Sunday, September 28, 2008

Death days and birth days

Tonight we had our annual death rites for my grandfather, who passed away 8 years ago (that was the last time I was in Korea - I saw him when he was in the hospital a few months before he died). Today was also my nephew's 3rd birthday (LSH = Lee Seung Hyun). There was a LOT of family, including more "have I ever seen them before??" relatives. Tons of food. Tons of shrieking children. I got my first massage since I've landed, from my 5-yo nephew. And so on. All in all, it was a packed family day.

I'm feeling really sad. I am not present at all these days, which was one of my goals for being here. But it's too hard! I am especially overwhelmed by the research prospects. There are SO MANY LEADS to follow, with no guaranteed payoff. This project is no joke. I feel like I'm learning how to tame a wild animal that I have never before encountered, and that very few people have tamed in the past.

I also am suffering from overbooking disease, which is when you cram your calendar to the hilt, and then double book on top of that. Tomorrow I may meet a potential roommate. Very weird living situation prospect, but I have to get out of this current situation soon b/c it's taken large chunks of what sanity I had left. I can see why people sometimes just up and leave early, even on Fulbright. And also why independent research is really freaking difficult, especially in a field where people take one look at me and don't think I can make paper b/c I'm a woman. Or b/c I don't look strong enough. Or think I know nothing about making paper!!! This last one I need to work on - I'll ask my tutor tomorrow for help, b/c I am sick and tired of people thinking that I'm just some random person who landed in Korea to check out hanji w/o having done any research or papermaking.

I found out today that one of my aunts knows the hanji enthusiast I've been trying to meet! She had denied my request to visit b/c I was a random stranger calling her home (and she's quite old, recovering from surgery), but now I have a connection! Thank goodness. I also found out that the widow of a hanji maker in the town that I visited yesterday is still alive and well and in the hanji business. So it's nice to know that some leads are still warm. I have tons and tons of legwork to do, and it's getting colder (weather-wise) fast.

I'm definitely in a weird family zone lately. Hopefully some major pieces of my life here will come together very shortly and I can stop posting like a zombie.

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