Friday, January 18, 2013

Vacation day 18: I-94 blues

Another quick one for you. Before getting into driving, there’s something important to note: I’m sorry I missed some of you while I was in town this week. Many things had to get rescheduled within my family and I wasn’t able to make many plans in advance because of that.

This week marked a year since I’d driven a car in the States. Prior to flying back, I’d been worried that I’d forget how to drive, but alas, that didn't happen. Once I got inside and started the car up, everything came back. By now I've cruised around all the old destinations of the old life in southeastern Wisconsin. It’s been good. Tonight, my good buddy Dick and I rode out to Milwaukee to partake in some Korean barbecue at Seoul Restaurant.* I’d been dying to get back there to ease my kimchi withdrawal and he’d been keen to try the cuisine I’d been raving about all this time. We enjoyed it, for not only did the food taste great, but it tasted authentic as well. Dick finally got to taste samgyeopsal in all its glory. My dalkgalbi rocked.

Two observations on driving:

Any trip over 30 minutes long gets mentally tiring. I’d first noticed this last year whilst driving back from a friend’s place near Kenosha, WI. An hour on the road at night drained a good chunk of energy. I’d never considered this prior to leaving Korea because as a suburban Midwesterner, driving’s an integral part of life. Even at college, I’d drive every 3 weeks at the maximum and that was enough to keep driving familiar. I spent the year between graduating college and going to Korea driving back and forth between teaching jobs in Milwaukee (tutoring) and the Madison area (substituting), so I got used to 75-125 mile freeway jaunts. Now? All of the alertness that driving demands takes away more energy than I can recall. As much I enjoyed getting behind the wheel again, I’ll gladly leave the driving to someone else. I’d rather not deal with piloting a vehicle.

Bumper stickers everywhere. In short, Korean cars don’t have bumper stickers, though I see “baby on board” signs sometimes. American cars have plenty of stickers, on the other hand. This is another thing that’s so prevalent in daily life that I didn’t know it was gone until I moved away. Upon returning, the backsides of cars scream out slogan upon slogan. Does anybody pay attention to them? Does slapping political bumper stickers on cars make a difference? Does the world need to know Person X’s stance on, say, the president? Cars are for driving, not for advertising political philosophies or advancing slogans.

*It’s on the east side. It’s on Prospect Avenue, just south of North Ave.

And now for the song behind the post's title:

Guitarist Deniz Tek of the Australian band Radio Birdman wrote a searing song about I-94. He was an American guy from Michigan who'd moved to Australia with his family. I-94 runs through both of our states and it's a great driving tune. I'm linking the original version from their first EP. The band recorded a faster version for their second album Living Eyes, but I picked this one because it has more of a night time groove to it and I like the feedback coming off the rhythm guitar. Enjoy. Radio Birdman's one of my all time favorite groups.

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