Thursday, April 05, 2007

a few random things

Today my coteacher was dressed exactly like Minnie Mouse--black long-sleeved shirt, little red frock with white polka dots, black tights, giant hairbow. I could have sworn it was a Halloween costume, only it's April.

Somehow, within the last 48 hours, the city of Gongju has become overrun with yo-yos. Two nights ago, my host mom complained to me that she had to go buy the boys yo-yos and that they were a rip off at 2,000 won each (a little more than $2). Then yesterday, yo-yos were suddenly everywhere! Almost every boy at my school between the ages of 6-14 was playing them in the hallways, at lunch, and in my classes. On my way to taekwondo (I'll post about that soon), I passed dozens of boys playing with yo-yos in pairs and clusters on the sidewalk, and all my host bros do in the evenings is attempt to show me yo-yo tricks. Kiyeong is too short for his yo-yo, so most of his yoyo-ing consists of him snapping it into the ground. When he gets too fed up with that, he swarms up my doorway and yo-yos down at me from the corner of the ceiling. Before yesterday, I had never seen a yo-yo in Korea, and I have yet to see a girl play with one.

Back in the middle of March, to celebrate the arrival of spring, my host mom cooked up a giant cauldron of pig foot soup. Pig foot soup, in taste, appearance, and consistency, is absolutely indistinguishable from cow foot soup (unless you look into the cauldron and look at the trotters/hooves/bones to see which animal is involved). Until very recently, I was eating it 4 meals a day (with my other, 5th meal lunch in the cafeteria at school). Thankfully, in the past week we've moved on to other, delicious meals that involve nutrients and variety, but the pig foot soup cauldron is still partially full, lurking in the washing machine for whenever my host mom thinks we deserve a special meal. I have to admit, I've gotten so used to the stuff that other than worrying about vitamin deprivation, eating it doesn't bother me at all. As I've probably said in earlier posts, when it's fresh I even enjoy just tastes like hot, salty water with black pepper and scallions in it and makes a comforting sort of gruel when mixed with rice.

When I got back to my homestay from traveling, the flora in the bathroom had gone from the one sort of sad plant in the tub to a jungle absolutely bristling with giant, drooping leaves. It was sort of like being in Where the Wild Things Are--when Max's room is still definitely a room, but also definitely a jungle. When I sat on the toilet, leaves brushed against my knees and tickled the left side of my face, and while showering I could barely squeeze in among all the foliage (and couldn't help getting shampoo and body wash on the poor plants). I suppose my host mom dragged them in there to water them...but there is no explanation for leaving them there for almost 2 full weeks without sun(possibly longer since they were already there when I got back). Plus, lugging the things in their ridiculously huge, heavy ceramic pots was way harder than simply walking around the apartment and watering them would have been.

I have begun a campaign of resistance against my rock mat. For months before break I slept on it with no problems, and right when I came back it was fine...but lately I've had trouble falling asleep on it, and every morning my neck and shoulders are extremely sore. For the past couple of nights, I've eased it carefully off my yo and slept in blissful comfort, then folded it up and placed it under my folded comforter every morning (making it pretty clear I haven't slept on it). Each evening my host mom replaces it on my yo and gives me a lecture about how I have to use it in order to avoid getting sick. I tell her I'm not cold and then nod neutrally as she scolds. Then, once she's safely asleep, I slide the mat off again. My host parents both think I've lost my mind but it's worth the extra, better sleep.

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