Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Days of swine neurosis

...wasn't Jack Lemmon in that movie?

Anyway, this is my 200th blog post... where's my cake?

It's dinnertime Tuesday and we were supposed to be back at work at 1 today, with parent conferences tonight and classes resuming tomorrow after our short swinish break, but I just got email saying that we'll be closed all week, which will certainly muck up our vacation schedule. The last numbers I heard indicated that five of our students (out of a total enrollment of 80) have been confirmed with H1N1, as has the principal. Me? I feel fine. Too lazy to go to the effort of contracting the virus, I guess.

Speaking of health, last Monday I finally reupped my bp meds. In Daegu, I had a little clinic/hospital just a few blocks from my apartment with a friendly, English-proficient doctor. Here, I did a fair amount of research and finally got an appointment at the nearest hospital that promised English competence, St. Mary's Hospital, which is linked to the Catholic University of Korea, in the Gangnam area.

I got off work at 4 and theoretically had to be there by 4:15, which necessitated a hectic search for a taxi, an eight-buck, frustrating cab ride in rush-hour traffic, and an intimidating search through the massive hospital itself, where I only found one person besides the doctor who spoke English. The signs were all in Korean, and I can read the letters just dandy, but unless they spell a word that's basically English (such as the little Hershey's foil packet by my elbow, with Hangul letters reading "kee-sae-seu" but which sadly now has only empty wrappers and little discarded paper flags left to offer), it doesn't help much. Trying to follow the directions of a lot of staffers pointing in general directions across a huge lobby with lots of branching corridors is more frustrating than you might think.

My doctor was surprisingly young (I think I may have been her first patient ever) and, judging from the top half of her face, cute. However, the mask covering the bottom half of her face was quite ordinary. She was quite accommodating and, once I returned to that receptionist to point me to the machine to feed my ticket into to get my prescription to take across the street to the yakguk (pharmacy), it all worked well. Then I looked at my phrasebook and said "Where is the subway?" only to have the pharmacist point down. It turns out the hospital is right on top of a subway stop, just three stops away from our nearest one. So I'll schedule my next appointment, in three months, when I don't have to get there in a rush and ride in relaxed subterranean comfort.

The next night, the PTA had the faculty out to dinner. The family of one of our students owns a galbi (short ribs) restaurant a half-hour south of the city. The property is an amazing mix of lovely park and ticky-tack; the grandfather showed us a tree he planted fifty years ago, there were big pools full of koi the size of your forearm, and there were lotsa nekkid women statues. Apparently it's a big place for weddings. I didn't want to make a fuss or stand out in front of the PTA, so I decided to just eat the multitude of veggie side dishes. Unfortunately, Zach (half of the most awesome department at any prep school in Asia) tried to be nice and told them I'm veg; I tried to tell them don't bother, I'm fine, but they brought me a lovely "vegetarian" plate... tuna. With a side of oysters. Oy.

More successful gustatory endeavors... I found a place called Butterfinger Pancakes in Gangnam, and on Sunday Lauren and I had brunch there. Oh, lordy, lordy... a Village Inn garden skillet, if God were the short order cook! Pancakes with three choices of butter (reg'lar, honey-, and I Can't Believe It's Not) and syrup, a massive omelet subsuming a pound of roast veggies, and a Matterhorn of roasted hash browns redolant of rosemary and delight. And lots of coffee. And last night, I joined Lauren, Susan and Chris from work at a little Mexican restaurant in Gangnam. Dos Tacos is down a wide alley from the main street, hard to find, but worth the trip; I'm pretty sick of the two Korean dishes I know I can order, and a delicious veggie burrito, hot, fresh fries, and a lime margarita... muy, muy bueno, ajosshi! It's a bit of a trip to Gangnam, but my culinary horizons just got a lot wider. As did I.

I have no clue what to do with the next five days. I may chase down to Daegu one day to visit Emma (returning to New Zealand shortly) and Joanna (Alaska, ditto). I think Daegu will always have a bit of a pall for me because I lost Tiki, but I want to see both of them again, and see Heeduk to negotiate terms for me to tutor in January... if these autumn days off for H1N1 don't completely eat up our winter break like me engulfing pancakes.

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