Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Shocking... part 2

I am now looking at under 5 months left here in Korea. 5 months left outside the western world. 5 months left before I come home.

I had a thought yesterday.

It was a weird flash of thought that took a few too many seconds to realize that my thought was wrong. Then, I had to think about it being wrong.

A girl just recently made the move to Korea. She is from the States and arrived here only 2 weeks ago. She was talking about shopping. It was an unimportant antidote about shopping for bras and getting into an argument with someone that worked there.
The story went on about the argument and the silly little things that can be expressed in those situations.

In my mind I had a thought.
The thought went something like this.

It’s been a long time since I have been bra shopping. I can’t imagine attempting to have that argument with a shop-keeper.
I mean, my Korean is not that strong. How do you have that argument with hand signals and a rudimentary mix of languages.

I was about to ask her about hand signals and language barriers when I realized something.

Nearly everyone speaks English in the States.
She had this altercation in English.

In 5 months I won’t have to resort to hand motions and simple words.
In 5 months most people will understand me. (Well, maybe not understand “me,” but they will know the words I am saying.)

It’s hard to explain the reaction I had. It was this moment of concern, followed by a moment of relief, followed by a long pause of “Holy shit, I have been out of the world for far too long.”
Or maybe I have been in the world for too long.

Either way. In 5 months I will be around people who speak the same language I do.
In 5 months I will be able to listen in to other people’s conversations.
In 5 months I will be able to order food without guessing or just crossing my fingers and hoping I did it right.
In 5 months I will be able to fight.

I really don’t know if it is a good thing I am going back.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I got the right stuff, baby.

Today I was walking down a long hallway. At the end of the hallway was a mirror. It was a full floor to ceiling mirror. As I walked I did a wiggle. I did a little shake.
I made my booty roll.
All for the benefit of the mirror.

I make my own fun.

A door opens just ahead of me to the left and a man begins to walk towards me. Not really towards me, but towards in a passing trajectory.

I pass the man and he passes me. In the mirror I see him turn his head.
I see him turn his shoulders.
I see him nearly walk backwards for a step or two as he followed my ass with his eyes.

Then when he tore his eyes off my ass for a moment, he noticed his own reflection in the mirror. An interesting mix of surprise and embarrassment crossed his face just before he whipped his head around and continued down the path.

I may not be a tiny Korean, but I still got a little something.

Wait a moment...

Life, it seems is made up with long stretches of waiting.
Waiting for buses.
Waiting in lines.
Waiting to exhale.
Waiting for work to be over.

Right now I am waiting for a train. I have been waiting for this train for the past 2 hours and will continue waiting for this train for another two. In the middle of my vacation I am waiting.

Train stations, much like airports are full of interesting people. But, unlike airports, the people here are much more… odd.

The homeless man sleeping on the bench in the back.
The kids playing with small cheap toys and plastic bags on the floor.

Men in suits sitting next to men in rags.

I was hit on by a very drunk older man who reeked of lunch-time Soju.

I was, yet again, chastised for the hole in my jeans by an older woman. She sat next to me and poked at my knee until I got up feigning a bathroom break.

I stepped in a puddle of fish guts just outside of the train station.
My feet still feel icky.

While listening to my ipod, I had a creepy old guy with crusty ears and a snotty nose try to steal my earphones to listen to whatever I was listening to.
This time I ran, no feigned bathroom breaks. He did not touch my headphones.

In the states I would have felt uncomfortable in a train station surrounded by the weird.
In the states I would have had my bag zipped shut and tucked underfoot.
In the states I would be a little wary about taking a nap with my computer sitting all willy-nilly next to me.

Here, here everything is different.

Here, situations are about as safe as possible. There is no fear of danger or theft. No fear about random bodily damage.
No fear at all. Maybe fear of the old crusty guy and his creepy ears touching my headphones.

I love this country.

I hate waiting.
The train is still hours away.

I think I need to do laps around the station.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I can’t believe I have been in this country for over a year. I am at the point now that things are starting to repeat themselves. I have done some things more than once. I have seen things repeatedly.

Holidays are coming up that I have seen before.

I am currently writing from the beautiful city of Busan, on the southern tip of South Korea celebrating the Korean version of Thanksgiving.

Sometimes in my day to day life I forget how truly strange this country is. It truly is a foreign land. They do many things that are not entirely normal.

Remember this time last year when I did the Dr. Fish thing? The little fishes that swim around in a tank.
Little fishes that are shiny and wiggly.

Little fishes that eat away at the dead skin on your toes and heels.

I had the “pleasure” of trying it out again. This time I attempted to be a man about it all.
Instead of sticking a single finger in the water and freaking out as soon as the fish touched me, I slipped both feet below the surface and gritted my teeth as they started munching.
It is the oddest, most uncomfortable, completely strange feeling imaginable.
It tickles.
It tickles a lot.

It took every ounce of willpower to keep my feet under,
It took effort and much clenching of my butt cheeks to stop me from jerking.

I failed more often than not.

For fifteen minutes I gritted and squirmed.

My feet are nice and smooth now. The joy of fishy pedicures.

What else will vacation hold for me…

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