(over easy)

Since being back in the States, I am beginning to feel like a strange Korean version of Yakov Smirnoff (although I’m not Korean, and I believe Yakov was actually Russian).  I find myself saying things like "In Korea, the bathrooms have no soap and we dry our hands with toilet paper!" and "In Korea, even the Internet is pickled and spicy!"  I hope I’m not being annoying or repetitive in my effort to be interesting and informative. 

I have eaten some delicious food this week:

  • bacon, eggs (over easy), and hash browns
  • an open-faced Ruben covered with Swiss cheese
  • a western omlette with hash browns and wheat toast
  • party mix (pretzels, tortilla chips, and Cheetos)
  • barbecue ribs with Cole slaw
  • a dill pickle
  • a chicken burrito with sour cream and fresh guacamole
  • pasta and spicy Italian sausage tossed in olive oil

Waking up every day I find myself almost numb with indecision about what to eat.  A Greek salad sounds pretty good right now.

I’m Amtraking home to Cleveland tomorrow — the train is only moderately cheaper than an airplane, but far more romantic.  I’ve only Amtraked once before and I remember frequent power outages and many unscheduled stops, which resulted in the train being almost three hours late getting in to Cleveland.  I’m scheduled to get in at about 4 in the morning, so I’m hoping for an on-time arrival this time.  Either an on-time arrival, or a bar car — preferably both.

bed to the bathroom

While wandering around Manhattan yesterday, I somehow injured my knee.  I also took these pictures…




Last night I was limping as a result of my knee injury, this morning it seems slightly better, although I have only walked from my bed to the bathroom. 

people from everywhere

I am very jet-lagged.  It is five-thirty in the afternoon and I am hazy with confused fatigue, despite having slept for almost twelve hours last night.  I don’t remember being so the last time I was here, but I did get very sick — I’ll consider this an even trade.

Today I had breakfast with Michael at a restaurant in midtown, and then went and saw Sideways, which proved to be a big disappointment after all the ranting and raving by the critics.  Perhaps I missed something, perhaps this jet-lag has cast a fog over my critical acceptance.

New York City is full of people from everywhere, and every public restroom is equipped with soap and paper towels.  Magic, I call it.

I must sleep now.

I am in New York City, but am very very tired — twenty-two hours of mostly sleepless travel has nearly destroyed me.  I must sleep now.

I look forward.

I’m about done packing — my room is bare and I am typing this from an awkward position on my bedroom floor, one that would surely give me carpal tunnel were I to return to it repeatedly.  It’s strange, this moving, it feels like I am entering a final phase in my Korean life. 

Everything feels ordinary until I remind myself how remarkable it all is.

I caused a good friend of mine here to cry tonight, and not because I’m leaving.  I brought something up because I hoped it would clear the metaphorical slate between us, but it went wrong somewhere and ended up only making the slate more congested.  I feel like I am full of poorly executed good intentions.

My flight leaves in about fifteen hours — I am ready to be in America, but not to be on a plane for fifteen hours.  Take some to get some, or something like that.  I pray for my own row, as it was in the beginning.   

I’ll keep posting from America, don’t panic.  Or, no… panic, but just not about that, or this, or it.  All this English teaching has got me all bugaboo.  Anyway, I’ll see many of you there.  I look forward.

wolf-masked Korean men dancing on tables

As promised, here is the very short video I took at the nightclub on Wednesday night. It isn’t a very good video, but if you look fast you can see the wolf-masked men I have been going on about. You can try streaming it by just left-clicking on the link, but if that doesn’t work or you have a slow connection I recommend right-clicking on it and then selecting "Save Target As…" to download it to your hard-drive.

wolf-masked Korean men dancing on tables 

Korean penis

Last night I ended up going out with the other teachers from my Monday & Wednesday hagwon jobs again, and once again we ended up at the nightclub with the dancing wolf-masked men.  It was much like the last time, except this time there were teachers from two schools, which meant that I was a white guy sitting and drinking at a table of about twelve Korean women — my boss was, once again, right by my side pouring beer into my glass whenever it approached empty. 

When I arrived the wolf-masked men were dancing to a Koreanized version of "Rock Me, Amadeus." 

I, being the only white guy in our party (and the club), was an awkward center of attention — the women stared and smiled at me, but very few had the ability or courage to speak to me.  We drank for a while, then I was dragged onto the dance floor where we all stood in a circle and danced very small steps, nothing flashy, to Korean pop songs.  At times, someone would get pushed into the center of the circle at which point he or she would dance with slightly bigger steps and everyone would go "WOOOOOHHH!" and clap.  I, being drunk and American, danced with large obnoxious steps.  It seemed to go over well. 

The wolf-mask men came back out after a bit, this time without the masks, and started to strip again.  They didn’t wear g-strings this time, however, so I was lucky enough to see Korean penis.  I’m really glad I was able to see Korean penis before I head home for the holidays, it’ll be a great story for Christmas dinner with the family.  I wouldn’t normally have watched this sort of thing, but I would have looked strange not watching as all the men and women were watching this fixedly.

When the stripping ended we sat back down and drank some more.  I drank more than everyone else, both because I couldn’t really converse with anyone and because my glass was the most intensely monitored.  Also, the situation merited heavy drinking.

There was more dancing, there was flirting without talking with one of the Korean teachers, there was lots of drinking, there was a strange business proposal from a man who cornered me in the bathroom, and there was this quote from one of the two other men in our party:  "Sometimes marriage is very good, and sometimes it is problem."  Yeah, he was trying to "make happy" with the boss again.

I took a short video of the wolf-masked men dancing on tables, I shall try and post it soon.  It is not a great video, but it is evidence. 

Today was my last day of teaching for about six weeks, which is cause for sighs of temporal relief and astonishment at the speedy passage of time… hopefully the next six weeks will progress slowly.  Needless to say, I was in dire need of a break. 

One of my students, a business woman who I have been teaching two times a week for three or four months, gave me twenty white roses as a going-away present of sorts.  I expected her to give me a gift of some sort, but I was a bit taken aback and confused by the roses.  Lest any of you think it was a come-on, she is married and they were white roses.  If anything, it was a horribly racist gesture — white roses to a white guy, what the hell is that supposed to mean?  Tryin’ to keep the white man down and shit.