2011 meguk thanksgiving.2

2011 meguk thanksgiving.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

our 16 pound delight. . .

2011 meguk thanksgiving.3

2011 meguk thanksgiving.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

my pumpkin pie. . . had to make the crust from scratch.

2011 muguk thanksgiving.5

2011 muguk thanksgiving.5, originally uploaded by ekissam.

the celebrity of the day comes out for a photo shoot. . . and basting.

2011 muguk thanksgiving.6

2011 muguk thanksgiving.6, originally uploaded by ekissam.

the final spread (not all pictured) turkey, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, corn bread pudding, two different stuffings, gravy and cranberry sauce.

2011 muguk thanksgiving.7

2011 muguk thanksgiving.7, originally uploaded by ekissam.

enjoying the meal with chopsticks

2011 muguk thanksgiving.8

2011 muguk thanksgiving.8, originally uploaded by ekissam.

dessert round, i didn't even get a chance to take a picture of their initial set before they were partially ravished. ice cream, apple pie, and pecan pie for starters.

2011 muguk thanksgiving.9

2011 muguk thanksgiving.9, originally uploaded by ekissam.

a chocolate cake and pumpkin pie to finish things off.


not a pretty girl

i recently attended a friend’s wedding. i really looked forward to the event, and i helped her with a few wedding and honeymoon details. she was really appreciative, as was her fiancee and her mom. she told me that her mom expressed a lot of interest in finally meeting me after hearing so much about me. (we spent last year as teaching partners.)

on the day, i was so excited to see my friend in her dress and give her congratulations that i didn’t realize i passed her mom. there was a quick exchange between her and another korean teacher next to me. i saw that i got the once over and before i could react, i missed the chance to say a formal greeting in korean. her mom left the room. later i tried to get her attention (mostly through eye contact) to perhaps get another chance to say hello, but it didn’t happen. i can understand it. a wedding is a busy place.

however, during the picture taking portion of the ceremony i saw that my friend’s mom sought out my friend’s current teaching partner; a lovely girl who hasn’t always been the most supportive and responsible of partners. they shook hands and what i heard translated was, ‘nice to meet you. you are so pretty.’

what i further interpreted was, ‘oh, you will be a lovely addition to our daughter’s wedding photographs. being pretty excuses the fact that you arrived with only a few minutes left in the ceremony. we will also overlook that you will jet off to the buffet before the traditional portion of the ceremony even begins.’

i’m not a pretty girl. i’m a cute girl.

i’m short. i’m roundish. my face is fairly symmetrical. my eyes are largish. my face is round and freckled. my skin is mostly unblemished. i have expressive features. i have a sort of ‘cabbage patch kid’ nose. i’m told i look younger than my age.

sure, there are worse things. taking the time to digest all this and write it down may be seen as whiny, and i might be whiny. i think maybe my sensitivity to these issues has grown while living abroad. i’m far from people and places that are familiar with me. i lack context. ‘pretty’ seems to build an instant and more desirable context than cute.

the problem from the outside

humans (in general) think that babies are cute. if we didn’t think babies were cute then we might be inclined to not put up with dealing with the difficulties of child rearing when it gets unbearable. basically, thinking that babies are cute insures the propagation of more humans. we will take care of cute things. but i’m simplifying.

a study in cute

what wikipedia says

the anthropological/ biological drive to care for cute things means that i’ve gotten help from unlikely sources.

(for those of you who aren’t familiar with entertainment technicians, there is a lot of rough exteriors and machismo attitudes. there’s a high level of camaraderie that must be earned. ) a friend and i were on a work call. we were still in college at the time and we were working a professional call. there’s always a sense of apprehension when crews are mixed, and college students aren’t inherently trusted. the professional crew would roll their eyes at us and pick us for their crews like unwilling captains in a high school dodgeball game.

my friend was assigned to lighting, and i was assigned to the sound crew. one of my tasks was to run a sound cable. there was a truss hanging a couple of feet off the floor. to make sure the electricity didn’t cause interference with the sound equipment, i had to put it higher than the lighting equipment, well out of my reach from the floor. the ladders were being used by other crews. and the lighting equipment on the truss made it too difficult to walk on. i felt like i was being watched. ‘go on hot shot. . . whatcha gonna do?’ the other sound techs worked on placing large heavy speakers.

efficiency was important. not making a fool of myself was important. finally, i pushed a road box up to the truss and climbed on it with the equipment i needed. i tied the points up and rolled myself along the truss on the road box casters. i’d given myself a rolling ladder. i was making pretty quick work of it when a tall rigger approached me. his crew was mostly on break (they had to wait for everyone else to finish before they could do anything else.) there was still a lot of work to do with the lighting but he came off break to help me. he fed me the cable and helped me roll along.

i remember thinking it was odd. i remember that at that point, i didn’t need help. i had figured out how to get the job done and i was going to finish quickly. he (and no one else on his crew) popped up to help any other crews. it even seemed that the other sound techs could’ve used a hand moving and hanging the large and heavy speakers.

i got two different reads on the room. the first, i’d been giving a pretty crap job and it had been laughable that they’d asked the shortest crew member to do it. maybe they had thought i would whine about it. . . or that i’d just look around and beg for help till someone took pity on me? but i didn’t. i put together a decent solution and put it to work. test passed. i’m not a total waste of a hired position. the second, someone thought that i shouldn’t have been left to that task alone. someone felt the need to care for me.


we hit a sizable dichotomy here.

i’m often given large responsibilities, rather quickly. . . and somehow i’m rarely taken seriously. yeah, i know, it doesn’t make much sense.

being cute rarely instills confidence. (do you ever ask a baby for advice?) maybe it would help if i wore a little make-up.

made up

i was often asked to lead crews.* i found that i got the best results when i didn’t have to vocally direct much but lead by example . . . with a dash of guilt.

when i checked in on a project, a crew member might ask what i thought. my mouth would say, “that’s one way to do it. are you gonna leave it like that?” and my eyes would say, ‘sure, electricity will run through that. the lights will light up when we want them to. there’s nothing really wrong with your wiring except it looks like something the cat coughed up. do you need me to show you how to make it sexy?’when the project was refinished, there was pride in it.

people i worked with like this took me seriously.

part of the same job was to attend production meetings. i spoke up when i had a thought or a concern.

once i commented on our holiday schedule. i noted that, since we did so many productions each year, it might ease the schedule and the budget to have an annual holiday show during the christmas season. (it made sense to me. i lived in boston, where there was more than one production of the nutcracker each year. both of them sold well. i lived in san francisco where there was a holiday solstice show each year that did well.)

i was shot down pretty hard by the same man who put me in charge of the electrics department. without taking a minute to consider it he went on about how boston and san francisco had a large base population to fill the seats. i agreed but argued that many people went to see the show year after year as a tradition. (hell, we even sit around and watch things like the macy’s thanksgiving parade, a miracle on 34th street, what a wonderful life, a christmas story year after year.) i was quickly assured that nothing like that would work in the area we lived in. . .blah blah blah.

several years later i heard from friends still working at that theatre that they turned ‘a christmas carol’ into an annual show. they change the setting around a little each year, but it’s become a tradition running for several years now.

the problem from the inside

i’m rarely black and white. if you ask me how to get from one place to another i would answer, ‘you can go this way,’ because. . .you can. i can tell you the route i’d rather take, but it might not be to your liking. so i try to give you a choice.

when my lighting students asked me about using specific lighting instruments, i got the feeling that i frustrated them. ‘sure, you can use that unit there. . . but you might not get the effect you want. also, it’s not the most conventional use of that light for that position. . .but you can do it. if you want my opinion, i suggest you try this one.’ not the most direct answer.

nearly all things i do are steeped in this ambiguous trait; choosing a place to eat dinner, choosing a movie to watch, or picking a train route. the scales don’t seem to tip one way or the other for me. i feel non definitive. i rarely feel like i speak with any authority. or perhaps, it’s just that no matter how i speak, no one really reacts as if i’ve said it authoritatively.** (gets difficult to tell if the problem is from inside or outside.)

one caveat. when i really do want something. you will know it. but then i feel like i come off as nag-ish for pushing for my choice.

own it! work it! . . . feed it?

i can’t say i haven’t taken advantage of this from time to time. for a long time i wore my hair in pig-tails. first, for safety. i had to keep my hair out of the way of table saws, drill presses, welding arcs and such. also, my hair wasn’t long enough for a pony tail, so pig-tails it was. it worked more for the outside world than my theatre family. the staff at a wood working shop, hardware store, electrical supplier would come to my aid (usually with a little condescension.) ‘can i help you with that, little lady?’ ‘what’s a girl like you need with 300 feet of romex?’

however, it had it’s more serious applications.

i had a mentor who was completely uncomfortable around me. (i had questioned her authority, angered her and whatnot.) however awkward it was, i still needed to interact with her regularly. the problem was that she had become completely skittish around me; dropping paperwork, knocking over her coffee. her nerves and behavior would detract from the things we needed to get done. as a quick fix, to get through a meeting with her, i would take a passive position. if she was standing, i’d sit. if she was at her desk i’d hand her my paperwork and kneel down next to her desk to point things out. i did it unintentionally at first, but then noticed the difference it made and continued to do it intentionally.

surely, you jest

this is a problem i can live with. “sexy, hot, and pretty” are not part of my context. there are worse things.

a final thought as you scoff off my complaint. (because why would you take me seriously?)

think back to a graduation, a confirmation, a funeral or wedding, some pivotal rite of passage thingy. how were you approached? perhaps a hearty pat on the back, or a generous hug, maybe a firm and proud handshake or even a ‘gosh darn it’ shoulder punch?

on several occasions i stood with others in a line of reception. i watched as teachers, priests, loved ones, co-workers walked down the line and gave out hugs and handshakes. i received many of both, and then i received something that no one else got. i got a head pat. yeah, that’s right. you know that thing you see a dog owner do when their dog brings the stick back?***

‘here, here girl. what’s that you’ve got there. what’s that? hunh? what’s that? is that a diploma? ahhh, good girl. gooooooood girl!’

kinda makes me feel like shitting in someone’s shoes.

*i have a theory on that too. i just read in a wired magazine that a quick way to gain trust is to exhibit self control, be on time, and come through with what you say you will do. HA! i had that nailed from early on. quick trust

**funny, one of the biggest criticisms i got, over and over, while writing my thesis in grad school, was that i wrote too passively.

***sure, i guess it’s also lovingly done to young children. the tousle of a child’s hair after they’ve been a little rapscallion.


binary switch

i’ve taken to flipping a coin to make inconsequential decisions lately. it really cuts down on time. plus, at its worse use, the coin flip points me to a more desired outcome when i might not have been able to determine my own feelings. wavering over where to go for dinner, what to eat for dinner or which pencil to buy usually takes up far more time and energy than it should, so a simple coin flip makes the decision. or, in measuring my disappointment in the outcome, points me toward the more desired outcome. so if i’m deciding between pizza and sushi, and i’m not sure which one i want, but i’m getting more and more hungry by the minute, a simple flip expedites the process. if it comes up sushi and i’m fine, then sushi it is. but if the toss comes out pizza, and i feel a little pang of regret, then i know i really wanted the sushi. . . so again, sushi it is.

fine for the simple decisions, right? but what about the bigger ones.

well, usually i employ a sophisticated formula of pro and con lists, dream interpretation, advice gleaned from family and friends, and my own graph-able percentage of contentment over time. you know, sort of a timeline showing the simple idea of how much i like the state of my life vs. how much i don’t.

a good read out is 70%/ 30%. that is to say that 70% of the time i like what’s going on around me, in life and work and 30% of it is less desirable. i think i’m pretty comfortable in a 70%/ 30% environment. it feels stable with a decent amount of adversity. i start to get really anxious and worried when things drop into the 60%/ 40% region, especially for a long period of time. a full month of 60%/ 40% will keep me up at night. so why am i here weighing a 70%/ 30% around? because i want an 80%/ 20%. don’t get my wrong. . . from day to day i can have an 80%/ 20% or even a 90%/ 10%, but over the course of a couple of weeks or couple of months there will be a 50%/ 50%, 40%/ 60% or worse that will knock the sunshine right out of the 90%/ 10%’s.

i’d like to think that most of my bigger moves have had a significant improvement on the contentment percentage over time equation, with a couple of hiccups. so here i am, with a 70%/ 30% and weighing my options because it’s time to make more decisions. . . and i am just kinda getting sick of writing pro and con lists. . . so how about something more binary.

off or on. heads or tails with a little less chance of a coin toss. what if i just weigh the difficulty levels of two things and see which one outweighs the other.

is staying* more difficult than leaving, or is leaving** more difficult than staying?

*- taking into account: a loss of novelty of living in a new area/ problems that have been addressed before have never been fixed and continue to be problems and therefore will become more annoying with time/ the fact that i feel stagnant etc.

**- taking into account: i have made no future plans/ job insecurity in the US/ i really hate packing/ my desire to have an 80%/ 20% life is largely fueled by the idea that the grass always seems greener elsewhere

ok, so i guess the binary switch is still pretty heavily laden with all the ideas from my previous formula, but somehow i felt the “0” or “1” of ‘which is more difficult’ made it easier in my own brain.

now. . . in following the path of least resistance, like electricity and the wu wei.. . . is that really the better path?

damn. . . guess it’s time to break out the graph paper again.


this one's for grandma

my cousin updated her facebook status today, saying that she had been to see the lion king in a theatre, and the last time she had seen it in a theatre she was with our grandma. she added how much she missed grandma. i ‘liked’ it, and commented that i agreed. then i cried for a while.

my grandma was* the type of grandma who would exclaim how beautiful you were upon walking into the room. didn’t matter how you actually looked.

when i see other people with their grandparents or elderly relatives i have a repetitive cycle of emotions. i’ve had it for as long as i can remember. the, ‘aww, how sweet’ endearment is immediate, but short lived. it’s a coarse thought that i’m not so proud of, but my next immediate thought is sympathetic and sardonic and goes something like this; “that’s sweet. too bad your grandparents aren’t my grandparents because there’s no way those people can love you as much as my grandparents love me. still, it’s nice that you try.”

it sounds incredibly childish, but i feel it solidly. it’s like believing in god. you can’t prove it god exists, but for someone who believes in god, it’s absolutely true for them.

likewise, there is no way that i can prove to you that my grandparents are/were better than yours. but i can tell you it’s absolutely true.

i feel bad for people who don’t/ didn’t have my grandparents. i only had/ have one set of grandparents. my mom’s parents passed before i was born. i think i would’ve liked my mom’s mom a great deal -not so sure about her dad- but i feel that i was blessed with the greatest grandparents alive- and the other grandparents would’ve been a cheaper, knock-off set by comparison. (sorry mom, but when you’re dealing with the ‘superman’ of grandparents, the rules change.)

there were times when my family would get together with aunts, uncles and cousins. sometimes my cousins’ other grandparents would be there. even as a youngster i would size them up. i’d look over at my younger cousins and think, “man, it’s got to be weird having to pretend that you like those people as much as your ‘real’ grandma and grandpa.” other grandparents were stern and cold. my grandparents laughed a lot and dosed out compliments and hugs. my cousins, brother and i were the most talented, intelligent, athletic, and beautiful children.

i sometimes forget that because i’m about ten years older than my cousins, they didn’t get to see grandma the same way i did. i got to see her before she was ill. she was always up early and making a frenzy of work in the kitchen. i wasn’t much of a breakfast person, but upon setting a toe on the floor at the bottom of the stairs she wanted to know what i wanted for breakfast; eggs, pancakes, bacon, cereal, toast. i opted for toast a lot- but that didn’t make decisions easier. “white, wheat, rye, pumpernickel, or cinnamon-raisin?”

you often hear about ‘grandma’s’ recipes from people. ‘oh, my grandmother had the best cobbler.’ blah, blah, blah. . yadda, yadda. (remember always- your grandmother is human, mine is superman.) my grandmother was a good cook. one iconic thing she had was lasagna. i’ve had lasagna here and there. some of it was good, and i’m always thankful for anyone who goes to the trouble of making it. . . . but it. isn’t. my. grandma’s. lasagna. sorry. my grandma’s lasagna had two secret ingredients. one of them was love, and the other i might teach you if i ever make her lasagna for you. even then, it can’t be as good, because she didn’t make it.

she was deathly allergic to shellfish and due to diabetes, there were many foods that she could no longer have. she often said, ‘take a bite for grandma’ when she knew you’d have something she couldn’t have. when i was younger i asked her what she meant. she explained she couldn’t eat it anymore and that if i thought of her when i took a bite then she could taste it again.

my grandmother died a little over nine years ago. i was in grad school, in ohio. my parents called during the week to give me a warning that they expected her to pass soon. i stood outside our main theatre school building shifting from side to side (very much realizing at that moment that shifting from side to side seemed to be something i did a lot, especially under stress). my friends joined me outside and tried to calm me down. i chatted with them through my tears. the week went on. there was a show on. sunday morning my parents called to let me know she passed. we made plans for the week then i got up and went to strike the show. my advisor called me over, wondering if i had heard any news. we were nearly done with the strike. without looking up from the floor i told her that my grandma had passed earlier that morning, and that i would most likely be missing a few days of school that week. then i went to finish the work.

one of the last things i got to tell grandma was that i had gotten an apprenticeship for the summer. toward the end she wasn’t always coherent, but she had some good days. that day was good. i told her i was going to work with an opera company. her eyes lit up wide and bright and watered a little. she loved opera.

she wouldn’t get to know how much that job meant to me. how it spun my world for better or worse. it filled my life with some of the hardest and best earned fulfillment i’ve had. she never got to taste it the way i did.

every so often there was a particularly beautiful aria that would stop me in my tracks. i sat in a quiet corner backstage closed my eyes and said, ‘this one’s for grandma.’ i would envision my ears funneling the sound through me and turning my body into a vibrating loudspeaker to my grandma.

i don’t know if my cousin acted as literally as i did as she watched lion king and thought of grandma. i like the thought though- my cousins, my brother and myself as a combined group feeding my grandma information (through the death curtain- like spies through the cold war curtain) snippets and bites as we continue on through our lives.

i don’t believe in life after death. but i would love to be proven wrong someday if my grandma would meet me on the other side and thank me for the beautiful music.

(of course then i’d have to do some apologizing and backtracking to my other grandparents about this blog.)

-i realize this was grandma centric even though i speak of both my grandparents as being supermen among ordinary humans. . . and sorry for the tense slashing. i still have one grandparent, my grandpa- just as my grandma is better than your grandma. . . so my grandpa is better than your grandpa. did your grandpa hand build a gorgeous cradle for you with hearts cut outs before you were born. .. that’s right. he didn’t. . . mine did.

*i just typed ‘is’ and had to go back to correct it.



2011.hometrip.5, originally uploaded by ekissam.

while home i put my mom's new sewing machine to use. i trimmed up some of my clothes and then set out to make a going away gift for my friend camille. we both own animal suits that we've gotten here in korea. i used one of my animal suits as the template for her favorite character, max from where the wild things are. (here my brother graciously models my creation.)


2011.hometrip.4, originally uploaded by ekissam.

in the end, it turns out the animal suit i had and used as a template, is a shorter size then the animal suit camille owns. . . so my costume ended up sitting close to her knees. arg. the best laid plans, i tell you!


2011.hometrip.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

my cat is super cute. . . but you can't tell because his fur mimics the light sucking aspect of a black hole. he's sleeping here (you might be able to make out the white tuft on his chin) with his front paw crossed over his head.


2011.hometrip.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

my R2 and my parents' R2 share a proper and prominent position over the tv.


2011.hometrip.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

lump has a special cushion, now tailored to his form, on the new couch.


2011.hometrip.13, originally uploaded by ekissam.

mom and dad's yard looked really good, and there was no small amount of wild life. chipmunks, squirrels, ground hogs, rabbits, and this deer. dan and i pitched apples at it for about twenty minutes before it left leisurely.


laiza.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

camille and i met up with some others at a really cute cafe/ club to watch a friend sing. don't know if you can tell, but on one screen they're playing 'jason and the argonauts', 'romeo and juliet' on another, and 'peter pan' on a third.


laiza.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

laiza sang some lovely songs that evening. . .and i think we made a pretty good cheering section.


work.birthday, originally uploaded by ekissam.

a shared birthday for veca and adam. later they posed with another co-worker's son and took faux 'family shots.'


bongotruck&bikes, originally uploaded by ekissam.

not sure where they're going with so many bikes. ..


outting.2011.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

sometime in may or june (i forget now) a group of us got together and rented a room in the 'country' for the weekend. it was basically just a floor to sleep on with an attached bathroom and a small kitchen. the area was rather lovely.


outting.2011.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

a nice tented area to sit outside near the water. we spent the evening cooking, playing some badminton, then making new friends while playing drinking games.

tending to. . .

so, you say you have diarrhea. . . i get you. the gurgling sounds from your belly. . . the cramps. . . the anxiety each time you sneeze. . . the desire to fart but terror that it won’t just be a fart. yeah. . . i get it.

and sister, you say you have your period too. i’m there with you. in fact, i usually get diarrhea as a side symptom of my period. so you have those amazing cramps that send you scurrying to the toilet in a cold sweat expecting to explode the instant your cheeks hit the seat. . . only to discover that it was a menstrual cramp. . . and not the trots. and now, you’re just sitting there, waiting, wishing something would bring relief.

i get it.

but wait. . . you say you’ve got bronchitis. well, well, well. that adds another dimension. now you have uncontrollable coughing spasms. and each time you convulse into coughs you have to hope all other orifices lock down. you cross your legs and squeeze your butt cheeks with every cough that bears down on your stomach muscles.

that lands you clearly in the land of suck.

but wait, it’s friday and it’s chuseok (korean harvest festival) game day at school. so, first you will make sungpyeon (a tasty little rice cake treat) with your class. then you’ll move to another room to set up a game and every ten to fifteen minutes a group of 15 to 20 students bounce into your room where you, the carney, run a fun game for them. you’ll get to lunch about 20 minutes late because your games ran late and then your students need to change out of their traditional chuseok clothes before they eat. . . sometime, you’ll get the break you need to get to a doc to get the antibiotics you need for that nasty cough, and then it’s only another three hours of classes before you can go home.

that lands you clearly in the land of erika.

if the past two weeks had been different, it’s possibly i wouldn’t be feeling quite as craptastic. many nights out for dinner, and several late ones all in celebration of friends leaving. burned the candle from too many ends i suppose.

so, i have four days off. might have been nice to have planned some trip or occasion. . . but i need tending to, and my apartment needs tending to. last weekend i spent recovering from a late friday night and hoping i wouldn’t get this sick. but here i am. . . sick and resting. it would be nice to use a sick day every so often to aid in my health (instead of chewing through all my weekend time.) but for now, can’t complain of being bored. there’s plenty of cleaning, organizing, posting, reading, and tv watching to cover more than four days.

i am on lock down, for my own good.


home tripping

i went home for summer break. i had almost decided to go to hong kong, when it occurred to me, that i needed to go home. (besides, have you heard how hot it is in hong kong this time of year?!)

the lighter side. . .

i got quite a bit accomplished.

i emptied more trunks and tubs of stuff. gave some useful things to people who i thought could actually use them and i think i got rid of every last notebook from college. there is still more that i feel i should be able to get rid of, but i guess in time, i’ll be able to pair down even more.

i did some tailoring on some clothes i brought with me. (put mom’s new sewing machine to the test.) and even branched back into making stuff. i had a short jag of sewing when i was little. i remember making my christmas gifts for all my cousins at the time. i’m not formally trained in anyway- maybe a couple of classes in home-ec, but i seem to remember how to put a few things together. (i’m excited about something i made, but i can’t share till i’ve given it as the surprise gift it was intended.)

i got together with friends and had a good time.

had a great lunch with a high school friend that i might not have seen in ten years or so, and there’s always that hope that some sort of correspondence will continue, since one lunch is barely scratching the surface of catching up.

also made it to a candle light party where i got to see a lot of friends i made when i moved home a few years back. granted the candle light party was an unusual backdrop, but it supplied the time and place. . . and well, delicious treats. and while i enjoy a nicely scented candle like many people, i was reminded of a world in which i don’t quite fit. a world where people decorate their interiors to match the season. i have some decorations, and if i have the right space i might put a pumpkin out at halloween, but that’s about the extent of it.

a birthday dinner party combined with a chance to see a friend’s newish house (well, new to me) and some very yummy grilling.

i got to see the area that my parents are interested in moving to. it’s a really nice area, and the thought of them having a house with fewer problems is really fantastic, but there is a little bit that would feel weird about visiting and not going back ‘home.’ i thought about it for a little bit and wondered if i shouldn’t race around taking pictures of every nook and cranny. . . but then i realized. . . my mom would have that covered. (their yard did look especially nice this summer though.)

i got to eat a bunch of flavors that aren’t as easy to come by in korea. . . and i did a brisk supply grab at a grocery- though it wasn’t the leisurely- marvel at everything in the aisle- shopping i had hoped for.

there were a couple misses. . . a rain cancellation and a too close to call chance to see some other friends.

i had energy when i didn’t anticipate it, and i got a lot accomplished, but there is always the hope to have done more. i’d like to think that i’d learn from it and not put so many gatherings towards the end of a visit. . . but really, how else is anything going to be done?

the not so light side. . .

my biggest concern was getting home to see my grandpa. he suffered from a stroke a few months back and went through a couple of other scares while in rehabilitation. ultimately, he’s ended up at a full care facility close to my parents.

before i went home, i tried looking into games that people play to improve hand eye coordination. you know, something to share. . . something to contribute. . .

i’m not sure if i didn’t fully understand, or if i had chosen to not hear the extent of his condition. i didn’t see much of the man i knew as my grandpa in the person who looked like my grandpa, and i miss him.

we got up to see him several times over my week home. i have to take a lot of what other people say into account. everyone says he’s looking well. the nurses there were very friendly and really seem to put a lot into treating the patients like family. my dad said he was in good spirits and excited to see me and my brother. he made a lot of attempts to speak, more than usual from what mom and dad say.

he has massive hands that he used for detailed technical drawing and woodwork. these days, he’s pretty good at grasping the cup holding his new favorite drink, the mcdonald’s mango smoothie, but he made hand gestures and waved to mean things that we couldn’t understand. he used to make all of us giggle over sunday brunch with witty comments and snarky remarks. . . but now he labors to cough and burble through words.

the part that really kills me, is that i can’t tell if he’s frustrated by it, or if he doesn’t remember anything different.

what are we supposed to hope for? that a large part of what made someone the person that we know him as is gone, but that he doesn’t know the difference, so he isn’t tormented by the fact that he can’t convey what he’s trying so hard to say? or that he’s still in there, completely, and we get to see these minute glimpses in a smile or an expression of excitement. . . while he is frustrated that he can’t say what he’s working so hard to say?

try choking back that thought and tears while you’re trying to have a pleasant visit. (i’ll tell you how it ends, you lean down to kiss your grandpa good bye and are barely able to form the words, then you turn to make a bee line for the bathroom where you can sob for a while.)

i really didn’t want to cry in front of him. if he was in there, i didn’t want him to see how badly i felt for him. . . and if he wasn’t in there so much, i didn’t want him wondering why i was upset.

the super - try to lighten the mood - light side. . .

for the flight back, i was anticipating one more comfort. i finally got a pair of noise cancellation headphones. (which also lead to a taste testing of headphones over the dining room table) i was rather excited to give them a whirl. and while they are rather fantastic, they sort of paled in comparison to the next big step in comfort.

when i arrived at the airport, i ended up having to switch flights and the only way they could get me on my original flight from japan to korea was to book me onto a new flight entirely. . . and the only way they could get me onto that flight was to book me in business class. as i told the lovely canada air desk clerk. . . ‘i guess i will just have to suffer through it.’

my puddle jump to toronto before the long business class flight was filled with devil spawn screaming behind me. (seriously, the two grown men seated next to me were covering their ears to muffle the sound of these brats) but man. . . on a 12+ hour flight. . . there’s nothing quite like business class. i am possibly forever ruined. an unshared space. . . where you can completely lie down. . . with amazing food. . . and extra little services. . . . how am i supposed to afford that without involving airport delays?!

well, something to look into. . .



buddha.bday.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

before the parade, there is a mass of people and lanterns to move out from the temple.


buddha.bday.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

watermelon lanterns. . .


buddha.bday.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

dragon on a cloud.


buddha.bday.7, originally uploaded by ekissam.

i really liked these snail and owl lanterns, but they were really hard to get in focus.


buddha.bday.9, originally uploaded by ekissam.

children with elaborate lotus lanterns.


buddha.bday.11, originally uploaded by ekissam.

smiling monks and. . .


buddha.bday.12, originally uploaded by ekissam.

and smiling women.


buddha.bday.13, originally uploaded by ekissam.

it wasn't a short dragon, but you'll have to look in my flickr to see more.


buddha.bday.16, originally uploaded by ekissam.

so sweet and whimsical.


buddha.bday.18, originally uploaded by ekissam.

a little more ethereal.


buddha.bday.20, originally uploaded by ekissam.

so colorful, as if the lanterns weren't enough.


buddha.bday.22, originally uploaded by ekissam.

even beyond the canopy of lanterns, the tree held more than i've noticed in past years.



pumpkin.restaurant, originally uploaded by ekissam.

something to tease my brother. . . a shot from the pumpkin restaurant. (not so much pumpkin incorporated into recipes as all things being cooked in a pumpkin) fried rice topped with cheese in a pumpkin. . . toppokki topped with cheese in a pumpkin. . . something seafoody in a pumpkin. . . and it was led with pumpkin porridge and ended with a delicious pumpkin smoothie.


old.helmet, originally uploaded by ekissam.

i bought a shiny new helmet recently. i didn't want to throw away my old one, so i left it on a well traversed bike rack. i hoped that someone else in need of a helmet would pick it up. that was thursday. this picture was taken on saturday. the helmet was still there. (it was gone by the next thursday.)


cirque.in.seoul, originally uploaded by ekissam.

a few of us caught varekai in seoul. there was a large crowd for the show and for the baseball game just across the parking lot. swon missed the first 20 minutes due to traffic, and hazel had hot coffee accidentally poured on her (landing her in the nurse's office for a while) but we were finally all seated and enjoyed the show. afterward we had some great thai food for dinner.


swon.new.apt.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

swon's new livingroom, complete with hazel and the dog that swon has been looking after for a friend. i'm pretty sure that when the dog has to go home, both swon and her mom will want their own dog.


swon.new.apt.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

swon's new apartment overlooks the french school courtyard. she said she woke up once and saw horses in the courtyard.


swon.new.apt.4, originally uploaded by ekissam.

the wonderful rooftop of swon's new apartment, where i hope to someday relax and grill when it isn't too hot.


swon.new.apt.6, originally uploaded by ekissam.

huh, the french school also has a rooftop basketball court.


sorae.blossoms.4, originally uploaded by ekissam.

there are many wonderful restaurants and bakeries in sorae (the french village). i feel a special kinship with the girl in this painting.


sorae.blossoms.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

i wasn't there for the overcrowded cherry blossom festival in yeouido, but the cherry blossoms in the sorae village were just as pretty with the quiet scenery.



bday.2011.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

the very interesting sink in the women's restroom at the top cloud restaurant.


bday.2011.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

the top cloud restaurant in the jongno tower. i saw candles and lights placed all over. . . i imagine it looks fantastic at night. day or night. . . the food is pretty delicious.


bday.2011.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

after our lovely lunch, swon and i ventured out to this place. a shooting range. (i asked for it for my birthday) oddly enough, after discussing and fretting over life and decisions with swon, both of us felt amazingly zen after shooting off a few rounds. might have to take it in once in a while.


bday.2011.4, originally uploaded by ekissam.

my first 10 shots. it was a glock 28? something that isn't so common in the states. . .


bday.2011.5, originally uploaded by ekissam.

i was slightly better the second time around. 5 shots from a berretta of some kind and 10 shots from a desert eagle. (a rather large hand gun)


bday.2011.6, originally uploaded by ekissam.

a week after my birthday a few of my friends and i got together to see the drawing show, part 2. we saw part one last year and had a great time. this show was also pretty fun. we ended up in the front row, rather close to the paint being flung about.



i finally finished blogging about my brother’s visit during chuseok. but, i kept it dated back in november. so, you’ll have to look it up there. i called it something like, chuseok, in brief words, but it’s not really brief. . . it’s our whole week itinerary.

at this rate. . . i wouldn’t hold your breath for an italy blog. just enjoy the pictures.



i went to bed much earlier than i usually do the other night, around 9pm. i was sick and i had an early morning.

i sort of woke up around 3am and laid around daydreaming waiting to fall back asleep. eventually i drifted off. somewhere in the distance of my brain i heard a voice yell ‘it’s 4:38!’ i woke up again and thought about it. i wondered what if it was around 4:38. it was obviously a voice from my brain, and i wondered if my internal clock was any good.

so i rolled over to check my clock. 4:39.



preholiday.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

i randomly decided to host a preholiday party. . . (before our winter break). there was a lot of baking. . . a lot of making. .. and a handful of toasts and treats. ryan's family had sent a gingerbread house making kit, and i had a couple tubes of marzipan. . . . that was only the beginning.

among the things made and ingested:
*hot toddies *gin and tonics *spiced wine *quesadillas *chocolate and peanutbutter rice krispie treats *cinnamon strudel *brownies *cheese scones *bread and tomato pesto *salad with chicken *home made hottokk . . . then we watched the stephen colbert christmas special. . . and a little of the star wars holiday special. :) we brought all the left overs in to work to share.



preholiday.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

parts and pieces coming together. . . then falling apart. . . then going back together.


preholiday.4, originally uploaded by ekissam.

marzipan goodies. . .


preholiday.5, originally uploaded by ekissam.

the final outcome of the 'gingerbread house' was a large monster robot smoking a cigar while brutally killing the inhabitants of a small home.