Back in the U.S.S.A (apologies to The Beatles)
Hello and welcome to the special Brown Passports post-Korea “What the hell am I doing now?” chapter (i.e. the Beached ESL Teacher Saga)! Having returned from Korea to America two months ago I am finally at the “end of my travels” in a new apartment in San Francisco. Please don’t ask me about jobs, yet…
I’m sure you are all wondering what you have to look forward to upon your eventual return to America. So what have I accomplished since coming back — that is, if we are going to keep shut about that four letter word starting with a ‘j’? Well, in chronological order, I…
- Late August: Smoked cigars on a beach in New Jersey and ate nice meals on the largesse of my parents, grateful that I came home to America instead of defecting to North Korea (Well, someone’s got to teach Kim Jong-un English!).
- Early September: Came back out to California for the Burning Man festival, where I watched Disney movies, ate ice cream with my friends and played duck duck goose for a week in the desert (ha, yea right).
- Mid September: Eager to extend the Burning Man euphoria, I stayed on a mattress of Burner friends of mine for two weeks, barefooted unshaven around Berkeley, refused to check my e-mail and wore dusty playa clothes. But the counterculture novelty faded after being mistaken for a bum and the euphoria high-tailed it when my friends and I realized there were bedbugs all over the apartment.
- Spent one whole day washing everything I owned and walking around in trash bags to try not to recontaminate anything with bedbugs. Felt a paranoid psychosomatic itch for another week, and washed my meager belongings another three times. Lost a sandal, somewhere along the way.
- Early October: Moved into HiP House (a 55 person co-op in Berkeley), went down to Santa Barbara, went back into HiP House, then onto the floor of my friend’ s SF apartment, then into a pitch-black blood-red basement room at Castro House (another co-op), then onto another friend’s couch in SF, then into another windowless bunkbed basement room back in HiP house. All within less than a week and a half.
- Bought a bicycle and cycled down to Pescadero, where I stumbled upon a giant beached blue whale, 90 feet long. I somehow knew how he felt, washed ashore and unwanted in a strange land, although I was glad not to smell as godawful as him.
- Got to the Pigeon Point Hostel and realized I DID now smell like him. As did all of my clothes. And a sniffle I had that morning snowballed into heavy coughing and sneezing after the 55-mile ride, which left me stranded at Pigeon Point an extra day. At least it kept me from smelling myself.
- Mid-October: Went WWOOFing — volunteer organic farming in exchange for free room and board — at Dandelion Farms in Northern California. Missed my bus up and had to hitchhike with two drivers who both independently told me the closest town, Clearlake, was the “Capital of meth”. Ate squash and apples on the farm everyday for two weeks, built a mud hut, slept in an RV and got three splinters and 11 blisters, five of which opened up.
- Late-October: Finally moved into a place in San Francisco, the Castro property of a sweet, friendly Filipino man in his fifties, who regaled me with stories about his eventful life before giving me the deadpan look of a military general: “So, you DO love to clean, right?”
- Early November: Gathered up all my scattered belongings, consisting of headphones and duffle bag full of socks and books at my one friend’s place in SF, two suitcases at my other friend’s place in Berkeley, a backpack at Castro, a bicycle and two panniers at HiP House, two jackets I still haven’t retrieved because they are still bedbugs-infested, and a sweater I lent a friend two months ago that she left in some random woman’s garage in Berkeley.
- Now: ??? But, at the very least, a few upcoming stateside stories to warm your hearts during Korea’s kimchi shortage…
This post was originally published at Painting the Passports Brown.