Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cute Shit: Return to Seoul

WELL after a few strange but lovely weeks at home freaking out because I had no job to come back to, I got hired at the one I had originally wanted 3 hours before my plane left and I now work in Yeouido. Yaaay. All I really wanted for Christmas was a career and not to be homeless anymore. Success! 

All of this cute shit is about being back in Korea, appropriately enough. 

My first weekend back, Si set out to show me the fabled exotic pet section of the vast and labyrinthine Dongdaemun market, because we never did get around to it the whole first year I was here. I also wanted to find a coat and a bag, since half my stuff is still in storage in Bucheon and bags with Hello Kitty and fruit and spikes and eyeballs and whatever else on them aren't work-appropriate anymore :(

This was actually near Myeongdong, where I ended up finding
my coat at Mango (also appropriately enough).


I felt bad for laughing at this bird, which was obviously just cold. The animals
looked to be in better shape than I would've expected, though; they seemed pretty healthy
I think the more exotic pets - supposedly there used to be things like caiman and slow lorises - were getting too much attention from foreigners online, and probably just in general. They don't seem to be there anymore, and there were only a few shops selling actual pets at all. But that's okay. There were a few interesting birds and lots of furry piles dotted with little pink noses.

There are too many instances of hilarious Engrish that pop up every day to
keep up with them all, but this super fucking intense coffee made me lol.
I could look up what this giant handmade poster says, but I'd
rather leave it a mystery. Oddly, not the first literal "cute shit" I've posted...

While they weren't what I went for, I found two nice pairs of flats and an 
actual Disney Stitch hat for only $5 each. I've avoided these plush animal
hats since moving here, but, I mean... Licensed. And Stitch. Also cute, and fluffy!
Got the hot chocolate I'd been wanting all day back at the
Haebangchon Hill Cafe, plus a sweet potato pastry I'd picked up elsewhere.

The other cute thing is where I'm staying, a very nice and cozy cross between a hotel room and a dorm called Bookmark. I'd love to live here for realsies if it wasn't $1300/mo and if the "kitchenette" consisted of more than a small, free-standing bathroom sink and a hotplate. It's also a little tricky closing the bathroom door if you're standing inside the bathroom itself, but whatever. I love it here and I'm going to be sad to leave.

It honestly sticks out quite a lot in the little alcove it's situated in, because it's so nice and new. Living in a place with fancy touch-activated features and a really nice-smelling library-lobby makes me feel important. :B

The nearest subway station is pretty nice and new, too; it's only two stops from work and I often catch the express train, so the ride only takes 3 minutes or so.

There's a Watson's (a very useful chain of stores like a small, classy Walgreen's minus the medicine) and a little bakery at my exit, so it smells heavenly first thing in the morning and at all other times of the day as well. The entire bakery space is the width of the photo, and everyone working there was wearing matching hats today. Such cute. So bread. Wow.                                                                               
But anyway, let me show you inside Bookmark.

Maybe it's weird that I enjoy the elevator so much, but let me explain.

It's pristine, and so warm and welcoming when you come in from the cold. Planet Earth dubbed in Korean is also playing in it 24/7, and the first several times I used it around Christmas it always happened to be on the wintry parts, with penguins, humpback whales, grizzlies, polar bears and walruses. Such festive.
Looking right and left when you step into the room.

You know, I guess it's kind of like living in a dollhouse.

This is about as much as it's snowed in Seoul so far, nothing compared to last winter:

                                                                                                Oh, and on a final note, this isn't necessarily cute, but there's also a coin dryer in the stairwell every two floors, and when I was using it, I stopped for a few minutes to look out the porthole window across from it. The view was very Blade Runner-y, and I realised in that moment that I'm living the life I want to live. When I was younger I romanticised mundane daily tasks like this, if they were being done in a cute, interesting Asian setting. I'd think about, for example, how cute and compact the washing machine and my own little apartment would be, how charming and silly the detergent packaging. Winding alleys and tiny shop spaces, the feeling of being in a constant state of near-sensory overload but enjoying every detail, because it was all in a place I wanted to try living in for a while.                                                                                         
Things have worked out so well for me the last couple of weeks (good grief, it's only been a couple of weeks...) that I've been extremely cautious and just waiting for it all to explode, but I'm trying to let go of that anxiety and enjoy little things more, like the futuristic glow of neon lights in Seoul as seen through a porthole while I'm fetching warm, clean towels in my Sasquatch slippers. Here's hoping it all stays this way.

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