Category Archives: me

Edinburgh in Summer

Obligatory shot of Edinburgh Castle
Obligatory shot of Edinburgh Castle

As I’m writing these posts, I’m realizing just how far behind I am. In June (six months and one week ago), we went to Edinburgh pretty much immediately upon our return from Iceland to see Billy Bragg. We decided to make a trip of it, and stayed three nights at the Lochend Apartments.

It was about a 30 minute walk from the CBD, but that’s fine, because the CBD is mostly just full of tourists. The distance from the center also meant that for the same price as a chain hotel room, we got a two-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and washing machine. That’s my kind of trade off.

While we were there, we also decided to go to the US Embassy, so I could get extra pages put in my passport. I could have gotten a new passport with my married name and nothing but blank pages, but we didn’t think we had ten days. HAHAHAHA! Oh, well, live and learn.

A little slice of America: gripy government workers with short hours.
A little slice of America: gripy government workers with short hours.

The embassy was an entertaining way to while away a morning, if you have absolutely nothing to do. There were three people, including myself, there for “citizen services”, but one woman (of the three staff visible) carped for about an hour about how we should really be going to the London office, because none of us were Scottish residents. Apparently, that ratio of one staff person per passport was too much for her to handle.

After a lengthy wait, my passport was taken off me and I was told to return several hours later. Sticking one booklet inside of another booklet and affixing it is time-consuming. Suddenly with a bit of time to fill, we decided to to for a walk.

Arthur's Seat from the bottom.
Arthur’s Seat from the bottom.

Arthur’s Seat is a nice little hike, if you want to feel like you’ve done some exercise, without actually really doing any. It’s only about 100m high, and you are rewarded with 360° views of Edinburgh. The down side is that about a thousand other people will be there, too, and the path is only 1.5 people wide.

Arthur's Seat from the top. This is the angle that doesn't show all of the tourists around us.
Arthur’s Seat from the top. This is the angle that doesn’t show all of the tourists around us.

As it was conveniently located nearby, Arthur’s Seat fit the bill. At the appointed hour (the embassy has very short hours for dropping off/ picking up passports), we retrieved my passport from the guard– apparently peeling off backing and sticking the pages in had tuckered out the actual staff.

All that was left for us to do was head over to Queen’s Hall for Billy Bragg. I tried to find the set list, but… it wasn’t on the first page of Google. At any rate, what I can reliably report six months on, is we had good-ish seats and he played a bunch of new songs, most of which I quite liked, as well as all the old ones you expect to hear. In other words, a great show.

Billy Bragg, Queen's Hall, 3 June 2013  (I said good-ISH seats. )
Billy Bragg, Queen’s Hall, 3 June 2013
(I said good-ISH seats. )

What I Did on My Spring Vacation

Part 2 of the vacation: The Family began in New Orleans with one of my brothers and his wife. Craig, naturally, wanted to check out the local sports, and Jeff was kind enough to hook us up with some excellent seats at a Hornets game. We spent about an hour standing outside the arena catching up after the game, then walked back to our hotel. New Orleans kind of scares me, especially after living in Korea for so long, but our hotel was only a few blocks away, so I would have felt stupid taking a cab.

The next day, we drove to my dad’s house in Mississippi and spent a few days relaxing there. It was Spring Break week, so my sister brought her kids one night and we went to Vicksburg to the War Memorial the next day. Craig and I had been hoping to walk around, but in ‘Murica people don’t walk– the entire tour is clearly set up only for driving. It was interesting, and Craig was able to learn about the Civil War, but we spent about six hours in the car that day. With three teenagers.

Walking my dad's dog in his "yard".
Walking my dad’s dog in his “yard”.

All too soon, our time was up there and we were off to Baton Rouge for the next round of Meet the Family. This part of the trip was much busier, seeing everyone and getting together for dinner/ mini-reception at Mama’s house. Craig only had two weeks off, so he went back to Korea, and I went on a road trip with my mom and two of my sisters to go see my aunt in Houston.

We had a great time! My aunt is really fun and I was finally able to meet the guy she’s been seeing for about ten years. For some reason, that seems to be the only other picture I have of the trip.

My twin, my aunt, and I.
My twin, my aunt, and I.

I’m planning to go back in the summer, so maybe I can remember to take a few more photos then…

The Grand Canyon

I don't think I'll ever get tired of Craig's hat.
I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Craig’s hat.

One day in Vegas was enough for us, even though we spent 90% of that day in Red Rocks or sleeping. So, when we woke up, we packed our stuff and hit the road for the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s a five-hour drive, but we stopped for a leisurely lunch as well as a coffee or two, so we arrived mid-afternoon.

We made the most of the remaining daylight by hiking along the rim until dusk. We managed to make it from Mather Point to the close end of the rim walk and back. We were staying in the park, but at the one hotel not directly located on the South Rim. The room was nice, but the heat didn’t work properly and the promised internet was actually located in a common room in a different building.

No problem. We were still jet-lagged, so we fell asleep shortly after dinner and woke up well before dawn. An hour later, we were at Mather Point ready to watch the sunrise. It was quite peaceful, with only a handful of people there, all silently waiting for the sun to come up. For about five minutes. Then, a tour bus disgorged a load of Koreans who quickly did their best to dispel the quiet as they pushed their way between the safety rails and those of us who had arrived before them, even the ones who had set up tripods. After about 30 seconds, we decided to move a few feet down the trail.

The calm before the storm, moments before being swarmed by Koreans.
The calm before the storm, moments before being swarmed by Koreans.
Korean tour buses, not just for Korean mountains anymore.
Korean tour buses, not just for Korean mountains anymore.

As is usual with Korean tour groups, they stayed together with only one or two following up to find a less crowded spot to enjoy the view. Later in the day, we saw them returning to their hotel, box lunches in hand. I wouldn’t be surprised if their itinerary for the day included the Hoover Dam and Vegas.

Anyway, we walked the South Rim from Mather Point to Hermit’s Rest. Between the two days, we walked the entire South Rim. Along the top, that is. We promised each other about a hundred times that we would be back to hike down to the floor and camp overnight.

We had planned to walk back, but the lure of the shuttle bus was too strong. We rode back to the Visitor Information Center, got some lunch, and were on the road back to LV before 2:00. We felt a little more pressed for time on the drive back, so we wouldn’t be on the road too late, but Craig couldn’t pass up a uniquely American experience along the way: firing a machine gun at a road side cafe.

A quick pit stop to fire off a few rounds, as you do.
A quick pit stop to fire off a few rounds, as you do.

That was that for Vegas. On the way back to Korea, I had about 12 hours in the city, so I was able to meet up with Aaron, a long-time listener of my podcast that I’ve had an online friendship with for a few years now. An awesome end to an amazing trip.

Vegas, Baby!

Me and my old man. :-)
Me and my old man. 🙂

This post is about a month overdue, but time seems to fly when you are unemployed a lady of leisure. Just over a month ago, I finally took Craig to meet the family. On the way, we stopped in Las Vegas for a few days, mainly to get married, but also to see the Grand Canyon.

Craig and I first talked about getting married a few months ago, but it all seemed such a hassle: he would have to dig up 20-year-old divorce papers and I would have to try yet again to get an official death certificate from Australia. Fortunately for us, Craig has lots of free time at work and, with a little research, learned that LV has pretty much the slackest marriage laws in the world. If you ever wanted to be a polygamist, Vegas should be your venue of choice: no papers, no problem.

We went straight to the courthouse after checking in to our hotel, since it’s open until midnight. (Don’t these people realize they are government workers?) We passed the gauntlet of wedding chapel shills and filled out the paperwork in a couple of minutes. There was no one in line, so we were in and out in less than ten minutes.

We had planned on having an Elvis wedding, but neither Elvis got back in touch with us. So when we passed an open drive-thru on the way back to the hotel, Craig did a quick U-turn and, after a 20 minute wait while two other ceremonies were performed, we were married without having to get out of our car. While still wearing the clothes we had traveled over 24 hours in. I’m sure years from now, we’ll regret not having taken any photos of our wedding, but that will be because we will have forgotten how gross we looked.

After a long, hot shower, we celebrated our union at… Twin Peaks. Neither of us had heard of it, and I walked past three waitresses and the hostess thinking it was some kind of Northwest/ lumberjack thing. That is, until our waitress basically dumped her boobs on our table as she introduced herself. Oh, ok. Got it.

The waitstaff was clearly trained to be very friendly and chatty, which just made us feel awkward. We made the best of it by grilling her for ideas on what to do the next day, since we no longer had a wedding cluttering up the day. She suggested we go to Red Rocks, about 30 minutes outside of town.

We headed out early in the morning, and entered the park as the rangers were cleaning up the gate area. They kindly gave us some directions, but I don’t think you could really get lost. There were only a few roads, at least one of which was a circle. We drove around, stopping to hike here and there, nothing too strenuous. All in all, it was the best wedding day ever. 🙂

One of many Bee Hives at Red Rocks.
One of many Bee Hives at Red Rocks.
Some of the petroglyphs were older than others.
Some of the petroglyphs were older than others.


Home for the Holidays

Well, Craig’s home, anyway. I’ve been to England a few times now, but this was my first holiday season with Craig’s family. My family doesn’t do big Christmas mornings anymore. So, I wasn’t really expecting much more than dinner at Craig’s parents. His parents still do the full spread with bags of gifts from Santa for each of the grandkids and tons of presents around the tree. So, for the first time in over fifteen years, I got to sit around opening piles of presents on Christmas morning, followed by a giant festival of food. Good times.

Christmas part 1
Christmas part 1
Christmas presents, part 2
Christmas presents, part 2

Our visit wasn’t all eating and hanging out with the family. We walked the last fifteen miles of the West Highland Way, just enough to know that we want to do the whole thing when we have the time. We had driven up to Fort William on New Year’s Eve, but being old, we went to bed early in lieu of the hogmanay festivities.

Hey, this water isn't rain!
Hey, this water isn’t rain!
Surprise-- hiking in the rain in the UK.
Surprise– hiking in the rain in the UK.

Hello? Is this thing on?

Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve posted. So long, in fact, that I decided to start a whole new blog. There’s an Evil Jenniferteacher out there (not to be confused with Evil Jen), so I couldn’t just move over here as Jennifer Teacher. (Note: Actual evilness unproven. Mostly she just has my name.) My *plan* is for this to be a new and improved blog, so 2.0 seemed about right. By new and improved, of course, I mean old and unimproved– the regularity and enthusiasm for blogging I had in the early (and mid) days of the original blog.

A lot has happened since my posts petered off into nothingness. I won’t bore you with the details. I’ll just say that most, if not all, of it has made my life happier. If you want to catch up on my daily, or at least weekly, life in the last year or so, you can read about how I’ve spent most of my weekends and some of my mid-weeks here.

I’ve just gotten back from my summer holidays, and, unlike my most recent post promising holiday highlights and photos, these will actually get posted. I’ve written an absurd amount, so I need to pare it down to a length that won’t make readers fling themselves out a window to escape.

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

It has been brought to my attention (repeatedly) that I haven’t updated my blog since May. I would say I’ve been busy, but really I haven’t been busier than usual.

The semester came to a rather rushed conclusion, filled with field trips, “experiences”– to use the Korean teachers’ lingo, and swimming and dance lessons. I have some video of the latter which I may post, if I get around to it.

I stayed here for the summer and it was pretty quiet and routine for the most part. As I *may* have mentioned, I live in an old house with “creative” wiring. So, I don’t have AC. Summer in Korea is hot and humid and fans don’t always cut it, even for cold-natured freaks like myself. So, a fair amount of my vacation was spent reading at Starbucks. I live on the edge, I know.

Mama and Anne came to visit and that was fun. We read at Starbucks together for a week. 🙂 They missed their flight out, because it was outrageously overbooked, so we made it to Insa-dong and they did a little shopping. Since I was able to stock back up on socks with pictures of crap piles on them, it wasn’t a wasted trip for me, either.

The night they were supposed to leave, I stayed out all night. Mama tried not to seem shocked. Hehehe. I felt like a middle-aged rebel.

That was pretty much the high point of my vacation: shocking my mother.

I also did a lot of other stuff, that I would normally think about doing, but then punk out at the last minute. I’ve been seeing someone for three months now and he not only makes plans (which I’m good at), he does them (which I’m not so good at). If you want to read about all of the baseball and soccer games I’ve been to, look here. He wrote about the 17 km coastal hike which I managed to both survive and enjoy, too. I will admit that my favorite part was the hotel room with a giant window overlooking the beach, though.

Sorry this is such a boring post, but four months is a lot to cover, so Cliff Notes it is. At this point I should probably make my usual promises to post more regularly… I will at the very least try to get a couple pictures posted.

I haven’t been knitting much. I’ve been into lace lately, and I need peace and quiet to knit it without making a ton of mistakes, so no subway knitting for me. With Craig living all the way across Seoul, that’s a lot of knitting time that I haven’t been able to make use of. I got an iPod Touch on my Chuseok holiday in Thailand and I’ve been watching TV instead. Yes, highly productive use of my time.

I suppose I should follow up this post with one on my trip to Thailand. I probably will… I signed a lease yesterday on a fine home in HBC aka the foreign ghetto, so I should write a little post with some photos so you can see how charming and cozy it is. I think those are the proper real estate euphemisms for old and small.

I’m Not Exactly Sure What Happened, But I Definitely Gave Something

I went to the hospital and gave “blood” which involved me being hooked to a machine with multiple bags and an alarm that went off about every 90 seconds for the nearly two hours that I was attached to it. I felt really bad for the nurse, because I arrived as they were all scooting out the door and she had to stay. Then it took two hours (plus rest time after and set up time before, so really, over two and a half hours). She couldn’t even get anything done because she had to babysit the machine. I didn’t look at it, but apparently my blood did not look normal, but all the tests were fine, so whatever. I guess I’m an alien. In addition to whatever issue was causing the machine to beep incessantly and ever-more-urgently.

So, I roll up at home just before 8PM (I went to the hospital at 3:30), and… NO KEY! Grrr… So, I called my landlord, who lives upstairs. No answer. So, I sat there for TWO HOURS until the upstairs light turned on. They had been napping or something (wink wink nudge nudge) the whole time. I called again and they quickly ran out with the spare key. From the embarrassed look on my landlord’s face, they had either heard (and ignored) my previous call, or I hadn’t interrupted a nap, if you know what I mean. Today, there was a video announcement with a child holding my key, so it is now safely in my bag.

The Ministry of Ed folks toured the school today, so we were warned a week ago to dress up. Of course, I remembered that as I was clocking in. All of the male teachers are in suits and all of the female teachers are in skirts or otherwise dressed up, and then there is me. I decided to wear jeans today, which I do about once every other week. Of course. Go me. So, I’ve been hiding all day.

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

As usual, way too long since my last post.

I finished up at Elite at the end of January and am halfway through my vacation. Today, after sweating for months when my FBI background check wouldn’t (and still hasn’t) come in, I went to immigration, and got my new visa with no background check needed. If only I had known that I didn’t need to spend all that money and hassle (mostly my mother got hassled, with several trips around Baton Rouge getting my local check and apostille) and stress over the missing FBI check. I mean, four months?! Come on!

As for my vacation, I’ve been pretty supremely unproductive. I have knit two sweaters: Owls (still needs eyes) and Amused, modified into a hoodie cardigan (still needs closures). Both were quick and easy knits, although, I didn’t really follow the patterns all that closely. For Owls, I basically only used the “owl” cable chart.

Leading and Retreating

Once again, it’s been ages since I posted, and I’ve got no real reason. I just got back from the KOTESOL annual Leadership Retreat, which was much more useful this year than in years past. I had my first council meeting as secretary, and don’t think I missed too much. 🙂 We’ll see when I send copies of the minutes around…

It’s been snowing all day, so it took me three and a half hours (standing) on the bus instead of the usual thirty minutes. Sigh. There were men manually shoveling snow on the highway. So, we would drive a meter or two and stop and wait. I got there in the end, though.

On the PBMX front, he has decided that Korea was a great place to live and work and doesn’t understand why I won’t help him get a job. He still hasn’t done anything about the divorce. So, I think I’m just going to have to redo the paperwork and file myself.

I guess the only other thing on the burner is ThaiTESOL’s annual conference at the end of the month. I’m always so busy at the conference here that I rarely get to see many presentations, so I’d kind of like to go to another conference. The fact that it’s in sunny Thailand is a bonus. We’ll see if I can get organized and arrange tickets and hotel…

So, all caught up on the past month or so of my life in just a few hundred words. Sad, isn’t it?