The Things You Learn Only After Living Together

Apparently I make ramyeon the wrong way.

Good Man is a blanket destroyer. I have no idea how he does it, but when I wake up in the morning, it looks like a tornado has hit our bed. A tornado I never felt. At least he doesn’t try and push me out of bed all night like he did when we lived in Korea. (That bed was smaller.)

Good Man sleeps in his cloths. Not night clothes, but rather whatever he wore that day.

I have a hell of a lot of yarn. “If you calculate all of the money you spent on yarn, it’s bigger than my computer. Which means if you calculate all of the yarns, it’s bigger than the money we spend on the wedding. Which means you have no reason to argue about how much I’ve spent on my computer.”

Good Man is adept—masterful, even—at dish sculptures.

Photography, the Second Little Pig and 상


A few weeks ago, Good Man and I found a photographer. He’s a hobby photographer, not a professional one, which has its good and bad points. Major good point? His prices are reasonable and affordable! (My dream photographer start at $4,000. I don’t like her work that much!)

We liked him a lot because he didn’t once pull that WIC-y bull like, “This is the Most Important Day of your life Ever and ONLY the Photos will last FOREVER.” That wedding porn guilt stuff gets so tiresome. No, Wedding Industry Pimps, the marriage will last forever.

Anyhow, so I was filling out the photog’s forms, and I felt a little…poor. He had a section where you filled out vendor information.

Caterer: NA, self
DJ/Band: NA, iPod
Videographer: NA
Florist: NA, self
Cake: NA, self
Wedding Consultant/Coordinator: ME!

The night before last, Good Man, Mom and I met Mark, his Lover, Mark’s Dad, and Mark’s Uncle for Korean food. Before we met them, we stopped off at Lotte Mart and bought a traditional Korean table for the pyebaek.

I wanted the table with Hanja characters on it, but I’m pretty sure Good Man had nightmarish visions of me screaming out “年, 一, 美!” He vetoed it. Instead we ended up getting a rather lovely table with men riding horses while carrying bows and arrows. There are mountains and perhaps a river or ocean in the background. The legs of the table fold under and hide under wooden doors.

We could’ve probably rented or borrowed a low Korean table for the pyebaek, but we wanted to own the table. It’s really nice, and after the wedding, we’ll be able to use it!

Mark’s Lover is graciously storing it at his house for us, since we’re having the wedding there.

After dinner, Mom got to see the wedding site, and she gave her hearty approval.

Second Little Pig

Last week I felt like the Second Pig in the Three Little Pigs.

I was outside, collecting fallen sticks for our wedding flowers! Originally, I saw paper flowers done with plastic stems, but we collected real sticks because a) we are cheap and b) I didn’t want plastic stems when there are real sticks in my backyard and c) real, fallen, collected sticks are more environmentally friendly and d) we’re cheap.

Well, Mom and I got the wedding flowers done today!

Good Man chose the colors—red, white, and blue. I complained that they were a bit Fourth of Julyish, but he liked that red, white, and blue are in the American and Korean flags. We don’t have wedding colors, I’m not carrying a bouquet, and I wasn’t even concerned about getting flowers. So I decided it wasn’t important enough to argue about. Some of the WIC-y people I know are horrified at the idea of the colors… but when I saw the colors together, well, they’re beautiful.

We ended up buying one pack each of white, red, green, and blue paper from California Paper Goods because we were having a hard time finding it locally. (Quick shipping, everything was packaged well. Rock on.)

Mom and I ended up buying a bunch of wire (with an attached cutter), some glue, and yellow fabric paint (hello, Amanda of 1989, where is the puffy painted t-shirt?) from Michaels. At Office Depot we found red and green Christmas storage containers on clearance; we needed them to move fabric into so we could use the fabric bins for flower storage.

Mom and I put on some music and got folding. I reverse-engineered the origami from someone’s photos. We have nine sticks of each color, with 3 or 5 blooms on each stick. We shaped each flower slightly differently, though the origami was the same for each.


Mom folded all of the white ones. You can see that she creased two petals.

White Flowers

I made the red ones. I curled back the edges a little bit.

Red Flowers

By the time we finished the white and red flowers, we realized that Mom hated wrapping the flowers onto the branches. So while Mom folded the blue flowers, I worked on wiring the other ones. To finish up the blue flowers, I just tugged them open loosely.

Blue Flowers

The sticks have curves and look really elegant…I just didn’t happen to take any wide angle shots that show the curves! We showed two finished branches to Mother and Sister last night, and they loved them!

We didn’t end up using the green paper, and we still have about a half a pack each left of the other three colors, as well as a heck of a lot of wire, a ton of glue, and half a container of fabric paint. So I have enough to make some flowers for the top of the cupcake stand. I’ll do that later, though.

We stored the flowers in plastic bins, surrounded by tissue I found in my closet.

We ended up folding approximately 100 flowers. We did this over two days, but during the end of today’s session, we both started to go a bit nutty.

“I am sort of hungry,” Mom said.

“No food! If you eat, you’re going to quit folding!”

Mom laughed. But really, she only had a half dozen left to fold at that point!



My mom is in town! She’s met Good Man! She likes him!

Not Mine

I asked some Koreans (on Lang-8) if it was true I shouldn’t call (Good Man’s) Mother 시어머니. I was told that indeed, that’s how I refer to her when she’s not around, but to her face I should call her 어머님 or 어머니.

Well I don’t currently call her 어머 but I didn’t want to be offensive. So when Good Man and I video chatted with Mother and Sister, he asked her what I should call her. He said, “Maybe she can call you by your name.” He was joking of course, but Mother laughed, switched to English and said, “Nope!”

It cracks me up when Mother speaks English because it’s always unexpected.

Anyhow, she told me that 어머님 made her feel too old, would I feel comfortable calling her 어머니 or 어머? Sure, Mother. Or Mom, as the case may be.

My Father’s

My father’s mother is awesome. I asked her to please send some photos of her and Grandpa, at any age. I need them for a project. Grandma sent three original photos from their wedding, August 7th, 1948.

A few months ago, Grandpa and I were talking on the phone and I asked how he proposed to Grandma. He said, “Fearfully!” It was so sweet to hear how they met while he was in the military, and how he proposed…to see the photos from their wedding was a real treat.

Those gloves, those shoes, that hat! And my grandparents look just like they did then. And they look at each other like they did then, too.

Writing and Reading at my Korean Level

Warning: This post is probably of interest to nobody.

Recently I’ve been studying Korean using a variety of methods. I’ve been working on the Sogang books, and I’ve just moved on to level 3B. I’ve been reading Aesop’s Fables in Korean. I’ve been doing the readings for the Meetups we go to. I’ve occasionally gone through KoreaTimes’ LearningTimes website to pick up some phrases. I’ve been writing on Lang-8. About twice a month, I chat with Sister online. I’ve been using WordChamp’s flashcards to practice 50 words a day most days of the week. And I’ve been watching a little too much We Got Married.

All of these activities are overlapping in ways I didn’t expect.

I have 1500 words on my WordChamp list. I get tested on 50 words a day using some sort of Leitner system algorithm. It’s a free program.

Several weeks ago 기온, temperature came up. Yeah, that’s useful, I thought, I know how to say ‘5 degrees, so why do I need ‘temperature?’

폭포 also showed up. When was I ever going to need to know “waterfall?” Last night I was making flashcards for the new Sogang lesson and wouldn’t you know it…I greeted my old friends 폭포 and 기온.

A few months ago, 하 (decline) showed up on the flashcard list. Days later, at the Korean Meetup, we read an article with 추 (airplane crash). From KoreaTimes LearningTimes, I learned 폭, which is when stocks fall very quickly. You’ll notice the 락 in all of those.

락 as a Chinese root (落) means fall, omit, or scatter.

You’ll also notice that 락 (stocks declining rapidly), 포 (waterfall), and 탄 (bomb, another one from WordChamp) have 폭 in them. I looked them up in the Hanja dictionary and found this.

Notice that first Hanja. See how it’s nearly the same in all three words? It means “cruel, suddenly.” In the first word it retains that meaning.

In the second word, waterfall, we’ve added three little lines to the left side. Those mean “water.”

In the third example, for bomb, we’ve added 火. That makes a whole new Chinese character, 爆, which means “explode.” Now, that 火 comes from 화, which is fire, which is where we get 화요일 (Tuesday, “fire day”) and 화산/火山/fire mountain/volcano.

Oh my kimchi, this excites me for some reason. The fact that I realized that these words might have something in common, that I even wanted to poke around… Good Man just looks at me like I’m nuts when I start digging around through my Hanja vocab book and the online Hanja dictionaries.

So then 가난 (poverty) came up on the flashcard system. A few days (weeks?) later, I ran into it in Aesop’s Fables. “가난하지만 착하고 부지런한 나무꾼이 살고 있었습니다.” Translated into normal-sounding fairy tale English, Once upon a time there lived a poor but nice, diligent woodcutter.

In the same story (나무꾼과 헤르메스, which is a tale that seems to have a Korean equivalent, 금도끼, 은도끼) I found 빠뜨리다 (fall into water), which just happened to be one of that week’s Sogang vocabulary words.

I picked up loyal (충성스러운) from WordChamp. And then I realized that the root verb must be 충성스럽다. Around this time, I was also studying using Declan’s vocabulary software. And that got me thinking about 사랑스럽다 (loving) and 걱정스럽다 (anxious). I decided that -스럽다 must mean something (like, quality of), and that furthermore, it must be used with words that have a batchim. Well, it turns out I was right, as an article published today proves. (Good Man can vouch for the fact that I figured this out long before today.) As a side note, I picked up “loving” and “anxious” in Aesop’s.

거짓말쟁이 is liar, and it’s one of those words I “learned” in Sogang years ago. Except I never did. Well, it’s shown up in my flashcards, and in Aesop’s, and I got to use it last week when chatting with Master.

The -쟁이 part of the word also got me thinking. “Liar” is 거짓말쟁이 and “greedy” is 욕심쟁이. -쟁이 is like -monger in English.

적이다 also makes adjectives our of nouns. 이국적이다 (exotic) is in this week’s Sogang words. 적극적이다 (active, human/aggressive) was a Sogang word a few months ago, along with 활동적이다 (active, human or thing). 보수적이다 (conservative) is a word that keeps coming up in WordChamp.

(Oh, and that 심 in 욕심 is the 心, which is also in

심리학 (psychology, one of last lesson’s Sogang words),
결심 (determination, one of WordChamp’s words),
흑심 (evil intentions),
조심 (cautious, and old Sogang word),
관심(이있다, a Sogang word, concern),
열심이다 (to be earnest, a word Master taught me when I was studying at the temp studio),

심장 (heart, nerve),
심정 (feelings),
중심 (the center, the middle),
and 점심 (lunch).

I also noticed the roots 흑 (dark), 관 (concern), 정 (jeong), 중 (middle, China), and 점 (point, decimal, dot) in those words.)

So what’s the point, right? The point is that every time I figure out something is just a fancy ending, it means I only have to memorize the actual root noun. Once I’ve learned that, I’ve opened up a lot more vocabulary.

절대 (absolutely, never) is one of those words I memorized but couldn’t figure out a context for. And then, in an episode of We Just Got Married, Son Dam Bi said she would “절대, 절대, 절대” watch Marco fight in a professional match. Ahhh, and we have context. (And by the way, Son Dam Bi is indeed crazy if she really thinks Marco needs pre-school level Korean books!)

Sister and I have been chatting, too, and I feel like that’s really improved my Korean writing. I run most of my Good Man stories past her. I get to improve my Korean and we get to have some sister bonding while laughing at Good Man. Win-win! ㅋㅋ

A few days ago, I was trying to find out the size of her hands and accidentally asked 적은 손이 있어? Normally, even when I make typos and mistake, Sister can figure me out. This time she couldn’t. Aigo! That’s because—and I didn’t know this until the moment I made that error—적다 and 작다 are different words.

I needed to ask 작은 손이 있어? Do you have small hands? Instead I’d asked Do you have few hands? No wonder she was confused…she’s not an octopus or squid missing arms. (In Korean, they don’t miss arms. They miss legs. Just for the record.)

When I write in Korean, I try very, very hard to look up less than 5% of the words I’m using. I figure if I’m looking up words I don’t know (or even worse, new grammar constructs), I’m writing at too high a level. I will look up spelling and remind myself of the exact way to construct something, but I try not to use new things in my writing. (I also write in Korean directly. Translating is a heck of a lot harder that writing.)

Putting my Korean writing up on Lang-8 is a little nerve wracking, but so helpful. One woman explained the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs. And while I’m still not 100% on usage, I finally understand why the little boys at taekwondo would always say “안 보여요” instead of “못 봐요!”

The fact that many of my study materials are accidentally overlapping at that perfect “just right” spot is so exciting.

Making Jeong

This weekend I talked to Master. He asked how it was at the new studio. I told him exactly what I thought of “New” Master.

I explained that I was trying to have an open heart, but that we didn’t have jeong. I told him Special Forces and I were starting to have jeong between us.

He understood.

I showed up to taekwondo tonight.

I was the only student.

I warmed up and then Special Forces Instructor and I chatted in Korean and worked on poomse together. We were alone for twenty minutes, when another student finally showed up. We continued to work on poomse.

I love poomse. It is my favorite part of taekwondo.

After class, Special Forces and I sang the Three Bears song (a Korean children’s song) to the other student. Then Special Forces and I chatted about Korea. By the end of our chat, we were both muttering, “아, 보고 싶어…”

I miss Korea.

Good Man Cooks

Friday night, Good Man said, “I want to cook something. I want to learn how to cook.”


“Yeah, what can we cook?”

I sighed, “I’m lazy tonight, I just want to make veggie soup.”

“I want pork. Can you teach me how to make 제육뽁음?”

Good Man can cook spaghetti and ramyeon and that’s it. Sure, I’ll teach him how to cook another meal.

So we started. I would chop half on onion, then set him to work. I’d mince a clove of garlic and leave the other three to him. It worked out well.

“어, 재미 있어…”

And how’d it taste? Delicious!

(Sister says, “오빠가 많이 발전했어요.” Good Man has grown a lot.)

I Feel Dirty

Today we wrapped up sex ed. I taught the boys all week and enjoyed it. They asked some good questions and I felt like I got to address some misunderstandings. However, today was the day where we had to push the abstinence message, and I felt dirty the whole time.

Apparently, I am not allowed to teach “personal values,” but am instead supposed to teach “universal values such as abstinence.”

Well, the universe my school district resides in must be pretty frickin’ small if abstinence until you’re in a “monogamous, committed marriage” is a “universal value.”

I tried so hard to be subversive.

I choked back a lot of stuff today and slipped in “committed relationship” as much as possible. I said “boyfriend or girlfriend” and “husband or wife” or “partner.” A few boys caught it and asked about it, but I ignored them and kept doing it. I entirely—due only to time, I assure you, yeah—skipped the bit about how a “consequence of not abstaining” is “emotional turmoil” and “getting a bad reputation.”

I got a lot of questions I couldn’t answer on the anonymous question cards today. Questions about masturbation and condoms. I flat out said, “As an employee in this district, I am not allowed to discuss this with you. I need you to PLEASE ask someone outside of the school.”

But one question, I just could not skip. One of the boys wrote on the anonymous question card: is sex bad?

I read it out loud and I sat there in silence for a while. One of the boys said, “Well. Do you think it’s good or bad?”

I finally said, “I don’t think sex is good or bad. I think someone can make strong or weak choice about sex. Unfortunately, a lot of choices that seem strong at the time are weak. And people don’t realize it until later.”

I didn’t put any age/social/marital status points on it. Because at any age, people can make poor decisions about sex!

Ugh. I felt dirty all day today.

Assumptions, Two Weddings? and Addressing Issues

“Well,” a coworker said to me, “one day [Good Man] will realize it’s your wedding. It really has nothing to do with him. It’s all about you.”

“Are you ‘Ms’ or ‘Mrs’? Oh no, you won’t be a Mrs until next year.”

I laughed and said as politely but firmly as I could, “Just remember Ms. I will never be a Mrs.”

Two Weddings?
So when Good Man’s Mother called last week, something else came up.

She wants us to get married in Korea so she can get all of the wedding money she’s given to friends’ children back.

Good Man told me this and it actually made sense to me. (Note to self: how Korean.)

So apparently, eventually, we might be having a second wedding in Korea.

I’ll let Mother plan it, however she wishes. Go for it, Mother.

Addressing Issues
Speaking of mothers, I talked to my own tonight. She’s visiting next week (and meeting Good Man for the first time!). We’re going to work on the wedding flowers together, go into the city, and possibly see a movie. It’ll be a short trip, but I’m so excited.

I’m sending quick notes to the grandparents, to let them know of the wedding date before the invitations go out.

I may be 28, but I still send address letters to my grandparents as “Grandma and Grandpa 모모.” I asked her if I could use their first names, or if I had to suddenly switch to the more “proper” “Mr. and Mrs. 모모.”

Thankfully, Mom said she thought using their first names would be fine. She thinks, like I do, that suddenly changing over to a formal form of addressing envelopes would make the wedding seem much more formal than it is.

I’ve got to say, this wedding planning thing isn’t the big stressful mess I thought it was supposed to be.

Felt Words

Out of the blue.

date: Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 10:43 PM
subject: Feedback Form

This is X from your 5th grade class years ago, i believe it to at least be 5 to six years. I just happen to have a dream about that year and how fun it was for everybody, id just like to say I’m grateful and i miss you that’s all you just happened to come across my mind.

thank you


And while chatting with Sister.

Sister: 아만다, […] 우린 이제 가족이잖아요~

Amanda, […] you know, you’re part of our family now.

Cheating at Pool: A Love Story

Cheating at Pool: A Love Story

Once upon a time there was a

boy playing pool

against a girl.

They were having a good time until

the boy started cheating.

Cheating with an evil, evil grin on his face.

And the girl became angry.

The girl told the boy very nicely to stop cheating.

He held her and whispered very sweetly…

that these were “Korean rules” and did she want to call Korea and check?

The girl yelled, “사기꾼이야!” You are a cheater!

The boy laughed an evil laugh.

The girl shrugged and thought, I’ll beat his cheating butt.

The boy tried Evil Cheating Korean Kimchi Voodoo against the girl.

But in the end…

she won.

The End