Saturday, September 11, 2004

today is errand day

I didn't go to Kyungju. The rain arrived on schedule. God unzipped his cosmic fly and pissed on my first free weekend in a month. Fuck. So today was errand day. I paid an overdue cell phone bill and bought some much needed toilet paper (wiping one's ass with dried corncobs is so 1700s colonial America). I thought about getting a haircut but decided to save it for tomorrow. Am debating whether I'll hit temple tomorrow, and am still thinking of bagging on the relatives this coming Chusok. I'd love to get the fuck out of Seoul, but Chusok is a bad, bad time to travel, even to temples outside of Seoul: buses and trains have been booked way in advance.

Since I'm stuck here, maybe I should invent a sport. How about "poultry skiing"? I'll strap some live chickens to my feet, stand at the top of a hill, then run downhill, full tilt. If the chickens know what's good for them, they'll run too, otherwise they'll be bloody McNuggets by the time we reach bottom. Who cares if the Koreans stare? They stare at me as it is. Whether I've got chickens strapped to my feet or not, their thoughts will be the same: "Goddamn foreigners. We'll never figure 'em out."

I got paid on Friday. Fuckin' finally. My pay amounts to a little over 2 million won. Here's where it's going:

W300,000 goes to my Adjoshi. Back rent. True for the next few months.
W110,000 already went to two kind co-workers who helped me out. Thanks, R & F.
W40,000 went to my late phone bill.
Another W30,000 will be due on the 26th of this month. Phone bill.
About W60,000 will go to transportation.
W250,000 goes to my buddy Jang-woong to pay for my (currently unused) DSL service through to the end of the contract (ending January).
A hefty W900,000 will go home to the US to pay debts; a small part of that amount is for the Western Union sending fee. A wire transfer directly to my US account, instead of using Western Union (and my little brother, who helps out with such things), would be only slightly cheaper-- and might not even be possible at my current bank.

That's W1,690,000 won, already spoken for, leaving me about W310,000 to eat and pay for PC-bahng patronage. In the end, that means I have almost zero discretionary income for the next twelve months, because every month will carry about the same financial obligations. In fact, the picture worsens: starting in November, I have to send close to $1200/month home as my Sallie Mae debt finally kicks in. Sallie Mae. That bitch.

Maybe it's better that I didn't go to Kyungju. But I have to worry about how I'm going to save up for a plane ticket home at the end of my contract. Hmmm.

When I looked at my itemized pay slip, I noted with some amusement that I'd earned W50,000 for the four hours I worked on one of my Saturdays. On that same pay slip, I was charged a mysterious gwal-li-bi (management fee) that amounted to W40,000. I effectively earned W10,000 for my Saturday. Woo-hoo! That's a whopping W2,500 per hour, or about $2 per hour.

I find myself missing Interlaken, Switzerland again. Wouldn't mind sticking my head into Giessbach Falls to wash my brain clean. I even miss the tiny, round Schwarzsee (also called Lac Noir, or Black Lake), not far from where I lived in Bourguillon, just a short bus ride away from Fribourg. Great place to sit and watch the water's surface boil as the raindrops smack it in droves. You can hike its perimeter in less than an hour. I could stand some quiet. Seoul is too much buzz.

Am re-reading a book called Comparative Religious Ethics: A Narrative Approach by Darrell Fasching and Dell Dechant. I'd forgotten that one of the main theses of this book is that urbanization was the catalyst for the Axial Age: it was the crowd that forced humanity to confront itself. The book isn't clear on whether urbanization caused the existential crisis that led to our collective posing of existential questions, or whether urbanization simply drove those questions out of our subsconscious and into our consciousness. Maybe that's not answerable. All I know is that, without another source of income, I'm fucked. Heh.


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