Thursday, October 14, 2010

My life or something like it.

I have the distinct feeling that for those of you who are still following this blog you might be slightly annoyed by the dearth of posts in the past few months.  I wish I could say that it was simply because I have been so busy that I have not had time to write.  I could try and sell you on that line, but it would be an utter waste of my and more importantly your time.  The simple truth is that life here is now more or less the same as life everywhere.  There are still small quirky things that happen from time to time, but in general, it's the same as if I was living in the United States and working.  It honestly doesn't make the most interesting of blogging material. 

Alas, life still moves forward.  I have started my third contract here in Korea.  Some of you might be wondering just how it is I could resign for a third year.  Well, in all honesty, money is what kept me here.  After playing with numbers and making some rough estimates I have come to the conclusion that I have a job which is paying me between 35,000-40,000 dollars a year here.  The reason this number is so high is because I do not have to pay for rent.  Once you factor in even the cheapest of rental options in San Diego you're still looking at a minimum of 6,000 dollars.  I ran my numbers using an estimate of 1,000 dollars a month.  This number is rather high, but it includes, vehicle costs, utilities, and other small things that come as part of being a functional member or society.  Assuming these numbers, that is an extra 12,000 dollars a year that I'm not paying.  Now, granted I make less than this 40,000 a year.  In fact I probably make about 66% of this number when it's all said and done.  However, the benefits here far outweigh the uncertainties when considering coming home. 

There are too many things right now that just are not clear enough to warrant leaving my job.  I do really want to come home, and I'm planning on coming home sooner rather then later.  However, the current joblessness when combined with underemployment have me scared out of my mind.  I am not going to come back to the states just to pick up a wrench again or substitute teach again.  I'd like to say that I have some level of hope that this problem will magically fix itself before I come home, but I know better.  When you combine this with the potential of another recession next year, I could not come home.  I couldn't abandon a relatively secure job and a positive work environment for the unknown that waits back home.  Don't mistake this for complacency in my situation.  I am far from it.  I am just realistic.  I don't have the money saved to wait this out right now, nor am I certain enough of my resume to ensure myself of a job when I arrive. 

The current plan is to complete my contract, and then to evaluate myself when I get closer to the time to make a decision.  I plan to come home at the end of this contract, or to extend through the end of the school year here to set myself up better in the states.  Granted for a lot of you this is not what you'd like to hear.  I unfortunately cannot offer much sympathy to you.  This is the decision that I made after some intense contemplation and thought.  I believe that this is what is best for my life right now.  Had this whole recession thing not happened then maybe I'd be in a completely different boat.  Yet, it did, and this is where I find myself now. 

Given the fun nature of this post so far I figure that I should probably change tones and talk about my life in the past month.  After my experience with the typhoon (see previous post) life has been more or less the same.  I know you're so surprised at that statement.  Don't rush to judgment too fast here.  There are actually a few interesting stories in here. 

I will start with a recipe that I "discovered" here.  I warn you not to make this because they are like crack.  It's a candied walnut.  I was trying to make roasted pork in a honey citron tea sauce.  There are several honey based teas here in Korea that are quite delicious.  The stuff is basically honey marmalade.  Well as I was roasting the pork I threw some veggies and walnuts in to roast also.  While I was eating dinner I noticed that the walnuts were ridiculously awesome.  In fact the pork wasn't that great because the tea I chose was too sweet (the honey ginger tea will work much better).  Well I decided to roast some walnuts the next day in the sauce.  I roast them until the sugars in the honey start to caramelize.  Right before I pull them out I've been throwing a little bit of shredded coconut onto them.  Once the stuff cools down you end up with some awesome walnuts.  You should be able to find the teas at almost any Asian supermarket.  I must warn you though, these things are addicting.  Do not make them if you are hungry.  You'll burn your mouth because you're eating so many of them straight out of the oven.

Outside of my accidental recipe discovery my cooking life has been relatively simple.  I have executed and managed not to screw up making my mom's pasta salad several times.  I have also made a couple of face melting salsas with my absolutely lovely food processor.  I know, I know, a guy who loves sports shouldn't be talking in such away about a food processor.  I promise there is a sports story coming soon. 

Life outside of cooking has been pretty simple recently.  There has been a whole new bunch of teachers arriving and making there way into the Seosan foreigner scene.  This means I am meeting new people and trying to remember all their names.  Not an easy task when you're as bad with names as I am.  If I could I would just name them all Bob and Susan.  It does however lead to some interesting conversations with the recently arrived.  One person, who shall remain nameless, is unfortunately the type of person that we've managed to avoid having around since I've been here.  The easy access to alcohol and exceptionally low cost of it is not a good thing for this person.  What is worse though, is the boorish/misogynistic mentality that he develops with liquid courage.  The first time I ever met him he asked me about how easy it was to score with Korean chicks.  Sensing this conversation was not going to go well I told him the truth that it was difficult, but not impossible.  He then proceeded to talk about a friend of mine for about fifteen minutes and how he was going to "get her" before long.  Unknowingly to him this woman has a boyfriend and is friends with a lot of the foreigners.  Needless to say he's made a bad impression with lots of us and is unfortunately making a name for himself with the Koreans also.  Which, sadly is passed on to all foreigners.

Okay, fine, here is the sports story.  I'll try to keep it short as this post has already gone on long enough.  For those of you that have read previous posts or I have talked to , know that Koreans love to play volleyball.  They love it so much that every public school here has an intramural team that plays other schools.  Well we recently had an 8 team tournament.  Our school took second place in the tournament.  We actually should have won but we blew a 5 point lead in the final set.  Needless to say, yours truly played quite well.  I'd like to say I have a glamorous job, but my job is basically to block when the ball is set to my side and to clean up the net.  Basically my job has become is the past few weeks to scramble, dive, and generally risk my well being in an attempt to make the play last longer.  Well, second place isn't that bad, but the funny thing is watching a 6 foot 265 pound white guy playing volleyball with a bunch of 5'5" to 5'10" 165 pound Koreans.  Needless to say, and I am quoting a friend here, "It's like watching a rhino playing with gazelles."  My body still hurts from this tournament because we played 5 games on Sunday and played 12 sets of Volleyball.  Last time we played in the tournament lost our first two games and went home.  I'd say this was quite the improvement. 

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