Monday, September 1, 2014

Ultimate doom!

As I was sitting in the back seat of the police car this evening, looking at the shiny black material that seemed particularly blood resistant, and the absence of a door handle on the inside of my door, I found myself thinking, "Well at least this is another thing to cross off on the bucket list of life..."

It all started way before I came to Korea. I met a guy. A tall, handsome, afrikaans lad who got me hooked on geocaching and tried in vain to interest me in cricket. One day, he led me onto a grassy field, with rugby posts on either end, and taught me to throw and catch a frisbee. Then other people showed up and we ran around madly trying to score points and immediately losing count of them. He introduced me to Ultimate Frisbee.

All right, all right, it's just called Ultimate now.

That relationship ended when I came to Korea, but the seed had been planted. Before I arrived, someone I'd met in an expat facebook group suggested I join the Ultimate Frisbee league. Coming from a team (more like a group of people mildly interested in tossing frisbees to each other) of no more than about 10 people, the idea of the league enticed and intimidated me. The last time I played a team sport with real uniforms was when I was a field hockey goalie in middle school. I stopped that when it got too serious, with my teammates focusing more on getting provincial and national recognition and less on the fun of the game. And also, my bag full of hockey stuff was stolen in broad daylight.  The game had become a chore and I had no more interest in it, and the theft of the bag was the last straw. Thus ended my dazzling hockey career.

After that I stuck to less competitive individual sports, like diving, scuba diving, and when I felt the need to bash balls at someone, squash.

I was scared of the frisbee league. They had teams, with uniforms and regular practices and game plans and strategies and a membership fee. A steep membership fee for a new arrival. I kept putting off joining with a new excuse for each season. And then I forgot about it, only remembering that the league existed when I bumped into them in bars. Then I formed this image of them... Summed up as this:

A few weeks ago, however, my dear friend Olivia decided to join, and she decided to drag a bunch of her friends with her. This lady is a sports BEAST, belonging to at least three different sports leagues that I know about. She's nuts. And a lot of fun.

I thought that if all these people who I liked were joining, then maybe I could join too and not be utterly useless. In fact, my very brief experience in university would give me an edge over the complete newbies. So I let them talk me into it and before I knew it, I was sending money off into the ethernet to sign up for the league. Then it was a waiting game, as one of the biggest signups in the league happened, and organisers scrambled to make new teams and shuffle players around into them.

Then, finally, I found out which team I was on. We have the ugliest jerseys, by far, and the prettiest captain (but don't tell him!) and I decided to crush any inkling of fear, shyness or excuse-making, and do it. I even went so far as to buy cleats that clashed as much as possible with the jersey.

Blah blah, why were you in a police car?

Well, armed with my cleats of radioactivity, I headed to the first practice. It was going to be huge, with every team in Daegu and more from out of town invited to play on one field out in the middle of nowhere. Knowing myself, and my life of things going rather well  doom, I left three hours early to be sure to get there on time. I got on a bus that immediately went in the wrong direction, but ended up there with enough time to get some coffee and a piece of "pizza toast" that was cheap and delicious.

I finally walked to the field and saw some waygooks tossing discs. Using my Cluseau-like powers of deduction, I deduced that these were in fact the droids I was looking for, and I waved timidly at them.

the last photo ever taken with this phone
They told me to leave my bag with theirs and I scurried off to join them. And they turned out to be three of the most awesome people I would meet that day. Two of them were on my team!

I learned a lot that day. I learned about cutting and stacking and flicking. I learned about being supportive and laughing at yourself when you mess up, and I got over my fear of being the least fit person there, or a nerdy outsider at a jock party. These people were nice people, and fun and friendly. That is, until they're on the opposing team and you've got the disc and they're in your face. Then they are evil trolls who are virtually impossible to escape.

But I'm learning.

I had yet to learn the most valuable lesson of the day. After we'd done some skills stuff and played a couple of minigames, there came a big lesson.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

Life Lesson #22523

When playing an attention-holding sport in a big open area with lots and lots of people running around, do not place your phone, credit card, bank card, ID, kindle, cash and the only pair of skinny jeans that has ever and probably will ever fit you in ONE bag, out of sight and far away. Especially not a generic black bag with no distinguishing markings. 

I still haven't quite recovered from the sinking feeling of having all my most important things taken from me in a split second. I cried a little at first but then decided there was nothing that crying could fix and I couldn't do anything about it until offices opened on Monday. So there was no point letting a little catastrophe ruin my birthday party, frisbee friend-making weekend.

Luckily for me, the girl who had told me to put my bag there in the first place was so wracked with guilt that she gave me my subway fare home and returned with me the next day to try lost and found and head to a police station. Both of them were closed but we had a chance to chat and bond and I think I've made a great new friend.

I've rediscovered a sport I love and am not completely useless at. I've learned the value of friends who buy you burgers and beer to drown your sorrows in, and the value of petroleum jelly on chub-rub when you're stuck in sports clothes for 24 hours because your change of clothes went missing. I've learned to enjoy the moment and not wallow in self pity. I had a fun birthday party and got to watch Ben's band win Battle of the Bands, and played resistance with my coworkers and friends, mastered schrabbing and watched a wonderfully awful piranha movie - with all the gory bits blurred out - as the sun came up.

Pardon me, miss, but have you got any tictacs?
At lunch time I cancelled my bank cards and used my bank book to draw some money so that I can replace my ARC so I can get new bank cards. I contacted Eliza the Phone Lady and she's sending me a shiny new one. And on the way home, I went to the police station (staffed with sexy policemen) next to the fire station (full of sexy firemen). I think it's something in the water in Chimsandong. Anyway, the sexy police station was closed so a sexy fireman used a sexy SOS phone to call another less sexy policeman to help me.

And that's how I found myself in the back seat of a police car, being driven two or three blocks away to another police station, where young police officers fumbled their fairly decent English nervously while trying to figure out how to translate "Kindle" into hangeul and helping me file a report.

I walked home in the early evening breeze and felt pretty good even as my life is burning all around me. The flames are slowly being tamed by the sexy firehose of bureaucracy and, this whole time, I've had a feeling my bag will find its way home, and that this has all been an innocent but annoying mistake.

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