Sunday, January 14, 2007


It is already more then a little into November. Life in Korea has been mostly quiet this month. The weather is getting cooler, the leaves are changing colors, the dog is growing hair again. Life is mostly good.

Oh, right, dog, yes, well see at the end of the summer I noticed Tino the Manchurian micro-wolf was dragging an awful lot of sand into my apartment when he would return from a romp in the garden. So in my infinite wisdom, or lack thereof, I thought perhaps a haircut for the shaggy dog was in order. Now not being a dog groomer by trade, really, I took him for a walk downtown to meet some very friendly, cute, helpful Korean girls who cut dog hair for a living. I picked the micro-monster up and explained to the girls what I wanted in Korea and English and even with some writing on a pad. I figured everything would be fine and went to dinner, being told that the dog would be ready to go home in about three hours.

Dinner that night turned out be rather combative and lacking in food. The place to eat was picked by another teacher and it turned out that the night of our arrival was the only night they didn't serve food. "They have great beer." We were told several times. The small gaggle of foreigners gathered amounted to roughly seven with the old timers outnumbering the new timers five to two. I ended up having coffee and mostly being annoyed and worrying about my dog.

During the dinner I also ended up in rather a heated exchange with the sort of semi-host of the evening who when asked about Korea proceeded to begin explaining all that is Korea with the statement "Well, basically Korea is a hole." I got fairly huffy about this as having lived here for almost five years and planning on the possibility (baring explosion) of living here for four to five more I found the flat statement a bit repugnant. I was also annoyed that this was being told straight out to two people who had only most recently arrived in Korea.

It reminded me of when I first got in country. I knew absolutely nothing about anything. The people I had to hang out with were also newcomers. We trusted our boss, rarely met other foreigners, and did a lot of exploring with Mr. Kim. In the end I probably didn't meet anyone who spoke English outside my school until about sixteen months after arriving. On reflection I think this actually allowed me to appreciate Korea more before getting sucked into the never ending vortex of expats who will go on endlessly to bad mouth the country that is providing not only a roof but a paycheck. I saw these two newbies, only freshly off the plane, and felt that it really was my duty to stand up and say something to the contrary. Goodness knows the longer they are in Korea the more negative claptrap they will hear, so at least one positive review before they get too sucked into it.

In the meantime my dog was being mugged. And by mugged I mean groomed. And by groomed I meant they took away all his pretty hair and left me with a poor bald puppy in a Donald Duck jumper. When I went to pick him up I could only recognize him by the way he still insisted on eating his leash while walking. If it had not been for that I might have thought I'd been given the wrong dog. I was not amused and was in fact a little worried about his health what with winter coming in and him sleeping on the unheated porch. Fortunately he has thickened up his coat now that I am not longer worried about it. Plus if he gets cold there is always the little yellow jumper. A dog bed is also being acquired that is more like a dog house which should be more then adequate for the winter.

At the moment Tino spends a great deal of time traveling back and forth between Daegu and Miryang where Sam lives. Miryang, is in a word, simply beautiful. I spent the week out in the country over the long holiday my first extended stay at Sam's castle in the sky. We will call it that as Sam lives on the twelfth floor of the men's dormitory, overlooking nothing but exquisite mountains and some farms down in the valley. The city is no where to be seen and the stars are beautiful at night.

Sam has made out in the housing department this year with a three bedroom place that contains a bath, two showers (sort of) a gigantic sun porch that overlooks the mountain that has been half converted into a kitchen, and a nice spacious living room. So far the only downsides seem to be the lack of anything decent on t.v. including news stations, and the fact that it is in the dorm. Since moving in the place has been arranged so one room is a library, one an office, one a bedroom, and the sun porch again has been split off. This was necessary because the apartment did not have a kitchen but with some very interesting gerrymandering on Sam's part a kitchen has basically been established. The view is exquisite.

Aside from being nestled in the mountains where the air is most certainly clearer then the city air of Daegu, it also comes with the sounds of country which are usually barking dogs, mooing cows, roosters crowing at two am (sunrise my fanny) and wind that shakes the barely. I have learned from this experience that a mooing cow sounds exactly like a cell phone set on vibrate. This was only disturbing for me as the sound of my vibrating phone is my alarm clock so it does sort of put one off to hear the phone going off at three in the morning only to realize it is a cow. Odd to say the least.

Other then getting settled in for winter not much else has really been happening. Tino's fur grows and grows, work continues to be work like, and it's getting colder. I know this because every morning my girls come into class shivering near to death, bringing with them blankets, ear warmers, leg warmers, scarves, parkas, and occasionally school supplies. The first ten minutes of class is usually spent with them shivering in Korean complaining about the cold and me telling them in English it's winter and the heater is on 30 and to get over it. Other then that there is not really all that much to relate.

I'm looking forward to my thirtieth birthday on the 27th, preparing for a presentation next weekend, and generally keeping busy where busy can be. I plan to hit the art studio in a few days and do some painting to celebrate something, but I'm not sure what.

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