Me: Oh my God! When did that happen? Why didn't I get an email.
Me: Oh, you mean I need to extend my service. I knew about that. I was waiting for payday. But why are you giving me a warning that it's currently suspended.
Weebly: Currently suspended, expiring soon.. it's like you say tomato and I say tomato.
Weebly: No, not really. Actually, our marketing team has decided to use scare tactics to get people to renew.
Me: Really? Hows that working?
Weebly: Soso. Siteground has created a page that tells our users this is a prefect time to change hosts.
Me: I was thinking the same thing, but I'm going to wait until this ball of irritation passes and then decide.
Weebly: Hey now, we're just trying to prevent churn. (Churn is the rate users quit us.)
Me: Head-desk, head-desk.
I had garlic flavored milk with my cereal this morning and not for the first time. The first time was back in Busan. I was doing a backing activity and need a bit of milk to make the frosting for the cookies. My boss obliged, whipping a small container out of her office mini fridge. I mixed it with the powdered sugar until the frosting was the right consistency, spread it over cookies and handed them out. I had one myself. It tasked wrong, but I couldn't but my finger on it. I sniffed the milk. It wasn't spoiled but it was wrong. I asked my box what she thought. She sniffed the milk and said it was fine. About three days later we were in the office when she opened her refrigerator. I was close enough this time to get slapped in the face with ode de garlic.
The elementary school is closed for winter break right now. That means no school lunch. I stopped partaking in school lunch about August, in part because of the office bully, but mostly I planned to eat healthier and loose weight. I always plan to lose weight but then a donut walks up and says "Eat me." It would be rude to say no.
It took me a little over a month to successfully stop ordering out and develop a lunch menu. But cooking meals at home didn't last. In the end I settled for making a sandwich for lunch everyday. It has lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and ham. To be clear, in Korea ham has taken on the meaning of cold cut. It can be chicken, turkey or ham. This week it's chicken. Last week ham was ham.
Anyway, since it's break the teachers from the Philippines are bringing their Korean lunches to work.The dish varies but is generally know as Garlic Oh My. It flavors everything to garlic. I was getting annoyed about that. I could bring a small fresh milk everyday. And then it hit me. I could just eat breakfast at home. Duh. I can't remember exactly when or why I started eating breakfast in the office, but the habit has become so entrenched the obvious solution wasn't obvious.
I spent the night at my friend's house on Friday. Our friendship overlaps because I tutor her son. It's a trade of things, sometimes horseback riding, sometimes food. Anyway, her son has no idea that I'm an English teacher or that he's ever had an English lesson. His four in Korean age and three in American age.
He asked me "Can you sleep over?"
"Yes," I said.
He turned to his mom and in Korean told her "I told you she wouldn't make me say please."
I'm pretty certain he's what us Americans call gifted, specifically in language and math. Anyway, I know my friend has a tent and I asked her if she'd mind me putting it up and having a camp out in the living room. Korean homes are made differently to American homes, so there is a living room on both the first and second floors. The living room in question was on the second floor and doubles as a play room. There's also a two large rooftop spaces, one the same level as the second floor and the third is at the top of a circular staircase. It has grass. Grandpa put the grass there so his grandson would be able experience it.
But the weather was too cold for outside camping and probably Gabriel (this is his second English name) wouldn't sleep in the tent. Even if the weather was warm enough, I'm not crazy enough to take a sleepy three-year-old down a circular staircase in the middle of the night to pee. No sir.
Liz's tent turned out to be an eight-man Coleman gifted from a friend. She had never put it together and her friends had said they were going to get a better tent. That's probably translation for how the #$*&!!!!! do you but this together. I haven't assembled a tent in years or an eight man tent ever. But camping is like the ability to ride a bike: hard to forget. The only thing I had not anticipated was the difficulty of assembling a tent with the help of a three-year-old. (Parents everywhere are grinning about now.)
He took the poles apart as I but them together, put them together as I took them apart. (It's tricky assembling an eight man tent in a living room in. Those poles are long.) He jumped on the tent as I put the sticks into their slots and pulled them out. Then he got bored and tired of this learning experience.
His mom took him downstairs so I could finish and I did, in about twenty minutes. Just in time for dinner. I love Grandma's cooking. Grandma is Liz's mom. I've eaten some of the best Korean at her house but Friday night was spaghetti. Then it was back upstairs.
You know, I think my friendship with Liz is because I do stuff like this. Mother and son's eyes were enormous at the sight of the tent. Her son promptly jumped inside and then started taking all his toys in. He really was going to sleep in the tent. He got his blanket and pillow and teddy bear. Then he got me two pillows a blanket and a big teddy bear. We put his toys in their box and laid down.
"Mariel is a fish," he said.
"Gabe is a turtle," I said.
"Mariel is a snake," he said.
"Gabe is a monkey," I said.
"Mariel is an Elephant," he said.
Gabe's dad was horrified the first time he heard his son call me an elephant. I'm U.S. size sixteen in size 0 -2 Korea. The comparison is apt. But little ones love fat people. It's soft and safe and good. Psychology backs this up. Mostly, Gabe was complimenting me in the way only little ones can. He loves elephants and rhinosoruses
My friend and I made plans for me to spend the weekend with her in Seoul. The trains and buses to Seoul fill up pretty fast, especially on a new years weekend but I didn't book my ticket early and by the time I opened KTX on my laptop seats were sold out on every train except for the one leaving at 2:59 in the morning. Around two-am Friday night (which is technically Saturday morning) I decided that yes, I would catch that train, largely because I figured once I did fall asleep I'd be reluctant to get up and perhaps miss Seoul altogether.
I was also worried about the cats. My friend's kittens are staying again while they heal from being fixed. She was reluctant to get them fixed because they're not people friendly and with the mom she has wound up with four cats altogether. We had discussed getting rid of them and in the end I couldn't quite stomach that proposition. I grew up in a household were pets were extremely disposable and never thought twice about it. I continued the trend through my twenties and I suppose I'm making up for lost time. Anyway, I made a deal that since she had four cats, I'd fix two and she'd fix two. In Korea this is no small proposition. Spaying runs $250 to $350 and neutering is about $250. After I forked over half the cash, I was left wondering why I thought it was too expensive in the States.
Catching the kittens was fun and by that I mean, not fun which is why we decided to put them in my apartment until Chicken (that's scared kitten) was ready to have her stitches removed. Tiger, the only male of the four had dissolving stitches. Anyway, because Geumbi is Geumbi and stress can make her really sick, I was worried about leaving her for the twenty-four hours I'd be gone.
I gave her a double dose of steroids and seeming to know something was up, only picked at her food. I got her to eat about 75%, then dressed, cleaned the three litter boxes, packed my clothes and was ready to leave the house ten minutes before the early train left. That wasn't enough time to make it so I went to bed. I was up again by eight and my friend used her app to book me a seat. It's really easy to change seats with KTX and the cancellation fees are minimal so people book and change all the time. The problem with the website is that by the time you put in you passport number and info, the seats are gone. Anyway, my friend used her app and sent me the tick via Kakoa talk and I caught the 11:59 train to Seoul.
I met her a bit after three, and we went to see a show kids show. her son is four so when I hang out, I often and subjected to kid things. I like kids so it's all good. The show was an interesting and strange in a way peculiar to Asia. It was about Santa, a snowball and a wicked witch called Black. He stole the snowball so it couldn't snow. I caught 1 in 100 Korean words. I was nonetheless entertained by glittering Christmas costumes mingling with the earth-tone costumes and the super-villian costume of Black and the psychedelic 1960's inspired costumes. The songs ranged from Jingle Bells to Orf, 007 and Abba, though the words had been changed obviously. It was strange but good in a way that sums up Korea. I wish you could have seen it.
Next was dinner, followed by second dinner. We went to this posh place for eggs Benedict and I found mashed potatoes and gravy on the menu. The following day I got my hair cut and they straightened it with a flat iron. I look so different. I'd love to keep straight hair, sigh, but straight perms dry out my hair too much, sigh.
Anyway, that's how my new years started. How about you?
M.R. Jordan is a writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. Lives in South Korea with her two cats, Bear and Geumbi.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Gold in English)... then (above) and now (below).