Of course, I found a few errors, and the errors were fixed at the front desk with white-out and pen. After a month, these class roster sheets look ugly, ugly, ugly.
After work Friday, I walked home in a better mood. Everything was cleared up. Eun Jeong was meeting me later for dinner. I passed a truck selling large crabs. I stopped and walked back. The guy was giving free crab samples to people, and they were buying the crabs. So I thought I’d buy a few. I also bought some stuffed squids. The Food Journal has more details on that.
I finally saw a doctor about the Seoul Cough. He prescribed me medicine that worked until it ran out. I went back a few weeks later, and I’m currently on a five day supply.
The weekend of October 23rd was my son Zen’s seventh birthday. I tried to give him a call, but as usual, no one answered the phone.
It was also the birthday of Sendil Krishnan, and if you don’t know Sendil Krishnan, as the saying goes, “You don’t know no one.”
And– it was the one year anniversary of Eun Jeong and me. We celebrated by going to a very, very bad Italian restaurant in Beomgye. Even when we ordered red wine, they gave us this sweet fruit spritzer that only sorority girls and women with big hair would drink.
We made up for the bad Italian dinner by having a second Korean dinner at Indio, where you can get three dishes for 11,000 won (that’s their gimmick). And the food was much better.
The big thing was that we ordered couple rings. We bought each other’s ring. I bought Eun Jeong this type of “champagne” jewel with a gold heart dangling from it. Eun Jeong bought me a classy gold ring that split in the middle at two tapered ends.
In the meantime, the school took a field trip to an art museum. The building was new but done up in traditional Korean architecture. The outside of the museum was more interesting than what was inside. Inside was a small modern art display, not nearly comparable to the kick ass contemporary art museum in Seoul Grand Park.
While we were finding a place to picnic, the kids came across a group of soldiers on a hike. They harassed the soldiers, but they took it in stride and marched off while they kids yelled, “Anyeong! Goodbye!”
Halloween was a hit.
I had been stressing out about this big carnival we were planning. Of course, it didn’t completely turned out as planned, but it did turn out better than I had hoped.
We stayed late Thursday night (October 27th) setting up. We had prepped so much stuff ahead of time, we only stayed until 8:30 or 9:00. A year ago at Brighton, we were there until midnight.
We were able to set up an apple dunk, two lollipop trees, a fishing booth, an art room, a cakewalk, a music room with a dancing Frankenstein, a movie room, and a haunted gym with a maze. I am posting the pictures right now.
As we were leaving Thursday night, it occurred to me that I had been so busy setting up the school, I had forgotten about my costume. While cleaning up, I found an oversized “ajumma visor,” and the wheels started turning on the way home.
The next day, I showed up wearing Eun Jeong’s gray jogging suit with the visor and a sweater wrapped around my neck as a cape. On the visor, I printed “Super???” (“Super Ajumma”), making fun of the pushy middle aged ladies who are so famous in Korea. I thought I would get beaten up for wearing a costume that mocked an aspect of Korean culture, even though playfully. But it seemed everyone got the joke and enjoyed it. The mothers took pictures of me, saying I was cute.
We started the day by taking the kindergarteners trick or treating at participating parents’ apartments. They went all out for it, and they had a lot of fun. Some of the mothers followed us back for the games.
As with every Friday of late, lunch was skimpy. That day it was just kimbap. So Julia, Lars, and I headed to a little place I had discovered which makes this beautiful rainbow looking bibimbap. It tastes good, it’s cheap, and it’s extremely healthy. Only in Korea have I found health food that I actually like.
We rushed back and played the games, which were dry runs for when the older kids came later. The most popular were the apple dunk and fishing booth. Actually, I was surprised at how overwhelmingly popular the fishing booth was. It was just some tables covered in blue bed sheets (my blue bed sheets). The kids toss a fishing line with a clip on the end over the table. Someone under the table attaches a prize bag and pulls on it, like a fish hit it. I didn’t realize how much fun it must be for a kid to do that.
The cakewalk went over pretty well, too. We didn’t have any donated baked goods like a traditional cakewalk. Instead, we had a pile of moonpies and candies. The kids went in a circle to music, stepping on numbered ghost-shaped spots on the floor. When the music stopped, they stopped, and I pulled out a number. Whoever was standing on that number got to pick a piece of candy from the table. There was a line of kids waiting to join in the game most of the time.
The Haunted Gym was the centerpiece. We were understaffed, so no one watched the gym. I knew it was going to get torn down. I was surprised it held up as well as it did. It was similar to the haunted house from last year, made up of deep sea fishing line and black plastic garbage bags. I had my classic “Disney’s Thrilling, Chilling Sounds of the Haunted House” CD playing full blast in there. I still get goosebumps when I listen to that in the dark.
We were pooped by the time the third and last wave of students finished the carnival. We had run out of apples a long time ago and had them dunking for yogurt (yes, seriously). We tore down and cleaned up the place in an hour and a half. Then Lars, Injoo, and I headed to Ansan.
Injoo wanted us to try a new cheap kalbi place. I mentioned it in the Food Journal. I saw Canada Chris there, and we caught up on what was happening in his life. I was worried that he was one of the ones getting caught up in the big immigration bust, but he was kosher.
After dinner, we headed to the bar RPM, which used to be the infamously pathetic Bon Jovi Rock Club. The reason was our old bartender friend from Magic Castle, Silver, was the manager there. He was holding a big Halloween bash. Lars wasn’t interested in paying a 10,000 won cover charge to stand around and listen to loud music, so he called it a night. I hadn’t seen Silver in a long ass time, so I stuck around.
The party wasn’t too bad. As always, people were a little stiff and needed loosening up. I met some cool foreigners, including a wonderful, hilarious girl named Courtney. I also met a beautiful and charming Korean girl, Kellis, who works as an editor for a video company. She came dressed as Magenta from “Rocky Horror,” and I was the only one who guessed who she was.
I wanted to see the bartending show. After it was finished, I found that it was too late to catch the subway. This meant that I had to stick around until 5 AM. Well, I had new friends. Might as well stick around.
Kellis waited for a friend to show up, and she did after a while. She hooked up with this other friend of hers. She also joined us in a little drinking game where we suck a glass of beer out with a straw behind the bar. (I lost for the first time.)
This girl got really, really drunk. Her brand new boyfriend did nothing to take care of her. Kellis was worried, and she couldn’t walk down the stairs.
Now, I was raised in a culture where men help women in distress. So I picked up Kellis’ friend and carried her down two flights of stairs like a rag doll. As I was doing this, her friend threw up warm pink vomit all over my clothes.
After we made sure this girl’s brother was going to come and pick her up, I headed to Magic Castle. I had had enough of that. I found that Rick had returned as bartender there. That was good news. Kellis and Injoo joined me after a while, and we talked until I saw the first subway train pass through the station. I immediately bolted for the subway station.
I was so exhausted that I woke up as the train was leaving the stop I wanted to get off on. So I got off at the next stop and entered a taxi. I told him in Korean where I wanted to go. He didn’t understand me. So I said, “Anyang Stadium.”
For some reason, he understood that.
I was so happy to be back in my bed (after a good shower, of course). I knew that the next Friday was Magic Castle’s big 3rd anniversary bash. Of course, I was going to go, but I told myself I would leave before the subways closed.
Telling myself is not enough.
Again, I had to stay out until 5 AM.
It just flew the next Friday night. We started the evening in style. Lars, Injoo, and I met Kellis at the gobchang place where Brant and I first tried this wonderful delicacy of beef intestines grilled in soju. Lars raved about how it could be the best meal he ever had. We also had a culinary first that evening. The waitress asked us if we would like “gan.”
I knew gan meant “liver.” My mother hates liver, so I grew up without that aversion to liver that most children have because I was not exposed to it until I was more adventurous in my tastes. (Thanks, Mom.)
The waitress came out with a plate of RAW liver and placed it next to the boiled and chilled tripe. The tripe we had had many times before. It’s rubbery and tasteless. It’s really just a conveyance for sauce. The raw liver, though, was quite the experience. This I considered more dangerous than eating bugs, squirming live squid, and poisonous blowfish. But I ate it. It was velvety and gelatinous, like you’d expect. It had a very intense liver flavor, the good liver flavor, not the bad. It had to be chased by something, though. We had beer and soju on hand with the flaming crackling gobchang, which tasted like onion-ey breakfast bacon.
The “Castle” said that on this party, it would try something different. The tables and chairs weren’t cleared to make way for a dance floor. There were no hip hop troupes or magicians. They also mentioned they had spent 2,000,000 million won ($2,000) on door prizes.
The first sign of dread was when we were greeted by a mime at the door.
We saw a lot of the old guard there. Old friends and new friends. Courtney showed up with her friends. The Korean dancer who had helped me win the bottle of Absolut at the last party showed up with a date of hers, a Korean who grew up in L.A. named Danny (cool guy, BTW).
As the evening progressed and in hindsight, I would prefer Magic Castle go back to their previous party concept. The door prizes were won through raffles, not through dancing contests and such. They spent big money on a small number of prizes, too.
Lars won one of them — a large bottle of Jack Daniels. He shared it with everyone at the bar. I myself didn’t drink much.
We spent the wee hours of the morning at a table outside a convenience store, downing instant noodles and warming against a crisp autumn night.
During my classes, I had noticed more surreal and entertaining English from my students. Usually, it’s by means of the Engrish on the clothing they wear. One student had a shirt that looked like it was from the Levi’s newspaper (if they ever had one). Its big headline was “Love Begins by the All-African Coffee Machine.”
In the very same class, I taught a lesson on English names for types of facial hair. I drew a face on the board and gradually added hair to the face. When I got to the mustache, I asked, “What is this?”
One student said, “The nosebrow.”
I had to sit down, I was laughing so hard. The whole class was laughing, including the student who had said it. It was so clever and made so much sense.
Pepero day was on Friday, the 11th. I have a thing about it in the Food Journal.
Injoo’s birthday was also that Thursday. For his birthday, we went to Oido for Jogae Kui. Oido is a little harbor town west of Ansan on the Yellow Sea. Jogae Kui, if anyone has been following, is my FAVORITE FOOD IN THE WORLD!!! It’s shellfish grilled at the table.
We were driven there by a girl Injoo was interested in dating. By seeing the way she snuggled with him after dinner, I think the feeling was mutual. That was good because I have never known Injoo with a girlfriend.
All of this stuff that has been going on, Halloween in particular, has ceased or slowed down. I’m kinda lost on what to do now. I’m so used to doing a million projects. I guess it’s a good thing that the U.S. is in November sweeps. But then again, Fox made the stupid move of axing “Arrested Development” and “Kitchen Confidential” for re-runs of the schlock “Oz” rip-off “Prison Break” drama.