Friday, November 27, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

내가 임신 (Or, We're Expecting...)

The Korean pregnancy test was called "Happy time PLUS"...

Friday, November 6, 2009

"American" Lunch

I've always hoped I would grow up to be a hospitable adult.

Instead, I'm a very private one. I say instead not because the one naturally excludes the other but because my mind often uses the excuse of privacy and shyness to justify myself against the feeling that I both want to be and ought to be more generous in offering my opinions, presence, food-creations and home to others in formal acts of hospitality. My choice of husband offers no hope for constructive rehabilitation; he's not very hospitable... or even sociable most of the time... (I'm stating; not criticizing. He nodded when he read it...)

But - people have been so hospitable to us for months here - have taken us out to eat, to tea, to see sights, invited us over to their houses, and taken us shopping and explained how to eat poisonous nuts in small enough quantities to not die ( that was valuable advice; for instance, Malachi should not eat more than one) and so, I took the plunge, and invited two of the ladies from our apartment complex to our apartment for lunch today.

And I think we all enjoyed it. I enjoyed it, and Malachi went crazy. And I felt that I was an adequate (if starkly American) hostess. We talked about: linguistics of course (Sunny is an English teacher) and how children learn language, and feminism and the western habit of changing your last name when you marry (this they do not historically do in Korea, and they think it's an odd practice to give up your fathers name, and applauded me for keeping my father's name as well as taking my husbands - it was a conversation with lots of cheering in it, but I don't know why...)

It went well...This was the older of the ladies, with her son "Min-Su." (Her, I know only as "Min-Su's mom")

And this is my friend Sunny's daughter "Tey-Hee" (on the left) and the other ladies' daughter (whose name I sometimes think is also Min-Su, but must be different but I can't distinguish's an ongoing mystery, and one that i fear will get more and more frustrating)

Tey-Hee will be 1 next month. Note her gypsy-skirt!

My friend Sunny (English name).

Malachi was overwhelmed, but elated.

Monday, November 2, 2009

After Purchasing a Winter Coat for Malachi, I thought about some things...

Yesterday we winterized Malachi's wardrobe.

We folded ourselves into tiny children boutiques that are - ostensibly - where people buy children's clothes here. Most boutiques have two or three pricey, plush, often plaid outfits that are patly impractical and also whimsically androgynous. And not warm. We eventually entered a sort of outlet store, or a place that said "sale!" in English (though, there wasn't actually a sale. The key in Korea is often to merely use English; not to use English in a way that means anything in particular)

So, I was browsing the racks of this non-sale-outlet-type place when I found some unwarm long-sleeved shirts for little girls (a range of 2yrs.-6yrs. old) featuring a playboy bunny and the words "player" in repeated patterns on the shirtfront.

Or - different anecdote. Last week at the bus terminal I saw a normal, middle-school aged girl walking hand-in-hand with her mother, with a large Beatrix-Potteresque rabbit on her shirt, and the words "Let's do it like rabbits all day long, first I'll do you then you do me."

Or, there's the mannequin I saw (my not so subtle way of clarifying that this is a corporately-presented ideal; not a mysterious flop), with a knee length t-shirt that announced in bold purple "I am a SLUT," with 'SLUT' in thick, elongated letters that spanned over half the shirt.


I have a theory. Somewhere in mid-America, there is a panel of adolescent boys with uniquely unimaginative senses of sex and humor, that are asked which text they would like women in Asia to brand themselves with, without their real knowledge or consent...

I'm not sure in which category of thought I expect these observations to belong- bewildered humor, like the grammatically crooked notebooks? Paranoia - the fear that I've become psychotically feminist or moralist by even noticing and storing up and connecting these sights?

Or - and by bringing it into a new paragraph, I'm hinting that this is most often where I want take it - is it only possible to consider parabolically?

For instance, perhaps fashion is an art always in a foreign language. What says "I'm self-assured and stylish and unashamed" to one person, says "I'm a slut" to someone else. But wearing it doesn't actually make the person a slut... no one really interprets it that way....(except men sometimes, and sometimes other women?)...

I think what bothers me the most is that unmistakable consciousness behind it - borrowed and corporate, and, it seems, designed to undercut the very empowered confidence that women here (as everywhere) so delicately seek in fashion...and the parable extends...