They say when live gives you lemons, make lemonade. And that's just what Korean Korea is doing with it's new slogan:
We Got Nuts!
The sun wasn't shining, the birds weren't chirping and if those weren't clues enough, the too gray morning should have clued me in that it was raining. It didn't. I was resurrecting my workday routine. Vacation over and my not so water proof winter coat thoroughly damp, I hailed a cab. The bus costs about $1.10 and the cab costs about $3.50 to work. While the bus is less than half, it's rather nice to be dropped off at the bottom of the stairs, especially when you've forgotten your umbrella.
I don't know where I came to the notion, my co-workers would be glad to have me back. Granted, three teachers are still on vacation and like only three people were there when I arrived. Nevertheless, I felt like a much loved sofa: expected to be there. In this case, there was my office chair.
"Your butt hasn't been keeping me warm," it said. "Don't you love me?"
"My chair is talking to me," I said.
"Shh, don't say that out loud," it said. "People will think you're crazy."
That conversation didn't actually happen. Rather, I asked, "Do I need to clean, today?" I said this hoping the answer was "no" and it was, or so I thought.
N. proposed we didn't need to clean the office, since this week is two days long. Somewhere along the line, Incompetent Teacher (IT) and Ju started cleaning. M. arrived and demanded, "What are you doing? It's Mariel's turn."
At the present, I was trying to check the grammar of a text from N. We were having a conversation that went like this.
"What's it for?" I asked, pointing at the test in my hand. There was some odd wording and I didn't know if the level was low or high or why we we needed another test.
"For the students?"
"But why are we giving them a test?"
"For their English?"
"Who is it for? What is the purpose of this test?" I could not think of a better way to ask.
"It's for the students? To test them."
Eventually, she told me it was for the special high-level after school class, but it was too late to do the editing because I had to mop.
I did it very irritably. Partly because I was making up for "my week" I missed while on vacation, something we generally don't do. Like I said, IT and Ju had to stop, then Ju took the vacuum, because... I guess I'm not old enough to operate electrical equipment. I don't know. Logic does not prevail in the office often.
What gets under my skin is responsibly shirking (thus avoiding accountability in important matters *.) while taking up power unimportant issues such as, who mops and who vacuums. Anyway, while I was moping, Mrs. Q. decided that we didn't need to clean the office next week since we're only using it two days this week. Not cleaning this week or not cleaning next week amounts down the same thing, sigh.
Anyway, that was the beginning of my first day back, which was mostly good. I had some work to get caught up on, which I mostly did. (And then I ordered some stuff on G-market. I'm a terrible person, I know.) And then I taught three classes in a row and scolded my 5th and 6th graders for giving A. hard time and three of them for not doing the home work I assigned before I went on vacation. I know at least one of the absent students didn't do his because he never does. Anyway, I informed the the class that shall not get to bake tomorrow, much to their dismay.
I wept fake tears to show them my personal inner turmoil; I loath following through on things like this and I wanted them to know it. The little ones laugh and then do their homework. The older students stare blankly, too cool for school. And it's likely that they're embarrassed for me. But they also do their homework the next day, so...
After assigning homework to my last class and sending them on their way, I returned to a weird office vibe. A. has been mothering IT every since he got in trouble for really sucking at his job and so many students wanting to quit. They've been walking home together and stuff and I guess, getting closer, but no so close she wanted to spend time with him outside of work. Earlier. He invited A. and her boyfriend to see a free photo exhibit. She excused herself because she was saving money, among dives and dips of avoidance. He persisted past the point of awkward and I almost felt sorry for him. Nope, that's not true. He has brought the little ones ( many of which have been my students) to tears, pleading with their parents to quit.
When I asked why he hadn't taken any advice we have been giving him over the last six months, he said "I admit I haven't done all that I could have."
Well there's a lot more I could say about that conversation, but lets wrap this work rant up, all these things and more are why we have kittens.
* Last summer the book committee was asked to sign ridiculous waver accepting all responsibility if anything ever went wrong. I agreed to sign only if they limited the scope to book selection and of that particular semester.
I haven't been hearing Sir Yowlsalot since I I left water the other day. But about about nine last night he started mewling so, after donning a pair of socks, my shoes and my coat, I headed out cat trap and chicken. The weather was chilly, but in the pleasant way winter can be just before spring-- a fog of cat pee was in the air. After setting the trap I mewed until I saw a shadow slither under a car...
Back in the day ( "the day" being 1980 to 2005) I was all horse crazy. I mean obsessed with emphasis, as opposed to my current state "wishing you were here" with you being a horse. I'd keep one in the apartment if it weren't for the four flights of stairs.
But it didn't mew and it didn't come out. I returned to the apartment and waited. It wasn't long before I caught the wrong cat, big old Tom crisscrossed with scars that had never been close to people his entire life. I tried again and I caught another wrong cat. I probably caught more feral cats last night... well, lets just say, according to the TNR people, getting one cat in the trap is supposed to difficult, let a lone a whole colony. I considered keeping one and having it neutered but the cats I caught the more I realized a few things: There must be about thirty tom cats living behind my apartment building, I would go broke trying to TNR these guys, and neutering just one was an act of cruelty to that cat who would then get really beat up by all the other toms.
Sometimes we want to do the right thing, and sometimes our perspective of the right thing is shaped by others, but isn't necessarily possible, or, if it is possible, it's not the right thing...
Leaving names unnamed there is a no kill dog rescue in Korea that rescues dogs from city shelters. The dogs live in his care for years and .... the conditions are not terrible, but they're not good either. When I first learned of him, he was passionate about what he did. Now he laments the personal cost to, the inconsistency of support after foreigners leave Korea and how he can't afford better facilities. His joy in what he does had been replaced by frustration.
I've been in his shoes, well not exactly in his shoes. Back in the day, I took up the cause of getting people to stop attributing human motives to their horses and punishing their equines for "intentionally" being bad. I expected others to hop on board and they just didn't. It wasn't just a matter of approach. Other people had success and are still having success.
Take writers for another example. We hop on board our stories and expect other people to do the same, but they don't because it's not right for us. In the video below, Will Smith talks about bricks. The larger story of the smaller brick story is "Be the master of your own success." I've been down a thousand roads in life and if there is of thing thing I'm certain, why one person is successful and another is not, doesn't just come down to working harder. Nor does it come down to luck.
I'm waging an internal war about about destiny, which is to say one's "right" path. However, destiny were really part of it, then how come there's no one making prophesy for the best shoe sales person in Albuquerque? Okay, I was trying to be funny with that one and failed. Lets move on, shall we
I can't answer when something is right for us or when it is completely wrong, but this cat thing led to this thing (this thing being my blog) and thinking about my moderately moderate success in writing. It has not been easily won. If I were to measure the effort to the gain (as I did with the cats), the the rational thing would be to quit. But artistic pursuits, hobbies and what brings us joy, is not always economical. When it's right, it just is. When it's wrong it just is. And because life is never simple; what was right before can also be wrong now. Rinse and reverse. Perhaps the secrete of life is knowing when to hold onto your proverbial pussy and when to let it go.
Do cats have sympathy for other cats?: two yowlers in a pear tree and boy am going to have a surprise for my vet.
The yowling started about a month ago. A male cat seeking females isn't a pleasant sound. I'm on the fourth floor and it broadcast all the way up here. I began to hate the yowler. Also, I began to wonder if the tom would bother Bear. I'm not sure if I'm allowed pets or not... my landlord knows I have a cat. Even though Bear was hiding, he saw all the cat paraphernalia: cat trees, toys and food dishes. Thanks to the language barrier, he didn't say anything.
True fact: When it comes to pets, language barriers are great.
Suddenly, on Saturday, Bear spent the entire day yowling back at the tom. I fed him, then played with him, then put him in the veranda to decompress. The second he was out, Bear started yowling. By Sunday, I knew I had to do something about the tom. Armed with some of Bears chicken treats and a youtube video of a female cat in heat yowling,, I set out to track down Mr. I-can't-shut-up. It wasn't hard. After listening for a few minutes, I located him over there (1). I mewed back at him. He mewed back at me. We mewed and the random passerby gave me strange looks.
As it turned out, there was no need for the cell phone. I had miss judged Mr. I-can't-shut-up. He still couldn't shout up, but he wasn't yowling for females. He's scared out of his mind. I think he may have been a pet not too long ago. He's not friendly like Bear was, but he was brave enough to almost eat out of my had. He got close enough that I actually tried to grab him.
Anyway, after to leaving the yowler, yowling after me, I returned to my apartment. Bear sniffed me and flopped over satisfied. It's easy for humans to attribute human characteristics to pets when there are none. But it's just as easy to dismiss kindness in animals has humans attributing humanizing pets. Rather than get in that debate or fight with my cat, the next night when Bear started getting upset by the yowler, I went out and fed him. When I returned, Bear sniffed me and was satisfied.
Of course, when his mewing equals me leaving ... it could be the reason he stops getting upset, but I also trust that cats understand cat. Anyway, after observing the yowler, I learned that he circles the neighbor hood, mewing and hasn't stopped. Poor baby is in some major distress. This became even clearer, when I saw some other strays finishing off some cat food I had fed the yowler. They slunk away and no amount of mewing at them, was going to get them to come out. In fact, I think I scared them more than most humans do.
There's no TNR (Trap Neuter Release) in Yeongju and Bear Cat (aka Mr. Bear; aka Bear) won't accept "Let someone else take care of it." Thus I ordered a humane trap on Gmarket and more of Mr. Bear's favorite treat because the yowler happens to love them too. (My vet is just going to love my newest surprise) In the meantime Bear has stopped mewing at me and continues to nap when Mr. I-can't-shut-up is yowling nearby.... unless I haven't fed the yowler. Then he won't shut up.
1. Over there: Just yonder.
It's my vacation, which means doing a lot of the stuff I've been putting off. Except laundry and cleaning the toilet. Though to be fair, I finally found my toilet scrubber and I only thought about using it for a few days before I actually did. That's hardly even procrastination.
Speaking of procrastination, while I was exercising this skill, I searched Google for the ABNA 2015. Nope, not going to happen. A little sad, but not really. Good book contests don't last because there's not enough benefit to the host. ABNA's primary benefit was in attracting new users to Create Space, which it did before reaching a saturation point. When upping the prize to $50,000 didn't increase participation, well it had to go. In the meantime Amazon has another g̶r̶e̶a̶t̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶t̶e̶s̶t̶ idea to bypass the slush pile. It's called Kindle Scout. If you're thinking this is somewhat old news, you're right. Better late than never, as they say.
The program ( is similar to Authonomy) asks readers to vote for their favorite books and in theory, weed out the bad from the good while, in theory, generating book buzz.
In reality, neither ABNA or Authonomy has generated the same kind of excitement that, say, a book auction where the writer walks away with a six figure advance.
Since the news of ABNA 2015's cancellation r̶e̶a̶d̶e̶r̶s̶ writers are like, "It looks amateurish if possessive apostrophes are missing as in one of them. I insta-skip any work like that."
And other writer's are like, " If I have a typo, someone will highlight it in a review and hold it up as evidence, “See, self-pubbers are terrible. ”But they don’t do the same thing to traditionally published work."(comments quoted from this post.)
While writers are giving a big damn, readers are like, "Huh? What's this.... hmmm." And then, like, "Oh, this video of a dog barking "hello" is trending. I better go watch it. "
Anyway, here's the break down of Kindle Scout (3).
1. Beyond some major controversy, why wouldn't Amazon renew a five year auto renewable contract? They don't need to even talk to the author. Further more, one sale a year doesn't hurt and times thousands of titles, it actually adds up. Also, Amazon gets exclusive content for it's lending library, Kindle Select and audible. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the contract limits and/or excludes royalties from free, loaned or subscription distribution. Free, good and exclusive content is a big marketing tool for Kindle.
2. The average self-published book earns about $100 dollars in it's life time. A $1500 advance is 15 times that. Not bad for the average writer.
3. I didn't say I wouldn't participate =)
Mariel R. is an ESL teacher, horse trainer, writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. She lives in South Korea with two cats, three horses, a German Shepherd and 17 chickens.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Goldy in English) R.I.P February, 23, 2018