Sunday, November 16, 2014


I have lost track of time as I battle to keep a cold at bay. All of the sudden leave from weaving came with tons of other drama that kept me up at nights, plus we now have real winter cold. This was from last week, the smaller kimjang at my cousin's house that her mom did. I helped only the tiniest bit; the rest of the time I was spending with field notes and translations.
These are the convenience stores that used to be Family Mart, but now are CU (with a bubble between that says, "CVS for you"). I keep wanting to figure out the bus routes that take me all the way up the mountain to home instead of having to hike it, but I have yet to ride it all the way here.
I can barely remember the week but it was a whirlwind, as Seoul life is always such. 
On Tuesday, I got to meet an amazing conservator / professor that I have wanted to meet for years and two things came up suddenly that are wonderful.
One: She knew of an excellent jiseung artist and tracked her down right in front of us (getting the number and address, only to find she had moved, and then calling to make an appointment immediately). I get to meet her next week, and because it's kind of close to where the professor teaches, I was invited to give a lecture that same morning. A little insane to have a week's notice, but also very Korean.
Tuesday (Nov 11) was also Pepero day, a fabrication by the industry to sell more Pepero (like the Japanese counterpart Pocky, which I grew up with: those skinny sticks dipped in chocolate and other flavors that come in boxes that open kind of like cigarette boxes). 11/11 apparently looks like them, and you buy them for your romantic interests, so it's like a November Valentine's day.
On Wednesday night after the tiny bit of gimjang, I met with a documentary team shooting a TV special about hanji. It's due to air Jan 1 and they wanted me to leave Korea early so they could shoot me making hanji in Cleveland. I said no, and then they suggested meeting me in Japan. Except I'm not making paper in Japan, so I'm not sure how that works. Anyhow, it's all up in the air. Above and below are from my Thursday visit to Bumilla for lunch.
I met Bum in Korea during my last visit, as he was a past Fulbright art researcher who stayed in Korea and eventually got married and opened this lovely cafe with his wife Camilla! It was nice to see him after five years and see what he is up to. I brought some cords from Morgan hanji seconds to show Camilla (who does macrame) a little bit of jiseung, and watched her barista friend show them how to make a macchiato. Then I went to say hi to Vinnie in the Fulbright office. After trying to catch up on work and prep for Japan + weave a tiny bit, I ran back to the office to say hi to Mrs. Shim on Friday, only to find out that another teacher (persimmon dyeing) from Jeju Island was calling me to see her and a colleague from California (who was about to leave Korea the next day).
I was booked for dinner that night, but managed to meet them in the streets of Insadong and talk for 20 or 30 minutes before running back to the subway to see JL for dinner. She was a researcher during my Fulbright year and is teaching theatre. The next day, I felt awful from lack of sleep and too much cold, but survived watching my cousin's daughter play outside before rushing to meet Amelea for lunch. I taught her papermaking for Oberlin at the Morgan a few years ago and she has since graduated, lived in China for two years on a Shansi Fellowship, and is now teaching English on a Fulbright grant. It's always gratifying to see promising and already accomplished Obies on their paths. Then I stopped at the enormous store near home to get seaweed for my Japan trip (probably one of the best all around gifts: Japanese people appreciate Korean seaweed, and it's so light!).
[Subway station wisdom.] I came home to lay down for a moment before my cousin took me out to a delicious dinner with his daughter. Too much food! But exactly what I needed while feeling ill. I still could use more sleep but for now need to prep for this lecture and pack for Japan. I think this is my first day without an appointment since I arrived (I had one but cancelled it: better to see my teacher on the island than in Seoul!). I realized yesterday, as I trudged up the mountain with tons of seaweed and fever sweat, that I don't remember having a vacation since 2010.


Velma Bolyard said...

yes, enormous amounts of stuff happening...vacation...sigh.

Tamara said...

I learned about Pepero in class today! My teacher said it was because they are skinny and 11/11 is skinny, too (because part of the word means skinny). Giving it to a romantic interest seems typical, since so far all the holidays we've learned about (except Alphabet day) have been about giving gifts to someone you like!