Journal Week: At Mother Teresa's House

April 3, 2009
Kolkata, India
Modern Lodge Room 21, aka The Sauna

I was nervous about my first day @ Shanti Dan. I picked a home for mentally challenged women because I wanted to love them. And it was very easy to love them. When I walked in the door with 2 other workers, we were smothered by hugs and kisses and "Good morning, auntie!" coming from all directions of the courtyard. There was one woman with her hair very short, sticking out in small tufts all over her head. Her face was severely disfigured, most likely by fire, her left eye wide open without the protection of an eyelid. Her bottom lip was turned down and melted into her chin giving her a baby's line of drool running down her front. But she showed her teeth and her wrinkled, scarred skin became even more creased and pulled taut across her cheek bones as she gave us her own sort of smile. She came straight to me and wrapped her arms about my waist. I hugged her to me as she lay her head on my shoulder and stared up at me with her eternally open eye. What a warm and lovely greeting. I felt that these women were taking care of me. What could I possibly do to take care of them?

My morning assignment was to clip nails. I was given a super-duper large pair of clippers and one of those hospital issue half-moon bowls you throw up in. When I walked out the door of the Sister's office, there was already a line of women waiting on me. I felt awful cutting their nails. I was overwhelmed by my inability to do it well, something so simple as clipping nails! I can't even clip my own nails without making a mess. But I kept at it, sometimes clipping just for clipping's sake because some of the women had recently had their nails trimmed.

Later, an elderly frail woman whose nails I had clipped, hands and feet, was sitting outside on the concrete balcony that ran round the inside of the 2nd floor of the complex. Many of the women lay out on this balcony instead of their beds. Perhaps it was much cooler in the open air. She was sitting and reached for me as I walked by. Being generally lost as to what my exact task was supposed to be, I sat down next to her. She was wearing a scarf, sari too, over her head. This made her head look even smaller. Her gray hair was pulled back at her neck underneath the scarf. Her blue eyes were sunk very deep into her face, her cheekbones scaring them back into her head. She was weathered.

She began to speak to me, holding my hand. Of course I couldn't understand her, but I felt it was only my duty to listen. I nodded at her and looked into her eyes and hugged her and listened. She began to become quite agitated and began to cry. I felt she was begging me for something. I just hugged her and rocked her tiny frame back and forth. I held her face and her head, feeling how small she had become. She was so tiny.

One of the other volunteers came to fetch me. I unwrapped myself and hugged her once more and squeezed her hand. I told her that everything would be okay. But maybe it will never be okay. I will remember her. It was my only day to work with the women and I was shy and uncertain about what was appropriate behavior. I was terrible. But I listened to her. And maybe she hasn't been listened to in a long time.

Journal Week: At the Planetarium

This week, I've decided to share more of my travel journal with you. Most of the entries for this week are from our time spent in Kolkata. 

April 2, 2009
Kolkata, India
Modern Lodge Room 21
"The Angry Old Woman"

Because Thursday is the day of rest for the volunteers at Mother Teresa's house, we had the day to ourselves. So we decided we'd go to the Planetarium in town to amuse ourselves. The review in the guidebook wasn't great, but it would be indoors with AC, so that was that. I expected some really cheesy light show, but it was an extremely formal affair. We got there just in time for the English show to start. 
We fell back into movie theater-like chairs that reclined way back, but somehow weren't comfortable. A few seats down, a white woman and her 4 or 5 year old son and an Indian man came in together and sat at the end of our row. The ceiling was a big dome with black cut outs of the cityscape around the bottom where the dome met the walls. The seating was circular as well, following the shape of the ceiling. In the center of the room was a large unattractive machine. Balanced on the end of a long arm was what looked like a disco ball.
The lights were dimmed and an aged voice with a hint of a British accent addressed the audience, her R giving away her native Indian tongue. She was first just a voice- the lights were off completely. She made a very stern announcement about turning off your mobile phone and keeping it off until the end of the presentation. The voice was extremely measured and I felt that perhaps the speakers' back was very straight and that maybe she had to fight to keep her shoulders from creeping up in tension around her ears. 
The lights come on as the disco ball in the middle of the room reproduces a sunset. The stars eventually appeared in all their pinpoint glory. Sometimes the voice called forth lines that connected certain stars, making the constellations, turning the ceiling into a grid of lines and dots. The voice patiently tackled each constellation in its turn and in the middle of a sentence the voice immediately grows even more authoritative and suddenly shouts, "Who turned on their mobile?"
She pronounces mobile with all the vowels long so that she chops it in two: mow-bile. The voice continues, firm and righteous: "Did I give you permission to turn it on? Why would you switch on your mow-bile? Who gave you permission to turn the mow-bile on?" 
By this time I am extremely uncomfortable because the voice is direct, instead of being politely neutral and addressing the entire audience. I am embarrassed for this great trespasser of the mow-bile rule but am also annoyed because he has brought the show to a complete halt. I look down the aisle and see the Indian man with the white woman and boy, his face aglow in the green light emitted from his mow-bile screen.
The voice switches on the house lights, enraged by this person's defiance. She appears, an old woman with her grey hair parted down the middle and clasped tightly into a tense bun at the base of her neck. She glares through severe glasses with eyebrows as crumpled and disapproving as she can manage. With the lights turned on and an usher standing at the end of the row, the man finally becomes intimidated enough to drop the phone into his pocket. He makes eye contact with no one, not even the woman he accompanies. The voice is still very indignant, the dignity of her proper and perfect presentation now disturbed. She shouts, "I think it's a disgrace! Turn. It. Off!"
Lights are switched off and immediately the voice is restored once more as she continues, "This most beautiful nebula here..."
A few minutes later she interrupts herself once more. "Keep your child quiet," she snips to the woman at the end of our row with her son. The little boy had cooed and then spoken out loudly, "Wow! Look at that! Look at that over there. Whoa! What is that?" while jumping out of his seat and pointing wildly at the twinkling presentation above him. Later, while explaining the milky way in detail, she stops again and asks about the mow-bile phone. This time, abusing a patron across the room. She abandons her proper English and begins to shout forcefully in Hindi. She finally resorts once more to turning the house lights on, erasing the stars, planets, and milky way, causing the little boy to groan in disappointment. After a good verbal thrashing, the voice switches back to English and its presenter's tone, continuing on about the marvels of the milky way splashed once more across the hemisphere above us. 
It was impossible to enjoy the show, we were both so nervous about the boy who wouldn't be quiet and the apparent idiocy of the mow-bile toting patrons. And I wonder about that woman, her staunch pride in her work of explicating the mysteries that move above us in the dark. I don't think I'll ever be able to look at a constellation without hearing her voice screaming at me to turn off my mow-bile. 


Runner's Rage Recycled

Today I have a guest post up at Life is a Marathon, which is always a bit ironic because my life is anything but a Marathon. It's more like a Jog-for-5-Minutes-and-Try-Not-to-Die-athon. Anyway, in honor of running, which I have been doing close to every other day since my return to The States, I decided to post the guest blog I did for Melanie last year when this blog was still called Rage in the A.M. I never posted it here, so there was only ever a link to it, but here it is in it's entirety for you to enjoy.

Runner’s Rage
Or, Chubbo Takes up Running. Again.

Hello all of Mel’s wonderful readers! It’s me, Chubbo, from over at Rage in the A.M. I’m extremely excited to be posting here on Life is a Marathon. First, I have never run a marathon. Second, I don’t know that I ever will. But I have been a regular runner before and have run a few 5Ks and the good old Bell Buckle 10-miler. So, I’ve got some running experience under the belt. However, the experience was forced out from underneath my belt as large chunks of lard stealthily took its place. But I’m back, baby. This is for all the big girls who read what the skinny girls write about running and think, “What? That’s not how it is!”

Runner’s Rage – a noun meaning the overwhelming and gushing anger that sloshes about inside one’s guts when they try to run, but are kept from being 100% successful because of their own laziness (i.e. chub) or weird physical impediments that no one else on earth could possibly understand or has ever experienced before.

I pull on the sports bra, mushing my voluptuous breasts into one shelf of pro-bounce boob. I wiggle into my running shorts, which haven’t been worn since… well, nevermind that. Who cares? I’m IN them, aren’t I? Oh. Legs not shaved. Eh, it’s not a fashion show. I find the t-shirt that is least likely to hug that small, circular hill rising out of the sinking crater of my bellybutton. Dang. It hugs. I pull on my socks with the flying pigs. I un-double knot my Asics, tuck my pigs in, and re-double knot my Asics, cursing the double knot all the way.

I reach for the door. Oh crap. My back hurts. Of course. I didn’t even do anything yet and something hurts. Typical. I make my way down the 9 floors of my apartment building, glad to have the elevator to myself. My armpits are already celebrating the heat, pre-run. Heck, pre-do more than ride the elevator. I reach the lobby and avoid eye contact with the old doorman behind the desk. I am the only Western female living in this building (so far) and I can feel him staring at the massive wonder that is my midsection.

Thank you God for my legs. Oh they work! Oh loooook! I’m walking. How nice. Alright take it slow. Stretch out those muscles a little bit. Mmmmm. That’s good.

I reach the riverside. I have decided that this is the starting point for my run. Oh, next streetlamp. Oh, right after this tiny hill. Next streetlamp. No, the next one and this time I mean it. Okay, here. I pick up my feet. I begin to swing my arms just a little, making sure I don’t crisscross my body, wasting that precious energy I’ve stored up from the last 5 pieces of cheese pizza and two bowls of curry rice I ate. Feeling good. This is not so bad. I look out over the Han River and try to avoid being run over by zealous Korean bikers with their stupid little handlebar bells.

Good job, Chubbo! You’re moving. You’re not eating ice cream and you’re not sitting on your butt reading blogs and trying not to think about ice cream. Deep breaths. Easy does it. Good pace. Look at that tiny Korean girl. OH MY GOD! I can see half the park between her thighs. Which reminds me…I pull my shorts down out of my crotch, where they have hidden themselves as if a nuclear blast has hit and the only safe place is in my crack. If I run more, maybe my thighs will slowly grow every more distant, like the friend you once called everyday but now only view her Facebook profile like a stalker, clicking obsessively through photo albums to see if she has gained any weight. Run faster! Faster!

NOT THAT FAST! Oh legs. I have legs. And I also seem to have an animal trapped inside me, somewhere around my pancreas, who wants very badly to rip through my intestines, (wait, are they close to my pancreas? Maybe it’s really over near my…) IT WANTS TO KILL ME! STITCH! STITCH! Oh God. Why am I doing this? Because you are Chubbo. But I like Chubbo. She’s funny and she gets to eat goooooood food. Macaroni, macaroni, macaroni, macaroni. I just found my mantra! Runner’s World always talks about running mantras and now I have one! Macaroni, maca- WHAT IS THAT? Oh poor little arch! It’s okay, don’t scream like that. I’m not hurting you on purpose. Please carry me just a little further. Oh please. I know you’re the only little arch in the world to ever carry this weight, but be patient. No? You don’t tell me no. You are MY foot. My. Foot. Stop it. Shut up. Macaroni, macaroni, macaroni…

I have run for…. ooooh 8 minutes and 30 seconds! Woot. That’s like three minutes more than yesterday. Breathe… Um, hello? Breathe. I can’t breathe. I… can’t… breathe. ICANTBREATHE! ICANTBREATHE! I’m dying. Oh my lungs. It’s burning. Burning….. Water! Must have water…. Who puts the water fountain that far away? Ugh, healthy skinny Koreans. Wait, am I still running? Oh my gosh, I’m still running. No. Stop thinking about running. It will hurt less. Let’s make a list of things that don’t hurt: My eyes. Nope, nix that. Sweat running into eyes. That burns. Okay, my back fat doesn’t hurt! Wait, my back fat? I have actually given my back fat the honorary title of body part? What is this world coming to? My back fat does not hurt, but it is very busy. It is jumping and bouncing like a 7 year old on a new trampoline.

I busy myself by psychically trying to convince the back of the size 0 woman in front of me that I have never supersized anything in my life. However, I must confess that I have partaken of the Route 44 at Sonic. Hello! I have legs. I have feet. I have some kind of monster gnawing at my spleen like an aggravated snow leopard attempting to feast on a frozen deer. I look down. Why isn’t The Belly any smaller? I’ve been running for like, oh God, 10 freaking minutes! Why hasn’t it gotten any smaller! Shrink! Shrink!

To the bike rental shack. I can make it to the bike rental shack. Okay, maybe to the porta-potty. Yeah, I can do it. Eh, that next crack in the sidewalk looks good. Oh, hello knees! Hi. I’m sorry, but the run is OVER. Now is not the appropriate time to begin hurting. It’s over I tell you! Over!

And so ends my every run. And the 10 minutes grows to 15, and the 15 turns into half an hour eventually. And then I’m running miles at a time. Tomorrow, The Belly will be begging for another go ‘round. Because once you start, it hurts so good! For all of you who feel my runner’s rage at your body, remember: if you’re angry enough, you’ll work hard enough, run fast enough, and begin to change your body one step at a time.

Now you should click here to find out why Marathoners Make Good Best Friends. 

What the Crap Wednesday: Dream Edition

Last night I had a dream. About the Brownie Batter Blizzard from Dairy Queen. Seriously. Although I have been drooling every time the commercial comes on and reminiscing about the days me and the Wifey could drive down the street and consume one guilt-free, I didn't think I wanted one that bad. Turns out, I really really really want the Brownie Batter Blizzard. In my dream, I go up to the counter and I order this tiny size that doesn't exist in real life. Instead of filling my cup with the most delicious ice cream concoction on the planet, they give me Sprite. I walk away from the counter, taste Sprite instead of Brownie Batter, and immediately turn around to demand my Blizzard! But it seems this disappointment has increased my craving. So when I reorder I ask for a larger size. And they fill it up and I watch them put the right stuff in the cup. 

Aaaaand.... END DREAM.
Seriously? I order it twice but never get to enjoy it? What the crap?

No, wait. I take that back. BRAIN! What the crap are you doing? Don't you know we only have a few weeks until we're putting our wedding dress back on? We have to have that taken in 2 sizes. We decided to try and make it three! But NooooOOOooo. You've got to go and obsess over the most calorific treat that exists on my crave radar at this point. Why? Why are you doing this to me? 

Apparently you can take the chub off the girl, but it's another thing altogether trying to take the ChubbO out of the girl. I sure hope I don't pass a Dairy Queen today. 


Opposite of Early Bird

[From my hiking journal]

March 12, 2009

From Ghorepani to Tatopani

Old Kamala Guest House, Room 503

Day 11 of Hiking

Last night I had awful dreams about being burned by fire because I saw the fire burning in a long line down the mountain before we went to sleep. I dreamed I lost my cat and my baby in the fire. Today as we made our way from Ghorepani to here, we saw several burning, the smoke rising from all the different fires making one huge cloud above us.

I could still see the lengthening line of fire as we started up Poon Hill at 5:30 this morning. It was not as cold going up as I thought it would be, but at the top the wind was serious. I tried to think happy thoughts on the hike to the top, but I just got so angry because every time I thought I was at the top of the mountain, there was a turn and 100 more stairs to climb. It was 3,000+ meters high. It probably took me close to an hour to reach the top. There was a lookout tower, but I assumed the wind was even worse up there and let Kenny and CB check it out on their own. Needless to say, I was not a happy hiker. When the sun rose, it was pretty and the mountains were bigger than life, but it was still hazy and I was cold. I did manage a smile for one or two pictures, but I was not awed by the mountains.

Perhaps that is one of my defects. We come out here and I'm confronted by the Himalayas themselves, and yet, I remain nonplussed. I would have rather hiked up later, not in the dark, missed the haze, and seen the mountains at a decent time of day. Or just skipped it altogether. Even at Annapurna Base Camp, I wasn't blown away. I guess mountains just aren't my thing. Oh well, no one can say I didn't try. 

After hiking back down, we had a beautiful breakfast including delicious hashbrowns and headed down toward Tatopani. Tato being hot in Nepali and pani being water. And by down, I mean down. It was downhill all the way. If you ask, my knees will tell you all about it. I listened to the Funeral album by Arcade Fire and ended with In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel, both fitting perfectly and suprisingly motivational on hikes! [Thank you, Rob, so much!]

We didn't get to Tatopani until 4:00 pm so it had been a slow day. We headed straight for the hot springs. I was unimpressed. The water wasn't anywhere near hot-tub hot and due to all the fires, the pool was filled with ash. I didn't last long, being the only woman in the pool anyway. It was weird. The fires had come all the way down to the tree line, where the people who lived there had started fires of their own to make sure it didn't pass down into the town. 

Tonight we met a British man who talked to us during dinner. He says the roads they're constructing will kill the tourist trade. Why hike somewhere if you can just take a taxi instead? After dinner we played Go Stop with CB again. I'm giving him my trekking shoes and izen because the shoes fit him perfectly. Our feet our the same size. Exactly. We were so lucky to have him as our guide.

I got blisters today- on our last day of real hiking!


Required Reading

I'd like to share this with you today. 
A poem from Mary Oliver's book of poetry Red Bird

Maker of All Things, Even Healings

All night
under the pines
the fox
moves through the darkness
with a mouthful of teeth
and a reputation for death
which it deserves.
In the spicy 
villages of the mice
he is famous,
his nose
in the grass
is like an earthquake,
his feet
on the path
is a message so absolute
that the mouse, hearing it,
makes himself
as small as he can
as he sits silent
or, trembling, goes on
hunting among the grasses
for the ripe seeds.
Maker of All Things,
including appetite,
including stealth,
including the fear that makes
all of us, sometime or other,
flee for the sake
of our small and precious lives,
let me abide in your shadow -
let me hold on
to the edge of your robe
as you determine
what you must let be lost
and what will be saved. 


Pool Side!

About time for one of these, no?

New exclamation, taking the place of "Oh my God": "Oh my dread!"


The Happy Hiker

An overview of my time hiking. In retrospect, I'm so glad that we did it. But that comes with perspective and also no longer trekking  4 to 5 hours a day. I'm working on a few posts that are a bit more detailed and give you an idea of what we did in the mountains. I've compiled a few photos for your viewing pleasure! Let me know if you guys like the smilebox thing. Thought I'd try something new and different. 
On vacation in Florida at my Mamaw and Papaw's house in Estero. Spending my days in the pool with the HubbO and stuffing my face. However, I have taken to treading water for a half hour at the time on top of my every-other-day runs. So hopefully the cardio will cancel out all the homemade banana pudding, sausage and biscuits, steak, and other delicious homecooked concoctions my Mamaw keeps throwing my way! 


Where I'm From

I got a new job. It turned out the way most things in my life turn out. I applied for 7 or 8 jobs, heard back from 2, but really only felt comfortable with one of them. That one of them offered me exactly what I wanted, plus a little more. And everything feels like it is falling into place. I do feel that I work hard for things: I did spend our first week in the States pretty much swamped writing and rewriting cover letters, figuring out what a teaching philosophy was, making up a bunch of stuff so that employers would believe I actually had a teaching philosophy, and gathering documents and such. And I also have to say that to accomplish all this I had the support and help of my dear friend Melanie. She calmed a few freak outs, proofread all my application materials, and generally pushed me to be productive. My husband also did a good deal of supporting me, mostly by avoiding my cranky moods, hugging me when I got stressed, and talking me out of my bouts of hysterical ranting about how I am basically unqualified to live my life. Anyhow, I do feel that I work hard when I need to. But it still always feels like my life just sort of sets itself out in front of me and all I have to do is put one foot in front of the other. 

This is beautiful. I'm not going to lie. But I do spend some time wondering when the bottom is going to fall out, when the end will arrive. I wonder when the day will come that things won't just "happen" for me anymore. My life won't feel wonderfully in order and I will lose the security I feel about the future, not because I am certain what happens in the future, but because I always feel that whatever happens will work out. But until that day comes, I'm going to appreciate the amazing path that is stretching out before me. 

All that to say, I got a new job. And it's in Wonju. We are really excited about moving to Wonju because we are both a bit weary of Seoul and ready for a change. I scored an awesome two-bedroom apartment WITH A BATHTUB WOOT which will cost us approximately 70 bucks after our housing allowance. So we have the homemaking bug, talking about what will go into our home, how our styles will mesh (we'll basically be leaving my style at the front door and letting Kenny's do all the talking), and how we'll order our household. It's fun. 

We went on a date here after eating dinner with my family. I had ice cream and Kenny had a beer and we listened to some live music and watched all the senior citizens trying to salsa. On the way home, I told Kenny I was toying with Wonju Wife as the new title for the blog since we're moving there. And oh, yeah, I'm a wife. (Still not over that one yet!) And he told me that in Korean, many times the women of the household are addressed in a certain way that combines the name of their town and a word that means something close to Mrs. or woman of the house. So, I would be referred to as 원주댁 (pronounced Wonju daek). And when Kenny's mom calls her mother, who lives in the countryside outside of Seoul, his mom says, "Hello, this is Seoul calling." And I was struck by this identification with location. It seems that it's enough to say where you're from for the other person to be able to know who you are. 

I have been sad and disappointed here. I have found myself frustrated in trying to explain things to Kenny. Things that sometimes don't even make sense to me, like why we leave the air conditioning on when we go out of town for a week, or how the pool at my grandmother's house is heated, and why the Super Target is so big and zucchini is so expensive. And I'm not frustrated with him at all. I know he is simply trying to understand this place called The South, this state called Tennessee, and these people called my family. I can sympathize, too. I remember trying to process my experiences in Korea and not understanding so many things and writing angrily here on my blog and ranting angrily in his face about things that confused or baffled or upset me. So, I get it. He's discovering America. And there's no easy way around it. So many things are too big, too wasteful, too convenient. But so many of those big, wasteful, and convenient things have made me who I am. 

I believe my expectations were somewhat exaggerated. I wasn't seeing clearly how America would confront Kenny. Or confront me after a year in Korea. And so I've been sad because I wanted him to feel at home here. I wanted us to both feel comfortable here. But this is not his home. And I cannot be comfortable when my husband is not. I do believe that Kenny is enjoying his time here. He has just as many great things to say about America as criticisms, if not more. And I think I was just taking it all personally. As if the things he couldn't comprehend about America were things he couldn't comprehend about me. But it's not like that at all. Kenny is one of the few people in my life who do fully understand me. And when he doesn't, he is patient and listens and tries his best to give whatever it is I need from him. 

So I think it's time to be done with this small but heavy sadness that has been dogging me since we've arrived. Because I'm an American girl married to a Korean boy. And it's a beautiful but difficult thing to come from different places, to be made up of such varying material. 

And sometimes all you can do is keep asking questions.
And sometimes all you can do is accept that the answer might simply be: 
"Hello. This is America calling." 


Our Wedding (Part III: The Vows)

We wrote our own vows. We shared these vows with each other as we wrote them and decided that these were the promises we wanted to make to one another in front of our family and friends. These are the vows you too, as part of our community,  are asked to hold us accountable to. 
As your husband, I promise to respect you as the daughter of God, and to never forget that you are the beloved one, the most valuable being to Him. 
I will listen to you carefully, to hear what you say even in your silence.
I will be your extra hand to scratch your back exactly where it itches.
I will be the most comfortable, approachable shoulder when you want to cry.
I will pray with you so that we can always move together in the same direction, wherever God leads us.
I will not let our love be confined to emotion, but will work to love you in action.
I will love you with abandon and without boundaries.

As your wife, I promise to follow you wherever you go, to support you, to shoulder your burdens, and to share your joys.
I promise to listen carefully and to communicate fully. I will use my words to heal you and not to hurt you.
I promise to cherish your capacity for wonder and your ability to remain open to what the world has for us. 
I promise to relax in the easy times, to push forward diligently in the hard times, and to exercise love at all times.
I will not let our love be confined to emotion, but will work to love you in action.
I will love you with abandon and without boundaries. 

We also washed each other's feet during the ceremony. It was one of my favorite parts. We had recorded our voices over a lovely song by Over the Rhine called I Want You to be My Love. It was important to me to discuss before our marriage why we were choosing this path. Why we were taking these steps to commit our lives to each other. So many people can't remember why they married their spouse. But when tough times come, we will have something to look back on, some kind of foundation to rely on to get us through and to remind us of the reasons we love each other. Below are the words that were heard as we washed our dirty feet and began our marriage in service to each other. 

I marrying you because I love you. I'm marrying you because your relentless support and love has built a way in which I can walk out into the world, freely feeling the happiness of being loved. I'm marrying you because I have never had that before. I'm certain that I will never grow tired of loving you back because you know how to receive my love. I'm marrying you because I want to protect you with my life and keep you safe. You are the perfect companion for my dreams, for what I want to achieve in my life. I need you. I'm marrying you because I'm so ready to love you more.
I'm washing your feet because when I promise to love you for my whole life, it isn't just for the pleasant, easy parts. I'm washing your feet because I promise to hold you even when things are dirty or ugly or painful. I'm washing your feet because I want to grow as a sincere Christian with you, to practice the true love that Jesus has taught us. I'm washing your feet because the generosity of your love makes service feel an honor.

I'm marrying you because you make the good things in my life even better, and the bad things bearable. I am saying yes to life with a partner who listens to me and wants the best for me. I'm marrying you because when I'm with you, wherever in the world that is, I'm home. I'm marrying you because your unconditional love has shaped me into a more compassionate, open, and understanding person. I'm marrying you because we laugh so hard. I'm marrying you because you affirm the spirit within me and appreciate the details of who I am. 
I"m washing your feet because you have taught me the beauty and simplicity of a servant's heart. I wash your feet recognizing the joyful and painful times you have walked through, the experiences that have brought you to me. I wash your feet in submission, demonstrating my willingness to follow these beautiful feet and to make their path easy and broad. I'm washing your feet because Jesus expressed his love for his best friends in this same manner, showing us how to care for each other in the small chores of life. I am washing your feet in preparation for our new walk as husband and wife through this world. I am washing your feet because I love you. 


Our Wedding (Part II: The Pictures)

Many of you may have already seen the pictures posted on Facebook, but I thought for those of you who aren't able to see them there (you can, I invite you to befriend me!) I'd post those plus a few extra freebies here (but only because you're special).

Warning: If you are particularly sensitive in the mush area and prone to throwing up in your mouth a little whenever you are exposed to smiling, gushing, happy people twining their lives together, you may want to skip the following pictures. Or just have your barf bag handy.

The lovely Angie fixing my hair! Ignore the complete mess that is my room.

How Daddy prepares for the wedding.

Coffee Shop Lady! She made breakfast for me and my family.
It really was our coffee shop that day!

The bride registering that she is on her way to be a bride!

Kenny and his good friend Choong Soo.

Hein gives Kenny the royal lip treatment!
Important for the kissing part of the ceremony.

While the Sisda gives me a little eye makeup.

The mumsie with lip balm.
Yep, that was the extent of my makeup: eye stuff and lip gloss!

Daddy making me laugh with his HUGE corsage that was explicitly
prohibited by Kenny, but somehow found it's way onto his jacket anyway.

Walking towards the rest of my life!

Me and Dad competing for Biggest Smile.

Kenny's friends sang an English song for us!
I Will Be There by Steven Curtis Chapman. I did get a little teary...

Bowing to my parents.

Bowing to Kenny's parents. I surprised his mom by doing a full bow.
Usually the ladies bow from the waist down.
But whoever said I was a lady?

Backpacks on. Ready to hike!

All of us.

Already tired from smiling!

My Korean family.

My awesome parents!

The Sisda, who sang me down the aisle. It was beautiful.

The fathers.

The mommas.

The ladies: Angie and Jennifer.

The Exeter bunch. The first Koreans who knew us as a couple.

Kenny's amazing friends, including Hein, Hana, and JiEun
who helped keep the ajummas quiet!

MyungSung Presbyterian Group.
They were so supportive and great friends.
Miss you guys and see you soon.

Outside of the church.

At dinner in our hanbok with all the cool people!

The End! The last picture we took with some of Kenny's friends.

If you made it this far, you're a trooper. Grab yourself a donut; you deserve it!


Life of Anonymous Celebrity Part VI: International Edition

I do not travel well. I travel a lot, but I do it by stirring up an insane amount of nervous energy and then letting that explode all over the airport, bus station, husband, you get the idea. It usually ends in tears. Creating this nervousness is easy because all you have to do is imagine all the things that could possibly go wrong and then follow each thing out to its logical conclusion: this makes the domino effect of wrong-going things clear and seem unavoidable. Hence, the nervous energy. All this energy must be stirred up and expelled by the time the first thing has not gone wrong. So, once I am through security, holding my boarding ticket and passport like a meth addict clings to whatever it is meth addicts cling to, I'm pretty much okay. I'm definitely okay once the airplane takes off, and I remain okay even when the plane starts to do that dippy thing that makes your stomach flip. 

But when you're on the ground, off the bus, out of the train, the whole process must begin once more because well, another whole slew of things could go wrong with the transit process. The taxi driver could be a complete bastard and say he's not going to take you to the hotel you wish (check), the train could leave gasp! on time (check), or you could spend the early morning hours before sunset with your baggage on steps in front of the Ganges because no one is awake to admit you to their hostel (and check). 

All this to say: nervous before the plane takes off. (One time I cried because they hadn't yet posted our gate number for the flight. I was completely undone by the little blank in that row of numbers. ) Not nervous in transit at all. Nervous at the end of the journey that marks the beginning of another one. 

So, anylongestintroductioneverway, we left Bangkok and flew to Nepal. The flight was great and as we flew in over Nepal, the sky was incredibly blue and the world beneath us glowed green and grew mountains. I was in a pure state of bliss as we landed, but when we exited the plane, the nervousness hitched up its britches and got serious. After navigating the visa-issuance line and process, we picked up our luggage and headed out of the airport to find the transportation supposed to be provided for us by the hostel we had booked. We didn't change any money at the airport because the rates were ridiculous and we didn't need a taxi. So we walked out to the parking lot and BAM! 

I have not ever been mobbed before. Except in the tens by small non-intimidating and only mildly annoying Korean children under the age of 7. But on February 28, 2009, I was mobbed. By Nepali taxi drivers. There must have been upwards of 100 stationed outside the airport, milling about the parking lot, standing in large groups, and aggressively surrounding every passenger to exit the airport. Kenny had tried to prepare me for this, but there's just no preparing yourself. So, with nervousness at full capacity and our hostel taxi service nowhere to be seen, I panicked. We had walked out into the parking lot in hopes that the hostel transporters were simply lazy and leaning against a car we couldn't see while carelessly flipping a sign with our names on it. We had been followed by 8 or 9 taxi drivers violating all sorts of personal space rules, even the revised ones I had amended in Korea. They all talked at once and I couldn't understand anything they seemed to be saying. Kenny was also talking to me, asking me what I thought we should do. It was so crazy for me I couldn't think. And so, in true Nervous Traveller fashion, I put my hand over my ears, closed my eyes, and screamed.

Not really a scream. More like a sound that happens when a groan and a shriek get married and procreate. It came up through my belly and echoed in my spinning head before exiting my mouth and falling at my feet utterly inefficient. Nothing had changed except that now the taxi drivers were laughing as they attempted to haggle with us. Kenny probably thought his new wife was losing her mind already and we retreated back into the safety of the airport. (We did eventually find the hostel guy holding a sign with other people's names on it, but he took us anyway. Booking online for a place in Nepal that only has electricity in 4 hour increments means that your booking is often futile.)

So, I know you're all, "Isn't this supposed to be an LAC post? Will there ever be any anonymity or celebrity?" Yes to both. After making it to the hostel, getting settled, and venturing out into Thamel to explore, a young Nepali man yells across the street at me.

"Hey! I know you! Didn't you just get here today?" 
"Um, yes?" 
"Yeah, I saw you. At the airport. You were yelling a lot."
"Well, I wouldn't say a lot."
"Definitely you. I remember your hair. I like this hair. But you were yelling."
"Overwhelmed. I was simply overwhelmed." 
"Well, it's nice to see you again."

He introduced himself and we did, in fact, see him again. He had a nice smile. He wore a business suit. The jacket showed his wrists, his arms too long. And he proved that when you do stupid stuff in the airport parking lot, people are going to remember you. Especially if you're a white girl walking around with dreadlocks. They won't know your name (anonymous), but they'll know who you are (celebrity). 


Lists from Bangkok

[We only spent a total of 3 days in Bangkok. Here's an entry from my journal.]

February 27, 2009
Bangkok, Thailand
Jasmine Executive Suites, Suite 1112

1.Spring roll on the Floating Market Canal. Delicious.

2.Sip of coconut milk out of an actual coconut, also on the canal. Not delicious.

3.Bit of Kenny's noodles near Wat Po.

4.So-so rice noodles with green curry at a pricey restaurant with an ajumma look-alike singing tunes way too passionately beside a piano. I do not like green curry. Good to know.

5.McDonald's Coffee Float across from pricey restaurant: PERFECT.

6.Crappy spring roll while getting my hair locked in Kao San Road.

7.Fettuccine Pepperoncini, terribly heavy pasta at Little Italy.

8.5 pieces of mozzarella, picked out of a mozzarella and tomato salad, also Little Italy.

9.Tiramisu. Awesome. Desert at Little Italy.

Conclusion: Want to either poop or throw up. But I would totally repeat #5. Who knew?


1.  Damnoen Saduak Floating Market: Incredible. We got up so early and still missed the local trading because our taxi driver got lost. Twice. We got a little ripped off with the boat tour for an hour, but had our own boat so that was nice. Probably my favorite part of today. Being on the water was nice and cool. And we saw a big iguana type thing swimming in the canal. 

2. Salt fields. Probably Kenny's favorite.We saw the fields on the way back to Bangkok from the floating market and Kenny made the driver pull over on the side of the road so he could get some pictures. 

3. Thammasat University= Beautiful Campus. A truly lovely walk through the grounds, right on the river. Great relaxed atmosphere.

4. Chao Phraya River. We took a tour boat by mistake trying to get down the river so Kenny could snap some pictures of Wat Aren (Temple of Dawn). Ended up being a really pleasant trip both ways. The weather was much cooler on the water.

5.  Kao San Road. Again, but daytime. Pretty much just sat in a plastic blue chair for 2 hours and had my hair locked. Feels great and so easy to take care of. 

4.  2 Elephants in the Street. It was so cool seeing them up close. They are so large. I mean, you know they're large but you don't really know until you're next to them. One had a reflective light tied around his tail. 


1.   6:55-9:00: To Floating Market from Sukhumvit. Taxi driver was a mistake. However, I manage to sleep most of the way.

2.   10:15-11:45: Back with the same driver but to Wat Pho. He took a crazy route and the traffic was heavy. I slept some more but felt car sick and had a huge headache when we got out.

3.   5:45-6:30: Back to Sukhumvit from Kao San Road. Traffic was insane and after got far enough we popped out and walked the rest of the way. 

Conclusion: I am already tired of taxis and miss Seoul Metro and the bus system which is easy and so freaking cheap. TOTAL TIME IN TAXIS: 4 hrs 20 minutes!

I am so tired but happy with how the day turned out. It was full and vivid and fun. Now if only I could poooooooop!

[That was pretty much the most exciting day. And then we left Bangkok and headed to Nepal!]

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