Tuesday, October 28, 2008

... I look like a monkey, and I smell like one, too.

Ninety percent of my birthday on Sunday was really frustrating, mostly due to me. But I confirmed something important... I just don't get really down anymore. For many reasons, I guess, my downs are better than most of my ups used to be. And the day turned out well, anyway, so hurray for me.

Heeduk's away for three weeks doing mandatory military service, and he asked me to cover one Sunday morning class for him each week. So I did. On the walk back, I stopped at E-Mart for a few groceries, wandered into the CD department, and found a two-disk compilation for 7000 Won. (These days, that's about five bucks.) The labeling was all in Korean, except for the song list: Desperado by the Eagles, Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton, Yesterday by the Beatles... thirty songs in all, half of them favorites of mine. So Happy B to me! Visions of a loaded iPod dancing in my head (wait... that's from a Christmas poem...), I hurried home with my find, stuck it in the computer... these are not the original artists; they're imitators.

I got a birthday call from the New World and talked to my best friend for awhile.

I knew I was supposed to meet Ray at 6 p.m. for dinner, but I couldn't quite remember what the rendezvous point was. I tried to call him, but he was out for the day with his church activities. I had a vague memory that he'd said to meet him by the Beomeo subway station, but that didn't make sense... must have been from earlier in the week, when we'd planned a walk to a lake... must be at the dorm... I think... maybe... yeah, that's the ticket.

I'm not embarrassed that I couldn't remember where to meet him; I'm the spaciness champ, a regular ADDeity. But I am embarrassed that I know that and hadn't written down the location, or remembered to double-check with him on Saturday.

Armed with a pretty good map, I headed out, via 20-minute walk, long subway ride, and 15-minute walk uphill, to find the entrance to Apsan Park, at the base of one of the mountains on the southern edge of the city. I wanted to check out the Korean War museum and then take a nice mountain hike. Got there; no entrance, no signs, no hint, nothing but a green mountain completely blocking the view to the south. Walked along the sidewalk two hundred yards to the west: library, no park. Went back four hundred yards to the east: enormous stone staircase, like the Lincoln Memorial's, but longer and steeper; at the top, a surreally vacant plaza with an oddly shaped memorial tower of some kind, with no entrance, no signs, no pictures, no park entrance.

We now return you to complete sentences, already in progress.

I walked back down to the subway station, took the train downtown, lost 1000 Won in a coin locker setup that turned out to be indeciperable, walked to Kyobo Books, and sat down at their Starbucks for awhile for 3000 Won's worth of bitter coffee. Then I headed over to the dorm, went up to the third floor to Ray's apartment (6:00), but it was just me and my shadow. I jogged a block to the nearest subway stop and took the train to Beomeo (6:15), just in case he was there, but there wasn't even a shadow. Took the subway back to the dorm (6:30), in case he'd just been late getting home: nope.

So I walked a half-mile, took the bus home, and Skyped him the moment I walked in the door (7:00). He picked up right away; we were supposed to meet in front of the DongA department store, and he'd waited till 6:30. Fortunately, Ray is easygoing and forgiving, so I was at the apartment for five minutes and headed back out to the bus and reversed the route.

We wandered around the neon-lit, thronged downtown and ended up at Pizza Hut, which is pretty pricey here: 17,000 Won for a smallish garlic pizza that was so thin it only had one side. Had a good time, though, and a glass of sangria helped. Then we walked over to the incredible waffle place with the incredible waffles and had one o' them big hot incredible waffles with scoops of vanilla and green tea ice cream, chocolate sauce, banana, kiwi, melon, grapes, and a tomato wedge. Wow.

We hung out awhile longer, Ray bought some winter boots, and I came home.

I got another call from my friend, which ended the day very nicely. Mostly I didn't want to be alone all day, and I wasn't. So it all worked out, but maybe most important of all, when I dragged my exhausted carcass up my stairs, after everything had gone wrong and I'd missed Ray and would spend the evening in the apartment... I was okay with that. And that was my best present of all.

(And the next morning I got the world's funniest e-card from my grandboys in California, where it was still my birthday.)

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