Observations from the vicinity of The Black Hole

Thursday January 8, 2009

Two weeks after arriving in Korea, the director of my school failed, predictably, to move myself and a new coworker into apartments he knew were already inhabited. Afterward, he drove us angrily to The Black Hole Motel. Knowing that a motel called The Black Hole exists - that it is even now in my city, existing - has changed my world view. Today, I have been in Korea for two months. Either nothing is strange, or everything is strange.

Every morning as I leave my apartment building, the first living things I see are octopi the size of handbags. There are around eight of them, in around a cubic meter of water. You can eat them, if you want. I don't know how much this costs, and every day I am less inclined to find out. The octopi rarely move much, but neither are they ever completely still. They change colors for reasons that they do not explain.

As far as I know, there have been no studies done on the long-term effects of sharing an apartment with octopi.

Now, learn Korean: The character "시" is pronounced something like the English word "she" and means, among other things, something like the English "o'clock". If you knew no Korean whatsoever before reading the last sentence, your proficiency is now closer to mine than mine is to that of my elementary school students - even on a logarithmic scale. And now you can read my daily schedule.

 8시 wake up
 9시 subway
10시 Korean class
12시 Korean homework
 1시 subway
 2시 go to work
 4시 teach English
10시 go to the gym
12시 eat, etc.
 2시 sleep

On Wednesdays work is shifted an hour earlier, so I will often go out for a meal with my coworkers and get to bed earlier. Some Fridays I only work until seven, which is nice.

The only real change from my earlier update is that I've joined a local gym. It is called "Human Multi Fitness". They have a nice studio that is open in the evenings, so I can bboy during the week. Today I worked on going from backspin to headspin. I'll get it, too. During the time my crew should be in the cypher, I circle like a caged animal and try to avoid making eye contact through the glass walls with people on treadmills. After they're all gone I practice counting in Korean on the inclined crunch benches.

I am less excited and more comfortable now than I have been. I went out on New Year's Eve, midworkweek, and stayed out until the subway started running again in the morning around six. I don't much feel the need to do it again. I could.

On the way home tonight, I bought a trash bag full of bar snacks that I like. They are like Trix cereal that has been puffed up with twice the air and bred with styrofoam. The sale was conducted in Korean, but I still felt like I paid a foreigner surcharge. I don't like haggling - especially over snacks.

Maybe I will stay in Korea for my full contract year. My main concern now is that I don't think I can get off of work for both Breakin' the Law 6 and my little sister's wedding. Why couldn't you guys do those in the same week?

I'm thinking that if I stay until next November, I could spend the winter months in the warmer parts of Asia, and then head back to the states late spring. Maybe I'll go write philosophy at UCLA.

Peace be with you.

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