11 April 2008

seasonal ptsd

blood suckin on the brain (art from here).

like most spring and fall days in seoul (sans dust), today's weather was perfect. balmy, cool temps and sunshine. but two things happened that triggered a climate-related post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd):

1) i briefly ran my air-con, and
2) i spotted my first mosquito of 2008.
spring officially started less than one month ago, but i'm already panicking about summer. having grown up in the usa's very temperate pacific northwest, i never acclimated to dramatic temperature fluctuations, humidity or heavy snow (on the other hand, rain makes me nostalgic and earthquakes are fun).

after experiencing one annual weather cycle in seoul, korea's bitterly cold winters and hot, humid and wet summers have won my fear and respect. in terms of heat, july is typically the worst of it. last july, every morning i ran a t-shirt under the kitchen sink, wrung it out, and wore it underneath layer #2 in a futile attempt to keep cool for at least a couple of hours. i'm not a sweaty man, but seoul summers make me feel like a dripping foreign savage. while pressed on all sides by human bodies packed in steamy subway cars and on busses, i thank baby jesus that 99% of koreans don't have body odor (surely a topic for another post).

horrible as it was, there was one benefit. heat + monsoon rains = shorts + umbrellas. so what? well, this equation means that i could safely satisfy my leg fetish while an umbrella hides my spying eyes.

mmmm perfect legs. the rest ain't bad, neither.

one thing that doesn't make for nice legs, however, are lots of itchy, red mogi bites (모기) (mosquito). beyond the heat, i dread summer because of these god-forsaken insects that riddle the city like it's just one giant stagnant puddle. my apartment is 15 stories up, but those blood-addicted bastards follow the carbon dioxide trail, riding the elevators with me and my neighbors before slipping into our homes unbeknownst to us. they silently circle my apartment ceiling legs dangling until i'm horizontal in a darkened room. as i drift to sleep, they whine into my ear and i jerk awake, slapping the side of my head. mosquitos inspire particular loathing since an acute childhood allergy turned every bite into a rock-hard, red 3 x 3 inch mound. a wound anywhere on my face resulted in a shut eye and other quasimodo-like deformities.

while my climate ptsd has already started to overwhelm me, i can still appreciate the larger context. i think korea's severe weather - suffocating hot and bitter cold - help explain its inhabitants' notorious feistiness... and what's a korean if not arbitrarily warm, loving and generous as well as spiteful, scary and mean?


o said...

mogijang, mogijang, mogijang! 모/기/장!

Get thee over to little ol' timey market by the sinchon subway stop (number 3 i think?). Ask for a "mogijang" (mosquito net - about 10,000 won), install it in your sleeping chambers, and frustrate those li'l bloodsuckingfuckers to no end.

After too many sleepless nights amassing piles of their corpses after peeling their remains of my self-smacked face, I finally got the net and suddenly bedtime in summer didn't incite fear in anxious anticipation for the incipient kamikaze buzzing.

Best of luck!

matt said...

this is much appreciated. draping a net over my bed might satisfy my latent south east asia/princess issues, so thanks for that. i also enjoyed your writing style. you seem like a hoot!