Thursday, September 07, 2006

Stop and smell the ramen

I had to teach at 9 this morning, and of course I had last minute things to prepare. So I planned to get up at 6, go for my sauna fix, go to KC’s office and print some stuff, have a cup of coffee to brace myself for the onslaught, and teach. Of course that’s not how things worked out.

First, Aiden slept late but Max got up at 6 and wanted to nurse for a half an hour. Aiden is usually up by 6, except for the days when I WANT him to get up early, then he sleeps until 7. I wanted to see him wake up before I left because he lost his first tooth last night and I wanted to see him discover the treasures the tooth fairy left under his pillow (Darth Vader mini-fig -- hey, its the first tooth, it’s a big deal). Anyway, naughtiness by the king of naughty ensued, who then refused to go to KC and kept asking for “Mommy nurt just one more minute” (how do they learn to negotiate so well at that age?) which woke up Aiden, leading to a battle over who gets to play with Darth Vader. By the time I got out of the house it was 7:20, no time for the sauna. Headed over to KC’s office, had issues with his security badge, couldn’t get any of the printers to work (though KC was kindly guiding me through each step over MSN messenger and phone (with echos of “Max, finish your milk” in the background). Finally gave up in favor of more time drinking coffee and thinking through my lesson.

I don’t like to wake up in the morning but I love the morning, especially fall mornings like these. The air smells different, the streets are somehow quieter, and today the air was the kind of clear, crisp blue that I associated with California -- even buildings at a distance had such sharp edges they looked a bit unreal. Fall in Seoul is the most beautiful season, lasting far longer than Michigan and, for the space of a few months, banishing the haze and fog that usually clothes the city.

My mornings are usually spent around the apartment, at the river, or across the street by the gym. Although KC’s office is less than a 10 minute walk from our apartment it is in an area of offices and restaurants, so as I left his office the air was heavy with the smell of cooking ramen. Having lived here long enough that I don’t walk around consciously thinking about how I am living in a foreign country, now and than something like the smell of ramen, the sight of an ajoshi wearing his pants high on his waist, or a street vendor selling cocoons as a snack will serve to remind me that I’m here, in Seoul, and no where else. These are the details particular to this city, that make it unique in spite of Starbucks, McDonalds, Gwynth Paltrow ads, and the new Paris Hilton song on TV. Sometimes you have to stop and smell the ramen.

But I am, after all, sitting here in Starbucks now. It is a few days after I wrote the above, and I’m celebrating another milestone in my kids’ lives: today is Max’s first day of preschool. I dropped him off and walked two blocks (that doesn’t seem very far, but Seoul blocks are quite long -- it took me a good 10 minutes, and I walk incredibly fast) so I can sit here for 3 hours and read, write, and study. So... apologies for the dearth of blog posts lately but now (at least until some other activity fills my time) I have some time to write. Can’t promise that it will improve the quality of writing, however!

It is good to stop reflect every once in a while, but I’m feeling a little empty and lost without Max around.

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