Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Flushing with possibility

I'm having a torrid love affair in Korea. Yes, I am. I'm not ashamed to tell you that I ended a love affair with a beautiful man and have commenced upon a new tet-a-tet.

It is certainly a new experience, this love affair. It is with the plumbing here. Ahhh, you may not know about the wonderful toilets here. Yes, you read that right - the toilets. Whether it is intermission at a concert, a break between meetings or stooping by an office building's facilities, there is always the opportunity for a little love in the afternoon!

How is it possible to be in the midst of such scandal? If only you had access to what is de riguer here. yes, yes there are squatters and the common western thrones, but on occasion, when you are very lucky and the planets are aligned just so, you find yourself in a top of the line stall that promises you expulsion bliss.

On the sides are two rows of buttons. One row warms the seat - ahhhh lovely, happy winter bum! The other row has choices of spray or stream, angled just so, heaven! Turn up the temperature, or down if you dare, and soon Hitachi will be out of business.

When you've ended your sordid exploits in the loo and have lit up a fag, there is always the blow dry option.

Yes, my darlings, even the toilets are risque in Korea.

*pic is off the internet... couldn't seem to upload mine!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's a long life...

... and there are many of them.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Beca's 40th birthday! Woo Hoo!!!! And she's having a big party! Woo Hoo!!! Many of my friends are flying into Washington D.C. for her party! Woo Hoo! Flights from here cost $1,600. Woo. Hoo. *sigh*

People ask if it's hard to be far from people. Of course it is, but it is the price I pay for the work I do, for the life I live. In moments like this, though, it is beyond hard. It is lonely. I want to be there, hug them, dance with them, be silly with them. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY can flirt like my friends and I when we get together - sometimes innocent batting of the eyelashes, a deep in the throat growl, actual gawking, seductive looks, flipping of the hair, we do it all! Sometimes we don't do a thing, and the cleavage, tight skirts, big hair and scent of sexy woman is enticing enough. Vaa Vaa Vaa Voom!

But none of that for me for Beca's fortieth. $1,600 was more than I could commit for a party, and the time change would have thrown me. Let's not even talk about trying to ask for the time off. It just wasn't gonna happen.

*Cue the music.* Here she comes to save the day!!! Alana! My hero! She is Wonder Woman (complete with bustier, flippy dark hair, and invisible plane). Ok the plane is actually Skype. From Florida to DC she took her computer with her, carrying it to the restaurant, and making sure the webcam worked, and she was Lt. Uhura on the Star Ship Birthday Palooza!

We toasted Beca's birthday, them with evening adult beverages, me with a tiny bottle of champagne I picked up just for this event. I met new people that I've only heard of, blew kisses to old friends, and laughed half a world away from the physical party. Wonder Alana Woman trudged from here to there, her camera distorting images until she landed on someone and shared the scene with me.

Laughter turned to tears as I told her in a private moment how much it meant to me to be included. Without Alana, I would have been left out of my girlfriend's birthday party. I can't tell you how it touched me to be a part of it. It is good to belong. Much love to Alana, my Wonder Woman.



Sunday, May 9, 2010

Good Sunday Morning to you

See that beautiful woman in the picture? That's me. Best picture I've ever taken in my life. I guaran-dang-tee you that is NOT how I look in the morning. Not at all. No. Uhn uh. Not even close. Can I have an amen?


Morning, Sunday. 0700 I agreed to help my dear friend Ramon with the selling of his stuff as he prepares for the next chapter in his travelog. We've known each other for years and in two countries, neither of which is our own. I'm not really looking forward to his leaving, but a promise is a promise, and at the end of the day, I want to make his leaving as easy as possible for him. Even so, you might say I'm dragging my ass a bit. It's Sunday morning for goodness' sake! *sigh*

Living in a goshiwon is a lot like living in a dorm... with a bunch of people who don't speak my language and who have strange food habits (to me) and who are quiet and then screechingly loud at unnervingly odd intervals. There is Mrs. Bossy, who thinks that yelling at me in Korean will make me understand her, Divorced Mrs. Kim who believes George Bush was a great president... because he's a Christian. All righty then. And the manager who is always trying to get me to drink soju or makolay with him. He was drunk once and thought it would be a good idea to tickle me and then to corner me so he could pour his soul out to me. I hate being around drunk people. Imagine what it's like around drunk people who don't speak your language. Patience, young Skywalker, patience.

Sunday morning. Right. So I'm taking my draggy butt to the bathroom, necessitating leaving my room and going down the hall when I run into Miss Oddball. Now y'all know that if *I* think she's odd, we're talking serious strange. A bit of background on Miss Oddball. I have tried in my friendly way to say hello (in Korean and English), offered her half of my lunch - she's emaciated poor dear, and just generally tried to be pleasant without words. She always walks away, head down, shaking her hand at me. Yeah, she's odd. She showers in the morning. No, that's not the odd part. The odd part is she showers with the door open, hunkered down, with all her clothes on, and instead of using the shower, she pours water into a bowl, then pouring it over her hair and such proceeds to clean herself in front of G*d and everybody. Odd.

Generally speaking, I wouldn't care about this odd behavior (maybe she's claustrophobic?), but she uses the one ladies' shower that actually is a shower. The other stall's shower feature doesn't work. So in essence she and her clothed bird bath take up both the women's showers, and woo, we get a bird's eye view. *I don't watch, I wait in my room... and usually shower at night to avoid her. I prefer that anyway, but there is the odd morning when I wake up all sweaty (see how I slid in that word "odd" with a different meaning? Heh. I'm clever).

So Miss Oddball sees me Sunday morning (you thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?), and actually laughs at me in my pajamas. My pajamas are brown with pink polka dots, spaghetti straps. Shirt and pants. Very respectable. Ok, so a lot of decolletage shows, but unless I wear a turtleneck, that is par for the course. So there she is, Miss Bird Bath Oddball, laughing at me. Don't do that when I've just gotten up, had no coffee, and gotta pee like a race horse.

I believe my response to her snortaciousness was as follows: Yeah, right. Like you got room to talk, sister. You shower with your clothes on. Pfffffffffffft.

Thank goodness she doesn't speak English.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Piano that was Grand

Walking through the main building of campus, one sees the President's Office, the Mail Room, Academic something or other all brought together by a cold hallway, the floor a series of laminated squares exacly the same. Step. Step. Step. It's institutional in its very monotony. However, there's a coffee shop and small store, bright rooms, soft lounge couches, and in the sterile lobby a grand piano, covered with a purple cloth, saving it from dust and debris that blows in with the hourly rush of students hurrying from one building to another. The rumor is that the Vice President likes music. I learned that indeed it is true when he caught me singing while I walked down the hallway. A small world - he has a son studying at The University of Pennsylvania Law School and another one who is at Berkely. Small world, indeed.

The second floor of this building has a loft type half wall that looks down onto the lobby, and it is on this floor that the faculty lounge is located. The computers are slow, the coffee is burned, but it has one truly redeeming factor - it is the warmest place in the building thanks to a kerosene heater that spits out heat (and odor) to keep our stiff fingers supple.

After midterm week, I found myself alone in the lounge listing grades. I followed the university prescribed formula, shaking the rusty equations from the back of my mind, contemplating mean, median, and mode. My university statistics lessons were taunting me. Soon, I was immersed in the numbers and putting grades to names when a sound wafted into my conciousness, shaking my concentration, and I realized it was someone playing the piano.

This is not some common occurrence. And this is not Chopsticks. I don't know what the piece was, but I snuck out and peered over the wall to see a student, t-shirt and faded jeans unselfconciously playing something haunting and gentle. I stood mesmerized that this young man, and indeed he was young, could play a tune that pulled at the very heartstrings of an old cynic like me. He played until he finished, his fingers lingering for just a moment on the keys. I held my breath hoping he would begin a new tune, but he had other plans. Picking up his cell phone, reading a text message, he left, just another student in t-shirt and faded jeans having warmed our building with not just music but with a sense of wonder.


*photo is from the internet. (I gotta buy a camera.)