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Monday, March 21, 2011

My Living Arrangements

I was driven on a tired Sunday night when all I wanted to do was find a bed anywhere and dive in and see when I woke up if all this horrible, surreal mess about Japan was really just a dream. Back to when things were normal, I'd wake up at DF again, next to a copy machine, and this sculptor-monk would knock on my door and ask me if I wanted to do Lauds (Catholic and Orthodox prayers) for the morning with all these strangely diverse characters that could be in some freakish sitcom in some freakish universe somewhere. Yes, wake up to my regular life and how it was. But things were far from normal now.

As you see, my previous living arrangement probably took the cake on eccentric accommodations, I could spend weeks writing about that...but that is, sadly, no more...and I must relate my life in Korea.

In South Korea, it has come to be so widely accepted, that for a school when hiring a foreign teacher, they have accommodation taken care of. So if someone takes a job as a teacher, they don't have to worry about rent. Though, I will have to pay for the electricity, but not the water.

On my ride from the main international airport in Korea, my ride told me I was staying in a "Villa" like a prince. A "villa" supposedly where all the foreign teachers lived. All 22 of us. And when she said that my hope in wonderful soltiude vanished. I didn't really want to share a room with some late-night bar-hopping Aussie, or some uber homesick American playing horrible rap music to appease his lack of things American. But probably, I just wanted to live alone, if even if its someone I like, I oftentimes like to have my own space. Which took some getting used to in my previous abode.

But what turned out being a villa, was really an apartment building like any other flat building in South Korea. There's a glass door with a code that most be punched to get in and then a series of apartments situated up the stairs. I was given the very top. The roof or the tower. And it was a single. I would be the only person there.
I was offered a "nicer" place rooming with another person. But if you know me, "nicer" was never a selling point. Besides I had everything I needed in this apartment. The guy I could room with, was this American from Oklahoma, and not to discriminate but a highly...umm, how to put this without sounding like some sort of bigot.. .you see, he's a flaming homosexual,...which would make for some interesting stories. But this roof flat was mysteriously equipped with a computer that the last tenant couldn't fit in her suitcase so she left it behind. So I chose this one where I can type my tales on a computer, in my underwear...and not worry about annoying or attracting anyone.

The room has one large room where my bed is and where it is a sort of living room as well. Kinda like a hotel. I have a kitchen on the other side. In the kitchen I have this little dwarf refrigator with some obscure Korean condiments left in it from the previous tenant and a bunch of coffee drinks that I placed there. I am furnished with dishes and glasses and utensils all of various makes and styles. Most impressive is this water cooler or warmer, it's both really. A state of the art water dispensor that has to be plugged in and cleaned often. In fact, 15 dollars of my salary will go for some person to come around and clean it. For they say that the water here is not the best to drink. So I can immediately get fresh, cold water or hot water for tea or coffee. I have a microwave, which believe it or not is not as big a thing to me as in the states. I don't have a stove. But I have some sort of rice cooker. I also have this little dining table and a chair or two, but I doubt I'll use these much.

My bathroom, like many places in the world, is divided. Between the actual bathing room, and another closet that is my toilet. The toilet closet opens directly into the main living room/bedroom area. Which is another reason why living alone is a good thing. I now, with the door wide open, can survey the widespread kingdom of my bed and computer and other stuff strewn about, from the prodigious perch of my throne.

I have a washer machine but I haven't used it yet. I hope that that doesn't prove too difficult. It is in this other little closet all by itself, along with the ironing board, but I doubt I'll use much of the latter. I don't have a dryer, but this huge drying rack that stretches itself across the front kitchen wall has this massive blanket on it that, I think belonged to the former tenant. I've hardly noticed this huge drying rack and how much space it takes up, how oblivious I am to things most of the time.

The main room has some really good heating, which I found out when I got here; it was so cold. The floor heats up and I kick my socks off which is new to someone that always has freezing feet. I have these huge white dressers to place my clothes inside, which I haven't yet. They still sit in my bag and suitcase in the floor. I wonder if this is some sort of psychological sign...that I don't really want to move in. Here, or perhaps, anywhere. Yes, I've put off placing my clothes in a permanent home.

My bed is wonderful. Its very hard and firm. The way all beds should be. I've oftened resorted to sleeping on the ground because I find alot of beds too soft. But this bed is perfect. I have a big window, with a big draper that I can control when the lights spill through. I have this computer at this glass top table and a simple wooden chair. I have this nice, leather lounging chair next to this desk, but it is covered by my backpack and all those clothes that I haven't put up yet. I also have a TV. But this, I haven't even turned on since I've been here. So I don't even know if it works. Just last night, I noticed that I have a DVD/VCR player but it was stashed ontop of my enormous dresser.

I only have two complaints about this aparment. One minor and the other major. The minor one is when walking from my main room to the kitchen or shower room, there is this low hanging arch that I have to duck whenever going that way. I've only banged my head once, but it smarted so much...and everytime I walk to the kitchen I feel like I'm in a submarine and am stooping through portal doors.

My major complaint is the shower. Because I live at the top of this building for some reason the water has very poor pressure. It takes a good 5 minutes for hot water to come on, if it does at all. I think if there are too many people in this apartment taking showers, then hot water is nonexistent for me. Which when the temparture is in the 20s like it seemed when I first got here, that is a big deal. And when I do have a hot water it is trickling and very, scalding hot. There is no in between. Either uncomforably hot, or quite frigid. I've only lathered up once, shampoo in hair, only to find out that all my hot water suddenly had turned to ice water. I was pretty ticked. But I waited maybe 5 or 10 minutes, shampoo streaming into my face and eventually someone down below stopped hogging all the hot water. It was enough to make me want to take up the offer of a roommate, any roommate, if only to have a good shower. So now, I only take showers when I guess that few other people in the building are taking theirs.

Because, the former tenant was a female, its starting to show. My apartment phone is nice but very pink. I keep discovering "Hello Kitty" stickers here and there. She had just left too. Another American. Supposedly, she was in the airport in Japan trying to get home when all the disasters happened and she was stuck there, while I was in Alaska.

The only thing that this aparment lacks than a sufficient shower, is a lamp. I think I will buy one the first chance I get, because if there is one thing that I am still sold on, its reading in bed by lamplight. Overhead lights are much too bright and don't cut it. I've already bought an alarm clock for I feared over sleeping. But my first week, this would've been impossible seeing how I've woken up at 5 every morning. Except for this morning, when the alarm clock proved useful.

I'm also gonna purchase a humidifier or some sort of air cleaning machine for the dust over here is horrible and my allergies are pretty bad. But that's enough. I don't think I've rambled so much about household appliances in my life. I feel like I'm the MC for a game show.


Anonymous Peggy Dobbs said...

What are you eating? Do they have McDonald's, etc. What town are you in? With no stove, will you cook at all? The grandmother in me is so practical. Is there a church group there that you know of? Is this a christian school. How many children are you teaching at one time? Blessings, pd

1:42 PM  
Blogger Brian Harrison said...

I'll get to all that, Peggy. I have a year here to tell all about life here. So, don't you worry.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

It was 80 here today and all the flowers are blooming. Beautiful.I told you to take medicine for your allergies with you! When I was in China I tool Mucinex 600 mg. (guaifenesin) the entire time to keep me from getting sick. It worked. The air quality was really bad. I think I suggested you get some before you go. They have it at the dollar tree for $1.Good luck finding some over there. It will keep you from getting a sinus infection.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Brian Harrison said...

The allergies here are different than the ones back home. I don't know which ones are worse. I think the ones back home are. Its just here the change in the climate and how its still pretty cold, my nasal cavities don't know what to make of it. So they went haywire.
I've got some medicine I'm taking. Some prescriptive medicine. So I should be fine.

2:58 AM  

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