Monday, October 27, 2008

My connection sucks but

maybe it will be stable enough for me to say: I am back from the countryside and it was FANTASTIC. Coming back to Seoul made me realize that a huge chunk of my insanity comes from living in insanity. All of the traveling was JUST FINE - train to train to bus to festival to temple via car, festival and back via car, and then car to bus to taxi to train back to crazy Seoul. Totally doable, even when random men ask for me to ride the train w/them to get the cheap fare (I even scored some breakfast from one), and even when the bus driver suddenly puts on the emergency brake at a stoplight and walks back to me, the ONLY person on the bus, to ask if he can use my cell phone.

I stayed an extra night at the temple, which was NOTHING like I expected. I never even went to the temple part of it. The food was amazing. Everyone was super nice. I worked two days at the festival, basically doing what I always do at fairs: helping kids make paper, and selling paper. The other volunteers worked way more than me but I didn't even know I was going to be re-living book & paper fair land!! So given that, on top of traveling and not sleeping enough and trying to be on my best behavior, I did okay. It was a fun group of people to work with and the whole first day of travel consisted of strangers telling me that I was pretty, so I can't really complain. One even looked up the Chinese characters of my name (the only characters I know besides the one for "water") so I have a better translation than the one I learned 11 years ago.

The Buddhist nun, after a long "interview," said she would help me as much as possible, which means that I can come and stay at the temple for as long as I need, and she will take me to a different province where there is a papermill so she can teach me how to pull sheets, since her studio isn't built yet. She just has a paper museum built. And I shouldn't say "just" - it's beautiful! I sadly didn't get to take photos, but that's okay since I'll get to go back. And I didn't want to make her feel like I was putting her stuff out there for other people to rip off, since she's had that happen to her a lot.

Waking up in the morning and walking out to see the sun peeking out of mountains, coming home at night and getting out of the car to see tons and tons of twinkling stars, watching someone who may be my future teacher totally blissed out while sitting in a sea of paper, seeing a woman pull green onions out of the garden to prepare breakfast, CLEAN AIR...all the skittish stuff fell away, all the tiny worries. The big ones were still there and other worries like "where is the bathroom?" but clean air, clean water, good clean local vegetarian food, and a nice fat Louise Erdrich novel from a friend who gets it cancelled out any bad stuff.

Oh, crap. I just realized I forgot to do my homework for tomorrow's tutoring session. Too tired to do it tonight...even though I had a nap on the wonderfully fast and smooth train home today going 300 km/hr. This weekend was exactly what I needed when I needed it. Pics, etc. to come.

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