Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I would like to remind you that I plan to update the blog when I am home with photos and correct spelling. For now, this site is partially in Korean...and I can't quite figure it all out. So bare with me! :)

Christmas in Korea is pretty relaxed. What I have noticed is that many people buy special, fancy cakes. Baskin and Robins have amazing ice cream cakes here - very fancy! I've also seen lots of Krispy Creams happily transported on the subway to their inevitable deaths. If only they knew that they would be cut into pieces and scooped up with chopsticks.

Lots of toys are sold - I've seen many accessories sold too...gloves, scarves, hats. Jun's parents say that Christmas is more like a family day. Some people may recount the story of Christ but most celebrate family.

Jun's family came over, we did a small service, read the bible, sang some hymns and prayed. Then it was cake time! It was a lovely night. We also played a traditional game called Yute-No-Dee.

There are four wooden sticks and depending on what section of the stick lands up is how many steps your team's marker goes. When I get the photos here it'll makes more sense. It is sort of like casting die and moving that many spaces...but certain combinations mean you get to go further or backwards. Money is also involved!

A lovely Christmas.

Wonderful Machine in the Bathroom

I forgot to mention a while back that I met two wonderful machines at the 24 hour sauna. One lived on top of the toilet in the women's bathroom, the other near the nap matts by the I-Joy-like chairs.

First, the toilet buddy. It heats the seats. It sprays your nether regions...with various mists AND temperature control! Not only that...but with a remote control, you can move the mist/spray/upside down waterfall all the way to the front AND to the back. Yes. I know you have heard of these before BUT have you experienced it? Wow.

I didn't quite get the temperature control so it was very cold water...which made me laugh in the bathroom - disturbing the old grandmother in the next stall. She quickly got out of the bathroom. Oops. I was left a bit frigid and amused by my discovery.

Then, we found this crazy foot massaging machine. No. More like Foot Execution Machine. It pulses electricity into your feet! We started with a 5 setting...I felt a little tickle...10 setting...I felt my toes buzz...15 setting...OK I don't think I like this... 20 setting...My feet were convulsing with every buzz... 30 setting...OMG This is insane! What is this good for? My feet and legs were convulsing, the muscles tightening with every shock. 40 setting...Worse than 30. 50 setting....the muscles in my feet tightened so hard that I was tip toeing on the machine, legs twitching...even my thighs were jerking! Then the machine stops, your feet relax back down onto the machine only to be assaulted by a longer shock - practically raising your whole body to stand! It hurt.

Back down to 15. I like this better now. Shayne did it and we held onto his feet and felt the shock through our hands.

This machine is very good for those with poor circulation in the feet and legs, for diabetics and the elderly. I found it interesting to watch my body move without my consent. I tried to focus and keep my feet from twitching but it didn't work. Very amusing!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Jong - I Never Knew

I learned about Korean Jong today. It is giving to others from the heart. We met a Doctor at the sauna a few days ago and had a nice conversation with him about life in Korea and teaching English. He speaks several languages and was a very nice guy. We sat while soaking our feet and chatted away, until he had to go but gave us his number and told us to meet another time at the sauna.

We met again and he bought us full body massages. WOW! I felt sort of shocked and grateful because I would never buy this for myself. He left and told us that when we were done, we had a massage waiting for us. WOW! That is Korean Jong. For no reason, he gave us a gift just because he wanted to.

All through my childhood I received Jong but didn't know it. My mother's friends would give me money randomly. They just felt like it. I'm 29 and had no idea about this process that was happening to me my whole life. You know that moment in your mind when a memory in your youth didn't make sense until your adulthood. You had the information in adulthood to finally get what happened? That 'Whoa...I get it! That's what it was all about?' moment? Jong.

So the massage was amazing. First, the Ajuma (Mrs.), who is in her underwear because the massages are given in the shower/sauna/ hot tub area...rubs you with these exfoliating gloves. All over. I had a lot of dead skin since I've never done this before. She was sort of amazed...Then you shower. Come back to the table, and she rubs oil over your entire body and does this massage - slapping, contorting, stretching...deep tissue in some spots - hand massage, foot massage...everything massaged! My favorite part was the face massage. Oh it is so nice and relaxing. Then she puts mineral mud on your face while she does some more massage with heated towels.

After that, you shower again and you are done. I felt new and never looked so...white and shiny! Shayne looked REALLY white after his exfoliating and massage! We were so thankful to our new friend for this gift!

That night, we told Jun about what happened and he said, "You experienced Korean Jong." And that is when he told me all about this concept I experienced but never knew.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Noodle Alley

We were only lost for like, 30 minutes. Did I scare you? :)

We met up with Jun in the largest market I've been to. Nam-De-Mun market. It is open during the day, closes around 4pm and reopens at midnight to 3 am for retailers. Yet, you, if you have the skill and blend in...can buy lots of stuff, super cheap after midnight.

For those you know me, I start shutting down at 10:30pm. So no midnight market for me. Plus, I am on a budget and don't need 5 of anything - no matter how cheap, right now. Perhaps later, when I return to Korea and my Mother. Besides, the market was open now and I could still buy many things. Skirt, apron, ginseng root mud mask, wooden sword...

All that shopping, and all those people, exhausted us so we looked for a place to eat. Out of the corner of our eyes a small clearing led to a narrow alley. It was as if a cold winter wind blew us in. Literally, it did blow us into this alley. It was very cold that day. We looked up and 30 women, 15 on each side of the "alley" stood before us. Each women in her own, 5 ft. kitchen. This was Noodle Alley. There were customers sitting on stools - think of an old fashion soda shop, now take away the chrome, funny hats and nice fella winking at you. Replace this with steam, slurping noises and very aggressive women screaming at you. Noodle Alley. Each woman is competing for you, she screams OVER HERE...Service here! In English...just in case Japanese too. I heard, SIT HERE NOW!!! I COOK YOU!

What? Oh. She'll cook for me.
They grab for you - sometimes pulling your back pack in their booth direction. MY GOD! I was thrilled and scared. What the heck was going on here?
Customers didn't notice the commotion, and kept slurping up their noodles. Each booth is a little different and offers something a little special. Each booth has a name and how many years they have been in service. The youngest was 5 years, the oldest 40.
Did you see Labyrinth? With David Bowie? Remember the tunnel with the hands grabbing the girl and lifting her up, then down? Noodle Alley.
We made it to the end of the alley. I turned around and the ladies started to motion for me again. I really wanted to turn my back...the turn around again to see if they would stop...then start yelling. But instead I said Thank You really loud in Korean and bowed, then chose the lady next to me. She gave us special service - 3 bowls of Udon noodles, 3 sides of hot spicy noodles; all for $7. It was FABULOUS! Jun asked if we could tip her. She was surprised and giggled and we gave her a $1. You just don't tip here, even if you want to. Jun says tipping is OK in Western hotels and high class places but not anywhere else.

While we ate, some Japanese tourists came into Noodle Alley. The screaming started - in Japanese! The young women were dressed like cartoons. Cat ear headband, one in a big fluffy white fur coat, leg warmers striped blue and red and high heels. Long fingernails, glitter on the eye lids. It was a fun sight! Then...they sat down and the gossip between the ladies near our booth started. Apparently, the Japanese women asked for a discount. The Korean food vendors were laughing at them because it is a rule - discounts everywhere except food. Never ask a food vendor for a discount. Even if you know the price is high, just leave and find another vendor. Jun says the tourist agency the Japanese come here with teach them how to bargain. They teach them to always ask for a discount no matter what. I almost wonder if they do this as a big joke. It seems like Koreans love to make fun of, and overcharge the Japanese more than Westerners!

War..Huh..Good God Y'all...What's It Really Good For?

Han. War is good for Han. Lots and lots of Han - ancestral regret and misery. Try to look it up in Wikipedia. The picture above is of the Brothers Statue. One is a North Korean Soldier, the other Southern. They meet on the battlefield and embrace. The crack in the dome they stand on represents the divided country, other various symbols surrounding the dome represent hope for reunification.

I had my fill of Han for a long time. I thought I selected a historical art museum but instead it was the War Memorial Museum. was in English and yes...I wasn't paying attention. $3 and you get all the information you want on the Korean War and various military branches. The first two floors I checked out...until I got this heavy and dark feeling inside. Humanity is horrible! Why do we kill each other? Stop the insanity! I zoned out the 3rd floor and the outdoor displays, various hall monuments. I was War-n Out. (Tom Hungate would appreciate that one!)

A couple of things that stick in my mind: How refugees survived and General MacArthur. Remember the military stew I talked about? Well, this museum put many things into perspective. That military stew was desperation. I mean...these Koreans had nothing. They were bombed out and depleted. Since the people eat mostly veggies..and since most of the country was bombed there was nothing to eat. I think only Busan, the sea coast town that was never taken by the North, may have fared better than those in Seoul.

Imagine, Seattle buildings bombed to the ground and thousands of people living in makeshift 'tents' in the remains of those buildings. I know that this scene happens all over the world. That is why my heart was very heavy.

Then we read about MacArthur - and I must say...America is awesome! Except, I was confused by the Presidents reasons for pulling MacArthur out. The General wanted to bomb Manchuria - you know...all those Chinese soldiers flooding Korea? But we decided no. I want to read more about this when I come home. Also, the day the North invaded the South...the Southern Government took all their soldiers off "Emergency Vigilance." And sent them on extended holiday.

EMERGENCY VIGILANCE!!! Holiday? Vacation? You got to be kidding???? I was dumbstruck! Doesn't that sound really odd to you? I got to read more on this...after I pet my Shih Tzu, eat some chocolate cake, smell the clean Pullman air and thank God for my life. Then I can handle more Korean War history.

After the museum - we got lost in Namdemun. No cute stores to be had.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I Was So Mad!

Some street vendor lady tried to rip me off!

We were in Seoul again and I saw this adorable medium sized dog. His ears were like butterflies and he was black and white. We made a connection. He belonged to this street vendor selling savory pancakes. I asked her how much. She said something and I swore it was $1. I was holding my $5. She said thought she didn't have the change yet since it was pretty early. So I called for Jun and Shayne and asked them for some change. I gave her a $1..she said no again and Jun asked what was the problem. She said the pancakes were $9!!!!!!!!! WHAT?????? Jun got a look on his face...Shayne knew right away but I was asking if she needed coins. What an idiot.

We just walked away. Jun told me not to go buy things by myself unless the signs have the prices. I'll be ripped off on purpose. That really made me angry. I was angry the whole time while we had coffee at the PRETTIEST Dunkin Doughnuts in the world! This shop was a doughnut dream! Not like the ghetto ones I know of where napkins are stuck to the floor and half the doughnuts aren't made.


I learned the phrase Boo Sai Oh! Too expensive! What I wanted to learn was: That's ridiculous you mean old lady! Who do you take me for?

In the states, people - well, most of the time, think I look...something. They always say I look like something. It is their way of being nice and asking what am I. I look half Asian.

In Korea - I do not blend. My eyes are huge and I walk boyish like with confidence. My forehead says, "Rip me off please, I am a white person!"

Well. I am over it now. I just hope other tourists do not pay that much for pancakes. Ridiculous. I am glad that the 10 or so other street vendors I have ordered from were honest.

Instead of the savory pancakes I got the biggest Korean Corn dog for $2. It was pretty good with ketchup. The Ketchup here is not so sweet and I kinda like it better! After I took a bite of my corn dog, I noticed another kind of corn dog. This one, I call the Destroyer. It was as big as mine, but managed to crawl on top of a basket of french fries and murder them. It rolled itself on top of the fries, squishing them to its body then jumped into the hot oil; forever sealing the fries to itself.
I have to have one.

Independance Museum

We spent an entire day in a "country" town called Chun-An. Jun said this was the country. It looked like Tacoma. He was serious...this was the country. Everyone calls people from Chu-An country bumpkins.

We were invited by a family friend to visit the Independence Museum and have lunch. 5 Junior High boys would hang with us to speak English and we would get free transportation! DEAL! The Family friend...don't know his name...owns a mental hospital. So our transportation came from the hospital - the driver...and the bus that said CHUN AN MENTAL INSTITUTION in big blue letters. This is hilarious!

The Junior High boys spoke pretty good English to us after they got over being shy. One kid was the best - he cracked me up because every time he answered my questions he spoke like he was reading in front of the class!

Me: "So, what is your favorite food?"
Jr. High Boy: " MY FAV-ORITE FOOD...IS-uh...KOREAN uh... KIM CHI"
Me: "I like it too!"

They asked us questions...that seemed to be from books...Where are you from? What do you like to eat? What movie do you like? Where are you from? Where are you from? ...Where are you from.
OK! Fellas! You need to ask another question!
Blank stares.
Jun translated - this time was the first time I saw Jun as a superior. Very cool. He acted very mature and sort of annoyed at the Jr. kiddos. His tone was sort of bossy as he said - you country bumpkins! You asked that same question 3 times...can't you think of another? Geez.

You would think this would discourage the boys - but they are used to negative/sort of positive encouragement.

JHB: "Are you scared?"
Me: "why?"
JHB: "BECAUSE...WE ARE GOING TO SEE (long pause to gain energy) BLOODY PEOPLE."
Me: "What? OH! The Museum..."
Me: "...I think I am going to be sad."
JHB:" Sad? Why?"
Me: "Because Koreans have many sad stories. This Museum will tell them all."

The Museum is majestic! Two large points jut up out of the earth...the courtyard is wide...the museum directly behind the points. If you look straight on, the points look like your thumbs when you are praying - folding your hands with the thumbs up. Beautiful.

The museum was amazing. It starts from the beginning with the 3 Kingdoms - Korea occupied a large portion of China at one time. Kings, Queens, Monks...the design, architecture of the ancient people...breathless.

Then there was the Japanese Occupation section. In a nutshell, King's father wanted isolation from the world, the King wanted to just live in the palace and didn't seem to have a lot of gumption. The Queen wanted to open Korea to the world. The Japanese didn't want Korea to get Western technology (guns, etc.) but wanted Korea for themselves. They killed the Queen, forced the King to sign a document giving Japan half? of the power to govern.

In my opinion - the Royalty screwed up big time and the Japanese forces in Korea were brutal.

On our way home, the boys tried to fog up the windows so no one would see them. I kinda enjoyed the fact that I was in this bus - not only was the day free BUT this was hilarious! We parked downtown...the boys were out of the bus and ate dinner. Said goodbye and we headed home.

Bus Driver

Remember Young Joe? The Amazing Ace Korean Driver? I thought he was driving our bus yesterday because we were all over the place! This driver...Let's just say I am happy the buses have seat belts and I was in a seat. People were tossed everywhere! Pretty ladies in their heeled boots were grasping for the bus poles with one hand, trying to text with the other. Here's how the ride goes:
1. The buses don't stop at a bus stop unless you need a ride. So they do not sit and wait to make sure they are on schedule - the schedule is a suggestion. (there are many suggestions here!) So if you see your bus, you hail it like a taxi. OH! There are bus stops - and taxi stops too where everyone waits in line for the next taxi. On that thought, I was told to only take taxis with yellow plates, otherwise, you will be taking the scenic tour to your destination.

2. Pay quickly and hurry - I mean RUN to your seat or grab the poles fast because this bus is moving before the door is closed! And he usually isn't moving in a straight line...he is crossing several lanes of traffic, at an incredible angle and going like...0 - 50mph in seconds.

3. Sit, seat belt, sleep. Everyone sleeps. Until the bus slams on the breaks to avoid hitting another bus in front! Seriously... whip lash people! Some Koreans didn't event wake up at our near accident! Amazing.

Riding the bus to me feels like a cartoon. Comical and unreal.

Transportation here is cheap! Our ride to Seoul - about 70 or 80 miles is only $1.50. A taxi is $20 and the subway is $1.00
I love it!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

24 Hour Sauna

Yes. That is right. A 24 Hour Relaxation Heaven. They are everywhere in Korea and I highly recommend you visit several times. We took Jun's cousin, Jenny and a family friend to the sauna. His name is Hack Jun and I think he is 10. I am pretty sure the children are with us to practice English! I am OK with that because the kids keep buying us things! :) Before I forget, every child here has a cell phone and is connected to someone or something a lot. There are beeps and texts sent every minute. I asked Jenny who she was texting and she said her friends. They reported what they had for dinner...what tv show they were watching. She reported she was stuck with me and speaking English.

Back to sauna. It is located within a tall 16 floor building...but we go down, way downstairs. It opens up to an enormous granite walkway that leads to a counter. There you pay $5 - YES! to get some shorts and a t-shirt. Women in pink, men in blue. You get a towel. Douglas Adam fans know how important a towel is while traveling! Then you split off from the fellas and head into the locker room. You lock up your shoes, give the key to another attendant at the soup bar and she gives you another key...this is for the locker that you store your clothes in. You change into the pink outfit, keep your undies on - no bra. And head out to the sauna. There is a pebble walkway to massage your feet on. This is good for all your internal organs. I ran on it.

To the right, mineral foot baths. Ahead, 4 little sauna rooms and one giant clay honeycomb thing. This honeycomb cave is the HOTTEST sauna. I am pretty sure this isn't lost in translation 120C. I was afraid. But went in. Everyone is pretty quiet. Meditating ... thinking about ice cream or snowy mountain tops...because it is Hell in here. You sweat the minute you walk in. There was an older man melting away in the corner. Were his wrinkles waves of water? His shirt was a dark blue. I am pretty sure they gave the guys light blue outfits.

I stayed in there for 6 minutes. I was sweaty and feeling great. Then I went into the ice room...

sat on top of an ice cube and melted my seat. That was neat. Then I tried the other saunas. The rock salt sauna where you lie on lots of tiny rock sized ...uh...salt rocks. I put one in my mouth. Yup. Salt. I discreetly spit it out and hid it. Then there was a wooden sauna that smelled of various Chinese herbs. There was the coal or slate sauna - basically an all black room. There was the ladies sleeping area. Which, if you are on a budget, you can stay the night at the 24 hour saunas! There are ant holes, places to catch a nap! There are various I - JOY massage chairs! My co-worker, Laura, knows how much I love these chairs! It cost me $1 for a 15 minutes massage. It was great! There are various snack bars, a restaurant and karaoke! This place is family friendly, kids in their little sauna outfits running around, but not being obnoxious. It was quite relaxing... until I went to bathe. There are naked ladies everywhere, all shapes and sizes, hanging about like some Greek painting! That didn't bother me, it made me less self conscious about my body actually! Jenny and I washed ourselves then sat in the hot pools. Dolphin fountains spitting hot, steaming, mineral water all over the place! Before I was relaxed, now I felt a delicious coma coming on.

We spend a good 3 hours there. 10:30pm - after I pretended to be Madonna and Justin Timberlake...Shayne sang Tears for Fears and Outkast...the kids sang various Korean love songs - snore....we went home.

An amazing evening for a whopping $6!

Seoul at Night Part 2

NOTE: I cannot check my spelling because most of the screen is in Korean...please fourgive me. I am also layzy. :)

Young Joe, our small time gangster puppy dealer, has some mad driving skills. He is aggressive, at time tyrannical, and very secure with all his driving decisions. The man makes no mistakes while behind the wheel. To me, his driving is beyond crazy. He cuts people off, runs, what looks like to be red lights, goes straight when there is a green arrow, pushes pedestrians out of the way, takes corners at great speed and parks wherever he likes. It's madness.

But in Korea - he is a fantastic driver.

We toured half of Seoul that night, thanks to his speed. And I have to say, it was the first time I came to realize that this is not my Mother's Seoul.

Young Joe showed me a tiny part of the underbelly of Seoul. He took us to Itaewon, near the U.S. Military Base. There we toured..."toured" the transgendered bars, the Eagles bar where White Guys hang, the XoXO (can't remember exactly) bar where the Black Guys hang... various gay bars and really tiny, dirty, FABULOUS places to eat! We stopped at one.

Young Joe parked his car at the entrance of an alley, blocking at least 5 other cars in. We got out...I looked at Shayne - he shrugged and we both have this expression we where now...I call it, "When in Rome..."

When in Rome, eat what small time gangster eat. Military Jigae (soup). Ingredients: Spam, hot dogs, kimchi, ramen, other noodles, green onions, tofu, some beef if you got it, and lots of hot peppers. It was awesome! Military Jigae was born during the Korean War. Because food was so scarce they put whatever they had into this stew. Since soldiers were pretty nice to Koreans, they gave them lots of spam and hot dogs. Wha la...improvised stew!

We sat in this tiny place, on the warm floor (God I got to get these floors!) watched the Korean Oscars and shared this giant boiling pot of Military Jigae. Had a couple of beers, some oranges and headed out. Ready for this? I went underground!

We want to buy Shayne's Mom a nice purse. You know, something Gucci or Channel-ish. Young Joe has connections. So we headed around the market district and walked around until he said something like - "Hey. Nice night." Translation: "Where are the knock offs?" The guy motioned for us to follow him...down, down, down this narrow alley, down many steps into a tiny back room. This room led into another bigger room with the smell of leather. Fine leather...Gucci, Channel...Fendi, PRADA LEATHER KNOCK OFFS! We sat on an old couch - me, Shayne, Jun ...oh and I forgot to mention, Jun's 11 year old cousin. Yeah. We are terrible people. Her name is "Jenny." I think she wanted us to use this name to save us embarrassment from saying her real name, Zgu Young.

Anyway, we sit and Young Joe talks. Smokes. Talks...bags are set out before us and My God...I want them all! They are amazing and perfect...these bags my friend, are grade A knock offs. VERY illegal because you cannot tell if they are fake. I'm serious. These were the real things except fake. And might I add expensive. Grade A knock off run between $200 to $300. Keep in mind how much a real Gucci bag costs, $400-1,000 or more. Good deal, but we are on a budget. Young Joe tried to talk them down but it was a no go. That much for a bag is too much of our budget for now. Maybe at the end of the trip, if we have some left, we will visit the alley guys again.

Seoul at Night

After the orphanage visit we headed to Jun Bum's grandmother's house. There we had another wonderful lunch with Korean fried chicken, ribs and various side dishes. Sorry I do not have photos to show you. I am writing this at a computer in an herbal doctor's clinic where we are getting free acupuncture, massage and back adjustments. Long story short, Jun Bum's family have many connections!

Back to Seoul. We finished lunch, oh and the fried chicken is probably the best I've had! Then headed to Indongsung (shoot...I left the spelling of this at home!) It is a place where all tourist got to shop. Imagine, a street about 2 miles long stuffed with street vendors, food vendors and tall buildings filled with yet more vendors. Jun bought a $5 watch, I bought some traditional gifts and we ate the most amazing rice cakes I've had! I have photos and will post this later - again... at an herbal, acupuncture, back massage Doctor's office! :)

The rice cakes were so beautiful! We also ate some street food including bugs. I think Jun wanted to freak us out - but if you know Shayne and myself, food is nothing to ever fear! We ate the bugs without a second thought. They tasted nutty but a little bland.

The sun began to set and so Jun called his cousin to pick us up. Jun's cousin, Young Joe (easy to remember) is a small time gangster. I'm not kidding. He was a bully all through school, now makes a lot of money selling puppies and apparently, has another lucrative job that Jun doesn't know about. Young Joe's car was amazing! Some sort of black luxury vehicle with GPS AND DVD/TV on the front dash - which I think is an awful idea but seems to fit here- and tinted windows. He picked us up at the corner, blocking traffic and blaming the other driver's for being in his way. This is standard practice... oops.. gotta go, Shayne is done being manipulated by the doctor so we are off to venture Korea by ourselves today. More later!

Friday, December 15, 2006


Good Morning. It is 8am here on my 5th day. Today is the first day when we do not have something planned, so I am getting some entries done. First, I want to tell you about our orphange visit. We went to Seoul and played with the children of Hwasung Baby Orphanage. I have personal pictures but cannot public them because some of the children have parents. There are times when a single parent or parents cannot afford to care for their children so they give them to orphanages.

We arrived with three huge military duffle bags full of toys and jogging suits for the orphans. We helped to unpack the gifts in a side room. While doing this one of the caretakers told us that 3 children were recently adopted by 3 military families! This was very cool because we got gifts for 45 children. Now, there would be extra to go around. The caretakers said it would be best to save the gifts and clothes for Christmas...they wanted Santa Claus to distribute them.

Before I forget, a huge thanks to the Santas at Northwest Public Radio for their donations!

Next, we went into the children's play area. It is a big room with a heated floor (I love these heated floors!) and a giant red mat. There is a TV on one of the the room and next to it a sliding door to the eating area. There were a few toys around but the children didn't seem to care about the toys. They wanted to be held.

I walked into the middle of the room and before I knew it there was this little boy who grabbed my legs and asked me to pick him up. I lifted him up into the air and then my legs were bound by another little fella who wanted some affection too. But the First Boy wouldn't let him and used his legs to shoo the Second Boy away. My husband was already carrying a boy and had one dragging on his leg. Our exchange student, Jun Bum, was also carrying a couple of kids. We played with them for about a half an hour when lunch was called. The kids went in except for the First Boy, who was giving me quite the workout! He wanted to stay in my arms and whined when I him down. Then a Caretaker came and led him away.

The orphanage is located between some apartments and businesses - almost situated in an alley...but there was a lot of foot traffic here and several schools nearby. Imagine all the movies you see about China and the narrow, crowded alleys/streets. We left the orphanage after being served some delicious pomegranate juice.

I was feeling a little sad but grateful to bring the gifts and meet the children. I have always wanted to adopt children and this experience confirms in my heart that I have to. There is so much need in the world and I know I can give more. To whom much is given, much is expected.

Then, as we left, school was let out and all these bright little elementary kids and junior highers came onto the street. They were dressed in all sorts of cute outfits and colors! So many of them starred at my husband - he sort of sticks out here! And quite a few spoke English to us.

"HI! How Are You?"

Me: "Hello. I am fine, how are you?'

(giggles) "OK" (giggles)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

We Are Here and It is Awesome!

Anniyonhaysaio! I spelled that wrong but you get the picture! HI from Korea! So far, the courtesy bell in the women's bathrooms are a must! You do have to pay lots of tolls to drive the freeway here...and these heated floors in the homes have got to catch on in the States!

Sorry that I do not have any photos yet. Today is our first day for exploring. I plan on eating a HomBow, go to a 24 hour sauna and some parks. I saw a pet store on the way here too and want to check that out. Tomorrow, we are going to an orphanage to play Santa. I will post after that.

What we ate: Plane - Oriental beef ( it was like stir fry with really tender beef) Fish with hot paste sauce - fabulous!

When we arrived: Jun Bum's Mother's friend made us a wonderful meal of noodles, potato soup, spicy fish stew, various kimchi... salad, lots of wine! It was a good home cooked Korean meal. More later!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Off to South Korea

Nate Prudhon will be filling in for me while I am away in Korea. Thanks Nate!
I will be blogging some of my experiences abroad and hope you will enjoy reading my stories.
In the works, a visit to the first animal shelter in Korea;

visit an orphanage in Seoul;


and lots of palace and temple visits.

I am really looking forward to the 24 hour saunas! $5 and you can stay a whole night!

Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Confession

Today, while checking out at Walmart, I was reading about TomKat's wedding. Baby Suri sure is pretty and Katie Holmes...ur...Katie Cruise looked super. I was scanning the mags thinking about how much those photos cost the publisher and if they really make money printing these things.

I bought one. And it was 10% off the cover price. Walmart.

On my way to work, I thought: I'm just gonna look at the pictures. I switched on Day to Day and heard the latest on Iraq, President Bush's upcoming then canceled meeting with Al-Maliki - you know, things that matter. But my thoughts crept back to Baby Suri and her Armani bloomers.

When I got to work. I tried... to work. The shiny Life and Style, is that the title? I just bought it in a rush of embarrassment... the shiny (and I am attracted to shiny objects... like jewelry) called out to me! "Look at me now and you will be more productive later!"


OK is also the title of another gossip mag.

Where was I? Yes. Baby Suri, Armani, Katie Holmes Cruise... then I kept turning the page. Paris Hilton fixing a wedgie in public, Did Ashley Simpson get a nose job - proof here! How will Reese and Ryan spare the children during divorce...

I had to confess because I started to feel... dirty and useless. Especially as Talk of the Nation and The World aired in the background. oops. Yeah... I took that much time looking at the magazine. My voyeurism lasted through Neal Conan and Lisa Mullins... Don't tell Roger.

I sought Robin Rilette. She is my spiritual buddy and would ease my mind.

"Robin... I did something I never did before. I bought a trashy gossip magazine. You know... life and style or something. Not a good one that actually has stories about real people and stuff... like People... but a bad one. I feel dirty."

Robin: .... "You did?" (Robin laughing hysterically!)
Sueann:(defensively) "I got a discount!"
Sueann: "No. Life and Style or something."
Robin: "What?"
Sueann: "Nevermind."

I felt better. Cleansed.

Then later that night, when Reed Michaelsen came to work I told him about this blog entry. He made me feel even better because he reads OK! while eating breakfast! He told me all about Oprah being upset at TomKat for not using her home for the wedding. He told me that Lindsey Lohan was reportedly cutting herself...poor thing and that Britney is still wearing her wedding ring! Reed said he doesn't subscribe to the mag - he gets it from his grandma. I believe him.

Then while eating dinner...CNN turned into a Hollywood Minute. I had this strange moment where All Things Considered was playing on the radio and the anchor on CNN Hollywood was having a very serious discussion with an analysist about K-Fed sleeping with an exotic dancer; who is she, what this means for his career, Britney's career, Muslim American women who wear headscarfs...WAIT. That last part was from the real news. Back to reality.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I'm Sorry

On Tuesday night's ATC (All Things Considered) commentator, John McWhorter, responded to comedian Michael Richard's racial rant. Lisen/read it here I wanted to learn more so I went to CNN to check it out. CNN It was pretty offensive. At first, he's just really angry. Then he goes over the edge and makes references to lynching and pitch forks.

McWhorter wanted to know what was the point of Micheal's apology on David Letterman? The commentator sounded tired of people apologizing for racism because, he felt, it doesn't mean they will change their thoughts. What I took from this: don't say you're sorry if you won't change. But I had a problem with it.

How can we start to change if we do not apologize? If I say I am sorry, that is a start. I will check myself in the future when I have those thoughts. I will for sure not verbalize what is wrong.

Then I started thinking about the power of apology...About the word sorry. It's a good word. Saying you're sorry begins healing. Saying you're sorry opens closed doors of communication. Saying you're sorry is humbling. To me, even if the person is not really sorry...They have been humbled. Think of your kids and forcing them to say sorry. What are we teaching them...They say it and don't mean it...Then we say, "Say it like you mean it." OK...We could be teaching really good actors. But I think you get my point.

So "Kramer" said he was sorry... ON NATIONAL TV!!! And I felt it was genuine.

Even if he doesn't think what he did was wrong, he has been humbled nationally. And you could say, he has brought discussions of racism out.

Window into my marriage: Saying you're sorry was a hard thing for my husband to say. He approached it much like the commentator. If you don't mean it, and don't feel it, don't say it. Stubborn. Proud. It hurt me a lot early in our relationship.

Silly, but a good example; dishes.

I asked him to do the dishes. He didn't. He was busy. No apology. He was doing really important stuff and ran out of time. OK...But I had to express to him that saying you're sorry isn't always personal. Sometimes, a lot of the time, it is for the other person. It acknowledges their feelings. Perhaps it comes from being a woman, but saying sorry is second nature. I have to work on not saying it all the time for silly things. Sorry the lasagna is dry. Could I have that paperwork today? It's due. Sorry. (WHY DO I DO THAT??) Eventually, my husband realized how important this was to me. And how happy his wife would be if he just said it! No one likes angry Sueann.

Another time I will tell you the story of the dogs on the highway, Pasco Firefighters and raging in Korean. Moral of the story: good intentions do not equal good outcomes.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

My Office...not the Tavern

Here in Pullman, when you say, "Let's meet at my office." We responds, "The bar?" Yes. We have a bar in town called My Office. They have good Nachos. Here is my office. I was sorting through my hard drive and came across some pictures for the blog that I forgot to post.

Above, my black pleather couch that unfolds into a "futon." Very handy during pledge drives for naps! I get many visitors who sit on this soft pleather and chat to me. They talk despite this sign:

Below is the rest of my office. Some anime posters, a calendar and public tv/radio stuff. The other half of the office is currently being used to store displays. When we clear that out I plan to make a zen corner there... or a wet bar.

And this is my office neighbor, Gillian. We usually get to see each other for about 1 hour a day. :( More if I plan a party at noon and she has to stay!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Corean Christmas

I am going to Korea for the Holidays! While I am there I am going to visit a Korean orphanage and the first annimal shelter in South Korea. I am also going to brave the meat market where they sell dog for consumption. I plan to record my adventures there and bring them back for you. While I am away I will also blog my vacation. So look for that coming December 14th - 30th. If you have been to Korea before and have some suggestions for travelling or what I should see leave a comment or email me:

Monday, November 06, 2006

Don't Look At My Ballot!

My husband looked at my ballot. It irritated me. This is a very private thing. In his defense he said, "We're married. It's ok." To which I replied, "Yes we are and no it's not."
The conversation could have ended there but he said, "You're not voting for ____? and look, you didn't vote for county auditor!"
I told him I didn't read up on the auditors so I am being responsible by not voting. And hey! It's my right to vote or not! and ... and... why am I justifying this to you?
His reply, "ok."
Good man. I was getting upset. Passionate you might say. I really don't like it making decisions without research or thinking things through.
Maybe some will say I am not a responsible voter - because I didn't do more research on candidates. Maybe I should have just selected a county auditor? Are they right?
To me, it seems responsible not to vote on things you don't understand or know about.

I once knew a man who never wanted children. He said the males in his family had mental issues and he didn't want to pass that on. I told him that he was the most responsible parent I ever met.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Winning the Lottery

I found this interesting: Lottery Winner Sad Stories

Most of the winners who lost their millions had little experience with money. Most of them went crazy and spent it all and gave it all away, like MC Hammer: Famous in Debt so I have done research for us future lottery winners. Here are the steps we will take when we the lottery!

1. CALM DOWN - Breath deeply...deeply enough to make yourself pass out. Do this while sitting in the middle of the bed. If you found out you won at the grocery store, run to your car and deeply breath in the passenger side seat. This way, when you faint, your head won't press the horn, drawing attention to you. After breathing/fainting. Compose yourself and stay calm. Go home.

2. TELL NO ONE - Call into to work and say you need a mental health day or feign sickness. Tell your spouse if you have one - don't tell your kids yet. Remember that Quaker Granola Bar commercial? Kids have big mouths, stuff it with a granola bar! Continue to tell no one until you track down...

3. HIRE A FINANCIAL PLANNER AND OR AN ATTORNEY - tell them you won. Then listen to them on how to plan out your future. They will likely hide the money from you in investments and CDs and stuff... keeping it safe and working for you for years to come. They'll help you determine what public radio station you want to support forever. PLEDGE NOW! Continue to tell no one else you won.

4. PICK UP YOUR WINNINGS ANONYMOUSLY - DO NOT take a public photo of yourself with that large, lying check! Keep in mind that the number on the check is half of what you'll get...TAXES man! Continue to do step 1. and 2.

***Follow these 4 steps and you have a greater chance of not losing all your winnings in 3 years and ending up 1 million in debt.

What would I do when I win the lottery? I would follow these steps. Then I would pay off my house, debt...figure out a way to anonymously help my family...start a bubble tea cafe, buy these shoes They're FABULOUS! I would buy all the things in my Amazon favorites folder; all Star Trek the Next Generation DVDs, English period dramas. Then adopt 2 Shih Tzus!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Korea on My Mind

Did you listen to this story on All Things Considered today? North Korean Defectors Fight Regime with Radio:

My Mother is Korean. It has been a blessing to live a life with one foot in Korean culture and one foot firmly planted in the U.S. It has also been a struggle to understand and meld these two distinctly differing cultures into my being. Not long ago I learned about Korean Han. Here is what Wikipedia says: What's Han?
Han is a concept in Korean culture, attributed by some as a national cultural trait. Han denotes a collective feeling of oppression and isolation in the face of overwhelming odds. It connotes aspects of lament and unavenged injustice. I would like to add that Han is deep, ancestral regret and despair.

Han, at times, has made my life miserable... of coarse - that's its job in some respects. I have been given some Han from my Mother. I don't believe she did it on purpose. But it is in me. I recently felt a deep connection with Han after Kim Jong Il did his nuclear test. I was overwhelmed with sadness, deep regret (for nothing I did) and despair. Even as I write this I am beginning to feel overwhelmed with sadness. Will my Mother's country be reunified? What suffering must be endured (for there will be suffering), Who will be the winner (probably China) and will I see the famous mountains in Northern Korea? Or will they be barren and grey?

But, I am not one to allow Han, or sadness from any origin to consume me for long. Thank God I have my American, Pittsburgh bred father to throw me some hope and cheer! This is where good old American Idealism comes in! Wash your face! Get up and out! Go DO something to make the world and yourself better! (Maybe make some bucks on the side and get rich...but remember the goal!) You Can Do It!

So I am reading and learning the deep and rich history of my Mother's country. I also am getting well versed in the political stories of North Korea. Next time you hear a story about Korea, know that I am listening and coming to understand and control this...Han...within me. These stories of reunion really get to me. Some Mothers and Fathers are still alive, waiting to see their children...its been 50 years since they last touched. Family Reunions:
Another Reunion story, one that makes me cry.
Starving in Korea

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

WSU Student Protest War Rape

On the WSU Pullman campus today there were several students standing silently with black hoods over their heads. Their message was very powerful. The silence was deafening. They were holding signs that told stories of rape during war.

Their pamphlet says "Whenever there is an unbalance of power, the potential for rape is increased. Rape during war appears to have gone through three main stages: 1. Rape as a reward for victors during ancient times. 2. Random cases of rape during modern times. 3. Systematic, organized rape as a tactic of war ... today."

You have heard of #3 on NPR before. Recently on All Things Considered we heard this first hand account of child rape in Uganda. Then we hear about the subsequent forced enlistment of these children into the Lord's Resistance Army.

It is hard to not feel overwhelmed with the madness of the world. As I read the signs an anger stirred in me. Two things went through my mind; Why are the women and children the first to be victimized? And I feel guilty for living a blessed life. I can have great discussions with you about the first question. The second, I have already worked out. As free, independent, blessed American woman, I cannot feel guilty about my blessings. It would be a sin to me. I must transform that thought into positive action. Let's not be overwhelmed with the madness of the world. Instead, let us do our part to help with what we have. We have so much, and to whom much is given, much will be expected.
Stop Darfur Genocide
Prevent Forced Child Prostitution
Find Your Local Food Bank
Whitman County Community Action Center
Yakima: Northwest Community Action Center

You Did It!

Thank you so much for pledging early! Today is Tuesday... we would normally be on the air for the fund drive. But today, we had a meeting, relaxed a bit and got back to our normal work. Most of us anyway. The Membership department is hard at work entering all those pledges. Kudos to Sue and Sarah for doing the paperwork!

Now, back to the news and music you want from us.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Power Breakfast was Filling!

WOW! You are amazing! I mean...we have NEVER had that much money come in during a DAY of fundraising, let alone one hour! Thank you if you pledged during our Power breakfast on Thursday, Oct. 11th. We were a little nervous but very excited about this idea of a Power Breakfast. We didn't imagine that so many listeners would respond and pledge so early!
The totals are still coming in but is sure seems like you pledged more than $100,000 in ONE AMAZING HOUR!

Wouldn't it be nice if we had maybe... 2 Power Meals (Because I want a Power Dinner...or Power Snack next pledge drive!) then we would be done with fundraising in a blink of the eye!

THANK YOU THANK YOU for pledging and paying for public radio! PS Do you have our phone number memorized yet?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Prairie Home Companion Pictures!

The above picture is of Garrison walking down the isle. He warmed up the crowd by singing Home On The Range and mingled with people looking for their seats. It really made me feel homey and close to Garrison.

Here's the crew doing Guy Noir. That skit was hilarious with its reference to Foley... oh funny! Many ladies at work think Fred Newman is a hottie with that head of white hair!

Here is Robin Rilette with Garrison. I love this picture because Robin is laughing and looks like she is enjoying this moment.

This is Patricia Heasler, our Southeast Washington Account Manager.

Here I am with my friend, Isaac, waiting to get a photo with Garrison.

LOVE his facial expression! I just want to touch his face and knead it into a soft dough ball and bake it. Garrison is so cute!

Monday, October 09, 2006

PHC Was Here!

Here is the first picutre of many to come.

I had to post something right away! I promise to have more tomorrow or Wed. for you! What a super show! If you want to listen to it you can go on their site - sad to say there are no copies for purchase.

Prairie Home Companion
Here are some comments about the show!

I was going to send you a note and this made it easy. The Richland seniors ask that I pass on their undying gratitude for the second show, and also wanted me to let you know that they were very pleased with the seats they were assigned. The show was absolutely wonderful and we could not have been more pleased, unless, of course they had actually been able to shake the hand of Mr. Keillor! It turns out one of our folks used to work with Garrison’s sister while he was still pretty much a local star.

The concert was wonderful. The audience in the nose bleed section were treated to a good performance because of the big screens. Palouse City was well represented in my area with at least 6 members of the community including our City Mayor. THanks for bringing a great program to us.

Loved loved LOVED it!

I made the PHC show and wanted to see the later show but could not due to scheduling. “Unreal” is all I can say. I have loved the show for years, but now I have an even deeper respect to the craftsmanship involved. Garrison is a true master of his domain, and what a great band and supporting cast. Please get them out here again, it was worth every cent. Wylie and Charlie were great additions for the local color. A seamless production. Hopefully we did our part out here to help them do their job. Thanks for supporting the show,

It was absolutely one of the most awesome events (except for maybe the beach boys) that you have ever brought to Beasley. Would love to have him come again!!!

It was fantastic! I didn't want to say so before the show but I would've paid even more for the tickets than we did. Thank you so much for making this happen!

I talked to my parents last night and they had an absolute fabulous time at the show Sat. afternoon. Their seats turned out better than we thought and they were so excited and extremely happy to have had the opportunity to get to the show. They said they had a great time, the whole production was great!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Story of the Siena Pianoforte!

This amazing looking piano has an equally amazing history. Built in 1800, The Siena Pianoforte was a wedding gift for a Siena farmer, Antonio Ferri, and his bride Rebecca Marchisio. The newlyweds stayed in Siena, raising wine-grapes, children and grand-children. The piano, on the other hand, traveled a great deal!

In 1867 the piano was sent to Paris for the Exposition. In 1868 it became the wedding gift from the city of Siena to the Crown Prince Umberto and was kept in Rome with other art treasures of the Royal Family. In the late 1880's, now King of Italy, Umberto visited Jerusalem and heard a talented pianist, an emigrant from Ukraine, named Mathis Yanovsky. He told him the story of The Siena Pianoforte and invited him to play it whenever he could come to Rome. Yanovsky died before he realized his dream. Years later, his grandson, Carmi, fulfulling a promise made to his grandfather, tried in vain to acquire permission to see the fabled pianoforte.

Years later, during WWII, Carmi was with a unit in the deserts of North Africa sifting through the sands and collecting what Rommel's retreating forces left behind. He was called upon to examine a large, plaster covered object buried in the sand. Carmi convinced his superiors that this was not a Nazi land mine and took the barely recognizable piano. Consigned to the extremity of an ordnance camp deep in Egypt, Carmi convinced the officer in charge to turn the piano over to the Brisih Special Service section. It was repaired in short order and Carmi went back to his unit.

The piano, however, continued its travels and went with military entertainers as far as Palestine where it was eventually sold to a Tel-Aviv junk dealer. It passed from owner to owner and was used as a hive for a bee-keeper, an incubator and even a meat refrigeration unit for a butcher! It was eventually left to rot in a Tel-Aviv city dump.

Carmi, retired from the service, came home to Tel-Aviv. He planned on opening his old piano workshop. One day his children told him that they had found his first job. When he investigated their find he discovered his old friend from the sands of Northern Africa, turned-over and baking in the sun. He thought that the instrument was beyond repair. He thought it over for the night, returned to the dump the next day and discovered the piano was gone.

Fortunately, it turned up in his shop days later, delivered there by a music lover who found it and handed it over to Carmi with orders to fix it. He changed his mind and in a fit of temper pounded his fist on the piano, cracking the plaster covering and revealing a little wooden cherub. Carmi paid the man off quickly and then just as quickly began uncovering the plaster. What he discovered was an elaborately carved case with friezes of plump, drunken cherubs hauling their drunken queen across the face of the piano. Carmi dug out an old picture of the Italian King's piano and discovered it was the very one in his shop.

Carmi eventually finished restoring the piano and the recording that I played this morning was made on it. What a story!

Robin Rilette
Photo and facts from Boston Skyline cd “The Siena Pianoforte.”