Friday, June 27, 2008

Back to words words words

Too tired to do camera to mac to flash to pc to blog.

I'm staying in level 2 and bored but it means that I don't have to kill myself doing homework (even though I may lose lots of energy trying to not be bored to tears during conversation). Lots of people switched in and out. Our new students include two US hapas. The textbooks are SO HEAVY. That part of school I really don't miss. Also, almost everyone is about 10 years younger than me. One woman said, "I know, I'm old," when she told us that she was 22. HAHAHAAAA. I'm the 2nd oldest but no one believes me. They all think I'm 10 years younger.

Someday, I would LOVE to be in a place where everyone made the right assumptions about me. Not to say that assumptions are good things to participate in, but all my life I have had to deal w/people assuming things like: I can't speak English, I can't speak Korean, I must be younger, I must be blahblahblah. I feel like people are so spot OFF when they meet me.

Then I met Bo Kyung Kim and Beau Kim, sisters, who run a business called FIDES International that provides hanji (Korean handmade paper) to western conservators. They took me to lunch at a neighborhood place where we had iced noodles and one of my favorite Korean dishes, a kind of fried pancake. They were really generous w/info and ideas for how to handle my research, and also have a lot of experience living in the US. Both are fluent in English so that made my conversing easier since I could stick in more English words. They even took me to the Fulbright office afterwards, where I got my health insurance card.

HEALTH INSURANCE!!!! Amazing. I've been covered since the day I arrived in Korea. After two years without in the worst country in the world to NOT have health insurance (though it's also the worst country in the world to HAVE health insurance), I'm now on the other side! Whew.

Then I ran badly-needed errands: sunblock, some lighter long-sleeved garments, etc. I then met Beau and her daughter for some Friday night art openings at alternative art spaces. One was a gallery space, one was a used book store, and one was a design firm (where I saw MACS, and mighty fine ones at that). We walked by tons and tons and tons and tons and tons and tons and tons of police and buses that carry police - riot guards preparing for the demos that have been shaking Korea for a while now. All the U.S. beef business and growing unpopularity of the new Korean president. It's pretty amazing. Streets are blocked, police are sitting on top of riot shields that are balanced on their riot helmets. They're hanging out, smoking, laying in the streets, etc.

Beau talked about how politics in Korea is really interesting and how it's a very emotional democracy, and one of the few in the world that came about through the PEOPLE demanding it, rather than through war or having it imposed upon them. Reminds me of how Mi-Kyoung talked about politicians having heated debates where they yell and cry and throw chairs (you'd never see that in any American chambers), and that even though it can seem embarrassing at the time, it's also reassuring to see people so passionate and willing to put it all out there. That was when we were explaining to Anna from Iceland that Americans will NOT talk politics w/each other if they know that they are talking to people who oppose their views - that out of "courtesy," we often withhold our true feelings about issues b/c we don't want to hurt other people's feelings or get into fights. Anna was shocked to hear that. It's a major problem b/c it means that no one speaks their mind.

ANYHOW. After all that, I managed to find a bus station I haven't used yet and drag myself on home. I found out that the online catalog is up for the passport show that I'm in that's traveling all over the world. See my page here, and browse around to see more artists! It's fun.

I had lots of Deep Thoughts but I am so tired I will have to just stop rambling and deal with it all later. It's almost 11:30pm my time! That's the LATEST I've stayed up in Korea since I arrived.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting post re: political procedure. Been thinking about that a lot lately, how Americans regard any display of emotion as weakness, a point to attack; how sneaky and underhanded that makes the political processes. It creates the room for the covert maneuvering. Nothing is ever 'up front'.
    Even the British parliament seems passionate by comparison, and the social fiction is that the Brits are so much more reserved than Americans.
    Nice passport, too! Congrats.

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  2. ha.. that's so funny how you cropped your sister out.. i have to send her some more pictures... after i dig through my HD, sorry about the delay.

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