Sunday, September 16, 2007

bigger is not better

typhoon nari has been hitting jeju island today (an island right off the southern coast of korea), so here in daegu we are witnessing torrential rain and very strong winds. the quickly moving, low level clouds look like they are coming down to scoop us up and whisk us away, but thankfully the surrounding mountains protect us here. this afternoon it seemed as though the rain had let up, so sarah, chris and i went to the gyeongsan outdoor market that is held daily in the center of town. it's a perfect-sized market where you can get housewares, linens, fish, produce, herbs, seeds, plants, fresh sesame oil, clothing, shoes, etc....all for very good prices. i felt a bit foolish taking pictures because i stand out so much anyway, but it's my first time to a market like this with my camera, so i set aside my embarrassment and snapped a few photos for the archives!


on the right is lotus root, on the left: burdock root

KIMCHI!!!! the red color is HOT, HOT, HOT red pepper, so the darker red the kimchi, the more it will burn the inside of your mouth and body!!! this is very important to know before ingesting!

sarah, trying some acorn jelly on a stick, dipped in a delicious sesame oil/soy sauce with red pepper, ginger and garlic

we stopped for lunch in a tiny restaurant whose specialty happens to be noodle soup. the restaurant consisted of two women cooking fast and furiously in the kitchen right beside us and three small tables in the dining room. very intimate! by then it was raining again, so it was a relief to find refuge from the cold, damp weather that we have come to know so well here in post-summer, not-yet-autumn korea. sarah, who knows a great deal of korean, ordered for us. while waiting for our meal to arrive, we watched a hilarious comedy on television. a person was dressed up, wig and all, like elvis - or so we thought. and he was on rollerskates, performing in the center of a rollerrink! we suddenly became confused when he started to moonwalk, then we realized we had been sorely mistaken. "that's not elvis, that's michael jackson!!!" we exclaimed. it was so funny!
when we were midway through our meal, an older woman sat down at the table right next to us. she began talking to me immediately and pointing at her eyes and then my eyes. i thought for a second i was going to be reliving the "big eyes" experience that i had with THE CHILDREN in goryeong. i felt a little bit of panic rise in my body and i started to sweat, even more than i was already from the spicy kimchi! THE CHILDREN have obviously done a number on me that i will feel the after shocks of for quite some time. well, this sweet woman didn't call me "big eyes." she proceeded (translation by sarah) to tell me that my eyes were very beautiful and that she didn't have eyelids like mine. i had sarah tell her that she was gorgeous....absolutely gorgeous. she pointed to herself and said in korean, "me?" and then, "aniyo, aniyo" (no, no). in korea, many women are getting cosmetic surgery (blepharoplasty) to add an upper eyelid crease, making their eyes look bigger and in mass media opinion, "more beautiful." it makes me so angry how the media influences public opinion thereby negatively effecting the self-image of so many girls and women. the day i stopped watching television and reading fashion magazines, was the day i slowly began to scrape together a sense of my body being enough and okay just the way it is. in her teachings, joanna macy talks about the cycle of dissatisfaction that our modern society/media breeds. we are conditioned to think that we are not enough, that we should not be satisfied with what we have, what we look like or who we are, that we need this, that, and the other thing in order to be okay. of course, as we all know, it is an endless cycle....nothing is ever enough as long as we are caught in it. after one surgery, we find we need another one to make something else bigger...then one to make something else a bit smaller....and then....
we found out through our conversation with the beautiful older korean woman that she is 78 years old! she has four daughters and a son....and grandchildren.....she was so funny! she teased us and laughed at us and wanted so much to connect. it was wonderful to be relating with her - thank goodness sarah was there to carry on the verbal piece of the conversation for all of us!

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