Burned My Dumplings...Again

It's not a euphemism for something. It's becoming a weekly tradition now. I make dumplings every Sunday. Ok, let me clarify. I don't "make" dumplings. I de-frost them and throw them in a pan. But I burn them everytime. The first time I did this, they were perfectly bronzed and wonderful. Now, they always have a slight black hue and a faint smell of charcoal. I'm working on it. By the time someone actually comes to visit me, hopefully I'll have a better grasp of the fine art of frying dumplings. :) Let's hope.

I had a pretty crazy weekend. I have 3 new friends and lots of memories to show for it. Quite frankly, I didn't think I still had it in me. I haven't stayed out past 2am in a long time. Usually, I start to get cranky and itching for sleep by midnight these days. Well, when I'm out and about anyway. I can sit at home on my computer til 5am but being out is different. Anyway, the afternoon started out around 3pm. I met up with a young woman who's the friend of one of my former book club members back in NY, Margot. She's also an English teacher but she's located in Gimpo, about 1.5 hours north of Seoul. We met in the dreaded Itaewon. She hates Itaewon as much as I do. She was working in NYC before she came out here. So we've concluded that something about NYC's swankiness and modernity spoils you for other places. But honestly, Itaewon is a cesspool of sorts, especially after dark. I mean AAAALLLLL the freaks come out at night there. And some even crawl around during the day.

Margot showed me where she gets her hair braided. A place with steps so steep I don't know how I didn't break my neck getting in there. Very nice African ladies watching TV and just working those magic fingers. I may make an appointment soon. She also showed me an all-purpose salon down the street. Korean women who do black hair! And this place was quite crowded with young black women waiting for sew-in weaves and relaxers and blow outs. Little old Korean ladies were doing some serious hair and the prices were very reasonable. I will need to return for a better assessment of their skill levels before I let my precious locks loose on them. Suffice it to say, I'm glad I'm finally gathering options. They had the usual arsenal of respected black hair care products (Dudley's, Mizani, Cream of Nature, and even some Kera Care!). More importantly, they did eyebrows!!! Thank you, Jesus! It's not just like home but it's damn sure close enough. Sure beats me trying to do it myself.

So Margot and I were meeting up with this Alpha named Rio because he was selling tickets to the stepshow that night. Such a cool guy! He's also an officer in the Army. I don't remember the rank but he's pretty high up. He was speaking in acronyms all night and none of us knew what the world he was saying but we nodded anyway! :) But you really forget that people like this exist in the world when all you hear is negativity spewing from the news. He ended up being our new best friend. He took us to dinner at a really cute Thai place called Buddha's Belly. Granted, it's in an alleyway but very nice atmosphere. It was like we stepped into Buddha Bar, a ritzy NYC Thai fusion spot. The food was pretty good, too. We all just chatted it up like old friends. Margot went to Fisk, Rio went to Howard, and I'd gone to Hampton. We immediately had HBCU love. And that's nice to know.

Then we met up with my friend Aeri and her friend Kayla. Kayla is tall and skinny, like a model. And she's ridiculously funny. In fact, I can actually say that my stomach is hurting today from all the laughing I did last night. The stepshow was held on the Yongsan Army base, which is right around the corner from Itaewon. The show itself was okay. Only 4 groups stepped (AKA's, Alphas, Zetas and Sigmas) but it was still 3 hours long. Just like in college, we all snuck in some Burger King. The Burger King is amazing here! They use a different bread or something. I think I swallowed most of my food whole. :)

After the stepshow, Rio took us over to the Dragon Hill Lodge, which is a really nice hotel on base. But there are bars and lounges downstairs so that's where we went and had some drinks. We all talked some more. I had a heaven-sent sangria and everyone else downed 2 bottles of Riesling. I have no idea what Riesling is, but apparently it's a very good wine. And we watched some basketball!! I didn't even know the season had started yet but we were pretty excited. Felt like home. Then we went to the afterparty which was across the street. I bumped into 2 more Hamptonians, too! One was in the Army and the other was here teaching English. I also hung out with my buddy Sheron. She was in town from Daegu and was cuttin' a rug on the dance floor. She's lucky I didn't take video! So, the world shrinks...and my circle expands.

The afterparty was pretty fun. There were some old school folks up in there of course. Now, I've come to the conclusion that some of these Greek outfits I saw were just ridiculous. One woman, an AKA, had on a short, pink pleather jacket with a green dog fur trim. And a Neon green baseball cap and pink boots. Like, where in the devil did you get this outfit?! I wish I could've snapped a picture of her but I only saw her once. With an outfit like that, I can see why she wouldn't wanna be showing her face again. I saw the smallest leather jacket EVER on a man masquerading as a Kappa. And I thought, "So, did you wear this jacket the day you crossed? Because that's probably the last time it fit you properly..." Damn shame. To all of my Greek friends, don't be THAT one. When you're 50 and 60, still repping your letters hard, don't be that one who just isn't quite right. Don't be the one who's in denial about those leather pants still fitting your hips. Don't be the one who's buttering up your arms trying to get into a tight ass turtleneck that probably didn't fit when you crossed in 1976. Just don't....

So, the party ended at 2am. We had all missed our last trains home so Rio was nice enough to let us crash with him. This guy has a 4 bedroom apartment...just for himself! We were all thinking how unfair it is that our studios are the same size as ONE of his rooms. Just not even right. He let us raid his kitchen, too. Like hungry, little thieving mice, we ate taquitos, chips and salsa, soda, honey roasted peanuts and anything else within arm's reach. We kept saying, "Rio, you're so nice man!!! Thank you!!" as we shoveled food into our mouths. He gets a monthly ration or something and he buys the maximum so um, yeah, he has waaaaaay too much food for one person. Then we all stayed up late laughing and joking, just like in college. We talked about everything like how we all ended up in Korea, what we did in school, what we missed about home, etc. I slept on the floor because I literally just passed out from being so tired. Luckily the floors are heated! :) We'll be back soon though. We have a new hangout spot and Rio has 4 new roommates! Lol. He even gave us the code to his place and said we're always welcome. We can just show up. That kind of niceness in a stranger is pretty rare and I'm very thankful for his kindness. Overall, pretty amazing weekend. Not surprisingly, I took the wrong bus home and I ended up on the other side of town. I had one of those "oh damn" moments when I looked around the bus and I was the only one left. So, I went up to the bus driver and said, "SaveZone??" And he said, "No, fool, you're on the wrong bus! I don't go to SaveZone!" Ok, he didn't say that. What he told me was to stay put and he'd help me get home. Another bus pulled up and he said, "SaveZone!" And I hopped on. It was a nice ride. I like riding the buses here, especially when I have a seat. So I got home around 1030am and slept all day.

Time to get ready for a new week. My semester ended on Friday so we have a different schedule and different classes and different books. Each semester is like 3 months so when I started, they were midway through. Looks like I may have a class of high school kids this time around. Oh joy! *scathing sarcasm* You would THINK high school kids would have an advanced level of English because they've been studying it for awhile but NO, they're usually worse than my little ones. And they don't freaking talk! Which brings to me a point. One of my other mothers (I have about 5 other mamas after my biological one!) suggested that my gum dreams may have to do with my students and my frustration at not being able to get them to talk! How interesting...I never thought of that. And she could very well be on to something. So thank you, Mama Webb :)

I've learned a few words in Korean though not that much. It's enough to get me around.

Ajumma - old married lady
Ajushi - old married man
aniyo - no
ye/ne - yes
mulayo - i don't know
Hanguel mal - do you speak Korean? (my answer is always aniyo)
chuseyo - give me (in a nice way)
gamsa-hamnida - thank you
pal yi, pal yi - hurry up
I can count to 10, though I always get confused with 5,6, and 9
yeoboseyo? - this is how people answer the phone
on deh! - oh no!
I know most of the curse words
yeok - station
pop - rice
migook - American
waygook - foreigner
aprika saram - black/African person (get this a lot! haha!)

Let's be real - I'm usually pointing my way through life over here. It feels weird not knowing the language but it's not as hard getting around as I thought it would be. I usually try to get directions before I leave for somewhere and if I get turned around for some reason, I just keep looking. I don't really get flustered about it. I have a very nonchalant attitude. We'll put that to the test when I try to go see a gynecologist in a couple weeks. Should be loads of fun. :) Well goodnight! <3 J


Anonymous said...

Well good gotdamn! You have more black ppl and black hair places in Korea than I do in Lafayette, IN. Hmmm when can I come visit?

Anonymous said...


Mademoiselle M said...

Did you go over there not knowing any of the language!? That's amazing and takes alot of strenth not to let it get to you.

AllyDx said...

Hmm.. I wish I was more like you. I have a terrible sense of direction. I'm glad by time I went to Korea my bf had been there for 6 months already so he knew his way around pretty well. I was terrified of getting lost so when he was at work, I wouldn't go outside...lol. At least for the first week I did that. After that I would go out for walks, but I would never venture very far.

AllyDx said...

A lot of the phrases I learned from my bf and other English teachers who had been there for a few years. One of my favorite phrases is Chu-go-lay-chin-cha. If I remember correctly means "Do you want to die" (I'm starting to forget my Korean).
The English teacher who taught me that phrase would say that to his kindergarten class when they were misbehaving.