Seoul Update

Okay, so here’s the weekend in a nutshell.

I decided not to come to Seoul until Saturday, but I’d made plans to meet up with my friend Sun Hwa so I caught the 6:30 bus to Seoul. That was so that we would be able to meet in Apgujeong around 11:00; but first, had to hurry to the Nakwon Sanga, where I needed to get some repairs on my sax. I got to the Nakwon Sanga by about 9:45, but the shop was very busy, and then when the shop owner finally got a chance to sit down with me and ask what I needed, it was about 10:15. I told him I had a key I couldn’t get unstuck on my soprano, and I thought there was a spring problem. He had one of his guys look at it, and what do you know? It turned out just to be sedimented gunk on the pad. So that was fixed quickly, followed by a quick diagnostic on the soprano. All fine.

During this repair, I told the owner I also needed my tenor looked at, as it has been somewhat difficult to play and control these days. He took one look at the pads, touched them, and said, “Look, you need new pads. These are just hard like rock.” With a light rod he showed me the leaks, and said he could get his guy to do realignment if anything was necessary, but that I needed new pads. He offered me a deal as I am a repeat customer, W200,000 for a totally new set of pads, which is a pretty good deal, so we agreed I would come back Sunday morning and drop it off. But he took it off to get the realignment looked at. At this point, it was 10:30 and I told him I had to hurry off to see my friend at 11:00… but he said, no no no, and told me they’d be quick with the horn. So I waited a few minutes, because, well, there’s not much else to do when you’re working across a language barrier.

Finally, at 10:45, he gave me the horn and I hurried to the subway. I was, of course, late to meet Sun Hwa, by about 20 minutes. I felt bad, but she understood. We walked through Apgujeong, which she told me is the part of Seoul where the models and stars hang out at night, but of course it was daytime so we saw none of that. We did, however, go to Starbucks, where we saw a guy who could be the twin of Ira, from Yo La Tengo (Ira is the guy on the left in this picture… so you can recognize him when you watch all the wonderful media on their Matador page).

Anyway, seeing Sun Hwa was really good. We talked a lot; she’s always surprising me with how open and kindhearted she is. And wise, too. I seem so lucky to have these friends, all around me, whom I feel like I was meant to meet. I don’t believe life is actually “meant” to happen in any specific way, but… you know, those friends you’re grateful and proud to know? Somehow Judy (that’s her English name) has turned from a line of text in an email into a person I count among my good friends. Anyway, it was fun to talk, to get advice and to give it, and just to catch up on things.

Oh, and she asked me to post one of the poems I wrote on the way here. I will do that next. Here’s the poem.

When she made her way to work, leaving me in Apgujeong, I really wanted to wander in this place, which actually has a Rodeo Drive of its own… but I had a ton of gear and two saxophones, so I decided to do that next time I come to Seoul, to pick up my tenor sax. I made my way back to Jongno and got a room, dropped off my gear, went back shopping for a gear case and a small mic for the minidisc player, and then finally went to where we were meeting for the soundcheck.

Seong Hwan came very late, but he brought with him people like John W and Jin Young, and Il Hyeok, so we couldn’t be too angry at them all. We hurried over to Bbang, did a sound check, and then sat back. The Plastic People played first, and did a very good job of it. Lovely.

We also played well, loud and hard but fun and even I think sometimes joyful. We enjoyed one anothers’ shows, I think, and one thing I learned from the Plastic People is that something of a person’s nature honestly comes out in their music. They seem like cool, nice, happy young people, and it’s what informs their music.

After that, we made our way to Jongno. I was tired, and to be honest just not in the headspace to be sitting with a bunch of couples… I will admit it’s silly but sometimes being the only one of my friends at some place who is not in a couple makes me feel bad… I’m not letting it destroy my whole social life, because basically everyone I know in Jeonju is in a couple, but last night I just wasn’t in the space to try make my own mind think around this thing that was in the front of my thoughts already. So I bid the folks goodnight and went to my room. I found I couldn’t sleep without checking my email, so I did that and picked up some snack food. Then I read a little and went to sleep.

Today, I’ve dropped off my horn and bought a few bits of lothing over on Jongono, so now I am going back to Jeonju, but stopping over in Iksan on the way. I am having dinner with Young Ja and one of her friends. I called Mi Seok and invited her, but she’s sick. I wish I could make her some ginger-jujube tea. Hmmmmmmmm.

Anyway, that’s the weekend. Now I’m off to catch my bus. Ooops, after I post my poem…

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