Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cracks of all sorts

[Part of Jeong-In's huge studio windowsill.] I wanted to go to bed early tonight b/c I've been so overworked and sick lately, but I started the worrying immediately so I figured to just stay up and worry while getting a few things done instead of roll around in bed and worry. Things have been chaotic lately. I feel that I'm straying from the path, feeling really far removed from papermaking. I guess that's part of the peril of research + all the extra stuff. It turns into a test of discipline. I love going off on tangents, but suddenly I have all this reading material that I haven't touched and haven't been successful in making the tons of phone calls I was supposed to this week. I've been a complete slacker in language studies and just generally feeling out of it.

My family confirmed today that I've lost a bunch of weight (I'm sure it's only in my face), and they saw me about 2-3 weeks ago, so the weird sickness and overwork has taken its toll. A couple weeks ago, I made a commitment to talk about my work and teach a binding to a group of book arts enthusiasts, and the prep and stress for that tipped the scale. But that was yesterday. On the way home, some disgusting older man was all over me on the subway (once a seat next to me opened up, he changed seats, spread his legs wide, and proceeded to "read the newspaper" while opening it so wide that his arm was rubbing up against mine. Every time I tried to move away from him, he'd just encroach more. I finally just got up and changed my seat, but freaked out a little when he got off at the same stop as me. After consulting a friend and my cousin today, I now know that it would have been completely appropriate for me to start screaming at him (English swearing would have been okay, too), esp since there were plenty of other people on the train. And also, that once I got off it would have been okay to go to the stationmaster and alert them and they'd call the police. Good to know now but it was awful to have to deal with that after a really long day of language exams, binding prep, almost passing out in the classroom, and doing the whole seminar.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how people here feel fine coming up to me to let me know that I'm flashing people or dressed inappropriately or whatever, and in the process of asking my teacher about that part of Korean culture, heard her end of it. She taught Korean at Wellesley for two years, and said that she was really shocked to see her students and other randoms in the street walking around w/low-cut jeans and their underwear and/or ass cracks hanging out. As soon as she said that, I realized that I have not seen a single butt crack since I've landed!! Which I have to admit is really nice.

In that spirit, I've set the theme for September's photos at eyes everywhere, so tune in starting next Saturday to see what everyone else comes up with. We have a new artist contributing from Dubai! It's nice to have a weekly project, since I've also lately been feeling VERY removed from the world, and all worlds that once provided me with intellectual, artistic, social, and spiritual nourishment. I thought I had set things up to help me, but it's not quite working out. I have the photo blog project, the mail art project with Ching-In, and my own subscription series, but it's still feeling peripheral to my life, like one more thing to do. Hopefully once classes end (one week left, wohoo!), I'll get more time to do my thing (at least 10 more hours each week!). And after the end of November, I'll have ALL my time for research/etc., once tutoring ends.

The other thing that I think has added to my insanity is the lack of reading that I'm doing. I don't have anything right now to read in English, besides a book of Krishnamurti blurbs, so I think if I just had someone else's stories to lean on every once in a while (even just weekend nights would be fine), I'd regain some peace of mind.

Oh! I went to the dentist today. Pretty much, there is nothing to be done for my TMJ wackiness and bruxism. But the dentist was really nice and drew all these pictures for me to show me what is wrong w/my jaw bone, teeth, fillings, etc. He's super busy so it was nice that he took the time to do that. He already put resin on my teeth to reduce sensitivity. But that's part of the scariness: I feel like all the things today that happened were things that would NEVER happen back home! My x-rays were shot w/o ANY protection to the rest of my body, and right out the open in the same room where 3 other chairs are set up for patients and assistants. Also, I swear that the resin he put on my teeth is just a glorified version of epoxy. I felt like I was just getting epoxy in my mouth. Hmm.

The not so fun news is that I have to go now every Saturday to replace ALL of my fillings. SEVEN of them!!! AAAAGHHH. But Dr. V had already told me in Chciago years ago that I had to do that. I just didn't have the funds at the time to do it. My friend who took me there joked that I didn't come to Korea to study, I just came to get all my medical needs taken care of! But as an American, how could it be any different? The dentist today said that if I did this dental work in the US, I'd have to sell a house to be able to afford it. Too true.

Other conversations today touched on depress-o topics like the new scary Korean prez who is being compared to both Bush and Hussein. Nasty stuff going on here, with blatant suppression of any anti-prez media, his desire to switch to a managed health care system like the US (I'd think that the ENTIRE WORLD would run screaming from a system like that!), and pandering to the rich while ignoring the poor. We also talked about if and how reunification would work, and how Korea was simply a pawn for Russia, China, Japan, and the US, but that at the time it had no power to do anything but be divided. Apparently, Korea is also the only country in the world that once received Unicef aid but now gives to Unicef to aid other nations.

The interesting story I heard today about the end of the Korean war was how China sent its military to counter the US army, and that it overwhelmed the US just by its sheer numbers: the soldiers simply marched from north to south, with absolutely no weapons, and just clapped. The US could shoot all it wanted, but the dead soldiers would be replaced by waves of new soldiers, clapping. There was no end. Anyone who saw the Olympics ceremonies would have a better sense of how many people live in China. So the US just called it a draw.

Tomorrow is my one full day off, though! My niece will be around in the morning, but I can deal with it until she goes to church (tho she keeps asking why I don't go). Also, HOW is it already September??! And Labor Day?!? I've lost alllll sense of time / season. Fulbright is closed Monday so I'll have to wait until Tuesday to pick up my business cards. Finally.

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