Archive for the ‘the okpo factor’ Category

i’ve had this post open and writing for about 3 weeks now. but in an honest-to-blog diary-esque sorta way, i’m all okpo factored out.

(side note: if this post does indeed turn into some sort of raging wordy rant, i’ve taken the necessary precautions and littered my words with pictures of kids, flowers, and baked goods. because these are the things that make everyone feel better. well, except maybe if you’re charlie sheen.)

(additional side note: i actually don’t really even understand my above reference to charlie sheen. i’m just attempting to convince you all that i still understand every single pop culture reference ever happening everywhere in the world. shit man, quit being so hard on me!)

i’ve heard of these bumps happening for any (and probably all) ESL teachers as it comes to the point in their contract where they are exhausted with the daily over-pronunciation of their own words and the consequential simplified downfall of their grasp of the English language (if you pay any attention to detail, notice that i capitalized the “e” in english. if only to stray away from my usual writing style to prove to myself that i still understand english. wait, i mean English. damn.)

i don’t feel like writing about okpo anymore, much less south korea in general. although the novelty of some korean nuances remain, the whole rhetoric of my day-to-day has left me certifiably, in the dumps.

in any event, it doesn’t help that this whole blog attempt has not exactly reached the intended readers.  the most popular search terms that lead people to this site include: “strips clubs in okpo,” “okpo massage parlour,” and “how to get a girl in okpo.” and now those leads are just going to spike exponentially since they are explicitly written in this post. fuck. i’m failing all over the place here.

now by no means is this some sort of indefinite hiatus.

we’re just on a break for now, okay? you can see other people (or read other blogs….whatever really makes this analogy sound wittier).

as for me?

i just really need to figure out why charlie sheen even matters.


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by celestial standards, the first day of spring is march 21st.

but i don’t care what any solar calendar has to say. i’m declaring it officially spring here in okpo. (what? you don’t think i’m a qualified weather forecaster? well the hoards of kiddies that know the difference between “rainy” and “sunny” because of ME would likely disagree with you. plus it was something ridiculous like 17 degrees. ya, try and argue with THAT.)

it’s a good thing too. i was running out of ways to avoid the strangely unexpected bitterness of a south korean winter.

(i mean come on, there’s only so many times you can go tobogganing on the local golf course with children’s life perservers acting as a stand-in for your krazy carpet or GT racer.)

and so it was…gingerbread pancakes, fireworks in the middle of the afternoon, and countless soju bottles littering the beachfront.  

today just kind of punched bad-times winter right in the face.

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maybe you’re reading this because you have a slight interest in my daily haps and scanning this post is another procrastinating scheme in which you are avoiding starting whatever else you have that is (surely) more important than watching my desperate attempts to fill every paragraph with brackets (seriously kids, choose a handful of posts and you will see. my batting average is probably about 6 or 7 per page. discontinued and choppy thoughts in its purist form).

or maybe you’re reading this because you want to hound me out for taking three months to respond to your thoughtful and caring facebook message. please recall my pre-meditated “i’m awful at keeping in-touch with people” excuse. i thought i was vague enough that i covered all my bases on that one.  either way, i read your emails. and i’ll seriously write back……later.

whatever the case may be, i just want to put this out there:

i kind of hate you.

but before you start assuming that korea has molded me into an even surlier dickhead, let me explain.

as you read this, you are probably sitting in the comfortable comfort of your own home. a home that probably has some sort of central heating, and maybe even a room or two with carpeted flooring. a home where you do not live next door to your boss, a man that without encouragement or any interest from yours truly, finds it beyond necessary to narrate daily activities, meals, and choice of inner/ outerwear (“yes, i wear moccasins in the winter. and yes, this apparently also means that EVERY SINGLE CANADIAN wears moccasins in the winter. the orange moccasin dye on the bottoms of our feet is practically a racial identifier…”).

maybe you are lucky enough to have walls which seperate one room from another, but even if that is not the case, surely (and for your standard of living, hopefully) your kitchen has a kitchen.

i hate you because you probably have an oven. i hate you because you most likely have counterspace where you can chop onions and carrots freely without running the risk of flinging your plastic drying rack into the open flame of your gas stove top. i hate you because you can plug-in your microwave, kettle, and coffee maker ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

i’m harbouring a lot of jealousy right now. it’s probably best i hold off on that facebook response for another month or two.

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as a reckless undergraduate, i often took it upon myself to reason ridiculous nights of cheap lagers and free buses home. my rat didn’t die in psyc class today. let’s celebrate! i thought i lost my jacket but then remembered i was still wearing it. let’s get another round! i failed my driving test for the third time today. hello last call!

somehow, valentine’s day also squeezed itself onto that list of “reasons to excuse surliness.”

without much thought (and probably out of yearly habit), i shot off some loose-laid plans about pints and nachos to open tb ears. but then, just as it always seems to, okpo happened.

the whitening crunch and cancelled transit system meant the postponement of pints.

instead, i helped a wackload of 16 year old korean boys decorate semi-burnt cookies for their giggly and over appreciative girlfriends.

and as i finish off this post, i took a sip of what i expected to be chai tea. and what should have tasted like a blend of cinnamon and delicious indian spices, was actually a watered-down whiskey from dinner. i guess i got my excuse after all…

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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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weekends spent strictly in okpo are few and far between. having reached the three-month mark (just barely), i can count the number of Friday-Saturday-Sundays spent in the ‘po on one hand. in one of those amicable break-up excuses of “it’s not you, it’s me” there is really nothing wrong with okpo….just most other places in korea have better bars, better food, better transportation, better sights, and generally speaking, make for better stories. but other than that, okpo is pretty much completely like every other city in south korea.
like beating a dead horse of a relationship, i gave okpo another chance this weekend. he claimed he had changed. i wanted to believe him.
and he was right.
after coming to terms with the fact that brunch (as a verb) will be absent from my weekends for the next year or more, i have discovered the joys of in-house brunching (okay so maybe I can still use ‘brunch’ in all of its verb glory.)



i think my stomach is also quite pleased with this conjugation. 
soon after the caramelized apples digested, we headed to an unmarked trail behind one of the few high schools in okpo. vancouver-america thought that the trail may or may not lead us back to our beach. we were surprised to find that the trail had all sorts of treasures along the way to occupy a couple of troglodytes. two outdoor gyms (complete with HULA HOOPS!!!), a mineral water restoration system of sorts, and some pretty extensive vegetable gardens. just the thought of us breathlessly trogging up this steep trail only to be lapped by an ajumma with a sack full of freshly-picked sweet potatoes lugged over her shoulder made us giggle.

just as vancouver-america predicted, we ended up back at our beach…only to discover a buddha statue and garden that could very well have been someone’s private backyard. come to think of it, it was probably one of those mountaineering ajummas that needed somewhere to wind down after scaling an okpo mountain for their daily fill of produce. 


the remainder of saturday included fruit-infused soju, hijacking the music selection at various bars, and ddeokbokki served in a tiny black plastic bag (korea routinely gives a big “eff you” to planet earth and presumably, David Suzuki as well). 
sunday was welcomed with a mild headache and even milder weather. rooftop lunches and a quick dumpster diving session for apartment finds left me completely satisfied with okpo’s weekend performance.

(in my mind, if okpo were a male, he would be the kind of blue-collar no-frills human that enjoyed the basics of a cold beer, the same t-shirts he wore in undergrad, and secretly cherishes his collection of bob dylan on vinyl. he gets too drunk on fridays, spends too long at the batting cages on saturday, and considers himself “adventurous” when he eats pakistan cuisine on sundays. with his relatively short attention-span, he cannot commit to much of anything but continues to put all of his efforts into projects that will inevitably fail. he keeps his religious views to himself and is stuck in some sort of trades-like job after realizing that his major in political science is up to this point, inescapably useless.)  
so what if i am naively beating this dead horse?
i think i have a crush on okpo.

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sunday rainy sunday

the weather was the absolute poops.

and okpo seemed more undesireable than usual.

so, if you are anything like me, you will do the following:

have a fantastic meal with pals

have a photo shoot with your coffee mug

write a short tale about an american baseball player recently drafted to a south korean team

(not pictured: a documentary on north korea, laundry, and a quick dumpster dive for an old menu frame from the restaurant by the beach)

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