So here we are, flashbacking/flashing back to a generally unhappy period of my life again. Why? Perspective is a funny thing. I’m way more miserable lately, but at least my Korean prediament was alleviated by the promise of something exciting to live for at the end of it. It’s weird, but putting together these little collections, even when they’re not exactly uplifting, is distracting from the occasionally bleak present I occupy right now. Enough of that — there’s enough misery in this post, but it’s not mine, and just maybe it’s leavened here and there by glimpses of something else in the eyes of my charismatic assemblage of subjects. I did a Korean Flashback — which is my way of breaking from the regular seaside-wandering stuff I’m sharing of late, while mining some of the thousands of un-shared shots and stories from my two years in that country — a little while back about cats, and it’s easily the most-viewed, most commented-upon post I’ve ever done. That post, Where the Kitties Get No Pity, was featured on Freshly …
Hey, all. Hope you had a good TTHOD-25 (Thing-That-Happens-on-December-25). Mine was abysmal, even worse than last year’s; the highlight was going back to bed in the early afternoon. But I was too caffeinated to sleep soundly, so even that pleasure was short-lived. There was no option but to drink (German) beer, but I did manage to pack a few boxes while the euphoria lasted — why wait till Boxing Day? Let’s move on to happier things. Christmas just brings everybody down.
“What do you like?” This guy I was doing an English camp with, right before I left for America in August, hit me with a tough one. I wasn’t exactly Mr Positive at that point; I’ll spare you the details ’cause you’ve heard ’em all before. Fortunately he had plenty of positive to go around. “What do you mean — music?” “No, I mean about Korea. What do you like about Korea?” He had a Korean wife and was a little defensive, even though they were themselves on the verge of escaping to America and new lives far from any middle school English classroom. Without hesitation, I answered: “The insects. And the flowers.”
Hey, all. I’m tapping this up in my favourite local cafe, after a Monday that began less than ideally with a student collapsing, distraught, onto the floor after I pretended to award his (evidently much-cherished) Rubik’s Cube as a prize to another student. My humour does not always settle comfortably into the Korean classroom.
The first nickname I gave it was Mount (-ing) Devastation, applied after a dispiriting walk to its base last year. It’s the most impressive bump on the spectacularly bumpy perimeter of the rice-paddy country nudging up to Daecheong Creek and the dirty streets of Jangyu. My gaze repeatedly strays to its stern pyramidal eminence as I limp home from Hell Skool on Thursdays and Fridays. Looking at it always cheers me up.
..a queasy, disorienting feeling came over me. Something was missing. I stood there on the roadside, checked for wallet, sunglasses, lens cap, glasses: all present. I clicked on the camera, reviewed the last shots from my Sineo-San walk, trying to spark a memory, saw this one of the cherry-bordered mountain road I’d just descended…
[Folks, this post, published earlier this month, recently disappeared from my site. Like, utterly — it’s not even in my WordPress trash folder. How is this possible? Thanks to Kate, my diligent blog monitor and number-one fan, for alerting me — I had no idea! Don’t understand how this could happen but am CERTAIN it wasn’t me. Anyway I’ve recovered it from Google Cache and backdated it to the original date. Apologies if I can’t get the original comments back as well…let’s see…] * * * * * The wreckage looked like shredded pieces of paper. The plane’s broken tail and nose came to rest near the top of the mountain, where a lack of access roads slowed rescuers’ efforts to reach the scene of the disaster… The plane hit one side of the mountain and then plowed toward the peak, catching fire and cutting a trail of fallen trees 100 yards long and 30 yards wide ~ CBS News, April 15, 2002
I’ve been doing private lessons with three nice people — they use the names Sally, Rachael and Victor — on weekends for a few weeks now. Their English is excellent and though we start with an article from the Economist (their choice!) we inevitably veer off into a chat before too long. Last weekend I mentioned my recent frolics among the spring blooms and Sally said that a high school in downtown Gimhae was famed for its meihua — the Chinese plum/Japanese apricot trees I described in the last post — display, and that a festival of sorts was held there each Spring. And thus my Saturday afternoon plans were set.
It sure been a hard, hard winter My feet been draggin’ ‘cross the ground And I hope it’s gonna be a long, hot summer And a lotta love will be burnin’ bright… ~ Rolling Stones, ‘Winter’ Happy Vernal Equinox, everyone! Well, everyone in the Northern Hemisphere; Merry Autumnal Equinox to the rest of you. Depending on your position on this half of our beautiful blue blob, in this neglected corner of the galaxy, at some point on March 21 day and night achieve a much-coveted equilibrium and we can officially kiss the Winter Blues goodbye.
A brief interruption to my New York Saga to share an episode of very-Korean weirdness I enjoyed this afternoon, Day 2 of my Four Hikes in Four Days Challenge. It’s a four-day weekend, you see, for Seollal, the Korean New Year, a break I desperately needed as I had aged approximately 17 years in my first week back in the killing fields of the Korean middle school. I thought having a pleasant goal to motivate me would make another year of teaching more tolerable. Instead I’ve entered the school grounds each morning like a condemned man stepping onto the scaffold. I needed a good walk or four to remember what living was all about…
Hey, folks. Long time, no see. My American sojourn — that was my fifth but easily the best — is over and I’m back in southeastern Korea, still slightly jet-lagged, taking naps throughout each day, and dreading my return to school tomorrow. I’m not exactly depressed but a lot of the colour has been drained from my life.
It was minus 7 C this morning as I scurried, face half-paralysed with cold, towards coffee and life itself, prior to heading to N1 for the second-last time this year. An easy day, three classes, and I explicitly stated that there would be no learning whatsoever, which relaxed everyone immensely.
Hey, all. Some exciting goings-on have been keeping me occupied of late — more on that soon.
Well, I didn’t see that coming. After that little taste of Winter up on Bulmo-San last weekend, I’d assumed I wouldn’t be seeing any more snow locally until I climbed some more peaks later in the season. Last Winter here in the balmy south (late January or February) the hills nearby got just one light dusting and a few lonesome flakes kissed the school playground one day before a quick death and a return to sweet nothingness.
It was like a scene from a Hollywood nightmare. I enter the school grounds yesterday, cursing, kicking things, some of which might have been students (Monday morning pre-caffeine fuzziness), and come face to face with…myself.
Last week I walked home from Hell Skool the long way, away from the cars and greasy chopsticks of the main drag and “inland”, via the quiet paddies and the bank of the trickling Daecheongcheon. Hadn’t done it in a month or so — it was dusk this time, with the days shrinking, and the air crisp and wintery.
Well, here I am back in last weekend again — with a new one just around the corner. Sunday rocked as well, just some low-key, low-impact, low-input rocking on and around one of my neighbourhood mountains. Lots of colour again — hope you like the shots.
Let those I-don’t-care days begin I’m tired of holdin’ my stomach in No more slinky Vogue dolls for me I’ll take Sears & Roebuck dolls gladly Cause my autumn’s done come My autumn’s done come… ~ Lee Hazlewood I have one more Seorak-San post to go, but I thought I’d do something a little more contemporary today, something we EFL teachers are always trying to get our students to do: talk about my weekend.
G’day, friends. Let me tell you about my day. I was in such a good mood today, I almost felt like I’d been possessed by really-quite-nice spirits. If you want to know the secret, I’ll spell it out for you: first, get paid for a week of doing nothing. Oh, you have to turn up, but you get to sit in your chair for four hours without any human contact whatsoever. Second, you can go home at lunchtime — or better, you can go climb a mountain and burn off all the fat that just accumulated around your buttocks over those gruelling four hours.
A popular legend describes the governor in charge of [Dongnae] fortress, Song Sang-hyeon. When Konishi Yukinaga [leader of 7,000 Japanese invaders] again demanded before the battle that the Koreans allow the Japanese to travel through the peninsula, the governor was said to have replied, “It is easy for me to die, but difficult to let you pass.”