Monday, October 27, 2008

Limping in a country without handicap accessibility laws

At the moment, my life is dictated by my ankles. I take the elevator to the 1st floor instead of the ground floor 2nd in my apartment building because it means 4 stairs instead of 6. I bought high tops instead of low top sneakers for extra ankle support. How much I can play with my kids, whether or not I can manage to get down the stairs for more coffee, taking the rush hour bus home (never a seat available) versus taking a cab--everything is dictated by how much pain I'm in. It's frustrating, even on days when I'm doing better like today.
(Yes, I always deal with the pain to go get my coffee. Pain without caffeine is intolerable.)

Saturday afternoon I had plans to meet up with Arendt boy at a coffee shop where we'll both sit and read for several hours and poke fun at people around us. I tend to comment on whether or not the hand bag is a fake (I've seen 1 real Louis Vuitton bag the entire time I've been here) or make note of how many people turn and gawk at the funny foreigners. Anyways, we had decided on a coffee shop in Beomgye, a fun area in Anyang about halfway between our places. In order to have taken the bus, I would have had to walk 10 minutes (ok, 15 at my current walking pace) to the stand to fill up my bus card, take the bus 5 minutes (standing possible), get off, wait for the next bus and then possibly stand for another 10 minutes. By the time I got up the 4 stairs out of my building and to the sidewalk on the street I decided that it just wasn't possible. So I hailed a taxi. To most people this might not seem like a big deal but I'm cheap when it comes to things like cabs. Also, taking the bus is more environmentally friendly. It was only a 5,000won ride but it was worth being able to walk a bit in Beomgye. Actually, since I took the cab I was a good half an hour early meeting AB so I hobbled down the street a bit (the cold is not kind to injuries) and decided to buy the sneakers I've been dying to get for the aforementioned reason that high tops give great ankle support. When I walked into the converse store it was dead. If you've ever worked in retail you know the sort of dead I mean-- every shirt hanger is the exact distance apart, the sleeves are arranged and every shoe on the display rack is at precisely the same angle. There were two very bored sales people chatting behind the register but when I came in the manager himself came over to assist me (probably because he knew a little English). After 5 minutes of perusing the shelves the shop was packed by people who had seen the foreigner from the window, got excited and decided to buy shoes too. This might not be entirely fair, after all, Converse are popular here. Except that this happens to me at the food sample stand in the supermarket, restaurants, and anywhere else that I happen to shop. I'm not sure if it's because they want to see what I'm doing or because they think 'ooo the foreigner likes it, it must be interesting!' ...This is a rather long blurb about my new shoes but really, I'm quite excited about them. New shoes are exactly the thing to cheer you up after realizing that you are too gimpy to manage the bus.

The nice thing about limping onto the bus is that instead of starting right away and trying desperately to keep your balance while the bus driver roars off to the next stop they will patiently wait until you have a seat or a good grip on a pole before starting again. They do this for the elderly as well.

This has been rather dull entry but there is very little to do when standing and walking for prolonged periods of time isn't possible. I read my guidebook looking for something sedentary to do but no luck. There aren't even any good foreign films playing at the moment. Why must action movies be the only type of movie imported from the US???

Any advice on ways to keep busy besides reading and studying Korean? I'm actually reading a great book, The Professor by Charlotte Bronte. It was her first novel even though it was published last. The high brow literary introduction mentioned that it is often considered the poor sister to Villette but I'm enjoying it more than Villette . However, with any 19th century novel, someone could get consumptive or die of a broken heart any minute now so I should wait until the ending before I make a final judgement on which I liked best.


Chris said...

I've been trying to search my brain as best I can for ideas, drawing on my own experience of gimpyness with my shoulder and the swing accident. Reading is a good time waster, of course. Another thing i found helpful was to learn something new. Maybe this is a good time to focus on your korean. Sure its not fun...

ok my advice isnt that good. I played video games most of the time my shoulder was inactive (also because i was prescribed to do such a thing but thats another story) that and your injury is soooo strange and hard to live with. It is getting better though and I hope you come out from it soon.

Hope I was...some help. I do hope you get better soon so you can go back to bouncy climbing alex.

Jessica said...

This is le suck. I hope you are getting better. I don't really know what else to say.

Nancy K said...

I thought that your post was rather funny. Got my laugh for the day, kiddo. That is not boring in my book. Glad that you are beginning to feel better. I agree with Chris, work on your Korean.

Sarah said...

Just FYI I posted something on September 26 about teaching and I didn't know if you saw it because it was so belated. I thought it might be helpful. I am sorry to hear about your leg and lack of climability. If I know you, you will find something to occupy yourself. I look forward to reading your blog as I get free time. I appreciate your efforts to get to the internet to write it! We'll be thinking of you and missing you at Thanksgiving!

Alex said...

Hey Sarah I did get your comments! I get an email notification when someone posts on my blog. They were really helpful, I think I posted something back but I don't remember.

As to studying Korean--my lesson got cancelled. :( I finished the bronte book though. More on that in the next post perhaps.