Is this the longest I’ve gone without writing? Over a month?
As I write in the Food Journal, we had a little party of Korean food bloggers for Chuseok. That was an eventful day. I had met a lot of people I had been wanting to meet.
The other big meeting happened earlier that day. One of Eun Jeong’s older sisters showed up with her husband and two preteen daughters. This is the first official contact I’ve had with anyone in Eun Jeong’s family. It’s a major step.
They gave us a coffee gift set (something we actually needed), and we gave them a banana bread. I got along very well with them, and Eun Jeong said they had a good impression of me. The husband invited me to his mother’s place for Chuseok next year. He’s looking forward to a lot of drinking.
Eun Jeong’s sister’s arrival gave her a ticket to go home for Chuseok. All the buses and trains were booked. So she caught a ride home with them. Of course, she said it took forever to drive down to Gyeongju because of the traffic.
The rest of the day involved a lot of cooking, and I’ve already written the details of that evening, which was truly memorable.
Hockey and Dong Dong Ju
Colin mentioned during Chuseok that the Anyang Halla hockey team will play at home the next Sunday. I sent the word out to everyone. Colin arrived with his girlfriend and her friend. Brant and Derek showed up. “Hater Depot” from GalbiJim was there with his girlfriend. A friend of theirs later showed, as well as Injoo. We had quite a crowd. Then again, Hockey and dong dong ju is great fun.
Brant brought us some souvenirs from his honeymoon in Thailand. He gave Eun Jeong a set of candles. For me, he gave a bag of kimchi soup flavored Thai potato chips. I ate those during the game along with the other junk and beer I usually buy at the Mini Stop next door. The chips were pretty good, a Thai version of kimchi. They tasted like kimchi, but there was another flavor I had a hard time figuring out. Then it hit me — lemongrass. Of course, Thais would put lemongrass in their kimchi chips.
Brant and Derek tried the new promotion that the hockey rink was pushing this season. They bought tickets for the Steff Hot Dong Party Zone seats. We all took our normal seats directly above the goal. Great view. Slight danger.
During half time, Brant and Derek went down to the Party Zone, which was directly below us. They got free MGD and a hot dog. They weren’t too thrilled with the hot dogs but said that all the foreigners sat down there. It was the new foreigner section.
After hockey, we went to the Mountain Restaurant, sat outside having our boribap (barley rice and veggies), smoked chicken, and dong dong ju.
Eun Jeong and I celebrated our second anniversary the next weekend. We didn’t do anything extravagant. Eun Jeong had the idea to go to the Kimchi Museum at the COEX Mall.
We took the long bus ride there, and it took a while for us to find the Kimchi Museum, which was deep in the basement. For a food nerd like me, it was a good way to spend an hour. Not really for just anyone, though. It had a lot of interesting facts, many plastic models of different kinds of kimchi, a lot of history. I was impressed that there was enough content to justify a whole museum, however small. It is well put together.
We ate lunch at Pizzeria Uno because I begged. I missed Chicago style pizza. It tasted great, just how I remembered it. Nonetheless, it again proved how my stomach has changed in the past few years. For both of us, the food sat on our stomachs like bricks until late in the evening.
Outside the restaurant, we ran into Eddie, one of my fellow teachers from my time at Brighton. He was with his daughter, and they had just bought a cocker spaniel puppy. Eddie updated me that he was vice president of a Canadian school and things were well.
We wandered some more. I was intrigued by these video games projected from the ceiling to the floor.
We met an old friend of Eun Jeong’s and had some coffee. This friend was with her in Canada.
We were exhausted after that long day and took the long bus ride back home late at night.
The next day, I made some spaghetti (what I made her on our first date) to properly celebrate our anniversary.
I haven’t been the only person offset by the seasons this year. We had almost no mosquitoes all summer. Then they started showing up in October. I also just didn’t feel ready yet for the weather to cool.
It’s getting harder to enjoy autumn like a used to without the comfort of my traditions. There are no county fairs. No high school football. No going out in the country to pick apples or pick a pumpkin. No Charlie Brown. And Korean Thanksgiving (Chuseok) is too early, and there ain’t no turkey.
Autumn is my favorite season. But I didn’t realize that my enjoyment depended on American traditions.
To compensate, I’ve been listening to a lot of George Winston’s Autumn. Taking daily pictures of the mountain, watching the colors shift. I’ve been trying to get into Korean traditions. Cooking seasonal food. I’m happy that oyster season is here. I haven’t taken advantage of it yet.
But I’ve asked Eun Jeong, “How can people stand it in Korea to go through a time when the weather get shorter and the days get darker without special holidays to lift them up? There’s only Chuseok, and that occurs too early.”
She doesn’t comprehend my despondence.
Chris has felt the same way too. His daughter, Gina, was just born, and she’s precious. But he also has been so caught up with life and projects that autumn and Halloween caught him by surprise. The Wednesday before Halloween, he said that he just realized it was coming. I personally was hoping that we would skip it this year. Prepping last year at Unnamed Hagwon was such a drain and took the fun out.
Yet Chris can be a genius at these things. He created something simple that worked and made it a fun day.
Each room had a separate activity. One room was mask making. The kids colored and cut out print outs. We laminated and attached elastic to them.
Another room we created bowling pins by making print outs, laminating them, and rolling them up into tubes.
We also had a balloon stomp…
…and a monster room.
(I bet her dentist doesn’t even see that much of her mouth.)
The monster room was the biggest project. We created a wall out of cardboard for the entrance. The windows were covered with cardboard. The rest of the room was coated in black plastic and black plastic mesh. We strung sheets of mesh and shredded it and set up black lights and a strobe light skull. The kids had to go inside and get a bag of candy near the strobe skull without the monster catching them. That one worked well.
The Art Park
Last Sunday, Eun Jeong and I went out to buy some milk and stuff when she just got the idea, “Let’s go to Central Park.”
I replied, “Even better, let’s go to the Art Park. I’ve been wanting to take you there.”
So I ran back up to the apartment, grabbed my bag and camera, and we headed out. We weren’t sure which bus to take, but from GoogleEarth, I could tell that it was just around the corner. It was just a few kilometers.
I really had a chance to explore it this time. Eun Jeong was in one of those rare excited moods. She even bought a bottle of makkoli rice liquor to share while we walked.
More sculptures have been added to the park since I was last there at the beginning of August. There are also a good many interesting restaurants I hadn’t noticed before, including a couple that were grilling small birds outside, presumably quail.
Eun Jeong started collecting white pebbles for her water garden.
She danced with the Buddha.
As did I.
This new sculpture disturbed me for some reason.
Other Interesting Sights
I’ve also seen more things that keep this country interesting and on my toes. Including the bus driver who had a cigarette in one hand and a toothbrush with toothpaste in the other.
Also at the Art Park — fake wood linoleum used to cover a real wood tree stump.
And even at home. Eun Jeong has been studying English by renting videos and covering the subtitles. So there’s this constant tape over the TV.
And Chris’ nerdiness with his “portable” GPS/TV with handheld battery.
Update on the Unnamed Hagwon Case
There isn’t much to update. We’re just waiting for the courts to set a date. But I have restored the old entries that I had removed for fear of retribution.