On Tuesday I went into school and they confirmed that not only did I not have to teach, but I had a half day because “they aren’t serving lunch in the cafeteria.” Um…I’ll take it. I spent the morning lounging around in the office and then So Young told me it was time for all the teachers to have a meeting and I should come down and say goodbye to the VP and Principal. So I followed her downstairs and we went over to the VP’s desk, where he proceeded to talk for about 5 minutes in Korean, gesturing at a calendar and in general making me EXTREMELY NERVOUS that he was saying something about taking my vacation days back/changing them. Thankfully, it was a simple issue of not having enough paperwork filled out (I swear to god, SMOE brings unnecessary and repetitive paperwork to alarming new heights) so I sat through the extremely fast teacher’s meeting and then talked with So Young about what exactly the Principal/VP wanted from me. Apparently they wanted a rough plan or outline of what I would be lesson planning on Monday when I was “working from home.” I explained to So Young that I’d basically just be looking at the first couple of lessons that we teach when we get back and doing lesson plans/powerpoints for those. She then told me that the VP wanted me to make “general lesson plans that could be used with any grade.” What? She basically wanted fun lessons that could be used if there was extra time or if there was a sub (aka- the 20+ lessons I already have done for Fun Based Activities at after school….). I asked if that was absolutely what I needed to do or if I could do what I had suggested and make lesson plans that I will for sure use. We went around and around for about 15 minutes in a haze of language barriers (and So Young’s English is GREAT). In the end it was decided that I would make two “real” lessons and two “any grade” lessons. So freaking random. I feel bad for So Young because I know that she didn’t sign up for this (Eun Kyung did, but she’s been out on maternity leave for over a month) and its been a ton of extra work for her. I made sure to give her an extra big thank you.
I headed out early and got home around 12:15pm, which was nice because I got to do some food/ingredient shopping before my 2:20pm doctor’s appointment. The doctor said my sinus infection is about 2/3 gone (praise the lord) and put me on another 2 weeks of antibiotics and Sudafed. I also got 3 months of Allegra, a thing of Nasonex nose spray, some and some sleep aides for the nights when I can’t breathe for a whopping $24. And of course it is all name brand (as opposed to the birth control my mom is sending me from the states that cost me almost $200 and is actually a generic of a generic). I love health care here.
Then I came home and baked and baked and baked. And watched some Law and Order: SVU. And baked. On Wednesday I slept in and did some more baking and SVU watching. It was great.
On Christmas Eve I had to actually be productive since I hadn’t yet made it to the big store down the street (which I find totally overwhelming and mentally psych myself out for it) nor had I bought my Secret Santa gift. Hey…I’m a last minute shopper! I powered up to Insadong to get the gift for Dana and a new scarf for me (I love that scarf stall so much) and then hit HomePlus to get the rest of my ingredients for the things I was bringing to the potluck. I headed home and made mashed potatoes and the sketchiest sweet potato casserole in history. Like seriously. It tasted alright, but it was a weird color and not as sweet as home because the sweet potatoes here are very, very different than those we have in the states. Oh well. It just makes me look forward to eating my Mom’s sweet potato casserole again at future holidays!
At 5:45pm I had Angie (lifesaver!) help me carry my stuff down to a taxi and headed over to pick up Erich. When I showed the taxi driver where we were going, his response was “Ohhhh….very far. Very, very far.” ONE HOUR AND FORTY-FIVE MINUTES (and several frantic text messages) LATER, we arrived at Ayzia’s. The traffic was horrendous. Not only was it Christmas Eve, but it was also rush hour on a work day. Terrible. But the ride only cost us 30,000won (about $26) which was amazing. And our cabbie was so sweet that I gave him a 5,000won tip (you never tip in Korea) and he was very happy with that. We headed up to Ayzia’s roomy apartment and started the saga of getting all the food heated up for dinner. SO. MUCH. FOOD. It was amazing. We would all eat a bunch, veg out for a bit, eat some more. Play some games. Eat some more. Ugh, it was so good.
Julia is star struck by all the food.
Chicken, pork cutlets, salad,japchae, macaroni and cheese, two kinds of mashed potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, sweet potato casserole, green beans, garlic bread, and stuffing. Followed by 5 types of cookies. And cheese and crackers. And lots of wine, soju, and makoli.
After we were done eating dinner we played some drinking games (oh Kings, the more people I meet the more random rules you have) before the food coma really set in. Then we turned on Just Friends and most people fell asleep as the movie played. Laura arrived after church around 11:30pm, so that woke us up a little before we actually went to sleep around 1:00am. Ayzia’s apartment was the perfect setting with lots of room, so I’m really really happy we had it there. My apartment would have been WAY too cramped.
Christmas morning we all got up (thanks to Dana being an impatient kid and wanting to open gifts, haha) and indulged in some cold leftovers and watched a little TV before doing Secret Santa. Everyone seemed pleased with their gifts and it was just so nice to not wake up alone on Christmas morning. Julia was my Santa and my gifts were awesome.
Our awesomely ghetto Christmas tree made of a drying rack, tinsel, and Christmas cards.
Sloth mode. This was pre-gifts, post-pigging out on leftovers.
Boram (Julia's boyfriend)
My loot. Clockwise from top left: vaguely offensive "English" socks, FT Island CD set (lead singer is Jeremy from You're Beautiful...the adorable little blondie), a green tea face mask, super cute sad panda socks.
We all got our stuff together and headed out around 1:00pm. The cab ride home took us only about 25 minutes. MAJOR difference from the night before! I came home, uploaded pictures on Facebook, used the face mask Julia gave me (hey, I’m impatient), and took a nap before meeting up with Ayzia to see “Cirque Nut” (name still makes me giggle) which was an acrobatics infused performance of the Nutcracker. Getting there was hellishly confusing and I had the times mixed up (to be fair the internet had the times mixed up) so we got there an hour early, but it was awesome. The troupe was from Belarus and it was super cool and unique. They did crazy stunts and the dancing was beautiful as well. When we came out of the theater there was a lovely layer of clean white snow on everything and it was really nice. This was the first white Christmas for a couple of South African girls I know, so that was cool.
A performance for MEEE? Thumbs up.
Illegal photo of cast from Cirque Nut.
Soon after I got home it was time to get online and video g-chat with my mom and grandparents. But lo and behold, their computer is jacked up and g-chatting wouldn’t work. Since they have Skype thanks to my enterprising cousin who is in college, I downloaded Skype and a few hiccups later we opened our gifts via web cam. It was really nice and I got some sweet stuff that I’ve been wanting/needing. Crocs for school! ShamWOWs! True Blood: Season 1! Etcetera. It was great to see them also. After we were done I used Skype to call a bunch of people on Christmas morning and wish them a Merry Christmas. An absurd number of voicemails later, I had only talked to Lyndsay and Jo Anna. That’s what Skype gets for making their calls unknown on caller ID, haha. I headed to bed after a great Christmas here in Korea.
Then began my descent into sloth. And how sweet it was. Saturday I watched the entire first season of True Blood again. And you know what? It was just as awesome this time around. Then came the K-Dramas. Oh and how glorious they were. Tina Hu, a girl I went to high school with, has been suggesting dramas for me to watch since she saw how much I loved Boys Before Flowers and You’re Beautiful. Laura showed me where I could watch full episodes online that weren’t all broken up like on MySoju (http://www.crunchyroll.com/, but if you’re in Korea you have to download a IP blocker so it doesn’t know you’re here…fun fact: Netflix still knows you’re not in the US and won’t let you use watch instantly….it’s sad). First I watched The First Shop of the Coffee Prince. It was AMAZING. Now I’d heard it was good from everyone, teachers, friends and students, but it was sooooo awesome. It was refreshing after the other K-Dramas, because it was significantly more risqué. There was premarital sex! There were babies conceived before marriage! There were two ostensibly naked people laying in a bed together! DRAMATIC! Hahaha. It was also touching and sweet and funny and just generally well done. I am also still surprised about the way they approach the issue of homosexuality here. In Korea being gay is still pretty unacceptable. Yet we have these dramas (You're Beautiful, Coffee Prince) where the lead girl is dressed as a guy and the lead male falls for her without knowing she's female. They really battle a lot of issues because they think they're falling for another guy and they don't know how to handle it. Easily the most touching scene of any drama I've watched was the end of Episode 10 of Coffee Prince when Han Kyul (the guy) tells Eun Chan (the girl dressed as a guy) that he doesn't care if he's "a man or an alien," he still loves him. It was squeal worthy. I watched the entire 16 episode series in a (very long) day.
Here you have your basic story of a spoiled rich guy with parent issues is forced by his grandmother to take over a failing coffee shop. During this time he meets, becomes friends with, and eventually falls in love with a girl who everyone thinks is a boy. Hilarity an heartwarming ensue. It is seriously so good.
Monday and Tuesday I watched the entire 24 episode Princess Hours/Palace series. Also really good. The main actress from Coffee Prince was the main actress in Princess Hours, so it was nice to see a familiar face, haha. I would rank Princess Hours at number 3 (after Coffee Prince and You’re Beautiful, ahead of Boys Before Flowers). One thing I really loved about Princess Hours was the costume and set design. Super beautiful. One thing I really hated about Princess Hours was the finale. What a letdown! Aigh! Another shining moment in Princess Hours was when they featured “Prince William” in an episode. I was laughing SO HARD. I could just see the planning meeting “Okay, we’re going to need a tall, goofy looking, blondish guy who can fake a British accent. I know the perfect person!” It was hilarious.
This drama takes place in a fictional 21st century where Korea still has a monarchy, an idea which I love. Here we have a Cinderella story where a common girl marries a crown prince based on an arragement their grandfathers made. Enter the former crown prince who was basically banished from Korea and an ex-girlfriend who just won't give up and its easy to see where the drama is rooted.
Anyway, in roughly 72 hours I watched nearly 44 hours of dramas. I lounged in bed, basically just leaving the apartment for nourishment. It snowed a fair amount the week, so I was also treated to lots of sweeping and shoveling sounds out my window. It’s like the snow waited until juuuust when I was ready to go outside to get some food before striking. When I went down to Pizza School on Sunday it was jam packed with more people than I’ve ever seen there. Moral of the story: Best week off ever.
View out my window to the right.
View out my window to the left.
Today I actually did some stuff around the house and watched a Korean movie called Seducing Mr. Perfect which was pretty adorable (and featured the ridiculously handsome Daniel Henney from X-Men Origins). I think it’s time to switch to some English language TV/movies…my eyes are tired from subtitles! Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve (unbelievable) and I think I’m (everyone brace yourselves) going out clubbing in Seoul. This will certainly be a first. But I figure that if you’re supposed to do on NYE what you want to do for the upcoming year, being surrounded by friends and trying something new (and questionably exciting) seems as good a plan as any. Aaaand I really want to complete the Korean tradition of watching the sunrise and making a wish (instead of a resolution). However my resolution happens to be not watching more than 4 episodes of a drama back to back in the new year. We’ll see if that happens, haha.
During my frequent stalking of other expats’ blogs, I found the following poem on Simi’s Straight From the Curls. It is from a Blackberry ad she found in a magazine. I agree that it is “simple yet profound.”
Don't just like.
Like is watered-down love.
Like is mediocre.
Like is the wishy-washy emotion of content.
Athletes don't do it for the like of a sport.
Artists don't suffer for like of art.
There is no I like NY t-shirt.
And Romeo didn't just like Juliet.
LOVE. Now that's powerful stuff.
Love changes things.
Love is at the root of everything good that has ever happened and will ever happen.
LOVE WHAT YOU DO.
And that is what I wish for you in the new year. I hope you love what you do, do what you love, and surround yourself with people and things that you love. I am overwhelmed by, and so thankful for, the sheer number of opportunities I’ve been given in my life. Take some time to take stock of all your blessings as we head into the new year.
Christmas 2009 from Meaghan Shanahan on Vimeo.
I put this little video together (shout out to Shannon on the music) showing just a few of the things and people I’ve been thankful for this Christmas season. I hope you have even more.