Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

It's true. I've been cheating on you. I guess you figured it out from my silence and lack of enthusiasm for Internet lately. No, no, it's not you. It's your cousin. See, I love you. No doubt about it. You help me make meaning out of a lot of silly little things that happen in my life. You give me a voice to express myself and you even have a handy-dandy comment form so I can hear what other people think about! Basically, you're awesome. But to get right down to the point, I can't hold you. I can't flip your pages. I can't hand you to my friends and say, "Look what I did!" Sure, I can hand out your web address, but I can't make people meet you. It's just not socially acceptable while going through the latest YouTube hits to say, "Oh, and after you finish laughing your face off at this video, let's read my blog! Yay!" It just doesn't really work that way. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I cannot force you on people, and that's just something I'm not always comfortable with. I like to be able to hand my captive audience something and demand their full attention. 

So, your cousin, scrapbook and I, we've been seeing a lot of each other. I've been holed up
downstairs in the scrap room (yes, we got a room so stop being so snide; I would never disgrace you in public) creating a book of my wedding. What? I know I blogged the wedding. Okay, yes,perhaps I overblogged the wedding (someone call Websters! Overblogged  [a verb]: the act of writing a ridiculous amount of blog posts about something you cannot get over, but everyone else has had enough of), but it wasn't enough for me. It wasn't something I could shove down people's throats. It was too... how do I put this... voluntary. But a scrapbook. Now there's some social tyranny. I mean, you hand someone a scrapbook to look at, they're going to look at it, you know? 

I've been inattentive to you. But it doesn't mean you're still not a huge meaningful and meaning-making part of my life. Do you understand? You do? Great. Because now I'm going to use you to come clean. To make my affair public. I love you, blog. Don't forget that. 

Sincerely yours,

The creative process, somewhat tinged with guilt. 

The Wedding Scrapbook!

The fixing of the hair and getting ready! (There is a single page in front of this that hasn't been done yet. We had wedding portraits done the other day. One of those will probably go on the front.

The left side is wedding day breakfast at our coffee shop. The right side says Oh My God and the small speech bubble says, "I'm getting married in an hour!" The Y of My and the O of God are hard to pick up on in the picture, but I think they look okay in real life. 

This opening consists of us getting ready at the church right before the wedding and all the people who were there with us, helping us or just supporting us!

This is my favorite opening so far. I spent a lot of time trying to get it right. My sister sang us down the aisle and in the circle underneath her picture are the words to the song she sang. This is all I've done so far! I've got lots more work to do. Just thought I'd share with you guys what I've been up to. 

P.S. I have a lot more pictures to post from what I've now dubbed our USA Stay. So look for that tag in the future to see recaps of our small adventures here at home. Well, my home. Whatev. You know what I mean.


I'm Not Pregnant

But my sister is! Yay for Holly and Matt popping out a wee one come next March. She told us last night, giving my mom and dad little onesies that said "I love grandma" and "I love grandpa." Matt's kids already call my dad GrandBob, which is hilarious and awesome. They call my mom Deb, so she wants a new grandmother name. I am so excited for my sister and incredibly sad that I'm not going to be here to share this amazing journey with her. I hope to come back next year some time for the birth. (And to tell the truth, even though I know Kenny and I are in no way prepared or ready for a baby, I'm still an ounce jealous. I've been having these weird tiny person cravings since we've been in the States. Maybe it's in the food?)

Been a bit busy lately. This morning we attended a college American Lit class one of my friends teaches and had great fun discussing Toomer's Cane and Faulkner and T.S. Eliot. I'm such a total and complete nerd. Went back to Savage Gulf and hiked a bit more last Saturday. Yesterday we visited a friend's dairy farm and had a blast hanging out with kittens and cows. Pictures of our USA stay soon to come! Sorry for the prolonged silence. Or maybe you've been enjoying this nice respite from my ranting and raving.
Either way, I've missed you guys.


Nice Depressing Update

1. Been getting ready for our wedding reception here in the States this Saturday. I am really looking forward to celebrating our marriage with my family and friends, although it seems that we picked a rather crappy date because so many people can't come. But I'll be there. And so will my husband and a cake! So it should be good times. My mother and I have, as tradition dictates, left everything until the. last. minute. All is as it should be in our world (read frenzied activity and voices just a little bit higher and louder than necessary).

2. I got my new passport in the mail today. Reads Christina Danielle Park. Although I've been officially married since December, my name hasn't really been an issue because I was in no position to change it legally until we got to the States. And my bank account and check card here are still under Buckley, so I'm not signing Park to anything. Yet.

3. I have had a series of mild neurotic breakdowns over the past month. Most of them can probably be chalked up to birth control pills wreaking havoc with my hormones, adjusting to my country all over again with husband in tow, and generally being seriously disappointed in myself for all of the things I'm not accomplishing. I remember wishing every day last year that I was unemployed and of all the things I would get done if I only had the time. And yet, here I've been unemployed and not traveling for almost 2 entire months, with one left to go, and I've achieved NOTHING, except gaining weight and beating myself up about it constantly. I wanted to write some stories I outlined while traveling, some travel essays, and a random story about my grandmother who is slowly spiraling into the deep mysterious behavior of Alzheimer's. I wanted to revamp the blog; I wanted to keep my weight at a reasonable place by running again (was going good on that until Florida happened); I wanted to get rid of The Belly for good; I wanted to serve my sister and get to know her and be friends with her; I wanted to read up on some teaching philosophies and stuff to feel a bit less unprepared for my job; I wanted to learn a bit more Korean vocabulary before returning; I wanted to not drive my husband crazy, but be a good wife and tour guide; I wanted to scrapbook something important, like my wedding or bits of our honeymoon; I wanted to be comfortable. Instead, nothing. Nothing except struggling to get out of the bed before 10am and trying to remember to take a shower at least once a day and not strangling my husband because he is always wanting to do something. Ultimately, I feel I have failed at summer. How pathetic is that? Who fails summer?? Me, that's who.

4. ChubbO is here to stay. It really is something inside me. A disease. I have thoughts about food almost constantly, especially now that I'm on the "Eat Whatever the Hell I Want and then Feel Awesomely Guilty About it Later" diet. My thoughts run along these lines: "Hmm... what do I want for lunch? Are we going to eat out? Should I have a large sweet tea or a java chiller while we ride around in the car? Is Mom going to give me the look if I ask for Starbucks? Can I get away with eating chocolate today without feeling judged? Why are there never any Doritos in this house? Mmmm... what's for dinner? Is it going to be good? Is it going to be enough? Will I have to share?" You get the idea. If there is food in front of me, but it seems like I'm having a conversation with you, you're being lied to. I'm obsessed. Help!

5. I LOVE KIMCHI. Yes, I love the food, but I'm talking about my cat. And I also hate her, too, because she has taken to cuddling with and purring for the HubbO instead of me. Jealous much? Definitely. It's just nice to have her around, leaving large chunks of cat hair trailing around the house, snagged on table corners, and embedded in blankets. Her little meow is adorable. I wish we could take her back with us, but it would be torture, really. Here she has a huge house to rule and also a big backyard with two very fast bunnies to chase and squirrels to tease.

6. Sometimes, only sometimes, I find myself having baby envy. I know. That's a what the crap moment if there ever was one.


Journal Week: In the slum

April 4, 2009
Kolkata, India
"Walk to Work"

To get to Mother Teresa's house, we leave our hostel and walk down a long lane for close to 15 minutes. The street is lined with shops of all kinds and intersected by many dirt lanes and one large paved road that the tram rides up and down in its grooves on its line. It is always busy, even at seven in the morning. The taxi drivers are all lined up washing their cars, the cows are already busy on the sidewalks chewing their cud.
Boys and men are wrapped in their dhoti at the waterspouts, rubbing their bodies into a white froth of soap that seems not to clean anything. Old men are already lined up at the shop counters for their daily betel leaf smeared with paan, which will ensure a red smile all day long.
We walk down this dusty lane, avoiding the motorcycles, bicycles, and cars that zoom by. There is a butcher section where large sides of meat hang, dazzlingly red and white in the early morning sun. The smell is already overwhelming, the insides of animals being unceremoniously exposed
to the outside world, then hacked, chopped, and ground. I try not to look too closely because I can't stand the thought of the animals that used to be whole, healthy, wearing their guts inside their skins. I also don't want to feel sick. The smell is almost too much.
There are too many dogs. They are almost as numerous as the beggars, lying alongside them in the gutters and digging with them through the piles of trash swept out of the street. Today, one dog had stopped on the side of the lane. He was brown, with perky ears and his tongue interminably hanging out the side of his mouth trying to find some relief in the Indian heat. He was simply standing, alert. Perhaps he, too, couldn't escape the smell of fresh meat, blood still dripping off knives into drains. He was facing us as we picked our way through the lane.
A young man wearing a white tank top on top of his blue dhoti came walking in our direction, swinging a long thick chain. The links were close to 2 inches long and were round, thicker than a pencil. Both ends of the chain were in this man's hand as he walked down the street. He came up behind the dog- the frozen, all-alert dog. He first brought the chain up, his hand reaching back toward his ear, and then down onto the back of the dog, the long graceful curve of his spine breaking the chain into a squiggle. the dog jumped up and let out the most heart-rending squeal, a plea for mercy and a cry of confusion.
The man who hit the dog was amused by the pain he inflicted. I immediately yelled, "Why?" and turned around to look at the man who had just passed us seconds after his crime. I looked at him as if he were the devil and Kenny also watched him. He was laughing, a full open-mouthed smile on his face, truly filled with glee at his power.
The moment I turned back to continue walking to work, I was undone. could not stop thinking about how unprovoked and senseless the act of brutality was. I cried almost the entire way to Mother's House, unable to stop imagining the way the dog's back must still be stinging from that metal kiss. Everything else was thrown under the bus of this impression- this completely colored my day. Kenny says that my compassion for animals far exceeds my compassion for the people here. And perhaps that is true. I have always felt that as humans, we can understand and rationalize our pain, a gift that dogs don't have.
When the bottom of society are treated as less than our pets back home in America, when the poorest of the poor have less property than my sister's dogs, and the babies sleep on a sidewalk I wouldn't let my cat nap on, how do I expect these people to treat animals well? The dogs are competition. They compete for food and for attention from foreigners. And maybe the dog had won and the chain empowered a man to feel like more than an animal.


What the Crap Wednesday: India Edition 1

India abounds with What the Crap Moments. Here is a small collection of the best from our time traveling:

  • When Kenny and I arrive in Delhi, we are prepared. We have already booked our hostel in advance and we know not to take a rickshaw because despite how far away the driver may claim it to be, we know Paharganj, the backpacker's slum, is across the street from the train station. We are also tired of arguing, bickering, and being bothered. So we have adopted a strategy called The Silent Treatment. This has been working since Agra. Instead of telling rickshaw drivers that we are walking and do not need their assistance and still being pestered all the way to our destination, we simply put out one hand flat as if to receive a gift and then walk two fingers of the other hand across it without uttering a single word. It's amazing. No one bothers us after we give them The Silent Treatment. On the back of a business card, Kenny wrote the word "BOOKED" and underneath it, just in case, "WALKING." So, as we pick our way down Paharganj, avoiding eye contact with all the vendors and rickshaw men, we show our card to all the hostel pimps out to snare guests. And guess what! It works. Almost. One man approaches us and tells us he has a great place we can stay, clean and cheap. Kenny shows him the card. He looks at the card and says, "Oh no! I know that place. It's full of cockroaches and dirty." Um, what the crap? We just laugh it off. Illiteracy runs rampant and is best friends with Lying Through Your Teeth.

  • A rickshaw driver is following us down the street. We want to walk to our destination because our cash is dwindling and it's just faster to follow the map in the guide book than have a driver stop and ask every one of his friends how to get to where we want to go. One driver does not fall for The Silent Treatment. He knows we're walking, but he really wants to know where we're going.
"Where you going?"
"We're WALKING." Plus Silent Treatment hand gestures, not to be misunderstood.
"I KNOW. But where you going?"
"I'm not telling you."
"It's a secret."
"Oh yes, Secret! I know, I know! Get on, I take you there!"
Gotta love it. This is Lying Through Your Teeth coupled with Feigned and Insistent Knowledge. Say it with me now (think Wheel of Fortune): What! The! Craaaaap!

  • While we're in Delhi, we decide we'd like to go to the zoo and check out the white tigers. We have learned to negotiate prices with the drivers before ever getting into the autorickshaw. So, as we come out of the tiny alley our hostel is in, past the two albino boys who cook chicken on the corner and the two urinals that I hold my breath by, we hail a driver and offer our price. Kenny does some haggling. We agree that 80 rupees should get us to the zoo. We hop in and we go. But after a few minutes, perhaps 5, the driver pulls over and stops. We look at each other and then Kenny asks what the problem is.
"80 rupees here."
"What? No. We want to go to the zoo."
"Yes, I take you zoo. 100 rupees."
"No way! You said 80. 80 rupees to the zoo."
"No. 80 rupees here. 100 to the zoo."
Can you believe this guy? What the crap is going on? We are only about halfway to the zoo and it is freaking hot and the cars on the roads make it even hotter. But we are travelers of principle! We refuse to be duped (well, any more than we already are) and so we get out and just tell him we'll walk the rest of the way. And we do. So TAKE THAT Mr. Lying Bastard Autorickshaw Guy!

  • In Dharamsala, I bought this awesome elephant ring. I have a thing for elephants and it has only been encouraged since The Day of the Elephants happened. So, I buy this ring. It is cool and rather large and I'm sitting on the pot, thinking about some things if you know what I mean, and all the sudden I hear this popping sound. (No, you goobers. Not that sound. That's plopping, with an l. Get it right or pay the price!) I look down and my elephant has popped in two! I think, well, maybe I can still wear this cool ring because now it just looks like it's one of those that goes not quite all the way around your finger. No biggie." So I finish thinking about some things, and I go to read a bit. I'm sitting on the bed reading my book and POP! goes the piece of crap elephant ring. In three pieces now, and no longer around my finger but in my lap. Okay, I know I only paid a dollar for this ring, but this is really ridiculous. So the next day, I haul the three pieces of ring up the steep stairs and to the guy who sold it to me. I show it to him. And do you know what he said to me? And I quote:
" 10 more rupees you can have different one."
Hold up, Martin. (Martin? I know. It's a new thing. I just pick a name and throw it in there. And if your name is Martin, you feel special, eh? Blame it on Norman Mailer and Why are We in Vietnam?) You want me to PAY you because your piece of crap broke while I was sitting on the toilet? I think maybe he misunderstood so I explain to him that I don't want to pay for another one. I'd simply like to get one for FREE.99 because it wasn't my fault, obviously. So then he gets mad and says I broke it on purpose, obviously, look at the places where it's broken, I definitely forced it. What the crap, times one million and thirty two! How can you reason with this guy? Turns out, he is UNreasonable. And I walk away very angry and Kenny follows me saying that he talked to the guy next to UNreasonable Weirdo Guy who Sells Rings the Break for No Reason while You Sit on the Pot's stall, and turns out, this guy is UNstable, for reals. All the vendors around him advise us to avoid him like you'd avoid a man who sells crap that breaks. So we do. And I am still mourning my elephant ring.
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