected! One student boldly told me and the class that he's an atheist. To quote him he said, "No church. No god. Just me." He went on to say that he has belief only in himself. Hey, cool with me. A girl told me of the fights in her class at school between the Christians and the Catholics. And a third young lady actually said, "I believe in god! YAY!" I spoke briefly on tolerance in basic terms and moved on to describing the difference between the present progressive (I am walking to school) and the simple present (I walk to school everyday). It was so surreal.

My third class is the epitome of insane. The class of six fluent little boys... the fart obsessed 11 year olds... started a protest today. When Michael requested that we play a game for the remaining hour, of course I refused. I told him that we had a lot to cover and that it was simply crazy to think I would agree to such a thing. He decided to lead the class in a vote. When I told them that my classroom isn't a democracy, they decided to protest. They began to chant, "Democracy in the classroom! Democracy in the classroom!!" I thought this was a good opportunity to discuss different types of governments, so I went with it. In the end, I informed them that they were in my world, the realm of Miss Koco and their Queen would be obeyed or they would promptly be banished from my kingdom. Then one boy, rightly, called me a dictator and started a new chant "JOSH FOR PRESIDENT!" Then it started to get silly. Another boy wrote in the front of his book "Democracy Anarchie[anarchy] in the classroom. Follow the South Pole. YES!" and held it above his head. Meanwhile, Tom (who I always call Ted when I start to lose it) went to the board and announced that he was going to write a poem about snow. He wrote:

Snow. Oh white thing... you suck.

We were discussing the colors of the spectrum and the separation of white light with a prism during our science lesson today. I had written ROYGBIV on the board, which my little poet turned into an acrostic:

Vote for Josh!

Oh, yes... my students are amazing. Brilliant little creatures. I'm crazy and so are they. This is what I do everyday. Some days are funnier than others, some days are crazier than others, and some days something gets completely messed up in the universe and everything and everyone is just strange.

Koco in Kagnam with Mr. Clar

James Clar came for a visit. He gave a talk at the Seoul Design Festival. That was cool.

We wandered around Kagnam for a bit and finally found a soon-tubu spot. Do I ever look cheezy happy.

Friday, October 21, 2005

hana, dul, set...

I'm having fun with my camera phone.

Koco teacher takes a pause. We're workin' the catwalk. John likes to play, too. Mr. O shoots himself. perfect.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

korean men

Why is it that Korean men do not date foreign women?

I still have not found a clear response to this question. In no way am I against interracial dating, marriage, or whatever may exist in between that constitutes relations between cultures. After all, I am a product of an interracial relationship and the embodiment of possibility that can occur between two individuals that would, in many ways, seem to be completly different. Love... holds the potential to create amazing and unexpected things.

However, in the extended stint I've had here in Korea, I still don't understand why I can give you so many examples of relationships (successful and unsuccessful) between foreign (white) dudes and Korean women, but I still haven't seen even one between a foreign woman and a Korean guy. AND when people ask me if I'm into dating Korean guys, I have to tell them that I really don't know.

What is that keeps Korean guys from dating women from other cultures?
In all instances when I've posed this question (to foreign men, to Korean women, to foreign women, to Korean men) I never seem to get an answer. It always seems to come down to "I don't know." The most I've ever gotten out of anyone seems to be that foreign women play a far too dominant role in relationships, that foreign women aren't as "sweet" as Korean women, that you would never be able take them home to mom so why bother, or that Korean men are simply too intimidated by the language barrier. Still, none of these seem like they are good enough reasons. People still fall in love regardless of these silly little things, or even despite big ones like a cultural difference.

In my experience the foreign guys I know dating Korean women all seem to be dating really amazing Korean women. These women are intelligent. They're obscure, rare, and completely exceptional. They speak English quite well. They have views that deviate from the Korean cultural norms. They are ridiculously beautiful and adore their man despite the foreign dude's beer gut or butt ugliness. You can be bald, fat, stupid, ignorant, etc. and still get the hottest chick on the block. AND (amazingly) this is (somehow) a power move (regardless of its lack of popularity with friends and family) on the Korean woman's part. They say, foreign guys have bigger dicks and supposedly treat them better. If the women aren't of the amazing variety (gorgous wine importers who look at Japanese porn) then these women are complete toys to these men--the less English (or any language for that matter), the better. I may be over-simplifying things a bit, or mushing them around, but you get what I mean.

Okay. Fine. Then, what is it that I, Miss Koco, would have to do, to even interest one of these exceptional English speaking creatures of the male variety? I know they exist. Must I play the part of the weak, submissive, vulnerable, giggling, whinny princess? It seems strange to me though. A culture of men who are "supposed to be" dominant must be filled with bottoms, wishing that some mistress would come along and play out all their secret fantasies... and if that's not the case there must be at least a few freaks eager to break from the norms. Then again, maybe that's just my western view on the whole subject.

I don't know...

Alright, white dues. I won't get mad at you. I'm just curious why it's like this. Tell me. AND there must be non-Korean women in relationships with Korean guys. Where are you? What is it like for you? What are your challenges? How did that happen? Why do you think that Korean guys are so hesitant to date foreign women, but it is so common when the gender changes? And (do I dare ask) what happens in homosexual relationships here with regards to foreigners?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

adventures in teaching

That's right. Nell's fucking special park. In this assignment students are asked to create their own amusement park and write an advertisement for it utilizing the comparative (bigger... than) and superlative (the biggest) forms of adjectives. The great part is that Nell thought that "fucking" was a synonym for very. Looking at all the effort she put into the drawing, coloring, and writing I'm guessing that she really had no clue what she was really saying. I love it.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

a biochemical spill

I went to a wedding today. It was the most depressing wedding I've ever experienced. In the middle of the ceremony the bride started crying. These were not tears of joy. She was saying goodbye to herself.

A little piece of wisdom about crying was passed along to me recently via a fascinating Iranian Aussie. He said that sometimes he tried to cry for as long as he could. Like a really deep sob, one with wails. I believe he had gotten up to like a half an hour. For him it was like meditating, very healing and rejuvenating, and he said that it's actually quite difficult to keep yourself upset for that long. Afterwards, he always felt amazing. I am imagining him now telling me "So good, man..." Now I agree, of course, after a good cry you can feel so much better. I guess I never really thought about trying to keep the cry going to like get it all out. And I guess I don't want to think about anything that could happen to cause tears like that. I guess...

It's probably just PMS, but when I got home I couldn't stop thinking about the whole wedding thing, and that led me to think about all this other stuff and I started to cry too, and I keep going, and kept letting myself cry more. I cry on occasion, but it's always weak. I get a couple tears to trickle down to mid-cheek on a big cry. Even if I'm alone I brush it away quickly telling myself how silly I am. Today... I let a real cry out.

I cried for all those things all those times it was inappropriate to do so.

I know that last sentence must be a grammatical nightmare, but it's pretty much the perfect way to say that. I've been collecting things to cry about for months and today was the day to let them all flow. I felt a sense of relief, one so pure and fantastic, I went for a walk around the lake, came home, and cried again for all the stuff I forgot in the first go.

Friday, October 07, 2005

I heart art

Finally got myself to the Leeum. The building was amazing, the collection was impressive, and I had a fantastic time. Weekly art outings must commence immediately. I need regular doses of culture, beautiful things to fill my brain with and inspiration to spark my creative endeavors

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I'm that girl. For those who think they are fantastic as a player, those just having fun, those who are being "free" in the grey area of undefined or short-term relationships, I'm the one who makes them question. And the next girl... she's the one who always reaps the benefits.

I'm the penultimate lady. The one right before they meet "the one," the one right before the one they get married to, or get into a serious long-term relationship with. I'm not the big love, I'm that one right before. It's happened to me over and over.

At first, I'm content with simply enjoying these people. I'm easily intoxicated by infatuation and the getting-to-know-you stage. In these exciting times I get involved, attached, but meanwhile all the worthwhile experiences never add up to or progress into something that is ever defined as a relationship. And then it fizzles, all traces of the romantic involvement quickly dissolve. What I'm left with is just another has been to add to my list. I gain EXs regularly, though it's been years since I've been anyone's girlfriend. This is a pattern I'm no longer comfortable with. I guess I just want to be that next girl. I want to feel something real instead of the longing for it and the confusion that exists in the meanwhile.

Whatever. I don't need any of it. I don't need relationships. I don't need to be dating. I don't need any of the undefined nonsense. I don't need the unending long term on-again-off-again drama or one night stands for that matter. I don't need the games.

I can get past not being someone's girlfriend. I could be celibate (but why would I do that?), but I crave the affection like crazy. I want that adoration, the gentle intimacy. Otherwise, I just want to balance my alone time with time socializing with friends.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I feel that the spelling of awkward is awkward.

And my favorite examples of PORTMANTEAU (words formed by combining together parts of other words):

brunch (breakfast + lunch)

fantabulous (fantastic + fabulous)

tangelo (tangerine + pomelo)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

handpone is die

It's a tragedy.

On a stormy Friday night I ventured to Sincheon, not the one in Hongdae, but the one that's near Jamsil, for some drinks with the Songpa crew. I opened the door to the taxi and noticed a huge puddle. By puddle I mean a stream about four inches deep flowing towards the drain, so maybe I mean a monstrous raging ocean. I heeded a warning to Oliver as I maneuvered myself to exit and attempted to strategically open my umbrella to optimize my wetness prevention. I leaned forward to get out of the cab and my cell phone basically lunged from my bag, as if it had every intention on committing suicide by drowning.

It was completely submerged. Completely submerged. Once again, I'll repeat that, it was completely submerged. Oliver quickly fetched it out and I start shaking it dry immediately. It seemed like all would be fine. I hadn't been electrocuted, the screen was still on, buttons worked, and I made a phone call just fine. It just needed to dry out. As the night progressed, the situation became more critical for my adorable phone. The poor thing started vibrating randomly, like it was shivering. Then the screen functions were intermittent, and finally it stopped turning on.

handpone at rest...........................................handpone at rest

I seemed to revive it a bit and I was able to get the phone on. Of course, I was eagerly awaiting "a very important" phone call. Though I was able to get the phone on, I was completely unable to utilize any of the buttons, particularly the important one that allows me to answer calls. Thus, the phone ceased to work just at the right moment. Though I was extremely angry at the situation, I was particularly sad for my phone. It's like it's now in a coma.

All day today the phone has been ringing and all I can do is look at it. I keep hoping that the phone will wake up and be just like before. I'm wondering if it's time to give up, just pull the plug, and get a new one. So sad...