Today I manage to wake while it is still dark outside. My goshiwon is on the 5th floor, and I have to walk past a noraebang, a cafe, a restaurant, recycling rooms, and password locked toilets on my way to the ground floor. Sinchon is a dense warren of inscrutable shop signs and pictures, the pavements undulate, clash, and break into dark glowing alleyways without the forethought of URA concept plans. Like my goshiwon, U Plex is an improbable shopping complex that is a shoebox stacked 12 floors high. Starbucks goes up 4 floors and has an elevator of its own.
I am peeling away the anonymity that lies behind every sign. Ramsey points out a shop across the street that sells dog soup. We try the baseball batting cage for a 1,000 won, and after that, we check out a multibang. This sounds fun but is really a video game / karaoke room. A kissbang is less disingenuous and is exactly what it says.
Macdonald’s is neither illicit nor unfamiliar. However, my extra value meal is now a set. I no longer upsize, instead Youngju pauses to check her phone and tells me that i should upgrade my meal. She says that usually we do not upgrade, my friend says that it is too much!
At the school cafe, when I order a double espresso, they try to give me two singles instead. The proper way to do it is to say, “espresso double-shot-teh-ro (으로)”. After telling Ramsey, he says, “ah, Espresso by way of 2 shots”, which is literally true but bothers me.
My Iphone regrets that it is -14 C. Now I have to walk about with a perpetual shrug and my hands in my peacoat, just like James Dean walking down a New York street smoking a cigarette. But it isn’t raining like New York, it’s snowing like South Korea and the snow has turned into either dirty slush or slippery ice, which legitimizes weather for conversation since it is now a mortal risk – here a girl squeals and grabs onto a boyfriend, there another girl falls off the bus onto the pavement. The news plays grainy clips of commuters walking drearily along, like america’s funniest videos, then falling. This will not do – the road sweeper grabs salt from blue boxes along the streets and scatters them about.
The anonymous morning crowd waddles past me like a stream of popsicly penguins, punctuated by exhalations of smoke. I take out my iphone to double check the temperature. I had to sleep with a singlet, a t-shirt, a long sleeved t-shirt, a cardigan, a sweater, and a peacoat. Then I had a blanket and a heat pack stuck onto my shirt that I forgot about. While playing racquetball, it got warm so that I took off my sweater. Ramsey looked at me and laughed.
This is what my travel insurance report will say:
cause of death – hypothermia.
circumstances of death – the subject was found, according to Officer Bo Kyung, in his room in a state of undress. Hypothermia typically induces paradoxical undressing.
clothing – the body is received clad accompanied by: See Property Inventory List. Sanitary pad found adhered to t-shirt.