Give me a break.

Japan has an obsession with Kit Kats.

Weird Kit Kats.

This was first brought to my attention back in September when Mary and I visited Japan. Mary frequented a lot of convenience stores in search of Cherry Blossom flavored Kit Kats, a gift she previously received from her friend Nick. We were unsuccessful. They all sold milk chocolate and occasionally dark chocolate Kit Kats. How disappointingly normal. At the end of a week, I began to question Mary’s choice of words. Perhaps what she meant to say was that the Kit Kats had a pretty picture of a Cherry Blossom on them- you know, as a seasonal promotion to celebrate the arrival of spring. (Sorry Mary, I never meant to doubt your intelligence.)

How could I be so ignorant?

I had an extra couple of hours to kill after we went our separate ways at Narita. There’s nothing exciting about this airport. It’s small, it’s boring, and it’s eerily quiet. I stumbled upon an origami museum. I counted the number of bathrooms and water fountains. I wandered into tacky tourist shops-and then I found them. Massive boxes of them. Not just Green Tea- Cherry Blossom but Wasabi, Soy Sauce, and Sweet Potato, too. Dreams really do come true.

So now let’s fast-forward three months to December. I’m back at the same sleepy airport wasting time until I get the privilege of spending half a day on a flight to Chicago. Except now, it’s a scavenger hunt. How many strange flavors exist? And how many boxes can I buy with my leftover Yen?

The answer?

A lot.

There were a lot of flavors and I had a lot of Yen. And I will always be a sucker for Cheese flavored Kit Kats. That is, until I try them.

So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the starting line-up of the “not-quite-right” Kit Kats that will grace our dinner table on Christmas Day: Wasabi, Green-Tea Cherry Blossom, Cheese, Root beer, Lemonade, and one other missing an English translation. None of them look (or sound) appetizing but let’s be honest- the reactions are half the fun.

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December 26, 2010. Tags: , , , , . food, japan. Leave a comment.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas…

Surprise!

Merry Christmas.

December 24, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

A series of Tos and Fors

To anyone who checks this blog on a quasi-regular basis:

I have failed you. My apologies. I’m not even sure I’m averaging a post a month right now. Let’s change that. Korea’s a fascinating place. I want you to learn more about it. Consider it my December 14th resolution. Since I’m not making it on New Years, there’s a better chance I’ll keep it.

To the people who regularly (and irregularly) keep in touch through emails, skype, facebook messages, postcards and other forms of snail mail:

There is nothing better than waking up or coming home to a piece of America. Let’s get real- this time difference thing is a killer. It’s made keeping in touch far more difficult than I ever could have imagined. It’s also served as one of my biggest frustrations. It’s definitely a top candidate for causes of homesickness. But know that it’s always the highlight of my day to hear from you, especially when it’s full of wonderful details of your life. Thank you. I feel the love. And a special thanks to my favorite Aunt Bonnie who made me a killer hat. It’s awesome, and most importantly- warm.

For the people who want to know about my job:

Who would have ever thought that I would be an elementary school teacher? Certainly not me. But I am. And I enjoy it, at least for right now (most of the time). And apparently, I’m good at it- atleast by Korean standards. Every foreign teacher has to be reviewed by the City School District. Our classroom is observed, our lesson plans are scrutinized, and our students are interviewed. Then we’re given a grade from A to D. I received an A. Finally, validation that I’m doing something right. It’s amazing what a little recognition can do to one’s confidence levels. Other than that, the school year’s just about finished. Final exams were last week. My 6th graders are no longer cute elementary school students. I’m ready for a vacation. 8 more days of students, T-minus 11 days until I’m sitting on some beach in Thailand drinking a fruity alcoholic beverage with a little umbrella sticking out of it.

To the people wondering about what I did for Thanksgiving:

I worked. And then I took a half day and played in Seoul with my parents who were in town for a long weekend. We ate Korean food. Squid pancakes, tteokbokki, and rice wine. I bought a five pound bag of frozen cranberries on Saturday. Hopefully, I’ll get around to making some cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes in the near future. I’m sure it’ll go real nicely with a side of jalopenos.

To the people concerned about North Korea:

Kim Jong-Il’s going out with a bang. Don’t be.

For the people who are interested in the ongoing battle between Hilary and the Korean language:

I think the Korean language is winning right now, although it’s not for a lack of effort. 2011 just might bring night classes at Seoul National University. As fair warning, certain Korean words have infiltrated my English vocabulary, along with an annoying tendency to almost grunt in acknowledgement frequently during someone’s story, perhaps as a replacement to the English equivalent of “uh-huh”.

To the people worried that I’m lonely or have no friends:

 That’s silly. They’re lovely people. Come on over and meet them.

For the people who want to know about things like the weather:

It’s cold and unfortunately, that’s not changing any time soon. The high tomorrow’s 27 degrees. I saw my first real snow on Wednesday. There was a light snow a couple of weeks ago when the parents were here but this one was like a down pillow exploded outside of my classroom window. I think I was more excited than my students. That is, until I had to try to walk on the icy sidewalks the next day. Lord have mercy, I think I just might get that cast I always wanted.

Alright, that’s my current life in a nutshell- now for the daunting task of filling you in on the past 8 months. Stay tuned.

December 14, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

A tiny little picture of a monumental occasion

Ladies and gentlemen, my baby brother graduated today.

I can’t believe over a year has passed since I walked across the same stage, praying that I wouldn’t be the fool who tripped, although that could have been the highlight of the event. Let’s face it. Graduation ceremonies are boring. I passed the time by texting with my brother, reading the newspaper, and playing games on my iphone. Although I was not physically present for Sean’s big day, I was hoping to be able to return the favor courtesy of FSU’s live internet stream. I set my alarm clock, put some money on Skype (for sending text messages), and anxiously awaited a two and a half hour ceremony.

It didn’t happen.

I miscalculated the timing. Oh darn.

Luckily, FSU posted the marathon of name calling later in the day and I was able to see a pixilated version of my brother walk across the stage. I think he might have even gotten a haircut for the event. Isn’t he so cute?

Congratulations, Seany. I’m proud of you. Have a wonderful time celebrating. You did it!

December 11, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.