This Is What Self Pity Looks Like, Korean Style

Yesterday was bad from the very beginning. Before the beginning even. If I haven’t mentioned it yet, I live on the noisiest street in the entire city of Gwangju. Across the way is a junk yard. And when I say ‘across the way’, I mean about 30 feet from the window above my bed. And when I say ‘junk yard’, I mean the place where all the old men come in Korea to either drop or destroy large pieces of glass or pipe. And when I say ‘drop or destroy’, I mean actually let drop, from what sounds like 40 feet in the air onto the ground or into the back of a truck, large metal pipes and sheets of glass.

I do not really know the purpose of Drop-n-Destroy. I only know that the angry eye contact I have made with the men outside at 5:30 in the morning has done nothing to deter them from making sure glass is being broken and pipes are being flung well before the sun is up. In fact, it seems lately the folks at Drop-n-Destroy have expanded business to include some sort of mechanic work. This primarily involves trying to turn over the engines of dying cars repeatedly underneath my window between the hours of 6 and 8 am until I am so angry that yet again I’m forced to stick my pissy face out there to find the culprit and try to murder him with my eyeballs.

Anyway, in that regard, yesterday wasn’t that different than most others, but since I hadn’t slept well the cacophony from my dear neighbors was less appreciated than usual. Upon waking the first time, I was pleased to find that it was still dark out and that I had quite a bit of time before I actually had to get up.

FALSE. There were a mere 6 or 7 minutes before my alarm would be going off. Apparently the sun has decided to sleep in and doesn’t care how that makes the rest of us feel in the morning. I never realized that I like Daylight Savings Time. In fact I always kind of trash talked it. I didn’t know that without this doofy American change, it’s dark until 8:00 am and finding the motivation to get out of bed is like sticking your hand down the garbage disposal and talking yourself into flipping the switch.

Having taken about a half hour too long to trick myself out of bed then, I was running late and in a frantic rush to get my coffee loaded into the Holy Thermos (holy because it protects the coffee that gives me life). While I was unwrapping sugar cubes with one hand I was pressing on the coffee press with the other and the next thing I knew boiling coffee was shooting all over me and my kitchen.  I have no idea what went so wrong, but I only had a few seconds to be confused and angry about how much it sucked (considering the mess it created and that I now had just half the coffee I need in a morning).

The rest of the day looked a lot like that. First a terrible bus ride, complete with ajumma elbow-to-face action and nausea-inducing brake stomping. Next my coteacher decided to do away with our planned “free day” and teach the sixth graders as usual (surprise! here’s a punch in the junk). And the rest of the afternoon was spent with Koreans who won’t talk to me unless they are asking me to do their homework or take their online tests or voice-record their final exams, all of which they did yesterday.

By the late afternoon, I was a broken shell of a person, hunched down at my desk with my headphones on, jumping out of my skin like an abuse victim when someone touched my shoulder to say goodbye.

Cheerleader Erin tried to encourage me to feel better and carry on with my original afternoon plan to go to Home Plus (Home Plus = Korean Wal-Mart, land of crowds and suffering).

4:19 pm erin: you can survive! go to home plus!

4:19 pm me: where it’s so much more megan friendly?

I needed a few things, so I went. I figured the walk would do me good too.

Unfortunately what happens at Wal-Mart or Home Plus when I feel any sort of angriness or sadness is that I buy THINGS to feel better. Much like ‘hungry’ is the worst way to go grocery shopping, ‘wallowing in self-pity’ really is the most dangerous way to visit a megasuperlandofcrapstore. Because I end up allowing myself to buy all sorts of garbage that is not only unnecessary, but that I might have specifically told myself earlier I would not be buying.

Chocolate, for instance, is on my list of things I’m not allowed to buy right now because it is not on my current ‘diet’. But I bought two. A $7 disc of Camembert cheese also falls into the category of “Makes your ass fatter: DO NOT BUY”.

Sometimes on my bimonthly visits to Home Plus, I allow myself to indulge in these little spicy chicken nugget things that have been wrapped in cellophane just long enough that they become ever so slightly soggy as they cool. I love them because they remind me of the chicken nuggets my mom used to make me to take to school when I was little. She cooked them in the morning and wrapped them in foil and by lunch time they too had become mushy on the outsides and not quite hot. It’s disgusting and amazing at the same time. Regardless, they will not help me reach “Hawaii Body” any faster and so they were supposed to be off limits yesterday too.

And yet, as you can see, I ended up purchasing not one, but ALL of those things. Plus a coffee mug because I liked it and felt bad for myself that I had a bad day. And you can bet your ass that as soon as that photograph was taken, I attacked a couple pieces of chicken and tore into the Camembert while I admired my pretty new mug and prepared to pace myself once I got to the M&Ms

The lesson of this story: Don’t go to Korea? Don’t wake up in the morning? Don’t go to Home Plus?  Don’t be Megan? I don’t know. You choose.

3 responses to “This Is What Self Pity Looks Like, Korean Style

  1. OOOOOOOOOH YOU POOR THING!! 😦 😦 😦 😦 I hope you cheer up and you’re beautiful and Diets are meant to be cheated on. Seriously, they don’t care as long as you come back to them. No angry phone calls. No spammy text messages. Hell, they even leave you alone on facebook. Don’t feel guilty. Also…what’s one more mug!
    Retail therapy is healthy and natural. I hope your day is 100x better tomorrow!!

  2. Don’t forget Home Plus’ similarly insufferable kin, E-Mart and Lotte. I don’t go to HomePlus often… do they at least have the sample ladies? Those free hunks of samgyeopsal and apple are a balm to my chapped soul every time I need to pick something up at the local Lotte Mart.

  3. Pingback: Orange You Glad You’re Not This Flakey? | The Wanderlust Diary

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