Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dust in the mind

(...all we are is dust in the mind...)

Spring sprung, for real and we hope for good, promptly on April 1. The high temps each day have been near 60 (in the mid-60s today) and it's been generally sunny. It would seem to be, at last, the lovely spring I've been longing for.

But it's Yellow Dust season! Once again, the air is thick with sand and grit blowing from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. This happens every spring. Some days the newspapers have suggested that people stay indoors, and keep their windows closed, as much as possible.

I'm not particularly susceptible to bad air; I haven't gotten sick or tired from it, but it weighs me down emotionally. It's just dismal to have yellow air and invisible mountains that I know are only a half-mile away. My hair feels gritty and my eyelids heavy.

Aside from that, we're back at school. I don't feel cheated by the length of our now-done spring break. I didn't do a lot of what I'd planned; Bob and I didn't want to get up at 6 to get to the USO to go on their DMZ bus trip, and I decided that I didn't want to take five hours out of every Wednesday to go all the way to the City Hall area and take the Culture Center's Korean-language classes (although our school's dean, Ryan, tells me there are also free classes a lot closer...)

I hared (help lay the trail) for my hash group on Saturday. It did not go well. As Forrest Gump said, "That's all I have to say about that."

Probably the best thing that happened on break was making good friends with Vanessa, as I mentioned in my last post.

(That and my new cell phone; I am, after all a Guy, and to a Guy the thought that People are more important than Toys is Crazy Talk.)

I mentioned to Vanessa that I'll miss Lauren when she leaves in June, especially on Sunday mornings when we are wont to go for coffee; Vanessa said simply, "I drink coffee." Of course, people aren't fungible; you can't just plug one in for another. But I have gotten to really like Vanessa, and as much as I will miss Lauren, a new coffee friend isn't a bad thing to have.
This is she.

One of the biggest benefits to living abroad is coming to realize that your home country really isn't the center of the universe. Particularly in the U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! we get used to believing that we're it, as if other people's (and peoples') perspectives don't really count. ("If English is good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for you!")

As I've said, it's been really good to have friends who are Kiwis, Aussies, Scots, South Africans, Ugandans, Koreans... but in particular I've never known a Chinese person before. We (or I) have had an image of the Chinese as a gajillion-strong mass of interchangeable people; I'm a little ashamed of that now.

I wouldn't have thought that Vanessa and I would have anything to talk about; she's literally half my age, loves shopping for clothes and shoes and adores Sex in the City and Michael Jackson. But we do just fine. She taught herself Korean and English and is casting about for another language to learn on her own; she's thinking German or Spanish, but I told her she's getting lazy, taking up a language whose alphabet she already knows. I suggested Russian, Greek, or Arabic.

So, life, as it tends to, goes on. Our long-planned-for accreditation visit is next week and it will be a big load off when that's done. I'm looking forward to settling back into my normal everyday life in Seoul.

When the dust settles.

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