I lived abroad for a few years and have logged quite a bit of international travel. While going to school in Durham, England, it only took six months to decipher the Geordie accent. I celebrated my first NYE in Scotland... for 72 hours. I got felt up in Ireland... on a trampoline. I got my first yeast infection in Spain. I drank gorgeous Cotes du Rhone wine in France. In a rural part of Mexico, despite my DDD bosom, I was called, "sir" every day for 3-weeks.
I've driven across country numerous times. Nebraska's a blast! Ginormous signs everywhere spewing vitriol, "Abortion Equals Murder," "Baby Killer" and my personal favorite "Get Your Abortion Somewhere Else." Right, because schlepping to one of the reddest states in the U.S. for an abortion, served with a side of shotgun wounds, topped my "To Do" list. Iowa's spectacular, provided you're Aryan white, have a penis, and are a zealous servant of Jesus Christ. Being a beige, liberal, Jewish vagina, I was aptly coined, Lucifer. Rubidoux, Oklahoma was delightful. At the gas station, I appreciated one dame's thriftiness and attention to detail. While smoking Virginia Slims and pumping gas, she wore an "I Heart Trailer Trash" t-shirt, though burdensome to interpret, considering the voluminous food stains. Instead of paying for cut-off jean shorts, she made her own -- TIGHT, micro-short, ass-hanging-out, read-my-split-knish shorts. A massive, neon orange truck, brimming with rifles, garnished with dead deer, arrived. Oh, how that warmed my vegetarian heart. Being called "Kike-a-doodle-do" was an unexpected surprise. That and it was a solid play on words. How could I not give them points for creativity?! If I'd ever held a gun or had a desire to shoot one; that would have been my moment. Instead, while turning on my engine with a clear path in sight, I said, "Looking forward to your swift return to prison and rectums being pummeled daily."
Yet, nothing quite prepared me for Daegu, South Korea. I breezed through 25 plus hours of travel; 2 countries, 2 flights, 2 shuttles, 1 bus, 6 trains and 1 taxi ride. Unfortunately, upon arrival, I had to pee. Katie, meet shit, dirt stained floor toilet. Shit, dirt stained floor toilet, meet a 5'3" germaphobe. As you can imagine, our courtship was destined for greatness. Did I mention that I was menstruating at the time? After cursing out the toilet as if I was in an argument with a Bodega guy on any corner in NYC, and accusing it of criminal eagerness to transmit unheard of diseases through my vagina, anus, or both, I opted out of peeing on the dial-a-disease toilet wheel, and into peeing on myself a few hours later. What fun!
At the hotel, I was irked, exhausted and drenched from the waist down. The ground floor had a beautiful front desk with nobody manning it, not because it was 3 a.m. No, no, no. Beyond overtired, my mother and I were close to killing ourselves and each other. An hour after locating the front desk, I snapped, "Who the fuck keeps a front desk on the third floor without a sign?!"
My mother looked at me and said, "Really, Katie?! We're not here 5-minutes and you're already cursing someone out." Hi, an hour!
I said, "Ma, the front desk is on the third floor. There isn't a sign, a valet or a concierge to let guests know. What do you want from me?! I URINATED ON MYSELF! CUT ME SOME FUCKIN' SLACK!" As expected, guilt and shame immediately consumed me, prompting an apology for my egregious outburst. Shortly thereafter, front desk lady laughed at me and asked, "What is wrong with you?!" Did I just meet a Korean version of myself? A fast friendship was born and consummated with an outburst of mirth.
As soon as I entered my hotel room, after a thorough inspection (germaphobe -- stay with me), I turned the air conditioner on high, opened every window, and had a fan brought up to my room. Simply put, I'm an oven on legs. I turned the shower on and ogled a toilet standing 14 inches OFF the ground. She was clean, stupendous and mine!
Steps from our hotel, we were in the epicenter of Daegu. Imagine, if you will, a noxious, unrelenting scent of raw fish, buttered, rancid feet and centuries old never been changed cooking oil bombarding my olfactory's. There wasn't a harbor, fish stand or restaurant in sight. My plan, gag my way through quaint streets, overflowing in storefronts, crammed with severely 18K gold jewelry, so austere, I needed darker glasses to cut the glare. Desperate for a squeezed bean, after six impossible to find coffee shops, atop windy staircases and six cups of, I can believe it's not coffee! later, we were fretted to the bone and decided on a main street.
Buildings were erected like semi-detached houses in England. Hundreds of women adorned designer surgical masks. Numerous businessmen wore tattered business suits, carried business briefcases with business phones strapped to their business ear doing business. Malls a mile long were underground. Stainless steel cooking equipment for sale was outside on display, even when it rained. While passing a there it is! harbor, my brother opened the windows. Like a death row inmate, I begged him to close them. "Why?" He asked. I said, "Evidently, you're immune to the perfume, Eau D'Rakfisk slathered on everyone and everything in this city. I've seen one cultural monument, which can only be likened to a child's freshly built cabin out of rough trade Lego. There's no sense of logic."
Calmly, my brother said, "Katie, you see the mountains surrounding the city?" Duh! "They're filled with dead bodies."
FINALLY, LOGIC! I fell in love, not with Daegu, though; everyone we met was lovely, gracious and kind. It was the notion of a city surrounded by dead bodies; it was so pragmatic, deathy, dark and delicious. I was left to assume the mountains were bedecked in ashes of people who chose cremation. That made me happy.