This is typical – I’ve lived in Korea Town for 6 months but it isn’t until I tell my landlord I’m moving out that I become obsessed with the Korean Market down the street. I blame the Korean food article I read recently for making the visions of chijimi, gimbap and kimchi dance in my head to begin with, but this “Now? Now you get into it??” game is not new to me; I’m typically slow to catch on to anything awesome until it’s too late. As I type, I’m enjoying my third chijimi pancake in as many days and my lips still tingle from the leftover portion of red hot cucumber kimchi I stored in the refrigerator last night. How delightful to hop off the train and stroll over to the stalls laden with Korean treats. How lovely to draw effusive smiles from the vendors when I use the Korean words I learned living with Erma and visiting Pepper in Daegu. Suddenly, the mini Buddhist temples on the street corners seem charming and the intoxicating smell of roasting Korean barbecue, which I’d long grown accustomed to, smells heavenly to me once again. I imagine living in a neighborhood without it and feel grumpy, even though I live in Japan and, technically, I ought to be getting cranky over the idea of moving away from sushi, not yakiniku. Typical, I tell you.
The apartment hunt has begun, and, even though I am beginning to lament leaving Korea Town, it’s a good thing. 6 months living in a cave have destroyed my sleep patterns; I’m awake until 5, in bed until 2 and on the mornings I have to wake before noon I am a miserable, groaning zombie. The circus of Decision 2008 does nothing to improve my mood and I take advantage of my sleeplessness to read news articles, gape in horror at convention coverage and stalk political blogs, absorbing the madness from thousands of miles away. Sean takes advantage of his sleeplessness to plead for mercy when I launch into another tirade and, since I understand all too well, I have to comply.
We’ve seen 5 apartments this week, each of them flooded with gorgeous, natural light. The first was in a good neighborhood, only a stop further on our train line and spacious enough but, according to Sean, “dirty” and according to me, slightly too far from the train station. The last 4 have been quite nice, only a few minutes from the train station with surprisingly large balconies overlooking a much quieter neighborhood than Tsurahashi. Yet, they are on the other side of town – commuting would be more expensive and a huge drag, to boot. We are scheduled to see a few more this week and hopefully one of them will be “just right.” In the meantime, clear plastic clam-shell boxes stained with kimchi spices line my garbage can and I complete an Internet form entitled: “The Easy Route to an Overseas Absentee Ballot.”