Monday, October 29, 2012

avoiding a Yuletide party

YB recently sent out a shotgun email about an upcoming Christmas party. At least it's not a required event, like that ridiculous, mandatory staff party at English Channel in 2004 ("You vill enjoy yourself, ja?!). And I have to give YB credit for calling it a "Christmas party" and not some bullshit PC name like "holiday party."

As I told the staff this past Saturday, I won't be going to this party. One reason is my own natural introversion: I can't stand most parties unless they involve people I'm very close to. A second reason is the bad taste left in my mouth by all staff meetings and parties: as much as I like the folks I work with, why would I want to spend my free time on an activity that reminds me of work? Plus, this YB party would involve more than just our YB Near staff: there will be people there from the entire DC-Metro region, which brings me back to the introversion thing.

I used to tell my Korean girls at Sookmyung University that I was an introvert, and they'd make loud noises of denial and disbelief. I can't blame them: my teaching style tends to be very extroverted and energetic (one thing I can't stand about teaching at YB is that I have to remain seated all day long, my ass getting fatter... and fatter...), which can lead to a false impression of who I am. But in reality, I'm a boring homebody, content to scuttle back into my cozy little hobbit hole, crack open a book or a computer screen, and spend hours reading or typing away, happy as a razor clam.

At Sookmyung, I used to hold end-of-term parties for each of my classes, and I almost always ended up cooking for the girls. By the end of any given spring or fall semester, we'd have spent around fifteen weeks together, so we had definitely established a bond. I cooked or prepped a wide variety of meals while at Sookmyung: boeuf bourguignon, fettuccine Alfredo, tacos (which the girls hated because they couldn't stand the smell of cumin), chili dogs, gyros, fondue neuchâteloise, pesto shrimp, insalata caprese, and God knows what else. I always ended up tired but happy on those days. Here's one blog post about an end-of-term celebration that included putting on some skits, and here's another featuring fondue.

So there are parties I know I'll enjoy and parties I know I won't. A lot about my current experience at YB reminds me of the Westerner-versus-Korean dynamic I used to experience while working in Korea: the Koreans are gregarious for cultural reasons (being introverted in Korean society = weird), so they're always up for a reason to gather. Meanwhile, the Westerners, following the individualistic stereotypes of their culture, tend to pack up at the end of the day and zip on home to do their own things. It was like that with the foreign instructors at Sookmyung as well: no one really hung out with anyone else. I can't say whether that's a good or a bad thing, but it's undeniably a cultural thing.

So I imagine this upcoming YB Christmas party will feature plenty of Korean faces and relatively few white ones. The white folks will be inveterate "company people," i.e., people who feel strongly loyal toward the corporation-- people who see themselves still working at YB in the next five or ten years, and who may feel a sense of obligation about showing up.

Ah, yes: I must confess that there's a third reason I won't be attending this party: my bowels. You see, I work on Saturdays, which is highly inconvenient for both my sleep schedule and my intestines. I spend most of the work week on one schedule (roughly 3:30PM to 9:30PM), then suddenly have to switch to a very different schedule on Saturday (9AM to 5PM). This plays havoc with my internal rhythm, often leaving me tired and wanting to poop at inopportune moments. I've found the best remedy is to stop eating after 3PM on Fridays. This gives my ancient entrails a chance to chew food at their leisure, resulting in a comfortable, Saturday-morning constitutional upon the throne that leaves me empty and hungry for our company's weekly pizza lunch. Since this Christmas party will be taking place on a Friday at 6PM, though, I won't be able to attend-- as much for biological reasons as for psychological ones.

beware, beware
the maddening stare
of chasm so hairy and bold!

it sings, it sings
the anus, it brings
a thunderous tale to be told!

now watch, now watch
the frightening crotch
its underside slick as the grass!

we run, we run
it blots out the sun
this hideous cloud from my ass!

Click here to see an old Pope/Emperor joke (homemade animated GIF).


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