Since we're doing a downer Monday i'll jump in. I pulled a short trip to Korea this weekend, just 96 hours (with 26 of those being flight time, ugh) and aside from having to watch the UMass I have to report I no longer have a Korean girlfriend.
Okay, I was going to be a dick about this and write the entire post like it was a shitty trip, we had a massive fight and broke up. Upon further review my editor has judged that a "dick move" and ordered changes. I no longer have a Korean girlfriend because I now have a Korean fiancee. No wedding date yet. If you'd rather I hadn't put this spoiler here, just recall that feeling if you dread you had with 2 minutes left in the 2nd quarter of the UMass game and read the post in that mind frame.
First Off, Product Endorsement: Brian has his Spirit Airlines jihad. I'd like to toss our an endorsement for Air Nippon Airlines. ANA has a commitment to providing excellent customer service and a pleasant travel environment and such. All airlines have this, or so they claim, I'm sure you've heard it before in those little canned announcements. "Delta Airlines has a commitment to excellent customer service, which is why your bags are headed for Texas and you're headed for Minnesota."
ANA though follows through on its corporate mission statement by recruiting young Japanese girls and dressing in uniforms that are also sold in Japanese sex shops. Political incorrect, but you appreciate the simpler things in life when you're stuck in a pressurized aluminum can for a 13 hour flight.
Have you been orbiting Seoul-Incheon airport for the past 45 minutes in a holding pattern? Yes. Do you care? No, because you have aisle seat. Are you secretly hoping that the plane crashes, you, your girlfriend and the stewardess (and no one else) all wash up on a remote tropical island and by the time the rescue teams find you you're leading a weird little island tribe called the the Gulo Gulo People* (Latin for Wolverine)? Hell Yes! I've spent the flight actively suggesting to Angry Michigan Hating God that smiting the #3 engine would be the same as smiting a defensive back. (This is not to say I wanted everyone else on the plane to die. I just wanted them on a separate life raft and drifting in the opposite direction, they can be promptly rescued.)
*Official manifest destiny of the Gulo Gulo people: 1. Integrate with local Polynesian tribe one island over. 2. Create recruiting pipeline of Polynesian defensive backs and linemen for Michigan. 3. Jim Tressel, volcano, the gods demand a sacrifice, enough said.
ANA is best summed by this photo:
A toy stewardess doll with the anime eyes posed in front of ANA's PokeJet. Yes they have a jet painted with Pokemon animals and of course Stewardess dolls. If you're not cruising at 10,000 feet in a Pokemon Jet and sipping "Rum, Coke and Pocky Sticks" (a drink I ordered on the flight, it's good the pocky sticks turn it in a "rum and cherry coke" or "rum and strawberry coke" type of thing), you might as well be traveling by cattle barge.
Now then, onwards:
So we almost ended up missing the UMass Game. A noon kickoff in Ann Arbor means a 1 AM Kickoff in Korea. This means at about 11:45 PM we're frantically running through a Seoul subway station in an attempt to make the first in a series of trains. Also try reading this subway map after spending the past few hours drinking soju at a night club. The game itself is a high tech production that involves lying on the floor of my fiancee's parents apartment and swearing quietly at the BTN streaming setup. I'm distracted because the little sister keeps a lop eared bunny as a pet. It's litter trained and has free run of the place and appears to think my laptop's charger is edible. In the end the bunny opts to chewing on my toes after I shoo it away from the charger for the fifth time (I guess I really do look like a giant carrot top, the bunnies have spoken.).
By the second quarter we are alternating between raiding her father's liquor supply and domestic violence. Every time UMass gashes us for yet another run or bootleg one of us has to grab the other and cover their mouth lest they swear and wake up the rest of the family. Thus my commentary on the game is along the lines of mpphhffffuckingdefensempphhhhhfuckfuckfuckfuck. There is a lot of putting your loved one in a headlock or grabbing a hand before they punch the floor in frustration going around. At this point the bunny retreats in the little utility room where it hides behind its litter box for the remainder of the game.
A whole series of celebratory "Fuck Yes" and "Suck It UMass" type things emerge from our mouths when Stonum visits the endzone for a second time in the 2nd. I'm pretty sure we woke up the parents with that one, but they didn't emerge. The Little Sister though and she neglected to put on much in the way of clothing, just a t-shirt and not much else. Leading to the conversation of:
Her: Hey keep it down, what are you even doing?
Me: Staring intently at the wall over on the opposite side of the room. Can you go back to your room and close the room before the commercial break ends? I'd really like to be able to look in the direction of my laptop again.
The closest I ever came to death was on Friday night. Friday night was originally supposed to be girls night. My fiancee's older sister works in the pop industry for a lack of a better term. She's a model / backup dancer type of person. Nothing big, but she has steady work. So my fiancee, her older sister and a number of other models/backup dancers were going to go out for a girls night. The other girls though wanted to meet the American Ginger and badger him with questions about America so I ended up getting dragged along for the dinner part. I end up sitting on the subway on Friday night surrounded by nine models who are hanging on my every word when I tell them about Ann Arbor. If jealous looks from Korean males could kill, I'd be a dead man. I ended up getting pulled along to a variety of clubs with them and having to dance with them all. Life is a bitch sometimes.
As for the proposal (guys go ahead and hit the fast forward button here). We went out to a park where my fiancee used to walk and think when she was younger. We walked along for awhile, just holding hands as she reminisced about things. Then when reached the duck pond I excused myself to buy some pellets to feed the ducks and when I returned I had a little plastic cup of pellets with the ring sitting on top of the pellets. I managed to get all choked up and flub up the speech I'd been working on, but in the end it worked out. Her family seems to approve of it. If for no other reason than "Our daughter is living with her fiancee" sounds better than "living with her boyfriend." Her father gave it his blessing when I asked him and so far no special operations teams have taken me out.
I tried dog soup. It's actually not bad and the waitress assured me that no cute dogs were harmed. The cute ones are kept as pets, only the ugly ones are turned into soup.
If you get a chance, pick up "Nothing To Envy" by Barbara Demick. The Grad Library has it and it comes out in paperback before the end of the mouth. The book is a series of stories from North Korean defectors. Some parts are funny (like the troops defecting over nail clippers) and some simply make you terminally depressed for a week. The book is well written and worth a read.
When I post in various threads people ask me what happened to these stories. It seems a few people on MGoBlog actually managed to figure out who my now fiancee was (they work with her) and brought some of the threads up. She was somewhat disturbed by the fact people were tracing forum postings back to her and vetoed all future posts. She's opted to loosen the restrictions since she's currently in a good mood. On this vein, yes she is teaching this term and if your Korean GSI just showed in class sporting a large rock today, keep your mouth shut. I used to act up in her class and she has a hell of a fastball when it comes to chucking erasers. That was actually what made me interested in her, when she caught my playing Counterstrike on my laptop and brained me with an eraser. I was three rows back and she got me right between the eyes.