It’s a banner day here at SUF Headquarters (SUFHQ, by the way, is the dining chair in front of my laptop where I sit in my underwear, watch Mad Men, and type blog posts: titillating insider scoop!). According to my obsessive checking and WordPress’ slavish record-keeping, this is my 100th post at Stupid Ugly Foreigner. Fun has been had. Lessons learned. Tears shed. Weird, writhing things eaten. Alcohol consumed, and in turn, memories poorly reconstructed for the reading public. I graduated teacher’s college, road-tripped across Canada, moved to Korea, travelled around Asia some, did a 4-day dash back to Canada, and met exactly 8-bazillion and three people. Let us celebrate this momentous occasion in true SUF style: through neuroticism, humorous tidbits of life in Korea, and gimmicky photography from my travels! I can feel your excitement radiating through my computer like the warmth of the sun. Let’s go!
I don’t know what 100 posts means to me, exactly. That I am an absurd cataloguer of my own human experience, yes. That some (you precious, precious some) people enjoy reading it, and regularly seek out my blog and sop at its loquacious teat. That, over time, I’ve been growing more capable of organizing my thoughts, of seeing the patterns in my life, and gaining a greater perspective on all the stupid, the weird, and the amazing.
It also means I’m immensely flattered. I’m not going to claim inordinate success at this blogging thing, because: haha, no. But the stats aren’t bad. I have a decent amount of subscribers, for whatever reason, and everyone is generally beyond fawning and pleasant when they comment. I’ve actually had real-life people (plural!) approach me in public, either just after having met me or not, and ask, “Do you write this blog called, ‘Stupid Ugly Foreigner?’” This interrogative has never been followed with anything but pleasantness, despite my usual reaction, which is to tense up physically and make the veins in my neck pop out, as though warding them off through animal aggression signals, while muttering, “Yeeeeeesssss” in a suspicious hiss.
I try not to be one of those people who talks about my blog to my friends in person, because when others do that to me, I find it obnoxiously tiresome. But others keep bringing it up to me. Friends read about the stuff with my grandfather and consoled me, and made me feel all the better for it. Others (Joe Landry! Hello, wherever you are (probably India)) exerted a great deal of effort talking up my writing and my blog, mentioning it both in my presence and out. Others asked casually, and then after more hopefully, to be mentioned in some capacity in these electronic pages (Breda! Here you are! If you want a less forced appearance next time, we should hang out more).
This blog is never going to get super popular. “Foreigner living in Korea” is already a niche well-filled by bigger, flashier, more garish, and occasionally more well-done, blogs (and sometimes less narcissistic, apparently). All the advice I generally read on the internet about improving blog quality and hit counts, I do the opposite of. I write all over the map, and generally talk about whatever I want, because why not. I show little consistency in focus, or direction, or even layout. I probably veer into unrelatability and pretentious, masturbatory flights of linguistic fancy once a week. But some of you keep showing up, and large swaths of you aren’t even related by blood!
To shave this down: thank you. It’s been pretty awesome so far, both on this blog and off. I hope you keep reading.
Korea, in Nuggets
-As the title of this blog post shows, I have learned a few things in Korea. The first and foremost being: titles are always, always improved by more adjectives. One of them must be “happy.”
-Koreans love giving gifts. Koreans love giving gifts to me. I’m generally a slovenly glutton, and thus I enjoy this, though occasionally I’m a little confused as to the nature and intent of the gift. A grade six teacher who I don’t really associate with has been hanging around the English office lately, from what I can tell, in order to get close to one of my co-teachers. They flirt aggressively in English, which is really inconsiderate, because it means that I have to understand it. Anyway, I’m usually around the corner from the goings-on of the office, and am only summoned if something really requires my presence.
Thus: ruffle-ruffle. Ruffle-ruffle. I hear plastic bags, and a lot of surprised, cheery gasps. My co-teacher and her new semi-boyfriend enter my sanctum, the English zone. He is carrying two darkened, phallic logs in a thin grocery bag. They are for me. “Michael, you like eggplant? Here you go!” They are summarily dumped on my desk. I think, in my confusion, I remembered my manners and thanked him. My co-teacher excitedly reported, “They are organic. So you don’t need to wash before eating!” Well, that’s good.
-After an ill-conceived “Hey, tequila sure is cheap by the bottle here!” evening with dear friends Faith and Ty, we were outside in Art Centre, amongst the many Korean young adults who converge and stumble around the massive bar-agora central square. A herd of young, drunk Korean men saw Ty, who is approximately the same height as the average sequoia, and felt duty-bound to challenge him on an electronic punching bag game. Meanwhile, one of the non-punching friends approached me, and we began speaking in Korean. He became excited. Within a few minutes, this guy had basically decided that we were to become best friends for the evening. When my friends began wandering towards the cabs, panic grew across his face. He broke into stuttered, hopeful English, to communicate his sincerity of purpose. “You. Come. Hof. Us?” Drunk on my own Korean prowess and the prospect of somehow holding down a conversation with a whole group of dudes, and also drunk on tequila, I accepted.
Korean male friendships are different than what I’m typically used to. I basically had arms around me for the rest of the evening. When I said I needed to go to the bathroom, my new Best Friend immediately stood, “I’ll come too!” Even urinal mores are different: at home, you generally go to whichever gives you the most distance from the next-closest urinal occupant. Here, MJ basically followed right beside me, and was talking before, during, and after peeing. When it was finally time for the night to be over, my phone was snatched from my hands so that they could properly enter their phonenumbers into my phonebook. I was also asked if I knew how to get home.
And lastly, please bask in these photos from Gyeongju, where I went with my school for the 5th grade school field trip (post about that probably coming soon). Thankfully, my kids have some of those weird (and awesome) identity-obscuring hoodies, and thus they can appear on my blog in photo form for once.