We had a good three day weekend. Mostly it’s just Eun Jeong and me sitting around and watching TV. We alternate between Korean and English language TV. We cooperate a lot more in this department than we used to.
The big news this week is that we have a new supervisor. This person is here supposedly to fill in the gap left by Roberta when she left for the States, since her sister Leia can’t speak English well, or rather, refuses to communicate much with us.
When she actually started, people started questioning what this would mean for me. I’m still technically the manager, even though the new person, Carol, is above me. It seems other people are more concerned with my status than I am. In the long run, it’s more important for me to get the school’s content management system (LiNo Info Zone, or LIZ — and not intentionally named after anyone we know) up and running. This on my resume and in my portfolio makes a bigger difference in the future than my title here. My duties are still the same. The thing I’m keeping a watch on is Leia trying to cut my salary, which violates the contract.
So again I’m playing office politics to get LIZ made public and official. Leia had sensed my grumpiness this week, mostly suspicion about her actions. She pulled me into a classroom for a talk to assure me that nothing big was happening. I’m still keeping my eyes open.
The battle was Friday when Leia gave us all forms all in Korean to fill out at the end of the day, detailing what we did and what we needed. I was upset because I had spent a month of my free time creating a system to keep track of that with a lot less work. You just click, click, click, and you’re done — no filling out of forms in KOREAN.
So I started persuading Carol that we already had a system in place, in English and Korean, that was better and preferred by the teachers. They actually had told me they liked the simplicity of the system. I showed it to her, and she liked it and went to Leia to change her mind. Of course, she didn’t change her mind because, according to her, she’s not computer friendly (even though she surfs the web all day at the front desk).
Then my good friend Injoo pulled the classic Injoo line while sitting in the teachers’ room and looking at the form for the first time.
“Oh, I like this better than the computer. It’s in Korean.”
“Injoo — shh!”
I haven’t figured out Carol yet. I like her, and we can get along. She already is starting to do the thing where she excuses strange behavior and regulations as “being Korean,” even though Eun Jeong, Injoo, and other Koreans I know would disagree. She also shows up for work at noon and leaves as soon as her last class is over, around 4 or 5. That’s ironic since Leia was recently complaining that Injoo was showing up at 11:30 to teach afternoon classes.
Friday evening, we made spaghetti. Well actually, Eun Jeong insisted on making it on her own this time. She did a great job. With the spaghetti was a green salad and another side dish that was a great example of the Korean cooking psyche. When I have leftover fried chicken, I usually let it sit because I’m trying to figure out a way to make it into a new main course since it’s meat. A Korean would just take the meat off the bones and make it a side dish. That’s what Eun Jeong did.
Later that night, Seoul Cough slammed me with a head cold. I had a headache, and my eyes were burning like crazy. It was still bad Saturday morning. Eun Jeong took me to a clinic to get me checked out.
Earlier that week, Lars and I had gone to Immigration to apply for our Alien Registration Cards. In order to process them, they take away our passports. We are completely without ID for ten days or so.
This posed a problem at the clinic. They needed some ID for me. Somehow Eun Jeong talked them into taking me in.
Even though the waiting room was packed, the wait wasn’t long. There was a great amount of efficiency and a virtually paperless environment. The doctor was pleasant, and he checked me out in a way I wasn’t used to back at home. At home the doctor would listen to me with a stethoscope and scratch his head, leave the room, come back twenty minutes later, do something else and then tell me what’s wrong while scribbling out a prescription on a notepad.
The Korean doctor had me sit in what I thought was a dentist’s chair. Eun Jeong even checked the rooms closely before we entered to make sure we hadn’t walked into a dentist’s office. As soon as I sat down, a nurse took my temperature in a flash with an ear thermometer. The doctor asked me to open my mouth as he procured what looked like a dentist’s water pick. He sprayed something in the back of my mouth and checked it. He then used a device to look up my nose and stuck another metal device in there to suck out the mucus. (I wish I had one of those things at home.)
He then typed my prescription in the computer, which the front desk printed out. Before leaving, he had me sit in front of a hot steaming machine and breath with my mouth next to a tube for three minutes.
The pharmacy next door instantly filled my prescription in to tiny little dosage packets. I had no insurance yet, and the entire visit and prescription cost a total of 21,000 won. I’m pretty sure that’s cheaper than what I can get in the U.S. WITH insurance.
So, I’m feeling better now. The weather is getting cool quickly.
I saw Eun Jeong drooling over some kimchi jjim on TV on Sunday. That evening, we were trying to figure out what to have for dinner. I told her to just stay there, and I’d take care of it. I had never made kimchi jjim before, and there were no English recipes on the internet. Yet I had eaten it a few times before. It’s a good drinking food. It’s basically sweet and sour smothered kimchi served with slices of tofu to balance the sting. And it’s one of the best things to eat with tofu.
So I improvised a kimchi jjim in the kitchen, guessing the ingredients by my memory of its taste. I also made cheese deokbokki, or rice cakes stuffed with cheese simmered in a hot sauce.
Eun Jeong was greatly impressed with both dishes, and I’ll post the kimchi jjim recipe on here when I get a chance. It did turn out better than I thought it would. It tasted better than what I had in the restaurant. And it’s easy to make and, again, it’s a great drinking food.