flamenco, a festival, but no fortresses.

September 12, 2010

Yes. I do like alliteration, why do you ask?

I was going to see Sangre Flamenca on Thursday night. But. I was tired and it was raining. It was raining hard, a deluge that made wanting to go back  out once I made it home somewhat problematic. So I took a rest.  Friday it rained some more, and I didn’t go salsa dancing. I braved the rain a bit, but my friend canceled, so I went back home. It rained Saturday morning, but I was determined to see the show. So I braved the rain, but by the time I left for the theater, the rain had lessened to a depressing drizzle.

I’m so glad I went. I’m also glad I went to the matinée, because the evening show was sold out.  The theater was beautiful, and fairly close to my house, at the back entrance to Children’s Grand Park. I got nosebleed seats, but I could see most everything. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let me take pictures. Actually it made concentrating on the dance much easier.

The dancers were beautiful, and passionate. The opening had everyone on the stage, and the music was plaintive and haunting (I asked for the soundtrack, but they didn’t have any CDs)-  The second act had one woman dancing with both the stars – two men.  When I usually think of Flamenco, I think of a beautiful woman, back arched and eyes flashing with pride and disdain. I also assume the guitar player is her lover.  I don’t know where I got this image from, but the dancers on stage disabused me of all preconceived thoughts I may have had.   Angel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez were the stars (they are also the choreographers) – Angel Rojas did an incredible solo, that took my breath away – It was energetic and passionate and beautiful. I like to think I have a good grasp of words, but really I feel quite inadequate describing the movement.  – Carlos Rodriguez followed with his solo, and then the whole company took the stage again. There was also a duet by the singers, and a solo by the violinist.  I felt both exhausted and energized by the show.

I had always thought Tango was the sexiest dance, but I’m now undecided. Flamenco is certainly in the running.

I’ll let you decide.

Sunday I had originally planned to do a city hike around the old fortresses around Seoul. Part of the hike would have gone behind the blue house ( the Korean equivalent of the US white house). But when I woke up, you guessed it.. it was raining.

But by 10:30 the rain had stopped and the weather was almost good.  I had made plans to meet a friend/ math tutor in Gwangwhamun, but she had to postpone by one hour.  I decided to wander around a bit, and what did I find? A festival.

Along the Cheonggyecheon river there was a festival celebrating traditional handicrafts and food. Two of my favorite things!  I walked around and sampled some food, took a bunch of pictures, and even tried my hand at beating material to make it soft.  After I met up with my friend/math tutor for coffee, then we went down to Kyobo bookstore, where I should not be allowed to go with a credit card, and walked down to Insadong, one of my favorite places in Seoul.

Despite a rather glum and depressing start to the weekend, it turned out pretty good. Now I have to go and do my math homework and my Korean homework.  sigh.

For your enjoyment, pictures of the festival.

and yours truly


Yet another reason I love Seoul.

September 5, 2010

Living in the city it is easy to suffer from concrete overload. It seems everything is paved over, and choked with car exhaust and pollution.  And there are so many people, all over, all.the.time.

So it is nice to get away and back to nature. Here in Seoul, you don’t even have to leave the city.  Seoul is surrounded by mountains, and even in Incheon and Suwon, there are many places that are green and beautiful, and you can walk trails surrounded by trees and fresh air.

Saturday I went on a meet-up in Incheon. I took a friend and we went to Jung-dong station in Incheon, near Bucheon.  The station is small, but they had a cool display of insects, and some were quite humorous. My favorite was the battle of beatles in front of a castle. I also liked the butterflies.

At 9 am we all met up, and started for the hills.  It was an easy climb, and it was early enough, but the heat really took it out of everyone. I started getting out of breath and sweaty fairly early.  But I persevered and was rewarded with a gorgeous view of Incheon from the top of the hills, and although this is Korea so even the mountains are fairly crowded, there still were places of quiet and green beauty.

After climbing, we went out to eat, then I bought a sewing machine from a girl who is leaving this week. I also snagged a bunch of spices, unfortunately they are all jumbled up, and I don’t have any labels. I think dinner is going to be interesting for the next few weeks.

I felt virtuous enough today to only take a quick bike ride, and after I had a pretty good lunch. I liked the name of the restaurant (noodles in the kitchen) and had a chicken and peanut fettuccine.  It was an interesting combination that worked very well.  I didn’t expect to go there, I was originally going to get bosam ( boiled pork that is wrapped in sour kimchi – it tastes way better than it sounds) – but the place I thought was bosam was really just  an army ji gae –  or spam with noodles in hot sauce – not exactly what I was looking for. Anyway I didn’t bring my camera, so no pictures of the chicken and peanut fettuccine, but it was awesome. Then a thunderstorm came up just in time for me to be able to watch “inside man” without too much guilt.

Sometimes life is good.

Some more pictures for your enjoyment – because I love you.

Buck up, little buckaroos.

June 6, 2010

I’ve never been one of the cool kids. I’m a bit bookish and although not exactly shy, or exactly socially awkward, I’m also not exactly a social butterfly or in with the “in” crowd.  I’ve always felt a bit of an outsider throughout my life.

That said, I do know Korea and Seoul especially can be a bit tough for the other non-cool kids. I would make a bet, that most people feel that way.  It can seem cliquish and unfriendly. Sometimes it seems everyone is having fun with everyone else and you are the only one who doesn’t have something to do with someone else.  Everyone else seems coupled up.  And then, once you do find some friends to hang with, who seem like they are your kind of people, their contract ends, and you are alone again.

It sucks.

But before you go straight to despair, I’d like you to think about a few things.  Do you think most of the writers you admire felt they were part of the “in” crowd (before they became famous and made their own crowd)? Do you think most of the singers/musicians did? I would bet not.  I would also bet that even in their most nerdy, most awkward  and most lonely periods in their lives, they had a few friends who were there for them.  And I think that is something we all forget.  You don’t need hundreds of friends. You just need a few people who are good for you and good to you. We are social animals, and I think it does hurt a lot when we feel rejected or just in a time where we don’t seem to be able to meet many people.  And not all the people you meet are the people you want to spend a lot of time with.  It isn’t that they are bad people. Many of them are perfectly nice. It is just they like to go roller blading every weekend and you don’t know how to roller blade, nor do you wish to learn. Especially if it means scraped knees and other injuries. ( for example)

Now it is true, the search for people who are sympathetic  and who will accept us for who we are is a lifelong search.  And sometimes we don’t find those people where we are.  We have to keep up the lifelines of our past and through mail, e-mail and phone calls back home. The people who love us and we love we can help us remember that it isn’t as bad as we are thinking right now. We need them to keep up the strength we need to keep going during the lonely times.  I don’t care who you are and what is going on in your life. I don’t care how old you are or what you do. Everyone I have ever known has lonely times.  And these times do indeed pass. Life is like that, with its ups and downs.

I would also leave you with this video of the bumblebee girl. But embedding is disabled by request. Sometime YouTube is not your friend.  Or mine.She was quite popular in the 90’s – mostly because most people could relate to her and her search for other bumblebee dancers.  The song is No Rain by Blind Mellon – and you can search YouTube for yourself. It really is a cute video.