Saturday, December 8, 2012

Renewed Addiction

My posse in early 2008.
In late 2007 / early 2008, I had an addiction problem. Not drugs. Not alcohol. Not food. I was hooked on Korean TV shows. The network called AZN -- “Television for Asian Americans” -- aired Korean soap operas with English subtitles. I loved watching the Korean stories when I was in Seoul. They have a beginning, middle, and end, and are done after a finite number of episodes as opposed to American stories that run with nonsense for 30-plus years. I like them because the story lines are interesting and it’s fun looking for familiar places in Seoul -- like the many bridges over the Han River, Namsan Park, Seoul Tower, Iteawon, Seoul Hyatt, the subway. I love the way the male characters often dress -- so much nicer than anything in real life middle Tennessee.

My time in Seoul (2000 and 2001) was split between scorching, humid summer (three weeks) and three frigid winter months with two record breaking snowfalls (including on the day we were supposed to fly back to the States). The summer trip was loaded with sightseeing. The winter months involved lots of time enjoying the heated floors in our tiny apartment on Embassy Hill and channel bouncing between my stories, Oprah (who seemed to air all day every day), and a French music video channel, while my new husband was at work on Yongsan post.

When I landed in Tennessee from Seoul, I searched online for the Korean TV stations, looking for subtitled soap operas, but had no luck securing any. Videotapes were available in the Korean markets in Clarksville, but I didn’t feel comfortable asking for anything like that, so we’d just buy fish cake, Chinese pancakes, hot pepper paste, rice candy and yogurt drinks and be on our way.

Several years, one divorce, a residential relocation and a new cable provider later, I was excited to find my beloved Korean soaps available in my living room on the AZN network. Several months spent licking my wounds from the break-up included the wonderful distraction of three hours per night watching stories. Face time with real people was cast aside in favor of my shows. The baristas in “Coffee Prince” were my new best friends.

The one thing that saved me from complete, total, permanent social ruin was AZN itself. It went off the air. I took it hard. It was breakup recovery all over again.

Netflix DVDs filled in for a while until the pricing structure changed and a thorough budget and lifestyle review resulted in my cancellation of Netflix. With roller derby practice, meetings and events, plus belly dance class, plus arts events, and of course, work, I was rarely home long enough to watch the DVDs or even update my queue. With no Playstation, Wii, or Blue-Ray player, and no desire to watch on my computer, I was married to the DVDs, for better or worse.

The winds of life reversed, and my post-derby, sloth-like lifestyle allows for ample (excessive) time to stare at the flatscreen rectangle in the living room, even when I don’t like what is on. It fills the time. I provides noise and a semblance of companionship. A Thanksgiving Day conversation about the various hardware devices for streaming Netflix to a TV revealed to me the existence of Roku -- a small, magical device that works through wi-fi to stream to TV for a fraction of the cost of a  Playstation or a Wii. Sweetness!

Said magical unit was ordered immediately (on sale, even) and the agonizing weeklong wait for its arrival was somehow endured. It was agony.  And then, the glorious day arrived. In one bountiful delivery, two Christmas gifts plus the Roku gift to myself appeared in the office mail drop.

After work I connected the Roku, which was pretty easy. There was the renewed realization the the superbly helpful input button on the TV remote has ceased functioning and the buttons on the TV were accessed to change between cable, DVD player and Roku. Got that figured out.

When the Roku was hooked up it provided a registration code to be entered online. The logical choice was to use my netbook, conveniently parked in the living room, except it chose that moment to freeze up, mandating a trip to the office (and over the child-gates keeping the fur babies off the office carpet) to register on the desktop, then back into the living room for the next step. Back into the office to reactivate my dormant Netflix account .... the living room to check it on the TV and discover the only way to browse is by show name. Really? Even the show names I knew wouldn’t come up.

Back into the office to visit Netflix online and browse a gazillion shows in the familiar search formats. A queue was built, (heavy on Korean TV shows) and back into the living room to pull one up onto the TV. It loaded, but with English dubbing instead of Korean language with English subtitles.  I don’t actually speak Korean (except for “hello” and “thank you” and “sweetheart”) but I like how it sounds and I’d rather watch the shows in the original language. It took another 20 minutes to figure out the subtitles, which was finally resolved by searching the troubleshooting screens on the Netflix site and standing next to the TV pushing up and down arrows.

All the running back and forth was beginning to feel like a workout, which seemed like a clear benefit. And I was kind of proud of myself for getting it all squared away on my own, without the assistance of an external superior technological intellect.

Flower Boy Ramyun Shop.

With all the particulars worked out, it was time to settle in and start watching the first of 16 episodes of “Flower Boy Ramen Shop” ... which turned into the first three ... followed by a few more each night after work all week long. The word ramen in the title inspired me to indulge daily in my favorite creamy chicken ramen -- made with frozen vegetables and half-and-half. As soon as I locate a Korean market (the one I used to visit seems to have disappeared off the face of Fort Campbell Boulevard) I can restock with hot pepper paste and resume my beloved cheesy hot pepper ramen addiction, but for now, creamy chicken with mixed vegetables is wonderfully satisfying.

As for my social life and soap opera addiction, it’s feeling like early 2008 all over again. I guess this time, Netflix will need to close shop in order for me to be saved.

No comments:

Post a Comment