Monday, September 8, 2008

Oh, where to begin!

Chronologically, and—I apologize—hastily:

A couple weeks ago, Angéle expressed some interest in doing a little jogging, and I’m always looking for people to run with, so we made plans to meet at this great new park near Reading Town. The place is fabulous: quarter-mile rubber-based track, badminton courts, soccer field, skate rink, and these rudimentary, archaic-looking (but actually fairly new) weight machines. Yeah, outside. Check it out:

Instead of adjusting the weight, each machine is rigged so 
that as you—for example—sit and push the metal bars away from you to 
work your triceps, you push your own body weight. Rather ingenious, right? And free! (My favorite part). So at 7:30 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Angéle and I run a couple laps. Walk a couple laps. Do a few stretches. Lift our body weight a few times. Think about doing abs, talk about doing abs, and usually pass on doing abs. And all before the other teachers have rolled out of bed, we’re pretty sure. This is good for me, this having somebody waiting at the track three times a week. Because you can’t roll over, press snooze, and let your running buddy down. You just can’t.

That said, I think I’ve gained about five pounds in the last week. I love U-Dong noodles. I love them. And they’re so bad for you, too.

Next: the weekend! Friday night, we had a company dinner to celebrate (I was 
told) my coming to Korea. More Korean barbeque, which is quite frankly far more work that I’m accustomed to while going out to dinner, but this might have been my favorite yet. We had duck, instead of the fat-laden pork slices, and a type of kimchi I really liked. I sat next to Helen, who told me there are over 400 types of kimchi, although only a few are made regularly. She makes a few types every fall, and I think I might ask her if I can help this season. So Grandma while you’re canning jams, and Aunt Gin, salsa, I may be filling vats of vinegar with cabbage and spices. Who’s jealous?

Mr. Kim was so kind as to drive Angele, Sarah, Vanessa and I back to our apartments, and as we walked through the busy, downtown Changwon streets, our steps slightly swervy from a couple bottles of Hite (the Korean equivalent of Bud, or Miller, or—for us Colorado kids—Coors) some Korean men trailed us, calling out, “Hello! How are you! Hello!” Apparently, my judgment was slightly swervy, too, and I said hello back, because I didn’t want to be that rude American, you know? The girls shushed me, told me to ignore them, because, they said, wayward Russian women often roam the Korean streets looking to turn a trick or two. And with my incriminating blonde hair…

Next: Andrew Bishop came to town! Bishop is one of the fellows I bombarded with my battery of “What’s Korea like?” questions for the few months before I arrived. We had mutual friends at Mizzou, had been to a few of the same parties, and—the most special—I once walked in on him in a single, unisex bathroom on the Mizzou campus. Luckily, at this point, he was to the hand-washing stage. His own fault, really. Didn’t lock the door.

Anywho, he was in Changwon for a training seminar, and so we met up Saturday evening when that was finished. We wanted to find him a new bag, because, he says, Korea is the bag killer. Two of his bags have spontaneously fallen apart here, for no good reason whatsoever. We searched the Lotte department stores, but decided it was too expensive for teachers of English. Next the E-Mart, but they had nothing to his liking. So we decided to drink, instead, and were forced to jaywalk a rather busy street to do so, during which Bishop risked his life to save 
his pack of cigarettes. But in the end, we got our Hite.

Then, City Seven with Anna and Daniel for din-din. City Seven is a new shopping district 
in Changwon, and let me just say: amazing. After a little Italiano cuisine, we wandered to the top 
floor, which lays open under the daunting presence of some massive skyscraper-like apartment buildings, and which
houses a classy restaurant and stellar fountain-light show. We 
drank cheap beers and discussed things like: If we could have three superpowers, what would they be? Very intellectual.

Later, a little roof-top party at Sarah’s place. More games and deep conversations. We walked home at some point, and two minutes into my apartment, I saw my first live cockroach. Upside down near the drain on my bathroom floor, little legs twitching. Disgusting. I felt dirty. But we were feeling rather adventurous at this point, and wondered just what a cockroach tasted like (who hasn't?), and mused at what an incredible Facebook-profile picture us eating a cockroach would be, and so we each grabbed a pair of chopsticks from my kitchen and…

And, my creative license has run out. Actually, Bishop promptly flushed him down the toilet, and spent five minutes quelling my anxiety that I have a filthy apartment.

On Sunday, Anna and Daniel invited a bunch of work kids over for a spectacular Sunday dinner, with sweet-potato noodles and sautéed beef and sliced peaches and fettuccine alfredo and chips 
and salsa and a wonderful cake baked in—yes, baked in—an oven. I’d almost forgotten what an 
oven looked like. We also played Scrabble (Scrabble, Mom! Scrabble!) during which I convinced my opponents not to challenge me on fatso, but made up for it with the triple-letter hitting, thirty-something-point-scoring quaint. Mother would have been proud. Sarah did inform us that advanced Scrabble players should expect to score somewhere around 400 points a game. None of us even flirted with 100. But we did have fun warming up. Click on the 
picture at the right to check out some of our fabulous Scrabble-letter concoctions.

On our way out of Anna and Daniel's apartment, the strap on Bishop's bag tore and snapped. Korea the Bag Killer. 

And den—I slept. The end!

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