Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So yeah

So I was going at a good clip this month when I had yet another roadblock.  I went to this place called a Jim jil bang which is a korean sauna.  Let me tell you these places are wonderful.  The one I went to was a huge underground complex with a gym, massage chairs, restaurant, snack bar, massage parlor, movie theater, swimming pool, and 6 rooms to just sit in and sweat.  My favorite was the room where the walls were lined with charcoal. I got to meet some new people and we sweated and froze together while relaxing.  Seriously, a jim jil bang is the mellowest place in the world.  It was quiet and everyone was just there to get away from it all.  At the end of such a wonderful evening, however, I noticed that my foot REALLY hurt.  Like, I couldn't walk on it and had to take a cab home.  I thought it was broken somehow, but I hadn't done anything to it, so I went to the clinic down the street and low and behold I was right, it wasn't broken.  It was infected!  Yay!

So, I came down with a nasty case of cellulitis.  In layman's terms, that means my foot looked like a big red beachball but painful.  Emphasis on the pain.  The guy at the clinic really didn't speak English but he knew enough to tell me my foot was infected and that it was serious.  He swabbed some stuff between my toes, gave me some medicine, a shot in the butt, and sent me home.  My problem was A: Shots in the butt are really uncomfortable, B: I had no idea what I was taking as I was just given a bag full of 5 pills with no markings as to what drugs they were, and C: I didn't know the nature of my infection.  So I did what any good expat would do, find an English speaking hospital.  The thing is, and I am not faulting Koreans or anything here, when places advertise that they are "English speaking" you have to be wary.  English speaking may mean that they have one person who knows the days of the week and the months of the year and not much else, or it might mean they have a Korean American working there, it's a roll of the dice.  I don't really care if the lady at Papa John's doesn't speak English (Yesu, would you likee Lajee Coki, or Lajee Pepushee?) but I do care if my physician can't tell me what's wrong.  So I went to Samsung hospital.

Samsung is pretty much the leetest hospital I've been in in my life.  It was just impressive.  Check out their website:  Their website made me think "Hey, this could work."  I went in and even though not everyone spoke perfectly it was more than enough for me to understand the problem.  Thankfully, I'm on antibiotics and the swelling has gone down, and the pain has gone away completely.  Of course, on Monday when the pain was at its worst the kids all decided that my foot was a trampoline, how nice.

Anyway, go stuff.  I think I am back, I'm almost back to 4d on Tygem.  In fact, let me take care of that now :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

So it's official

August 31st will be my last day at YBM ECC, and just the past few days it really set in that I've been in this country for 10 months and am going to leave pretty soon.  I'll be saying goodbye to all the kids in my homeroom class and also goodbye to my great co-workers.  When I told everyone I'd be going it was a bit of an ego boost to see them all be like "Umm, no", especially my Korean partner teacher.  The way the system is setup, each class has a foreign teacher and a Korean teacher.  The Korean teacher can answer stuff about grammar and field questions for kids, and I'm around to make sure they're saying sentences correctly with good pronunciation.  In many ways I'm a glorified tape recorder, but in other ways I'm pretty essential.  The thing is, the other foreign teachers have different partner teachers, usually at least 2 if not 3.  Myself, for all of my classes including kindergarten and all of my after school classes I work with one person, my partner teacher Susan.  When I told her I was leaving September 1st, she immediately said "No you will not you will sign up for another year.  I don't now who I am going to get."

Sadly, I have to move on.  It's a long story, but I'm not re-signing my contract because the teacher who left in May is coming back because of family reasons.  My boss assured me it wasn't because of my performance and told me to come back once a position opens up.  In the mean time, I'll be looking for a position to open up sometime in October or November which means I'll be home for at least the month of September!  I'll be staying with my mom.  In the meantime, I'm going to cram in as much Go study as I possibly can before I get back.

Btw, if you're wondering, the slump is over.  I am enjoying a 9 game winning streak on Tygem against 3 dan players.  I'll be back up to my old rank in no time.  I know, by now I'm supposed to be beyond ranks or something.  Well one day I'll take the time out to sit under a waterfall in a loincloth and hum a "Buddha Buddha Buddha" mantra until I am free from caring about my rank.  There will be one blissful day where I learn to be like the flowing river or something and become one with the universe, but until then, I want to level up :)


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quick Note

Kiseido/Yutopian is carrying my book series!


So yeah I'm not going to get a parade in my honor or something but I'm being carried by a company that sells go books.  It's pretty exciting!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

World Cup

In the spirit of my friend Kristen's project I'm going to share my own new experience for today.  My friend Kristen is currently doing one brand new thing a day, every day, for one year.  So far she's almost at the half way mark and she is well on her way to 365 new experiences (read more about it at  I'm not going for even close to that many, but today was pretty special.

What does this new experience have to do with the World Cup you ask?  Well, I can honestly say this is the first time in my life I've ever been into a sports game.  That's right, I'm American, from the land of basketball and football, and I even went to U of M who has a fierce rivalry with OSU.  I gotta say though, ever since I was a kid, I've been ambivalent to just about all sports.  Basketball?  Repetitive.  Baseball?  Too slow.  Hockey?  Yawn.  I was the curiosity of all the neighbors and my family, when sports season rolled around and I showed little to no interest.  Sure, my mom is not into sports at all, but you'd think I'd at least pick up a passing interest in sports with all the hysteria surrounding local teams.  My uncle was, and still is, a Lions fanatic, and my aunts love the Pistons while I never even knew the names of the players on the teams.  This also means I've never been emotionally invested in whether or not a team wins or loses.  I went to one Wolverine's game, and I know I am an alumni and I will be lectured on this sternly (and deservedly) by U of M fans, but I totally did not care if our team won or lost.  I couldn't understand what made everyone around me scream and shout at the top of their lungs, or what compelled a 5 foot 2 asian girl to yell "Rip their F#@$#@$ing heads off!" 

Today that changed.  I went to a bar called Exit which is popular among expats here with my coworker Emily and we sat down and watched Korea vs. Argentina.  People in the bar were sporting red colored shirts and jerseys with "Fighting Korea!" and "Let's go Korea" emblazoned on the back.  There was electricity in the air and I could actually feel it.  I felt relaxed enough to yell when the Korean team came close to scoring a goal, and it felt fun to mock the Argentinian team as best I could.  Their coach is a mafioso, I swear it.  When Korea scored I actually lept up out of my seat and started yelling and joining in with the rest of the bar singing 'Taehan Minguk!!" (Republic of Korea).  It felt like a rollercoaster when the ball got close to our side of the field (notice how I'm starting to use words like we and our), and even laugh when Emily told me she wants to have the Korean Goalkeeper's children.  When the Argentinians scored their 3rd goal and Korea's loss was pretty much assured, I felt just as bad as everyone else and felt just as deflated, as if the life was sucked out of the room.  We went back home in a ... I don't know what the word for this mood is.  Disappointed, but in a sportsmanlike way?   Like I said, these are all new feelings for me.

I guess this sounds selfish, but I've never blended easily into groups and I definitely have never strongly felt any emotion linked to being in a large group of people.  The force that makes people do the wave or jingle their keys in large stadiums usually just whizzes right over my head.  When people get in a funk over a loss I just look at them like they're agonizing over spilled milk.  Now, I understand what that feeling is like, to be a part of the group and to want the group to win just because you're a part of it.  Sure I'm not Korean and soccer isn't exactly big in America, but I live and work here, they give me income, and I'm part of the community, so of course I want to show my support.  Feeling like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle where I firmly fit into my nice strangely shaped spot just felt....good. 


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Humble Pie

So this past week I was on cloud nine.  I was winning my games at the Go salons, I even beat my teacher, Mr. O, by 4 points in a two stone handicap game, and I was studying Go like nobodies business.  I was hooked to Baduk TV, and evening following along with the commentators as they showed sequences I was thinking about while watching the game.  I was plowing through games of Dosaku and somewhat following his awesome reading (as much as a mere human can anyway), so I thought I was really making some progress in Go.  I even dreamed I would just skip to KGS 5d in no time.  Then, fate walked up to me and handed me this:

Yes, good ol' humble pie.  It looks sort of like this, except its filling is made of anguish, its crust of despair, and its all topped off with a creamy, cool dollop of cold hard reality.  The fork is also conveniently there to jam through your eye.  Last thursday I sat down to play some Go on KGS.  I ended up losing two games to 3d's because I went down in flames, and dropped to 2d.  I thought...

"Ok self, 2d.  That's...not what we're going for here but that's ok.  Maybe there was a rank shift and you haven't played online Go in awhile. Just beat a 2d and you'll be fine."

Upon saying that, I proceeded to lose to 2d's.  In one of the games, I killed my opponent big and still lost (I hate those games).  So, I drop to 1d.  I tried to keep the rage from boiling over but that wasn't going to work, so I proceeded to play more and more games until I got my rank back.  I then proceeded to lose to 1 dans, and even had a hard time against 1 kyus.  It was maddening.  The more I played, the angrier I got, and the worse my play became.  By the end of the evening I had totaled my rank into the ground.  I tried telling myself that I wouldn't go to bed till I got at least 2d back, but in that state I couldn't do anything.

So, the next day I dusted myself off and just said "Self, you're not half as good as you thought you were."  I reviewed my games and I saw that all I did was go all out for the kill.  Every move was single mindedly aimed at destroying my opponent.  Of course it was fueled at having been beaten by players I thought were weaker than me, but they ended up winning, so they weren't so weak after all.  Now that my KGS rank has been trashed into the ground and my self confidence in the gutter, I'll have to pick up the pieces.  So far, I've been playing ranked games on kgs, 2 a day to get my average back to snuff, and even when I told myself I'd be calm and concentrate, I still lost to a 1 kyu (lemme tell you, that's a bad feeling).

I'm sure anyone reading this who is low dan or one kyu will feel standoffish but the fact of the matter is I studied hard and I did gain strength, so it's hard for me to swallow that someone who is 2-3 stones weaker than me was able to achieve victory.  It just means I'll have to redouble my efforts.  More exercise, more eating healthy, more tsumego problems, more more more until I get to where I'm going.  I was actually nervous playing a one dan today and even though I won handily the scar of having been dethroned so completely is still on my mind.  I guess the moral of the story is, be patient, and keep your ego in check.  Whenever mine starts going out of control I always have one of these episodes.  We'll see if I bounce back.