Wedding Day: What Went Right and What Went Wrong

Saturday went really well over all. A few (mostly) minor things went wrong. And some stuff went really right. (Note that most of the wrong things weren’t really a big deal.)

* Good Man’s weird cousin went rifling through Mark’s Lover’s nightstand. Nobody told us about it until later. Ugh. Kid is 14 but acts like he’s 8. When they invited themselves, Good Man told me the cousin was older—like 18. I don’t like this kid.
* Maid wasn’t really ready with the food when we were ready to eat, but Mark helped solve that with a champagne toast. Not a huge deal.
* Maid used about twice as much coffee grounds as she needed and the coffee was really, really thick (see Rights).
* Forgot to tell people to sign the wedding certificate left-to-right instead of top-to-bottom, so we have a huge gutter on the right. (Mom suggested we get a double happiness stamp to fill in the empty space. An easy fix.)

* We had way too much food and a little too much liquor. Not a huge deal, but we had to toss a ton of rice cakes.
* I wanted to wait longer to start our vows, but people seemed a little uncomfortable with the silence, so we started earlier. Also, although we asked for a period of silence after each person spoke, that didn’t work out. People really wanted to speak. Ha!
* Johnny and Sister misunderstood the poem reading directions and self-adjusted, but Johnny felt bad about it. Again, no big deal. Like I said to him, “If we wanted it to be perfect, we would’ve made you practice beforehand.”
* Good Man and I should’ve practiced bouncing stuff off of my skirt. Eighteen kids? You’ve gotta be kidding.
* We didn’t get formals of me alone done. Good Man got solo formals, but I didn’t. I’m a little torn on how to feel about this. On the one hand I care only because Good Man got solo formals. If he hadn’t, I wouldn’t’ve thought of it. It’s not like we’re going to put solo photos of us up around the house. And I’ll be wearing the hanbok again, so I can always get photos later. [ETA: I was wrong! We did!]

* Small wedding of 21 people total. It was nice to get to talk to everyone.

* Grandma loved the Maid’s “Turkish coffee” (see Wrongs).
* No seating chart. People mixed themselves up in a way I wouldn’t’ve and seemed to enjoy themselves.
* No decor. I didn’t bother with decor other than the framed photos and paper flowers and many people commented on how great the house and yard looked. Yes, thank you, Mark’s Lover.
* Keeping it short. Most people went home before 4:30.
* Doing the pyebaek in front of everyone. Since most people had never seen this before, they seemed to find it interesting.
* Sly, the dog. Mark’s Lover’s big dogs were in the basement, but his tiny dog, Sly, was roaming around. He was rolling around in the grass, putting his paws on people’s knees… He kept on eye on the pyebaek—he was just fun to have around.
* Staying at the hotel with everyone else. It was nice to get to catch up with people, and we were much closer to the site.
* No dancing, no garter tossing, no cake cutting, etc. Nobody asked about it, and nobody waited around for us to cut cake or anything.

* The Quaker ceremony. It was wonderful to hear what people said and several people later told me they really liked the ceremony.
* Getting my hair done by Good Man’s family rather than paying someone else to do it. It was more fun and I wasn’t stuck with some sort of wedding updo.
* Using my own makeup so I felt normal.
* Being mostly bilingual.
* Wearing hanboks and not doing the two outfits, one change thing. So right for a variety of reasons. I didn’t have to worry about losing weight. I didn’t worry about my farmer’s tan. Everyone loved seeing the hanboks.

Mothers Are the Same the World ‘Round and T-2 Days

Mother asked me if Korean mothers and American mothers were the same. This was after she told Good Man to eat his onions.

“Korean mothers,” I said in Korean, “American mothers, Chinese mothers, all mothers are the same.”

We went to Good Man’s school today. Freshman orientation was going on, so a bunch of over-excited, under-dressed almost-students were running around screaming and acting like…well, freshmen.

A girl walked past us.

Mother and I looked at each other at the same time, smiled, and started laughing.

I patted her arm and said, “우리는 똑같은 생각해요.” We are thinking the same thing.

Good Man’s mother told him to eat onions. She told him repeatedly. My mother, meanwhile, called me and asked me if Good Man’s mother prefers silver or gold. Sister was in my car with me, so I asked her.


I told Mom and she replied, “You’re sure she likes gold?”

I asked Sister again and turned back to Mom. “Yes, she likes gold.”

“Does she ever wear silver?”

I asked Sister and turned back to Mom. “No, she usually wears gold.”

“What about two-tone? What about both?”

When Mom and George came to Korea we went to a traditional village. Mom made me ask the wooden mask-maker if he really made all of those masks. She made me ask him three times. “Mom, remember when we were at the traditional village and you made me ask the guy three times if he made those masks? This is like that. I don’t even know how to ask if she likes both together. She likes gold.”

“OK. But I don’t want to make a mistake!” Mom replied.

“Mom, it’ll be fine.”

We hung up. Sister started laughing. “Mothers are the same everywhere,” she said.

Last night we had dinner at our house. Mother refused to let me in my own kitchen. She did show me how to fold large sheets of seaweed in their packet to break them up and make smaller sheets. This is one of those “duh, why didn’t I think of that?” things that is going to save us a ton of money…

She also dragged out the dried fish and some sort of paste. “Amanda! Mix this together. This is [Good Man]’s favorite food. You must make it for him.”

I adore this woman.

Yesterday Dad called and asked if cargo pants were OK to wear to the wedding. Brand new cargo pants, mind you. Never worn.

It’s occurred to me a few times over these past few days that sugar-creamer freakout aside, this wedding thing is a hell of a lot more relaxed than it could be.

No fittings for the bridesmaids. No picking up tuxes for the groom, groomsmen, and fathers. No fittings for groom, his groomsmen, the fathers. No shopping for mother-of-the-bride dresses. No trying to lose weight because…I don’t need to! I have a bit of a sunburn on my arms and a huge tan line where I wear my watch, but hey! The hanbok covers all of those lines! I’m wearing lots of sunscreen, esp on my face, but no fake tans, nothing like that. I’m using lots of hand lotion and hope we have time to get a manicure and pedicure tomorrow, but if wee don’t, well, they’re all the same length and clean and I’ll buff them. No pushups to make my shoulders look really good for the strapless dress (because almost every dress is strapless or sleeveless nowadays). No special makeup, just wearing my favorites. Hell, other than a dress shield, I didn’t even need to buy any special underwear or shapewear!

I started thinking about this when my response to Dad was a very honest, “I don’t care what you wear, as long as you show up.”

Saturday’s weather forecast: Isolated thunderstorms. 69 F low, 84 F high.

Amanda Curses in the Presence of Her In-Laws Count: One

Good Man woke up this morning, checked his computer, whirled around and said, “They land in ten minutes!”

Good Man doesn’t usually show such emotion, and a few weeks ago when I asked if he was excited about seeing his parents, he said, “I have met my parents before. It’s not a big deal.” But his behavior betrayed his words.

A few moments later he whooped, “They’ve landed!”

Mother and Father

After they got to their hotel (about a mile and a half from our house), we went to Cosi’s for lunch. Wow. It’s kind of hard to order lunch for seven people when only three of them can read English well.

After lunch we went to reserve a car. Good Man’s family is going to NYC Monday after the wedding and I asked if they could drop off the car Sunday near the wedding site in Maryland. Nope, all of them are closed on Sundays. What about at an airport? OK, well, that wouldn’t work, so I asked about adding me as an authorized driver so I could drop it off Monday. That would cost an extra $13 a day, but if we could get to an airport on Sunday, we could add me just for Sunday and Monday. OK, that was possible since we were already going into the city.

I asked if we could use my AAA discount for any part of it. Well what do you know? If we went with my AAA card we got 10% off and I could be added every day free of charge. Hey, that AAA membership just paid for itself.

We get the car tomorrow.

Sister and Good Man

We then went back to the hotel and opened the two suitcases of food and gifts Mother brought.

Mother, bless her, is too worried.

She brought multiple kinds of seaweed, a huge packet of dried fish, two bottles of soy sauce, several pastes, homemade kimchi. Oh man, the food just kept coming. I told her I needed to take her to HMart so she doesn’t worry about our access to Korean food.

She brought “just a few” nuts to throw at us at the pyebaek. “A few” being eleven. She didn’t bring the dates only because we swore up and down that we already have dried dates.

Then she dragged out the gifts. Gifts for me. Gifts for Good Man. Gifts for us. Gifts for my mother, father, stepfather, brother’s baby. Gifts for Mark’s Lover and Mark’s Parents. She even managed to get some sort of gift for me from the woman who works at the golf shop that Mother frequents. She showed her my picture and I got a gift.

“왜냐하면 외국인이에요?” Because I’m a foreigner?

“아니, 아니, 예뻐.” No, no, because you’re beautiful.

I laughed, “왜냐하면 예쁜 외국인이에요!” Because I’m a beautiful foreigner!

Now, since Mother had an entire grocery store in her bags, and since Sister is young and pretty, they got stopped. They got stopped to go through agricultural customs and then Sister got questioned about why she came here.

Aunt (이모) and Cousin

We left Good Man’s family to rest, and met them for dinner. If ordering for seven people at Cosi’s was bad, ordering for seven people at a Thai restaurant with 85 food items on its menu…yeah. I felt like I was in Korea with my parents translating to English…except, of course, I’m here translating into Korean.

We asked the servers if the soup could serve two people. “No, it’s a one-person sized bowl.” Well, we were using it as an appetizer, so we ordered three. We could’ve gotten away with two.

“Are the entrees huge American sizes that can feed two people?” I asked.

“No, medium sized, can feed one person.”

We ordered five and again, could’ve gotten away with four.

And dang. Americans are loud. Why can I hear your conversation 25 feet away?

Good Man’s 15 year old (Korean age) cousin is kind of funny. His first sentence to me after hearing me speaking Korean was, “We’re in America, not Korea. Let’s speak in English.” He said it in Korean.

I spoke English to him during dinner, just a bit, using my slow non-native speaker voice and it was obvious that it would be easier for him to get used to my Korean than for him to dig down for his hogwon-English. At one point during dinner he wanted to borrow Good Man’s handphone from Sister. “오빠, can I, um… 이것 빌려 주세요?”

They’re Here!

At the end of dinner, Good Man and I were explaining what tipping is.

Mother was freaking out over figuring the tip, so I reached into my purse and said, “제 휴대폰에서 팊 개새끼 있어요.”

Sister said, “계산기?” Calculator?

“어, 계산기. 개새끼 뭐—” Yeah, calculator. What is—

I suddenly realized what I’d said. On my handphone there’s a tip son of a b*tch.

I covered my face with my hands, “미안합니다, 미안합니다, 미안합니다.” I apologized three times. His family laughed kindly. I blushed. “빨간색…얼굴…” Red…face…

I don’t swear in Korean. The worst I’ll do is call someone a robber or crazy. I didn’t realize 개새끼 was in my active vocabulary though I knew it was in my passive vocab.

I am lucky that Good Man’s parents and sister like me, because none of them acted at all upset at what I said. I’m pretty sure my totally nonchalant way of saying it combined with my questioning what it meant made it clear that it just sort of…came out.

But still, if they didn’t like me, this would be one more reason not to.

After dinner we went to The Falls Church. It was getting late and fire flies were rising from the grass. Several members of Good Man’s family gasped and pointed at them. “반딧불!”

You don’t see many fireflies in Seoul.

One Hour and Fifteen Past

Good Man’s family leaves Korea in one hour.

“We need to make a list of what we need to bring up Friday.”

“OK,” Good Man said, “computers.”

No wonder this man doesn’t understand how stressed I am. He thinks that the most important thing to bring to the wedding site is our laptops. Wonderful.

Photo centerpieces are entirely done. I even managed to find a photo of my father, which is amazing. It was a photo from the last time I saw him, in January 2005.

Went out today and bought drinks for the reception and wedding ceremony itself. Five bottles of Korean raspberry wine, four bottles of a dry champagne, two bottles of non-alcoholic catawba wine, 30 bags of Korean barley tea, 30 bags of Korean green tea, and 15 bags of jujube tea (Korean, of course), three twelve-packs of soda, one and a half pounds of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (with a jar of creamer and the command to bring sugar with us). Water will be served, of course, and we have access to Mark’s Lover’s huge supply of “hey, I brought this bottle of X to this party” closet.

All of the announcements are addressed and stamped.

A pile of stuff is growing near the door.

When Good Man’s parents get here, I’m avoiding any more wedding crap until Friday.

“Amanda! This is [Special Forces]. When are you coming to class?”

“I told you I was busy with wedding planning and [Good Man]’s family, Sabumnim.”

Special Forces said, “OK, you come tomorrow.”

“Sabumnim. I am so stressed out I almost cried in the Safeway parking lot today. I wanted to cry over creamer and sugar. I will come after [Good Man’s] family is gone, OK?”

He laughed. “OK. I will see you Saturday.”

We hung up and I turned to Good Man. “Why is he bugging me? I told him I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to come to class. Give me the real answer, not the Korean one.”

Good Man tapped his chin. “Hmmm… Well, he does not want to lose a customer.”

“He isn’t the one who makes money off of me.”

“Maybe he cares about your well-being.”

Saturday’s weather forecast: Isolated thunderstorms. 70 F low, 87 F high.

Good Man’s Family should’ve taken off fifteen minutes ago. The plane hasn’t departed yet.

Make that 21 Guests and One Smart Husband

Text message from Mark:

Bought mom a plane ticket today, so she’ll be here for the wedding hope that is ok

Heck yeah, that’s OK! She was at the legal wedding and we invited Mark’s parents to the social ceremony.

Later I talked to Mark and he said he hoped it wasn’t a problem. Heck no, not at all. We’re happy she gets to come.

Good Man’s family gets here Tuesday. We did a thorough cleaning of the house and I pointed out two spots he missed in the bathroom.

“Wow,” he said with wonder in his voice, “you really are like drill sergeant.” (He took to calling me that a few weeks ago.)

“Look, if this house is a mess, your mother won’t think you’re a bad husband. She’ll think I’m a bad wife.”

Good Man laughed, “This really is like military hierarchy! When I was in army, the drill instructor always got mad at us because if we did something bad, he got in trouble! It is same here!”

If Good Man married me because I’ll make him live longer, I married him because he’s whipsmart and he makes me laugh every single day.

USCIS Biometrics and Threat Levels

Good Man had his fingerprinting appointment today, down in Alexandria, at 10 am. Good Man wanted to leave at 8:30. According to GoogleMaps, it takes a half an hour to get there, 40 in traffic, and all the roads were marked green in that direction. We left at 8:50 and got there at 9:30, and that was after I missed the turn for the ASC (Application Support Center).

I’ve gotta hand it to USCIS—we were in the office at 9:30 and back in our car at 9:44. They did did full hand prints and then individual fingerprints, and they took his photo for the EAD (Employment Authorization Document).

In the 13 or so minutes I was in the office, I saw three women show up with ID that didn’t match their application. Come on, ladies. If you get married and change your name, get some ID! If you’ve already started some sort of immigration application and get married later, wait until you’re done to change you name! Don’t give USCIS any reason to throw you in a “too tricky to deal with today, let’s wait until tomorrow” file. “This is my married name” isn’t going to fly.

Also, the notice clearly says no cell phones are allowed inside. So why were people showing up with cell phones? At least seven people were sent back to their cars to put their phones away. And then there was the poor woman who said, “But I came on a bus, I can’t put it in my car.” Well… (She did eventually go outside. I don’t know what she did with her phone.)

Now, to be fair, the notices only come in English. But there’s a ton of info out there in multiple languages about what the notices say and you’re allowed to bring an interpreter to help you fill out forms (and maybe to help you speak?). Heck, we can find the citizenship test questions in Hungulized English.

질: 후 워즈 더 펄스트 프레지던트 오브 더 유나이티드 스테이츠 오브 어메리카?

답: 조지 와싱턴.

Now, apparently the Department of Homeland Security threat code (or whatever that dumb thing that’s never been on green or blue is called) is yellow. According to a sign that was up that meant that they were only taking scheduled appointments for that day. But I’ve read multiple times on the internet about people getting in days or even weeks early, as long as they have their notice. If it’s never been below yellow, that shouldn’t be possible. The sign also said no cell phones. OK, check. And the sign said no bags or briefcases, but they let me in with my (small) purse, and they let Good Man in with his laptop bag (no laptop in it). They didn’t even check our bags.

If governmental agencies don’t even take threat levels seriously, why should the general public?