subway arrival/departure

I’ve been meaning to post some of these short videos I’ve shot here over the past year, and for some reason I have decided to start posting them now — at two in the morning on the last day in August. I’m not sure how well video’ll stream from this site, so for those of you who have slow connections I recommend right clicking on the link and selecting “Save Target As…” to save it to your hard drive and then play it from there. Does that make sense? I probably could have worded that better. Anyway, here’s the first of what will hopefully be a series of short videos of things in Seoul:

subway arrival/departure

Let me know if there’s trouble.

about an hour ago

I took this about an hour ago from the roof of my apartment here in South Korea…
night-roof
…the pointy thing is the Seoul Tower; from the top (and during the day) it looks like this, this, this, and this.

kaan 'andi is haal!

Last night I drank a bottle of red wine and played drums on the roof of my apartment with Mat. Mat just got back from a trip to Indonesia, and he brought a bunch of traditional drums back with him. I bought one of them from him, it has a painting of a lizard on it. It is very fun to play.

My other roommate, Lee, recently quit drinking because the doctors told him that his liver was bleeding. He’d decided to go see a doctor after spending a night vomiting blood and feeling dizzy. Before he quit drinking he would drink almost constantly — I would wake up in the morning and see him sitting in his bathrobe drinking a beer, and I would come home at night and he would be on the porch drinking and smoking cigarettes. Now that he quit drinking he sits in his room and watches television all day and night. Television doesn’t make your liver bleed, but it sometimes causes me to vomit blood.

Mat has an alcohol problem, too, but since returning from Indonesia he has decided to quit drinking so he can move to Bali and become a surfer.

Tonight I went out to dinner with my friend Desiree. We went to an Indian restaurant in Itaewon. There was a little girl there who kept giving us pieces of candy, only to return a moment later and take them back again. I ended up with two pieces of candy, both of which are still in the right-front pocket of my jeans.

Tomorrow I meet with Nezar — a half-Egyptian, half-Canadian guy who has offered to give me free Arabic lessons. kaan ‘andi is haal! kaan ‘andi is haal!

The weather here is approaching perfection.

Vietnam

Brothers in Arms? (Mother Jones)

Kerry: Slo-Mo on Swifties (NY Times)

How Dick Cheney dodged the Vietnam draft. (Slate)

sunset

Quite the sunset here last night — this shot from my roof:

sunset-number-two

ping-pong gold medal

I found out from one of my adult students today that Korea won the gold medal in ping-pong. I’d say that’s about the funniest thing I’ve heard all week. I’m still laughing about it, truth be told. I mean, of course Korea won the ping-pong gold medal, who else is going to win the ping-pong gold medal? Poland? Guatemala? Iraq? No, no, no… that gold medal had Korea’s name all over it. When they smelted the ping-pong gold medal I bet they engraved Korea on it because they knew it would save time later. Ahh, cultural stereotypes! Lookit em go!

While I am still upset at her for not emailing me before she left, my youngest cousin Rachael is off to study in Paris for a semester (or is it quarter?). I like Paris. I am jealous. She’s keeping a blog about her time there, and she’s a damn good writer, so y’all should read it — Ou est Le Grande Pamplemousse? The name translates as “Where is The Big Grapefruit?”, and I am proud to say that I provided it.

Nager, Rachael! Nager! Nager! Nager!

"out of sight, out of mind"

Lately I can’t shake this feeling that, to many of my friends and family in the States, I have left radar range/fallen off the map/flown out of orbit/died. Choose your metaphor. The first few months I was in Korea were full of emails and comments from friends and family, but as time went on the emails and comments (and hits to my website, even) began to dwindle. Now, more than ten months into my absence, the correspondence has all but ended — save for a much-appreciated group with whom I continue to correspond regularly. Thank you — you know who you are.

This is what they mean when they say “out of sight, out of mind.” And I understand, really I do — in some cases it could be argued that I am guilty of the same thing. This doesn’t make it any less frustrating when my attempts at personal contact from halfway around the world are seemingly ignored.

So I suppose this is another reason I am glad to be returning home for Christmas this year, so I can see all these people who didn’t have time to respond to the emails I sent from over here and kill them. Ho, ho, ho! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I am waiting to hear about a new teaching job I interviewed for late last week, a job that would be very helpful in providing me with lots of money. I think that I got it, but one never knows in South Korea. So, until the recruiter calls me and tells me my hours, I am stuck in relative limbo. Again I ask you to send me your prayers, good vibes, what have you… they worked well last time.

protest

Last Monday, as I walked out of one of my lessons on Yeouido (Yeoui Island), I was confronted by the sight of hundreds of soldiers standing in formation across the street. Living in Itaewon, near the American military base, I see groups of Korean soldiers patrolling the area around the base and near the subway station every day. I also have a class that is near the U.S. Embassy, which is also always guarded by groups of Korean soldiers. Outside my class on Monday wasn’t groups of soldiers, however, this was hundreds of soldiers… more than I’d ever seen in one place. So, I took some pictures:

soldiers-standing-there

soldiers-standing-there-II

I wandered around to see what what the reason was for all this security, and eventually — after making my way through group after group of soldiers — I came upon this protest:

under-banner

Lots of Koreans wearing strange hats and carrying banners, singing songs and drinking soju, staring at me like I was a giant hairless monkey with a horrible rash. Were they protesting me? It would be awfully egotistical of me to assume so. However, after wandering around the crowd and trying to read the signs for a good half-hour, I was unable to come up with any idea as to what they might actually be protesting. Probably something about the government, as the protest was located right down the street from the National Assembly (the green-domed building in the background of the photo above). Despite my obliviousness as to the matter, the protest was interesting to watch and to witness, and it was also very photogenic:

protestors-n-soldiers

front-of-people

thru-da-trees

On my walk back to the subway, I passed two drunk men gleefully kicking a squirming rat through the park like a soccer ball.