Saturday, November 29, 2008

Random Hodgepodge

Well, the non-existent Thanksgiving is over so it is now Christmas season. Emart (the Korean version of Walmart that actually pushed Walmart out of Korea) had their Christmas stuff up the night of Thanksgiving. Crazy it wasn't up in August, huh? :)

I spent $15 on a 4' Christmas tree, which I set up today. I had some Christmas lights in my closet when I moved in, which saved me a good $10. $7 for some tinsel and a star for the top and viola! I have Christmas in my apartment. Money well spent.

(It keeps not inserting lines where I put them near pictures, giving me scary paragraphs. The stars are me trying to cheat the system).

In other news, I woke up with man-voice on Friday. Wasn't sick, just woke up with man-voice. Or as my lovely mother put it, sounding like I was in the middle of hormone treatment for a sex change. Thanks, mom. Anyway, six hours of teaching and I migrated to sexy raspy (well, according to the teachers - the kids were kind of scared of me sounding so incredibly different). Today it's more froggish and going in and out more. My throat doesn't hurt and I don't feel sick although I have a tiny bit of a cough today, but nothing like what you would think with my voice sounding the way it does.
I refuse to get sick - I'm the last foreign teacher to have not gotten sick. I refuse, I tell you! I actually had a recording of my man-voice on my computer (I wanted to hear if I sounded as weird as I did in my head), so it's down below for your viewing pleasure. You have to turn the volume all the way up to hear it though. And since I wasn't planning on sharing my random talking to myself with the world, a clip of the song I'm singing so you don't think I'm crazy. It's from the musical episode of Daria. (Make sure you turn the volume back down in between.)

On another unrelated thing, you may notice a new picture on the left side. On the night of the 25th, I officially won NaNoWriMo by totalling 50,048 words! I haven't written a word since then, but hey, I did it. :) Statistics wise, I wrote approximately 28 hours, going anywhere from 1,264 words per hour to 2,609. When I wrote at home, by myself, I usually averaged about 2,100 an hour. I wrote 21 days, averaging 2,383 words and an hour twenty of writing for the days I wrote. And all this without any caffeine whatsoever.

Here's the spiffy message you get when you win, complete with new web badges:

Through storm and sun, you traversed the noveling seas. Pitted against a merciless deadline and fighting hordes of distractions, you persevered. You launched yourself bravely into Week One, sailed through the churning waters of Week Two, skirted the mutinous shoals of Weeks Three and Four, and now have landed, victorious, in a place that few adventurers ever see.

We congratulate you on your hard work, salute your discipline and follow-through, and celebrate your imagination.

You did something amazing this month, novelist. We couldn't be prouder.

Tee hee. Novelist. My book is crap - I think it's written okay but the story concept was much better in my head than what it was on paper. Eh, now on to bigger and better ideas that kept tempting me during the month. I may like to read romance, but writing it was pretty boring for me. Crappy relationship developing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why there is so much Engrish

So I was planning a post at some point on the Engrish I've seen around and taken pictures of, but I'm waiting for my collection to grow a bit first. (Engrish is things that are in English but were translated very badly and make no sense. They're usually pretty funny.)

Anyway, so we were at dinner for one of the other foreigners birthday, and this new Korean teacher at my school came with us. His English is pretty crappy, and he had this book with him. It ended up being chock full of fun for the dinner table, and now I think I realize why there is so much Engrish out there - because even their dictionaries are bad. Here are some of the more choice ones, first from the drinking section and then from the dating section. Keep in mind this is just from the twenty or so pages we looked at; imagine all the fun that could be found in the 550 other pages! Also, all are verbatim - I did not typo, and the book is from 2001, so it really has no excuse. Commentary in italics.

A: Do you stand me a drink today?
B: Yes, I'll stand you a drink if you like. (Huh? We first thought this was British slang or something, but then we kept reading)

Anyway, it's getting too bored here in this club. Let's change the scenery! Hey, treat me another round.

Note: I'm a little bit high. = I had a little drink. (Is that what they're calling it nowadays?)

Get real, my friend! Smart girls like her ain't fond of party animals like you getting blacked out all the time. (Because it is important for them to learn words that aren't really words...)

I've got a crash on Jane. I love her so much I can't live without her. (Ah, those cursed crashes.)

My girlfriend dumped me because I'm a poor salaried worker. (Don't worry, you're better off.)

I've got dumped because I don't have any money. "No money, no honey," they say. I know I was just her part-time lover, nothing more, nothing less. (Important phrases to know!)

My husband doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't fool around, is physically fit, great in bed and not afraid to shower. (Ah, the perfect man! No shower phobia for him!)

He was caught two-timing by his girlfriend last night and he's in hospital because his girlfriend beat the living crab out of him. (You go girl. I wonder if the crabs came from the one he was two-timing with? Use protection people!)

A: Have you done anything behind your wife's back?
B: The only thing I've ever done behind my wife's back is zip her up.

I have been on nude beaches before and I'm certainly no prude, but I'm very uncomfortable about being seen in public with my deformity. (Deformity? Is this really a common problem that people have with going to nude beaches?)

This one was especially fun for my American co-worker who is half-Chinese:
Hey, I hear you're going out with a chink. What's up with that?

A: Does he drink, gamble or chase women?
B: No, he doesn't drink, he never gambles, and he detests women. (Sounds like he is fabulous! - if you know what I mean.)

A short fling won't quench your thirst - it will only stimulate your appetite and create more problem.

A: When are you going to marry? You're already 40.
B: Don't worry, mom. There's a lid for every pot.
Also: Every Jack has his Gill

Who is your main squeeze among those babe?

And ones that are just funny because they use Dick as their generic male name:
You know, Dick. I'm tired of being single. So it would be nice if you could set me up with someone.

A: You can call me Dick. Now we are on a first-name basis.
B: Being on a first-name basis isn't everything, you know.

That's it! Dick and I are through! (I think I've said that at some point in my life...)

And one last example to send you off. You know, maybe they understand better than I thought:
After retirement, you have a new boss - your wife. She doesn't issue orders; she uses diplomacy. For example: "We should wash the windows." "We should clean the cellar and garage." "We should trim those high bushes." You will soon be learned "we" means, "Honey, you..."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm going to die.

I am.

It is so cold here right now, that even if I survive all of the body parts I'm going to lose from frostbite, the hypothermia will get me.
Now, I know you're probably thinking, hey Anica, you are such a cold wimp. True. I am, and I readily admit that I am a desert rat. However, this is what greeted me when I left for work this afternoon:

Yeah, that's snow. In November. That was about as much sticking that it did and it all melted right away, but still. You know, that song I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas might actually make sense now - and here I thought those things only happened in movies.

Oddly enough, it's a lot warmer tonight, in the 30s. Last night, it was 22˚! And that's in Fahrenheit; it's a much more scary sounding -5.5˚C. Yup, going to die.

In a cultural tidbit for you, I present with you how Koreans keep warm. They don't seem to be big in the scarf thing, but instead wear these masks that look like medical masks to keep your face warm. They're less than a buck, so I got one just because I could:

However, two main problems. One, it fogs up my glasses, just like a scarf does. I'm currently debating which risk is greater: losing the nose to frostbite by not wearing one, or breaking and deforming the nose by biffing it since I won't be able to see where I'm going. Your thoughts?

The second problem, which you can kind of tell, is that I think my head is too small. It doesn't look like that on the Koreans, anyway. So, I solved my problem, tee-hee, tee-hee. I bought a smaller one (which was twice as much money), for my little head. I give you the really cute kid version:

(It says "I'm Happy!") I wore it for about two fogs the glasses as well.

I've seen some of my kids in their cold weather gear, and I may have to go shopping again. For my warmth, of course! Beanies that look like an animal head with sides hanging down that can be used as a scarf or are mittens seem to be really popular. That's certainly better than just buying earmuffs. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

NaNoWriMo and my first jimjilbang

So I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month this month, or NaNoWriMo. It's become an international event and is in its 10th year. The idea is that you write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. Why? To prove you can do it. Being I can't remember the last time I wrote anything that wasn't school related, let alone fiction, I thought it would be a good thing to try. It turns out there are a bunch of foreigners here that are doing it, so I've been able to make some new friends as well. You can view my progress with the little meter on the left side - at the time of this writing I'm doing good at 31,969 words, though I really hate my novel at the moment and have gone a few days without writing. Oops.

Anyway, on Saturday, which was the midpoint, we had a writer's retreat at a jimjilbang (sounds like jim-juh-bong). It's a sauna type substance that is pretty popular over here. We went to the Dragon Hill Spa, which is seven floors and kind of crazy.

You pay to get in ($10 for the time I got there), and they give you clothed and this bracelet with a key and barcode on it. You then take your shoes off and lock them in a locker with your key number right by the entrance, and then go to your gender's locker room - the women were on the third floor, the men on the fifth. You then see a lot of naked Asian women. A lot. And not all 90 year old women like when you go to the gym. (Or maybe I was just always that lucky?) Anyway, then you have a locker where you change into the t-shirt and shorts they gave you, or in my case, go back and exchange them because the waist of the shorts, while it stretches, is as wide as the length of my foot. I'm not exaggerating - I should have taken a picture. Anyway, then you roam about.
We wrote for a while in the cafeteria area on the first floor, then I ate dinner and tried some of the co-ed stuff on that floor - a rock salt sauna, a wood-fired kiln. The rock salt sauna was 55˚C (131˚F), which felt like a hot day in August to me (on right - not my picture). The kiln ones didn't have temperatures, but I wished they did. They had a low, medium, and hot kiln, and by hot they mean the surface of the sun. I was barley glistening in the first sauna, but the hot sauna it was pouring off of me. Inside the floor was wood and there were wooden blocks to sit in, and I still had to sit on my towel on the wooden block before I didn't feel like my butt was burning. Actually, I have a little burn on my knee from where I knelt on the floor for 15 seconds to reach for a wooden block someone had just gotten up from in hopes it would be cooler. The first time I think we lasted two minutes, and I went in a second time, since the other saunas really didn't do anything for me after that, and I think I lasted a whole four minutes. When I pushed my glasses up it felt like the metal burned my nose, and as you may recall, I have a lot of pieces of metal attached to my body. My entire body was also red for a while after that. It was interesting.

I also tried the ice room, which was 10˚C (50˚F), which surprisingly felt really good. This was after the uber hot sauna - well, after adjusting to what felt like an icy temperature of the general room for a couple minutes, and then going into the ice room.

Then I checked out the women's only sections. I didn't have a lot of time for this, as I didn't find out until 8:30 that they charge the overnight rate of another $12 at 9pm, so I was trying to get out before that. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention - you can sleep in them. There are lots of open spaces and people just pass out all over the floor. It's an odd experience.

As for the women only section, which was a little bit of the rest of the third floor and the entire second floor, there was a lot of nakedness. Actually, I didn't see a stitch of clothing on the second floor at all - there may have been signs saying as much for all I know. Luckily, I am surprisingly comfortable being naked when other people I don't know are naked, and I think me walking around was educational for the toothpick Korean women, especially since tattoos are illegal to get here. ;)

There were open shower stalls, or sit down versions with handheld shower heads, all over the place. There were pools of varying temperatures, some with salt water (on left, also not my picture). There was a nice jacuzzi pool as well with jet streams. I didn't see the whole thing, but I believe there are saunas down there too, and there was also supposedly an outdoor women's only pool...which I would assume would also be naked. I may have to try that at some point.

There were also additional services you could pay for - for anything you did extra, you just swiped your bracelet and paid the balance on the way out. Even the restaurants and vending machines worked that way, which was cool. Anyway, they had massages available (I wish I had had the time!), some scary thing called string hair removal, and body scrubbing. I saw some of the body scrubbing, and it consisted of a woman scrubbing down your entire body while you were on a massage table, using a loofah and some kind of scrub. The women scrubbing you were not naked, of course. They are at work, after all. No, they were wearing black bra and underwear! They were all probably in their 40s, but still.

So yes, I've decided that a gay heaven probably includes a jimjilbang. The funny thing is that a lot of Koreans go with friends. I don't know how I'd feel walking around and doing a bunch of stuff naked with my friends. I guess it happened with showering at the gym and all, but this would be hours of hanging out together, naked. What do you think?

Anyway, so that was my cultural experience this weekend. I'll have to try again when I'm not worrying about the time. That's a pretty good deal for $10, although I hear most of them are only $5 but are also a lot smaller.