Thursday, June 30, 2011

Photos: Gangnam

I went to Gangnam the other day, mostly because my dad has an office in the area. Gangnam (강남) is one of the most expensive areas in Seoul, and it shows. I saw people doing a photo shoot there once, and very awkwardly had to go through the middle of it, feeling very sloppily dressed and short compared to the model, but let's face it, so is everyone else.

Hilariously, whenever I go to Gangnam, all the men are dressed in very nice suits, including some men who look more like teenage boys. Sometimes they even ride mopeds down the sidewalk, helmets clamped over their gelled hair, skinny little ankles showing underneath their Armani suits. It is pretty much my favorite thing in the world.

Gangnam also has a lot of great shopping districts, though all ridiculously out of my price range. I repeat: one of the most expensive areas in Seoul.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Magpie and the Tiger: A Story of Childhood Stupidity Lasting Into Adulthood

New layout! Check it out!

Okay so if I actually know how to google for a pretty layout, why did I have that weird magpie + tiger combo up there originally?

The magpie and tiger are the only things I remember clearly from the first time I came to Korea, back when I was like 8 or 9 years old and thoroughly bored by the whole affair. When you are a fourth-grader, there is absolutely nothing more boring than traveling to the other side of the world with your parents to meet boring old people you happen to be related to. I'm the youngest in my family (the next youngest count as my nieces and nephews, and I'm only 19 myself), so back then, most of these kids didn't even exist, and I probably wouldn't have played with them anyway. My other clearest memory of that trip is watching The Princess Bride about twenty times in one day and falling absolutely in love with Cary Elwes (blond, sneering, flippant; my later infatuation with Draco Malfoy did not really surprise anyone).

If only Cary Elwes still looked like this.
Anyway, the point is that I ended up going to Jeju-do, a small island that the tour guide kindly explained to me as being Korea's "rabbit poop," since Korea itself is rabbit shaped and Jeju-do is located near its, uh, butt. Look, these are the things you focus on when you're a fourth grader.

I'm not actually crazy, you see it too, right??

At some point in time, we went to a museum where I was told that I should buy a pretty gold bookmark because the magpie and the tiger were lucky symbols. Over time, this became confused into a single magpie-tiger; half-bird, half-tiger, lacking the power of flight, and presumably subsisting off of canned tuna and birdseed, this was pretty much the ultimate expression of Korean identity that I could think of. It wasn't until I came here and googled this mythical magpie-tiger that I realized, ...oh wait, it's two animals.

Yeah. I'm dumb.

(btw, the magpie and the tiger are indeed lucky symbols. the magpie brings prosperity and good news, while the tiger brings luck. so, you know.)

Peace <3

Summer Goals

How did I let it get this long without updating?? I guess that's what happens when you don't have a set updating schedule for yourself...My deepest apologies. I haven't been updating because I haven't been doing anything - just lying around, taking way too many naps, sleeping at weird hours and drinking lots of caffeine while eating way too little. Bad habits all around, which I should definitely fix.

Anyway I'm sitting in my room in the dark like a weirdo, listening to cats screech outside my window. It's very mundane. I should shut my window and see if that helps me sleep any, but it gets so hot in my room that I can't take it. Korea is smack in the middle of monsoon season, which means I don't really want to go out or poke around, plus I don't have any warm clothes (like a true California girl, I didn't realize it rained in the summer until sometime last year. Why does this happen?? It doesn't make any sense, it's SUMMER.)

What are my goals right now? They're really short-term, all just for this summer, but here they are:

Source: Slim Bitches Unite

Exercise. I used to be so good about this - I loved going to the gym, I'd make time for it, sacrifice naps and sleep for it - but I started getting really lazy and unhappy about it around the end of the school year, and by now I'm completely sluggish and out of shape all over again. Luckily I gain weight slowly and lose it quickly, but even so, this is just not acceptable. (Actually, to be honest, I'm probably skinnier now than I was then, but it's all due to not eating enough.) I have the Insanity workout videos, but that's a lot more high-cardio than I really feel like doing these days, so I just want to wake up in the mornings and go for a very, very slow jog around the neighborhood. Now, let's see if I can find my inhaler...

Source: I Want This Body
So how do Koreans exercise? Well, jumpropes are available in pretty much all the convenience stories and grocery marts, not to mention your local Daiso, and I suspect workout videos and yoga are super popular, but my unni swears that Koreans mostly prefer to run and that there are in fact a lot of people who run in this neighborhood. I've just never seen anybody, so I'm a leeeetle dubious, but hopefully I'll wake up tomorrow and take that idea out for a spin and see. Either way, I'm super excited!

Photo by beethy
Dance. Not actually related to the above goal, though it certainly doesn't hurt. I've taken dance classes before and I really love it, even if I'm totally bad at it, and last year I got my butt into gear and signed up for my school's hip hop class next semester. Then I realized, uh, hello? I'm in Korea, there's no way they don't have dance classes! Have you seen all their crazy music videos?? Not to mention since I'm no longer going to regular classes, this is a great way to fill up some time and meet people. I've been looking around online to see if I can find a studio, and then I'm gonna see what I can afford and what seems best for my needs. (No matter how much I've danced, I'm always at the beginner level...I always have difficulty explaining how bad I am so I just tell teachers I have no experience at all.)

Why do I love dancing? I don't know! It's certainly not because I'm passionate about it or anything, since I'm not. I'm not talented at it, and I don't feel that driving need to excel or improve. So maybe because it's just a fun, chill way to relax and burn off energy, and when you're a good dancer, you look hella hot. That always helps, hahaha.

Source: Passion for Glamour
Style. The number one thing I struggle with when school is in session (besides drama, homework, teachers, and extracurriculars) is maintaining my personal sense of style! Not to mention how my style has been changing for a while, but I've been too poor/too lazy to update my wardrobe accordingly. No lie: I have clothes that I bought all the way back in freshman year of high school that I still wear/fit into. Are the fashion police going to descend on me for that confession? Hahaha or maybe everyone will just stop caring what I have to say about clothes.

I'm a big big believer in personal style and preferences taking place over trends, which is sometimes a bit tricky to navigate. Being abroad like this...why be stingy? The basic trendy look in Korea can be broken down into: a loose, baggy shirt, ripped up skinny jeans/leggings or shorts, cute flats/converses/super spiky stilettos. Colors run towards the monochromatic end of things, with lots of room for this pinkish pale beige that I just do not like, but tbh I see people wearing all sorts of colors all the time, so it doesn't really matter. Orange nails and lips are popping up everywhere though. And the easiest way to get away with any look? Be as cute and innocent as possible!

The shoe situation in Korea by the way? Is amazing. Ack I could die happy just trying them on! It's amazing how perfectly shoes fit me here. I have a lot of trouble in the US sometimes because I've got wide feet, but the high-heeled shoes were practically made for my feet. Fantastic!!

Source: We Heart It
Work. Omgwut, work on vacation?? But how else will I afford all of the above without some positive cash flow in my life this summer? Well, actually, my dad says not to worry about money, he'll buy me whatever, but that just makes me feel like a spoiled little princess, and not in a very happy way either. I don't have a work visa so I can't get a steady job or anything, but meeting someone once or twice a week to help them improve their English sounds to me like it could work out fine! I have no idea where to begin looking, so if you have any ideas/suggestions, please, feel free to email them my way!

Plus...maybe I'm just too American. I don't feel settled unless I have a job!

What else?? I want to be able to travel Korea and see more of it, I want to learn to stop drinking so much water every day (apparently water is an American thing; who knew?), I want to work on drawing, I want to write more, I want to come out fluent in Korean, I want to get hair extensions, I want I want I want...

Thinking about all this made me wonder...what do I want out of my life? I don't have a lot of ambition, I've come to realized; or maybe, I'm ambitious, but I don't have ambitions. I want lots of things but that doesn't necessarily mean I'll decide that they're worth working for. But I think I'd like to write for a magazine, live in a small and comfortable apartment, have a dog or a cat, go out drinking with friends on the weekends, be able to travel once a year, and always be able to find something that I want to take a picture of. Ahh...what an ideal. A lot of people want something like this.

What are your goals, for the summer or for beyond?

Peace <3