It can be hard to find inspiration when you’re too busy trying to sort through the demands of marriage, work, sleep, and your bullying belly. Now it appears I’ve even caught a cold, adding to the inedible mix. Glory Hallelujah (pardon my elaborate manner of sneezing)!
The reason for the longish hiatus in this blog is I was out of town for a few days conducting interviews in a little burg down south here in South Korea with a couple of other teachers. Our recruiter escorted us on the KTX (Korean Express Train) to the city of Ulsan, where I promptly realized as my stomach sank like an elevator through my entrails that I’d left one of my bags on the train.
Tina, the recruiter, kindly led me to the Lost and Found at the station, where I described the bag to one of the workers there while Tina interpreted. It turned out to be intact (as I knew it would be, as theft in Korea is fairly rare, although I’d had a twitch of paranoia when it occurred to me that someone might have swiped it from the men’s rest room stall in the station instead of my having left it on the train, where I assumed it would be safe, if only due to the menacingly benign cyclops of CCTV) and the man we spoke to said we could come and pick it up in two hours.
Tina and I went back to join Francesca and Luke, the other two teachers, and we hopped in a cab that brought us to our hotel. Two tigers greeted us through the window; to our relief they turned out not to be actual wild beasts hungry to savor raw human flesh, but harmless statues. Tina spoke to the concierge and guided us to the elevator and our rooms on the eighth floor before temporarily retiring to her own on the ninth.
We went out for dinner, getting some yummy traditional Korean pancakes and bibimbap, then Luke and Francesca walked back to the hotel while Tina and I took a taxi back to the station to get my bag.
The next day we got up early and left the hotel at seven to go to the academy where we’d be conducting the interviews. It was about a forty-minute trip, and the elderly gentleman who delivered us there had trouble navigating the drive-through at the fast food restaurant we went to to pick up some breakfast. At first he tried to back the cab through, then Tina directed him to turn the vehicle back around, so he exited the parking lot. Then he went back in and pulled up to the place with the built-in microphone and speaker with a sign that read: “Confirm Your Order.” (Tina later pointed out that the poor man must have been hard of hearing, as well as flummoxed by the unfamiliar ritual of the drive-through “food”-ordering experience; when Luke told the story to his wife later on, she said the driver reminded her of Mr. Bean.)
A manager from the restaurant moseyed up and said we should have ordered at the spot around the corner. Finally, Tina gave up with a sigh and asked the cabbie to park so we could order inside.
I’ll tell you how the interviews went later. I didn’t mean for the introductory passage to go on so long, but it does feel good to be writing again. I was starting to turn into the Jack Nicholson character in The Shining for awhile there (in fact, as we were practically the only guests at the hotel where we stayed, I was ripe for the part)–and not so much from writer’s block, not that I have any right to make excuses, but from feeling thwarted by life itself, as if my own miserable existence were a smirking demon who wanted me to fail before squatting over the place I’d been buried and taking a dump with the word “Loser” written in a sweeping cursive stool on my insignificant grave.
Have you ever felt that way? If so, congratulations! If not, as my students would say, “I. N. V. U.”