Wednesday, August 1, 2012

dear one (long cat saga?)

greetings from a foreign land. it's hot today- 90+ with 80% humidity. i had the feeling i could tan by the beach all day but really i should be writing words. which have been sorely lacking in my letters to you. a disappointing trail of my time here which at times borders between epic, challenging and ridiculous but never not noteworthy. and now we'll barely remember exactly what i went through. though i know we grow reticent of recapping and commenting on life when we should be living it. i expected even on this vacation time to have more time - that my boredom would push me to write. am i so out of practice? nevertheless. here i am.

the title of my novel will be something like "the yowling cat, my yowling self"... i do like, param, the cat-my ward. as her full name. she's taught me a lot about love. I had that feeling when I was like-- God, can I ask for my money back, i thought, did my parents ever have that thought- the cost of this creature that they're responsible for. even the simple willingness of my parents to receive the cat is causing waves here- of the kind of people they must be. it speaks volumes. while i am ever amused that even across the rim of fire, an ocean, that i manage to still bring cats home. there must be some mythological concept, some deeply engrained genetic something that compels me- and simply home is safe, a refuge and at various times cats and friends need the safety of my home. and so why wouldn't i send everyone and everything there? it makes the most sense to keep things there also. i wouldnt have thought of it any differently.

but the adventure of the cat- since there seemed to be so many pieces was as overwhelming to me as moving to korea. i had that same point of shut down upon hitting the home stretch of not having a place to stay in seoul for myself or the cat. but before that- let's back up- God said to me, he really did- i have brought this cat to you and you're to care for it. you aren't to give it up. kris confirmed to me that as i had the cat stuffed in the backpack when i first found it on the way back from the vet. and that conviction stuck with me even as i calmly stared at my boss freaking out over the cat discovery of '012. to the cat's her freaking out again... to the cat's departure...but the meditation on love will have to wait) first she went to karma's. she's got a cat named Stella, and a husband who doesn't like cats. Also he's a light sleeper. And the ward was in heat at the time. And the buildings aren't insulated and and... after that, she came home for a couple days and got her shots and the vet kept her for a day and I gave him a pineapple as a thankyou. Then off to Eun-ju the hairdresser, who's never had cats before i'm fairly sure. So it was a shock to no one that she just barely made it a week- did we mention japanese bts are a "vocal" breed? I gave her box of cherries I'd just bought as a thankyou. Slightly resenting her inability to adjust or tough it out or i dont know what. There were sincere apologies on both sides as I left with the cat intow. Buses, taxi rides (insert here).

After that it was 2 possible leads that fell through and the turn toward shipping her to LA. She found refuge at the other vets office (once again set up and negotiated by kris), surrounded by small yappy dogs and i believe at least one vet tech who was clueless on how to handle cats. But there she was for two weeks in a crate. What to do. I guess the mainpoint i was freaking out on besides the cost was her non-spayed status and koreanair being all- we dont take cats that are in heat (which with param/i'dsayperpetual). I dont know why but I could see all the ways in which the whole situation might become a disaster that i was relieved at every turn of God's consistent mercy. But the cat herself was such a weighty overwhelming thing. So that by Thursday night i went to the airport and bought the ticket in person double checking on forms. I'd called the EastAir people and had two korean speaking peeps call them too, as well as emailing them, until i was certain they were sick of me and the other thing I found to panic about was that by the time i'd booked my ticket the earlier flight to jeju was sold out so I knew i'd just barely make it to work before the first class started.

What have you. So, on friday Kris said the cat place she thought of in seoul wasn't going to work out. She asked me, what are you going to do I said, (in the midst of planning both friday and monday classes), I don't know. I'll figure something out. At which point Megs and Kris were both like uh no. Which is the same thing Amber and D said when I was leaving for Seoul the first time without a place to stay. But mental capacity to take on new problems and issues was hit and there was no way i could find room to figure it out. And this is where in all humility I bowed to the kindness of people as Kris called her sister in Seoul who apparently has bad health and her husband allergic to cats, and asked her to take the cat for the 2 days I was in seoul. I was speechless.  K called me multiple times to make sure i was on the right subway, not running late, leaving on time, and midway btw points on my sightseeing calling me to tell me of the cats progress, behavior, meowing, puking, sleeping, playing and living ways- as K's sister hasn't ever had a cat before either and they have a dog. I can only imagine the calls btw K and her sister as they diagnosed the cats everystep. Apparently though they were up for the mystery and inconvinience, and again speechless and such a shock on the limits of my kindness and the capacity for it in us, others... I at one point didnt want to see her name pop up on my phone anymore but each time nothing was really wrong. So it was fine, more a humurous punctuation each day.

Meanwhile Saturday i pick the cat up, i can't manage to communicate to the vet that i have no where to put the litter box or food bowls and wanted him to keep them until i got back, i shoved them behind a hedge where i forgot them and then eventually though i haven't really checked, am pretty sure they're gone now. But anyway, then to the cab driver who didn't understand the charade motion for airplane and was circumspect of even my korean/english book with the word at my fingertip- but anyway- it's raining. This leg of the amazing race begins... The airline then stares at me blankly but after many words- i say- paper- cat- finally she understands i need something to fill out to take her on board. Not done and thinking i can get a quarantine certificate multiple calls are made to korean air, and my friend sarah and the help desk and then a trip to the cargo place and more calls and the annoyed guy and more calls to say- no it's saturday, you can't get that here you can get it in incheon. They're all confused that I'm flying the cat myself to gimpo and then to incheon. But anyway, off i go. The cat stays mostly quiet. An hour later were landed. Navigating my way to the airport subway and another 40min to Hongdae where i find the right exit and the one woman from nowhere running to me, with her sister kris on the line, and more needless translating as she looks at the crate, the soft carrier, the food and is like- ok. No, no, it's nothing. Don't worry. She asks if I have a place to stay- I lie. I have a few names but not a firm location. I can tell the way this is leaning that K is close to making me stay with her sister. I say no, no. I have a place, it's X. Which way is that? Ok? Ok. There's no way i can do that to them.

Meanwhile i duck into a tapas restaurant with free wi-fi and decide to find this one place over here on this map on this random street and leave before it starts raining again. For some reason as i am intremittently drenched during the weekend, I wouldnt' bring myself to buy a $2 umbrella and obstiantely wore my too large and illfitting bright red rain poncho-- garnering amused stares from couples if i were cupid or red riding hood I'm not sure. But anyway I found the place. I meet a guy named Andy who's a couple days in to teaching and talked his ear off about it and hopefully gave him some encouragement and then there was seoul to explore. Not really planned once again.

I wandered. I turned on a street I'd just happened to watch a video about. I stumbled on the location of a popular korean drama. I went to a cat cafe and petted some cats and thought it was slightly strange, depressing, and soothing all at once and went to the main castle-- palace? whatever? from another awesome korean drama that had me in tears back in march and i called it a day. Woken up intermittently with "oops. shh. i'm drunk. quiet. sorry guys. sorry. oh no. ouch. sorry guys" (party hostel alas)... the next day began... is this boring? sorry. Im a little brain dead but feel compelled to relate the rest...

The next day i found a churchservice and walked in on the last 20 or so minutes. Enough to ponder godly suffering vs. human suffering. Or was it Godly sorrow? Maybe. But meanwhile I got all choked up by the time we were singing amazing grace and was just done by the time the mens ensemble sang blessed assurance. A woman I met named Seung hyun said, I did a lot of crying today. It helps. She said. I wouldve talked to her more but we were being overtaken by a korean service starting apparently 2 min after- ala gilmoregirls- they boxed up those english hymns and put out korean ones in nothing flat. And i was again cut adrift. To wander through the art district, find my way down a set of stairs strangely reminiscent of my spiritual landscape to a coffee house called rousseau rousseau to an excellent latte. The day was solid until i started wandering around for a massage place and couldn't find. Exhausting myself with the irony of exhausting myself looking for a place to relax. It was entirely TOO metaphorical to ignore. I found a burger place instead. And eventually did wash all my cares away with a footmassage after three more failed attempts. And after that I was just bored with being alone. The more i travel the more bored I become at seeing just pretty and pleasing things. Without stories its just pointless. Without someone to share it with unless its extraordinary really difficult to enter into without just moving along and skimming the surface. After that i paid for a pricey persimmon bingsu and again an early night. To up way to early- my brain of late running on idle and not shut down.

To the cat exchange. To more calls. To the quarantine office and barely a glance at the cat to 10won and a paper and that was it. What! that was it! ALL OF THAT! WHAT! THats IT! To the cargo terminal being in the middle of nowhere i was ready to run across the swamp and at the last minute saw the free shuttle bus as i jogged with cat in hand onto the bus with relief. to being lost despite the map i forgot i had that the guy sent me- to korean air and eastair being all (*$&(*&! foreigner! from one building to the next, and then with disdain throwing away my $8w water bottle for the cat and giving me a new one, and packaging up the cat. to the ... we need cash ps. and i'm all uH!? thankfully i had enough and it was only 1/2 of what i thought- at about $250. they drove me to an atm. time ticking away. and then sat the cat back next to me as if i was going to give a tearful goodbye. i waved. i said, goodbye cat. and as minutes went by and i shrugged- finished? And he's like yes. And I'm thinking uh... ok?! And both the elder dudes didn't even say goodbye. They were so ready to be DONE. rude!

Anyway off i went again and found a random airport bus heading toward gimpo so i just got on it, not part of the plan but whatever and made it- for them to be all standby! anEYO! no. so... 1pm flight. And my knees, the space so tight that ive ever flown- the woman next to me was like, no, and complained for me to the attendent whose polite smile sliced like a dagger- the employees sitting in the front bay seats moved without a word and let me have the aisle seat. The lady ended up beating me off the plane and got the taxi first but i was second and there i was with 15minutes to spare before work having completed a record awesome feat of awesome. Totally had that jumping onto the mat feeling of success. Hurrah... ! Then of course my boss ruined it all by yelling at me on that wednesday in the middle of a typhoon- khanun but whatever. That's another story...

Thanks for putting up with this pen. Was there something else? I can hardly think what... i suppose i should head home from this coffee shop. It's probably nice at the beach now.

1 comment:

pen said...

epic! simply epic. i'm so glad this journey has had a happy ending. i mean other than sg's tantrum, but that's another thread. for another day. xo