Jane took me out for dinner Thursday night and we had a seafood feast. I mean, it was enough to feed four little girls, much less two, and it just kept coming and coming and coming. Some very yummy items and then there came all the sashimi’s. One of which was supposedly the penis-shaped thing I filmed, which I couldn’t bring myself to try. And one of which was live octopus, which I did try. Jane chose a piece without suckers and put it on my plate, and we poked it and poked it until its nerves decided it didn’t want to move – much – and then I dipped it in soy sauce and oil as instructed, so that it slides down your throat without grabbing on, followed by a shot of soju, also per instruction, to wash it down. So basically, you don’t really chew or taste the thing and it’s more for the thrill factor. A long time later we poked the mass of chopped up tentacles, and it seemed to move even more than before: raw nerves tend to be that way, I guess…
So I was taking the taxi from Gangnam to Dongdaemmon last Friday, and noticed the taxi driver looking at me too much. “Are you looking for a good time?” he asked. “No!!!! I laughed/replied nervously. How I wish I could say yes. How I wish I weren’t so sensible or thrifty. He asked me some questions in pretty good English, and I tried to explain that I was adopted, which I’d never attempted before. Then I tried to explain in Korean. “ibyungin imnida.” God, I must have butchered it because I had to say it about half a dozen times with different intonations. Finally, he got it, and then excitedly started explaining what all the buildings were and all about Seoul as if I’d just arrived from the airport.
Last night I went downstairs for a drink and a smoke and sat down at the plastic chairs and tables which you find outside at most all convenience stores during nice weather. Next to me was a gaggle of foreign English teachers, half of whom I’d met previously. None of whom recognized me. I just sat there, drinking my makoli and smoking my cigarette, and I heard one of the girls ask one of the guys, “What’s that she’s drinking?”
“Makoli” I answered. “You want to try some?”
“Whoa! She understood what I said!” The girl exclaimed to the others.
“Yeah. I’m a foreigner like yourself. In fact, I’ve met you all before and see you a lot, but you never remember me.”
So they invited me to their table and a couple recalled meeting me. We had a nice time and talked about Korea’s poor understanding of democracy and post-dictatorial politics (since two of the guys were married to Korean girls) and also about fashion and how Dongdaemmon’s fabric market was every designer’s wet dream. We talk about things to do in Pyeongchon, and I complain that there are mostly only bars with nothing interesting going on at them, and the Korean girl Hana tells me there are over 400 bars at this station alone…Anyway, it was a nice time. But I bet they won’t recognize me next time we’re in the halls together…
Today, after going to the bank to pay my utilities
there is no check-writing here. Everyone pays from bank to bank account via their ATM’s or on-line. I attempted to open on-line checking, which required getting a special card and I.D. number from my bank, but I somehow failed due to the really really convoluted on-line open account process. In the meantime, I have forgotten my pin number, which is mostly because I had to try a dozen before one was acceptable and so it was a number I rarely use and now can’t recall or remember where and if I wrote it down somewhere – what a dork I am
which I have to go directly to the bank to pay, since the apartment’s bank and my bank don’t have a bill paying agreement. Afterward, I decided to stop and eat my lunch out.
I went to a restaurant that looked as if I could eat solo in, and there saw a seafood salad of sorts on the wall and pointed to it. The waitress tried to tell me something about the salad and I explained that I was adopted and I couldn’t speak Korean, and it didn’t matter because she could only speak Korean. She never outright said “anniyo” you can’t have that salad or we won’t make that salad or anything – instead she lectured me about salads. Saying, “hot” a lot and sucking in her breath like Koreans do, and then pointing me towards some kimchee chiggae instead. I pointed to the salad, and she lectured me some more about it being hot – don’t know if she meant the weather or the spiciness of the salad, or the soup, or what. But then she was done with me and gave me a business card and marched me outside and pointed down the street. I think she was trying to tell me they wouldn’t serve something cold like that on such a hot day, and that I should go somewhere else where they didn’t give a shit about my health.
But I didn’t want hot soup on a hot day. I continued to walk down the street and hit another restaurant that looked like it might serve a single person. I pointed to something that looked good on the menu, but of course that was only for multiple people, and I couldn’t tell what was in the other dishes. So I asked the waitor/owner what was best and ordered what he suggested. Of course, it ended up being boiling hot soup on a hot day…Afterwards, I was tired and ordered some ku-pi, which is how Koreans spell coffee. He had no clue what I was talking about. Finally, he said, “oh! You mean COFFEE! And then he went to his coffee dispensing machine and brought me a cup. At the cash register, I could see he didn’t charge me for the coffee, just to be nice.
Went to my Korean lesson, but we ended up talking about the trashy talk English and European cruisers say and how to respond to that. I really didn’t care about not learning prepositions – it was fun to help her out: girl to girl.
It’s kind of nice to be out and about Seoul right now. Summer fashion is more relaxed, and, despite everyone’s best efforts, the faces are not so white and people look tan and healthy, and if you’re into legs, there are miles and miles of long beautiful legs here. The girls wear such short skirts that they hold their purses under their butts while walking up stairs. It’s been nice to not be in school and I am free to have my shoulders uncovered. In Anyang, I feel like a slut doing this, but in Seoul I am one of many.
All this time I’ve been fretting about the expense of having my comforter cleaned and the impossibility of it fitting into the tiny washing machine at my place. Today I noticed it had a duvet cover. Sometimes, sometimes this missing the obvious shit gets so old…