Sunday, September 30, 2007

weekend blah

Krafty Kuts played at Air, the old Garden in Apgujung, on Saturday night. The renovations make the place look completely different, but I liked the old space. It was fun to jump around and dance with Haelan, to shake it with Charles, and catch up with random friends I bumped into, but the drinks were way overpriced (20 bucks for a mojito, I don't think so) and it got kinda dull after a bit.
What ended up being the highlight of our Apgujung outing, and the whole night overall, was being ghetto fabulous and ridiculous in front of the Haagen-Dazs with Jackie. A can of silly string was involved.

We decided to head back to good 'ole Itaewon to see what was going on. Turns out that Homo Hill was the place to be in Seoul on Saturday night. It was like the Gay Pride Parade that Korea had never seen before. And still, I wasn't very entertained. I continued to drink, thinking that would help to make things more exciting. It just made me more drunk and annoyed.
When I woke up sometime in the early afternoon I felt the full effects of last night's experience. My organs were mad at me. All of my dreams were about food, large amounts of food. I woke up hungry... thinking that I might have been better off staying home, reading my book, and eating ice cream.

I feel at times that my life is simply a collection of distractions (drinking, watching movies, going to another party where I see most of the same people, facebook) or irritating necessities (work, taking public transportation here or there, to do lists, email, etc.) and the only real bits are the few hours a week I spend doing yoga, running, or dreaming.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Chuseok was pretty uneventful by Korean standards. I didn't go anywhere, didn't get stuck spending time with any in-laws I'd rather not see, didn't eat any Korean food, didn't get stuck in any traffic. Instead, Charles, Ms. Zaza, and I joined Leo at Ape with Pipe for a nice brunch.

It was one of the few restaurants open during the holiday. THANK YOU Leo!

After we ate Zaza and I took a stroll up Namsan and found ourselves at the botanical garden with a bottle of red. This turned out to be a great idea, which then made us come up with another great idea--to make dinner and call up a whole bunch of people. Somehow in less than 2 hours we pulled off grocery shopping, tidying, making two pasta dishes, a big salad, rosemary potatoes, and baking a cake for a group of about 18 guests (give or take a few). Pretty good Chuseok if I might say so myself.

what the...?

Why did they do this to their dog? The dog probably has a complex.

I've seen this before. I feel bad for dogs in Korea.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Update: Trance & Queens to Love

Back in the beginning of 2005, when this blog was in its infancy, I somehow found myself at Trance, a bar in Itaewon with a fun show of boys who have transformed themselves into fierce women on parade. Now that I've moved to Itaewon, I find myself there on a regular basis. I've seen queens come and go, wigs that needed to go with the last queen that left, and I even built up the courage once to venture into that scary little room they call a bathroom up in there.
About a month ago I ran into this queen in front of Queen (the bar), but she wasn't all queened up, in fact she was just Jimmy. There's something quite delicate and striking about his face that makes him unforgettable. He used to perform at Trance years ago, but now he's PUCK in the Donkey Show!

The Donkey Show is now in Seoul playing at a theater in Daehagno. If you haven't seen it, go! It's a disco version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, IN KOREAN. They translated all the songs and it's all performed in the round; like you're in a club. And Jimmy's in it. Jimmy studied ballet and he does pirouettes in those boots. It's a sight worth seeing.

On that first cold night to Trance I met Ely and a his Korean friend. This angelic Korean man paid my cover charge, danced with me all night, and then basically disappeared. One night months and months and months later, I saw him again and he reintroduced himself, as Bada (on the left above with headphones), the boyfriend of the ever so adored Keith (right, pictured above with white sunglasses)! Crazy.
I know that Trance isn't for everyone, but I love it. Femininity is such a performance. These "ladies" have mastered the art of creating that illusion and then they have a lot more fun with it by, at times, going a bit overboard with it. I always feel like I have so much to learn from them about life; about hair, make up, and costume; and about being a woman and loving every moment of it.

Trance & Queen are next to each other on "Homo Hill" in Itaewon. From Itaewon station go out of exit #3. Walk straight till the next intersection and make a right. Make a left at the second street and walk up the super steep hill. They are in the middle of the block on the left.

Friday, September 21, 2007

i love the cleaning lady

Charles and I thought it would be best for our roommate relations if we got a cleaning lady. And it has done more than make things run smoothly around the apartment. All that noise I usually have in my head about how I need to do this or that or the laundry or scrub the tub--it's all gone! Each week, when I come home on Tuesday afternoon my bed is perfectly made, the whole place sparkles and smells clean, everything is perfectly lined up (like the forks in the cutlery drawer) neat and tidy, and I fall in love with my apartment and the cleaning lady all over again.

Last week she organized the clothes in my closet and folded everything in a manner which made me never want to touch them ever again. Who needs to wear a t-shirt when you can just admire it happily sitting in a perfect stack in the closet?

Thanks cleaning lady, you're the best.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


If you haven't noticed, I collect OinK (Only in Korea) moments and memorabilia. Here's one for the archives that I find quite disturbing:

These kids are chasing after a truck that's spraying pesticides.

Film Noir

Last night we caught a film from the Fritz Lang Film Festival at the Seoul Art Cinema. We saw You Only Live Once, a movie from 1937 with Sylvia Sidney and Henry Fonda. I enjoyed seeing an old film in a theater and a lot of moments were so corny and dated I had to laugh out loud at how different things are in movies (and life) today.

The theater was a bit difficult to find, it's one of those venues that's right in front of your face but still hard to locate, but the map at Seoul Selection is somewhat helpful. One of the things I'd like to leave to Korea, other than real pedestrian sidewalks, is cross streets--ones you can use in directions, so you can say things like, "Meet me at 4th and Insadong Street." Oh in another universe...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I found out earlier this year that blueberries are a "superfood," meaning they are super good for you. They have lots of antioxidants so they help to fight cancer. They've also been said to stop the aging process and to keep your brain healthy. Raspberries and blackberries are good for you too. I love them in tarts, in smoothies, and on their own as a snack.

Berries to Koco are like spinach to Popeye. This was my breakfast yesterday: a Dutch style blueberry pancake, made in the oven, with powdered sugar and blueberries on top. Super YUM.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

ridiculous in hongdae

One way or another, somehow, somewhat against my will and totally against my better judgment, I ended up at a luxury noraebang (singing room) in Hongdae, with a belly full of kalbi (meat) and a cocktail in hand. It was late, way late, but Leo and I had all intentions of indulging in our ultimate guilty pleasure: being cheesy and loving a large unhealthy dose of JT. After singing Sexy Back a few too many times, I broke out Fly Me to the Moon, my personal best when it comes to Korean noraebang songs, and then it was really time to go home.

We stopped in a convenience store before catching a cab, and that's when I realized that I didn't have my wallet. I traced my steps and it was nowhere to be found. The good news is that I didn't flip out. I just went home and canceled all my cards, then stayed up with Charles and laughed a whole bunch about ideas for an upcoming themed event we're planning. All good.

However... The moral of the story: NO MORE NORAEBANGS! Don't get sucked in when you know you should just go home. They're ridiculous.

Monday, September 17, 2007

pedicures for 4

Pronails in Itaewon is a fun salon to go with friends to get your nails done mostly because they ALWAYS have OnStyle on the tv. All the ladies in the place seem to have something to say about whatever show is playing whether it's The Biggest Loser or The Search for the Next Doll. They also have Cosmo in English. Not that I read Cosmo often, but it's a nice thing to be able to pick it up and understand the articles.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

KOOP Obsessed

Charles and I went to the Walkerhill Hotel on Saturday to see KOOP, and now we're hooked. The two main members are Swedish cross-dressers who do jazzy lounge music and stuff that sounds like you might be at a cocktail party from the 50's. It's super sexy and I love it!

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era. We had so much fun. Charles had been playing KOOP all week to prepare us for the event. I had "Come to me" stuck in my head. When they played it as the finale, their last encore song, I couldn't have been happier.

Now, if you see me on the street bopping along happily that's because I'm listening to KOOP (or Amy Winehouse), imagining a much different reality where there are much better outfits for everyone.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Zelen wine party

Zaza and I went to the wine party at Zelen, the Bulgarian restaurant in Itaewon, on Friday night. There was a dress code--black. The majority of the people were dressed as advised and a few even put together impressive outfits. Soojin, the owner gave out prizes, including one for the best dressed member of the Zelen wine club.

Early in the evening everyone was behaving themselves, being cordial, and keeping to their own small groups of comrades. As the night continued on, and people took advantage of the all-you-can-drink benefits of the party, people started to be a lot more friendly--A LOT MORE FRIENDLY.

At one point I found myself in a circle of women where one was touching the next inappropriately. And the peak of this bizarre collection of gropes was marked by the tongue of a certain bar owner we all know and love in Zaza's cleavage.
I met a some interesting characters and drank a whole bunch. The night started to get fuzzy, I ended up at B1, then at Queen, then some other random gay bar in Itaewon, and then in McDonald's (I NEVER GO TO McDONALD'S) with Charles and a stolen umbrella (which we returned to its rightful owner). Strange night. Good, but strange.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dinner @ Dan's

Thursday, a dinner party at Dan's!

Dan is officially my favorite new person. He has great taste--in wine, food, etc.-- and is one of those characters who does everything. Dan is a fun, artsy, intellectual... he's fascinating.

He made some really fantastic food. We moved through the meal in courses. First a simple DIY bruschetta and some edamame. Next was a salad with toasted almonds, pears, and a honey balsamic dressing. The main course was a salmon curry with green beans on cous cous. Three bottles of red later we had chocolate cake (by Zaza) and played some wii. I didn't think I'd ever say this, but playing that wii was tons of fun.
I think we are going to have to make this dinner party thing a weekly event. It was so so so good.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ape with Pipe

I met up with the Nabi ladies for dinner at Ape with Pipe.

They all had quiche. I had scallops. That place makes me feel like I'm not even in Korea. This Mediterranean restaurant is tucked into the corner of Itaewon. It's one of those places that I want to thrive, but don't want to tell everyone about, because then it won't be easy to get seats. They play nice music and make you float off to another place. It's definitely a great date spot, though a little on the pricey end.

Yellow Submarine

Mr. C and I stopped by the The Yellow Submarine for their grand opening. This new hot sandwich shop comes to you from the same people who own Indigo in Haebongcheon. For their first day open Joe had free beer and cake, made by the lovely Zaza, for everyone. The lemon cake had marshmallow and pineapple in the middle, which was surprisingly tasty.I was eager to see the place open since the Nabi ladies had spent all week painting it.
I've only tried one of their sandwiches, the chicken cheddar, but it was quite nice, reasonably priced and comes with those great kettle chips.
The Yellow Submarine is located across the street from Noksapyeong Station, exit one. When you exit walk straight for a long block to the underpass. You will see The Yellow Submarine across the busy street as you walk towards the underpass. Take the stairs on the right going up out of the underpass. It's about a half a block up the street. Can't miss it, it's big and yellow!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

week in review

I filled the days of this past week with lots of my favorite things and the universe sprinkled a few lovely surprises on top to make it, overall, phenomenal.
On Monday, I went with a friend to a fashion event to celebrate Ji Haye and welcome her design house to Seoul from Paris. The party was at her studio in Samcheongdong, one of my absolute favorite areas in Korea for its chic contemporary sensibility mixed with traditional architecture and landmarks. The people in attendance included models, diplomats, well-known actresses, filmmakers, and the like. The champagne was flowing, the people were fascinating, there were cameras at every turn, and the clothes.... OH! THE CLOTHES! Ji Haye designed some beautiful garments. Her focus in Seoul is on high fashion wedding dresses and men's wear. I fell in love with one of the bags she had and a couple of her jackets. I left quite inspired, and very much in awe.

On Tuesday, the cleaning lady came. I love my new apartment and coming home to it sparkling clean and tidy made it feel like a palace. For the first time in years I LOVE my apartment.

On Wednesday, after a "long day" of work (two 75 min. classes), I had an very enjoyable warm goat cheese and almond salad (that I had been dreaming about all day) and the perfect dinner companion to share it (and my chocolate mousse) with.
On Thursday, I went to an art opening for Nakhee Sung at One and J. Gallery. Upon walking up to the gallery I immediately saw someone I met at the Ji Haye party earlier in the week and a couple of people that I've met before, but haven't seen in some time.
It felt really comforting and made the whole event that much more fabulous. The gallery space itself is quite nice with a patio, two floors, and a couple of rooms on each floor. The electro-alternative/indie pop dj playing was the sister of the artist and the music complimented the visual art well. Sung's abstract paintings looked a lot like circuit boards and a bit influenced by graffiti. Her work has been shown all over the world, including at the Venice Biennale and the Singapore Biennale in 2006, so it was a treat to see a Seoul local who is internationally appreciated. To compliment the art there were some beautiful people in attendance, including a couple of sisters who allowed us to take pictures of them for FMS. The owners of the gallery are fantastic, charming, and fun guys who come off as articulate art professionals but not snobby and aloof weirdos as many often do. All in all my favorite kind of people and exactly the kind of creative environment I thrive in.

Last night, Friday, after a rooftop BBQ, I went to The Spot in Apgujeong. I rarely go south of the river, but it was a lovely night and an experience well worth crossing the Han for. The Spot is a nice venue with a lot of space. It definitely appeals to the locals that like things to at least pretend to be upscale. It's huge in comparison to clubs in Hongdae that stuff hundreds of people into little basements. At The Spot they even have a pool, which is nice, but kind of pointless since I'm sure it probably never gets used. There are many little rooms and places that all seem to be "VIP Areas" but actually aren't. I, once again, randomly bumped into a lot of people I haven't seen or talked to in ages. Like a woman I worked with my first year in Korea and a guy I met my first week in the country. I also ended up meeting lots of new people, exchanged a few cards, and talked to people I don't know, AND actually enjoying the conversations--which is rare.

I had dinner or brunch with my favorite ladies a few times this week. We had tea, made food, ate homemade baked goodies (courtesy of Zaza), watched episodes of America's Next Top Model, discussed future plans for great parties, events, and activities that excite me beyond words. I really love these people in my life.

In the mornings I wake up without an alarm. I have yoga on the rooftop or I go running in my neighborhood before I go to work. The weather has been pleasant, and I've been waking up happy to meet each day. And I wonder, what's in store for next week?

Monday, September 03, 2007

new faces

That funny fall feeling has washed up again. The new semester starts with a bang, 150 new students, meaning 150 new names to remember, new faculty, a new schedule in my pocket, and a new computer on my desk. Hyehwa has changed too, again, with new shops popping up all over the place. A recently opened Krispy Kreme greeted me with a smile as I stepped off the bus. It just showed up over night it seems. Everything feels untainted, crisp, ready to be something different, full of potential, like the first page of a notebook.

But I always say this. I shouldn't get wrapped up in the romantic back-to-school feelings that go along with September. In two weeks it will all be routine. It's the same old thing just packaged in a different container.