Tuesday, February 21, 2012


How I choose to feel is how I am
-Pearl Jam

I realize that my last post about my first six months in Korea was woefully inadequate. Here are some other top moments:

Music. Yes, Seoul is no Seattle, but it is proving an acceptable substitute for the year. In November, I went to see Two Gallants, a band from San Francisco. The show didn't start until 11, I was tired and cold, and I *almost* skipped it. I am so glad that I didn't. When the band started to play, I found my way to the front of the stage (on "Mike's side" of course!) and closed my eyes, smiled and enjoyed life. Nothing better.

In December, I went to see Deerhoof, a band that I knew literally nothing about. The name sounded vaguely familiar and I read that they were from San Francisco, so I decided to check them out. Once again, as I was walking to the show not only was I cold and tired, but I also could not seem to find the venue. I wandered around the confusing streets of Hongdae for about an hour, and just when I was about to give up, I looked down the street and there it was! Like fate. And like before, I am so happy that I went. The club where the show was held was very very small and unlike at the Two Gallants show, the crowd was mostly Korean. There were three opening bands, all Korean, and all really good. I especially liked the third band, who I *think* are called "Banseom Pirates" and played spacey instrumental music while a strange movie played in the background.

Deerhoof was also a really great band, and if I ever get another chance to see them, I definitely will. The drummer was amazing, so much fun to watch. The lead singer was a really cheerful Japanese (I think) girl who kept saying "Kamsam-ida!"

Of course, I can't forget the guitar-playing bartender that I wrote about before. Victoria and I have since gone back to his bar to listen to him play again. Whereas on Christmas Eve, he mostly stuck with songs by Damien Rice or the Beatles, this time he played mostly Korean songs. I wish I knew the name of his bar so that I could advertise it, because he has a wonderful voice and is obviously a great performer who shouldn't just be in a small bar playing only to one or two people at a time. And, adding to my guitar-playing bartender love: both times we saw him, "Once" was playing on a screen in the background. In fact, on Christmas Eve he asked, "Have you ever seen this movie? It's great."

Theater. I have seen four plays so far in Seoul, three Korean and one American. The first play I saw was Jump, an absolutely hilarious non-verbal play about a family that does martial arts. Highly recommended. The second play that I saw was called Cookin With Nanta, and I went to it on Christmas. Another very funny play, about four chefs who are preparing a wedding feast. Again, it is non-verbal, the story is told through dance and music. And it stars "A Sexy Guy" (that's really what the character is called in the script). A few weeks ago, Victoria and I saw The Ballerina Who Loved a B-Boy, about, as you can probably guess, a ballerina who falls in love with a break dancer. The dancing in the play was phenomenal - as was the fact that one of the actors had a shirt emblazoned with the F-word - and after the play we got to go on stage and take pictures with the dancers. The most recent play that I saw was Without You, a one-man show starring Anthony Rapp from the Original Broadway Cast of Rent. The play is based on his autobiography about the deaths of his mother and Jonathan Larson (the writer of Rent). I wanted to see the play because I LOVE Rent (have seen it five times, own the original Broadway recording, and have the entire play memorized), but I was kind of leery of the whole "one-man show" concept. But it was *so wonderful* He sang songs from Rent (including La Vie Boheme!) and is such a good actor that two hours went by in the blink of an eye.

Cafes. I have to add this one, because who knew that one of my favorite things about Korea would be the coffee shops? There are some great ones in Daejeon. My favorite is called Holy Cross. It is on the 6th floor of a tall building downtown, and is somewhat reminiscent of a New York City loft inside. I have been known to sit there for a few hours, drinking a latte and reading a book on my Kindle. And they have free wifi! And they know my name and order without me having to say anything. That's winning in my book.

Other random things: cute Korean guys, samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup), kimbap, udon, dweji galbi (bbq pork), walking along the Han River in Seoul, the KTX train, waffles for dessert, parks, not having to worry about driving a car (just having to worry that I won't get run over when I go outside, but I'm getting used to that), Sun Sing Dam bakery, getting off the subway at a random stop in Seoul and walking around, and most of all, not having to worry about money. That's a big one. Free housing + no car + low cost of living, relative to Seattle = much less stress in my life. I almost don't want to have to go back to Seattle and start the treadmill all over again. Almost.

Yup, there are lots of things I love about living here, and I will dwell on those, because as a wise man named Eddie Vedder sings, "how I choose to feel is how I am."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what about italy?