Saturday, December 31, 2011
I've been having really horrific headaches recently. I've had headaches my entire life, but this has been worse than usual. I'd been thinking possible causes were stress or the absurdly dry Seoul winter air. They actually got worse when I finally turned on the floor heat and started sleeping on the floor - which I thought was kind of odd, as normally I feel *better* when I sleep on the floor (my back adores the hard floor; soft mattresses are the enemy).
Today I noticed a small black patch on the wall, coming up from behind the headboard of my bed. I scooted the bed away from the wall and was immediately disgusted by the nasty mold growing all over the wall. In a panic I moved my bookshelf and wardrobe away from their respective walls, and the grossed-out feeling continued. My apartment had apparently become a prime greenhouse for not just onions, but various varieties of mold.
The walls in this place sweat when it's cold outside and the heat's on inside. The walls are made of concrete, covered with wallpaper on the inside. Where headboards, bookcases, and wardrobes press against it, mold apparently multiplied like mad.
Left: back of wardrobe
Friday, December 30, 2011
An onion in the very back of my fridge started to sprout. I'd planned on eating it, but the little blighter had put up shoots in the cold dark corner of my refrigerator; eating it seemed wrong somehow.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
It's been a rough couple of days.
You know my friend G lives in Daegu - she and her family are the people I spent Christmas weekend with. I've known G since I was 8. We're from the same hometown. We grew up together. I first met her Yorkie, Songi, back in 2004 when I was in Korea with the US government. I've played with Songi countless times over the years, and I've pet-sat quite a few times, too. I didn't see much of Songi this past weekend, as she wasn't feeling well. I learned from G Sunday night after I'd returned to Seoul that it had turned into something serious. I awoke Monday morning to an email that Songi had died in the night.
I cried. I hugged Charlie. I sent an email to my mom, telling her about Songi, and saying that I was glad to have the day off from work, so I could spend it in bed snuggling with Charlie, but oh, how it made me miss Koala.
Koala was my baby. You know I'm a cat lady. I've never had anything against dogs - in fact, I like most dogs. It's just that I'm a cat person. Except for when I first met Koala and fell totally in love. I'd have brought her with me to Korea, except that she was so happy spending all day with her 8 canine friends, and would've been miserable in a tiny Korean apartment. I've missed her terribly.
I awoke this morning to a response from my mom. Koala had died. The timing could not have been more surreal.
Koala had a rough start to life. She was born in December 2008, and came into my life in January 2009. She was almost dead. A dog had attacked her, had bitten her in the head and neck. She'd been dumped in a parking lot. When she was first spotted, she was walking in circles. Then she collapsed. She was weak, dehydrated, couldn't stand or eat or drink. She had a few seizures. I stayed up with her all night, giving her water and chicken broth via syringe. And she lived.
Due to some issues I won't get into here, she wasn't vaccinated right away. She came down with parvo. An enormous vet bill (and some fantastic work by my local vet that was worth every penny) later, she had fully recovered.
Bringing her home from the vet
Koala was never the smartest dog. She was absurdly funny looking. She often ran in circles. Periodically she would have seizures, but never seemed to feel any ill effects afterwards. But that's the only thing that could explain her sudden death, on her porch, untouched by the other dogs.
Koala, summer 2009
Sunday, December 25, 2011
I got up early Saturday morning, pleased to discover that my headache was (mostly) gone. I grabbed my stuff and set off for the train station - and was quite pleasantly surprised to wander outside to discover that we'd had quite a bit of snowfall in the night. In fact, there was a good deal of snow blanketing the peninsula nearly all the way down to Daegu, although Daegu itself was above freezing and free of snow.
The snow on my street
Somewhere just south of Seoul
This is not fog; it was actually a blizzard. Somewhere between Seoul and Daejeon.
I had a lovely weekend with G, YM, and Baby S, and I saw Seth (Charlie's former cat-sitter) and met several new people as well. A couple photographs of the weekend are below. The full set of photographs (probably of interest only to people who know me and my friends) can be seen by CLICKING HERE. Enjoy! :-)
YM, G, and Baby S
Me and Baby S, followed by tons of photos of Baby S hamming it up for the camera.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Somehow - miracle of miracles in this workaholic country - I managed to finagle a four-day holiday weekend out of my employer. I'm planning on spending Saturday and Sunday down in Daegu with G and her family, and planned to spend both today and Monday relaxing and puttering about Seoul.
Late Thursday afternoon, I started to get a headache. This is nothing new - I've had problems with headaches my entire life. Within an hour of returning home after work, it had evolved into a full-blown migraine. This isn't anything too surprising either, although I no longer get migraines nearly as often as I used to. During my late teens and early twenties, I used to get one or two a month. Now it's more like one or two a year - far preferable, except for when one comes pounding into my head at the start of my minuscule vacation. After a miserable night, the migraine sauntered off in the morning, leaving it's relative the Very Bad Headache in its place. The Very Bad Headach apparently decided that my head was a pretty awesome place to chill, and it stuck around until early evening, when it passed off the duty of torturing Anonymity to its friend Minor Headache. Yep, over 24 hours later and I am still headachy. I've consumed an unhealthy amount of OTC pain relievers in the hope that something would rid me of this nastiness, but to no particular avail. I'm hoping that Minor Headache will have skeedaddled by the time I get around to boarding the train for Daegu tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed!
I'd planned to meet my friend S for a late lunch on Saturday (S is a high school buddy of mine who just so happens to be stationed in Korea with the USAF). Well, I did meet up with him, although I suspect I was *not* the most companionable of companions, as I'd brought the Very Bad Headache along with me. S and I decided to go to the Fresh Shabu Dining restaurant in Hongdae, where we'd been before and where we knew the food was super-awesome. Headache or no headache, a girl needs to eat. I'm a huge fan of shabu-shabu, a Japanese dish involving veggies, mushrooms, noodles, and thin slices of meat boiled into a tasty stew at your table. This restaurant offers a bit of a twist on the traditional shabu-shabu goodness. You can choose two different soup broths and cook two different soups at the same time in a dual-partition yin-yang shaped pot:
The two broths
Veggies and mushrooms added
And lastly, with the meat added
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Despite the below freezing temperatures of Saturday morning, the day was gorgeous, and I decided not to let it go to waste. I decided to take the absurdly long subway trip to the opposite end of Seoul (well, to Gangnam anyway, which is an absurdly long subway trip from Hongdae) for the purpose of visiting Bongeunsa, a Buddhist temple founded in 794, and since enveloped by one of the most modern areas of Seoul. It's located just across the street from the frightening (to me anyway) COEX Mall and the South Korean World Trade Center Complex. It's a great area for photographs, especially if you're looking to juxtapose modern with traditional. Only a few of the photographs I took are shown below; to see the complete set of photographs, CLICK HERE.
There were quite a few silver spheres. The one on the right was part of a monument to the 2010 G20 meeting, which was held in Seoul.
The building on the left is the Trade Center Tower; the one on the right is part of the overall complex.
Elephant outside Bongeunsa
(Right: well fed but feral temple cat)
I'm not a particularly big fan of seafood. Being from the American South, I prefer my seafood battered and deep-fried on the rare occasion that I eat any. However, as I've been popping in and out of South Korea since 2001, I've had plenty of occasions to eat a variety of seafood that is decidedly neither battered nor deep-fried. I now actually enjoy various fish products that I once would have found abhorrent, and I've even braved a variety of foods that even a year ago I would have refused to try. For many of my readers here in Korea this might be a typical reaction, and as such nothing in this post will come as much of a surprise. I'm posting this mainly for those of my readers who have never been to Korea, and never had such an experience.
We had another hwaeshik (회식) on Friday night. This time went much better than last time, as I insisted on taking the subway to our destination. This hwaeshik was a going away party for our intern, as it was her last day. (Sadly, this means I'm back to being the only chick in the department. Oi.) We went to 마차회집, a seafood restaurant in Mapo, which put a lot of effort into attractive displays of the various raw seafood products they served. I was also introduced to the Korean version of the Irish Car Bomb - a shot of soju in a glass of Hite. Oi. Anyhow, here are some photos and videos from the evening:
Toasting our former intern with Soju + Hite
Snail. I really do not like the texture.
Sea Anemone. Again - not a fan of the texture; too crunchy.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
As I'm trying to save money, I'm doing my best to keep the heat off in my apartment. For those of you who don't know much about Korea - in Korea, the heating systems are built into the floor. Floor heat is a wonderful thing, but boy does it knock your gas bill up. Thus far, I've been running it from about 4am-8am max, although it also hasn't gotten all that cold yet. Or at least I don't think so. Charlie, on the other hand, was apparently built for warmer weather. She is way more snuggly now than she is when it's warm out. If I'm at my desk, she's in my lap. If I'm in bed, she's under the covers, snuggled up tight against me. If I get up before the crack of dawn to turn on the floor heat, she abandons me as soon as it gets toasty down there. And if the floor heat's off and I'm not home, seated, or in bed... she sits on my laptop. I've caught her in the middle of writing a lengthy gibberish email to a friend, and surely she must spend some time checking out the lolcats:
Yeah. I think we may also have discovered why the Evil Blue Screen of Death has been popping up all of the sudden.