20 July 2008

All my best friends aren't metalheads

I'm (probably) going to be living in this apartment until August 15th. So I've unpacked and bought at least a few edible things. It is nice to not attempt to live out of my suitcase for a week or so, but it's also definitely annoying to have my final move be put off til then.

On the plus side, because that means I'll be having a fairly long commute to Sinchon for my first couple of weeks they've put me on the afternoon/evening shift, which means I won't be starting work until at least 1 PM. I'm not sure if that will carry on once I'm finally living in Sinchon, it would be nice if it did but it won't be a problem if it doesn't. I got to meet the manager of the Sinchon branch (he's called Hans, sometimes people pick the oddest 'English' names) who was really nice and helpful, and the assistant manager, D, who is just a total sweetheart. She has her conch pierced too, like me and A, we could start a Korean conch crew. I only got to meet one of the other teachers but he seemed quite nice, and D informed me that there are two other Brits (although I think that one of them might be the one I'm replacing) who are total chess nuts. Overall it seemed more relaxed than Yeouido and I'm going to meet up with them (and R, who's subbing there) on Saturday after they finish work for dinner and drinks which should be a good opportunity to hang out and get to know them all a bit before I start.

Before that though I have to get through my week at Jongno!

I'm also seriously considering going on another book binge... I really should try to conserve my money, but I also really do want more books! The Kyobo Book Centre sounds like it's quite close to where I'm going to be working next week too. I do still have some English money that I can change, and there is money in my account (quite a bit actually, since I just got my £800+ tax rebate, which I assume has gone through), although I don't really want to get into using my card as I'm going to get charged quite a bit extra for that. I'm not in too dire financial straits- at least I've stocked up on some food and finally got around to getting a SmartCard (Seoul's version of the Oyster Card) and put some money on it. I won't get paid until August 10th though, and I'm not sure how much I can expect since payment is usually related to bizarre formulae about booking rates and so forth which doesn't properly apply to my case.

Yesterday I finally got around to meeting up with JH, Spires' ex who lives in Incheon (just outside of Seoul). We'd been attempting to organise meeting up pretty much since my arrival and finally managed to get our shit together this weekend, despite the terrible weather. I felt a little bit weird about meeting up with him, mostly because when I first knew/met him in London a couple of years ago he was embroiled in a complicated love triangle of sorts with Spires, and I was firmly on the side of the Other Guy. I don't think I was ever rude or horrible to him, but I still felt that maybe I was being a little false to suddenly want to play nice when it suits me.

In actuality it wasn't awkward or weird, his English seems to have improved a lot too which made things a lot easier. He took me to Lotte World rather than to see the sights of Seoul due to the weather, but it made for a pretty fun day! I wasn't too interested in the department store aspect of the place, especially as I really am trying to not be too frivolous with money (I did spend an excessive amount on shoes in Yongsan the other day though), but we had an excellent late lunch and then went off to the indoor theme park! I had a hard time trying to keep a straight face when I was offered "a ticket to ride", you'd really think that I'd be able to control myself better (especially after putting up with students telling me about going on safari and seeing, "Oh, lions and tigers and bears!" and so forth). Inside was amazing, I wonder if Lotte World is actually the most wonderfully tacky amusement park, or if Dollywood comes out on top?

The rides were really fun, and for some reason there seemed to be an abundance of water rides which I love- I might as well have just stood out in the storms all day really! Actually it did brighten up later, so we got to go on some of the outside rides (which I cannot describe in any way other than "AWESOME!"), and wander around the absurd Disney castle style splendour! The only thing that was a bit of a problem was that, in my wisdom, when I got dressed that morning I'd decided to ditch the jeans I've been spending pretty much all my time in when I'm not working or sleeping, partly because they must stink by now, but also because I hate getting stuck in the rain in jeans. A denim mini skirt (and thick black tights, may I point out) can be appropriate attire for a wide range of activities, however on reflection I think I'd cross 'any situation in which you're sitting on/in a succession of rides in front of very large crowds of people which involve you straddling part of the seat and/or another person' off of that list.

I'm also wondering if it might be time for me to reconsider my position on ice skating, though I doubt it will actually happen. At the moment I dislike it vehemently, but I do quite like watching other people skate. Probably if I did do it now I wouldn't actually hate it. I think my ambivalence comes partly from the fact that I wasn't very good at ice skating, but there's plenty of things that I suck at that I enjoy, and I definitely don't really care about making a fool out of myself as long as I'm enjoying myself. I think I just never understood the point of skating rinks- meandering around in a circle whilst wearing uncomfortable footwear isn't my idea of a good time. Thinking about ice skating just brings up utterly depressing memories from my childhood of other people's really dull birthday celebrations at ice rinks, and there's just something incredibly dingy, dank and unutterably youth club-y about my recollections of both the rinks at Ally Pally and the Sobell Centre. Seriously shudder inducing. On the other hand, thinking about actually ice skating on a frozen lake or river (like in In The Hand of the Goddess or Tom's Midnight Garden!) seems like it could actually be kind of fun. So maybe I just hate the idea of fake attempts to replicate something that's just naturally fun and magical, and ruining it. That kind of fits with my intense disgust with Centerparcs for sure.

So I actually had a really good time with JH and we got on really well. It was nice to compare his thoughts on learning English in Korea with my experiences of teaching, and vindicating to have him agree with me about the many flaws in English Channel's teaching methodology! The way that I know him (not only through a friend, but the complicated romantic situation surrounding it) had me thinking about the very different ways some of my good friends are with Relationships and Emotions, and other Deeply Important Things. This led to me discussing at length (and over some really yummy dessert at Red Mango) the starkly different love lives of Spires, Naomi, Pygmy, Cassiopeia and myself (I didn't even realise that I'd limited the conversation to the Zudonym crew at the time), which prompted J to wave her spoon at me and ask, a little incredulously, "you do know how Sex and the City this is, right?". Her point was that it's interesting how different we sound, at least on the surface. It's kind of weird that the five of us were all studying basically the same thing, have a hell of a lot of similar interests and even if we wouldn't quite squish into the same age bracket there isn't even 6 years age difference between us, and yet we are very different in a lot of ways, and are off (or heading off to get on with) doing pretty disparate things at the moment. I definitely like the contrast though!

On a faintly similar note, you know what else I discovered? In fact it was on the first night I went out with the Yeouido crew: it doesn't seem to matter who you are or where in the world you are, if you get four women around a table together the conversation will inevitably turn to which SATC character you each are. And if you happen to have four women and one bloke, he will frantically try to avoid being labelled as Stanford Blatch. You better wish that guy luck.

That time it was C being labelled as, in fact, Anthony (rather than Stanford). I'd also like to point out that original flavour C is not to be confused with replacement C (there are some problems with lazily referring to people by only their initials, curses!), because C is great and replacement-C seems a bit weird. I know that I seem to have a very interesting (i.e. non-existent) view of chronology, but let me launch into his behaviour on Friday night. I think, actually, my primary problem is that he isn't very funny. The rest of us are and we all bounce off each other, it was just a little bit weird having someone there who's kind of... dull. The other new (Korean) teacher, I, was a bit quiet but he's delightfully British and managed to be charmingly amusing in an understated way, so there was definitely a marked contrast between the two newbies. Then, in the cab ride back, he started listing his reasons for coming to Korea- my recollection of the conversation is a tad hazy but he seemed to have swiped a psychologist's list of negative life changing events (divorce, cancer etc). I don't dislike him for that, it just made things a bit awkward for us; there's really nothing to say to someone you don't know very well and haven't really clicked with pouring that kind of stuff out to you. Also, if you're going to chose to spill that kind of information to any of us I'd suggest not plumping for the bitter Brits. Just a suggestion.

I've definitely read too many novels in the first person lately. Maybe I can blame novels for one weird thing I did recently, which was to buy a packet of Marlboro lights and have about three tokes of one, before remembering that I don't smoke. There's no tangible reason as to why this is particularly important information, but I just felt that I ought to mention it anyway. Yesterday I bought myself some apples, which I vastly prefer to cigarettes.

I do seem to have developed a slightly weird new vice, J2 AU fanfiction. I can't really explain why. I don't like AUs as a rule, and I'm not much of a fan of RPF (although if it is in an entirely alternative universe, I'm not sure that it does count as 'real person' fanfiction, I guess I'm basically just reading original fiction just with familiar names for the characters). I have a slightly ambiguous relationship with fanfiction sometimes. There are some shows, noticeably Buffy, which absolutely smack of BYOB subtext, and that's beyond fine with me. What I sometimes have a problem with is when characters (or worse, actual people) display affection for each other in a completely platonic way and it's willfully misinterpreted. Sure, I enjoy snickering at poor choices of words in Harry Potter, bow tie foreplay in The West Wing or mild sexual tension in Supernatural as much as anyone, but I also think it can get to a point where it's just creepy and kind of sad.

This is definitely sad. It's a guide for people in fandom who want privacy, want to avoid the possibility of ever being mentioned on Fan History or want to never have people link to their work outside their control. It's apparently not a joke, but the message of it seems to be: don't participate, in fact try not to get up in the morning, eat, move or breathe. Of course I can understand people's need and/or wish for privacy, and of course I can understand why people would want to keep their fandom identity (and indeed any type of online identity) separate from their real life. It's something that I haven't quite resolved for myself, I don't tend to write that much about fandom related things (other than disdainful mini-essays on The X-Files), but I tend to consider whatever I'm thinking or writing about to be part of my 'real' life rather than separating them out, so I will sometimes write about fanfiction, for example. I guess there is a possibility that that could come back to bite me on the posterior in the future if I ever apply for the position of Supreme Overlord of the World. Maybe I should just get working on my freeze ray now instead.


Naomi Penn said...

The Paramount Comedy Channel has begun the whole series of Sex and the City from the very beginning, as of Monday, so I have been enjoying the first time Carrie meets Big or kisses a guy with a tongue ring. Also, Stanford Blatch was much cuter in the first series!

I also don't think that I am any of the SATC girls in the slightest.

Miss Anne Throp'ist said...

Hmm, you're somewhere around the Charlotte/Carrie identity nexus. I don't think I'm using the word 'nexus' correctly there, but you know what I mean.

Mostly Carrie annoyed the fuck out of me with all her whinging, but sometimes she was likeable/identifiable with. Also she writes. So.

Maybe you ought to just decide which Desperate Housewife you are instead.

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