Thursday, March 8, 2012

Furthest Reaches - Departure Day

 If it hasn't become apparent from the odd post and tweet, I am moving to Korea. Furthest Reaches is my travelogue. It contains posts, anecdotes and sections of my journal as I explore a new country and immerse myself in a new culture. Tentacle News will obviously change as I try to find time for a full time teaching job, getting my art done, and still finding every opportunity possible to explore and adventure. So while there may be less posts of odd internet finds or sketches and drawings, I hope everyone still finds my travelogue and photographs just as interesting. The frequency of my posts my lessen slightly, but I hope I can keep it fun for all of us.
The following is a post I wrote a week ago during the first day of this trip. I will update as I can so my posts are not too far behind.
my bags are packed and I'm ready to go...

Have you ever seen patches of fog from an airplane? The journey has finally begun and I am writing this on the plane headed toward Seoul. Up to this point, our plans and preparations have been rife with difficulties and delays, none of which are that unusual in this process. I have done well enough to hold myself together during the stress. Though upon arriving to the airport early this morning I hit another snag. Not one without the ability to be overcome, but it did hit me somewhere that I often have difficulty with. I have a hard time dealing with unfair policy or legal loopholes that often leave me feeling cheated. But even more so, I hate being unprepared. And if there is one thing I have tried to do up until this point it is be prepared. But the specific problem is hardly the point. Which brings me to my initial question. Have you ever seen patches of fog from an airplane? They sit tight to the ground like this odd little batch of cauliflower, with wispy tendrils reaching out across the land.
Problems are kinda like fog. As prepared as you are, when a problem hits you, you can feel trapped in a layer of dense cloud. It's hard to focus on anything else, it's hard to see anything else! It's easy to become overwhelmed by even the smallest problem when it solely consumes your focus. When you see fog from the air, it isn't that amorphous nothingness. It has shape, but more importantly, it has an end. The edge is easy to comprehend...from outside. This is why listening to those around you is often so supportive. Outsiders can see where we are, that we are lost in the fog, and can assure us, 'don't worry you are close to the end.'
I think the true skill for overcoming challenges and those overwhelming problems is to try to see the fog from the plane. Even when the clouds dip, and you can't see more than two feet in front of you. Try to stop. Breathe. And look at it all from another perspective. It isn't easy (but then not everything is), but you just might make it through.
the best airline food I have ever had
The second part of this post comes near the tail end of my flight with only 4 more hours to go. I have waxed philosophic for a moment, but let's face it, the real reason anyone is reading this is to hear exactly what I am doing. I cannot say I will thrill anyone with exciting adventures in the air, and really nothing of significance happening is really okay with me at this point. But I will point out some highlights and atleast you will get some pictures this time around (something I will make more prevalent in the Furthest Reaches posts, so you don't just have to rely on my shoddy prose to picture everything).
As anyone who has been on a long overseas flight will know, it is often far from eventful nor is it exciting (again I say that is okay). I have tried my best to stay active with more forms of entertainment than I usually use to fill out a week. I have read 3 novels, eaten some incredible food (that's right, Koreans do airline food right), and kept my stomach at bay in doing so. Having someone to converse with would be nice, but I admit it would be nigh impossible over the din of the screaming engines. Most of the people around me are kind looking Korean families, not opt for conversation, but enjoyable to watch. The toughest part is really just staying active or zoning out entirely. Sleep is hard for me in such a cramped upright chair, but I have been without sleep for over 36 hours now, and I still have a lot more to go. We are chasing daylight so I will actually never see the sun set on Saturday, and instead watch as it magically becomes Sunday.
My flight has taken a rather unusual route as I have followed along on the onscreen flight-tracker. As if leaving from Dallas straight to Seoul were not strange enough, we are not taking the most direct route. And I will admit a tinge of homesickness, or something akin to it, as I flew over Lethbridge and Calgary, northward into the arctic, perhaps not unreasonable to keep land beneath us as long as possible.
A flight attendant, dressed rather elegantly compared to US domestic flight standards, offers me yet another cup of perfectly brewed tea. Something everyone knows I cannot turn down. A slight bump of turbulence sends hot water into my lap, but all is easily forgiven as the flight attendant sincerely apologizes and is certainly easy on the eyes. In fact they all are. This could pose a problem if Korean women are all this attractive.
And as I sip at my tea and watch the last of the Russian coastline pass 36,000 feet below us, I take in the final stretch of this arduous plane ride.
my first night in Korea...on the hardest bed imaginable
This last bit is written in the haze of yet another sleepless night. The night is early here, and I know I am exhausted, so sleep should come eventually. We made it safely to Seoul and then eventually on to Namyangju. No time for much more than a brief reunion between me and Megan(an old college friend and travel partner) before we reach the hotel. The headmaster showed us around, in the best English he could muster (we fill in the gaps and get by well enough). The hotel is laughable. I mean we literately had a good laugh at it. The photo hardly does it justice. It is small and typically Korean with the basic amenities. More like a guest room in a stranger’s home. I am not sure I will get used to the partially used, full sized toothpaste or bottles of aftershave. But no one said I have to use them. It’s far from a starred resort, but it is also far from terrible. And despite one of the hardest mattresses I have ever laid on, these rooms will do for the few days we are in them. First night alone in a strange new country. It's weird and emotions are running high with such a long day. Korea will certainly be a challenge. But then we always knew that. That's half the point in taking it on. So while I try desperately to let my mind slow down enough to get some real sleep after over 48 hours without, I lay on this solid box spring, listen to the traffic, and zone out as best I can. We start work at 2pm tomorrow, and with Megan with a bad cold and this chill bothering my asthma, rest is certainly what we need.

No comments:

Post a Comment