Thursday, January 24, 2008

much two fast

thats how i feel time is travelling in relation to our peach who is two today. that makes it 2 years, 24 months, 104 weeks, 728 days and 17, 472 hours since i fell madly, wholly and deeply in love. it was magical and unexpected, overwhelming and yet comforting, natural and beautiful and in an instant different. different than anything i had ever known or hoped to know.

the world became brighter, louder, funnier, clearer and surprisingly easier. in a moment i found my purpose in the privilege and awesome calling of motherhood and with it came a peace and contentment that were all consuming. i didnt say easy, i said all consuming. but, regardless of the moment, the day or the hour when i have felt weakest, i have never questioned this profound purpose for my life. i dont deserve this gift of motherhood, it is lavish in its magnitude. it is great in its extent and it is with that generous gift from God that i, with her father continue to try and nurture and grow her full time to be the child that one day may find her own purpose in His divine plan.
i gave up bikinis and gained belly laughs. i traded in some sleep for late night chats, prayers and gazes just between us. i once thought the three greatest inventions were stretch denim, flavored creamers and the push up bra...i now know them to be color wonder markers, sound machines and mylecon drops. i said farewell to the idea of a career and took immeasurable joy in being there for all of georgias firsts, seconds, thirds and hundredths. i traded sushi dinners for a 4 course cheese dinner with a very entertaining date. and what i find really amazing is that it doesnt seem to matter what is asked of me, what is demanded of me, or what is required to best nurture, teach and train this little one, i am somehow willing and able to give more than i thought i had.

there is irony at every turn in this adventure, the greatest being that as i desperately try and instill in her attributes of grace, compassion, love, kindness, generosity, hope, courage and faith, i am challenged to live these out as well. through God, i am trying to mold her in His image and yet through her, God is gradually molding me. and i am grateful. and inspired. and encouraged. that, He in His goodness, in His lavish love for us, entrusted this child, His creation to be ours.

and two years somehow flew by and i feel like im hanging onto the coat tails of time, begging it to please slow down, willing it to stand still. to please just give us more time. more time for the laughter, for the love, for the joy of it all. and while we keep chasing time for another day, another week, another month and another year, i know we will be laughing, loving and enjoying every moment of it.

happy 2nd birthday, georgia. you have made the gift of time the greatest gift of all. we love you so.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

s.k.i. #5

for the past several months i have noticed a number of interesting things here that have raised questions in my mind that i dont have any clear answers to. recently i learned that the blue line on the highway indicated a bus lane (for use only on the weekends) rather than just a splash of something interesting on the otherwise dull pavement with the standard white lines. i have figured out that the constant shoving is due not to a mentality of rudeness, but rather a cultural norm stemming from what i assume to be no korean phrase for 'excuse me'.

there are things i will never figure the use of cartoon characters on all advertisements, not just childrens, perhaps appealing to the child in all of us. the flow of driving is another elusive thing. while it is perfectly okay to run a red light, you had better not turn right on red. interestingly enough, it is kind of fun to pause and go at a red light even though it is illegal knowing that if you decided to stop at the light you would most certainly be mercilessly honked at and berated in words you cannot understand until you ran the red light.

i have managed to crack the code on at least one koreanism this week...

there are 10 digit phone numbers on almost all cars, not used for commercial use, but personal cars. not kimchee delivery, not carpet and tile sales, but regular old cars. they all have them and there are several methods of posting the number, applied stickers to the windshield is fairly popular as is the embroidered pillow with the number on it on display in the front or back windshield. i have been thoroughly confused as to why anyone would have their number so blatantly advertised on their vehicle. until this week. this week, while friends were out shopping, they returned to their car to find it completely blocked in. not a tight squeeze, not a 'please help direct me out of this', not a suck it in or climb in through the other door, but a no kidding, we are not leaving until little white daewoo moves out of the way. aha. call that number!! so, they called the number and daewoo driver emerged from a nearby building to move his car out of the way.

isnt that crazy? that you have a number put on your windshield or have a pillow embroidered with the sole purpose of parking in a way that makes it impossible for the other people to leave?? i started thinking of all the places they could be called out of just to move their car....weddings, funerals, classes, work....the list goes on and on. this is such a bizarre place. and yet somewhat endearing that they, knowing that blocking you in is a certain in their future, at least make themselves available to let you out.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

a little spoiled and a little lazy

very rarely am i honest enough with myself that i would admit either of these things, but this morning, over coffee, i had a frank and honest discussion with none other than myself. and before you try and have me taking the same little magic pills that you are, just know it was a healthy chat. self was feeling very blunt and self was willing to accept a few truths (they were conveyed mostly in love).

i was thinking of what i love most about korea and while i would love to say that it has been the invaluable cultural experience that only comes from living in a foreign country, that it has been an enlightening experience that i just cannot imagine having lived my life without, that im considering pursuing a life led in service to the less fortunate as a result and that i plan on donating all that i own to worthy causes like greenpeace and the celebrity chihuahua rescue foundation, that wouldnt exactly be true. now, this has been a fantastic opportunity, one that i am thankful for, one that has taught me more than simply holding my breath for long periods of time to avoid smells and to exercise great self control when seeing stray animals (they really do not need me to bring them home), it has also grown my appreciation for all things asian.

i love the korean people and their love of my offspring. i love the food, the shopping, the near death experiences i live through every time i get in a car, the novelty of marking all directions with milestones instead of streets. i love the apartment living that reminds me so much of college with the upgrade of better furniture, better drinks and no classes to sleep through. and the people, well, just dont get me started, because i have certainly met some quality people here.

so, i was thinking of all the things i love about my korean lifestyle (which is really led mostly like an american, but still...) and i began to think of what i will miss most. while there are several things vying for number 2 on the arrangement, friends, purses, travel, etc, there is only one thing worthy of the number 1 position. her name is ms. hong and i love her. and while she has made me feel a little spoiled and a little lazy, she also makes me feel rested and available on the weekends for that treasured family time. she is referred to as an "ojima" and although i hired a housekeeper in rapid city (many of you remember crazy sharon stories) to help out and while she was a good helper, she was no ms. hong.

i havent done laundry in over 2 months. im not kidding. i havent ironed since i moved here and i cant for the life of me find a place to leave my initials in the dust. shes kind, she works hard and georgia loves her. there is a small part of me, who after hearing stories of families that moved their ogimas back to the states with them, wants to find a house with a separate living area for sweet ms. hong (itd have to be very separate with not even shared ventilation because that kimchee smell is the kind you want to leave at the restaruant, not scent your home with.)

so while i may be a little spoiled and a little lazy, with ms. hongs help, i am also happier, more relaxed and thankful that my time in korea is going so swimmingly. and i will miss her. a lot. and after chatting with myself, its not all for self serving reasons either (i swear). i love the korean she speaks to georgia, i look forward to her arrival at our home and i will miss her kindness that she shows me in broken english and sweet eyes. my time here will be marked with many things, but the highlight may just be my time spent with ms. hong....and my red jimmy choo.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

massage etiquette

there are so many different ways i am able to spell 'awkward' in my life. there simply isnt enough time in the day for me to write or for you to read all the creative ways i have found to experience the glorious and sickening heights of discomfort. there was the time i was getting a massage at a spa with mr. hands all over me to the point where every part of me thought i should say something, but i, drowning in my bone dry well of assertiveness, could not for the life of me muster any words. instead i endured rather than enjoyed the latter part of my massage and didnt tip as generously. i know some people who would have said something, quit the 'relaxing' experience, demanded a refund and spread a few rumors, but im not that girl. not that i dont want to be, its just that im not. i seem to possess zero assertiveness until im highly irritated and its then that i boldly skip assertive and head straight to raging biatch. how i wish it werent so, but thats actually not what this post is about...

rather, im wondering when you are getting a manicure or pedicure (as i was today) and hard working cosmetologist is actively massaging those hands and feet, what do you say? do you say nothing and not let her know this is actually the best part of the whole shabang or do you encourage with some degree of verbal feedback? i feel weird even maintaining eye contact and yet i dont want to appear disinterested or lackadaisical (after all the painted pigs and fingers are simply bonus to the relaxing rub down), but its just a bit awkward during those moments when a total stranger is working hard at making you feel good and all the things that you could say somehow within this encounter with a stranger all sound just a little bit inappropriate. so, let me can i keep the best part of the service going without feeling totally weirded out? or worse, being the source of a discussion around a mat of kimchee during break...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

s.k.i. #4

okay, she's cute. she's ours and generally speaking in spite of the rapidly approaching milestone of 2, we will keep her a bit longer (being this close to potty training, we arent ready to give her back after our hard work is just beginning to pay off), but this little one
is the cause of our most recent strange korean incident.

i will start by saying this little country of south korea (i only mention 'south' because a disturbing number of you have in fact asked me to clarify that more than a few times) is a very hospitable place, especially compared to our not so neighborly counterparts in north korea. really the only things thus far driving me crazy here are the smell (seriously, we could really use a downpour of febreeze) and the fact there is no word used for 'excuse me' as in 'pardon me, you are in my way'. the alternative is a lot of pushing, leaning, shoving, inadvertent get the idea. one of the things i do love most about this country is they LOVE children, particularly american children, especially the blond variety. ive heard various reasons for the love affair from it 'being considered good luck in their culture to touch the head of a blond kid' to 'they just dont see very many' and the list goes on and on. i have yet to confirm the source of the admiration, but i have seen the proof. it is what i believe kept the nice korean woman lucky enough to be in the seat in front of georgia on the short 15 hour flight over here from tossing the peach out an exit door mid flight.

and while it is flattering, really, it is being the one who makes up half of those super cute genes, it is taking just a wee bit of self control to not offer some purell to the masses of toucherbys. seriously, speak to her, glance at her, touch her hand if you must, but the grabbing and kissing has got to stop. we went up to seoul this weekend for a family day in insadong (a really great art district we were told about from a friend) and while it was awesome getting out of our fishbowl known as songtan, it did not come without a few hiccups. namely the fact that we were stopped every 3-5 FEET for pictures, well wishes and of course lots and lots of touching. georgia was in a great mood and more than willing to wow the masses with her limited korean as she said hello and thank you and brought smiles to all around. but seriously...i kept wanting to let them know we werent the nannies in possession of baby jolie-pitt, this was in fact our own home made peach who while in fact is blond and has brought us a great deal of joy (and sleepless nights, but who is asking), she is no buddha and will not be bringing good luck to any of you...therefore, no need to keep touching.

i was very proud of myself in that i didnt pull out the hand sanitizer or give the 'leave me alone look' and i didnt start charging for pictures. instead pat and i continued to stop, have georgia jump through her 2 korean words tricks, smile and move a snails pace. it didnt take long before we decided to head to the only milestone we know is universal and easy to pronounce for a in seoul. there, our little abduction waiting to happen sprinted between tables full of strangers trying to grab and talk to her. not surprisingly, it was the only place we saw any westerners and that was only a table of 3 that gk had no interest in. so, maybe our little one is somewhat of a novelty here, not as novel as a white dragon, but rare nonetheless. we waited there for over an hour trying to keep the peach entertained and in our possession for a cab that never showed before hitting the streets again to chase down (nothing like manhattan where you wave down, here chasing down is the preferred way to indicate youd like a ride) another taxi.

i have found that the language barrier is 80% comical and 20% frustrating for us. im guessing the cab driver who thought we meant yongsan train station when we said 'yongsan station' instead of 'yongsan army station' and as a result drove the opposite direction of where we needed to go and had to spend an unusually long time with 2 americans and one very tired and fussy toddler (he clearly didnt get the white dragon novelty thing) has an 80% frustrating, 10% annoying and 10% infuriating ratio of the language barrier. he stopped at the wrong place and when we refused to get out (did i mention an hour in a nasty mcdonalds and chasing of cabs) he threw his hands in the air and began communicating very effectively for not a single word in english that he was not happy with us. really?? we arent tickled either. our good luck charm is car seat less in the back of your crazy ass cab currently melting down while her caretakers are hungry, have to pee and just want someplace semi sanitary to accomplish both. we offered a half hearted apology (how can it really be sincere when you dont even have the right word?) and said 'army' slowly as if maybe he just didnt understand our pronunciation of the word as opposed to the entire meaning of the word.

he did eventually find a place that looked semi secure and dropped us off at one of maybe a dozen gates to yongsan army station. we tipped him and thanked him and felt bad enough we would have let him rub georgias head like a buddha belly if he asked, but he didnt and so ended our day with the white dragon and the paparrazi. once on american soil (it seems strange they even refer to it as that), we hiked to our waiting car and headed back to the fishbowl. it was a lot of fun and an interesting cultural experience, but the next time we head to seoul for the day we will have lined up some child care for the rare one.