Archive Page 2

Hurricane Gustav

So, it looks pretty bad for New Orleans. This hurricane is stronger than Katrina. Thankfully, most people seem to actually be leaving this time, including my some of my Louisiana friends.

I’m also a little worried about my own family. Houston is in Gustav’s potential-path-cone, and having been through a couple bad ones as a kid, I don’t want to know what a category-5 would do. There have been a few close calls with our house being flooded before, and if Gustav hits Houston, it could be really, really bad. For reference, here‘s what Houston looked like after a heavy tropical storm, my senior year of high school. Here‘s other photos (and more).

So, please keep everyone who could be affected in your thoughts over the next couple days.

Advertisements

Is stealing ever right?

So, I have a conundrum.

Now, of the various Quaker testimonies, the one I have had the absolute most trouble with is that of Integrity.  I am not a compulsive liar, but I tell tons of “little white lies” all the time, for no apparent reason.  One of my 101 goals is to go for two days without lying.  I suspect that it will actually be one of the most difficult goals on the list for me.  When I was a kid, I never cheated in class, but I used to do things like pick locks for fun, steal the belongings of friends and then see if I could return them without them noticing, etc.  I have always been an adrenaline junkie and I am very glad that I somehow managed to nip the thieving bug in the bud (in my year between highschool and college, actually), before it actually became a problem of actual danger.  Even still, while I have absolutely no desire to actually steal anything (I’ve never coveted something enough to want to put my liberty at risk), I do often pause, when looking at a given situation or item, and think about how I would do it.  I have spent years trying to squelch those thoughts to no avail, so I just try and make sure that it never passes the line from fantasy to actual plan.

That said, I have a conundrum.  Despite all of that coaching myself that “stealing is bad”, I think I need to steal a dog.  Yes, “need to”.  Yes, a dog.

You see, there was a stray who lives at a nearby temple, that Marc and I met.  He’s friendly, but has clearly been abused.  I fed him a few times a week for a month, but then went away on vacation, and was considering adopting him when I got back.  Well, I went to feed him a couple days ago, and it seems that someone has chained him up.  Now, I had previously asked at the 4 houses in the little hamlet to check and make sure he was nobody’s.  Yep, nobody’s.  So, clearly, someone must have decided they wanted him.  Sounds great, right?  Well, the problem is that as a stray, he was at least able to scavenge from the local restaurant, and drink from the river, in addition to the food I brought him.  His current owners, however, are not feeding him at all.  He is thinner than ever, and is ecstatic to see me when I bring him food and water (I sneak into their backyard almost every evening, after work).  I went by yesterday, and he had clearly caught a bird, and was eating the remains.  This dog is slowly starving to death.

So, I am now caught in this decision over whether it is worse to steal the dog, or to let it continue to be mistreated.  I definitely am leaning more towards stealing it, as it feels more like saving than stealing, but still.  It is a difficult decision.  Part of it is that while yes, I can continue feeding it in their backyard, once I leave Korea, or when I go away for the whole month of February, it will go right back to a slow path toward death.

I would love some advice or guidance.

Twitter?

Are any of you readers on twitter?  If so, let me know and I’ll add you.  I’m over there as driftingfocus.

My “Fashion”, or Lack Thereof: Some Thoughts on Plainness and Simplicity

So, I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about the way I dress.  Sorry this is so long, but I couldn’t think of an effective way to split it.

Here in Korea, the colors are very bright (as those of you who read my Korea blog may have noticed).  The traditional culture is generally very colorful, and people’s everyday clothes are also quite bright by comparison to the US, especially New England (where the general palette is slightly duller than the rest of the country, in general).  By comparison, I might as well be monotone.

I wear mostly black, grey, brown and blue (as a glimpse at my laundry line will tell you).  I have a few “desaturated” green and red clothes, but that’s about it.  Here in Korea, I have bought a few brighter shirts (I have a vibrant teal one, and an orange one, now) just to help me fit in a bit better, but wearing them feels a little unnatural.  On an average day, while I do not immediately stand out, clothes-wise, from Koreans, I do stand out a decent bit, when you compare me to an average Korean.  Even in the US, I have gotten many a remark on the small range of my color palette, and while I do not necessarily stand out in the US (especially in New England), those who know me over a period of time do tend to notice.

I also have never paid attention to fashion.  Not when I was a kid, not in high school, not in college.  There was a year between high school and college when I went a bit punk/goth, but it was a short-lived phase, and was a response to high school more than anything else.  For the vast majority of my life, I have generally only paid attention to function, in my clothes.  Starting in middle school, I decided that shorts that were more than about 3-4 inches above my knee felt immodest to me, and made me uncomfortable.  Since the mid-90s was a time of ever increasingly short (and tight) shorts and skirts for girls, I found that the easiest option was to start wearing boys/mens shorts.  Once I started doing so, I found them vastly more comfortable and practical, and I have never really gone back.  Sure, I have one or two pair of women’s shorts, but they only really get worn when I need the practicality of shorts, but need to look a little less like a grown-up tomboy.  As a whole, I focus almost entirely on functionality in my wardrobe.  I like garments that can serve more than one purpose, and they tend to be somewhat out of fashion (my wearing of knickers, for example), but not conspicuously so.  Marc once made the accurate observation that both of us, while we are not intentionally “retro”, do tend to dress in a bit of an older style in general (see: me, Marc, and the both of us).  I also tend to wear my clothes until they are unwearable.  I wear them until they have holes, and then I often will patch the holes and continue to wear the garment until it really is too ratty to wear outside (and even then, I often turn them into heavy-work garments).  I have yet to be able to bring myself to stop wearing my current winter coat, despite the fact that the cuffs are very frayed and there are small holes in the elbows, for instance.

I wear mostly loose clothing (not baggy, but not body-hugging either), as tight clothing, in general, makes me self-conscious.  When I wear skirts, they are generally relatively full, almost always of solid color, and are universally at least to my knee, if not longer.  Until recently, I rarely wore skirts, as I found them inconvenient and impractical.  I wore pants, shorts, or breeches (my name for shorts like these, which I wear quite often) all but one or two days a month, at best.  However, here in Korea most women don’t wear pants at work, and I have found myself slowly converting to skirts.  I wear them most of the workweek (sometimes every day, actually), and occasionally on weekends as well.  As with my everyday clothing, when I dress for work, I dress for functionality.  I wear mostly either plain trousers or solid color skirts that come to a couple inches below my knee, and either a solid color polo shirt or button down shirt.  If I wear a button down shirt, I invariably wear a vest or sweatervest, as a shirt like that worn by itself feels a bit like “undress” to me without something over it.

My clothing is also rather informal by most of society’s standards.  I do have “dress up” clothes, but I have only a few outfits of them, and they are very versatile garments.  In general, my “nice clothes” are still rather informal – for instance, for college graduation I wore a button down shirt, a tweed vest, and a grey wool skirt, with some casual oxford-type shoes (you can see the outfit here).  To me, that was “dressed up”.  I just simply do not see the purpose behind getting “dressed up”.  To me, a major reason for wearing fancy clothes seems to be trying to either A. attract the attention of the opposite sex or B. look better than others in the room.  Neither of those things matter to me.  Regardless of the fact that I already have a significant other, “A” does not matter to me because I am not a flirting type, and “B” does not matter to me either, as I have never particularly cared about seeming better or worse than my fellow man.  I am what I am, and that is enough for me.  I am secure in my place in life, and do not feel the need to appear as anything different.

Along these lines, I also do not wear jewelry.  For a few years, I wore a simple silver disc on a rubber cord (so that it would not be cold on my neck in the frigid Massachusetts winters) that I had made with the help of my father (who used to be a jeweler, ironically) and engraved with a design that was meaningful to me and served the purpose of reminding myself of who I am.  However, in the last year I even stopped wearing that, and now wear nothing.  With the exception of rings, jewelry generally makes me feel self-conscious, and it feels like I’m somehow “decorating” myself.  I don’t like the concept that I should have to decorate myself to make myself presentable to someone, so I tend to avoid jewelry in general.  That said, sometime in the next year I hope to acquire a simple, small pearl necklace, for situations where I do need to fit in a bit more with an upper class crowd.  I also do not wear, or even own, makeup.

I am also generally relatively modest.  It’s not that I have any issue with being sexy; on the contrary – I enjoy my body, and have my fair share of pretty undergarments.  But, showing large amounts of skin in public makes me uncomfortable.  Shorts more than a few inches above my knees make me feel like I’m wearing daisy-dukes, and spaghetti strap shirts make me feel like I’m wearing nothing at all on my shoulders.  I do often wear v-neck shirts, but any cleavage that results is purely coincidental, unless I’m out with my partner. 😉   There’s no religious reason behind this or anything, but I have just never really felt the need to show myself off to the general populace, and am generally vaguely uncomfortable when I end up doing so (such as wearing a bikini at the beach, which I do).

I have sometimes heard this general fashion philosophy/style of dress referred to as “Plain Modern” (generally in a Quaker context).  Most of the time, that term is used in a religious context, but for me, it’s just personal.  I don’t dress the way I do because I feel that it’s “wrong” to show more skin than I do, or to wear fancier clothing, etc, it’s just not something I particularly enjoy.  I enjoy dressing this way, always have, and I doubt that that will change.  Call it what you will, be that Plain Modern or nothing at all, it’s just the way I dress.

What this has all resulted in is that I have sometimes been mistaken for someone conservative.  Especially here in Korea.  I have now been asked by 4 separate people here if I am conservative, and my dress/fashion has universally been stated as the reason for asking.  Being a relatively far-left liberal, I am always struck broadside by this question.  There seems to be an attitude in our culture that focusing on function rather than fashion is a negative thing, and is seen as a focus generally only undertaken by very conservative groups (like the Amish, etc) because of something they read in the bible.  I have given this negative view a reasonable amount of thought, and the only cause I can really think of is that functional clothing is associated with lower (often farming) classes, and fashionable clothing with the middle and upper classes.  Thus, the idea that someone of the upper or middle class would willingly choose to dress more like the lower classes is mystifying to them.  I don’t dress the way I do to try and deny my class, or to correspond with a religious belief; I dress the way I do because it makes me comfortable and keeps me from being self-conscious, and keeps me focused on other, more important parts of my life.  Well, until someone asks me if I’m conservative, that is.

 

So, yeah.  Commentary?

By the way, for those interested, I have put together a set on flickr that shows a decent depiction of what I wore on a daily basis back in the US.  Many of these were before I got rid of most of my clothes, and so I have picked those which I feel are most representative:  My “Fashion”

PSA

Post coming soon about why I dress the way I dress.  Also, the follow up to the first reenacting post.

Also, I just realized that this fall will be the first time in 6 years I will not be experiencing a New England fall, and I’d like to talk about what that means to me, and why fall is such an important season to me.

I have figured out how to deal with evangelical Koreans…

Korea, for some reason or another, has a tremendous number of various sorts of evangelical Christians.  There are Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses galore, as well as your standard run-of-the-mill crazy Southern Baptist you-will-burn-in-hell-for-dancing type evangelicals.  And man, they are really evangelical.  Very persistent, and very bold in stating their beliefs.  In class the other day, we were talking about Tibet, and I mentioned that I have met the Dalai Lama (I have, no lie), and one of the students blurted out “Some day I want to meet him and tell him that he needs to find God or he and all his people will burn in hell.”.  Those are her verbatim words.  I honestly didn’t know how to respond to such a thing being said in an academic setting, and so I just nervously changed the subject.

However, I digress.

I mentioned the high number (and high tenacity) of Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses at the beginning, and that’s really what this (originally supposed to be humorous) post is about.  I get approached at LEAST 2-3 times a week by one or more of them (they often travel as families, and they all speak excellent English), and I have begun to find it downright irritating.

But recently, I have discovered a really hilarious way to deal with it.

They almost all start off by saying something akin to “Do you have a moment?  I’d like to tell you about my faith.” before they start off on trying to hook you or push their literature into your (generally unwilling) hands.  Well, I have begun to have a bit of fun with this.  After that first question/statement, they generally ask “Are you a Christian?”.  I have begun to answer this with “Well, I’m a Quaker.”  when they ask said question.  They almost invariably reply with “What is a Quaker?”, to which I reply…

“Well, do you have a moment?  I’ll tell you about it…”

The look of panic on their faces when they realize their own tables have been turned on them is priceless, and they almost always begin to stutter and then eventually leave.  Yay for beating them at their own game.  It has become quite entertaining, actually.

originally posted at Waygook Next Door

Good omen?

So, today as I was on my evening “constitutional” (as Marc likes to call them), I stopped to rest for a moment and fix something on my ipod, and when I looked up again to continue walking, a kingfisher was sitting there in the middle of the road, about 10 feet away, staring at me. We kind of stared at eachother for a few moments, but when I reached to take out my camera, he flew away. I got a far distant shot of him, as he later landed on a rock in the river, but it’s more for proof than anything resembling a good photo.

Anyway, if I remember correctly, kingfishers are good omens. So, hopefully that’s correct. 😉

————————

That’s something I should write about at some point – I am a far more superstitious person than I let on, and tend to read into things a lot (not necessarily acting on them, but I do pause to think about the possible meanings behind things quite often).  It’s yet another thing I tend to be very quiet and secretive about, and since part of the purpose of this blog is to get me actually talking about my more personal, spiritual side, I feel like it should be addressed at some point.