Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve

It's here already in Korea - 2:24 am exactly as I write this. I really wish that I didn't have to be at school today, but I do. Shabby. I'm going to cross my fingers that they let me out early, but they may dock me half a day's wages for picking a man's pocket every 24th of December - that's a little Christmas Carol humour for ya...

Well, Christmas Eve is here. I am ready for it, though I wish that I had a few more days to enjoy the anticipation. Isn't that always the way.

I've done pretty well though. I've enjoyed the city - it's pretty at this time of year. Lights everywhere and carols too - though I could do without the Korean love for Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You." It plays on repeat in some places.

I've also been lucky enough to take my old student from last year to one of my favourite Korean destinations: Everland - even more cool at Christmas time. Pig and I rode the T-Express and I took in the Christmas fireworks with old and new friends. My Korean sister joined us too. I also got to meet Pig's family which was very special. My favourite student in one of my favourite places with some of my favourite people at my favourite time of year. I liked it.

And tonight, I am going to bed far too late because I decided to take the time to skype my sister and her family. She finally got the webcam working on the laptop, which meant a view of the Christmas house - with the Christmas dog and two excited Christmas tots opening their presents from Uncle Dave. The Peppero box was a huge hit - good luck on keeping them from eating all of it before Boxing Day, Sandy and Jay.

Just a good night - and all this after sharing It's Wonderful Life in Korean subtitles with someone who was watching Mr. Potter scheme and George and Mary overcome for the first time. I guess Christmas away from home can still be special if you let it. It's a tough trade though. I miss you guys. Merry Christmas. I wish I could be there for real hugs and real snow. Roger Whittaker and a good imagination will just have to do.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Christmas Eve Radio Broadcast


Well, folks... it looks like you might be able to hear ol' Christmas Davey and his friends over the radio this Christmas Eve afterall. I'll make this long story short, because I likely told it before...

A few weeks ago while waiting in Hongdae to head to to Maria's place to pracice our Christmas carols, a Korean woman in a hurry run smack into Sung Sook. She apologized in English, which we found odd, then she moved on. A few minutes later, she came back to where we were standing and asked us if we were a band. I guess the keyboard and guitar we were carrying kind of suggested that we might be.

We explained why we were there - that we were a group of foreign teacher friends who just wanted to get-together to do some caroling over the holidays. This woman, Sehee is her name, introduced herself as a DJ from a local English radio station here in Seoul. In short, she wanted us to come into the studio on Christmas Day to chat about why we were doing this as well as to sing a few carols for their listeners. Why not?

So, after warning Sehee that we really are strictly amateurs who struggle to hold any note, she was even more convinced that we would be the right fit for Christmas Day. It's best to lower expectations.

So, that's what we'll be doing - after waking up late in the morning, having some breakfast at my place, and maybe playing some more Cranium, we will be heading down to Chungmuro Station to practice our five selected songs for the Christmas Day travellers, before moving on to the radio station to chat and sing a few carols.


For anyone back home who is interested in listening-in, don't expect the Morman Tabernacle Choir, but do expect a Christmas shout-out from Seoul - we will in effect be the Ghosts of Christmas future, being that we are 16 hours ahead. We will be on-air from 3:10pm - 3:40pm Christmas Day (Seoul time), which makes it 11:10 pm Christmas Eve (Calgary time), or 1:10am for anyone listening in Toronto - Shannon, Chris, Jenn, Maria :)

Check the TBS link by clicking here if you'd like to listen - just look for the "on air" link on the left hand side of the page. We'll be thinking about our friends and family back home, and we would love to reach you through the radio at Christmas time. Turn on the fire place, pour yourselves some egg nog, and listen to a bunch of homesick amateurs murder some Christmas classics.

A Christmas Princess

Today, I asked Mrs. Lee if her daughter was getting excited about Christmas...

"Of COURSE!" was the answer.

Now, understand that "Of COURSE!" and variations on the same theme, are common answers from Mrs. Lee. The first time I heard her use it was when I asked her if she went to church:

"Of course not! I am NOT Christian!" In a country where 85% of the population is Christian, it didn't seem like such an obvious answer. But, through this year, I would hear Mrs. Lee use it to answer such questions as:

"Did the schedule change for today?"
"Of course!"

"Do the students clean the school every day?"
"Of course!"
"So... we have no janitors?"
"Of course not!"

"So... this form that you gave me today, is due yesterday?"
"Of course!"

...and the list goes on. Everything is an obvious answer to Mrs. Lee. So, her daughter was getting excited. I inquired as to what she was hoping to get for Christmas. Mrs. Lee's straight-faced answer was: "A toy dog with a crown and a pink dress."

Of course.

She then went on to tell me, with a classic Mrs. Lee amused grin, how each year before Christmas, she takes her children to the Lotte Mart near my house. She then tells each child to choose one toy, get on bended knee before the shelf, and pray to Santa Claus to bring it to them.

"So, is Santa going to bring the crowned, dress-wearing dog to your daughter?"
"Of COURSE!"
"And what about your son?"
"He wanted a baseball glove and some baseballs."
"Are you going to get those for him?"
"Of COURSE NOT!"
"Why not?"
"He didn't pray hard enough."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Seoul Christmas Caroling Collective



We are a small collective, but we have big hearts.

Last night was the first official caroling day for our little singing group that we started-up about a month ago. It was grand.

I realize that the idea of Christmas caroling must seem like a truly odd one, unless you were born in Dickensian England. For me, the idea is a good one. It's been a few years now since the last time I sang Christmas carols at the Calgary Zoo with some of my theatre friends, but for a time, it really was a Christmas tradition for me. As squeaky clean as that sounds, at Christmas time, I don't mind the squeak.

So, some time last August, with the hint of summer coming to a close, I was on my way to the East coast if Korea to spend a beach weekend with some of my friends here when it struck me - summer is ending, fall is approaching, therefore - Christmas is coming. With me, it doesn't take much. Right there on the bus I decided to suggest that we get a group of people together to go caroling in Seoul. Apparently I found a group of friends this year for whom the idea of caroling at Christmas time is not too wholesome an idea. Score.

So, beginning in mid-November, we started meeting to practice. First, though - I needed some music. It is a challenge to find four-part sheet music online, and it's really hard to find English music in Seoul - especially if you try to get even slightly specific. So, a quick email to Carolyn Byers - a former musical director back home, I soon had 15 or so carols scanned and emailed to me here in Korea. When a Christmas emergency arises - even in November - look no further for help than Carolyn Byers.

Sung Sook found the rest and after some late night photo-copying and binding, we had our first meeting at our school. Three more meetings followed: Shirley's house, my house, Maria's house, and I must say - we got to the point where we were sounding pretty good. It didn't hurt to have Sung Sook and her friend, Hyun Jung there - both music graduates from Yonsei University. They tolerated our tin ears and got us sounding pretty respectable. I realize we are in it for fun, but we also wanted to sound somewhat on key when the night came.


I have to say, we sounded pretty damn good in the apartments. None of us are really singers, though I was able to remember most of the bass-lines form the traditional carols, which gave our group a little bit more depth. Hyun Jung sang alto and the rest did melody while Douglas joined me on bass form time to time. We sounded all right. It was really also just an excuse to get-together and get ourselves into the Christmas spirit. By our second practice, we were fully into the spirit of the season, and it wasn't even December yet.

So, last night, we met at the Starbucks outside of Anguk Station near Insadong and made our way towards the newly constructed Gwanghwamun plaza. We tried singing there for a few songs, but we were competing with cars, lots of people, and music from neighbouring events along the plaza. None of us were confident enough to really raise our voices as needed, and we ended-up sounding horrible - couldn't hear each other and we were all over the map in terms of timing and tone. Shabbiness ensued. And everyone was too shy to really be heard at all.


But, we wouldn't be denied. We bailed from the plaza and headed toward the head of Cheonggye-cheon, the stream in downtown Seoul. There, we met-up with Roger and Miranda who made it up from Suwon and after a coffee warm-up, we decided to gather under the hug Christmas tree and try our luck there. Much better. Take two was worth it and we sang out with enough Christmas cheer to put a blue-eyed Grinch to shame.


It was freezing cold though, so after a trip down to stream level, one more coffee shop visit, and one more tree-singing stint, it was time to head home. Really, just a festive night in every way. It wasn't perfect - some of our regulars couldn't be there due to other commitments and one of our key ladies had laryngitis, but hell - we all had Santa hats and smiles. There were cute tots wanting to get their pictures taken with us, and it seemed to us that most passing Koreans and foreigners alike were pretty pleased with our choice to stand there on a cold night and sing Christmas songs.

Sadly, today's caroling event was canceled - too many people unable to make it - hospitals and sickness and other realities get in the way sometimes. But, we are going to re-group for Christmas Day when we will be heading to TBS English Radio station in Chungmuro for an interview and to sing a few of our best carols. We might extend it a bit and take our little caroling troupe back to Cheonggye-cheon afterward as well - capitalize on our sense of Christmas Day merriment.

We are not the best sounding group in Seoul, but I think we might be the only group of foreigners who thought to get-together, but on Santa hats and sing a few songs of the season. At the very least, it was an evening to remember. It warmed the cockles.

Christmas Presents


Just about to head out for our first night of caroling. Lexi has laryngitis, it's fairly effing cold, and we might not have the turnout that I expected, but we're going to keep our fingers crossed.

Had a great afternoon - skyped the folks while Benny was over for dinner back home - exchanged our gifts and opened others. The logistics of getting everyone together again for a mass gift opening is a little unrealistic. So, on went the Nat King Cole and the Peppermint Tea, and we dug in.

Just wanted to send a quick, yet sincere, thank you to my family for the gifts. Sung Sook loved her new shirt and her treble clef pin - she's wearing it tonight for caroling. She also loved her scarf and the skate ornaments for us. The scarf had her pretty preoccupied for some time.

Thanks Auntie and Ernie for Cranium - we hope to play it tonight after caroling and on Christmas Eve - awesome gift that my friends will be thankful for too. The calendar will go on my wall at school and the socks... well... what would Christmas be without Christmas socks?

Sandy and Jay, Christian, Brandon and Indiana - thank you for the Harry Potter Calendar - I might bring it to school where I can give a page to students as a prize. The photos are great - I'm going to add some of the ones that mom and dad brought with them in October. The game, as you already know has been a huge hit in the after-school classes, and I love my skates too :)

Mom and Dad - the shirt is perfect - thank you :) The t-shirt and Mukmuk pin will be permanent fixtures for the upcoming Olympics. This way, I can rotate 3 shirts instead of 2.

There are still a couple of gifts remaining under the tree from Santa - I will save those for the 25th. I look forward to knowing what you all think of the gifts we sent to you.

Off to carol now - wish us luck...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas in my Apartment


As I mentioned before, I have take the liberty of decorating my small corner of the world here in Seoul. I live in an office-tel - basically an apartment for one. My mom commented when she arrived in October that walking down the hallway of my apartment kind of looked like walking down a cell-block in a state penitentiary. I can't blame her - the hallways are rather cold and foreboding, but once inside let me tell you - it's a pretty cool little place.

It's even better at Christmas time. I got the lights up on the picture window, the old Korean Christmas tree running it's third tour of duty with pig-in-diapers-with-a-crown-on-its-head ornament hung with care. That's about it, though there are some Christmas cards from home, a few candles and a Totoro curtain hanging from the entrance way. I've got pictures from home, Roger Whittaker and a few others on call on itunes and the speakers given to me by Ray, and I've got Time Horton's coffee in the cupboard and short-bread in the freezer.

In my walk-up loft, I have a few mattresses ready for guests on Christmas Eve. That's going to be good. In less than a week, my place will be permeated with the smell of my vegetarian chili - a smell that has for me become as synonymous with Christmas as pine trees and Christmas morning blend coffee. I will write about Christmas Eve after the fact, but for now I can look forward to it. I will have 8 or 10 friends coming to hang-out, eat a pot-luck, play games (Catan and others), watch a Christmas movie or two, and chat with wine glass in hand - long into the night.

In less than an hour, I've got a skype-call lined-up with mom and dad and my good friend from home - Ben. Ben was around near the original days of my annual "It's a Wonderful Life" Christmas parties. They were good, and they grew. I believe that I got all the way up to the "15th annual" before heading off to Korea. These years, Benny makes sure to contact my parents each holiday season for a get-together. My parents miss my friends as much as they miss me, so it works out well.

So, today, before heading out for our first Christmas Caroling gig (more on that later), Sung Sook and I will be opening gifts via skype with mom and dad back home. Their package arrived here in Seoul about a month ago now - they were on a mission once they got home. The gifts are wrapped and under the tree - Douglas even tried to see what was inside, but to no avail.

Speaking of packages, allow me to relate a quick tale of good fortune and good karma. A while back, my brother back home, Janos, put me in touch with two friends of his that he knew through the ever-expanding Calgary Theatre Scene, Neil and Emiko. I had met Neil once at a neighbour's house party about three years ago. I had seen Neil and Emiko on stage in various productions in Calgary, but never really got to know them at all beyond a "hello".

Anyway, Janos put us in touch for the reason that they were planning a trip to Korea to teach. We facebooked from time to time, they asked a few questions, I answered them, and they made their way here in late November. Unfortunately, their hagwon didn't work out. It's a big one, but not the right one. Neil had taught previously in China, so this wasn't a case of culture shock so much as it was a case of two people facing the reality of the next year of their lives and making the call to back away rather than deal with being miserable until this time next year.

Thinking they might need a place to stay while they figured their stuff out, I offered my loft. I'm going to be honest here - I nearly wanted to suck-back the words as soon as I typed them on facebook chat. The thing is - I didn't really know these people. My apartment is small, and by the sounds of things, they stay would be indefinite - not a comfortable situation for me, or for the newly married couple who had suddenly found themselves stranded in Asia.

However, if the situation were reversed, I know that I would have been grateful for the offer - coming as it was from someone from "home". Neil and Emiko ended-up staying less than a week. They found another position before heading home to Calgary for Christmas, and they will be back here in January to start their new jobs.

Now that they are gone, I have to say that I immediately missed them. Truly good people, and I'm not just saying that for their benefit as I know that they are unaware that this blog exists. My initial hesitance at offering them a place came mostly from the fact that I had been stupid busy of late - rather bitter at school, and not the best guy in the best mood to be a host of any kind. Good people do bring the good out in me though. I was sorry in a way to see them go, but glad they'll be back in January for a visit before heading south to Geoje Island to teach.

What I am also truly grateful for is "Neil and Emiko's One-Day Trans-Pacific Delivery Service." While I am keeping some of their heavier baggage until January, Neil and Emiko offered to take my two substantial Christmas packages back home with them on the airplane. Mom, dad, and the rest of my family had their gifts from me, from Seoul, almost within the same day of them leaving (considering the time change). It comes around. Thanks, guys.

Christmas at School



It really feels like it this year. It has a little, I'm sure, to do with the fact that I pressed some button on my heater and now my apartment is an icicle. A problem shortly remedied when Sung Sook has a look.

I've just been doing a lot of Christmas stuff these days. I kind of made up my mind this year - I'm going to go for it... Christmas, that is. I need to, I think. I'm spending the holiday in Seoul for the first time since moving here in the summer of 2007. Though I've spent significant time in the city during the lead-up to Christmas, I have so far managed to avoid spending the actual day here. As it is for many, Christmas, for me, is a time to be with family. So, while Christmas Eve '07 found me swimming in Loh Dalum Bay on Koh Phi Phi in Thailand, and Christmas Eve '08 found me at home after a successful early December surprise for my family, Christmas Eve '09 will find me here - in the "Soul of Asia."

I'm not going to kid myself and say that there isn't somewhere I would rather be. Christmas is a time for friends and family - family first. I have friends here - some of them very dear - but truth is, this might be the last year that my oldest nephew believes, without impending doubt, in Santa Claus. Knowing that I am missing this Christmas at home, for that reason alone, makes me want to cut out of work early and pay through the nose just to be home at Christmas, suffer through five days of jet-lag, and get back on a plane in time for winter camp at my Seoul public school.

Yet, here I am. There is no need to get all sentimental here, though I'm sure I might sometime before Christmas. Instead, let me tell you about some of the things I have been doing to make this Christmas an enjoyable one for me. Fact is, it's not that hard if you know where to look. Seoul's 80-some-odd % Christian population has taken the Korean franchise of that religion to a healthy and robust place. That means a lot of churches, but also a lot of the commercial aspects of the season. Some people poo-poo it, but it's what I know, and since Christmas for me is more about tradition with friends, family and surrounding experience than it is solely about the assumed birthday of Jesus of Nazareth, I kind of like the twinkly lights. In Seoul there are lots of them. If you dig on the stuff that is immortalized in song through "Silver Bells" and "It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas", then Seoul is not a bad place to spend the holidays.

Anyway, I could go on. Let me start at school, since that's where I left off in my last blog - a lump of coal of a blog if there ever was one. Not to say I didn't mean every word of it, but there is another side. The last two weeks or so have brought that other side into light.

1) School

Aside from my open class which was a dubious experience for me, the lesson that it was built upon went over quite well. I decided to use it for my grade 2 lessons that week as well, and it was a blast. The basic premise was to teach the target language: "What do you want most for Christmas?" along with an appropriate answer. I had students considering whether or not Lee Hyori, Korean pop superstar, would appreciate more plastic surgery for Christmas as opposed to soju, or a teddy bear. I had students writing their Christmas wishes on scrap paper, balling them up, and them throwing them at each other (snowball fight!). The found papers were then read aloud using the target language, and the reader had to guess from which table team the wish came. The kids had fun, so did I. Best of all, they spoke English, they learned a little bit about my own Christmas traditions in Canada, and I got to show them my favourite Donald Duck cartoon - Donald's Snowfight, a tradition passed on to me by my friend, Shane. Everything has a link to something in my Christmas past it seems. Starting to get sentimental. Moving on...

For Christmas gifts this year, I decided to make Christmas music CDs for the teachers I've gotten to know well this year. 22 of my favourites - from James Brown, to Jane Siberry. I'm sure that some of the songs will go over well, while others will seem more than strange. It matters not - to me it's more about cultural exchange than pleasing the ear. Mission accomplished, it seems - I've had more than a few people at school say something to the effect of "this is the first year that I've had a Christmas season. Many of the teachers feel that way." It has also been amazing being the delivery guy for the gifts that my parents sent from Canada to some of the teachers that took special care of them during their stay here in October. Mr. Choi was nearly in tears when he saw the gift box for his family, and each teacher who received a gift from my mom and dad was completely lost for words. It was, in many ways, inconceivable that someone would think to send a wrapped Christmas gift to them in Korea. Nice work, mom and dad :)

I guess my room decorating, gift and card-giving, and Christmas themed lesson teaching, has done well. It's cost me little, I like doing it, and even if the odd teacher looks at me curiously as I'm walking down the hall whistling "Jingle Bells", I get the impression that most of the school staff and students are digging on the good spirits and fellowship that Christmas should bring. I don't really take credit for it, but I do think that maybe my December-long enjoyment and promotion of it has in some ways extended the season past the usual one day event that it is in Korea - at least for the students and staff who are open to it. I mentioned above that Seoul decorates the hell out of itself for the holidays, but as far as it goes for most families, Christmas is a time to go to church and then go home. Some have trees, but not many. Some do presents, but not all.

I've just been a right jolly old elf at school for the most part, despite my cold, and it seems to be making me happier too. Next week, leading up to Christmas Eve, I'll be teaching my grade 2 classes about the classic Telus Tune: "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas", while the 3 classes will be introduced to the Christmas Eve truce of 1914 through an activity based around the 2005 French film: Joyeux Noel. I don't care if it's the last week and kids have already mentally checked-out. Teacher Dave is at the helm which means it's time to learn them some Christmas. Monday will be the after-school English club Christmas party - secret Santa gifts all submitted and wrapped and ready for distribution. I am working until Christmas Eve, but it can't be all bad.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wanting to write

...but tonight, I'm too tired. I've been doing this a lot lately - wanting to write back home and finding myself too busy with Seoul stuff to allow myself to sit down in Seoul and clear my head enough to write to the folks back home. It's not that I haven't skyped, though it feels like there are many things I want to write about as well. I thought it might have been the right time tonight, but sleep calls me - I'd better take it when it comes. Christmas is coming - enjoying the season, but the big still jumps out at you when you least expect it. One week away.

I'll be sure to write this weekend. Sleepy bye-bye.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Open class

I had my open class today. I actually had one a couple of weeks ago and it was a smashing success by all accounts. Sadly, I had to do another one today.

The school gets measured in many ways by the district supervisors and these open classes in which other teachers come to observe and critique the lessons are a tad tedious in that they are traditionally not a true representation of what a real class is. From the ones that I've been to, the students seem rehearsed, and the teachers run around cramming 3 lessons worth of material and activities into the 45 minute slot allowed for a regular period. In other words, these open classes become a completely unrealistic depiction of what we do as Native Speaking English Teachers. They are designed to impress and to illicit praise in hyperbole. It's expected and it's rather ridiculous.

I see this as a lost opportunity to get some actual feedback and for the district to see what really goes on from day to day. In all honesty, I would much better appreciate having a surprise visit from supervisors who could then see what a S******** Middle School day really consists of. Had the observers shown-up a few weeks ago, they might have seen the reality of where I work - students 10 minutes late for class, students not prepared, not listening, throwing shit at each other, and disrespecting the Korean co-teacher. Instead, supervisors come to an open class and see kids well-behaved, on time, and ready to be angels.

I didn't want that to happen here, but I had to balance my wants with the school's needs. Sadly, in Korea, appearance is, if not everything, then close to it at times. Teachers depend on getting good reviews from their peers if they want to do well in the district. I played the game as best I could and gave them the show they were looking for - and I got the usual comments that come from these types of open classes: "That was wonderful!", "You have such a great way of managing the students and getting them to participate!" etc. etc.

What I wouldn't have given for them to watch on hidden camera last week so that they could have seen the true face of my day-to-day - the lowest possible standards of classroom management (that belonging to most of my Korean co-teachers), colliding with my apparently much higher standards - watching frustration build, consequences for bad behaviour disappear or not be enforced, and lessons come to a complete halt because I don't think I should have to look the other way while students throw their school supplies at each other, completely ignore the lesson, yammar-away at each other in Korean, and carve holes in the new desks we just bought for the English Only Classroom.

All of this occurs on a daily basis while my co-teacher generally sits idly by and wonders why I'm getting frustrated. That would be a great show for the district.
I realize that I sound all old-school and tight-ass when I talk about "kids these days" - but seriously... kids these days. I seem to work with people who have thrown-in the towel. It's as though my Korean co-teachers have seen the imminent end-times just around the corner, so why should they bother making sure that their students are listening? A cliched paper plane could zoom through the air, thrown by a student, hit my co-teachers square in the ear, and they would let it fall to the floor without changing their expression of utter defeat. At times, with some teachers, it IS that bad. Actual conversation with a co-teacher last week:

Dave (approaching the subject with far too much respect): Sorry about getting frustrated today, but I was wondering what you'd like me to do if the students are clearly not listening, and distracting the students who are trying to learn. Would you be comfortable maybe helping me by telling those students to focus while I am giving the lesson?

Teacher (with complete sincerity): I think that you should just let them talk.

Dave: Excuse me?

Teacher: These students won't learn anyway, so if you ignore them, you'll be less frustrated.

Dave: But the other students can't learn because the other students are poking them in the back of the head.

Teacher: I know. It's really frustrating sometimes.

Dave: Yeah... frustrating... yeah...

Whatever. Today, I gave them the show that they wanted. Everyone loved it. My Vice Principal even gave me a hug and glowed with pride in the praise rained-down on our English department. I am proud that the lesson went well, I just wish that the students and my fellow teachers would see the value in learning from what seems like the generally acceptable failure of what we do day-to-day: try to teach some of the worst-behaved kids in Seoul a second language under the shabbiest classroom standards imaginable. I know that I should feel relieved and proud of the success of the day, but overall, I think I've further-strengthened my resolve to make this a better situation next year. I owe it to myself and to the (sadly) small percentage of students who come into my classroom wanting to learn, and respecting their teachers. My target audience may be small, but I am bound and determined to make it grow and to remove the weeds that get in the way. Next time a student disrespects a classmate or my co-teacher, I'm just going to have to get all Noah Whyle in Donnie Darko: "Get out." If that doesn't work, I might try getting all Ray Kwan.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New roomates



Hey, folks...

Lots to write about - I would love to be able to stay and chat more, but as it is, I'm pretty effing tired and I've got a lot of sleep/work to catch-up on.
Just wanted to say that I've got a couple of room mates staying with me for the next little while. It's not the first time - a couple of teacher friends have had some lay-over time after leaving their contracts and before leaving Korea. This time, some friends I met through other theatre folk had a rude awakening from their hagwon they signed with before coming to Korea, and as a result, have decided to look for employment elsewhere in Korea. It seems they have found a good fit south of the mainland. For the next few days however, they will be staying in my comfy loft.
I can't say I know them well, but as facebook tells me, we have nearly 50 common friends - such is the world of Calgary theatre. It's been good chatting with them tonight though, and it'll be nice having some December guests to warm the home. They are in a tight spot, so I'm happy to be able to have a place that can offer some relief in a relatively comfortable way.
It's December here - lots of lights and lots going on. Christmas caroling is in full swing, new friends are being made and older friends are re-signing for another year. Makes the next contract seem like the right choice. It is December though, and I miss my families - Bailey and Gagnier. I guess that's how it will always be for me. I'm glad I have a tree though - and good friends to sit by it.