Subway – Eat Continuously!

 

The good news, is I think I am fully acclimated to the time change now. The bad news is, we head back to Portland on Sunday. Woke up at 6:30. We both have a mild cold but nothing we can’t vacation through.

Normally, and for the past 4 years, I have been gluten free.No,  I am not celiac. Yes, I have read the research about how people aren’t really sensitive to gluten unless they have celiac. But, I can tell you that my stomach doesn’t like it, and neither does my psoriasis and arthritis, nor my depression. But, being gluten free in a foreign country is pretty limiting – especially one that uses soy sauce in cooking. So, while in Korea I have just hung up my gluten free hat and crossed my fingers. And, for the past week I have had no noticeable issues. It turns out I have no sensitivity to Korean gluten!

After a slight argument about whether I should chance it, we rode the subway for about 35 minutes to an American breakfast house and I ordered a stack of poison pancakes. For the whole subway ride home I felt like I was going to die: with bad nausea, a sudden crashing headache and the spins. As it turns out, I am sensitive to Korean gluten when it’s in English.

We came home and napped it off.

I really like the apartment we are in, save for two things. The bed is slightly more firm than the floor (it seems like this is a running theme in Korea). I am not really sure why they go through the motions of having mattresses at all – it feels like false advertising.

The other issue with this apartment is the toilet, it’s not firmly mounted. I feel like I am in training to ride a bull in a bar that thinks peanut shells is floor decor. On the up side, I am getting a core workout even without going to CrossFit.

While Andrew has been sick, whenever I ask how he’s feeling he says “blugh.” Today however he upgraded that to “mlech.” So we went back to Myeong-dong for more foods on sticks and to buy cute socks.

Then this happened:

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Andrew really wanted this Shiba Inu’s attention, but the dog was a little snappy at him.

It’s a dog cafe. Like a cat cafe. Only with a lot more peeing on the floor.

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This little long haired dachshund came up to me and just curled onto my lap and took a nap – until my legs fell asleep and I had to kick him off.

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This is actual-Andrew petting an actual-dog. Like real petting too, not just the usual tentative finger prod Andrew usually calls dog-petting.

We hung out for a while then went to shop and eat some more.

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It probably seems like mostly what we are doing on this vacation is eating. That’s correct. But, I am pretty sure that I have not put on an ounce of weight and that is mostly because of the subway system. It’s the largest system (and most used) in the world. But it’s not just go downstairs and catch a train, it’s more go down several flights of stairs and walk for a quarter mile or three and then hop on a train and then walk back up those same amount of flights of stairs and also walk a quarter mile here and there to catch connections. Navigating the elaborate makeup of Seoul transit has helped me keep my girlish figure even as I stuff myself full of  “actual expenditure type of steak.”

So, we ate some more. And then this happened:

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “You guys went back to the cat cafe?” and you’d be wrong. Because this is a totally different cat cafe from the other one we went to. And now you’re probably thinking, “How many cat cafes can you go to?” And the answer is, “All of them.”

Korea’s Cold

Andrew’s sniffle got worse. Now I have one too. But we had a train to catch at noon and, of course, I was up with the birds (6:15 – it’s a small victory over 5:30).

I made some eggs for us because it was too early for the hostel community breakfast and we went for a walk along the water. As built up as this city is, there is some amazing architecture. Then there is also Trump World towers. They were pretty pedantic despite their illustrious name, undoubtedly emblematic.

We walked about 4 miles and returned during American breakfast time. I am really glad I’d made us our own version of breakfast and really regret failing to take a picture of the hot dogs, french fries and sliced up muffins the hostel was serving up.

As we checked out the attendant asked us where we were headed. I said “Seoul” and he looked at me as though he’d never heard of the place. Now I have been attempting to learn Hangul and the letters basically spell out S-schwa-uh-l/r (or SUH-ool). So I tried again with this pronunciation instead of the Americanized “soul” and got the facial equivalent of the blue screen of death. At this point I think he was just fucking with me so I just shrugged and smiled and handed him back the key.

The return trip to the KTX train station took us twice as long because we were both exhausted from our colds. Once at the train station we had about 40 minutes to kill and grabbed some soup and sushi to share. Andrew loved the sushi, so I am going to refrain from telling him that there was a bit of crab meat in it – if he doesn’t know in advance that it’s “ookie”, he really enjoys seafood. We napped a lot on the train and I worked a little more on my Hangul. My name in Korean (by my spelling- 하다수) means “enjoy a long life.” Thanks, Korean, I will – if I get over this cold.

Our new apartment is in a quieter part of town than the first one was. It is also right off the airport line of the subway. The airport line is deep underground. We had to take 4 escalators and 2 flights of stairs and check in with Beelzebub to get on the train. Climbing back out was also exhausting. I feel like we did as much walking down and up as we would have done just walking directly from Seoul (SUH-ool) Station.

Most of the rest of the day we spent juggling some games of Words With Friends, napping, checking in with each other about our colds, and Facebooking. Being sick in a foreign country is pretty much the same as being sick at home in that way. But it feels different. I think part of it is the pressure I am putting on myself to do things touristy and partially it’s that I don’t have my own sofa. Or kitchen. Or cats.

It’s possible I’m Korea sick and homesick.

 

525,600 Minutes

How do you measure a year? Is the opening day/week/month the tone setter? If so, Andrew and I are very likely fucked.

It’s only day 3 and already we need a roofer, an arborist, a plumber, a sports medicine specialist, a masseuse, a fireplace person (do they have a trade name? if not, I propose chimcheree), and a cat-analyst.

Two minutes into the New Year and Andrew and I were on our First Run 5K in downtown Portland when he started feeling like he was going to cramp. He pushed through and we found a steady pace. On the last 50 yards, however, we basically had slowed to a walking speed while looking like we were still running. I was having visions of Andrew pulling a Sian Welch & Wendy Ingraham – impressive on an Iron Man finish, but maybe a little melodramatic for a 3 miler. He pulled through and we high fived, concerned that a lip lock in 25 degree weather might make getting back to the car inconvenient to say the least.

To be fair, both the arborist and roofer issues stem from the wind storm prior to the new year. We’ve attempted to get the roofer out here by calling and making an appointment for them to come out – one would think this would suffice in getting a roofer to come out – they were slated for December 26th. But, Legit Roofing never showed and didn’t call. Then they called the next week and said the reason they hadn’t shown was no one was working that day because of the holidays. This was a lie as I work ou right next door to them and had seen them in their offices on the day “no one was working” with the open sign lit up. But whatever, we needed roofers, they stated they would come by that same day but again never showed and never called.

This just goes to prove my theory that you need to beware of choosing a company with a suspicious name. For example, if they have to say they are legit in their name, it is likely they are not legit – and in fact are the opposite of legit. Same goes for selecting a restaurant – if the sign says authentic Mexican food avoid that at all costs, it’s not only not going to be authentically Mexican it probably won’t be food.

The problem we are having with getting an arborist out here is that they don’t know we want them. We (read: Andrew) have not called to make an appointment yet. And so, we have pieces of tree debris in our yard and the bottom half of a wind shorn tree still standing back there begging to become firewood.

Speaking of firewood… a friend of mine came over last night to knit. I started up a fire in our fireplace and about 20 minutes later the entire house (especially the bottom floor) was filled with smoke. unsure what to do I opened the flue for the bottom chimney (the fire was in the second floor fireplace) and that really helped – if by helped I mean added far more smoke into the house.

I was certain that we’d need a chimcheree to come and shake our hand and step in time, but it turns out after we (read: Andrew) did some Googling that it’s just that our house is too well sealed. The two flues go up through the same chimney. Because the fire needs to pull air to burn it pulls it from wherever there is less of a seal – that’s the second flue. But that flue air the house is pulling in is right next to the smokey air coming from the flue that has a fire burning in it. All we need to do is crack a window open when having a fire so that the fire can breathe. This seems a bit counter to having a fire, but Andrew says it’s fine and I have now had a physics lesson – so it can’t be that bad.

Because the cats seemed to be getting along a little better and Widget and Pixel even started playing together a bit, I moved Pixel’s cat litter downstairs near the other boxes. While down there I noticed a puddle of water in front of the washing machine. I got a little excited and called Andrew down for inspection.

I have been wanting a new washer and dryer ever since we replaced our stove, dishwasher and microwave last year. There was nothing wrong with what we have, but new appliances are kind of sexy. But now there seemed to be something wrong with the washing machine. I was giddy with the thought of a front loader when, after further inspection, Andrew broke the news to me that there is actually something blocking our piping system and the downstairs shower has four inches of water in it too. No new washer for us. But I have made certain that the landlord (read: Andrew) is aware that a plumber needs to be brought in.

Meanwhile the kitten was too dumb to remember where we’d put his litter box and peed on the bathmat which we couldn’t launder because of the plumbing issue. So the litter box moved back upstairs.

So, in the end, I’m not sure, is it better to get all the bad stuff out of the way at the top of the New Year, or is this a sign of more bad things to come? One thing’s for certain, whatever does come about, you’ll hear it here first.

 

Sometimes I Get a Little Stabby at Christmastime

Edward Scissorhands eat your heart out. I am now Hadas Vajhand.

It started innocently enough – as all tales of self mutilation do. I was making a smoothie on Christmas Eve Eve (12/23 for those playing at home). Andrew and I agreed to get a new kitten and I was on my way to pick up my girlfriend who was going to help in the selection process mostly by making all the squees in stereo with me.

My smoothies are generally a mishmash of fruit, veg, and nuts. This day it was banana, cashews, kale, almond milk and half of an avocado. However, once I cut the avocado in half I saw it had a ginormous pit and not much avocado, so I decided to put the whole avocado in the smoothie. I was having difficulty getting the pit out so I stabbed it with my knife point instead of blade.

I am not sure how familiar you are with avocado pits; because they are shaped like an everlasting gobstopper, one might assume they’d be as firm as one. In fact, they are surprisingly soft, and with a sharp knife and an affinity for klutziness, one might pierce right through a pit and into ones own left hand in between the middle and (never again going to be a wedding) ring fingers.

I looked at what I’d done and immediately started screaming bloody murder. There wasn’t any pain, I just had never seen so deep under my skin. For those of you who don’t perform surgery or watch surgery shows, I can tell you that under our skin we humans look a lot like chicken meat. Andrew raced out of the conference call he was on to see what had caused me to howl like a Banshee. As he was approaching, in my mind, I quickly went through what I knew about shock symptoms to see if I was experiencing any of them so that I could talk Andrew through treatment if need be.

Andrew is great in a crisis (he’s had a lot of practice), but the thing is, when I injure myself (frequently) my main concern is the comfort of those around me. I don’t want to cause concern or fear. So, if shit was about to get real, I wanted everyone to be prepared.

Although the gash in my hand was about 1/4 inch deep nothing was really concerning me about the matter. I stopped screaming and asked Andrew to get some gauze and tape. As he came back from the bathroom I turned ghostly. In his hand, along with the bandaging equipment, was a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Somehow I convinced him that water would suffice to clean the wound and worst case scenario if it were to get infected I could take antibiotics or have my hand amputated but that would be much better than Napalm Peroxide.

Andrew offered me a ride to the ER which I declined because as a current unemployee I would have to go to the VA and if we’d gone there, I would miss prime kitten acquiring time and probably Christmas and would likely be there through the New Year before being seen. I opted for home remedy gauze and finger taping, finished making my smoothie – a girl’s gotta eat – and headed out the door to collect my friend.

On our ride to the humane society I told her of my morning stabbing and she convinced me to contact ZoomCare. I made an appointment for 1:45 finding it hard to explain to the person on the phone that I cut myself but not in an emo way.

We got to the humane society and found out the kittens were getting their bits surgeried and would not be available until 3. We grabbed a cup of coffee and went to ZoomCare where I proceeded to unwrap my fingers and look inside my bloody gash (and if you read this in the British way – that’s exactly what it looked like) while waiting to be seen.

My bloody gash. Or Vajhand if you prefer.

My bloody gash. Or Vajhand if you prefer.

ZoomCare lavaged, glued and taped me up gave me a tetanus shot and sent me on my way.

We headed back to the Humane Society where I almost got a full size cat instead of a kitten because he was so sweet and cute and fluffy and a little bit drooly.

Drool Cat

Drool Cat

But I instead fell in love with and got this kitten:

Meet Pixel

Meet Pixel

His name is Pixel.

We knew Lola and Widget would not really love him at first, we are hoping they will grow to love him. In the interim, we now have first hand practice in case we need to deal with one of them getting a little stabby.

Klutz Out of My Pants

Andrew’s office is almost done. I love the colors we chose a beautiful purple and a buttery beige. During the painting everyone has had to modify a lot of their daily rituals. Andrew moved his office into my craftroom/office; Lola and Widget reached a detente after about three days and that room seems to have become Lola’s hang out space with Widget being allowed intermittent visits. These visits usually take place while Lola is helping me paint Andrew’s office. She has managed to get the primer and beige on her. I am assuming the purple just doesn’t contrast enough with her black fur for me to notice where she inevitably dipped herself into the paint.

My craftroom/office is also where I have books, important paperwork, extra bags, yarn, scale, games, clothes that don’t fit in our dinky closet space, and other tchatchkies that I have yet to find a place for or the gumption to get rid of. I have to negotiate around Andrew sometimes, but I am probably usually more cautious than need be. In fact he has explicitly told me to stop knocking on the door and just to come in when I need to.

During my work hiatus I have not only taken up painting the house and working out more, Andrew and I started trying meditation and are on a 12 day streak. We use an app called Calm. We went through the 7 days of training and are now at 15 minutes a day. The meditation is guided, which means we are often reminded to stay in the present, to let our respective bodies feel heavy, and to stifle giggles when the soft voice says buttocks (we’re 13 year old boys). Meditation time, no matter when we do it, is also the exact same time that Widget wants attention. She could be in the dead of sleep, but will come out to scratch on whatever seat Andrew is on when the meditation music starts.

Andrew and I have also started reading a minimum of 15 minutes a day.  This “rule” is really a tactic to get us started at reading each day. For me it has reawakened my inner bookworm and I have been staying up a little (a lot) late (the wee hours of the morning) to read. Last night was one of those nights I stayed up – which made this morning one of those mornings where I slept in.

Andrew woke me up at 8. Then again at 9. I laid in bed until 9:30ish reading some more until he gently coaxed me out of bed so I could get to my appointment. Then he went off to the bathroom. I got up, went into my craftroom/office for my morning scale shaming and then headed to the bathroom. As Andrew was coming out of the bathroom and I was going in I jokingly said, “You weren’t on a video conference in your office, were you?”

He looked at my naked body and said, “Actually, I am.”

I was mortified. I had just walked in front of his meeting. In. The. Nude.

“But, I muted it when I got up, so you’re probably good.”

Probably.

A Night at the Rape… er… Opera

You know a morning workout is good when at the end of it you are thankful there are firefighters in the building to help you through your asthma attack.

And that was how last Thursday started.

I got home after calming down enough to drive and found my inhaler. It tasted disgusting – I mean it’s not like albuterol is normally a tasty alternative to chocolate, but this was nasty. I took it anyway and eventually headed to work.

The thing about an asthma attack is that it is super draining. For the three hours I was at work I was exhausted and also scared to breathe. You’d think I would be scared of not breathing, but I was scared to breathe too deeply and start a coughing fit. I decided it was time to go home and just rest.

I woke up at 4:00 and it was dark and gloomy. For a moment I wasn’t sure what day it was nor why the heck I was waking up. I rolled over to my side and Widget, who’d been sleeping on my bladder rolled off the couch. Her getting off my bladder at least reminded me why the heck I was waking up.

Once to my senses I realized it was opera night. In the summer I had purchased a short season ticket packet for the Portland Opera – tonight, Don Giovanni! I was sad that Andrew was in the bay area and was not going to be my date; but, my friend Scott was a lovely proxy. We eventually made plans to meet at Higgins at 5:30 ish.

It was pretty rainy and I was all dressed up in opera watching attire, so I forewent the bike and drove into downtown. At about 5:20 I was 7 miles out from the restaurant. At 5:35 I was 6 miles out from the restaurant. Traffic was intense. I kept texting Scott to let him know I was running late. I kept taking side streets and shortcuts that would just end up with me behind more traffic. The whole drive in was emotionally draining and irritating. I finally pulled into a parking garage and waited for an attendant. One finally appeared and I asked if they were closing (which seemed highly unlikely, but they had the air of about to close).

Attendant: How long are you planning on being here?

Me: Several hours – maybe until 10 or so (boy oh boy had I underestimated) I am going to the opera (I said in a very “I am in a big rush and am late” voice).

Attendant: Nope we are closing in the next 30 minutes (holy crap he talks slow). You know, that opera is what (I climb back into the car)? at the Keller (I nod and close the door to hint that this conversation needs to end)? There are some parking garages near the Keller (REALLY? YOU DON’T SAY??? PLEASE STOP TALKING TO ME SO I CAN LEAVE AND FIND ONE OF THEM), or you maybe could find something on the street (what part of my window rolling up do you not understand old man??? I am in a rush to leave). This time of night there’s probably parking around there (At this point I took off). Hey, I am a grandfather – do you want to see picures of my grandkids (I assume he said because he was old and chatty and probably senile which is why he didn’t get any of the social cues I was sending – but I was long gone)?

I finally found a parking spot next to the Keller, on the street. I was super-stoked and glad that it was dark and nighttime so I didn’t have to pay for parking. I walked/jogged up to Higgins and got there at about 6:10. Apparently, the reason traffic was a disgusting mess was that there had been a bank robbery downtown. Exciting, right?

The opera started at 7:30 and there was no late seating so this was going to have to be a pretty un-liesurely dinner.

I had eaten at Higgins once before for lunch. I was totally unimpressed with the overly-bready, overpriced, open-faced sandwich I’d eaten. I was not expecting much for dinner – but, Scott said he loves Higgins, so I was going to give it another shot.

Oh. My. God. I am so glad I did! What a splendid dinner. Scott and I munched on honey chili hazelnuts while we waited for mussels. I knocked my tea all over the table right as we were ordering (I am an impeccable klutz). I had never had mussels before – they were extraordinary – soft delicate flavor. Scott told the waiter to quick fire all of our food so that we would not miss seating at the opera. I ordered the “Whole Pig Plate” – now that you know that exists you aren’t surprised it’s what I ordered, right?

“Whole Pig Plate” – “Cocido” of chorizo sausage, loin, ribs and belly with cabbage, beans, squash and hazelnut picada

(Dear Paleo peeps – I ate around the beans). This dish was heavenly. Every piece of pig tasted delicious, but different from the others though they were all in the picada. Scott ordered the salmon special. I like fish, but I am not a salmon fan. I tasted his salmon though and it was buttery and delicious. If salmon tasted like that more often, I would order it.

We left at 7:15 and quick walked to Keller. We got there in time and found our seats.

Portlanders delight me on so many levels. There were people dressed to the nines. Then there were people dressed to the ones (as in, “Oh, it’s one in the morning and I am in bed, arent’ my pajamas cute?”). Scott and I made a smart pair.

Check out the bow tie. Hand tied of course!

We took in the stark stage and read as much as we could of the story. The thing is, Scott and I are both massively ADD. And as soon as one of us would get through a paragraph something shiny would catch our attention. And trust me, there was a lot of shiny things to look at.

The actors entered the stage and the opera began. Within ten minutes of singing there was a very rapey dry-humping scene. I hadn’t really expected that even after reading the overview. I think my mistake was that Portland Opera spells rape R-A-V-I-S-H-I-N-G. I suddenly felt very guilty for what I had done to the whole pig I’d had for dinner.

My quick overview of the opera: It was lovely. Some of the arias were outstanding. There was an especially seductive strip tease between the newly wed lovers. The staging was so stark and minimalist that it often confused the story or got in the way. The man playing Don Giovanni was so busy playing “detached” that he never connected to the audience.

And the most surprising thing of all… This was not my granny’s opera – no, it was not all the rapiness. It was that everyone in the cast was fit. I mean long gone is the soprano with her big head and body to match. Everyone looked like they could bench press each other.

The last thing – this opera was LONG. It started at 7:30 and didn’t end until 11:00. I am no musicologist, but maybe next time they could up-tempo the rapey scenes? Towards the end there was a line in the opera where someone said, “Tell me quickly.” I leaned over to Scott and whisper sang “I want to, but I can’t, this is an opera.”

On the way back to the car Scott and I analyzed Don Giovanni. I think he is a metaphor for lust in general. I think LUST is actually Leporello’s master and that is why at the end he is determined to find another master. When I tried to explain my thoughts to Scott he said, “Oh, so Don Giovanni is Tyler Durden.” I couldn’t have said it better.

We got to my car and that is when I found out that dark night does not equal 7PM, which is when the meters have to paid until. I would have paid if I hadn’t been so focused on how late I was to meeting Scott for dinner. And, I wouldn’t have been late to dinner if the city wasn’t so busy blocking streets because of a stupid bank robber.

I felt a little city-of-Portland-parking-ticket raped ravaged.

Daylight Savings Crime

Andrew is still away in Spain. He is coming back Tuesday night after having been delayed by Hurricane Sandy and the shut down of the Eastern Seaboard. Generally, while he is home he is – well – HOME. That is, he works from home, shops from home, meets his friends for coffee from home, if he could have found a way to go to Spain from home – he’d have done it; a true introvert.

We have two cats. One is Widget who is super friendly and likes people to visit so that she can get molested by strangers. Then there is our cat Lola. Many of our friends don’t even know we have a cat other than Widget. Lola is afraid of strangers, and Widget, and herself sometimes. The only person I have ever seen her tolerate outside of Andrew and me is my sister Tamar, and I think that is because we sound alike. Whenever a stranger comes into the house Lola will hide and wait a good two or three hours after the monster noises are gone to come back out.

With Andrew being gone I have been using Lola as an early-alert home alarm system. When I come home (sometimes not until late at night) I know that the house has not been broken into and that there are no strangers in it if I see her at the window.

So when I came home yesterday from hanging out with some friends for dinner and then going grocery shopping I knew all was well in the house because there was Lola in the window.

I put the groceries away and was about to feed the cats when I looked up at the clock to make sure it wasn’t too early to do that. I hadn’t yet set the clocks back an hour for daylight savings time so with some quick math I realized it was only 7:30. Yet, I knew that was wrong because according to my phone clock I’d left the grocery store at 8:00. So it was actually 8:30 – just as the clock read.

I looked at the microwave clock, 8:30. The oven clock, 8:30 (yes, there are three clocks just in the kitchen). I went into the living room and checked the clock in there, 10:45 – same as it has been for two weeks. This means that the burglar who came in and reset my clocks had not changed the batteries in the living room clock. Also, the burglar had not taken the TV, or my laptop, or, well, anything. This made me skeptical about the burglar theory; but, seeing Lola looking up at me with hungry, hopeful, dinner eyes instead of not seeing Lola because she was hyperventilating in a hidey-hole solidified that the burglar theory was not plausible.

So, maybe one of Andrew’s neighbors came by and was trying to be helpful? Or maybe one of our friends stopped by while I was out and came in and reset the clocks and left and didn’t let me know they had stopped by?

I went to Skype with Andrew and see if he had a theory and while doing so Googled daylight savings time 2012 – which is apparently not until next week. I spent almost an hour worrying about someone having broken into the house, and I will never get that hour of my life back. Well, at least not until next Sunday anyway.