Thursday, October 06, 2005

Pizza For Everyone!

Hoo-ray for Pizza Night!
Oh yes, it's Thursday, so it's Pizza Night!
Maybe the only dish everyone here likes:
Mom, Dad and BOTH tykes.
Thank God for Pizza Night!

(You may sing this to the tune of "Hooray for Hollywood" if doing so doesn't make you want to hurt yourself. Can you tell I'm ecstatic that I don't have to cook tonight? I mean, I'm makin' up dang SONGS, for cryin' out loud.)

Yes, Korea has Domino's (and Pizza Hut, and Papa John's, to be fair) and Domino's delivers. Although I'm not sure the ordering thing works in English, which is a big reason it's so handy that I speak Korean. Because I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't order a pizza for my helpless, western-food-starved, foreign self (uh, family, I meant 'helpless, etc., foreign FAMILY'). Plus, Domino's here seems to send with every delivery a coupon for a free 1.25L Coca-Cola with your next order of a large pizza. And I am definitely a Coca-Cola girl. No Pepsi, thank you (and YES, I can tell in a blind taste test, thankyouverymuch: Pepsi is nas-tay).

Anyway, the Irreverent One may notice certain similarities in this practice to a tradition in our childhood home, namely Friday night Pizza Night (I'm SO original). Somehow in our house it migrated to Thursday, and I don't have the willpower to move it back to Friday; it's like an early start to the weekend. Gotta go now, pizza's here!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Korean Art of Hwe-shik

Oh, I am tired. My two sweet, rambunctious boys are in bed, but it was only me here tonight, so I am tired. Hubby, you see, had what Koreans call a "hwe-shik." Roughly, this translates as a business dinner, which one would think is an understandable practice that can also happen on occasion in the West. But thinking that means you do not understand the way the Koreans do it. Oh no, they take it to the Next Level; they are the Evel Knievels of business dinners. It is a finely-honed art here.

The first difference is the frequency. A Korean man often has to attend hweshik several times a week. (Fortunately, hubby's company is quite progressive and understands how to keep its expat employees' wives happy, so his colleagues only make him go twice a month or so.)

The second difference is that hwe-shik are mandatory. Korean society is still very collective in nature, so if the boss says "hey, let's get some kalbi (Korean barbecued beef)" then the WHOLE office attends. It's akin to the "face-time" concept that is still important in some Western places of employment (wherein being visibly present at the office for long stretches of time counts more toward advancement than being visibly productive).

The third difference is that hwe-shik are ALCOHOLIC as heck. It starts at dinner with copious amounts of soju with dinner, which one is hierarchically obligated to drink unless one has true health or religious reasons for abstention (and by that I mean, such as being a liver transplant survivor or being Mormon, where it is on the books that you may not consume alcohol). Then it continues at a bar after dinner with beer (there, hubby says, one may be able to get away with nursing one drink for long periods). THEN, it continues at, maybe a karaoke place, where I'm not sure what is consumed, or how many are left standing at that point to a) get to the karaoke place and b) hold breakable containers of any beverage.

Which brings me to the fourth difference: hwe-shik are LONG. Western business dinners are just that: dinner. As described above, a hwe-shik typically involves three locations, thus extending into the wee hours of the night. I am told by female friends that husbands often stagger in at 3 am and such. (Hubby, fortunately, is sent home by his progressive colleagues by 10 pm most times, and by midnight if there was a big occasion to celebrate, so fortunately I have been spared this.)

(And I haven't even mentioned the fact that some companies' hwe-shik are not exactly G-rated once you get past dinner. Hubby's company is NOT like that, to either of our knowledge. And yes, Hubby would a) tell me and b) likely quit in disgust the very next day, if not on the spot. Because, ladies and gents, my hubby ROCKS.)

Then the next day, all are expected to show up at the regular time and act as if they aren't hung-over and exhausted after only 3-ish hours of sleep. I am told that along with hwe-shik drinking comes a suspension of the normally-stringent Confucian behavioral standards and so it is no longer taboo to discuss things with one's superiors and colleagues that would normally be off-limits. Or so I am told. And then the next day, all is forgiven and forgotten (assuming anyone remembers anything at all) and it is back to business as usual. Productive way to run a business, eh?

I'll tell you what, it's a difficult way to be a wife. I have nothing to complain about, since hubby only goes infrequently, but I can't even begin to imagine the poor Korean wife, staying at home raising two young kids and literally only having her husband present to help on the weekend. Not because he likes going out, but because he has to if he wants a future at his company. The only good thing I can say about hwe-shik is that you get a break from that nagging question of what should I make for dinner tonight. We Westerners just don't know how good we have it sometimes, with these workplaces that take family into consideration. Korea is getting there, but I'm sure it could take a while to change a 5,000 year-old culture.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sue me, sue me what can you do me?!!

Why is it a crime to be educated? Apparently nobody told me (or any member of my family) that if you are young you are not allowed to be smart. AH, the politics of the workplace. Here are the reasons I am despised

1) I got my Master's degree in a field which I love
2) I am willing to work my butt off if you're willing to hire me.
3) Because of #1 and #2, the people I work for tend to like me being around and take it upon themselves to spread the word.

Apparently those things give my coworkers a right to be pissed. Why? Because:

1) They didn't choose to go to school for this occupation or possibly anything.
2) They choose to show up to do the minimum possible work for the maximum amount of money.
3)They choose to get all pissy when they don't get recommended or requested specifically by employers (because they have a bad attitude, and don't know as much as other people and like to take smoke breaks- A LOT!)

So, I ask you, dear faithful reader- Should I feel guilty that my employer asks for me by name even when I tell him I work through a certain organization which means he must pay more for my services? No, Absolutely not. DO I Feel guilty? Of Course, because I want to be LUUUUUUVED! I read a good book the other night for free while sitting in the cafe at Borders called "Nice Girls don't get the corner office" ( So I guess those that have paid for that book have a right to be pissed at me now...) I don't remember any word for word quotes for you, but the gist is that women tend to sabotage their own career advancement in an effort to remain LUUUUUUVED by all those who come in contact with them. I am guilty of this, most certainly. I'll leave it to you to educate yourselves if you're interested in reading more.

I refuse to apologize for my advanced degree which I paid for dearly in blood (yes, literally) and sweat and sleepless nights/mornings, and gas-money and sheer exhausted tears and student loans (still paying). I took the time to get a degree with the goal of skipping those years of "experience" and dues-paying at the bottom of the ladder. So, should you, my cowroker, hold it against me that my hard work is paying off? NO, YOU DAMN WELL SHOULDN'T! But of course, with "office" politics being what they are, I will not say this to your tobacco-shriveled faces, because I at least want to be treated civilly if not invited to dinner when the gang all goes out. In the end, what you should realize is that I am just like you, only smarter and prettier and younger. But I'm still really nice about it.

the I.O.

Childrearing Ironies, Part 2

Children sick with your garden-variety cold/flu that involves fever, copious amounts of snot and likely middle-of-the-night coughing are too sick to go to school and/or preschool, but not sick enough for prescription medicine and so must stay home and fork up any preconceived notions you had of getting something done this day (or possibly for the entire week);

YET, once given Children's Tylenol/Advil, THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINE and able to tear all over the house they're not allowed to leave, request endless videos, refuse naps, and Harold-the-Purple-Crayon all over their pretty bed in which you are forcing them to try to nap for Their Own Good. The sympathy and his poow widdew sad face only last until the medicine takes effect, I'm telling you.

(NOW for crying out loud GO TAKE A NAP, Mama needs one, don't you? You kept us both up coughing half the night, so why are YOU so perky? Go, go get better or something; don't you know I had a LUNCH tomorrow? And stop sneezing on your brother -- the last thing I need is you both at home. Stop. Throwing. Playdoh. *sigh* Okay, we can watch the Thomas video one more time, but then that's seriously IT, I mean it.)