Saturday, June 30, 2012

Unauthorized Biography

Many months ago, I needed a sample essay for some writing exercises in English 7 and 8 Language A. I could have used an article from a magazine or the internet, but instead I wrote a short piece about a fellow teacher, without his consent, of course. One class read the essay, did the exercises, and let both the paper's content and the knowledge they'd put into practice slip away from their brains, but another class had the gall to show the subject of the essay the essay.

Gauging this teacher's reaction was difficult. In fact, to this day I do not know if he enjoyed the essay I wrote about him or not. At any rate, I soon began to hear rumors of a response article, a paper in retaliation. The hype began to build, and I started to be unable to sleep properly due to the suspense. Below is the gold that this teacher came back at me with, in both English and Español.


Mr. Reuben Haggar: The True Story: An Unauthorized Biography
by Ramon Villar

Mr. Reuben Haggar was born in the nice and cool month of October in the mid 80’s in a small city called Rock Rapids aka Rapid Falls, Iowa. Although baby Reuben had many talents, he was raised to become a famous musician one day (pictures of him playing the piano have become public recently). Eventually he will became an extraordinary bass guitar player.

By the time he was in high school he had become a local super star. His song “Cowbell” was a huge success. It ranked number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for months. He even had the chance to play at some Twins’ games. Even though ‘Mad Moose’ (as he was known back then) had (and still has) tons of admirers, he was not interested in those monotonous girls. “Woof”… he used to bark at them.

It was until one day at a party in Emily’s Lebanese Deli at University Avenue, that his life would change. While standing in line for the bathroom (‘mad moose’ liked to drink a lot of juice) young Reuben met a cute girl named Anne. It was love at first sight. Unfortunately for both of them, they didn’t get the chance to exchange phone numbers because Anne was feeling very sick that day (apparently she had lunch at Paris Baguette). As Mr. Haggar (2012) will explain it later on: “The orange vomit cascaded out of her mouth and down the front of her previously clean black shirt”. Despite the incident, Reuben kept a chaste image of the fine young lady.

Young Reuben tried everything in his power to find Anne again. He ransacked the whole country without success. A reporter once asked him how he could pay for all this… “Straight cash, homey” was his response. The years went by and no clue from miss Hathaway was to be found… Reuben got so depressed that he even quit his rock band and ended up living in a van down by the river. It seemed nothing could save this poor man’s life.

Legend says that one cloudy day, a blind man called Eli approached hopeless Reuben and gave him a book that would bring him back to life. It was then that Reuben moved to Seoul and started a new life as an educator. He then spent a lot of time eating Korean food, slurping milkshakes in a bag, visiting aquariums and couch surfing.

For some reason after a trip to an immense theme park in Yongin during the summer of 2011, Mr. Reuben decided to move to China. Since then he has been doing great: lots of travel, lots of chaunr and lots of other crazy stuff. He was in fact, recently on the news for showing up to work wearing meat clothing…
It seems he is becoming a popular guy once again…

The legend states that Mr. Reuben’s found his name written in the book of Eli. Nobody knows what the future will bring for this talented young man… whatever it is I am sure God will always be by his side.



Reuben Haggar: La Verdadera Historia: Una Biografía No Autorizada
por Ramon Villar

Reuben Haggar nació en el agradable y fresco mes de octubre a mediados de los años 80 en una pequeña ciudad llamada Rock Rapids, también conocida como Rapid Falls, Iowa. A pesar de que el pequeño Reuben era poseedor de muchos talentos, éste fue educado para ser algún día un músico famoso (fotografías de éste tocando el piano se han hecho públicas recientemente). Eventualmente, éste se convertiría en un extraordinario bajista.

Durante la preparatoria se había convertido en una estrella local. Su canción "Cencerro" era un completo éxito. Ocupó el primer lugar en las listas Billboard 100 por meses. Incluso tuvo la oportunidad de tocar en algunos juegos de los "Gemelos". A pesar de que el "Arce loco" (como se le conocía en aquel entonces) tenía (y aún tiene) muchas admiradoras, éste no se encontraba interesado en ninguna de esas monótonas mujeres. "Guauuu".. solía éste ladrarles.

No fue sino hasta un día en una fiesta en las Delis Libanesas de Emilia en la Avenida Universidad que su vida cambiaría. Mientras hacía fila para ir al baño (al "arce loco" le gusta tomar mucho jugo) el joven Reuben conoció una linda chica llamada Anne. Fue amor a primera vista. Desafortunadamente para ambos, no tuvieron la oportunidad de intercambiar teléfonos porque Anne se sentía muy enferma ese día (aparentemente había comido en Paris Baguette). Como Haggar (2012) explicaría más tarde: "El vomito naranja caía como una cascada fuera de su boca sobre su previamente limpia camisa negra". A pesar del incidente, Reuben conservó una imagen casta de la damita.

El joven Reuben intentó todo en su poder para poder encontrar a Anne otra vez. Buscó de arriba a abajo por todo el país sin éxito. Un reportero le preguntó una vez cómo era que éste podía pagar todo esto... "En efectivo, carnal" fue su respuesta. Los años transcurrieron sin tener señal de la señorita Hathaway. Reuben se sintió tan deprimido que abandonó su banda de rock y terminó viviendo en una van junto al río. Parecía que nada podría salvar la vida de este pobre hombre.
La leyenda dice que un día nublado, un ciego llamado Eli se acerco al desesperanzado Reuben y le obsequió un libro que lo traería de vuelta a la vida. Fue así como entonces Reuben se mudó a Seúl y empezó una nueva vida como educador. Entonces pasó mucho tiempo comiendo comida coreana, tomando malteadas en bolsa, visitando acuarios y haciendo "couch surfing".

Por alguna razón después de un viaje a un inmenso parque temático en Yongin durante el verano del 2011, Reuben decidió mudarse a China. Desde entonces le ha ido genial: muchos viajes, mucho chuanr y muchas otras cosas descabelladas. De hecho, recientemente se le ha visto en las noticias por irse al trabajo vestido de ropa de carne.... Tal parece que se está volviendo nuevamente popular...

La leyenda establece que Reueben ha encontrado su nombre escrito en el libro de Eli. Nadie sabe qué es lo que le deparará el futuro a este talentoso joven... cuales fuera el caso estoy seguro de que Dios estará siempre a su lado.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nearly Finished

Three days in Seoul undoubtedly were the highlight of June for me, but surrounding that blissful weekend were days completely and utterly packed with activities of both the obligatory and leisurely nature. Consequently, this month has been frighteningly busy, but it will be over in a few shakes of a leg. Here are eight of the contributing factors to the busy-ness:

1. Grades due at the end of the semester. Since June 1st – so, in the past sixteen days of school – I have collected, observed, and/or marked 213 assessment tasks; 65 from E7LA (biography essay, poetry portfolio, letter essay, research paper, research paper presentation); 76 from E8LA (letter essay, decisions essay, literary analysis, media literacy essay); 57 from E9LBS ("Of Mice and Men" halfway essay, Socratic seminar, migrant worker reading exam; 15 (should have been 17; one kid didn't come for the last two weeks of school, and one dude handed his in...too late!). I think now I could pick the writing of any kid from any of my classes out of a lineup of a hundred.

2. Other academic end-of-the-year mumbo jumbo, including but not limited to: buying chocolate awards for kids who stepped it up, buying books for kids who stepped it up, collecting and documenting materials for the IBO, report card comments, figuring out games/movies to fill the upcoming week of school days, and recommendation letters for students who would rather leave than stay.

3. Spirit Week. Which doesn’t fall into the “Other Academic End-of-the-Year Mumbo Jumbo” category because…it’s not academic. But, it was fun.

Monday was Animal Day:







Tuesday was Pajama Day:



Wednesday was Environment Day:



Thursday was Make Up Day (you had to go reconcile with at least one person you’d had a disagreement with). I didn’t really wear any make-up until some kid threw some purple eye shadow on me after lunch, but a month or so before this day, there’d been a talent show at school, and I’d participated in a face-painting competition (my partner was a seventh grade boy armed with several tubes of really red lipstick), and so I’ll put a tiny picture of that here:



Friday was Be Who You Are (my schools is BWYA) Day, but I didn’t go to school that day. Instead I will recall memories from yesteryear, from my own high school days, when Central Lyon High School had Spirit Week, with such days as:

Twins Day



Pajama Day



Opposite Sex Day (How did this get sanctioned? Jacob Karasch came to school with two huge balloons full of jello; his mother had helped him. Mine were softballs, I think. Don't they look softball-sized?)



4. Speech and Debate Night. The second one ever at our school. The evening was well attended and fun, although afterward I got locked in the school. And, to be honest, it didn’t take a lot of extra work on my part, but I know that the debaters I was in charge of and many of the other speakers and actors put in tons of work to make their pieces smashing. It was a good time.



5. “The Hunger Games” movie came to China. Finally. I saw it two times in one eighteen-hour period of time, once with half of my homeroom and once with Dawna, Miss April, and another teacher from Dawna’s school who’d read the book but thought that the book’s female protagonist was named Kit. I don’t know why we let her come.

This was in the elevator in my building for the past month, taunting me:



I know there are many nay-sayers out there, "The Hunger Games" movie nay-sayers, and that there are some people who liked the film a ton. I enjoyed the movie, though it was a bit cheesy at times. Some notes: Both times I peed in my pants when the muttation came flying out of the dark near the end. Gale (Liam Hemsworth) looked a ton like Joe Mauer in the movie, and he didn't get enough screen time/importance. I was told I was going to totally crush on Katniss, but I didn't. But she did look pretty. Don't worry, Anne; my heart still belongs to you.

6. Couchsurfers. Before going to Seoul, they were from Australia and were on their way out west, to where the good Chinese food is. Cool people! I hope they come through Beijing on their way back. Last week, they were from Indonesia, and they were very nice. But they kept me from grading any of the 213 assessment tasks that needed to get graded. Which was probably fine. Check this out, though. I am not mad and I am not bitter, but here is what happened. During the week in which students submitted the most essays to me, these couchsurfers were coming, and I was supposed to meet them at 12:40 at Wangjing Station, let them into my apartment, and return to work by 1:20, when my lunch break ends. So at 12:20 I merrily left school, walked to the station, got there at 12:39, and saw no one. I stalked around for twenty minutes and then headed back to school so I could attack those papers. As I passed through the school’s gates, I get a call: “We are at Wangjing Station now!” I marched in as the clock struck 1:20 and signed out, since I fortunately had fourth period off. I took a taxi (black…my first one ever) back to the station, found out why the CSers had been one hour late (they hadn’t changed the time on their clocks from Indonesia’s – which is an hour later than China’s), let them in, and stamped back to school. Funny now; not funny then.

7. Potlucks. To be honest, I skipped one of them at school, but Dawna and I attended the one at my principal’s home. Dawna made fruit salad; I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

8. Not being able to sleep. Has this made me busier? No. Has it caused my patience to completely leave me and my mind to turn into a frazzled haze? Sort of. Sometimes I can’t get to sleep when I lie my head to rest. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night for two or three hours, completely awake. Sometimes I wake up two hours before I need to rise and can’t get back to sleep. Is it stress from school? Is it anxiety from how bad the Twins are still doing? Is it guilt from forgetting to buy contacts for Dawna when I went to Seoul? In all likelihood, it is a grim combination of all three.

It is not over, either. School is happening all week, still, even though grades have been submitted and textbooks have been returned. If you know of any good movies for ninth grade ESL students, holler. Plus, on Monday our teacher CSL class is going out for dinner, and on Tuesday I am eating with a family whose kid is heading State-side on Wednesday, and on Wednesday I am eating dinner with Dan, and on Thursday there is an all-staff dinner.

And then: summer break. I can smell it. And it smells good.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Graduation

June 10, 2011: A photo of five-way pinky promise that bound the participants to attend the following year's graduation ceremonies.



Thank you, Beijing Capital International Airport, for delaying Korean Air flight 0854 on Thursday, June 7, from Beijing to Incheon, for forty minutes, thus relegating passengers to an even later arrival time in Seoul and making me think I could watch "Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol" from start to finish in the time it took to get to Incheon. Now, constantly wondering what happens to Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner, and Simon Pegg after the sandstorm chase scene, I cannot sleep.

Thank you, Incheon International Airport, for having some bus bound for Seoul Station and manned by a competent driver – one who answered my Korean question with an English answer, even! - sitting around at 1:00 a.m. waiting to shuttle people into town.

Thank you, Kara, for providing super clear directions through a super unclear part of town, for leaving a nice note of greeting out, for having an extra bed that you weren’t scared to let me us, for leaving the light on, and for having a cool picture of us about to ride swan boats displayed in your home.



Thank you, students of CCS, for being excited to see me Friday morning, for wanting me to sign your li’l yearbooks, for being willing to debrief about the year, and for being down to let some old guy sit with you during awards chapel.

Thank you, Claire and Yurie, for eating lunch at 김밥천국 with me and for taking absurd pictures, like this string of tom-foolery.



Thank you, Yurie, for killing an afternoon with me, for making sure I wasn’t going around speaking words that didn’t actually exist or using colloquial phrases that are frighteningly lame, for the strawberry smoothie, for being super fun to hang out with, and for being a level 720 photographer for me when I forgot to bring my camera to graduation. Your check is in the mail.



Thank you, Centennial Christian School class of 2012, for graduating and giving me an excuse to come back and hang out for a spell, for making me second-guess my decision to leave, and for being awesome people.



Thank you, Nicky, for the shout out in your salutatorian speech! Made my day.



Thank you, ex-CCS students, for showing your bright, shining faces at that graduation ceremony, for telling silly jokes, and - even though you are out of high school, out of the Korean education system, over in California - for still having to go to an academy after the graduation, on a Friday night. I felt less old with you around.



Thank you, staff of CCS, for giving me a ride back to Haebangchon, for letting me hang out with you during graduation clean-up, for letting me take that cheesecake and leave it (it’s still there, I reckon…) in Kara’s fridge, for not getting mad when I referred to stuff as “ours” like I still work with you, and for being interested in what was going on with me still.

Thank you, every convenience store clerk in Seoul, for smiling and being friendly.

Thank you, Mr. Jordan Williams, for taking an expensive train up to Seoul from where your warm home, your beautiful wife, and your cats all lie in Daejeon to come and see me, for hanging out all Saturday, for being the person I can tell anything and not be ashamed of how stupid or awful my words are, for making me slam that strawberry milk drink thing, for being down to eat 닭갈비 even though it may have damaged your digestive tract and for paying for that meal to boot, and just for being the man. I can’t wait until we meet again.



Thank you, Mr. Ben Sullivan, for being one of the busiest people I have ever met but for still coming and kicking it in some cutesy (is this a word?) coffee shop for four hours, for being honest about life, for being hilarious, and for coming up with a lot of clever zings aimed at my current country of residence. The jokes didn’t go over as well here when I retold them, but it was awesome to see you nonetheless!



Thank you, Cass Money, for having as much of a passion for tradition as I do, for loving fried chicken, for being real and sharing truth, for taking sweet pictures, for enjoying super girly cafes, and for posting pictures from super girly cafes on the internet for all to see. We’ll break chicken in Sukdae again soon, promise.



Thank you, Heidi, Kara, Ryan, Katie, Lauren, and Caroline, for singing at that noraebang even though most of you had hiked ten miles and three mountains already that day, for faking enthusiasm and for leaving it all out there on the floor of that karaoke. I wouldn’t have guessed you hiked at all.



Thank you, Heidi and Kara, for skipping church, for swinging the ol’ ball bats around at the batting cages, for making sure I got enough to eat at Butterfinger’s, for ascertaining that I never again will feel like too much of a man by hitting up some photo booth business establishment, for being troopers all day even though you probably had many things to do, for not beating me up after our taxi ride from Gangnam to Cheonggyecheon, and for hanging out and dangling your feet in the water with me for hours on end. The day ranked an 11 out of 10.



Thank you, trilingual taxi driver, for laughing at those insults disguised in crappy Mandarin that were aimed at the aforementioned ladies. Come to Beijing; I’ll get the first round of baijiu.



Thank you, creepy guy from Oklahoma who thought Kara, Heidi, and I looked like we were at Cheonggyecheon to strike up conversations with random strangers, for soon picking up on all the nonverbals we were sending to let you know that we weren’t at the Cheonggyecheon to strike up conversations with random strangers.



Thank you, airport express train attendant, for holding the airport express train one extra minute for me so I would not have to wait forty-five minutes for the next train to the airport on Sunday afternoon. The help there is phenomenal.

Thank you again, Incheon International Airport, for getting your flights off on time.

Thank you, other old friends in Korea, for not getting mad that we didn’t hang out during my super brief visit!

Thank you, Seoul, for not having changed an ounce, for still being laced with quirky, entertaining things to do, for still being clean and convenient and energetic, for still having friendly people and beautiful ladies and an intriguing pop culture and lovely weather, for still housing many, many awesome friends, and for making me wonder the entire time I was there, “Why did I leave here?”



And thanks, Google images, for this photo.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lo Siento: A Sonnet

For Kara (and Heidi)(but mostly Kara, because she was madder)

I'm sorry I said, "他们疯了," dude
when you and Heids were in the cab's backseat.
I surely realize it was quite rude
and for my heinous crime I should be beat.
How immature that man must think I am
for asking him if 他觉得你们
很好看吗 and put him in a jam:
The truth? A lie? A small white one? And then
he looked and said nothing at all, just laughed.
I knew right then I should have just shut up.
Some plan of vengeance you began to craft.
미안해요! 对不起, bro! What up:

If you hadn't said "내 친구 중국에 살아요,"
None of that would have happened^^