Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mr. Rogers

“I am beginning to feel like Mr. Rogers,” I realized upon entering my home earlier this evening. As I remembered my dear old TV friend from long ago, retracing the steps to his song as he came home each episode, somehow, tears welled up in my eyes. That emotion caused a chuckle at myself, and has now spurred this blog entry to you lovely folk.

Why Mr. Rogers? Well, I entered, took off my coat, hung it in the closet (a task of which all of my family know I am quite challenged), put on my house slippers, and continued on with my normal after-work routine. (It was the hanging up of the coat that sparked my memory.) Sometimes, I even change into more comfortable clothes, just as Mr. Rogers put on his house coat after hanging up his jacket in the closet. J I’m sure that was intriguing for you. I tell you this mundane story just because it is something mundane. I have mundane here in Korea. I have a routine. What’s more, I can laugh at myself because of it. For some reason, though, the thought of Mr. Rogers and this mundane-ness brought tears to my eyes. Perhaps it was the thought of connecting to something of my past. Perhaps the tears were caused by a realization that I have something like home here—something like routine and stability. *Smile.* Perhaps I cried simply at the fact that I hung my coat up two times in a row.

Either way, I suppose I can tell you a little more of the life I live here, now that it’s been 5+ months. The other day, I forgot how old I am in America…for the 2nd time. Now, I need to spare you all the details (and me all the effort) of explaining exactly what this means…but I’ll simply state that Korean ages are not the same as American ages. I think I have it down now: I am 22 in America, but 24 in Korea. I know my Korean age for sure, so, Mom, please correct me if I’m off on the American one. Seriously, though, I just had to laugh at myself TWICE after this ridiculous mistake. The first time, I was signing up online for this traveler thing called “couch surfers.” As I entered my birthday, it said I was 23 in age. I looked really hard at it and thought, “I’m not 23, AM I? .. How old AM I in America??” I determined that the website was wrong and I really was, in fact, 22 in America. May 9, 1986. AAAND the second time I got confused was talking to my college friend Nikki who just arrived here last week to teach English. I’m so glad I can laugh about all of this, because it really is something people don’t forget at such a young age.

Let’s see…next random thing: my apartment Christmas lights are still up. This is Gibson-Weyforth-style, yo, but no, they do not remain up because of any laziness or physical impairment that has disabled me from removing them from my *doorway*. Really take no offense at that—I was part of the lazy crew that was able, but not willing, to remove the lights at home after the holiday season was long gone. I leave my lights up purely as an attempt at an apartment decoration. You see, my dollar-store-equivalent lights have 15 different settings (only one of which I use). The BEST setting is when the bulbs dim from blue to yellow to green to red…slowly fading in and out of color. :D Cooler than any American lights, yo.

OH! I bought an aloe plant finally! Aunt Barb ALWAYS had aloe at her house, which was just the COOLEST thing, so I finally found one small enough for me to nurture. As an added bonus, I bought a rosemary plant, too!! I <3 rosemary in cooking.

Have you heard about the yellow dust in Asia? Well, it’s YELLOW DUST time here! Fine-blown sands and pollutants fly in on the winds that blow the Gobi desert to our doorsteps. These yummy pollutants reach even over the East Sea to Japan! And this, my dear friends and family, is the reason for the characteristic eye and eyelash shape of the Asian people. J This fact came from my big bro Gabe, so if I’m wrong, blame him… but it totally makes sense to me. Over time, the people had to develop physical traits that would protect them from these blowing desert sands…long, thin eyes and eyelashes that basically tilt down (instead of curl up and out like all women [and some men] want them to do). As an added bonus, Korean people developed the tendency toward like zero hair on their body…this plays into the desert scene somehow, but I don’t really remember…
I now have a real, authentic, point card! Yes, hold your applause…it’s just that Koreans have cards for everything and everywhere you go…so much so that it’s nearly a close call to be able to find the correct card in your 2-inch thick card holder in order to receive your 50 cent discount at the movie theater before your movie starts. I now have an awesome Superman point card (from LG Telecom, my hand-uh pone provider), a COSTCO card, a Café Plain Vanilla card, a Bandi & Luni’s Bookstore card, and a Body Shop card—none of which are credit cards. J Yay, I’m turning Korean.

Now that I’ve mentioned Café Plain Vanilla, I shall tell you of a sweet evening I had there alone just last week. I decided to take some work home with me, as I needed to complete my kids’ report cards to hand in the next day. I had been waiting for an excuse to go to Café Plain Vanilla alone, as it became my favorite café after one visit with a fellow foreigner friend a few months back. I took my tote bag with the incomplete reports on the 10-minute walk to this café on the happenin’ Rodeo street this one fine evening and climbed the stairs to the 2nd floor café. Sitting myself down on a cushioned bar stool at a lighted work desk, I ordered a Peach Jasmine Smoothie and began my work. Every once in a while, I looked around me to take in the scene: a group of friends barefoot and enjoying wine over in the pillow and low Korean table area, or to look at the clever way the restaurant owners created a hanging light out of dried flowers wound around what looked like a small strand of Christmas bulbs. The place just makes me smile. It warms, it glows, and the music even soothes the soul. The mix that night was a variety of interesting international songs—some in English, some in Korean, some simple jazz, and one very nice song in French. It is this French song that made my night perfect, instead of a tedious chore of grading. As soon as the first few chords and words fell onto my contemplative ears, I smiled to myself, chuckled, and travelled back in time to the days at Juniata College when I was “studying hard” in the international house with good friends, downloading tons of swing dancing music into my computer, and enjoying life to the fullest in those very moments. The song?

Je ne veux pas travaillerJe ne veux pas déjeunerJe veux seulement oublierEt puis je fume
I don't want to work, I don't want to lunch I only want to forget and so I smoke.
~Pink Martini

The rest of the song is rather dreary, if you ask me, but the meaning of the words in English isn’t what draws me to the song—it’s the memories behind it that matter. If you were part of any of those memories, I hope you can have those times of reliving them, as I did. If you are not, I still hope you can enjoy your times of basking in the memories of yesteryear.

So it seems this email was one about life and not really about work and play. Perhaps I owe you another blog post soon about the updates concerning my school and all that entails.
I love you all. Until next time.

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