Universal Truth

Good Man and I had a video chat with Mother and Sister tonight. I knit a cabled hat and some cabled (and ribbed) fingerless gloves for Sister. She got them Friday and she loves them apparently.

That was the fun part of the conversation.

Mother told us that Father wants us to wear Western wedding dress for the Quaker part of the wedding and hanboks for the Korean part. We don’t want to wear Western dress. Good Man and Mother went at it for a while and finally they Good Man decided he would persuade Father in a few weeks, when we video chat with him.

Over dinner (mandu soup), I said, “Why does your family even want us to wear Western dress? If they want us to wear Western dress, we can do so at the wedding in Korea.”

“I don’t know, why are you asking me?”

“Because you’re Korean,” I said.

Good Man laughed. “So? Your mother is American, and she cares about the wedding!”

“I am American. I will answer questions about my parents, you answer questions about your parents,” I replied, laughing.

“Parents everywhere care. Parents are the same everywhere. That,” Good Man said, spreading his hands apart in the air, “is…a universal truth.”

We both laughed and Good Man continued, “At least it’s not easy. If life is easy, it is boring. You want an interesting hell!”

According to Good Man, Seoulites call Seoul “an interesting hell” (흥미로운 지옥). I used to tell taxi drivers, “In America, life is easy, so it is boring.”

I laughed, “Interesting hell, yeah!”

“Hell yeah!” Good Man shouted.


“So a registry is when you give the people who come a little gift?” Good Man asked.

“No, those are favors.”

“What’s a registry?”

“When you go to a store and make a list of the wedding gifts you want.”

Good Man looked shocked. “What?” I nodded. “That’s—that’s kind of awkward and funny!”

“It’s what we do. We think making people pay to get food is awkward and funny.”

Good Man, still rather shocked looking, said, “It’s like a wedding version of an Amazon giftlist? That’s so strange! That’s so—so American!”

Good Man’s newest phrase: that’s so American.

Actually, You Did and Ajumma, Me? and Lunch

Whine. “My Korean is terrible!”

“My English is terrible,” Good Man countered.

“You got an American girlfriend with your English.”

He grinned, “You got a Korean boyfriend!”

“Not by speaking Korean, I didn’t!”

“Actually, you did.” Wicked grin.


Good Man and I have been saving spaghetti jars for dry goods. (Why buy a storage jar when we buy spaghetti in jars?) I decided to pour most of the 쌀가루 (rice power) into a jar.

“But how will we know this is ssalgaru? We should label it,” I said.

“Well, it’s not crack,” replied Good Man.

I burst out laughing. Indeed, it’s not.


I made 짜장면 (jjajangmyeon) tonight. Fourth or fifth try, and I finally figured out what I was doing wrong. When we use red pepper paste (고추장) or soybean paste (된장), we make a sauce out of it. I was just throwing the 짜장 on the noodles. Duh…no wonder there was enough salt to kill a horse, last time(s).

“This isn’t as good as Korean jjajangmyeon,” I said.

“Well, you’re not a chef.”

I stared at Good Man. “You need to come up with a different answer. I’ll ask again.” I paused. “This isn’t as good as Korean jjajangmyeon.”

He tried again, “No, this is better!”

Good Man.

So tonight Diana called me an “Ajumma in Training (not in the bad way. in the cute korean cooking way ;-)).”

When I was getting ready to cook the noodles, I checked the serving size. One hundred grams. I eyeballed the noodles, grabbed a handful, and weighed it. Four hundred grams. Exactly what I wanted.

Maybe Diana is right.

After dinner, I started peeling some clementines for lunch. I stuck one in front of Good Man and he tasted it. He exclaimed, “This is 귤!” He craned his neck around to stare at the wooden box of clementines. “I think, maybe, I will eat all of those tomorrow.”

“Oh, man, I’d better hide them in my car.”

“I will visit you at school, then.”


Tomorrow’s lunch is disgustingly cute. Good Man’s lunch even features a cherry tomato Gonzo nosed, carrot haired, clementined eye creature.

Good Man’s Lunch
Jjajangmyeon, Carrots, Clementines, and Korean Yams

The Bottom Tier of My Lunch,
With A Banana and Hard-Boiled Egg for Breakfast

I Am Ridiculous

If you had seen how excited I was when I was packing these lunch boxes, well, I’d be embarrassed. Because this is ridiculous, I know.

(Hey, go read A Whole New Mind. This is about design and play, people.)

Good Man’s Lunch

My Breakfast and Part of Lunch
A hard-boiled egg was added later.


Full Pig

The Tupperware part of my pig flips upside down to fit inside the bottom of the pig, making it pack up smaller if I wish. It can be a one- or two-tier lunch box. Good Man’s is the same way. Those four pull-out cups fit in that large tray, which sits on another tray of the same size, making his a one- or two-tier box, as well.

What prompted the sudden cuteness of lunch boxes? I’m sick of telling Good Man, “There are four servings of spaghetti in that pot, eat only one for lunch” and coming home to find two servings left. This messes up my whole menu/cooking/lunch/dinner system. I also realized that if I leave him to eat fruit with lunch (or breakfast) on his own, he won’t. If I stick a pear or a peeled orange in front of him, though, he’ll eat it. No problem.

Tonight I asked, “Do I need to pack your lunch of one of those bento boxes to get you to eat?”

I was mostly joking, but his eyes lit up, followed by a passionate, “I am not Japanese! Not bento! 도시락통!”

OK, doshiraktong it is.

But I will never punch happy faces in his gim. Hearts, maybe…

Mothers Everywhere

Good Man’s Mother called us last night. We chatted on the phone for a few minutes. She, in a very Korean way, told me to take care of myself when my vacation ends, and to be careful not to catch a cold.

I told her I didn’t want to go back to school but then remembered that we only have a three-day work week next week.

“Oh! Mother! Next week Obama…” I didn’t know the word for “president” or “inauguration,” but I figured I was safe saying “president” in English. “Next week, on Tuesday, President Obama will start working.”

She understood right away what I meant, while Good Man told me, “취임식.”

“네, 우리는 DC에 갈 꺼예요. 사람 많이 있을거예요!” Yes, we’re going into DC. There will be a lot of people there. “역사이에요. 역사게? 음…” It’s history, I said. Again, she understood what I was trying to say. (Good Man just told me I should’ve said 역사적인 일이에요.)

“어, 아만다, 조심해!” Oh, Amanda, be careful!

I suddenly remembered talking to my mom on the phone, calling her from a hotel abroad. “Be careful, Amanda!”

Mistake Me Not

I love this sweater, I love it not…

I made this sweater (mistake rib, Elann’s Lara cotton on size 5 needles) in exactly three months.

I think I love it.

My Angry Face

“[Good Man], how’s this Korean? ‘피곤해요,'” I started reading. “화!” Anger. I yelled while making a face.

Good Man started laughing. “What? Do that again!”

“화!” I made the face.

When Koreans are angry, they write:

Unfortunately, when I try to type that in this blogging program, I get many errors. Which makes me yell, “화!” And when I yell “화!”, I go like this.

Which is why the Korean emoticon for anger makes total sense.

태! 권! 호! 국!

I went to taekwondo tonight, with Diana‘s encouragement.

We’re learning some very weird Special Forces-style forms. I asked if these were written down anywhere. We practice them maybe once or twice a month, and that’s not enough to get these into my head.

Special Forces Instructor said that he does have them written down, in Korean. Sure, give them to me in Korean! 화이팅!!

I’m also talking to some 15 year-old kid in class about learning Korean. Some friends of his from school are trying to teach him, but I think if he actually wants to learn, he should learn to read. Next week I’m bringing him a book to get him started on the alphabet.

After class, Special Forces Instructor and I looked at something in an old taekwondo book of mine. I got this book from my studio in Atlanta, and it’s a staple in my bag. I pulled out a piece of paper that Master had given me. I’d written “연습(하다) practice” and “공부(하다) study” on the paper. I remembered writing these things early in my time in Korea, and my elementary Korean handwriting confirmed that.

The paper I’d written my notes on was something from the studio about the benefits of taekwondo. I started reading the sheet and I was shocked by how much I understood.

It was a little surreal. Sitting in a new studio in America, coming across a piece of paper from my studio in Korea, tucked into a book I bought at my studio in Atlanta.

I’m glad I went.

I’m also glad I don’t have to go again for a week.

Bilingual Wedding Fun and a Favor

(ETA: We were laughing through all of this. I’m not sure that that came through in this post, though.)

Last night, in the Amanda and Good Man house…

Good Man
굿 맨은

“Can’t you do ‘아만다 굿 맨’ instead of ‘아만다 굿 맨?'”

(Side for non-Korean speakers: 와 means “with” or “and” and is attached right to nouns. 은 is a subject/object marker. I was asking about Amanda wa Good Man vs Amandawa Good Maneun.)

Good Man looked at me. “That. Is not Korean,” he said in sing-songy voice. “That may be your Korean, but it is not my Korean.”

He chooses now to be picky about Korean? This is the same man who always tells me, “Sure, whatever you write is good. It makes sense.”


On the eleventh day of July two thousand and nine,


“Can’t you spell that out?” I ask, pointing to the date, “이천구년 칠월 십일일?”

“That’s not how we do it in Korea.”

“But it will look nicer.”

Good Man spelled it out and said, “This does not look nice. The wedding certificate is not a check.”

I didn’t point out that you spell out the dollar amount, not the date, on checks.

I realized something. “Hey, shouldn’t we actually do it in Chinese characters?”

Good Man slowly turned his head to look at me, “We are not doing Hanja. You love Hanja. I do not.”



“We need to word the wedding announcements.”

“What’s that?” Good Man asked.

“You know how we’re not inviting aunts and uncles and cousins? Well, the day of the wedding we send out announcements to everyone we didn’t invite, telling them we got married. Mom really wants us to do invitations.”

Good Man looked at me incredulously and started laughing. “What is that? Is that some teasing? 초대안했지롱!” You didn’t get invited! Nyah nyah!


Good Man stuck a period on the invitation.

“Why are you doing that? We don’t need periods on the invitations.”

Good Man nodded, “This makes a perfect Korean sentence! You might know…this…is a period.”

I laughed, “You’re choosing now to make perfect sentences?”

Good Man grinned, “Yes!”


I handed Good Man a sample invitation. “What about this font? I like it, the hat man is happy looking.”

Good Man started at me. “The Hat Man?”

“Yeah, look at the ㅎ, it looks nice.” When I was learning the alphabet, Scott told me that the ㅎ is the Hat Man who makes an H sound. He does look spiffy in his hat.

Good Man twirled his fingers around his ears. “Koo koo!” He shook his head, “I don’t like this font.”

I sighed. “Why not?”

“Koreans will not like this font.”

I turned around. “What are you talking about? I can see you grinning through the back of your head! ‘Koreans won’t like this font…'”

Good Man’s shoulders shook with stifled laughter. A few minutes later, he handed me another sample, done in a different font.

I recognized that font. “This is a soju bottle font! We’re getting married, not selling soju!”

“But,” Good Man grinned, “Koreans will like it.”


Good Man and I are doing nearly everything bilingually for the wedding. We’re working on bilingual invitations, bilingual announcements, and a bilingual Quaker-style wedding certificate. The “this is how our wedding works” not-program will be bilingual. So are our vows.

I stubbornly want the text on the invitations and announcements to be every other line Korean and English, rather than Korean and English side-by-side. We aren’t bilingual side-by-side. Korean and English are intertwined in our lives.

On the other hand, the wedding certificate and not-program can be side-by-side due to the lack of text and sheer amount of text, respectively.

I knew that doing things bilingually would involve work. I did not realize that trying to do things bilingually with a non-Latin alphabet was going to be so problematic.

We want a Quaker wedding certificate. Usually Quaker wedding certificates are hand-done pieces of art. Wonderful, but what are the chances of finding someone who can do a Quaker wedding certificate…in Korean? Hmm…

And invitations and announcements? I did find a whopping two printers who can do bilingual invitations on My Korean Wedding, but we’re doing them ourselves.

Most print-yourself companies can’t handle the Korean alphabet. You just get boxes. If we were doing English and German, for example, this wouldn’t be an issue.

So this means we have to upload our bilingual text as a PDF or JPG. That’s not too big of a problem, except that finding fonts that look nice in Korean and English? Yeah, good luck.

Fonts made for the Latin alphabet often don’t make Hangul look nice. Fonts made for Hangul (and there aren’t many!) often make Latin text look like an old-school bitmap font.

Of course, the obvious solution is to use two different fonts, but finding two fonts that work well together is…fun!

There is one bit of good news. Word is smart (in a useful way, for once!). You can choose, very specifically, two different fonts in Word, which means you don’t have to select every other line of text, line by line.

Still, everything is coming together! Good Man illegally magically downloaded some Korean font that looks excellent with the Latin font I want to use. We’ve figured out how to Romanize/Koreanize all of the names of everyone involved. The wording is complete, now we just need to wait on our engagement session to get the photos.

Favor: If there are any fluent Korean/English readers who would be willing to check our invitation, announcement, and Quaker wedding certificate wording/spelling…we’d be really grateful. Anyone?


Well, I completed three-fourths of my resolutions from last year.

Now, I should probably learn from two years in a row of overshooting Korean language goals, but eh…

This year I resolve to

Study Korean through level 4A. To facilitate this, post on my Korean Notebook twice a week (on average). Go to Korean Meetups at least twice a month (on average).

Continue to knit from my yarn stash. Spending limit on yarn this year: $200.

Get my student loan to half its current amount.

Keep on keeping on with the Good Man.