Few of life’s simple pleasures are as exciting for people living in foreign countries as the pleasure of receiving a package from home. It’s like a surprise birthday or Christmas present in a way. You get home from work, you stumble into your apartment building, and BOOM! There’s a box waiting just for you. And it’s filled with STUFF! And some of that stuff can’t be purchased in the country where you live. (I know that sounds illegal, but get your criminal minds out of the gutter. I’m talking about Raisinets and Little Debbie snack cakes here.)
So I was more than a little upset when the package my parents sent me a few weeks ago mysteriously disappeared en route to South Korea. According to the post office website, it went from Gulfport to Miami to Incheon (Seoul’s major flight hub) to….? Well, we didn’t know. The website said it was “in transit to the destination” but that’s where the trail went cold. Phone calls were made. Intercessory prayers were offered up to St. Anthony and Padre Pio. Korea Post said it was still in the States. USPS said Korea Post must have lost it. Whatever the truth was, the package was M.I.A. for more than six weeks.
I went through four of the five stages of grief before the damn thing finally turned up. It was a little smashed and had clearly gotten wet somewhere along the way, but everything inside was okay. (True sad story: my mom once sent Kimchi a two-pound bag of Pup-Peroni as a present. Customs confiscated it.) I’m so happy that this story had a happy ending that I’m now going to make a list of all the cool shit I thought I’d lost. Just pretend you’re interested.
As an adult, I accept the fact that I must wear collared shirts, nice pants, and occasionally a tie to work…But no one cares what I wear on weekends or at the gym! That’s why I’m constantly ordering horror-themed shirts from Fright Rags. It took a while, but I finally managed to get one of their Evil Dead (v.6) shirts before they sold out again. Also got their “Enjoy Horror” shirt because it was on sale.
This Hattori Hanzo shirt is the perfect attire for those days when you feel like killing your treasonous ex, their current love interest, a Japanese mob boss, a suburban mom hiding a gun inside a box of Kaboom cereal, a hospital orderly, and like 88 other people.
Got this one from Libertarian Country. I feel like they understand me.
This design was created by Noir Nouar, one of my very favorite lowbrow pop surrealists. The day I discovered her artwork on Instagram was a good day.
I read Bill Kauffman’s essay collection, Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists, during my trip to Beijing in December 2014. Kauffman is hard to pin down politically, but his overriding obsession is with localism and smallness. He believes Americans should stop thinking of the USA as one large monolithic nation and start thinking of themselves in the more manageable terms of small towns, neighborhoods, and local cultures. It’s an idea I find interesting, and all of these books – Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street, Wendell Berry’s The Way of Ignorance, and Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio – have localism and small towns as their subjects.
As with the work of Noir Nouar, I first discovered The Street of the Fishing Cat when someone posted a picture of it on Instagram. I liked the title and cover, so I ordered a copy for myself. By the way, my high school French teacher, Monsieur Myatt, has assured me that the Street of the Fishing Cat is indeed a real place in Paris. Writing that down under the “Curiosities” section of my bucket list.
Now that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are finally available in Korea it’s not quite as imperative for my parents to send me a stash every couple of months. But Reese’s Peanut Butter EGGS? That’s a whole other story. There’s something about the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter in these that makes them perfect. The Easter Bunny took his sweet time this year, but he put three bags of these inside the package.
I also got a box of Count Chocula. Call me an overgrown kid, but I still love this stuff – and all the other General Mills monster cereals, really. Most people can name the three most popular varieties, but there have actually been five. Can you name them without Googling?
And finally, the item I was most afraid I had lost to governmental incompetence: my new watch. I’ve wanted to own a nice watch for literally years now, but I’m not a big fan of the way a lot of luxury brands look these days. The Gucci and Rolex watches I’ve looked at, for example, have these enormous faces with three or four extra little dials situated around the hands that tell time. The whole look of them is too “busy” for my taste. What I was looking for was something a little simpler and more traditional, but which nevertheless had personality and matched my interests. Something like this Finnegans Wake watch from My Irish Jeweler.
As its name suggests, this watch was made in Ireland and has the opening line of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake spiraling around its face: Riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. How could any pretentious English teacher not fall in love with it?
If you think the stuff inside this package was lame and wish I’d write about something cooler, I’ve got a very simple solution for you…SEND ME STUFF! Just don’t use the United States Postal Service to do it.