30 June, 2005
30 June, 2005
27 June, 2005
There's a sizable farmer's market about two blocks from my front door, a convenient area for buying fish, vegetables and fruit. As you can tell, this area is much older than the area from which I just moved.
26 June, 2005
26 June, 2005
The chaos of the past five days left me with no spare time to update this cauldron of predictable stupidity, what with moving to a new house and getting ready to split for the States - where, in Portland, Oregon, it's currently a pleasant 20 degrees celsius - on Wednesday. Further muddling the scene is the fact that just today I found out that the former Redskins running back and NFL legend John Riggins is a white guy. I guess I'd never seen a good photograph of him, let alone one without his helmet, and so I always thought he was black. Not that it makes any difference -especially since I'm too young to have ever seen the guy play - but learning something like that can really shake your basic assumptions about the world.
As I mentioned, though, I'm finally moved into the new place and I can say without hesitation it was the dirtiest place into which I've ever moved. From what I've seen, I have to assume that the previous tenants fried all of their food and never troubled themselves with cleaning. My girlfriend and I spend Saturday afternoon and evening scrubbing floors and chasing dust bunnies through the hallway, and then I woke up and did the same thing yesterday morning. I tried to leave my last apartment reasonably clean when I moved out, as I feel that the state of the place reflects on me as a person. A filthy apartment speaks to a lack of discipline and shows why the previous residents - in their forties or fifties - are still living in the same hovels as this writer: they don't maintain anything and therefore have to pay good money to replace it every year or two.
At all events, I think I've finally got the dirt problem whupped, but the Cat Problem still remains. There's at least two cats - no doubt strays, this being Korea - that live right below my window and I think one of them's in heat at the moment. Thank god monsoon season has started because the torrential rains seem to be the only thing keeping the otherwise incessant mewing in check. I'll have to stop and pick up some antifreeze and tuna if I'm at the supermarket today.
22 June, 2005
22 June, 2005
As mentioned before, I've been searching for jobs of late. Finding jobs in the hagwons (institutes) here is no problem as there seems to be a shortage of native speakers around right now to fill them all. Good news for me except that most of these jobs make McDonald's look like yoga training. What always strikes me when looking for jobs in Korea, though, is the multitude of schools over here with unbelievably loopy names. A few of my favorites include:
Toss English: as in, "He doesn't give a toss," or "He's a tosser." Based on the name, I have to assume that this particular school aims to churn out as many little Sodomites as possible.
DoBe School: "Hey, man, no homework? That's cool, no worries. Could ya turn up the Marley and pass me another slice of pizza?"
Booby School: Who could look up the root of "Booby" in the dictionary without realizing that its meanings include 'idiot' and a tantalizing bit of the female anatomy. Or perhaps the proprietor was fully aware of this when hanging his shingle and he merely intends to produce morons who end up oggling the wares at the local strip joint.
How Are You. : You read it correctly - it's not a question. I've tried and tried and I can't figure out how to say this without it coming out in the interrogative form. But who cares? Why would anyone send their kid to an English school that can't even punctuate its own name correctly?
Tyrannous E: An email from this place was in my box this evening. It sounds like a dictatorial club drug if you ask me, but a Korea-appropriate name nonetheless. I've yet to meet a boss in Korea who isn't a fledgling tyrant, with all the trappings of a dictator except that last crucial ingredient: power.
15 June, 2005
15 June, 2005
I may (or may not) have nailed the job hunt, though. At least, it's mine if I want it, which I'm not sure I do as the school lies somewhere near the North Pole. Plus, it's a job and I've decided I don't really want a job. What I really want, as Allen Ginsberg said, is to be able to go into a store and buy what I need with my good looks. If wishes were horses, right? Guess I'll have to take a job at some point. Perhaps working is all for the best: without a job the weekends just don't mean much, except that you get to hang out with all your working friends.
Other than the job, my 'to do' list is shrinking rapidly. House: check. Airplane tickets: check. Bribes for Immigration Officials: check. Job: damn it.
07 June, 2005
07 June, 2005
Last week, my coworker and I were looking out the window at work and some kid down below had a cat tied up on a rope and he was picking it up by the rope simply to move it.
"Ya," we shouted. "Hajima (don't do that)!"
The little twit seemed to be embarrassed and self-conscious but I doubt he actually understood why we'd told him to knock it the hell off. Einstein was right when he said you can tell a lot about a person or society by the way they treat animals. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to eating meat, but I don't see the point of torturing the critters while they're alive.
As for the pigeon, though - I'm really only disappointed because I wanted to see baby pigeons. I mean, I can't find anyone who's ever seen one. I still don't think they exist.
06 June, 2005
06 June, 2005
Living in Seoul, the only time I see animals are when they're on my dinner plate or when it's one of those poor excuses of a dog that Koreans seem to like so much. And anyone who knows me will attest to my abiding love of - and interest in - animals. That's why I'm mildly excited about the fact a pigeon has laid a couple eggs on one of the balconies of this apartment building. What I ought to be saying is, "great, more avian rats to crap on me and spread disease." But I'm not saying that because I haven't watched a bird hatch her young since I left the States over three years ago. I'll take what I can get. The other reason I'm fascinated by this bird is that I never really believed baby pigeons existed. I figured they were just one of those urban legends - you know, like the one about Jamie Lee Curtis. Anyway, the bird's choice of a nesting place, is just outside the elevator landing on my floor, so I'm hoping no children or drunken adjoshis get it in their mind to make omelettes.
On other battle fronts...I've got the housing situation sorted. I signed on a place over by Seoul National University, which won't mean much to those of you outside of Korea, but suffice it to say I'll be living in a convenient area.
Of the remaining obstacles, the most daunting is the job hunt. I'm looking for a part-time position in the middle of the day. Good luck. It's out there, though. I just have to find it.
04 June, 2005
04 June, 2005
This is, by all indications, a yearly ritual in my life, one that only serves to remind me that I don't have enough money. What exactly is "enough?" Well, I don't really know the answer to that except to say that I haven't got it - especially when I'm looking for new digs in the dead center of Seoul.
We spent Saturday tramping in and out of one hovel after another. One looked promising until I saw the kitchen: It was built in something of a crawl space turned vertical, which is to say that there was no more than about one foot between the cabinets and the wall. I'm not exaggerating when I say a person couldn't turn around in there without first stepping out and reentering.
Scratch that one.
Other apartments featured such amenities as the sink drain in the middle of the kitchen floor, allowing you trip over the hose every time you'd try to turn on the stove. One palace offered next door access to a smorgasbord of vice (to which I'm not, on principle, opposed, but I like to sleep at night and don't need to live next to it).
At one point, we walked past an elementary school where the kids were having a gathering of sorts, complete with tents set up in neat rows around the dirt yard.
"What are they doing?" I asked.
"That's a campout," replied my friend.
"No, that's homelessness," I countered. "Sleeping in a tent in the wilderness is a campout. Sleeping in a tent in the middle of a city - especially a tent city like that - is poverty."
"Well, anyway," she said. "I was jealous of them when I was young. It always looked fun."
"Whatever that is, it sure as hell isn't recreation." I was becoming snide after a day of being told I'm too poor and too picky, and when I get into such a mood my only goal becomes to piss in everyone else's party punch..
By the end of the day, however, I was convinced that I might soon be living in a tent on a schoolyard myself.
On the way home, we ran into a guy I know who sells cheap crap on the subways here. I asked him how business was going and he just said, "well, tomorrow's a new day," which could be good or bad, I guess.