April Fools

April fools if April really started the months ago because life keeps pulling pranks.

More school delays– grades 4-6 *should* begin on April 16 online and grades 3 and below on April 20th. I have no idea what that means for me. I suppose I’ll find out tomorrow when I go to school.

En route to the doctor to officially ask for an allergy test, I was confused by the gray, sunny skies. The weather app said it was a clear, cloudless day and yet there was no blue shell above me.

I see skies of… gray?

Then I checked my most used webpage to determine that the PM2.5 was in the red (unhealthy for all groups) and PM10 was in the yellow (unhealthy for sensitive groups).

There is no official tracker for yellow dust (the desert sand of China) since it apparently falls between “fine” PM10 and “ultrafine” PM2.5 dust size, but a controversial part of me wonders if the government doesn’t track it so we can continue to ignore the problem. Most Korean-only apps rate pollution much more leniently than the international website.

The ENT who I’ve seen more than my friends at this point said “I think you can speak Korean well” but I called his bluff. Sorry my man, you’re the only doctor in town who speaks English so I will continue to torture you with my foreign presence.

Some of the nurses are convinced I speak Korean and the one taking my blood popped off. As usual, I just said yes to everything. I know I’m in good hands. Though it was strange that as I was trying to tell her I’m still learning Korean, the time it took me to form the second clause of my sentence was time she patiently waited for me to finish. What I was saying was not interesting or ground breaking at all but I appreciate her pause.

After paying at the front desk, between the four nurses and bits of English and Korean I understood I am supposed to return on Saturday. And call to see if my results are in? Ha! No chance I’m calling y’all in Korean. I can’t yes my way through a phone call.

Aside from my perpetually itchy face and nose these days… Less than three weeks until my birthday.

I’ve been 29 in South Korea for the past three months; turning 28 in international age this coming month is much less daunting.

At this point, I’m not quite sure what the celebration will look like.

There are things we, especially women, are made to fear as we near thirty. But my mindset has shifted so much in the last year about what it means to be happy on my own terms.

That’s not to say these past few months in a global pandemic have been the best of my life. It’s certainly not the environment I had planned, and any notion of visiting friends on a quick weekend trip to Okinawa for my birthday have been blown away. Or any trips anywhere, really.

The wonderful comic Itchy Feet illustrates my feelings:

To keep sane, I look at my past travel photos. A beautiful mountain range here, a stunning sunset there… In this new normal, it can be difficult for me to parse out feelings.

This extended time with my city has me thinking, maybe Seoul and I just aren’t a match. And for that, there’s no reason to feel guilty. We had a whirlwind summer fling and now the cracks in our relationship are showing.

You won’t let me breathe!

Well, you don’t appreciate me! And you keep checking out other cities on Instagram!

And that’s okay! I’ve been watching videos about cities down south, even Busan, which is a city of 2 million that I initially did not have on my radar, thinking that any big city life was not for me. I watch travel vlogs and then check the historical pollution levels.

I’m not sure what work opportunities will be available for me once this contract ends. After August, I plan to fly back to the USA for a month if possible to take my teaching exams and visit family.

Since October is the middle of fall semester in Korea, the types on contracts I’ll be able to get are limited. I could wait six months until the official school year start in March and look into private schools– but I don’t want to sit on my hands for five months, especially since the world will still be feeling the effects of the pandemic.

Everything is a big question mark but at least I found a very aesthetic cafe.

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