unsophisticated bottle of fog-dust

Sun Jun 15, 2003

I know the title doesn’t make much sense, but I saw it painted on a garage door somewhere in Point Grey, and thought it was kind of cool. I’ve just received an e-mail from Dean, the anthropologist I met at Mount Namsan - he’s back in Melbourne! I guess all his plans to wander through India like a traveling ascetic was just all talk.

On Thursday night we went out to dinner at one of my student’s parent’s restaurants (Arnold). Arnold looks kind of like a little monkey and if you provoke him, even a little, he goes crazy and starts flailing his limbs about and screaming. His dad was at the restaurant and is also rather odd looking - I thought he resembled a Korean Mr. Bean. One of our bus drivers, usually quiet and reserved, turned out to be a raging comedian after a few beers and Sojus. Although I found him loud and obnoxious at the time, in retrospect I suppose he was rather amusing. I just don’t gel well with abrasive personalities in general, and that night I was feeling a little sickly. So, as usually happens, after the restaurant we went to the beer Hof - a horrific American-style bar complete with pictures of “I love Lucy” and John Wayne in cowboy gear, a “wierd-science” style Budweiser beer lamp, and most offensive of all to my delicate anthropological sensibilities - a life-size bust of an American Indian in full head-dress mounted on the wall. After the bar, it was the Norae-bang of course (singing room), but I declined to participate, despite the repeated urgings of my co-workers. I hope Won Jang Nim wasn’t too miffed at that, especially since she was paying for it and all. Koreans really love the Norae-bang, apparently Sulu even saw one chap who outfitted the back of his SUV as a miniature Norae-bang, with TV screens, a disco-ball and everything. Meanwhile, Mr. bus driver quickly adopted us as his best friends and instructed us to communicate in body language only, belting out “Canada-good” or “Canada-bad”, depending on how fast I was drinking. Sigh. I’m rather useless at participating in the male Korean drinking culture, although Sulu, being a robust Samoan girl, drank him under the table, much to my gratification.

On Friday was the birthday party and nobody ate too much cake, nobody threw up, and it all went quite smoothly. Johnny is turning seven this month (Korean age - five or six in Western age). Johnny is the coolest kid. We have a playground on top of the roof of our building - and in Gym time, Timothy tried to kick the soccer ball but his shoe flew off and almost hit someone on the street below. I thought that was funny as hell. Yesterday we went shopping at the factory outlet stores in Ilsan - I’m not a big consumer, but it is tempting over here where buying stuff is such a big part of the way of life. Debbie asked me to write an article for the Wonderland journal, it’s an internal publication, but I tried to write something straddling the line between brute honesty and Wonderland propaganda. Before I came to Korea, I heard that Hokwans were kind of like babysitting jobs, and you’ll read this a lot on the net, but it’s not really. although the learning curve of the young ones is really slow. I’d say it’s more like a cross between a lion-tamer and a politician. I don’t know, it depends on what you want to get out of it, and I don’t mind it so much because I really like the kids, although it is hard sometimes.

Anyways, I’ve added a poetry link to my web-page, but I must warn you, it’s still under construction.

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