Sunday, October 28, 2007


I really hate Seoul.

I try not to, it seems so random to just take an entire city and lump it all together and make it into something loathsome. And yet, that is very much what I have done. I truly dislike the city of Seoul.

People love to go on about Seoul about traveling there, taking a weekend to head up for a break from life, hanging out in the city of cities in Korea. They are more then welcome to do so. Less people in Daegu generally means a better time for me. And I really really really dislike Seoul. I do not begrudge someone else their enjoyment of Seoul, but I can’t stand the place.

And yet occasionally I have to brave the KTX to head towards the dreaded city to do things I’ve promised to do. This weekend I was booked for two different events at the International Shindig for Teachers who Teach English and had to hightail my ass to Seoul. Fine. I swallowed my pride, book overpriced KTX tickets and went for it. Ah Seoul.

Perhaps Friday was not helped by the fact that when I woke up I was in so much pain that life did not seem worth living. I finally ended up after an hour of debate calling in sick to work. The teachers understood more then a little. Apparently shingles is not terribly uncommon here, which is not surprising given the high amounts of stress. Take a day and take your time is what I was told. I went back to bed and managed to sleep for another three hours. I could do very little else on Friday. I could not get myself together or motivate myself to work at all.

I know that I’ve used the word malaise before, but I don’t think I truly and completely understood exactly what that meant until reflecting on my last three weeks. Malaise hardly begins to make it real. I was talking to Mono about it, trying to describe what this malaise meant to me. “It’s like dementors, isn’t it?” That stopped me. That is exactly what it was like. Like something sitting and sucking out all the happy feelings you have ever had, boiling your life down to an absence of things. That is exactly what it was like. It was in full swing on Friday and had it not been for S- I probably would not have had the motivation to move out of the apartment and towards the eventual train.

Among the things I could not motivate myself to do there was making a hotel reservation. No problem, I thought, I’ll just call on the train. And call I did. But all the rooms were booked up. No problem, I thought, I’ll just ask at the station when I get to Seoul. And I did, and they pointed my to Myeon-dong (which is sort of a downtownish area of Seoul). Okay, I called a friend who lives in Seoul and he said, Sin-cheon (a different downtownish area) and I said okay. What I wanted to was cheap but clean room for a the night. A game of rock paper scissors decided that Myeon-dong would be tried first.

Upon arrival I hit the street with S- in tow. We walk to the first hotel. Nothing, everything was booked. To the second. Nothing, everything was booked. To the third, and the fourth, and the fifth, until finally it became all too much. The shingles, the stress, the lack of desire, the impossibility of it all. I froze, and I snapped and had a nice unpleasant psychotic break with reality. Finally I was left sitting outside and stewing because I simply could not get up enough will to care about where I would sleep.

S- dragged me to a car and put me in and requested Sin-cheon. Upon arrival the first available yagwon was found and flopping occurred. Bags were strewn about, my rage was swallowed and I tried desperately to sleep. And for the first time in a while, on a rock hard bed, in a mosquito filled room that was unpleasant and cramped, I slept.

And when I woke up the next morning I was downright peppy. It was more than that though. I was happy. I was happy to be alive. I looked at the ridiculousness of my night before and laughed at how foolish it all seemed. I looked at the silly little room and could think only of the pleasant things about it. I took a shower and felt good. I took all the pills I am taking and felt great. I did my presentations and felt like a rock star.

Life was good, life was grand.

On Sunday I was able to motivate myself to write like I had not been able to do for months. I was one. I was in, I knew what I was doing. Everything was going to be okay. It felt better.

I still feel better today. Still sore, still very very sore. I want to go to the gym tonight but I have a feeling that is still a bad idea. I’m going to give my body another week to kick this infection and then head back in. But that doesn’t matter now. None of that matters anymore because I feel rather free. I feel released from a melancholy choke hold. I can breathe again. That makes anything work bearing, even indolence for a few more days.


kodeureum said...

I was in Seoul last week to visit my daughter and stayed at a friend's place near Hoegi subway station Thursday night. I usually sleep in a cheap hotel in Insadong so I can wake up at 5:00 am and catch dawn walking along the uncovered stream near there. It reminds me a bit of mornings spent coming down off acid in back in TO.

I met another friend for dinner at Chamsil station near Lotte World. All that superflous wealth and we couldn't get a decent meal or dessert. I'll stick to Kyungdae Bukmun or downtown Daegu for fine dining from now on.

Saradevil said...

It is hard to beat some of the places in downtown Daegu for a truly fine meal.

I was very happy to get back to a real city.