Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Pat's and expats

We've just begun our week-long spring break. Huzzah! I actually kicked my break off a little early by helping chaperone a history-class trip to the National Museum on Friday afternoon. I'd been there once before, and felt the way I often do at museums: awed and engrossed until, say, the hundredth clay pot, then eager for the coffee shop. Unfortunately, I got assigned the group of kids whose docent was lecturing in Korean. But it was cool, especially this 14th-century crown-and-belt set. I'm gonna try to get one to wear in class.

 "Respect mah authoriteh!"

Yesterday, Saturday, was a more full than a Triple-Stuft Oreo. It was St. Pat's Day in Korea (well, everywhere, really), and the weather was gorgeous-- 60 Fahrenheit and sunny. I attended my 73rd Yongsan Kimchi hash in the 17 months since I started, and it was great, five miles of running through back alleys and neighborhood streets

The run was at Sindorim Station, in a very ritzy area of town I'd never been in before. After the run and the circle, a bunch of us walked a short way to the amphitheater just outside the brand-new subterranean D-Cube mall. It seemed that every expat in Korea was there, and a bunch of locals too, for the annual St. Pat's Festival.

 A bunch of hashers and a bunch of normals. 
I'm in the picture, if you want to play Where's Wald O'.

There were green shirts and green balloons and green stew. (Okay, the stew was not green--there wasn't anything green in it, just shades of brown--so I couldn't eat it.) There may have been some beer on the premises. There was Roveresque and Clannadesque music. There was an MC MCing in Gaelic-accented English and Gaelic-accented Korean. There was a lot of step-dancing-- and I have to say Korean women doing Riverdance are quite attractive. I took a video with my phone, but Windows doesn't support the file type, so sadly you'll have to settle for a still. That's a shame... the little girl in green was twirling and high-stepping and having the best time of anybody in East Asia. I'm surprised she's not moving in this still picture, like a Harry Potter photo.

You could give me Red Bull through an IV tube while jolting me with a thousand volts and I would never feel as joyous and present as the little green girl. But it was still one of those moments, like the hountain hike I wrote about recently, that just felt alive. It was just good to be there, basking in the energy and the... well, aliveness. I don't know a better word. I don't live out "Be Here Now" often enough, but I Was There Then.

And then it was time for the Seoul Hash House Harriers. That's the oldest hash in Korea, and the only one in the area I'd never attended. It's male-only, and I don't like excluding people. Also, between the physical toll of hashing twice in a day and not wanting to take up a whole day when I have school prep and grading to do, it just never seemed wise.

But twice a year they allow women at their hash, and this was one of those days. And, with the whole week off, I couldn't plead lack of time, even to myself. And it started and ended at the same spot as the morning's YK hash. So off we went, boys and girls together, me and Mamie O'Rourke, though this time I walked with a bunch of others.

It was getting chillier, and after four miles or so, the six of us who were still together decided  to taxi back to the start. We flagged down a cab, and the driver insisted we all get in, even though it's a hard-and-fast rule in Seoul that cabs only carry up to four passengers.

I've never attended clown college, but now I've taken Clown Car 101. In your standard-issue Hyundai, there were two women in the front seat, and two other guys-- two other big guys, each six-foot-two vertically and two-foot-six horizontally, a woman, and little me, squished like a Nerf ball against the door. When I finally got out, I made a vague wheezing accordion noise, like Wile E. after he's fallen off a cliff.

But then it was time for the Seoul Hash circle, which goes on forever, with each hasher expected to take a turn telling a joke or singing a song. We even had three women from Tokyo, in for the weekend to run the Seoul Marathon this morning. For all I've posted about being so much older than the other hashers, that isn't true at Seoul H3; there were several around my age, including one friendly American who's been living here for 34 years. I'd thought I was a veteran waegook with three and a half.

At the SH3 circle. This is my favorite recent photo of me, though it certainly shows my age.
As Indy said, "It ain't the years, honey, it's the mileage."

Finally I limped home, 11 hours to the minute from when I left. This morning, my calves were taut and tight and it took awhile to hobble to the coffeemaker, but it was worth it.

It was a good day. O'Really.

No comments: