I’ve been sitting for a few minutes thinking about the best way to preface this short list. I’m struggling. I’ve typed and deleted several hundred words and four South Korean jets have flown over the apartment since I sat down.
I’m struggling because I don’t want to contradict myself. I’ve been working very hard to appreciate what is in front of me; to really enjoy the present. I feel like I will come off as disingenuous if I start talking about things from back home I miss; things that I wish I had here with me. On one hand, I absolutely love Korea and I’ve loved my time here. The country is beautiful and the people are friendly. They like me and they like my beard. But I would be lying if I said there weren’t some things from America I wish I had on my person. That’s why I’m struggling. I’m conflicted.
I’m also locked in on “Dutch coffee”, which doesn’t help. I’m wired and regular thoughts and emotions are intensified. Missing things from home turns into a big internal ordeal. It’s too much. As long as you know that I love being here and appreciate Korea, that’s enough. I’ll move onto my tribute and explain why I wish I had certain things here.
***Dutch Coffee is commonplace in Asian culture. It employs an extremely slow, pure form of distillation that ensures optimal caffeine intake. Don’t take after 5 PM if you are not a lifelong coffee drinker or you have a preexisting tic. You (I) will be up until 4 AM blinking like “I Dream of Jenie”.
- Champ is my friend Anthony’s pet Boxer. He has had him since 2011. Until last year, when I purchased a luxury home with stainless steel appliances, Champ was my roommate. He is now my best friend.
- Champ is my best friend because he provides companionship without judgement. When my gf dumped me in 2012–because of “bleak career prospects”–Champ was there. When my gf dumped me in 2013–mentioned 2012 gf–Champ was there. In 2014-16, when word in Baton Rouge had spread, and I couldn’t find a gf, Champ was there. He is loyal. He is the best type of friend you could ask for.
- Every morning I take a walk/run around a lake along the campus of Yeungam University. It is serene and it is beautiful. Champ would like this. The trail circumnavigates the lake. There are gardens and trees we would walk by and there are dog “clean-up” stations we would walk by.
- Champ is inquisitive and friendly. Koreans are nice to me because I look different and I am approachable. Champ is bigger than any dog I’ve seen since I’ve been here, which would make him different, and he is friendly, which would make him approachable. I would enjoy the attention he would bring and I would revel in his positivity.
- Sometimes the days grow long when my American friends are playing baseball. I spend the mornings and early afternoons wandering, writing, and appeasing nuclear tension. It can get lonely. Champ and I could fill those hours with adventure and origami.
- Korean men don’t need any products related to hair revitalization. They have good lettuce. Naturally, Rogaine is not available here. That is not good for me. My hair requires performance enhancing substances. My whole countenance suffers. This, along with a language barrier and mild political tension, is why I’m having difficulty with Korean women.
- ***Amazon delivery–through customs–is typically a 4 to 7 year process.
- ***Lettuce is how my friend/collegiate-coach/amateur comedian Sean Ochinko describes good hair. He also will say “flow”.
- Pedestrian Traffic Safety Laws
- If there was a way to bring more pedestrian safety to Korea with me, I would. I’m not going to take the self-imposed bait and say anything about Asian driving, but the disregard for the pedestrian crosswalk–and pedestrian in general–is undeniable.
- Sports Bars
- In Korea I’ve made conscious efforts to singularly focus myself on what I am doing. This active mindfulness has brought me clarity and focus in ways I haven’t experienced before. With that said, I’m off Korea and their attitude regarding sports… Save that attentive, singular nature for your walking and deep breathing. On a Friday night I want to go to a bar and I want to watch seven or eight games while having seven or eight beers. I want to watch these games with friends and I want to revel in the athletic competition. I want to critique professionals and tell girls how good I was in high school. I want all of that, but I can’t have it. Korea, as wonderful a place it may be, is devoid of that setting–they sit on the floor and enjoy interpersonal conversation. Every once in while you may stumble upon a bar or restaurant with a solo TV, but the TV will be off and, when prompted, will be put on table tennis, soccer, Korean baseball, or men’s volleyball. I understand that I am in a foreign country and their interests aren’t in line with mine–that’s part of the experience. But the lack of a sports bar milieu is starting to wear on me. So, if able, I would place a sports bar next to the condo. I would bring Walkons Bar and Grill with me, to Korea, if possible.
- ***Walkons Bar and Grill: Famous Louisianan bar/restaurant where beer flows like wine and the women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.
- Leisure Pools
- I don’t say swimming pool because I don’t swim in pools. I drink beer and I float. Leisure is a more appropriate description. Here, apartment or backyard pools aren’t a thing. Pools are inside and they are used for racing and diving. Parties, in pools, don’t exist. As the weather warms, and summer approaches, this void pains me. There isn’t much in the world–aside from Emma Watson–that brings me happiness like a good pool party. Back home, when it is warm, and the weekend, people gather to drink, float, and tan. As much as I need this, Korea may need it more. Animosity cannot exists in settings where laughter, liquor, and urination are equal parts present. Kim Jong-Un can’t swim.