Friday, October 29, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Check out the apartment AND get a sweet view of my butt while climbing some stairs. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Workin' for the Weekend

So here I am to finally update you on a KOREA post, for those of you nerds who read this. Ha. Takes a nerd to know a nerd, my Mom would say. Neener neener Mom but I guess you're right. Well, I didn't think I had a very eventful weekend but then I did a short draft last night to jot down a few things and I thought, "dang! things were slightly eventful!"

First, Michael and I FINALLY got our Alien Registration Cards. These make us legit as in now we can get our own internet, cell phones, a bank account, AND I have a terrible photo that certifies me as an alien to boot! How appropriate. The lady who took the picture made me take off my earrings, put my hair behind both ears, and said not to smile. It reminded me of my unfortunate experience at the DeMotte DMV where on my 25th birthday the lady pushed my freshly cut bangs "to the side because they obstruct the view of your face" and told me "don't show your teeth when you smile now." She had to take two pictures although I can't imagine how the first one was worse than the one she gave me. Further proof that DeMotte may be more similar to a foreign country than I initially thought.

So yes, the beginning of October has been full of many pleasant firsts: the alien card, first paycheck to go with that brand spankin' new bank account, aaaaannnndddd my first Korean hair salon experience!

On my way to set up my bank account last week, an old lady handed me a coupon with a free shampoo sample for a hair salon a block away. I thought, "good enough for me!" and made a mental note to go for it Friday night after work. Since I am trying to grow my hair out, the speed of which is so slow no appropriate adverb exists, I was only in for a trim. Exactly two months to the day since the last time I had it done! (Aren't you proud, Mom?!) And believe it or not, the only blunder of the entire experience was my exchange with the counter girl who apparently wanted to put my bag in a locker while I got my hair cut, while I sat there, stupidly holding onto and searching my bag thinking she needed an i.d. of some sort. I don't know what the hell for. Anyway, the girl who ended up cutting my hair spoke enough English to get the point through my thick skull, took my bag, and gave me a great trim. She faintly smelled of beer and cigarettes but for some reason, I wasn't too worried and just kept my eyes shut the whole time. I had my hair blow-dried by TWO people ---luxurious---and then she gave me a flat-ironing job that made me look like the teacher I'm supposed to be in Korea. Weird. Although it's not customary to tip over here, I did anyway. She politely refused the first time (which IS customary) and then accepted. I can't stomach the idea of not tipping someone who has to touch another person in their job. They deserve it. At least I'm not a disgusting slob --points for me and her!

Saturday, Michael and I woke up to search for a non-dirt basketball court in Hwamyeong. Some Korean guys had pointed him in the general vicinity of one last week so we began our journey. We finally ended up at a huge building which I realized was a church on our elevator ride up. The court was not dirt but was rather lame --kind of carpeted and soaked from the previous night's rain. We were shooting around for not even ten minutes when the terrible but I-should-have-known-better inevitable happened: Pastor John came out to meet us and witnessed to us about Jesus for over an hour.

What was so horribly interesting about this experience in my mind were a few things:
1) no matter where you are in the world, there are always people who specialize in the ability to talk and talk and talk and talk and not care at all if the other person says a thing
2) that these people who talk and talk and talk and talk and talk would presume they could do so at great length about something as personal as religion or spirituality, to a complete stranger without their permission
3) that to boot, this guy was completely sexist and hardly made eye contact with me the entire time; apparently women are not worth saving. I was so relieved when Michael pointed this out after we left before I even mentioned it --he noticed it as much as I did. Pastor John did however look at me when relating the story of Adam and Eve and Eve being the first one tempted. He also told us about how he used to lie about his wife only having a high school education. She's since graduated from college.
4) and lastly, there is a Bible app for the iphone.

So after Pastor John had sufficiently buzz-killed our potential balling, we decided to head home. Michael still wanted to ball and ended up taking the hour-long subway ride to the sweet courts we knew about and I decided to grab a few tasty delights at the carnivale known as Gupo Market!

The Gupo is only two subway stops away from where we live and is one of the coolest, most action-packed places I've ever been to. It's basically an open air market that has everything you can imagine in the way of food, housewares, clothing, and yes, it's true, even a dog market. Luckily, I avoided the dog market on this voyage but I'm sure I'll run into it unexpectedly at some point. The place is a giant maze.

Seaweed? Anyone? Just a guess...

Under the sea assortment. 

  Tiny dead, dried fish. Michael and I got a small bowl of these for an appetizer a few weeks ago. I didn't try them. They were staring at me for too long. And yes, that's squid to the left. 

Vampires will not be tolerated. 

Mini-pools of frogs, fishies, and other apparently edible delights from water world.

That was basically my Saturday. And since this has turned into a mind-numbingly long post, I will keep Sunday as brief as possible. Two beaches in one day, another attempt at Mexican food (not too shabby), and me moving from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" to finishing the first 2 books of the Harry Potter series. That's right folks, I am teasingly diverse. 

Now check out these gorgeous mugs and continue missing me. 

Daily T-shirt: Be full of the confidence. 

"I slid from between the sheets and walked barefoot across the cold tile between the beds. I felt the tile with my feet and wondered how many times, how many thousand times, had I run a mop over this same tile floor and never felt it at all. That mopping seemed like a dream to me, like I couldn't exactly believe all those years of it had really happened. Only that cold linoleum under my feet was real right then, only that moment."   --Chief Bromden "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

Saturday, October 9, 2010

R.P. McMurphy

Well, as I rapidly punished book three of the Stieg Larsson series in two days, it was time to move on to one of the books I brought with me that I hadn't read yet: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. This was a fine gift from one of my oldest friends, Graham Smith, and I can't thank him enough. Maybe this is a sentiment most avid readers feel but I find it impossible and pointless to explain ---really, that reading has changed my life. I'm reminded of Malcolm X's autobiography as I type. What a strong illustration of the point I'm trying to grasp at. Malcolm X said, "My alma mater is books, a good library...I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity." I struggle to think of a more amazing personal story of someone learning to read than his and really dig that quote.  

I've always loved to read but growing up in school, it would occasionally slip my mind that I had actual choices in the content I wanted to explore. Also, any reading that was required tended to bore and annoy me. In the last three years, what I've read has changed my life more than anything and I'm convinced the library is pretty much the coolest idea someone ever had. It's my favorite example of the world at work.  

Graham gave me "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" as a gift quite awhile back. I had yet to read it until this week and finished it pretty quickly, as it's not a long book. I didn't want to weigh down my luggage with books so I tried to bring the small collection of unread books I owned and a few favorites. I've been here barely over a month and only have one book left to read of those I brought with. Thank the LAWD I found that Seomyeon bookstore with the decent selection of English books. 

I've posted the trailer for the movie version of the book, starring Jack Nicholson as McMurphy, directed by Milos Forman, and with what I consider brilliant music by Jack Nitzsche. Nitzsche has worked with Phil Spector, the Rolling Stones, and Neil Young to name a few. Michael said he thinks the eery-sounding effect I like so much in this music is a saw. I have no idea but it's straight up one of the coolest sounds I've heard in a long time. 

I had seen this movie a long time ago but was eager to watch it again after finishing the book. The movie is amazing but I'm still being loyal to the school of thought that books will outdo a film any day. There's just too much a movie can't capture and so much of what is lost onscreen makes for the finest details in the story. 

I'm not entirely sure how to articulate how or why this book was so provocative to me. My mind has been buzzing with it all week and I felt like crying and laughing the whole way through the book. The humor is amazing and McMurphy's character is quite the accidental hero. He is so powerful and perfect amongst a gang of "lunatics" in a mental institution. Apparently, Kesey got the idea for the book while working the night shift at a Veteran's Hospital in the 60's. He didn't believe that the patients there were insane but rather, that they were societal outcasts because they didn't fit into conventional ideas of how people were supposed to behave. This is clearly illustrated in the book by the all the interesting characters and McMurphy is the perfect person to draw out their similarities to the world rather than their differences. 

I'm sure there are a million more articulate breakdowns and analyses than what I'm fumbling around with here.  I can't quite get it all clear in my head --there are so many points to what Kesey is writing about. But it may be how funny the book is that slays me the most. When Chief Bromden and everyone are laughing in the book, I was too. So much. Read it if you haven't and then help me talk about it some more, will ya? 

"I sat there, feeling whole and good, sipping at a beer; I could hear the beer all the way down me ---zzzth, zzzth, like that. I had forgotten that there can be good sounds and tastes like the sound and taste of a beer going down. I took another big drink and started looking around me to see what else I had forgotten in twenty years." 
--The Chief

Uncle Shelby

Saw this video through a friend recently. Two of my favorite guys. 

Funny because a couple of weeks before I left Austin, Shel Silverstein had crossed my mind a few times and I decided to pick up some of his classics from the library. It'd been a long time but it's interesting how you can remember pictures through your child-self eyes so vividly. His illustrations were still very familiar. In the fifth grade, I had to memorize a poem in Mr. Shank's class and I picked Shel's "Twistable Turnable Man." I can still remember the last half of it now --I think in part because it has the type of rhyme you can say very quickly. My brain seems to retain things with a certain pace. I can still play much of the first Beethoven sonata I learned in sixth grade because of all the piano runs and the fast tempo.

Anyway, just a short, nostalgic post. I am hoping to keep this blog going post-Korea so I'm prepping you, dear reader, for the randomness that may lay ahead. Not all posts will be travel-related --look out!

I'll close with the first poem in "Where the Sidewalk Ends." I've just always loved it. Fun fact: Silverstein wrote "A Boy Named Sue," I had no idea. What a guy.


If you are a dreamer, come in, 
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, 
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. 
Come in!
Come in!