Friday, October 10, 2014


I've had three nights in Seoul so far and only the final one was plagued by jet lag. I find that I am completely uninterested in taking pictures, too, so all I have are these three. It's amazing to me how much technology has advanced, so that my entire first day was wrapped around the stress of figuring out if my phone was going to work or not (verdict: somewhere in between. It has decided to go on the fritz and only do what it wants to do, when it wants). But my second day, after a few attempts, I finally found a functional phone number for my natural dyeing teacher. They've moved, and I miraculously found the new place (there are no real addresses, streets, or street numbers here) based on "ride this subway, get off at this stop, exit here, walk straight, we're at the front of x tunnel." I cannot tell you HOW RELIEVED I was when I finally saw this sign after lots of walking back and forth and wondering if I had to beg a stranger to use their phone.
My teacher and his wife had not yet arrived, so I saw outside with the drying veggies. It was so great to see them and not at all like five years had passed. Their new place used to be a bathhouse, so it's perfect for dyeing and the like. Of course, after tea and fruit, it was time to have drinks. We went back to the neighborhood where their site used to be and went to a new place. I knew enough to refuse soju and only take beer (which in Korea is like water). My teacher's friend stopped by so there was a lot more of the whole, "You need to study more Korean history before you even think about teaching hanji," and the usual assumption that I must have abandoned my children to be here, only to find that I'm still not married.
I also heard a lot about the state of this country, its current politics, and income disparity. Day three was devoted to family that I am not living with (though they are also wonderful), and I was so happy to find my way through alleyways to an old restaurant that generations upon generations of my bloodline have frequented. The kids are all growing so quickly, and it was fantastic to see my cousins and their wives again. My cousin had forgotten a phone for me at home, which was the best excuse to see the new house, spend lackadaisical time together, and get caught up on family news. His wife is due very soon, so I will be here for a new baby! Her last one arrived about a month after I had returned from Korea the last time. I think my lack of sleep last night came from overstimulation and immense gratitude for real live family, and how much they enrich our lives.

And! Paper Connection finally has an online shop so you can buy hanji and lots of other fine papers without picking up the phone.


Velma Bolyard said...

yay, you're so present you're not using the camera. that happens to me, too. so glad you are happily finding your way to the little dyed house, to your family, to the lovely that is korea.

mjc said...

SO happy for you. And I like those flat drying baskets!

Anonymous said...

happy, also. good to find your dyeing teacher, wonderful to be reunited with family. relax and enjoy.