So I went to my neighborhood today to pick up a winter coat I’d put on hold. If I don’t dawdle and head straight there from school, I can make it there by 5:30 pm. Not too bad, and I beat rush hour too, so there’s actually room on the subway.
My last coat looks funeral chic and has 3/4 length sleeves and looks stupid with my hoodie under it, which is necessary to stay warm. Not a good time to be purchasing a coat, but too late I’d already put money down on it. The perfect not too dressy/not too casual camel colored coat was, I realized, not practical. So I took it back and exchanged it for an army jacket (I know how you love those, Willie) because a) a hoodie looks fine under it, and b)it had a lining that could be removed and c) it was the uniform of my generation. So hoodie + coat + lining might just see me through February and March.
The shop keeper spoke English with a French accent and let some French words slip out on occasion. So naturally I figured he was an adoptee, but I was wrong. Shoulda asked how he came to have perfect French, but I think he was done with me, begging to exchange an item I’d kept off his floor for over a week.
I did the math and I’m going to lose a lot of weight unintentionally this month, but fortunately I can eat at school twice a day if I stay late. I also bought more lentils. Let me just say that I LOVE lentils. So cheap, so yummy, so easy to prepare, and even easier on the plumbing. All the lentils, fallafel, hummous, and curry a person could ever want in Itaewon, so a person can eat cheap. And tacos, gyros, fou fou, borscht phad thai and steak…And cheese! so you can eat cosmopolitan and/or expensive if you want to. And you can buy DEODORANT at almost every market! So I was buying my lentils at an international market, and there was the middle-eastern shop keeper placing an order with a wholesaler on the phone in perfect Korean. HEY! How come he can speak so well and I can’t even ask for the most basic things? Answer: because he’s not white or an English teacher, nobody hijacks all his conversations into English practice, that’s why.
Itaewon really is a an interesting place before it turns into Sodom and Gamorrah in the wee hours of the night. So I can enjoy the multi-cultural atmosphere, have access to the international grocery stores and restaurants, and then retreat two blocks away from it into my totally Korean neighborhood, shut the door, and never have to be bothered by the sights and sounds of the lowest common denominators consuming, imbibing, expelling, and mingling. Humans and their basic instincts can seem so endearing at times, and then – then you have the denizens of Itaewon at night. This is not like Henry Miller in Paris. Even he would be bored with the obvious and unimaginative social lubricating and connecting going on there. I sound like a prude, but that’s not it at all. It’s just not interesting. For example, a gay scene without drag queens…Nothing in the way of entertainment, either. And the sex shops look like tool sheds. Military town..
As a side note, I saw a condom ad to prevent AIDS on t.v last night. Which was quite a surprise, since despite the fetish shoes and hot pants worn by girls here, it’s still a very conservative and puritanical place…and I heard that the sex education was presented in a mechanical way, out of context with the student’s lives and having nothing to do with the kinds of choices they must make.
On the way home, after sending my remittance to myself and my bills at the E-marte ATM, I grabbed about five boxes to pack with. Like Costco, they have used boxes provided as a courtesy for customers to pack their purchases in. But unlike Costco, they haven’t had their tops cut off. So I figure I can stop in every other day and grab a handful. Also unlike Costco, they provide tape, ribbon, and scissors…
There’s only books and clothes and office/art supplies to pack, so it shouldn’t be too hard. My easiest move yet. I’ve got no pots, pans, dishes, bedding, or furniture. Around the corner from my new place are several second hand appliance and furniture places, though Jane is convinced I should buy new. Well, having any at all might not even be an option for awhile, but it’s nice to know just two blocks away is everything I need. This really is a great location: EVERYTHING I need is a block away – only it’s not in some corporate mega box store. It’s a real neighborhood without a traditional market, so that means the market is everywhere, in little storefronts or on the sidewalk, which is pretty interesting in itself. And a lot of the restaurants are super tiny. I’m going to feel good supporting them. And if I absolutely must get a latte and a fat bomb, Itaewon is less than ten minutes walk away.
At school, those few who know me have been awesome in offering to help me move and coordinating amongst themselves with their time and arranging to meet me. So Seven Star and Nine Stones are going to come over on the 5th with their cars. It’s so nice of them! So different from the states, where everyone shrinks at the thought and tries to be busy that day and prays to God that you don’t ask them for help. So unsolicited help from co-workers and Korean war baby was really amazing.
Please, God, tell Koreans that people not white can speak English too and help me find a job.