Nostalgic for Now?

Have you ever wondered the question “Will I ever be nostalgic for NOW?” Meaning, have you ever wondered to yourself if you would later look back on the current, present situation and feel nostalgic?

My nostalgic memory for the day is the weekend after my week of training at my school, back in August. Each day of training was grueling: mock teaching, and the anxiety radiating in the air of the classroom. It was horrific to present halfassed lesson plans to a trainer and other new trainees. It’s ironic that the very same classrooms we were trained in would later be commandeered by us newbie instructors.

Anywho, back to the memory at hand, after that grueling week, we celebrated. We had an entire week to do whatever we wished before the start of the Fall term. I remember the night after my last training session James was holding a grill-out at his house. Greg and Victor invited me, but I felt as if the shindig was for me. I hope I don’t sound too selfish in saying that, but here’s how I believe this thought. When the three of us arrived, James had chips and salsa ready, served alongside chilled bottles of Corona. He had burgers grilling and chili simmering in a pot on the stove. “Skyline Chili, he promised.” I was in Hog Heaven. I remember cooling outside on his porch, sitting on the edge of the balcony. I was warned to be careful, but I felt fine.

I heard music from inside. First it was Air, from the “Virgin Suicides” soundtrack. But as the night descended upon us, Greg Dulli’s voice.

“James, is this Afghan Whigs?” I didn’t need an answer: I felt Cincinnati all around me. Sure, I was surrounded by friends from L.A., New Jersey, and Korea, but I felt at home, thanks to James and the shindig.  I met my boss for the first time, cemented real bonds with new friends, and finally felt I was at the right place at the right time.

Later that night, I tried Soju for the first time. I vowed to never drink that rancid stuff again. Six months later and I’m laughing about that promise. Yeah, right.

My Easter(n) Sunday

You know I laughed, er guffawed, when a co-worker said “Happy Easter.” Oh crap. Have I become such a slovenly Catholic that I have forgotten Easter? No, it’s okay. At least I am one day ahead, so I can wish “Happy Easter” to my loved ones. The truth is, there are Korean Christians in Seoul but the celebrations aren’t widely and noticeably, well, celebrated.

So what did I do for Easter? Well, I began my day waking up as late as I could. WORK?! On Easter? Of course; just like Christmas Day the school is open for business. Wouldn’t want to deprive the little kiddies one day of report and essay writing or “The Joy Luck Club.” I had gone out the night before and thought I received 7 hours of sleep, I still felt tired. Kendra and I had every intention of meeting our friends for karaoke but we stopped in a club on the way and never seemed to find our way out.

Anywho, while getting ready for in my fuzzy state, I shut my bathroom door. I was about to walk out the door when I realized that I had forgotten to spritz on perfume – wouldn’t want to the students to smell last night’s club on my person! (even after showering, smoke smells tend to linger in my hair) When I grabbed the doorknob to twist and open, it wouldn’t budge. “Huh?” I remember saying out loud. I twisted it left, then right. No way! This isn’t happening. I frantically turned the doorknob every direction possible: I had somehow locked my bathroom door from the inside! I quickly surveyed my options:

  1. It is a simple lock, one of those push-in-type dealies. I could find a bobbypin or paperclip to simply disengage the lock.

This was the simplest option, however I was so mad at myself, my second option seemed to be ramming the flimsy door with my shaking body.

Upon looking at the clock however, I realized neither option was feasible – this door would wait until I returned. I double-checked to make sure that my cat was not IN my bathroom and I left.

I went to class and immediately sought advice and/or suggestions. Who could I call? How much would it cost to reattach a ripped-off door?

I could rely on a few co-workers to offer some suspiciously detailed instructions: “You will need a credit card or two…” “a coat hanger could work, but for a lock that small, maybe a paperclip, but you have to bend it just so…” More people seemed to laugh rather than offer suggestions… didn’t they know that this was my bathroom, a room that I would need to utilize from time to time?

When I returned home, I was dismayed to realize that instead of using the facilities at school, I had subconsciously waited until I returned home: I needed to act quickly. Zooey watched me dash around the apartment, possessed by the force that overtook my body: was it the urge to pee or the driving power to dominate this door, Chuck Norris style? I grabbed paperclips, haphazardly twisting them into spiral and hooks. I tried each one through the tiny lock… why are there keys for bathroom doors if the landlord doesn’t even provide them to the tenants? What a world! The paperclips bended easily and I feared that one would get stuck, further complicating my mission. I tossed them on the floor for Zooey to bat around.

I grabbed my manual screwdriver next. I examined the hinges on the door. What in hell… each hinge was topped with a pointy, gold cap. I tried to twist it off with my hand… nothing. Are these super-glued on? Is Super Glue the foundation of Korean architecture and engineering? I tried to pop off the caps with the screwdriver… nothing! A tightness welled inside my body, I could feel organs expanding and then tightening again… or was it my imagination? I looked at the small gap between the door and doorjam. I could clearly see the bolt of the lock extend out of the door into the jam. That’s the ticket. I gently pried the gold plate around the lock from the doorjam. It loosened and I realized how meticulous my methods would have to change. What would MacGyver do? I looked around… I needed another tool. Chopsticks? No. Wine bottle-opener? No, and I can’t take that chance of breaking it. Pens, pencils? I finally found a utensil worthy enough to try: butter knife sitting in my sink, ironically slightly covered in butter remains. I wiped it clean with the dish towel and got to work.

With the screwdriver, I pried the plate away from the lock again, this time with more fervor and concentration. I looked at the butter knife in my right hand… what can I do with this? I peered through the gap, ah yes! With the knife, I slowly lowered it under the plate to find the end of the bolt… CLICK. My door slowly “gasped,” opening to a stuffy bathroom, still in disarray from the morning. I washed my face in the sink, my hands smelling slightly of butter.

APARTMENT -2 (locked ONCE out of apartment AND bathroom)

MEGAN – 2 (TRIUMPH over entrance door and bathroom door)

Is Korean apartment living so dangerous that you must be prepared for every situation?  I don’t think that I wrote about the first instance (out of embarrassment?), but I had come home from a long night out one evening last month.  It was actually after 6 a.m. and I was trying to key in my password for my door.  BEEP! Wrong password.  I tried it again….BEEP!  No, this was a different beep.  This is the BEEP I usually hear right before my door opens to let me in.  What’s going on?  I try the password over and over again.  Why isn’t it working?! I remember looking at my phone… 6:30 a.m. He’s going to be so mad at me, but he’s my only hope… I called Greg.  Greg lives a block away and has been very helpful as a neighbor.  He helped me install my washing machine and initially figure out the door and what keyword to use.  He answered his phone groggily, but promised that he would be over soon.  When he arrived, he tried my password.  “Is it possible the batteries are dead?”  he asked.

He explained that the panel on the inside of the apartment could be opened to allow the tenant to change batteries.  Uh, well, I haven’t changed them since I moved in…. but surely this can’t be the best way to know when your batteries are dead, to be locked out of the apartment?

We began walking down the stairs… but if the panel is on the inside, then we can’t change the batteries from the outside.  We went outside the building to survey the scene – I was on the second floor.

I told him how I had even considered climbing up the wall to my apartment window, but I was wearing heels and was by myself and God knows that I didn’t not want to be found dead with a broken neck and broken heels in an alley by my place.  As soon as I suggested the idea, Greg looked gravely at me and asked “Is your window unlocked.”  I thought carefully before I answered “Yes, I don’t know how to lock it.”

Within seconds, he leapt onto the wall, like Peter Parker as Spiderman, and effortlessly swung his legs over the railing outside my window.  His body disappeared into the shadow of my veranda, or where I keep my washer.  I raised my arms in triumph and ran to the entrance to meet him by my door.  I promptly changed the batteries soon thereafter.

After thinking about both of these awful scenarios, I was exhausted.

I prayed to the Easter bunny and fell into an undisturbed sleep.

Unsure, but not insecure

Hmm, I could write about any number of things, really. St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Seoul. The continued chaos of teaching new classes with younger students. Meeting more new CDI (and non-CDI) friends. The saving-up of money for champagne wishes and caviar dreams. I’ve been berating myself for my avoidance of writing, and it HAS been avoidance. Maybe I feel as if I don’t have much to say, so hopefully some of my photos motivate my storytelling skills and/or explain my actions lately.

Green Beer DAY? How about Green Beer Weekend?! I have to say, I became really homesick after seeing my friends’ pictures from Miami’s campus on the most glorious day during the school year. I felt as if I was really missing out on something big. Little did I know, Korea has green beer too… with WAY more interesting people consuming it – no more rookie underclassmen passed out under the dart board… these are actually grown adults with college degrees!  I put on my well-preserved Miami University Green Beer Day shirt and persevered.

Martha and I met some friends around 4 p.m. in Itaewon. Sure, it wasn’t 8 in the morning, as the rules would mandate in Oxford, Ohio, but it was still early. We knew people (drinkers) would abound at the notable Irish pubs, so we tried to go early. The above picture is from the Wolfhound Pub. We didn’t stay too long, but it was long enough to have my first ever green beer in Korea.

We quickly moved on. We went to Rocky Mountain Tavern, which is owned by Canadians.

They do St. Patrick’s Day pretty decently, that is, they did until our friend Michelle asked for an Irish Car Bomb.

Barkeep: “Oh, we don’t have Guinness.”

Michelle: “I’m sorry?”

Barkeep: “We don’t have it… never have.”

Next bar.

Some little hole-in-the-wall place, name completely unknown (is it because it’s an obscure place, or have I had too many green beers?).

Anyways, we stayed the longest here, for many different reasons. The first being the man-won boxers. Earlier, Martha had purchased a pair of boxer shorts that had the man-won printed on it, which is 10,000 won (roughly ten bucks). She haggled with the vendor, arguing that they should at least be what they advertised: she got them for 7,000 won (nice!) So, chicks+beer+boxers….

Oh yeah, boxers over jeans phenomena.   Pretty awesome.

That is my Green Beer Day Weekend… so far…


What?! Hillary? The votes should NOT have been that close. I may have to consider relocating, to, say, Vermont.

Anyways, I couldn’t vote. In fact, the only ballot I cared for this week was for the Oscars:

The other night I went to an Oscars party at Tomasz’s friend’s place. We had been rescheduling all week because of stupid classes (work gets in the way). So finally, after putting myself into a media blackout for an entire week, I went into the party with no prior information about the nominees or winners. The deal was whomever had chosen the most winners in all categories would get the money (5,000 won X 6 people = 30 or so bucks).

Jon Stewart hosted…. eh. He was ok. All in all, I wasn’t too impressed by the show, but I was happy about the nominees and winnings. “Juno” won Best Adapted Screenplay and “No Country for Old Men” kicked serious cinematic butt. Tomasz ended up winning by guessing correctly fifteen out of twenty (twenty-two?) categories but felt bad about taking the pot, because he had downloaded the Oscars onto his computer and no one believed that he didn’t watch any of the show before the party.

I will definitely write more later!