Letter from Anyang, South Korea: February 8th, 2010

Walk to Work 4It’s gray outside and the sky looks as if it holds rain. The temperatures hover around the 40 degree F. mark, which feels positively balmy after weeks of below freezing temperatures.  I can hear chainsaws in the distance and know this to mean there are crews working in Pyeongchon Central Park, trimming trees around the perimeter and clearing dead or fallen limbs. There are always people working in the park to keep it tidy and beautiful with newly planted bedding plants, bushes, and flower, making it a pleasant place to linger any time of the day or night. I look forward to marking progress and change I walk through on my way to Hagwonga and Chung Dahm, where I teach, later today.

There have been two interruptions this morning: First, Fed-ex came to the door with a package addressed to me from Kansas City – a box of mail and Valentines gifts from my mother. Second, the pesticide lady, who comes around about once a month or so and sprays something odorless around the nooks and crannies of our officetel.

Yesterday I held a small-scale writers workshop for a few of the newly arrived instructors interested in same. We found a spot at the local Paris Baguette, a Korean bakery chain, near Holly’s coffee shop her in Pyeongchon and spent about two hours working from writing prompts for poetry, fiction and memoir. Everyone seemed to enjoy the experience, generated workable drafts, and are eager for our next meeting in two week. After our workshop, our party of six walked a couple of streets over to Chicken and Beer, or Chimaek, (a pairing of chicken and beer served as dinner or anju) for dinner. I’ve never had such wonderful fried chicken, so crisp and flavorful, and the owner provided us with lots of extras, also known her as “service.” It was delicious and a fitting conclusion to wonderful afternoon away from teaching.

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