trip to atlanta

011.Trip to Atlanta

in january of 2017, we took a spontaneous weekend trip to atlanta.  atlanta is about 3 hours away and my husband goes at least twice a month for work and korean dentist and korean haircuts and also we used to live there, so it’s not necessarily a super exciting destination but there is korean town, which we miss dearly since we now live in the middle of nowhere.

i was exhausted and sad from another unsuccessful month trying to make han dynasty actually happen, so we drank a lot of 소주 and ate 대패삼겹살 and did 노래방.

when he initially suggested going to atlanta, it was the last thing i wanted to do.  i just wanted to stay home and wallow all weekend.  but it ended up being such a cathartic night that i felt refreshed and renewed (and massively hungover, but that’s the price you pay for emotional release). i mean, when you sing bohemian rhapsody 5 times in a row*, how could you not feel like you’ve emptied your feelings and turned a new page? it was exactly what we needed.

*i highly recommend this as a remedy for any kind of heartbreak. 

cartoon originally drawn march 18, 2017  




so we just watched 범죄도시, which somehow has the english title, “the outlaws,” although 범죄도시 literally means “crime city,” so.

3.jpgi don’t know about you, but every time i hear the word “outlaws,” i think about robin hood, specifically the disney cartoon version of robin hood where he is portrayed as a literal fox.  so personally, i am not satisfied with calling the movie “the outlaws,” when “city of crime” probably would have been a more accurate description. but i’m not in the movie marketing business so what do i know.

anyway.  범죄도시 is based on a real incident that happened in 2007, and i’m sure some of it was dramatized for the film.  but the major plot points are accurate, according to my husband and a quick naver search.



the major bad guy has a shockingly thick mane of hair and you can be sure that he takes it down from time to time to rearrange when he’s been fighting or running around and has too many wisps falling into his face.  as a person with long hair, i felt that it made his character more relatable, which i appreciated.


the protagonist is played by 마동석 or “don lee” as he is sometimes called, since he is actually an american (!!) (i was shocked) actor.  i saw him in the drama where he’s a tax collector  (38 사기동대) and in a few other films and he’s really good but he’s like, quite sturdy.  i actually thought he was kind of fat until i saw him in this movie without a shirt on, and omg his muscles are ginormous.  there’s a joke where he gets one of his subordinates to apply lotion to his arms because they’re so large he can’t reach around and do it himself.  apparently he used to be a trainer so i guess that’s why he’s so big.

his character seems to exist in a state of permanent annoyance with all of the gangsters he has to deal with, and it is the most satisfying thing ever to see him beating one of them up.  i’m talking open-handed slaps that knock people out. i wish i could do that.


i didn’t want to watch this movie at first, because any movie about korean gangsters will have a violence that many american gangster movies might not have because there are no guns.  so you have knives and baseball bats and hammers and so forth. i was reluctant to watch it because i don’t want to see people getting stabbed or beaten to death or dismembered and packed into suitcases, for example.  but my husband somehow convinced me to watch the first 15 minutes and i was rolling on the floor.  this movie is hilarious.  it’s so funny.

at the same time, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart, aka me. there were times when i couldn’t breathe because the violence was so stressful to watch.  like please don’t cut off that guy’s arm with an axe, i don’t want to see that.  although there was this one scene with a fire extinguisher which filled me with dread but was so well choreographed and shot that i couldn’t stop watching.  that’s something else i appreciate about korean movies, by the way.  since personal firearms are illegal in korea, action movies involve a lot of hand to hand combat, which can lead to really interesting choreography and for me, makes the stakes feel much higher.


anyway, all this to say 범죄도시 is good and you should should go watch it if you can.

010. towels

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i had done a lot of preparation for my first trip to korea in 2011, but i never anticipated that one of my first culture shocks would be the size of the towels.  during the first week that i was there, i stayed at hi seoul youth hostel.  i reserved a private room for 4 days and it was like i was staying at a luxurious hotel, but without the price tag. 10/10 would recommend.

while i was checking out my quarters, i noticed that the bathroom had been stocked with what appeared to be hand towels only. so i called the front desk and requested some bath towels.  when i received these “bath towels” i discovered that in korea, there was no apparent distinction between bath towels and hand towels.  it was rather shocking since i was used to using huge towels at home after a bath or shower.  i later learned that this is because most korean homes don’t have adequate space to store gigantic towels, so the smaller towel is a clever way to utilize available space and still get the job done.

a friend later taught me how i could use one of these towels to wrap my hair after a shower, a skill i am rather proud of.  however, i never became advanced enough to use less than two towels per shower.  it’s still a bit of a work in progress.

009. it hurts

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here’s something i didn’t really want to talk about on the internet (or to anyone at all if i’m being honest): i’m having trouble getting pregnant.

i have scrapped this post so many times because it’s terrifying to admit to random strangers on the internet that i’m having this kind of issue, information i’ve only shared with a handful of people irl.  every time i started to write this post, a voice in my head was like, whoa, hang on. are you sure you want to share your personal business so publicly?  and the answer, at last, is yes.

for my entire life i have been worried about what other people think of me.  but recently i read this article and i was like, you know what? fuck that.  i’m tired of seeking the approval of people i don’t respect.  i’m tired of feeling like i need to get permission from others to do the things i want to do.  news flash: i don’t need anyone’s approval but my own.

so i decided to make a change, starting with the very personal business of my reproductive health.

i know i’m not the only one out there going through this.  every time i discover that someone i follow on social media had trouble getting pregnant, i search for their story, desperate for a little hope or inspiration.  because it’s been hard for me.  i’m stuck on an endless roller coaster of emotions, and not a fun roller coaster.  one of those old rickety ones that snaps you back and forth and you’re sitting there clenching the safety bar like, when is the last time this thing was inspected? because it feels like it might collapse at any moment.  and you can’t stop the thoughts that fill your mind, like: why can’t my body seem to do the one thing it was programmed to do? and how long will it take me to conceive? will i ever get there? and sometimes: do i even want to get there anymore?  it goes on and on and on.

and here’s another thing.  the whole infertility/difficulty conceiving thing being shrouded in so much shame? that’s bullshit.  there is so much secrecy and misinformation surrounding the female body and i’m sick of it.  and what i can do now to try and change this is to join the conversation myself.  maybe my story will help someone else feel not so alone.  and maybe no one will ever read this. and that’s fine too.

but if you’ve come this far, i’m not asking for sympathy or advice, and i’m not fishing for words of encouragement. i am simply putting my thoughts into words and pictures and leaving it out there.  a kind of self therapy to help me process the tough stuff.  i am feeling my feelings and moving on.

here we go.

the caption to this cartoon drawn on march 12, 2017:

why didn’t anyone tell me how difficult it is to get pregnant? (or, more like why did everyone make it sound so easy?)

i’ve found myself lying on the bathroom floor with a late period and a negative pregnancy test more times than i thought i would when we started and it hurts.


008. Couple Jackets

it is common for korean couples to dress the same as a way to show off their couple status: matching jackets, shoes, shirts, hats, you name it.  newly married couples may even purchase pj sets to wear on their honeymoon and in their newlywed life.  it’s something i love, and something i always strive for in our relationship. we always ask, “what’s the code?” meaning, “how are you going to dress?” and try to match where we can.  we have purchased the same winter jackets, hiking boots and shoes wherever we could, and sometimes if there isn’t an equivalent male clothing option he’ll just buy up a size or two in the women’s option. so we can show that we are a couple. i love it.



my brother visited from korea earlier this month and brought me some illustrated books to add to my collection.  this book is easily the pretties of the lot.

설빔: 여자아이 고운옷

written and illustrated by 배현주, first published in 2006

it’s simple to read, even for me, and the illustrations are beautiful.  it’s all about a little girl getting dressed up for new year’s (설날).  new year, new day, new morning.  the day that we can make a new start on everything.  the first snow of the new year falls from the new clouds.

but among all of the “new” things that come with the new year, the best one is new clothes…

설빔 1 설빔 2설빔 3 설빔 4설빔 5 설빔 6설빔 7


found some wisteria (i think?) blooming on my walk at lunch.  isn’t it divine? i think i’d like a yard full of wisteria when we have our own place.  photo IMG_5068_zpsygrtmhrp.jpg

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look at this little guy.  photo IMG_5056_zpshshkrd3z.jpg

and a lending library on a quiet street.  i loved the colors of the wood and the greenery in the background. photo IMG_5054_zpsqtjnemym.jpg

006. be my tutor

007.Be My Tutor photo 007. Be My Tutor_zpse706fyyq.jpg

how i pressured my husb into being my tutor back in 2011 after my previous tutor returned to korea.  he really didn’t want to do it, but eventually he caved.  i agreed to buy him lunch once a week in exchange for korean lessons. i’m not sure why i was so persistent, but i guess it ended up working out well for us in the end✨