Sunday, March 25, 2012

So, I am a pretty giant slacker

But, this is why.  Last week my goal was to write an adorable and plausible superhero story involving my good friends', Natalie and Erik, son Brenden and my mother's lovable albeit mischievous cat Brendan.  I am deluded thinking that I have a tone and a voice appropriate for a child bedtime stories, which is why I would like to live in close proximately to my BFF so that my future children can revel in the phenomenal stories of modern day minstrel Catherine Claire.   So, friends, that is forthcoming.

Now, as some of you may have crept on my profile already, last week I went hiking with some friends just north of the city.  It was by far one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had for several reasons.  I am way more out of shape than I had anticipated.  Andrew "The Face of Northface" and Ver "Holy Crap, is your Body Really Supposed to Do That" from Sweden were tearing up the trail, while I meagerly stumbled behind in hopes that maybe someday I can run up a mountain, do some flips, and land on top of a massive rock pile.  Anyway, Sunday was not that day.  However, I did have a lot of fun.  We got to the top of one of the peaks, and stretched out.  We had a wee picnic, and then proceeded to do some yoga.

As I was snapping pictures like a crazy fool, I tried to capture the constant sense of awe that surrounded me. I don't particularly care for public online forums to express the views of one religion over another, but I do know that while I was on that mountain looking down at the city and riverbed sprawling beneath me, there was a moment of "there has to be something more."  My "something more" may be different than your "something more," and that's okay.  But the beauty of this place astonished and humbled me.  The sky held the earth as a mother hugs her child.  The colors- a vibrant cerulean- faded into a misty array of questions that may never be answered.  The serenity I felt in this place was like a firefly blinking in the summer dusk.  It was amazing.

We continued upwards and found several rock piles to scramble up.  Not to be outdone by Andrew "The Face of Northface" and Ver "Holy Crap, is your Body Really Supposed to Do That" from Sweden, I scuttled after them in vain attempts to "be cool."  That being said, I never learn.  In seventh grade, I went on a ski trip to Lake Geneva ski resort.  Colin Wiesner went down a double black diamond so, obviously I did, too.  I ended up in the hospital with a compound fracture and three pins in my arm.  So, that was neat.  Luckily, I had no issues this past hiking trip, but I think someday I will need to realize that some people can do things I can't.  And, I will have to live with that.  But, today is not that day.

Moving on.  I have gone to several Korean league basketball games.  I have better ball handling skills than some of these gentlemen.  Now, if you knew me between the ages of 7 and 14, you will know that I have pretty shitty ball handling skills, and that is saying something.  I think it is customary to take at least two steps before you start dribbling here.  But, no matter, James, my co-teacher, asked if I could be a ref for the games that he and his buddies play.  Hopefully, with my remarkable whistle skills and acute attention to detail, my friends will be playing excellent basketball. :)

My first encounter with the Jagalchi fish market was not positive.  Please, sir, do not bring your dead fish purchases onto the subway and sit next to me.  I might vomit on your shoes.  Or think about vomiting on your shoes.  Either way, get the hell away from me.

That being said, I joined a writing group.  It will be fun.  We have everything from a novel about a sort of cult, to a romance novel, to my petty attempts of what I think poetry is.  There is a slam poetry night in two weeks.  I have my poem picked out, now I just have to practice.  I am also auditioning for "Much Ado About Nothing" next week.  So, I might be a Busy Betty in the  near future.

I think I might go nap on my co-teachers couch....Bazinga.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

So, I came to a very important realization today

It was that everybody, absolutely everybody looks like a drunken sailor on the bus.  You could be the most austere gentleman, an eight month pregnant woman, or even a strapping young student.  You will still look like you are 3/4 of the way in the bag, and there is nothing you can do about it.  EXCEPT! You can pray to whatever God in which you believe (or the trees/grass/Bob Marley, whatever) that there is a seat open close to the front so you do not have to stumble through the bus as it lurches forward in its ever changing waves.  You can also hope that someone will take pity on you, but that is a doubtful scenario, and you will just be setting yourself up for failure.  Like Stephenie Meyer. Or the Hindenburg.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

So, I saw a fanny pack today

Aaaaaaaand, I was able to snap a pic.

So, in Busan (really, in India) there is a festival called Holi.  It is a festival to welcome spring, new life, and love.  It was such a jarring experience.  I think it was the biggest culture shock I have ever had.  I was there for five minutes when a man I have never seen before comes up to me with a handful of colored powder, put it on my face and said, "Happy Holi!"  After that, it was just a free for all.  There were so many paints, so many colors.  There was so much love and camaraderie.  I was overwhelmed at the incredible amount of people.

I think my favorite part of the day was spying someone rocking the fanny pack.  she was just dancing around and hanging out, and there it was.  Wearing a fanny exactly where a fanny should be worn.  Right in front mid waist height.  She was awesome!!  So,  I crept up and said, "Hey, umm, my friends back home are obsessed with fanny packs.  Would it be weird if I took a picture of it/you?"  She gratefully responded, "Aw, yeah, girl of course!  Who doesn't love a good fanny."  So, fanny packs are a phenomena that will never be erased.  Not in America, not in Korea, for sure not in Europe, those cats are crazy!  So, Fanny Packs 4eva!

So, this is a poem I wrote to try to capture some sort of sense of what I experienced today.  Don't judge.  It is just a baby in its first draft.  If you have any suggestions, by all means, please do.


arms raised with unabandoned joy
gritty sand buries my feet
paint on my face, dancing like a fool
at the Holi celebration preparing for Spring

the gritty sand burying my feet
reminds me of a time spent in childhood dreams.
as the Holi celebration prepares for spring,
love brushes the air with one giant stroke.

the time spent in childhood dreams
brings me to a place of simplicity and joy.
love brushes across the air
as I run, dance, and sing for joy.

a place of simplicity and joy
surrounded by friends and strangers
who run, dance, and sing for joy
and paint my face a brilliant collage.

friends and strangers
come together in circles and lines
painting a brilliant collage
of bodies moving as one person.

all of us who come together in circles and lines
meld culture, gender and race.
the bodies move as one.
a forgotten view of humanity.

we meld culture, gender, and race
to create something new and entirely our own.
a view of humanity. forgotten. 
in doing so, we are made perfect.

creating something new and entirely our own
takes communication, understanding, and respect.
in that, we are made perfect.
exactly in God’s image.

communication, understanding and respect
comes from deep within our hearts,
exactly in God’s image
with our arms raised in unabandoned joy.

So, that was the painting part.  I was sooooooooo dirty.  Some of my friends came prepared and were wearing swimming suits, just in case they jumped into.  Now, it is March.  It is still around 50 degrees.  It is an ocean.  I was looking at them like they were crazy folks.  

Then, as I was talking to them praising their audacity, my friend Mari runs up and says, "Hey, I want to go swimming, but I need a buddy."  I responded with, "No way, man.  It is so freaking cold.  That's absurd.  I also don't have a suit..."  She said that she was just going to drop trou and go in her underpants.  So, there I was, giving into peer pressure like I always do.  So, I took off my shirt (I was wearing a cami) and took off my pants and was standing around in my skivvies.  And, I knew that I could go in toe by toe.  This was a full submersion mission.  So, I tagged her and ran away.  I ran right into the water, came up and sprayed water out of my mouth like a dolphin. 

After about 30 seconds, my legs were numb and all of the hair I just shaved off of them was back and healthy.  We paddled around for a while, discussing how much we miss being in and near water.  And, even the fact that this is freezing, it is the most we've felt alive.  Then, my friend Brian joins, and sure not to be out done, Steve barrels in as well (I think it may have been because I called him a pansy...) Anyway, none of us were prepared.  So, there we were, the four of us, swimming around in the freezing ocean in nothing but out underpants.  Afterward, we took a picture to commemorate this awesome event.  People who don't even know me came up to me saying that I had balls of steel, and that I am a true rock star, which I think is completely appropriate.  :) 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

So I saw a kid straight up spit on the subway floor...

And that wasn't even the weirdest thing that happened to me today.

Alright folks, let's mosey on back to a more positive subway experience.  Saturday evening, I was on the subway to meet up with some friends in Haeundae. As I stepped onto the train a little boy (7?) looked up at me with the wide eyed bewilderment of an antelope.  With mouth gaping, he said, "Hello?"  I responded in kind.  His mother looks  up and sees me, reaches into her bag and hands him two pieces of candy.  His eyes glowed with anticipation.  He stumbled across the aisle to me, and with two hands, head bowed reverently offered me one of the little pieces of candy.  A little token of his happiness. He kept the other for himself.  We opened our pieces with matching glee, and popped them into our mouths.  "Thank you!" I said.  And, it was then I realized that I was no longer a social pariah on the Busan subway and for that I was truly thankful.

I feel like there is really no segue from that paragraph to the next.  But, I will just smash on anyway.  Today, a young man (senior in high school), asked me to join him for tea with his homeroom teacher.  Now, I am never one to turn down tea, and it would have been rude for me to do so.  So, I followed him to his classroom where everything was set up.  I felt very much like I was on a date with this kid and his teacher was that mother that would just bring juice, soda, fresh bread, sliced pineapple, and pot roast at varying intervals just to make sure there was no hanky panky between the couple.  Now, that never happened to me because

1. Boys were never allowed in my room,
2. Hanky panky has been rumored to lead to a baby, 
3. Lesbie honest...not gonna happen.

Anyway, so this woman puts straight up dried flowers into a glass tea pot, and pours in boiling water.  As the water infused the bulbs, they began to bloom in the water delightfully flavoring it chamomile.  So, this young man pours my tea, and true to custom , I pour his.  At this point, I was a little nervous.  I didn't want to start breaking hearts so soon, and so young.  Poor guy.  Then, my ego way got the better of me.  He very timidly said (in grammatically perfect English), "I am applying to University in Seoul, and I would like it if you would be able to help me."  Ahhhh, all anxiety ceases, and I sputter between sips, "Yes, of course! With what would you like help?"  etc, etc, etc. So, we set up a writing schedule.  He gave me his number. I gave him my email.  Then, he left for after school school.  Then, there was a half a pot of tea left, so the homeroom teacher sat down and we finished the pot.  She spoke a little more English than I do Korean, but she was able to read and understand very well.  Needless to say, it was an awkward tea experience all around.

Then, I walked to my subway stop, got on, and patooie! Someonne spit right on the ground.  Inside the subway.  I also saw a guy pick his nose, and people sometimes do not cover their mouths when they cough.  I understand why people wear the germ masks.

Now, throughout all of these observations, I was definitely rocking Charlotte Church and Eric Whitacre (for the record, Sarah, you sing Habanera better than her).  It was one of the nicest days we have seen in Busan yet, and with music as my inspiration I decided to prove American stereotypes are wrong, and that not all of us are lardy lards.  Juuuuuuuuust, most of us.  After boiling water to purify it to make sure i had something to drink when I came home, changing, leaving my room, coming back to my room to change my bra, leaving heading down four flights of stairs, climbing back up those stairs to come back to my room, putting on my knee braces, and finally leaving my room.  I took the elevator down.  Some stereotype smasher I am.  So, anyway, I leave my room and run a mile to this really beautiful park at the base of a mountain.  As I was deciding what path to take, I very literally stumbled across this outdoor gym.  Henceforth be known as Forest Gym.

It wasn't like in America where there is a balance beam, maybe some high bars, and, if you're lucky, a bench to do step ups.  No, this was a full out gym.  There were monkey bars, inverted sit up benches, high bars of various heights, parallel bars for short people, parallel bars for tall people.  There was something that looked like a Tony Little Gazelle, and this thing that you stand on that swivels as you turn your hips side to side.  There were triceps dips, and my very favorite huge, giant hula hoops.  Yeah, hula hoops.  Anyway, so I am trying to process all of this.  I went to a machine, and very quickly realized that I was the only person there not an octogenarian, but I was also the one doing the weakest amount of reps with the poorest form.  So, I tried the hipper swivel-doowopadoo.  I am minding my own business, rocking to Glee's version of Bon Jovi.  And, this women steps onto the hipper swivel-doowopadoo directly across from me.  She just smiled and whipped her hips back and forth, she whipped her hips back and forth.  After several rotations of that, while I am agape with profound befudlement, she trots off to the side near the stream and just starts stretching out.  You know, doing the toe touches and hip swirls, sort of like Bartok from Anastasia.  I want you to know right now that I am not making fun of this woman.  She looked like a rock star and she could easily be my grandmother. I was impressed and a little jealous.

And then, IT happened.  The thing that was weirder than a kid spitting on the floor.  I see a cat, which looked like a domesticated house cat meander across the path leading to the Forest Gym.  It looks around to see if anyone was looking (obviously he didn't catch me with his cat's eye), and just took a dump in front of God and Forest Gym people to see.  He shook his little booty and walked away like nothing happened.  I thought to myself, "Man, I wonder if I will ever get to that  stage of life.  Pooping where ever I want, shaking it off and walking away." Then, I realized that I am a human, and I had been taking up good space on the hipper swivel-doowopadoo. With that realization, I left Forest Gym and went wee wee wee all the way home.  Or, I just ran.  And then climbed the 20 flights of stairs.  And then proceeded to huff and puff and enter in my 6 digit pin code to blow down (or open) the door.