Monday, April 21, 2008

Grattis Syrran

It's Svenska (Swedish) for "Happy Birthday Sister". Today, I got the bestest birthday gift from my sister, Len: a lovely birthday card with a flowery dress on the cover, bearing a very meaningful message, and a postcard photo of my adorable niece, Denise. Yay!

Grattis Syran
*click on the photo to see the original

I cried when I got them. I still can't accept the fact that we don't live on the same house anymore; that she's so far away; her youngest child, I will never had the chance of carrying or hugging or squeezing, like what I used to do with her first born, Mariella, who's the same age with my daughter.

I know one day... we will be together again... and I will have the chance to kiss my nieces; drag them to the mall with me and buy whatever Bratz doll they like. And maybe perhaps convince them to live with me! Yay!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Neighbor

As I was going out of the elevator tonight, I saw this young neighbor running in the hallway with what looked like a bleeding hand. She shoved past me and rushed down the stairs.

Adrenaline mixed with sheer curiosity, I chased her down the stairs; caught her up in the lobby and told her to let me help. She showed me her hand.
Blood! I hate blood! She told me that she saw an old eyebrow shaver under her bed and sliced her palm to see if the blade's still sharp.

I took her back to her room to fix the palm before I could think of anything unpleasant to say.

Her room was a big mess. Bottles of Soju (Korean gin) are on the floor. Unwashed dishes on the sink. Looks like the room is not inhabited by a human being. A total slob. The OCD in me wanted to do a cleaning spree but decided that I must do something about her wound first. I went to her bathroom to get some towel or tissue or anything to clean her wound but the toilet bulb is busted.

How can anyone survive with no light in the toilet?!!

She has no first-aid kit. What do I expect? I have none either. I decided to put some super glue on her wound to stop the bleeding and got her a new bulb from the nearby store. Because ordinary Korean neighborhood marts don't carry stuff like iodine or cotton (One can only get them from the pharmacy, which was like 300 meters away from the apartment building and no way I am walking that distance in my already dying feet.) I decided that the super glue will make do for the meantime.

Her toilet bowl is not very pleasant to look at either and it scared me to step on it. I dragged my own chair to her room that I may have something to step on to reach the ceiling.

All this time, she was huddled at the foot of her bed, sobbing.

I wanted to talk to her more but my Korean is limited. She understands no English anyway. I told her to go to a clinic first thing in the morning. She said yes. Went back to my room and turned on the TV and PC.

I wrote a blog earlier to make fun of the situation. However, after posting the entry (in my multiply account), I heard her escalating wailing; I realized then that she was the same girl who's been crying all the time these past few days. I guess it's okay to cry but if you do that at around 2 in the morning, it's not acceptable anymore. In fact, a few nights ago, some of the older neighbors banged on her door and threatened to beat her up that she may have more reason to cry if she doesn't shut up.

I realized then that she did not slice her palm out of stupidity.

I dread to think that perhaps she really wanted to hurt herself. Judging from her wailing and late nights one sided conversation (Yes, I do listen on the wall.), I figured she must be having some fights with her boyfriend on the phone and that is causing her so much grief.

As I write this (which was like 1:45 am), I could hear the landlord scolding her as one of the neighbors again complained that she's making too much noise. They were saying something like if she's not moaning at nights, she's wailing her heart out. I don't know which one is more annoying. I never bothered to listen to her moans.

I hope she won't kill herself. I hope she feels better soon... Me don't want a ghost for a neighbor...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Life Begins at 40?

They say that life begins at 40. Does that mean my life is just about to begin? Isn't that a little fucked up? I mean, how could one be born 40 years ago, and have its life start only after 4 decades?!! Doesn't make any sense at all.

I celebrated the day in Bungalow, my favorite hang-out in the whole Seoul, with Jo and Tita Noemi, a former room mate.
Yes, I am 40. And I have more than 40 things to thank about. I am going to make the list shorter though as I am a little tipsy to write more than 2,000 words tonight.

I am grateful that:

  1. I am still alive to this day, blessed with abundant things in life, more than I could ask for.
  2. I have a great family: parents, who try to be healthy as they can be, taking care of my son in my absence; 4 brothers who look after my son, pampering him while I'm away, providing him the fatherly figure that he needs; and a sister who may be living in another country now, but gives me comfort by just letting me play up her daughters' pictures.
  3. I have a very talented teen-ager who believes that mom is only 20 and shouldn't be allowed to work in another country.
  4. I have a wonderful job that allows me to provide for my son.
  5. I have a "fiance" I talk to everyday, who gets the first hand torture during that "time of the month".
  6. I have awesome friends who don't only party with me in such a short notice, but are always there to make my life easier.
  7. I have equally awesome online friends who bear with my eccentricities, some of whom actually think I am a Deity. Ha! How cool is that?
  8. I have smart-ass students who never cease to test my patience. And co-teachers who may not be great to work with, but hey, they leave me alone, which is far more important than anything else in the world.
  9. I have a nice room, with kind neighbors to boot, who feed me with dog soup any chance they get.
  10. I have a God who is always there, hearing me out, day in and day out; guiding, protecting and shielding me and my loved ones from any harm, sickness and accidents.
It's strange... I don't feel that old. I swear I just celebrated my 20th birthday!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

He Died in His Sleep

I've been seeing this news feed on TV about a 38-year old Korean rapper who passed away last Wednesday. I never had time to sit down and really comprehend the news not until this evening when N, a former classmate called, and one Ajumma in the yoga class told me that I should change my ringtone. I am like, Why? I like my ringtone. It makes me wanna dance every time someone calls.

Ajumma told me that the lead rapper of that band had just passed away and it is but polite to give respect, or something like that. I was not able to get the rest of her rambling. They were sort of sad. I thought at first that because the hunk yoga instructor is gone. Didn't know the real reason behind the gloomy atmosphere.

Koreans are like that. When a well known personality dies, it's like the whole country mourns. They'd be solemn for days and as soon as the news fades out, they go back to their usual ways... then... another celebrity passes away.

I am not really into Korean Pop scene. There are very few bands that I like. However, when I first came here, the group was in their peak, and someone was sweet enough to give me a CD of the band's first album as a Christmas gift. I lost the CD during one of those house moving, but the thought that went with that gift is something that to this date I consider, priceless.

As as sign of respect to Im Seong Hoon, the so-called Turtle Man of the band Keoboogi (Turtle), I am posting the MTV of my favorite ringtone, Ulmana (How much).

I think I am going to change my ringtone back to Stupify.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool

APRIL is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain
~T.S. Elliot, 1922, The Wasteland

My co-teachers and I are not the best-est of friends. When I was new in the school, our conversation is limited to "Hello Foreign Teacher, how was your weekend?", to which I always reply with a litany of what I did during the weekend. It took me a while to realize that whenever I begin to rant about things I did during days off; the co-teachers would keep silent, smile back and continue doing whatever they were doing before i interrupted them.

There were times however that I can not help but think out loud. It's more like a habit you know, a very bad habit at times, because people who don't really know me well, could regard me as an escapee from the Seoul asylum if they they hear me exchange mindless tete-a-tete with myself.

It was during one of those mindless stunt that I once blurted out loud: "Why are pantyhose so bloody tight? They're strangling my legs." Upon hearing this, my co-teachers stopped in slow motion and asked me to repeat what I just said, which I did. This teacher, let's just call her Teacher 1, one of the more fluent teacher in school, politely retorted: "Foreign Teacher, smart question, please!"

Instead of explaining that it was not a question particularly directed to anyone, I took her reaction lightly and resolve never to talk to myself in public again, especially in the teacher's lounge.

Then, last night, the boss held a meeting about the new salary policy. Taxes and medicare will be deducted starting this month and everyone was aggravated, including me of course. While all the teachers were talking at the same time, I decided to raise my hand to ask a question.
Teacher 1, who was co-presiding the meeting, noticed my raised arm and shushed everyone to hear what I'm about to say. I told them that I have a question. Actually, I just wanted to know when is dinner going to be served. Before I could say anything, Teacher 1 asked if I am going to wonder again why pantyhose are so tight. Everyone started laughing and giggling until they are almost on the verge of farting, with the exception of the boss who was completely clueless as to what was going on. 
I laughed along 'Ha Ha Ha Ha' while secretly reminding myself to replace the bottle of sugar in the pantry with iodized salt before the week is over. 

Yes, it's April fool's day. Them witches will be getting salted coffee starting tomorrow! 
Who's laughing now?