I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life. It is more important to affirm the least sincere; the clouds get enough attention as it is and even they continue to pass. -- Frank O'Hara
B and I are scheming to get out of the city. Or at least, to gradually downsize our presence in the city until it is entirely voluntary. We’re talking over ten or so years. Especially in the spring and the summer, when I wake up on Saturday morning, I’m not sure what to do. I have this strange urge to build something, plant something, scrub something. I don’t want to get on the subway. That’s not how I grew up.
For as long as I can remember, that’s what everyone in my family did, once the sun came up, and the weather was nice, on a weekend. Build a new fence. Build a new shed. Refinish a coffee table. Plant a vegetable garden. Work on the car. Work on the boat. But then I did go to the record store this Saturday. (And when the fuck did records get so expensive? Have we started to run out of the things?) In the shopping center under Hoehyeon is where all of the record stores in the city are gathered, actually, and it’s been a long time, but it was nice to remember how it feels. When you start pulling things off the shelf and setting them on the counter, and the store owner quietly watches and then cracks a smile because, by glancing over the pile you’re making, he’s actually cracked you a bit as well. Without saying a word, he pulls one of the records out of its sleeve and puts it on the turntable. He gives it to you for half off, just because you had the good sense to pick it.
But we’ve started to fantasize out loud, when we cram ourselves onto the train in the mornings, or when that same little fucker with the brown leather jacket and his fucking newspaper appears at the bus stop just as the bus is pulling up every single time, and still always manages to be the first person on. When we sit down to eat dinner at 9 o’clock at night because I insisted on cooking at least once this week, if I wasn’t even going to be home for dinner every other night. When three different stupid young couples push obliviously past us on the way into the restaurant to get their reservations in first.
What if we kept a small, bare-bones place here in the city for sleeping and showering and ordering food for dinner if we had to, while working, and the rest of the time we ran away to a place where people would need an actual fucking car to get anywhere near us? Where that woman glaring at us from across the train with her thumb and index finger shoved into her right and left nostril, respectively, doesn’t even exist? Where there are no dumbfucks locked in an embrace and gazing into each other’s eyes while also taking up what constitutes the entire width of the sidewalk?
It’s just a thought. A few thoughts. Three or four times a day.
But it will get better once we move.
For now, I’m enjoying the hell out of my job. I wish I could discuss it in more detail, but this isn’t a little middle school buried in the backstreets of a lesser-known city. Anybody with half a brain, some decent googling skills and a desire to know has probably already pieced together where I’m working, and would be able to work backwards from there to figure out who anybody I may discuss here is.
I will say that we brought on a new chef for our Korean food article this month. I will say that I am extremely happy about this. I will not get into the details of why. That kind of thing, you see? But we went to Gapyeong, which is actually one of my favorite places in Korea, and which also happens to produce 95% of the country’s farmed dureup, which I had never tried, but which is really good. The weird part is that they cut the branches off the trees on the mountain, and then grow the shoots, the part that is eaten, by placing the cut branches upright on moist soil in the greenhouses. No roots. No planting. No nothing. Pretty cool.
This chef was Italian and very friendly and excited to talk about food and just about everything else, which was a real joy. He broke the ice right away by leaning over to pluck a stray hair off my sweater while I was introducing myself, explaining that he, as a chef, obviously suffered from paranoia about loose strands of hair floating around. I told him I had two cats, so he was in for a long day.
Later in the day, after all of the quote-gathering and fact-recording and photo-shooting, we finally had a chance to just sit down and eat together and talk about the food. I said, if I could I would just travel the world fucking eating. He said, you could, if you become a food critic. I said, I don’t want to criticize food. I want to eat it. If I don’t like it, that’s fine. Someone else probably does. He said, ah, but you’re the scariest kind of customer to me. You’re the kind who won’t even give me a chance to fix what I’ve done wrong. You will just quietly go and never come back.
I think that shows a shocking level of humility, not a common trait in most chefs of his caliber.
Yesterday I practically shoved B out of the apartment so I could get to work on the article, but it didn’t do any good. I had had a good chuckle at a foreigner in a mask of stormtrooper proportions in Myeongdong on Saturday, but the fucking joke was on me. I’m not one of those people who steps outside and practically faints at the first whiff of yellow dust. Instead, I wander around clueless all day only to be laid out with the mother of all sinus infections for the next week, at least. De-cat-furring the apartment on Sunday morning (aka, “cleaning”) must have pushed me over the edge.
As a result, I finally hauled out the glass jar of organic lemongrass tea I bought at some stupid herbal tourist trap this winter and worked out that I essentially paid approximately $10 a cup to make myself tea. The fucking rosemary plant died as well, after a month.
But today’s an easy one at work, and the article’s not due till Thursday. Hunners’ of pitches due in the middle of next week, and then the deadline period starts next Wednesday, but today and tomorrow are pretty much the best time this month to be a bit under the weather.
I got real worked up about the whole Ryan Boudinot brouhaha on Friday and was going to do a post, and maybe I still will. In fact, I definitely will because I’m already starting to simmer just sitting here thinking about whether or not I’ll write about it. But it may be a while. In the meantime, enjoy this sanitized post where all the really juicy bits about work or whatever have all been cut out because I like my job and want to keep it.