Sunday, July 13, 2008

Poor planning, but I'm no DP

Whoops. I took my camera + an extra set of batteries to the beach and both sets died before I could get out of the condo (called Ocean Castle). So, no pictures! Sorry. It's fine, though, b/c it was just a beach, nothing particularly stunning about it. Just the landforms at the ends were different from what I usually see. It was a REALLY quick trip, 24 hours from door to door. But I'm still glad that we went. After leaving school on Friday (this is the monstrosity I have to look at when I arrive, M-F. Makes me laugh every day), I walked uphill forever to get to my cousin's house. We had lunch and cleaned a little before going shopping w/her son. That alone was an adventure. Classic things like fighting about what toy he would get, wanting to sit on the floor, and dumping a half-closed bottle of Gatorade into our shopping bag. After rushing through three noodle dishes for dinner, I met my other cousin at the hospital to catch a cab to the subway to the street where we met his brother and his brother's wife, who then drove us all the way to the west coast.

[This would NOT be the west coast, but the cooking studio at school where we made a traditional Korean noodle dish during the first two hours of class.] Mystic's "W" was stuck in my head on the 2-3 hour drive west to a large island, once covered in dense pine forests, but chopped down by the Japanese for the quality of the wood right around the beginning of the Japanese colonial period in Korea. It used to only be accessible by boat but now there's a bridge. We ended up on the west coast of the island, too, in a condo w/a view of the beach. Most everyone stayed up (except for the two kids) and we had a funny conversation about how to raise kids re: language and pronunciation. It made me realize why my dad is the way he is - b/c HIS father was like that, which is why my uncle is like, which is why my cousin is like that w/his daughter right now. I like hearing family stories from other family members. It's nice to replenish the family myth bank. I hardly slept and the kids woke up at 6am just about tearing down our doors. I managed to escape the first trip out to the beach, but ended up then doing full-time duty at the swimming pool/sauna. I think I was only able to do so much swim time w/my niece b/c the pool only came up to the middle of my ribs. Then we had an amazing Japanese lunch - soooooooo much seafood. Things I've never seen before. Totally gorgeous. That was the only thing that made me sad about not being able to use my camera.

I then ran out to the beach alone and then we drove back, in time for me to feel really sick and take lots of meds and go to bed early. I only started to feel better late this afternoon after two naps, three rounds of cold medicine, and a whole carafe of homemade Korean citron tea. It was probably a mix of too little sleep, too much babysitting, too much sitting in the back seats of cars, too much A/C, and too much raw fish. But I still managed to get my homework done, even though I still don't think I've learned a lick of vocab. I keep INTENDING to 1. read the new picture book from my cousin, 2. re-write and memorize 10 pages of vocab, 3. learn grammar on my own, and 4. skim 11 volumes of Korean history. I'm just so impatient to get through books in Korean the way I do in English that I forget that I'm about 1,000 times slower at everything in Korean. I'm having a hard time accepting this.

I also feel super out of touch w/things going on back home. I just found out this morning about a high school classmate who was in a bad biking accident (he was hit by a car) and tonight's dinner conversation was mostly me trying to explain to my aunt why Angelina went to Namibia to have a baby. I feel like I'm not on my feet at all w/my language studies, not anywhere I want to be w/my research (even though I'm not technically on my research grant yet), and still confused about who I'm supposed to reach out to amongst all my family and my family's friends. I feel like I NEED so much but I'm not sure where I'm supposed to get everything I need, and not sure who I'm supposed to ask for help. Since there's so much etiquette that I'm unaware of in terms of asking for help and receiving it from specific people.

But beyond the extreme exhaustion and ungrounded feeligns, the best part about being here for a while is watching my cousins' children get to know and trust me. As cold as it was in the pool yesterday, it was important for me to hold this girl in my arms and not let her feel like she was going to drown. The fact that it would have been impossible didn't matter (she was tall enough to stand up w/o the water going over her head, and she had floaties on her arms). She was on her back and I had her back and legs supported, and then I would bounce her butt up every time it sunk down. A few times, she gripped me b/c she was scared that she was sinking, and those were the times that I would make sure that she knew, through my body, that I would never let that happen (I have a childhood experience of drowning, and drowning is actually ancestral baggage on my mother's side of the family).

Ellie-Jo and I have been emailing about vulnerability and how to find people who can let you be that way. I think I have gotten so way beyond letting myself go soft that seeing an 8-year-old totally trust me, someone she has only seen three times in her life, makes me super conscious of my responsibility to others.

No comments:

Post a Comment

thanks for visiting!