Friday, September 21, 2007

s.k.i. #2

i am tempted to start a new heading for the strange and stupid things i as an american do in korea. i imagine that somewhere in this great little country there is someone blogging about d.a.i. or dumb american incidents. i am afraid the list may be long and i know i have a place on it permanently and for various offenses. but, because i get to record these strange korean incidents, i am choosing to keep my heading of s.k.i.'s and move on. where was i and how many cups of coffee have i had today??

i need to first ask if this type of thing has ever happened to you while travelling in a foreign country where in spite of everyone telling you that everyone speaks english, in reality they dont. and why should they? i have managed to live the majority of my life in the states and have never bothered to pick up any other languages mainly because i believed the lie that everyone everywhere speaks it and a career in international business and more challenging courses in college were just not that appealing. okay, so the question...(how many cups??) have you ever found yourself acting like rather than a simple language barrier is preventing you from communicating your request, it is instead a hearing issue? or a mildly retarded one? let me splain...

i have discovered that when speaking with the locals (koreans if you just tuned in), i speak loudly, slowly and with as few words as possible. i must look and sound like an idiot. thank goodness i have discovered (albeit 5 weeks late) how moronic i appear and can now make a concentrated effort to appear less deaf, less retarded and less like im struggling to speak my own language. however, this epiphany arrived 5 weeks too late and at least one incident will spend the next 50 years keeping me humble and thoroughly embarrassed.

i have become a fixture downtown at the shops, finally learning to navigate my way through dirty alleys, i mean streets and i can now say that i have my top 5 shops to find the bag or purse of your choice. i had the great fortune of meeting the worlds most apt shopper within a week of my arrival and she has graciously whisked me under her jimmy choo wing and we have taken flight. its been more than fun, its been a true apprenticeship in finding the right places and the right prices. on one of my solo excursions, i got a little turned around (easy to do with every store front and alley looking almost the exact same...and lets be honest, there are no big, tall or blond koreans that ive met and well, i have gotten a bit confused more than once as to which shopkeepers ive met but at the risk of sounding like a horrible person, ill stop there). a little disoriented, i wandered into a particular store and found the pleasant owner. here is how i managed to crash and burn and then burn again... the conversation went like this:

kt: (speaking clearly, slowly and with an unnaturally high volume) hi, you have big (must gesture intended size) brown (pointing to closest brown purse) purse (holding up mine for her to see) for me (pointing back to my ridiculously stupid self)?

shopkeeper mentally thinking of all the koreans she will tell about this total dumbarse: oh, you want a large chocolate coach purse? do you want the messenger bag or the diaper one?

kt: (stunned, as this is the first korean i have met that spoke FLUENT english) thatd be great! thank you so much!! (completely over enthusiastic...those of you who know me can completely imagine) okay, thanks again! (should have left store embarrassed, but smarter than when i arrived, but no, stunned katie must say just one more stupid thing). so, where are you from?

KOREAN shopkeeper: here, but i lived in sacramento for a few years. (silently thinking you have now been elevated to dumbest person status over just dumbest american status).

kt: okay, have a great day!

you know how when you completely blow it, you try and think of all the ways it could have been worse? i cannot for the life of me think of one unless of course she had a security camera in the store with volume. that would be worse. although i would at least be locally famous after it circulated its way through every korean tv channel and email. yes, that would definitely worse.

Monday, September 17, 2007

free parenting tip

i will keep this brief...if you have a child who is prone to pooping in the tub, a bubble bath is not a good option as bubbles have a way of conveniently hiding the most disgusting of things. you can thank me later for the horror this has saved you.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

could she be the one?

theres this part of moving to a new place that always seems to highlight my greatest insecurities as i meet new people and wonder each time, will she be the one? will she be the friend that when im leaving in two years i thank God for bringing into my life. i spend these first months without fail wondering if i will ever have 'that' friend. and yet, as predictable as the days there is always one or two or more that i cant imagine my life without when it is all said and done. and yet, it is these first weeks that are always the hardest as our boxes are unpacked, but the feeling of 'home' is somewhat absent.

i found myself talking last night to a great friend and making the comment that i feel like i wish everyone had a drink before i met them the first time, just one to help take any potential edge they may have off. i absolutely hate the early stages where i am afraid to be myself, afraid to say too much or not enough or inadvertently offend. and yet, the harder i try to be 'surface' katie, the more awkward i become. i was this way with patricks family for some time, wanting desperately for them to like me that i finished most conversations wondering who it was that had just been speaking for me. (they probably thought the same thing) it was definitely not me, but a watered down, trying to be liked me. it made for some fairly embarrassing moments and i was relieved several years ago when it no longer felt that way. i still remember the visit when i left and it was comfortable, natural and fun. like family, really.

i guess ive been spoiled at our last few assignments because i cant for the life of me remember there being that 'get to know you' awkward stage. truly, we met friends and instantly just knew we would always be connected. and we are. so, here i am, in korea wondering if ive met her yet. have we shared a brief conversation that we will one day look back on and laugh as the first time we met? will we have more in common than both being military wives or mothers? surely, we will. or i at least hope we will. or maybe we will very different from one another and she will bring about the balance in me ive found in other friends. the curiosity in and of itself of who will be the one keeps me optimistically expectant. i seem to always forget this part of each move probably because by the time we leave it is hard to remember how hard it was in the beginning finding the 'ones'. the seeds of lasting friendships have already been deeply sown and managed to erase the memory of an empty field.

so, ill wait. ill hold doors open, make small talk in the elevator, show up at meetings, find places to volunteer, speak at the check out, host a few dinners and wine tastings at our place for 'acquaintances', hopefully opening the door, the opportunity to find the ones. and ill be grateful. and ill be joyful. and ill do my best to just be me.

Monday, September 10, 2007

love is effortless

or not. interesting that it has taken me this long to realize this fact wholeheartedly. there are seasons that may last a week, a month or even a year where this whole marriage thing seems almost effortless, easy really. and then there are seasons where it is not. this is where i am tonight and it is at no fault of my better halfs. he is remarkable in every sense of the word, kind and loving, honest and faithful. he is everything i have hoped and prayed for and even more. he is often times the greatest evidence of God's goodness and love towards me. and yet, i am tired. i am full of gratitude at the privilege of motherhood and recognize the luxury of staying at home to relish in and experience it and yet tonight i am exhausted in every sense of the word. and maybe its the wine (a new shiraz that was on sale today) or the lack of restful sleep (its been eluding me for almost 10 months now) or the fact that today i realized i have had collectively 3 hours away from my sweet peach in almost 40 days. it is wearing on me on so many levels. similar to how i feel after too many days of rain and gray skies, i feel it in my spirit that i am not myself. at least not the self i like to be.

and so tonight when better half, the one that works so diligently to afford me the luxury of full time motherhood, called to say he would be late (only the courtesy call is a new development) followed by another call 45 minutes later to extend his evening at work, i realized that saving dinner, heating it up and welcoming him with warmth and respect would be effort tonight. it would not be what is easy, but rather what is deserved. as if he would rather spend time working than being the husband and father he loves to be. but i am tired. and i wanted to make him cookies or a card, but that was last weeks late night of work and today i was fresh out. fresh out of what he truly deserves. and if i wasnt in a new place, and if i had those great friends or babysitters or full social calendar, i would be feeling alright. but for the life of me, those things are not within reach this week, but my pity party is.

so tomorrow i will try and make an even greater effort than i made today. better half loves banana bread almost as much as his aggie football and i am going to try and make him some. and it will be made with a sincere effort on my behalf, but it will be made with a sincere love as well. God is so good to me and has shown me in so many ways the blessing of a servants heart. how i have been the recipient of it countless times, most recently when our sweet abe passed and friends loved, encouraged, supported and even grieved with us through it all. i want to be that servant. that one where i am given opportunities to love and to serve and experience the selflessness that only draws us closer to our beloveds and ultimately to Him. how can i be disappointed when God is answering my prayer of opening up ways to serve Him more? so i am thankful. for long hours and jobs that provide. for 40 days with a healthy and happy little one. for a new place with new opportunities and a love that is worth all of my greatest efforts and more.

Friday, September 07, 2007

since you've been gone

in the last 2 days since you have left it has not stopped raining once. not for even a moment, at least not in the waking hours or the hours in the middle of the night when i am awake. i have this ritual when you are away where i start off sleeping in the middle of our bed. my side feels pretty lonely and laying in the middle, without sharing one bit of my space seems like it should be a perk to these times apart from one another. strange that it has never worked and yet every night i place myself there expecting to feel happy (briefly albeit) that i have the whole place to myself.

i am a creature of habit, a slave to routine, wary of interruptions to my schedule so imagine my delight tonight when in the 'routine' of bath time, you know those 2o minutes when all i have to do as a mother is supervise gk while she splashes around, she poops. yes, in all the disgustingness you can imagine. i think it was partly my fault, after all, i laughed at the bubbles when she tooted, not realizing she would attempt to recreate those for the almighty 'mommy giggle'. yuck. so i broke from the routine and called it a night early, tucking her in and praying for you.

today she woke up with hives head to toe for the first time. is it possible youve only been gone 2 days? i took her to the doctor in the pouring rain (cant seem to locate the umbrella since weve moved in) amid looks from strangers that said 'can you not at least cover your child up, you terrible mother?' by the time we met the doctor there was not a single trace of the hives that had landed us the appointment. i apologized for wasting her time but was glad to have had the chance to meet her and expected us to be on our way. not so fast. dr. thorough asked a series of relentless questions in an attempt to crack the hive causing code. she asked me if peach had been exposed to peanuts. um, yeah at a year old i started her on peanut butter with the permission of my pediatrician (whom im convinced was nothing short of brilliant and had a cnp that i adored). i didnt do it covered in honey on an egg sandwich while on a camping trip in the mountains, though. and believe it or not, shes fine. really. never had a reaction to peanut butter. can we go now? horrified, the nice doctor informs me to remove all these things from her diet to include dairy for good measure until we get the results back from her blood draw allergy test. right. ill get right on that after she has a cup of milk and pb&j sandwich. clearly, ive lost my nomination for mother of the year and im okay with that. georgia thanked the doctor 4 different times during the exam for checking each ear, listening to her heart and taking her blood pressure. i think we're doing all right. i walked as slowly as possible to the lab and waited for her blood draw. miraculously, they got her arm on the first attempt and other than the discomfort that comes from hearing your sweet child crying, we were both okay. and she had her first lollipop which instantly stopped the tears and brought on the humming that only happens when she is really enjoying what shes eating. thats our girl.

you know how we have our suspicions about the thermostat being for decorative purposes only? well, its been confirmed. it is ridiculously warm in the apartment, but cool outside and regardless of what i do to it, the temp never changes. im tempted to take it off the wall and prove its just a way to make us think we have some control over it, but maybe ill wait until you get home.

oh, and when i went to the commissary today, i realized that the parking space ive parked in the last two times (its been empty and in a great location) had a generals tag on it. fabulous. hopefully his wife wasnt trying to grocery shop at the same time as the majors illiterate wife. it gave me a laugh as i wondered what people must have thought as i hopped in and out of our car with georgia not realizing my stupid mistake. thank goodness those korean plates dont allow for our a&m plate cover, i wouldnt want to be too easily identifiable.

i think this about covers it, but it has just been two days. have a great trip and we cant wait to see you when you get home. love you, us

Monday, September 03, 2007

sincere empathy

it wasnt that long ago i was attempting (and often failing) to move furniture throughout the place trying to find the optimal placement by myself. better half was at work and impatient half refused to wait for help. one particular afternoon our sofa table tried out no less than 4 places in the house and on its second to last voyage across the living room floor, the corner of it came into contact with my two littlest pigs. ouch. fall to the floor, grab said pigs and keep expletives in my mind ouch. peach immediately comes over to inspect mommys 'owie' and offers to 'iss' it. no thanks, peach, thats only not gross when its your pigs. we chat about it for a bit before georgia decides the only way to really make me feel better is to inflict a little pain on herself. she proceeds to kick the same corner that i identified as the culprit to my owie with vigor and then says, 'gza gza owie toe'. ah, yes. its that heart of compassion we've been praying for. it really was so sweet and so funny but i had to temper my reaction so that she did not file this self inflicted sympathy away under 'good ideas'. here are a couple of recent pics of gk that her aunt lisa took of her just days before hopping the plane to land of the not quite right. add photography to her long list of creative endeavors.