Saturday, December 21, 2013

"Dying Inside"-Cherry Sunsets Excerpt

(spoiler warning...for those who care about being spoiled...=P)
Our feet land in the miniature dunes with a barely detectable thumping sound. The little grains cling to the water droplets on Mat’s brown ankles. I glance down to see sand collecting between my ten wet toes and sticking to the damp hair on my legs. I look back ahead to Matias. His shoulders relaxed, his gait slow and even, each step he takes draws us further down the shoreline.  His feet kick up the white dust, sparkling with an ethereal splendor in the light of the setting sun. I observe how his ankles bend and the muscles of his legs flex as he treads the pathway by the seaside, seemingly not caring about the minutes passing, the crabs skittering about just in front of him, or myself, his silent shadow.
I think about the nicotine, the alcohol, the caffeine, and the cannabis in his blood and I wonder if the foreign chemicals ever leave his system.  But walking behind him, on the surface of his skin, he looks and feels so natural, so human, that the line between his humanity and mine feels all the more a starck contrast of reality versus fabrication. To live like that appears to me as utter self destruction, but at my core I know he has more freedom than I ever did. And furthermore, the price he pays to be free doesn’t  come as a consequence to this idiot spirit walking before me; instead, it is all part of the process of life. I don’t know what it is that makes him so outwardly tranquil; how does he mask  his pain so well? The voice of logic says the drugs in his head makes him this way, but how I long for a deeper explanation. I cannot think of any answer, so now I long to have a reason for my lack thereof. 
Why is it that he appears as if his entire body could dissolve into the sea and sand, as if he could become part of this ancient shore while I must dissolve into nothingness? Why am I so disconnected from everything in this universe, but he seems at harmony with all around him? Gosh, I just want to see him lose his temper once without a smile on his face. I want to see him get truly upset for once; I want to believe you can achieve this peaceful demeanor and still care something about the world around you.
That’s not possible, my voice of reason cries, he might look like he’s in it for the ride, but you know that he’s not okay at all on the inside. You understand that the only way he feels any peace at all is by cutting everyone else out of his life. His heart hurts so much that he’s hit the off-button, not to be bothered with it anymore. Yet he knows something is missing, so he hides the hole in his chest by filling it with things that lower his awareness of it. He’s a wreck; a horrible tragedy waiting to happen. Don’t wish you could be like him. His frail excuse for peace will all be over someday. Better to walk the highroad and climb the rocks than to close your eyes and pretend none of it exists.
“But he knows it all exists,” I mutter. Mat halts his walking and turns to face me. The sun, having already slipped out of view behind the dunes, casts the entire beach in a rainbow of sherbet orange, blood red, and rosy pink. The deep breath of the sea, exhaled from the farthest reaches of the earth, plays with the black waves adorning his forehead; the sun brings out the darkest copper tones of his flawless complexion.
But his eyes.  
His eyes, so brown I cannot tell iris from pupil, look like they are being tortured.
Fear. Loneliness. Anger. Doubt. Worthlessness. The darkest emotions known to man, burning to black ashes the heart of this nineteen-year-old little boy in front of me. Just beneath his skin, Mat is dying. He is terrified and alone. The climb doesn’t seem like the highroad, it seems like an eternal maze of dead ends. Broken dreams, failed new beginnings. Lost time, lost hearts, lost everything.
He can’t see the point in his birth anymore. He’s no good, he’s no future, he’s no love. He’s nothing.
Quite abruptly, I feel a pang in my heart; one I haven’t felt in a long time. It’s a sour but sweet feeling; so intense it makes me want to clutch my chest and drop to my knees, not simply out of pain but something between it and glorious happiness.
I feel love.


Wooooooaaaaah, some dark stuff tonight. Okay, maybe not by all definitions dark, but I tried. Well...lately, I've been pouring a lot into Mat and Jens, so maybe it's coming naturally. I sure hope this doesn't mean that Ryan is going to become a cardboard posterchild with no character. O_O Anyway, enjoy my little scrooge finally being a man about it and dealing with Mat's problems maturely. He hasn't been looking forward to burdensome Matias throwing off all of his issues on him, yet he knew early on that he wouldn't be able to resist caring about Mat in the future. XD
At any rate, sorry if the excerpt is comes from a point pretty far along in the two-week journey of these five housemates. :)

-Argentia Krystofel

Friday, December 20, 2013

Spaceship Lullaby

Close your blinking eyes and sleep
Dream the childish dreams of youth
The morning will be bright and hopeful
I promise, I pray, I plead, no evil will come

So spread your wings and soar alone
Your head rested against the cool pillows
Shut out the noise, calm your soul
Wrapped up in your blankets, just be

Child, child, don't be afraid, don't cry
This little game isn't so hard to win
Just open your eyes to the sun, moon, and stars
And you'll become a spaceship fueled by your heart

-Argentia Krystofel

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why Lorde's Asian Boyfriend Matters

James and Ella

So, a number of my friends may have noticed I've been posting a lot about James Lowe, Lorde's Asian photographer boyfriend, on my Facebook recently. I'm sure more than a few of you wonder why the racist tweets and 'anti-Asian-male' talk bothers me.
First off, I might be a little biting in this post. Just a warning. 
Okay, to begin!
This racist tweeting was reported a few days ago, but I knew about James Lowe for several weeks beforehand. My mom also happens to really like Lorde, so she was the one to first discover James. I remember her telling me about him and showing me pictures. I thought nothing of it.
The rage online in November, although quiet, was that he is twenty-four. The universe gets uncomfortable with a seven year age gap these days, so of course I got angry about that. I am eighteen, but I tend to find conversation easier with men who are at least twenty. I don't know why. I think it's a fascination with people who are highly intelligent but mature to go with it (so they are responsible with their intellect). But anyway, I wanted to first write the blog post about that. Until I found the comments on Lorde's instagram uploads of pictures with him.
I don't want to go into great detail. If you want to know what folks have said about James, you can get on her instagram yourself or look it up in the news. Anyway, there were some ignorant comments at first-things that I would expect from those who aren't educated or are very young.
Around the first week of December, I think, things got nasty on Twitter. One Direction and Justin Bieber fans came under the impression that Lorde called their men 'ugly'. They lashed out. Like truly stupid racist little jerks.

I don't think this is really neccesary, since I hope most everyone who knows me has figured this out already, but I find Asian men attractive.
I'd prefer if you don't think 'yellow fever'. Or Sixteen Candles.

At any rate, because I like Asian men, I've received a mild amount of criticism from people I know who grew up in this area. No one has ever walked up to me and said, "why on earth do you like him? He's ugly," but wouldn't saying, "ewwww, he looks like a girl! So gay!" be almost exactly the same thing?
The last time I told my grandfather I found an Asian attractive he thought I was kidding. I've been asked by folks "how do you know which one you like, since gosh, they all look the same, you know?!"
And of course, the people that have asked, "Isn't he, like, 4 feet tall, since all of those Asian people are really short and stuff?
This is the extent of the bizzare and unwarranted stereotypes I've been on the receiving end of in my lifetime. Not much, in short. I thought that due to ignorance, clannish living habits, and kinist religious practices, the people of Appalachia were just born this way, and I never felt like it was a crisis or a problem. I felt strange, that's for sure, but I never felt like it was a huge problem. I would grow up, move away, and the fact that I like Asian men would be a simple side feature that wouldn't make me a ridiculous alien with six arms anymore. Yep.

They all look like women. That's what I was told concerning this image.

That was what I thought until I started reading the comments on Lorde's instagram. Then something clicked on in my head. Maybe it wasn't just my area where people could be biased and rude. Maybe it could be elsewhere, too. And so I was mildly surprised by the age complaints with no mention of his race. Then the storm began. Of course someone would have to decide to be immature for their age and start this mess. As can be seen below.
When this became such a big deal, an article on LA times titled 'Dear Internet: Lorde is dating an Asian guy-Get over it' was published, and contained this choice piece of info that made me shake my head and wonder what the world is coming to.

For C.N. Le, a sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, “this is due to pervasive cultural stereotypes” about Asian American men -- that they are “nerdy ... or not masculine enough.” As Le explained during a WBEZ interview in 2012, these biases create a “cultural penalty” in the dating world, one with quantifiable costs.
“In crunching the numbers,” Le said, “[researchers] found on an aggregate level, Latino men have to make something like $70,000 more than a comparable white man for a white women to be open to dating them.” With African American men, that figure shoots up to $120,000, and for Asian men, it’s even higher: $250,000.

That is a hefty sum. I wouldn't want to look at those odds on any day of my life, especially if I happened to be an Asian guy and had the utter misfortune of being attracted to a white girl somewhere.
There are two groups of people that seem pretty happy about Ella and James, though-Asian guys and the white/black/Hispanic girls that think they are right on par with any other guys out there.
In fact, there is this video and the follow-up comments to prove at least a few people could look at it humorously and/or take something beneficial away from it-

What I took away from this event really changed the way I look at things; I used to think this kind of bias was restricted to my area. Now I'm discovering this is everywhere. I used to think that maybe (forgive me, please) Asian guys on the internet who were complaining about this issue were just doing it because they wanted to complain, but the stats say differently.
In the end, I have to say, for this white girl, it will never be about money. I don't like a man just because he's popular, rich, or others think he's 'hot'. I like him because he is perfectly handsome to me, even if I'm the only person who thinks he is. I like him because he's a gentleman, and loves me for who I am, despite all of my faults. I like him because no matter how much money he makes, he works his very hardest in whatever he endeavors to do. If an Asian guy falls into that category, I date an Asian guy. If he doesn't, he can keep walking like all the rest.

So Lorde dates an Asian guy, maybe because she genuinely just likes him. There's not a law somewhere which says she can't.

-Argentia Krystofel. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013


It starts deep down, I'm not sure where,
And it fills up the stomach with warmth
Like a fountain, it springs into the chest
And lastly seeps into the cheeks

We want to hide while we smile
If we could only cry, but we laugh
Instead, as if our very beings are
Confused by this sudden reaction

Pink, brilliant rose, I know it
We are glad no one can see it
We hope someone might notice
Yet we hide behind our crimson faces

It's a feeling, it's a word, or a sudden revelation
A forgetful last minute, a mistake in conversation
Sensations, your hand in mine, a rush
It's quite simply just another blush.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Like the kiss
Of a butterfly's wings against my lips is
This moment

I can't look around
I have spent too long watching the fake people
To gaze upon reality

Perhaps I can't change it
Perhaps I am just rewinding, notes of the past,
Trepidacious memories

But the warmth, so simplistic
The butterflies hatch from their cocoon inside of me
Oh, they are so red and blue

The butterfly dream
So soft and frail, inexplainable, forgotten words
I am lost once again

Why does the butterfly prince
Seek out this princess, despite her greatest faults
Her fluttering courage

Everything in her is insufficient
With everything tallied, she cannot compare
To you, precious one

Butterfly wings, open and close
The sunlight, the velvet, the dark colors, filled with life
Can I stay here forever?

-Argentia Krystofel

Saturday, December 7, 2013

2013 Collection of Poetry {Coworkers}

These are very short poems I wrote on my phone notebook after work some afternoons this summer and a few evenings this fall. Just some thoughts and feelings. Learning to work with other people, see from their perspectives, and listen to them talk about their own lives, has changed my life drastically. :)

Listed in order of those written most recently to those written most long ago (at the end of the post).


Oh, may the rain come back soon
Lovely expressions of lostness
Comfortable, not concerned, not anything, really
Not lost, not warmed, your fingertips no longer electric

Come back, give me the chance for quiet
Let us be drenched in this history
Let us forget the future and the past,
Becoming one in this gray present tense life


Permanent feelings of you, who I cannot forget
You with the shining light sticks
You who will never let me escape
Sparkles of wonder in your dying eyes

I return to that time of green rains
The bloodstains, washed out in blue and white
But my heart is elsewhere now
I can forget you, but I can't forget my dream


My red dress, white shirt
Dotted yellow sunflowers
Your reluctant eyes, don't leave me now
Your soft embrace, things to be missed


People coming and going
Like a gentle wind
Like a quiet bell toll, the end
My feelings of permanence dwindle

I wander through the memories
Set of dreams in my hands
A cure for my hurting heart
The ache in my soul for this sad place

Strike up some empathy in us
Because my eyes are dry again,
This strong feeling of absence
Separates me from you again


Pensive cleaning of the soul
Dedication shows your true nature
Opportunities you've missed,
Don't skip off your tongue but dance in your eyes


Don't choose the right words, don't ask
Missing you will not be mandatory
But it will happen, dearest one
Our hellos and goodbyes exchanged, we part again


They put you in red.
It doesn't do me any good; it never will
If contrasting colors are good for the eyes
Then which designer created your scheme?

Skin-deep, clothed in gradient darks that discretely hide
Your complex soul and forgotten life

We don't choose when stars fall
In the same way, we can't predict when they fly


Giant butterflies and the voice
Cats and vanilla smoking pipes, summer nights
I hold in my hands whisps of the warm air
Who is to say I dislike my empty palms?

Your expressive eyes of clear green
Like the May rains, they sparkle with life
If chocolate ice cream cones became human,
they would be sweet and rich with wisdom

I wonder how we, in this way, came to be here together?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


You blow traces of fire against my glass house
Who gave you the right to assault my peace?
Mystical and beautiful in a solid moment
You dare to pluck the strings of my heart again

With those dark eyes, you peer at me in the night
Each teardrop distorts your image to my heart
And when the world stops turning, I hope you regret this
I hope you regret beating against my glass house

When you freeze me for an instant in the cold air
Trapped in a bliss unfathomable to your tired eyes
Is it such a crime to be a silent statue, cold and strong
Sculpted out of desperate imaginations and beliefs?

Brief moment, your distant shape becomes so lovely,
Still is the winter air, still is your mouth, still is your breath
Not so clean and white as I thought it was
Not so clear and brilliant as once imagined

Hiding the pain while locking Pandora's box
I can see through the glass, but I cannot reach you
I watch your lips, but your voice has no words to deliver
I can observe you, but never interract

Sometimes I hoped that you would notice
I hoped that your soul could be stirred by this gaze
But what is stirring up in you is too painful to watch
A child's tower of blocks waiting to fall

There's a fire burning deep down in your chest
I wonder how long the flame can be kindled
I wonder how much trash you will slowly absorb
Burning it deep down in the depths of your being

If only we could break down the glass house
If only there were time for each wound to be healed
If only the fire could stop burning so black
Then perhaps you would stop standing there, so, so still

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Partners in Crime

(I am NOT being serious at the beginning of this post. I am exaggerating things way out of proportions until the part of this post where I write that I am being serious. I'm just making sure no one misunderstands. Please enjoy the post! ^.^)

Hello, all! Today I am going to talk about modesty, and a great stumbling block that is frequently forgotten when this topic is discussed. This isn't a response to any other post in particular, just my first comeback when considering the enourmous amount of blog posts, articles, and self-help books out there that touch upon issues of modesty.
Most of the solutions offered exhort women to watch what they wear in order to keep Christian brothers from the sin of lust. Of course, I don't deny the reality that men are very visually-oriented folks and that women should dress modestly. However, I feel that there is a certain group of modesty-advocates that go a little too far in giving women a hard time about their clothes, and to them I just have one thing to say-I support the adoption of a new standard of modesty for men. What are the details and why have I suddenly decided upon this?
Because, ladies, this entire video is a downright shame-

Can't you see it? Blatant immodesty. What? Can't you sense it? This video has a moment so risque that my mother even mentioned it to me!
Come on people. It doesn't take that much effort to notice such an obvious attempt to win over our hearts. Roy Kim is totally giving us 'the look' throughout several seconds of this video. He's wearing that expression which takes the breath away, makes the face burn, and hatches a gazillion little butterflies out of a caccoon somewhere inside your stomach.
And in my humble opinion, 'the look' is most apparent in the eyes.
Oh, those eyes. Couldn't many stare into those beauitful orbs, those windows to the soul, for hours on end?
Alright, so maybe I am a little weird. Maybe it is a bit unusual for a girl to find a man's eyes his most attractive feature.
But that's just it for me. The end of the road. If you don't have the eyes, you don't have anything.
These pretty peepers are such a pain some days, though, especially when a man knows how to use them. So, without further deliberation, I have decided that in order to meet my new standards for modesty, all men are required to wear sunglasses or blindfolds or welding masks or something to cover those twin heart-stealers, at all times. Especially the ones with a pretty shape, since I find them most attractive, and therefore the worst. I might be tempted to lust if a man looks into my eyes with 'the look'; that deep, soul-searching expression. Forbid it that he looks at me with that other, seductive expression. If he starts whispering sweet nothings into my ear, caution will find its place in the wind and be carried far, far away!

Alright, so I'll be serious now. I would never, ever, ever, ever wish it that all of the handsome men in my life stop showing off their beautiful eyes. I also don't think Roy Kim's video is shameful or risque-however, Mom did indeed express pity for me while we were watching it together. His kind of beauty just isn't fair, and makes you feel like hiding in a corner and crying about your hopeless fate.

Well, thankfully, most guys aren't giving me any seductive expressions. Even if I am subject to such, I can generally deal with it and move on. I've heard some guys can't do this in relation to women, and for that reason I actually feel very very sorry for them.

Eyes are not simply useful for portraying attraction, interest, or passionate desire. They give us direction. They allow us to process information about our environment.Along with that, eyes are a central part of self-expression and emotion. Our tears come from our eyes; the only other part of the body that shows sadness so effectively might be the voice. We show our anger, distress, love, and happiness primarily through our eyes. Eyes aren't called 'windows of the soul' for nothing; they show what a person is truly thinking and feeling. 
This is partly why I find them so beautiful. When I look into someone's eyes, I feel like I truly am looking at the person as they are, not as they appear to be. Everything else may grow old and wrinkled and lose its shine, but when the eyes are opened, the person is seen as they are and always have been.
Of course, a woman's figure is not quite so compelling and soul-searching as her eyes may be, but it still has a dual-purpose. We use our entire body to live, breath, and function as human beings. We use it to communicate how we feel; step back from someone next time they are talking to you. They'll ask you why you don't like them.

Here is where I state my point. For the sake of tying everything in together, if Roy Kim was having a great day, and decided to smile at me, would I immediately begin lusting after him? Probably not. I hope I would make a human connection with him, and I would smile back.
Now, if Roy gives me a seductive expression, do I have the right to call him on it? Of course. He is wordlessly suggesting something inappropriate, and he needs to be told to stop. Most likely he knows what he's doing. Human beings aren't unaware of the messages their eyes are sending to other people.
Does his ability to wear the latter expression mean he needs to wear sunglasses constantly? 

A woman's body is the same as a man's eyes are (at least to me). She will always have a figure that attracts men; God created her to be beautiful. This is something she cannot help. Yes, the way she dresses may change how many men view her. It doesn't take a genius to realize that dressing like a prostitute is going to put you in the same category as prostitutes in the minds of men (and probably most women, too). Wearing your underclothing to the beach is going to make people think about you in your underclothing, because you are in your underclothing, hello.
But when people start getting so caught up in what a woman wears, they forget how much the 'wordless language' matters. I have seen girls dressed in long skirts to hide their legs and baggy shirts that hide their waist and bust, but still they walked, talked, and touched the men around them in a way that showed their true intent was sexual. They were immodest when immodesty seemed impossible. However, we cannot be expected to start covering ourselves to the extent that not a part of our body is exposed. We need to be able to move, breath, and see. We need to be able to communicate our feelings via body language and facial expressions.

Modesty is a great issue, and it does indeed need to be adressed. But if we place all of our emphasis on clothing, as I pretended to place all of my emphasis on sunglasses in the opening of this post, we run a dangerous risk of becoming legalistic Christians. We also run the risk of rubbing shoulders and elbows with other religions that focus on supposed 'modesty' so much that their women are covered head to toe, stripping away their humanity, emotional expression, and in some instances, ability to function as human beings.
As a final note, God doesn't say for us to be constantly running and hiding from, or covering up, our sins. If a decently clothes woman with, most importantly, a modest attitude, is still giving a man trouble, then he needs to bring his burden before the Lord. We aren't perfect products; God is still working on us. There's nothing wrong with accepting that.

-Argentia Krystofel

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Peter Pan

You smile at me, flash pearly whites
Say, "don't get caught up in all the lights,"

Each face around us is from so long ago
Each voice is a distant, insignificant echo

In conversation they waltz through frivolous dance
Left-right, left-right, for in a box we never advance

You turn your back, I call your name in fear
You take my hand, "where shall we go, dear?"

Shock, fireworks against your dark skin
Abrupt footsteps amidst the din

You lead me, you pave the way for escape
Understand what I love and the silence I crave

The sky is dark, each hint of day
Over the horizon has slipped away

The lantern above us dimly glows
Reflected in the oxfords on your toes

My bare shoulders are pricked by the cold air
The cream colored dress is ruffled for flair

I can feel your arm on my shoulders
Warm through the fabric of your double breasted suit

Words break across my rosy red lips and I sigh
"I simply wish that away from this place I could fly,"

You lean in towards me, lips inches from my cheek
"Baby, you're like a sad Peter Pan," you softly speak

Breath in my ear like a whisper of wind,
"because you don't know if and when you'll win,"

"You see the brightest, second star to the right,
but it might just disappear while you are in flight,"

"So darling, you watch, you want, but you stand still
Even if it sparkles, you fight desire with will,"

"This journey might not have a good ending, but baby,
None of that matters if you're still my lady,"

"If you wanna catch those stars, I'll go grab a net,
Together we'll catch more happiness than anyone yet,"

"The runway is clear, girl, the night is young,
Don't wait for a second chance to come,"

-Argentia Krystofel

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Cricket

I wrote this poem for American Literature class when my teacher instructed us to go out into nature without technology and write something. I sat outside under the moonlight for half an hour in the cold with a candle for light and warmth...I've always wanted to do that. I can't say it was as comfortable as I imagined, but of course I was pushing the deadline and didn't have much time, so I was trying to force the creativity out of myself. This is all I got after Mom mentioned a crying cricket next to us in the back yard and how lonely he sounded. Enjoy. ^^ 

As the red and yellow hues of fall fade away
The cricket's lonely last call is heard
Throughout the freezing night he searches
Is there not anyone left to hear him sing?

Who will notice this talented musician?
He spent his summer singing for the one,
Now the winter wind has come
The evenings are passed in quietness

Each open door has slammed shut
Chances lost, misjudged time
He reflects on his past and cries
Is there not one who finds me lovely?

He does not call for complicated love
With no expectations he comes
He knows their time will be short
But love is not dictated by the hand of a clock

Nor can the changing places of the stars
Determine when one may love another
If love changes, he does not
Crying endlessly throughout the freezing night


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day 10 in South Korea-Snowpiercer, takoyaki, and lavender tea in Myeongdong

So today I finally managed to arrive on time for something! Day 10 in South Korea was a rather uneventful morning at Hanyang, an afternoon spent in Lotte Deparment Store, and an evening talking in Starbucks at Myeongdong. :)

This is a picture that I took of myself that day. I didn't intend to get my fascinating shower/sink contraption in the picture, too, but I'm glad I can share that with my readers in the United States who have probably never seen these. It's basically an open shower connected to the sink (you pull a knob to switch from the sink to the shower). I found it slightly frustrating because: 1. you cannot keep toilet paper in the bathroom 2. you must keep your clothes outside or in a cabinet in the bathroom and 3. if you left the shower head hanging up like it is in the picture, it would spray under a crack in the door and into the entrance way of our dorm, where we would then slip on the water because of our bare feet. Other than that, I really liked this contraption and found it incredibly convenient!

I remember making quite the effort to not be late. I wanted to take my time to walk to the subway (not run) and arrive within ten-minutes of the time I was supposed to be there. I remember repeatedly checking the time on the subway as if watching the clock could make the train go faster and thinking it felt too hot in the train because there were so many people. I was nervous from that point until I returned to Hanyang that evening.
I arrived and let out a sigh of relief when I discovered it was exactly 3 o'clock and Chris wasn't waiting on me. I walked over to a place where I felt I could be easily spotted  and waited, looking around and getting aquainted with my surroundings. I had been noticing a theme in Lotte stores at that time-they had display mannaquins wearing bathing suits and Santa Claus Hats, swimming in a pool that had snowflakes falling into it. Here in the entrance, a big sign read 'Summer Christmas' and I realized this comical scene was very similar to our 'Christmas in July' theme here in the United States.
I took pictures because I found this so interesting.

See how interesting? This one has big bubbles in it...
During this time, Chris called me to find out where I was. I was to wait right there, so yay, no chance of getting lost in the giant Lotte Deparment Store! :)

And I think these mannaquins were wearing Santa hats...oh, but look! I didn't get a better picture of my Summer Christmas Friends because someone I recognize has just entered the frame.
The appearance of this handsome guy I met Sunday marked the beginning of my adventure at Lotte Deparment Store. After we exchanged some small talk, he found a map and we decided to go to the S.M. Store because I wanted to find a K-pop CD for one of my friends, and where else would a K-pop fan like me first think of going to in a store that huge?

These were soft balls wedged into spaces in the wall outside the SM store. People could make pictures out of these colored balls. It was really interesting so I took a picture. ^^
He helped me pick out the best album for my friend and then after looking at some of the other artists there, we decided to try and find a used CD store or some kind of thrift music store, because I am cheap and don't care to buy my SHINee albums in shiny packaging. =P We never found the music store, but instead we went to a bookstore. Shelves of manga and manhwa were there! I also found the SHINee album I had tried to buy on Ebay about a year ago without success. I bought it for $13.00 when I would have had to pay $20 online, plus a $6 shipping fee. I was very happy. :)

 I had to take pictures of all the titles in Korean. It was a blast from the past to be in a store that had comic books again-it had been a year since I had visited a bookstore that sells manga.
We began talking about which ones we had read.  I was surprised he knew titles like Kimi Ni Todoke and D.Gray-man, mangas/animes that most of my friends had never heard of. He introduced me to a series called 'Bakuman' that I had heard of before but never found interest in. The men that created it are the same ones who made Death Note, and I haven't watched a thriller anime in years. I assumed this manga would be the same. I was wrong; it's actually about an artist and a writer who decide to make their own manga-an autobiography of the authors in a way. In the words of a Wikipedia article- 

The plot begins when Moritaka Mashiro, a junior high student, forgets his notebook in class. His classmate, Akito Takagi, notes Mashiro's drawings in it and asks him to become a manga artist to his stories. Mashiro declines, citing his late uncle, a manga artist, who died from overwork. Takagi incites Mashiro to meet with Miho Azuki, Mashiro's crush, and tells her the two plan to become manga artists. In response, Azuki reveals her plans to be a voice actress. Mashiro proposes to her that they should both marry when Azuki becomes a voice actress for the anime adaptation of their manga. The two then start creating their manga, under the pen name Muto Ashirogi, in hopes of getting serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump.

He explained it in quite a bit of detail to me, making me want to buy it as soon as possible to know more about the intriguing cast of characters. Of course, I was taken off guard when it hit me that I could not buy the titles there since they were all printed in Korean!
One thing that surprised me is that in Korea, they shrink wrap all of the manga volumes, meaning you can't open them until you buy them. I think the reason they do this is because you can read comic books at comic book renting shops, so there's really no need for you to be browsing through the books, I guess.

By that time the movie was about to show and so we left for the theatre.

And then there was the theatre!
I'm sure my friends might be curious about Snowpiercer by now. It's supposed to come out in the U.S. this winter, but everything is undecided yet.
So until then, here is a trailer for all of you to get a taste of this film.

When we entered the theatre, the tickets had our seat numbers on them. This is very different from my small town theatre. Even more fascinating to me was that after the movie started, I discovered that the seats vibrated with the sound effects of the train on the tracks and the guns being shot. The only uncomfortable thing about this was that it made the movie more vivid-and I'll admit, it was intense and violent even for my taste. This is coming from the girl who watches an autopsy on God's Quiz while eating supper. Yep. At a certain stabbing scene I even had to ask him to tell me when the scene would be over because I just couldn't take watching a knife go through someone's palm.
He told me that his brother and father had seen it before him and told him it was good. I told him my brother and father would probably like the communist regime refrences. Then we unanimously agreed it was exhausting and didn't mention it again. XD Those who like thrillers and war films would like it, so I keep telling my brother he needs to go see it when it comes to theatres here.
We ate at a Japanese restaurant he said he frequented while in Korea. I loved the atmosphere of the inside of the restaurant. The food was delicious, however, I accidentally ate a takoyaki ball that hadn't cooled down yet. I burnt my mouth so badly I thought I would cry. Looking back I laugh every time I think about it because two days afterwards I could eat incredibly spicy food and not notice because every spicy-receptor taste bud on my tongue was burnt off. XD I was also able to try all of the food he ordered because we shared the dishes amongst us. He thought it was weird for an American to be so willing to eat after other people.

Takoyaki is made with wheat flour,  filled with squid, onions, tempura scraps, and picked ginger, and is covered with takoyaki sauce, mayonaise, and bonito flakes. Yummy, but also VERY HOT! Hahahahaha
We went to Starbucks after dinner. It was the first time I've ever ordered something in Starbucks-I got a lavender tea latte. I haven't heard of tea lattes in Starbucks here in the U.S., and even if we have them, I wonder if we have lavender? Anyway, the tea was very good and the conversation was even better! We talked about our families and music interests (which are remarkably similar). I felt thankful then. I had hoped the day would end quickly earlier that morning, but now I wished I had a few more days to just go places and spend time like this.
I was rather curious about Korean theatres when I first agreed to go see the movie, but afterwards I didn't care that much about it anymore. It was a lot like theatres here in the United States (minus the vibrating! talk about interractive!). No, instead, I think it was a great cultural experience on a more personal level. I got to meet a new Korean friend.
I look back on it and I realize I'm so thankful Chris stopped me to say hello that Sunday. It was wonderful, slowly getting to know an almost complete stranger. It was also heartbreaking, because two days later, the magic was going to come to an end for me, and I was going to board a plane and leave South Korea.


Day 9 in South Korea: Miso

미소 (miso) means 'smile' in Korean.

On my 9th day in South Korea, we went to 정동극장 (Cheongdong Theatre) to watch this musical.
The storyline is a lot like Romeo and Juliette and is modeled after the traditional Korean story of 'Chunhyang', which I have been curious about for a year or so now. Surprise; it's a story about love and jealousy!
Here is a better summary of the story from the Official Site of Korea Tourism-The 2010 version of Miso is the story of Byeon Hakdo’s intense jealousy of Chunhyang and the enduring love between Chunhyang and Monryong (based on the Korean folktale ‘Chunhyangjeon’). The heart-warming tale of the couple’s trials and triumphs is told through traditional Korean dance, Pansori (traditional vocal performance with drum), and Samulnori (traditional percussion quartet). The saga of the two lovers is portrayed through the efforts of 80 actors and actresses, including 37 dancers, 21 instrumentalists and 13 Samulnori players. 
It was a beautiful performance that I can't explain without videos-

I also very much liked the music and costumes. :)
On our walk to the theatre.

The theatre.

Place to take pictures outside the theatre.
Before the curtain rose.  After this, we were no longer allowed to take pictures.
But we got pictures of the actors after the show!
Aren't their clothes beautiful?
They were bowing because they were going to leave then. My friends got a picture with them just in time!
Everyone received a flyer, but I received the handkerchief because I was selected to go on stage during the intermission performance of the drummers. I actually have a picture of these kinds of drummers as my phone background. I was so happy to be selected! They were doing plate balancing tricks at the time and I got to toss one of the plates from the stick I was balancing it on to one of the performers. My toss was not very good but he caught the plate perfectly anyway! 
After the performance, my friends and I went to eat grilled meat in Myeongdong.
Our yummy banchan.
Meat grilling at the table
Bibimbap and seafood jeon.
I will upload some videos of the food being cooked later! I still don't have them on YouTube so it might be a few days.

Anyway, enjoy the videos of Miso and the pictures!

Day 10 coming soon,

-Argentia Krystofel

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 8 in South Korea: Two Girls Journey to Insadong

 Today, Sandra and I went to the Insadong area to see a traditional village and to purchase souveniers. We decided to go on a Monday; I'm not sure why, but a majority of stores and such are closed on Monday in South Korea. As a result, our touring was a very quiet, relaxing experience for me. The entire afternoon was spent simply walking around in the hot sun. Sure, we were sweaty and exhausted by the time we got to Insadong-gil (Insadong Street), but somehow I didn't feel as tired as I had on all of the other days before that. The breeze that day was less humid and more refreshing (or perhaps I was growing used to the climate), and the village was sooo beautiful. Since I don't know much about the village (no tour guides!) I can't tell a lot, but I can show a selection of the 50 something pictures I took! :)
Just off the subway and refreshed from icecream-on our way to the village!
The girls in Korea were always dressed so prettily. I wonder how they manage it; now that I'm back in the United States, I never try to dress up.

Colored class in a concrete wall. I bet this is extremely beautiful during sunrise and sunset.

Aren't the walls pretty? We were entering the village at this point.

As we walked through the village, we saw even more wall paintings and many kids returning home after school-or on their way to the hagwon, I suppose.

Shops were mostly closed or very, very quiet in this secluded neighborhood.

Spicy peppers! I put my water bottle next to it for size comparison. This was a small produce store.

I especially liked how as a solution to lacking a large yard (or a yard at all), the Koreans would grow plants in flower pots. I saw many flower-pot gardens of vegetables, herbs, or flowers.

This house had their courtyard fenced-off from the public (as most do, I guess). I thought their fence was very unique, though!

I was standing at the last house. What a steep climb every evening after work! The area was mostly really steep hills.

I took a video of our walk down from the houses and the surrounding area! The cafe is so cute. :)

And this is a K-pop shop! It was outside of a school. The lady inside warned us we couldn't enter the high school-I'm guessing it's a special school for rich kids? But I couldn't really tell and didn't ask her. After all, I had was too busy looking inside the K-pop shop! Hahaha

This is what I call extreme fan love. I mean really?

Okay, I'll admit, these were cute. Look at all of the celebrities of past generations?

Kids walking home from school everywhere!

Elementary school children in their little yellow and white caps for identification. We actually ran into a boy who was lost. He asked if we lived in the area and if we knew where his house was. Poor kid, we told him no, we didn't. But we were reluctant to leave until a few locals came over to help him out.

The way this man stood quietly smoking his cigarette and staring down at his cellphone in the pathway amongst the greenery was so peaceful.
This is after climbing a hill that Sandra and I thought we would never scale. It was quite steep!

I don't know what kind of people live in this house, but when we walked by the thing that struck me funny is that there were figures of animals everywhere. I thought it was the twelve Zodiac until I saw this cat. Interesting.

As you can see, it was later in the afternoon when we left this area and went on to Insadong. It was right about here that a little boy just randomly said 'hello~~!' to me. He was with his mother and siblings. It seemed that he didn't expect me to reply because when I replied 'hello!' back to him in Korean, he looked shocked.
We then wandered away to Insadong Street, a long street that has become a big place to sell antiques, arts and crafts, and just about anything related to Korean culture.
This guy posed for my picture. I would have bought their dumplings but they are made with walnuts sometimes.

They filled these things with icecream! Very fascinating.

Traditional clothing.

More traditional clothing.

The elderly man selling ice cream  looked so friendly I wanted to buy some. Apparently the ice cream had to do with Turkey-but the relationship between Korea and Turkey is another blogpost entirely.

There were so many interesting things I couldn't stop taking pictures.

This was a brush shop.

These were sticks with pencil leads in them.

Blurry picture of the brushes inside the shop. I would have bought one, but I have no idea how to use it, and then I would need to buy ink, and then I would probably not do anything with it!

Giant brushes outside the brush shop. That's a Korean Vitamin Water bottle, by the way, for size comparison. :)

More candy/sweet-treat making guys.

When we walked past the ice cream shop again, a young man was standing outside. He also looked super-friendly!

There were lots of side streets I wanted to go down, but it was getting late, so Sandra and I stocked up on our souveniers and headed back to Hanyang-we still had to stop at a store called Daiso we had seen in the subway on the way there. This store is the Korean equivalent to Dollar General-not everything is a dollar, but most of it is pretty cheap. You can also find almost everything you need for living that you couldn't find at a convenience store.
When switching subway lines at Wangsimni, I went to find the clothing store that I had seen the day before. Sandra and I parted ways while I tried to find the store without getting lost-and I did!

I bought these shirts for myself and a few as souveniers, however, I wanted to buy several more! They were all soooo cute in their English expressions and patterns. $4.75/5,000 each is quite cheap for clothes in Korea AND America.

The souveniers+some things I bought for my own use (laundry soap in the blue package, a butterfly headband, and a miniature version of the Radish Doll from Rooftop Prince).

Also, at the very top of the above picture near my pillow you can see a shrink-wrapped package of red stuff. That's more ddeokbokki, everyone! Sandra recommended it after I came back to the dorm to show off the clothes I found, so I bought some. It was delicious, but a little spicy for my taste. While devouring ddeokbokki, washing clothes, and chatting with my mother, I received a phone call. At first I wasn't very surprised because earlier that day I had received a call while touring from a number I didn't recognize and it turned out the other person dialed the wrong number. Experience teaches you interesting things-I was somehow under the idea that all calls I would receive on my phone would be like this and so you can imagine I nearly had a heart attack when it was actually someone I knew! Imagine that, someone you know calling you! Wow! Okay, but honestly, I don't normally get calls in the U.S., so it did strike me as strange that Chris from church the day before was calling me. I answered in Korean-I'm not sure why, but I get excited when I can say '여보세요 (yoboseyo)' on the phone! ^^ The phone conversation amounted to him wanting to know if I'd thought about the movie (Yes?), if I had someone to see it with (Uh, no...), if I wanted to see it (Well, yeah, maybe!), and if I wanted to see it with him (Sure!). So now I had something to do on Wednesday instead of just lazing around in the dorm all afternoon. Nice! 
And that's all for this day! I know it's kind-of a short post with few words compared to my normal ones, but it was a quiet day in retrospect. Sandra and I talked a lot, but aside from that, we didn't do much, which was actually very nice.