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." 


  1. Oh you're such an amazing writer.

    I'm excited that you are coming back to Korea. I've been to Wonju before b/c my friend lives and works there. So it's looks like we may bump into one another afterall, since we were too busy to meet up before your parents arrival last time.

    Thanks for sharing your stories about your life back home too. Sung Hyun will be experiencing the same once we decide to make the jump back to Canada.

    Keep the posts coming, I'm lovin' them! Also say HI to your hubby for me!!!!

  2. I left this beautiful comment and was so proud of what I had written, and it got lost!

    In short, a great post, I can somewhat relate from watching my parents, keep up the blogging, I like your writing!

  3. You should really consider submitting this to the Times. It's really amazing.

  4. Fabulous . . . you know you're basically going to be my weekend country getaway now? Wonju's pretty nice!

  5. I seriously look forward to your blogs...my mom looks forward to me telling her about them. Incredibly gifted writer!

  6. Gomushin Girl: Come on down! We'll have a guest room!

    Kandra: Thank you so much for reading! I can't believe you find time to look at my silly blog. And tell your mom I said hello!

  7. I'm very curious and excited to see Min Gi's perspective on America, but I can see the frustration aspect of it not feeling like home... especially after such a long time travelling just before.

    Yay Wonju! You might warrant a weekend trip next year from me to help you continue your newfound "love" of hiking.

  8. Stumbled across your blog - really enjoyed this post as my first. Definitely will be linking to your page!
    As a Canadian that lived in the SOUTH for two years and closing in on one year in Korea, I can relate a bit to your husband's confusion. He must feel like an ant at a human-sized picnic.
    The South can be an odd place, but in the end I thank the Lord for its sundresses and religion (college football, I mean).

  9. You are awesome, and the reason stuff "falls into place for you" is because awesome people make that happen for themselves, without even realizing it.

  10. Hey! I'm an American girl who ALSO married a Korean boy! I love reading your blog, it echos of my own life:)

    My husband and I recently went to visit my family and friends in NY and Texas. Even I couldn't understand why the food was so big after living in Korea for 3 years! I also couldn't grasp how luxury (<-- you know I've been in Korea if I'm using the word LUXURY!) regular houses were :)

    On the America-is-awesome-side-of-things, I remember also exclaiming to my husband in the midst of Time Square, "LOOK! There are HUNDREDS of people walking around, and they don't elbow you and try their best to keep a normal distance AND walk in a straight line without stopping or meandering!!"

    (Maybe you can see... I think poorly of Korean people's walking skills.. !!!)

    Anyways, keep up this awesome blog. I love it!

    AND would it be too much to ask for a facebook friendship? I'm SeoulWife, so I think it's the best way ;)


    Email: Dancingwithmyself54@hotmail.com (I'm also big on Billy Idol ㅋㅋㅋ)

  11. i just stumbled upon your blog. i found it to be quite interesting and entertaining. i'm also an american living in wonju with a korean boy...not husband but we are stumbling through the cultural differences and so reading your blog made me feel better that regardless of differences things do work out. great blog! ^^


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