You know when you see a bit of thread or fluff on your floor and get momentarily startled, thinking it’s a bug? Well I just had the opposite thing happen. I saw what I thought was some stray thread kinda balled up on my floor (not wearing my glasses or contacts) so I bent down, picked it up, and just kinda rolled it between my fingers to ball it up more. But then it felt kinda crunchy and not threadlike at all. It was a spider. Which I picked up and unknowingly killed with my bare fingers.
And it crunched!
In my bare fricken fingers! Which I’ve washed 3 times now, but they still feel like dead spider. I know it’s all in my head, but srsly, I need to bleach my brain or something after that!
March 3, 2000: The day that made me forever feel sad, lonely, and, I have to admit, a bit resentful on every single Father’s Day that has come and gone since.
I foolishly hoped that moving to Korea, where they don’t celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, (they have Parents’ Day in May) I could escape those feelings this year, but, of course, this is the era of social media, which means I’m never truly all that far from home. So, even though it’s still Saturday night on the other side of the Pacific, my Facebook news feed is already filled with people thanking their fathers and/or husbands for being great dads, and people changing their profile pics to ones with their dad. I don’t have any digital pics of me with mine, unfortunately, so I can’t even do that. 😦 So, here I am, yet again, feeling resentful toward every girl out there who still has their daddy, and missing mine even more than I do on a daily basis. And, instead of having Korea be a safe haven where I can escape displays of a happiness that I can’t feel on this day anymore, being here has actually compounded the loneliness I feel every Father’s Day, because I’m all by myself while my family is together for our annual golf tournament. Last year at this time I was being “serenaded” my nephew D and my cousin O, with a chorus of “Trea to Korea, Trea to Korea…” Granted, they were doing it to be brats cuz they were hassling my oldest brother and I hassled them back on his behalf, but damn, what I wouldn’t give to hear that sassy little refrain right about now.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret being here in Korea. I love it here. It’s a beautiful country with lots of things to do and see, and I’ve met some wonderful people that have made being in a country whose language I don’t speak much less lonely, and often quite the opposite. The decision I made a little over a year ago to uproot my comfortable little living situation and move to the other side of the globe was one of my better ones. But life is what it is, so that means sometimes it’s awesome being here, and other times it’s hard. Today, I’m just having one of those moments where it’s kind of hard.
I miss my Dad. After 14 years, I still think about him every single day of my life, and I still feel an empty space in my heart that used to belong to him. I miss his voice mail messages saying “Trea, it’s your favourite father. Call me so I know you’re not dead in a ditch somewhere.” I miss his chicken noodle soup whenever I’ve got a cold (and I think I’m coming down with one now, dammit). It was just the Lipton’s dry packets, but he knew exactly how much of the flavour cube to put in to make it taste just right (cuz the full thing was way too much) , and the exact time to take it off the stove so the noodles were the perfect level of doneness. I miss him playing guitar and singing. I miss his twisted sense of humour and his willingness to be silly once in a while, just for the sake of amusing me (and himself). I miss debating and arguing with him (cuz we almost never agreed on anything), and sometimes I even miss fighting with him. At least, when we were fighting, he was still alive, you know? Bottom line is, I miss him like crazy and I hate the month of June because first we have Father’s Day, and then there’s his birthday on June 25th. It’s a double-whammy month for me, and being away from home hasn’t really done much to take the edge off of it. 😦
Anyway, this is just me being all emo… A girl’s gotta play to her strengths after all. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and dads-to-be out there! And to all the girls who are lucky enough to still have their dads in their lives… cherish that fact, because one day you won’t, and you may find yourself missing him so much that even the things about him that currently make you want to throttle him don’t seem so bad after all.
I think I’ll make myself kinda scarce on Facebook for the next 24 hours, listen to a whole bunch of K-pop and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist… Catch you on the flip side…
With a little less than 5 hours left in 2013 for me, I feel the need to reflect for a moment or two.
This has been an interesting year. The first half was uncomfortable for me. I felt isolated a lot, both at home and at work. Ahh… work… yeah… Work made me really unhappy a lot of the time. Not as unhappy as my first year managing the training team, cuz that was disastrously stressful, but it definitely wasn’t making me feel fulfilled. Or useful. And I think that feeling seeped into my non-work life as well.
Fortunately, I have some good friends near and far (especially my KDKP fam) who helped prop me up when I needed some extra TLC. And I had Kpop. Roll your eyes if you want. Shake your head and judge me as a weirdo and crazy fangirl if you need to, but the truth is, Kpop is my happy place, and has been for a few years now. It’s my escape from all manner of stressful emotions: whether I feel sad, angry, frustrated, worthless, overwhelmed… whatever negative emotion I feel, if I immerse myself in Kpop for a while, that feeling dissipates. I don’t know why it works that way for me, but I’m not gonna question it.
Kpop also played a part in my decision to quit my job and move to Korea to teach English. It wasn’t the REASON I came to Korea to teach – my interest in Korean culture goes beyond pop culture, and my desire to teach English overseas goes back many years – but the idea that living in Korea could mean more opportunities to see Kpop shows, and specifically to see JYJ live in their own country, gave me the courage to cast aside my fear of rejection and ignore the large part of my brain that kept screaming “No, you don’t like change! Change is scary! Change is bad! Don’t do that!!!”
So, despite 2013’s rocky first half, today I sit here on New Year’s Eve happier and more content than I’ve been on any NYE in recent memory. I love my job to the point that I didn’t mind working until 4:40 today, because it meant hanging out with my rural school students watching Star Wars, decorating cupcakes to look like Princess Leia, having battles with lightsabres made of animal balloons and laughing my butt off on more than one occasion. I’m going on about 4 hours of sleep, because yesterday, I booked it to the bus terminal after school, hopped on a bus to Seoul, met my friend at the subway and headed to Jamsil Sports Complex to see Junsu (yes, JUNSU!!!) in concert. Afterward, we stayed up talking until way too late, then I woke up a good 2 hours before sunrise, hopped on the subway, headed to the bus terminal, then got on a bus back home to Chungju so I could get washed up and ready for my afternoon at school running English Camp. Yet, despite being tired, I’m happy. And I’m going to head upstairs to one of the other English teacher’s apartments where a bunch of us are going to enjoy a Mexican themed evening filled with games, yummy food, sangria, and, I’m sure lots and lots of laughs. Yeah, not a bad way to welcome in 2014. 🙂
Happy New Year, everyone! If 2013 was good to you, I hope that trend continues. If it’s a year you’re happy to see the end of, I hope 2014 is much more to your liking.
I didn’t expect to love teaching as much as I do. I mean, I’ve been doing training for a while and I love the teaching part, but I didn’t expect to love the kids as much as I do. I’ve never been big on large groups of kids together… they tend to get really, REALLY noisy. And my students certainly can bring the noise, but somehow, I kinda tune it out. (I’ve had people tell me that as parents they develop that skill, otherwise they go kinda batty. I guess the same goes for teachers.)
Anyway, I teach some of the cutest and most awesome kids on the planet. Seriously. On my first day at my main school one of the grade 4 boys gave me a packet of vitamin C drink you add to your bottle of water. I don’t even teach grade 4, but I got a present. And speaking of the grade 4 kids, we had a holiday on Oct 3, and my friends and I were walking toward downtown Chungju when we met up with a group of young girls who all giggled and said “Hello” in English. Then just after we passed I heard “Trea saem?” (saem is short for seonsaengnim – teacher) in an excited tone, so I turned. Sure enough, the group was a bunch of the grade 4 girls who know me from seeing me around the school or in the office next to the classroom when my co-teacher is teaching them. I lifted up my sunglasses and when the girls saw my face they all squeed and ran toward me to give me a huge hug. It was ridiculously cute. Then, to top it all off, the the following week, when I saw them at school, they all excitedly ran up to me and told me that they saw me walking to Shinae and asked did I remember that? They squeed again when I said I did. Adorable!
And along the lines of gifts, I got an apple from a grade 1 student at my 2nd school back in September:
Apple received as a present on Sep 12, 2013
And this week, a couple of girls in one of my grade 3 classes came up at the end of class and handed me these:
Origami from grade 3 students on Nov 4, 2013
My students are so giving! And amazingly honest. I’ve given out markers and crayons and glue for use and always get all of it back. I mean even to the point that if one marker gets left behind in class, they will come up to the English room and bring it to me. Or, as much as they all go completely batty for stickers, I can leave my pack of stickers in their classroom and someone will bring it back to me, completely unscathed. I love that about them.
Anyway, there are a million reasons why I love my students, but this post is getting long, so I’m going to have to tell you about some of the other reasons in another post. It’s time to head home for the day.
Okay, okay. I know I promised I’d blog regularly about my experiences in Korea, and here I am a month and a half into my time here and only writing my first one. I promise I will try to change my lazy ways and blog more frequently from here on out.
Right now, I’m sitting in the English classroom at my main school. This is the view from my desk.
I’m an English Teacher at 2 different elementary schools. One in Chungju, a city in the middle of South Korea, with a population of about 200,000 people (and where I currently live) and the other is in a rural school about a 40 minute drive away. I’m lucky in that my classes at the main school average about 22 students per class. We were told it’s not uncommon to have 30-40 kids in a public school class, so 22 is awesome! In my main school, I teach grades 3 and 5. At my rural school there’s a total of 30 kids from grades 1-6, and I teach all grades. My largest class there is 8 kids (my grade sixes, whom I love – they’re seriously some of the most awesome and fun kids I’ve ever met) and my smallest classes have 4 kids.
I’m really happy with both of my schools. I know some people who have some really tough classes, but most of my kids are pretty good. Sometimes I want to throttle a few of the students in my 3-3 class, but even the naughty ones usually settle down when the threat of not being able to play the planned game or losing a class sticker is looming.
As for my living situation here in Chungju, it’s actually pretty cool. My apartment is nothing special, it’s basically a bachelor unit. I’ll try to do a video tour at some point soon and post it. But what is cool is that I live in a building with a bunch of other EPIK teachers, so I’m now neighbours with some of the people I met at Orientation. Plus there’s a bunch of other teachers who were already here (both EPIK and hagwon (private school) teachers) and they’ve even got a Facebook group, so when you have questions like ‘Um, how do I work the washing machine, everything is in Korean?’ There’s a place to turn to for help. It also means that when I want to go out for dinner, I can usually find someone to go out with. Overall, I’m liking my current situation. Now if I could only find a weekend where I don’t have plans in another city so I can actually explore my own city, that would be nice… 😉
[NOTE: This post is of a personal nature and has nothing to do with Kpop whatsoever. Please feel free to scroll right on by…]
Thirteen years feels both like a lifetime and a moment…
I spent most of my day today being busy. My sister, BiL, nephew and I joined my mom at church. (Me in church and lighting didn’t strike!!! Miracles do happen.) After church, we all went for breakfast and then went back to my sis’ place for a while. When I drove my mom home, I went in for a bit and played tech guru with her iPhone and iTunes, and then we watched Princess Diaries on TV (silly show, but I get sucked in every time). But now, I’m home and the sadness I was ignoring all day has hit me like a tonne of bricks.
It was around this time of the evening on March 3, 2000 that my dad passed away. (Note: I started writing this shortly after 10pm.) He had been in the hospital all day, after we rushed him there in the morning when he had taken yet another turn for the worse. Just two days before, he was okay. I mean, not healthy by any means, he was in pain and weak and sleeping a lot, but he was alert and speaking with everyone. Then on March 2, he took a turn for the worse, and spent the day going back and forth from being lucid and present to re-living the past in his head. That night, instead of going home, I was going over to my sister’s place, since she lived around the corner, and we planned to return to my parent’s place first thing in the morning. When I went in to say goodbye to my dad, I didn’t expect much of a response, since he had been in his own world most of the evening, but he grabbed my hand and asked how I was getting home at that hour. I said I was going with my sister to her place, and he said that was okay.
My mom ended up calling us early in the morning on March 3, to let us know that Dad had taken another turn for the worse and was not at all lucid, so she had called an ambulance. A couple of my cousins were there with my parents, so my sister and I literally splashed water on our faces, threw on the same clothes we had on the day before and rushed to my mom’s to pick up the others and follow the ambulance to the hospital.
All day long, he lay there on his emergency room stretcher, clearly in pain, having trouble breathing, and not really present at all. The doctor said he would be like that for a while, and then some time within the next 48 hours, he would slip into a coma, from there, at some point, he would pass away. He was working on getting a bed for my dad in the palliative care ward, which finally happened in the late afternoon. After my dad was safely ensconced in his room, and some of my brothers had arrived at the hospital, I left with my best friend to go home to shower, change, and bring some clothes and toiletries with me. My mom and sister did the same, since, based on what the doctor said, we were going to be spending time in the hospital around the clock. We got back in the early evening. My dad’s sisters were all there, as were all of my brothers except one, who went home to pick up his wife and kids. (He lived out of town, and in the end, he didn’t get back in time.)
As the evening grew later, my dad’s breathing grew more laboured. We each took turns standing around his hospital bed, holding his hand and speaking softly to him. He was having more lucid moments that evening than he had earlier in the day, which was comforting. One of those moments occurred during the last time I was standing by the bed speaking to him. I don’t remember what I was saying to him, but I started crying, and he said to me, “Don’t cry.” So I replied, “You know I’ve never been good to listen, Dad,” and he nodded in agreement. I told him I loved him and he said, “I love you too.” Then, because he has 8 sisters who all wanted to spend some time with him, I moved away and sat in a chair against the wall, at the foot of the bed. He didn’t say anything else.
I know this sounds weird, but I knew he was gone the moment it happened, even though I was in that chair and a bunch of people were around the bed, blocking my view. The reason I knew, is because, out of the blue, I heard my dad singing to me, clear as day. He used to sing this George Jones song called “She’s Mine” which was about a father expressing his love for his little girl who had lost her mom:
I loved him singing that song when I was little, but I hadn’t heard it in years, and there it was, in my head as loud and clear as if he was sitting next to me with the guitar singing away. A moment later, someone standing by his bed said, “He’s not responding, call a nurse,” and not even a minute later, a nurse walked in the room to check on my dad, and she told us he was gone.
So, no 48 hours, no coma, just gone. That was probably for the best, rather than having him continue to suffer, but that really didn’t make things any easier. The last words my dad spoke in this world were to me. We fought like cats and dogs, my dad and I, but despite it all, I was Daddy’s little girl. No matter how angry we got with each other, and what words were said in that anger (and we both said some real doosies), I always knew my dad loved me. I was his baby, and nobody on the planet ever loved me as much as he did. I doubt anyone ever will.
Anyway, it’s been thirteen years and I still think of him every single day, and I still miss him to the point that my heart physically aches. I’ve never written an account of that day, and I don’t know why I am doing it here and now, but apparently I needed to. Luckily I don’t have many followers, so I’m not torturing too many people with my emo.
If you’ve read my about page or scanned through earlier posts, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a bit of a JYJ fan. And within JYJ, Junsu is my favourite of the trio. He is the perfect combination of ridiculously adorable, dorky and sexy as all getout. His voice is unequalled, not only within the Korean music industry but worldwide. Seriously, the boy gives me goosebumps when he belts out a tune. He’s also a phenomenal dancer and the ultimate showman. I was fortunate enough to catch his show in New York City on August 30 of this year and he rocked my world from the moment he stepped onto the stage. I still get a fluttery feeling in my tummy when I think about that show. I’m not gonna lie; I was so overwhelmed by the experience, that I found myself unable to contain my tears by the time he sang his final encore song, Fallen Leaves, which he wrote, composed and arranged himself.
Junsu, Jaejoong and Yoochun are all incredibly talented and passionate performers who deserve to be in the spotlight, yet because of an ongoing dispute with their former management company, they are banned from all broadcast stations and have a hard time finding venues in which to hold events. This article in the Asia Sentinel does an excellent job of explaining the situation, so please take a few moments to read it. Perhaps if enough people know about the situation, some sort of solution will be found.
Junsu performed at the 32nd National Para Games opening ceremony, but somehow it didn’t appear on TV as expected. This is such a frustrating thing for his fans and for him, but I have to say that I’m super proud of Junsu, because he handled it with class, grace and dignity.
After working with Junsu on Uncommitted, Bruce “Automatic” Vanderveer tweeted some highly complimentary things about him Bruce “Automatic” Vanderveer has also previously worked with singers such as Christina Aguilera, The Wanted, Leona Lewis and more.
Kim Junsu is bringing his music magic to the Americas and Europe.
On July 16, C-Jes Entertainment revealed Kim Junsu would be touring North America, South America and Europe in a world tour with plans to stop at two or three cities per continent.
The agency shared, “From the beginning we targeted not only Korea but also Asia with Kim Junsu’s solo album and aimed for abroad with the music video. We are in the middle of a successful Asia tour but have continued to receive an outpouring of requests from the Americas and other places abroad and we have thus decided to embark on a world tour.”
The agency also added plans for a new album saying, “With the world tour we are currently preparing a repackaged album. This new album will include an English single targeting the world and its music video will be produced in the U.S…