Oh My, Baby

I want to find this kid… he really could have livened up my birthday party, had I had his number and had he performed. A Korean child’s take on a classic Beatles song.

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What I Thought and What I’m Thinking

Sometimes I swear that I would not have survived this long without music or internet.  No, that’s not true.

It’s amazing what gets people through it all.  I should consider myself lucky: I’m surrounded by many caring, unique individuals in Seoul and so many more loving people await my return in the States.  I think about all of the times I have bitched and moaned about being “inconvenienced” in Seoul, but now all of the grievances seem so shallow.  This week and next week have and will bring many canceled classes, due to the students’ exam period.  I’ve used the time so far to think about what’s happened in the last eight months.

I guess what really got me thinking was going to James’ and Sky’s house again.  The last time I went there for a grillout was after my first week of class training.  It was unreal to think about how new everything was at the time.  The second time was so much more different because I was surrounded by people who I’ve worked alongside with, so in a way the setting was more intimate.  In many ways though, I couldn’t discern how much had actually changed since August.

In many ways, I’ve tried not to make too many waves here.  I’ve had the time of my life (so many stories, for the young and old), but I’ve talked myself out of settling in so many times.  I can only theorize that my resistance to acclimating has to do with my desire to feel like an American again.  It’s strange, I feel very Korean although I hardly speak fluently.  I guess I just feel too used to a schedule: work, work, work, play, then work again.  Having this much time to myself these next two weeks is really going to shake things up… for the better, I have decided.

I have four days off in a row next weekend and I have decided to go to Busan with my two best girls.  The weather has been in the mid-70s for about two weeks now and I am hopeful that I can dip my toes in the water without being chilled to the bone.  I went hiking with Martha today in Suraksan (2nd time hiking since I’ve been here).  I’ve been dying to do more things outdoors, but once we began the hike I realized “Hey, I’m NOT a hiker.”  I stuck it out though.  We made it to the summit, 2.4 kilometers later.  Several times, I thought my calves were going to roll up my legs and flop onto the dusty ground, but alas, the mind does play tricks when your body exhausts itself.  Once I got past the mind tricks, I knew that we were close to the top. Success!

Though hiking may not be a favorite pastime, my number one, favorite, all-time best hobby is people-watching.  Since I did not have my camera, I will have to paint the picture.  Me: old brown shorts, blue thrift store t-shirt.  Beat-up New Balances and small drawstring bag with money and apples. Korean citizens pride themselves on their hiking gear.  The “Ah-gee-ma” hikers don dry-weave exercise suits in the following colors: neon pink, navy blue, carrot orange…. everything bright. Some women probably had to ensure that their jumpsuits matched their shade of lipstick…yes, that’s right: lipstick on a hike.  Lipstick, I’m sure that was retrieved every so often from the Louis Vuitton handbag.

The men adorn themselves in suits of the same caliber only black, always black.  What’s impressive about the Korean male hikers is the immensity of the backpack that they carry.  Either Northface or some Korean off-brand bag, the men would adhere all of the necessary equipment.  On some packs, Soju bottles were expertly tucked in where water bottles would rest… SOJU BOTTLES! Now that’s the way to hike.  Next to the bottles, a mess tin would hang: perfect size for shooting Soju in celebrating the end of a long hike. Martha and I watched these hikers in mild fascination as we ate our SoyJoy bars and drank our mineral water.  They pierced the Earth with their twin walking poles, many looking as if they had just flown back home from the Himalayas.  Many of these couples could be found resting lazily with their mountain boots off near the small creeks and flat boulders.

At several points in our hike, me and Martha caught the attention of Korean hikers. “HELLO!” some would yell.  We would greet in return.  Not knowing any more English, some older hikers tried to elicit conversations with us, but we bowed our heads in shame, being lazy MeGooks with no more Korean to speak.  I told Martha that my worst fear is that someone would try to warn us about something foreboding and we would have no idea. What we thought might have been “Nice day!” was actually “Beware: mountain lions at the top.”  Luckily, there were no such encounters.  But we did feel like celebrities at times, being the only blondes on the trail.  Just trying to dispel rumors and lies about blondes, my friends.

Well, there are some photos, but I’m just too tired to post them.  Next time. In short, it’s this kind of thinking which gets me by.  I need to write more of my humorous observations so that I have less stories to tell later. 🙂

Oh yeah, this and beer.  These get me through it all.

Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great

Hey party people.

My rants and writings have been few and far between, and for that I apologize. I had stepped up to the plate a few times in the last week or so, but I really hesitated about writing a blog about feeling *bleh.* Suffice it to say, I’ve been homesick lately, besides physically sick. Summertime is my favorite season and memories of Summer ’07 have been flooding my mind, causing me to have momentarily lapses in my “Korean life.” Sometimes I feel as if I am leading double lives, one slightly on hold in Ohio and one budding/budging in Seoul.

– – – –

I love hearing from my friends and family from home, but sometimes talking about near-future plans makes me want to be home. Reds games, concerts, good food, good people. I’m convinced that it will still all be there when I return, but sometimes memories aren’t sufficient.

It’s also been tough to see friends come and go. In the last few months I have forged some excellent friendships. Lately, two of my best girlfriends have moved on and quit our school and I am sure that my good guy friend is also on the verge. When I am trying to convince myself to stick it out, it’s hard when others make leaving look so easy. I guess when it all comes down to it, I am glad to be working here in Seoul because I have found NO JOBS listed in Ohio. None that validate my degree, appeal to my senses, or offer an enticing salary. Zip, nada, zilch.

++++

I’m making great money and sometimes I forget that. There won’t be ANY job in Ohio that would offer me as much as I make here; unless it’s some sort of welding or construction job that warns against losing limbs and chemical contamination.

There are also so many possibilities for the summertime. There’s the Mud Festival in July. I still have not taken my vacation time yet, so I still daydream about what I could do with that. Also, there are going to be a lot of canceled classes this week and the next, which leaves me with a four-day weekend. There are already talks of visiting Busan, which is the beachiest part of South Korea and only a 3-hour transit away. The idea of getting out of Seoul and away from school for a few days sounds glorious… I keep everyone posted as always.

I am constantly thinking about how everyone’s doing, so if you’re reading this, I am thinking about YOU!

Don’t worry : 2 Reasons

Ah… for the last few days my body has been resisting whatever sickness that has been thrust upon me, so I think that I’ll just give in. Several of my students have been apologetic about missing classes lately but when they described their circumstances, I couldn’t be too mad… just concerned for my own health. One of my coolest students, Sean, relayed his story to me very casually, even though Korean parents rarely send their precious snowflakes to the hospital unless they are profusely bleeding or missing limbs.

He explained that his neck started to hurt in one of his classes. After a day or two, he couldn’t move it left or right. At the time, I tried to nod in understanding, but realized that it was difficult. He then told me about raging fevers, dizziness, nausea. My blood ran cold… or maybe it was a cold sweat coming on? I had walked home the previous night and felt very dizzy as I walked up the stairs in my building.

Either way, I have been sick but I am happy to report that a hospital visit has not been provoked. I have a few goals while in Korea and one is not to visit the hospital since my employee physical (other goals consist of ordering pizza in Korean and so forth, so this is probably my serious one). So here I am, rehabilitating in my day off. Yesterday I had to wear my glasses to work because some kind of extraterrestrial mucus has lined around my eyes. I feel it again this morning, but now my throat feels coated in the same ooze. I’ve had hot oatmeal and coffee to try to loosen it, and I think that it’s working. Sorry if you’ve already lost your lunch.

Sickness aside… there have been some concerns about the struggles between North and South Korea. I have to say, the sentiment in Seoul is “Eh, no worries.” So I will adopt that same response here: don’t worry. The North has pretty much stated that they will not do anything unless provoked and honestly, no one here wants to incite riotous behavior or solicit more threats of retaliation. For more on this, you can check out CNN.com

Aside from my sickness grievances and notions about preemptive strikes, I’ve been having a good time here recently. Though I was on the cusp of becoming sick, I still felt the need to go out this past Saturday with friends – I don’t let no illness get me down. I went to Hongdae with Tomasz, Terri, and some friends of theirs. One of Tomasz’s friends arrived that Saturday night in Seoul around 11ish and met up with us after leaving the airport. I have some ridiculous photos of the guy walking around with his suitcase and drinking beer. One one point, me and Terri carried the suitcase for him because he had cordially been welcomed to Seoul with more booze. We ended up going to a really nice hookah bar (was truly light tobacco, no crazy Korean wacky tobacky here), but after some drunk Korean chick ran into our table and knocked over our hookah – to cause burning ash to rain down upon a few of us – I decided that it was time to go. If I’ve learned one thing so far, I’ve learned when to make an exit.

Talk to everyone soon!

What Would Happen if Rin-Tin-Tin and Lassie were Korean…

what, bury dogs? No, no.  Seoul has other plans. Just don’t tell Timmy what’s in his Kalbi-tang.

 Dogs/Food/Seoul

I will not ever consume dog, consciously.  My worst fear is that I eat it during a meal without ever knowing.  Most of my students who have tried dogmeat have concluded that it’s not very good at all, so I’m not altogether sure what’s so appealing about it.

Ew.