Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy Tan'gi 4339!

새해 복 많이 받에세요!

Happy Lunar New Year, everyone! Yeah, Sŏllal (설날) is here. It seems like "Western" New Year was just a few weeks ago.

I did nothing special. I will probably eat ddŏkkuk (rice cake soup) later today. Do some bows (sebae), ask why they don't give me any money (sebaetton).

May it's the Japanese influence in me, but every year I have a strong urge to use the new year as a time to thoroughly clean my apartment. Sure, this is done in Korea as well, but I feel it almost as a ritual. Of course it will take me probably the entire month of February to really get it done, as you will plainly see...

The above picture is not my apartment; it's one of the rooms in the house next door to my parents in upper-middle class Orange County, which was taken over by half a dozen crank addicts when the boyfriend of the wayward granddaughter of our darling old neighbor turned the garage into a meth lab.

I include this photo (from my camcorder, hence the poor quality) only to offer a comparison with my "breakfast nook" (below), which has suffered from neglect since I used the room as a staging area for clearing out another room. Really, could you tell the difference between the two? God forbid I ever am reported missing by some relative I had not spoken with for a while, because the police would come in here and automatically suspect foul play (not that they would care).

If you're a fan of "Friends" like I am and you've seen every episode, you will know that the secret shame of the usually immaculate Monica is her "Monica's closet": a secret small room filled floor to ceiling and wall to wall with junk that she needs to organize in some way. Below is my "Kushibo's closet."

I'm a person who likes to be neat and clean, but that's not always the way it works. For five years I had lived in a big old house, just me and my Halmŏni, and because of its size and number of rooms, I never had to take the time to reduce the amount of junk I own. When the landlady's evil daughter forced her mother to sell the charming, nearly seventy-year-old home so that it could be knocked down and made into a cookie-cutter villa, my Halmŏni and I were forced to move into the small apartment I managed to buy in the same neighborhood she had lived in since she escaped the North in 1947.

But the amount of space available was about one-third that of the old house, and despite my best efforts, I still couldn't pare down my stuff in time for the move so that everything would fit nicely into this small place. I need to work on this—sell some of it, give some of it to the Salvation Army, throw some of it away, put some of it in storage—so that I can actually have the little computer room I want and need.

So now you know how I'll spend my new year. I have an added incentive, besides Tan'gi year 4339 being upon us: I am likely going to the States to continue my doctoral studies this fall, and I have to rent out this place so I can afford San Francisco, Orange County, or Honolulu: a fully furnished apartment with a washer/dryer can maybe get me a million won a month, but a fully furnished apartment with all my junk might get me half that.

Anyway, happy new year. Eat your ddŏkkuk, get a year older, and demand respect from your juniors.


  1. Why don't you put up a live cam in your place, so we can see even more of you?

  2. Why don't you put up a live cam in your place, so we can see even more of you?

    This apartment also doubles as a make-shift office, so you wouldn't know which of the people running around on camera is me! You'd be fantasizing about the wrong one, and then where would we be?!

    If you really want to see more of me, you could buy/rent apartment #707 or #607 in the building across the parking lot. Wait, no, don't rent out #607... the attractive college-age daughter doesn't yet realize I can see her when she's in her room. ;)

  3. the attractive college-age daughter doesn't yet realize I can see her when she's in her room. ;)

    Clearly what I meant was that watching her study inspires me to work harder on my academic pursuits.

  4. 새해 복 많이 받으세요 ^^
    U should be be asking for 세배돈 at your age ㅋㅋㅋ

  5. Hey, I've got a bad knee from a fall on the ice a few years ago... if I've gotta get down on the floor and get up again three times for someone, I want compensation for it!

  6. My apartment really is crackhouse-like. There was a drug bust two doors down and there is a lot of traffic in and out of two apartments across the courtyard. I wore blinders for months, scooting between my door and my car until the other night I was accosted by a man who appeared to be a drug-induced agitated state. After filing a report at the police station, I promptly found a nice little townhouse in a quiet residential neighborhood. My slumlord won't let me out of the lease, so I'll be paying for two places until July if I don't find a sucker, er, I mean subletter.

    After being out of the US for so long, I'd forgotten that you have to pay for safety. Living in a college town, I naively thought my neighbors would be students, not refugees with housing vouchers fleeing Chicago. Their children in our school's classrooms need to be restrained by grown men hired as safety aides.

    There are times when I really miss Korea and China.


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