Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Small victories

I've been deep in the doldrums for some time now. I don't know if I'm sick of Korea, sick of teaching, or just sick of myself (...after all, I'm with myself almost constantly), but it's been a while since I've gone anyplace without trudging.

But sometimes little wins come along.

Hashing, particularly my home pack, Yongsan Kimchi H3, has been my social life, my exercise, and my outlet; I've been to nearly 300 runs, 230-plus of them at YK, in under 4 1/2 years. Even that has lost some of its luster, as my best friends in the hash have departed, one by one, and I've gone on with newbies. I was recently selected as GM (Grand Master [leader]) of YK for the year, which is nice, but it's mostly meant responsibility more than prestige.

This past weekend, I hared a trail at Maebong, right by the school and not far from home. Choopa Cabroan, one of the nicest and most popular human beings ever at the hash, had on-outed a few months ago, but he was back from California for the week and it was great to see him. My trail, over Maebongsan (Hountain) and Yangjaesan (Hountain) and along the Yangjaecheon (Stream) kept the pack together...


 ...and elicited plenty of praise, which is rare. It was the first gorgeous day of spring and we had a great, happy turnout. It was a golden day.

This evening, three days later, I headed out for dinner, which is always a boring routine, sitting alone night after night and eating one of four or five things I can find in the neighborhood that isn't full of dead animal; even kimchi, which is ubiquitous, is preserved in clam or fish juice, and mool naengmyeon (ice noodles), which I used to enjoy in blissful ignorance, turns out to be in meat broth.

Tonight, I realized I needed to get some of Tug's specialty dry cat food, so I begrudgingly went eight blocks to the pet shop outside the huge Lotte department store. Afterward, I strayed down to the Lotte basement and found a Korean-style restaurant. I read hangeul, but I don't know all that many words; however, I found one I do know: dubu (tofu). I knew just enough Korean to ask the waitress, "Dubu isseoyo?" (It's tofu?) and "Gogi eopseoyo?" (No meat?) and say, "Eegeo juseyo" (Bring me this, please) and ended up with what I can only describe as tofu tempura in sweet-and-sour sauce:


It wasn't the best dish I've ever had, but it was tasty, and I was so happy to expand my dining options by 20 percent or so that I didn't even get offended that she'd brought me a fork when she trusted everyone else in the place with chopsticks.

Things aren't magically great now, but a win's a win, and I'll take every one I can get. And maybe the tide's turning.

11 comments:

Daniel Burton said...

I understand how it fills when you win. Last week I've finished writing my geography essay and gave it to my professor, he gave me an A. That was my win, and I went to a pub with my friends and we have celebrated this remarkable win.

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