Friday, June 26, 2009

No rice for weeks

I've been so all over the place lately that I haven't turned on my rice cooker since I can't remember when. Plus, the hot weather kills my appetite. This is a slide from Erin's Fulbright Forum tonight on relations b/t North Korea and China [answers: 1. 1950-, 2. nothing, 3. no]. I know people are worried, but I'm fine and if anything were to happen here (highly unlikely) it would be instant death, so no worries. But all parties involved seem highly uninterested in war. A ton of my hard copy research is on a boat, my electronic files are backed up on my server, and life continues as usual. Some people say, "be safe! be careful!" but there is nothing to do in that regard. Tonight when I got out of the cab after helping the AIEA group of university administrators get back to their digs, the driver scolded me: ride back home! It's a long walk! What if a man sees you?? These are the real concerns of everyday life here as a woman (actually, it's quite safe here, more so than any other major city I've visited. Even though some serial killer of women lived in this neighborhood).

This is the last forum I'll attend; it was a treat to see Katherine again, and also the AIEA group. We all ended up going shopping afterwards, which was hilarious. Katherine gave the taxi driver instructions before seeing us all off, and he eventually asked if I was Korean and that my Korean was good and why wasn't I married? If I get asked this question on my last day here, that will be the neverending question of my entire stay, from day 1 to day 382. Good times.

I met Chunhwa this morning at the World Cup Stadium; I was badly sleep deprived so I said NO to the hike up the mountain that is actually an enormous pile of trash. After walking the park area and sitting by the artificial lake/pond, we went into the Home Plus (a mega mart of sorts) to eat Korean junk food for breakfast. On our way out, we were highly distracted by the huge sales and walked out in a completely new outfit (Chunhwa) with 9 new pieces of clothing (me). I also got a call from my weaving teacher: the lacquered pieces don't look good, so he wants them to get more coats next week, and postponed our farewell dinner to next Friday. Which meant I was able to go home, do laundry, nap, and attend the forum. The tricky thing will be actually making it back to Seoul next Friday after taking a 2-day trip out of town...nothing ever goes as planned here. Ever. Usually it turns out fine, but never as expected.

My newly-promoted bf (captain!) walked me through the rest of my stay, so I've stuck to the list and lots done. The remaining 12 days will involve individual farewells, a final group dinner, classes, meetings, and even tiny pockets of time for me to make art. His advice was to start packing NOW so I get a better sense of truly how much I have...I was reluctant to admit it, but it's a good idea. He totally gets the situation, having been a Fulbrighter years ago and having had longer stints in Korea. I think this means that I need to stop buying new clothes.

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