Sunday, May 22, 2005

Awww hell

I think I may have waited too long between posts and now I forget how to add a picture. Damn me.

My week went by quickly, as it usually does. I actually have my one year anniversary of being in Korea this time around, coming up in 3 weeks. What should we do to celebrate? Nothing, you say? Ok! I can do nothing! I'm pretty good at doing nothing!

Today, however...I did something! Weekends go by here all the time without me even leaving the house! I don't even have to fight the urges I had when I first came here to go out and meet people and socialize. It's kind of interesting, considering I am, by nature, a fairly extroverted individual.

Today I met my co-worker for a nice lunch and a bit of a shop and walk around downtown. I really like my co-worker, but, unfortunately her English is pretty crap. (Keeping in mind she is an English teacher!) When we hang out it sometimes feels like I am giving an hours-long lesson. Often, we go out for dinner on Friday nights and to do some grocery shopping. After a long day and an even longer week my brain is taxed, and I feel bad if I seem impatient or a little unwilling to help her sort out exactly what she wants to say to me with correct grammar and pronunciation.

Anyhow, I shouldn't complain as she is one of my only pals here, and she thinks I'm bloody hilarious.

Thinking about things at this moment, I can tell you three reasons why I'm not getting my ass out doing meet and greets here. Let me lay them out:

i. Location, Location, Location

I didn't know it when I first arrived here, but I am quite a distance away from downtown. Downtown, like most downtowns, is filled with things to do. It takes about 40 minutes by bus to get downtown. Granted, catching the bus isn't a problem. Its last stop on its route is right outside my work. But I finish work at 8, and then thinking about going downtown to meet up with friends I don't have, and have to take a taxi back because the buses stop running at around 11,...accckkk - seems like too much effort. So I pretty much stick to my little neighbourhood where I am 1 of 2 foreign teachers. I know there is another here, but I haven't met her or even seen her. She is mythical. And maybe magical. I'm unsure.

ii. Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About Youuuuuuu

It seems to me I've been on the move for years and years. I shall now do a little counting. I have moved 11 times in 9 years. That includes 9 different cities in 4 different countries. With each of those moves has come new jobs and new experiences and new people! Starting off at zero with a new person can be an exciting and interesting thing. Getting to know them, and them getting to know you can take a looooong time. Or not. I prefer to have non-superficial relationships with new friends, you know, asking questions about who they are, where they've been, what they've been up to etc. etc. Fair enough. But this takes time. Time that I have but energy that I find myself lacking in. It's not that I'm not interested in meeting new people, especially if they're funny. I'm really kind of sick of MY STORY, actually. It gets exhausting if you really really want to get to know someone. As I get older it seems to get a little more difficult as well. Recurring situations that allow to get to know people over time, such as school or work, these are good things in allowing people to get to know one another gradually and decide if these individuals are the type you'd want to hang out with or not. Here, though, other than heading out on the weekend and getting all ass-drunk, there isn't another regularly occurring situation to make meeting people easier. If you have been ass-drunk, you know the kind of love that can spill out of people, "I know I jesss met schu, but you are really really really cool. I love shu man!" That usually wears off in the morning and you're left with a foggy recollection of the previous nights events. ("Whose phone number is this?")

Traveling and living in a foreign country can be a real bonding experience with those who are doing the same. I can tell you I have met fantastic people in my journeys. It's a real drag, however, when they move on - or YOU move on, and you have to say your goodbyes, knowing how unlikely it is that you will ever have the opportunity to live in the same place as said fabulous again. Sad. Sure, there's the telephone and e-mail, but it seems like my phone and inbox are broken, because one's not ringing and the other taunts me with (0) e-mails. Fuckin technology.

So what's a girl to do?

iii. My Reputation as a Thief!

Yes that's right. I have, even though I rarely go out here, a reputation for thievery. Let me explain about a night of unfortunate events. I had met a nice fellow one night when I had dragged my ass out to go dance. By myself. Pathetic, but true. Nice fellow and I exchanged numbers and a few weeks later I found the number and gave him a call. It was a Saturday night and he was going out to meet up with friends at a bar that I've been to before, but never really had a good time at. OK! Let's goooooo! So I met up with him and some friends, and I was a little late and everyone seemed to be appropriately saucified, myself included. (I had had a few glasses of wine while getting myself ready.) So we sat at the table and did some smalltalk, see title of (ii). As happens, people wandered off to talk to other people and I was left alone at the table, not having any other people I knew to talk to! One person came over to me at my now empty table and invited me over to another table where half the people previously occupying my table were sitting.

So I gathered up the contents of my empty table, a pitcher of beer and a few half filled mugs, and I spied a cellphone that had been left there. Having no third hand, I picked it up and dropped it in the little pouch I had tied around my waist, with the intention of dropping it off on the new table. Our previous table was right beside the door out, and I figured it would not be good to leave it there.

Anyways, a few minutes later, I smiled at one of the former occupants of the first table who was walking toward me with a cellphone in her ear and a look of concentration on her face. I realized my pouch was ringing just as she reached her hand in and grabbed her cellphone out. Awwwwww, fuckin great! I apologized profusely and tried to explain. I mean, if i had wanted to steal her phone, wouldn't I have, like, high-tailed it out of the bar, or hidden it in, maybe, my shoe?

The most unfortunate thing was that the nice fellow I'd gone to meet that night came to tell me he had his cellphone AND his digital camera go missing. I knew, of course, how it looked. I did let him search my pockets, including the suede jacket I hadn't been wearing since I arrived at the bar. I didn't allow, per his suggestion, a visit the ladies room with the girl whose phone I had accidentally stolen. Maybe I should have, just to ease his mind I didn't have his shit, but I stuck with my initial reaction of "no fuckin way!" Strip-search,....uhhhh, thanks. I felt bad about the whole thing, and I said to "nice fellow," "if you knew me, you'd know I didn't steal your stuff." But he didn't know me...and so he thinks I stole his stuff.

I know better though.

Afterwards I gave much thought to the unfortunate night of stolen things, and I wondered just what I would DO with a cellphone I had stolen. Really. Call people? Everyone I know lives in other countries. As if I would be stupid enough to dial my friends and family. Surely cell-phone companies have records of numbers? Could I have a stolen phone changed into being my phone? Maybe,....but I wouldn't even know HOW to do that here, seeing as I don't speak Korean, and don't know how one would go about doing such a thing. Besides, wouldn't someone who had their phone stolen have the phone reported as stolen to their cellphone company? I don't know. It doesn't matter anyhow. I have no stolen cellphones to worry about. Nor digital camera. And I do especially feel bad about that - for the nice fellow. I don't have a digital camera, but I want one, and I can imagine how pissed off I'd be if mine was stolen. However, I can also imagine that I'd be very careful about leaving my valuables alone in bars filled with people. I'm just saying. It's a fuckin drag having stuff stolen, but, really, isn't it YOUR responsibility to keep your shit safe? It's one thing to have some asshole break into your locked apartment and take your stuff, but I think it's quite another to leave, say, your purse in open view in your locked car, or your wallet on a table in a bar, while you visit the washroom or whatever.

Anyhow, because of that night I really thought about my experience here. I thought about going out alone and trying to make new friends and what a drag that is, and how many times before I've had to do just that because I have been a stranger in strange lands. I thought about people that don't know me, except for seeing me out a couple times a month when we're all drunk off our faces, and I thought "screw it!"

In this case, with how I'm feeling these days, the results are not worth the effort.

And so I laid low, which was good for my liver and even better for my bank account. When I first came to live overseas, it was really much more about the experience and a little about the money. Now it's almost all about the money, because I can envision the end in sight.

And so I laid low, which, I'm sure, managed to reinforce my reputation as a thief. "Oh look - that chick stole all our shit and now she's in hiding taking digital pictures of our stolen phones!" Yah- errrmmm, ok. Actually, I didn't know for sure what people were thinking because I wasn't associating much with people!

To end this already-too-long-saga, I'll tell you that I now know. Recently I had a friend from my university days come to visit me here, and therefore had reason to go out and about. We stopped by the dance place which is my favourite place here. The owner is a friend of "nice-fellow", so I was very pleased when he greeted me with such warmth, holding my hand and remarking on how long it had been. Gooood. After the dance place we went down the street to visit "the scene of the crime" and I ran into a very nice British guy I know. I was happy to see him, but after our exchange of hellos and how-are-you's he put his arm around my shoulders and said "so what's this reputation of you being a thief?"

Ahhhhhhh, so it's like dat, eh?

I quickly retold my version of events that night, and he suggested I don't worry about it, and I should show my face more often. He's probably right, but I remain unmotivated.

And so,...

I am often alone here, and to be honest, sometimes quite lonely. But it's ok. I'm coping well.

In my travels I have met some fantastic people and even though they don't call or e-mail as much as I'd like, they can all attest to the fact they've been out with me often, had me in their homes and such, and never had their valuables go missing. Unless you count cheese as valuable. God help me, I love cheese!

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