Friday, November 26, 2010

Catching Up, Counting Down and Upchuck Worthy Skin Care Techniques

While perusing my mental Korean bucket list, I came to the realization that it has been a very long time since I updated you with the splendid details of my Korean life in countdown mode. In further proof that every Korean smog cloud has a silver lining (probably counterfeit), I have been spending the last month cursing and rewriting the text books for our school. The politics behind this very time consuming task are not something I am entirely thrilled with, but I will soon be able to say that I am a 'published' author in South Korea.

When one is used to ample amounts of work time to watch Jersey Shore and write wordy blog posts, a sudden, unincreased pay transition to a jam packed, working overtime schedule can be a strange adaptation, but I have done it and am thrilled to say that I have enough time at work today to write a blog post in peace. (On a side note, I have secretly enjoyed my new increased work schedule. I feel like I am back in school and hadn't realized how much I missed it.)

As of tomorrow I begin the two week countdown to my departure from Korea. I am excited to get home and see everyone I have missed so much during this past year, but I am already getting nostalgic for my unforgettable time spent here. The food and the lights, the friends and the norebangs, the mosquito bites and the elevators, all of these things have made this year one I will never forget.

This is, unfortunately, going to be a very short post today, as a teachin' textbook writer's job apparently never really ends. In order to actually say something in this post, I will leave you with one of the most memorable moments from last weekend.

My good friends Taylor and Jin were finishing their dinner at a raw tuna restaurant, and three of us decided to sit with them and wait for the moment when they decided they could no longer accept another plate of endless fresh fish. The owner of the restaurant was accepting of the fact that we were not eating, but clearly wanted to make his new, non-paying guests comfortable. Thus began an hour long period of time during which our new friend continued to bring us free dishes and drinks, and watched over us as we, sometimes hesitantly, consumed his offerings.

The first offering was a shot of some sort of alcohol, which in broken English was explained as drink meant to increase sexual stamina. This is, perhaps, why said drink was served in ceramic glasses shaped like a penis for the females, and a breast for the males*. At home, this would be a tacky, albeit gimmicky way to serve a drink, here it felt almost traditional and strangely modest... almost. As soon as the unidentified alcohol was consumed, the man put a piece of fish wrapped in a sesame leaf directly in each of our mouths.

Assuming that the free drink portion of the evening had come to a close, we smiled, reflecting on the quirky cultural experience we had all just shared. Little did we know, the next batch of servicey was a bubblin' away on the stove in the back.

Just minutes later our friend returned with a platter holding several shot glasses and a ceramic pitcher. The shot glasses were half full (or later, I found out, half empty) with a purple liquid, quickly identified as plum juice. Sigh of relief... this shouldn't be too bizarre. This is when he began to pour a thick white liquid from the pitcher into each shot glass. Finding out what this the new addition to the plum juice was before we took the shot was really just a horrible idea. Tuna eyeball oil (great for the skin! but really, who cares that much?). Fantastic. It is considered extremely rude to refuse a *gift* in Korean culture, and our friend's permanent placement at the head of the table made pouring the eyeball oil shot into an empty beer bottle not exactly a viable option. Needless to say, we took the shot. It didn't taste terrible, but the knowledge of what I had just consumed triggered a gag reflex that nearly inspired an eyeball oil upchuck episode in our new friend's raw tuna establishment.

Thankfully the remaining offerings for the evening were far less extreme, but once again I was reminded of my love hate relationship with servicey. Korea, I shall miss you. All I can say is that my skin better be flawless soon, otherwise I am going to begin to question the skin clearing medical properties of tuna eyeballs.

I have a goal of at least two more posts to be written while still in Korea. I plan on starting a new blog when I return to the states, but will have to wait until I come up with a title as clever as this one. Having the punnable last name 'West' brings with it so much pressure. I feel for Kanye.

Stay tuned.

Peter Teacher

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