The Korea Bucket List

OK, So I’m on the final home stretch and here’s the list of things I want to do before I leave:

    • Get a whole bedding set for my yoh
    • Get a tattoo – I’ve finally chosen something after all these years.  Yayy!  I’m going to get orphan girl  in hangul (고아 소녀) on my neck, behind my ear running down the nape.   Instead of something stark and angry like my orphan number on my chest, now I want it to be in beautiful, flowing calligraphy.  I want it to look like an ink wash, barely out-lined and showing the pressure and fading of hand brush work. 
      I’d like to find out if the calligrapher who did this can do one for me, but I’ll have to get a Korean to help me contact the artist.  It’s not flowy in a traditional sense, but it’s lyrical in its own way.

      …and it should be vertical like this…

      If not, I’m going to go to Insadong and see if I can find a calligrapher to draw something first, then get an appointment with Slam at Tattoo Korea in Seoul, because he seems to be able to accomplish the kind of transparency I want.  Maybe I’ll have one of those ancient round coins with the square hole be part of the tattoo as well, as a watermark or stamp.  My only reservation is if this will be seen negatively at my new job.  At the very least, I will get the calligraphy drawn up and get the tat after the job is over in a few years.  I’ve been waiting for something meaningful that I can live with.  I like the concept of being permanently marked by adoption, yet turning it into something graceful.   

      I’ve also just written the artist of this calligraphy, which is a fusion of Hangul and Arabic calligraphy illustrating common proverbs to both cultures.  The dedication of his art really moved me:

      Kordu is dedicated to the memory of my Korean sister who went away one day and never came back. No one knows where she went but I hope and pray that all is well with her and she always gets the best in life. It is in the process of joy of happiness and the sorrow of loss that we can see a glimpse of the transcendent; good things came out of loss. It is highly likely that she may never read this dedication but I will still say, “Dear sister, keep smiling. I will always be reminded of you when I see penguins.”

I told him a little about myself and how it would be great if there was some shared common proverb about hope that he could do for me. Hope he writes back!

  • Buy some Korean cookbooks by Koreans for Koreans, and not the ones for foreigner which are just typical fare, nothing special, and easily available on-line.  Also look for some vegitarian cookbooks.
  • Find out where I can get the rice-straw backpack like the one at the tofu restaurant in my neighborhood.
  • Go take photos of the architectural construction by some of the young clothing designers here, so I can replicate them later, all those $200+ items I can’t buy but know how to make.

Oh yeah, as an aside, I found this GREAT FONT as a FREE DOWNLOAD when I was researching images of Korean calligraphy.

Click on the image to be taken to the awesome dafont site so your roman letters can look hand-brushed like hangul!

Must remember to get some little folding tables  (상) and send them to my daughter as soon as she has an address. Of course the ones she likes are all sold out right now…  :(  Maybe my son would like one too.

I’d like a lot of other things, but my budget won’t allow it – even that small list will be a stretch!  When I get to the states first order of business is flying my son down for a family reunion.  Will fly into San Francisco, rent a car, and then load up the back with my things my daughter has been storing these past 3 years and the 3 of us (plus freaked-out cat) can have a little road trip to Vegas.  Then to finding an apartment and then after my Korean retirement gets reimbursed I’ll have to finance or lease a car, get a cell phone and wifi since I think my job will depend on me being hooked up, and a new computer.   It’s a MAC office, so I think It’ll be best to follow the hep crowd and do the I-phone I-pad thing.

Must prepare

  • Make trip to E-marte and bring home boxes for shipping.
  • Buy cheap scale so I don’t ship any box overweight.
  • Get an airlines-approved cat carrier.
  • Get cat micro-chipped and have her travel papers created in Seoul.
  • Keep editing, editing, editing.
    But stupid me, instead of editing I’ve been buying more stuff. Looking for a shirt to match the thrift store suit to wear to the Vice Principal’s daughter’s wedding opened up a thrift store flood gate and now I’m in trouble! But it’s also a good thing, since it’s getting cold and last year I froze to death and didn’t have enough warm clothes to rotate between washings. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever washed the two wool flannel shirts and two wool sweaters I wore constantly. The better to shed water, I guess, he he…Also, my previous two winter coats were threadbare. So I bought a man’s wool over-coat, you know the kind they wore in the 60’s, but it’s like brand new because suits in Korea still appreciate wool over-coats. (The last man’s overcoat I had got singed when I backed too close to my wood stove) I can wear my hoodie under it and with a scarf be toasty and stylish. It’s not anything stylish to Koreans, but maybe I’ll set a trend or something. Like back in high-school I wore men’s slacks with high heels after reading some book where a man who loved women considered the female form under men’s clothes much more interesting and alluring than body-hugging women’s clothes. What a weird kid I was/am. (he, I’d do it today were it not for my baby-making paunch!)

I’ve decided that shipping might actually be cheaper than buying new things when I get back to the states.   Shipping by surface (without insurance or tracking) is 52,1oo won for 20 kilos.  That’s less than $50 for about 40 lb. The same weight with EMS (express mail service with tracking) is 188,900 or about $175, so I think waiting four to five weeks is worth it.  I’m going to try for six boxes.  The big question is, what address do I sent it to?  Me and my kids are all of us in limbo right now!

The remainder of my things will be going to the unwed moms.  And I’ve got A LOT of things, since I thought I was going to stay here a lot longer and made sure to be comfortable and then had all those crazy projects and did so much work at home.  It would be nice to live out of a backpack, but I was more bent on making a nice home here for whenever my kids were able to visit.  They will find someone with a car to come pick the stuff up in February.  That makes me feel great, because it’s so hard for them to come up with the cash for these things – a sewing machine, the scanner/printer, speakers, shelving, shelving, more shelving, towels, dishes, the little squirrel lamp, etc.  Even some of the stuff most of the moms may have can be given to a new mom, who probably won’t have anything.  It also saves me a huge headache because no foreigners are going to want to travel to my little town to view my stuff and take it away.

Today eating solleuntang, which I really like because you season it yourself so you can control the salt levels, I was delighted to eavesdrop on four little old men telling each other about their close encounters with foreigners. They were so proud of themselves that they told the spaniard, “next station” or “over there” and one was laughing how he couldn’t speak but had to show the American which way to go by leading him, and they were all enjoying each other’s facing fear in the face and doing okay. It was really precious. I’m going to miss moments like these.

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