Monday, July 21, 2008

And then I remember

I live most of the time in South Korea and don't come home that often during the summer. Usually my breaks coincide with winter. Winter in the Midwest can be hellish, but I tend to enjoy it. Usually I have a good time, freeze my balls off, cut glass with my nipples, drink to stay warm, eat burritos like they are going out of style and then hope a plane back to Korea. Good times.

Occasionally however I have the time or inclination to come to the Midwest during the summer months. It is during this time that I am reminded why I do not like coming to the Midwest during the summer. In short, I'm allergic to it.

I'm allergic to the following:

Pine Trees
Anything green
things that grow
things that grow above ground
prom queens
things with more than two legs
almost all of nature
country music

I could go on, but it is probably easier to just say: I am allergic to America.

Having landed in America in that unfortunate time of year that is summer I am doing my damnedest to battle through it. I've gone to a pharmacy which here also doubles as a warehouse outlet where you can buy everything but drugs and acquired some Claritin. I've been taking two Claritin 24 a day. For the congestion and intense sinus headache I have some Afrin. For the painful splits in my lips from the constant sneezing, I have Carmex. And for the headache from all the drugs I have some Tylenol.

I am, at this point, a walking pharmacy.

It's a joy to be home in the Middle America. Fortunately I will leave this soon for the city proper where all I have to worry about is booze and cigarette smoke which, surprisingly, is better for me. If all goes well and I don't die I'll see sweet home Chicago in two days. I look forward to the lack of living things and the rise of the sweet tall buildings and free flowing anarchy.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I see your point.

Conversations over American food:

Me: Yellow and Green. You like green.

Him: Green is a vegetable.

Me: I'm not really sure that a green icing chocolate cupcake counts as a vegetable.

Him: Of course it is, it's green.

Me: Green does not make it a vegetable.

Him: Read the ingredients.

Me: Among other things it does, surprisingly, contain beta carotene.

Him: See, it is too a vegetable.

Me: No, it's not.

Him: Yes it is, it has beta carotene. And you know what that means.

Me: No?

Him: If I eat enough of them it will help with my ability to see in the dark.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

You think you know hot...

You have no idea. Not until you have lived in Daegu. I'm not going to complain about the heat. There is no complaining. It is 8:30 in the morning and I've already taken off all my clothes and turned the fan on in the hopes that I'll stop sweating. Since it is failing to work I will soon turn on the air conditioner. In the summer I try to hold out on the air till after the gym.

Oh yes, apperently I'm completely insane. Not even the Koreans who usually go to the gym are going in this weather, but I've been there every day for the past two weeks. Granted I have to drink a freaking lot of water and since the gym does not have air conditioning I feel like I want to die if I get there past 10, but I usually manage it alright.

I was talking to the Rastafarian who lives in Daegu.

"So what do you think of the heat, Ms. Florida?" I ask.

"It's like the Devil opened the gates of hell and decided to air that place out over Daegu."

"Yeah, only worse."

Today it will get up to 33 but feel closer to 37 (that 103 for you Americans) with 90, let me repeat 90, percent humidity. It's monsoon season. So now we have all the humid but little of the rain. It might break into thunderstorms this afternoon but that will only make the humidity hit 100 percent.

If you leave your apartment and walk to the end of your block right now you will have sweat running off of places you didn't think could drip sweat. It's that hot.

I'm off to the gym.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I got Spuds McKenzie, Alex from Strolls

The Jogger comes over to my place and takes the dogs out for a walk. When she gets back she asks to stay for a bit and I'm happy to entertain her. So we talk about my place and I realize she's never seen it so I give her the short tour.

"Where's your T.V.?"


I turn the T.V. on and it lights up and projects itself against the blank wall. A great space saving device. She's impressed and I'm amused as CSI is just coming on.

"Do you like CSI?" I ask.

"Who doesn't?"

So we sit down, I make some cheese and crackers and we enjoy our big screen murder mystery show. At one point on the show I swear one of the actors looks familiar.

"Is that Tone Loc?"


"He was a rapper, back when rap was still cool and fresh."

She stares at me.

"You know, he had a few hit songs."

"Never heard of him."

I feel like saying Funky Cold Medina but I'm also positive she would just look at me like I had lost my mind and started speaking in tongues. Granted the song was a huge hit back in 1989 when I was all of thirteen and before I was allowed to watch MTV. It played on the radio stations that I listened to on my 1976 transistor Sister with the dcell batteries plugged into it. I'd take the eight pound monster with me and go down by the bridge, hoist myself up under the train tracks and climb through the rusty iron bars until I reached the base of the track support overlooking the river. A good thirty food drop off the other side down to the rock crag below. I'd read by book, listen to music, and eat lunch if I'd packed anything. 13 was an okay year for escaping.

She never heard of Tone Loc. It's not like I was a big fan either, I just remember the younger more innocent time when rap wasn't offensive, it was just funny. I said to her...

"He was kinda popular around the time MC Hammer and Digital Underground."

She watched the T.V. show.

I grabbed a handful of crackers and stopped talking. And started to feel David Caruso old.

Childhood Classics

Funky Cold Medina

Humpty Dance

U Can't Touch This

Granted, even then, I did not understand Hammer Pants.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

With breasts like these....

I find myself in a darkened Lonely Hearts club waiting for anyone to come in at 8pm on a Wednesday evening. The point of my lonely vigil to meet Americans abroad who might not be registered to vote. Together with a few friends I'm working on a campaign to get people registered for their absentee ballots. I feel more activist about the vote this year than I have in at least ten years. Here in Korea I'm doing my small part.

So I sit at a table for the three hour vigil I've signed up for and finally around nine thirty some people enter the bar. Alas they are all GI's and they all come in and hush immediately seeing me there, then stop, then turn, then by drinks then carefully ignore me. I'm almost positive that they had no idea that there were other foreigners in Korea that drank, particularly female ones. Most of the time the GI's frequent loud night clubs and dance with Korean girls and are the reason for the pat downs that are frequently endured by teachers going to dance. In all they can be nice guys but they are all terribly young and seem so foolish.

I turn back to my book and just keep to myself. Finally I give up and move to the bar around 10, taking all my books and papers with me just in case someone comes in to sign up. I get a phone call and invite the Jogger to come join me in the bar. Her plans for the evening were to stay home and be suicidally lonely. I convinced her that a night of live music might be more fun and she agreed to try it. She wandered in around 10:30 and the reasons for the GI's presence was making itself known playing loud music from the corner on this open mike night. They were the audience for the band, the very good band. I can appreciate guys who will come out for good music.

The Jogger gets a cola and a water, I have another water and a tequila. We talk and are generally amused. One of the GI's finally eyes us talking in the corner and comes over to order his beer by standing directly between us.

"Hi," he says to my breasts.

We both smile at him, and around him at each other.

"Where are you from?"

"Alabama. I'm southern."

"Yeah, the accent is a bit of a give away. How long have you been in-country?"

"Bout four months."

"What do you think?"

"Not as much fun as Aba Grab." I try to decide if that is sarcasm as he walks away with his beer. We girls continue to enjoy ourselves and snark a bit about the slowly getting drunker crowd of boys who are soon going to leave. I explain to her about the GI's as she has never seen them about before. basically that curfew is around midnight which is why they are out so early and why the will leave so soon.

Albama comes back to chat up the Jogger who I carefully pull aside to ask if she is okay with the obvious come ons and over eager touching. She's fine, she says to me "beats sitting home crying." To that I cannot argue.

We trade conversations with Alabama, I ask where he's been.

"Just in from Iraq, was in Baghdad for sixteen months. Was only supposed to be about twelve months but than Bush managed to get things changed around to keep us there longer. This is like a vacation compared to that."

"Well, less chance of getting blown up on the streets, I suspect."

"Only idiots with their pants down will get an IED."

He turns back to his drink and is quiet for a moment, and we let him be quiet. The Jogger makes herself scarce to visit the littler joggers room up the stairs and Alabama turns to me.

"You're friend is really beautiful."

"She is. I find her to be most desirable."

"Really, you?"


"Huh. Well, you should know, with breasts like those you could have any man in the bar."

I managed to keep from looking down my blouse but I do laugh rather loudly and unexpectedly at Alabama. "I'm not sure, but I think that was a compliment."


"Well thank you. Aren't you guys out past curfew," I glance at my clock, well on the way to 1 am.

"Yeah, but it's worth it for this kinda company."

We buy each other a drink and I smile as he and the Jogger take to trying to do country line dancing to the Italian singer that takes stage to sing.

I mention to the Jogger that is past one am and she realizes that it's time to go for that early morning job she has. I let Alabama take her up the stairs and wait politely before I exit into the rain and the warm humid night.

"I feel so much more alive." She says to me, dripping water from the monsoon rains are falling as I pull her away from Alabama and under my umbrella.

In all I managed to sign up one person to vote, but the night did not feel wasted.