Well, now that …

Well, now that I’ve had a chance to sort of take in everything and I’m not so emotional, I can give you my thoughts on perhaps the kind of people who would break into a single woman’s apartment, throw eggs on her wall, and steal her art and her teddy bear.

The first theory is that they were troubled youths, pure and simple. Looking for something fun and rebellious to do, some souvenirs to take, someone else’s booze to drink. I can’t say for sure how long they may have been in my place. Long enough to take a crap, at least. Long enough to get hot enough to turn on the A/C. I just hope they didn’t sleep in my bed.

Then I thought, maybe they were druggies? High on something that enabled them to leap into my balcony with a single bound. They clawed the flimsy lock off the door with their bare nails. In a manic episode they decided they were hungry, took out my eggs, then got mad at the eggs and flung them at my wall. Knowing they would need a new kitchen scale sometime soon to measure out their stash, they took it, along with some soft things (pillows and teddy bear) for when they crashed later.

My most generous interpretation of whom these individuals might have been is that they were a young family, maybe teenagers with a 3 yr old child in tow? A child who pointed at things in my house and said “I want it!” They took paper towels, dish soap, ibuprofen, and measuring cups, among other things. These are all basics I seek out when I start out on my own in a new place. Of course, I tend to buy them instead of stealing. I also don’t think it’s wise to hand a bored kid a carton of eggs, nor to drink to excess while caring for a kid. No matter how much of a little monster they are.

It’s also interesting to note the things that were in my apartment and possibly valuable, yet these criminals did NOT take: my passport, my printer, my Bebe shoes, my insulin in the fridge, and my hair dryer and straightener.

The night after I discovered the break in I slept with all my apartment lights on, and used Hulu to watch a familiar show that I often turn to when looking for a calming presence as I slumber alone: Arrested Development. I can’t say why this is. I just love the Bluths. Reminds me of a simpler time, in my salad days, circa 2005. My future was an unknown hope. It still is now, but with a glint of sadness and yearning for the stupid, carefree days of my youth. 

Anyway. I am slowly cleaning up the mess, discovering new things they took. My nail polish? Really? I’m hesitant to gather and count my DVDs. I already fear they took my Animaniacs volume 1 set. I still sleep with the living room light on.

I haven’t attempted to clean the egg off my walls and carpet yet, mostly because it’s dried up anyway, doesn’t smell, and I know it will be a long, arduous process. It’s also because I feel that if I concentrate any more on their vandalism, it will become too personal. It will feel as if they knew me. They knew I would be totally dumbfounded and enraged at this level of destruction and violation. They knew I would feel my blood boiling with every swipe of the rag. 

Sorry for being dramatic. This really sucks.

I think I’ll be looking to find a new apartment when my lease is up. Perhaps I’ll even cross over into the Kansas side. It’s all a matter of finding a suitable place, and finding the money to move. I hate moving, but I’d rather do that than live in fear. 

Dusting off the blog re: apartment burglary

Time creeps on, and it’s going to have been almost a year since I left the Land of the Morning Calm. Of course, I haven’t written in this blog for a long while. That’s partly because I never made time, and also because I haven’t felt my exploits since then were worthy of documenting. I got really used to life in Korea, before being unceremoniously shown the door (a future post, perhaps). But seeing as how most people who love and care about me read this blog, I figured it’s as good a means as any to disseminate news.

Last night I returned to Kansas City from a week-long visit in Texas to see la familia. It was very nice. I went to Ikea, gave my mom her Mother’s Day gift, washed my car with my Dad, got my car fixed (can roll down my front windows now, yay!), played with my little brother, and saw a wonderful a cappella concert by my other little brother.

Got to Olathe around 6 pm, stayed with my boyfriend for the night, then I drove to my apartment this morning. When I opened my door, the first thing I saw that was awry was my couch propped up on a box I use as a perch for my printer. Then I looked around in horror realizing someone had been in my apartment, gone through my stuff, stolen what they thought was cool or of value, and made a huge mess in the process.

I stood in the middle of my living room and cried.

All it takes is a punk with a crowbar

I went to get my building manager and she helped me call the police. She helped me figure out how they got in, which was a simple matter of prying off a piece of the sliding lock on my (low) balcony door.

Here are a series of pics of the carnage, followed by written documentation of what I’ve seen so far. By the way, the list of what they stole only includes things I noticed only AFTER the nice policeman left. They also took my TV, my DVD/VCR combo, lots of my costume jewelry, my awesome big fluffy teddy bear from Costco, my bedroom floor lamp, my full-length mirror, the art painted for me by my good friend Marcos, a cedar box made for me by my dear loving boyfriend, a half-full bottle of Tide detergent, my awesome vintage mug set I got at a farm auction, my vodka and a box of wine, and a jar candle. This list is not necessarily inclusive.

Odd assortment of stolen goods

These phone pics show the wide array of chaos and malevolence inflicted on an otherwise peaceful space.

Couch propped up. I wonder what they were looking for in there?

Dining room

DVDs/CDs all over the place, and spilled wine

Egg on my kitchen floor

Egg on my dining room wall

My hall closet

Bedroom

Living room, near my bookshelf

Bowls with cinnamon sprinkled in them??

Now, Tim will be the first to tell you that I often live in the squalor depicted in these photos. I simply don’t care about cleaning up all the time. However, due to the fact that I had been unemployed, I filled my time by straightening up. My apartment was as clean as its ever been before I left. The irony would be delicious if it wasn’t also a really shitty deal.

Speaking of shit, I present to you my list of what apparently went on in my apartment.

Misdeeds

I’ll talk in my next post about what I think happened, the evidence, things they decided not to steal, cleaning up, and my thoughts on what this means for my continued life in the King’s Manor apartments. Also, if you have any leads, let me know or call the KC police tip line – 847-474-8477 (816-474-TIPS).

MS Zone – Functional Shoes

I received the MS Zone shoes approximately one month ago, and have worn them at least twice every week. I have to say, they’re pretty great. Don’t be fooled by their clownlike appearance.

As an English teacher, I’m on my feet for around 5 hours a day. I’m in charge of molding the minds of around 50 Korean youngsters, whose parents pay good money to hear an authentic native English waygookin tell them to stop playing Nintendo and sit in their own chairs. Oh sure, it’s all fun and games, but at the end of the day I can definitely tell if I’ve been wearing some shoes without support. Some days my back would be killing me, and it was a pain that couldn’t be relieved by just sitting down for a while.

Yeah, these shoes will make your back hurt.

Enter the MS Zone shoe. This was the first product I received from SBC Korea’s program, and actually my favorite so far. These shoes are heavy-duty. I would say they are about 1.7 times heavier than the average pair of shoes, and for good reason. They do have an enormous sole, which adds probably 4 centimeters of height (look at me going metric, yo) to my voluptuous 5’4” (damn, the metric couldn’t last) frame. Or is it 5’3”? I may be in denial of my shortness.

I put them on right when I got them, and they fit pretty well. Props on the zipper in addition to the shoe laces. It makes it so much easier to just slip them on and go! Plus, it’s a really sparkly zipper, and I like sparkles.

I noticed that as I tried to walk my outer thighs did seem to get fatigued a bit more. After the initial walk I did indeed feel the burn, slightly. It felt like I was walking on sand. After a while though, this effect became largely unnoticeable. I’m not sure if these shoes offer much in the way of toning but they’re really fun to walk in and make me feel lighter.

The soles are squishy, and also sloped in the back so as to make you feel slightly off balance. If I’m not careful, I can tip over if I lean back and all my weight is on only one heel. But hey, if Angélica Teacher falls I’m sure my kids would be very entertained.

I digress. Despite its aesthetic shortfalls, the MS Zone shoe really does wonders for my back. As you may be able to tell from the pictures, I wear them a lot and so the red coloring has become faded on the sides. This may also be due to these bunion-eque formations jutting out from the sides of my feet. I’m reluctant to get those things checked out by a doctor, because they have not caused any real foot problems and I hate dealing with the freakin’ hospital.

I think it’s obvious that the MS Zone was made for narrower Korean feet. Every once in a while I can feel pain on the sides of my feet in that area. If the upper fabric was more yielding perhaps it would be better, but the pain in my feet is bearable. After all, these shoes feel great for my back and I would still recommend these shoes to friends and family who are on their feet all day. If you’re interested in the company, here’s their website: http://mszone.koreasme.com/

And here are the obligatory pictures:

We interrupt this silence to bring you… MASH and market research!

Alright people. I haven’t blogged in a while for a variety of reasons. 1, I just don’t finish what I start sometimes. 2, I’ve been going through a rollercoaster of emotions regarding Korea, and don’t yet feel like articulating my thought process. Let’s just say there has been a lot of drinking and crying. 3, I have been watching MASH.

That’s right. My brilliant boyfriend (no sarcasm) knew I had been wanting to sit down and watch the famous 1970s series that takes place in the land I am now occupying, so he enlisted his brother to buy me season 3 on DVD for Christmas. I happily devoured that season (which includes the infamous Abyssinia, Henry episode) and quickly set about to find the rest of the seasons on the internet for free.

So far I’ve watched 4 and 5, plus the actual MASH movie, and now I’ve gone back to season 1. I wish Radar were more innocent. According to wikipedia, his character evolved from sneaky and cocky to a more humble, down-home Iowa farmboy I know and love. Then again, I love me a midwest farmboy. <3

ANYHOO.

I was tipped off by facebook a while ago to sign up for these free market trials for foreigners. Basically, some new companies had some products they wanted tested, and we could get it for free as long as we wrote a review about it. So this blog is going to be occupied by my reviews for the next few posts. I got a variety of stuff- shoes, shampoo, fat burning gel, hair color, and tape.  Random, right?  So sit back and enjoy a foreigner’s impressions of stuff that Korean entrepreneurs hope really takes off!

Four Hangovers and a Wedding

I don’t know when my last blog post was, because I’m too lazy to look at my own blog to find out. Also, I’m too lazy to bother remembering my own memories. That’s why I figured I better write something else about the cool stuff I’ve been up to so it doesn’t wash away into the sea of my consciousness.

No, I have not had four recent hangovers. The title of this post is cutesy but misleading- just like Fun Size Snickers bars. Hehe. Sorry, I couldn’t think of anything better.

Halloween in Korea, for a 20-something expat like myself, mainly consists of hanging out in Hongdae and/or Itaewon. Basically just swarming with others like myself, and Koreans who enjoy being around drunk foreigners.

I had recycled my spelling bee costume (hyuck hyuck so clever) that I used during the Halloween party at our school. The kids didn’t get it. I should have just gone as a regular bee.

My special edition for the evening version of my costume was glasses off, sparkly eye makeup, and the piece de resistance- a short yellow blonde wig.

First I went to Hongdae (the area near Hongik University) because I knew my coworkers and every other foreigner would be there. And I wasn’t wrong. It took a good 3 minutes longer than it should have to exit the subway station.

I checked out the park and ran into Justin dressed like a robot. He should change his name to LLRT, because the ladies were loving his Robot Teacher costume like you wouldn’t believe.

I hung out at Gorilla bar for a while, then decided to check out another Hongdae bar with my new friends Hyunsu and Neil. You can see them with me in my blonde wig pic. They’re such a cute couple!

We got tired of that, so it was off in a cab to Itaewon. There were lots of U.S. military people swarming. Itaewon is the big tourist, Western type area. It’s where you can find flaming gay people and also plus-sized clothing.

The area in Itaewon known as Homo Hill was something I’d heard about but never experienced before. It’s not just a name. There are homos, and it’s a really steep hill. If I had been more intoxicated or wearing higher heels, it would have been downright dangerous!

We just went from club to club dancing the night away, admiring the costumes and making new friends. Then, when the subway started running again at 5:40 am, I happily hopped on. But not before getting some Quizno’s. It is NOT the same as in the U.S.  The bread was too soft. Good coffee though!

Now, for the wedding. The following weekend I met my coworker Gina and we rode the bus to our other coworker Sunny’s wedding. Korean weddings are very different from your typical American wedding. They usually take places at designated wedding halls, and it’s almost an assembly line operation. Many weddings can take place on one day at one venue. It was like an airport. The weddings have these women helpers that, to me, are just like flight attendants.

In America it’s usually considered bad luck to see the bride before the wedding. Here, there’s a specific room where the bride sits and her friends and family pose with her. Like the Easter Bunny or something!

The ceremony itself lasted around 30 minutes I’d say. Lots of bowing and clapping. And some people even sang to the bride and groom. It was like a show, and it didn’t feel very solemn at all except when the couple bowed in front of their in-laws.

I really admire Korean weddings for not taking things too seriously. In America I think we worry about gift registries and etiquette too much. Here the etiquette is pretty basic. Show up wearing something not shlumpy, give your envelope full of cash to the attendant, they’ll hand you a meal ticket, and you go stuff your face at the buffet. Not bad!

But then after that, if you’re family/close friends/huge fans of the couple you can go see their traditional Korean ceremony. This took place on another floor of the venue. I thought it was really beautiful.

Gina had the task of holding onto the bouquet, which she found rather embarrassing. So she let me hold it and pose for pictures in front of one of the Korean wedding rooms.

You can check my flickr page and facebook  for more pictures and videos of my adventures to be posted soon, when I feel like it. For now, I hear the siren song of my awesome double decker bed (thank you, trash mattress). I will sleep, perchance to dream of more authentic Korean adventures I’m sure to embark upon.

Jimjilbang wheeee!

Yesterday after work I thought I’d finally take the plunge and venture into a jimjilbang, which is this cool thing they have in Korea that’s a combination of a public bathhouse, spa, sauna, snack bar, lounge area, and other amenities depending on where you go.  I’m always hesitant to try new things alone here just because of the language barrier, but this adventure had the added scary element of being completely naked with strange women.

I’d heard good things about these places from my male coworkers. Still, my trepidation was totally justified. I mean, the last time I’d been exposed to that much nakedness was a good 6 years ago when I was at Camp Sweeney (diabetics say yeaaaahhh). And I at least sort of knew all those girls. That makes it better, right? Right??

I told my Korean coworker April that I was going to the jimjilbang after work, and she said, “Alone??”

“Yeah, why, who do you go with?”

“I usually go with my mommy, or friends, or my family.”

“Oh, well, I’m going by myself.”

“Oh! [hides her mouth in her hands while laughing in that cute Korean way] You are very brave.”

This fueled my anxiety. A duhh.

Anyway, for only 7000 won (Google tells me it’s about $6.25 USD) the lady at the front desk gave me two small orange towels, a pair of pink shorts and a big pink baggy shirt. I then proceeded to the women’s side of the bathhouse. There was this anteroom full of small lockers with keys attached. Surely, this couldn’t be where I store all my stuff?

The woman manning the convenience counter beyond this room saw my distress and told me “Shoes there.” Ah. I put my shoes in one of the box lockers, got the key out, then the same woman took that key and gave me another key attached to a plastic bracelet. There were bigger lockers, and here’s where the nakedness started.

I tried to be discreet as I watched other people. What were they doing? What should I do? How should I handle myself? I nervously stripped down and carried my towel into the main spa room. There were lots of interesting sit-down showers with little stools. Women young and old, but mostly old, were sitting and washing, and scrubbing their bodies raw with these little shower mitts. I took my pre-hot tub and sauna shower, then sort of wandered around everywhere.

There were several options. Some hot tubs with a running faucet and some very still and calm. Some cool, one really freakin’ cold, and one nearly scalding. There were 3 sauna rooms. All these rooms had their temperature readings on the outside. I am still not used to Celsius.

I saw one woman there with two of her daughters, about ages 6-9 I’d say. She was scrubbing and scrubbing them with one of those bath mitts all over, for like 20 minutes. My uptight American eyes were amazed. I’ve never seen a mother and daughter in that context. I could never imagine my mom taking me to a sauna, getting naked, and rubbing my dead skin cells off while strange naked grandmothers are mere feet away. But hey, that’s Korea!

I basically just wandered around until I’d had enough/started to feel pruney. Then I went back to the locker area, and put on my shorts. The woman who originally guided me before saw how they fit, and said, “Change, I get you new ones.”  I stood there naked for a bit. SO awkward. She came back with new shorts and said “3X.” Yeesh. Thanks for reminding me how fat I am compared to everyone in this country. My favorite part was when she looked at the fit disapprovingly like they were still too tight.

Once fully attired in baggy pink hotness I headed down to the co-ed lounge area. There was a pc bang down there, as well as a gym, a noraebang (karaoke stage), and snack bar. The way it works is if you buy something you can scan your little plastic bracelet, then pay for any charges you racked up before you leave. Pretty sweet. I didn’t know that at the time so I avoided anything that looked expensive.

I made my way from room to room, getting a good sweat in the 71 degree Celsius room full of little hot white rocks, and shaking a bit in the 0 degree Celsius room with ice on the walls. These rooms have different minerals and things because they’re supposed to be good for you. I had no idea which rooms were which because it was all in Korean, but I felt rejuvenated all the same.

The walk home after my jimjilbang experience was quite peaceful. I didn’t feel cold, even though it was probably around my usual shiver-inducing 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

I think I owe it to myself to try all the jimjilbangs in the area to find the best one. After a day at work trying to impart wisdom and keep from screaming at kids, it’s nice to just sit in a hot bath. As you can see by this lovely picture of my bathroom, the only way to do that is in the company of strangers.

A bathtub would be highly inefficient

Fun/Funny things about Korea, again

In my classes the students seem to have a really difficult time distinguishing between the words fun and funny. They’ll say stuff like, “I like going to beach because it very funny.” So I thought it’d be a fun/funny title for another blog post about what Korea is like to me, a foreign teacher.

These are some fun and funny things that have jumped out at me since the last time I posted (which was too long ago, I know). I figured a quick and dirty post was better than no post. I’m still here guys, don’t forget about me and this here blog!

  • Men wear really bright and/or sparkly ties. Seriously, my principal looked like he was going to go join Kim YuNa out on the ice rink yesterday- pastel pink and blue tie with major shimmer.  Today’s choice was fluorescent orange.
  • American fast food restaurants are different in subtle ways.  Yes, there are more culturally relevant menu items (patbingsu at Burger King, anyone?). That was expected. However, here in Korea everyone’s much more careful about their trash and recycling. If you order a drink don’t expect a cap for your cup unless you ask. Also, if you eat in there are 3 different holes in the trash bin to choose from and it honestly still confuses me. I believe one is for plastic trash, one is for paper, and one is for your empty drink? I just try to watch others and act like I know what’s going on.
  • Diet Coke is called Light Coke, and is never seen at fast food restaurants. Their low cal beverage of choice is Coke Zero. Coke Zero, Diet Coke, and Diet Pepsi (Pepsi Nex) all taste different than I remember them tasting back in the states. Oddly, Light Coke is my favorite so far.
  • People here really really like the Simpsons. Channel 23 plays it probably 6 times at night. And there are sooo many Simpsons products around. I assume they’re officially licensed but maybe not. If I wanted to I could get a Simpsons eraser, lunch box, wall clock, hair barrettes, stationary set, and more. In one of my classes, 3 out of 7 kids have Simpsons pencil cases.
  • My Korean coworkers brush their teeth all the time- after everything they eat it seems. Although, I don’t think this is something men do.
  • The women carry parasols or umbrellas on sunny days. Almost no one wears sunglasses.
  • Everyone shares their food. I am given some type of snack every day by at least one of my kids, and sometimes by my coworkers. I’ve sampled many yummy and weird things this way.

That’s all I have for now. You can see what fun things I did this weekend by visiting my Flickr page. A day that starts at 7:30 am with a field trip and ends at 4 am with a huge concert is one that needs to be followed by sleep.

But I shopped and walked around Suwon instead :)

random picture of an amusing Seoul restaurant sign for your enjoyment

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