Hm. I suppose I should update. I used to be good about managing at least something everyday, but then life picked up significantly. I know you've all been crying yourselves to sleep over the whole affair.
The trouble is, these days when so many days go by in between, I honestly don't know where to start.
I'll start with Tuesday night, which involved me skipping my Korean class again and taking a couple of Korean friends (C and co.) out to meet a couple of foreign friends (Miss K and co.). The Koreans knocked off after dinner and I decided to proceed to the bar, despite the fact that I was an hour from my home, it was fifteen minutes till the subway stopped running, and I had work at 8:30 am. Still, it was definitely C and co. who had the wrong idea. For sure.
Blah blah blah. Beer beer beer. Darts and magic tricks and some guy who just got out of a mental hospital. Ran into some other local expats at the bar, one of whom I like very much, one of whom I dislike very much. Chatted with the one who I like very much a bit, which was nice -- we never really get to talk because there are always a million other people around. He's cool. Chatting with some pointless Korean guys who, of course, gave me their numbers and who, of course, I will never call. I need to clean out my phone.
Miss K's friends are all lovely, by the way.
Yadda yadda. Got home at 5:30. Made it to work and taught for two hours. Stayed awake the rest of the time. Flash forward to Friday when the Korean Body Builder was texting, but ultimately heading out of town (as was just about everyone else) to Busan, but who called later (at one am) to see if I wanted to come. No thanks. Made plans with Willie for Saturday night, after I met C and co. to go to a coffee shop. There's a whole story there, but I don't want to get into it here. It was fairly bizarre, though.
Uh. Saturday morning went into Hongdae on my own and realized that, since I've been in Korea, I don't do anything at all alone anymore. In New York, I used to go into the city all the time on my own, just to dawdle around, pick up a few things, hang out in a coffee shop, see a movie, etc. Some of my favorite times in New York were spent on my own -- I think it's a valuable part of the experience of living anywhere. But there's something about Korea that compels you to be connected all the time. Always with someone, always texting someone else. Phone calls in Korea are the same in Korean and in English -- "Hey. Where are you? I'm here. Let's meet there. Hurry up." It seems no matter where you are, you're always around the corner from someone.
Anyway, I've been nervous about all the free time my upcoming (non-traveling) vacation is going to afford me. Two weeks with no work, even with Korean class, was looking pretty boring. But now I'm quite excited about the notion of making daily little expeditions into the city on my own, and seeing some things I haven't gotten around to yet. Life is easier when you've got a little cash in your back pocket -- NY was always limited by how much money was on my metrocard, whether or not I could afford a cup of coffee -- the price it cost to occupy a seat somewhere. Not so, these days.
Seoul is really different in the mornings. Walking through Hongdae, normally an over-crowded, humming, pulsing university neighborhood, before noon was an entirely different experience. It reminded me of how certain neighborhoods in Manhattan (particularly Soho) would be completely empty in the mornings. Trucks unloading their whatever. Shop owners cleaning the previous night's debris from in front of their lots. The city waking up. It's exactly the same. It's one of my favorite parts of the day.
Last night I met Willie and Suki in Sinchon for dinner, which wasn't really dinner so much as anju, but it was good. Suki's got a pretty interesting story and reason for being here. It was good to be in a small enough setting to get to talk to her a bit. After, Willie and I headed to Hongdae to meet some of his friends. Bar hopped for a bit, but ultimately decided we'd wandered into a completely stereotypical group of Korean expats, including one pre-law kid from Oklahoma who has been here for six days. After he asked us what it means when a Korean woman pinches your neck, we decided it was time to find a new scene. I don't mean to be acting like an old-handed veteran already, but sometimes these new kids....
You get old in Korea fast, considering most only stay for a year, if that. Especially if you're paying attention. On the stairs on the way out, we ran into a woman from New Zealand who was telling us how she'd just spotted the Korean guy she'd only known for a week (who she thought was like, so sweet and cool and was like, so into her) on the street outside holding hands with his Korean girlfriend. Everyone who's anyone figures out pretty quick that the average Korean toying with the idea of dating a foreigner more than likely already has a Korean beau. You don't trust a guy after a week -- that's for damn sure. Probably not anywhere, but especially as a foreigner girl in Korea. And you certainly don't assume that the average Korean man will, at any point, be taking you home to meet Umma.
Anyway, we headed back to Homo Hill, where the vibe was quite different from last week. A fascinating cross-section of society, W and I were mostly observers for the evening. At one point, trying my hand for the first time at making it to the subway's reopening at 6 am, some extremely creepy guy in a yellow striped shirt latched onto me, and when he decided to ask me if I lived alone, I turned to W and informed him that I thought it was just about time I be heading home.
Quite proud of the fact that my cab driver didn't speak a lick of English, yet we managed to hold a (completely broken -- but still) conversation in Korean for most of the thirty minute drive back to my humble abode in Incheon. Cab drivers are the best for Korean practice.
Now, I'm trying to talk myself into doing a little Korean studying, instead of cooking pasta and watching some cheesy Japanese film about host boys. Guess which one has really already won. No plans for the coming week, but I'm sure that will change soon.
Strange days here in the ROK. A lot seems to be changing pretty quickly. Last weekend, I became obsessed with sorting everything out and giving everything its definite category. This weekend, I've decided to just go with the flow a little longer. You don't learn things here (or anywhere) by demanding to know. The only thing to do is to sit back, pay attention, and try to slowly piece it all together. Live and learn. And ultimately, that's what life is all about. And why living in a foreign country -- trying to work it all out -- is infinitely more interesting than doing the same old shit back home, where everything (or most things, on the surface at least) is understood. Wouldn't trade it, kiddos.
If there's anything I hate in this world, in this life, it's being bored.