Tag Archives: stuff I like

Falling one cloud at a time

One more Hip memory I’d like to share, and then I’ll stop.

My friend Brendan (who hails from Belfast) and I were sat in Geckos pub in Itaewon (Seoul, Korea) with a couple I was friends with. Brooke and Chad were from Ontario, and I had been working with them at a school in Suji. This was back in about 2006.

Geckos wasn’t our usual spot, we usually hung out in the Rocky Mountain Tavern (the Canadian pub), and I don’t at all recall why we were at the one and not the other. We practically lived in the RMT on the weekends.

We were talking about music, and Brendan piped up and asked, “What’s that song y’all sing to and cry every time it comes on in the RMT? I think it might be the Canadian anthem or something.”

As one, Brook, Chad and I replied, “Bobcaygeon?”

We were right, it was the exact song he was thinking about. And we did sing along to it at the top of our lungs and get all weepy and hugged everyone each time it played. It always reminds me of my first time around in Korea and all the amazing people I met there and inevitably sang this song with.

Bobcaygeon

I left your house this morning
About a quarter after nine
Could have been the Willie Nelson
Could have been the wine
When I left your house this morning
It was a little after nine
It was in Bobcaygeon, I saw the constellations
Reveal themselves one star at a time

Drove back to town this morning
With working on my mind
I thought of maybe quitting
I thought of leaving it behind
I went back to bed this morning
And as I’m pulling down the blind
Yeah, the sky was dull, and hypothetical
And falling one cloud at a time

That night in Toronto
With its checkerboard floors
Riding on horseback
And keeping order restored
Till the men they couldn’t hang
Stepped to the mic and sang
And their voices rang
With that Aryan twang

I got to your house this morning
Just a little after nine
In the middle of that riot
Couldn’t get you off my mind
So I’m at your house this morning
Just a little after nine
‘Cause it was in Bobcaygeon, where I saw the constellations
Reveal themselves one star at a time

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No Dress Rehearsal

With the passing of The Tragically Hip front-man and Canadian fucking legend Gord Downie, I wanted to share a memory from uni that I have that is completely wrapped around a Hip song.

A small disclaimer about this story: I graduated from university 17 years ago. There’s been a lot of memories and a lot of recklessly damaged brain cells in that time. But this is how I remember it.

So, when I was in university about a million years ago, I did theatre. Both onstage and behind the curtains, but for this particular show, I had a small part with a large and amazing cast.

Around the time we were rehearsing for this show, my friend Tim and I thought it would be fun to take some swing dancing classes. For reasons unknown, we had a lot of ska bands play our campus pub (Heroes) and learning some sweet swing dancing moves seemed like a good idea. It was not a good idea. What we didn’t think through is that the lessons were on Sunday mornings. Saturday night was Buck-a-Beer night. We missed a lot of lessons. But not that day.

I struggled my hung-over body into my beater and drove over to pick up Tim. We went down to the boat club on the river (which we referred to as the “Yacht Club”, because it was funnier) for our lesson.

We weren’t very good. Even when we were at lessons, which probably averaged out to less than half the time, we were often hung over. And being friends, we acted like kindergarten children about holding hands. Progress was not being made. To this day I still can’t do more than that fucking box step thing you learn in the first lesson.

This particular Sunday, after the lesson Tim asked if I would go with him to pick out his costume for the play. I believe he was the front desk man for the Hot L Baltimore. I was some old lady. We needed some thrift store duds to make up our shabby costumes to go with the setting.

Tim was ecstatic about his costume. He found a fabulous old-man sweater with honest-to-God patches on the bloody elbows. He was so happy he insisted on wearing it for the next part of our adventure, which was to check out the exhibition at the Kamloops Art Gallery.

The exhibition tied together the Hip song “Fifty-Mission Cap” (about the disappearance of Leaf’s player Bill Barilko) and the work of Tom Thomson, a famous Canadian artist who also disappeared. Or at least, that’s how I remember it. There was definitely Canadian art and there was definitely Hip involved.

See, the thing is, Tim (being possibly the world’s biggest Hip fan) had gone to this exhibition about 1000 times before he and I went that Sunday. He was hugely disappointed they weren’t playing the song (something wrong with the CD player… this was the 90’s) so he insisted upon singing the song (on repeat) to me while we checked out the art, stopping only to intersperse information about the meaning of the song and how it tied to the art we were looking at. Also worth noting that time to time, Tim would strike an “art appreciation pose” (one foot back, hand on chin) whilst wearing that damned sweater. Idiot.

After looking at loads of Group of Seven art and listening to Tim sing and lecture about Barilko for a goodish amount of time while I pretended I was sick of his shit but was secretly trying to not pee myself laughing, we went for lunch.

Over lunch, Tim says to me, “Hey. You can tell all your friends you went dancing at the yacht club and then to an art gallery before lunching with a guy in a sweater with patches on the elbows.”

To which I replied, “A guy with patches who can’t dance, hasn’t showered, and made me buy lunch. Everyone will fucking know it’s just you, Tim.”

It was a wonderful day, and whenever I hear “Fifty-Missions Cap”, I remember my uni days, my theatre days, and my friend Tim.

For that memory, and many others that are all tied up in the music of the Hip, thank you, Gord. Fully, completely. Thank you. You were a good ‘un.

Fifty-Missions Cap

Bill Barilko disappeared that summer,
He was on a fishing trip.
The last goal he ever scored
Won the Leafs the cup
They didn’t win another until 1962,
The year he was discovered.
I stole this from a hockey card,
I keep tucked up under
My fifty mission cap, I worked it in
To look like that
Bill Barilko disappeared that summer, (in 1950)
He was on a fishing trip.(in a plane)
The last goal he ever scored (in overtime)
Won the Leafs the cup
They didn’t win another until 1962,
The year he was discovered.
I stole this from a hockey card,
I keep tucked up under
My fifty mission cap, I worked it in
To look like that

Finding My Place (part 2)

Back to back blog posts? Someone finally has a day off!

So after ending my saga with the “real” job, I decided that perhaps I should focus more on Business English. I was already teaching one group, so I thought I would expand on that. I was also teaching one middle school writing class, so I also let the director of that school know that I could take more hours if she had more classes, as long as they weren’t too young.

I taught kindergarten and elementary kids for most of my five years in Korea. I enjoyed the little guys, but I was definitely enjoying my adult class more. It was awesome to use all my experience in business to go along with my teaching experience, so that’s why I decided to focus more on that group.

As mentioned in my last post, things don’t always work out the way you think they will.

I am fairly confident that I could have built up work with nothing but adult business classes if I really wanted, or that I still could. But it turns out that I got really lucky with that middle school writing class.

First, how I found those first two classes.

The business group contacted me when I posted my details on a site called Vietnam Works. They had reached out to me before I had even left Korea, and they were the first class I ever taught here. They have been absolutely lovely, but sadly the class is coming to an end. The core group is going to be working on a huge project for the next couple of months, so they have to suspend their studies. They are hoping we can work together again, but as I really can’t afford to keep their time slot (which is a prime time slot) held for them, I don’t know if it will work out. Time will tell.

The writing class I found on Facebook, where most of the jobs are. There are loads of groups for finding teaching jobs in Vietnam. An overwhelming number. But it was definitely the most useful place to find work.

Someone had posted a “I’m a teacher, do you have work” post (as many do, myself included) on one of the groups and this director had replied to him saying she had a writing class. I sent an email to her and the rest fell into place.

Happily, she was (and is!) super happy with my teaching. Right from the beginning she was asking if I had more availability, but I warned her that the “real” job could start at any time and besides… if I was teaching full time in the public school I may have to even bail on the writing class I was already teaching. She was over the moon when I told her that I wasn’t going to be taking that job anymore.

Long story short, I now work more than 20 hours a week for her. I mostly teach writing to students in elementary through to high school. I also teach one gentleman English – a lot of general speaking and writing but occasionally it is business focused. He’s fairly low level, so it is a good mix for his class. I do teach a phonics class, but not for much longer. I’ll primarily be a writing teacher.

A writing teacher. How the hell did that happen? I’m a little concerned that I’m in over my head. I can put words to paper (or, more accurately, words to blog about once every few months) but how much ability do I really have to teach someone to write a kick-ass SAT or IB test essay?

I’m going to do my best to skill up for this. Teaching is as much a learning process as anything else. Having never sat a SAT (heh) or IB test, my first goal is simply to find out more about what it entails. From there, how to teach it.

Because I lack the experience to focus specifically on these requirements until I learn me some more, I’m going to do my best to help these guys a) skill up on basics so they don’t make so many “silly” mistakes in their writing and b) get interested in writing. I hope that I can find a way to inspire these sacks of potential into enjoying writing at least a little.

So it looks like, at least for now, I’ve found my place in Hanoi. From Jodi Teacher, kinder kid wrangler and elementary monster tamer to Ms. Jodi, writing teacher for older and more advanced students. Wish them luck!

Into the light of the dark black night

For “Journal Writing” class yesterday, I gave my little guys an assignment to reinforce making the “Writing Hamburger” (main idea as the “bun” and the details as the “toppings”) as well as starting to create metaphors and analogies in their writing… without going into details quite yet about metaphor and analogy. They are seven.

The topic was “My Favorite Colour”. These three little weirdos all picked black. They were given the opening sentence (“My favourite colour is…”) and closing sentence (“I love the colour…”) to help them with the hamburger. Then they had to answer the following questions about their colour:

How does it look?
How does it taste?
How does it smell?
How does it feel?
How does it sound?

Haha. You should have seen the looks on their faces when they realised they were going to have to tell me how the colour black smells. But I gave them a load of example using my favourite colour (red, if you’d like to know) and they were off.

Lilly proofreading her work like a boss.

Lilly proofreading her work like a boss.

They did a great job! Some of the ideas were pretty basic (and they all seemed to think that black smelled and tasted like chocolate), but there were some real gems in their paragraphs that I would like to share with you. These are taken from all three children. Jessica, Lilly and Albert, 7 years old.

 

Black is scary, dark, and looks like a thief. It sounds like a ghost’s howls. Black is like a cat that rests in the library. It is the sound of lightning in the night. It feels like a ghost is holding my arm beside me.

 

I freaking love these children!

Hallowe’en Tales – Korean Kiddo Style

I was pretty happy with the stories my PK class wrote, so I thought I would share them. They are “Korean aged” seven, which means that they are biologically either six or seven years old, depending on when their actual birthday is. Pretty awesome little story writers. They had to incorporate specific words into their stories (they each had different words) and they did it well.

Albert

Once upon a time there was a skeleton. It was the only skeleton. The skeleton ate people. The skeleton was outside. A jet was coming closer. It threw out a bomb. The bomb went “Boom!” The skeleton ran back to the house, got many scissors, and went back outside. The skeleton jumped on the jet. He went in the jet and fought with a soldier. The skeleton won and was very happy. The skeleton was so happy he decided to go to the playground. And the skeleton played happily in the playground for the rest of the day.

Jessica

In the church there were many zombies and no people. Only zombies! There was one zombie who said “Eek!” when he met a spider. He liked to punch and eat people, too. One day, they were eating my friend! I was scared and I said “Eek!”. I ran to my house. Then I woke up and it was just a dream. I was very scared but I went to the church. It was all real! A zombie was there eating many books! The zombie punched me and ate my book! I quickly ran away and went back home. My mom was baking cookies. Mom said, “Happy Hallowe’en!” “Today is Hallowe’en?” I asked. “Yes!” Mom said. My mom and I went to the playground. My friends were there. We decided to go back to the church. We did. There were no zombies anywhere. And that was my scary day.

Lilly

Once upon a time there was a ghost who liked running. The ghost ran very quickly and a chair fell over. Bang! The ghost lived in a house. The ghost’s name was Jocat. He punched a book when he was being very scary. He liked to eat many skeletons. When Albert skeleton ran past his house he broke the window and he tried to eat the skeleton. He had eight eyes so he could look outside even when he was sleeping. He also liked to eat adults. When the adults walked past his house, he punched the door whenever they were close. When he went outside he saw the adults and quickly went to them. He ate them very quickly. When he began to eat the adults, somewhere a clock sang the song “I am the clock that goes tick-tock, I am the clock that likes the ghost.” And the ghost danced to the clock song.

Where would you like to go on a field trip? Why?

Okay, so I may have the wording of the question slightly off. I don’t have the lesson plan in hand. But that’s close enough to count.

I would like to go back to the Kid’s Café . ANY Kid’s Café.

So. What’s a Kid’s Café? It’s a place of awesomeness if you are a kindergarten teacher. It’s a big room full of soft, safe shit for the kids to go monkeynuts on. And we just have to watch.

It’s the greatest field trip you can hope for: A full day of no lessons, happy children, and free coffee. So much win.

Who is your favourite singer or movie star? Tell me about him or her.

I don’t really have a favourite movie star. I like movies, kind of. At this point I don’t remember when I was last in a movie theatre, but I suspect it was to see the final Harry Potter movie. Not kidding. And I haven’t even watched a new movie at home in ages. For the past 18 months I’ve had the attention span of a squirrel. Sit and pay attention for an entire movie? Forget you, clown. Not going to happen.

This question isn’t much easier to answer musically. I love so many different bands. So, so many. And I find new ones to love all the time. To narrow it down to a favourite is nearly impossible.

When I was in university, a group of friends and I used to play the “Deserted Island” game. The question was always formatted “If you were on a deserted island, which __________ would you want with you?”

The blank could be anything. Which fruit. Which fast food burger. Which toothpaste. (That topic started controversy, let me tell you. Do NOT mess with someone’s favourite toothpaste. That’s a loyalty that runs deep.) Which CD.

And we had SO much trouble with the “which CD” (this was 1999) question and discussed it often. We started discussing whether or not we could bring a CD of  our current top 10 songs or not. So then the question evolved into “If you were on a deserted island, which 10 songs from the Pearl Jam catalogue would you put on your only CD?” Hours of (drunken) entertainment, I tells you. We talked about this stuff a lot.

But the question isn’t favourite band, it’s asking about your favourite singer… which is a different question. Not all my favourite bands even have singers.

There are a LOT of people I could name with lovely voices. I would have sex with Eddy Veddar‘s voice if I could. I love Thom Yorke‘s voice. And the ladies in Tegan and Sara. Or have you ever heard Kal Lavelle sing? (sooooo shivery) And, of course, the ladies in Nova’s Basement. And so, so, so many more. I love gorgeous, moving voices that give you goosebumps (scientifically known as “musically evoked frission” – now you know) when you hear them sing.

For me, the ultimate voice for that shivery action (especially live) would be Jonsi of Sigur Rós. Sigur Rós has been a favourite of mine for over a decade now, my most listened-to band. And I believe that this is due largely to how much I love Jonsi’s voice. He uses his voice as an instrument and it blends so perfectly with the haunting songs that Sigur Rós creates. Even though I don’t understand a word he sings (he sings mostly in Icelandic), it doesn’t matter. Beauty doesn’t require language.