All Kinds of Business Goin’ On

 

A lot of business goes down on the street here.  Men with little blue trucks set up shop on the sidewalks, unpacking potted cactus plants or bags of puffed rice or piles of plastic slip-on shoes.  Outside my apartment building most evenings, you can find a woman crouching on a stool in her truck, deep-frying squid balls in the light of two paper lanterns than dangle from the roof like beacons.  I’m not sure what anyone pays to rent the sidewalks, or if permits are even required, but the sellers make street-strolling an adventure for the eyes.

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Little Love

New romance appeared in Cornell class this week, first spotted on Tuesday when Julia slipped her hand into Eric’s during storytime.  Some girls really know how to flirt and make it work.  He better not blow it…she’s a catch.

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People I Meet: Leah from Miami

 

The spring I was 18 I chopped off all my hair, dyed it bright red, and stuffed a green backpack full with clothes, a pair of Birkenstocks, my faded baby blanket, a swiss army knife, and a fat paperback called ”Europe ’97: On the Loose, On the Cheap, Off the Beaten Path.”  Then I flew to London with my cousin Heather.

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Down by the Stream

  

Half a block from my apartment in Yeonje-gu, below the railroad tracks and across the street from a lounge called Moon River, a stream called Oncheon-cheon flows east.  It’s lit by street lamps and bordered on each side by a long and blooming row of cherry blossoms.  

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Neon Streets and Japanese Eats: Dining in Seomyeon

Late one evening a couple weeks ago I caught the subway to Seomyeon with Jason, Bryan and Dianna–three of the five teachers who make up my awesome American teaching posse.  Jason’s lived here six months; it was Bryan and Dianna’s second night in town. 

In the maze of people-packed, neon-lit streets, we couldn’t find the Turkish restaurant Jason hoped to lead us to, so we slipped into a smoky Japanese joint, befriended four bar stools, and feasted on plates of steaming skewers. 

Other than the beef surprise I picked out of my udon noodles, and an unfortunate head attached to my mackeral pike, the experience left me intrigued: Korea’s culinary offerings provide mystery for both the palette and the eye.

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Stickers and Sharpeners: Teaching the Ivy League

 

The bulk of my experience with kids dates back to the summers of 1989, ’90, and ’91, when I posted a felt-marker sign advertising babysitting services to the wall of my dad’s grocery store in Waskesiu Lake, Saskatchewan.  

‘Responsible and reliable,’  it read.  ’Babysitting course-certified.  Likes doing crafts.’

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Taking the Slow Route

Last Wednesday I woke to snow and wind.  Even in winter, Busan rarely sees the white stuff fall–in March it’s unheard of.  Morning  classes were cancelled, so I indulged in a long skype with Melissa and then a slow walk to school, pausing to capture the images I had been rushing past all the other mornings. The camera always makes me stop and see.  Hope you enjoy the visuals as much as I did!

Snow on the train track

 

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Nameless Streets and Hussy Coffee

 

I like a good street name.  In Melbourne, ten years ago, I lived on Byron Street.  The house was brown and white and had a front porch with an old blue couch straddled across it.  My roomate Kate called it The Byron House.  

“Where do you live?” someone might ask. 

 ”Byron,” I could say.  “Left off of Tennyson, if you’re walking from St. Kilda.”  

The street name, like the house, gave me a distinct sense of belonging, even though Melbourne was temporary, the room was rented, and in the end I left it all after only four months. 

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Airtime and Love Motels

 

Airtime. Last Globe and Mail and a view of The Rockies.

 

Fast forward two bus rides, a ferry, a plane, three films (The Wrestler is exceptional), a seatmate from Portland who’s in the shoe business, an unfortunate three hours dealing with baggage in Seoul, and a final flight (and nap) to Busan, and you’ve got 22 hours from the Johnson Street Bridge to Mr. Song holding up a sign at arrivals that says Courtney Leane. 

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The 11th Hour

Despite setting the initial move-to-Korea wheels in motion last August, and having an excessive amount of free time to plan, prep, and pack in January and February, I still smacked into the 11th hour way past midnight.  Two open suitcases, a massive duffel bag, a ridiculous amount of shoes (more on that later) and several other miscellaneous items were scattered across the 8th-floor Victoria apartment I’d been temporarily renting.  The PCL to Vancouver boarded at 5 a.m., my flight left at noon, and sleep was not on the agenda.  Thank God for my close friend and packing GODDESS Gaeli, who possesses mad spacial and temporal skills she needs to share with the world. 

In the time it took me to decide which bag was best for stowing my ’09 tax receipts (carry-on), she had folded, packed, zipped, and weighed my life into three tidy packages and stacked them neatly against the wall.  Only a pair of nail clippers, two coins, and a purple lighter remained.

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