Debbie's Doings

When two people sing together, they're in love; when two people dance together, they make love.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Countdown continues...

So it's hard to believe how many countdowns I have going on right now. I have my countdown to leaving Korea, my countdown to seeing Laura/Luke and Nony again, countdown to going to the US, and, of course, my countdown to the election. The numbers respectively are 24, 30, 44 and 36. I'm so excited by them all! (well, almost all)

I've spent alot of this past weekend getting down the the serious
business of exhuming my possessions. Would that be a good verb to use here? I'm not sure, maybe not. Though I do feel like I'm bringing them back from the dead. Two years' worth of stuff is alot to go through. But I think I'm nearly done. I went through my clothes a few weeks back, finally got that all bagged up to give away and daily taking a bag to the donation bin to further the progress. I went through my nightstand and desk and have filled two boxes- one is stuff i need to burn and/or put in the trash and the other is to give away to whoever wants the stuff (and if no one wants it, then I trash it as well). I have a bag of things to take to school for their use. Another bag of picture frames I'm not mailing back to the states (mom would be so proud of me for NOT keeping them all...) is awaiting claim. Today I did the biggest part of my moving out to-do list- I mailed my three boxes of keeper stuff home! Though hauling the boxes to the post office down the street really wasn't fun during my lunch hour! But it's done now. They are mailed off (along with my absentee ballot). Tomorrow I will, hopefully, go to the Pension office and put in my request for the refund there. I'm also going to get ahold of my bank to get monthly statements for my UK visa request (long story-- so many documents needed to prove I'm not incapable of taking care of myself there or that I'm not a huge liar in regards to my finances). I've also found a home for Dahlia upon my departure! That's an answer to a worry I've had.

I'm really excited for my vacation to Ireland. I really can't wait to get there and see my girls, and boys. ;-) I'm just very ready for a vacation. I need a break from work and that doesn't mean going home immediately to my family in IL- I want a REAL vacation! I have no plans beyond getting to Ireland and seeing Laura, Luke and Nony a week later. Perhaps I should be planning more of this trip, but I just don't see it happening!

I am excited to see my family again. Though, I have alot of mixed feelings in going back to the states. I actually don't want to go back there, but know that in order to get my next goal, I need to get things sorted out from that end of the world. So I'm preparing myself for the sadness I'm sure to face upon returning to the USA (cuz let's be honest, I don't like it there, that's why I left!) with the hope that I'll be moving to the UK by spring. I do look forward to catching up with the family left there though. I'll be sure to go see my niece who, I'd like to report, has 4 teeth and says babababababababbab all day long. I heard her on the phone a couple days ago and she is seriously the funniest person on the phone. She's noisy too...serves you right Becki! I'm planning on substitute teaching in the Cowden-Herrick district and Shelbyville district for awhile to be able to pay my bills at home because basically all the money I'll be leaving Korea with (pension, taxes, severance, final pay, and plane ticket refund) has to sit in my savings account for UK visa purposes for three months. Almost makes me want to just stick around Korea to give my account a little extra boost, but I feel like I really need to just get out at this point.

And the election. I'm following this election much more than I did any previous one and while that is difficult from abroad, I've found it mentally stimulating. After two years of ABC and 123, mental stimulation is a welcome change. I caught some of the first presidental debate and plan on tuning in this Friday morning (it's a holiday here) for the online viewing of the VP candidate debate. I predict that Biden kicks Palin's ass all over the floor. It ain't gonna be pretty, but I'm gonna love it all the same! That's right, I'm an Obama-Biden gal. Seriously, after reading about and hearing McCain- I question anyone's mental capacity to still think he's different from Bush and going to help us out of the quagmire 8 years of Bush have gotten us into. I mailed off my absentee ballot today, as mentioned above, and am proud of my vote this year. But hey, that's just me!

Alright, between all this packing and throwing out of things, I did manage to get out this weekend and take a love bike ride and walk around Lake Park again. Fall came this past week and I couldn't have asked for more perfect weather. I also found a really cool traditional garden at Lake Park and was shutter happy for about 20 minutes there. Enjoy the few here and check out the rest at

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the full moon and thanksgiving- korean-style

So it has come and gone now. Yah, I'm talking about my final Korean thanksgiving holiday. There are a few people I'd like to thank at this time.

First, I'd like to thank my kids. They're so darn cute in their costumes! Makes me happy for the better part of the day to see the girls twirling around in their multicolored, bejeweled, embroidered hanbuks and the boys being hyper-masculine in their little suits complaining of the itchy ankle ties and how three layers of shirts are making them hot. I'd like to thank them all!

Next, I'd like to thank my Director for providing me with yet one more opportunity to humiliate myself to all of Korea (ok, just to Ilsan and specifically the Dong-Ah Apartment area). Without her care and concern, I would have been wearing my regular street clothes on this fine day. Instead, thanks to her, I was strapped into a too-small woman's hanbuk that managed to, simultaneously, make my chest look larger than normal and cut off my lung capacity just above the aforementioned chest. Fantastic. Oh yes, my kids discovered that because the hanbuk was smaller, the skirt part kept opening up in the back. I still had on my jeans and t-shirt, but they thought it was hilarious that once I bent over, the skirt opened up in the back (it's a wrap-around skirt which ties above the chest). So I shook what butt I had at them, and they shook theirs back...we are such a mature class!

Finally, I'd like to thank the Korean adjumma (read: old lady) who felt it was her moral obligation to do what was probably the worst part of my day. She felt it was important to stop me and my kids walking back to school in costume and tell me in korean that my hanbuk was too small. In order to understand clearly what this woman was stopping to tell me, I asked my kids to repeat it and translate it for me. No, no, no, she did NOT say that I looked pretty in my hanbuk (I know I didn't...but at least all my coworkers and kids felt it was necessary to lie to me about it!) but that I was too BIG for my hanbuk. She then nodded to my kids and went on her merry way. I'd like to thank her for that final experience in Korean costume. Really, thank you.

PS- I yelled down the street to her, "Yah, I KNOW I'm not small, but I'm not KOREAN! I have curves!"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A funny joke I made...

The mental conversation that takes place before purchasing the outfits above.

Male mannequin: "Say, I could pull this off. The flower-printed shirt's femininity, complete with popped collar, can be offset by a manly display of facial hair. YES!"

Female mannequin: "Hmm, I want to match my K-boyfriend, but I couldn't find his floral shirt yet...and I emphasize YET. In the meantime, I feel like wearing these awesome printed leggings. These leggings are completely unusual and so, of course, everyone has them. But I am going to throw them off by wearing my matching vest. Oh yes. And I can't forget my oversized collared shirt which hides whatever figure I have. Perfect."

**note to the reader: of course this conversation takes place in the mannequins' heads...don't question it. And I pass these mannequins twice a day at least. They're my favorite.
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Friday, September 12, 2008

exhaustion, pure and simple

The last couple weeks I have been hit by something harder to shake than any virus I could catch here. More draining than an episode of food poisoning and possibly more contagious than the chicken pox going through my school currently...

I am exhausted.

Completely and utterly. I have been dogged by a terrible exhaustion for what appears to be turning into a neverending thing. Earlier tonight I was watching the latest Countdown podcast and I dropped off to sleep for a bit. I was barely able to keep my eyes open and it was 7pm!!! I'm not sure why I'm so tired. I also can't seem to wake up when I am supposed to. Though I haven't been late to work...yet. I sleep enough- the same amount of sleep every night- and I'm sleeping more on the weekends, but I'm not sure what else I need.

I'm leaving Korea in 41 days, so I'll just push through until then. Hopefully I'll be able to sleep soundly on the flight to London. One last note- tomorrow is my school's celebration of Cheosuk. My last time to wear the traditional costume of Korea and we're making korean rice crispy treats. We did a trial run today, it was really tasty. I'll put up pictures of me and my kids in traditional dress this weekend for you to enjoy. Now I'm pretty sure I'm going to go to bed...I'm so tired.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Surviving Kimchiland

So the other night I was having a drink with my friend Mina when we started talking about life in Korea and other countries. It was a nice talk, what we look for in a country, what we like about Korea and whether or not to stay here. See, if you haven't talked to me within the last couple of days then you wouldn't know the reason for this discussion. Perhaps you're thinking, as I have been saying for the last few months, that Debbie is leaving Korea in October and then moving to the UK, right? Well, yes I've been talking about that for about a year now. Now as the time to depart Korea approaches (46 days) I am looking more intently into the logistics of moving to the UK for work and eventually graduate school.
In looking for a work visa that would allow me freedom in work, I discovered that to apply for this visa I'll have to pay 1200 USD...just to apply. Well, I gave myself a heart attack when I saw that. So it's just been a bit of a shocker to realize that not only must I wait 3 months after getting 5000 in a bank account to apply, but I must also have 1200 to give them to look at my application and pray they accept it! Oh yes, and I have to still pay bills and live for that time as well! ugh, to say the least.
The last few days, therefore, have been spent in serious contemplation on what I am going to do- whether to apply for this visa and hope for the best, or try to get in on a tourist visa and then wing it and pray to get a regular visa before being deported for illegally working in the UK, or put it all on hold and apply to graduate school in London earlier than planned and in the meantime work in the states, or choose to return to korea for a third year, where I know I can get steady work and be able to delay theatre work for yet another year. This was the dilemma I had all weekend.
So voicing my concerns to my friend Mina was a good way to weigh options (I also subsequently did this on the phone with Laura and then with my mom today). Along the way we somehow came up with a title for a book I could write. It will be called Surviving Kimchiland. Either it will be a how-to guide to surviving life in Korea or a funny travelogue of an individual american woman living in a diminuative country of unity. (the diminuative is referring to the size of the people here...I've had so many experiences because of my curves here that I could fill a book of just those stories!) I'm intrigued by this idea of writing down stories that have happened to me here. I don't know if it'd ever be published. But it could be a really fun project to work on while I'm living at my parents' house working as a substitute teacher! So who knows...maybe someday there will be, next to Bill Bryson's humorous travel books, my own humorous account of spending two years living in Korea (hey, if a guy can write a book about traveling around Ireland with a fridge, then I can do this!). I guess we'll see what happens. It would be good to get down all that's happened to me here before I forget it all!
Oh yeah, about the decision on whether to apply for the visa...I'm going to do it. I realized, talking to Laura and my mom, that if I were to not do it because of money, then I would always wonder if I could have gotten it and whether my life would end up differently because of it. So, I'm going to take that chance. Sure, finances are going to be tight for awhile, but I'll make it work. I want to go to the UK. I want to work for a couple years before going to graduate school there, so this is what I have to do. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

something weird at school

So I've been meaning to write about this for a week now. But, as you know, I've been slightly distracted! Anyway, here you go. Last Monday I was told, at school, that the kids would be making wine the first class period instead of having show and tell. They were making wine for Chuseok (korean thanksgiving). Ok, it sure sounded a bit strange, but this IS Korea, and not the Christian background I was brought up in. So the kids came prepared with empty bottles and a bunch of grapes each. Curious to see how this was going to happen, I stuck around my classroom to "assist." Then our school director walks into my classroom to start the kids off and carries in the biggest bottle of Soju I've ever seen. SERIOUSLY! I could barely stop myself from laughing out loud and I was shocked beyond belief. For those of you who haven't lived in Korea, let me tell you a little bit about Soju. It is 1- the cheapest liquor you can buy here (about a dollar for a bottle) 2-the strongest cheapest liquor, coming in at a whopping 20-25% alcohol 3-it is the worst tasting liquor I've ever had. It is a common liquor though and helps explain all the abuse problems here. One bottle and most people would be quite taken care of. Anyway, a comparison could be made to vodka. Ok, so back to the story. The kids worked to push grapes into their bottles and then added a little bit of sugar before the director assisted with them pouring in the soju on top of it. A week later and these bottles have been sitting in my classroom fermenting. I can't imagine that it's going to taste good when they take it home next weekend, but hey, I don't have to drink it!

PS- I'm down to 51 days now. WOOHOO!