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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 1 Checklist.

(I wrote this the first night I arrived but haven't been able to post until now due to lack of internet at home, lack of time at work, and lack of USB sticks in general.)

1: Offend the person next to you on the plane. Check.

Sitting next to a Korean lady on the plane. We wind up talking a bit. She's been living in Virginia for a while, has 3 daughters, 2 of whom are twins doing missionary work in Brazil, and 1 who's going to William and Mary. She asks if I'm a missionary and I reply in the negative, managing to keep my mouth shut about how dumb I think missionaries are. I impress her by (unostentatiosly, of course) doing Korean and Chinese flash cards on my new used netbook. Then I shame myself and doutbless offend her missionary sensibilities by watching the movie "Borat..." How could I have possibly known in advance that the two dudes, one of them obscenely obese, would get into a naked wrestling match in their hotel room? The lady turned slightly away and pretended to be sleeping for the next 6 hours.

2: Lose 2/3 of your luggage, by mass. Check.

As we are about to get off the plane in Seoul, the PA comes on and calls my name, telling me to see a gate attendant. I immediately know what this is about, since my San Francisco-Seoul layover was only 1 hour long and was already boarding by the time I rushed over from my arrival gate. Somehow, one of my bags got left behind. It happens to be the one with deodorant and soap in it. It also happens to be the bag that I stuffed to 49 or 49.5 or 50 lbs (50 being the limit). The lost & found agent doesn't mentoin the weight or a potential fine. Supposedly, it will be delivered tomorrow night.

3: Meet a Walnut Lady. Check.

After getting my 1 lonely bag full of pants and dress shirts I don't need for the upcoming camp, I call the guy who hired me from a payphone (using my subway/bus card, pretty sweet), who directs me to take a bus ride then a subway ride and says he'll meet me at the station. I get to the place in question, and they don't have public phones. I have to explain to the lady selling snack cakes that even though I have a phone, I just got to Korea and haven't been able to activate it, but I really need to call this fellow so he can let me into my apartment. She calls on my behalf, introducing herself to my semi-boss as "the walnut lady." I thank her but don't buy any of her treats. I should probably go back and do that tomorrow.

4: Look awkward at convenient store. Check.

Setting up the house, I realize I don't have any TP. I walk down to the corner store but can't buy anything because I don't have plates, pots, or utensils at home. I come out carrying one roll of TP and a 2 liter bottle of corn husk tea. Or, to translate directly, Corn M(o)ustahce Tea.

5: See a feral toilet and receive expletives. Check.

In one of the alleys on the way "home," there are some toilets and sinks in the street. Not portopotties. Recentlyuninstalledpotties. Or maybe Soontobeinstalledpotties. Later, there's a little yellow triangular sign that in the USA would probably say "Wet Floor / Piso Mojado." Here, it says (in Korean), "Let's bathe!" I am pretty sure there must be a sauna in one of the buildings. I pass a Korean guy who looks to be a university student. Just like me, he's wearing a baseball cap and carrying an umbrella. I am pretty sure that just as soon as we leave each other's peripheral vision I hear him whispser under his breath (in Korean): Fucker.

6: Beat up a stranger: No check.

7: Perform at least one act of norm-subversion: Check.

Placed plums in the egg grooves in my mini-fridge.

8: Accidentally get self wet. Check. (Don't ask how it can be a goal to do something accidentally.)

Forgot that in Korean bathrooms, shower heads and sinks share a water line. Result: soaked left forearm.

9: Drink out of a cup with at least 5 dead mosquitoes in it. Check.

Note to future self: inspect new housing more thoroughly.

Day 1: 88ish% of goals accomplished. Not too bad.