Friday, September 20, 2013

Like Lipstick On A Pig

Yesterday, we celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday at my in-laws' house. Did you see MIL's Kitchen? God help us!

Anyway, as we climbed up the zillions of stairs to their apartment, I noticed someone in the building had gotten married. How do you know this? Well, here, they cover everything ugly the newlyweds will pass with pink paper. The sewer grates outside. The electrical box in the hallway. Fire extinguishers. You name it, they cover it. It looks kind of cool actually.

Except when they do shit like this...
Yes, because that's sooooooooooooooo much better. This takes the whole doing a half-assed job thing to a whole new level. Bravo!

MIL's Kitchen

A picture is worth 1,000 words. Whoever said this obviously saw MIL's kitchen. Thank you, God, for preventing us from getting the runs. Maybe all the baijiu I drank disinfected everything. Take a good look and tell me what your favorite thing in this photo is. I enlarged the photo for your viewing pleasure.
So, who wants to go to MIL's house for dinner with me next time? Any takers? Yeah, her kitchen scares me too. I need to go to my happy place now. Gak!

Mid-Autumn Engrish

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! Or you can just call it Asian Thanksgiving, because that's more or less what it is. They all call it something different but everyone can agree that it's a holiday of giving thanks and enjoying foods of the harvest.

And mooncakes. Lots and lots of mooncakes. Seriously. Some people just refer to this as Mooncake Day. Mooncakes aren't too bad. The name sounds intriguing, right? In Korea, they eat rice cakes called songpyeon, which are usually shaped like little half moons. They're pretty tasty.

In China, the mooncakes are filled with things like red bean paste and lotus seed paste. It's not as bad as it sounds, honest! Incidentally, if you want to know more about mooncakes, this gives a nice rundown of them.

But you're not reading this for a history lesson on mooncakes, are you? Of course not! Because it's not a history lesson. It's a lesson in Mid-Autumn Engrish. Or rather, how to make the perfect run-on sentence, describing mooncakes. Take a look:
At least they used "propitious" correctly, which was astonishing. I know people who only speak English who would fuck that up. Way to go mooncake people! But then they follow it up with this crazy run-on sentence that just wants to tell you a bit of everything. It's a bit blurry, I admit (sorry, but you try to get a good photo when you're laughing your ass off holding an Engrish product in one hand and a camera in the other) but here's what it says:
The Chinese Moon Cake has carefully produced and crafted with proper condition and enjoy the finest things.

Um, the mooncake produced and crafted itself? Proper condition? What if conditions are not proper? Can I not eat this thing then? Oh and enjoy the finest things, ok? I just don't even know what to do with this. Except bust it open and eat the mooncake. Yes, that's a much better idea.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Donuts...Is There Anything They Can't Do?

I love donuts. They make the best breakfast, snack or dessert, wouldn't you agree? I probably love them as much as Homer Simpson does. In fact, back when I lived in Florida, and one of the hurricanes was getting ready to plow us with days of rain and weeks of no electricity, I showed up to a friend's house bearing a box of donuts and a case of beer. Upon sight of me, he asked me if by chance Homer Simpson was coming to seek refuge from the hurricane too.

Lately, however, I've been avoiding all things dessert as often as I can in favor of shaping up. I haven't mentioned it very much on here because this blog is not a fitspirational blog. It's not even a motivational blog. Unless you're another poor soul like me living abroad with a spouse from a different culture and wacky in-laws, then it's probably motivating. Anyway, other than my 3-year anniversary dinner with my husband, I've pretty much abstained from chocolatey and/or sugary deliciousness.

That is, until Friday. Yes, Friday the 13th. How appropriate that this would happen to me on that day. See, I had to eat a donut. In fact, that's what I'd said to my buddy and fellow Kindergarten teacher, Jon.

"I had to eat a donut."

Jon laughs hysterically. "You make it sound like you were held at gun point. I think this qualifies for quote of the day."

"No, really! It saved my life! Allow me to explain!" I plead.

It truly did. Much like the giant Lard Lad donut helps Homer save the say in the Monorail episode, this donut saved my day too.

Here's how it went down:
If you think school lunches in the states are bad, they're not all that great over here either. Since I work at a Korean school, I get Korean food every day. I love Korean food, but this is not what I'd consider good Korean food. Once in a while, they surprise you with something good, but most of the time, it looks like this.

Anyway, I had some kimchi toward the end of my meal. If you don't know what that is, it's a fermented spicy cabbage that is actually pretty good.

But as I finished my last bite of it, some of the spices got stuck in my throat. Not in a choking to death kind of way, but they stuck about halfway down and wouldn't slide the rest of the way.

So I'm not choking, but suddenly, this burning sensation erupts in my throat and every time I swallow, I feel like I've got a 5-alarm fire ripping through there. Surprisingly, I don't panic. I just head back to my office to drink my tea. The tea stops it from burning repeatedly but it now feels like I'm being stuck with glass in my throat. This is actually an improvement from the burning sensation.

Ok, don't panic, I think to myself. But of course, my stupid brain wants to, perhaps even more so than usual because this week, I'd found out my wonderful friend Ted Mister had passed away. And just like Homer Simpson, I remind my brain to shut up or I'll stab it with a Q-tip.

I have an apple I've brought for a healthy snack and I thought that maybe, just maybe, the apple might help push that stubborn kimchi crap down the rest of my throat. But that didn't work either.

Then, I remembered some very sage advice I was given when I was a kid. Was it Mom that told me? Maybe it was Grandma. Or my dad. It was one of them, that's for sure. The advice in question?
If some food sticks in your throat, eat a piece of bread and it will push it down.

By Jove! OF COURSE! I grab a wad of yuan and run to the school store up in the cafeteria. Now, because of eating healthier and getting back in shape, I have been steering clear of the school store. There are never any healthy offerings. They also stock fresh baked goods from a Korean bakery in town. On this day, I had very few bread choices to work with. There was a chicken sandwich which was out of the question. I tried it once last semester and while it wasn't horrible, I had to remove gobs of mayo from it. There was a package of 4 garlic bread sticks. I didn't want or need that much bread. There were a couple poundcake-looking things. And then, there was one lone chocolate-frosted donut. I decided that if a donut could save Springfield, then a donut could save me too.

And it did. It only took 2 bites of donut to clear my throat. But I kept on eating it until it was gone.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Almost Had Me Fooled

This week, I promised myself that I would get around to writing a new blog post over the weekend. I've been extremely busy with work, exercising my ass off and spending time with Raelynn. And this whole time, I was surprised to find that MIL was actually being helpful and useful. I was going to write about that. I really, truly was.

I was going to write about how she has been cleaning up the kitchen before leaving each day. I was going to write how she picks up all of Raelynn's toys. I was going to write about how she made us steamed crabs. I was going to write how she made me some herbal soup remedy when she learned I had a sore throat which made it clear up less than 2 hours after I drank it. I was going to write how she made me a ton of tortillas so I could make tacos, thus earning bonus awesome points. I was going to write how she had been doing absolutely none of the annoying fucking things she has always done while I was at work. Except for this of course:
Behold! Mt. Dishmore!

For a moment, I actually started to believe that MIL and I could peacefully coexist with one another.

Silly me!
I was so fucking wrong.
She seriously almost had me fooled. Until yesterday.

This weekend, Jeremy and I are celebrating 3 years of marriage. The beautiful day when we walked into the US Embassy in Seoul and officially got married. Even though our anniversary is on Sunday, we decided we'd go out to dinner yesterday, which was Friday here, without Raelynn. Her grandparents would already be here watching her while I was at work so it would be easy for them to just stick around, eat dinner and play with her until we came home. On Sunday (tomorrow), we will spend the day with Raelynn since she was there inside of me when we got married.

Yesterday, I rushed home from work. I wanted to have enough time to play with Raelynn and then change into something fabulous and fancy before going to the Shangri-La for a lovely meal. But when I opened the door, the house was dark and silent. No MIL. No FIL. And no Raelynn. It's also a complete and utter pigsty. There are toys everywhere. Food is sitting out in the kitchen. She's even forgotten to switch the gas valve under the stove off, which everyone here does out of safety. I frown and call Jeremy to report this. He's not happy about this either. He clearly told his parents we wanted to see Raelynn before we went to dinner. It was just before 4pm. If they wanted to take her for an outing, they should have done it hours before.

I decide to go ahead and primp and get all dolled up. At 4:45pm, I've finished with make-up, clothing and jewelry and I'm becoming angry as well as worried. Why are they still out with my child? What the hell is wrong with them? The land line rings and I answer it. It's FIL. I can't understand a single thing he's saying except for that he says Raelynn isn't with him! What the fuck?!?

Moments later, my husband arrives home. He calls his father back and finds out that his father has gone off to their hillbilly house out in Laoshan. He tells Jeremy that his wife and Raelynn probably went to the neighborhood park and some nearby yogurt place.

Jeremy is now visibly angry as well. He wants to see his daughter. He shouts a bit and then hangs up. See, when MIL usually takes Raelynn somewhere, FIL is with them. My FIL might not be the brightest guy, but he's got all his wontons. Unlike MIL. He's smart about watching out for bad people. I know no one will get close to Raelynn with him there. Also, FIL carries his cell phone with him at all times. MIL actually has a phone that we bought her and she NEVER fucking uses it. EVER. This is exactly WHY she needs to carry a phone!

We call over to their home but there's no answer. I've gone ahead and downed 2 shots of baijiu to soothe my nerves. It's now after 5pm. Jeremy is worried but feels they are probably just fine. But I point out that it's unlike MIL to not be shoving food down Raelynn's throat if she's around her close to dinner time. We decide to go look for them. Before we hurry out the door, we hear a child squealing. "Raelynn!" Jeremy screams with joy. He rips open our door and we're instantly disappointed. It's not our kid. It's just some ugly, fat Chinese child walking up the stairs. We hurry out the door, hoping that we'll find them at the park. Neither of us wants to go eat now. We just want to know Raelynn is safe and ok.

I wait in the car and look frantically around. I see lots of old, badly dressed ladies out with children. But none of them are that insufferable troll in one of her heinous mismatched outfits and my beautiful daughter. I pray and pray and pray. And thankfully, moments later, my prayers are answered. I hear my sweet Raelynn call out: "Mommy!" Jeremy is holding her now and she's so happy to see us. MIL is following behind, laughing away, as if she has no fucking clue how very serious this all is. Because people are watching us, I resist the urge to beat her to death in the street with my faux crocodile skin clutch.

That stupid fucking brainless knuckle-dragging oaf! I want to ask her what the fuck is wrong with her. She is so lucky Raelynn is safe. I will break her pan-faced troll head open if anything bad ever happens to my daughter in her care. We took them both back to our house. Jeremy and I lectured her about it, he in Chinese, me just rambling away as politely as I could in English. When Raelynn learned we were going to a restaurant without her, she was really upset. Or maybe it was because we were stuck leaving her with that imbecile again. I couldn't tell.

It's a miracle that Raelynn was safe and that we were able to enjoy our anniversary dinner. Plus, when we came home from dinner, MIL had cleaned up most of the mess she'd made (we spent all of today scrubbing the entire house together though). But she of course didn't do diddly shit about getting Raelynn for bed. 9pm and the kid is STILL running around the house. Fantastic. Stupid MIL. Make me all the fucking tortillas you want, bitch, but I am never forgiving or forgetting this shit.