Archive for May, 2010

One Night’s Embassy

I don't have any pictures from last weekend. This picture from The City of Elliot Lake Fire Department website illustrates my point well enough. Please donate a better photo is if you have one.

Beneath a ceiling of stars, on a floor of soft sand, a campfire’s gravity bends time and space. A mass of native English teachers convene on 명사심리, a beach on 신지도. The 외국인 (foreigner) experience ceases to be a clash of culture; now a momentary intermingling of beings bound by common language, experience, and drink. A Tupperware drum keeps time for a guitar and voices that bellow lyrics-like a tribal chorus. Comfort clad foreigners howl through the smoke and dance familiar dances. The rhythm and setting are unmistakeably comfortable.

In this foreign place the firelight’s a temporary embassy, yet the ambassadors don’t show for nationality or politics. The details vary, but these human motives are often social in nature. This was my primary objective for living/working abroad-interact with people and understand new things first hand. However, there’s a threshold for one’s ability to relate in a foreign experience, given limits to change/time. Language, culture, politics, and varying levels of understanding can all be barriers. In the the warm halo of campfire many things are familiar. Newness is negligible, intimacy is enhanced.

Fish, fuck, eat, sleep, fight, speak-It may all go down harmoniously like a romanticized version of the wild. I may conveniently enhance my understanding of the 외국인 experience and the world. That being said I will not (cannot) give up the newness (the foreign). After all, most conversation around the campfire emanates from the 외국인 experience.


Read Full Post »

Character Development: Kelsi


She's back in Portland with a broken foot. You can't get that breakfast here, but the soccer jersey is appropriate.

I might be an egomaniac. You may have gathered this from one particular point in this writing: my girlfriend, and the second half of team Nohwa, remains the least developed character in the blog. This is not accidental. Koreancuts has always been about me. I’d hoped my girlfriend would have entered the blog via her own textual contribution. She has some great stories. Unfortunately, she has yet to respond to my prods for a post.

With this in mind I’d like to round out a very important piece to my Korean experience. Her name is Kelsi, my girlfriend and “my wife (face saving title)”. As I’ve said: we came to Korea in July 2009 and have since been working through a year-long commitment; teaching English on a small island of the south tip of the Korean peninsula. Bottom line: if there is one person, place, or thing that’s gotten me through this challenging experience, it is her.

I haven’t done a top ten list yet, so here goes:

The Top Ten Things About Kelsi

10. She’s a yoga instructor. She’s particularly coy with this subject, but is nevertheless an accomplished practitioner and recently (last year) certified instructor. Who wouldn’t see the benefits in that.

9. When she’s upset the rage is rarely misdirected at me and seldom lasts longer than 24 hrs. This might sound kinda back-handed, but it’s actually something I genuinely appreciate about her.

8. She watches sci-fi with me.

7. She likes to go for walks. This is helpful since I default to lazy. Her energy inspires me to stay active and find joy in physical activity. At the same time, she’s not over-the-top excitable, like a caffeinated gym rat.

6. She likes my cooking. This is the kind of maintenance I can sustain.

5. She’s pretty without makeup and typically won’t waste too much time getting dressed.

4. We can laugh at stuff that has no logical reason for being funny. Sometimes, there’s hilarity, even in silence.

3. When splitting a pizza she’ll fill up on a vegetable and give me an extra slice.

2. We can talk about anything (as cliché as it sounds). If we couldn’t talk about anything, and I mean anything, the relationship wouldn’t work. Period. I’m not good with leaving things unsaid between people I spend a lot of time with.

1. She’s my best general purpose friend these days. I love all of my friends for different reasons, but Kelsi takes the award for all around best performance. I love her for that.

I hope that rounds out Kelsi’s character a bit. From now on, I’ll refer to her by name, in lieu of the aforementioned “my girlfriend” or “my wife.”

P.S. Happy Mother’s day to those whom it concerns, especially my mom.

Read Full Post »