Wednesday, July 27, 2005


where should a2 spend their upcoming long weekend?

Free polls from

for information about the destinations:
Welcome to Mokpo City
Busan Metropolitan City
Welcome to WANDO

online for the first time

Hello Grandma Rosie!!!

international intern

last night walking home from KumDo class alex and i were stopped by a Nepalese man. the three of us stood clustered in the middle of the street in an unusual moment of levity, a moment of loose conversation between strangers. how odd to be stopping in the middle of our neighborhood as though we were stopping on lincoln avenue in chicago!

anyway, it turns out that Ram (full name: Ram Prasad Sharma) is a human rights' lawyer serving as an intern in Gwangju. the three of us talked for fifteen minutes about a wide range of subjects from Nepal's government and civil war, intolerance between religions, and general observations about living in a foreign country. we listened through his thick accent as he told us of his daughter and wife back in Nepal, and how hard it is to be away. He also shared his difficulty in having english as a second language in a town where no one spoke english. like us, Ram came with the idea that people had a basic knowledge of the english language, and learned quickly that very few actually do.

Ram offered each of us his business card before continuing to the park for a beer. i realized in that moment that no matter how frustrating the language barrier has been for us, that alex and i always have each other. if i ever make mention of difficulties due to language again . . . crush me.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

off track

my writing time has been cramped lately, but i promise to actually write about, or at least post pictures of, Korea soon. i'm sure my sarcastic commentary on reality tv is exciting for everyone. so sorry. maybe it's time for an alternate blog for those bits of whimsy.

Part I: reality tv recap

Are you sexy?

Newest in the line of smarmy, appalling and what-the-hell-were-they-thinking-tv, comes Are You Hot? The Search For America’s Sexiest People. There I was on another sleepless night, channel-surfing without destination, and I land on a show just as they are introducing their esteemed, celebrity judges. Needless to say, when I saw that Lorenzo Lamas was considered a celebrity, I had to see what the hell required his “expertise”. Did anyone else know he was considered an international sex symbol? Have the women of the world gone blind, or are they so desperate that they find a fake-baked, over-bleached, badly-botoxed shell of a poorly aging man attractive?

(international sex symbol with a laser pointer possibly taking his “title” a bit too seriously?)

Anyway . . . I cannot tell you the rules of the show without sarcasm, which wholly ruins the effective seriousness of the competition that makes viewing it hilarious. Therefore, I will simply regurgitate the producers’ words.

“From coast to coast, thousands of hopefuls gathered in recent weeks to get the chance to compete for the crown of the sexiest man or woman in America. Talent, personality and strategy were not required, just physical beauty and innate sexiness. Now TV viewers get their chance to vote on the Hot Zone Participants from each region as they face a celebrity panel of experts, including Rachel Hunter, Randolph Duke and Lorenzo Lamas.”

That’s right, this is a real show, including interview vignettes in which every contestant, and I mean EVERY SINGLE ONE, kept whining about what a great personality they have. Really? These people have personalities so great and uncorrupted by ego that they seek validation from Lorenzo Lamas about the salability of their bodies. Going out on a limb, but their mothers must be darn proud!

Top three phrases from female contestant interviews:
1. “I have a great personality. I’m funny and down to earth. Guys really like that about me.” (It couldn’t possibly be that you’re willing to whip out your assets just to hear someone tell you you’re good looking.)
2. “I know I’m good looking, that’s why I’m not in front of the mirror all the time.” (Said while nervously playing with hair, looking down, or biting lip.)
3. “I’m the whole package, good looks and a great personality.” (Spoken like a personal mantra a la ‘I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.’)

Top three phrases from male contestant interviews:
1. “I’m the whole package, what can I say?” (Spoken plainly without a smile. Okay psycho.)
2. “I have a great personality and I think that will come through.” (Yes, especially when the camera focuses only on your abs and chest. Is a man’s personality directly related to his nipples?)
3.“I don’t just rely on my looks.” (Said most by aspiring models.)

You many be wondering why I have watched it long enough to collect the information to criticize it. Why not turn it off? There are two reasons. First, I like to criticize crap, especially narcissistic crap that further highlights the American obsession with looks and celebrity. Secondly, for the show’s following catch phrases that made me laugh out loud.

*Your HOTNESS will now be judged.
*Each contestant must make a one minute DELCARATION OF HOTNESS.
*Now, for the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Each contestant will stand under the
HOT/NOT sign.
* The Countdown to HOTNESS begins.
*Let’s take a look at their SIZZLING journey down the road of HOTNESS to become the HOTTEST person in HOT-merica.
*The road to HOTNESS is paved with tears.

So the journal of life in korea has taken an obnoxious turn for this post, BUT there is some relevance. This is the crap that America exports to other countries. This is what they see, and is sometimes all they see. I find it disturbing that the best we have to offer in creative broadcasting are blatantly, over-sexualized reality tv shows, programs that emphasize the egomaniacal, inarticulate, ignorant and self-absorbed segment of our population. C'mon President Bush, is PBS really all that bad?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Korea's love for Steve Martin

"Oh, this is the best pizza in a cup ever. This guy is unbelievable. He ran the old Cup 'o Pizza guy out of business. People come from all over to eat this."
-Steve Martin's character Navin Johnson from The Jerk

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

not a teacher

for those of you keeping track of my employment history and search for the perfect job, you can scratch teacher off the list. it’s not that it wouldn’t be fantastic to be an educator, teachers are fabulous, brilliant, selfless individuals (well, for the most part). my memory has canonized several men and women who fostered my will to seek an adventurous life, and the tools to do it with (shout out to Carol Varner). however, as with all else in this wide world, some are simply suited to the task better than others.

QUESTION: Audrey, how do you know that you wouldn’t enjoy teaching?
ANSWER: I’m doing it right now. Not this minute exactly, but through the month of July to help out Alex’s school. Part time work with 8-13 year olds is full time work.

QUESTION: Is there something specific that you’re not so keen on?
ANSWER: Teaching. Yep, that about says it all. If I were to have to narrow it down, I’d say the portions of a class where everyone is staring blankly, and also when I simply run out of things to say. That’s right, I run out of things to say.

QUESTION: Is there anything you enjoy?
ANSWER: Sure, some of the kids are real sweet, and they try very hard.

QUESTION: Shouldn’t you be a good English teacher being that you’re a writer?
ANSWER: You would think so, wouldn’t you? As it turns out, not so much. The school manager says I’m doing a great job, but I’ve learned something quite disturbing about myself through this experience. I don’t know English.

ANSWER: English. I don’t know English.

QUESTION: Yeah, I heard you the first time, and again, WHAT?
ANSWER: Listen, I speak it and write it, but when I think about it I may as well be speaking Swahili.

QUESTION: You know Swahili?
ANSWER: No, dumbass. It was a figure of speech. I’m just saying that as I am teaching past/present tense verbs, and when and how to use the correct articles/pronouns that trying to make sense of it through a language barrier can be a bit daunting. It makes the brain tingle, and my knowledge of my native language starts falling out of my ears. Here’s a fun fact, knowledge looks like molasses peppered with candied beetles. Strange.

QUESTION: Does Alex have the same reaction and feelings toward teaching?
ANSWER: No. He actually likes it. I’ve asked him many times, and keep asking because I cannot believe that a person could enjoy watching their sanity slip away from them. We may have already lost him.

to sum up, teaching hurts my head and I much prefer to plug away at the writing. we love you all. peace.

Monday, July 4, 2005

To Spineless in Ottawa, Canada

Dear Spineless, your lack of maturity & integrity could bear the brunt of fault for your sudden cowardly flight. like refugees fleeing oppression, you hit streets of Gwangju with only suitcases and a stolen mobile phone, sidestepping responsibility in the form of contractual obligation and common decency. beneath the cover of night you left the country with fingers a-pointing and an aggressive lack of accountability,

it’s pathetic really, your blaming of everyone but yourselves for what i’m certain you’ll recount as a “horrible and harrowing experience” of life in korea. for your future reference, allow me to offer you some advice on living abroad:

1. don’t. that’s right, simply don’t leave home. c’mon you two, your self-admittedly “anti-social”. to enjoy a culture or simply have some good old-fashion fun, you’d have to risk interaction with other people in an environment outside your comfort zone and/or apartment. ask yourself, are you willing to sacrifice the solitude of your anti-socialism? if the answer is “NO”, then don’t leave home EVER.
2. take some time to educate yourselves on the cultural, political, and social differences of the country you are moving to. this step may raise red flags that warn of difficult challenges, and may also tell you what you are not capable of (i.e. not pissing off your boss with self-righteous, smart ass behavior).
3. people may not speak your language. i cannot stress this one enough. you cannot blame the difficulty of a language barrier for your lack of enjoyment of a place or the people who live there. a little effort goes a long way, and merely extending yourself (aka leaving your apartment) is a big step in the right direction.
4. to further elaborate on #3, food is key. you can learn a lot about where you live (i.e., livelihoods, family dynamics, traditions) if you indulge in the local cuisine. though tempting and familiar, restaurants like Outback Steakhouse, Pizza Hut, and McDonalds will do little to comfort you beyond the ease of ordering. the one Vietnamese restaurant downtown also does not count since you had it on an every-other-weekend rotation, and to point out the obvious, NOT KOREAN.
5. try not to make questionable comments about your host country and its people. this makes, and has made for that matter, you look like an ass.
6. don’t lie. you know exactly what i’m talking about.
7. finally, if you do leave opt to live abroad again, when you leave the next time (which you will), please think through you’re decision to leave and how you are leaving. this choice effects not only the two of you, but everyone you so selfishly screwed over.

that about raps up the cliff notes of living abroad. i do hope this will help with your future travels, Spineless. one last thing to consider, some people are simply hardwired with the perseverance, and oh how do i say this . . . BALLS to survive and thrive in foreign situations. ask yourself if you’re that person, but before you answer, take out your passports and inspect your korean visas. about 8 months left, huh? looks like there was a short in your wiring.