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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Self-Inflicted Misery

I paused a few feet up the street to rub the varnished nose of a copper bull pulling a cart, part of a street sculpture. I had done my part to consume two bottles of Malbec. And now I was embarked on a solitary uphill stroll homeward at 11:30 PM. There are Korean flags waving from the light poles. There were French country style chandeliers, dripping glass beads, providing dim illumination in the painted white brick wine bar. The cobblestone streets in the art district are made of beveled volcanic rock. Ahead was a distant chatter of voices. Beside me were pictures under the fluorescent lit awning, on which I was unable to focus. I sensed other semi-inebriated people walking the street. Echoes of laughter ricocheted from the restaurants past which I plunged at a rapid pace. Around the corner, in the darkness, a man was urinating in a flower bed. He paused momentarily when he saw me approaching, but I was aware of him only incidentally. I strode rapidly forward, passing dozens of similarly (and more sorely) afflicted individuals, some arm in arm, most male. I heard muffled curses in Korean, saw people drunkenly bowing to each other on the sidewalks at the roundabout. The evening was cool and otherwise quiet. On the street, the occasional scooter buzzed by towards home or on a delivery. Propped up against a green plastic post waiting for the light to change, I found myself hoping that the drivers were more sober than I, or otherwise I'd be smushed crossing at the signal; moments later, right behind me, a truck breezed through the red light without pausing.

I arrived home two minutes shy of becoming a pumpkin to unwind the scarf from my neck and fill my waiting glass with a combination of lavender tea and apple juice. I thought I needed to write annotations for commentary on an 18th century Scottish poet. OK, I felt sick, lolling in an office chair in front of my double screened computer. My head and my gullet were not in the same time zone, and I felt thoroughly nauseated. Periodic defensive burping threatened to bring up the whole almonds that I had consumed, or the crackers with cream cheese that had been served on a discrete rectangular ceramic plate alongside the vino. I wondered if I could keep my head perfectly still, as if I were a marble sculpture or a postoperative spinal fusion patient of the old school--perhaps then I would feel as if I were not about to vomit. Perhaps. But as it was, I was sick. Why should one have to suffer so grievously for two glasses of wine? I drank water! Admittedly not at first, and I was dehydrated, but I did cut my second glass of wine with water. But Malbec on an empty stomach at the outset seems to have been a mistake. Never mind that two of my companions confessed to having met beaux at the location. How can anyone feel good after two glasses without a thick steak to absorb the bad vibes? How can one feel romantic when she can't even see straight?

I had the happy discovery of finding that I had already written the annotations, and I turned off the computer again. And I dropped on my bed to feel nauseated. Bleh. A hot shower and a thorough toothbrushing temporarily relieved my symptoms, but they were soon back until an hour or so had passed and the chemicals had moved through my system. This is why I characteristically nurse a glass in quiet for three hours rather than consume two in two in company. Some people are social drinkers; I am an antisocial drinker. I am much more moderate when I am alone than distracted. I had one glass weeks ago and the bottle has been vinegarizing in my fridge since. But when I am in company I haven't any such self-limitation. True, for many people two glasses isn't overdoing it, but for me it's sickening, literally and figuratively. Barf. 

Tomorrow I am supposed to have lunch with some women from my adult conversation class. They had invited me for today, but our teachers' meeting is on Tuesdays, and there was no time. Tomorrow being a rare holiday, I figured I had better take advantage of it and accepted their invitation. 

This weekend is the fire festival. It is a Jeju tradition left over from pagan times. In order to appease the local gods and assure bountiful harvests in the coming year, the islanders would set an entire oreum on fire. It's apparently a spectacular sight. I hope I can attend. It depends on how I feel. Two of my fellow teachers were given torches last year and encouraged to run forward to light the designated hill. They said it was exciting. It certainly appeals to my internal pyromaniac! 

The wine bar is linked to a florist's shop where two white Persian cats wander among the exotic flowers. They are lovely, normal looking cats, unlike the white cat at one of the nearby veterinarians' offices, an animal which is shaved and dyed with two pink dots on its cheeks and a yellow dot on its tail to resemble the popular cartoon character Pikachu. 



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