Saturday, September 30, 2006

Good Morning

Why do I wake up at 7am on a Saturday? Especially when I went to bed at 1am? Especially when the day stretches out before me, weird and empty? So annoying. When it happens, I usually try to go back to sleep, fail, get up and put music on, potter around, fold some clothes, take photos out my window, then go to the pc bang.
Today I thought I was going on a day trip to some lake with JD Whatever, Steph and maybe some other girls. But JD had weirdly disappeared... So, I dunno. Maybe later if he doesn't call, I'll go hang out with Steph. Anyways.
When My Dearest Charlie was here, he read a book. It was The Plague, by Albert Camus. He'd actually started it long ago, and one of the first best memories (and photos) I have of him is him sitting quietly at my place in Eltham reading it while I hurried about, preparing to depart. Anyways, KP kindly leant her copy to him as he was heading to the airport to visit me, and when he finished it, he kindly left it behind for me.
Everyone seems to agree it is a brilliant book, and I really wanted to read it, but Dad cautioned me to wait until the lament of Charlie's departure had eased. So after a pause, I started reading it. Most way through now and golly, genius. And yeah, beautiful. And some humour. So many quotable, all the stuff about love, especially. And ideas put some simply ::
" The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding."

On my way here I noticed all the flags on the lamp-posts. Another series of demonstrations of nationalism. Hmm. I feel so removed from it. When I was in Lithuania I felt so much more connected to these happenings, cos I was studying cultural anthropology and ethno-nationalism. But here, I understand less.

Lyrics for the morning come courtesy of The Shins, and my brother Jack, who gave me the CD ::

Eyeless in the morning sun you were
Pale and mild, a modern girl
Taken with thought, still prone to care
Makin tea in your underwear

Friday, September 29, 2006


Next week is 'Thanksgiving' here in Korea. Actually, it's Chuseok. So that means a lil holiday for me and lots of rice cakes for everyone. Yay. Dunno what I'll do with the time off but Steph and I are working on a plan. It might involve catching a train to the coast, or it could just be shoe-shopping in Seoul. Hmm.

Last night I met up with Steph, and as we were walking to a new! cute! bar! I saw a men's jewellery store that I thought was one Ethan has recommended. So I thought I'd best check it out as I'm currently in the market for some men's jewellery. As I stepped in to the store, though, a guy came out from behind the counter and said 'This store is for men only, so you must leave'. I was taken aback: 'I'm looking for a gift for a male, can I not have a look?'. The reply 'No, it's the store concept, you must leave, you can come back with a male.' Steph and I stepped out of the store and I stood on the step and asked 'Can you recommend another jewellery store?'. The answer: 'No'.

We needed a drink. Badly. After this.
The basement bar she took me to had nice low chairs, some terrible art, good tunes and a LIBRARY with maybe $10000 worth of THE BEST ART BOOKS ever, for customer's perusing pleasure. And the bestest magazine rack. I'm soooo going to while away my hours there.

T-shit of the day was on a student. Bright pink with a hood, puffy sleeves, teddy bear print and in big gold lettering ::

O'lord you

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My Cup Runneth Over

It's happening! My brother Jack turns 21 on the day that stops a nation. And so I wanna be there, with him, in Melbourne. And so I will. I've just booked a ticket home for the first week of November - arriving the morning of my Dadda's birthday, in time for the PARTY THAT STOPS A NATION, then leaving the following Saturday.

Things I wanna do:
  • kiss
  • hug
  • drive
  • breathe Eltham air
  • eat scones
  • drink good coffee
  • bask in the sun
  • hold babies
  • buy sexy undies
  • celebrate birthdays
  • go op shopping
  • party like it's 1985
  • just be and talk with my peeps and my fam

Oh my. So excited.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Japan Down!

Walking through the subway Charlie and I saw a poster for a disaster movie - we wondered what it was and looked for some English and were shocked to see the website was ::

I assumed it was some anti-Japanese creation of the Koreans. I shouldn't have. It's a Japanese filum called 'The Sinking of Japan' and the synopsis kinda goes like this: Japan has just received its death sentence. In less than a year, the island nation will sink! Earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions roil the country, leaving millions dead and stranded. Japan’s only hope lies with one plan… and one man!

It opened at number one in the Korean box office and took US$3.2 million here in its first four days. Not bad.

Random word of the day:: onomastics: the study of naming and proper names. I was reading about Korean names and how the popular names change each generation. And I learnt a new word.

Oh yeah. And I went to the Prom party with Ethan last night. This is us all dressed up and excited about going. And this is me today in the gear I was gonna wear to the Prom but just wore today for no reason instead.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Juicy Bunny Slope

Yep, yesterday I saw some shit::

Terrible. Also saw that a street food vendor had an anti-FTA petition. Hmm.

Also saw the shit that I wanna buy for KP - which says something about a lost dog which answers to TOBY. Ah perfect.

So last night I bought a skirt for this Prom thing that I'm Ethan's date for tonight. Then I spent 2 hours painting my nails a weird opaque blue colour. The picture shows my stupid nails, the skirt and the Singapore Airlines blanket that Dearest Darling Charlie was kind enuff to steal for me on his way over. Nice.

Today I've been reading up on parecon. Ever heard of it? Am I the last to know? It's the funky abbreviation for 'participatory economics', which was developed as an alternative to capitalist market economics.

Why has this song been in my head on PERMANENT ROTATION FOR WEEKS even though I haven't actually heard it for years n years?

Picture yourself on a train in a station,
With plasticine porters with looking glass ties,
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstyle,
The girl with the kaleidoscope eyes.

Thanks Lennon n McCartney, for that foolishness.

Ohhh it's the most beautiful day outside. I'm gonna try to find a lunch date, go for a walk, take a book, work on my tan (freckles).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hung, drawn

I've been here 3 months now. That's a quarter of my way through my contract. Christmas is the half-way mark.

So in three months I have::

  • fallen in love;
  • got 3 pairs of pants taken in;
  • worn stilettos to work;
  • written about 60 postcards;
  • sweated more than I thought possible;
  • had my first coldsore;
  • taken photos I'm happy with;
  • affected an American accent day-in, day-out;
  • made some very good friends;
  • rocked out;
  • eaten kilos of kimchi;
  • heaps of other shit.

Guess I feel good about my life here. 'Specially since Charlie the One and Only came to visit, this place feels good. I'm not feeling as lonely and now my kinder classes all have textbooks so my teaching is easier. I've found a place that prints my photos how I like. I know my neighbourhood better and better, and have started running into neighbours and students, which is nice. Still don't know much Korean but I learn little bits everyday.


Another day I may write a list of all the shit I miss at home and all the shit I hate about here. Heh heh.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Blown Away

One of my students was sporting a new tshit today; navy, with jeans appliqued on. He's about 13, has braces and an attitude. His shit::


Maybe it's private, but... I think Charlie is right when he says Mr Jose Gonzalez is spot on with these lyrics::

Ten days of perfect hues
The colors red and blue
We had a promise made
We were in love

Also, my solitude ended on Sunday when I met up with Ethan and his lovely mate for lunch and some tomb-spotting. Dunno why but the whole day stunk like fish. Just got worse. Anyways, all was good and I had some yummy tofu lunch and then cast an eye over some martyrs tombs. Zenit came so photos later. But! My Zenit album has been updated with photos from the previous month - the lake trip, randoms, chairs, My Dear Charlie, etc.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Still Life

Been meaning to post this still life from my place for a while now.
It's the wall above my bedhead. On the left is my fabulous map of the world that has been keeping me entertained for 2 years. Next is some funny car perfume thing that Ethan brought me back from San Fran. Then, the blue bag that I take to work everyday - which actually belongs to KP, and can be traced back to the Australia Centre at the Uni of Melbourne. Up top is a postcard from KP, of the amazing Federation Square. This came in her care package to me. Yay. Then there is a black-and-white postcard from Samos, written by JCW from the idyll of the Aegean, which cracks me up everytime I read it. And makes me sick with jealousy.

Also, one of my students was wearing a tracksuit that had French on it. Mine is rusty and I think there might be some non-words but can anyone reliably translate... something about would you like to dance with me? ::

Se prendre dami tie pour on voulez vous danser avec moi?

Anyways, I think it's safe to say that the tracksuit is actually a trackshit.

So I have spent the past 40 hours by myself. And it's been ok. The solitude has been pleasantly interrupted by phone calls from JD Whatever, Ethan, Oh My Goodness Charlie! and... Ilona! What a wonderful surprise to answer my phone and hear Amsterdam calling. It's been more than 2 years since I left Europe, well over 2 years since I saw Ilona in Holland. I have so many good memories of the time I spent with her in Vilnius, and Minsk, and on the roadtrip from Kreuzberg to Huizen. And she inspires me about life and the world. Definitely makes me want to be in Europe next summer. She threatened to bundle me into a car, and drive across the Alps to Slovenia. Wonderful.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

69: Two Girls and Dead Fish

There's a few tiny restaurants in my street which I never stop at or consider eating at. One has a tank out the front full of seafood to choose for dinner. It changes, and today I noticed it had some prawns swimming around and some small silver dead fish floating. Yuk.
Then I remembered that JD Whatever told me the place was called 69: Two Girls and was disgusted all over again. A crappy fish restaurant with 5 tables with a dirty name. Yuk.

Been reading and thinking and learning some stuff. Just random.

I have a Bladerunner soudtrack CD, with 'Vangelis' written on it. I like the CD, it was cheap, and it is funny and atmospheric. But I never knew what 'Vangelis' was. Well, 'it' is an old Greek guy, who scored Bladerunner and Chariots of Fire and... erm... Mythodea, a piece that was used by NASA as the theme for the Mars Odyssey mission. How do you get a gig like that?

Any Mussolini fans out there? What about fans of the nutty Italian fascist-era architecture? I wanna go to EUR, aka The Esposizione Universale Roma. It's just 15 minutes on the subway from the Colosseum, and is a 420-acre complex, built in 1935 as a symbol of the success of fascism the world. It was never fully realised, owing to the interruption of that was World War II, and then the eventually the collapse of Mussolini's regime in 1943. It's an example of the utopia the fascists wished to contruct... with large, symmetrical streets and austere buildings, inspired by ancient Roman architecture, or Rationalism, and built in limestone, tuff and marble.

Lyric of the morning::
"God does not need Abraham, God can raise children from stones."
Thanks, John Darnielle. Again.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Tea for Two

Ohhh yeah. There's some tea and rice snacks... for Charlie and I... Served variously on polystyrene and my journal... On the corner of my bed. I think it's clear from this picture that life can indeed be very sweet.

In other news, yesterday I saw a t-shit - black and red striped with big white messy letters - which said 'Free The West Memphis 3'. Intriguing.When I had a look-see on the intermenet, I learned that Eddie Vedder also sports this t-shit sometimes. The three are three guys who were convicted of killing three 8-year olds. There is a campaign to free them as it's reckoned there was a miscarriage of justice and the three are innocent. Hmmm.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Last week Charlie and I went to North Korea... But didn't go in.
I really want to write a proper post but doubt I will.
Suffice to say it was one of the feckin weirdest days of my life, where parody was overlaid with irony all wrapped up in some old-skool propaganda. It's hard to imagine a more ridiculous situation, let alone a way I could feel good about paying US$40 for the experience.
Things I 'learnt' about on the tour - hosted by the USO ::
  • The North are the baddies;
  • We are free and safe in ROK;
  • The North engage in brainwashing;
  • PowerPoint presentations need to be timed perfectly;
  • My illegible signature written in pencil is worthy;
  • The North Koreans hack people to death with axes;
  • There are North Koreans working in factories owned by South Koreans;
  • In the very near future Korea will be reunified and the DMZ will be the bestest nature reserve.
  • Oh, and this I found just now by accident. Erm?

Ok, and the FTA. At the moment ROK and their friends the USA are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement. Remember when Australia did the same? So I've seen anti-FTA protesters on the TV, but also protesters in my suburb. They had an amplifier and about 4 smartly-dressed people handing out well-produced fliers to passers-by. If only I could read it. Instead I looked at the cartoons, which showed a fat exploitative USA ripping apart ROK. Anyways, need to learn more on this cos I think it will be the topic for my next lesson with my boss' husband, Eric.

We had our first meeting tonight - at the Korean version of McDonald's, Lotteria. Didn't buy any food but just sat upstairs and talked. It's gonna be hard. His English is very very good - he has a senior position in a big (evil) multinational and does ALL his written work in English. Just wants to be able to argue his case to his CEO and field questions after his budget PowerPoints with aplomb. He came prepared with a topic - 9-11. Great. So I pressed him on the Korean attitudes on related topics such as: compulsory voting; risk management; invisible hands; single-term presidents; etc.

Spoke to JC and Dad today, which was excellent...
Of course I miss Charlie, but the sweet love is making the separation easier to bear (not easy).
And of course I'll get on top of my emails soon.
And Britters had a baby! Again! She's a machine!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Time to Get Lonely

Ok so I feel like a definition of 'bereft'.
Think of Geoffrey Rush in Lantana when he uses the word.

But I can also be the live version of the Mountain Goats song 'Half Dead' ::

Can't get you
Out of my head
Lost without you
Half dead

Took my spot at the window
looked at the road
Dots and dashes of traffic
Like a message in code

But there is also so much more.
Charlie's flying high above us, flying home to Melbourne, and I'm here... Washing to do, classes to teach, life to get on with, new plans to make...

We had an unbelievable 10 daze together and did so much wonderful stuff. Yesterday I had the privilege of introducing Charlie to the work of Mark Rothko, one of the best Jews ever produced by Latvia. There was a small retrospective here in Seoul at a very beautiful gallery. It showed Rothko's final painting, and a few of his very large 'colour field abstractions'. Charlie said he felt giddy. Later I thought the feeling of falling in love is like the feeling of falling through/into the emotions in Rothko's best works.

Saturday it rained. Charlie had been so lucky and had fine but cooler weather. But he wanted it to rain so he could get the full Bladerunner effect of Seoul. Voila! And we had scheduled a walk up the hill near my house. So we ignored the rain and walked (apart from the stairs which Charlie had to sprint!). Amazing. We saw many scary spiders, some very cute critters scurrying about, and an old lady being piggybacked from a small farm by some ambulancemen. And I could show Charlie what I meant by 'outdoor gym'.

Friday and Sunday night we pretty much stayed in, but Saturday we had dinner with Ahri and Ahrong and then raced to FF to see Nunco for my 5th time. Again, so glad Charlie was there so he could witness the goodness first hand. Ethan came and he's blogged all about how great they played, and the other 2 bands on that night. I invited my new K-friends and they were a hit, loved the music and danced up a storm. I tried to stay off the dance floor (for obvious reasons) but had strangers asking me to dance with them so it was hard to stay cool.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Still Joyful

Hi everyone. Sorry I didn't reply to your emails. And thanks for your posts.
I've been really busy... And really really happy.
It's been the bestest week ever.
It's all about love. It's all about joy. It's all about Charlie.

Each day I've had to leave him in the mornings to go to work... Then have met him for my 2-hour break... Then had to leave him again for my afternoon elementary classes. Each time it kills me. So I dunno how I'll go on Monday when it's goodbye for who knows how long.

Anyways, a list-in-progress ::

  • We went to the DMZ Tuesday, saw North Korea, and lots of Americans;
  • Ate lots of barbequed meat and one little speckled egg;
  • Listened to Paul Simon and my new CDs, the Shins and Mountain Goats;
  • Saw the gorgeous Steph on her birthday and drank tasty white zinfandel;
  • Drank rosemary wine in a huge weird bar called Cafe Orchard Mama;
  • Got offered more work;
  • Thought about the Macedonian flag;
  • How small is Rwanda?
  • I wanna go to those islands above Scandanavia;
  • Stuff, kisses, more stuff, a lot more kisses.

She trails off....

Monday, September 04, 2006

It's All About Love

Hard to know where to start.
This is just a quick post to advise that all is well in paradise.

Oh Charlie.

We have actually left my apartment, thankyouverymuch.
And today - horror - we had to seperate so I could come to work.
Charlie has been pointed in the direction of an outdoor gym, and headed off with his asics on and an energy drink in hand.

Had the best. weekend. ever.
Oh my. We've done a fair bit of touristy stuff, yesterday went downtown, showed Charlie a statue of an impressive guy, however, more impressive was the fact that some important person was also looking at the statue so there was maybe 50 armoured trucks lining the street and hundreds of armed police around... great. We went to the World Press Photo show - amazing - heartbreaking - then went and sat by a stream and watched the kids play and the mums drop mobile phones in the water. Was truly happy. Walked to Insadong and saw some Joseon era re-enactments and drank delicious tea in the tea house with birds flying about (and loud yanks yakking).
Anyways, Charlie seems to like the place. Loves the food, is trying to speak as much Korean as me, loves the barely legals at bar nabi, likes the beer, likes the snacks, the subway...

Friday, September 01, 2006

My Conquest

He's flying to meet me.

I woke up at 6am... Excited. The sun had turned the villas on the hill pink.

Just 4 kinder classes and then a 90-minute bus ride... We'll be bumping teeth in no time!