Tuesday, May 21, 2013

back to the grind

Monday went by hellaciously fast, not least because I went to sleep and woke up so late. I ended up staying awake until around 9AM; my body was in one of those frustratingly interstitial states in which it wanted sleep, but couldn't achieve it.

I woke up around 4:15PM, and had barely enough time to mail off John McCrarey's apartment key (thanks, John) and drive out to National Airport to pick up my backpack. After three hours on the road, I came back to Appalachia and visited a Starbucks so I could use my laptop to update some YB-related files that have been synced with a communal Dropbox folder (my MacBook, for some reason, doesn't want to connect to the Internet at my apartment, even though it performed perfectly in Seoul).

Done with Starbucks, I skipped about 300 yards over to Mikado, another local Japanese restaurant. Unlike Yamafuji, the other Japanese place in town, Mikado doesn't appear to be run by Koreans, so I was hesitant about speaking Korean with the sushi dude behind the counter. His name tag said "John," and his face was one of those "crossover" types that made it impossible to tell whether he was Japanese or Korean (think that's easy? you try). The rolls were good, but also tiny and expensive. The chef did give some of us diners a complimentary roll—something fried and spicy, which tasted like a seafood-stuffed mushroom. Although Mikado's food was quite tasty, the atmosphere was a bit too quiet and serious (pretentious?) for my taste. Yamafuji feels more down-home and relaxed.

Having driven my car 90 minutes from Fredericksburg yesterday, then having driven it to and from National Airport (another 80-90 minutes each way) this afternoon, I needed gas, so I filled up my Fit's tank on the way home from dinner. I've spent the last little while sorting through my huge backpack, putting clothing and knickknacks away one by one. I'll be at YB again later today (Tuesday)—the first time I'll have seen my coworkers in six weeks. Tuesday's not normally a bad day for me; Wednesday is. That's usually my shit day. So I've got that to look forward to as well. Hooray.

It'll be good to get back into a regular routine, though, shittiness or not. While I was in Korea, I often marveled at how unscheduled my time was. Trips out to Yeosu and Ansan and Gyeongsan and Yongin came as a relief, since they provided my days with structure. Now I'm back, having received YB's emails about the need to engage in training for the summer intensive session. I imagine I'll be here for the intensive, though perhaps not for all of it if I do end up employed somewhere.

My apartment still feels a bit unfamiliar to me, after having been away for a month. My buddy Mike and his family used it once or twice while I was gone, sort of as a way station from which to take trips into Shenandoah National Park. Now that I'm back, I find that I'm shocked by how soft my bed is compared to the firm bed I'd been using in Seoul.

I'm also glad to have a stable supply of hot water again. Korean apartments usually have wall-mounted on/off thermostats that control water temperature; when they're off, the water's always cold. When they're on, you can dial the heat up or down to adjust the temperature of the water coming out of the residence's various faucets. This system isn't always reliable: sometimes you'll dial the water to be hot, and it'll be hot for only a few minutes before it suddenly turns cold for no apparent reason. (My apartment at Sookmyung University was an exception: there was no hot-water thermostat; as would happen in an American apartment or house, hot water simply rushed out from the faucet on command. The Sookmyung apartment did, however, have an ondol control—i.e., a thermostat to regulate the heated floor.)

Lastly, I've been reunited with my cell phone, which comes as something of a relief after having used a "dumbphone" for month. I can't tell you the number of times I had wanted to look up a map of Seoul, or to play a simple video game, or to continue reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock novels. Having my cell phone back feels like regaining sight after a period of blindness. Yeah, it's that bad.

So I face my first work day. I know I've promised you a write-up of my departure from Korea. I haven't forgotten that. Sit tight.


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