Saturday, October 31, 2009

A hazy shade of winter

...okay, it's not really winter. It's only the morning of October 31, and soon, back home, the kiddies will be going house-to-house, filling their bags with Reese's Pieces and some odd radioactive stuff rather hopelessly euphemistically called Circus Peanuts. (Do kids still go door to door? Seems like all you ever hear about anymore is "safe" trickrtreatin' in malls, "harvest festivals" at churches, and twenty-somethings [preferably female] swigging tequila in Naughty Nurse outfits. Ironically, the whole "harvest festival" thing that fundie churches go for is totally utterly completely ultimately pagan in origin, and their "Satanic" Hallowe'en-- yeah, I spelled it the way I was taught to spell it in 1960-- is, being the eve of All Saints' Day, in that sense Christian.)

But I digress.

It feels like winter. It's uncharacteristically warm today, 62 degrees at 9:30 in the morning as it preps for heavy rain most of the day, but the little trees just outside my apartment have, overnight, shed all their lovely red leaves. They think it's January. The air, which remarkably has been quite clean since I've been here, in the last week has been filled with fog or smog or something ending in "og". (Frog? Gog? Magog? Egg nog? ) It's windy and gray a lot of the time. And the locals, who by my standards tend to bundle up way too much, are bundled up way too much. I just came back from my morning run and a young Korean guy was out running in a baseball jacket. Buttoned to the neck.

My birthday (my eighth, exactly, in dog years) came and went on Monday and I felt pretty flat. I got lots of birthday wishes on Facebook and a couple of e-cards (thank you all!) and some of my friends at school went out with me for dinner, but it didn't feel very birthdayesque. The big days-- birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas-- are the hardest days to be on the other side of the marble; we're teaching on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, but even if we weren't, it's tough.

On my birthday, the dinner was over early, as they tend to be when you eat at 4:30. I took the bus to Yangjae and walked to Kyobo Books in Gangnam. Walking back, elbowing my way through thousands of Koreans shopping, going out to dinner, or trudging home after a day's work at LG or Hyundai, I felt so alien, so totally out of place, with nobody who looked like me or sounded like me-- hardly anyone my age, for that matter-- in a way I've only felt once before in fourteen months in-country. 

Thursday was more birthdayish for me; Vanessa, one of our other teachers, had her birthday, and her boyfriend sent over a wonderful cake, which she shared. And my Bestie sent a very nice present (for me, not for Vanessa), She (Bestie, not Vanessa) also sent a very thoughtful email saying that I look so much better in photos here than I did in pictures taken in the States, that Korea has obviously been good for me.

And it has; I'm doing pretty darn well. But there are times when early winter comes from inside. I weigh an astounding 199, the most I ever have, and don't seem to get up the energy to do anything much. And a niggling thought keeps sneaking in (or out): my dad had his first stroke when he was seven years older than I am, I have a couple of congenitally narrowed blood vessels in my brain (I guess I'm narrowminded after all), I have rather high blood pressure, and I don't want to one day be alone in my apartment in Korea and stroke out, having somebody find me a day later.

I know that's asking for trouble and certainly self-pitying, especially when I have people I care about with real and serious health problems. Sorry.

So... this post has been a lot of SJC, and not in an attractive light, and not much ROK. Read it fast; I might just decide to delete it. But I feel better for having written it.

And I'll post later about the good stuff at school.

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