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Archive for January, 2011

me and renegades go together like bread and butta.

i kid you not, whenever i meet a renegade i basically lose my shit and get all kinds of sorority-girl giddy.

now i am by no means self-labelling myself as a “renegade,” but what i can attest is that when two renegades meet and share similar ideals in which they (we) have no ideals well then that there my friend, is a whole new ball game (or war zone…depending on their (my) blood alcohol level).

and renegades often find each other in this cosmic synergy kind of way. maybe its outside of a bar, as they (i) plead to the bouncer that they (i) simply confused the tip jar with those ‘take a penny, leave a penny’ dishes you would find at rural convenience stores. or maybe you make quick eye contact with another renegade at your local ihop as you catch each other thrifting new silverware for your forkless kitchen.*

*okay so maybe it was a forkless, spoonless, cupless kitchen. but i gave the waiter a hefty tip. AND i didn’t steal the tip back to pay for my next pint. so it all works out in the end… see what i mean? cosmic. synergy.  

it was this type of synergy that presented itself in the form of a cheap plane ticket during one of south korea’s busiest flying times. for all us expats, lunar new year basically means a fury of days off to escape the less-than-ideal winter conditions of the korean countryside.

maybe the flight was so cheap because it is during this country’s onset of typhoon season. or maybe it’s because this country is currently on the outs with south korea after a recent taekwondo diss at the asian games. or maybe, just maybe, it’s because this country has been nicknamed “the renegade province” of planet earth and cosmic synergy chose to pull through in the clutch and offer me a window seat and a lacto-vegan meal.

whatever the reason may be, taiwan stands as one of the defiant forefathers for all us amateur renegades. it has been stirring up political and country-identification controversy for years but at the same time, remains quietly under the radar as any sort of highlight on any sort of travel itinerary.

the fact that the most recent lonely planet on taiwan is over 4 years only further supports the country’s renegade status within the tourism industry.

now we all know that taiwan is NOT part of mainland china. this distinction is what has obviously earned taiwan it’s renegade nickname. but is it part of the massive china china? i mean, taiwanese hold taiwanese (not chinese) passports , they show up with their own team to the olympics, and  the whole country (or province) considers themselves independent from the big guns of chinese prime minister, wen jiabao. but even some recent stats said something like 46% of taiwanese people still consider themselves “chinese.” (i realize that tossing in an actual link to actual valid statistics would be far more supported, but i’m trying to uphold my credibility with the ‘gades.*)

* ‘gades=renegades. (just making sure you’re still with me here.)

in a couple of days i’ll be taking on taiwan solo (because apparently, that’s how a genuine renegade roles). i don’t have much of a plan (i’m letting lonely planet take the blame on that one), or really any vague idea on what it’ll be like.

but i can only imagine i will feel right at home.

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admittedly, i am often a user (and abuser) of extremist language.

never, ever, always, best, worst, all of it, none of it. these are the words that practically pollute my vocabulary.

now in cases of extremist talkers, the whole boy-cried-wolf scenario is often assumed. was that really  “the best brunch EVER?” and come on let’s get serious, “you’re never drinking again?” these same assertions are heard again and again so can any of my claims really be taken seriously?

probably not.

but in my defense, things just seem a lot more certain if they are falling off either end of a spectrum (especially when discussing brunches and hangovers).

with that disclaimer in mind, i am pretty sure i may have very well experienced my worst week ever in geoje. now sure you can take this with a grain of 50% less sodium salt but hear me out….

recall my last post about the efficiency of pharmacists and over-the-counter medicines in south korea (and more specifically, okpo). all gravy right? wrong.

soon after i hit “publish” on that post, i started to notice some serious blurry vision in my right eye. not cool eyeball, not cool.

thinking i just needed a switch up in eye drops, i visited an actual eye doctor and hoped that this time, i could actually follow through with my whole award-winning charade skit. but instead, things took a turn for the ophthalmologically worst. (extremist alert).

after photographing my eyeball, doctor okpo let out a sigh and started saying “terrible” over and over and over again. at this point, i truly believed that i had met my extremist match. not really taking him too seriously, i quickly ran through my charade request for a better prescription or some cure-all formula for the double-double tricks of my eye. but then doctor okpo started getting real time serious. he was struggling to find fitting english words for his diagnosis (because we all know that “terrible” just doesn’t cut it in the medical world) and finally, probably out of pure translation exhaustion, settled on the word “permanent.”

permanent.

now that’s not one of those extremist claims that can be altered the next time you have a delicious bout of hollandaise sauce or a tasty microbrew.

i don’t think “permanent” can even be considered adequate vocab by us extremists. but confident with his choice of words, doctor okpo repeated this diagnosis for what seemed like ages.

fine dude. so this double, blurry, hazy vision is really “permanent” (i felt the need to mock doctor okpo by using hand quotations for his albeit wrongful diagnosis). up my prescription, give me a new batch of swan touch, surely something can be done to fix this whole mirror-in-a-hot-steamy-room vision thing.

but doctor okpo was insistent. with my permanent double-vision, nothing could be done. this was actually permanent. i would spend the rest of my life thinking there were two cans of pbr in front of me. for the rest of my life, i would not be  able to see the finer details of my belgium waffles. this was more than a bummer. this was the worst.

although this event on its own would be enough of an excuse to drop some extremist bombs, geoje had to up the ante a bit and toss out a bitter cold front that caused all the water tanks in our poor lil building to freeze. any turn of the tap meant nothing. no running water.

us extremists would deem this the worst week ever.

why you ask?

because now (with my permanent double-vision), im staring at not one, but two frozen water tanks.

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between passing out on christmas eve while still wearing my toque and mittens and waking up on christmas morning in a hot mess of sweaty hands and a matted scalp, i developed some sort of serious business with my right eye.

it looked like i had stuck a q-tip under my eyelid, went digging for a bit, and then thought it would be a good idea to just you know, sleep on it.

pictures overstep personal boundaries. but the drawing is realistic enough.

now when it comes to any sort of ailment… i’m a self-proclaimed internet diagnoser. there’s probably even some correlation between the invention of google and my frequency in visiting the doctor. 

doctors make me feel careless. i just know they judge me when i tell them how i think i might have broken my elbow while running with a hot pizza. but empathetic google does not lower its glasses to me. instead, dr. google is always reassuring me that things will be okay. and if they aren’t… i just use different search terms. 

on top of that, google’s batting about a 90% accuracy rate with me right now (save for the time they told me i had bed bugs. that diagnosis ended with me hysterically piling everything i owned into three large garbage bags. but because i didn’t know what to do next,  i just kinda lived out of those bags for the next two weeks. it was a nice and compact style of living and in the end, my prescription was just a change in laundry detergent.)

so through a steady on stream of tears from my right eye, i got to work on my condition. google told me i had a scratched cornea. but also advised me that it could be something worse. and then all of sudden OUT OF NOWHERE google rears its judgemental head and starts lecturing me on the fact that i only have two eyes and i need to seek the immediate advice of a medical professional (um, i am google. it’s called “you”). and that if things don’t change in the next 24 hours, my eyeball could slide into the back of my head and my body would digest it forever. (it’s hard to say if the last part of the prognosis was accurate. did i mention my vision was increasingly blurry?)

since google’s scare tactics were successful, i decided to visit a korean pharmacist. (my moderate-to-severe level pain just didn’t quite warrant an actual doctor’s visit).

now in case you didn’t know, okpo is a city dedicated to the kinds of foreigners that love things like strip clubs and getting sick…a lot. those black-tinted “foreigner clubs” and “pouruners welcome” signs (translation: foreigners welcome) crowd the streets of okpo. (i haven’t decided if the pharmacists employed at pouruners are the witty play-on-words type or just boastfully proud of their lackluster customer service).

worried about my soon-to-be-pirate status, i entered the first pharmacy i could find (unfortunately, pour-run is closed on sundays). in preparation for the communication barriers that would occur at this pseudo doctor’s visit, i had pulled out all the stops and created a three-step charade game to share my google diagnosis findings.

 first word…

now i’m not exactly sure what i expected but i s’pose that i just assumed the pharmacist would take a mini flashlight to my cornea and search for the missing q-tip in my eyeball abyss.

but instead, he took one quick glance at my eye and simply tossed me a bottle of swan touch and confidently sat back down to continue his pixie cup of “milk-coffee.” the instructions only read japanese but the packaging did boast: the sleek design and curve is sure to be successful.

pharmy chuckled when i wanted to finish out the game of charades with words two and three. i just wasn’t convinced that this man knew my eye better than me (or google. same thing). sure the package said it would be successful, but pharmy didn’t seem at all concerned that my eyeball could slide into the back of my head if i blinked for too long (again, the details on this symptom are a bit shady).

did pharmy just outsmart google?

it’s true…two days later my eyeball was as white as a ghost.

from now on, dr. google is taking a back seat to my main man pharmy and his sharp-shooter pourun service.

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if the influx of activity on the book is any indication, new years eve is a kind of a funny human social practice.

next to st. patrick’s day, it is probably the most pressured drinking day of the year. and not only do we often test the limits of our livers, but we also put pressure on ourselves to evaluate our personal yearly accomplishments and size em up in some critical and unstandardized way.

 

 

and to make matters even worse, we then attempt to perspective it all by putting tons of importance on the last minutes of any given countdown as a reflective example of our time spent since last year’s countdown. we put on pretty new dresses, order rounds of the harshest shots, quadruple book ourselves with 30 of our closest friends, and make all those other last-ditch efforts just to validate those behaviours and decisions that we have made over the last year.

 

silly, silly, humans.

those lasting moments of the countdown, the final seconds of the passing year, are even funnier in and of itself. us humans will use those ticking seconds deciding if the way you spend the countdown is indicative of your last year OR predictive of the next 364 days of your life. and before you can even decide which is which, the moment is gone and you are left staring into an empty red plastic party cup and a room full of people who are searching for an unclaimed set of lips.

 

but sometimes those moments are more significant than new digits on our dated documents. sometimes we unintentionally make certain choices that then become these fate-like predictions of what we are meant to experience. as i write this, with a ridiculous grin on my face, i think of the aftermath of 2010’s countdown. i avoided my inevitable plane ride back to vancouver by head-nodding away in a vinyl booth at a late-night korean bbq haunt on bloor st. maybe this place was chosen because of its convenient across-the-street location from our bar of choice. or maybe, just maybe, this was some sort of ironic fortune-telling experience that would only play itself out in almost exactly the same way exactly one year later (save for the fact that this year’s haunt was a bit more authentic, my bibimap was far tastier, and my intoxicated chopstick skills have improved immensely).

as us humans declare the end of a year, we also overwhelm ourselves with these self-induced “possibilities” and “opportunities” that await us behind door number three (you know, the one labelled “2011”). we have this innate need to be held accountable for these unclaimed possibilities so in doing so, us humans decide to create unrealistic resolutions that we then announce to the world by any means necessary.

 

even though the motivation to change or even understand our own vices is inspiring enough, the realism of it all is that we most likely forget or probably even fail at achieving these unrealistic tasks before nhl playoffs even start.

but don’t be too hard on yourself ya hear? after all, you’re only human.

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