Thursday, January 08, 2009

Did I sign up for an intensive?

I didn't think I did, but I think I did. It's INTENSE. The eldest son of the master papermaker here runs the business and is teaching me, and is nonstop!! I can barely keep up and I'm learning things I never expected to. My idea of the ideal month: working hard all day, coming home to stretch, shower, write up notes on what I learned that day, read, and go to bed early. I've only done that for three nights but it's all over now b/c of the overload of info, learning, and homework. So much for going to bed before 10. But it's pretty amazing watching him spin paper into two-ply rope, just like that! So I have to practice. He claims that your hands get sweaty as you spin and that gives you the moisture necessary to twist the fibers, but I said it's not true. I have perpetually dry hands. Also, he says I can do it while watching TV. How do I explain that I don't do that, either?

Anyhow, it's total info overload. When I'm not DOING something, he's giving me history lessons (of ALL kinds, not just papermaking) or lectures on topics that are interesting, but w/vocab that is flying over my head. Everything hurts, but that's b/c so much of what I do here involves using my whole body to make stuff. My leg becomes a table, my foot a hand rest, etc. That's something about Korean culture that has always been part of my life and practice, but it's intense when it's 24/7. Floor culture is great but I'm getting old and creaky enough that my back is not so keen about it full-time.

I'm also thankful that I get to see the whole picture behind a family business. I have all three meals w/the family, which is the eldest and youngest sons, their parents, and the eldest's two daughters. His wife runs the shop in Seoul so I don't see her. It's a nice change to see how the kids here are being raised - playing with string and jacks, making things with their hands, content w/o a million toys.

I got my first internal freak out today when I thought I entered a preliminary stage of frostbite in my hands while stuffing a sack full of cords (while being lectured about the old saying, "drizzle will soak you" - my rough translation), but I survived. I've been warned to wear double socks tomorrow to harvest the trees for papermaking fiber. Scary, b/c I fear that involves a machete in a much more serious capacity than yesterday. But it's only getting colder, so it's best to do it before it gets unbearable outdoors.

Also, the motel employees have been super nice. The owner said to eat w/the women who work there and not worry about paying for food, and they insisted that I eat a red bean-filled roll yesterday AFTER I had already been stuffed full of dinner last night. My ski pants are already getting tight w/all this feeding. He said to hang out w/them b/c I MUST be lonely and bored alone in my room. Everyone thinks that. But I LOVE the down time alone and can't get enough! Yesterday I worked on new budget skeletons for FY09 and cleaned up FY08 budgets. I know, sounds boring, but I could organize my life endlessly.

And great news: there's actually a non-outhouse bathroom here that I just found today. Plus, the local dogs are barking less at me. I still feel like a snowman (as in, limited mobility) under all these layers, but so far, so good.


  1. Anonymous3:01 PM

    "Also, he says I can do it while watching TV. How do I explain that I don't do that, either?"

    Not even Grey's Anatomy? ;-)

  2. if i had internet at the motel, of course i could youtube to my heart's content. but it's not an option. besides the fact that i have to kick my GA addiction b/c it doesn't make me a very useful citizen of the world.


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