Escape from Philadelphia

As I stood in the cold, quiet PATCO subway station waiting for the delayed eastbound train bound for Camden, I stamped my numbed feet one long walk in the snow away from frostbite and remembered what I said earlier to Nuevo and Pickle about the plan this weekend:

“I’m going to make a memory.” Once I decided it was still on, I was going to find a way back to Princeton for my going away dinner, and I was going to make the getting there an event to remember.

We had spent the evening drinking in some old, large Irish pub. At least I think it was Irish, I’m pretty sure it was. The place looked very old, so old, in fact a city had been built up around it, its entrance now down some alley, next to a parking garage.

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Sweat, baby, sweat

As the woman behind the counter at the Korean Consulate General office on Park Avenue in New York City asked for my visa application, I realized that, in preparation for bringing everything needed to get my E-2 work visa for my job in Busan, South Korea, I had forgotten perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle after the Notice of Employment from EPIK, and sweat began to rain down my face and pool in places best left unmentioned.

The woman, seemingly sympathetic, waved her hand and said, “no problem, you just fill out another” and handed me a blank visa application.

But, it was too late. Once the sweat begins, it won’t end until I am back outside in the quickly dropping icebox metropolis.

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I Dream of 한 국

When a person gets consumed in something, it invades every part of their brain. Suddenly, you’re dreaming about spreadsheets, meetings, and the girl in the other department that you see in the lunchroom playing with her hair and talking about last night’s episode of Lost.

I do not dream about my temp job (though she is the prettiest girl in the office). What I do dream about is Korean. Specifically, I had my first dream last night about the Korean language.

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It’s not 2005

In an apartment in Jinju, South Korea, I am sitting on the ondol-heated floor, smoking another cigarette.

CNN International is on. It’s a full hour before I head back to class at a small hagwon down the street, on the main road, on the third floor, above a restaurant where we often have our dinners brought from, unless Emily, the director, makes her excellent kimchi jigae for us. Once or twice, she splurged and bought Chinese take out, which she noted was very expensive. It was probably the chicken, chicken always seems expensive in South Korea, except for the chicken sandwich at Popeye’s I got one time, not because I was hungry, just because I wanted to see what it tasted like. It tasted like a chicken sandwich bought at a Popeye’s in South Korea.

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The Weather in Korea/ All at Once

As Central New Jersey goes, so goes southern South Korea.

South Korea, and specifically all points south, are experiencing a pleasant warming trend. For much of the winter, Seoul has been gripped in a bone-chilling tundra, with temperatures sometimes barely rising beyond 10 degrees F., and night temperatures settling in below zero. Busan, along the southeast shore, has fared better by about 20 degrees, but 25 degree days are not necessarily beach weather.

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“President Obama, It’s Time To Fire The TSA”

I just stumbled upon an article that pretty much says what I wanted to say in a much clearer, less self-conscious way. Read on:

President Obama, It’s Time To Fire The TSA
By Joel Johnson, Gizmodo.com

Original article appears here

Today, DHS’s Napolitano’s response to the crotchbomber: “We’re looking to make sure that this sort of incident cannot recur.” But the TSA’s response to Abdulmutalib’s attempt makes one thing clear: We must stop pretending the TSA is making us safer.

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On the Back of a Scooter, Soju in Hand

On the back of a scooter, soju in hand, we zipped across speed humps over narrow side roads behind buildings on our way to the apartment.

It was the first time I had ever been any substantial distance on a motored bike. I was trying to branch out, meet people, get to know those I’d drank with at Zio Ricco on Wednesdays. Some of them were hanging out at a house on the other side of the Hadaedong district, where I lived. I think they were in the same district. Time blurs the lines a bit.

It was cold, I do remember that. I remember the haze, that constant companion floating under street lights, a dirty mist. Korea being the size it is (really small) with as many people it has (a whole lot) who drive cars (also a lot) and who worship at the temple of technology, it’s easy to see why there would be a slick of pollution to coat everyone and everything.

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Donky Fried Chicken

One night, after a particularly heady bout of alcoholism at one of Jinju’s finest watering holes, a few of us not yet ready to call it a night headed out for more beer, good cheer and chow. While Jinju was a city, plenty of its eating establishments had a curtain call somewhere in the vicinity of midnight, leaving us with not many choices.

The distance in the December cold was beginning to wear off my buzz when we stumbled upon, in all its deliciousness, Donky Fried Chicken.

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