With Mother

With Me

Where’s Good Man?

There He Is


Hand Shaking


After the convocation, there was a little reception. This woman walked up to us and we chatted briefly. She told me Good Man never talks in class. I laughed and said he was the same at home.

She also said everyone was jealous last semester when Good Man went on a honeymoon while everyone else was stressing out over the really tough class they were taking together. And I’d thought he was exaggerating when he said it was such a tough class…

And then this other guy came up. Apparently the three of them worked on a lot of projects together. Good Man told me none of this, of course, since he doesn’t talk.


Kiwi Sorbet and a Lantern Lampshade

Mother has arrived!


Since Good Man was taking his last final tonight(!), we were alone together most of the time. Damn, has my studying been paying off!

After mother made two dinners(!), I made some kiwi sorbet for dessert.

Kiwi Sorbet

Kiwi Sorbet
1 C water
1/2 C sugar
juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
8-9 kiwis

Bring water and sugar to a boil, then simmer to make a syrup. Cool. Juice half a lemon and add to syrup. Mash 8-9 peeled kiwis. Stir into sugar syrup. Cool completely in fridge. Freeze according to ice cream maker directions.

Serves about 4.

Mother approved of the sorbet. And it really was great. Not too sweet, not too tart. It was just right.

Mother Likes It


Good Man and I have two torch lamps from IKEA. The glass shade on one broke several months ago. We’ve had a rather dangerous broken glass shade on the lamp. I realized that if we didn’t get rid of it, Mother was going to freak out. This weekend we looked for a new shade, but it’s really hard to find torch-style shades.

Well, it occurred to me that I could make one. Nevermind that I’ve never made a lampshade in my life. I’m crafy! Saturday night I ordered some materials from Lamp Shop, and the materials arrived today. (I wasn’t expecting that.)

When Mom and George came to Korea, we went to Buddha’s Birthday Parade. Mom was given a lantern and I’ve carried it around since then.

I lined the lantern with self-stick styrene. The photo below shows the lantern about halfway through the process. I was not super picky about cutting perfect shapes.

When I finished, however, I discovered that the quick tack glue I had just wasn’t working. So I broke out the glue gun and burned my fingers to put the lantern together.

Since cardboard and hot glue are probably not the most fire resistant materials, I’ll be keeping a bulb of 40 watts or fewer in the lamp. But I’m really happy with how it turned out.

Lantern Turned Lamp Shade

Gifted. Interviews.

In a two-week period, I have had three job interviews. I’m interested in going into gifted education, but I simply can’t move forward at my current school. Sure, I can take my graduate classes and teach the advanced math class, but that’s it.

So I set up interviews for three school-based classroom positions and a resource teacher position in the county. (In a classroom position the teacher has a classroom full of gifted and high-ability students in one classroom. In a resource teacher position the teacher works with all of the gifted students in a school in a pull-out or push-in position. Often, resource teachers work in multiple schools. There are also schools made up entirely of gifted students, but none of them advertised positions.)

At one school I was told that the gifted classroom position wasn’t officially open, but they wanted me. They offered me a regular classroom position. I stood my ground and told them I wasn’t going to make a purely lateral move. I wanted a gifted position. They asked if they could call me in for another interview if/when the position opened. Of course.

I interviewed for a resource position and later found out that they had a fifth of the normal number of open positions. (Blame budget cuts!) Since I’m not coming in fully endorsed, and since most resource teachers come from gifted classrooms or gifted schools, it’s no surprise I didn’t hear back from them.

I interviewed for another school and was offered a job in record time (excluding Korea, where being an English-speaker and preferably white is qualification enough). It’s for a lower-grade position. I consider myself an upper-grade teacher. However, I know someone at the school and she loves it there and the panel thought I’d be a good fit for third grade. I said I’d consider it.

The fourth interview was lined up for next week.

Well, I considered and considered and I’ve accepted the primary gifted education position. The transfer has been approved, so starting in the fall I will be at a new school, in a new grade, as a classroom-based gifted teacher.

I always knew I’d get endorsed in some area, but for the first three years I debated between going into gifted education and going into English as a Second Language. I’ve had experience in both and I know that, domestically at least, my heart is in gifted ed. And now I’m moving forward!

I am so excited!

Around the Home

When my brother and I were back in Minnesota for my grandmother’s funeral, we poked around in the basement. We found The Red Bowl.

Johnny picked it up, “Look! The red bowl!”

“The red bowl!” I said.

My mom called from upstairs, “What?”

We both cried out, “The red bowl!

“What red bowl?” Mom asked.

I yelled, “What red bowl?”

Johnny yelled, “The red bowl!”

The Red Bowl

When I was growing up, The Red Bowl (and it’s smaller sibling, The Brown Bowl) held JellO, gravy, French-cut string beans, or pudding. I remember those bowls. When Good Man and I visited over spring break, I stole them.

Before I moved out at 18, I stole my mother’s cookbook.

The Red Cookbook

I used The Red Bowl and The Red Cookbook to made cranberry-banana bread and banana bread this weekend.

Cranberry-Banana Bread and Banana Bread


This year, one of my goals was to get rid of 100 books. When I did so, I found that I had some room for wedding shoes and wedding flowers.

Red Wedding Shoes on a Shelf

Wedding Flowers

Also, now that I’ve gotten rid of 100 books, it’s like the universe is trying to fill in the void. My coworker has been bringing in a lot of Korean books. I’ve finally started stacking them next to my Korean bookshelf.

Free Korean Books


I’ve also been doing some minor knitting lately. I’m (slowly…very slowly) working on a fish afghan.

Fish Afghan

I also made (yet another) a head covering for Mother. We’ll see if I finally got it right!

Gender, Class and Formality in Korean Language

This post was brought on by a conversation Jason (of Kimchi Ice Cream) and I had in the comments section of my post about throwing 몸 across the room.

I won’t recap the conversation because it spans over 8,000 words, but the issue of honorifics and speech levels and gender came up.

This reminded me of a book I finished reading in March, 동생을 바꾸고 싶어 (I Want a Different Sister). The book is a translation from a French book about a girl and her relationship with her younger sister, who is autistic. The time period is not clear (to me), but it’s set in Paris and appears to be a modern setting. (Also, since autism is on the rise, I suspect it’s supposed to be set in current times.)

At one point in the book, the mother and father of the main character are talking in private and the main character is eavesdropping. In true high-context Korean style, who was talking wasn’t 100% clear. I had to use context and…sentence endings.

One character was speaking in the -요/yo (polite, informal) form, while the other was speaking in banmal (the common, impolite form). I suspected the woman was using the higher form (요) to speak to her husband. I reread the passage, paying more attention to context.

In true Amanda’s Reading a Korean Book Before Going to Bed style, I called Good Man into the bedroom. “Read this please,” I said.

He read it and looked at me. “Yeah?”

“Is the mother speaking in -yo form while the father is speaking in banmal?”


I stared at him, “What the hell? Am I supposed to be speaking 요 to you, cause that is not happening.” Good Man shook his head no. “Wait,” I said, “does your mother speak like that to your father? She doesn’t right? She uses banmal.”

Good Man nodded, “Yes, she speaks banmal to him.”

“Is that normal? For people your parents’ age?”

“Well, I do not know all Koreans, so I do not know,” Good Man replied, “but my mother is strong woman!”

“Maybe that’s why we get along so well.”

Throwing Korean Books Across the Room

Last night I finished Naughty Book (, 여균동).

This book caused me to pass some Korean-language thresholds. First, I ended up reading two Korean books at the same time. (I didn’t find it appropriate to read a book with suggestive line drawings and a nipple line drawing on the cover in front of my students while they were practice testing for the spring standardized tests, so I read 빨간 머리 앤 instead.) Second, I read a Korean book intended for Korean adults by a Korean author. Finally! A book that wasn’t a Western book in translation. Third, I read sentences with words like 성기, 창녀, 젖꼭지 and 변태 in them (proving that an adult vocabulary is actually needed in life, I suppose).

When I finished, however, I was not thinking about any of those things.

After storming around the house about it, I climbed into bed with the book. I wrote “10년5월4일 화가 나! >.<” on the endpaper and threw the book across the room, where it landed in a pile of Korean books on the floor.

*** Spoiler Alert ***

In chapter 56, the woman leaves the man. He wakes up and finds her not there. And my heart hurt for the man. I’m not lying. It really did. I wanted the woman to come back.

And then in chapter 57, we find these sentences. “그때 문득 남자에게 이 여자를 죽여버리고 싶다는 생각이 밀려왔다” and “남자는 여자의 목을 두 손으로 감싸안았다” and “-이제 쉬어.”

In other words, the man realized (accidentally) that he could kill her. So he strangled the woman. When she was dead, he laid her on the mattress and said “rest now.”

And then in chapter 58 she visited him again.

The end.

I was so angry. I raged at Good Man. “What the hell? I learned Korean to an adult novel level so I could read this sexist shit?”

He laughed, “I told you it would be depressing book.”

I made Good Man read the last three chapters. And then I drilled him. “Is there some time warp stuff? Did he kill her and then wander around his house looking for her? Is she visiting him only in his own head?”

“I don’t know.”

I gave him a disbelieving glare.

“No, I really don’t. It’s avant-garde, I don’t know exactly what happened,” he said.

“Well then you Google it and tell me!”

Ever a great sport, Good Man Googled it. He found an interview with the author, who said that killing her at the end was a “symbol of literature,” because breakups are like a death.

With your bare hands? Pyscho author!

Good Man said, “This is why I don’t read Korean books! I never even read this book and I told you it would be depressing and sad and someone would die!”

That’s true. Although Good Man hasn’t read the book, he knows the author (who is a movie producer or something similar) and he warned me it would probably be dark. And the last fifteen chapters were all about death and suicide (of an opera star).

Good Man said, “All Korean books in the store are Christian, or making money on stock market, or making yourself better in society, or depressing stuff like this, or English books, or hagwon stuff.”

“I wanted to read an actual Korean book written by a Korean for Koreans! A book that hasn’t been translated into English—and there aren’t many Korean books translated into English. I wanted to read Korean literature!”

Good Man laughed, “That is what you read!”

I growled. “Stupid book!”

Diana was online and I ranted at her. She wrote, “This is why Koreans never break up with anyone. This is why they just quit calling. I get it now. Because dumping someone is exactly the same as murder.”

I ranted a bit more and Good Man sighed and muttered to himself, “Oh today is a very strange day. My wife is upset about avant-garde Korean novel and she takes it out on me….”

“Oh yeah. So glad I bothered learning Korean to read real Korean literature.”

If I had read it in English, it would’ve been a pretty quick read and I would’ve heard something through the grapevine about the “controversial ending” or the male character would’ve been called “disturbed.” I would’ve had a better idea of what to expect.

But 몸 is not in translation. It’s modern lit, so it’s not some classic that I’d even read a synopsis of. I was going in blind. It’s written in poetic prose (not poetry), which took a lot of thought and time. But I was interested. So I was reading along, doing pretty well, and really taking my time to read it and to try and understand it.

I invested a lot of time and energy invested in this book, and that’s why I hate(d) the ending so strongly.

However. Good Man found out it’s been made into a movie (미인) and I made him find it online.


I know the story (roughly). Watching it would be good for my listening comprehension.

But I think I’ll watch it when I’m less upset with the ending. Or at least calmer about it. I’m not that much of a masochist or sadist (Good Man!) that I’ll watch it this month.

*** End Spoilers ***

The good news is that with finishing this book I’m quickly closing in on the 400,000 mark for my 1,000,000 jaso goal.


김치 국물부터 마시지 마라

“김치 국물부터 마시지 마라,” Good Man said.


“‘Don’t drink the kimchi juice first.'”

I had a feeling I knew what it meant, but I still asked, “What does that mean?”

“It means…” Good Man started waving his arms around, “Don’t think all the bad things before you kn—”

“Don’t jump to conclusions?”


I’ve got to memorize that one.

Dangerous Kitchen Gadgets and Plants

I bought a Japanese mandoline and used it to make carrot match sticks this weekend. I chopped up half dozen carrots and then realized I needed to do something with them, so I made chapjae. But the ratio of carrots to everything else was a bit off, as you can see.

Carrots (and a Few Other Veggies)

Also, I can now tell my plants apart since they’ve all gotten true leaves. About two weeks ago I put most of my plants out in pots. The peppers spend the day outside and the evenings inside since it’s still too cold at night for them. I also planted some seeds directly outside.

This weekend we removed a huge, glass-top table from the porch. The table came with the rent, but it was so big it was making it hard for me to reach all of my plants to water them. So Good Man helped me drag it to the building’s laundry room, where each resident has a small storage space. Now there’s much more room on the porch, so I’m happy, even though I am still stuck with four chairs out there.



Korean Pepper Plants

Peppermint and Dill

Korean Sesame (Really a Mint Plant)