Monday, March 16, 2009

You prob'ly think this blog is about me

Okay. So. I'll try not to forget anything from the last four days. Hmm... let me see...

Oh yeah, did I tell you I got hit by a car?

Downtown traffic is bizarre. There's one long pedestrian mall, a fairly wide street (Rodeo Street, where Club That is) with sidewalks that everyone treats as suggestions, and a lot of little streets without sidewalks, where pedestrians coexist uneasily with cars. Walkers kind of casually sort of get out of the way of cars, when they feel like it, and cars ease through at five or six mph (that's eight or nine kph, for you more cosmopolitan, modern types).

A bunch of us from LIKE were walking down Rodeo Street on Friday, on our way to waffle euphoria (big, hot fresh waffle with vanilla and green tea ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, grapes, orange slice and tomato wedge [seriously]). Suddenly, what should I feel on my right calf but a car bumper! This guy had run into me at about 4 mph! (Okay, 6 kph, but stop asking for special treatment.) I whirled around, might possibly have loudly alluded to the title of Britney's new single If You Seek Amy, and stared at him. He looked blandly at me as if he and I had not just had a steel-to-denim encounter. I don't know if he did it on purpose to get me out of the way-- blowing your horn is rude, you know-- or didn't know he'd done it, or was too abashed to acknowledge me, or what. The older kids at school tell me they'd never heard of someone bumping someone like that on purpose, and I'm not sure that "abashed" is something that any Korean man has ever felt, so I'm guessing door number two, Monte. But I don't know. What I do know is, damn, you're not supposed to bump people with your car.

It was only later that I remembered Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark: "You can't do this to me! I'm an American!" But we just walked on; it would have been waffly dumb for me to have made a bigger scene.

After we finished our waffles and I finished (until now, anyway) my whining, I walked Joanna (Samduk LIKE) and Leo (newcomer to same) down to the YMCA at Banwoldang Junction, where they signed up for the entry level Korean course I'd just finished. Joanna has a linguistics degree, so I expect it will be about five minutes before her Korean is better than mine.

I'm just not getting it; on Saturday morning, Luke, Joelle, and I had our second session of the next level class and I'm lost two-thirds of the time and frustrated three-thirds of it. Part of it is flaw number 739 in my personality: I loathe feeling stupid in class, especially when everyone is called on to speak. I've been thinking seriously of just leaving the class; now I'm considering going in a half-hour early every week for the in-case-you-missed-class catchup session, but Joanna thinks I might better go to EJ (the director), tell her I'm not getting it, I paid my money, can't I take entry level again (with Joanna) and then go on to this level, with her, next time. Dunno.

After class, some of us went to lunch at that little Mexican place, then Joelle and I walked to the Bell Park to meet Ray from school, Joanna, and Justin from Writer's Group and trivia, whence we took a cab to the art exhibit at the Daegu Design Center. I'd discovered that there was a show of art, mostly etchings and engravings, by people such as Dali, Warhol, and Manet (rather eclectic bunch) at the Design Center, and sent out a bunch of emails, which resulted in the trip. I've never been into art, never really understood, or frankly cared, much about it, and I discovered two things: I still don't, and it's okay. I'm just artistically tone-deaf, so to speak. It was good to go-- I'm trying all kinds of things I haven't done before-- but I'm at peace with the knowledge that I don't get it. It's like trying to explain Facebook to my cats, or personal responsibility to George W. Bush.

I did my six-hour teaching stint on Sunday, and got the awful news from Heeduk that he wants me to do an extra eight hours of proofreading each week, dozens of academic essays by kids who've only been learning English for a few years; it's, if I remember my Inferno correctly, what they do in the third level of Hell, just below an eternity of paper cuts and just above eternal reruns of Howard Stern. That also means postponing taping my video lessons, which I was looking forward to. Later, at dusk, I went for an hour-long walk and talked to the first Westerners I've ever seen in my neighborhood, three middle-age, USAF, shaved-head guys. (Have you ever noticed that white guys who shave their heads look like roll-on deodorant?) I also refreshed my memory that it doesn't matter where you walk in Daegu, because it's exactly the same everywhere: convenience stores, tiny little restaurants with tanks of doomed sea monsters in front, signs for PC bangs and noraebangs (places where, respectively, teen boys gather to play endless hours of computer games and drunks sing karaoke in little private rooms). But it was a beautiful spring afternoovening.

And today, Monday, was a gorgeous spring day, sunny, high in the mid-60s/upper teens, depending on your scale of choice, God's or Celsius. I'd asked bunches of people if they wanted to go out to hike Palgongsan with me. Luke was in Seoul, Kristen and James in Busan, my non-LIKE friends working. But I went out with Joanna and we had a lovely time. For some reason, the bus and the mountain were not packed with septuagenarian Koreans, as they usually are, and we had a quiet, peaceful ascent, descent, and walk around Donghwasa Temple. By mutual agreement, neither of us (chatterboxes both) spoke for ten minutes on the way down, and it was lovely. I always feel an incredible sense of serenity at Donghwasa, and I laid out 5000 Won ($3.50) for a little wooden bead bracelet to remind me to keep a peaceful heart. Then we came back to town, ate pasta at Italy and Italy, and I came home and took a nap.

'Cause, you know, I always like to lie down for a bit after I'm hit by a car.

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