Tomatoes are fruit, remember?

Do you know what I love more than anything? Bar food in Korea. 'Cause when I'm drunk, what I really want is a complimentary fruit plate drizzled with a tangy mayonnaise concoction (and sometimes peanut butter!) OR an insanely hot plate and an egg. I mean it's free and all, so yeah, I eat it, but really? The sugar in the fruit plate just makes the hangover worse. And that hot plate? Please. It's just a recipe for disaster. But watching the egg fry at my table is fun.

Morning calm

Korea is kicking my ass. For the third Sunday in a row I have arrived home, via cab, at dawn. It is becoming a habit, one I promise myself not to repeat come Monday, but which *magically* turns into a stupendous idea when I realize I've missed the subway. And furthermore, I find it oddly annoying that the subway closes at midnight, a time when my night is oftentimes just beginning.

And I fell down the stairs. Again. No smashed grill this time, just minor scrapes and bruises all OVER my shins. I will not be wearing heels again...


Can 43 million Koreans be wrong?

*Disclaimer: I think Koreans are smart. You can draw your own conclusions.

Well it's summer here in Korea and the number of fan deaths ought to be reaching epidemic proportions REALLY soon.  
Oh, you've never heard of fan death?  Hmm, perhaps that's because you do not live in Korea. Or maybe it's because you are not Korean and fan death only strikes those fatally individualistic Koreans. OR, perhaps it's because you are not krazy.

This belief is so ridiculous and absurd I can't even get it up to make fun, so yeah, Koreans believe in "fan death."  Apparently when Koreans (yes, only Koreans) fall asleep in a sealed room with the fan on, said fan chops up the oxygen particles, creating less oxygen for the Korean to breathe.  Or maybe the fan just creates a vortex.  Who knows?  Fans manufactured and sold here even come with a timer, lest you fall asleep and fan death strikes.  It's so prevalent, wikipedia has dedicated an entire page to educating the masses.

I'm just gonna go ahead and lump "fan death" with tongue cutting and yummy dog meat.  Decide for yourself.


Today was a good day.

New teeth and a Korean bowl cut, all in one day. Very productive if I do say so myself!


Crazy American Beef

So I've been contemplating the beef issue again, something I haven't done in a while.  Being in Korea, however, I find it hard to escape.  President Lee Myung Bak's decision to re-open American beef imports -- hasn't been done since 2003 -- has caused an uproar among Koreans and they've been taking to the streets of Seoul by the thousands.  Everyday I have students who make comments about the "crazy American cows" and the "crazy beef" from America.  Usually I agree with them (I try VERY hard not to eat American beef unless it finds its way into my mom's AMAZING spaghetti), but today I found myself getting defensive. Really?

I only bring this up because I'm usually the first to preach to anyone who will listen that there's sh*t in their beef.  Add to that the insane amounts of antibiotics, hormones and the occasional bone fragment and you've got yerself a bona fide reason to go meat free!  I know, this makes for appetizing BBQ conversation, but it's something I've been passionate about for awhile.  So why the defensive attitude with my student today??

I don't know, but I think it has something to do with the fact that I find myself in a country where public trash cans are practically nonexistent, the uses of toilet paper and soap in public restrooms are luxuries and the street food vendors regularly take my money THEN prepare my food all while wearing their "sanitary" gloves.  And they want to complain about "unsafe"beef?  I know, as an American I'm used to things being super clean and sanitary, but I do find it a weird paradox that the Korean people can be so concerned about the sanitation of their beef when that concern is rarely extended to anything else.  

And I can't help but think there's more than a little propaganda involved here.

And now I can't think of a proper way to wrap up all my thoughts, so I'll go with the old "5 paragraph format conclusion," so:

In conclusion, I have conflicted feelings concerning American beef imports.  I'm annoyed with the Korean propaganda and their apparent aversion to sanitation, excluding beef.  However, I can't be bothered to put that sh*t in MY mouth, so a part of me understands their point of view.  Ta Da!!


One more reason to stay abroad...

Woe is the American consumer who finds himself driving the proverbial "gas guzzling SUV" from the 'burbs five days a week, for the price of a barrel has hit ANOTHER all time high.  Sick.  At those prices even my beloved Hyundai ceases to be thoroughly economical.  Luckily I live in the land of amazing, efficient and CLEAN public transportation.  MY weekly transpo costs run about 10,000 won.  That's around ten bucks, suckas!

Oh, and apparently I can't be bothered to type transportation one more time...


This is why Flickr is amazing.

I stumbled upon this guy's photostream this afternoon while it poured buckets and buckets. I suppose I could have been reading or making some vague attempt to learn Korean, but art is more interesting, right? 

Anyway, this man lives in Japan and he shoots the most amazing photos of freeway interchanges. He manages to make concrete and steel look breathtaking and magical and otherworldly, while simultaneously making my silly Korean photostream look, well, SAD. Oh well, I'll settle for sad as long as he keeps making badass art.


Baby one more time

They're called Jewelry and they dance like flight attendants. Enjoy!


On a lighter note...

I don't blame the Koreans for not wanting American beef.  There's sh*t in that thar beef. Truly. Check it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_Food_Nation

Judgy McJudgerson

If it were at all possible to be open-minded AND judgemental at the same time, I believe I will have mastered that fine (and possibly unattainable) art by the time I leave Korea. Everyday I am confronted with the mundane and the insane and sometimes my only response is to chuckle. Okay, sometimes I laugh out loud too.

See, I have a student named Kitty. Right off I want so desperately to tell her that her name only suits porn stars, but I refrain. She's smart, funny, cute and everyday day she says "I'm genius". I want to die laughing. I've tried telling her that the correct phrase MIGHT ACTUALLY BE "I'm A genius", but it hasn't quite sunk in. And so I chuckle.

And the walking. You know when yer on the sidewalk, having a leisurely stroll, and you look up to find someone walking toward you? This person may or may not be blocking yer path, but instinctively and inevitably you move to the correct side of the path to let them pass, right? Yeah, not here. Walking in Korea is a lesson in bobbing and weaving and dodging and dancing. No one is watching where they're going and the tricky part is that, even though Korean vehicle traffic defers to the right, Korean foot traffic defers to the left. Confusion and mayhem ensue. And I chuckle.

I even chuckle when Korean women try to talk to me. (Well not to their faces, of course.) This has happened more than once -- a Korean woman tries to strike up a conversation with me and I politely try to convey that I do not, in fact, speak a lick of Korean. They are undeterred, however. They keep speaking as if I might eventually get it. As if the sound of their voices will cause the heavens to open up and impart in me the knowledge of Korean. This has yet to happen. And so I chuckle.

Tonight, however, I laughed out loud. I was walking home, enjoying the light rain and trying to figure out if the woman with the umbrella was going to go left or right -- she went both -- when I saw a man come running up behind her. This man was the essence of Korea, I swear it. Keep in mind it's 9PM. And it's been raining buckets. Dude comes sprinting past in running shorts and shoes, he's talking on his cell phone and he's carrying an OPEN umbrella. And you know he can't see out from under the giant umbrella because it's, like, 10 feet wide. Immediately I start planning my next move. Which way will he go? Can he even see me? Does it matter? Unpredictability. Love it.

Don't get me wrong. I love Korea and am truly enjoying my experiences here, but sometimes life is so different and weird and strange and somehow INEFFICIENT that I can only laugh. And my laughing is in no way a result of my American superiority. Nope, got that sealed up with the beef imports, ya know?! Nope, it's just an idiosyncratic response to my Krazy Korean life.