Here’s a trite item (tritem?) (YES.) that you’ll hear at some point from all Western, enlightened, disgustingly repetitive post-grad travellers: that thing about how no matter where you go you take yourself with you, and how major life changes don’t necessarily shift your habits and inclinations. I have this paranoid feeling that when I leave this country and people ask me: “so how was Korea?” I will only be able to say “well I watched a lot of television online! and they have coffeeshops there, too. CULTURE.”

SO to avoid that fate I have been making some changes and making some plans. As of last week I am training (“training”) to run a 10k next month (“run”). As of this week I am taking voice lessons for the first time ever, and maybe performing a little bit in a few months. As of last week I am going to a rock climbing gym sometimes. And hopefully as of tomorrow I am LEARNING KOREAN, because even though I can sort-of-sound-out-the-alphabet-except-for-a-few-vowels-that-to-me-all-sound-like-‘euh,’ I can’t communicate with people. and we all know how very very much I like communicating with people. Bring on the awkward! and bring on the learning. (which latter two sentences, be it known, in my head went with the rhythm of “bring out the hellman’s and bring out the best” with an extra syllable on it. extra syllable just to stick it to the hellman’s people, because they might have seared that ad into my head but they will NEVER make me like mayonnaise, NO ONE WILL.)

This has gone severely awry.

But what I meant to tell you is this: tonight, walking to my bus stop in a cold early spring rain, a young, bareheaded Korean guy asked to share my umbrella. We exchanged (very) small talk and since my stop was quite close and he clearly still had a ways to go, I told him to keep my umbrella.

(it is bright yellow and I bought it this afternoon when the rain started. the mocha I drank at dinner cost me more.)

I told him to keep it, but he insisted on giving me his number so he could return it, even though I told him I didn’t have a phone (which ALWAYS sounds like the ‘i’m getting rid of you’ line).  He wrote his number down anyway, and instead of his name, underneath he wrote ‘Umblerra.’  (I like to think that by some crazy coincidence that is actually his name). So goals for this week: get a phone! (did you know? it’s unnecessarily hard to make good connections to peripheral people without one) and also, call Umblerra! and maybe get a friend and my bright yellow umbrella out of the deal. Meeting Umblerra! felt like a serendipitous nudge towards Learning Korean For Real, a goal delayed lo, these six months. So add to list in previous paragraph: as of this week, daily Korean practice on my own, once weekly lessons with my coworkers, and hopefully, soon, language exchange with my new friend Umblerra!.

Learning never stops, but until I decide to do something it never starts. Up at 6.15 tomorrow to “run.”

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