Formspring Mania: Who the hell is Magnes, does learning Korean make you feel superior, and The Big One.

Why do birds suddenly appear...every time...you are near?

Mom? Is that you?

what happened with that male teacher you used to talk about? the one you worked with and seemed to sort of fend off? i feel like i missed the end (if there was one?) of that series of interactions.

There was not an end. The interactions are ongoing. I just spoke to him five minutes ago, in fact. I just suddenly became very uncomfortable with writing about them.

Is feeling (morally) superior to other foreign teachers a side benefit of studying Korean for you? This isn't really a dig since I have studied and am studying Korean and I find that it allows me a barrier to say "well at least i'm not them (other expats)

Listen. Buddy. I don't think you understand how much I fucking hate studying. I hate it. I fucking hate it. I fucking fucking hate it. You know what else I fucking fucking hate? People who base their actions in life on what makes them feel superior, morally or otherwise, to others.

I don't know how many times I have to say this: I don't give a good goddamn what you're doing. And if I do, it's only with a sense of idle musing. I'm not the type to go out of my way in life to show up somebody else. I'm certainly not going to spend hours doing something I fucking fucking hate just so I can pat myself on the back about it.

Needing to feel superior to other people is, in my opinion, a huge sign of weakness both of character and of actual worth.

Do I think it's odd to meet a foreigner in Korea who has lived here for 5+ years, has half Korean children and can't place an order in a restaurant? Yes I fucking do. Yes, I will fucking raise my eyebrows at that. Other than that, however, you can order in Swahili for all I care. It's got nothing to do with me.

I study Korean because I want to be a competent human being, because I want to be able to communicate with the people around me, and because I want to be taken seriously. Me studying Korean has far, far much more to do with Koreans than with other foreigners. In fact, it has nothing to do with other foreigners at all.

Anyway, what should I feel proud about anyway? Something I've worked at for hours and can still barely do? If anything, studying Korean has made me more humble. That shit is hard and completely humiliating.

Futhermore, if I ever feel the need to say to myself, "at least I'm not them", at any point in my life, I should think I'd be closer to putting a gun in my mouth than anything. "At least I'm not ____" doesn't really sound like a pleasant way to live, if you ask me.

What is the worst thing a student has ever done to/around you? What's the best?

Probably the worst thing a student has ever done to me was when I went out of my way to prepare a big (expensive) (heavy) science experiment for my after school class, and one group in the class not only refused to participate, but also smashed an egg on the table and left it for me to clean up. I felt fucking humiliated, because not only had they been unbearably rude, but they had done so after I had gone out of my way bending over backwards to try to make sure they enjoyed in the class. I felt like a fucking fool, to be honest. I don't give many people the opportunity to spit in my face like that.

I am still teaching those students now, and they are sort of unendingly ashamed of what they did, back when they didn't know me as well. They are some of my best behaved, most respectful and responsive students now. We just got off on the wrong foot somehow. Of course, I've forgiven it. They're kids -- they make mistakes.

The best thing is.... how can I even choose? I could tell you the best thing today, or maybe this week. But the times when I feel the most tenderness toward my students is when I'm feeling sick or down about something, and they pick up on it right away. When they notice that something's off and I'm not at my best, for whatever reason, they never fail to pull it together and act like model students for the entire day, shouting down anyone who begins to conduct the slightest bit of nonsense for giving the teacher a hard time when she's not feeling well. To me, that's humanity at its finest -- sensing weakness in another human being and, instead of using it to your advantage, going out of your way to cover over and care for it.

I don't want to go to my last class today. Should I throw up on the floor of the teacher's room?

I mean, it's an idea. Haha. Do you have your absolute worst class ever on the planet last period on Friday as well? How the hell does that always happen?

What's your favorite "unintentionally sounds dirty" quote from your students? I always enjoy "I had so much homework. It made me hard."

Oh god I think I'm just honestly immune to it at this point. These days, I'm too busy being shocked by what I can hear and understand them saying on purpose in Korean. I did have a first grader tell me that he "wants" me just now. I think that was on purpose as well, though.

I'm more touched by the small strange kind things they can come out with at times. The other day I was walking home, when a group of second graders shouted after me, "Teacher beautiful fashion!" For some reason, 'beautiful' there made me do a big grin all the way home.

I admire you. No, really. I do. So thanks for your blog, because I'm able to wrap my head around a lot more and say "fuck it" a lot easier.

You know, I don't actually know what this means. Sometimes you have to say, "fuck it". I say it about 20 times on a daily basis.

You guys sometimes don't seem to realize that I'm not having a big ol' lollipops and roses time of life here in Korea. That's not my character. At all. I have my daily struggles just like everyone else. I even write about them here almost endlessly. I think sometimes you guys just miss them because they are categorized by the individual instead of being addressed to Korea, Koreans, Korean schools, Korean students, Korean this that and the fucking other. Because that's just not how I see shit. I guess I'll keep getting calls to apologize for that, but I'm not going to. Ever.

What ever happened to Mike? Do you spell talk too him?
Who, or what, is this Magnes you keep speaking of? A ghost? A myth? A legend?

Okay. The first of these was a genuine question and the second is obviously Mike doing a little attention seeking. Hello, Magnes.

Mike, Magnes, Mags, The Magpie, Comrade.... the list of names I've got for him goes on and on. Mike is a... person I met during my second year at university. He's two years older than me, and was one year ahead of me in my program, due to what I'm given to understand was a series of fourteen previous schools Mike had decided were all unfit for him. Why in the hell he eventually settled on ours, out of all of them, I have no idea. I think he just gave up. But anyway, there he was.

I met Mike because literally all of my girl friends at university were fighting over him. Plus a few other random girls apparently were as well. I don't know. Actually, I met him about six months before that, but we didn't actually start talking until then, which is a whole other story. Anyway. I, of course, being me, scoffed to the high heavens about what the hell made this guy so special anyway? Funny, that. Because out of that entire group of what became quite claustrophobically close friends, Mike and I are the only two who are still really truly in tact.

Mike and I just jive. I don't know. We have dead similar senses of humor, and we compliment each other well. He's a fucking depressing storm cloud of a man 99% of the time -- the 99% when I can hold it together and soldier on on my own steam. The other one percent, where I just can't fucking do it anymore, and I'm ready to just sit down and cry -- that's the one percent where Magnes suddenly comes lurking out of his dark shadows and says something fantastically fantastic which causes me to laugh and grasp the absurdity of whatever situation I'm in and come back around to getting a fucking grip. That's why I love Magnes, and always will. Because I can't stand fucking chirpy ass people, but it's also a rare person I've met who knows how to properly handle me once I've decided a situation is just dire.

That's why coming to Korea with him was great. And I don't think I'll ever be as close to anyone as I am to him in a certain way because of those nine months that we spent together, going through a whole lot of shit. In the ninth month, however, for a lot of various reasons, Mike decided it was best if he returned to New York. And return, he did. He's now planning on going to Portland for grad school, and we are still definitely in touch (basically every day) and I still get the feeling we'll end up in the same place again someday.

Mike is also a fucking brilliant writer and you'll all be able to grab his shit off a shelf in your local bookstore someday, so just be patient. I promise you it will happen.

Now. The grand finale. The one that absolutely slayed me before I had even managed to choke down a full cup of coffee this morning. Here we go:

have you had sex with a korean man since being in korea?

I mean. What kind of question is this? Really? First of all.... no. Not first of all. Wait. I still can't seem to get it together on this one.

Okay. Let's be logical here. Assuming I'm not gay (and I'm not saying that I'm not), and assuming that I'm not abstinent (and I'm not saying that I'm not), wouldn't it be fairly obvious that, assuming these things, which I'm not saying are certain either way, probably mean that there was a big problem if the answer to this question is 'no'?

I encounter about a thousand Korean men a day. I encounter about five foreign men a week. If I go out drinking or into Seoul. If I don't go out drinking or into Seoul, I encounter maybe one. In a week. So. I mean, I would have to be going pretty out of my way, if I were sexually active, to be sexually active with only foreign men. Would I not?

But the thing that really stumps me about this question is not that the answer, in my opinion, should be fairly obvious, but rather it's trying to imagine why on earth someone would ask it. Who did this question come from? And under what preconcieved notions? And why ask me specifically? One would think that there are quite enough blogs out there at the moment about Western women getting it on with Korean men to satiate the curiosity of anyone who may be wondering about that subject matter. So why me? Would it change your opinion of me or what I write if I were to give one answer or the other? Or are you just, simply, curious?

It just goes back to one of the number one questions I've been asked, by fucking EVERYONE, since I've come to Korea (but, actually, primarly Korean men and Western women -- not very often Korean women or Western men) is, "Do you like Korean men?"

Do you know what my answer to that is, has been, and always will be?

I like men. And Korean men are men, are they not? Then what else do I need to say?

Is it not that simple? Well. I think that it is.


Burndog said...

The Carpenter's question was mine. I must say...compared to the sex question, mine wasn't so bad. I've never formspringed before. I want one on my blog, so that my Mum can ask me questions in a bid to make me feel popular...but it's all a bit difficult. I'm not technology minded.

Have a lovely weekend.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot said...



EE heehee

heh heh...


*single tear

Anonymous said...

Of course I see your issues, I read your blog everyday, but I also admire how you take things and how you handle them, because you seem to do so a lot differently than I.

MikejGrey said...

I am constantly in need of attention. Just like your students. Honestly. I think the storm cloud over my head might be down to at least 90% by now.

Also, I think my total obliviousness to the situation at hand in college made me endearing. Now I'm just cranky and old. I think I was born to be an old man yelling for kids to get off of his lawn. "Teenage angst has paid off well/ Now I'm bored and old."

Anyhow, I think I came up with a good guest blog topic. "Persimmons, and how to handle them: Gifts Korean teachers will give you and what to do and not do with them. "

I'm no Picasso said...

Burndog -- If I could work it out, you surely could. I'm six kinds of computer retarded. Probably over ten, actually.

And to you, sir. The weather looks as though it may hold out and make life worth living.

WTF -- Oh man. I hope at least most of that wasn't directed at me.

Mags -- Haha. Love. And your obliviousness, once I clocked it, was definitely what won me over.

The Persimmon Incident of '08 will go down in history. Also, if you could make a whole blog post out of that (and I kind of don't doubt that you could), I'd buy you a lap dance in Portland.

MikejGrey said...

Magnes: Winning friends through obliviousness since 1983.

I'm going to work on that blog entry. I swear. Maybe. I'm reading Grapes of Wrath.

I'm no Picasso said...

I wish I could have been oblivious to it as well. You have no idea how many bitchy little conversations I had to sit through, with follow up from both sides bitching at me independently. Really? Is this a face that looks like it fucking cares? I think I might have referred to you as the writing program bicycle at one point, though. I'm sorry for that, in retrospect.

Also, why the hell are you reading that book? You've read it before right? Please tell me you haven't. Because it was fantastic and all that, but I'd rather pluck my eyes out with a fork than read it a second time.

(I'm reading The Count of Monte Cristo.)

MikejGrey said...

I guess compared to the other dudes in the writing program I just looked more awesome? I mean. Come on. Look who you had there. Although Rick was pretty dreamy.

Ugh. I hate Dumas. I read the three musketeers a few years ago. And wanted to stab my eyes out.

Is that one any better?

I'm reading my copy from high school. Hah. I dunno why, but I felt compelled to read it again.

I mean, it's mostly dialogue. It moves really fast. I'm like 200 pages into it already and I started it yesterday.

I'm no Picasso said...

OH GOD. Mike. Did I ever tell you that Rick once had me over to his apartment to make me pear pancakes? I have no idea why I went -- I think it was one of those things I couldn't find a way out of. Weirdest Saturday morning of my life. He showed me his swords and talked about the Bible. Oh god oh god.

I haven't actually read any Dumas before, to my recollection. It's pretty alright so far. No complaints. But a bit slow going.

MikejGrey said...

"He showed me his swords and talked about the bible."

If I didn't know Rick I'd assume you were talking about a serial killer. Or maybe that's what he'd been hiding from everyone.

I think I vaguely remember you telling me about that.

I've seen Rick's swords too.

He wasn't allowed to have those in his dorm. And he fucking almost ratted you out for having a beer. Bastard. He had an armory in willoughby. Nunchuks?! Who the fuck owns nunchuks and isn't a ninja, or a turtle?

I'm no Picasso said...

Haha I think everyone's seen Rick's swords.

He didn't almost rat me out for it. He just let me know that, as a big, strong older RA of a man, he could if he wanted to. I was at his mercy. But since he's such a decent guy, he would let it slide this once.


I'm no Picasso said...

Anon -- I missed you, there.

I dunno. I have my bad days. I just try not to post anything publicly that I feel like I haven't properly processed yet. If you were hanging out with me having coffee after a motherfucking hardass day at work, where three or four unnecessarily stupid incidents had occurred between there and when I arrived at the coffee shop, you might get quite a different version of how "handle" things. Or, rather, don't at times.

You know. You gotta just do what you can, and forget the rest.

Laura said...


I think the sex question was out of line, but I also agree with Anon. I admire you, and I take time during the day to see if you've posted or not (Ew, I sounds creepy). I think your blogs offer more insight to situations people don't always think of. Anyway, keep up the good work Jellybean! <3

I'm no Picasso said...

Thank you very kindly, Laura. And it's not creepy at all haha. What are blogs for, if not to occupy that in-between time? Thank you thank you.

Anonymous said...

No ma'am. It most certainly is not.