what it will feel like there now

I’m done with my neurotic form of something like packing, and am one night of sleep away from a week of frivolity in New York City (and one night of frivolity in San Francisco). It’s been more than eight months since I’ve been in America, I’m not sure what it will feel like there now. So many people have told me that one gets “reverse culture-shock” when returning to the West after being in the East for a spell, but I am of the opinion that whatever shock there will be will wash off quickly and leave everything exactly as it was, albeit seen through different colored glasses. I am looking forward to Western food, and am especially (and a bit embarrassingly) looking forward to Chipoltle — those fajitas are like crack, and I’ve been going through withdrawal for almost nine months.

Korean-Beatin' Stick

It’s raining here. It’s been raining since last night, and it’s not supposed to stop until sometime tomorrow or Monday. Apparently there’s a typhoon near Japan, and this torrential rain is the edge of it. I walked down the hill to the store to buy some water and spaghetti sauce a while ago, and I ended up treading through a small river of runoff… it was pretty fun, actually. I haven’t seen rain like this for some time, but I’m told this sort of weather becomes ordinary come monsoon season.

Perhaps the rain would bother me were I not flying to New York on Wednesday. Two more easy days of teaching, then a week of American frivolity.

Last week a student of mine told me that one of his teachers had beaten him with a stick for getting a bad score on a test. To prove it he pulled up his shorts and revealed a disturbingly bruised Korean butt. I asked him what his parents thought of him getting beaten by his teacher, and he said “they don’t like that teacher.” Over the course of the week I asked some of my other students if they’d ever been beaten by their teachers, and every single one of them said that they had, and most of them couldn’t remember how many times. I’m not sure what I think about this, only that it’s an interesting cultural difference and that I have to buy a Korean-Beatin’ Stick when I’m in New York City.

eight months

I have been living abroad for eight months now — here is a picture of a page from one of my student’s school books.

'May Be Justified'

Daily Reason To Dispatch Bush. (McSweeney’s)

Interrogation abuses were ‘approved at highest levels’ (Telegraph)

Justice Dept. Memo Says Torture ‘May Be Justified’ (Washington Post)

Bush foreign policy under attack (BBC)


Here is a panorama I took from the roof of my new apartment yesterday:

Last night I got very intoxicated and played pool with my friend Kevin. Kevin has a scooter, which is far more fun to ride around Seoul on than one might imagine. Scooter go fast! Scooter go vroom! I want scooter! Scooters are everywhere here — delivering food, mostly — and many people drive them on the sidewalks, which makes being a pedestrian all the more dangerous. Kevin didn’t drive on the sidewalk much, but I reckon he would have if he was delivering food.

I got back to my apartment at about two or three in the morning and hung out with Mat who was also very intoxicated. We started playing my trademark song “Monkeys in the Free World” (Mat on bass, I on acoustic guitar), and were on quite a roll (or so it seemed), until we heard one of our neighbors yelling “I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR MONKEY! I JUST WANT TO GO TO SLEEP! OK? I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR MONKEY!” I’ve played that song many times and in many different places, but that was the best reaction I’ve ever gotten.

I did go looking for fans yesterday, but the cheapest one I could find was 50,000 won (about $40 USD), which seems like an awful lot of money for a machine that moves air. Last night was difficulty sleeping again, however, so I may have to cave on this one.

back online

I am back online in my place of South Korean residence again, much more quickly than I’d anticipated. I’m using the same company that I used in my old apartment, so my connection is ridiculously fast — over 2000 kbps, for those of you who might be impressed by that sort of thing.

Today is a beautiful Saturday, however, so at some point I plan to drag myself away from reading about the world to experience the concept of fresh air, or the closest ramification currently available in Seoul. I desperately need to buy a fan, as this city is getting to be as hot and humid as everyone warned me about. There’s a Korean superstition that if you use a fan with all the doors and windows closed, you will die… I think I’ll take my chances with that one.

In other, less whimsical news, my music review column at the Seoul Classified got usurped by my friend Kevin. I was kind of upset about it, mostly at the Seoul Classified people for not telling me about it — I found out when I looked at the current issue yesterday and saw four album reviews that I hadn’t written. Kevin didn’t really know that he was usurping my column, and in the end I’m essentially to blame for putting off the writing of said column for so long. Live and learn, then take my writing talents elsewhere.


I’m back to surfing the internet in PC rooms for the time being, which isn’t a tragedy but is also not a magical elf-divinated thing. I called the internet provider from my old apartment to get my service transferred today, so it should be a short time being until I am once again able to download massive amounts of pirated media in my free-time.

Today I taught at two places: my part-time hagwon job from 4:30-7:10, and my private student “Chris” from 7:45-8:45. My hagwon job is my least favorite, and it’s really starting to wear on me. My schedule has changed four times in the last two weeks, and the failure of the school to provide any sort of curriculum or guidance is just maddening. Fortunately, it pays very well, which usually balances all the annoyances out. “Chris,” on the other hand, is both my best and my favorite student. He’s only in middle school, but we’ve developed this really wonderful rapport that makes his hour more interesting and fun than it really should be. (By the way: the “Chris” in the photos I posted here a week ago is not the same “Chris” I am referring to here. Korean children have an affinity for the American name “Chris.”

In case I haven’t mentioned it, I’m off to NYC in two weeks. I can’t wait, no sir.


The award for the strangest comment left on my blog goes to Tanesha:

Tropicana Orange Juice

Great job.