Good and Bad

Now that I've gone back to work, albeit part-time, I'm finding that I have a little less time for lounging around drinking coffee, talking on the phone and reading blogs brainstorming for good blog topics, which is why I was delighted to stumble across this topic on Katyboo's Weblog, which was - in blogging terms - the equivalent of opening my refrigerator at 6.30 (with a hungry family due in the door at any moment) and magically finding there a fully-cooked lasagna that just needed to be heated up for a few minutes.

The topic was "Good and Bad" and the idea was for one to list things that one is good at and bad at.  Initially, I wasn't going to do it all, since my "Good" list was depressingly short not as long as I would have liked.  After some thought, though, I decided to give the topic a little tweak and go with "Good and Bad" in relationship to "Things That Are Going On In My Life" as opposed to 'My Skill Set."  Therefore, I give you:  Good and Bad.


Snow and Cold Combined With Taking Public Transport to Work:  As I may have already whined incessantly mentioned, it has been bitterly cold here due to something to do with Siberia and air masses blah blah.  I have sensibly remained indoors unless I am forced to do otherwise, mostly only to go to work.  This involves walking to the bus stop and standing in the cold and snow and wind until the bus comes, which is supposed to be every 15 minutes.  Due to the vagaries of Seoul traffic, it is nearly impossible for one to accurately time the arrival of the bus.  Most of the time, I am waddling (in all my layers) toward the stop just in time to see the bus pull away, guaranteeing that I will be able to enjoy the maximum possible wait at the open-air stop.  The bus ride (15-20 minutes ) is, I have found, just long enough to thaw my toes (frozen despite two pairs of socks and stout hiking boots) in time for the brisk 10-minute uphill climb to the school.

MrLogical's Sinuses:  MrL, who has more or less chronic allergies but ordinarily controls them with a cocktail of OTC meds of his own devising and sheer force of will, has been struggling with congestion, runny nose, and coughing for the last few days, which he has been insisting are due to some sort of  new allergen in the environment.  Since it's the middle of winter and we're all indoors all the time anyway, I have been skeptical but silent as he continued to delude himself snuffled and wheezed through the past few days.  Finally, today, he conceded that perhaps he did have a cold after all.  MrL is not a bad patient in any way, mind you:  he basically goes to bed and drinks gallons of fluids and takes care of himself prudently, although his frequent nighttime nose-blowing, coughing, and wandering in search of more effective medicaments are not particularly conducive to a good night's sleep on my part, although he tries not to disturb me. However, given the fact that I am now already wading into a pool of affectionately germy small children 3 days a week, the likelihood that I will be able to avoid capitulating  to either the powerful kid germs at work or MrL's more benign adult variety is slim.  Fighting my natural inclination to believe that everything I do is futile, I am being as proactive as possible, and am indiscriminately entertaining all suggestions for prevention of illness, including AirBorne, Vitamin C, Zinc, Hot Tea, fanatical handwashing, hand sanitizers, some extremely pungent Korean throat lozenges offered to me by a colleague, and voodoo.  I am holding out little hope that any of it will work, but I really feel I must at least make an effort.

Skyrocketing Coffee Consumption:  As I mentioned in another post, I recently bought myself a Keruig coffee machine, which, ordinarily, I would put under the 'good' heading.  The problem is, I love it far more than I realized I would, and am using it far more than I led MrL to believe I would.  When I began the campaign to convince him that our family needed not one, but two, coffeemakers, I pointed out that having a high-speed, one-cup brewer that used expensive, pre-packaged capsules would actually save us money (I know, I know, I was desperate).  According to my logic, the Keurig would only be used occasionally, say, first thing in the morning, while waiting for the 'real' coffee to brew, or in the afternoon or evening, when I wanted 'just a cup' of coffee, allowing me to brew just one cup instead of a whole (wasteful) pot.  Of course, this has not been the case at all.  Besides the fact that I've discovered that the Keurig coffee (in many cases) really tastes better - not to mention, fresher -  than anything my coffeemaker can produce, I also love the fact that I can vary my tastes from cup to cup:  a cup of Espresso Blend here, a mellow cup of French Roast there, and (in this way I am at least maintaining my integrity) the inevitable cup (or two) of decaf in the evening.  I have gotten very sneaky about this, sort of like an addict, which means that I watch for opportunities to brew myself a cup when no one's around (the Keurig, while a beautiful thing in every other way, is not exactly quiet, and -particularly in a very small apartment - it is impossible for one to brew oneself a cup quietly and without having anyone notice.)  While MrL has remained innocently unaware, sharp-eyed Son#2 has observed the number of used coffee capsules piling up (despite my best attempts to hide them under the other trash and recycling) and will probably use this information against me in the form of blackmail in the future.

My declining level of fitness:  I suppose this is to be expected, since I'm essentially behaving like a hibernating animal, holing up in my den and packing on the layers of blubber to protect me against the harsh winter winds.  The really shameful part is, I have no excuse, since, only days after the departure of Son#1 to Uni, his cruel and unsentimental father  MrL commandeered his former bedroom and turned it into a spinning studio.  He set up both of our bicycles (yes, mine, too, damn him) on stationary trainers and he (at least) spends several hours a week in there working up a sweat and avoiding the winter pudge that is slowly and mercilessly threatening to completely envelop his wife. I have tried to tell myself that the 20 or 30 minutes I do of walking from the bus stop to school and home (mostly uphill, mind you) several days a week must count for something, but my innate honesty compels me to admit that it's probably not doing much to counteract all of the hearty, warm, calorie-laden comfort food I've been indulging myself with lately.  The rest of the time, my bicycle sits, unused and silently mocking me.  I cope with this by keeping the door closed.

The Spin Studio.
And now, for the Good:

My Job:  All I can say is, if you have a child leaving for University and are feeling blue about it, there is nothing like working with young children to make you feel about 90% better, especially if your only remaining child is in school all day himself. I spend several days a week with darling little children who want me to hug them and read to them and play with them and cuddle them and hold my hand when we go out to the playground, which provides me with an outlet for all of my frustrated nurturing instincts.  The job also provides a much-needed reminder of the toileting accidents, hair-pulling, incessant repetition of the word, "why" (in a number of different languages), tantrums, sharing issues, questionable table manners, and overall low standard of personal hygiene that one inevitably runs across while in the company of young children. This has gone a long way towards reconciling me to the flight of Son#1 from the nest and effectively squelched any fantasies I might have entertained of enlarging our family at this late date (although I would hasten to remind all you skeptics that, if  Galina Shevchenko and some of her peers' experience is anything to go by, this is not as far out of the realm of possibility as it would seem, although I would undoubtedly go stark raving mad if I really were to have to start again at this age.)

Son#2:  Despite (or, possibly, due to) the departure of his brother for Uni, doing very well indeed, allaying the concerns I had about possible negative results of the change in our family dynamic.  Successfully auditioned for the chorus in the school's Spring musical, producing very good academic work, and cheerfully tolerating being the sole focus of both parents' attention for the first time in his life.

Son#1:  Doing well at Uni, contacting his parents enough to keep us from worrying, happy to be back in the States and with his friends, spending prudently, and (so far) avoiding any further mountain biking accidents.

Rising Temperatures:  Temperatures have stopped hovering around 8F/-13C and are now in the balmy high 30sF/5-6C  range.  I would never have believed that this could feel springlike, but it does, and I'll take it. This does not in any way detract from the fabulousness of the next item, which may seem laughable, but has made a huge difference in my mood and attitude, namely:

Heated Toilet Seats:  If you are female, and you have ever had to face getting up in the middle of the night and going to the loo when it's extremely cold, you will appreciate this heretofore-overlooked feature of our nifty Korean toilet/bidet (christened 'The Arse-Blaster 9000' by MrL.)  It has provided a (warm) light in an otherwise cold and bleak winter, and I refuse to feel ashamed.


Karen said…
Hah!! I knew we'd finally hear more about that arse blaster! I'm glad it is providing a warm spot in your cold life. I know what you mean about that exercising thing, I just can't seem to get that going, either. We made the effort to bring the elliptical machine up from the basement (or maybe that was Neil) and now it sits, still. I AM doing OK at food avoidance, though...maybe because I don't have time to eat.
I'm glad you have the little ones to fulfill your nurturing needs, they sound so cute! I'm surrounded by teenage attitudes everywhere I or home. Still fighting the good fight on the schoolwork front with my kiddies at home. I have decided that "school police" is my least favorite role as Mom.
Bleah..Patriots. Another NE broken heart. 2 weeks until pitchers and catchers report! Speaking of reports...I'm off to start an evaluation. For the next 2 months an IEP or eval due every week. Yuck!

MsCaroline said…
Karen - I can't tell you how thrilled I was to discover that feature - it has made a tremendous difference in my attitude towards getting up in the morning, too.
Bummer about the Patriots, but I hope you'll be consoled by the Sox. As you know, I don't follow either football or baseball, but I know where your passions lie, and I hope the season proves to be a good one for you and your team(s)! Enjoy those IEPs...definitely don't miss dealing with them or 504 plans!
Choco Pie said…
Hey Ms. Caroline, I guess I am a neighbor of yours, b/c pictures you posted of your subway stop look eerily familiar.

It will start warming up soon and I'm sure I'll be seeing you out in the Dong exercising very soon! Right? Right?

Also, I think there are phone apps that will let you know when the next bus is coming. I'm no good with that stuff, but Koreans are born knowing it, I bet someone could help you out with that.
MsCaroline said…
CP: Thanks for stopping by! If you are near Ichon station, then you're right...we're neighbors! And.... umm...of course I'll be out there exercising! Actually, before it got so bitterly cold, I did walk at the National Museum 3-4 days a week - you should join me...might help with my motivation!
I actually do have a bus app on my phone, as well as a wonderful subway one, but I still haven't figured out how to use it...guess I'll have to ask someone at work!
BavarianSojourn said…
I am very jealous of your toilet seat warmer! How cool is that? Glad to hear that you have plenty of good points along with the obligatory bad. You need the bad list to make you realise how good the good list is! Emma :)
Trish said…
Pleased to hear the new job is keeping you from fretting about your boy.
What musical is Son#2 going to be doing?
MsCaroline said…
BS- Yes, the toilet seats have been wonderful - just wish I'd discovered that feature sooner!

Trish - It's called 'Back to the '80s' and the songs are viewed by the performers as 'oldies' - no need to explain how I feel about that! : )
Choco Pie said…
Hi, this is not really a comment for your blog but I didn't know how else to contact you.

If you're a morning walker and looking for company just let me know. Are you in Park Tower? I'm in 105.

My email is san12why12 @ aol. com and my name is Sandra.
MsCaroline said…
CP- Yes, I'm in Park Tower. Sending you a PM now!

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