Tuesday, December 27, 2005

open house

I'm not in Korea. At least not now. I'm in Philly.



This is nuts.
My family had a blow out party. It was a success, completely fabulous. There were some people in attendance. And by people, I mean fantastic Philly powerhouses, brilliant intellectuals, beautiful people, artists, and funny funny people. People I haven't seen in forever. People I haven't ever seen but heard so much about. People I love and adore. People, just people.

Sometimes the community is just colorful.

Friday, December 23, 2005

to do

Though I might not get around to all of this I endeavor to:

eat food from Bonsignor (preferably empanadas)
get a smoothie from liquiteria. I really want from lucky's, but they closed ages ago. (Notice that the review is written by Nick Catucci)
buy lots of granola, deodorant, and toothpaste with fluoride to come back and sell on the blackmarket
eat falafel
have pizza from Two Boots
drink a mojito, or two
buy sexy panties and bras (nothing pink, or frilly, or with happy bears, or bows, or SUPER padding)
buy books or magazines (IN ENGLISH!) at St. Mark's Bookshop
play with Toys in Babeland
Jameson, on the rocks
see a movie at one of the Landmark Cinemas (Sunshine, Angelika, or Film Forum--prefrence on the Sunshine)
I wouldn't mind dancing
standing on a rooftop
seeing someone famous in the street
walk around the village, LES, and Union Square
bumping into Hotdog, the crackwhore from Tompkins Square Park, would top it off

Last time I saw Hotdog, she referred to me as "Skinnybitch," as if we were old friends and this is always what she called me. And the time before that she was trying to sell me a pile of hair in the subway station at Delancy Street. Gotta love her.

So, anyone care to join me?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

a year approaches

I wait for markers of time to reflect on change.
a new journal
a new year
a feeling that today is the day I get to start something new.

This is my 199th post...


I was having tea with my acupuncturist on Thursday. She told me that her philosophy /view on life is that it's a process of loss and that "nothing is too important to lose." She said, "I'm prepared to lose everything--my family, my job, my clinic--everything." Since I would define myself as a collector of sorts, this was profound.

I'm forgetful, so I collect evidence of experiences, people, and places to remind me that I knew/had them. I'd say that life is more like a process of collecting (experiences of loss included). I have an awkward relationship with the idea of attachment. I'm aware of what it does, but I don't reject it--or at least not nearly as often as I should. I wouldn't go as far to say that I'm in love with Seoul (and please don't tell NYC that I'd even go so far as to even speak of such a thing), but my new attachment is with this place the things and people I've come to know here. It has developed on top of the already existent attachment I had built for all the things and people I knew before I came here. Moreover, a layer of new attachment has grown over the self I knew before I came here. Has this place changed me? Am I different(how could I not be)? Am I ready to let go of that previous self? To reunite with that self? To contrast that self with the one who will be coming back to Asia?

I arrived in Korea on December 27th, 2004. I'm going home on the 24th... for a visit. How strange that feels. How good that feels. This particular concoction of excitement and anxiety is foreign. My anticipation leaves me restless at night imagining, planning, going over details, and giving myself reminders in my dreams. I dreamed that I forgot my passport at home. I dreamed of a hug I've been longing and waiting for--long and close. I dreamed I survived a building collapse--reminding me that no matter what happens, I'll be okay(right?).

I'm anticipating exhaustion, love, comfort, joy, difficulty leaving again, and a view of the change in me through the eyes of all the people I haven't seen in far too long. I've lost a year with these people and "home," while I gained more that I could have ever expected only for me.

The countdown begins... until the next marker. So now, I'm just drinking wine, and wastin' time 'till I get to be in the moments my mind has been intoxicated by.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

the good stuff

A couple months ago, Ji and Phil introduced me to bokbunjajoo (though on the bottle it says bokbunja in Korean). It's this great raspberry wine. I wasn't really interested at first, though I'm a big fan of raspberries. Now it's all I want to drink.

15% alcohol, cute little deep burgundy colored bottle, reasonably priced, and it's served in adorable little glasses. FABULOUS!

However, some companies make it way too sweet or they don't know what they are doing and it just tastes nasty. SO, you have to get this one:

don't accept any imitations


The beer here is terrible. You have the choice of Hite, fondly called (S)hite, Cass, AKA "_ass," or OB, which of course can be referred to as B.O. For the most part these are just variations on the theme of beer flavored water. Thus, my discovery of bokbunja was like a shining moment in history--blog worthy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

animal sounds

I have a particular fascination with the fact that the sounds animals make changes from one language to the next. I mean, I think a cat goes "meow" but the French say that a cat goes "miaou." In Korean a dog goes "mung-mung," and of course I have no idea why I think a rooster goes "cock-a-doodle-doo." That could possibly be the strangest one.

For more crazy animal sounds check this. And I can't leave out this guy, he makes great animal noises and funny faces too.

Monday, December 12, 2005

a massage gone wrong



I thought I'd go for a relaxing massage, and instead I came home with bruises like someone had given me the biggest hickey of my entire life--all over my back. The first half of the massage was a bit rough but felt kinda good. Then the second part included EXTREME CUPPING. There was a machine that had a suction cup attached to it that the woman repeatedly moved over my skin. Ouch.

Somewhere in the middle I quickly picked up how to say, "that hurts" in Korean (아파요). I showed my acupuncturist/Korean Doctor today, and she was appalled. She was like, "Don't do that again. It's not good for your body." Yeah, got it.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

faux grass and big beer

On a chilly Saturday night in Kagnam, I found myself a bit toasty from the beers in my belly, however still not quite warm enough for the weather.

Freezing our butts off, Mr. O and I discovered a sight that warmed our little hearts--an astroturf covered pole. Fake grass on a pole. Really. I have no idea what the purpose of such a thing is, other than to be a prop in fabulous pictures such as this one:



Mr. O (Mr. Mr. O if you're nasty), you are my favorite word pimp. You got SEN-SUH (a sense of style) like no other.


Earlier in the evening, at Herzen, we had ordered 5 of these things:



This thing came to the table flashing, smoking, and bubbling. It holds, I believe, 5000cc of beer. What a production! Then, somehow... how should I say this? hmmmm... one of the drunken idiots of our party smuggled/stole/"borrowed" one of these massive theatrical beer receptacles. I actually found myself disapprovingly shaking my head saying "foreigners... " OR, rather, I think what I might have said was "Gotta watch out for these white people these days. They're like the new black people."

It was noted, due to my mixed ethnicity, that I am the only one among the crowd that can get away with making a statement like that. Of course, I was joking and I thought I was hilarious, but you know it was somewhat uncharacteristic of my humor and in bad taste. Not cute. Just as much as I wished he would take back the beer thingie, I wish I could retract my statement. I'd replace it with something like a sharp disapproving look--the one I shoot my students when that act like complete fools, the one I've been perfecting over the past few months/years, the one I guess I'll have handy if I ever become a parent.

Lastly, the hair of the week:

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

panache

The word of the day, appropriately, is panache. One of my favorites. Now what's additionally fabulous about this word of the day is that it includes a quote from Eric Asimov, the food writer for the NYT. My strange connection is that in college I used to babysit one of his sons, when he went out to eat dinner. I kinda always wished he'd bring me dessert, but alas that only occurred in my fantasies.

Word of the Day for Monday December 5, 2005

panache \puh-NASH; -NAHSH\, noun:
1. Dash or flamboyance in manner or style.
2. A plume or bunch of feathers, esp. such a bunch worn on the
helmet; any military plume, or ornamental group of feathers.

Dessert included a marvelous bread pudding and a fair
bananas Foster, the old-time New Orleans dish, which was
prepared with great panache tableside, complete with a
flambé moment.
--Eric Asimov, "New Orleans, a City of Serious Eaters."
[1]New York Times, July 4, 1999

It is... an inevitable hit, a galvanizing eruption of
energy, panache and arrogantly sure-footed stagecraft that
comes at a time when theatrical dance is in the doldrums.
--Terry Teachout and William Tynan, "Seamy and Steamy."
[2]Time, January 25, 1999

Although Black didn't have many friends and was not among
the school's leaders, he was likeable, had panache, and his
contemptuous tirades were rarely taken at face value.
--Richard Siklos, [3]Shades of Black: Conrad Black and the
World's Fastest Growing Press Empire
_________________________________________________________

Panache is from the French, from Medieval French pennache,
from Italian pinnacchio, "feather," from Late Latin
pinnaculum, diminutive of penna, "feather." It is related to
pen, originally a feather or quill used for writing.

movie binge

About a month ago I rented Talk to Her (Hable Con Ella) on VHS. I forgot that the subtitles would be in Korean. I decided to watch it anyway. I tried to listen carefully to the Spanish and meanwhile I read the Korean. My brain was swimming and I was only picking up fragments. I still don't really know what happened in that film. This evening, I considered renting it again, but quickly talked myself out of it as I realized that I'd jut be torturing myself (again). Instead, I indulged in an old favorite.



I rented To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar just for kicks. There's something about the trio of Wesley Snipes, as Noxeema Jackson, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo as Chi-Chi Rodriguez--ALL IN DRAG FOR THE ENTIRETY OF THE FILM--that tickles me. There's even a part with RuPaul in it. I always say that you can't go wrong with Rupaul (or ODB, may he rest in peace).

I had a brief period where I would repeatedly watch To Wong Foo and Pricilla: Queen of the Desert. Okay, maybe it wasn't so brief, but I just couldn't get enough. Drag Queens on road trips! Boas in the desert, driving in stilettos, introducing small towns to the joys of drag! What more can you ask for? Okay maybe I'm divulging too much info here, but my lowest of lows with the movie binging thing include my extended relationships with Clueless, Blade 2, and (sadly) Bring It On!

I also sometimes go on a spree. Right before coming to Korea I ended up watching all these films with Paul Giamatti playing a middle aged, yet fascinating, loser like in American Splendor, and Sideways.

Other times my movie binges are completely random. I'm having a vivid flashback to a time when I had to pay late fees for two films my sister and I had rented from TLA. I believe the guy behind the counter announced that Juwanna Mann and The Sound of Music were three days late being returned. Ooops... I just wanted to watch Juwanna Mann one more time.

I may have the worst or the most bizarre taste and habits when it comes to movies.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

winter in hongdae


...at the perfect rooftop lounge to watch the snow fall.

Winter is here for sure. Seasons creep up on you in Korea. I was completely unprepared for what Seoul was serving up this Saturday--SNOW! My cute toesies took me to Hongdae to see an art show, and then they almost froze off. Hongade exists, in my mind, as a place of warm fun. It was the backdrop for hot memories. Thus, it was somewhat unsettling to see frost covering my summer chillspot.

The art show, Exposure, was nice... A bunch of funky foreigners with a sprinkle of multilingual natives hovering around boxed wine and mountains of used dixie cups. The main purpose for going was to meet Angelique Kuyper, another Philly native who went to UArts. She's a friend of a friend of my friend from highschool's mother. I met her email address sometime last year and she became one of those aquiantances I sporatically see in my inbox. After our extended distant virtual relationship, it was fabulous to finally meet her in the flesh.



I also made the acquaintance of a lovely woman named Rena. I found myself at Mary Jane's--a bar that in order to find from the park you go towards the university, pass two 7-11s, take a right at the second one, go down the right fork and you find a bit along on the left in the basement. I can't believe anyone ever finds it, particularly drunk people. Anyway, I spotted this lady across the bar and felt that she would be the type that I could pop the question to and get the right response from. The perfect moment was magically created as I emerged from the stall in the bathroom. There she was fixing her hair, adjusting her tube top. So, I asked if she wanted to play with one of my nipples; She was thrilled. I asked if I could take a picture; She readily posed. FABULOUS. My kinda girl.



Then I found this cutie on my way out showing Ji, Phil, and Vic, his nipples. He let me touch one. I figured it was an even trade.



and if you were wondering, yeah... my hair's black (temporarily)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

bottom of the fryer



Okay. What's that?

My guess is that it's something on a stick, possibly a corndog, with fries, and whatever else was laying around, stuck to it. Though I applaud the love of food on a stick in Korea, I haven't built up the nerve to try this one quite yet. Maybe there are some things I can just skip.

Friday, December 02, 2005

failure

Today was great. Significant. Worthy of notice and remembrance. Today was the day I signed a contact for a job to work at a university in Seoul. This feels like an accomplishment. I got something I deeply desired and talked about for a long time.

I walked out of the gates of the University the way I walked down 5th Avenue after saying goodbye to my parents when they dropped me off at NYU. Then, I had said to myself, "This is my city now." I felt that I had made it. I reached the place I wanted to be. That feeling is fresh, hopeful, confident, and rare.

On the day of graduation I felt it too, but it was different. I was 23 getting my master's degree. I've said it before, it was the single most exciting and simultaneously the most frightening moment of my life. I had attained something I felt was great and felt the overwhelming pressure of having to do something significant and worthwhile next. I would have to continue to achieve or I'd die from the thought that I'd wasted all that time, effort, and money I and other people had invested in me.

I didn't gracefully move into a high paying glamorous job, lifestyle, and a fabulous apartment to go with it. Instead, my year in Brooklyn was spent grieving. I was mourning my previous existence and my old life. I had died a bit, actually a lot, and I simply existed. When I wasn't numb, I didn't feel much other than regret. Regret is the worst feeling to hold in your heart.

And upon reaching this place and time in my life, I walk forward, remembering my greatest failures and moments of rejection(an eight foot bubblegum machine, an attempt at being a curator, a pathetic public access show). I hope that I truly learned from them. I remember all the moments when I felt so immensely "less than" and humiliated. I look to the ways I eventually picked myself up after being dragged along on my face and hope that this won't turn into a situation where that will be necessary.