Yesterday I had the most backhanded compliment in some time. I wore my hair in a braid because a student asked me to, and really, if I can't spend 2 minutes doing something simple to make someone happy, i'd be a rather miserable human being. However, my boss raved about the braid, in such a way that it seems the inevitable conclusion is that he thinks the way I usually wear my hair is shite. It was highly amusing.
I went out for Boribap with YJ, Laura, Hanna and one of Laura's friends who was in Korea visiting. The food was yummy and it was nice to eat something green for a change. Then we got coffee and headed back to our 'hood.
Tonight was a night for meat, though, as we went for Dondae. J-squared was there, talking all about Native Americans introducing kimchee to the settlers (it isn't easy to produce turkey dinners for holidays here, which is rather sad), and SO WAS R2J2!!! Didn't ever expect to see him again. He very much seemed to be on something and spent most of the dinner not eating, drinking a bit of soju and looking rather ashamed. He said almost nothing and god knows, I had no idea what to say to him. How's it going doesn't exactly work in this particular situation. He left at one point, couldn't find the door, and later returned. It was all super bizarre.
Laura idly commented on whether there was anything to do to help him. It occurs to me that living in Korea is really not for those with any serious problems, but often those are the exact people who come here. There are plenty of people here running away from things and some of them bring with them problems rather large for the limited support system of the few foreigners work and socializing throws you together with. I mean, I haven't a clue how to access drug addiction services in Korea, or to get in contact with his parents, and what's more, I am not overly inclined to do so on the basis of a two night aquaintanceship. Even my good friends here, for whom I would certainly do whatever I was able, are people whose parents I know very, very little about in terms of contacting them. I suppose that is the life of an expat in many ways, as your life now is seldom tied very strongly to the life or lives you have led before your arrival upon these particular shores.
I thought briefly that perhaps I was one of those who ran away from something, but I think in my case it is more that I ran back to something that I wasn't in the slightest interested in leaving, truth to be told.
I am reading a fantastic book right now. It grabbed me on the first page, with the first line, in fact:
"When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini's The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta."
Interestingly, I didn't think I would like it at all. The book in question is "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" by Haruki Murakami. I have heard a ton about "Kafka on the Shore" and even seen it used in several places but have never bought it. When I consider why, basically it boils down to the fact that I mentally associate him with Banana Yoshimito, whose books I didn't like, simply because they are both Japanese and write books that are supposed to be a bit dreamlike. But Laura lent it to me and I am so glad she did. It is wonderful already and I am only two chapters in. It feels like one of those books I should own. It feels like one of those books I should read with a notebook next to me at all times, to write down all the quotes that are going to strike me every other page or so.
I have over 2400 duplicate songs on my iTunes. This is what indiscriminate downloading will do.