Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Memory Lane (VI)

Year 2 (comin' with that Ol' E brew*). I was sharing an employer-provided apartment in Sinchon with my wife (at the time my girlfriend), and working in Hongje-dong, a 30 to 40-minute commute by subway. The apartment wasn't too bad; probably better than a lot of the shoddy apartments many ESL teachers are stuck with. There was a large bedroom, a small kitchen, and another smaller room separated from the kitchen by a sliding door. Oh, and the gas boiler was inexplicably placed in the bathroom, in front of the toilet, so that if you had to sit down, you had to do so on an angle.

The previous tenant was an Irish girl who was fired from the school at which I was then recently employed, and the day we moved in it was as filthy as a tool shed. It took my wife and I a whole day to clean, which is saying something for such a small place. On the plus side, her GI boyfriend left behind a pile of FHM and Maxim magazines. I was still at the age where I found dumb shit like that amusing.

Like I said, the apartment itself wasn't bad; but the neighborhood wasn't particularly nice. Sure, I was happy to be living in Sinchon, with all its comforts and conveniences, but right next to my apartment was a 24-hour galbi joint, and a metalworks shop was across the street. Were it not for drink there would have been no way I ever could have slept. And drink I did, every single night. It was my liver or my sanity, and I chose my sanity.

I used to finish work and buy 4 640ml bottles of OB from the local Buy The Way. I'd get home and shower by 10 o' clock, after which I would stay up until around 2a.m., drinking, reading novels (even booze couldn't make The Sun Also Rises interesting) and chain smoking. It's a miracle my wife put up with me then. It's a miracle she still does.

Other than drinking lots of beer, we would on the weekends spend time in the area (or Hongdae), shopping and dining at various restaurants. Seriously, I must have spent over 5000 dollars on CDs from Purple Record, and that's after taking into account the 15% discount they eventually began giving me. Other times we'd take the subway to the Kyobo book center in Gwanghwamun, where I'd regularly buy a shitload of books and DVDs. Besides shopping for groceries and catching the occasional movie, there's not much else we did.

We both had full-time jobs and were pretty busy. Work for me was OK, but nothing exciting ever happened. It was a smaller school than my first, with fewer teachers and a lot fewer students. But I didn't care; they paid me on time, and the boss wasn't too much of a dick.

By the time my contract was nearly up, I decided to forego another year of teaching. It was time to return to Canada. I liked teaching, but was tired of the overall monotony and tediousness the year had presented me. I needed a change. I figured I'd go home and try to get an advertising job (or something). I popped the question to my wife, Caution: Spoiler Ahead she said yes, and I believed that, in a month, I'd be leaving Korea for good. That thought saddened me a little, but the prospect of returning home after more than 2 years away balanced things out and then some.

The prodigal son was set to return.

NB - I promise that the next Memory Lane entry will be more entertaining. It seems to me that the boredom and malaise of my 2nd year mirrors my lack of enthusiasm in writing about it.

* and not, as my brother, J, contends "come in with that old Hebrew"


Aaron said...

I take it the GI was the Irish girl's girlfriend, not your wife's (though, for better or worse, it would've made Year Two more interesting if he had been your wife's bf).

Sparkles*_* said...

For you, maybe!

peemil said...

"the GI was the Irish girl's girlfriend, not your wife's."

I hope his name was Joe.