Tag Archive: Daegu


Monday, December 13:  Alex sleeps in while I schlep into work today.  Again, he visits the DVD bang during the day.  In the evening we go to Lotte Cinema to see The Tourist, with Angelina Jolie & Johnny Depp; it’s quite cute.  We have an exciting dinner at Mr. Pizza afterward, where we are the last customers of the night.

Tuesday, December 14:  Alex goes to Chojeon with me, where one of Coffee J’s 4th grade boys plays the flute for him.  Alex thinks Little Miss Jailbird is quite a character and he likes her edgy personality; she’s the girl who constantly insults me and wears the gray and black striped knit pants (see my previous blog: insults korean style).

In the evening, I expose Alex to the samgyeopsal and noraebang experience with Anna, Seth, Maurice, Myrna, Lilly and Ben.  Samgyeopsal consists of thick, fatty slices of pork belly meat (similar to uncured bacon). Usually diners grill the meat themselves and eat directly from a grill. It is often dipped into a spicy pepper paste and wrapped in lettuce leaves along with other vegetables.  Noraebang, literally a “song room,” is similar to what we Westerners know as karaoke; it’s different in that a group of friends rents a room for an hour or two by themselves, and the public is not involved (as in Western-style karaoke).

Maurice, Ben, Lilly, Seth, Anna and Alex eating samgyeopsol

Maurice, Ben, Lilly, Myrna, Seth, Anna and Alex eating samgyeopsal

the thick slabs of fatty bacon that are the main staple in samgyeopsal

the thick slabs of fatty bacon that are the main staple in samgyeopsal

Anna :-)

Anna 🙂

Alex tries samgyeopsal

Alex tries samgyeopsal

At noraebang, Alex wears dreadlocks and belts out songs along with the rest of us, losing all his inhibitions.

Maurice, Alex and me heading into noraebang

Maurice, Alex and me heading into noraebang

Ben, the masked man, and Alex in his crazy wig

Ben, the masked man, and Alex in his crazy wig

Myrna belts out a song

Myrna belts out a song

Alex sings a serenade in his dreadlocks

Alex sings a serenade in his dreadlocks

Wednesday, December 15:   Tonight, we go to my neighborhood Italian place for dinner, visit an outdoor Asian market near my house, and then try a different DVD bang where we watch The Time Traveler’s Wife, which happens to be the first book I read when I got to Korea in March.

Thursday, December 16:  Tonight, we go to downtown Daegu and eat fat juicy hamburgers at Gorilla Burger.  Later that night, Alex, prone as he is to making exaggerated sweeping statements, says, “This is the best December I’ve ever had in my lifetime!”  This is so much in character for him; I remember when he was a little boy  and he’d meet some random kid at a soccer game and he’d say, I just made a new best friend today, Mom!

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December 6-10, 2010: During the week, I try to expose Alex to Korea as I know it.  He can’t believe the genius of the DVD bang, a place where you rent a movie with a room, sit on a comfortable reclining leather couch under a fuzzy blanket with a heat lamp warming you up, and watch a movie on a big screen.  A place where you can have a drink, munch on popcorn or ramen noodles.  He loves this place and its proprietor so much, he goes to the DVD bang every day while I’m at work.  I also introduce him to the PC bang, but he becomes really irritated that he can’t play computer games on it because he’s not a Korean citizen.  Apparently you need a Korean ID to be able to log into these communal computer games.

lunch time at Chojeon Elementary School

lunch time at Chojeon Elementary School

Alex and two of my students at the lunch table

Alex and two of my students at the lunch table

Monday morning, Alex comes along to Chojeon Elementary School, where the students point at him, touch him, grab him.  Both the teachers and students continually call him “handsome boy.”  Coffee J’s 4th grade class puts on a vaudeville-type show for him, one they had done the previous week for the entire school.  This version is minus the costumes.  Afterwards, we hand out snacks and the students line up to get Alex’s autograph.  For the first time in his life, Alex is unquestionably a star!

Alex and me with my 4th grade class at Chojeon

Alex and me with my 4th grade class at Chojeon

My co-teacher Coffee J and his 4th grade students

My co-teacher Coffee J and his 4th grade students

the girls inspect and preen Alex

the girls inspect and preen Alex

"handsome boy" signs autographs

“handsome boy” signs autographs

my crazy 4th graders

my crazy 4th graders

Alex and one of my students hams it up

Alex and one of my students hams it up

That evening, after making a grocery run at Home Plus, we celebrate Alex’s first day of school at the local Aussie pub, Sydney Street, the only Western bar in the neighborhood.  We share impressions about Korea over beers and he meets a few of my Korean lady friends, 19-year-0ld university student Holly and flight-attendant wanna-be Becky.  Holly adds him the next day on Facebook as a friend.  In my apartment later, we relax and watch episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on the computer he brought from home.

Alex has a beer at Sydney Street Pub

Alex has a beer at Sydney Street Pub

Alex at Sydney Street Pub

Alex at Sydney Street Pub

Alex and me

Alex and me

Tuesday Alex stays homes and relaxes while I go to work.  In the evening, we go to Anna and Seth’s with Myrna and play a fun game of Ticket to Ride and share pizza & chicken.  Wednesday he also stays home, but after work we have pizza at Dasarang and then play billiards and watch the movie Sliding Door in the apartment.

the fabulous Ticket to Ride

the fabulous Ticket to Ride

Anna and Seth at their apartment

Anna and Seth at their apartment

Myrna and Anna

Myrna and Anna

Alex and me

Alex and me

Alex comes to Byeokjin Elementary with me on Thursday, but he is bored out of his mind because the principal has forbidden him to be in the classroom “because he has no teaching credentials.”  This is crazy as it’s not a requirement to be a certified teacher in one’s home country to be a teacher in Korea (unlike in places like Dubai where this is required).   Hell, I’m not even a certified teacher!  Despite this prohibition by the principal, Kim Dong Hee’s animal-named first graders bring Alex welcome cards they made for him.  My fifth grade class gets to ask him questions for 10 minutes before class begins.  They exclaim that he’s a “handsome boy” and want to know if he has a girlfriend.

Alex visits Byeokjin Elementary School

Alex visits Byeokjin Elementary School

Me at Byeokjin

Me at Byeokjin

That night, Kim Dong Hee and Young, two of my co-teachers from Byeokjin, come out to a dinner of shrimp pilaf with us at the Warehouse.  After, we make a trip to Home Plus to see if my Vietnam visa is in.  It is.  I get it and we go to the hat department and try on goofy hats like a bunch of clowns.   Young, a brand new and very young teacher, is really cute and often blends in with her 5th grade students at Byeokjin.  Alex thinks she’s the cutest thing ever.  After they leave, Alex and I head to the DVD bang, where we watch Funny People with Adam Sandler.

Alex and me at the Warehouse

Alex and me at the Warehouse

my favorite dish of shrimp pilaf

my favorite dish of shrimp pilaf

Two of my co-teachers from Byeokjin, Kim Dong Hee & Young

Two of my co-teachers from Byeokjin, Kim Dong Hee & Young

A night at E-Mart.  Alex tries on a hat

A night at Home Plus. Alex tries on a hat

E-Mart: I try on a hat

Home Plus: I try on a hat

Kim and her hat

Kim and her hat

 Who is this kid and why is he calling me “Mom?”
alex arrives at incheon airport on the outskirts of seoul

alex arrives at incheon airport on the outskirts of seoul

Thursday, December 2: My 19-year-old son, Alex, flies into Incheon Airport on Thursday, December 2, for the first solo intercontinental trip of his lifetime.   Though he traveled abroad in his “youth” to France, Germany and the Bahamas, he did so under the protective watch of his father and me and was probably too young to remember much of those trips.  I got it in my head that a trip to Korea would be an eye-opening experience, a voyage of emotional and intellectual growth, a way to jolt him out of his comfort zone.  After much haggling and discussion with his father, we agreed he could come to visit for much of the month of December.

Alex is my middle child, but my first son in my second marriage to Mike.  Alex and my youngest son, Adam, who is 18,  live with their dad in northern Virginia.  My daughter Sarah from my first marriage is 26 and lives on her own. Though Alex graduated from high school in June of 2009, he has spent the last year and a half struggling to decide what to do with his life.  He attended Northern Virginia Community College for one semester, picking his classes not because of his own interests but because a close friend signed up for them, Japanese for one.  He hasn’t been able to find a job, which both his dad and I are pressuring him to do. I’m not sure if his inability to land a job is because of a bad job market or not really trying hard enough.  Alex’s greatest dream is to be a musician.  He loves heavy metal.

after a 20 hour flight with no sleep, he has to take a 4 hour bus to daegu.... :-(

after a 20 hour flight with no sleep, he has to take a 4 hour bus to daegu…. 😦

As a mother, my dream for him is that he be a success, that he find happiness.  It’s also more complicated.  I don’t want him to be like me.  I have always been good at many things but never great at any one thing.   This is a good thing in many ways, but a problem in others.  If you have a strong talent or ability in one area, it’s easy to find your direction. For example, my sister has always been very artistic, and so her career path led her in a straightforward way to be a freelance artist and eventually art director at Shape and then Fit Pregnancy Magazine.  She’s very successful.  My youngest son Adam not only has great abilities in math and science, but he also loves those subjects; he will probably be an engineer or a scientist of some kind.  Most of my life, with my multitude of half-ass talents,  I’ve floundered about, trying this and that and never really finding my niche.  I’ve been an English teacher, a newspaper reporter, a banker, a stockbroker, a banker again.  I’ve gotten a Master’s degree in International Commerce & Policy and did two internships at the State Department and one at MSI.  In the midst of all this I was a mother and a housewife for 15 years. Now, I’m teaching English in Korea.  It’s not really a career path, it’s a career meander, boomeranging eventually back to where it started from.    Who wants to take a gamble on someone with this kind of resume?

alex on the streets of daegu

alex on the streets of daegu

I don’t want Alex to squander his life.  I don’t want him to repeat my mistakes, my indecisiveness.  So.  It floors me when one of the first nights we share beers together in Daegu, he tells me he thinks he and I are very much alike.  Though it’s nice he thinks that way, I cringe inside.  Because I don’t want him to be like me.  I want him to be clear in his direction; I want him to find a passion and stick to it.  I want him to be a success, to make decent money, to find a girl he loves.  But mostly I want him to be happy and self-sufficient, self-confident and assertive.  I want more than anything for him to be the opposite of me.

Alex ventures to Korealand

This trip to Korea germinates,  blooms and becomes reality.  There are some moments of extreme anxiety on my part when, the day after he buys his ticket to come here, North Korea attacks an island in South Korea. The hullaballoo thankfully dies down and Alex arrives at Incheon in his brown plaid shirt, scraggly half-bearded face, and curly unkempt hair stuffed under a knit cap.  It’s been nearly 10 months since I’ve seen him and at 6 feet tall, he dwarfs me when I hug him.  We take the four-hour bus directly from Incheon to Dongdaegu; he’s not one bit happy to have to take a four-hour bus trip after 20 hours of flying, during which he didn’t sleep one wink.  I get him settled into my little Korean “room” (not quite an apartment).  The next morning I go to work and leave him to sleep the day away.

socks for sale in Daegu

socks for sale in Daegu

His first Friday night I take him to my neighborhood Dasarang for chicken and beer.  He’s not old enough to drink legally in the U.S., but here it doesn’t seem to matter.  I don’t even know what the drinking age is, but no one asks him his age or questions him in any way.  I’m fine with drinking a few beers with him.

chicken korean style

chicken korean style

We have a lot of great conversations, opening up freely under the effects of the alcohol… 🙂  He tells me he is still in love with his old girlfriend Sarah.  He can only think about her, wants to marry her, even dreams about her.  He is a sweet boyfriend; I’ve seen him before with both of his long-time girlfriends, Lindsey and Sarah.  Even if he is lost career- or direction-wise, I know I have raised him to treat his girlfriends well.  He is a boy with a sweet and sensitive heart.

chicken, chicken and more chicken

chicken, chicken and more chicken

being a mom again :-)

being a mom again 🙂

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Saturday, October 31:   My friend Jarrod comes to visit, searching for a change of scenery, a new place to explore.  Though he’s been to Daegu probably too many times to count, he says he’s never been to my part of town near Keimyung University.  He’s a 32-year-old Australian I met at the EPIK orientation, a very laid back and cool drummer who has found his groove in Korea.  I liked him from the first moment I chatted with him at breakfast at Jeonju University on the cold & dark February when we arrived.  He comes to my Daegu neighborhood solely as a friend, which I need sorely in Korea.  I have no thoughts of anything romantic with him because of our huge age difference.  But, I’m very happy he is taking time out of his busy schedule to come and visit me.

angels on the campus of keimyung university where we walk

angels on the campus of keimyung university where we walk

He arrives around noon on Halloween.  I have been searching frantically in the dark recesses of my brain for something interesting to show him in west Daegu.  I have only come up with a few lame options.  The first is a walk around Keimyung University.  The leaves are colored like pomegranates and summer squash and the air feels like a sliver carved from a pumpkin, cool and sharp.  We walk around the university, up and down hills, panting a little at the effort.  He tells me how he was seeing a girl named Virginia, how they went to Japan and it was difficult because one of them couldn’t access money so they stayed together a too much; Virginia said things were starting to feel too “couple-y” and then said she needed a break from him.  He is a little sad about it, maybe even more than a little.  He felt comfortable with her and truly enjoyed her company.

After our walk we eat lunch at Vince Burger, which has the best chili-cheese fries ever!  We drink several 1,000 won beers… How can we resist at such a price?  Jarrod talks about how he hangs out with the EPIK teachers but he feels he doesn’t really relate to them as most are in their 20s.  I tell him my difficulties with being older than other teachers, how I don’t relate to them, and they seem to form their own little cliques and I’m on the outside.  This really seems to be the story of my life.  I’m always doing things in my life at the wrong times: having babies in my late 20s and late 30s, getting my Master’s degree much too late in life for it to benefit me in the job market, teaching English with a bunch of 20-somethings in Korea, interning at the State Department and MSI, when most people my age are in mid-level or senior positions in their jobs.  This is my life, and this is what I’ve made of it.  I don’t know how my time sequence has unfolded in such a confusing manner.

Jarrod and I talk and talk. He likes Korea and is working to save up for an extensive, maybe year-long, trip around Europe.  He’s saved $10,000 already.  I say I’m traveling as much as I can now; I never know how my health will hold up and it’s already late in life for me.  So, instead of saving, I spend now, immediate gratification through travel.

He has been studying Korean, something I’ve never made any effort at since I’ve been here.  He has a number of close Korean friends.  He thinks Korean girls are too whiny and prissy, little princesses, and says he can’t see realistically having one as a girlfriend.  He lives in a small Korean town and he actually likes it.  He plans to re-sign here for another year.

After lingering over lunch and our beers, we play billiards at a billiard bang; I tell him I’m terrible and that truth plays out.  The only time I win is when he accidentally hits in the eight ball too early.  We drink beer the whole time; I feel like we are a spectacle in the midst of these young Koreans, the young hearty bearded Australian and the white-haired woman almost old enough to be his mother.

We go back to my apartment and we show each other YouTube videos; I introduce him to Turkish bands I like and he shows me the kind of music he likes, none of which I now remember.  I show him the “I’m on a Boat” rap song, “Jizz in my Pants,” and the “What is Love?” video done by the Oakton Otters swim team coaches, just so he can see the neighborhood where I live.

We eat dinner at a Chinese restaurant near my apartment, very mediocre.  We have been drinking beer all day and I’m really tired; I could use a nap.  Jarrod talks about his parents, who are divorced, and the difficult relationships he has with his family.  His father asked him once if he is gay, because he doesn’t seem to have many girlfriends, and he told his father, What if I am gay?  What difference would it make?  He wishes his parents would just accept him as he is.  We talk a lot about dysfunctionalities in families.  Later we go to Sydney Street Cafe.  I think he might like it because the owner, Mark, is Australian.  When we go we happen to meet one of Mark’s friends, also Australian, who is just visiting Korea.   Jarrod and I talk to them, and to each other.  At one point, I ask Jarrod if he needs or wants to get going as he had signed up online to attend a Halloween party in Daegu and I figure he will want to get going to that.  He said he really doesn’t care about going.  Later he tells me that if he were in Australia, he would probably never talk to those two guys.  The one was too much into “footie” and Mark hails from an area that doesn’t really mix with Melbournites.

heart-shaped leaves at Daegu Confucian Academny

heart-shaped leaves at Daegu Confucian Academny

Ben and Lilly come in to Sydney Street all decked out in skimpy Halloween costumes; Lilly is a bikini-bottom clad Superwoman.  Ben is the Owen Wilson Hansel character from Zoolander.  I’ve never seen Zoolander before, so when Jarrod wants to leave Sydney Street, we decide to watch a movie at a DVD bang.  We happen to find Zoolander, which we watch but I don’t particularly like.

After the movie, we go back to my apartment where I invite Jarrod to sleep on my mat on the floor of my apartment.  I have to put on my pajamas because I cannot sleep in my clothes.  Jarrod has on layers and layers of clothes and says he will sleep in them.  He lies on the floor and me in my bed and we talk & talk until an ungodly hour, chattering away like two girls at a slumber party.

Never has Jarrod shown any attraction for me.  I feel like he’s a good friend, easy and fun to hang out with.  In the morning I offer to make him some scrambled eggs; he turns me down so I make some for myself and he drinks coffee and we chat at my small kitchen table.  He lingers quite a while, until about 12:30, at which time he says he should go.  As we stand to say goodbye, he looks me directly in the eyes and then we hug each other.  I wonder if it’s a sympathy hug.  Maybe he feels sorry for me that I’m here in Korea at such a late stage in my life, friendless and utterly alone.  He leaves and I know in my heart he will not be hanging out with me again.  I think it is awkward for him, hanging out with someone so much older.  If I were a man, it wouldn’t be a problem, I’m sure, because we have such a nice rapport.  But since I’m a woman, it must be uncomfortable.

love the clouds

love the clouds

After he leaves, I go alone to Kyobo Books in downtown Daegu.  This bookstore has a small English selection, but I decide the prices are just too high.  I then visit Daegu Hyanggyo, or Daegu Confucian Academy.  This was established as a local educational institution for Confucian scholars in the 7th year (1398) of King Taejo of the Joseon Dynasty. I take some pictures and then head home on metro.  I go that evening to Bible study at Anna and Seth’s, where we also play a fun game of Bullshit!  and eat pizza.

Daegu Confucian Academy

Daegu Confucian Academy

I feel particularly sad tonight because I truly enjoyed Jarrod’s company, but seriously doubt we will ever hang out together again.  Sad. 😦

possibly the founder of the Confucian Academy??

possibly the founder of the Confucian Academy??

another building in the Confucian Academy

another building in the Confucian Academy

Confucian scholarship

Confucian scholarship

Saturday, August 21:  Today, Kathy & I went on a quest.  I came across an article online titled: “Twelve Beaches Worth Visiting in the Summer.”  I have only been to one of these, Haeundae Beach in Busan, and I’ve been dreaming of exploring the other 11.  However, most weekends this summer have either been raining or threatening rain, so I’ve been waylaid on my intended expeditions.

guryong-po beach

guryong-po beach

Koreans decked out at the beach

Koreans decked out at the beach

Finally, Kathy and I drove in her little Matiz to Guryongpo beach in south Pohang. Wow!  This place made the top 12 beaches??  I don’t know where they got their criteria for this article, but this was a pretty pathetic excuse for a beach.  Earlier this summer, Kathy and I went to the MUCH nicer Chilpo Beach, just north of Pohang.  Why isn’t Chilpo listed in this article?

Koreans must keep themselves protected from the sun at all costs!

Koreans must keep themselves protected from the sun at all costs!

Guryongpo is small, crowded, tacky & commercial, and has only waist deep water at its furthest-out point.  We were both disappointed in it but decided that we’d stick it out since it seemed very “Korean.”  Chilpo is more like a nature reserve, not much commercialism, and has a wide swath of beach.  Granted, it’s covered in trash, but all beaches in Korea are covered in trash.  As a matter of fact, most Koreans just throw their trash on the street everywhere.  Trashcans are few and far between; being the anti-litter American I am, if I have a piece of garbage to throw away, I will carry it for blocks rather than toss it on the street.  Sometimes I think, maybe I should just toss it; everyone else does.  But I cannot bring myself to do it.  All those anti-litter campaigns by the U.S. government in the 1970s really got ingrained in this person’s head.  🙂

guryong-po beach

guryong-po beach

As soon as we parked, an ajuma approached us and wanted 10,000 won for a “parasol,” which we gave her.  I wanted an inner tube so gave her another 5,000 won.  Kathy and I chilled, floated in the inner tube, read, waded in the knee-deep water, sunbathed, walked along the beach, talked. We got a hoot out of watching the Koreans at the beach.  No one wears a bathing suit.  They wear t-shirts and shorts/long pants, hats and sunglasses.  Many of them wear these detached sleeves (yes, they’re NOT attached to anything!) on their arms and some wear masks over their faces.  A lot of them wear life-vests in the knee-deep water.  Very strange.  I’m sure I was quite shocking to them with my white hair and my bikini.  Of course, in a bikini, I’m shocking anywhere!

So much tackiness on the beach

So much tackiness on the beach

an ajuma at the beach

an ajuma at the beach

inner tubes for rent

inner tubes for rent

When it was time for lunch, Kathy and I walked along the road, looking for a place to eat.  We couldn’t find a place that served lunch; most people sat on these platforms under tents and ate meals they cooked and prepared themselves right there.  Or meals they prepared at home and brought along.  They sat Korean style and ate these feasts on the wooden platforms.

Koreans eating lunch on platforms at the beach

Koreans eating lunch on platforms at the beach

We stopped at a little roadside shop to check out the goods and take some pictures.  The ajuma put her hats on our heads and handed us a snorkel for the photo.  I guess she figured she may as well get some free advertising.

Kathy with the hat & snorkel saleslady

Kathy with the hat & snorkel saleslady

me with a hat and snorkel in the little roadside shop

me with a hat and snorkel in the little roadside shop

Later, we found a restaurant with live fish in a tank.  To order one of the fresh fish would have cost about 30,000 won, so we ate a simple lunch of rice and some Korean vegetables of seaweed, roots and kimchi.  Washed down with a slightly cooled beer….Simply delish.

Kathy at the little roadside restaurant

Kathy at the little roadside restaurant

Still,  fun times.  I don’t know how this beach got in the Top 12 list….I guess it’s all in how someone defines a “top beach.”  Do Koreans see this type of beach as better than a more natural, deserted and quiet beach such as Chilpo?  I guess they do.  I better check my sources next time.

How can they fit so much STUFF on such a small beach?

How can they fit so much STUFF on such a small beach?

After we got back from Guryongpo, we showered and changed and went downtown to meet Anna and Seth at Bocciaccio, a restaurant on the ground floor of the Hotel Ariana.  Ben and Carly joined us as well.  We ordered delicious formaggio and margherita pizzas & tall cold beers (this place is a brew pub) and listened to some live “easy listening” American music.

Anna and Seth at Bocciaccio

Anna and Seth at Bocciaccio

Kathy and me at Bocciaccio

Kathy and me at Bocciaccio

the "easy listening" singers

the “easy listening” singers

Seth, Ben, Carly, Kathy and me at Bocciaccio

Seth, Ben, Carly, Kathy and me at Bocciaccio

After, we went to noraebang for Anna, Seth, and Carly’s first experience.  Crazy times all around!  Since I’d been teaching California Dreamin’ at all my summer camps, I had to sing that, as well as Gwen Stefani’s Ain’t No Hollaback Girl, Ain’t No Hollaback Girl…..I never knew this song had so many nasty words in it. 🙂  (ooh, ooh, this my sh*%, this my sh*%…..)

seth singing at noraebang

seth singing at noraebang

Carly & Anna sing a tune at noraebang

Carly & Anna sing a tune at noraebang

the video screen in the noraebang

the video screen in the noraebang

Saturday, August 14:  This evening, a gang of us went to see the Samsung Lions vs. the Daejeon Eagles at the baseball stadium in Daegu.  The night was hot and sultry, one of the most miserable nights since I’ve been in Korea.

Heading to see the Samsung Lions

Heading to see the Samsung Lions

We sat in the stands with the other Koreans, clothes sticking to our bodies, sweat soaking our hair and faces.  I never have cared anything for baseball, but the experience was a fascinating cultural grab-bag; I always love people-watching and seeing baseball Korean style was different, for sure. Especially the fans.  Anna, Seth, Kathy, Maurice, Suzanne, Carly, Shihwan and Shin were all in attendance.  I took a few pictures, and then my camera battery died (so irritating!). Maurice had our pastor’s camera, which I used to snap a bunch of photos.

field of Korean dreams

field of Korean dreams

Anna, Kathy and me in front, with Suzanne and Carly behind

Anna, Kathy and me in front, with Shin, Shihwan, Suzanne, Carly & Maurice behind

Suzanne, Carly and Maurice

Suzanne, Carly and Maurice

Shin and Shihwan

Shin and Shihwan

in the stands at a Korean baseball game

in the stands at a Korean baseball game

Shihwan, me and Maurice

Shihwan, me and Maurice

Alas, no hot dogs at this ball game.  I ordered a take-out of mandu, or Korean dumplings, which I ate in the stands with chopsticks.  Not exactly the baseball game fare I’m used to.  It mattered not; I love mandu!  Some of us also ordered fried chicken, which the Koreans have in recent years taken a great liking to (along with pizza and pasta).

Chicken, anyone?

Chicken, anyone?

The game gets very exciting towards the end and the Korean fans become very boisterous!

Korean fans

Korean fans

Korean baseball fans

Korean baseball fans

the Samsung Lion mascot

the Samsung Lion mascot

Anna, me and Carly with the field behind

Anna, me and Carly with the field behind

me, Carly and Anna with some balloon palm trees

me, Carly and Anna with some balloon palm trees

Even though the evening is sweltering, we still manage to have a good time experiencing a bit of the Korean baseball world. 🙂

Wednesday, July 21: Today I leave for Turkey.  It will be a long trip.  Mr. O told me yesterday afternoon that the principal at Byeokjin said I could take the day off today!! Then the guy from customs called from Incheon and told me I could pick up my package at the airport today for a steep customs duty of 72,000 won!!  Since I have the day off, I’ll take a bus to Incheon at 1:00, get there at 5:20, pick up the box, then wait around at the airport till my flight leaves at 11:55 pm!  Last night, Kathy was so sweet and picked up my bus ticket for me at Dongdaegu… I would have had to do that myself if she hadn’t done this.  I owe her so much for this favor, which took a big burden off of me!  Anyway, today it no longer feels like things are conspiring against me in my trip. 🙂

Tuesday, July 20: Why is it that when you’re getting ready to travel it seems everything is conspiring against you?  It’s just like the process of buying a house; people who have gone through purchasing a home say they feel like they will never go to closing.  Today, I was expecting a package from home which contained a debit card to replace mine that has expired.  The box also had some things I really needed for vacation that I wasn’t able to find here in Korea.  The package didn’t come because they held it up in customs in the Incheon Airport in Seoul.  I have had three other packages from home (none of which was urgent) and they have never held one up before!  I will be in Seoul at Incheon tomorrow, but the place is not right at the airport and I will be pressed for time.  So the package and I will pass each other going in opposite directions tomorrow!   In addition, I worked hard to prepare for all my summer camps so I would be ready upon my return home to dive right in; suddenly today one of my co-teachers told me one of the lesson plans (which I was told had to be a 40-minute plan) should be 3 hours long!!  So now, when I return, I will be stressed right away trying to complete two more lesson plans.  Then my friend Jayne writes me from England to tell me that Turkish airplane companies are going bankrupt and stranded Brits are having to pay double to get out.  Why, why, why?  Ok, this is where I need to learn to BREATHE ^o^……

We went to Sydney to celebrate Ben’s birthday tonight, but I left early because I ate too much cake and felt incredibly fat!!

Lillian & Ben at Ben's birthday celebration at Sydney St.

Lillian & Ben at Ben’s birthday celebration at Sydney St.

Xee, me, Seth & Anna at Ben's b-day

Xee, me, Seth & Anna at Ben’s b-day

Seth & Anna at Ben's birthday party

Seth & Anna at Ben’s birthday party

Monday, July 19: Winding down the first semester at school.  Today was my last official day of classes.  I played Jeopardy and Hangman with the kids:-)

Sunday, July 18: For the first time since I’ve been in Korea, I was able to talk by Skype to my friend Ed from the State Department back home.   He’s a foreign service officer and is applying now for his next post abroad.  We share a love of foreign lands, and a common experience at the State Department ~ I was in charge of the UN delegation to the 2007 Middle East Peace Conference in Annapolis (& he was in charge of the Africa delegation) …. We so wanted to share a bottle of wine, but as it was midday for me, I couldn’t imbibe…  I had to pack for my trip:-)

Saturday, July 17: I went with Kathy to Sugar Joe’s, a laid-back bar near Kyungbook University’s North Gate, where we chatted and  listed to live music by Akooztik Coxwell.  I’m so happy to have found this place, recommended by Kate, an English teacher at the university, who I met while having my hair straightened at Frigo.

Friday, July 16: Chojeon Elementary students went on a field trip to SpaValley, a huge theme spa with a water park, bade pool, hot spring, & steam room.  The place was inundated with screaming and squealing kids.  The teachers were relegated to the cafeteria, but I basked for an hour in the hot tub and sauna.  Later we went to the Daegu National Museum, where the kids did all kinds of hands-on activities.  Meanwhile, since I had no duties, I finished my excellent book, The Piano Teacher, and dreamed of Hong Kong!

on the bus to SpaValley ~ the Chojeon 4th graders

on the bus to SpaValley ~ the Chojeon 4th graders

this little girl brought a whole suitcase of snacks

this little girl brought a whole suitcase of snacks

My 4th grade students

My 4th grade students

the back-of-the-bus gang

the back-of-the-bus gang

Heading into the Daegu National Museum with one of my co-teachers

Heading into the Daegu National Museum with one of my co-teachers

me in the entrance to the Daegu National Museum

me in the entrance to the Daegu National Museum

Thursday, July 15: ~~This afternoon was one of my loveliest here in Korea.  My friend Julie, who is my Korean English co-teacher at both of my schools, took me to her hometown of Wegwan for samgye tang, a ginseng chicken soup: a game hen-size chicken, stuffed with jujube (Asian date) garlic, persimmon, and glutinous rice.  Julie says it’s an “oriental medicine soup” and is often eaten in summer to lessen the effects of the heat.  Before dinner, she insisted on stopping at her local hospital so I could get physical therapy on my knee (since I hurt it recently at yoga!!).  We waited about 10 minutes, I paid about $3.50, and then had an hour of various heat treatments, suction cups, and exercise, which, miraculously made my knee feel a lot better. 🙂  Most amazing was how I felt the whole time with Julie.  She is so easy-going and so sweet.  She made me feel pampered, peaceful and thankful.  I so cherish her friendship and kindness!

Julie Moon and her son at dinner

Julie Moon and her son at dinner

samgye tang ~ yummy:-)

samgye tang ~ yummy:-)

~~Mr. O and I no longer speak to each other during our 45 minute commute.  I guess this silent treatment came about after I cut him off the 3rd time he tried to tell me how the men eat very spicy dog meat in summer for “stamina.”  Possibly it was after I cut him off when he tried for the 2nd time to have another excrutiatingly painful conversation about Lehman Brothers.  Anyway, it’s funny b/c I wished that he would just stop speaking.  Now he has, but it’s not an amiable silence.  This morning, he started a little passive-aggressive behavior, putting on a very loud English language cassette tape that might help him improve his English.  I suppose he was hoping conversations with me might help him.  Listening to this English tape, I now know where he got the expression he uses constantly with me: “Have you got it?”

Wednesday, July 14: I take my shower in the dreaded Korean style sink-shower: a portable shower head over the sink.  The water drains partially into the sink and the overflow into a hole in the floor.  Oh how I miss my baths!!

the Korean style sink-shower in my bathroom

the Korean style sink-shower in my bathroom

Tuesday, July 13: In U.S. schools, teachers are never to touch students.  Here, that rule is a little murky…  In fact, the children seem to have no concept of personal space.  Today, in the 10 minute break between classes, about 9-10 3rd graders crowded around my desk, telling me their Korean names and asking me to repeat them, & teaching me Korean words for classroom objects.  They cheered and clapped whenever I got it right. I can’t believe they were trying to teach me their names, which I still don’t know after nearly 5 months!!  Why can’t they just use ONE name?? Even in the U.S., I would never remember someone’s 1st, middle and last name!! ~ Meanwhile some of the 10 were playing with my hair, rubbing my arms, and touching my clothes.  I’m always taken aback by this…I feel like I should push them away and say Don’t touch!  As a Westerner, to me it’s very strange.  But is it to them?  It seems like a natural part of their culture.  I kind of wish we weren’t so uptight about this kind of thing in the U.S.  All over Korea, you see on the streets girls holding hands, boys holding hands.  Hmmm… don’t know quite what to make of this….

Monday, July 12: A night at Sydney St. Pub to celebrate Kathy D’s mother’s birthday.  Her mom bought a bunch of visors to take back home to her friends.  Reminds me of the countless “ajuma parmas” (old ladies with dyed-black hair and permanents) I see on the streets ~ they wear these atrocious visors, as do the middle-aged women.  Yikes!  It’s scary 🙂

Kathy, Seth, Patrick, me, and the birthday girl, Kathy's mom at Sydney St.

Kathy, Seth, Patrick, me, and the birthday girl, Kathy’s mom at Sydney St.

Anna and me

Anna and me

Kathy's mother and Kathy

Kathy’s mother and Kathy

Sunday, July 11: At Agape Church, where I have become a regular, my friend Maurice, a Kenyan theological student, encouraged me to fill out a membership card.  I did.  Little did I know I would have to stand and be introduced later in the service.  The choir sang a welcome song to me, hands outstretched & palms open.  Wow!!  In the sermon, the preacher encouraged us to have a “heart of evangelism;”  for an example of how lost souls need the gospel in their lives, he told the story of a person who cut her tongue with scissors.  Very upsetting…. According to an Economist article dated July 8, 2010: “The never-ending push for achievement [in Korea], however, also has a dark side: depression is a serious problem, and the recorded suicide rate—around 22 per 100,000 people—is the highest in the OECD.”  I see this push for achievement evident in the schools, where students spend countless hours in study….sadly kids can’t be kids in Korea. 😦

Saturday, July 10: A fruitless day of shopping in Daegu.  I am continually amazed at the ugliest array of clothing on the planet.  The salespeople stay on you like flies on fruitcake.  They have no concept of “I’m just looking!”

Friday, July 9: Coffee J told me about Jesa, a type of family reunion in honor of dead ancestors.  The entire family meets once a year in memory of the death of a grandparent.  This celebration can apply to as many as 5 generations ~ that’s a lot of family reunions (!!);  it’s an assured way for the family to keep in close contact. I like this – something like the Day of the Dead in Mexico.  We need something like this in the US!

Thursday, July 8: While walking to Sydney St. for a couple of beers, I was almost run over by a guy on a motorcycle driving on the sidewalk, as they always do.  He had a stack of business cards in one hand and was flicking them onto the pavement as he careened along.  Everyday, the shopkeepers must come out and sweep up all the business cards that have been strewn on the street by countless motorcycle-riding advertisers.  I wonder if anyone ever goes along the street and thinks: Wow! I must pick up one of these business cards so I can do business at this place!!

Wednesday, July 7: At the street crossing, I am yelled at by one of the ajumas who stands there every morning with a flag, giving pedestrians the okay to cross the street (…as if the walk signal isn’t enough!)  These ajumas wear yellow sashes, huge ugly visors or hats, masks, long sleeves, and gloves even in the heat of summer.  She yelled at me in Korean because at the Keimyung Gate I never wait for the walk signal and just cross.  There’s NEVER any traffic at that hour going into the university!!  I just ignored her.

A self-appointed police "ajuma parma" at the Keimyung University East Gate

A self-appointed police “ajuma parma” at the Keimyung University East Gate

Tuesday, July 6: My Korean English co-teacher, Julie, and I split up the third grade class we have on Tuesdays because there are 29 of them and they are a bunch of hooligans!!  However, we found that when the teacher split the class in two, she happened to put all the rowdiest kids in one group and the best-behaved kids in the other.  We have now dubbed the two groups: “OH MY GOD!” and “OH MY GOOD!”

Monday, July 5: At yoga tonight, the instructor has us doing an extensive array of kneeling exercises.  I can feel my knee crack, but do I heed the sound? No…. and now I think I may have set myself back by months on the healing of my knee!  And this right before my vacation to Turkey…..

Sunday, July 4: Ben makes tacos and Seth, Anna, Xee, and I go to Duryu Park for a 4th of July picnic.  Then we go to Camp Walker in Daegu to watch some pretty pathetic fireworks.  Anna and I both comment that there are some rough-looking dudes on the army base and Seth says it’s the first time in Korea he’s felt like someone might pick a fight with him.  ~ Earlier in the day, I went to the hospital to visit Kathy and had to make my way through throngs of hospital-gown-clad patients walking aboEditut outdoors dragging along their urine and IV bags; some were smoking!  I felt like I was in the midst of a bunch of hospital escapees…. 🙂

Xee, Seth, Ben and me at Duryu Park, 4th of July

Xee, Seth, Ben and me at Duryu Park, 4th of July

Coronas on 4th of July

Coronas on 4th of July

Xee, me and Anna at Duryu Park

Xee, me and Anna at Duryu Park

Duryu Park

Duryu Park

Ben and Anna

Ben and Anna

Xee at Camp Walker

Xee at Camp Walker

Fireworks at Camp Walker

Fireworks at Camp Walker

The fireworks at Camp Walker, an army base in Daegu

The fireworks at Camp Walker, an army base in Daegu

Saturday, July 3: My first haircut in Korea.  It took me about 2 hours to find a hair stylist who was recommended to me.  When I found him, he told me I could come back at 3:30 (it was 1:00).  I found another place I heard did hair-straightening, Frigo, so I figured I could get my hair straightened and then go back to the 1st guy for the haircut.  I spent the next 4 hours having my hair straightened, then I went ahead and had them cut it (since I missed the first appointment).  The whole process cost me 65,000 Won, or about $58!

Friday, July 2: At Chojeon Elementary, there is only one throne-type toilet, and it happens to be in the men’s bathroom.  I use it unabashedly.  When Coffee J first asked me why I used the men’s room, I said because women are built to sit.  Men stand; this toilet should be in the women’s room!!  Now, none of the adults say anything, but when the kids see me go in there, they love to pound on the door and run away; sometimes they turn the light off from outside, leaving me in the dark!  I don’t care… I steadfastly continue to do what I must do:-)  I will only use the ubiquitous squat toilets when there is no other choice and I am absolutely desperate!!

This evening we meet at Seth and Anna’s house for dinner and a Bible study.

Anna, Seth, Maurice, me and ??

Anna, Seth, Maurice, me and ??

me, Anna and ??

me, Anna and ??

Thursday, July 1: Kim, the Korean 1st grade teacher at Byeokjin, today tells me that she wants to take me to her favorite hair stylist to have my hair cut.  This hairstylist will apparently recommend the best cut for my hair and face. Then she mentions she notices that I never wear makeup.  (I do!) This is so typical for Koreans to comment about your appearance, even if it’s derogatory.

Friday, May 28:   Today, I venture out on over an hour-long train ride to Daegu Arboretum.  When I finally arrive, I enjoy a long walk around the grounds, taking pictures of the lovely greenery.

Daegu Arboretum was built on a sanitary landfill. It is home to more than 1,000 species of plants including giant cacti, flowers, medicinal herbs, and trees. In addition, the facility regularly holds ecology experience programs for students and young children. Meanwhile, Daegu Arboretum has been recognized as an excellent model of ecosystem restoration (Visit Korea: Daegu Arboretum).

at Daegu Arboretum

at Daegu Arboretum

at Daegu Arboretum

at Daegu Arboretum

at Daegu Arboretum

at Daegu Arboretum

at Daegu Arboretum

at Daegu Arboretum

at Daegu Arboretum

at Daegu Arboretum

me at Daegu Arboretum

me at Daegu Arboretum

heart-shaped leaves at at Daegu Arboretum

heart-shaped leaves at Daegu Arboretum

at Daegu Arboretum

at Daegu Arboretum

pond at Daegu Arboretum

pond at Daegu Arboretum

pond at Daegu Arboretum

pond at Daegu Arboretum

pond at Daegu Arboretum

pond at Daegu Arboretum

at Daegu Arboretum

at Daegu Arboretum

After my long trek to and around the Arboretum, I make my way slowly back my apartment near Keimyung University, where I’m too exhausted to do anything the rest of the day.

Sunday, May 16:  Today, I go on a field trip with the teachers from Chojeon Elementary School to explore Palgongsan National Park.

Palgongsan Natural Park is centered around Palgongsan Mountain, one of the larger mountains (1.2km high) in the Taebaek mountain range. Palgongsan Mountain is located 20km northeast from downtown Daegu, where the Nakdonggang River and Geumhogang River meet. The mountain has three peaks in a row: Birobong Peak, in the center, with Dongbong and Seobong on either side.

The Chojeon Elementary School teachers beginning our day trip to Palgongsan National Park

The Chojeon Elementary School teachers beginning our day trip to Palgongsan National Park

The park has numerous rocks and valleys and is carpeted with azaleas in the spring. In the autumn many visitors flock to the park to admire the falls leaves on the trees lining the 16.3km-long road through the park (Visit Korea: Daegu > Dong-gu > Palgongsan National Park (Gatbawi District)).

Our first destination is the Bangjja Yugi Museum, at the foot of Palgongsan Mountain.  However, when we arrive, we find the museum is closed.  Oh well, so much for great planning.  This is the first museum in Korea to specialize in brass ware. The museum was founded with the goal of preserving the delicate art of Bangjja Yugi (Korean brass ware) and to educate future generations on the meticulous crafting process (Visit Korea: Daegu City Tours).

Since the museum is closed, we wander around the perimeter of the parking lot.  Here, we find two places that sell statues and sculptures. One of them sells normal statues like lions, Buddhas and other Korean-related things.

other rock sculptures

other rock sculptures

rock sculpture

rock sculpture

me with the rock sculptures

me with the rock sculptures

fun-loving rock sculptures

fun-loving rock sculptures

Coffee-J drinking his favorite beverage at the sculpture garden

Coffee-J drinking his favorite beverage at the sculpture garden

The other one has an array of penis-shaped statues. Some of them are a few meters tall!  My Korean co-teachers tell me that these phallic symbols are a great symbol of power and statues such as these are thought to offer protection from evil spirits.

phallic statues at Palgongsan National park

phallic statues at Palgongsan National park

statues at Palgongsan National Park, South Korea

statues at Palgongsan National Park, South Korea

more rock sculptures

more rock sculptures

the principal of Chojeon Elementary School, me and the sculptor who lives on site

the principal of Chojeon Elementary School, me and the sculptor who lives on site

Palgongsan Mountain is considered the center of Buddhist culture in Korea. The mountain offers plenty of things to see all year round thanks to the knots of trees and scenic rocks and valleys that cover the mountain. Treasured not only for its natural beauty, the mountain also hides within its folds a number of old temples and historic sites from the Silla Dynasty (57 BC – 935 AD) (Visit Korea: Daegu City Tours).

We take the Palgongsan Cable Car, which runs 1.2.km from the base of Palgongsan Mountain to an 800m elevation (Visit Korea: Palgongsan Cable Car).

the Palgongsan Cable Car

the Palgongsan Cable Car

views from the Palgongsan Cable Car

views from the Palgongsan Cable Car

Palgongsan Cable Car

Palgongsan Cable Car

At the top of the Palgongsan Cable Car

At the top of the Palgongsan Cable Car

me at the top of the cable car with two tall & skinny friends

me at the top of the cable car with two tall & skinny friends

me with a view of Mt. Palgong

me with a view of Mt. Palgong

Atop Mt. Palgong

Atop Mt. Palgongsan

atop Mt. Palgongsan

atop Mt. Palgongsan

We stop for some tea and snacks at the cable car restaurant.

some of my Korean co-teachers at the cable car restaurant

some of my Korean co-teachers at the cable car restaurant

more of my Korean co-teachers

more of my Korean co-teachers

Then we walk up to a Buddhist temple or hermitage, but I’m not sure which one it is as there are so many in these mountains.

Buddhist hermitage (?) all decked out for Buddha's birthday

Buddhist hermitage (?) all decked out for Buddha’s birthday

Colorful Buddhist hermitage

Colorful Buddhist hermitage

Buddhist hermitage

Buddhist hermitage

Coffee-J and a Buddhist pavilion

Coffee-J and a Buddhist pavilion

me and the Buddhist pavilion

me and the Buddhist pavilion

the Buddhist hermitage

the Buddhist hermitage

Finally, after our little day trip, we go to a Korean restaurant for a group dinner.   A fun full day on Mt. Palgongsan. 🙂

heading to a Korean restaurant for dinner

heading to a Korean restaurant for dinner

 

 

Wednesday, May 12: One day I was walking down the street near my apartment and an older Korean man caught my eye.  He pointed to my hair and shook his head, then he made a gesture with his hands: he formed a cup with one hand and then he dipped his other fingers into the cup.  Then he wiped his fingers on his hair.  The gesture obviously meant he thought I needed to dye my hair black, like most Koreans do.  He had a kind of disgusted look on his face; he was not at all happy that I was walking around his streets with my whitish hair so indecently exposed!

I refused to take this insult lightly.  I shook my head vehemently and said “NO!” accompanied by the Korean style NO gesture, which is crossing my forearms in the shape of an “X.”  I then said, “I LOVE (making the sign of a heart with my fingers) my hair (pointing to my hair)!” And then I promptly turned my back on him and walked away.

Wow!

OMG, she has white hair, a big nose and fat arms!!

OMG, she has white hair, a big nose and fat arms!!

The attitude toward age in this country is infuriating.  My experience has been that basically if you are over 25, you are considered old.  I have two young Korean lady friends in their late 20s who truly believe they are old because they are no longer in university.  And, heaven forbid, they are not married!  I find this attitude really irritating.

Clara and Naree..."over the hill" in their late 20s!!

Clara and Naree…”over the hill” in their late 20s!!

One day I was in the carpool, sitting in my designated backseat, with Mr. O in front.  He said, “Mrs. Cathy (as he always says), do you find that you have problems with memory at your age?”  I said, “No, Mr. O, I don’t have any problems with my memory.  Besides, I am NOT old!”  He said, “I have seen your papers and I know your age.”  I said, “Mr. O, I am NOT old!”

Another day, Mr. O said, “Mrs. Cathy (keep in mind, Mr. O is older than me in body and MUCH older than me in spirit!), do you color your hair?” I said, “No, Mr. O.  I don’t believe in coloring my hair.” He said, “Well we Koreans people, we color our hair because we think it makes us look younger.”  I said, “No, Mr. O, coloring your hair black does not make you look younger!  It actually makes you look older.  Because when you get older, your skin changes and black hair does not look good against aging skin.” This I truly believe, because up until 5 years ago, I myself colored my own hair dark brown.  When I finally removed all the dye and went natural, people came out of nowhere to compliment me on how much younger I looked!

Another day I was hiking up to Gatbawi, the Buddha with the flat hat, and an older Korean man pointed to my hair and said something nasty to his wife in Korean.  I could tell it was nasty because of the perturbed expression on his face.  Again, I think he was really disturbed about my hair!

Then there are my students, some of whom are rude beyond belief.  I have one student in particular in the 4th grade.  Every day, she wears the same pair of knit pants with wide black and gray stripes.  They look like jailbird pants.  One day I wore a ribbed knit tank under a cardigan.  She grabbed the bottom of my tank and asked in Korean if I was wearing my underwear.  Coffee J laughed about this as he translated it for me.  I actually found this rude of him — that he found it funny and translated it so lightly, without reprimanding the girl.  I said, “No, this is a tank top, not underwear!” Of course, the girl couldn’t understand me.  But what I really felt like saying was, “No, this is not underwear, but are those your jailbird pajamas that you wear every day?? Do you ever wash them??  Why are you here?  Did you escape from prison today?”

Little Miss Jailbird and the Pig Farmer's daughter

Little Miss Jailbird and the Pig Farmer’s daughter

I went on a field trip and sat beside another girl in the same 4th grade class.  Funny thing is, this girl’s father is a pig farmer.  She pointed at my nose and made a funny gesture on her own nose, touching her nose and then lifting her finger in an arch away from her nose.  I wasn’t sure what she was trying to say, so I asked Coffee J what she meant.  He said she thinks I have a big nose.

Later in this same day, Miss Jailbird Pajamas pointed at my nose and made the same type of gesture.  Again, Coffee J translated this to mean she thinks I have a big nose.  Do I have a big nose?  Do I have a PIG nose?? How has this insult escaped me my entire life??  I have been insulted for things I know to be true before, but this?  Maybe people have been dying to tell me this my whole life but have kept it all bottled up inside.  Maybe this insult to my nose has been gnawing at people’s insides, churning and burning away!!

I’m not the only one who has gotten the big nose gesture.  Anna Schuett said she was walking down the street one day and some kid came up to her, pointed at her nose, and started making pig noises.

Finally, Miss Jailbird also had a comment about my arms.  Granted, my arms are my least favorite part of my body.  I wish they were thin and graceful, but alas, I have the German body!  So, the first day I wear a short sleeve shirt, little Miss Jailbird comes up to me, puts her hands around my arms and then expands them, showing me she thinks they are fat!!  OMG!  How can I shut this girl up???

OK, OK, I admit my arms are chubby...

OK, OK, I admit my arms are chubby…

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