Mid-year Crisis –PLUS– Poorly Translated Korean Personal Ads

As of this weekend, I have lived in Korea for six months. It’s hard to imagine how things were then. Yet things are still the same. Back then it was cold and new and bright and flashing. Now it’s hot and familiar, and I’m one of the veterans showing the new folks around.

On a disgusting note, I ran out of my last stick of antiperspirant last week. Even though Brant gave me a stick of regular deodorant, I’m taking showers two or three times a day. By the end of the day, I smell like Taco Bell.

Gradually the students returned this week. Wednesday I combined my two kids in Aurora with River’s crazy Nike class. River played a game where the students would each go through the days of the week. Ron, one of my former students, taunted me from the other end of the table. I dove over and slid across the table to mock attack him. River said that must have been the coolest thing she had ever seen.

My final class Wednesday had only one kids, Tony. Oh well.

“Field trip. Put on your shoes.”

I took him on a field trip to the grocery store. We talked about the English names for groceries while I shopped for dinner.

Casey didn’t break up with her boyfriend, as was her homework assignment. I forgave her. Coincidentally, the lesson Thursday was an essay about the roles of men and women. It seemed to get her riled up and pensive.

Brant had collected some box top coupons and had earned a free pizza from Mr. Pizza. We got together with the Jeremy and Liz and decided to get two pizzas and find a table to sit at. We had scoped a convenience store, where we could by big bottles of beer and enjoy our pizza. But when we ordered our pizza, we found that table occupied. I suggested we try Jjokki-Jjokki. I had started a flirtation relationship with our usual waitress, who I found out later was the owner. I call her “Nuna,” which means “Big Sister.”

I asked in the best Korean I could if we could have pizza at one of her tables. She even offered to call Mr. Pizza for us, but I told her we had already ordered. We then got a big pitcher of beer, and I went and got the pizzas.

We got a few envious stares, sitting outside, enjoying pizza and beer at Jjokki-Jjokki.

Did I mention how much I love this country?

The couple wanted to play pool, so we introduced them to Habana. As usual, it was overpriced, and they tried to make us order anju snacks and made us pay upfront. With their remodeling, they have added gloves for the pool players. Didn’t improve my game all that much. The first game we played without an eight ball because we couldn’t find it. After the first game, the owner found it behind a booth. We bowed to him and called him “Songsaengnim.”

Jeremy and Liz then got the incredible urge to go to a noraebang. Since we had already paid, they headed out to get a room. I was the last one out, and I thanked the waitress. She asked me something extra. I figured out that she was asking me how to say, “Pay first, please,” in English. So I gave her a quick English lesson, emphasizing that she say “please,” and left.

Liz and Jeremy love noraebang. They have only been in Korea for a few months, but they have already found their Korean vices. They’re not great singers, which makes noraebang so much fun. Because instead of it becoming a singing contest, we try to come up with the most outrageous performances.

Brant had us all beaten. The way he sings is like some spooky vibrating voice inviting you to a haunted house. So he puts on quite a show when he sings “Night Train” by Guns “˜n’ Roses and “Sweet Dreams are Made of This,” the Marilyn Manson version. I think he’s the next Wesley Willis. All I have to do is record him, and he’d be a musical phenomenon.

Jeremy and I had dueling Axl Rose impressions on “November Rain,” and Liz put on a show during “Dancing Queen.”

Despite all the stuff we did and all the beers we drank, we got home at a decent hour. Around 11:30.

Because of my new schedule, I got to sleep in on Friday. I had no first period class. I headed out of my apartment late and soaked in late summer in Korea. The heat is still here, but I can feel a cool snap on its way. I love this feeling, the anticipation of Autumn. That’s why I named my daughter after that season. Most people feel refreshed and new in Spring. I feel that with Autumn. In America, it’s the start of a new school year, a new Halloween, a new football season, new girlfriends. The ground here is painted red with peppers drying in the sun. The fruit vendors are selling late summer peaches. And their peaches are big mo-fos too.

Eric seems to be keeping his promises so far. Is it because Mrs. Lee is out of town for two weeks? River’s schedule is going from being the heaviest among us to the lightest next to Jeremy’s (who’s a part-timer). The ceiling in Apollo is being repaired.

My packed weekend ended up being a dry weekend. Our trip to try dog soup got postponed. SJ cancelled our get together because her grandmother is not doing well.

Nonetheless, Brant and I had a decent time Friday evening. We headed back to Jjokki-Jjokki and had some quesadillas and stuffed chicken wings. Nuna, the cook, and a tall skinny middle-aged French-Canadian sat at the table next to us. He looked like Anthony Bourdain. I struck up a conversation with him. His name was Dominick, and he said he had lived in Ansan for three years. He’s trying to go out on his own by making travelogues and software. I see him all the time in the area, and he’d make a decent connection. He knows the people that I want to know to get out of the ESL business and back into something I know well, while staying in Korea.

Dominick said goodbye and left. Brant and I finished our chicken and beer. A cook from across the plaza put a plate of something at Nuna’s table. She asked if we wanted to try it.

“What is it?”

She communicated that they were chicken feet.

She gave Brant and myself one foot each. The sauce they were coated in was great. It would make a great wing sauce. The meat itself tasted like it had freezer burn. Still, it was strange and fun to eat. I would stop and say, “Brant, I’m eating a chicken’s foot.”

I would then suck the sauce off the toes in the way that I’d make the chicken flip a bird at passers-by. Heh heh, chicken — flip a bird — get it?

I’d try one again in the future to make sure that the meat doesn’t always taste like freezer burn.

Brant gave me some money to pay Nuna and went to the bathroom. Nuna and I got more flirtatious with each other, and as we were going, she gave me a big hug. I kissed her on the cheek, and Brant and I were off on a walk through our neighborhood.

There are three major convenience stores in our area, Family Mart, 7-Eleven, and LG-25. On one block there are two LG-25s next to each other. That night, there were two dancing girls out front plugging the opening of a third one on that block. Don’t ask me the business logic in that. I didn’t go to Korean business school. But the dancing girls were scantily clad and gorgeous. One of them stopped what she was doing and said “hi” to me as I was walking. That made my night.

Saturday and Sunday I just spent doing the usual laundry and cleaning. I hung up my framed scorpion, but it fell down the next morning. I need to figure out how to get a nail to stick into that concrete wall, because it looked so good there.

Well, since it has been six months since I’ve been here, I’ve become alarmed at how few people I know so far. So I’m taking more extreme measures to meet people. I’m on message boards a lot, and I’m even signed onto a dating site to get some friends for language exchanges and to introduce Brant and myself to a larger crowd.

What’s amusing as I go through the Korean dating site is that some of the posters post in Korean. The funniness starts when I copy and paste what they write into Alta Vista’s Babel Fish for translation. Either Babel Fish is not up to par with perfectly translating Korean into English yet, or we have some strange girls posting here. I’m sure Babel Fish is confusing some word with “bedspread.”

Here are some examples:

안녕하세요 ì €ì— 대해서 무엇을 어떻게 ì†Œê°œí•´ì•¼í• ì§€ ëª¨ë¥´ê² ë„¤ìš”^^ 친구들은 ì €ì™€ 같이있으면 ìž¬ë¯¸ìžˆë‹¤ê³ ë§Žì´ 이야기를 하구요 (êµ¬ì—½ë‹¤ê³ í•˜ê¸°ë„ 하구요..덩치에 맞지않게^^) 음…ì €ëŠ” 음악, 영화를 좋와하구요..ê·¸ë¦¬ê³ ë‚˜ì™€ëŠ” 다른생각을 가진 좋은사람들과 이야기 나누는것도 무척 좋와합니다.. ì´ì œ ìž¥ë§ˆì² ì¸ë° 한국에 ê³„ì‹ (혹은 외국에 계시는 분들 중에 비가 많이 오는 ê³„ì ˆì— ìžˆìœ¼ì‹ ë¶„ë“¤) ëª¨ë“ ë¶„ë“¤ 비 피해 없이 미리 미리 ì •ê²€í•©ì‹œë‹¤^^!!

How are you against me must introduce what how and will not know the bedspread ^ the friends with me together it is and that fun it is, plentifully talk Ha Goo Yo (nine Yub is, description below the estuary bedspread.. do not hit to a bulk not to be and ^) sound… I come out and music and motion picture Joh and the estuary bedspread.. and i have a different thought and good the person and talk also sharing does with Joh highly.. Recently without in advance in advance really wild in be in place Korea which is a rainy season and (the minute when it is or in the foreign nation elegy the minutes when it is to the season when it comes plentifully) all minute wild rain damage the sword do, ^! !

ì œ 특기는 ëª¨ë“ ì‚¬ëžŒì„ 행복하게 만들수있는겁니다. 우울한 분들이 ì œê²Œ 오면 행복해 질텐데 ì €ë¥¼ í•œ 번 친구로 사귀면 후회는 안 í• ê²ë‹ˆë‹¤

My specialty all people it is happy and there is a possibility of making and it hangs. When the minutes when it is dejected come to me and when the quality to be happy theyn it associates place me with one friend and the after sliced raw fish hangs inside percentage

친구를 ì‚¬ê·€ê³ ì‹¶ìŠµë‹ˆë‹¤… 학생이구요~~ 인연이 닿는 사람이면 ì–¸ì 가는 ë§Œë‚ êº¼ë¼ 믿습니다.

It wants associating the friend… When the student nine bedspreads ~~ will be the person where the karma reaches and it will meet some day and put out it believes.

웃는 얼굴도.우는 얼굴도. í•œ 사람에게만 ë³´ì—¬ ì£¼ê³ ì‹¶ì–´ìš”~ì‚´ë©´ì„œ 가장 기쁜 순간들도 함께 í• ìˆ˜ ìžˆê³ ê·¸ëŸ° 사람 그런 특별한 사람 여기서 ë§Œë‚ ìˆ˜ 있을까요?

The face which laughs. the face which cries. It seems in only one person and it wants giving, ~ it lives and there will be a possibility the moments when it is glad most of doing together and like that person like that from person here it is special the possibility of meeting it will be the bedspread?

ë¬´ìž‘ì • 여기로 들어왔어요. 좋은 친구, ê·¸ë¦¬ê³ ìƒˆë¡œìš´ 친구를 ì‚¬ê·€ë ¤êµ¬ìš”^^ 진심으로 사람과 사람과의 만남을 소중하게 여기는 친구를 찾습니다!!

It came in with rash here. The good friend, and the new friend it associates nine bedspreads ^ with the person and the person it meets with sincerity and it is valuable and it searches the friend whom it thinks! !

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