The most important factor, of course, has been the threat of war. (Unh! What is it good for?) The saber-rattling from both sides is enough to make even a cool character such as I (::koff::), in the words of Jeff Bridges as Starman, "little bit jumpy". If the US Embassy ever tells us to bug out, I'm going to pack up the still from the Swamp, velcro Tug to my coat and call him a fur collar, hop on the chopper, and look for "GOODBYE" spelled out on the ground with stones. But as I've said before, I really don't think there's much chance of a conflagration. Still...
The feeling of surreality deepened on Sunday: I'd been on three hash runs with the Yongsan Kimchi group; this time I went to a joint hash.
Anyway, the Southside Harriers were having their hash along with Yongsan, and I decided to join in, if only to decide which group I was more suited to.
Well, it was c-c-cold; the hashers run all year 'round. The run started inside the fish market, a warehouse a hundred yards long and twenty yards wide, filled with vendors selling every single thing on earth, as long as it a) came from the ocean and b) was dead. I saw (and smelled!) fish, squid, octopus, clams, crabs, and, I think, Aquaman.
After amusing the Koreans by running through the market, we ran and ran and ran with very few checkpoints where I might catch up with the pack. It was then that I realized that I didn't have my keys, wallet, transit card, or phone with me, so if I lost the trail I'd have to walk eight miles home in the frigid air and sit in my hallway because I couldn't get into my apartment.
...aaaand then we had to scale a six-foot fence by the river, which I can't. But did. ...aaaand then we had to climb the rusty iron rungs set into a frickin' frackin'forty-foot cement wall. I kept thinking, what happens if one of the people above me sneezes and lets go? And how very odd it would be if missiles started hitting as I was two-thirds of the way up. I may have muttered a rude word or two; I know that seems farfetched, but...
...aaaand then we had to climb another six-foot fence and run the bridge across the river. The trail led us, at one point, through a fringed cloth hanging and down Hooker Alley, which is lined with little glass rooms like display cases where, apparently, ladies of negoitable affection often sit and wait for nice young men to talk to. I half-expected little cards saying "4.49 per pound" in each area On this Sunday morning, one middle-aged lady of dubious charms was in one of the spots, but the rest were vacant. (Did I mention my sense of unreality lately?) I'm trying to be light and amusing here, but the whole thing made me feel very sad and a little dirty. (And me without my wallet...)
And the trail went on and on and on for miles, past the US Army base to the VFW. I didn't stay for the Thanksgiving buffet (I'd had a feast on Saturday with the Seoul Flyers). I did make up my mind that I'm going to run with the Yongsan hashers, not the Southsiders; Mr. Blister and UFO and Bootylicious and the Yongsan people are crazy, but they're not frickin' nuts.
(Two more runs and I get my hash name! I hope Kim Jong Il doesn't do anything till after that!)
To add to the oddity, winter has fallen like a lead Steinway and I rejoined the gym and went in to run today at 6:30 in the a. of m... meanwhile keeping one eye and one ear toward our Northern neighbors and waiting for my "normal" life to resume.