Anyonghaseyo mo fo's,
First of all, let me tell you that the internet is the new T.V. Living without it really sucks. I have been trying to get on my blog for the last 48 hours since I've been here and It has been so nerve racking. By the way, these past 48 hours (actually 42 HOLY SHIT!) have felt like a lifetime. I can honestly say I am a new man. Seoul is beautiful. For all of you waiting for calls, please give me time. I don't know how to use the phone yet. There's numbers involved and it gets tough...lol. I emailed my telephone number to my mother, so if you want to call me, please give that beautiful, brilliant, and excellent woman a call. I'm not sure how to dial internationally from America, but find out and wing it. Keep in mind this jetlagged mind is on the fritz. Basically wha t I'm trying to say is that there's a 12-13 hour time difference and if you call me when I'm sleeping I will get Kim Jong Il all up on your ass. He is sooo ronery.
Here's how this blog is going to work. I am going to tell you about my first day of work, and then I'll post what I wrote the last day or so because I couldn't send over the internet. First day of WORK. Here we go: The teaching profession has called me. I've waited tables, I've sold cable door to door to f-ing door. I've worked as a salesman for the most shady advertisement company imaginable. When I mean "fly by night," I'm talking "fly by evening." So, some sort of calling to Korea has obviously called me. For reasons I can't get into, this opportunity stared me in the face for so long, and I know it is the right one. Being jetlagged and strung out, 6 AM called me to wake. I walked out of my apartment building to this little side road that I live on. Koreans are setting up their fish markets, walking to work, and getting ready for the busy day as I find out that Starbucks doesn't open as early as a tired man truly needs coffee. To wake up in a city like this that I'm going to call my home is truly exciting and invigorating. Manhattan with a broom. I swear to God. Amazing. You'll hear about that later on in my post-blog of my first day. I know, the anticipation and flashback is so alluring!
I arrive at YBM ECC Education building at 9 AM so I can unsuccessfully email everyone and post this blog which I am doing afterwards.....and enjoying a wonderful Soju (Vodka drink for the layman). Bachelor life does indeed have it's privelages. One of my co-workers, a good guy walks me the 12 minute walk to our building. The building is really nice. We have 4 floors that we work in. One a library, the others just classrooms. I realized I truly am meant to be a teacher when I observed the first class. These little Korean kids are the cutest f-ing things I've ever seen. Thanks to my brothers Bry, Dan, and Chip for having such adorable kids. That has truly led me to see the beauty and innocence of children. That made teaching a whole lot easier. So, these Korean kids range from kindergarten to middle school, and they make American kids look like Corky from the show Life Goes On (it's a joke relax). These little kids were years ahead compared to with the students I've been working with. The highlight of my day was talking to Thomas ( all Korean students choose an English name that they will be called....thank God!). Thomas spoke to me more intelligently than my 7 year old nephew Devin (miss you buddy). He was only one year older, but it was in a language that was different from his own. It was like he grew up in the U.S. I could not believe it. Also, regarding teaching, I will be teaching my students basic stuff like science and drama and music. One of the classes I observed memorized an entire play and did a read through of it without looking at anything. These kids are smart. These kids are friendly, and they have personality to go with it. I am looking forward to getting to know them.
As far as my co-workers go, they all seem cool. Some of the women that work there are absolutely beautiful. The guys seem cool and I'm sure I'll make a good friend out of one or two of them. Some of them play instruments and are looking to make a band. Hmmmm. I wonder where they'll find a guitarist and singer? I'll let them know about this big, bald-headed American I know that knows how to jam out.
Alright, eneough already I know. I'm chewing your eyes up. This blog is my therapy and my outlet. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do writing, but I'm not stupid. Above are my first pics, and my flashback posts (I'm a Quentin Tarintino novelist) should be below. Did I mention that there is a really cute Korean girl living in the apartment next to me who's only wish is to learn English and move to Canada? I know, I can only help so much. Canada.
Greeting from Seoul/Anyonhaseyo,
Days like these come few and very far between. The bittersweet farewell I said to all of you was exactly just that. Bitter, because I will miss all of my loved ones tremendously, and sweet, because this journey is already turning out to be what I so desperately needed.
The traveling involved leaving JFK International Airport at 7 AM on Friday morning. When I said goodbye to my father and brother at the airport and walked alone through the gates, all the anxiety and uncertainty left me immediately. I felt a cool calmness, and looked to what I like to call the “wanderlust” that I am in such need of. To go off. To say goodbye to the comfort and complacency that has coddled and warmed me, and a soul that needs to expand and search. Spread my wings. I have said that jokingly for quite some time now but do any of us truly believe and appreciate the metaphor? I know at this moment my wings are resting and they have felt the thrill of an 8,000 mile journey into the unknown chasms and storms of life. They have been so broken and disregarded that the feel of them opening up as I looked out the window of the plane (for a mere 21 hours) not only pulled them open uncontrollably, but made their master realize there is a plan for these wings and they must fly…..now. I saw more of the earth than I ever imagined. From concrete jungle to concrete jungle, I saw the in between. The snow capped Rocky Mountains and Sierra Desert. The San Francisco Bridge up to the Icelandic and majestic Alaskan white desert. Then, the Pacific Ocean forever and ever remaining the horizon. All of this beauty and untouched country with the soundtrack of a Malaysian infant crying, and screaming, and crying, and screaming next to me. Nonetheless rendering epiphany.
When I arrived at Incheon International Airport near Seoul, Mr. Shin (my own new personal Mr. Miyagi and boss) drove me an hour and half to my apartment in Gangnam (pronounced kangnam and just below the Han River in the middle of Seoul). I talked to him as if I had known him my whole life. Not as a person who is from a different country, but someone from the same world. He is a truly exceptional and genuine human being. Very nice, very courteous, and answered all my questions (while congratulating me on my Korean knowledge and pronunciation---who the hell would have thought….right? Chris--in the middle of Korea ready to show the world what he‘s made of…lol. I have had a lot of time to study. Or as some call it “research.” Who’s laughing now Bry, Dan, and Paul…IN YOUR FACE!….lol.
Mr.Shin took me to my apartment which is basically like a dorm room with a bathroom. I have a gas stove ( from which I hope the 2009 Korean Great Fire is averted), and that’s pretty much it. Oh, and a most comfortable bed that has new bedding thanks to Shin. After that, Shin took me up the street and up some stairs for my first authentic Korean meal. They serve about 7 dishes in little bowls that everyone shares. Let me tell ya, 10 years of eating with chopsticks made me look like I was the American Ambassador to Gangnam (which I now am), and that food was ridiculously healthy and sooo good. In Korea, their food is furuckin SPICY. Mr. Shin took me back to my apartment and left. To be seen Monday morning at work. That’s it. I asked him if it was safe to walk around as I saw many people hanging around at the markets. He said I would be very safe. He was off, and my first mission of grabbing some Kimbap (sushi roll with meat, egg, veggies) and Soju (Korean Vodka drink) was on. I walked out with some Won (money) in my pocket, feeling like I had just awakened from an ignorant slumber (which I unfortunatley have) and made my way into the dark Korean night. The signs were alight, but they blended into one. One step into the unknown that I have been searching for. Stagger and an uncontrollable confidence in the steps.
I walked around the block and found darkness. Big streets, no one driving on them. I remembered the market area and went down there. Markets were closed with tarps on everything. I looked further down my road (as I didn’t plan on leaving this one road that had become my sudden home) and saw people. It was on.
I finally found a “pa” (bar) and it was packed out with nicely dressed 20 somethings. They wouldn’t give me a seat, so I asked the older counter lady (it was a sit down and serve bar) for a Soju. She was busy and not happy. She was about to tell me some bad news. Being an older lady, and from what I have “researched” about elder ladies feelings towards foreigners, I felt unwanted but I kindled my stubbornness. Thanks Karen. What she didn’t know was that I woke up in New York on Friday morning and traveled 8,000 miles for this Soju. I charmed her. The smile, my atrocious attempt at Korean. The smile again. Her dismissal. My smile again that pierced her wall. She smiled. She gave me Soju and a barrel of nuts. I took a sip of the Soju. She was offended. “You no eat nuts?” “Eat them”. I smiled. I enjoyed that Soju. The nuts, not so much. But a thirsty foreigner should be a hungry one as well. I looked at her in the eyes and realized the true beauty of human nature. She looked at me as a mother who knew she wouldn’t get her way. I bowed to her and said “Kamsahamnida” (Thank you).
After that, some young Koreans were outside and I made acquaintances with them as Chris Farley or some out-of- place clown would. It worked. They bought me some Mek Ju (beer) and we laughed together about many unimportant things. The communication barrier was a fun challenge to take a stab at but was worth it. An interesting day.
Today I woke up after 4 hours of sleep (????). The sun was shining through my shoebox window ( I mean apartment) and I embraced it. Who the hell would know that I have a Starbucks 2 blocks away. Thank you Big Man in the Sky. Lunch consisted of me ignorantly trying to find a sushi joint. Mission failed. What I did have was a great lunch of Kimbap: Rice, veggies, egg, meat, seaweed slices wrapped in toasted seaweed and looks like what Americans would call sushi (served with never ending Kimchi and soup) for a whopping 3,000 Won (less than 3 dollars. Holy shit. Me Likey!
Supposedly my American co-workers are going to be contacting me this afternoon. So far, I have never been so alone in this world as of the last 48 hours. I look at it this way: I have never felt so alive, and I know I am in good company. Anyongheekaseyo-
"The key to change is to let go of fear" -Rosanne Cash