Wednesday, June 11, 2008

just say yes

the things I've learned in korea:

1) soju is a beverage. Not a painful alcoholic poison. It's a beverage, meant to be slowly sipped and savored with dinner, especially with items such as meat (not beef, which koreans are protesting) but like say, chicken kalbi or pork. the glass is also never supposed to be empty, trickily, not because you're not drinking, but because you're drinking it so often that it gets refilled constantly. It is considered cheating to hide one's glass. This is usually punished, "rewarded" with more soju.

2) formal speech rules, which were carefully broken apart and explained to me, in every possible scenario. Formal speech usage is just confusing, so I've decided to just use it all the time. Apologies to everyone I've inadvertently disrespected.

3) learning to say yes, i've learned that my relatives hate the word ok. I guess they have a point, as a response it doesn't really mean anything. But really, the korean word for "yes" sounds like a goat bleating when it's said too often or in succession, which is what I usually have to do.

My grandfather, who's a minister, has various complaints or directions for me, which is included in every dinner and morning prayer. It's a little disconcerting to be referred to in the 3rd person.

But the prayers are kind of helpful, it's like a very passive aggressive way that I can learn exactly what is wrong with me.

"Dear Father, ....4 minutes pass.... please help our catherine be a better christian and a better daughter. Help her grow taller and wiser under you and ... She does not clean her room very well... help her do this."

The first supper:
grandfather: "You, you are too skinny."
oh wow thank you.
"No, that's not thank you."
oh. sorry, :force feeds self:.
"American girls. grumble grumble. Starving themselves, that's not a "Lady". males, males, they like the "ba-boom"...
"you know, something to hold." Gestures a violent shaking motion.
o.o hopefully in a prayerful context? oh ok.
"O-kay? what is that? you are going to eat?"
yes grandfather.

After the first supper, I learned to just say yes.

"Eat that, you are too short."
yes grandfather.

"eat that, why are your legs all banged up, that's not a lady."
from kneeling because i pray so often. haha?
yes grandfather.

"eat that, it'll make you smarter and maybe taller."
:goat bleating:.