105. omg serious blog neglect

June 28, 2011 § 6 Comments

Oy.  I’ve been neglecting this strange little blog thing of mine.

And this entry is actually pretty useless because its primary purpose is to merely acknowledge the negligence but not do anything to make quality amends.

Omg I used “negligence” in a sentence.  That feels nice.

Um.

It is currently 3:20 AM.

The proper place for me to be is in bed, snuggled up between a blanket and a pillow.

Instead, I am wide awake, staring at this sometimes useless computer screen of mine.

Tonight I went to a Korean karaoke room (basically, you and your friends are shoved into a room with a karaoke set and a disco ball and two tambourines and everyone takes turns singing).  I don’t really enjoy going to kareoke rooms because usually, people are not so good at singing (including myself) and I just don’t understand why mostly untalented people want to hear one another sing out of tune.

…and after tonight, it still makes no sense to me.

But luckily, three of the people I went with tonight had lovely voices and it was a treat to hear them sing.

But unluckily for them, I’m not a good singer.  And I sing depressing songs.  Like Muse’s “Time is Running Out.”

…and never ever in my life had I sliced up the vibe of a room so quickly.

I really like the song because I think it is musically genius and Muse has been a go-to band during my emo high school days (and emo college days…and emo “adult” days…).  However, Koreans don’t really know the song/band too well and the lyrics are depressing (the beginning lines go ‘I think I’m drowning, asphyxiated…’).  But people usually go to karaoke rooms to be happy and lively.  And Muse is not happy and lively.  So it was interesting when I started singing that song and the whole room went dead and even the crickets fell silent.

I literally felt the soul being sucked out of the room.

I guess I should’ve stopped singing after the first verse, because I was clearly being the negative Nancy of the karaoke arena, but I just didn’t care.

It was oddly refreshing to be so unself-conscious about myself, yet eerily dry as well.  It was great that I was confident enough to not really care too much about what other people were thinking, but it bothered me that I was almost ‘selfish’ enough to continue on even though I was clearly bringing down the overall mood.  Maybe I should be more considerate of the group vibe next time?  Or maybe that means I’m playing into the whole Asian lets-be-selfless-and-groupthink mentality and I should instead protect my individual preferences?  Because at what cost are you willing to forego the self to accommodate for the group?  Who knows?

I’m probably overthinking this.  Actually, I know I’m overthinking this.

But I’m really glad I’m overthinking something right now, because I haven’t been overthinking things for a while and I was starting to get really bored with myself.

Anyways.  Here’s the song.  It’s pure genius:

This one is nice too:

and this one:

I can do this all night.  But I’m going to bed now.

Good night lovers and friends.

* * * * *

Sidenote: My writing and logical organization in this entry are garbage-like.  This is what happens when you stop writing for an extended period of time and squander your linguistic abilities by endlessly repeating “This is my cat.  Theeeesse arrrre my catssss.  This is my dog.  Theeeeese arrrrrre my dogsss” to the little Asian children you’re teaching English to.  I love my little Asian students, especially when they all just shut up and listen to me (and to those who are confused, that was sarcasm at play), but teaching little minds is not my main purpose in life.  I’m glad I know that for sure now.

<3333333333333333333 LOOVEEE PEACE HAPPINESS JOY BUTTERFLIES RAINBOWS AND CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES AND SANTA CLAUSE AND EVERYTHING NICE.

…um. ok. I will take that as my cue to seriously go to bed now.

Goodbye people, do have a lovely day.

104. haiku partu.

June 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

want a bucket full

of ice to dissipate this

brain crushing pressure

*

teaching young children

makes me want to vomit when

they scream so loudly

*

hiking with stranger:

he stops i stop i go he

goes. no words exchanged.

*

devoured a book

as if my life depended

on words on pages

*

boarding a plane soon.

familiarity you

are foreign to me.

*

Dear immune response,

what you do is important

but it feels like shit

*

Dear Facebook people,

who are you and why do you

friend me?  Have we met?

*

sometimes i think a

bout oxygen and there is

no way we are real

*

deep and wide. be a

big bowl she says to me but

i dont understand

*

sometimes we know more

than we can put into words.

so please stop. just go.

*

these haiku are not

as good as my previous

batch. blah blah blah blah.

Self-portrait by Egon Schiele. source: internet

Self-portrait by Egon Schiele. source: internet

103. Powerful.

June 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’d love to see a version featuring brains.

I love brains.

I love hearts.

I love livers and kidneys and gall bladders and intestines too.  But I don’t really know what our gall bladders do.  But I’m pretty sure they do something important.

Sometimes I can’t believe that the physical manifestations of ourselves really exist.  Life truly is a miracle.  Call it evolution, call it god, call it life-force-universal-energy, I don’t care.  We are amazing creatures.

102. Remember when you were little?

June 15, 2011 § 4 Comments

Remember when you were two feet tall and sounded like a higher squeakier version of Mickey Mouse?  When you lugged around little backpacks with pictures of Spider Man and Barbie dolls?  And the biggest challenge you faced was coloring inside the line?

If you have the ability to read and comprehend those previous sentences, that probably means you were a wee little elementary school student sometime in your life.  Which also means you had gradeschool teachers who observed you and wrote notes about you in your student record.

As a temporary English teacher in Korea, I have access to those ever-so-elusive notes teachers write about their students.  Although thesse notes are admittedly informal and brief, they offer some interesting and amusing insight about little kids.  Featured here are a sample of observations about some of the elementary school students (click image to enlarge):

*Sidenote:  Why would you name a girl Bess??  In my mind, Bess is what you name a cow, not a girl.*another sidenote: Chris is actually a middle school student.  He’s a smart and nice kid but somewhat troublesome and lazy in class (and apparently has a lot issues with another teacher).  I like him a lot because he reminds me of my little brother a couple months ago.  Unfortunately, due to reasons that remain a mystery to me, Chris will no longer be attending the academy.  I’m feeling a bit 서운해 (Korean vocab from the last entry! Roughly translates to a soft version of regretful but not quite.  More like an ‘aww it would’ve been nice’ kind of feeling but not quite) because I think I could have brought him out.

* * * * *

Interesting right?

Let’s try a fun exercise together.  And remember, the key for this exercise is to be objective.  You are not you.  Instead, as you look at your younger smaller elementary school self, pretend that you are an outside observer that is looking at a new child for the first time.  Here we go:

Take yourself back to your elementary school years.  Try to remember as much detail as you can about what you were like during that period in time.  See yourself, from a third-person perspective, of that child version of you.  What is that child doing as he/she sits in class?  Where is that child’s attention drawn to?  Schoolwork?  Talking to friends?  The window? Or perhaps the attention is drawn to everything and nothing at once and can’t keep still.  What are that child’s habits?  Facial expressions?  Body position?  Work habits?  Play habits?

What notes would that child, your younger self, receive from his/her teacher?

 If you care to share, I’d really like to know (especially if I’ve met you in real life) — I would appreciate a comment on the blog, email to sonjeeo@gmail.com, or a facebook wall post so I can get a tidbit about your younger little wee-bit self.  If not, that’s okay too — it makes me happy that you’ve even remembered your little self for a little bit. :)

…As for me, my teacher-notes on my little self would go something like this:  Avoids eye contact.  Hard worker.  Focused on getting things right.

* * * * *

101. Rejected again >.<!!!

June 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

Fuck.

:)

Excuse my profanity, but I like to verbally splurge myself with the conspicuous F-bomb when the occasion calls for it.

Actually, it’s okay.  I feel surprisingly calm about my newest addition to the list of companies who have rejected me (which now accumulates to a grand total of three.  if you are curious about previous rejections click here).

So here’s the story:

There exists a company X that I find quite intriguing and have begun an application over two weeks ago.  After a burst of productivity, I subsequently became stuck and made no progress whatsoever.  Zero.  Nada. Nadie. Nul. Zilch. 영. 零. शून्य. I sat idle and frozen for the following weeks, not even opening the application to at least stare it.

(heehee…I love Google translate)

A couple days ago, I became extremely fed up with my lack of progress with company X’s application and decided to seek other opportunities until I regained my mojo.  So I logged onto my alma mater’s career website and browsed the listings, hoping for a glimmer of a potentially interesting position.

My eyes fell upon the posting for a certain company (hereafter referred to as company Y).  As I read their company mission and job description, I felt the stars aligning bit by bit — I truly valued their services, the position seemed like a great entry-level position with equal parts analytics and creativity, and the tone of the post coincided with my values.

…Hmmmm…could it be?  Is this The One?

I don’t know how to explain what happened next:  whereas I’ve been stuck on my application for company X for over two weeks, I whipped up my application, both a cover letter and a tailored resume, in a mere two hours for company Y.  I found myself in a semi-automatic ‘just do it’ mode and immediately emailed the documents to the COO of the company.

I had a good feeling about this one.

…except for one caveat: I saw the posting on June 10. The deadline was June 10.  I sent my application on June 10.

Not a great start.

I knew it was a long shot because the posting had been up for a full month, but I held onto a small silver thread of hope because I’ve witnessed an instance in which my college roommate completed a last-minute job application and had submitted it late…and subsequently got hired.  by Microsoft.

(I know, wtf, how talented do you have to be to get away with that?!?)

But alas, I am not my roommate.  Instead, I am me.  Which is cool too.  ^^*

Anyways, so I sent out the application and went to bed and dreamt about happy little butterflies and tall men with PhDs.

(because yes, PhDs turn me on.  Masters and professional degrees are nice too.  heheheheh…..oy. -.-;; I can literally hear some of you groaning or rolling your eyes at me.  Whatever people, we all have our personal preferences :P).

ANYWAYS.  Okay so I send out the application.  The very next morning, I am greeted by the bright bold subject heading of a foreboding email in my inbox:  RE: Operations Associate position.

Fuck.

A response that quick means one of two things: they really really want me, or they don’t.  More likely the latter than the former.

Fuck Fuck Fuck.

My heart was pounding outside my chest and a sudden chill hijacked my body.  I sat there, staring at my computer screen like a deer in headlights in the middle of an Alaskan winter road.  Then, just as quickly as I froze, I immediately snapped my laptop shut and left the room.

…That fear, I later realized, is the fear of anticipation.  Anticipation of the rejection you know is about to come.

I didn’t open the email for four days.  I let it sit there, unopened and untouched.  Even though I knew it was there, every time I checked my inbox my heart jumped a bit in unexpected fear.  Which is really dumb, because I knew the email was there.  I looked at it every day.  There was nothing unexpected to fear.

Finally, today, I gathered enough courage to open the email.

And surprise!

The hiring manager was quite impressed with my cover letter and resume.  After expressing that my application was thoughtful, enjoyable, and unique, he expressed interest in meeting me.

He wanted to schedule an interview.

…Um.

…Wtf?!!?

…Seriously?!??

…Could it be?  Maybe this was The One after all!

* * * * *

Uhhh….No. Let’s get back to reality now.

In actuality, my infinitesimal hope of receiving an interview was proven infinitesimal and the hiring manager expressed that the position was no longer available.  Sad.

In case that last sentence wasn’t clear — I was lying about the interview offer.  I was rejected.

* * * * *

I can’t say I was completely surprised by the news.

But one thing that did surprise me was this: I didn’t feel too disappointed!  I did feel a bit 서운해 (which roughly translates to a soft version of regretful but not quite.  its more like an ‘aww it would’ve been nice’ kind of feeling but not quite.  ahhh words lost in translation!!!), but I didn’t feel too downtrodden.

What really left me feeling shitty were the four days of turmoil I put myself through by refusing to open the email and therefore avoiding reality.  The thought of rejection hurt more than the act of it.

As Arya whispers to herself during times of trouble, fear cuts deeper than the sword. (George R. R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire).

* * * * *

I can postulate two reasons for my lack of feeling shitty for being rejected, one internally driven and one externally influenced:

  1. Internal driving force of increased confidence:  I think I’m growing more confident — I know I’ll eventually find a job.  Not even a job really.  I know I’ll find my path.  Actually, I know I’m on my path.  I just have to continue treading the process and “put myself out there” and be aware enough to seize opportunities.   Or make my own opportunities.  [But on the flip side…maybe I’m just growing accustomed to the feeling of rejection, thus normalizing it.  But I’ve only seriously applied to four post-college jobs so far (and now that I think about it, one of them was interested in hiring me…but I didn’t follow through because it wasn’t a “job” at a “company” -.-;;).  Let’s see how confident or accustomed I’m feeling after my 3ooth job application (though I don’t think it is statistically possible that 300 companies or institutions or individuals will refuse to hire me).
  2. External influence from hiring manager of company Y:  The COO at company Y was quite nice. He rejected me very nicely by initially complimenting me.  Here’s a screenshot:

Okay, I realize words are just words and that maybe in actuality he thought I was crazy and completely underqualified for the job. But let’s just pretend for a moment that people are genuine and say what they mean and mean what they say. If that happens to be true, his rejection left me feeling somewhat pleasant.

Even his point about spelling errors left me appreciative — I’d rather know my mistakes than be kept unaware.

Still, despite his nice words, therein lies a problem that seriously concerns me.  Great, hiring managers may think I’m interesting and thoughtful and unique.  But is that enough?  What about my more tangible and visible qualifications?  I think I am a competent person.  My referrals think I am a competent person.  But does my resume and level of activity PROVE that?  Especially when I’m competing against a host of recent grads looking for work in the midst of an economic slump?  Or maybe it really was a mere matter of timing — maybe I was too late.

Who knows exactly why your application gets tossed to the unfavorable pile?  Do even the recruiters themselves know exactly why?

So What can I do? Well, I guess I can ponder about it and write a blog post.  And then what?

Off to the next application.  Off to the next hiring manager.  :)

But this time around, I’m equipped with two more key takeaways thanks to this recent experience:

  1. When applying for an entry level position at a company, don’t wait until the last minute.  Entry level positions probably don’t require specialized knowledge and experience and therefore, entry level employees and applicants are virtually disposable and easily replaceable.  You are not special.  You follow their schedules and their deadlines.  Don’t make up your own.
  2. Spell check.  Check your spelling.  Click that little box labeled with ‘ABC’ and a checkmark sign on your Word document.  …It takes a grand total of 10 seconds.

(My failure to enforce that last one leaves me amazed.  Didn’t I learn that one in 5th grade?!?!)

Hm.  That is all for today.

Oh actually I have one piece of good news:  I received a Quality compliment today.  Not one of those shallow meaningless compliments people sparkle their conversations with.  No, this one wasn’t like that at all.  It was a moment of rarity, a moment of quality in which a respected and experienced friend displayed sincerity and respect.  Yay.

:)

Good night to those in the Eastern hemisphere.  Good morning to those in the West.

   * * * * *

post-publish edit: wow. this entry ended up being longer than anticipated. thanks if you read it ^^;;

100. let’s speak engrish!

June 11, 2011 § 3 Comments

Teaching Korean middle school students English pronunciation. “Visit” is often pronounced “bee-jeet.”

So. The Korean education is set up so that children are experts at written English grammar by the time they graduate high school.  These kids know all the formalities, from what constitutes a subjective pronoun to a conjunctive adverbial phrase, like the back of their hand and probably understand formal English grammar better than most Americans do.  To prove that last point, I actually don’t know if “subjective pronouns” and “conjunctive adverbial phrases” are real concepts or not — my knowledge of formal grammar is so poor that I had to make them up.

However, the Korean education system seriously lacks in its teaching of English pronunciation and as a result, there are plenty of instances in which the Korean accent causes some words to be absolutely indistinguishable to the Western ear.

For example, the words “pork,” “fork,” and “poke”  all sound the same with a Korean accent — all the words are pronounced “poh-keu” (포크).  So when a Korean Korean says “I need a poh-keu,” how do you know if you should offer up a piece of meat or an eating utensil or a facebook function?

fork/poke/pork all sound the same in Korean.  And clearly, my mastery of English is lacking — can you catch my spelling mistake?  ^^*

Another habit Koreans have is to add an extra syllable to every word.  For example, “blue” will be pronounced “bul-loo,” “green” will be “guh-reen,” “red” will be “re-duh,” “athlete” will be “ath-the-lete,” and “I” becomes “ah-ee.”  I don’t know why they do this (ah-ee don-tuh kno-woo wah-ee dae-ee doo dis-suh), but it annoys me.

…so I annoy my students by stopping them every other word to correct their pronunciation.  I’m surprised they haven’t chucked their books at my face yet.

“Its” is pronounced with an extra syllable: “eeh-cheu”

Teaching English pronunciation causes me to greatly appreciate the tongue as a muscle and as a physical vehicle we use to produce distinguishable sounds.  We can make certain sound because in essence, our tongues have been trained to perform a vast set of subtle yet significant movements in order to produce the sounds required of our language.

With a Korean accent, “three” becomes “sseu-ree” and “health” becomes “heal-sseu.”  Why does this happen?  If you have mastery over the sounds “th” and “ss,” try repeating them and noticing where the tip of the tongue touches inside your mouth.  This subtle motion in tongue placement makes a huge difference, yet native Koreans, who do not have “th” as part of their alphabet, have a difficult time with that tongue placement.  

Also…Koreans have quite a difficult time distinguishing between L and R sounds.  Again, if you can, try noticing where your tongue goes when you produce an “LLL” sound and an “RRR” sound. That rolling of the tongue as you pronounce “RRR” is not programmed into the Korean alphabet.

This process of language acquisition and tongue flexibility-training is tightly related to brain development, and as we all know, it is much easier to acquire fluency in a language when we are younger.  While teaching my students, I can clearly observe how the younger students are much quicker to pick up the subtleties of pronunciation whereas the junior high students need more time and effort.  Fascinating no?

“The” is not “duh.”  Again, try noticing the subtle difference in tongue movement between the sounds “th” and “d.”

I’m quite grateful that my dad forced me to speak Korean at home when we first immigrated to the United States (even though my bratty self hated it at that time because “we’re in AMERICA now we should speak AMERICANNNN!!!!”).  My tongue can switch back and forth from Korean to English and back to Korean quite easily.  I sound like a native Korean, but in actuality, my Korean is probably at the level of a kindergardener and my knowledge of formal Korean grammar and vocabulary is at the F minus level.  But many people have the misconception that I’m good at Korean just because I have good pronunciation.

…So at the end of the day, what’s more important?  Knowledge of formal grammar structure or fluent native pronunciation?  Sounding smart or sounding good?  Content or conveyance?

99. job search progress report II

June 10, 2011 § 4 Comments

Hello!

It’s been a while since I last updated.  It has been an even longer while since I last updated about my job search.

Life’s been quite busy so I’ll provide bulletpoint updates.  Without further ado, here I go:

  • I currently have a job. (surprise?!?…..???)
  • By “job” I mean “very temporary situation because a friend’s old boss was in a dire situation and needed an employee ASAP”
  • It’s a bit ironic though because I’m doing the one thing I swore I wouldn’t do while I was in Korea:  teach English.  But it’s almost impossible to be a native English speaker in Korea and not find yourself in a teaching position.
  • I teach a bunch of elementary school students and a handful of junior high students.
  • The elementary school students make me slightly nervous because I think I’m supposed to think they’re cute and smile all the time but I don’t think they are particularly cute nor do I find it easy to smile at them all the time.
  • I feel more comfortable around the junior high students.  I think it is because their brains are more developed and they need less happy-giddy-emotional appeal.
  • I lied.  The elementary schoolchildren are cute.  I just like to keep my distance.  Because I don’t like getting attached.  Because I have major anti-attachment issues.  I guess “detachment” is the correct word.  But “anti-attachment” sounds more fun.  Anyways. The end.

So onto my “real” job search…
  • I’ve narrowed it down to California for now.  Happy weather makes for happy me, happy me makes for more productivity.  More productivity = essential for employment.
  • After a period of being stuck for a couple of days, I finally managed to send out a cover letter and resume to a “well-established” company that helps people lead healthier lifestyles (physically and psychologically).  Their company actually intrigues me because I didn’t know people took self improvement seriously enough to build a full-fledged functioning and profit-making company out of.
  • There is another company I’ve had my eyes on for a while and we’ve exchanged brief emails.  I actually want to send this company less of a cover letter and more of a research report to demonstrate the necessary skills, but I’m not sure if that’s overkill.  But it seems oddly appropriate.  I finished the majority of it two weeks ago….then I got stuck.  And I’m still stuck.  I will become unstuck this weekend.
  • I don’t know why I tell you guys these things.  Sometimes I wonder if I am shooting myself in the foot by writing about this.  If a recruiter were to see my blog, would they want to hire me?
  • …I think if I were a recruiter, I would want to hire me.  But that’s a given isn’t it…
  • …If you were a recruiter, would you want to hire me?  But that’s redundant too isn’t it?  I assume you read this blog because you like me.  Because you like me, you’d probably hire me…but that’s not necessarily true is it?  You can like me as a person but think that I am an incompetent ass that you wouldn’t want to be working with.  Hm.  That sucks.  Does that mean I can be a completely competent ass that no one likes as a person?  I guess competence and likability are separate traits of an individual huh?  I wonder how correlated those two traits are…
  • Okay.  I digress.
  • Last point: The job search is not a job search.  The job search should be thought of as an “opportunity search.”  Opportunity to learn, to serve, to grow.  Not a job.  Not a dry exchange of money for time.  No way.

In other news…
  • I became exposed to two artists today and felt sad.  One has great thought-provoking work and the other has an interesting yet disturbing yet passionately art-driven story.  Both are successful, both are passionate.  Their successes should inspire me, but they saddened me today because they highlighted my lack of a deep and burning “I have to do this or else I’ll die” type of passion.  I’ll find it though.  Turbulent 20s right?
  • I just hope that by the time I discover my passion, I’m not too old to live it.  :)

*****

Happy end-of-the-week everyone – thanks for catching up with me! :)

*****

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