Sunday, December 30, 2007

Barbie Pees on Jesus

At some point during the holidays, I turned into one of those obnoxious drunken foreigners that are apparently an embarrassment to the more productive foreigners. Now, I could feel badly about this and resolve to spend my 2008 being a more productive foreigner. Or, I could say Fuck That Noise and live it up. Given that I'm somebody who honestly hasn't had a lot of fun in her life, I think that I'm going to go for the latter. I recently told a friend of mine that I was currently having the most fun that I've ever had. His response was that he wasn't sure if he should feel happy or sad for me. In this case, I much prefer the former. There is little use in being depressed about events that have long since passed when I can be having the time of my life right now. This being my current disposition, it goes a long way to explaining why I've been acting like a college student lately. While I've certainly done some regrettable things and met some people I'd rather forget in the last couple of months, I've made a few fantastic friends along the way. Without them, Christmas Day 2007 wouldn't have been the Spectacular Random Show that it was.

Christmas morning didn't quite happen, as I slept happily on my friend, The Aussie Madam's, floor-mat until about 2 in the afternoon. Christmas "breakfast" consisted of fried eggs and toast. Aussie Madam is a much better host than I am, as there is no way that I would have gotten out of bed to cook had she been in Busan with me. She gets an A for effort. The original plan had been to meet another friend of ours, The Hoover, downtown for some afternoon shopping. We forwent shopping in favour of not getting off of our asses until 5 and then grabbing dinner at this cute little Italian restaurant, Italy Italy. It was here that our evening of spectacular randomness began.

While waiting for a table at Italy Italy, The Aussie Madam noticed a coworker of hers waiting ahead of us. Alone. On Christmas. In Korea. The Aussie Madam quickly noticed the level of suck in this situation and invited her coworker to join us. The coworker accepted her offer, if only because it meant that she'd get a table sooner than if she were to eat alone. Given the great warmth of the reception we received from her, I suspect that was actually the sole reason. As it turns out, The Aussie Madam's coworker is apparently not a huge fan of people, The Aussie Madam especially. After attempting to make polite small talk with the coworker, it quickly dawned on me that this girl sucked. She sucked hard. Throughout the meal The Girl Who Sucked was curt, dismissive, spent most of her time texting people on her phone, and made absolutely no effort whatsoever to involve herself in the conversation or get to know us. The Girl Who Sucked was so bloody Bah Hambug that when she finally got up to go to the bathroom, the three of us stared at each other in stunned silence for a few moments. After taking moment to collect her thoughts, The Hoover spoke first. "Is she angry or something?" My response: "Dude, that chick sucks!" We quickly come to agreement that The Girl Who Sucked sucked so hard that it was shocking that her mother hadn't spontaneously aborted her as a fetus. Thankfully, The Girl Who Sucked finished her meal very quickly and took her miserable ass elsewhere. Roughly half an hour after The Girl Who Sucked's departure, The Aussie Madam received the following text message from her: Thank your friends for the crudest dinner conversation that I've ever had. Bah Fucking Humbug, eh?

The Hoover felt that Christmas wasn't Christmas without a religious experience. We collected our other friend, SGTF (She's Got The Fever) and made our way to the closest church. The "church" looked more or less like a kimbap restaurant with a cross on the wall and a picture with Jesus and Friends on the door. The Hoover decided that instead of going in, she'd just have a photo op in front of the building. Me being the dirty little attention whore that I am decided that I wanted in on this action too. Naturally, I put a leg in the air over the photo of Jesus and friends and posed for a shot. As I was holding this pose, which SGTF suggested looked somewhat like I was pissing on Jesus, a couple of men from the church walked passed us. I temporarily feared a verbal lashing in response to the graphic disrespect that I was showing their church. I had clearly forgotten that I was in Korea. As opposed to questioning what we were doing or looking alarmed, the men remarked: "so beautiful!" That's right, folks. Pissing on Jesus is a beautiful thing. Only in Korea Land.

Sometime after this I encouraged the girls to go out drinking. Again. As a result, I missed the last train back to Busan. When I arrived at the train station at 3am they advised me that the next train left at 6am. I considered my options and decided that instead of getting a hotel room that I'd hit up a PC Bang (internet cafe) for a couple of hours. In that PC Bang around 4:30am, I finally let go and did what I had wanted to do for the last couple of days: I cried. I cried, half a world away from the place that I'm supposed to belong; a place that I never felt I belonged in the first place.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Barbie Steals Free Hugs

My Christmas Even 2007 "celebrations" are best appreciated if you keep in mind that it's been a rather lonely few days. That's not to say that Barbie has any reason to be lonely, exactly. I am constantly surrounded by people here; whether I like it or not. When I need people to go drink with, I can find people to drink with. When I need to grab a meal, I can find somebody who will get some grub with me. If I need a lay, I could probably find that too. When I want everybody to fuck off and die, I go to the only place that I don't find people: my apartment. No, I'm not lacking in things or people to do. I'm just overwhelmed by the sense that nothing that really matters to me is here. Miss Independence is fully getting her pout-on over having missed Christmas with her family and friends. The result of this was that I felt compelled to keep myself busy doing crazy shit in the vain hope that I could distract myself for long enough to make it through the holidays without tears.

To start off, the plans that I had made to have Christmas in Busan appeared to be falling through in a serious way. A friend of mine in Busan, whom I shall refer to as The Golden Drunk, wasn't able to promise her attendance at the event. As I faced the prospect of getting ditched on Christmas in Busan, I hopped on the first train to Daegu after work on Christmas Eve. The plan was to meet up with a few friends in Daegu, get drunk off my ass, and try to keep the holiday blues away by keeping things Random and Ridiculous. There was no solid plan on when exactly I would leave Daegu or where the Hell I would stay when there; merely the obligation to be in Busan in time for my 3:50pm class on Boxing Day. No good could possibly come of this.

I'll spare you 37 detailed paragraphs on Tuesday night, if only because Christmas Eve 2007 will never be anything more than a ridiculous blur to me. I absolutely drank my face off. Somehow. I don't remember there be any more than 8 drinks, so I'm confused as to how this happened. But it happened. Some of the things that may or may have not actually occurred would include:

1) Nobody seemed to be able to verify that the subway station would be open the next day. Forgetting for a moment that Korea totally hates Jesus, I humoured the ridiculous possibility that perhaps the subway would close on Christmas. The result was that for the entire night I had to carry around a fucking portable computer bag which contained clean underwear, toothpaste, and other personal essentials. Awesome.

2) There was an Ugly Sweater Contest going on at some bar that we weren't actually at. Upon learning this, for some reason I got really excited at the prospect of ugly sweaters and began insisting that we hop bars in search of them. My goal was to obtain one of these ugly sweaters. The idea was to get one without having to sleep with anybody for it, but somehow nobody really believed me.

3) A friend of somebody whom I used to work with happens to be in Daegu. I ran into him as the first bar after randomly hearing somebody call out "Peterborough!" as I walked by his table. So, my Christmas wasn't entirely lacking in The Peterborough. This makes for the second Peterborough-ite that I've stumbled across in Daegu. Apparently Peterborough blows so hard that we end up on the other side of the world.

4) Somehow we ended up hopping to a third bar. I'm not sure what prompted this, or how we got there. I certainly don't remember there being any ugly sweaters there to lure me. All I know is that there are random photos taken in between bars of me putting my legs in the air and mounting things, and there are photos of my friends touching random cars and looking like they're ready for a little anal action. It's an absolute mystery to me how any of this happened. I merely know that I should not be allowed outdoors without my brain on, because these things seem to happen.

5) A friend of mine in Daegu, whom I shall refer to as Free Hugger, decided there was no time like the present at Old School for the group of us to do a round of tequila shots. Normally, I am the Fucking Tequila Queen. Tequila and Frat Boys are one in the same to me: I have infinite amounts of fun with both and can't seem to keep off of either, but neither is a particularly fantastic idea. This time was no different. That tequila hit me like a rock and I had the spins for the next 20 minutes. The result of this was that we had to spend those 20 minutes hanging out with these guys who completely, and totally sucked. They sucked so hard that Free Hugger felt the need to text me from across the table with: "dude, these guys suck!!!" Thanks for the memo, Free Hugger. I totally hadn't noticed.

When it finally comes time that I feel I can get up without immediately falling over, I begin gathering my belongings and explain that we can leave now. Free Hugger explains that it actually might be best if we chill for another 5 minutes or so, because he just threw up in the bathroom and needs a moment. Naturally, I then laugh in his face, as this totally makes me feel like less of a drunk asshole for having kept them at the bar with The Guys That Suck. Free Hugger manages to redeem himself a few minutes later by getting rid of The Guys That Suck. Of course,I get an assist here, since Free Hugger used me and my drunken stupor as our excuse for why we couldn't hop to the next bar with them.

6) I've determined that I need to be kept far, far away from phones when I'm drinking. When I first started drinking in Korea, I would regularly make drunk calls home from public pay phones. This never turned out well. Now that I have a cell phone, I apparently think that it's totally okay to text in search of inappropriate activities at ungodly times in the morning. In other words, I apparently thought that Christmas Eve was a really good time to try to work out a booty call. Note to self: when drunk, hide the cell phone. Or don't. While my idiocy is occasionally embarrassing, I'm told that other people find it greatly entertaining.

7) We decided to conclude the evening by eating at some Korean Restaurant that my friend, whom shall be referred to as SGTF (She's Got The Fever), seems to drag me to every time that I drink with her. Frankly, I prefer McDonald's drunk. The things that I do for other people. Tsk. Regardless, on the way to said restaurant, SGTF finds a sign in the middle of the road that reads: "Free Hugs!" You see, for some reason which is completely beyond me, random Koreans like to sometimes go out in public with these signs. Probably because they don't touch each other nearly enough. My response to being advised of this was to pick it up, proudly wave it around, and carry it to the restaurant with us. I would have happily carried it all the way back to Busan, but Free Hugger seemed really keen on bringing it to his Christmas Day party. It being Christmas and all, and my being so fucking fantastic, I decide to let him have it.

And that? More or less concludes Christmas Eve 2007. Totally unfortunate, I know.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Big White Barbie Declares Korea Broken

This just in: Korea is broken. Totally. Fucking. Broken. So, incredibly broken, that I'm not even sure where one begins to explain it. The mind numbs just thinking about it. It appears that I've officially hit That Stage, whereby I feel that I've earned the right to take an obnoxiously negative and culturally ignorant Time Out. After more than two months of dripping in respectful commentary I'm long overdue for a long winded Korean-hating diatribe, if for no other reason than to make other foreigners embarrassed to be associated with me. Not that they shouldn't already be, but there seems to be some gross misconception here that I'm Some Kind of Wonderful. As my friend's back in The Real World are fully aware, this couldn't be further from the truth. Korea's manner of grossly overrating me is perhaps the only thing that it has going for it. That and my paychecks. And possibly the never ending flow of booze.

Now, before we decide to be huffy and get our panties in a twist over the cultural ignorance that is to come, let it be clear that I happen to think Canada is broken too. I've been bitching about how broken Canada is for the past 25 years. I'm tired of Broken Canada. That's why I came to Korea; I ran out of things to bitch about back home. So, without further ado, here are just a couple of reasons that Korean is fucking broken:

1) Koreans are socially retarded. I don't mean this in the sense that I'm socially retarded. They fail to pull off the Drunken Uncle Without Male Qualities character quite like I do. They skip Drunk Uncle and go straight to Are You Fucking Kidding Me?

To start, Koreans generally meet other people by being introduced via a third party. The Western Way of simply wandering around a bar and talking to complete strangers until you pick one to go home with is simply not done by Proper Koreans. Only Pregnant Foreign Sluts engage in such inappropriate behaviour. And the Japanese, of course. The result is that unless they've been introduced to you, you don't exist to a Korean. The only people that exist are those whom they've been introduced to. Hence, there is no need to be polite to 99% of the population. You can't be polite to people that aren't there! That's crazy talk. Hence, people jump ahead of you in line at the supermarket, shove passed you to get on the subway, and walk right into you when there is nobody else in the room. They're not being rude! You're just not there. Got it?

2) Despite their overwhelming desire to be one, many Koreans hate white people. The Hate-On is so strong that they fail to see the irony in it and appreciate this as the massive inferiority complex that it is. If anybody is equipped to recognize a national inferiority complex, it's a Canadian.

Everywhere you turn in Busan, there is a cosmetic surgery advertisement. For some inexplicable reason, Koreans hate looking Korean. Their ideal is to sport a "high nose", "small face", and a double-eyelid. In other words, their ideal is to have Caucasian features. Being held to such an impossible ideal is grossly unfortunate. Koreans that aren't putting their paychecks on the table to go under the knife in search of a Caucasian identity are no less attractive than those that do. Just don't tell them that! They won't believe you. I've tried.

Everywhere you turn in Busan that there isn't a cosmetic surgery advertisement, there is a little reminder of Uncle Sam. McDonald's, Burger King, Dunkin' Donuts, Hollywood, random MLB signs in shop windows, Coca Cola; Korea is almost the Canada of Asia in this regard. Almost. There is still a distinct Korean identity, which Canadians lack.

What results is that in spite of being held to a Euro-centric beauty ideal, in spite of the abundance of American imports, Koreans are primed from birth to believe that Koreans are the Best People on Earth. Absolutely no other nationality compares to the awesomeness of being Korean. The social hierarchy works something like this: Koreans, other Asians, animals, foreigners. Hence, Koreans pay Random Whitey's a relatively handsome wage to attend their school and Be White. A Random White Face at a private academy is gold to the school's director. Yet, because you're a foreigner, few people actually respect you. You're below chihuahuas on the social hierarchy. It doesn't matter that they want a nose like yours, watch American movies, and just had a dose of McDonald's for lunch. It doesn't matter that you're the native English speaker; the Korean teachers taught them English the correct way, damnit! They're not going to "change-y" it just because some foreigner thinks they know more about pronouncing the English Language than they do. Your place in this society will never be higher than rock bottom. At the end of the day, you will always be the Pregnant, AIDS Ridden, Dirty Foreigner Slut.

Rock on.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Barbie Tells The Boss Man What's What

Wednesday, December 19 is election day in Korea. What this means is that the annoying election vans that go up and down all the main streets, blaring really awful music and probably some useless slogans, will finally go back to the scrap metal heap where they belong. What it also means is that Barbie gets the day off. At least, that's what it's supposed to mean. Election Day is a National Holiday. I read my contract quite thoroughly and insisted that my school add certain details to it prior to my agreeing to sign it. Among these was a guarantee that I would not have to work national holidays. Of course, I don't have to work these anyways, but it's a Hell of a lot easier to deal with your boss when you get what you're legally entitled to written into your contact. As you can imagine, when I found out last week that the school would be open on Election Day and I was to treat this as a regular work day (read: no overtime, no "thanks for coming out!"), I was less than amused. Something had to be give, and it sure as Heck wasn't going to be me. Barbie's not much of a giver. Not! A! Giver!

I decided that the best approach was to wait until two days prior to Election Day to bring it up. Back in Canada Land, I would never have tried to pull last minute stunt like this. Yet here in Korea Land, everything happens at the last minute. Had I approached him a moment earlier, he would have forgotten by the time Election Day actually rolled around. Then, 27 phone calls later, I would have spent the entirety Election Day having the same discussion with him.

I intended to press the issue that I had been sick and needed the day off anyways, yet I was sure to carefully highlight the valid points of my contract prior approaching The Boss Man. Wisely done, as The Boss Man's response to my needing a day off was to babble about the school calender and how taking Election Day off meant reducing our already dismal Christmas holidays by another day. I politely pulled out my contract at this point and explained that while I understand the necessity of following the school calender, that I agreed to come to Hagwon Hell on the premise that I would have National Holidays off work and one week of winter vacation. The Boss Man takes the contract from Barbie and gazes at it in confusion, before grabbing his cell phone and disappearing for a while. I was grossly confused as to what was going on with him and moderately irritated, but I had brats to attend to for the next couple of hours, so I brushed the thoughts aside and made my way to Brat Haven to be fill my role as Big White Barbie.

The Boss Man apparently spent a good deal of time on the phone with other schools in the Hagwon Hell franchise, looking for advice on how to convince the silly Barbie that she does not, in fact, get all National Holidays after work. He was totally just kidding about that whole contract thing! Made you look!

Now, The Boss Man speaks limited English, so he decides that the best means of negotiation is to have one of the least fluent Korean teachers translate for us. Brilliant. The Boss Man starts off by explaining that foreigners at other branches of Hawgon Hell will also have to work election. I tell the Korean teacher to tell The Boss Man that other foreigners have a tendency to either not know what they are entitled to, or to be afraid to ask for it. I know what I'm entitled to and am not afraid to ask for it. The Korean teacher and The Boss Man ramble at each other for a while. Next, The Boss Man explains that Election Day is a "special holiday" that doesn't really count as a "National Holiday" like in the contract. Here, he's clearing insulting my intelligence. Never a good tactic.

I have many character flaws: I'm stubborn as fuck, I regularly say inappropriate things at the worst possible time, I lack tact, my fondness of black comedy has demented my sense of humour, I frequently overlook the obvious, I do everything at the last minute, and I bury my tragic insecurities with a guise of conceit. All that said, I'm relatively easy going. I can take good natured ripping; in fact, you're not really my friend unless you mock me from time to time. Yet, seriously insulting my intelligence is just a major, major no-no. So, when The Boss Man treated me as if I had no idea what I was talking about, as if I hadn't done hours of research on this garbage prior to even coming here, he was in for a real treat. Not only did Big White Barbie know how to read, but she had discovered the internet! And she wasn't afraid to stick up for herself! A dangerous, dangerous combination.

I tell the Korean teacher to tell The Boss Man that I am perfectly aware of what Election Day is and that it most certainly is a National Holiday. At this point I offer to gather some resources for them in Korean if that would help. The two of them blabber at each other for a moment and The Boss Man says that would be nice. So, I tell The Boss Man that I know where the Ministry of Labour is in Busan and that I can go there the next day. The Boss Man and Other Dude start speaking to each other a little more frantically at this point.

Conclusion? Barbie gets Election Day off. And The Boss Man giggles on his way out the door and kindly asks Barbie to never, ever go to the labour board.

Now, I am torn here. Should I be proud that I stood up for myself, or was this profoundly stupid? I more or less put all my eggs in on basket when I pulled the Ministry of Labour Card. Either I was going to get whatever the heck I wanted, or it was going to get really ugly. Given my financial standing at the moment, I can't afford to go home if things get ugly. I also can't imagine allowing my employer to walk all over me for the next 9 1/2 months. If I don't show some spine now, I'm going to get screwed later on because they'll assume that I'm just a Stupid Foreigner Who Knows Nothing. So, I pulled out all of the stops. And still got a ride home from work from The Boss Man that night.

Big White Barbie: 1
The Boss Man: 0

Barbie rarely picks a battle which she can't win.

Stay tuned for the rematch.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Barbie, Pay Phones and Soju Date Man

Prior to the stupidity that was my accidentally deleting the original Barbie Blog, I had posted a lengthy note which detailed a particular encounter with a drunken Korean. Here I will revisit said encounter with Soju Date Man, and comment on similar other events.

On Saturday, I finally purchased a cell phone. Up until this point I've either used a pay phone or leeched off a friend who had already joined the rest of you in the new millennium by getting a phone. During my first few weeks here, this resulted in many a drunken-call-home to my not-so-lucky friends back in the The Patch. They were forewarned prior to my departure that the drunken-calls-home were definitely going to happen. Whether or not they were actually prepared for the ridiculous blather that was spewed from my drunken sailor mouth in the middle of their afternoon is debatable.

My encounter Soju Date Man by the phone booth occurred during a drunken-call-home that may have gone something like this:

Rebecca: Hey! It's totally me! So, like, how is stuff?!
The Unfortunate Friend: Err, hi? Rebecca? Stuff is...what the Hell time is it?
Rebecca: Oh, uh, hang on, I'll check my phone. I totally brought my phone from Canada and it fully doesn't work, but it totally tells me the time and stuff! Woo! Oh, look! A whitey in a phone booth! Quick! Everybody stare! Uh, sorry. You see, sometimes people look at me here. Something about being white. Or something. You know...
The Unfortunate Friend: Rebecca, is must be almost 4am. Go to bed!
Rebecca: Actually, it's 5am. Get your timezones right, fucko. This is Korea! 5am is early goings! You have no idea, my Friend. Oh, look. More people looking at me! Woo! Random whitey in the phone booth! Call me!
The Unfortunate Friend: Um. Okay. So... how is stuff?
Rebecca: Stuff is fucking fantastic. I made friends tonight! I think. You see, the thing about making friends here is that nothing that happens in Korea actually counts. Everything I do is just to fill a void of time, before I come home. You know? Hang on, some random Korean wants to use the phone.
The Unfortunate Friend: If you say so, Becca...
Rebecca: Dude, what the Hell. He doesn't want the phone at all. I tried to ask if that was the deal, yo, and he spat out 'Soju Date?' in response. No, I don't want to go on a Soju Date with you. Honestly. Why do these people think that I want to talk to them when I'm on a pay phone? Do I look Russian?
The Unfortunate Friend: Maybe you should go home... you can always call me back later, you know.
Rebecca: No! I will not submiss to the sexual harassment of drunken Koreans by changing my daily routine! This is my neighborhood and I'm going to use the pay phone when I please! Uh... what the Hell? This guy is totally getting into the pay phone with me. This isn't a fucking restaurant where you can sit at my table! Okay, I'll call you back in 10 minutes. Don't worry, I've got this shit under control.
The Unfortunate Friend: Okay then.

True story. Some random drunken Korean got into the phone booth with me and tried to strike up conversation, while I was on the phone to Canada. Needless to say, he went home alone. And by home, I mean a piss infested alleyway where he hopefully choked on his vomit shortly after passing out. Of course, this would have been well after he followed me up the street, continually tried to grab my arm, and refused to understand that "Fuck off and die" does not mean "Yes, I totally want your babies! My apartment is this way!!!"

Had I been at home, I would have gladly ensured there would be no babies coming from this fellow. Ever. Of course, this probably wouldn't happen at home. If I was being blatantly sexually harassed by some drunk idiot in The Patch, there wouldn't be at least 10 other drunken men also in the vicinity whom would stand back and watch in silent amusement. At least one other drunken idiot would have jumped in and tried to Save The Day. Then the drunken idiots would have boxed it out until they eventually passed out in each other's vomit, as I made my way home without further issue. Ah, home. How I occasionally miss you so. Only occasionally.

I wish that I could say that this was an isolated incident. It was the first time somebody either tried to join me in the phone booth as I was using the phone or otherwise interrupted me, but it wasn't the last. It's absolutely mind numbing how in the Hell people like that happen, but it almost makes sense when you consider the following: 1) Koreans don't have the same understanding of personal space as we do, and 2) foreigners are at the very bottom of Korea's social hierarchy. On one hand, Korean women are getting plastic surgery up the wazoo so that they can look more like you, parents are pumping more money into your hagwon because your white face happens to show up there from time to time, and Americanization is everywhere you turn here. On the other hand, there are students who don't respect you because you're "only" a foreigner, employers that don't take you seriously, and drunken men who will treat you like you're a sex trade worker. The latter refers to my experience as a female, of course, though I've heard various bits of feedback from my male friends about similar disrespectful treatment they've received from some women here.

On the whole, I don't allow the drunken idiots that try to join me in a phone booth to paint my picture of Korea. They're just part of the story. The Good is really good. The Bad is Super Suck. More or less like anywhere else I could be right now.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Big White Barbie Loves Needles

I love needles. There is simply no rush like the rush that comes with having some IV fluids pumped into your system. Prior to Saturday I had no appreciation whatsoever for heroin. Now I desperately want to try it out. Okay, not really. But I did need to go back to the hospital for more antibiotics. That's apparently how they make money here; health care is relatively cheap, but they make you come back every 2-3 days to spend more money. Those wily bastards! When all is said and done I will have spent 150 dollars at the hospital this week. No Christmas presents for you!

I enter the Emergency Room of the hospital sometime late Monday evening. Given that this is where I was last seen and the doctor whom advised me to come back on Monday did not indicate that I was to go elsewhere, it made perfect, logical sense that this is where I would go. Apparently logic does not apply to Mr Korean Doctor Man. Mr Korean Doctor Man, whom I had never seen in my entire life, rolls his eyes at me and explains that when he saw me last that he advised me to go check in as an out patient. Given that his English is poor, and my Korean is even worse, I let go of the fact that he is making absolutely no sense whatsoever. I smile, nod, say that I'm sorry for not knowing any better, then start wincing in pain and telling them that I need drugs noooooow!

The doctor finally moves me over to a cot and explains that they are going to run a bunch of tests on me. You know, exactly like they did two fucking days prior to this. He hasn't yet asked what is wrong with me, though he did take a moment to ask if I was pregnant. Being a foreigner there is at least a 95% chance that I'm knocked up, he figures. I explain that I'm not paying for tests which they already ran, and that he can check my profile if he needs to confirm that The Foreign Slut does not have HIV.

A few moments later I find myself lying on a cot, hooked up to yet another delicious IV. Joyful, joyful! I don't remember my first Korean IV experience taking 45 minutes to drip-out, but this one sure did. At one point, one of the nurses came over and draped a blanket on me. So there I am, lying in a hospital cot in a busy emergency room, IV in hand, eyes starting to waver a little bit. Just when I start to get comfortable enough to nod off, I see an elderly gentlemen walk by, do a double take, then run over to his son/friend/whatever, who happens to be in the bed beside me, and yap about how there is totally a Foreign Slut in the bed to his left! From this point until they finally left the room about 15 minutes later, this man made frequent walk-by-and-stares of my cot, loosely guised as trips to the water machine. Foreign Slut so pretty!!!

After Creepy Staring Man buggered off, I hoped for a few minutes of solitude with my IV bag. As with most things I wish for, it just wasn't meant to be. A moment later one of the nurses whom hadn't been dealing with me comes over to my bed and nervously hands me a slip of paper which says something to the effect of: "Hi! My name is something-or-other! I go to America in soon! You help me?!" I realize that this nurse is asking me to help her learn English. I want her to go away happy, so I smile and say "okay". She's acting like a kid in a candy store at this point, just about jumping up and down with enthusiasm. She nods back and asks "okay?!" I confirm that this is what I said, and she runs back to the nurses station and jumps up and down while telling the other nurse that Barbie totally said yes!

Now, I don't actually have any interest in doing private lessons here. Ignoring the fact that they're illegal anyways, I simply don't have the time. Or I don't want to make the time. My weeks involve sleeping in, work, grabbing dinner/drinks. My weekends involve sleeping in, grabbing drinks, doing something interesting during the day if I'm not hurting too badly, and getting the Hell out of here every couple of weeks. Anything that interrupts my routine is strictly prohibited. That said, I would consider it unwise to slight the women that are responsible for ensuring your immediate health and safety. So the right answer was "okay", regardless of my actual intentions. A few minutes later, both of the nurses are dropping their emails on me as they remove the IV.

An hour after admittance, I leave the hospital in slightly less pain than I was upon entry, with an even slightly bigger ego than before. In case anybody failed to get the memo, I'm sort of A Big Deal.

Barbie Teacher Brings the Lisp to Korea

Anybody who has ever taken the time to actually listen to the words that fly out of my mouth will have noticed that I have a slight lisp. This has always been the case. I received speech therapy for it when I was younger but, like most things with me (college majors, careers, men), it simply didn't stick. I can speak without a lisp, but this would be akin to you intentionally speaking with a lisp at all times. It would be forced. It's not natural, so I don't do it. I stopped having any interest in what I sounded like to other people quite some time ago. There is no known physiological excuse for my lisp. As far as I'm aware, I don't have an enlarged tongue or unfortunate jaw properties. This is just how I happen to roll. Barbie has a lisp, and unlike almost everything else in my life, the lisp sticks.

A few of my friends still get a kick out of hearing me say "physics" or "sixth", words which are like poison to me, but I expect my friends to mock my quirks. You haven't truly been initiated as a Friend of Barbie until you've spotted and mocked The Crazy. Some do this within 5 minutes of meeting me; others never quite make it.

One of my more darling friends brought it to my attention prior to departure for Korea that I was going to create a population of Koreans who speak English with a lisp. I advised them that I would do my best to bastardize the English language while in Korea.

I had more or less forgotten about all of this until today. As one of my obligations for an evening class I am required to go through an activity called "pronunciation clinic". This redundant, yet necessary activity entails that I ensure that the students can recognize the difference between similar sounds. Today we discussed "s" and "z". While my lisp doesn't prevent me from differentiating between "Sue" and "zoo", this activity did require my rhyming off a long list of S-words. I quickly recalled my conversation with friends from home and saw The Funny in this. It's really only a matter of time before I'm going to be sucked into discussing TH-words versus S-words. And that? Is going to be a whole lot of Funny.

All of this said, it's unlikely that my students are going to pick up my lisp-ery pronunciation of the English language. Even if they did, their accents are such that you wouldn't really notice anyways. Hence, my plan to infiltrate Korea with Canadian accents and lisps is half defeated; back to getting my students to use "eh".

Monday, December 10, 2007

Big White Barbie Pees in a Cup

There are two topics which I pointedly don't blog about: my sex life and my health. Were I to blog strictly on the former, there would practically be no blog whatsoever. That is to say, I don't get a lot! And even if I did, it's not really my thing to write home about it. While I may live almost every last detail of my life on the internet, there are some things that have to remain sacred. As for my health, there is rarely anything going on in that regard that inspires me to ramble. The odd time that there is, it's either private or just not particularly interesting. Yet today, I'm about to break tradition and ramble off about one of things.

I woke up Saturday morning with the distinct impression that something was wrong. As a result of the discomfort, I was unable to get my hung over ass back to sleep; not the nicest 9am wakeup call of my life. I realized within about 10 minutes that I had no other option than to go to a hospital that day. There was no way that I was going anywhere for several hours, so I withered around in discomfort and pain for a few hours, as I attempted to sleep my stupor off. This was met with little success, so I finally crawled out of bed and made my way to the hospital.

There was some confusion on my part as to whether or not I could even go straight into a hospital or if I needed to find a special clinic. For all I knew there was a doctor wagon that parked next to the street meet folk. Thankfully, a friend of mine here cleared things up for me quite nicely and explained that no, there is no doctor wagon so, yes, just go to the hospital.

I knew more or less what I had, and after finally being granted a chat with an English speaking doctor, I explained to her my suspicion. Unfortunately, they had to be sure. This resulted in my peeing in a cup, giving blood, and having chest x-rays done. Yes, chest x-rays! I think that they were checking for kidney stones or some blah. All I know is that I had to have them done twice because I left my necklace on and navel ring in the first time. Had the radiologist spoken a lick of English, or I spoken a lick of Korean, this could have been avoided. As it was, they're lucky that I didn't show up to the x-ray room butt-naked. Or unlucky, depending on how you want to look at it.

Now, I was suspicious that they were going through a large number of tests because I was clearly a dirty foreigner, hence I was clearly lying about my condition and actually had a nasty sexually transmitted disease. Because in case you didn't get the memo, all foreigners in South Korea have AIDS. We're here to spread the love! I suppose it's possible that they were also just being thorough, but it only required one test to prove what my issue was. Yet, I accepted my place in the hospital as The Foreign Slut and went through the battery of tests; with little other choice, I figured that I might as well enjoy the tag, in spite of being totally unworthy of it.

The first test was simply a urinary analysis; in other words, it was Pee-in-a-Cup time! One of my favourite sports in university; I was right at home! I Pee-in-a-Cup like a fucking pro. Thankfully I'm very skilled with this, or I might have been put off by the nurse handing me what appeared to be an unsanitized beaker. In Canada I had grown accustomed to urinating in a nice little sanitized cup that had it's own special lid and a label just for me! That's simply not how we roll here, in Korea. Sanitation and labels are for pussies! I took that unsanitized beaker up the hallway to the hospital's public toilet, filled it like a fucking champ, and walked it back down the hallway to hand to whichever lucky random doctor or nurse I ran into first.

After they gave up their vain search to prove that the dirty Foreign Slut had syphilis, the doctor agreed to put me on antibiotics. For some bizarre reason, they like to administer as much as possible via the needle here. Hence, I was put on an IV drip for the first time in my life. After that half hour of pleasure I was given a goody bag of pills to pop, and was on my way.

With that, I successfully survived my first trip to the hospital in Korea. I couldn't fool myself into thinking that it would be my last given that they insisted I return again on Monday so that I could pay them even more of my not-so-hard-earned cash. Round two, coming at you sometime later this week!

And you thought I was going to blog about my sex life. Tsk tsk.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Barbie Scores With the Kimbap Lady

My local kimbap-restaurant lady wants my babies. That or she thinks that I'm a stupid foreigner. It's probably a little bit of both, really. Either way, the free apricots and breast groping guarentee that I come out a winner.

As most of us are, I'm a creature of habit. When I'm comfortable with something, I tend to stick with it. Even if it's fucking awful. I drink terrible beer; it's cheap and I'm used to it. I tend to go to the same PC Room; I like the free "coffee" (this would more aptly be described as chemicals-in-a-cup) and the hospitality that I receive from the people who run the joint. I go to the McDonald's near my school 2-3 times a week for no other reason than the fact that it's right up the street and the lady who works the counter is nice to me. I miss her if too many days pass without a visit! I don't even really like McDonald's anymore. I still sleep with a fucking teddy bear for no better reason than it's the same one I've had since I was 7 and I've yet to find a good reason to break the habit. I'm sorry, but "Rebecca, you're fucking 25" is not good enough reason to break up with Zeddy. We're tight. I occasionally listen to really shitty music because I've become comfortable with hearing it. I know that it's bad, but old-skool Paula Abdul is just so damn catchy! I could continue on this tangent for another hour and lose my remaining two readers, but it's 5am and I need to put up a front that I actually have something better to do right now. I will conclude the tangent by pointing out that this also serves as a sufficient explanation of Rebecca's generally sordid history with men. In my pre-Barbie days I would intentionally run myself head first into Bad Ideas with regularlity, because that's what I was used to. There is comfort in familiarity, painful as it may be. I may rectify this during my days as Big White Barbie; or perhaps I'll just perfect the art. Either way, I digress. This is a topic for another day.

Now, my being a creature of habit naturally results in my regularly dining at the same local kimbap restaurant. I first started eating there as a result of the lady from the bar spotting me a free meal in exchange for my stupidity, as detailed in my Big White Barbie Eats Out post. I have since been going in 4-5 times per week. Each time I go in I seem to know a new Korean word or two, which always results in a giggle or two from the Kimbap Lady. For the first couple of weeks I would always order two rolls of kimbap. Hence, whenever I entered the restaurant she would smile, ramble some blah at me, and say "kimbap?" I've thrown her for a loop lately by going in for dinner and getting some variation of bi bim bap. Her response to this has been to sit with me after setting the bi bim bap platter on the table, so that she can mix it together for me and spoon feed me. You think that I'm kidding, but I'm not. This is how she rolls. I had eaten bi bim bap prior to coming to Korea and really don't need the Kimbap Lady to show me The Bi Bim Bap Ropes, but it seems to make her day to swing with a Big White Barbie, so who am I to crush her soul?

On Tuesday I ordered dol sot bi bim bap, which requires significantly less mixing then bi bim bap without the pretty hot bowl. Hence, there was really no reason for Kimbap Lady to coddle me. So, I spent most of my meal alone. This was nice, but I'm not going to pretend that I don't enjoy the company. As an aside, you know that something is wrong when you're looking to the Kimbap Lady to keep you company. Near the end of the meal, Kimbap Lady randomly comes over and takes a seat across from me. She watches me eat for a minute. I smile and tell her in Korean that it "tastes good!" Then I rub my belly and smile or something, because I'm such an excellent communicator. She continues to watch me and I decide that 1) this is a little weird and 2) if she's going to be sitting there she may as well be serving a greater purpose. I point to a side dish in front of me and say "kimchi". Then I point at one beside it and shrug. Kimbap Lady kindly tells me what it's called, and I repeat the word back. We go through this process for the entire collection of side dishes, after which point Kimbap Lady is Big White Barbi-ed out and goes back to the kitchen. Upon her return to the kitchen, I hear her reiterate the entire conversation that she just had with me to the Other Kimbap Lady. They both giggle. I learned new words and had some company. Everybody wins.

All that and I still haven't hit the good part. I totally got some action from Kimbap Lady! I was walking out the door backwards and waving goodbye after having paid for my meal, when Kimbap Lady took one look at my undone coat and sweater, shook her head and informed me in Korean that "it's cold!" She marched over to me, grabbed my scarf and started wrapping it frantically around my neck. She then tied it into a little bow, as only a Korean would, and patted it down my chest. It was at this point that I realize that doing up my scarf was totally just a cover for her to paw at my breasts. Kimbap Lady is a smooth playa, yo!

Kimbap Lady and I have a special, special bond. I'm her Big White Barbie. She's my Kimbap Lady. She gets to feel me up. I get felt up. Everybody wins.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Barbie's Random Weekend Musings

One of the many wonderful things about coming to South Korea was that I got to leave everybody elses problems at home. Now, don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't love to hear everybody elses gossip. Au contraire, the only thing that I love talking about more than myself is other people! However, my last year was laced with a heavy dose of Suck, and after a while everything starts to wear on you a bit. My thought coming over here was that I wouldn't have to deal with anybody elses shit for a whole year. Fantastic! So I thought. I somehow failed to realize that in order to achieve this I would have to not only avoid making any friends here, but I'd also have to cut off contact with my friends at home. Essentially, I'd have to live in a box. Even I couldn't pull that off for more than a few days at a time. Who would I have to talk about myself with?

I got some news from back home on Friday afternoon which resulted in a ridiculous binge of randomness this weekend. Thankfully, nobody died. I merely had to accept the reality that a year is a long enough time that people close to me can go through massive fucking life changes that I'm going to miss entirely. That's the trade off of being a Fucking Rock Star, apparently. It's a trade off that I'm willing to take, but that doesn't make it any less of a Bag of Suck.

The binge began in Busan, wound it's way over to Daegu, then returned to Busan with little left in it's legs. All in all I probably spent 8 hours in my apartment the entire weekend. There were many bars, there was some poutine, there was bowling and ping pong, there were three McDonald's breakfasts in one morning, there may have been a D-grade film, and at some point I declared it that it was my Fucking Birthday. I even have a photo with a birthday hat that I found on a table. Because putting on random accessories that you find in a bar is always a good idea.

Yes, I finally found poutine. Fucking poutine. It was like, the best thing ever. Up until that point, anyways. If I could eat poutine every day, I would. Thighs be damned. It went really well with the quesadillas. Ass be damned! Poutine was most certainly among my three best choices for things to do this weekend. It was certainly better than my choice to eat three breakfasts at McDonald's at 530am on Satuday.

I capped the weekend by returning to Busan late afternoon on Sunday. I decided that going home to shower was grossly overrated and went to Seomyeon in search of my card-playing group. It turns out that cards was cancelled in favour of going to this arcade-type place. For 7 bucks you get three hours of unlimited bowling, ping pong, billiards, arcade games, computer games, air hockey, soccer and baseball simulator thingy-ma-jigs, and some other Blah. A blast was had by all. Sadly, I was pretty void of energy. I'll have to return another time when I have a bit more skip in my step.

Several days and dozens of drinks later, I have almost accepted the fact that life goes on without me back home. At least I can take comfort in knowing that it's not nearly as much fun without me.

Barbie Teacher is Angry Teacher

I like my job. I don't have a real job. I've covered this, but I'll reiterate: I sit on my ass, try to look pretty, and talk sometimes. That said, I take it seriously. Some of the kids really like me. In turn, I really like some of my students. I learn a lot about Korea through them, and hope that I make them feel positively about Canadians in return. Yet, with the good comes the bad. Today I got to start my day off with a taste of The Bad.

My first class on Mondays is an introductory level course. I have 4 students, 3 of whom sort of suck. By "sort of suck", I mean are pains in my ass. The student that I like in that class is actually the least skilled with English; but he's respectful and listens. Frankly, that's all I ask for. The other three speak out of turn, speak Korean (which is a no-no during English class), point at me and laugh... basically, they do whatever they feel like doing. I'd sort oflike to tape them to the wall, but that would probably make me a bad teacher. And maybe result in my getting arrested. This would actually make for a good enough story that it's almost worth doing it. Hmmm. I'll ponder the idea.

I was walking into the building for my 3pm class when my group of little brats comes running at me, yelling "teacher! teacher!" Two of them have food in their hands, which they promptly wave at me, asking "you want?!?!" I'm about to respond to this when they put the food in their mouths, suck on it, and pass it back my way, screaming "you want?! you want?!" again. I was a little annoyed at their idiocy, but was willing to let it pass with a simple "don't do that, it's rude", presuming they followed me to class and shut the fuck up. Two of them have some concept of what is good for them and did just that.

And then there was "Kevin". "Kevin" decided that it would be fun to continue waving food in my face, sucking on it, and then waving it back in my face. I advised him to come towards the door where I was standing so that I could lecture him on not being a pain in my ass. He looked at me, held his arms in front of his body and crossed them, and yelled "noooooooo!" This went on for about another 15 seconds before he finally got up, turned his back to me, and wiggled his butt. Yes, this actually happened. One of my students shook their ass at me when I was attempting to gain control. I had two choices at this point. Snap that little brat in half, or slam the door on the entire class and go find a Korean teacher to deal with this. I chose the latter option.

After slamming the door in front of the brat pack, I storm back to the office in search of a Korean coworker who can crush this little bitch's soul for me. Thankfully, I have really awesome coteachers, who don't think it's even remotely cool when the kids are rude to me. The woman who works the office was the only one available. When I made her aware of what was going on, she marched to my classroom before I could even finish the story. By the time I made it in behind her, she was giving the entire class a tongue lashing to remember. At least it would have been memorable had I any clue what on earth she was saying. Whatever it was, it worked. The little brat was afraid to speak for a good half hour after she left. I even started calling on him more often because I liked watching him squirm. Twerp.

Being a foreign teacher here is a bit of a double edged sword. On one hand, you're super fucking special. So beautiful! So handsome! On the other hand, some people here don't respect you as much because you are a foreigner. These are often the same people that get plastic surgery in order to look more like you. Nobody ever said that ignorance made sense. Regardless, there are idiots everywhere, so I don't let it bother me most days. Just leave it outside of my fucking classroom and you're golden.

My work day could have had a better beginning. Perhaps this was punishment for having a wee bit too much fun on the weekend? Nah. My day rebounded quite nicely from this only a few minutes after that class. One of my favourite students ran up to me in the hall and made some gesture with his hands, smacked his thigh, then walked off. I called him back to inquire as to what the heck he had just done. Given the treatment I had received an hour earlier, I was skeptical of any child that happened to look in my general direction. He repeated his hand signal and said "hip hop!", pumped his fist in the air, then danced down the hallway. And with that, an 8 year old totally made my day.