Saturday, February 28, 2009

The First

WARNING: The links in this post contain nasty things no one should ever say explicit language.

A long, long time ago, when Weston was a fetus, and I had an actual job where I got paid and everything, I used to occasionally sit in my Government-issued cube and peruse a now-defunct child-free rants page (link is to an archived sample of the rants that went up by the dozens every day). These charming folks are the ones who call parents 'breeders' and children all sorts of nasty names that would NEVER be repeated on Stories from Korea, not the regular nice child-free people, in case there is any confusion.

I'm not really sure why I read the page, or how I happened across it in the first place. The posters were bitter, angry people who could take a legitimate point and twist it beyond all recognition, alternately blaming babies, parents, pregnant people, infertility treatments, neonatal care and family-friendly policies for their poor financial situations, lousy parking spots and crappy jobs. Their demented ravings kept me coming back, though- I just couldn't wait to see what those zany wackaloons would come up with next. Often, one of them would post a link to something, and then all the rest of them would go check it out and gang up. Then they'd move on to something else like a pack of snarling hyenas.

One day, they were ranting about Julie at A Little Pregnant. She had the absolute gall to both require IVF to conceive, and to have the financial resources to fund it. Clearly, the hyenas thought, she was irredeemably selfish and it was typically unfair of the universe to waste money on her that they so richly deserved. I clicked over there, too, and read this post; the first one ever and the genesis of my current raging case of blogaholism.

What was your first?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Transform this

Transformers, ugh. I really do not understand exactly what these things are or the point of their existence. Because my intellect verges on brilliant, I have cleverly deduced that they are objects that turn themselves into something else. From what to what and why, I have no idea. Are they good or evil? Animal, vegetable or mineral? I dunno. What I do know is that they are completely loathsome, and Weston loves them.

At the risk of sounding smug (oops, too late!), we don't have transformers at OUR house. No, we have only hand-rubbed organic wooden toys lovingly crafted by rustic, raw-boned, overalls-clad artisans in America's beleaguered heartland. (yes, BIG FAT RIDICULOUS LIE, but still, no Transformers). Fortunately for poor Weston, his friend Jack has an ample supply of Transformers figures and cartoons. They put on outlandish costumes and fashion implements with which to vanquish their enemies, or smaller siblings, and shriek up and down the hallway.

Jack is a little older than Weston, and we are often the grateful recipients of Jack's hand-me-downs. One of our recent acquisitions is a Transformer t-shirt in excellent condition. I had it stashed away, because as you may have guessed, I do not love Transformers. This morning I brought the t-shirt out in a desperate attempt to get Weston dressed in time for Ella and her mom to pick him up for the dreaded swimming lessons. It was magic, my friends: Transformers can get dressed by themselves! Transformers can jump so high! Transformers can run so fast! Daringly, I suggested that perhaps Transformers can even swim. 'Yes!' he declared, enthusiastically, and off he went to the pool.

Alas, upon his return, I learned that Transformers only want to get their feet wet, play in the kiddie pool and consume the semi-weekly swimming lesson Doritos bribe.

Monday, February 23, 2009

On writing

Sometimes, I get the greatest compliments on my writing on here, which I LOVE. Not all that often, and mostly from my dad, but still. I find some satisfaction in writing, but it takes effort and the occasional accolade keeps me going. I used to write a lot more. All kinds of things: magazine article proposals, adult fiction, even some children's stories.

I liked writing fiction, sort of. It felt like the stories were just coming out of the ether, into my brain and out onto my computer screen. I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. Then, when I found out what was going to happen, the writing all of a sudden seemed like a lot more work, and I didn't always finish the stories.

But the coolest part was how the stories magically appeared. I can force words onto the page, too, but usually that leads to some sort of plot disaster I can't write my way out of. I really thought the stories were divine inspiration. This idea was reinforced when I heard a famous songwriter say almost the exact same thing about how the songs just came to him. Songwriting is a talent that really impresses me, by the way. I do not get how someone can write poetry and match it to music that doesn't exist yet.

When I was in college, I took a literature course and read a quote from Toni Morrison. I'm paraphrasing here because I can't remember the exact wording and I'm too lazy to look for it. She said something like: 'You have to finish your work all at once, or the seams start to show'. At the time, I thought it was very strange and I didn't get why you couldn't just drop a project and come back to it later, like a sewing project. But now, I totally understand it. So, here I am, with my magical gift and on the same page with the great Toni Morrison. I'm so special! Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, I was forced to change my mind about the divine origin of the stories a few years ago after I heard someone else say the same thing about the stories coming to her from out of nowhere. I read her stories and they were truly awful. I wanted to say, 'Sweetie, God did not give you these stories. I don't know who it was, but you need to give them right back.' I didn't say that, of course, because I'm a nice person. Instead, I said, 'Hmmm, those are something else all right!'. Not dissimilar to what I hear about some of my posts, now that I think about it.

Clearly, logic dictates that if her stories aren't God-given, mine probably aren't either. I guess I'm just a hack, after all. But a hack with a nice father.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cue the Spooky Music

Well, my friends, the day has come. The paintings are back from the shop, propped up in the bedroom, awaiting the unwrapping. They don't look so bad with that pretty paper covering them up, do they? If only the paper could remain... But no, I mustn't give myself false hope. Fear not, I do have options: I can always throw myself to the badgers.

If you are not familiar with the sad saga of the paintings, you can read about it here, here,
here and here. Then you can send your condolences to

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Weekend update

Happy Saturday! Here's a hodgepodge of updates, some with matching pictures:

I went to the flower market with a friend this morning, scouting for things we might want for the kids community garden we're building this spring. It was wonderful, warm and moist and lush-smelling. I got some herbs and a gorgeous red planter, and now I'm all ready to get some seeds started. I have some basil seeds I saved from last year and a few other things. The picture of the roses is from a bin at a flower stall- they were stacked up in piles, sorted by color.

Shane dumped a hot chocolate into the bottom of the stroller, so I was forced to take the basket and foot rest off the bottom so I could give it a desperately needed scrubbing. You would think it might unsnap easily, but no. It takes ten screws. I sort of like the way it looks without it, though- kind of like a stripped down hog, don't you think? Now I just need to get the kids some gnarly tatoos. 'Born to Whine', maybe.

Weston had a hard time going to sleep last night. He was 'frightened'. I asked him what he was frightened of, and the answer was, 'Monster dreams'. I asked him if he knew monsters weren't real, and he pointedly informed me that it was monsters he was frightened of, but monster dreams. I put up the 'No Monster Dreams Allowed' sign and it seemed to solve the problem. He closed his eyes and started mumbling, 'Now I'm dreaming about moon flowers and animals'.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The waiting is the hardest part

After I wrote yesterday about perhaps not posting 'The waiting is the hardest part', I got lots of comments like 'Oh, please, post it! You write so beautifully, we desperately want to read anything you write; please don't torture us with this deprivation one second longer!' Well, okay, that's a total lie but I did hear from a few people that I was pretty much a nutbasket if I didn't mind posting the booger piece or the communist bit but was worried about this one. Also, the idea that this place sometimes feels like the bowels of hell occasionally leaves something to be desired? Apparently not news to anyone. So, here is the post with a little disclaimer, just in case. If Osan delights your every sense and/or you are easily swayed by booger-laden subversives, proceed at your own peril:

Osan is a waiting place, a parking spot on the way to somewhere else. We are always waiting, all of us:

Waiting for yellow slips that tell us a package has arrived.

Waiting for the window to open so we can retrieve the package.

Waiting for Monday to be over so the commissary is open and we can buy the milk or toilet paper we desperately need.

Waiting for it to warm up so we can go outside.

Waiting for the yellow sand readings to go down so we can go outside.

Waiting for the exercise to be over so we can go to the doctor.

But most of all, we are waiting to hear what the next assignment is. PCS season is coming up soon. PCS stands for Permanent Change of Station, for those of you non-military readers. 'Permanent' being used rather loosely, of course, and only serving to distinguish the type of move from a temporary one, as in TDY, or Temporary Duty. Most military moves take place in the summer. Assignments are short here, a year or two mostly, and so each summer at least half of the folks here PCS.

Unfortunately, the military, in my experience, has not been super great about timely notification on upcoming moves. When we came to Osan, Lloyd had to be here on October 1st. He didn't have his orders until August 15th. Is six weeks enough time to plan a move, particularly an overseas one? I don't really think so. We thought we knew where we were going before the orders arrived, but you don't dare make a move without orders, because they can and do change up to and including the very last second.

And so, we wait. And our perspective changes. I used to think Altus AFB in Altus, Oklahoma was my worst nightmare. But oh, how I wish I was in Altus, Oklahoma right now. The available assignments look better and better. Minot, ND? Outstanding! Del Rio, Texas? Yee Haw, baby! It's like beer goggles, only Osan goggles! If you are unfamiliar with beer goggles, you can click the link for the Wikpedia page. Also, you might want to reconsider reading this blog. I think there is a direct correlation: each month at Osan is equivalent to one beer, so by the time your twelve or twenty-four month assignment is up you've had so much that you'll go home to anywhere.

We wait.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's hard to be me

Yesterday, I wrote a post called 'The Waiting is the Hardest Part,' and it presents a fairly dreary look at Osan. I like it, though, and I was going to put it right up, but then I thought, 'What if someone gets up in a cheery mood here at Osan, gets her morning coffee and sits down to read Stories from Korea and is reminded how much it sucks here? It might ruin her whole day.' That's not something I want on my conscience! THEN I thought, 'But it's my blog, I can write what I want!' And then I thought I should make a secret blog and I can write whatever I want and no one will be the wiser. But it's no fun to write a blog if no one reads it. See how hard it is to be me?

Anyone else have a problem like this? I think I have a solution. This is not my original idea; I saw it somewhere and thought it was brilliant. If you have something you want to post but can't do it on your own blog, send it to me, anonymously if you want, and I'll post it for you! As long as it's not nasty; Stories from Korea does have some standards. It can be about anything: Mother-in-law driving you crazy? Hate the Air Force? Is your neighbor too noisy late at night? Share it here and get it off your chest!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The longest eleven minutes of my life

The other day, I needed to go upstairs to my friend Helen's house. I was unencumbered by kids or other stuff and I thought, 'Hey! I'll just run up the stairs! I've been meaning to get some more exercise anyway. It's only six flights...'

I started off at a light jog, and by the time I got to the fourth floor, my legs were BURNING. Seriously, it felt like badgers were gnawing on the outsides of my thighs. There are probably people who LIKE badgers gnawing on their thighs, but I am not one of them. I hope no ki.nky weirdos find my blog! Besides the ones that are already here, I mean.

By the time I got to six, I was panting and stumbling. When I escaped the stairwell on Helen's floor, I staggered down the hallway to her door, occasionally careening into the wall and clutching my chest.

The entire episode was disturbing on multiple levels and I spent several days thinking about it. I came to the conclusion that this appalling lack of fitness will not do at all. I woke up this morning with a determination borne of badger-chewed thighs. Also with a really sore throat, but one of my many character flaws is a total and utter lack of patience. Today was the day; there would be no waiting.

You may recall my recent 'Click or Climb' post, where I describe how Linda is going to climb 69 flights of stairs next month to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. After I posted that, I heard from a friend who is also doing the climb. That, combined with the bitter cold and freezing wind and the boring agony of the gym, convinced me that climbing stairs would be the perfect exercise. I, too, could do 69 flights by March 22nd. What could go wrong? There's thirteen indoor flights right off the hallway outside my front door. All I have to do is put my shoes on and go!

I decided that running the stairs twice would be a good way to start: twenty-six flights. It wouldn't be quite the same as twenty-six continuous flights, of course, because I would have to stop in the middle and come down in order to start over for the second thirteen flights.

I did it. Well, I did it if you take out the 'running' part. That was a little pretentious. It took eleven minutes. The longest eleven minutes of my life. The worst part was the final descent, completed entirely on quivering bags of badger-bitten jelly. I'll end with two notes:

Linda and Brandy, I sincerely hope you can take the elevator down. Oh, and take a stick to beat off the badgers. Secondly, pass the zinfandel and make it snappy. I hear it's great for sore throats. And badger bites.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Guns or knives, Butch?

Happy Valentine's Day from Korea!

I'm a pretty easygoing parent, don't you think? You want to draw pictures in shaving cream all over the toilet? Okay. You want to splash soapy water and food coloring all over the kitchen floor? Fine. You want to lick the floor? Sure, go ahead. Eat flour? Saves me some cooking. Get in the tub with your clothes on? Have fun and wash the dishes while you're at it. You want to scatter dirt and papers all down the hallway for a project? Whatever. But now Weston's come up with something that I actually find alarming.

He's been cleverly crafting weapons out of various items lately. Sometimes it's a gun, sometimes a sword, and sometimes 'a gun WITH a sword!'. His friend Ella was over the other day, and they each made a surprisingly detailed gun with Tinker Toys. Weston's looked like a tommy gun, with a handle. The blue disc in the middle slides back and forth, making a suitably obnoxious noise. Ella's gun was a multi-barrelled wonder of engineering. That girl is definitely going to be one of three things: a designer of some kind, a dictator, or a middle school principal. I'm sure her perfectly lovely parents will be thrilled by any of these options.

Because I am a pretty standard peace-loving liberal, I do not love the whole gun thing. Lloyd, however, being neither peace-loving nor liberal in any way, thinks it's EXCELLENT. Why my sweet, lovable, precious little boy is driven by the evil brew that scientists call testosterone to fashion guns out of formerly innocent playthings is totally beyond me. We don't watch violent cartoons, and we don't run around the house brandishing firearms. Lloyd totally WOULD, of course, if he could. Unfortunately for him waving guns around is illegal here: not a firearm to be found anywhere, much to his dismay.

From what all the stupid books say, this is a normal boy thing, so I tolerate it as best I can. I have a hard time with the actual shooting and stabbing, though. I have a 'no shooting' policy, which works fine when Lloyd isn't home. The other day he was here and he heard me tell Weston, 'Don't shoot your brother. If you do, I'll have to put your gun away.' Lloyd looked at me in disbelief, like I was the biggest moron on earth, and said, 'But that's what they're for!'


Friday, February 13, 2009

I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want to......

Here's a picture from my recent birthday. Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh........

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What do you think this means?

I remember a Star Trek episode where the Enterprise was being attacked by some kind of rays that prevented the REM stage of sleep from occurring, thereby driving the crew insane. Too bad the aliens didn't think their plan out a little more thoroughly; they could have saved themselves quite a bit of alien currency if they'd just let a few squealing toddlers loose on the bridge instead of investing all that cash in some sort of fancy ray generator.

I almost never have, or remember, dreams, but I had a whopper last night I just have to share, once again breaking my promise. In my dream, I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night only to find that someone had left the seat up on the oversized and not-especially-clean toilet. I fell in up to my shoulders, and after I struggled out, I was disgusted enough to immediately begin cleaning. Then Queen Elizabeth, elegantly dressed in her cape and tiara, sailed regally through the door and started helping.

I wonder how much she charges. I could really use an ajima that speaks English.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Yes and No


I have finally managed to scrape my hair into a scabby ponytail. It's as lovely as it sounds.

Spiffy new-to-us Korean style bed purchased for a song from friends who are moving.

Banner day at the Thrift Store: Two pairs of Juicy sweats, J Crew boiled wool coat, two dresses, sweater, pants, Blue's Clues lunch box, two Dora videos and two books.

Eight years of marital bliss.

Federal taxes completed and e-filed.

Almost my birthday.


Swimming lessons

Have to watch Dora again.

IRS now has access to my bank account information.

Friend with same birthday as me, only one year YOUNGER, has daughter getting married this summer.

Friend nagging me to make a list of 101 things I want to accomplish in 1001 days. So far I have thought of one: survive next 1001 days. Oh wait, I have one more: allow husband and children to survive next 1001 days. So that's two. I could probably commit to accomplishing those two things for the next two days; that's much more realistic.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Click or climb

For a while now, I've had a blog on my list on the side over there called All & Sundry. If you haven't checked it out, you are missing out. Linda is hilarious, and her booger/poop/vomit posts are way grosser than mine and totally excellent. She is also a hard-core fitness babe and a Washington girl, and next month she is going to do a brutal stair-climbing event in Seattle for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. You can read her post about it here (warning, post also contains copious amounts of vomit-related discussion).

As you may know, one of my family members has lymphoma, and so I was excited to see this opportunity to support Linda and donate to blood cancer research. I just wish I was back in Seattle so I could climb the giant tower too watch it on KOMO 4.

If you would like to sponsor Linda, too, I would really appreciate it. You can click here to go to her climbing page, and then click on the 'Support Linda' button located underneath the photo of the very, very tall Columbia Center Tower. And, there's still time to register and climb yourself!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Weekend Numbers

The numbers are in and they're not pretty:

Pounds of chocolate received in mail: 8 (Sister + Trader Joe's = LOVE)

Number of animal stickers received from VERY generous friend: 500

Number of animal stickers placed neatly on paper: 7

Number of proto-engineers needed to build the biggest tower EVER: 2

Instances of spontaneous vomiting sans other symptoms: 4

Loads of wash completed: 14 (if by 'completed' you mean washed, dried and piled into laundry-shaped mountain)

Yellow Sand
Reading, in ppm: 185

Minutes left in Korea: 489,600

Number of communist jokes endured: 62

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Long live communism, or whatever you want to call it

There's an interesting post over at C Mike Dish today about Joe Robel, a famous communist that lived in his neighborhood when he was a kid. A real, live, self-professed dirty rotten commie that took on the Supreme Court and won. C Mike, of course, is my father. Or so he claims. Anyway, it's interesting to me because I'm actually kind of a fan of communism. Not of the evil despot, ugly clothes, starving masses, threatening brand of communism, but of its more pure roots.

Of course, communism was doomed to fail for the same reason democracy will meet its end: because people are inherently selfish, greedy hoarders. It's definitely time for a new approach that I call cooperativism. I thought I had made the word up, but sadly not. Googling it yields references to efforts in cooperative living in cutting-edge communities in the Phillipines, Puerto Rico and the Mormon Church.

I'm just a stupid geologist, not a brilliant social scientist, but even I can see that it doesn't do any good to have a giant house and an eleven-foot wide plasma television if you can't drink the water out of the tap because the plasma tv factory up the river is spewing all kinds of crap into the water supply. And that someone else doesn't have to lose for me to win.

Disclaimer for any outraged Air Force officials or DoD Special Agents who may or may not be investigating security clearances: Lloyd is not now, nor has he ever been any sort of unsavory '-ist'. He rarely agrees with me about anything, and will loathe this entire post. No capitalists were harmed in the making of this blog.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Holy Poop

On Sundays, Lloyd and I like to take turns taking Weston to the early service at the chapel on base. We'd love to all go together, of course, but all God's people are grateful that we have ceased our ill-advised attempts to take Shane. Our taking-turns plan doesn't always work out, because the early service is EARLY. This week it was my turn and Weston and I got out the door on time; I love it when a plan comes together. The early service is EARLY, have I mentioned that? We don't always have time to do everything we'd like to do before we go, like brush our teeth or attend to other pressing needs. Nonetheless, we arrived on time and settled into our customary spot in the very back row.

You may recall a particular phrase that refers to a fart in church as something that is singularly undesirable. If you had been sitting in the back three pews this morning, you would have learned first-hand that farts in church, are, in fact, something to be avoided. I kept asking him if he needed to poop, all through the service, and he just kept saying, 'No'. And farting, the silent but deadly ones. Finally, into the reverent silence during the pre-communion prayer, he announced, 'I have to poop!'

I don't know where the bathroom is at the chapel, and there was no one to ask, because every head was bowed; congregation ignoring us to the best of their abilities. As stealthily as possible, I gathered his notebook, pen, pen cap, snack, hat, coat and other assorted church going supplies and replaced the four denominations' worth of bibles, hymnals and devotionals that were strewn about the pew. As I'm sure you can imagine, our efforts were not actually very stealthy, what with my panic and Weston's whimpering.

With all of our junk gathered, we flew out of there and raced to the Turumi Lodge next door. The bathroom there is a two-stall affair, and after getting him situated, I left the door to his stall ajar and went into the other one. Might as well pee while I have the chance, right? There I was, minding my own business, when someone walked into the bathroom. Seeing the door to the stall ajar, she walked right in. The next thing I heard was, 'Hi Weston!' It was one of the teachers from the CDC where he used to go to 'school'. She started having a chat with him, and he said, 'These poops are too big! They won't come out!' Well, that got rid of her, and everything came out all right.

We got our regular hot chocolate and coffee, and picked up pinecones on the way home. And how was YOUR Sunday?