Archive for March, 2010

vegan passover bagels, made with bananas


Passover day one

I don’t know remember how it was making lunches last year. Since I almost always went home for lunch anyway… well now, passover is upon us, and there’s no choice in that mater.

Lunch made:
matza with marscapone cheese and raspberry jelly
fresh salad with korean butter lettuce, roasted garlic, cherry tomatoes, almonds and cranberries in a balsamic sauce
korean acorn squash roasted with honey and cinnamon

With my impending raise next month, I’ll be entering into the Korean Middle Class. At least based on monthly income. And looking at the low end of the spectrum. Well now, let’s just say I’ve never made so much money before – and, I’m making more than most of my students parents, just because I was born in an English speaking country. Emeth – truth, awkward and fact. In honor of my raise and my recondition of privilege (har har)  and, most importantly, Passover looming ahead in a week, I hired a maid to come in one time to help me out.

This something that makes me really uncomfortable about my economic privilege, the idea that my mess should be delt with by someone else. I know I have a cleanliness problem though. See, mess don’t bug me. When I do clean, most people tell me that there’s still la lotta work to do… but I can’t see it. I’m comfortable with a layer of grim that makes other people bust out mops and tidy up.

So, I bit the bullet and called (with the help of my co workers) up reinforcements: A nice, late 30’s woman who we can call Ajjuma. As she walked into my place, I instantly felt shame. She asked me in Korea if I was the only person who lives here. “Neh…” A mess this large was made by one  foul foreigner. Oh man. Over the next four hours we cleaned together, sorting, throwing away things, eating bananas and drinking tea. While not an equal division of labor.. It was what it was.  My place looks so hot now. . . I just gotta keep it this way for the next week, until the holiday starts (and ends).

In other news, I’m sick – Again. Seems to me as if Korea is chock full of cold viruses that I’ve never been exposed to before – I got no other idea why I’ve been sick just about every month. live n learn!

the room with a hole in it

My student’s asked me to contribute to the yearbook by writing up a lil’ bit about what I was like as a student. It took a while to search for the perfect memory to share…

I was a pretty bad student in school. I went to a Jewish* school, kind of like Hyewon: we didn’t have any classes with boys, we had uniform skirts (that we made shorter when the teachers weren’t looking), and we couldn’t dye our hair.  I guess you could say that I wasn’t fan of the whole school thing. But, there were some good times too.

My high school was about 5 stories tall, but really small. There were 120 students in my whole school. When I was 17, I had a class on the 5th floor. This class was in “The Room With A Hole In It” – a normal classroom, except that there was this hole in the floor, just big enough to put a hand in. Why was there this hole in the middle of the classroom? I have no idea. We just ignored it. Sometimes a girl would forget that she sat near the hole, and accidentally push her chair into in, causing her to PLOP onto the floor. Hahahaha! When we moved our desks for activities, the teacher would always tell us to be careful of the hole. It was kind of funny.

I sat behind the hole – close enough to admire it, but I never had to worry about my chair falling in. My friends and I would try to put things in the hole without anyone noticing.  We started small: paper notes, grammar worksheets, chocolate wrappers.  If you could crumple it up and throw it in, we sent it down the hole. We threw in bigger and bigger things: pencils and pens, cups, lunch boxes – WOOSH! They disappeared down into the hole!! We didn’t actually think about WHERE everything was landing. The hole was like some kind of alternate dimension! Once you sent something down, it was like it never existed at all.

One day, I was in a class on the 4th floor, and three men came in with a ladder. This classroom was twice the size of – and directly under – “The Room With A Hole In It.” The men didn’t say anything to us or the teacher. They began to set up the ladder in the back of the classroom. It was hard to ignore them, and us girls watched as one man climbed up the ladder and removed a tile from the ceiling.  It was then that the smell hit us-

From the ceiling, trashed rained down into the classroom like some kind of sadistic storm! Turns out just about everyone was putting stuff in the hole, and that the schools’ weird smells could be traced back to our humble 4th floor ceiling. As the men excavated pure trash from the ceiling, this is what they found:  a pile over 180 centimeters tall of countless notebooks and teacher handouts, pencils, pens, markers, chalk, textbooks with their covers ripped off, one shoe, three men’s undershirts, two hairbrushes, three doorknobs (!), one keyboard, two computer mice, one desk leg (!!), one uniform skirt, a soda bottle of pee(!!!), an old pizza, twenty empty cans, four water bottles, one sock, and seven lunch bags. It was snowing garbage into our classroom! My teacher just stood there, with this look of shock on her face. After the men gathered everything into three giant trashcans, they left as silently as they came in. How in the world did students get a keyboard in there? How could there be a table missing a leg??  And the clothes. . . We couldn’t stop laughing!

Out of all the exciting, funny and weird memories I have of school – the subtle rebellions against school regulations, the comic books I made staring my friends, the prizes I won, and my constant butting heads with certain teachers – the day I realized where the hole went (and what it contained)  is my favorite memory.

*Judaism is a religion, and Jewish is what we call people who follow that religion. Jews believe in the Old Testament of the Bible. Most Jews live in Israel and in America, but there are Jews all over the world!

today I bought deodorant for close to 10bucks, in a dark alleyway. after wearing two American sticks down to the core, I felt like I had no choice in the matter.

Yesterday I had an earth shattering, reality bending, adrenaline flooding experience.

It all started when Sol-a (the art teacher) and I were hanging out by the office coffee machine after lunch. You might remember said machine from an earlier post – for a measly 100 won (roughly 10 cents) the machine will pump out a perfectly sweet cuppa. Unceremoniously, Sol-a pressed the button for sweet coffee, and out it came.

It was at that moment that my life changed.

“Sol-a! Did you put in money?! How did it give you coffee if you didn’t put in money?”

With a befuddled glance at my waygook face, she explained that we don’t need to put in money. Ever. The machine is free. “Oh Naomi! How did you not know?”

“FREE??? I’ve been paying 100 won for seven months for free coffee!??” The walls of Jericho fell down around me; Nothing could ever be the same again!

Laughing, Sol-a called over Mr. Kim, our faculty head. He opened up the machine, expecting to find my humble pile of 100 won coins – but the machine was empty! O Waily waily! Where could my money be!?

Serendipitously, the vice principle opened her drawer, and procured 16 one hundred won coins – one for each of the free cups of coffee that I bought. Giggles descended upon the office, as I sheepishly took the money from her hands.

Today I drink my coffee in the knowledge that it is abundant and ever ready, flowing like milk and honey in the Promised Land.


Last night I went to see a collection of  Shakespeare’s performances at Roofers.  I forgot to bring batteries for my video camera (fail, major fail)  so my few words will have to suffice. It was an excellent collection (preformed in English, Korean and French) of some of my favorite parts of Shakespeare. We had the bumbling Rosenkratz and Guildenstern, the side shattering funny midsummer nights dream, and the soliloquies from Hamlet.  It also had many Acts from plays that I’ve never read (if it wasn’t middle/high school Canon, I didn’t see it) and it was interesting to see them preformed by such a  diverse cast.

An, of course, there where magnificent deaths – mostly in  A Midsummer Nights Dream – where the slain just don’t die. Oh ZOUNDS! 😀 So fantastic!