Wednesday, August 22, 2012

So, this has just been a weird, weird 168 hours.

There were lotsa firsts last week, friends.  I will not bore you with all of them, but I have a few I would certainly love to highlight.

All of last week was a lounging around beach vacation week.  Except on Monday, which was the only day I had planned on going to the beach.  I was supposed to meet up with some friends from out of town, and do some home-grown, good ocean swimming.  Mostly, because I wanted my hair to behave, and it does that after a dip in the salty waters.  But, alas, it was raining.  So, the most decisive crew of which I have ever been a part (said with extreme sarcasm), met up at a coffee shop to figure out what to do. We decided on a Wii Bahng.  Let me tell you what this is, if you're a bit fuzzy. True confession, I didn't know my own self. The only Bahng I have been to here, is a Norebahng (singing room), everything else is this magical unexplained mystery.  And, finally, I got to be a part of it.

We walked into this large, dark room.  On every conceivable wall, there was a HUGE television screen, with these dark pleather couches reclined in front of them.  On every single screen, there were high school boys playing Fifa soccer.  We, the big scary way-gooks that we were, promptly pointed to MarioKart, and they took us to our own screen.  In the way far back, sequestered from all other people. It was probably a good thing they did that, because we were way-gooks, we were loud and generally socially inappropriate for Korea (see any and all times I have been yelled at on the subway).  And, Good Lord, were we loud. Examples:  "Holy Shit, why'd I just get squid inked? Who does that.?"
"Now, now is the time I need that speedy bullet to get me the hell out of 12th place!"
And my most favorite, "Not the hole again! Why, why do I always fall off right at this damn spot."

Our noise level was egregious.  They put us in the back, knowing full well, they would hear us in the front, but resigned to the fact that there was nothing they could do about it.

Tuesday night.  What a trip.  I went to meet some friends in KSU, a way-gook hang out area.  Hell, that's not true.  It's an everyone hang out area, where humanity reeks of gin and bad decisions.  That isn't always the case.  There is also a kebob man, to whom I have several times over professed my undying love and affection if only I could have a lamb kebob.

ANYWAY, so I was in KSU, and my friend suggested darts.  And, I was bad.  That wasn't the weird part.  If anyone has ever played darts with me (with the exception of the one time when I played Beer Darts), knows that I am pretty crappy at them. At this particular dart board, we had to keep our own score.  This was a little weird, although not unheard of.  The ACTUAL weird part was that as I was adding up the scores and tallies, I started to be bad at math.  Now, I have never really enjoyed math, but I was always good at it, or at least competent (unless the problem involved fences and rivers banks and finding the most productive use for the space that could be contained.  My answer was always "tree fort," which generally was not correct).  But, seriously, I would look at the numbers and they would refuse to add in my head.  It was a super strange out of body experience.  I wasn't even drunk!  That is the craziest part.  Frankly, sorry Mom, if you're reading this.  But, I was NOT drunk and still bad at math.  And, I feel like a failed you a little bit.

Moving on.

Wednesday was a day off for everyone, not just me.  It was the South Korean Independence Day. I played some pick up on the beach, and then just waited around for open mic night.  We walked into the club around 11:00 only to hear Jen playing one last song.  I was a bit bummed, because (although she doesn't know this), she is my favorite.  I love, love, love hearing her music.  She is incredible.  Then, a couple of other acts went on, and then a woman whom I had never seen before got up to the keyboard.

Her fingers hit the keys and incredible jazz riffs leaked out of the speakers, slowly at first and then exploded into bright moments of happiness, longing, peace, and unadulterated joy.  I closed my eyes, and just felt the music course through me.  Compartmentalized everything going on in my brain into its neat little box so that I could wholly feel the music. After the first two songs, she said, "Hey, anyone a drummer?  A guitarist? Get on up here.  Blues in C Minor."  After a little cajoling from friends and company, a bassist, drummer and guitarist strode up to the stage.  These people have never before played together. But, they just started wailing.  Each instrument-its own independent part, but together, they made something completely and intangibly phenomenal.  The onlookers  could do nothing but just take in the notes.  There was such a sense of general consciousness that no one has ever experienced this time, this moment but us, and that is something worth having.

Thursday and Friday passed rather uneventfully.  We had our weekly Ladies night, at which my friend Kendall asked me, "Hey, whatcha doin on Saturday?" I had planned to go to the beach and just be lazy, so I obviously said, "Not a whole lot. What's up?"  Then she asked if I wanted to be in a movie.
"Ummmm, yes. Question mark?"
To which she responded, "Awesome, meet me at 7 am in Namcheon."
"Oh, yiiiikes, I am busy that day...aghhh, okay, I will be there." I am a sucker for the stage, errrrrr, film.

So, I wake my butt up at 6 am on a Saturday (not like I had been working all week, but it was a Saturday). And, found my way to Namcheon.  Now, I didn't know exactly where I was going in Namcheon, and I was already 3 minutes late, so I ran amuck like a little ferret trying to figure out where I was supposed to be.  Kendall was on the phone not knowing where I was, and so therefore could not give me proper directions.  Neither of us had had coffee, and we were both grumpy pandas.  Anyway, I figured out where I was supposed to be, and I load up into a van. For three hours. What?  I didn't know that there was a three hour drive involved. Meh, well, I was there, and it was happening, and there really wasn't anything I would do about it. Kendall, Jil and I just girl-talked the whole way and watched youtube videos to help us get into character: missionaries trying to start up a school for the needy children in the Choseon Dynasty. Anyway, so we arrive at the place where they were filming, and we had an hour or so to explore this beautiful village.  Then, we got called to come back to the set. And, Harley, a man so confident in his swagger that he would try to charm a tree, (he would also fail to charm said tree, and anything with Lady Parts, and probably man parts, too.  Brother had no game. That's all all trying to say) handed each of us a dress.

Let me explain something about clothing here.  Korean sizing and Western sizing are two very different animals.  One, is like a mewing little kitten, and the other is like Sarabi from The Lion King. I take one look at the dress, and think to myself, "There is no way in hell that shit's gonna fly." Outloud, I gave a skeptical look, and said, "Maybe, too small?"  But, of course it was all they had.  So, we traipsed to a hut and got changed.  And, it did not fly. My dress zipped about 1/4 of the way up my back, and the shoulders were so tight, I looked like an East German swimmer. The back of my bra was on display in front of God and everyone.

Then, we got our hair and make up done.  And, for the first time in my life, in my ever, I had the longest hair. That got real weird. They floofed it up and pinned it back.  I looked like a real live Martha Washington. Then, we had make up. I needed to look "Put together, but not professional."  I was a missionary of course, chaste and what not. We trekked back to the set, all dolled up in out 19th century garb.  The set people handed us a tray with food on it.

First rule of thumb in life, Know. Thy. Self. Katie + White Dress + any other variable= Disaster.  I told the director, I didn't want to eat because I would spill on my dress. But, he insisted.  True to form, I spilled hoisin sauce on myself, and swiftly stumbled to the water fountain.  I did this with the same amount of grace as a drunken duck-billed platypus, what with the absurdly long-not fully zipped-too tight dress that made me look a little bit like an olde fashioned lady of the evening.  Not very missionary like.

Finally, they called Kendall, Jil and me to the set.  And, we rehearsed our lines, and tried to keep our acts together.  All of our dresses gaped in the back.  We were duct taped into them. And our lines didn't really make sense.  So, after several takes, and about 12 close ups, we finished our taping.

At this point, I would like to say that is was hot. Like, hella hot. And we were filming in this little room with nothing but the light of day. It was stagnant heat. It was like breathing in solidified Jell-o.*  Captain Harley, wooer of white women, told us we were done filming and we could return to our base.  Within seconds, Kendall had changed out of her dress, and I was well on my way.  And Harley said, "Wait, wait. They might need another shot of you."  We all gave him the teacher stare and waited in our half garbed state to see if we needed to stay in costume.  We didn't.

After a long hot day in the sun, in time period sensitive garb, we drove three hours back to Busan, and I have never felt more content to just pull a Pooh Bear and Christopher Robin and do, "Oh, nothing."

*Any and all rights to this metaphor belong to my friend Kathy, who was featured in a post last month.

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