27 December, 2006

Christmas Weekend, Seoul, December 23rd-25th

Though I spent my Christmas without family and decorations, it did not pass without friends and holiday cheer.


Morten and I headed out early in the afternoon to do some shopping. Our first stop was Hanam Supermarket, a small grocery good for foreign foods. Next stop was the tool market to get a present for a friend of Morten's. E-Mart was next, and I'm pretty sure at least a third of Seoul was there with us. In typical Margie style, I hadn't decided on my Christmas Eve menu yet, requiring me to finalize it while we were shopping, and while I did get everything I needed, I also got a nice headache to go with my groceries. I nearly had a meltdown after we had already paid when I remembered I had wanted to find a game of UNO. Morten took one look at me and sent me to the car with the bags while he ran up a level to look for the game (he came back with LOBO 77). With the dirty work under our belts, we made for Itaewon to check on a suit Morten's having tailored, and I got measured for some shirts of my own at the same time. By that time we were ready for some refreshment, and what could be better when out with a Dane than Danish hotdogs at Steff Houlberg. I couldn't resist a picture of my Danish hotdog, and I took a picture of my food too! After a little more browsing around Itaewon (hooray for cheap street socks!), we headed home to finish the evening with presents for each other. Morten got me decorative glass candle holders with white tapers, and I gave him a couple of framed prints from digital pictures he'd taken of fall foliage.


During the lazy afternoon, I decided to try making sugar cookies with no recipe and a tempermental oven. They weren't that great, but they weren't horrible either--Morten kept snagging them as he was getting ready for his Christmas Eve dinner. He left around 3:30, and I started preparing my own dinner. I had chips, salsa, sour cream, Danish cheese (of course), dill pickles, and olives for snacks, all things not readily available in Gangneung. I made salad with feta cheese, mashed potatoes, and salmon for the main course. Liz called around 5:30 saying she didn't know where she was. Well, I said, how did you get there? 'I don't know.' Where were you before? 'I don't know.' Are you near the subway? 'I don't know.' Can you find something you recognize? 'I don't know.' Um, well, good luck... Finally I got enough information to help her and continued with dinner prep. She showed up at 6:30 in a very bad way, chiding me for not warning her about the hills. I apologized and got her some water, but in my defense, my directions said the phrase 'up the hill' at least three times. After her pulse went down, we had a nice time eating snacks and watching Mythbusters while we waited for Aniva to arrive. We first met Aniva, who lives near Seoul, through our now departed Australian friend Judy (not dead, just not in Korea), and we've hung out with her several times (see October, Chuseok). She's exuberant, extremely blunt, and tells a great story. She showed up just before eight and joined in the snacking. Around 9:30, I threw the salmon in a pan, the girls set out tableware and the sidedishes, and we sat down for Christmas Eve dinner. The fish was delicious. After dinner, we broke out a pack of cards and played several games. We even played several rounds of LOBO 77 with the help of English instructions printed from the internet. The girls said goodnight in the early hours of Christmas morning.


I just happen to be talking to Morten as I'm writing this, and I have asked him to dictate to me some thoughts about Monday. Here is what he says: "Long walk. Crowded Seoul. Actually, real crowded Seoul." Ah, the simplicity of the male mind... Now here's my version. It was a beautiful and cloudless though slightly hazy day. We bundled up in the afternoon for a Christmas Day walk and found extremely mild weather. I had to doff my scarf and gloves as we walked up some trails on Namsan mountain. We walked all the way to Seoul Tower, found alot of other people on the same Christmas Day date, then took our time on the long staircase down the other side of the mountain, sharing a bag of popcorn on the way, and eventually wound up in Myeongdong, which I think is considered part of downtown. I couldn't believe the number of people out shopping, packing the streets shoulder to shoulder. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced on Christmas. We jostled and shoved our way around for awhile then popped into Lotte World to take a look at something we'd seen in the Armani store the previous weekend. After going around and around on six different levels several times each, we gave up trying to find it, thinking that either the store had been moved, we were crazy for thinking it was there in the first place, or we had been sucked into some sort of Lotte World black hole shopping vortex. It was dark by the time we exited, and the whole place was lit with thousands of lights and beautiful decorations. Traffic was at a standstill so the subway looked pretty inviting, and fifteen minutes later, we were back in Itaewon, trudging on weary feet up, up, up the hill. We whipped together some great leftovers for dinner, and then I was back on the subway and then on the bus and on my way back to Gangneung, having had a lovely first Christmas in Korea.

Trails at Namsan
Lookout with Seoul Tower in the background
Downtown Seoul
Crowded streets of MyeongdongLotte World SupermarketOutside Lotte WorldHana Bank, covered entirely with green fringeEuropean Christmas TownThe amazingly clean Seoul subwayStill smiling after a long day

26 December, 2006

Santa Event, December 22nd

We asked Mark, another Mark, to come to our school Friday morning to play Santa for us (a Korean Santa was apparently not believable). Our kids sang for him, then he gave them each a present that had been sneaked in the previous day by the parents. Even I got a present from Santa, so it was fun for all, except when I had to clean up all the wrapping paper.

18 December, 2006

LCI Christmas Party, December 16th

Our school Christmas party was on Saturday. We cleared the school lunchroom and decorated the entrance and hallways. Marc, Liz and I humored Julian by wearing Santa outfits to greet the families as they arrived. Unfortunately, that's the only picture I got of the whole evening due to dead batteries. After the arrival time, we went upstairs to have some of the kids as well as a couple of parents sing or play instruments. We even had a magic act and a tango number. The performance concluded with four songs involving all three morning kinder classes. I played our very sad keyboard, and Marc and Liz directed hand motions. It was very cute. Upon exiting, the kids went downstairs for snacks, and the parents had gametime with Esther and Marc. I laughed hysterically watching the parents try to pass paper disks down a line using only sucking and blowing with their mouths. The kids then collected treats from the accessory shop across the street by singing on the steps. Finally, we were whisked away to dinner by a host of parents to end the successful night.

12 December, 2006


I think my sister and I both possess the exact same rare 'ridiculous Schuh sister sense of humor' gene. For those of you who have ever been around the two of us for any length of time, you know that we have the ability to crack each other up over the stupidest things. True, it's not very hard to make me laugh, but nothing gets me going quite like the ridiculous Schuh sister sense of humor.

I'm sure some of you smile and even chuckle at my blog, but I wonder if anyone else sits at his or her computer and nearly busts a gut laughing like I know Em does.

I bring this up because Emily recently wrote her own blog that had ME rolling. No one else will probably understand why I think it's so funny, but I just have to link it anyway. Warning: it's not for the weak of stomach.

Pocket contents and other school weirdness

I am constantly confiscating small items from my children. The phrase 'WHAT DO YOU HAVE GIVE IT TO ME NOW' has come to elicit one of two reactions--an immediate relinquishing of the offending item(s) to AngryTeacher or a hurried stuffing of the offending item(s) into a pocket accompanied by wide eyes. It's always of great concern whether or not the item(s) will be restored to the offender, causing certain students to quickly learn the phrase 'Teacher, after class?' (funny how they remember things when they really want to). However, if the offender doesn't remind me to return the item(s) (funny how quickly they forget things they really wanted), I myself often forget to return the confiscated item(s) resulting in some strange pocket contents.

Continuing in the 'you don't care about this but I'm going to pretend you do anyway' style of blogging, here is a list of things I've wound up with in my pockets or on my desk at the end of the day:

  • colored square paper for folding
  • colored square paper folded into hearts or frogs or turtles
  • plastic Won
  • game tokens
  • rubber bands
  • several decks of fantasy figure playing cards
  • a sticky rubber mouse
  • berries of an unknown variety
  • seeds of an unknown variety
  • rocks
  • toy cars
  • hair bands
  • lip balm
  • disassembled mechanical pencils
  • a trophy for singing
  • plastic knives and swords
  • very real looking toy guns
  • gum
  • gummy worms
  • lollipops
  • chips
  • squid snacks
While some of those things are a little strange, none of them top the strange things I've had students say to me. Here are some of my favorites (oddly, or not so oddly, enough, alot of them involve the same kid):


Ryan: Teacher, I eat blood.
Me: (eyebrows raise) Really?
Ryan: Yes, I eat blood.
Me: (eyebrows remain raised) Are you serious?
Ryan: (earnestly) Yes, very delicious.
Me: Wow, uh, that's interesting, and kind of gross.
Ryan: Yes, my *Korean word* teacher say I can eat her blood.
Me: (eyebrows raise to highest possible position) Really? She's bleeding and she says, 'Here, you can eat my blood'?
Ryan: (very earnestly) Yes.
Me: (with disbelief) Wow.


Marcus: Teacher, me, pencil, eat. (crunches down on his pencil)
Me: Marcus, stop eating your pencil!
Ryan: Teacher, me too. I like eat pencil! (bites off the freshly sharpened point of his pencil and proceeds to chew)
Me: Ryan!
Ryan: Very delicious!
Me: (to myself) Good thing they don't actually make 'lead' out of lead anymore...


Me: (observing a neat half-moon with suspicious tooth-like marks missing from the eraser loaned to Daniel) Daniel, did you bite my eraser? (biting gesture)
Daniel: (grins excitedly, nods vigorously)
Me: You did?
Daniel: (grins, nods)
Me: Did you EAT my eraser? (chewing and swallowing motions)
Daniel: (giggles, grins extra big, rocks back and forth in his chair)
Me: (look of disbelief followed by removal of the eraser)


Ryan: (bites down hard on the metal end of his pencil)
Me: Ryan, that's not good for your teeth.
Ryan: It's okay. Look! (pulls back cheek to reveal four silver teeth)
Me: Well, why do you think you have those? You should take care of your teeth!
Ryan: (looks down and says nothing, looks up at me again) I have eight! (pulls back other cheek to show me the other four silver teeth)
Me: (eyes widen) Just don't chew on metal, okay?
Ryan: Okay.

10 December, 2006

This and That

I haven't posted anything since Thanksgiving because, well, I haven't really done anything post-worthy. Emily constantly bugs me to post (myspace comment from 12.01: MORE BLOGS, MORE BLOGS...!), and I think to myself, 'But I haven't done anything!'

Then I started pondering what defines a post-worthy subject. There are obviously no guidelines, no rules or regulations about what one can or can't post (though I could sure make some suggestions regarding what one's blog shouldn't contain). So why do I feel the need to keep my posts action-based? Why haven't I joined the realm of rambling bloggers who thinks that someone somewhere will care for one second about their muddled thoughts and verbose profundities?

May this blog be the answer.

I wanted to buy a dress for our school Christmas party. I don't know why. Julian's making us wear Santa dresses for part of it anyway. But I thought it would be nice to have a dress, and Morten said he'd take me out for a nice dinner if I got one, so I went to Itaewon in Seoul where they cater a little more to foreigners given the proximity of the military base. I wanted something classic and quality but only found weird, cheap, feathered and sequined. I went home with a sweater and some slacks. Oh, and an electronic toothbrush! More about that later. Then I decided to try my luck here in Gangneung but only found an acute case of post fall dressless disorder, aka Gang-sters don't wear, buy or sell dresses in the winter! *clench fists and teeth, exhale sharply, regroup* So I scrapped the dress idea altogether and went for the nice-white-button-down-with-the-new-slacks idea, meaning that I needed to purchase a nice white button-down. First I found alot of nothing; then I found colored and designed shirts, then I found a white shirt with the brand embroidered on the front in green; then I found some shirts with ruffles, lace, ties and drawstrings, big gold buttons, puffy sleeves, and high collars reminiscent of the turn of the century; then I wanted to scream. I finally found a relatively inoffensive plain white button-down shirt with no frills. I tried on two sizes and purchased the one that fit my arm length but was too big through the ribs. Good news though, I'm having it altered at the dry cleaner.

But listen to me, I'm still writing about my actions!

Ah yes, the toothbrush, nay mouthbrush. The Oral B TRIUMPH Professional Care 9000. First, though, let me tell you something about me and my teeth. I like my teeth. I like to think that I have nice teeth. I am very protective of my teeth. Some people have bad dreams about being chased or killed. My dad has the recurring 'missing the plane' or 'forgetting the plane ticket' dreams. I have the 'my teeth are falling out' dream. I can't stop them, they just come loose and crunch around in my mouth in a big garbled mess (fortunately I haven't had it in awhile--it really is quite troubling). This is where the TRIUMPH comes into play. I've wanted an electronic toothbrush for awhile now, and with the advent of the disappointing visit to the dentist here in November, I thought it was time to take matters into my own hands before I started having the dream again. Well, with the Oral B TRIUMPH Professional Care 9000, the matter has been firmly placed in my hands. I can floss, brush and polish my teeth, massage my gums, scrape my tongue and do detail work around my permanent wire retainer. It even tells me how long to brush each 'quadrant' of my mouth so I can achieve the doctor recommended 2 minutes of brushing. And on top of it all, it has a built-in voltage converter, enabling me to use it anywhere in the world! It's the perfect thing for the oral hygiene conscious world traveler and a worthwhile purchase for anyone.