Old Town, Old Friends

I stay in contact with one person from elementary, junior- and high school: Mark. I stay in contact with one person from grad school: Caro.

And then there’s the one college friend I stay in contact with.

I met A my first week on campus at Agnes Scott. She was a year ahead of me.

I didn’t like her. She was way too perky and jumpy and just…damn.

Well, A and I were both philosophy majors and we got to know each other and became good friends. Final semester, our senior year (I finished early), we spent at least one day a week eating lunch together—on her lunch plan, because I was an off-campus student.

After graduation, A moved to the DC area for grad school. We stayed in touch via email, but lost contact in Korea. We got back in touch and met (with the husbands) last month. A and her husband were married one week after we were, for much the same reason: he’s military and they needed to get married before having a wedding. When we met, we fell into our old friendship right away.

Tonight we met (with Good Man; her husband was busy) in Old Town for dinner and a visit to the waterfront.

At the end of the night, A and I hugged. She turned to Good Man. Good Man stared at her and started laughing nervously. “Heh. Heh. Ha. Heh.”

She grinned, “Are you going to hug me?”

“We hug more in America, [Good Man],” I said. I remember when my mom wanted to give Master a hug. I didn’t know the word and demonstrated on her. Master nodded and hugged her, but he was uncomfortable. I didn’t even learn the Korean word for “to hug” until Good Man taught me the 뽀뽀뽀 song (안다).

Good Man looked for all the world like he wished he were anywhere else. But he nodded and leaned in for a hug.

I need to teach him the American Goodbye Hug. He doesn’t know what to do with his arms.

Amanda

Good Man

Father and Son

Me A and She A
If you read those phrases fast, they almost sound like Korean name. 미에, 시에?

Waterfront

Waterfront Trash

Yummy Taffy at $9.50/lb

Shadow Play I

Shadow Play II

Leading Irony

Irony
From an AP wire:

“Now that the South Korean puppets were so ridiculous as to join in the said racket and dare declare a war against compatriots,” North Korea is “compelled to take a decisive measure,” the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement carried by state media.

Leading
Sunday night Good Man and I went to an Orthodox Jewish wedding of two atheists.

Like the last two weddings I attended (excluding ours), I didn’t understand a word of what was going on.

During the reception I dragged Good Man on the floor to dance. (“Drag” is actually a strong word. Encouraged by pouting and “여보” in that girlish Korean whining voice is more like it.)

We were slow dancing and I said, “Who’s leading here? Me or you?”

“You, just the way I like it!”

Good Man can’t dance. At all. I mean, I can’t dance (the last time Mark and I danced—right before I left for Korea—he asked me who was leading, in fact). But Good Man really can’t dance.

Of course, it makes sense. Koreans don’t dance at weddings. Like me, Good Man doesn’t really like clubbing. And what about school dances, prom? To quote Margaret Cho: We didn’t have prom in Korea……only war….

We weren’t planning on dancing at our wedding, and now I know we won’t dance, because he would be so uncomfortable. But he was such a good sport, and by the end of the night he was getting better.

This wedding, like every other American wedding I’ve been to, featured the bride dancing all night and the groom standing around, chatting with friends.

(Side: I wore the Convertible Dress from Vicky’s and it was great! I had to readjust after several hours, but considering I hadn’t even tied it into place? I also have to wear a tank or cami under it because my bust is too large. But it was very comfortable and I don’t think most people realized I was wearing a tank under it. Sizing runs large. According to the size charts I needed XL, but L fit better.)

Flawed

“You are flawed,” Good Man said.

I looked at him, hurt.

Good Man didn’t notice the look on my face. “You are wrong because…” He ticked off reasons my argument was flawed.

When I was in Korea—where I was not a native speaker—I almost always remembered that Good Man is not a native English speaker. Here—where I am a native speaker—I sometimes forget that.

Now, which flaw number would that be?

Perfect, Good, Vague, Thin, Births

Vague: Korean
Last night I was studying my new Korean lesson. I’m learning 모모했더니, which is related to 그렇다.

그렇다 is an evil word. It makes about 20 linking words in various forms. Think of it as the Korean version of “for” or “to.”

I frowned. “How come you use the same with a slightly different ending for so many words?”

“Well, you have many words in English, too.”

“Yeah, but they’re different. And, so, but, thus, therefore, then… They’re not all variations on the same root word.”

Good Man spread his arms apart and smiled. “The beauty of Korean is vagueness.”

Good: Our Marriage, So Says the Fortuneteller
Good Man and I chatted with Mother and she told she went and got 사주 (fortunetelling done with the four pillars) done on us. We’ve been expecting this for a while. I had assumed she was just not going to do it, since she’s Catholic.

Koreans traditionally use saju to help decide if the couple will get married. If the saju is bad, good luck getting the parents to approve.

Apparently the fortuneteller said our marriage will be good. I said, “사주 사람 저는 미국 사람 아셨어요?” Did the saju person know I was a foreigner? (Note: a very incorrect sentence.)

She laughed, “Yes, yes, and your marriage will be good.”

Good Man once told me if his mother had saju done and it was bad, he would pay for a more expensive, and hence “better,” fortuneteller to give us a good reading. So I asked if the fortuneteller was expensive. Apparently he wasn’t.

“Mother, you are a Catholic church person, and you did saju?”

She laughed, “I have to confess to the priest now.”

Births: Good Man’s
When Good Man was born, it was standard for babies to get an 애기수첩 (baby note) book (that may still be the case). There are notes about what to feed children (with pictures of squid and seaweed), what they should weigh as various ages, how much sleep they should get (Korean parents, you are robbing your 12+ year olds of 10 hours of sleep a night). The book is used to keep track of immunizations, length/height and weight, etc.

On the front of the book is the baby’s name. In Good Man’s case it’s “애기.” Baby.

I asked Mother about it. Apparently Good Man was simply “baby” for a month before he was given a name.

Since we were talking about births and today is my mother’s birthday (Happy birthday, Mom!), I asked when Mother’s birthday is. She told us and Good Man took notes. He also noted their wedding date—in January of 1981.

I looked at the date. I considered Good Man’s birthday. I laughed. “신혼여행할때 임신했어요?” Did you get pregnant on your honeymoon?”

She laughed and nodded, “어, 어. 아이고…” Yes, yes, oh my…

Good Man’s the ideal first child: he’s a male honeymoon baby. Go 애기 Good Man!

Thin: Clothing, A Rant
“I buy one or two pieces of clothes every season. It takes me three minutes to choose. That’s my style,” Good Man said.

And so we found ourselves looking at clothes.

Why are clothes so damn thin now? Good Man and I went to Target because he wanted a new polo shirt. We found him two polo shirts—both of which are fairly thin. I found a men’s V-neck t-shirt which I got for me (sometimes the V-necks for women are too deep—especially lately).

We went to the women’s section because I wanted a skirt and I wanted to check out the women’s shirts.

First off, dresses and skirts. The dresses were all sleeveless with spaghetti straps. Every single last one. What. The. Hell?

Second, the dresses and shirts were see-through skin-thin. Even thinner than the men’s stuff. I would like to wear a dress without showing off exactly what sort of bra and panties I’m wearing. I must be insane, I know.

Third, the skirts—ugly. Tons of ruffles, “maxi skirts” that should be cute but…too thin. Or really short skirts apparently made for easy access.

And the thin cloth thing isn’t just at Target and other cheap stores. It’s hitting the labels, too. Annoying!

I am tempted to buy some nice slips and knit myself a gored skirt. I knit a gored skirt in olive green and black several years ago. Every single time I wear it I get compliments. People complain that knit skits “cup out” at the butt, but that’s only if you make them too tight. They have to fit well in the hips, meaning they have to be loose.

Perfect: Black Cocoa Cookies
Today I had a craving for cookies, so I made some Black Cocoa Cookies. I got this recipe years ago, from a newspaper I think.

½ C butter, room temperature
2 C sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 T vanilla extract
2 C all-purpose flour
1 C unsweetened cocoa power
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ½ C chopped walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease cookie sheets.

Mix butter and sugar in a bowl until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs and vanilla. Mix until just combined; do not overbeat. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and add everything else. Mix until well combined.

Place teaspoonfuls of dough onto sheet. Bake for 10 to 13 mins or until edges begin to firm up. For crisper cookies, cool on cookie sheet. For softer cookies, cool for 2 mins on sheet and then remove and cool completely. For these cookies it is especially important to cool the cookie sheet between batches!

I ended up using parchment paper for the first time ever and holy mother of cookies, what a dream come true. No greasing, they don’t spread out super thin (which is usually what happens to these cookies) and they crisped up wonderfully without overcooking. Clean up was super easy, too (which Good Man appreciated). I can’t believe this is my first time using parchment paper. I’m a convert.

Good Man Finally Gets a Normal Amount of Sleep

Tuesday night I came home from school around 4:30. I had a bunch of bulky things to carry from the car (worm bin, bridal shower gifts) and called Good Man to ask for help.

No answer.

He was sleeping.

He was still sleeping at 7:50 when I finally needed to wake him up to ask where Kwanjangnim’s power cord was.

“What time is it?” he asked in a groggy voice.

“Eight.”

“No!” he protested. “It can’t be true!”

Since school has ended, Good Man is finally getting a decent amount of sleep. I have no idea when he comes to bed. I have no idea when he wakes up. I know he’s asleep when I leave in the morning. He’s asleep when I come home in the afternoon. He eats lunch at some point in between. And the bags that have been under his eyes all year are finally gone.

***

Amanda
I’m walking out of the frame, which is a composition no-no that makes this photo work.

Falls Church

Yesterday Good Man and I went for a 4+ miles walk. At one point we passed the Catholic school where a group of young teenagers were hanging out, trying to look cool.

One of the kids, a boy, made some totally nonsensical sexual comment. “I would [X] a girl if she [X]ed me.”

We were passing when he said it and I said, not even trying to hide my voice, “That guy’s an idiot. Which body part would she [do X] to?”

Good Man laughed and said, “Oh…! America.” He paused and shook his head. “America, where 67% of drivers commute alone. Oh, look, gas prices are going up again. That is good.”

Oh…! Good Man! The only man I’ve met who switches topics of conversation as quickly as I do.

Shadow

***
So we have a worm bin up and running in the house. I think I overfed them this week, though. I keep peeking at the worms, poking around, checking out their food… Good Man calls them my “gadget.”

I also keep calling Good Man over to check out the worms. Calling him over only results in him backing away.

“As long as you’re happy, I am happy. But I don’t need to see.”

A Mess

A Worm

Good Man, Health Care Doesn’t Work Like That in America

God of American Health Care, bless Good Man.

Friday he took his old latent TB/chest X-ray/waiver paperwork to Public Health to get his nine-month prescription.

They told him they couldn’t give him meds because his X-ray was more than three months old. Wouldn’t it have been nice if someone had told him that earlier? Yeah, I know.

They told him he needed a new X-ray, that it would take two weeks to get his chest X-ray back, but that if he wanted to go to a private doctor, he could.

Good Man didn’t call me. (Not that it would’ve mattered; I was working and couldn’t’ve received the call anyhow.) He texted me, but I didn’t see it until lunch time.

Instead of getting the chest X-ray, he left.

I was so upset when I found out. He had this idea that we could just waltz into some doctor’s office and get a chest X-ray quickly. The only thing we’re waiting on to finish his application is this damn medical ridiculousness, so he wanted to get it done quickly. Which totally makes sense. Right now, he’s in a sort of visa-limbo. His student visa is valid, but he can’t leave. He can’t get an SSN. He can’t do a ton of things on it that he will (eventually) be able to do even when he’s in AOS limbo.

I explained to him that although we have great insurance, we can’t just waltz into an office or hospital and get a chest X-ray. I reminded him of how many doctors I had to call before finding one who could get him in on short notice when he really needed to go to the doctor last month.

I wasn’t upset at him. I was upset that how he thought American medicine should be isn’t how it is. I was, in short, frustrated with America. Again.

In the meanwhile, Good Man went and found something online that said that the waiver he already signed should be good enough to pass immigration’s requirements. But for whatever reason, his doctor isn’t signing off unless he agrees to go on the meds. (The doctor better sign off on the paper before the medicine is completed. If he doesn’t, we’re going to have to find a doctor who won’t make us wait nine months to turn in the paperwork.)

He also found a bunch of stuff about how hard the medicine is on the liver, how he can’t drink anything for nine months, how he can turn yellow, how he has to visit the doctor monthly, so on and so forth.

He was complaining about it all night.

Finally, I said, “It’s been three hours. How much longer are you going to complain about this? Because I can’t handle it. I’m sorry. I sure I complained like this in Korea, but I can’t handle it.” And kimchi bless the man for putting up with me, because by hour three I was going nuts. I said, “Let’s treat it now, in case something changes in the future, so it’s just done.”

Good Man went back to Public Health yesterday and got the damn chest X-ray. $46.

On the positive side, he got back all the blood tests and he’s free of every blood-borne disease they test for.

Operation Immigration: Cost
Total cost so far:
Fiancé & Marriage Visas: A Couple’s Guide to U.S. Immigration: $27.56
Passport photos (got a few extras, because we know how red tape is): $38
Health Check: $150
TDAP and MMR: $48
Translation: ~30 minutes of fixing Kwanjangnim’s computer
Chest X-ray: $46
Total: $309.56

What a Class

Amanda: Should I skip taekwondo tonight or go? I don’t want to go.

Diana: Go. I went last night and it was great!

Amanda: Ugh.

Diana: Good TKD juju.

Amanda: If I don’t go tonight, I’ll go Tues and Thurs. I’m cranky.

Diana: Go! Go! Amanda superstar!

I went.

I still don’t know if I’m happy I went.

Lately Special Forces has been doing a lot of somersaults, rolls, handstands and throws. All sorts of Hapkido-y stuff that terrifies me.

I am still not able to do what he wants, but today I was able to do somersaults starting from my hands in a straighter positions (yes, elbows bent a bit). And I was able to do some…sort of rolls when Special Forces threw me over his shoulder. When everyone else was doing backwards somersaults, I did them forward.

I also go to throw Special Forces around, which was rather fun. He grabbed my wrist and I had to step in left-right, step back, then step in to the other side, right-left. I was basically twisting his arm back and forth. It was like some taekwondo dance. He made us do that 25 times (25 steps to the left, 25 steps to the right). He was my partner (I think because I was the only female there) and he was yelling at us to count. I had to count out loud because his yelling was throwing me off. So I counted in Korean. On the final step, I got to throw him.

That was cool.

At the end of class, when everyone else did 100 sit ups, I told Special Forces I wanted to do more. I did 150. That felt good. Especially when I couldn’t do 25 extra pushups on my wrists (after already doing 25). I had to do those extra 25 plain.

Photo Walks

09年5月8日

Breeze

Pink

Moth

09年5月10日

Ladybugs

Birch

Caterpillar

09年5月13日

Good Man

Sunset

Taxi Home

Construction

먹고 싸고 먹고 싸다

먹고 싸고 먹고 싸다
A few weeks ago Good Man and I read a story in one of my Korean-language children’s books that included the phrase 먹고 싸고 먹고 싸고.” Eat and poop and eat and poop.

I looked at Good Man. “Why do Koreans love poop?”

So yesterday, at my language exchange, I started talking about vermicomposting. And of course I got to use the phrase “먹고 싸고 먹고 싸고.”

I also managed to stay in Korean for a full hour (possibly slightly longer) switching to English very, very few times and for very few words.

Next week we’re both going to bring our iPod recorders to record the exchange. I’m starting to like this partner a lot.

벌레비료
Red worms (the worms used for composting) are rather expensive. I went on Craigslist and found a woman selling some of her red worms for $5. So we’re starting with a farily small batch, but hey, it was local and cheap and the woman was happy to help out teachers.

Craigslist: Find worms. Find a husband.

I went to Target and picked up three 10 gallon bins at about $7 each (one for me, one for my coworker, one for Mark). My coworker and I are going to make our worm boxes tomorrow. My coworker has a drill, though I’m bringing our hammer and some nails in case the drill doesn’t work. We’re using used Styrofoam trays for the tray under the bins to catch any excess liquid (that isn’t supposed to appear). I saved a dozen bottle caps to use as feet. Someone threw away a window screen which I stole from the trash. I’ve already got some Gorilla Glue and packing tape. This is going to be a cheap, largely reused/repurposed project.

And I’ve decided I’m going to write “먹고 싸고 먹고 싸고” around the box. Good Man just shook his head and said, “Whatever makes you happy, honey.”

Ahh, Good Man is so accommodating.

Dill

Last weekend we (and by “we” I mean “Accommodating Good Man and I”) planted some bell pepper plants, some cayenne, scallions, dill, peppermint, and basil.

The dill started throwing off new stalks, so I harvested some tonight for dinner.

We had some tuna salad mixed with cheese over pita bread, broiled for 7 minutes. I steamed some baby red potatoes and green beans. I served it all with some sour cream, butter, salt, pepper, dill, and lemon. It was delicious.

Except the dill was wasted on Good Man. He wants to eat everything without any sort of herbs or spices on it. Koreans cook with three flavors: salt, soy sauce (fermented salt), and peppers—usually in the form of a (salty) spicy paste. I exaggerate only slightly.

We’re having the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

My Lunch

Good Man’s Lunch

“Hey, Good Man!”

“Smile!”