It’s Not Easy Being American These Days, Kermit.

It’s a very slow Saturday in the used book store that I resentfully manage out of the goodness of my heart to raise money for my local library here on the north shore of Long Island. REALLY slow. I opened at noon and the first customer didn’t show up until 1:27.

So it’s a good thing that I’ve brought my flash cards with me, and I am sitting in the corner muttering to myself:

“Ah. Ew. Yeh. Heh.  Shit! Ha. Yuh. We. Huh. Yee. Yoo. Shit! YO! Ee. Yeh.”

There was one lone browser in the store at the time and he is slowly looking through the history books but after a few minutes he walks over to me and says, “OK. I have to ask. What are you doing?

“Korean vowels,” I say.

I cleverly cut the notches into the top of my flash cards, otherwise I would not know if they were upside down or not. Some of these are regular vowels, and some of these are “down” vowels, and for the life of me, the “down” vowels are really hard to differentiate. Korean consonants are much more distinctive and it only took me a day (OK, two) to memorize them…but after a week, these vowels are still too subtle for me.

The Korean Cultural Center in Manhattan offers Korean language classes but I read the Yelp reviews and everyone who has taken the class advises that you get more out of it if you go in with a solid knowledge of Hangul (the Korean alphabet), so that’s what I’m doing with my flash cards, training my eye to “see” these lines as letters, each with a personality all their own and as easily identifiable  as A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y. Only, in Korean, there’s 21 of them, and half of them are some version of “Y”.

Are you surprised that Korean has an alphabet? Me too. Before 1443, the Korean language was written in classical Chinese characters, which are almost impossible to learn. But then King Sejong the Great freed the Korean language from its centuries’ long imprisonment in ideograms, and had the scholars of his nation invent an alphabet and a writing system that is read from left to right. Easy! Once you learn the alphabet, you, too,  can “read” Korean.

My Korean notebook. I marked it “K” for “Korean”, because I’m that obvious. That’s my name below, but that “down” vowel at the end is not supposed to be wavy, just so you know. My Korean handwriting is crap. P. S. In Korean, my last name is two syllables long.

Although it may be rather easy to learn to read Korean, it’s no day at the beach to learn to speak Korean. The US Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute says that an adult native English speaker needs 600 classroom hours to achieve a level 3 in DLPT (a Defense Dept. scale for officer training)  for languages like Spanish or French. But it takes 2,200 hours to acquire the same level of skill in Korean.

DLPT level 3 is:

Able to speak the language with sufficient structural accuracy and vocabulary to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations in practical, social, and professional topics. Pronunciation may be obviously foreign. The individual uses the language acceptably, but with some noticeable imperfections; yet, errors virtually never interfere with understanding and rarely disturb the native speaker. In face-to-face conversation with natives speaking the standard dialect at a normal rate of speech, comprehension is quite complete.

As of today, I can “read” Korean, but if it’s not “Vivian Swift” or the name of a K-Pop group (such as 방탄소년단) I am what they call (in America) SOL.

Also, the Hangul has to be in a very clear font, like what is used in the Korean newspaper that I “read” at the library. WordPress’s Korean font (see above) is too hard for me to read.

So the sooner I can divest myself of my book store duties, the sooner I can put in those 2,200 classroom hours that I’ll need in order to speak the language like the half-bright foreign dip shit that I am.

Remember last week? When I showed you those books about bears with all the book marks in them and I speculated that someone must have found something profound in the lives of polar bears? Some of you Dear Readers hypothesized that those book marks were left by a schoolkid doing research for a report.

Well, I didn’t tell you the whole story behind that donation. It was brought in by an older guy who told me that his wife had died the previous year and he is just now going through her things, and these are her books.

So, that’s who liked polar bears. And, as you will see, she also like Kermit the Frog. This is her book, too:

I chose some pages at random, to see what was so interesting about being green:

And once, when she ran out of stickies, she had to Macgyver a book mark:

I think this woman was definitely searching for something in the books she read. Now, if you ask me, I wouldn’t think that books about polar bears or Kermit would be the best place to find life-changing insights, but I’m the idiot who is learning Korean in order to sing along with BTS so what do I know about going (or being) “deep”?

I do have some deep thoughts I want to share today, but first let’s do the Lickety update.

I got a new rug for our front hall, and didn’t immediately remove it from its box, so Lickety colonized it?

After seeing him curled up there for a few days, I added his pink blankie to make his ew favorite napping spot more comfy.

After I had to take possession of the rug, Lickety settled onto the packing paper, so we left it on the middle of the living room floor because CATS are the MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN OUR HOUSE:

I inserted his pink blankie again for the same reason as (above).

Yesterday morning there was a very fine sunbeam streaming into the living room and I noticed that Lickety had company:

That’ Lickety’s brother, Taffy. Before he got cancer, Lickety used to be much fatter than Taffy.

Five minutes later, Bibs got in on the sun bath:

Here’s the “deep” part of today’s blog post.

I think we can all agree that TIME got it 100% right this year. Let us all hail the future president of the world:

And you all probably know, the TIME cover came out the same day in which North Korea issued a fresh threat and a House committee set the stage for Trump’s impeachment, yet the shit stain that is the current US president found time to insult the 6-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg for being named Time’s Person of the Year, an honor he has coveted for years.

In a tweet that he sent to his 67 million followers Trump wrote:

“So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

Classy, huh? Makes you proud to be American, huh?

Now, cast your minds back a week, to the testimony of Stanford Law School Professor Pamela Karlan to the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing, when she made a stupid little joke : “Contrary to what President Trump has said, Article 2 [of the Constitution] does not give him the power to do anything he wants. The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.”

And the Republicans lost their minds, with Melanoma tweeting that: “A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.”

But those same people haven’t said a WORD about Trump trolling Greta Thunberg and I wonder why?

Because common decency would dictate that, as a society, we don’t condone an adult bullying a 16-year-old girl online. Because we know it’s wrong. Because we know if we had a daughter, we wouldn’t want her to be bullied by an adult. Much less an adult man. Much less one who is the President of the United States. (These are the words of Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor at Large)

Well, it’s just another Thursday in Trump’s America.



So let’s get to today’s deep thoughts (courtesy of YellowDogGranny and Hackwhakcers and every other website I randomly steal from):




















Have a great weekend, everyone. And remember, we’re approaching the solstice of light and love, so let’s open our hearts to each other this holiday season:

7 Comments, RSS

  1. Mary Brickman

    I like the ideas about Trump and his terrible Presidency. Glad you let off some steam just DOING your blog each week.
    Good luck w/ your next idea to keep busy. Having cats shd be a lot of work.
    You have a great life , Vivian.
    TopCAt, cats all over, work when you want to, etc.

  2. Thanks for this week’s Trumpies. Some good ones! You’re right about Greta and the bullying v. Pamela K. But I’ve stopped trying to understand our world and am just trying to survive it.

    YAY Lickety! I love it! Love that all his tribe are with him in the sun and that he’s still hanging in, being sweet.

    And I don’t get the polar bear thing, but I think we can learn a lot from Kermit.

  3. Okay, the Paul Rudnick tweet about Melania striding through a 1980s department store made me laugh and laugh and laugh. (I love Paul Rudnick and then had to go spend some time enjoying his Twitter feed. Have you read his novel “I’ll Take It”? One of the best. novels. ever.

    But then it also made me sad because I kinda miss department stores of the 1980s. Goddamn they were sparkly.

  4. What an interesting backstory on the books. I wouldn’t have seen that coming at all! I wonder what on earth she was looking for in those passages, that she felt the need to mark them?

    Love the Lickety photos. Glad to see he’s enjoying the sunshine.

    I hadn’t heard about the Barron controversy — but it sounds like she just mentioned him, which hardly seems scandalous! It’s not like she called his name stupid or something. (Even though it is.)

  5. Kirra

    It’s a hard time being half British too, though I’ve never lived in Britain couldn’t vote in the election.

    Korean sounds like an interesting challenge, good luck with all those vowels! I am confused about the lady who used so many bookmarks, could have been a grandkid having fun with the sticky notes?!?

    Nice to see Lickety enjoying sunbeams, brown paper and boxes.

    Thanks as always for the great tweets. It’s just so disgusting that the president bullies a child, and many people don’t bat an eyelid. Suck entitled assholes!

  6. Penny Herrington

    I have enjoyed this post and glad you have made me smile.
    Good for you to learn Korean. Is a trip planned?
    I watched a video today of some folks who make shelters for cats from Igloo coolers and I thought of you.
    I am listening to the impeachment and cannot believe how divided our country has become. I keep hoping trump will just implode or explode or be abducted by some lizard alien from another planet. I would imagine melania is popping Xanax and looking at more banana capes online so we can continue to see her looking ridiculous and being worthless. We are living in some warped matrix.

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