Monday, October 30, 2006
That was until... I sliced my finger while chopping carrots, then it just went silly.
There was blood everywhere and I think I may have been in shock cos I just wailed for ages as the blood poured down the sink. I called a girl who lives in my building and works at my sister school. She called her boss who came and picked me up. It was a long 40 minute wait for her, and the ride in the elevator from 4th floor to first was horror-show, blood everywhere.
We got to the hospital where they asked me to go back home and collect the 'stump', previously known as the pad of my tall man finger. Whaaaa?
Did so and then came back to hospital for an xray and for a doctor to look at me seriously and say I needed an operation and 3 weeks' convalescence in hospital. Then I lost it again.
The afternoon disappeared as the school's owners appeared, much to-ing and fro-ing as everyone wondered what was best. I called JD Whatever, hoping he could get me better translations of what the hell was going on. I called Dad, knowing he's cut of the tips of his fingers and would have both advice and soothing words for me. Which of course he did.
Upon Dad's advice I decided no operation, no reattach-ie of the stump-ie was called for... Then waited an hour, watching sick babies and injured footballers come and go and wail and wince. Suddenly a doctor called me into a room and held a huge syringe in front of me... Whaaa? I screamed for JD: I don't want an operation! What's happening?! Help me! He and the owner appeared and said: It's ok, just relax, it won't take long. Whaaaa?
I got two anaesthetics near my knuckle and watched the wall while the young surgeon stitched cadaverous piece onto my finger, then attached a huge splint up to my elbow then asked me if I liked drinking and if I lived nearby.
I was really tired and upset and hungry at 7pm when I left the hospital, after 4 hours. JD got me some pinenut porridge and my boss, Sidney, came by with green tea rice cakes. Later I tried to sleep but was so upset, uncomfortable, in pain... I woke constantly.
I went to work cos it was gonna be easy, Halloween party day. The kids all looked cute and one kid had the nouse to ask if I was from Egypt. Not bad. But all those trick or treat candies couldn't keep me going and I was a mess again by lunchtime so headed home. I went to a different doctor (Dr Park's Orthopedic Clinic... Whaaaa?) and he took my splint off, told me the skin was probably 'necrosis' and please go through for an injection. Hmm. Now my bum is all bruised from the needles. Gross.
Anyways. I'm feeling pretty sorry for myself. Sidney just called to see how the doctor was this arvo and I told her the little I understood. She is worried I'm gonna do a runner and not come back from this holiday. I didn't want to lie and say that that's not crossed my mind so I told her the truth: I'm coming back from this holiday and I wouldn't leave without telling you.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Many people will know I'm not really crazy about shopping, not the best person to spend an afternoon in a shopping centre or strip, going from place to place spending money. Ethan definitely knows this - he calls me 'buzzkill' cos I'm always telling him not to buy shit and can we go have a sit down cos this is boring and purposeless and indulgent. There are some exceptions though. Earring shopping at second-hand stores, for one. Gift shopping, another. So my trip home next week in birthday season gives me the occasion to gift shop. And shop and shop.
I got quite a few things last week - I mentioned that I'd finally got what I hope is the perfect gift for lil bro Jack's 21st. But yesterday, that was something else. I had to teach in the morning, til 1.30, which, weirdly, was totally pain-free. Then I headed to Hongdae to get my hair cut, which was fine, and the JD Whatever met me out the front and we started pounding the pavement of that neighbourhood.
Seoul seems to have two clear purposes: allowing one to eat and drink oneself into a gluttonous frenzy; and allowing one to shop for disposable fashion and cutie ephemera until you reach an orgiastic delirium.
I had: a shopping list and a few ideas; JD to be my interpreter; no food in my tummy. We made a strong start, picking up the cutest most stupid shit that will have to remain TOP SECRET until KP and TT open their el-cuto-rama pink boxes with rainbow ribbons. Then we went to a Hello Kitty store and looked at baby shoes. At some point later I remembered that 'babyshoes' was a pet name for me that an ex came up with...
Anyways, Jack had asked me to get him some '$2 What The?' so I headed to Artbox where I found the perfect thing... Also picked up a CD I wanted for Jack at the awesome Purple Records. Oh and we had to weave through a throng of giant soju bottles and dogs.. Hongdae was getting crazy as the day disappeared. Halloween idiots everwhere. I was overdue for a feed so we ducked into a Thai place and ate noodles, chicken, salad, and drank Singha while thinking we had done pretty well already.
The most important gift of the day was for Dad, and we had to drive to Insa-Dong for that. We parked and hit Insa-Dong-Gil right by the awesome Ssamzie, where the show 'Wake Up Andy Warhol' had generated massive crowds. Sssamzie is a kind of open three storey boutique shopping centre, with a plaza area in the middle. For the Warhol show, they have wrapped the entire building in Warhol print, hung hundreds of umbrellas from the atrium space and, inexplicably, parked a Mini Cooper on the roof.
We walked and walked, looking for the right shop to get this special little customised gift for Dad. We'd been to one place in Hongdae and were alarmed that the things were made out of ivory and buffalo horns and stuff I couldn't conscience buying. So we had narrowed my odds by wanting one made of marble. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little storefront, we went in, just on closing time, spent nearly an hour with one of those cute old man artisans, who regaled us with jokes and gruffness and advice.
I was now laden with bags... Happy happy. Got some perfect things for some wonderful people. Can't wait to get home and share the love.
Friday, October 27, 2006
I'd got a barrage of text messages at 4am on Wednesday for the beautiful Ahri. She wanted me to come see her 'love band' peterpancomplex. They were launching their third album. So I've had a crappy cold this week cos of the weather change and me being totally unprepared but I wanted to see Ahri and see music, so I went to Hongdae last night. First we ate fried pork cutlets with cabbage salad, rice and miso. All for $4. Ahri knows all the dodgy student cheapo places to eat. It's great. Anyways the gig was at a venue with NO bar and NO smoking... What?? Weird. And the music was what Ahri described as 'modern rock' but is what I call 'epic sook' even 'shit'. To Ahri's credit she said that this was supposed to be their breakthrough album and it was sponsored by a mobile phone company... Seems they had lost their edge.
Today I walked home for lunch along that street where the market was... Not only has that gone but this week workmen appeared and either dug up or cut down all the trees. There were playing fields for some kinda team football with nets, pagodas for people to ogle me from and shade for old men to stack cardboard. All gone. And today, a bulldozer raking over the dirt. As I was walking I noticed a guy on a bike pass me twice. What? On the third time he reached out and grabbed me as he rode by. Kinda on the arm. It was REALLY strange. Dunno if it was a grab like 'tag' or a grab like 'grope'? I may never know.
I could write about the mystery that is Halloween; about me cranking up the floor heating in my apartment; about how Zen and the Art etc is killing me; about how I have to work on a Friday night and a Saturday; about the yummy cheesecake I'm anticipating; about the great convo I had with Birthday Boy LTR; about all the mixed up feelings I have all day everyday about being here and not being there. But.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
1. Barack Obama
2. Nancy Pelosi
3. Kevin Tillman
Obama is a very sexy Congressional Senator who may/not run for President and be the first black person to do so. He wrote a book called 'The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream' and is a Democrat with lotsa good ideas.
Pelosi is the representative for San Francisco and currently the first woman to lead a major political party in either house of Congress. Talk is that she who could become the first female Speaker of the House. Her Democrat credentials are convincing.
Tillman is not a politician but rather a champion sportsman, however, he has just written a very political piece about the War on Terror and the upcoming election. He joined the US Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan 2004 by 'friendly fire'; and Kevin was discharged in 2005.
If you are American, please vote! It's only 2 weeks away. Make sure you are registered and if you are away from home then please get your hands on an absentee ballot.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Yesterday it rained and poured and was chilly and then last night I was thinking of the poems Mumma had written about the rapid change of seasons in Turkey. For some reason I couldn't carry the knowledge with me when I left the house this morning sans umbrella or warm clothes. Feckin freezing today. The bitter descent to winter has also commenced.
Charlie is on the cusp of submitting his geek manifesto but somehow still manages to make time to calculate the minutes til I land in Melbourne :: 16957 minutes. We're not excited at all. Happy birthday, beautiful boy.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
What is the logical love-child of canvas nanna shoes and nineties platform sneakers?
So yesterday I was badly, badly hungover. On Friday I'd played poker 'with the boys', 'in the hood' and played ok, for a girl, so was paying for my celebratory tequila shots with some serious pain. Anyways, at about 5pm I managed to get it together to leave the house. I had to go to the department store where my brother's 21st present was waiting to be collected from a feisty saleslady. I was glad I went when I did - Mac cosmetics had a demonstration on and for some reason next to the make-up artists there was a nearly-naked hot Korean guy wearing a few feathers on his head and shoulder and waist. I WISHED Ethan was with me. I got the gift ok and thought I'd wander the store and the underground shopping mall nearby. Wow. It had amazing restorative powers. I bought the handbag I've needed and been looking for for ages - for a 'nice price' cos I'm a 'pretty lady'. Then I found a shop with these ::
Of course another feisty sales pitch, but I'm pretty happy with my purchase.
Received some mail this week containing music love and photos. The music is gold. Lyrics from Joan as Policewoman ::
it's true what they say about me
that I'm out of my mind
but I think that you like it
so take the chance,
be reckless with me
Stayed in last night admiring my new shoes and watching Arrested Development (and Two and a Half Men, but shhh!), so slept well headed off to see the Basquiat show. Not bad. Not a huge fan but picked a favourite, a tiny little piece from a great year... 1985 ::
Oh, and, my Mumma, Helen Lucas, is a poet... And she was raved about on the blog of a good poetry night in Melbourne where she featured last week. Nice.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Some old lady grabbed me on the arm tonight -hard- as I was trying to enter my building and said a whole lot of stuff I didn't understand. She wouldn't let me go, and pinched my cheek. I deduced that she thought I looked melancholy and should smile at the world. So I did. It made me happy. So happy I thought I would call KP and tell her about this little sweetness. But first there was mail in my box -a phone bill- great. Tore it open as I went up in the lift and felt myself perspire. 372000 won. That's $514 Aussie. That's for a month.
Makes me wonder for the billionth time if it's all worth it. This week I feel really conflicted. It's all in my head. Should I stay or should I go now? I end up wishing it would become unsafe so I would have an excuse to go home. But I don't need excuses to go home - there is so much there that draws me. But financially... Ugh.
Anyways tonight I went to yet another of these restaurants that feature a particular ingredient. This time it was pumpkin. Everything decorated orange and giant pumpkins and sacks of pumpkins all around. Dishes were served inside pumpkins. Pumpkin juice. It was tasty but the side dishes were all pickled radish and I'm not a huge fan.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Anyways, when Charlie was here we found a different road between home and work and that's the route I've been taking. The first week I saw a market on the corner and was rapt - another place to get groceries, nice. But then the next week there was a giant claw ripping the marquees apart and pulling out power lines. The lot where the market was has been kinda derelict since, half torn-down. Then Monday I saw the place had been trashed. There is a small building next to the market that was the agricultural co-op's office and shop; everything was thrown out the windows and the doors were asunder. It made me really sad.
I didn't know why the market and co-op were 'decommissioned' or 'trashed'. Like the apartment blocks that are perpetually being demolished all around my neighbourhood, they seemed operable and viable to me.
Then this morning I walked past and the building had been set on fire. Inside there was a big black hole, with charred crockery, office furniture, spectacles, baskets, stuff... I felt shocked and sad all over again. What's with this? Why wasn't the stuff cleared out?
Monday, October 16, 2006
The best quality Action and spension
Sports & system light nr-0989
unit PROI Basic & people of world
PROI jeans NO-4012
From sessioning a handcrafted
spinning laps the park, the Dominant
With a ture twin-tipfreestyle shape and
flex, this mellow ride look jibs and
Sunday, October 15, 2006
And I had a *super* day yesterday. Nice weekend all round...
Friday night I got shouted a big platter of fried duck and wayyy too much beer at a late dinner with Olivia (who lives in my building and works at my sister-school) and her boyfriend Ken. The placed had closed but that didn't stop Ken ordering more and more longnecks. Nice.
Saturday Ethan and I planned to knock another something off THE LIST which was a flower market. Ethan was running late so I spent 10 minutes discovering a second-hand clothes market that was massive... Heaps of people with newspaper or blankets spread out and piles of shoes, daggy clothes or junk piled up. When Ethan appeared we explored it a little more and I made a significant purchase:: more blue shoes!! These ones were 3000 (4bux). Best price yet. Though I mayyyyy have compromised a little on style.
We got fed and I caught up on Ethan's trip and stuff and then realised that the cut flower part of the market would be closed by the time we walked there. Fuckit. So we headed off anyways, not sure what we would find. There were a bunch of warehouses and greenhouses which we wandered into and found some kind of floristry school where there were maybe 100 students at desks in a big space with tiered seating around. They all had baskets of flowers and there was a panel of what looked like judges half asleep at the back of the room. It was amazing. I took some zenit photos so I'll have to wait to share that.
Mmm we wandered around the potted flower greenhouses and saw some calligraphy guys at work on ribbon banner things. Then we wandered and wandered, finding empty shopping centres, black rice ice-cream, people feckin staring constantly, a forest, a photo shoot, a memorial to a citizen's rebellion, and eventualllly, Jack's birthday present! That was the icing on the cake. I love Ethan for suggesting we check out just one more store before heading home.
Stayed in last night cos I was knackered and had to get up at 7.30am (on a Sunday!) to go bungy jumping with some Korean girls. Maybe it's a cliche, but I think I discovered something about myself in doing the jump... I wasn't scared at all. And it was familiar, that feeling of everyone freaking out but me being all calm. Funny. I stress about stuff I oughtn't, and then something like that doesn't faze me. One of the girls we went with chickened out on the platform. And GyeongAh and HeyYoung both stalled, but I practically ran off. I saw stars and crapped myself a second into the air. And coming back down, I landed in a little dinghy, I couldn't stand, everything was jelly and a-quiver. A very strange feeling.
We headed to the closest restaurant for lunch... So hungry. Un/fortunately it was a Chinese onion restaurant so I think between the four of us we ate maybe a dozen onions. Yum-o. Briefly spoke to the girls about the nuclear test and they thought 'nothing to worry about' and said 'let's just enjoy now'. Ok, fine. Spoke to Dad yesterday as well and he seemed to think that unless I felt really uncomfortable, I shouldn't be racing back to the 'safety' of the antipodes.
Friday, October 13, 2006
1. It was a failed test;
2. It was a fake;
3. USA made it up;
4. It was a short-range weapon developed to attack South Korea.
Yeah. Not that crash hot. So today I checked the DFAT site and it mentions the test but hasn't elevated warning about visiting Korea - it remains at the lowest possible level. So, ok. I asked my boss what she reckoned and she said HER Ma had called from Japan where she lives to check my boss had her passport ready so she could flee to JAPAN if the shit hits the fan. Then my boss, Sidney, said that North Korea is just like a baby and nobody pays attention to anything they say. She said none of the teachers at my school were talking about it and that nothing has changed.
I'm trying to know a bit more about the players and the trends so I can piece together a feeling for this. So many questions... Am I any less safe now that I was 3 months ago? Am I any more safe in Melbourne? Is worrying part of the problem? Are South Koreans not concerned because they've spent decades like this? Or are they not worried because they are indoctrinated into hyper-capitalism? Is that mean? Am I crazy?
I've been reading various blogs, trying to get a handle on what others are saying. There's just a massive diversity of opinions. Check out the Marmot's Hole for some DIFFERENT views...
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Thought I better show I'm alive as I've been getting some worried emails from people who've heard that North Korea has been playing with fire... The short version is, I have no real idea what's going on. I don't watch the TV news or listen to the news radio, and I get a newspaper once a week when I go into the city and see a newsstand with an English paper. I get my news in dribs and drabs from The Age and BBC news and a few English-language Korean websites. So my guess is as good as yours regarding whether I need to summon a knight in shining armour to rescue me...
But last night I asked my boss' husband what he thought the tests meant and he said 'suicide', meaning that the USA doesn't like instability and that this latest performance was brinkmanship. (By the way, I'M teaching HIM English and he uses words like brinkmanship in casual conversation, after class.) I asked what the South Korean public were reckoning and he said it was the final straw and that there was no more tolerance left. I'm not sure about that. Anyways. Then I went for dinner with a guy I met in the hood and he said 'looks like this could kick it all off, eh?!' and said his friends reckoned the Won would fall and we should get our cash out of Korean banks and send it home before it's devalued. Yeah, not sure about that neither.
I'm going bungy jumping on Sunday. Was there ever a better time or place?
Saturday, October 07, 2006
We didn't get to Muuido, but we did get to an island to some beach - ended up going to Yeongjongdo, which is the island Incheon airport is on, now joined to the mainland by big bridges over the mud flats. Steph and I went the long way there, catching a ferry and then a suicidal bus to one of the beaches on the far side of the island.
Ferry ride was a highlight, though it only went for 10 minutes. I love ferries. And memories of other great ferry rides came flooding to my mind as I watched the Koreans throw prawn chips to the seagulls. We were absolutely knackered when we finally got off the bus - I'd had some god-botherer pestering me with questions about the semester dates for Uni Melb and what projects UNICEF had going in India. Erm? So knackered and hungry that we weren't sure which town we were in. Didn't matter. What did matter was that I don't like seafood and every single restaurant had MASSIVE tanks out the front from which diners chose fish, sea dick, mussel, crab, prawn, or whatever for dinner. We ended up desperately asking one of the spruikers where we could get barbequed meat and got the hook-up. Steph and I instantly fell silent when the meat was ready and we stuffed our faces with pork, chili sauce, kimchi, and garlic all wrapped in sesame leaves.
After stopping at a hof and drinking 2000cc of beer while we watched guys and drunk girls test their strength on those annoying boxing machines, we bought some longnecks and parked ourselves on the beach to watch and listen to the fireworks everyone was setting off. Yeahhh.
Had a bit of a sore head when I woke up, which was fixed up by going for a really lovely walk all the way around the bay, climbing out to some rocks and gazing out over the fisher people to the water and sun. Lots of big granite rocks, families having expansive picnics, men scaling tiny fish, tiny crabs running across out path and fresh air. We went back to the same restaurant for some soup and rice and as we were arriving the ajumma spruiker was starting a fight with the ajumma spruiker from the restaurant next door. (Ajummas are a Korean phenomena, basically women working in businesses... they are older, terrifying... it's hard to explain. And in this case, all of the restaurants there had painted ajumma spruiking invasively as the cars crawled along the dense, neon beachfront) All the customers and staff watched with interest, amusement, then horror as the fight quickly became physical: pulling each others; hair; ripping t-shirts; and grinding faces into the wet, fishy gutter. Another highlight!
Whiled away the arvo lying on my Singapore Air blanket reading the beginning of Zen and the Art etc and watching the tide creep in. Also noted the Koreans don't swim at the beach; don't wear swimmers; don't read at the beach; don't use rubbish bins at the beach and don't much play sport at the beach. They do, however, wear high heels on the beach, ignore the smell of piss and shit coming from the toilets; ride around in circles on noisy quad-bikes; fish and cook their fish anywhere in the sand, using noxious smelling accelerants to ignite briquette thingies; and stare stare stare at me.
Felt sad as I was coming home, via the Airport Limousine. Last time I caught it was when I'd just farewelled My Dearest Charlie. It's hard not to think I'm crazy. Anyways. Home. Thanksgiving holidays over and less then a month til I'm in Melbourne.
Friday, October 06, 2006
But I think I'm past it... A few good phone calls from home, small sleep-ins, and idle time spent not angsting. I finished The Plague and started reading Fury, by Salman Rushie, which I'll finish today. I haven't checked the reviews of it but I have a feeling it's not regarded as one of his better works, though it is entertaining.
Today I'm gonna embark on an adventure. Steph and I are gonna head to Muuido, a tiny island not far from Seoul. We've made no bookings and speak no Korean and it is the peak holiday time of the year. So we'll see how we go. Yay.
Lots more on my mind but I'm damn inarticulate lately. Hmm.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Woke up with a line in my head. Two lines, one from the Mountain Goats, one from Sandon McLeod, nearly identical ::
"spend each night in your arms, always wake up alone"
Check out Steve Smart's mp3 spot and listen to some of the bestest poetry ever.
That's my tip of the day.
Over and out.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Jung Chul is the name of my school.
Today I finally remembered to take my cameras in to take photos of the rugrats. Of course today was the bestest day to do so, as every single kinder kid wore their hanbok, the traditional getup which is consists of brightly coloured stiff pajama like things. I took photos of the kids clowning around and also playing 'traditional' games like hopscotch and arm wrestling.
And I took photos of Albert, Thomas, Amy and Lisa from E1A elementary class. They are wayyy naughty and obsessed with my boobs. Albert called me an 'angry dinosaur' the first time he met me. I teach them heaps. I have to teach them from a little white 'conversation' book that has 'conversations' like this ::
B: Hello, is Euri there?
A: Yes, she is. Who's calling please?
B: It's Andy, Euri's friend.
A: Hold on, please.
The kids have to rote learn one of these each class. And only one. So that's it for an hour. They hate it. So do I. I spice it up by letting them do it in 'frog' voices, 'monster' voices, etc. Wow.
Anyways, I think the photos give a good sense of my school, the kids, a bit of my life here. I would post more right here but blogger is being a pain, so just go to my album if you want a shot of cuteness.
In other news, one of my kids was apparently on TV on the weekend cos he was playing soccer and some strangers who saw him set up a fan site cos he is so cute! What the....?
Tonight I taught my private lesson out the front of the library cos it was closed due to Chuseok. While I was pressing my pupil on the marketability of low-alcohol soju, my eye caught a movement - A RAT! Just a metre away, wandering around. I JUST READ THE PLAGUE! Why now? Ahhhhhhhhh.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
- The manipulator, Jill Greenberg. A photographer who got in trouble for making children cry for her photos. Ethical? Art?
- Are Jews Smarter? Thinking about this after a friend got spammed with some anti-Arab rant about how many Nobel Prizes Jews have won. Quote: "We’re living in a new golden age of scientism—the idea that there are scientific answers to all human questions. People are so rattled by the speed and complexity of their lives that they need rock-solid certainty. They cannot bear to live inconclusively. Religion provides one definitive answer; science provides another. The important thing for most people is to feel that the way they live is an inevitable outcome."
- The blog of Hongik professor Ahn Sang-soo featuring photos of people covering one eye.
- Uprising and massacre in Korea at Gwangju in 1980. 207 people killed or maybe more when the army opened fire on demonstrators, many students. What was the Carter administrations' role? So many websites with too many opinions. I can't figure it all out.
- Blog of a Finnish PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at University of Helsinki with great photos, fascinating stuff about Korea.
- Morbid interest in the death of Daniel Smith, Anna Nicole's son. Weird, tragic, awful. Why? Do I care.