Sunday, December 14, 2008
had a decent, busy week, even if it was occasionally melancholy. sunday was cold, so i wore a hat. early this week, i met antic-ham and francis out for dinner then we made some collages together at a cafe in insadong. if you read this blog with any regularity, you know i have been stagnant artistically since coming to korea, so it felt good to exercise those muscles a bit. when i got home, spoke with my mom for a while (skype is an incredible invention, and incredibly economical, if you assume internet access and a camera and electricity), then i believe i also spoke with kristin for a bit. yes, indeed i did, as tuesday i couldnt fall asleep until 2 or so, which made me a very sleepy boy the next few days at school.
wednesday i had agreed to make dinner for marta and chris. marta is who i usually spend weeknights with. we make dinner then play scrabble and drink tea. it is nice and simple. chris, marta's (boy)friend has arrived this week from toronto, so i thought it would be a nice gesture to make them dinner. i have now invented asian gravy. it is a delicious soy-based reduction with a kick from hot mustard, along with a few other secrets thrown in.
i had a half-day thursday, and since chris basically sits alone in marta's apartment while she is in school, i went with him to find a converter and a non-down pillow, both were successfully found. i also paid too much for more coffee.
thursday night was supposed to be 'wank on the yank' night with myself, and 3 brits (frazer, james, and robert), but it became the opposite as it was just james, rhett (an american from south carolina) and myself. we had dinner and went to rolling stone. while we were there young said (to rhett, then james, then me), 'rock star, movie star, cute guy.'
they left to catch the subway on time, i stayed and got pretty drunk, and then a few koreans spoke with me into the wee hours. normally i enjoy conversing with koreans, but this guy i dont particularly like, and his friends seem to similar. i didn't really know how to get out of speaking with them, but eventually i just left.
friday (actually, monday, tuesday, and thursday to) at school was spent with my small class of 8 3rd graders from 9 until 11:30. for the last two weeks we have spoken about travel, politics, etc, as they have very good english skills, but this week we have just been hanging out, showing each other pictures, and they have taken to teaching me a bit of korean. its been really great.
since friday, like thursday, was a half-day, i would have had to eat alone in the cafeteria (my co-teachers have plans on these days, like friday all the female teachers--which include all my co-teachers--went out for lunch), and i didn't want to do that. fortunately, i ran into one of my good students and asked what she was doing for lunch and she said, 'i guess i am just going to eat at home, alone.' i asked her to lunch, and that quickly got out of hand as she then called all the other advanced girls and now we were a gang of 8 heading to mcdonalds (which i havent eaten in a few years). on the way to mcdonald's other students asked what i was doing, and when i said, pointing, 'we're going to lunch' suddenly 4 more wanted to go, and i had to turn them away. as it stood, i already was going to spend 20000 on lunch for everyone.
mcdonald's was very fun, albeit i was tired from the night before. more of my students arrived and they were surprised to see me (they are always surprised to see my not in school, as if i materialize every morning, and then disappear at night), and they seemed slightly jealous. middle-aged women were smiling at us (which made me feel vaguely creepy), and some of the girls from the attached high school said, 'kevin! how are you!? why don't you leave them and come sit with us!' i just smiled and waved.
that is one aspect of my life in korea that i wasn't anticipating. i knew that i would be a novelty, and so some people would want to get to know me--which has completely happened--but it also seems to have gone slightly beyond that. sometimes. almost like a celebrity status? i can't quite describe it. one of my gang of 8 said, 'everyone likes kevin.'
after lunch i came home, spoke with kristin, read some more dostoyevsky (i have been devouring 'the idiot' this week as i manage to get further behind in the blurb i am chipping away at, and a collaborative project with ross), and took a nap.
friday night i had dinner with my co-teacher (and nu na--older sister) kim and her family. one, or both of the boys, have appeared on the blog before. we had a korean hot-pot soup, which is similar to shabu-shabu (which i love) but apparently it isn't called shabu-shabu. afterwards we went for dessert at red mango (a better tcby, which apparently also exists in the US). i came home and was still tired and a bit melancholy, but then young texted from rolling stone, and told me to come there. i had some beers with vick (they guy who took me to the east sea) and then, suddenly, 4 foreigners came in to *my* bar. it was really weird. one of my korean friends said to me, 'is this the new itaewon?'
it was the classic interaction: pictures, flirting, loud speech, the whole bit. 1 of the 4 was a good guy, however. he was making an effort to get to know some people, and work on some korean. the other 3 were douche-bags, from what i could gather. tho my mood certainly may have colored my perception.
saturday i ran down to gangnam to meet a friend of my father's for lunch at the ritz-carlton, which was funny. he is a good man, but apparently didn't know the whole chronology of things, when he asked, 'so tell me a good story about your dad, where he tried to be a super-man but failed.' i didn't know how to answer, so i thought for a moment, and replied, 'well, i dont really have any, my parents got divorced when i was pretty young, then he moved to tennessee where you two met. my older brother might have some, tho.'
we had a nice lunch (3 courses, whoo-hoo) and had an interesting talk about the incoming obama administration and what america should consider doing to compete in the global market place. while he is on the right side of the spectrum, it was interesting to hear him say that an international court and other such measures only make sense in the long run and that he hopes the US would sign on to such efforts.
after lunch, language class in sinchon. gangnam is about an hour away from me, so that is a long haul, then sinchon is about an hour away from gangnam, so i did quite a bit of train travel. class was good. we split in to two groups depending on our korean ability, and then exchanged language with koreans. it was the first time anyone has explained anything grammatical to me about the korean language, which i think is key to understanding a language's structure. when it became our turn to speak with the koreans, it was much different as they all have enough vocabulary that they just want to practice conversation.
afterwards we all ended up going out for dinner together, and then i split off with a new friend, tae sung, and we had some beer and continued to talk about korean, english, and things in general. was home early, skyped with the lady.
now it is sunday, early afternoon, and i wish i had a washington post. or more space to make collages, or finished things i have obligations to finish, or cleaned my apartment, but i don't really want to do any of those things. eventually, i will have dinner with young tonight, around 7pm.
Posted by kevin.thurston at 11:56 AM