I have a lot to say about Tokyo, most of which I will probably say very soon in this space. But for now: Tokyo, Japan is weird in every single way I could possible have wanted it to be, and a weekend is nowhere near enough time to revel in its glorious absurdities. That said, we certainly did try–I don’t think I’ve ever travelled so hard, hoofed around that much of a city, nor seen so many things in so little time. I was well-fed and well-weirded and my eyeballs were never without things to gawp at. Every last yen I spent (and that’s a lot, because, as you may already know, HOLY CRAPBALLS Japan is expensive) was worth it for an unyielding battery of bizarre. Let us feast our eyes on both the nutty and the pretty, both of which Tokyo has in abundance.
Korean food is very good. This is not something I feel up for debate, and living in Korea, the place where Korean food is from, I am regularly ensconced in the highest quality, most authentic versions of it I can possibly eat. Koreans do Korean food very, very well, and they all generally enjoy it a great deal. The problem, of course, is all of the other foods: Chinese and Mexican and Indian and Turkish and Thai and Canadian… all of these foods are reprocessed and filtered through local Korean tastes, and Koreanized in just a certain way. Those times when I tire, when I want something outside of the Korean wheelhouse of cuisine, I am bereft. When I want the food of home, it’s just not here.
I was in my friend’s apartment, and we had just finished a snack. Without conscious thought, I began stuffing all of the wrappers into my pockets, as though I would need them later like some lost and homesick sparrow, to help build my nest. “Uh, dude?” my friend pointed out. “I have a garbage can.” He pointed to its location, and it took me a second to connect what he was even saying: I hadn’t even noticed stuffing away the garbage furtively into hidey-holes in my clothing. It never even struck me to seek out some receptacle where I might dispose of such things. It has become my second nature to ferret it all away.
Though I like to think of myself as a rampaging paragon of travel capability, I still often stumble blindly into the dark beyond. There are times when, despite all of my puffed-upedness, I still end up looking like a rube on his first trip outside of the barn. I end up haggard and weathered, aging years in a single day yet still petulant and whiny like a small child, and I smell like death and whatever I have accidentally stepped in or been soaked by. Vomit or poop or foul local liquors. Nothing embodies this guileless, naïve and unprepared wanderlust spirit than my journey through the Irish town of Howth.
The prescient amongst you may have foreseen that my claims to have new words for you were folly, and that actually, instead, you would have to endure some more of my photos! I know, I know: I am a cruel and capricious writer, and you thirst for my words, and my continued holding back is like a metaphorical, ongoing cinnamon challenge of choking silence, but soon I will return to you with words. Like Friday.
I took my cousin Zack on a weekend trip to sunny seaside Busan, Korea’s answer to California, without any of the surfing, bros, or puku shell necklaces. Such beachtown obnoxiou-phernalia was replaced, instead, by enormous aquariums, open-air fish markets (which many guides to Korea proudly claim to be the “smelliest place on Earth!”), numerous encounters with tentacles, and enormous swaths of beautiful coast. Also lanterns, because I seem to only ever go to Busan on or before Buddha’s birthday. Anyway, behold: Busan!
Apologies. Due to currently hosting a guest, I am, for once, out of words. Or at least, out of well-edited words, constructed in a fun, snappy essay format with several of my well-oiled and be-shopped photos to break up the text. By next week, I should be well settled and able to re-commit to my bi-weekly updating schedule. For now, here’s some youtube links of music that I’ve been listening to lately to fill up the time. Thrilling, I know. See you next week.
I once met a man on the way to Incheon International Airport. I was sitting alone with my enormous travel bag, reading, and he drifted into the seat next to me. At length, he wrote the word “wretch” on a napkin in a lovely, florid cursive style, and asked me to pronounce it. It became clear that this was simply his ice-breaker, as he informed me that, as a retiree, he had nothing to do but ride the rails all day and talk to strangers. Internally, I reacted with some degree of horror. Why would someone spend his golden years of rest experiencing something so horrible and repulsive, so dehumanizing and alienating and weird?
Not talking to strangers, mind you. Riding the subway.
Bored as I often am by the suggested materials provided in my curriculum, and itching to just let my kids to run wild and free without the constraints of grammar or syntax or cohesion, I decided we should all invent new holidays. As long as they managed to include a date with an ordinal number jammed in it, I wasn’t going to harp on anything else involved, especially especially if they got creative and made something funny or interesting. When is your holiday? What do people eat? What do people do? Confronted with a teacher simply asking them to be weird, they provided. In abundance. Behold, our new calendar of holidays.