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.