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Late Night Lists

Well, I’m up. It’s amazing how many hours a day I can spend talking about Korea and its many complicated logistical nightmares and still have enough neurotic energy left over to plague my fragile sleep schedule. I suppose neurotic energy is like love: the more you give away, the more you have to give. Awesome.

During the day the move seems big, but with all its abstractions, the bigness is only vaguely overwhelming; at night, the uncountable small things that actually make up that bigness come boiling up to the surface. Have you every been digging in a garden and had the misfortune of disturbing an ant colony? It’s like that. I’ve always found ants much more disquieting than any large animal, and the same goes for life’s many small complexities.

Take for example today’s most edifying freakout: My lovely sister gave me a stack of books about South Korea today. As I was flipping through one of them, Looking for Mr. Kim in Seoul: A Guide to Korean Expressions, I happened upon an entry for the word kop. Kop is a concept borrowed from Buddhism that doesn’t have an easy English translation. Essentially, it means a nearly infinite—but not actually infinite—amount of time. The example used in the book was something about filling a castle with birdseed and then letting a single bird remove the seeds one at a time. Well, a kop is the amount of time it would take for the bird to empty the castle. An interesting word that I’m happy to know. But as they described the term, the authors gave alternate uses, including the phrase “eok kop,” which means “one million kop.” For some reason, seeing the word for one million totally floored me. Something about the simplicity and utter unrecognizability of the word. It was the promise of so much change. It forecast flashcards and misunderstandings. In an instant, I could see myself standing at an intersection trying to decode the street signs. It was unfamiliar flavors and unrecognizable ingredients. That one little detail, like a single ant winding its way along the kitchen counter, was a promise of so much more.

None of this is meant as complaint. Well. Only a little of this is meant as complaint. It’s just those sorts of things that take my breath away. I’m still unbelievably excited about this adventure. I can just as easily imagine myself walking the streets of Seoul with the implacable energy I felt walking the streets of London. I seesaw between these two mindsets about 40 times a day. It doesn’t help that HCB has been in Philadelphia since right after I found out. And it especially doesn’t help that I spend most of my day answering questions about our plans with, “Well, we don’t actually know, but my best guess is…” In the next couple days I should know more (e.i. how much he’s getting paid and whether we’re shipping our furniture), but for now, everything is just a mystery. An exciting, insomnia-inducing mystery.

So, rather than staring at the ceiling all night long, I’m going to make a list.


  • figure out visa options
  • buy plane tickets
  • research in Kelly’s Blue Book
  • clean both cars
  • sell both cars
  • research Korean power grid
  • buy adapters for electronics
  • decide what to do with appliances
  • talk to accountant
  • do taxes
  • go to dentist
  • go to osteopath
  • get inoculations??
  • clean out storage space
  • clean out closet
  • buy portable computing device (laptop? iPad?)
  • replace headphones
  • buy Rosetta Stone
  • use Rosetta Stone
  • buy several pairs of shoes in my size
  • get inserts modified
  • do traffic school
  • bill students
  • cancel internet
  • cancel phone
  • set up website for editing
  • cancel insurance (medical and car)
  • talk to landlord about breaking lease
  • sell anything I’m not taking
  • buy new charger and battery for camera
  • buy better all-purpose lens?
  • buy big boy luggage
  • ship furniture?
  • pack my life into suitcases
  • see all my loved ones uk times
12 Comments Post a comment
  1. John C. Wood #

    So we don’t know each other, but I went to St. John’s with HCB and I think foreign electrical outlets are fascinating (I need a hobby). This site has always given me good info, so I thought I’d share it.

    January 9, 2012
    • John! That was exactly what I needed. Now I just have to check my major appliances to see if they can handle the 220-240 volt system. I spent time in the UK and their power grid, even with an adapter, fried a couple of things. As a baker, I have a lot of large kitchen appliances that I’d like to keep, but only if it doesn’t halve their life spans.

      Christian speaks fondly and often of SJC, so I actually recognize your name. Good to finally say hello. Johnnies are always welcome.

      January 9, 2012
  2. Lars Peterson #

    That’s so exciting! I lived in Seoul for a year after I graduated from SJC. Don’t underestimate how easy it is to buy stuff in Seoul. Buy your expensive brand-name electronics here in the US, but for the small stuff, go to the Yongsan Electronics Arcade and prepare to have your mind blown.

    Seoul National University is in South Seoul, on the green line. It’s up on the side of a mountain which I think is called Gwan-ak San. Bring hiking boots! You probably don’t need a car.

    January 9, 2012
  3. caroline frances smith #

    anything you need i will mail to you! and i would not hesitate wrapping myself or jamie in some bubble wrap if need be….

    January 9, 2012
    • If you make it out to Seoul, I will rock your world with Korean wonderfulness.

      January 9, 2012
  4. Shannon Panuska #

    Dearest David!
    I am so excited for you and HCB. The throws of suddenly moving overseas is so overwhelming. I do not envy you, but know that it will all work out. And don’t worry if you cannot get everything done. South Korea will have everything you need.
    I don’t want to add anymore to your ever-expanding list. Though I do recommend getting every inoculation that you can: Hep A and B, Polio, Tetanus, anti-Malaria drugs and any local encephalitis vaccines. The malaria drugs should get on your schedule sooner than later as it takes about four weeks to build up immunity. Polio is seeing a resurgence and is recommended for anyone traveling for extended periods. Local encephalitis vaccines will be available in Korea.
    And ask the embassy in Korea if you have any questions. I’m certain they will be answered quickly. It’s a good idea to get on their radar; their job is to help you.
    And trust me, they can deal with ANY problem that arises. C had off-hour emergency duty and I got to peruse the “big book” of problems and solutions. Wow. Anything and everything (from losing every penny gambling to winning the local lottery) has happened before somewhere by an American overseas. And there is a plan in the book for dealing with it all. So don’t worry too much.
    Wishing you an easy move,

    January 10, 2012
  5. Shannon Panuska #

    Eek, “I don’t envy moving so suddenly.” I do kinda envy your coming adventure. I just reread that bit and thought it sounded a tad rude. No rudeness intended.

    January 10, 2012
    • Rude? No way. Thank you, Shannon, for the information. It’s good to hear from someone making it work abroad. And I am calling my doctor today to schedule inoculations. Good grief, so much to do and so little time to do it in…

      January 10, 2012
  6. HCB #

    Mr. Wood, Mr. Peterson, & Ms. Panuska:
    Many thanks for the tips and encouragement. Shannon, I’m relieved to hear of my government’s forethought; Lars, I’ll let you know how Seoul’s changed; John, start readying the Bimmer to be shipped.

    January 10, 2012
  7. HCB #

    PS – While I was the AT&T store getting my dad his i-phone, I looked into the expensive procedure for breaking my own AT&T contract. Guess what? I’m already “out of contract”! It expired a few months ago, and for some odd reason, AT&T didn’t seduce me into upgrading with a new two-year contract. So that’s $200 more I get to spend on you!

    January 10, 2012
  8. John C. Wood #

    Dearest David and HCB:

    I have been contemplating David’s need for proper luggage and I think I’ve found the perfect collection. I realize that this available at retail and not bespoke, but one has to make sacrifices given your time constraints. I hope you’re not offended. I feel a bit nauseated myself, but I think it will pass.

    For your computer:

    This pattern is better than that gaudy “status” print they have on everything. Of course, the colors are up to you.

    I strongly recommend that you get several of the Pegase. They come in different sizes, of course. It wouldn’t do at all to have to leave anything pret a porter behind. I always say I’d rather have five or six empty bags with me than to leave anything behind.

    Now, have you considered what you need to store your passports in? They’re such a chore to look at these days, what with that horrible “great seal” on the front and whatnot. Luckily, modern industry has come up with a stylish way to save your eyes.

    Now, I hope you are both aware that South Korea, while “southern” is not really “The South” as we know it. I hear reports that it gets mighty cold there. You’ll need these:

    Finally, my biggest concern for you both was that it would be nigh-on-impossible to access good retail in Korea. I am very much relieved that I was wrong.


    If you have any issues, I’ll connect you with my personal shopper here at the location in Boston. She’s a peach.

    Oh, my dears, what happy memories you will have!

    January 14, 2012
    • Finally! A wheeled suitcase refined enough to shlep my frette sheets in!

      January 16, 2012

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