Well, the school year is starting to wind down and everyone here at my school is getting ready for some big changes. Only two of the Korean teachers are staying so offices have been pretty packed and some of us have a lot of teachers observing our classes. I was a little embarrassed on Tuesday when my drama classes were observed by four of the new Kindergarten teachers. These activity classes involve a lot of singing and dancing.

My vocal chords are not really serenade-esque (as anyone who has been to a Norebang with me can testify to…) and since the songs don’t come with associated dances. That means that I get to make up all of the dances in my class. Even though I was president of Thespian Society in high school I’m not really into choreography. I always did the dramas in the Fall and opted to play rugby instead of do the musicals in the Spring.

I was pretty surprised when one of the new teachers came up to me in the hall and asked me “Are you Nathan and friends with Mary and Jacob?” Turns out that she was one of their co-teachers at their hagwon that closed in November. For a city of almost 12 million it still feels like a small world.

I’m slammed at the moment with projects and paperwork. Currently trying to figure out if I can get my pension (roughly 10% of my paycheck) reimbursed since I’m going home for so long. An extra $1,300 would definitely help out in terms of leaving enough money to cover student loans and maybe pickup a laptop while I’m back home. Looks promising but keeping my fingers crossed. Fighting off a sinus infection at the moment which is probably why it’s so easy to get distracted by writing an overdue blog post.

Wish me luck tomorrow, have an appointment at the dentist and it’s been a few years since my last visit. Really hoping I don’t need too much time under the drill, if any.

   Last weekend in town is going great so far. Got into town early and made a chili tofu scramble with little bro then met up with one of my best friends and the three of us saw Thor at Pacific Place in downtown Seattle’s Westlake Center. After the movie we shot a few games of pool. Nick had a date that night so said our farewells and traveled over to Toulouse Petit for dinner with my buddies girlfriend who had been unable to attend the going away party since she was feeling under the weather. Spirits were high and the food was spot on! I ordered the tagliatelle (may have spelled that wrong) pasta with a sage and pine nut cream sauce that was delicious.

   After hanging out for a while here we cruised up Queen Anne hill and met with some friends of amiga’s from Portland at Sully’s bar and restaurant. Turns out one of my friends teaching in Seoul is a mutual acquaintance so I have a letter to deliver upon arrival. Small world sometimes. Great times had by all!

   Sorry this is a quick one but I need to hop on the bus downtown to drop off the last of my library books, snag some postcards at the Pier, gifts for friends in Seoul at the Market and then…go to the Sounders game tonight. Yes! Good luck boys, give em hell on the pitch. After the game I’m hoofing it over to the KISW studios for one last metal shop broadcast with the dynamic radio duo. All in all perfect end to my last night in Seattle for 2011!

Great week, scratched off many of the items on the things to do before I leave list:

  • Brilliant BBQ at the little bro’s house, his oyster shucking and prep skills are getting great. I myself absolutely disdain oysters but respect anyone performing their craft well. This was followed by a rather unsuccessful trivia night at the local watering hole but hey, can’t win ’em all.
  • Finished “Proust was a Neuroscientist” by Jonah Lehrer which was a very intriguing and well-wrote discourse that made a compelling case for many of the recently discovered theories of neuroscience being posited by artists in their work far before their verification in modern laboratories. A few of the more illuminating examples where the author Gertrude Stein, the chef Auguste Escoffier and the painter Paul Cezanne. Highly recommended by yours truly.

    Cortex Expansive Discourse

  • Had a mirth filled and exciting tour of South Seattle on some friends’ homemade bikes and trikes. I was part of the manpower pedaling The Fugitive which is a three-man trike (two people pedal one steers) which is unique in that the onboard propane tanks fuel both the barbecue in back and the flamethrower chimney on the top. One epic form of transport right there.
  • Enjoyed the company of some old college friends on one of the few sunny and warm days so far this April. Caught lunch on a deck at the Pike Place Market and then cruised to Zigzags for happy hour. Highlight of this establishment? Murr the Blurr who has been rated as the number one bartender in the States by Playboy and GQ on multiple occasions. Went there with my great friend and old college roommate who is a bartender at one of the more frequented spots in Seattle and even he didn’t know half the items in the libations served. Enigma ingredients only stoked the curiosity.
  • Said goodbye to all three sides of the family. Rolled up to Whidbey Island with 4 out of 5 of my Dad’s sisters (yeah I’ve got some Irish Catholic in me, haha) to the memorial service for one of my grandfather’s best friends. Yesterday I cruised out to my aunt on my birth-mom’s side house which was coincidentally one block away from the house I grew up in the mountains of Western Washington. Walked down the street with Padre and reminisced for a moment of childhood antics. Today we celebrated Easter with my Mom Patti’s side of the family and I soaked up the great support they wished me and we all laughed while watching the younger cousins do easter egg hunts in slickers and rain boots amidst the drizzle.

Viewpoint Vista of Youth

  • Tonight is another BBQ at my brother’s featuring his masterful working of quail and flame-broiled Peeps (exotic smore time).

Carmelized Nickelodeon

Three weeks left and the days are going by faster and faster. Glad I feel like I’m making the most of my time though. Buenos noches until next post from the predeparture front!

   I know that Korean Immigration probably wants to ensure in some ways that the teacher’s coming over are responsible and dedicated individuals with a genuine interest in teaching. That being said it is such a relief to be done with all the paperwork associated with getting my E2 visa and the forms for my recruiter and employer!

  Last Thursday I dropped by the Korean Consulate to drop off my passport (little unsettling handing it over after just getting the replacement) so that I could obtain my visa. Internet research and my recruiter had both stated that I had to go in for an interview and pay $80 dollars for a multiple-entry visa. Turns out that the policy had changed (this happens quite a bit with Korean Immigration)…in my favor! They no longer required an interview AND the multiple-entry status was automatically included for American citizens so I only had to pay 45 bucks for it, thanks Immi.

   Dropped by on Monday and my passport was waiting for me on the other side of the “Visas” counter. While I had called 30 minutes beforehand I was a little off-put at the fact that the girl running the booth barely glanced up to confirm it was me picking up the visa (my passport had big stick note with my name on it), all’s well that ends well. This is the first visa I’ve ever been issued seeing as how my rugby trip to New Zealand didn’t require one, and Mexico as well as Canada didn’t even require a passport back when I was frequenting them.

   I’m ashamed to admit this but back when I went to college in Bellingham I stopped going up to Canada when I turned 21 (drinking age is 19 for our awesome neighbors to the North). Mind you I did do quite a bit of skiing at Whistler as well as attend college weekend (Uni students from WA, OR, ID, CA and MT all converging for one epic weekend), the novelty as well as conversion rates were a little less lucrative compared to Bellingham bars and the legendary Mt. Baker ski resort.

   I promptly emailed my recruiter that I had the visa in hand and he quickly responded that my flight reservation was made, you rock James! I’m flying a direct flight from SeaTac to Incheon May 16th so it’s only an eleven hour flight, bonus. In addition to this my little brother’s friend Vicky from his college days at Green River Community College works for Korean Air and is going to get me a honeymoon cake (tried to wikipedia this but to no avail, anyone know what this is?) for my flight and I’m feeling the hospitality of the Korean people before I ever set foot in the country. Kamsahamnida Korea!