Friday evening was just dinner and a walk around the area with Brant. No drinking. I didn’t feel like it. SJ had the idea Saturday of going to the contemporary art museum in Seoul Grand Park. I’m the type of person who on a nice sunny hot day will prefer to spend it in a chilly air conditioned museum.

Lots of people had the idea of going to the park on Saturday. We had to park in a secondary parking lot a good walking distance from the museum. The building itself is on top of a hill, surrounded by a modern sculpture park. One sculpture that got my attention was a two-dimensional metal man singing while his mouth moved.

The centerpiece of the museum is a multi-storied tower of TVs showing a hyperactive video loop. The sculpture was created in 1989, and the hairstyles on the video showed that. The TV tower was a good introduction to Korean modern art. Being a technophile country bleeds into their art. There were many multimedia exhibits. Modern art can be a lot of fun because you can laugh at some of the works, and that’s the intention too. Many of them have hidden jokes. One was a piece called “The Modern Marriage,” and it was two metal dogs with axes for their heads. Another, called “Netizen,” was a cobra made up of computer keys guarding a brood of computer mice. SJ’s and my favorite was a small wilderness scene where tooth-ridden hamburgers and fries were eating tiny people fornicating in the forest while in a bunker underground, Ronald McDonald was training the next generation of victims.

Some of the pieces creeped you out or made you melancholy. A new piece, I think made by an American to commemorate 9/11, was called “Observance.” It was a slow motion realistic HDTV video of people of different ages and races taking turns looking at you in grief as if you were in a casket. It was a good advertisement for HDTV. The museum even had a famous painting or two, like Andy Warhol’s “Self-Portrait.”

SJ’s school is having a wine and cheese party for the teachers soon. She asked me my recommendations on wine and cheese. I hope she instead just takes me along with her when she shops. It’s still strange to be in a country where wine and cheese are exotic substances. But it also makes me feel like an expert on the exotic.

We had dinner at the same trendy place we had lunch at the week before, Resfoon. We sat at a booth, but the maitre d’ asked us to move since the Saturday night crowd was about to come in. To apologize, he brought us a free platter of dried squid and snacks and regularly replaced our beer mugs with frosty ones. And yes, I did finally drink. When I took my first sip, SJ said, “Welcome back!”

We had some nachos and a spicy garlicky Korean chicken. I did a lot of talking, and SJ did a lot of listening. Next to us was a large table of college kids partying. In the booth across from them was a birthday celebration. They sang Happy Birthday, and I raised my glass to them. They sent me over a slice of cake. SJ sent them over a bottle of soju. When we were leaving, I leaned into their booth and wished a Happy Birthday. They wanted us to join them, but we were on our way out.

Instead SJ and I did a little noraebang done in the style of H.R. Giger, where we entered Alien heads to sing our songs. Then I headed home, falling asleep on the subway.

Sunday I devoted to scrubbing the place down and home improvement. I cleaned the kitchen one tile at a time. Pulled out the stove, and scrubbed it down. Cleaned out the fridge. I had a pizza ordered to my place, and I made a few phone calls. Glen said he’d bring my new computer over on Monday. I’m buying a new computer from Chris for a great price, and not a moment too soon.

I walked over to the bank to get some money out for more cleaning supplies and home improvement items. But all the ATMs were out of cash. I only had 7000 won on me, so I bought some hooks. The hooks have a little hot glue stamp on the back that you heat up with a lighter. They’ve worked well before. I stuck them all over the kitchen and hung my pots and utensils. All day and through the night I got used to the regular crashing clattering sound of every single hook giving way to the weight of whatever was on it. Even the one holding my plastic colander fell.

Anyway, today is Brant’s thirtieth birthday. Ellen gave him some Chilean wine. I had given him a book a while back, and he still counts that as my gift. Good, since I couldn’t have gotten him one yesterday anyway.

Trisha and Eric weren’t at the meeting this morning, so there were no confrontations, just griping about Trisha and Eric. I took a closer look at my contract Sunday, and it looks like cleaning does not fit into any administrative duty directly related to class or professional development. If it does count as an administrative duty, then I wonder if the administrators at the parent company take a day off and clean their building.

We waited outside for the buses to arrive like we do every morning. After they were finished, we started strolling back inside. A car pulled up with a late kid, Dennis. Eddie said he doesn’t seem like it at first, but he’s the most troublesome kid in his class. While rushing out of the car with Dennis in tow, Dennis’ mother bowed to us. She noticed her son didn’t bow, so she forced his head down with her hand.

Good. Teach the punk some manners, heh.

We’re going out for kalbi tonight to celebrate Brant’s birthday.

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