Friday, February 29, 2008


i think i've been in the country for 8ish hours.

i've been back in my room for about 4 1/2 of those hours.

i just finished unpacking and putting everything away.

although it would've taken less time had i not watched 3 episodes of project runway in my bathrobe.

i need to "take a rest". (when in rome...)

will update later. =]

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

time draws to a close.

i'm going to the airport thursday night. home is amazing. as has been seeing my friends in DC. will update and all when i am alone and crying in my room in korea. haha.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


life is great.

i love being home.

i love being with my family.

i love that i will be with my friends tomorrow/this weekend.

it kinda stinks that i won't be able to make it to duke.

but i love america. (too much stephen colbert lately? yea, probably).

columbia was sooooo great. i can't wait. more on that later in time.

Friday, February 15, 2008

i'm home.

left my apt in cheongju at 12:30pm 2/14 thursday afternoon. got on plane that left at 8pm and arrived in nyc 7:30pm 2/14 evening. time zones are so magical.

going to boston on saturday for a day trip to see sister.

columbia visit on monday. trying to go to dc next weekend.

trying to sleep now.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

america's demise?

this is a fantastic little op-ed piece i just read: Totally Spent, describing how america's current "recession" is in fact the inevitable culmination of a number of factors over a period of basically 3 decades.

i recently also finished reading "STRAPPED: WHY AMERICA'S 20- AND 30-SOMETHINGS CAN'T GET AHEAD" by Tamara Draut and together the nytimes piece and the book make so much sense. There have been trends in public policy leading to this eventual demise of america's greatness, the heart of what makes america so different and special and wonderful, our strong middle class.

all the usual culprits are there, the loss of fantastically benefitted union jobs, automation and outsourcing, increased low-wage service sector jobs, the increasing cost of a college degree, the startup costs of grownup life no longer supported by jobs that were once guaranteed to be for life.

america HAS been increasingly polarizing into a kindof inverse bell curve with a huge lump at the poor end a lower middle class slump rather than a bump and a sharp sudden spike at the rich end. (am i a huge nerd?) and we are currently dealing with the first effects of the backlash of this kind of society.

Here's a concise little excerpt from the nytimes piece:
The problem lies deeper. It is the culmination of three decades during which American consumers have spent beyond their means. That era is now coming to an end. Consumers have run out of ways to keep the spending binge going.

The only lasting remedy, other than for Americans to accept a lower standard of living and for businesses to adjust to a smaller economy, is to give middle- and lower-income Americans more buying power — and not just temporarily.

the next part i quote basically summarizes like half of Draut's book:
"The underlying problem has been building for decades. America’s median hourly wage is barely higher than it was 35 years ago, adjusted for inflation. The income of a man in his 30s is now 12 percent below that of a man his age three decades ago. Most of what’s been earned in America since then has gone to the richest 5 percent."

Reich gives 3 main solutions that americans have turned to in the face of what i just quoted: women going to work, americans working more hours, and borrowing against their homes.

here is his best solution:
"The only way to keep the economy going over the long run is to increase the wages of the bottom two-thirds of Americans. The answer is not to protect jobs through trade protection. That would only drive up the prices of everything purchased from abroad. Most routine jobs are being automated anyway."

maybe i'm a huge socialist (or something, i dunno i'm not good at the labels) i am totally a fan of capitalism in the sense that anyone who knows me knows how much i love shopping and i'm a huge consumer. at the same time, i've also been a fan of european countries with govt health insurance, less super rich, more of the median, and universal childcare and education type programs. im not saying america should adopt all of those, bc that IS a certain european style and we can't do that, it definitely takes away from our americanness of being able to make your own wealth and having no TOP LIMIT is basically pretty american. but i think we SHOULD have a bottom limit.

there was one country (belgium or holland or denmark or somewhere) that actually mandates each household can have no more than 1.5 employed workers. this means one fulltime and one parttime worker PER household. so that there is less unemployment. sharing the wealth (aka this plan) would NEVER work in the US and i'm not saying it SHOULD, but there is a sense of too much individualism and fend for yourselfness in america that i'm not so much a fan of.

we should start being more considerate of our lesser off neighbors and countrymen and stop hoarding and only worrying about ourselves. americans need to start taking care of "our own" in a much LARGER BROADER sense of the phrase, not just me, not just my immediate family, but the great vast network of diversity that MAKES america what it is.

i heart this country so much it hurts me to see how it could eventually just be ripped apart by class divides and the capitalism that made it was it is.

am i jus super sappy bc i'm going back tonight? i think not. this is what i've been studying for the past 4 years of undergrad and now since i'm outside the "ivory tower" and the academic bubble, and i'm actually going to be joining the workforce and all those struggling 20-30somethings, it really matters.

가족. Part 3. Hostfamily.

Part 3 of Family series.

My Host-Family
I've been really lucky with my hostfamily. They are a wonderful group of people. Like all other families, not perfect. But very good people and a pretty good match for me, personality and stuff-wise.

imo has been a super supportive shoulder for me, if you've kept up with my blogs and/or met her in person, you can see how maternal she's been with me. she's also a pretty good reality check for calling me out on shopping and spending money. also, she's really open with her own semi-immigration experience and can totally parallel with me when i'm having horrible IHK (i hate korea) days w/bad ppl interactions.

some nice things they've done lately: (they're so thoughtful)

we got a few packages of ddukgalbi from chuncheon as one LNY's gift and the first night we had it for dinner, imo bought extra dduk to leave on the side (un-spicied) so that dinner was edible for me (not too spicy for me to handle).

after a few weeks of cereal imo decided i shouldn't eat a cold breakfast and has been making french toast or pancakes for me every morning. sometimes i get scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. but in any case, i don't have to eat 밥 for breakfast, which works out just dandy for me.

lately, i've also gotten really close with the two hostsibs who were shy and quiet at first. i can feel it when they talk to me and they engage/initiate a lot more conversations and interactions with me. they ask me random english questions they're curious about and dennis and i tell each other stupid jokes for fun all the time.

dennis is really sweet and the family has long established that us two have the same exact food tastes. and so often, we'll refer to each other to see if one likes a certain food, and if so, the other will try it. and also, dennis has started sharing his food with me and making me try his food bc he thinks i'll like it. maybe it sounds small, but from him it's a big gesture and i can feel he offers the food sincerely. he's a 13 year old growing boy, any sharing of food is a big gesture.

the other day, imo told dennis i'm leaving korea for good as a joke. and he started tearing up. and then she said i was leaving because he was always annoying me and being silly and making dumb jokes, and he cried and i had to jump in and tell him she was kidding and i'm only going for two weeks. that actually made me feel really warm inside that it made him that sad to think i was leaving (so suddenly).

haha, i think i might've forgotten the "banging the piano" story. well, i have the sister's original bedroom and so there is an upright piano in here. one night i had a dream that dennis came in early in the morning and started BANGING on it as a wake me up tactic. i mistakenly told this dream to the family. about a week later, it was a weekend and i was sleeping in. i guess the hostparents called and said be ready to go out for lunch in 20 minutes. i wake up to dennis yelling from the other side of my door "BANGING THE PIANO BANGING THE PIANO!!!!!" i responded with DENNIS I'M GOING TO KILL YOUUU!!!! and then proceeded to wake up and get ready.

anyway, after our family vacations i feel like that really helped me get closer to the kids. they invite me to come play games with them (last night it was jenga), come share their snacks, look at funny websites with them, and generally i feel like much less a stranger in this house than i used to several months ago. i can't really complain. i'm a social-group kindof person. i'm not made for isolation. i like the interaction and enjoy my time with the family.

haha, i'm actually pretty lucky. esp bc my age is really in between the kids and the parents. sometimes i get to side with the kids and we complain about the parents together. and sometimes i get to side with the parents and we secretly complain about the kids. hopefully they don't secretly get together and complain about ME! haha. they're always very considerate of me, in choosing which restaurants to go to, and go to eat foods i dislike on the nights i eat out and wait until i'm available for foods that i DO enjoy. it's all very considerate. imo told me she was going to treat me like a niece and i really feel like she's made that transition easy for me. it's a very comfortable relationship. not too much burden or goodness one way or the other.

sometimes they are crazy and sometimes they are annoying but usually, i'm happy i don't live alone in an apt with no one but a TV to keep me company. it will hurt to leave when the time comes. and as easy (relatively) a fit this has been for us, i'm sure we'll both leave indelible marks on the other as we move on with our lives.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

가족. Part 2. Bloodkin.

Part 2a and 2b. Two stories about my paternal family.

New Year's w/Daddy's Family
Okay, so like a good Korean I spent the Lunar New Year with my paternal family. That means my dad's mom, siblings, their spouses and kids and even one of his cousin's whole line. And there were parts that were nuts and parts that made me annoyed they were my family and other parts that made me ridiculously ashamed of being annoyed by them.

My dad is from JinDo, a little island off the coast of Mokpo (near Kwangju). So we congregate there for important holidays. My family is big on eating. You think I mean the way that Koreans are big on eating. No, I mean that is normal level. My family is insane-level big on eating. Like I gained 10 lbs at Chuseok (4 days). Like I gained 10 lbs in the summer (10 days). Like they actually caught/butchered a WHOLE PIG for both occasions. Like we wake up eating, eat all day, (sometimes there are 15 minute rests between "meal/snacks") and go to bed exhausted from eating. So, to all my friends in the US who have seen me at my finest eating (passed out on Ty's couch with Wint because we're in too much pain from overeating to walk to our own room) I come from a family of champion eaters.

This holiday was no different. But the delicious food was not the main highlight. As usual, it was only the backdrop for the craziness that is my bloodline. There were a million times last week where all I could think was, I CAN'T BELIEVE I FORGOT MY CAMERA. They should make a reality TV show about my family ...

episode 1: Following Korean tradition, we all pile into cars to make the san-soh rounds. A san-soh is a traditional Korean mini-hill bump grave of your ancestor. At traditional holiday times you go to all the important sansohs and make a food altar thing and do the ceremonial bowing (2 full floor bows and 1 half bow). We went to all my grandfather's brothers (my dad's uncles) and my greatgrandfather's and my grandfather's and one of my little aunt's graves. Here comes the good part, WE ALMOST STARTED A FOREST FIRE THAT WOULD'VE BURNED UP MY GREATGRANDFATHER'S SANSOH.

New Year's was bitterly cold and windy. So at our first stop, greatgrandfather's grave, as we are complaining about the fierce cold, my uncle takes the incense lighter and sets fire to 2 tufts of dried grass about 15 ft from the grave. One of his sons asks, why did you do that? and the uncle answers, you all said you were cold. we stand around the fires staring at them. and within SECONDS it starts spreading and of COURSE the dry winter grass and high wind are great fodder for the fire. The 2 fires merge into one 5 ft diameterish circle and my uncles start running to the edges of the grave clearing and breaking off leafy branches and stamping out the flames with them.

But this onslaught of air apparently brings more oxygen with it and the fire starts spreading even more quickly. I grab my baby girl cousin and take her away from the growing circle as two of my high school cousins start filming with their cell phones. My greataunt takes off her long coat to help capture the flames. And somehow as my uncles and aunts are all beating with branches, the fire goes out. The burnt circle at the end was about/at least 20 feet in diameter. The fire was partly stopped by the stone monument/altar things in front of the grave. Anyway, this was just another day in the Lim family.

(SERIOUSLY, i can't believe i didn't have my camera...)

next, at one point i was becoming seriously disillusioned with my family. even at the best of times i can barely believe we're related. we're just so/too different. but when i see how much they care about me and try to make me comfortable and are AWARE of just how different we are, it puts me to shame. i won't list the things they did, but to name a few: my aunt and uncle gave up the only bed in the place so I could sleep on it and all the other adults slept on the floor, my aunt kicked out half my cousins so i could sleep in the bed with only 1 other person comfortably, my aunt drove 30 minutes to town to buy me a baguette for breakfast, my uncle cut the pork rinds off each individual piece of meat that he picked up and put in front of me, etc etc etc.

karma story: so i totally believe in karma, which usually makes life easier to deal with. example: by thursday i was pretty fed up with my family. i was bored at the house since it was so cold out we had been indoors watching tv and i had been reading my books for a few days. all they did was eat and eat and i was bored of korean food. i wanted to go back to my own room in cheongju. i was sometimes superannoyed at how "korean" my family is/was (totally not their fault).

friday, my uncles decide i'm too bored and arrange a hiking trip. it was 2 sets of aunts and uncles, another uncle, his daughter, and me. the weather was amaaaaazing and so were the mountains. the scenery was breathtaking. the ocean was the exact same color as the mediterranean of the cote d'azur. that's the only thing i could keep thinking while gazing at the jindo ocean was "wow this is so the same color as the water in cannes". the mountains are beautiful. my cousin is delightful company. i had so much fun it was great!!! i even got to see tidepools and i LOVE LOVE LOOOOOVE tidepools!!!

friday night = deathsick. upon returning home and eating half a baguette i started to feel a bit crampy in my stomach. but i chalked that up to all the eating we'd been doing and just kept eating the regular meal with everyone else. my stomach pain increases. i take some antacid type stuff. i have plum tea (good for stomach/indigestion). a little after 9pm i vomit for the first of many times to come. i'll spare the details because they're gory and get gorier.

basically, i thought i was going to die. and my family stepped up. they all took different roles in helping me, (9pm to 12am) rubbing my back and stomach, acupunturing my fingers, massaging the pressure point in my hands, finally taking me to the hospital, sitting with me and talking to me for 2+ hours while i get IV-ed so i don't dehydrate (12am 3am), there was 1 hour when they went to sleep and i somehow crawled back to the bathroom for another hour of fun, rubbing my stomach and hands (5-6am), driving me to kwangju (6am-9am), staying with me in the hospital while i get IV-ed again (9am 11:30am), then i slept most of saturday at my aunt's house while they took turns making me porridge and trying to make me swallow.

during one of the early rounds of vomit, i realized this is what i get for not only taking my family for granted but also for disliking how unlike me they were. and yet when it came down to the wire, they didn't stop at any lengths to help me. the universe made me deathsick to make me grateful for family. and grateful i am. all saturday, sunday, monday various family members called me to check up on me and see how i was coming along.
my supposed deathsick's technical name: Gastroenteritis

(i could write a whole separate entry about this ordeal, but i'll leave that to my private written journal for me to learn from and everyone else not to stop reading my gross blog)

가족. Part 1. Family.

3 stories: my fam, new year's w/the paternal fam, and the hostfam
i've separated the 3 stories, i should separate each entry also but here's part 1 of a 3 part series.

My Family
I've nearly always considered myself pretty lucky. It's one of the ways I try to stay sane (in life) and learn to be thankful for my life rather than unhappy or complaining. Of all my reasons to consider myself lucky, the most important is my family. I have been blessed, yes blessed, with a magnificent family. My immediate family is crazy terrific. And I don't mean this to brag or gloat or anything like that. I mean it in a way that acknowledges that I had no choice in picking my family but things worked out and for this I am grateful.

My parents have always supported me terrifically. They probably supported me to the spoiling point. And yet I believe they have always tried to give me perspective and the reasoning behind why they supported and sheltered me to spoiling. They've been straightforward with me and they know I turned out spoiled and let me know and as a result have been trying to guide me towards a life of acknowledging my spoiledness and becoming not so spoiled.

Their greatest dream for me has always been for me to be happy while making others happy. They never spoiled me in that way that let me think I could just bowl over everyone else's feelings and do whatever I pleased. If you know me but at all, you'll be quite cognizant that I actually have a nearly debilitating obsession with others' feelings and thoughts.

Ok, I lost track of my point. My point is, my family is superstrong and supertightknit. I've realized since going to college and moreso here, how close I am with my parents and sister. I talk to my parents nearly everyday for over an hour on webcam. And quite often more than once a day. Plus we email. I called my mom at least 3x a day in college. She actually told me to stop calling her. Maybe this is more than close. Maybe I'm dependent and needy. But I love talking to my parents and sister. I really truly honestly do. I am that dorky goodiegoodie from Leave it to Beaver or some other such 1950s sitcom.

I have never known anyone to care for my welfare, well-being, and future as my parents have. Their advice is always superb. Their intuition and understanding of me and my nature/character are uncanny.

Ok, back to the point AGAIN, I'M GOING HOOOOOOOME!!! That's right. I got deathsick over New Year's and now they've invited me home. =) I'm so happy and thrilled I can't even explain. And we're going to visit my sister and school!!! YAYYY!!!! I'm SOOOOO excited!!! We decided Monday night and I bought my tickets today (Tuesday) and I'm going home Thursday and coming back 2 days before school starts. =) I can't wait.

It was kindof silly for me to think that I could go a year (or even that I needed to) without seeing them. How and WHY would anyone deny themselves what you know is best for you?

P.S. in case this seemed overly sappy and ridiculous, I'm not claiming that we're perfect. We fight, we yell, and sometimes we hate each other. and TRUST ME, my family is pretty crazynutso. BUUUUUUT we make it through thick and thin. And I think that's the important part. =T

I think i lost the point of this entry. It's mostly fluff. Anecdotes next time to make it better, i promise.

Actually, I think the point of this entry was just a reminder to myself, to not take my family for granted and not abuse my parents. I'm a horrible child, and I'll fall to hypocrisy (as I'm wont to do) by doing something anti-family-esque and then I'll reread this and repent. So, yes, I think this entry serves a more selfish personal purpose. I apologize that it's not a more interesting read. =/

Sunday, February 10, 2008

presidential primaries

ok i decided to split up my long post into several separate posts by topic. so you can peruse and choose which you want to read. aren't i thoughtful.

so for several reasons that i've come up with, i'm apparently rather a fan of the presidential primaries this year. the main reason is that being in korea REALLY makes me crave american news. and i feed this craving with free daily podcasts from CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. I first started just watching them while i ran at the gym and since i quit the gym i've been watching them on bus rides and just on my computer. as a result, i've been bombarded with primary news since october when i really started watching everyday. so i guess in a way i didn't CHOOSE to be a primary nerd but it just kindof happened. anyway, i don't mind terribly. i feel knowledgeable for the first time ever about voting in a presidential election. normally (ok the ONE time i've voted previously) i just vote for the person i think is smartest.

here are some of my thoughts.
first, a NYTimes editorial on obama v. clinton by david brooks. he taught (i think still teaches?) a journalism class or something at duke. i always wanted to take it jus bc i thought it was so cool that he wrote for the times. but i never got around to it with the whole double major/certificate thing i never really had a free slot. anyways, i've started reading his columns in the past few months since i've been paying attention to the political stuff. he always wrote about political stuff so i never really had much of an interest before.

i like how he broke it down into voting as consumerism. and the ideals/ideas that each candidate is selling makes a lot of sense to me. he says "Hillary Clinton is a classic commodity provider. She caters to the less-educated, less-pretentious consumer." and "Barack Obama is an experience provider. He attracts the educated consumer." his metaphors are so neatly put together and explained. i can see why he makes sense in the pps dept at duke. i seriously loved pps 114 Political Analysis for Public Policy. maybe (ok definitely) i'm a huge nerd but i seriously ENJOYED that class. it made so much SENSE. and it was finally a break from theoretical and more practical applications of all the stuff we had been learning. ok enough of my nerd rambling. ok point is: his metaphors are lovely. AND what makes them even more lovely is they make so much SENSE. it doesn't feel forced at all but very natural. ok done. i love neat metaphors.

edit: another reference to the above metaphor about voter demographic trends in As Voting Pattern Emerges, So Does Need to Break It. between barack's “Starbucks Democrats” and Mrs. Clinton’s “Dunkin’ Donuts Democrats”

next big thing on my agenda: ok, i only watch AC360 on CNN but ummmm is anyone else AMAAAZED by those "magic screen" touch screen monitor thingies that john king and one of the black correspondents (maybe joe johns?) gets to play with? i saw it once and was like ok that's cool. they've been using it more and more often tho and i'm amazed by the capabilities of this screen. it like magically knows what you want it to do so of course i had to google it. here are some links:
another fan
more links from other fan
ok so that doesn't REALLY reflect on primary stuff, but look at how many other credible news sources and ppl are fascinated (ok maybe just talking about) these awesome screens!!! i want one. i don't know what i'll do with it, maybe diagram complicated cases once i'm in law school ... but ykno it'd be cool.

ok so i called this a primary post and have yet to talk about the candidates. here are a few comments on those/them.

republicans. the blue team. haha, i just double-checked on nytimes just in case and by republican i mean the RED team.
is john mccain the same guy as howard dean? are they the same person? i wasn't really paying attn the last time around, but i SWEAR they are the same person/body just different names? they've played a few clips of howard dean in comparison to huckabee's surge (in the beginning) and i'm just ... seriously, mccain and dean aren't the same person? i kinda wish he had a little more neck or hair but whatever. he's kinda old ... what if he dies in office??? also, he looks kinda froggy. p.s. who is that hot blond woman who is always in the background? is she his assistant? or does he have like a super young hot wifey?

i love huckabee. i probably won't vote for him. but doesn't he just look pleasant? and he's funny and down to earth. and i cited him a lot for my pps 114 coursework. my issue for the semester was how to fight childhood obesity and make it an issue the govt/public sector was/should be responsible for. so his losing a billion lbs once he found out he was going to die from diabetes and all the health anti-fat reform he did in oklahama?alabama?thesouth was something i drew on a lot. and i liked his interview on the colbert report from a while back. he was funny and likable. but then one of my friends told me he's socially much too conservative for the likes of me, so sorry huckabee.

giuliani. there was a good chance i would've voted for him before he disappeared off the face of the earth. the other night on "a daily show" this lady interviewee was saying how it makes no sense how the republican frontrunner just disappeared. she said something along the lines of, "he didn't have a scandal, his head didn't explode, it makes no sense." and i agree, i thought he was such a strong candidate going into this past fall and then he made such a poor showing at the polls. i can't wait to read the books they'll write about this random phenomena.

mitt romney. the more i see him (and especially after he dropped out) i swear he's really really handsome. he's a pretty good looking dude. he would've made a handsome president to watch on tv. but i think i remember him in too many sweaters for my liking rather than in suits. i have no idea, but as i conjure him up in my mind he's wearing a button up and tie and sweater instead of a suit blazer and that makes me not want to vote for him.

no idea who ron paul is except NH apparently loved him and he made a million dollars or a website or something.
are there any more?

democrats. the blue team for real.
hillary: i dunno why but she's my favorite. they talk about the female conxn and maybe that's it. or i feel compassionate like analysts say bc a bunch of men are always ganging up on her and the republicans think she's the devil. as november grows closer i'll take a more critical look at her policies and stuff. p.s. i'm pretty ok with how she dresses on the campaign trail. she does well for her shape. and also women have a harder time in suits in general. the lines and cuts are made for men's flat boxy bodies and she has been pretty classy in her jewelry choices, too.

barack: he looks like batley. from nickelodeon's eureka's castle. and that's NOT a racist comment. i just tell it like i see it. when i first started seeing him on tv i was all like dude he looks so familiar. and then i FINALLY hit it, he looks JUST like batley (does anyone else remember this show?). and his lips are always purple. that makes me not trust him. it always looks like he has frostbite. and he's too skinny, his neck is too skinny for his head and he has saggy cheeks. we can't send him to other countries as our executive chief guy. we look poor and underfed. p.s. living abroad in grade school doesn't count as international experience. i also don't get why i don't like him. given all the spin and brooks' article, this dude is right up my alley. college-educated young person looking for rhetoric and feelgoodiness.

i LOOOOOVE edwards. i'm so mad/sad he didn't do well and dropped out. he's a good looking guy and his drawl is so friendly and warm. in 1950something he would've been elected in a heartbeat. his sad story is he is too old hat for democrats. too normal, too white and male. and that's sad bc i heart his message for/against poverty. and he's just too generically good looking and typically "american" for this race. i feel so badly for him. i really really wanted him. i probably would've voted for him most of all the candidates who were in this primary ever.

if i ever run for anything, i'm gonna campaign under the pink party. the pink panty party. (maybe VS will sponsor me?)

happy LNY~

skype problems: sorry for everyone who tried to call me in the past week. i figured out what was wrong. something happened to my paypal and my skype automatic credit stopped working so my callforwarding ran out of money and i had no idea. i fixed it now so it works.

quick update: draft in progress

back from jindo.
interesting vacay.
deathsick friday-saturday.
recuperation now.

super tuesday = interesting.

duke bball = LIFE.

miss my family.

been having weird dreams lately, probably due to deathsick.

better now. =] (christine is weak smile)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

happy new year!!! and purses

i'll be leaving tmrw morning to spend the new year with my dad's fam (grandmother, his siblings/cousins). yepp ... back to the island for nigh a week. so you won't have uber updates and ranting and raving for a few days. hope you all make it. in any case, don't miss me too much and here are a few pics to ponder. most ppl know i have 2 main shopping addictions: designer denim and DESIGNER BAGS. well bags in general. i started the jean thing in college but i've been in love with purses since middle school. i haven't bought an uber designer bag in a while so i started perusing (happy birthday across the pond present?).

do i deserve a new *expensive* bag before law school starts? as a congrats for surviving korea gift to myself? (possibly subsidized by parents?)

i know this is so frivolous, but i got tired of the negative energy on my blog. this is something that is silly, girly, and makes me smile.

(oooh and i know i should be worried about NYC rent and textbooks and stuff .... buuuuuuuuuut wouldn't it be nice to just go and blow some money on expensive jeans as soon as i get back???)

an entry in pictures: tell me what you think. i've been in korea too long, can't tell if my taste is going bad.
Gucci new britt

Burberry Check Hobo

Burberry Small Check Hobo

Burberry Check Handbag

Louis Vuitton Neverfull

i've been trying to convince my mom that this is the PERFECT size for my laptop and notebooks for class since sophomore year when we first saw it at short hills. apparently a bag that costs almost half as much as my laptop is considered extravagant ... =P hehe
Louis Vuitton Batignolles

Louis Vuitton Croissette

breakthrough in skin

i was going to write about my hostfam, my last duke interviewee, and the presidential primaries, but here is more breaking news.

as usual, i was wikipedia-ing stuff that i have questions about, and although i had been reading the acne page for several months, today a new line caught my eye. wiki article on acne

A recent study, based on a survey of 47,335 women, did find a positive epidemiological association between acne and consumption of partially skimmed milk, instant breakfast drink, sherbet, cottage cheese, and cream cheese.[11] The researchers hypothesize that the association may be caused by hormones (such as several sex hormones and bovine IGF-I) present in cow milk. Though there is evidence of an association between milk and acne, the exact cause is unclear. Most dermatologists are awaiting confirmatory research linking diet and acne but some support the idea that acne sufferers should experiment with their diets, and refrain from consuming such fare if they find such food affects the severity of their acne.[12]

MILK, the HORMONES in MILK could possibly be a link to acne. this got me started on the thinking. i had a minor problem with pimples during orientation, but let's chalk that up to stress. most mornings i drank banana milk or some other not-really skim milk drink. then i got to my homestay and my skin was ok, imo was making me fresh strawberry juice every morning. then about a month in i started drinking skim milk every morning (as i was used to in america) bc i got comfortable enough to ask hostfam to buy me skim milk for my breakfast beverage of choice. THEN my skin started going out of control. i had thought the heat, humidity, new water source, stress, etc. was the main culprit.

a few weeks ago, i spent almost a week in a hostel in seoul where i did NOT have access to my daily milk. my skin cleared up a bit during that week. i had thought maybe it was because i had been eating more meat (i don't know it made sense: meat -> more oil -> skin more oily less dry -> less overproduction of sebum). but i got back home and started up the milk again and voila more breakouts.

so my new experiment is to cut the skim milk out of my diet. now, you may ask, i've been drinking skim milk every day (at LEAST one tall glass a day) since i can't even remember. why the sudden skin problems? well, first of all, milk is usually a pretty local product, so one theory is that i had gotten used to digesting the particular hormones in my NJ milk brand. and in high school my family went on an organic kick and i only drank organic skim milk (which supposedly wouldn't have these extra pregnanty hormones) THEN once i went to college, the generic skim milk upset my stomach so i continued drinking only organic skim milk. still no skin problems.

come to korea, start drinking local milk, the only organic option is whole milk and i feel badly asking hostfam to shell out double for milk that i don't particularly like drinking so i suck it up and stick with the non-organic skim milk. my stomach/GI tract is not used to this new type of milk and mix of hormones and whatnot and VOILA skin problems. not to mention that i LOVE dairy and that's one of the few things that i eat more of here than i did at home bc it pretty substitutes for any other snacks i regularly ate. no cookies/chips/other fun snack foods so i eat cheese, yogurt, milk a lot more often anytime i get a munchie craving.

i'm pretty sure my family (actual blood family) has already bought my skim milk for the week i'll spend with them for the lunar new year, but i told imo about my research and new theory tonight at dinner, so she agrees that she won't buy me any more dairy for a while so i can test this possible cause of skin problems. so starting in a week from now, i'll go dairy free and report back. (i know, all this obsession with my skin gets annoying, but it's been a really distracting part of my life in korea, so this blog accurately reflects my thoughts and worries).

a few more resources:
Scientific article in journal
Got Milk? Got Acne?
The Milk Acne Connection

p.s. i read the wiki article on "Milk" and i had never really thought about it but here's another excerpt:
"Humans are an exception in the natural world for consuming milk past infancy. Even those humans who drink milk after eating solid foods are uncommon within the whole of humanity."
so apparently, yes i am somewhat of an abnormality in the drinking milk past childhoodness (which may explain why i've experienced this problem whereas few if any of my colleagues have had the same lasting skin problems past initial stress pimples).

Saturday, February 2, 2008

a flower in a greenhouse

or growing paints. or my cold seems worse than your terminal illness. or time for another attitude adjustment.

i know i've been rather negative lately. and for that i offer my sincerest apologies. i think it's just this lack of busy-ness in my life that's gotten me stuck in the doldrums. whenever i lack something to keep myself busy or work on, i start going to work on myself and we all know i'm quite the critical judge. i'll start by explaining my multiple titles.

a flower in a greenhouse: this is a korean phrase used to describe someone who has been sheltered and before we even get to discuss whether or not this sheltered flower can make it in the outdoor weather and wind, we have to address the fact that the greenhouse flower is SCARED of venturing out into the weather and wind. several people have used this with me, gently (at least they're kind). and it's not exactly a compliment but it's something that i know to be true. i'm not exactly thick-skinned and korea's bluntness and non-subtlety has been getting harder and harder for me to bear. death by a thousand cuts. i chose this year in large part to develop a thicker skin, or at least better remedies for my damaged thin skinnedness. so, clearly, at a junction when this is becoming almost unbearably difficult for me, i need to confront this challenge head-on. my parents apparently discussed at length just having me come home ... but we've all decided against my running into their arms at the first (or second or third or fiftieth) hint of difficulty. after all, if i can't handle this, how am i going to survive the perhaps not-so-gentle profession of law?

growing paints: this is an old joke within my family. at one point in my high school years my mom was giving me a wholly inspirational talk about not giving in to challenges and all the hurdles and obstacles that are an inevitable part of growing up. however, i couldn't help but get distracted by her use of the phrase "growing paints" as opposed to "growing pains" and since then, those sucky parts of life that you can't avoid if you wanna grow up have been referred to "growing paints".

my cold seems worse than your terminal illness: this is another korean phrase. it's meant to describe how one's own problems loom much larger than objectively more serious problems elsewhere. or how MY problems are always worse than YOUR problems. in my rational head, i know that i am so incredibly lucky right now and that my life is and has been privileged in so many ways and i really, in the big picture of the world, have nothing to complain about ever. to evoke one of my favorite iterations of this from Friends:
Ross: I don't know what I'm gonna do. What am I gonna do? I mean, this, this is like a complete nightmare! 

Chandler: Oh, I know, this must be so hard. "Oh no, two women love me! They're both gorgeous and sexy! My wallet's too small for my fifties AND MY DIAMOND SHOES ARE TOO TIGHT!"
so yes, i am aware that most of my complaints sound like that. and so i was telling my mom i was aware, i was complaining loads and even though i KNOW i have nothing to fret about, it's true that my problems are always so much worse than all the other pain in the world. and she taught me this phrase. how koreans say my cold is worse than your cancer. and this leads me straight to my next point.

korea's singular narrow-mindedness, conformity, homogeneity, shallowness, etc.: i know know KNOW i'm here as a cultural ambassador and that korea has lots of positive points but lately it's just these negative ones that seem to be affecting me and elbowing their way into my experiences here. apparently this has bothered me before also. my mom told me that the last time i was in korea in 1996, a week into our trip i commented that "Everyone looks the same here. They all have the same hair and wear the same clothes and have the same surgery-ed eyes and use the same words and everyone is the same. No one is beautiful because they are all the same." she said she was surprised at my acuity (does that mean astuteness?) and sadly not much has changed since then (IMHO-in my humble opinion). this just drives me crazy. especially coming from a campus as diverse as duke's. and this leads to my next point.

i miss duke like it's my job lately. the open-minded discussions. the classroom back and forths. the throwing around of ideas. the intellectual stimulation. even the occasional so-fiery-it's-awkward debates. and i don't mean to be totally nerdy, but SERIOUSLY people would discuss deep things and we could talk into the night about our disagreements and why we believed what we did and why ppl act a certain way and all our theories about people and life and the world. and i MISS that. i HUNGER/THIRST for academia. i don't care about sounding pretentious and i'm not trying to say ALL my time at duke was spent in existential crisis .. i had my fair share of normal "fun" and self-absorbedness but i miss having this open, probing, curious atmosphere available (and even FORCED on me in some classes). i MISS it. i'm reading this one book called "The Geography of Thought" and i can totally see myself reading excerpts of it for a bunch of different classes i took (the topic is right up my alley-differences bw western/european and asian thinking/perspectives) and as i read it i long for the opinions of my classmates and professors that provide new perspectives from my own that usually challenge and push what i think.

the stark contrast between duke's classrooms and korea's obsession with the visual is disheartening in so many ways. well, no one promised that college was anything like the real world. so my dad today was explaining to me, korea is still stuck on this (gesturing to his torso and meaning the shallow visuals) and i can't get sucked into that because he knows i'm operating "here" (gesturing to his head/brain and pointing forward) with ideas and what's really important in life. "you have a future, an amazing future and you can't get stuck worrying so much with what these koreans think about" and my parents have been so supportive and amazing. my mom: all korean girls worry about is looking good to boys and what boys think of them. which is true and one of the things that really annoys me about korea. how BACKWARDS they seem to me sometimes. and this leads to my next point:

time for another attitude adjustment: i know, i say this often, but it's because it bears repeating and changing who you are and how you think and feel is one of the hardest things in the world (some say nigh impossible). but it's one of those things i want and i'm not a quitter. i guess in a way dealing with this "korean homogeneity" is an intellectual challenge not too different or maybe so different as to matter from the ones i miss at duke. after all, few if ANY of my fellow students' opinions ever made me question or physically revulsed me as does korea. it's just another challenge that i have to wrap my head around. i guess that is the best/healthiest way to see it, that this difference bw my comfort zone and korea's image issues is just an ideological difference and it's worth it to me (intellectually, emotionally, psychologically?) to approach it as i would a disagreeing classmate's opinion. maybe it's telling that korea gets under my skin like this, in ways academia rarely affected me. after all, no pain no gain. after great struggle, comes great growth.

february is a month pregnant with possibilities.

as a sidenote: i've recently become more and more appreciative of my hostfam (so will have a *positive* update soon)

happy february!

i now have officially 5 months left in Korea.

last night was fun. it was kindof a good for my mind, body, AND soul night.

first maia and i went to a free yoga class at city hall. one of the teachers i taught last week told me about it and i wanted to try it out since my current yoga class is really just glorified stretching for old people (i really miss the structure and format and challenge of ashtanga!). the yoga class was actually taught by another teacher than normal because the regular one had an emergency of some sort. the building was old but our class was small (5 of us!) probably because it was 6:30pm, which is when all the married women are home cooking, and it was friday evening, which is when all the single women are out drinking. anyways maia and i had a lot of fun and the teacher was really nice. i enjoyed the yoga, which was less structured than ashtanga but more challenging than my current class.

we then realized how hungry we were. so we walked a little and then caught a cab to VIPS. a family restaurant steakhouse here in korea. altho it has kindof an outback feel to it, in korea this is a pricey fancy schmancy restaurant. no matter, we showed up in our sweats and sneakers. and it was kindof fun to see the stares (it wasn't only our english this time that was eyecatching) and the not-so-subtle giggling of the heavily done up girls with their swishy boyfriends. it felt good to completely ignore korean "beauty" and even acceptability standards in this "nice" restaurant.

we also ate and ate and ate. it was good. their salad bar is one of the better ones i've seen in korea. and i love love love their chicken. and sweet potato fries. among other things. two sad points were they didn't have cheese melted on bread and the ice cream soft serve machine was broken. but we had a very good time eating our "all-you-can-eat" and rehashing the past 2 weeks of korean life (for better or for worse).

i also DO realize, that as much as i complain about korea sometimes and as miserable as i SOMETIMES feel here, this is a break, a reprieve, a respite that i will not have again until who knows when. once 1L starts up i feel i'll be in overproductive overdrive until i retire. 3 years of law school and internships. a full-time 100 hr/week job. eventually a husband and kids. it's going to be a nonstop ride. so i AM trying to enjoy my ability to do NOTHING while i can. after all, i only have 5 months left of this idle boring lifestyle.

maia and i discuss this quite often. how we were such busy-bees in college and now we kindof feel lost and without a sense of exact purpose sometimes. but at the same time how SIMPLE life in korea is. and also how boring. but we both acknowledge that this really may quite possibly be the most idle year of our lives for the next 20plus years. and so we're trying to enjoy its dullness to the max. haha. somewhat lame. but those are my thoughts right now.