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Monday, September 19, 2011

Bad News

It was Thursday morning. I had a Skype date with my mom to discuss the final details before she would leave to come to Korea. In the middle of the night I had gotten Skype calls from a close friend but didn't think anything of it and ignored them. I woke up to a Facebook message and email from my mom to call her immediately and a Skype voice mail that I needed to talk to my grandma as soon as possible. I knew it was something bad.

I called my mom's cell phone and she didn't even want to talk; she told me to get on Skype. I keep replaying the conversation over and over in my head.

Me: What's wrong? Is it dad? [already tearing up]
Mom: Yes.
Me: Did he have a heart attack?
Mom: Yes.... Heather, he died. 

It would be bad news for anyone, but I feel like it was intensified since I'm so far away. I felt guilty for not calling him since we had last talked ten days before. Most of all, I felt helpless. My grandma and I were the closest people to him and I couldn't be there for her. We couldn't be there for each other. I started to feel guilty for coming to Korea in the first place. But I know in my heart that my dad was proud of me for following my dreams. For traveling. He was always 100% supportive of everything I did - even though I didn't go to school to be a real estate attorney like he wanted me to.

The first decision I had to make was whether or not to continue with my travel plans. In two days I was scheduled to leave for China with my mom. I asked myself, "Would dad want me to go?" The answer is yes. He knew how excited I was. The trip had been planned for eight months. Now at first he couldn't understand why I wanted to go "see those communists" but was excited for me nonetheless.

So my mom did come to Korea and we did go to China. I'll be heading home (to USA) with my mom the same day she was scheduled to head home. My boss was really nice to let me go home for a week, although his compassion was a bit lost in translation.

 I called him and asked him to meet me at school to talk. I told him what happened and had silent tears streaming down my cheeks. His way of comforting me was saying, "Heather! Calm down!" and "Don't cry." I'm sure he meant well.

It's hard to accept that it was "his time" and "everything happens for a reason." My mom was really comforting but in a matter of fact tone she told me bluntly, "You have to get used to people dying." Making jokes and being a little cynical helped me push through my seven stages of grief. Being away has really helped me stay strong and accept the situation quicker. All of my friends and family in Korea and at home have been super supportive and have graciously offered their condolences. It's good to know I have support near and far.

It was probably one of the worst days I'll ever have but I got through it. With my daddy forever by my side, I know I can get through anything.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Curse of a Bad Day

I woke up to some bad news... No problem. Thought I needed some fresh air so I decided to head to the bus terminal to buy ticket to go to the airport to pick up my mom on Friday. (It's a holiday weekend so everyone and their cousin will be taking the bus.) I have "Baby got Back," stuck in my head. (This will come into play later in the story.)

I'm scooting scooting scooting and then my scooter dies. Again. (Ironically while going to the same place it died on me the first time.) Not. Happy. So I call my scooter guy (then his English-speaking friend calls me back) and get things arranged for my scooter to be picked up... Still not happy.

Not the end of the world though. I get my bus ticket and pick up a few groceries. I was running out of time to get ready for work so I took a taxi home. That was $8 more than the $ZERO I was planning on spending on transportation for the day. Since my scooter's broken that also means I can't make it to Hot Yoga. Again, not happy.

Once two or three things go wrong in your day (before you even start work) it seems like nothing else can go right either. Next was traffic. Since Koreans like to choose the most congested time of the day to do road construction, it took extra long to get home (and more money...) But guess what song came on the radio... "Baby got back..." Korean taxis occasionally have the most random music playing. Like the time Macarena came on (and the driver even danced with us!)

I make it to my building and my shopping bag decided to get a hole, letting my new bottle of wine fall out and shatter. I really needed that wine now (after work) because Korea needs Ritalin.

Oh well, what can you do... Hopefully tomorrow is a better day. If not, I have a wonderful vacation to look forward to and most of all, seeing my favorite person in the world! (Can you tell I'm a little excited to see my mom?!?!)

The End. I have an extra bottle of wine to tend to ;)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Curse words in class

In America, if a student uses foul language during class, that student would... well I don't know what would happen. But in my class, well... all I can really do is take points away from them and tell their Korean teacher to call their mother. (Wooo... scary... Actually, it probably is pretty scary. Korean mothers are vicious. No offense to any Korean mothers who might read this.)

Anyways, yesterday I had my back turned to the class (my most obnoxious, terrible group of adolescent sixth graders) and a word we were studying urged me to sing a little diddy and I hear "Shebal." "Shebal," my friends, is the worst curse word in the Korean vocabulary. Equivalent to... you know what... I can't even post it on the World Wide Web. (It rhymes with Buck Dew.) So my eyes quickly dart around the room angrily as students ask, "What, teacher?" I asked who said the bad word and one angry student fessed up to it. Pretty sure I was more angry though. (A little background... I have two girls in this class who don't respect me and have no clue how to combat the issue...)

First I ask how many points you lose for bad language. (Of course none of the students have an answer... So I ask a Korean teacher. The students accumulate points to buy things at Market Day.) I then take 20 points away from her ($2), and tell her to leave the classroom. After I finished teaching my lesson I went into the office where her Korean teacher was lecturing her. Then it was my turn. I told her, "If you say bad words in my class, at least say them in English. If you had said "F-you," it would only be minus five points." And her homework was to write me a letter of apology.

This was my letter (verbatim):


You come before 
           John and me fighting so Choi (the head teacher) give sb a good scolding and I'm so angry and I'm sad. but Jhon is keep laugh and get funny with Andy I see I'm so angry. becase I say "시 발" (F-you in Korean) bad language I'm sorry.
           but John is keep make me angry I'm go outside He is close the door. I speak bad language. I'm sorry.

I gave her some candy and told her to learn English curse words on the internet.