A Day in the Life — It’s not always a typical one in my mind

It’s another panic attack morning.

I’m up again this morning at 6:00 when I don’t have to wake up for another hour.

Maybe it was a panic attack I dreamed about or I am starting one from scratch—I am not sure. Today’s panic attack is about getting to Incheon Airport on the 26th for my 10:20am flight to Bangkok. Is there an early morning limousine bus from Daejeon to Incheon (three-and-a-half hours away) early in the morning to get me to the airport in time? I can’t go the night before because the last limousine to the airport is at 7:10 and I have to teach until 9:00.

Panic attack.

I’ll have to walk up to the bus station later today and find out. That’s okay. I was already planning on going there to book my ticket for Saturday. Maybe I can stop at McDonald’s (YES, Mickey D’s is back!) and grab a burger. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.

Okay, so that helps ease the panic attack a little. Time to get up anyway. I have a class at 9:00 this morning, my only one for the day.

I’ve kept my laptop on all night hoping to finish downloading some TV programs. They haven’t. I’ve been pushing my Toshiba a lot these days and it’s starting to slow down more and more. Sometimes, when too many programs are running it shuts down. I’ve had this laptop since 2004 and in computer years, it is a dinosaur.

First things first though, time for some instant coffee and a check of my email—and of course it’s all from TIBU. A few more people have read and commented on the essays I posted last night; some of my favorite writers have posted some essays and poems. Looking forward to reading them later.

After a quick shower, I get dressed and call On at 7:40. She’s already been up for five minutes. Jeremy Aaron woke her up. I know that Jeremy Aaron knows when I am going to call and gets up first to wake up On. It’s been that way for about the past two months. She’s feeling fine, as is Jeremy Aaron; I will call her again in about 30 minutes when I leave for school.

Next I call Mom and she’s doing okay. She had her first day of school and she’s holding up quite well.

She’s a teacher’s assistant for Kindergarten and First Grade students at an elementary school not far from where she lives. The school district in LaSalle-Peru, Illinois hires these “grandmothers” –women who are really “grandmothers” to come in and assist the teachers. They make copies, help with activities and games and more often than not are a calming influence on the children assuaging the children’s fears and anxieties of being away from their mothers.

“One of the students made me cry today,” Mom said.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Well, Chloe this little girl who I thought was going to cause problems was helping Cody who was having a heck of a time with some problem.”

“What did she say that almost had you crying?”

“She told Cody, ‘you can do it if you believe in yourself.’”

“She said that?”

“That’s right,” my Mom said. “I asked her again what she told Cody and she said the same thing.”

“Wow.”

We talk a little longer this morning, almost 20 minutes, and then I call On again. Bia has just gotten up and I can hear him coughing a lot in the background. On assures me that Bia is okay and to be on the safe side, tells me that she will give him some medicine.

At 8:40 I am out the door. I have a 15-minute walk to my Freshmen English conversation class this morning. These students are tourism management students and so far they seem quite enthusiastic and friendly. It’s mostly females and they all sit in the front; the seven males sit in the back. They are a lively bunch for a 9:00 class. Not like the 9:00 class I had last semester. The students were very unmotivated, lazy, and lethargic. After 15 weeks of English they couldn’t speak enough English to talk their way out of a 7-11.

I have a feeling I am going to like the class I have now. Today I taught them in addition to a question and answer information activity, “once in a blue moon” and “what do you do for a living?”

It’s not too hot or humid this morning but this time of the year the weather in Korea can be a little deceiving. You think it’s going to be a cool day and then it warms up and gets hot really fast. To get to this part of the university (and back home) and I have to walk through a residential area. You have to watch out for motorists tearing down these side streets. There is no such thing as a posted speed limit. Drivers go as fast as they want and pay no attention to such things like students walking down the streets (there are no sidewalks) or intersections. I swear Korean drivers just look straight ahead and expect or assume other drivers and pedestrians will look out for them. I guess that’s what they call here driving offensively. Pun intended.

I see a few elderly women pushing baby strollers when I am walking down these side streets. There are no babies inside. These women are picking up paper, boxes, cans, and other recyclables and transporting them on these baby strollers. Sometimes I’ve seen the same women pushing these strollers down sidewalks in the busiest parts of the city picking up trash. Life is still hard in Korea. Don’t let the media or economic reports fool you.

I am back home by 10:45 and my day is over as far as teaching goes. Now time to tackle all that TIBU email which has gone from 22-39 in the two hours that I have been away. First though, I call On again. Have to let her know I am home and okay. With Jeremy Aaron due soon, I am now talking to On 7-8 times a day. She’s okay. Bia is feeling better. Good, my family is okay.

Now time for some of that email. I answer a few and leave some comments. I will save the rest for later. I try to leave comments on every new post. Even if it’s only a few words, I know that what I say will make the writer feel good and perhaps encourage and inspire. At the very least I am letting them know I care; that I took time out to read their post. That can mean so much to a person.

It’s about time to head up to the bus station and find out about the limousine service to Incheon anyway—remembering that panic attack I had in the morning. First I stop off at a bank to use the ATM. I peek inside to see what the exchange rate is for today. Almost had another panic attack—or worse, a heart attack. On August 20th the exchange rate was $1.00 = 1059 Won. Today it was $1.00 = 1173. Let me put it another way for you: in two weeks, because of the exchange rate and weakening dollar, I have lost around $300.00 in terms of exchanging won to buy dollars. Bummer.

Well, at least there’s some good news at the bus station and that panic attack I had was all for naught. There is an early bus, at 3:20am that will get me to the airport in time to make my 10:20am flight. There are other buses at 3:40, 4:00, 4:20, and 4:40—but I am not taking any chances. I buy my ticket today. That’s one thing out of the way. Now I just have to make sure I get up in time on the morning of the 26th but as excited as I will be by then there’s no way I am going to able to sleep.

Okay, I take a couple of deep breaths and feel better. Now, it’s time for a burger at Mickey D’s.

Awhile back I wrote that McDonald’s was gone. Well, it was gone for a couple of months because of remodeling and renovation. But it’s back and today I had a Quarter Pounder with Cheese that has recently been introduced in Korea. And I don’t have to worry about Mad Cow Disease (that was a BIG fiasco here a few months ago when some Korean netizens reported that US Beef was contaminated with Mad Cow disease and of course, everyone is going to believe everything they read on the internet because no one would ever want to disseminate lies or rumors that would get everyone riled up and have them take to the streets protesting against American this and American that) because the beef is from Australia.

Australian beef or US beef—it doesn’t make any difference to me. That Quarter Pounder with Cheese tasted darn good.

After that burger it’s time for some quick shopping downstairs at Home Plus/Tesco. It’s a little pricey, but the quality is quite good. While I am picking up a few things suddenly, this disco-like music starts blaring and all the clerks stop what they are doing to do exercises and some jazzercise-like moves. Everybody stops working and starts doing this. It was so Orwellian and freaky. And not all of the clerks seemed to enthusiastic about it either judging from their lackadaisical moves. Can’t blame them at all. 

Can you imagine something like this happening back home at Wal Mart or Target?

It was now a little after 3:00 and time to head back home. Just like I thought when I was walking back home after my morning class, it had turned out to be a hot one today. The sun was glaring brightly in the sky—no humidity, just very, very hot.

A screaming comes across the sky, borrowing that classic opening line from Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, which in Korea, at least here in Daejeon happens every day and sometimes at night because that screaming in the sky is an F-16 from a nearby airbase. It’s probably another training mission—after all both Koreas are still technically at war. And yes, there are still US troops stationed here, over 20,000 because the US is still technically at war with the North. Everything has been Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Osama, Al-Qaida but here on the Korean peninsula there’s just this armistice to keep the peace.

That’s also pretty freaky when you think about it.

I stop off at Dunkin Donuts to satisfy my sugary cravings and then, it’s time to walk back home.

There’s still so much of the day left.

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