Archive for the ‘domestication, expatriate, marriage, wife, husband, house’ Category

The bed gone, we slept Korean style yesterday: two thin mattresses on the floor.  My shoulders did not fair well.  Both of us woke up often.

Piles of clothes lie around the apartment, bastions of chaos that have sprouted in places where I used to drape my jacket, where Nic used to pile her clothes.

The closets have been cleared out; Nic has taken half of her clothes to the donation bin down by the recycling station.  My method is different: wear certain clothes one last time and then donate.  In this way, I can reduce the amount of laundry we need to do before leaving.

The boxes of books and clothes are stacked high, awaiting departure.  Nic seems to think life will be easier if we have everything boxed up and underway by Friday.  I don’t see it happening, but I will concede the point if it means a little less stress and an apartment that has less shit in it.  I just can’t quite wrap my mind around going to the two dinners this weekend in my hiking gear.  When it comes down to it, though, who really gives a shit?  Who have I to impress?

The count: 5 days in Busan.  7 days in Korea.  13 gray hairs in my beard that’ll begin the sun-bleaching process in 9 days.

The cat is gone.  It’s as good a time as any to biographize him here.  As a tiny, 300g animal, he was lost or abandoned by his mother.  HunJong rescued him, brought him home.  The lady cat Uzi (aka Assassin) did not care for the competition for Lindsay-mom’s attention.  In three attempts on Hobak’s life (a couple stitch-inducing attacks on the throat), Uzi achieved the next best thing: Hobak’s removal from the apartment.  One owner said Hobak was not welcome by the other cat.  The next owners went away on vacation for five weeks, but helped him pack on weight; he’s now 4 kilos.  We took care of him and I taught him a few tricks.  I grew attached to the little bugger, a thing I thought I’d never admit.  In spite of his biting nature and general rough-housing, he and I got along well.  I taught him to jump up three feet toward my hand.  He’s a resilient guy.

We’ve begun saying goodbye to friends in earnest.  Though we will see SongJu again on Saturday, we got to see her during a brief break from the work and school she’s been buried in for months.  We went to my favorite galbi restaurant in Jungdong, a popular, clean joint with excellent service, all of which are reasons there was a line almost out the door on a Tuesday night.  On Saturday night, we’ll see her again, but I am trying to play matchmaker between Peter and her.  I hope to have pictures of that night, since we’ll go to the first place I ever had dong dong ju and the first and last place I had bahn-deggi (silkworm larvae).

After all that’s happened in the previous week or so, it was imperative to do something that would revive my faith in humanity.  We needn’t rehash all that you can read on the January 22 entry (  It’s good to know that people are out there doing positive things and enjoying their experiences here, like Jill (, who is buying our bed from us today.

Also, from the lack of in-depth writing or even providing much photographic evidence, you may think that our training for Nepal has fallen off.  This isn’t exactly the case; I’ve been jogging, Nic’s been doing a regular cardio program, and we’ve still managed to get out on the mountain a few times a month.  Nonetheless, both Nic and I were a little nervous about the big hike we’d planned for Sunday with Pete.  We didn’t lose sleep, but would our fitness and the old nagging physical deficiencies exacerbate over the cold 8 km day?

The weather wasn’t that cold.  In fact, it was the best day for hiking we’d had in three weeks.  Low winds and a temperature in the upper 30s had us peeling off layers of clothing (including my new windbreaker from REI) before we even reached the ridge.  At 0930, we started at Silla University on the trails where Pete and I used to hike around a couple times a month back when I started teaching at the uni.

By 1030, we were on the ridge where we’d spend the rest of the day trekking up and down peaks, summiting five or six throughout the day.  Along the way, we said hello to the many people, shared our oranges with a group who gave us warm deok (a sticky rice cake coated with powdered red bean).  So many times on the mountain, I’ve received food from strangers (one time, even a couple swigs of cognac to wash down a kim bap).  Most of the time, I don’t care for doc, but the cake was still steaming.  We each had some and were grateful, the fruit and water we packed may have been a little light for the day’s undertaking.


Despite our under-planning in the food department, the locals along the way helped us out.  We (meaning Pete, who has more than survival hangul skills) verified our bearings with a friendly woman and we made it, after five hours, to the cable car in Gumjeongsan Park.  As we rode down, I took stock and realized my knee joints were fine since they were nice and warm the whole day.  The muscles surrounding my joints were satisfyingly fatigued and sore (as muscles should be).  Nicole had no problems with her asthma, leading the charge up the last steep climb like a sherpa.

We got to the first warm place we could, ordered home-brewed dong dong ju (rice wine), hae-mul pah-jan (seafood and green onion pancake) and bin dae duk (pork and veggie pancake, firmer consistency than pah-jan).  At my behest, HunJong joined us for these traditional Korean hiking treats so he could talk with Pete about their respective websites.












HunJong later departed and we went to a German-style beer hall nearby.  We arrived at 1730, ordered some sausages and pilsner and awaited the Bulgarian band to start at 1900.  Shortly after the band started, the place was packed with Koreans coming off the hill and families who’d spent the day at the largest spa in Asia (Hurshinchong) upstairs (  Yanick and his Korean friend Andy joined us.  Soon, we were dancing and mingling with the locals.  Nic and I took a twirl in our hiking gear, much to the delight of the surrounding revelers.  Nic even befriended a couple little kids.  By the time we left, we’d been at the beer hall for more time than it took us to do our hike.









My life these days seems filled with experiments or the planning thereof.  Living without basic appliances, living with a cat, trying out new trekking gear.  Going off the internet, writing every day and publishing, a life of moderation.

One experiment was live blogging my packing yesterday.  I now know that live blogging is not for me.  It seemed no different than updating my facebook page, which I have often felt is so incredibly stupid, especially when people get to writing about watching their spouses paint the front door of the house.  And I found myself writing about the ratio of wire hangers to plastic ones.  No one is really that interested in the minute details.

Today I post quickly here.  I just got the last big piece of my trekking clothing yesterday and today I’ll go try it out.  The winds are supposed to be low, but my new windbreaker will take the test.  It’s a waterproof REI jacket that will be useful for layering.

And finally, Hobak is supposed to go home today.  It was a day or two earlier than I expected, so I want to take him on the hike today.  But I don’t have any cat trekking gear; I especially think trekking poles would be necessary for him, not because he needs to protect his ankles and knees, but because he would look funny with such a thing.  I’m going to miss the little bugger, but I think he has a good home.

A few odds and ends to tidy up. Wine’s almost gone, and I have to start re-hydrating for tomorrow’s hike. Next posts will be back to the wittiness that you’ve come to expect.

Took a little time out about an hour ago to take a turn with the wife on the wide open floor in this apartment. Thanks to Ferris and “Danke Schoen,” we had a good little twirl. Now, we try to use a bathroom scale to keep our box weight under 20 kilos. So far the average is 15.5. Am I blowing your fucking mind yet?

Just finished watch Ferris Beuller and annoying the hell out of the facebook community. Now, I write yet another entry, checking back from time to time and starting The Departed. Also, waiting for emails for a last- minute sale of a few more items and a text message from a friend about tomorrow’s big hike. You can see I need to unplug.

Not only will my socks be used and disposed of, but there is also a pile of unwanted clothes that will find the donation bin. Unfortunately for those who use them next, they’ll have the stench of my morning run. Don’t worry: I’m not donating my boxers. I’ll burn those for the good of humanity.

If it were your last week in a foreign land, would you wear a pair of mismatched socks so you wouldn’t have to do laundry again? This is the quandary that faces me. Also, Nic’s wine is not cooling down fast enough in our makeshift walk-in fridge. This is not good since I am halfway through my bottle. Oddly enough, I am almost finished with my closet and she’s only about halfway.

37:16. Ratio of wire hangers to plastic. You do the goddamned math. Wire hangers can be reused by the dry cleaner. Plastic hangers can be given to friends. Other interesting facts: ring around the collar is the main cause for shirts to be donated.

How much do you hate that I’ve invaded your facebook page to tell you about my socks? Epithet used thus far: weirdo. A drunk weirdo at this pace. Up next: the ratio of wire hangers to plastic hangers.