Friday, January 7, 2011

Happi New Year

Our vacation's over; my friends and coworkers who've fled to more clement climes haven't returned yet, as school doesn't start back for another 60 hours, but it's Friday night and all that's left is the same weekend we always have.

But for once I don't feel as if the break went by too fast or that it didn't hold anything of value. I'm untanned, rested, and ready; the vacation has done me a world of good.

It's been just too darn cold (temperatures in the single digits Fahrenheit in the mornings, with a nice breeze to keep everything good and brisk) for me to want to sight-see at the palaces or tombs, and the thought of the DMZ right now isn't very appealing. (I should point out, though, that the US Embassy's monthly mailing-- unlike last month's-- didn't say a word about contingency plans for bugging out.)
It's not the heat, it's the humidity.

But I've kept busy, with hashing and having dinners with Bob and beverages with LesBalls and prepping my new journalism class and doing weight work and treadmill runs at the gym and stopping in to tend Faina's cat and taking long walks, bundled like an Inuit ("I can't put my arms down!") and reading the amazing Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins and making visits for routine medical tests and trips to Itaewon to drop off my happi coat for embroidery and sewing and to pick it up.
Traditional apres-hash attire: the Japanese happi, a short kimono with one's hash name and patches, done up in the colors and logo of one's home kennel. Some of the hashers are emblazoned like NASCAR vehicles and have had to put extensions on their happis to hold all the patches.

Today, on my last nonworking "work" day, I made my way to St. Mary's Catholic Hospital next to the Express Bus Terminal. This is an astoundingly confusing subway station, actually three stations on three lines laid out like a giant block U. In addition to the largest terminal in Korea, there's the hospital, the giant Shinsigae department store, and a big upscale underground mall called Central City.

This is all confuzzling enough that, if one were to go out the wrong exit from the subway (:: koff ::), one might nearly lose one's nose to frostbite before reaching the hospital, hypothetically hypothermically. Though, on the brighter side, what better place than a hospital to reach while holding the tip of one's nose in one's coat pocket?

I've been going to see Dr. Choi at the hospital every three months for a renewal of my blood-pressure meds. This time she insisted I get an EKG, urine and blood tests, and chest x-ray first. I'd already had all but the EKG done last week at the clinic by Yangjae Station, and the EKG today was quick and easy. Once I got there.

First I went to the International Health office, as that's the only place in the hospital guaranteed to have staffers who speak English. Then I had to figure out whether their records spelled my name (in Korean characters) as Conemain Seuteeben Jone or Coremain Seuteeben Jone, wait for them to find me in the system, and then wait for a volunteer to conduct me to the correct office.

My volunteer was a very sweet Anglophone middle-aged lady who was positively the smallest person I have ever seen and, shockingly, possibly the first little person I've ever actually talked to. Hard to believe, but there it is. The top of her head literally came up to my elbow. We rode the escalators up to the third floor; I stood a couple of stairs below her so we could talk easily. I told her I was from New York, as I've found it much too tough to explain to Koreans where Ithaca is, and we chatted about her visits to the Metropolitan Museum and Soho. She was a very nice lady whom I liked a lot.

So now I have to go back in ten days for the actual prescription; meanwhile there's more prep to be done, hashes to run, tales to be spun, and maybe some fun. (Is "Happi New Year" a pun?)

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