“You’re Crazy.”

Tonight Good Man and I were practicing the -기 때문에 form of Korean. It’s a reason form, though nobody can explain to me how it’s different from -서 or -(으)니까.

Anyhow, Good Man said, “시헙 다가오니까 같이 공부하다.” Since the test is coming soon, let’s study together.

“미안해. 포주를 위해 일하기 때문에 공부하면 안 돼. 포주는 화가 날거야.”

What?”

“포주 is ‘pimp,’ right?”

“Yes,” Good Man shook his head.

“Is the sentence correct?”

“Yes, but you’re crazy.”

I’m sorry. Because I have to work for my pimp, I can’t study. My pimp would get angry.

Other Race Face Problem

A draft I started (and never finished) 15 October 2006, after my first taekwondo tournament:

While I was sitting there, looking at everyone, taking photos and so on, I was reminded of some discussions we had in my education graduate courses (my program was very big on multicultural education) about the other-race face problem. This problem often comes into play with eye witnesses. In short, people more easily recognize and identify faces of their own race than those of other races.

When we started student teaching, some of the (white) women in class complained that all of the kids looked the same (we were teaching in primarily black schools, some with a high percentage of Latino students, as well). Of course, after teaching for a while, the white teachers started to recognize black faces.

But today I was looking at these Korean faces, seeing how different each one is. And I wondered how much of the other-race face problem could be overcome by where one lives, and what one experiences.

Let’s Get Married

I want to preface this by saying that the fact that I’m even posting this annoys me. But I need to get this out of my system, even though doing so makes me annoy myself. ㅋㅋ

The bold type hits the main points, so you don’t even need to read my annoyingness. If you’re interested at all, you can just skim. Isn’t that nice?

So… a week ago, I was freaking out about planning a wedding and wedding porn was really, really consuming me. Wedding porn, for those who have not consumed it, is pretty evil. (I will save my rant about the diamond industry for…well, I’ll just save it unless someone says they want to hear it.)

In the last week or so, a bunch of stuff just sort of fell into place.

Budget, done. And more importantly, doable.

We’re getting married 11 July 2009 in the early afternoon at Mark’s Lover’s house. He has hosted two weddings before, the smaller one four times larger than ours, the larger one six. Our wedding will be smaller than his parties. Hee hee.

We are having a Quaker-style ceremony (Mark has agreed to MC it) followed by the pyebaek (Korean bowing into the man’s family ceremony, though we’re doing it to both sets of parents, his parents will probably get a slightly longer, more formal ceremony). We found a place that says they can do our Quaker-style certificate bilingually. And if it turns out they can’t, we can do it ourselves and get it printed.

Rings will be these Claddaghs. (My engagement ring is the Claddagh I wear, but that’s a post for another day.) Note to self: 7.5 and 11.5 probably.

Dress? We’re wearing our hanboks!

Guest list is done, and we’re limiting invitations to immediate family (inclusive of grandparents) and close friends only, which means the list is 30 people.

Flowers, we’ve decided on this idea. Good Man thinks it’s cool that we can save the flowers forever, Mom likes that it looks “Asian.”

Centerpieces, we’re (trying!) to get photos of all of the guests at various ages and putting them in inexpensive, simple black frames, labeled on the top and bottom with the guest’s name(s) in English and Korean. If they want to take them home afterwards as favors, go ahead. If not, whatever.

Music, MP3s, and we can hook the iPod straight into Mark’s Lover’s speaker system. Good Man and I have already started making music lists on our private wedding wiki (yes, a private wedding wiki. I know. We are geeks).

We’re probably doing casual bilingual photo invitations. Otherwise just a written letter! (By the way, trying to get anything bilingual with a different alphabet is a major, major pain in the butt.)

Food, mostly figured out, heavy appetizers. Cakes, cup- and rice-.

Oh, and rentals? Mark’s Lover has friends who own a catering company, so that’s done.

Sister has agreed to read “Love is a Green Life,” and Johnny has, too, though he has no idea what it is.

Vows, will be bilingual (that will be some sort of practice, I tell you), and nothing to worry about now.

The only thing we haven’t really figured out is a photographer, and we’re just not worried about that yet.

And we need to block off hotel rooms for guests, but we’ll do that closer to the date.

We’ve started researching visa matters for Good Man. We’ve discovered that since we got engaged on a student visa, he probably shouldn’t leave the country now. Oh my…but that’s OK. We have a clearer idea of what that mess will entail.

I know a bunch of people getting married in the next two years and they think we’re nuts for deciding so much already. Well…they’ll have their weddings their way, and we’ll have ours our way.

My wedding library books are getting returned soon. I’m done with wedding porn.

Sister and Korean Saturday

Yesterday was Korean Saturday. After dealing with the car, I was trying to figure out if we were going to go to the Korean language Meetup, or if I was too tired to go.

Good Man asked, “혼자 가고 싶어?” Do you want to go alone?

I teased him. “새 한국 남자 친구를 만나고 싶어해?” Do you want me to meet a new boyfriend?

He laughed, “걱정하지않아..왜냐하면. 나 제일 잘생겼어.” I’m not worried, because I’m the most handsome guy.

***
Later I ended up watching the “Say Uncle” episode of CSI. It’s about a shooting in Koreatown, and I was tickled at how much Korean I understood, how I “got” the “culture” before the CSIs did, and how I could tell a Korean-Korean accent from an American-Korean accent.

***
When Master insisted I get a Cyworld page, he also insisted I install NateOn. NateOn is the most popular Korean chatting program (which I’m sure installs tons of spyware on my system). I installed it, but when we used it, I couldn’t see Korean. I simply saw boxes. Oddly enough, I could copy and paste the boxes into a text file and the words would appear. And when I typed in Korean, I couldn’t see anything…but Master could.

Good Man fixed this problem by doing some computer magic. At last, I could chat. And then, a few months later, they released an English version. I’m stubbornly sticking with the Korean version since it helps my Korean.

One of the great things about NateOn is that I can chat with Sister. And chat we did last night.

I told her about Good Man setting the jjimbbang (vegetable bun) on fire.

Later, she showed me how to choose different avatars to go with my name, including a jjimbbang avatar! I love NateOn’s little avatars, because they’re so Korean: a soju bottle and shot glass, fish cakes on a stick, rice cake, jjimbbang.

We had a lot of fun over Good Man’s microwave madness, and since I want to write up that story in Korean, it was nice to chat with her about it. I now have a base written.

I also asked Sister to do something for our wedding. (Note: ㅋㅋㅋ and 하하 and 히히 are all forms of laughing.)

Me: [Sister], 우리 결혼식에서 읽어줘.
Please read at our wedding.

Sister: 어떤것을?
What kind of reading?

Me: “사랑은 초록빛 생명,” 김소엽이야.
It’s “Love is a Green Life,” Kim So-yeop.

Sister: 와우! 아만다 대단해요~ 그 시인도 알고!
Oh wow! Amanda, wonderful~ you know that poet!

Me: 결혼식때 읽어줄래요? 한국어 읽고 내 남동생이 영어 통역 읽고싶어요.
Will you read it at our wedding? We want you to read it in Korean and my little brother to read it translated into English.

Sister: 좋아요! 기뻐요~ 그리고..감동적일꺼같아요.
[Something] is good! [Something] is happy, and…it will be very touching.

[I have no idea if she meant I am good/happy, the poem is good/happy, the idea is good/happy, or she is good/happy with the poem. Korean is a high-context language, and this sentence is too high-context for me, apparently.]

Me: ^^

Sister: 아만다의 아이디어 맞죠? 오빠는 이런거 잘 몰라요ㅋ
Amanda, this your idea, right? [Good Man] doesn’t know much about these sorts of things.

Me: ㅋㅋㅋ

Me: [굿 맨]도 “복종” (한용운) 좋아하자민 읽으면, 내 엄마가 걱정해. 왜냐하면 “복종 복종 복종” 많이 있어. 난 미국 사람인데 미국 친구와 가족…아…불편한편일거야.
[Good Man] wants to read “Obedience” (Han Yong-Woon), but if we were to read that, my mother would worry, because it has “obedience, obedience, obedience” so much. I am American and my American friends and family…uh…it would be rather uncomfortable.

Sister: 하하하하하! ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ

Friday the 14th

What in the world went wrong in mine last night?

Paging the Pope…
Mark got a house. After months and months of putting in offers, he got a house. During school I emailed He Who Is Harder to Reach Than the Pope (that would be Mark) and we made plans to meet.

Ghost Microwave

I got home from school and Good Man told me something was wrong with the microwave. He cleared the microwave time, then closed the door.

The microwave ran. Sort of.

It was running at about half power and the turntable was turning at about half speed.

I put some time on the clock and pressed START. It ran at full power for the time…and then half power.

We unplugged it. Plugged it back in, closed the door…and it went on.

And while it was running, it was letting off a burning plastic smell.

Time for a new microwave. Maybe getting rid of this one will help rid of the house of the stale smoke smell, anyhow.

Damn Motorcades
Good Man and I headed over to Mark’s house, using our new GPS system.

It took two hours. The entire two hours, my GPS system kept claiming his house was ten minutes away.

Two hours. Damn DC motorcades.

Two hours with a stick. My legs were shaking when we finally arrived and Good Man really needs to learn how to drive.

Carpet Staples
At Mark’s, we removed carpet staples. He has this house from 1920 which is going to look beautiful when it’s done, but some previous owner had covered up beautiful hardwood floors with carpet. Why do people do that?

Mark’s Lover was there until he got paged into work, and the four of ate pizza and worked and (Mark and I especially) chatted.

I ended up working on the foyer post-pizza. It was real, nailed-to-the-floor parquet flooring (not that plastic junk) and so beautiful. The staples were so haphazardly done that it seemed like the stapler had been having sex with the staple gun. I did a good job of getting rid of a lot of the staples, if I do say so myself.

Quaker Goodness
During a beer break (which I worked through because I was really getting into removing staples; must be pent-up taekwondo energy), we discussed the wedding ceremony since Mark has agreed to be our unofficial-officiant/best man/man of honor at our Quaker-style wedding, which will be held at Mark’s Lover’s house. Good Man and I are feeling really good about how it’s going to work. And we don’t have to pay a stranger hundreds of dollars to officiate our wedding (that is such a stupid part of American weddings—paying someone else—often someone you’ve only met a few times if you’re not a religious person, to make you legal). No officiant interviews! What a relief!

We were at Mark’s house for about 3 1/2 hours, and a half a block from home I could suddenly feel my car pulling really strongly to the right.

Not Again!
In the driveway, we discovered…another flat.

Argggg!

We left it last night since it was midnight and raining and changed the tire today. Good news: it took half as long as last time! 31 mins flat (har har). Maybe I have a new job as tire changer/carpet staple remover.

The bad news? Halfway through changing the tire, I realized that the company that usually does towing in this complex also does free assistance for minor things for residents.

I rolled my eyes and said to Good Man in Korean (since Saturday is now Korean day), “바보야.” I’m an idiot.

But…I’m an idiot who can change a tire in half an hour or so now. That’s probably less time than the wait time for most roadside assistance calls. And now I know where to jack the rear and front tires.

Staples, Part II
We headed to the car place I go to, but before we left, I took off my shoe. All night and morning something had been running against my foot. I shook the shoe, and nothing came out. I turned it over to discover a carpet staple in the sole of my shoe, which explains why the corresponding spot on the sole of my foot hurts.

Fancy Seeing You Here
We dropped the car off and crossed the street to grab some lunch when we heard a car honk. It was Mark’s (now inappropriately named) Roommate!

Oh, That’ll Do It
After our lunch, the car place guys showed me the tear in the tire. It’s torn at the sidewall, and I know where and when it happened last night in DC, too, when I didn’t realize I couldn’t make the turn I thought I could, and I hit a curb. How many times have I hit a curb before without any damage?

That will be $80 or so, on Monday, since they had to order the tire.

And Another $70
After lunch, I had grabbed some Fix-a-Flat and windshield wiper fluid at Advanced Auto Parts. After the guy had torqued the spare tire to the right torquiness, he poured my windshield wiper fluid for me. In the meantime, he examined my antifreeze.

Yeah, it was filthy.

He said, “When was the last time you had this flushed?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever done it, and I got this car 6 years and 45,000 miles ago.”

“Yeah, that should really be done.”

So there’s another $70. (I asked Mom later, and she knows she’s never had it done.)

While I was on a spending spree, I decided to ask them to see why my dome light is out, since it’s been out for…uh…years. They said they’d do that for free at least.

Ah, the joys of car ownership.

Oh well.

By Noon
We headed of to Target, got a new microwave (in black cherry red!) and enjoyed the rest of the day in peace. At least one bad event after another was over by noon today.

I Almost Break a Student’s Teeth and Tell Another One I Love Him

Untied
So. I almost broke a student’s teeth today. Possibly his nose.

You know how boring adults always say “Tie you’re shoelaces or you’ll trip”?

Well, I’ve never tripped with untied shoes, and I’ve never seen another person trip, either. (I did, however, once tumble all the way down an escalator because a shoelace got caught between the moving stairs and the wall. Damn, that hurt. I was with my father and he was terrified, I remember.)

Today, my students and I were walking up the stairs. At the very bottom of the steps, I stepped on Cat’s Eyes’ shoelaces. (He has the most gorgeous eyes you’ve ever seen. Just like a cat’s eye stone.)

Cat’s Eye fell forward, nearly doing a face plant into the stairs. Had he not broken his fall with his hands, he surely would’ve broken a nose or chipped a tooth. In the meantime, his shoe flew up into the air and hit the wall.

“Are you OK?” I asked, worried.

“Yeah, I’m OK.”

“Are you sure? Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, [Cat’s Eye].”

“Yeah, I’m OK.”

We both laughed, somewhat nervously over what could have happened.

Not Mute
In other news, I have a very, very quiet child in my class. I know some people are thinking, “I was a quiet child.”

Not as quiet as this one. Sometimes we need to make sure he is breathing. This child never shows emotion. He’s Not Mute…just…very, very quiet.

At the beginning of the year he spoke in my class, but only when I asked him to and always with eye contact. Not Mute also used to sneak around and write things like “have a terrible day” on the white board.

In the last few months he’s started making more eye contact. Several weeks ago I asked him to erase the white board. I turned around a few moments later and found him standing at the white board.

On it he’d written “[NOT MUTE] IS FAMOUS!”

I said, “I need to take your picture. Stay there.”

I grabbed my camera and he just stared blankly at me. I said, “Smile, please.” He hammed it up. He made shocked faces, smiling faces, angry faces. I wish I could post the photos here.

Last week, he raised his hand five questions in a row in language arts. I was so utterly shocked that I called on him three times and each time he had the right answer. I gave him a good behavior note to take home.

And Wednesday! In social studies we were doing a review on the overhead. I was reading the paragraphs, pausing at the blanks so the students could chime in with the key words.

Not Mute didn’t seem to be paying attention and I said, “[Not Mute!] Do you want to come up here and teach?”

He gave me his blank, emotionless look and then nodded as a grin lit up his face. He practically bounced over to the overhead and took over. He read loudly and clearly, at a good pace, pausing perfectly to wait for the students. He didn’t take advantage of his “teacher” status at all. When he was done with his paragraph, he politely called on another student.

I was shocked. I told a few other teachers who work with him as well, and they were shocked.

That afternoon, one of the teachers who works with him came into my class to talk about the drama club.

Yesterday…Not Mute…joined…the drama club.

If the Soon-to-Be-Gone President wants to see shock and awe, he should visit my school.

Today was drama club, and on my way out of the school I poked my head in the door. Sure enough, there was Not Mute. In drama club.

“[Not Mute]!” I yelled, so he’d turn around, “You showed up. I love you!”

He made eye contact with me, nodded his head and silently put his hands against his cheeks, grinning a goofy grin.

Damn. Damn.

A Blessing?

Sometimes, when parents (always parents) find out I don’t want to join their club, they tell me, “But kids are such a blessing!”

And then I read articles like this one. Some choice bits (all emphasis mine).

Neb. parents rush to leave kids before law changes

By NATE JENKINS, Associated Press Writer

LINCOLN, Neb. – The mother was running out of more than patience when she abandoned her 18-year-old daughter at a hospital over the weekend under Nebraska’s safe-haven law. She was also running out of time: She knew that state lawmakers would soon meet in a special session to amend the ill-fated law so that it would apply to newborns only.

“Where am I going to get help if they change the law?” said the mother, who lives in Lincoln and asked to not be identified by name to protect her adopted child.

To the state’s surprise and embarrassment, more than half of the 31 children legally abandoned under the safe-haven law since it took effect in mid-July have been teenagers.

And

Sure enough, 18 teenagers — five 17-year-olds, two 16-year-olds, six 15-year-olds, two 14-year-olds, three 13-year-olds — have been abandoned, along with eight children who were 11 or 12. Five of the children dropped off have been from out of state.

Major Surplus and Survival

Five years ago I spent $12 on a Swedish military coat from Major Surplus and Survival.

I loved that coat.

I still love that coat, actually. But it’s dying. There is a small hole in the gusset, the sleeves are getting frayed, a button keeps coming off, the stitches around the buttonholes is nearly shot…

It has these beautiful buttons, the three crowns of the Swedish army. In the lining it has the King’s crown and what appears to be a date: 1946.

Ahh, that coat. I’m keeping it until the day I can afford to have it redone in new wool by a tailor for me.

Anyhow, I bought the coat five years ago and the store ran out of stock shortly thereafter.

I was looking at the website again and they had a similar coat.

I ordered the coat (now up to $13). When I got it, it had six pockets, not the four that the ad claimed it would have.

I called the company and they said that when they get surplus, they label it all in one general category, and the styles may vary slightly.

They then looked for the breast pocketless coat for me. They had none in medium or large, but several in extra-large. Unfortunately, the large is still fairly large for me, so I’m not getting an extra-large.

So this company didn’t exactly give me what I wanted. But they took two phone calls and returned both phone calls quickly and cheerfully. They also didn’t act like I was an idiot for wanting them to look through 700 coats.

So if you want some military surplus, go with them!

The new coat, while it has breast pockets, has some neat features that my old one didn’t, including smaller buttons inside of each pocket to keep the pockets closed and several smaller liner pockets. The buttons have an anchor this time. There are red bits on the lapel. And in one pocket I found a slip of paper. It reads “1943 Vapenrock m/42.”

New Coat

Silly Me

“Oh, America!”

Good Man could not figure out why I was freaking out about planning a wedding.

So I dragged the Good Man to a library. We got books. I dragged him onto the internet. We looked at “typical” American weddings. I dragged him onto the couch with a list of “things to do before the wedding.”

“OK, let’s go through this.”

“OK,” he nodded.

We went through the list. Stopping.

“What’s a best man?”

“The groom’s best friend who does stuff for him. He stands in a suit,” I answered.

“So, you want Mark right? I don’t need anyone. OK, that’s easy,” Good Man said.

Later, “What’s a bridesmaid?”

“A chick who helps the bride, goes dress and shoe shopping and throws the bride parties where you wear toilet paper dresses,” I answered. Good Man stared at me. I could read his mind, “Yeah, it’s Mark,” I said.

Later, “What’s a ring bear—? What’s that? And a flower girl?”

I smiled, “A flower girl drops flower petals on the ground and a ring bearer carries fake rings tied to a pillow down the aisle.”

“Fake rings?”

I nodded.

I wish I had a photo of Good Man’s face then. I could tell he was thinking, And you think Koreans can be odd…

Later, “What’s a rehearsal dinner?”

“You usually rehearse the night before the wedding, and there’s a dinner for the wedding party and out-of-town guests.”

Good Man took my pen and crossed it off the list, “Everyone is from out of town! That’s the wedding!”

And then, “Buy gifts for each other? For who?” Good Man shrugged.

“We buy gifts for each other,” I said, “Hey, aren’t our families supposed to buy each other really expensive gifts for a Korean wedding?”

Good Man shook his head, “We are not doing that and my mom knows. No! I hate that!”

“Good,” I answered.

After we went through four pages of this, crossing out at least half of what the Wedding Industrial Complex deems as “necessary,” I said, “OK! Four pages down. Now we’re on the day-of checklist!”

Good Man shook his head, “Oh, America! Oh, America!” I laughed and he said, “No! We are not doing all of this! This is so American! Make junk, sell junk!” He wailed, “No! This is not what we want!”

I touched his hand. “I know, I know. But when I freak out and ask you a dozen times if it’s OK that we’re skipping some ‘important part’ of the wedding, I just want you to understand where I’m coming from. I want a small, non-traditional wedding, but for 28 years, this is how I’ve been trained to think a wedding should be.”

Good Man nodded, “OK. But we are not typical.”