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Sunday, July 09, 2017

Humidity

I have never before lived in a place where closing the bathroom window to take a shower actually reduced the moisture in the air rather than the reverse. Jeju is fantastically humid during the summer. Exiting my apartment means my diving horizontally into a hot pool. I am soaked with sweat within the two blocks' walk to school. I have asked the school administrators if it would be possible to install a water cooler on the fifth floor – descending to the first for a refill of my water bottle means I swill half of it coming back up the steaming stairs. And the boys bathroom on the fourth floor exudes a ripe aroma later in the day. I am so grateful that the air conditioning in my classroom works well. But my poor students look like wet kittens when they first arrive. And they are constantly thirsty--another reason the level in my water bottle constantly descends, since they beg for sips and end up drinking most of the contents.

My dehumidifiers are pulling gallons, rather than mere liters, of moisture from the air on a daily basis. Several days I've come back to the apartment to discover both reservoirs are completely full. I have no idea how my predecessor lived here without them!

I got a haircut last week and felt instantly better. In my decades of having waist length hair, I never knew the morale boost a good 'do could provide. My hairdresser here is an artist. He's a handsome, trim guy who looks to be in his early 30s, and he sculpts his clients' hair into precisely clipped coiffures, every tiny sprig snipped and brushed exactly into place in an elaborate ritual involving very sharp scissors, a round brush, and a blow dryer. He works with swift assurance, smoothing unruly locks and the frazzled soul into a fresh, neat arrangement. He charges $15. No tip. Tipping is not done here.

One of my normally quite perceptive older students told me that I reminded him of a cowboy. Some eighth-graders decided, on the other hand, that I resemble Adele. Although the latter is certainly a very handsome woman, and supremely talented, she is a tad heavier than I hope I am! But why a cowboy? "I don't know, maybe I look like John Wayne," I mused. Whereupon June turned bright red from suppressed laughter and nearly aspirated a chicken bone.

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