Sunday, February 24, 2008

bath and body works

I had been thinking about writing something on the public bath for a while, and was impressed with the way this piece thought through the social meanings of hesitation. So when I wrote "At the public bath" it was with the intention of thinking through the meanings of rituals of the body. But as usual I hate the things I write right after I post them. If I didn't have a deadline I probably wouldn't post anything at all.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A little self-promotion

I am in the midst of writing my post for today and procrastinating by exchanging e-mail with Sandra, who asked me if I am the Jennifer Lee who translated her son's textbook, Korean made easy for beginners by Seung-Eun Oh. I've written before about the number of Jennifer Lees running around in the world but in this case that Jennifer Lee is in fact me. Seung-Eun Oh teaches at Sogang Univ in the Korean language program there and taught both Sandra and I. (Me- 5 years ago, Sandra - more recently) She's a great teacher. Anyway, that was my first translating job and I found it so difficult and time consuming that I've mostly erased it from my mind. But when Sandra mentioned it I went back and looked at the book and (even if the translation is not stellar -- you be the judge) it is a good textbook. So if you're looking for a good beginning Korean textbook, check it out.

Monday, February 18, 2008

6 month countdown

Been meaning to update the blog for a while but I've been busy. And still dizzy. And Aiden is on vacation AGAIN. What's up with that? They were off from late December to late January. Then they went to school for about a week and a half and got off again for the Lunar New Year. Then they went back to school for a week and now they're off again until the beginning of March, when the new school year starts. This school schedule is crazy. How do working parents manage it? If the vacation was all together I could have him go to camp or we could travel, but right now I've got him underfoot for two weeks while I try to maintain my own class schedule.

My Chinese classes are going well. I don't have much time to study but I am starting to think of words without as much effort and I feel like I've made some sort of breakthrough which is hard to describe. I can talk a little bit now without it feeling like a massacre of the tongue. I'm still slaughtering tones right and left but my newest teacher (they change every once in a while, which is always disconcerting because new people favor different words and it takes some time to get used to) told me I speak 标准 which is, I gather, a compliment. I should move up to the next level (高级) next month, and I'd like to add an HSK class too, but it looks like in second grade they still finish very early. Hmmm. Have to think about that. The electronic Chinese-English dictionary I bought in China last year broke so I had to buy a new one. The Sharp Korean-English dictionary I have had for the last 6 years or so has held up so well I almost bought another Sharp. (I actually put that thing through the laundry once and after it dried out it still worked perfectly. I love that dictionary.) But for Chinese AOne is supposed to be better, so I bought a Chinese-Korean/Korean-Chinese/Japanese-Korean/Korean-Japanese/Korean-English/English-Korean electronic dictionary for about US$120. So far I really like it, though I wish I could go directly from Chinese to English. But I'm having less trouble going from Chinese to Korean and vice versa these days, I must have gotten used to it in the last 5 months or so of taking Chinese with a Korean textbook.

We've been saying this for the last 4 years, but I think this is really the year that we'll move. We have about 6 months left. We've been spending a lot of time looking at apartments and schools online. I'm so thankful that KC can read through all the netizen commentary so quickly, because having the Korean sources of information about housing and schools has been really useful. Most English-speaking expats in Shanghai are on a fat budget but we are not. We're looking to live in a small apartment for not too much money, and we have to pay for our children's schooling ourselves. Plus we'd like to live near a lot of Koreans so that the kids can maintain their Korean socially.

In preparing to move I'm trying to strengthen our daily rituals at home. I think I'll write more about that later. I'm also compiling a "Life in Seoul" book for the kids to document our time here. I already make travel books for each trip we take, but this will be something different and it will take me several months to make.

I'm also trying to pare down our belongings once again, by eating up all the stuff in our kitchen, throwing away old clothes and toys, and figuring out what we'll take and what we'll ship back to the States.

Anyway, I have been holding up my end over at printculture though the results of my weekly posting are not always pretty. There are a few posts I would like to delete from my conscious memory. In case you missed these, I've written a series of 3 posts on signs in Seoul:

Reading the Signs
Reading the Signs 2
Reading the Signs 3
(The third one was not as well formed as I would like but its hard to write every week...)

I also had this short thing on cell phones.

Now I have to figure out what to write for this week... hmm...