2.10.2009

Grown ups.

Mike and I made the joint, mature decision over dinner last night that we need to cool our jets for a while. We've been discussing it, actually, over the course of the last couple of days, but last night while we sat and ate dinner in our little dak galbi restaurant (which is always empty besides us, and the woman who runs it and her family, which is why it's such a favorite), we got serious about it.

"Since when do we stay out until dawn drinking, Mags?"

"I don't know. I really don't know."

"You know what it is? We could dress it up and try to cover it over, but it's just desperation. The hope that if we stay for one more beer, the next five minutes will somehow bring something that will justify the last 8 hours of drinking. That's all it is -- pure, unadulterated desperation."

"Yep."

We've decided we need to get back into the routine of getting up early on the weekends and going out to see and do new things -- not sleeping in as late as we possibly can to wake up and go to the same fucking bar. As I told him this weekend, we needed routine really badly in the third and fourth month. We were tired and stressed out from work, and probably a little homesick or whatever, not that either one of us would ever admit it. We needed steady, regular places to go -- to make SK feel like home. But now it's time to remember that we are not back in New York, and we don't have to drag ourselves to the same dump every Friday night and do the same pointless thing. We're not students anymore, after all.

After dinner, I dragged him down to Homeplus to help me navigate the cheap clothes in the men's clothing section. My shirt/sweater/whatever situation is getting dire here, but I can't for the life of me find anything decent to replace the old stuff with. I don't mind being the biggest slob in the office, but with the way my undershirts, button downs and jumpers hang off of me now -- well I don't want to be the biggest slob in the office by that degree. And I've got a little cash around these days -- it wouldn't hurt to at least try to look presentable.

As we rifled through the (to me) strangely cut, lycra-infused all white undershirts and sweaters of assorted pastel '80s inspired patterns, I actually managed to make Mike laugh a few times -- something I'm always proud of, because he's such a snob about what he finds funny. The ties were the absolute worst. I just wanted a regular red tie that didn't cost a fortune. I'm not one to jump on the "haw haw Korean men are benders" bandwagon -- I like Korean male fashion in general, a lot. But just not the Homeplus version of it. Rhinestones on ties is just wrong. And you'll never catch me wearing anything shiny. And what does this country have against the color black?

After putting a bit of effort in, we did end up with one undershirt, one black t shirt and one black cardigan. It's a start, anyway.

We went downstairs then to get a little grocery shopping in, and I had a conniption fit watching Mike try to purchase an onion. For ages, we've been buying only the pre-packaged produce, because the loose stuff involves approaching a counter somewhere and having it weighed, unlike back in the States, and we tend to avoid any new procedure in Korean for as long as we can. But since we are only one person, respectively -- two at the most -- onions are a bit difficult, as there is no way we could ever use an entire bag in the time we have before they go bad. I told Mike now as good a time as ever to conquer the Korean grocery store produce counter weighing lady. I stood back and watched as Mike gingerly approached, carrying his solitary onion in a little plastic bag. The woman took it in her hand, examined it and handed it back to him, saying something in Korean and pointing to the left. We turned our heads simultaneously to see another produce weighing lady standing in the next aisle over. Mike approached and the situation was repeated in reverse, with this one shaking her head and pointing to the right.

Mike dropped the onion in a bin as we walked away and instantly mounted a verbal offensive on Homeplus as a whole, as an organization, that would have made me blush if these were still the early days in Korea, and I still didn't feel at home enough not to care what the passing citizens made of what they can probably mostly only make out as a cloud of American four letter word combinations.

Sometimes, it's exactly as I told Mike it would be nearly a year ago now, when we were discussing coming over -- it's like Lost in Translation, only funny.

As I grabbed my other bag from the locker outside the store, I told Mike we would smoke a cigarette before heading home. "Oh yeah. I'm smoking five. And you have to stay for all of them, or else you're not my friend anymore."

We found a bench, which Mike and I love, and the conversation drifted to our friend from the weekend, how he has been here for two months, but hasn't even been to Seoul yet. We talked about how, as we sat at the bar talking, and Mike had watched the guy move from one side of the bar to the other, to a table and back to the bar, and how it would be good of us, as slightly elder expats, to invite him into Seoul with us this weekend. So I sent a text.

What do I get in reply? He's off out of town this weekend, but he'd like to get a drink and chat with me sometime this week "(as friends)". Fair enough. I'm trying not to get typical Liz bent out of shape by the presumptuousness of that qualification, and just see it as clarification after the way he behaved this weekend. It's a relatively mature move, if you look at it from the right angle and aren't as touchy and full of pride as I am.

So, boys and girls. It looks like I'm stuck with the bad boy again for a while. No matter how you try sometimes to steer off into a new course, old patterns always tend to resurface. Or I could just be mature about it, and kill that off as well. But I probably won't.

Eh. We are definitely not staying at the bar past midnight this weekend, though. Come what may. It's time to grow up.

Am I saying too much here these days? Mike would probably say that I am. But he's the one pushing me to do non-fiction. If that's going to happen, I gotta get used to publicly embarrassing myself by being a bit too honest, no? Meh. I'm getting to that point in life where that's all you can do. If you're not honest with yourself (and others) about your flaws, you'll never stand a chance at correcting them. And it's not like nobody seems them unless you mention them directly, right? It all comes back to getting older, and I'm definitely getting too old to even try to pretend I'm cool anymore....

Well. It is, after all, a blog. At the end of the day.

8 comments:

MikejGrey said...

Stop kidding yourself-uh!

Grow up!

Indeed liz. Something needs to be done. And I don't know what.

MikejGrey said...

I really wish we could find those coffee shops

Gary said...

Posts like this make me realise how unsuited I would be making the transition to a totally different culture. Western Europe? Fine. No problem. But I would struggle in Asia, and that's down to my bull-headedness and total lack of tact.I admire anyone who can make even a half-decent fist of it over there.

I'm no Picasso said...

Mike: We're gonna have a good weekend. Promise. Kimbap making hilarity, soju and In Bruges on Friday (no bar, no bar, no bar) and I've got loads of stuff worked out for Saturday already.

And it's, stop kidding yourselpuh. God I miss the boys.

Gary: Is it the clothes or the onion? It gets whatever sometimes, just a million and one little different things. But ultimately... well I get bored when I know how to do everything anyway. Today I nearly broke down in tears in the office because I was trying to work out what exhibits are showing at a gallery/operation hours and the website was in Korean. But you know. You sort it out.

cherry garcia said...

i like the line about lost in translation, only funny.

vai said...

In Bruges is brilliant, you'll see :). Watch for C.F.'s lines when they're going sightseeing. All of his lines actually... :)

MikejGrey said...

I expect to like in Bruges. Dude's a fairly decent playwrite.

I'm no Picasso said...

Stepho -- mi madre quite liked that one as well. But she thought it was mean. Like everything else I say.

Iva Darling -- I already watched it, the day after I got home. Fucking Brilliant. "I was born in Dublin. Love Dublin. If I was born on a farm -- and retarded -- Bruges might impress me. But I wasn't. So it doesn't." (L) World class recommendation. Well done.

Mike -- You will.