These Feet Were Made for Walkin’

Yesterday was dedicated to just kind of hanging around Copenhagen and wandering the streets like a tourist. I ended up in the gay district. I knew immediately I was there because of the karaoke bar and all the rainbow flags. But if I’d had any question about it, I am sure I could have popped in either of these locations and gotten it straightened (or gayed?) out:img_2721.jpg

I kept wandering around the streets. It was a lovely day and even got up to a balmy 70 degrees. It seemed to me everyone was on the streets drinking a beer and smoking cigarettes. I eventually wandered into the super-touristy shopping area.IMG_2729 I took a picture of this bench because it says peckerhead on it. My 15 second Google search turned up a potential band name with a song called Copenhagen Bloodbank. But Dictionary.com says it’s a term for an asshole or a jerk. Apparently, it is also a term for a motor termination box (whatever that means). It wasn’t until I posted this picture here that I noticed the dude in the picture is wearing a CrossFit shirt. Unrelated, I am sure.

I was actually on a mission. I love knitting and thought it would be cool to go to a Copenhagen knitting store and fondle or possibly buy some yarn. I turned the corner headed toward where Google maps said my shop was and I saw this:

IMG_2727I imagine this is like a Segway tour. Do you think they have you walk the Great Danes or ride them on the tour? I peaked in the window and saw no dogs.

Practically next door was my knitting shop. Apparently it’s not just the dogs that are larger in Copenhagen.

IMG_2728This is one kilo of yarn. Also, look at the size on the needle they recommend, they ran out of numbers and just put a Great Dane on it. Andrew, let’s get a snow leopard kitten – I have just the yarn for it to play with. In other news, I had to buy an extra seat on my plane ride home…

After all the walking and running I have done here, my feet are in need of some TLC. I looked around for a pedicure place and there was one just a few blocks away.

When I was a little baby I use to make fish faces with my mouth and my nickname became fish face. Eventually, that was shortened to “fish” – this makes my ComedySportz nickname of Hadas “Tuna” Cassorla even a little more special to me.

IMG_2733IMG_2732Now as an adult, I have become fish food. This is something I have always wanted to try. It feels ticklish at first. Then it’s just odd. I did 40 minutes, which was 20 minutes longer than its novelty appeal. While soaking in it I did some Googling to discover why these bone fish eat people. I found no answers, just that they do. Also, apparently, this type of treatment has stopped being available in many places because of sanitary concerns, but so far my feet haven’t fallen off. And if they do, I will likely just blame it on all the walking I have done around town.

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Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, and Lungs, and Hair

The mute swan is the national bird of Denmark. The marguerite daisy is the national flower. I am pretty sure the national inhalant of Denmark is Marlboro.

My history in selecting AirBnB’s by myself has been a little tenuous. I had one where there was no internet, I had another where I ended up rooming with a girl and her friend and a cat (the cat was the plus side of the rental – obvs.). So this time I made sure Andrew vetted my choice prior to selection so that I did not end up in a tent or a cult or Copenhagen, New York by accident. I almost chose an apartment that was a bit nearer to the city but the reviews on it said that when you opened the windows there was cigarette smoke coming in. I feel bad for the owner of the AirBnB for missing out on renters and want to reach out to her so that she can respond with, “we just call that ‘air’ in Copenhagen.”

After 20 hours of travel, a night out with more drinks than I usually have in a month, days of almost 19 hours of sun and general overwhelmedness, the second day here I kind of crashed. I walked around the city a bit and went to a salon to pick up hair product. Just as the words, “my hair isn’t going to be that frizzy because it’s not that humid here” left my lips, the sky opened up and rain pelted down – I might not understand weather. This was no Oregon drizzle. This was where the phrase “cats and dogs” comes from. I made a quick trip to the gym and headed back to my apartment where I napped for three hours while the rain pelted away.IMG_2635

The texture you see in the above picture is the rain. It was a good day to have my vacation from bed. Eventually I decided to get out of bed and started heading to the improv place I’d been the night before – ICC. I got to the end of the block, changed my mind, and turned to go to the main street to find some dinner and head back to bed – I had hit a wall. Andrew would say it was jet lag. I would say that I don’t believe in jet lag.

Around the corner, it turns out, was a street festival celebrating the neighborhood.

The band was playing Danish pop and the lead singer was super into it. The light crowd was polite and super into the beer. I was, as is my wont, dressed inappropriately for the weather. So I downed my sausage just in time for the couple sitting next to me to light up their cigarettes and put the nail in the proverbial coffin of me hightailing it out of there.

My appetite was not sated, and while I was not in the mood to go out, I also wasn’t quite ready to go back to bed. I found a restaurant with a chef’s tasting menu and wandered in. Tasting menus are my new favorite thing to do at a restaurant. I love food and I love trying new things and I love restaurants. I think food is art – and a tasting menu is like the chef’s best version of their selves.

These were the six dishes of the inaptly named 5 course tasting menu. The green onion was tasty but hard to eat because I couldn’t really cut it. The rest of the dishes tasted fine, but I think they could have used some more salt. The service was good, I was brought dishes by apparently anyone with a free hand and they each explained the dishes except for the woman who brought the cod – but she also brought me the next dish and it turns out she was just shy about her English – I totally empathize. What I loved most was the pacing. For Andrew’s birthday I took him to a nice restaurant in Portland and they asked us if we were in a rush. We said no. Then they proceeded to serve us as though they were trying to win a race against the service team at Red Robin – I am pretty sure we were in, dined, paid and out in an hour. But the dinner above was a 2+ hour affair. By the time I was done eating I was almost hungry again.

I got back to my apartment and immediately felt wide awake – probably due to all the food I’d had and not due to the jet lag I don’t believe in.

Jet Lag, Shet Shmag

My first day in Copenhagen was a treat. I went to the gym and they were running a special where you get your first two weeks free. So, I have free full access gym membership for my stay here.

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This is the parking lot outside of the gym. Everyone here rides bikes – no one wears a helmet. I keep wanting to rent a bike, but it is so rainy and I am so klutzy (see blog name) that I keep not renting one. The trip is young, we shall see. I think today instead I will tackle public transportation, which I assume is a thing here. Usually Andrew does all the organizing around this. He’s not here and Vin Diesel is useless around buses, which is ironic; you’d think with a name like Vin Diesel he’d know all things automotive. I might have to rethink this new-boyfriend arrangement.

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This is a random building during my walk. I thought it was pretty. Now you look at it and think it’s pretty too.

I’ve managed to start understanding some Danish. Mostly in writing. I don’t know how to pronounce anything though because even though the letters are familiar they don’t make the same noises as in English. I recognize æg means egg, and I know ol is beer, brod is bread, etc. Andrew says I have a knack for languages – it’s really just a very heavy interest in food.

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Shwarma proof. Across the street from this Shwarma House is another Shwarma House. There’s a lot of shwarma around here. I like to think that every once in a while they have a kabob rumble in the streets.

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After the gym I went to a restaurant around the corner from my apartment. I wanted some authentic Danish food. So I asked the waiter to suggest what I should have. He brought me this Spanish omelet. I have cultural food confusion – but it was delicious!

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It was so rainy I actually used an umbrella ella ella all day.

 

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So this is actually very Danish. It is an open faced herring sandwich on a hearty rye and nut bread. It is called Smørrebrød. The toppings don’t have to be herring, they may be cold cuts or meat or cheese. It was really tasty, and quite filling.

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This is a truck full of drunk teenagers. They are celebrating their high school graduation. There are loads of these trucks throughout the city blaring Rhianna and screaming and blowing whistles and drinking it up. It’s annoying and cute – like me!

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Random pretty buildings.

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After wandering around the city all day I was tired. But, I had made plans to meet up with some improv people at 20:00. So, I slammed some coffee, and a Manhattan (to get awake, but not too awake) and went to play with new friends. It was super fun. The ICC is a cafe during the day time and a cozy and fun theater at night. I jumped in and played with a group and then joined in on the jam after all the sets were completed. Part of the improv culture is being able to go practically anywhere and already have instant friends. It was super fun. I will be joining them again next Friday and teaching some short form.

 

I also made it to the grocery store in the morning after the gym and stayed up until 02:00. I consider that a success in terms of jet lag. However, my body considers it a failure in terms of being over 40.

Today, there will be napping.

The Longest Day of the Year

I knew my travel day was going to be long, because I have seen a map and understand the distance/time relationship between Portland and Copenhagen; but, 20 hours is a lot longer than it sounds.

I have known-traveler status and pre-check on my trips so I got to the airport about an hour before my flight from Portland to LAX. What I hadn’t counted on was Alaska requiring me to see a desk agent instead of using a kiosk to get my boarding pass, nor the long-ass line waiting for the desk agents. I put on my best puppy dog eyes and apologized to the desk agent about skipping into the first class line but could she do me a favor? And, in fact, she could.

I whizzed through security and got to my gate just in time for my flight to be delayed by an hour. On the flight to LA I ordered coffee. I figured my best bet for fighting jet lag in Copenhagen was to try and sleep very little on the flight and then when I got to Denmark at 22:00 I’d be ready for bed. I am really thankful that airlines serve coffee at drinkable temperature, that way it burned less when three seconds after my coffee was served I spilled it all over myself, my carry-on and my neighbor. My second cup managed to get mostly in my mouth.

LAX is now in my top 3 of worst airports ever. When I got off my plane there was no gate agent and the departures board did not list my flight to Heathrow. My boarding pass had no information about what gate I was at because I had gotten it way before there was a gate assignment. I wandered around looking completely lost for about 15 minutes before finding a gate agent. As I approached the counter the window behind him glared sun right into my eyes and I was blinded. I blinked for a second, opened my eyes and the gate agent, like an oasis in a Bugs Bunny desert, disappeared. I turned around to see where he’d gone. I looked behind the counter to see if he’d ducked out of sight. I turned 360 degrees again and there he was. It was like Alaskan Airlines had hired David Blaine to help me find my connecting flight.

He sent me to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which was approximately in San Diego. I got my steps for an entire month at LAX, and got to my gate just in time for my flight to be delayed by an hour. When life gives you lemons, do yoga. I went through a yoga routine from my new favorite yoga app, Daily Yoga – turns out yesterday was International Yoga day, so it was appropriate. Also, I was in LA – so, really….

I snuggled into my plane seat, turned on some podcasts and played stupid games on my phone until about midnight. Then I watched the new Triple X movie – Vin Diesel is my new boyfriend, sorry Andrew. Then I watched Jack Reacher. This may be controversial, but I love Tom Cruise. The movie was totally mediocre, but Tom Cruise – he’s a good actor. In fact, other than Eyes Wide Shut, I cannot think of a movie he is in that I have seen that I did not enjoy. I totally want to hate him because he’s a Scientologist and a nut-job (redundant, I know), but, I can’t. He’s really good at his job.

I got three hours of sleep on my flight and it was early evening in London. Normally, Heathrow is the worst – it, in fact, is also in the top three of my “the worst” airports. Maybe because my expectations were so low, maybe because I was tired and not feeling super feisty, or probably because my departing flight was in the same terminal as my arrival flight, I had a breezy time getting through customs and getting a salad and coffee just in time for my flight to be delayed by an hour. For those of you math wizards at home, you would think that 3 one-hour delays would mean my 20 hour flying day was 23. However, you are not taking into account that airlines lie about how long flights take so that they can make up time in these cases, and all told my arrival was only 30 minutes later than I had expected.

For those of you comedy nerds at home, yes, that is the third beat – which meant it was funny instead of frustrating.

I got to my gate to board my final flight to Copenhagen and felt like I was in the Redwood Forest. Every single person getting ready to board was at least two heads taller than me, and blonde. It got me a little excited in a way because I just assumed that the seats in the plane would have more room, I assumed wrong. Those poor Danes, if I’m uncomfortable on a plane, they have to be in agony.

I got through customs rapidly, got in a cab and headed to my AirBnB. I asked my taxi driver, “What is one food I have to have while in Copenhagen?”

“Shwarma.”

“I’m sorry, I must be having trouble understanding your accent, it sounded like you said shwarma, like the Middle Eastern dish.”

“Yes, shwarma.”

Then he proceeded to tell me all of his favorite shwarma places near my AirBnB – common theme: they are all called “[someone’s name] Shwarma House”. To be fair, when I walked around this morning, I could not actually walk a block without seeing a shwarma or kabob place.

My AirBnB is on the 6th floor of a 5 story walk up – they don’t count the first floor landing. I settled in after chatting with the landlord. I asked him how to pronounce Copenhagen (is it cope-in-HAY-ggin or cope-en-HAH-ggen?). He laughed at me immediately and said that either one is fine, but that it is coop-en-HAWen. He walked me around the very spacious apartment, then showed me the bathroom which is a closet sized shower with a toilet inside – very efficient.

I slept in until 4:30 AM, when I realized I hadn’t eaten since my LAX salad. It’s also when I realized that while I am excited about this adventure, I am a little overwhelmed. I want to do a lot of things; but, I am in a strange place alone and have not yet learned to navigate it all. I think today if I make it to the gym and the grocery store and don’t go to sleep until night time, I am going to count it as a win.

Certifiable

Every time Andrew and I go to a tropical destination we go snorkeling. Except for that time in Hawaii where we went to snorkel but the rain dumped on us so we didn’t get in the water and instead went to brunch and that is not technically a snorkel, it’s more of just a snorkel-brunch or a snunch.

Every time we go snorkeling I think, “I want to SCUBA (which is actually okay to just be scuba these days as we have adopted the acronym as a word, so I will no longer scream at you as I write the word – also, bonus Words With Friends trivia) dive”. But then the follow-up thoughts are along the lines of, “Andrew doesn’t dive and if we go to a dive place he wouldn’t dive with me and I like my boyfriend and want to keep him so no sense looking for a new one just based off of one water sport … probably … so I’ll just keep snorkeling”

The weirdest part of all of that is that Andrew loves the water. When planning trips they are usually water adjacent destinations. He loves hearing the water. He loves showering in it (there are sometimes 5 showers in his day). He even likes to drink it – in fact it’s the most common drinking fluid for him as a contrast to red wine for me. But, if you ask him to swim in it or put his face in it, or god forbid be completely immersed, his polite response would be, “FUCK NO BITCHES I AM OUTTA HERE”- with the exception of snorkeling, but even that takes a bit of warming up to the head-in-water bit, to include several measured tests of the life jacket’s actual flotation capabilities.

Then it dawned on me. Andrew is an introvert. I don’t need to plan on doing things that he can do too. I just do my thing and he’ll do his and we’ll meet up at the end of the day and talk about how fun it was to see an octopus in its natural habitat or how many life vests were gone through before the perfect floating dynamic was acheived.

So I signed up for open water scuba certification with Adventure Sports**** in Portland.

Leading up to last weekend, I spent the week doing an e-Learning module that went over the basics of scuba. Then last weekend was spent mixing class time reviewing the material, getting fitted with gear for the water and 8 hours of time in a high school gym pool. Mostly the practice was what to do in case of emergency so that you don’t die. In fact instead of calling it scuba certification they should call it “How not to die in the water when panic alarms go off in your head because you are not a fish and why are you swimming so deep anyway, can’t you leave aquatic life to itself? I mean you chose to evolve out of the water* a gajillion years ago, maybe just leave it”. I think that has a nice ring to it.

At the end of last week I called all my already certified scuba friends and told them we were going to start making diving dates. Then I called all my non-scuba friends that should do scuba and told them how much they would love scuba and that they should take it. Then I called Andrew and told him how much he would hate being under water and being scared to death by all the “don’t die” activities that we learned.

Then I spent the week looking at scuba gear porn**.

Mind you, I did not purchase any gear, which is terribly unlike me. Just ask all of my tennis gear and bouldering gear and roller derby gear stashed away in the downstairs “Hadas once tried this sport and liked it for a minute” room in our house. I did buy goggles though. But this was so that I could have corrective lenses and actually see the octopus I would be hunting.

This weekend I drove up to Hoodsport, Washington, home of highway 101. I checked into Sunrise Motel around 8 pm on Friday night and got myself settled in. I had some work to catch up on so I linked into the wifi and immediately found out that the wifi was sketchy. As was the T-Mobile reception. I hadn’t thought to bring a book with me – because, 2016 and wifi. After about an hour of being squirrely and getting some non-Internet work done, I settled onto the bed and tried to turn on the TV. The remote didn’t work. I got up and turned the TV on, at the TV, like an animal. I tested out the remote control – volume worked, nothing else did. Well, whatever, I don’t care what’s on, it’s just noise. And that’s when I watched The Big Bang Theory for the first time in my life.

My thoughts on this show are as follows:

  • It’s fairly funny – which was somewhat surprising actually
  • It’s super-misogynistic, to an uncomfortable level at times. I actually, out loud, said, “gross” multiple times, I guess I Grossed Out Loud – GOL.
  • I am not sure if it is autism empowering or cruel…
  • Five episodes in a row is about 3 episodes too many – I wish I didn’t have to turn the TV off like an animal.

I awoke the next morning and got to our pre-designated meeting-hotel-room location at 8AM on the dot. I was the last one there. We went over rules and an overview of what we were going to do to not die in the water that day. Then we did a tour of the hotel and started prepping and donning our gear.

I want to tell about every dive, but mostly I think it’s a thing you have to experience to really get. The water visibility was shitty (at best 7ft at worst 3ft) and that made things pretty scary at times. I did two dives the first day and two dives the second day. I saw sea anemone and baby wolf eels and tires and a sea whip and crab and shrimp and starfish and some pipe looking equipment and sunfish – which look like too-many-armed starfish only lazier. Mostly, though, I learned that I could be under water for an extended amount of time, feeling somewhat panicky at times, and not die. I can remain calm enough in stressful situations to not die. And I can have very limited visibility, lose my instructor for a minute, do hand signals, share breathing apparatuses, take my mask off and put it back on and clear it all underwater, hunt for octopus with no luck, ascend and descend, and not die.

In the end, I passed all the certification stuff. I also learned that if you can dive in the Pacific Northwest, you can pretty much dive anywhere.

Now I am going to go eat all of the food and sleep all of the sleeps because diving is exhausting.

Then, on our next vacation near water, I will take a trip into it and Andrew will swim above me, and we will likely both not die***.

*probably not true

**what I mean by this is just looking at and ogling scuba gear. I don’t know if there is actual scuba gear porn. But, I would not Google it if I were you. Unless you were into that sort of thing… then Google away.

***past performance is no guarantee of future results.

****I highly recommend this company. They were really nice and patient and thorough. Go to them for all of your scuba diving needs. They will keep you alive (and entertained while they do so).

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.