Daniel Cooper: How One Korean Girl Broke My Heart, Then Fixed It

*Korean Culture: The Good, The Bad, &The Ugly*

Daniel Cooper, my friend and fellow blogger at Voyage To Asia, is back with another great guest blog post!

Daniel Cooper~

Daniel Cooper~

And, if you haven’t read his first guest blog post, then be sure to check it out HERE.

This week he’s back to tell us more about his sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartwarming experiences in Asia!

How One Korean Girl Broke My Heart, Then Fixed It

Hello!

First off, this post is a little sensitive as it contains a bit of racism and targets international relationships, but…

Isn’t that what WGEB is all about?

So, let’s share!

^^

After being in China for a few months prior to the time this incident happened, I had already learned a ton of Chinese that I can competently use in any situation. It goes without saying that I thought I was “that guy.” My confidence was at an all time high, and I started learning some Korean around this time, too.

So, this is the story of how a Korean girl attacked me with racism, and then came back with real understanding. Now, she is one of my closest friends, but it all started during our first round of drinking one night in China.

Hyung:

“Daniel, what club do you want to go to tonight?”

Me:

“Hmm, well it’s up to you guys, but… Ruby’s is always fun.”

Noona:

“Okay, then let’s go to Ruby’s!”

So, after some soju and Indian food (Exotic, right?), we got a few taxis and were on our way. There were about 11 of us in total.

Once we arrived at the club, we found a sofa big enough for all 11 of us, chilled, had some drinks, and then danced– of course. Since I happened to see one of my other African-American friends, we wandered off together for a bit. Later, we decided to chill outside, and of course he started talking to some Korean girls…

In perfect Korean, which left me speechless and clueless.

I did notice that one Korean girl seemed upset, and I didn’t want anyone to feel left out, especially since I felt left out, so I asked if she spoke Chinese…

She did!

We chatted for a good five minutes, and she even cracked a smile before saying that even though I’m funny, don’t think about asking for her number or becoming her friend.

This was confusing as hell, so, like most people would, I asked her why.

She said, while pointing:

“You see my friend over there?”

Me:

“Yeah, she’s talking to my friend.”

Her:

“Yeah, I don’t like black people, so don’t ask me for my number or anything. Sorry, nice guy.”

Without pausing, I said:

“Okay well, give me your number.”

Her:

“Didn’t I say don’t ask?!”

Me:

“I didn’t ask.”

Her:

“Go away, I really hate black people. They are always so mean and vicious, and you don’t know how to love people right. I don’t trust you.”

I wanted to ask her what happened, but she kept on going and said:

“I swear if I see another black person hurt my friend or any of my friends, I will never let it go. I will never accept it.”

But, what really happened?!

Well, after doing my best to hear her out, I found out that her friend was really hurt by a black guy who cheated on her twice AFTER she forgave him, and then he lied to her about his visa expenses. She gave him half, since she didn’t have much at that time, and he took the money and ran…

Which is stupid, and not just because she is really beautiful!

To read how my friend and I turned this group of hurt and hateful Korean girls into happy Korean girls, be sure to check out Part 2 on my blog, Voyage To Asia.

^^

My Thoughts?

First, I want to thank Daniel for coming back like he promised, and I can’t wait to read the rest of his story!

Second, I wasn’t shocked by what she said, because I’m guilty of the same thing. I had a bad experience with one Korean guy a LONG time ago, and because of him I swore that I would never be friends with, like, or date a Korean guy ever again…

Well, the VERY next day I met my first boyfriend– a Korean guy, and I couldn’t have met a better guy! So, I think Daniel did exactly what he should have done in that situation: Keep an open mind and an open heart, even if someone else’s mind and heart are closed.

We all have our ideas about other races of people who are different from our own, and these ideas can be good or bad, positive or negative. However, like the girl Daniel met and I did, it’s important to realize that our ideas about other races of people– if prejudiced by one bad experience, are definitely wrong.

And for once, being wrong never felt so right!

<3

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The Traveling Kimchi

*Korean Culture: The Good, The Bad, &The Ugly*

Before The Traveling Kimchi was The Traveling Kimchi, she was just a girl named Jessica that I met in my first Korean class back in 2011. Little did I know that she would become a great friend AND fellow blogger years later.

We met again in 2013– when I went to Korea last winter. We had an amazing time at my favorite bar– Bunker, my last night there.

Recently, I found out that she’s been blogging about her adventures in South Korea, too, so I knew that I had to introduce her to you and share her adventures with you, too!^^

The Traveling Kimchi

The Traveling Kimchi~

Jessica~

“Who is the Traveling Kimchi?”

“Why, she’s a tiny half Korean-Irish American currently living in Seoul, South Korea! After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin the Traveling Kimchi decided it was time to explore her roots! Since her arrival in 2012 she has been blogging about her experiences not only in Korea but all of her adventures abroad. She hopes you will enjoy traveling along with her and are inspired to pick up your own passport and see a culture and world beyond your own.”

– From The Traveling Kimchi’s Facebook Page

In addition, The Traveling Kimchi and westerngirleasternboy might be two very different blogs by two very different people, but we share the same exact mission:

“… to encourage thinking openly, meeting new people, having lifetime experiences, and traveling abroad.”

The Traveling Kimchi is on Youtube, and I wanted to share this cover she did with you all since it IS Sunday morning!

By now, we probably all need a little pick me up before the week starts, so here it is:

She has a lot of other great videos on everything from her adventures in Korea and Thailand to her favorite beauty products to what to do BEFORE you come to Korea, so be sure to check them out!

Sunday morning…

For some of us, “rain is falling.”

For some of us, it’s Easter, and we’re with our families– celebrating what should be a day that is less about hunting for eggs and more about hunting for something else.

For some of us, though, it’s just another Sunday– the Sunday before our last week of school… ever.

(That would be me!)

So, I’ll be watching Korean dramas and trying to write and edit my final papers! My last year of law school is coming to a close, and I can’t wait to start working, traveling, and living. I might even get to see The Traveling Kimchi again sooner than either of us thought…

The Traveling Kimchi, take me with you!~

The Traveling Kimchi, please take me with you!~

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

*Short Stories*

(He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is a collection of three short stories. My First Love Was Not My True Love is a slice-of-life romance, Remembering to Forget is a coming of age romance, and The Man That I Left on The Moon is an unfinished science fiction “anti” romance.)

My First Love Was Not My True Love

Introduction

He grabbed me by the throat and squeezed. Breathless, I stared into his eyes.

My hands were limp by my side, and my feet were dangling against the wall. He slammed me against the wall again, lifting me higher. I watched a drop of sweat trickle down his forehead. His eyes were brown, trembling. His face was red. He was whispering something I couldn’t hear, but I saw his lips move.

I think he said, “I love you.”

When I regained consciousness we were in bed again. He wrapped his arms around me softly as I closed my eyes and pretended that he was someone else, and that I was someone else, too.

My First Love…

The morning light passed over his skin and sank into the hollows of his narrow collar bone and bony hips. His skin was soft, white. His eyes trembled even when they were closed. He grabbed my hand and twitched in his sleep. I wanted to wake him, but I didn’t. I watched him instead, laughing.

He was young, 19.

I was 24.

I had stopped getting hangovers the way I had when I was young, or maybe I had become numb to them or gotten used to living with them. I went back to sleep after a while, even though I might have had a hangover and even though his heavy breathing kept pressing his ribs into mine. It was the only time I felt awake, being in his arms or by his side. Maybe, it was his trembling, shaking eyes that were always on the verge of tears ever since he had met me that had woken me from a long dream.

Awake, what it meant to wake up in the morning and watch him sleep, to not cling desperately to some souvenir of my old self found only in my dreams.

He was gone when I woke up.

I looked for him after fixing the sheets, brushing my teeth, and running my fingers through my hair. He was sitting in the living room, his eyes looking a little hollow. They always did. He smiled shyly when he saw me. I patted him on the cheek and tousled his hair. I made breakfast in my underwear, and then I got dressed and drove him to school.

He was late and ran away as soon as he shut the car door behind him. He looked back with a smile on his face as he went up the steps, tripping as he did. I finally drove off when he disappeared and went back home to sleep for awhile longer.

I showered and began to work on a case.

In the evening I called my family. They were in America, a place far from Seoul. They asked their usual questions. I gave them my usual answers. I ended each conversation with, “I love you,” but I wasn’t sure if I would ever go back to America even though I did love them.

They would have to visit me here.

Neon lights, painted buildings, everything dying and being reborn, and the ghosts of the dead things somehow haunting every urban street corner: Tradition.

Seoul.

Home.

I picked him up from school.

His mother called him while we were eating. He handed me the phone, and I spoke to her. Had he told her about me? She hesitated at first, but when it became clear that I could speak Korean fluently she relaxed and invited me to her home and said, “I’ll teach you how to make kimchi.”

I handed him the phone after murmuring some polite words.

“What did you tell her?,” I asked.

“That I’m meeting a good person, someone that I love…” His eyes trembled as he spoke, and suddenly he looked down. I remained silent, unsure of what to say to the boy in front of me. I held his hand, though, and he gave me his shy smile.

We ate quietly, each of us smiling small smiles that stretched our lips.

I went to his room this time. He lived in a college dorm. He had to sneak me in, but we were naked as soon as the door shut. We cuddled at first, after drinking soju mixed with sprite. Later, I told him to choke me.

He hesitated and asked, “Why? … I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You’re not going to hurt me, do it, please…”

“Why? I… okay.”

He choked me gently, his hands barely indenting my skin.

“Harder… harder…”

I kept my eyes open, looking at his face. His eyes were trembling again, and there were tears running down his cheeks as we both came.

When I lay in his arms, he asked me, “Are you ok? Are you hurt?”

My voice was hoarse, but I said, “I’m fine. I love being with you.”

“But, I hate it when you make me do… that. Why do you do it? Do you always do it?” I thought about it, but the only answer I could think of was, “Because it feels good. I like it. I feel like you own me, like you could save me or destroy me… Maybe both? But, no, only with you. I don’t trust anyone else.”

He didn’t say anything at first, but his hold on me loosened.

“You’re crazy.”

“I know.”

He tightened his grip on me and said, “I’m going to save you.”

He called me and told me that he wouldn’t be able to see me anymore. I asked him, “Why?,” and he said, “I… I don’t know if I can save you.”

I hung up on him quickly, before I could feel anything. He had done this to me once before, and I had let him go. This time, too, I let him go.

“I love you.”

They were words I had spat out and slipped on once. Every time I thought of my first love I was only reminded of a huge hole that had been cut into my body, a hole that had been filled with blood, flesh, and disappointment. My first love, H-, hadn’t been my first time, or my last time– hadn’t held me against a wall with his hands wrapped tightly around my neck– hadn’t told me that he loved me. 

H-, though, had lied to me.

He had pretended to be exactly who I thought he was, and for two years I had slowly gone crazy because of him, hadn’t been able to live without him.

One day after he said to me, “No one can replace me,” I had told him that I loved him. It hadn’t been a happy confession, and it hadn’t ended well. We went our separate ways in the end, and two years burned to ash.

There had been nothing left between us.

Still, I hadn’t been filled with regret. I had loved him, after all, even though I wasn’t sure how much of him had been real. No, I was sure of what had been real and when everything I loved had disappeared. Neither one of us had ever looked back, or maybe he had…

Or maybe I had.

Another evening passed.

Alone, I locked myself in my flat. The lights outside were too bright in the morning, but at night it was too dark. I called him, because I needed to be with someone. I don’t know why he answered, or came back to me. I told him to choke me, but he wouldn’t. He kept whispering how much he loved me, how I was destroying myself even though he was trying to save me. He kept crying, so I drove him home in silence and said, “Sleep.”

I kept his shirt, though, so that I would remember the smell and feel of him even after everything else between us had faded, just in case I never saw him again. I felt sad, because I had nothing to remember H- by.

I finally fell asleep in his shirt, clinging to the smell and feel of him, taking comfort in his meaninglessness. I had known that it wouldn’t last long. It never did. He had lasted longer than the others, though. But then– after H-, all of the others had only been passing in and out of my life like clouds passing across the sky, one after the other… an endless blur…

I heard that H- was getting married. I didn’t want to think about anything else after that.

I had never seen H- again. Would I ever see him again, on some street corner in America or Seoul, and as I drove past would he stand out from all the rest? Would he be more than just a blur?

I began to drink again, became without him in my life there was nothing to keep me awake. I slept a lot, and even when I had my eyes open, I was dreaming.

I lost my case.

I lost my mind.

This time the feeling was familiar. I wasn’t scared, but when I looked in the mirror I saw my eyes trembling. The tears didn’t fall, and the trembling stopped. Was it because of H-? No, it was only because I had never been able to replace him the way he had replaced me.

Did I want to die? Sometimes…

When my life felt empty and meaningless– when my dreams were better than the life I woke up to– when all I had was a lingering sense of disappointment and the fading memory of the smell and feel of someone else.

I slept in his shirt again, trying to remember the smell and feel of him. I shouldn’t have washed it, because now even that was gone. Suddenly, I missed him, my first love, H-. And him, the one who had seen all of me and whispered those silly words to me.

Had he meant them? Had he meant it when he said that he loved me, that he would save me?

I walked around Seoul in a mindless daze.

It was a beautiful place, easy to lose myself and easy to find someone else. I met eyes with a man in a bookstore. He reminded me of my first love, so when he asked for my number I gave it to him. By midnight, we were in bed together.

We met off and on.

He liked that I was foreign and a lawyer. He showed me off to his friends, but I knew I would never meet his family. I was fine with that. We had normal sex, and I stopped drinking heavily for a while, but he was boring both in and out of bed. I never asked him to choke me, because I didn’t want to give myself to him…

Not completely.

I tried once, but the feeling was too different, and I knew he wasn’t going to save me even though I knew that he wasn’t going to destroy me, either.

I drank heavily one day, after a few months had passed.

That boy, he wasn’t coming back. This man, he wasn’t leaving. He watched me from across the table as I downed glass after glass of wine. As my lids drooped, his opened wide. His mouth drooped open, too, and suddenly he looked like a fish.

I wanted to drop him into a toilet bowl, flush him into the sewage, and let him rot belly up, forgotten.

I was drunk, and I was crying, so I took out my phone and called the boy I missed: Not my first love H-, but my true love. I asked him if he had meant what he said. I asked him, “Can you save me?”

He paused for a long time. Then, he said, “Yes.”

I slipped away from the man I was with, suddenly unable to even remember his name as I stared at him from across the dinner table in his expensive apartment. I rose, and he rose, too. I went to him, and I wrapped my arms around him and breathed in: There it was, the smell and the feel of him.

It was all that I would remember him by.

I had fallen asleep again, but as soon as I saw his trembling eyes and familiar face I woke up. I took him home and cooked for him, held him as he cried. We talked for hours. Later, his hands wrapped around my neck. I let my true love choke me gently, because my first love had already killed everything I had ever held inside.

I suddenly remembered H-, his smile and his face. How long had it been since I had been able to push past my unhappiness– my disappointment, and remember him? The last time we met, it had been like the first. All the things that had happened between us, none of them had mattered. There was only us, our smiles and laughter. It had been enough, then.

Did I know how much I would miss him, then?

He hadn’t been a lie. He hadn’t disappointed me. It had been easier to let him go if I lied to myself. Suddenly, I was tired of lying to myself about him. It wasn’t his fault. I had built my world around him. I had loved him. I had left that world and never once looked back until it was too late, and he was gone.

My First Love Was Not My True Love

The light poured in through the window, landing on my body, on his. I woke up from a dream and looked at the boy beside me with a smile on my face. Awake, I rested my head onto his chest and sighed, breathing in the smell and feel of him. Later, I kissed him awake.

He blinked and rubbed his eyes full of innocence like a small puppy, rubbed his cheeks full of blushes like a small boy. I knew I that he would never save me, but I decided to stop destroying myself.

Remembering to Forget

Introduction

There was no one in control.

I need you.

Ha Na was afraid to tell him how much she needed him. Instead, she pushed him away. From that moment on they began to break. She drifted farther and farther away until only he remained in the place where they had once been together. Did he know that she was gone?

The days she spent without him drove her crazy, because she couldn’t forget him.

I love you.

Ha Na was afraid to tell him how much she loved him. Would it be awkward to see him again?

“I miss you.”

They were the only words Ha Na ever said to him. They slipped back together, and for a while she was able to pretend to be his friend. Night fell, and he pressed himself closer to her, closer than he ever had before. Was she dreaming?

He felt like a dream, and she pushed him away, because she was afraid that he was just a dream she would wake up from one day.

They got married under a soft shadow of spring leaves, but that day had felt like winter, because they each walked down the aisle with someone else.

Remembering…

In Ha Na’s dreams she was leaving him, and it felt good to make him hurt. It felt good to push him away. It felt good to tell herself that he didn’t love her and that she didn’t love him either. It felt good to walk away. When she finally woke up, it felt awful to look at his back as he slept, because her husband seemed so far away even though he was right beside her.

He breathed softly and shifted restlessly, so she pressed herself closer to him until he finally stilled. In moments like this, he was beautiful. It almost made her forget the steady ache between her gaunt ribs, the empty feeling between the two of them even though they were pressed so close together.

It was morning. He was already gone.

She walked around their house as sunlight spilled into spacious rooms sparse with furniture. She sank to the floor and pressed herself against the wood. She felt empty, as if someone else had lived between these walls for the past two years. Someone else must have married him. Someone else must have believed in their future — always together, even as they grew old and ugly.

She was older and uglier.

He was never home.

She showered and changed into the dress his mother had bought for her even though it was too long, and she walked as if some heavy weight was pulling her soul into Hell as the hem dragged across the floor.

She cleaned, cooked, and waited for him to come home. He returned, and her heart beat faster in that moment when he opened the door, but he didn’t ask her any questions, and she didn’t look him in the eyes. He disappeared somewhere inside of their house. Finally, they ate without speaking, and then he was gone again.

She wandered outside after he left, chasing after the invisible trail he had left behind. The evening air was cool against her skin, and she wanted to find him, but something pulled her back.

She was in bed when he came home again. He was drunk, silent. They had sex, and she moaned beneath him, because that was what they both expected.

He turned away afterwards and fell asleep.

She lay awake next to him, breathing heavily. It suddenly hit her: The way the space between them was always empty, the way the house they lived in was never full. She knew something inside of her had died, and only her shell remained.

Was it her husband’s fault? He was only passing in and out of her life.

Was it hers? She was only a shadow by his side.

Was it his? She had never been able to forget the boy she had loved.

“I miss you.”

She spoke out loud, but that boy was already gone.

Ha Na’s friends liked to pretend that they had everything they wanted, but she knew the truth that had sunk to the bottom of their cold cups of coffee. They all knew they had nothing but damaged dreams and faded futures, but her friends– even though they were married like her, still liked to look for love in the arms of strangers. Did they find it in between their lover’s sheets, or did they find it afterwards as they took a taxi home alone in Seoul’s noisy, crowded streets?

She liked to think that in their house was a door she couldn’t seem to find, and locked inside were all the things she had ever wanted: Love, happiness. Maybe the door was beneath the wooden floors or just around some sharp corner or dull edge of a cream-colored wall, but a year had passed, and she hadn’t been able to find it.

She left the coffee shop last and took an expensive taxi to a cheap hotel, because it would be impossible to sleep next to her husband that night. The bed in the room next door was squeaking. The people in the room above her were walking, and she could hear their footsteps. The rain outside had just begun falling, and she could see it splatter on the window. She told herself that she was not alone. She turned on the radio and listened to the sound of commercials. She called her friends, but they were too busy being alive to take care of her skeleton. She wanted to scream, but the walls were too thin for words only she should hear.

“I am so unhappy — so lonely…”

She wanted to scream, but only made a whisper.

It was still raining in the morning when she finally woke up. She took a taxi home, and when she walked in she saw her husband sitting on the hard, white leather couch. He was watching the morning news and dressed in his suit with his tie tied tight around his neck.

He looked perfect.

He was perfect, and he was distant, empty. He didn’t even look at her. If he had, would he have noticed that she was wearing the same clothes  she had worn yesterday, the same sad expression she had worn when they had first met three years ago?

He finally looked at her, but only for a moment. She waited for him to speak, but his phone rang, and he took the call in another room.

She found herself in the kitchen.

Her husband walked in and sat down at the small table. She felt trapped in a nightmare, because she had been here before and because she felt as if she would always be here. Here, she was his wife. She was her skeleton.

When had she died?

When she looked down, she wondered if white, brittle bones would be stirring the pot filled with hot noodles. She set the table and sat down across from him. Her flesh covered hand scooped noodles into her mouth. The taste was like ash, like misery. She swallowed it too easily. What else had she been eating for the past four years?

Four years ago…

The letter came in the mail. She had been waiting to hear from him again, the boy she had loved. He had gone to school in America the year before. Was he finally coming back? Did he still remember her?

She held a wedding invitation in her hands, but before she could shove it back inside, it unfolded itself like a bird and grew wings that beat the air around her head and sent her falling to the ground. The bird followed her for days, chirping awful things into her ears and reminding her that he had always been a dream, a dream that would never come true.

She wanted to speak to the man who was sitting across from her, but the words got stuck in her throat. Had she always been asleep since that day four years ago? Because, none of her dreams had come true as she opened her eyes and saw the empty world without him.

How had she met her husband? How many dates until he had proposed? Where and how had he proposed? Had he always been this cold and distant? Did he love her?

Did she love him?

She could only answer the last question.

“No…”

She whispered softly, the words falling from her lips and drowning in her bowl of cold, uneaten noodles.

He finished eating and placed his dishes in the sink. She heard the door open and close. She heard him drive away. She waited for him to come home.

It was so late, she mumbled to herself, “Where is he?”

She kept lies pressed to her ears, and waited and wanted to hear something other than the truth, someone other than him. The soft, pretty illusions  she had wrapped around her skin vanished, and she was left bare. There was something else pressing against her, and it dug into her skin, and it sank into her bones: Truth, loneliness.

Feeling lost and empty, she took a taxi and went outside of Seoul. As night fell, the landscape became a hazy, dark blur. A landlord showed her to a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment above a small noodle shop that was full of tired, hungry workers, big families, and the hot, white breath of steam. The room was small but clean.

She paid the deposit and took a taxi back to the house she shared with her husband.

He was in bed when she returned. She slept next to him with her hands pressed tightly together. She wanted to reach out and touch him, but she knew he would wake up and ask her what was wrong but only tell her to go back to sleep, because he had work in the morning, because he had no time for her: His wife, a skeleton.

She had packed all of her belongings and was ready to leave when he came home. She was already crazy because of him and because she still loved him: The boy she had loved, not this man without his face and his eyes and his smile. What was it that she had seen in him? She stood in front of the door. She was inside. He was outside.

She spoke through the awkward silence that had fallen between them as he tried to push past her.

“I’m leaving you.”

It was barely a whisper that passed from her lips.

“What?”

He finally stopped trying to push past her, noticing her suitcase and bags for the first time. When had he ever heard anything she had said? When was the last time he had even noticed her?

“I’m sorry…”

They were her last words to him.

He walked past her, and this time she let him. He put down his suitcase, took of his jacket, and folded it on the couch. He walked towards her. He stared into her eyes that had suddenly filled with tears and slapped her.

She had always been so still, so afraid of moving– of leaving, but in that moment she finally felt herself slip out of limbo and into free fall. She crashed somewhere at the bottom. He began to speak, but she brushed past him, refusing to let him see her tears.

They were not for him.

He didn’t keep her from walking out the door, but he followed her, and when he chased after the taxi she knew it must have hit him: She was leaving him, and she was gone.

She let herself cry for the boy he should have been and for the girl she should have been, but finally there were no tears on her cheeks, just awful sounds and heaving sobs that were wrenched from somewhere deep, deep inside of her until there was nothing left inside of her. She saw his image in the rear view mirror, but he grew smaller and smaller until finally the taxi turned the corner, and he disappeared.

There was a small gap between her thighs where the skin no longer touched, but she didn’t feel like eating. She began to talk to herself as she sat in her small room.

“He’s gone. I miss him.”

She wanted to go through her phone to find the traces of the boy she had loved, but she had deleted all of his messages a long time ago, and one day he had stopped sending them. She wanted to call her old friends to ask about him, but she had spent too much time away from them.

“It would be awkward to talk to them again, to tell him I still love him.”

She called her parents and told them lies, because she didn’t want to break their hearts. The sound of their voices made her smile, but when they hung up she began to cry.

“I left my husband.”

She reached for the phone again, but she had no one else to call and no one she could tell the truth to. Why had she married him? She couldn’t remember her husband. She couldn’t forget the boy she had loved.

But, too much time had passed, and that boy was gone. He was a man now. He was a man with a wife and kids and a nice house in a nice neighborhood, and she was just a memory stuck inside a cramped apartment over a noodle shop on the poor side of town.

She went downstairs and watched her favorite Korean dramas on a small screen TV. She nodded off in front of a family with two children and a third one on the way as the movers lifted her new bed up the long flight of steps outside. They finished, and she rearranged the furniture , tried to fill up the empty spaces with paintings and promises.

She fell asleep on the floor.

It was almost midnight when she finally woke up. She went downstairs again and sat at a small table in the corner. She ate cold noodles.

Suddenly, she realized that it felt awful to be alone. Is that why she had married him?

Days passed, and nights passed.

She had her face deep into a bowl of noodles, and didn’t notice her husband walk in, but when someone sat across from her she looked into a pair of familiar eyes. The silence between them spread itself out like a blanket, smothering both of them until nothing but their corpses remained.

She wanted to escape– to breathe– to live.

The night air was hot and sticky. It melted into her skin as she traced the footsteps of someone else. Someone else had already wandered these sidewalks and streets. Had they been alone? Had they been tired? Had they already been this way before but been unable to turn back? She walked next to her husband without speaking. They sat on a park bench underneath a street lamp. It was a place where lovers should have sat. They were like strangers, and it was as if all the time they had spent together had been pressed into one single moment and sucked dry.

Nothing remained.

“How have you been?,” he asked.

She remembered what it felt like when he had been inside of her, when he had slapped her: The pain. But, she said, “Fine, and you?”

“Fine”, he said in a soft voice as he looked down and away from her.

Strange that it had come to this: An awkward conversation on a broken bench, an awful feeling between a man and his wife.

“Ha Na…”

“What?”

“Are you seeing someone else… Someone else, someone who makes you happy…?” She couldn’t speak. Her lips wouldn’t move.

They had fought once, a few months or maybe just a few days after their wedding.

Ha Na hadn’t been able to stop crying. Her husband had wrapped his arms around her, but she had pushed him away. He had looked at her, and it had been the last time he had really looked at her.

Then, they had lived in a small apartment, and it had been easy to fill in the empty spaces. Slowly, he had begun to work more, to stay away. They had moved into a house a year ago, but nothing had changed. Only, the empty spaces had become larger, had become harder to fill.

He handed her something without looking her in the eyes, and then got up and walked away. She looked down at the hard, shining thing in her had. It was her wedding ring. She had left it on the living room table.

She watched his back as he got blown somewhere far, far away. She wanted to tell him to stop– to stay, but it was too late. He was already gone.

Home, she stared blankly at the night sky as she sat on the roof of her apartment. She spilled her thoughts out to all the ghosts of those who had lived like her and already died. They were hanging over her head, slipping soft tendrils of faded skin through her hair and running them down her back. They were slipping in and out of her body.

She went to the edge of the roof and looked down, walked over it.

She saw the night sky, the passing windows, the blurred faces, the gray concrete, the blood spreading from somewhere…

She saw nothing.

She shook off someone else’s memories and slipped back into her skin. There was a hollow ache– a far off dream– a soft whisper.

“I must have fallen in love with him a long time ago. I must still love him. My husband… I can’t even remember his name– his face– his smile. Where did the boy that I loved go? I thought that he would come back to me someday as someone else, as someone I could love and someone who could love me.”

There was a shadow that had suddenly thrown itself against the wall beneath the roof. A body clung to it and heard all of her words.

Words that were not meant for him.

“Is he happy? Is he happy without me? Does he need me– love me– miss me? He  must have forgotten about me. My life is just a dream I’ve finally woken up from. Have I always been alone?”

But, she wasn’t alone. There was someone watching her. He listened to all of her words and wondered if he would ever be the same again– if she would ever be his wife again.

“I hate being alone, talking to myself like this. I must be crazy. I must have been crazy to let him go– to think I could let him go and live without him– to think I could fall in love again.”

The shadow vanished, and her husband sat on the ground nearby with his head in his hands. Their lives had always been like this: Quiet, distant. There was a road he had never been able to find: One that lead to her. He had thought she would change, that someday he would see her smile at him the way she had smiled as she stared at the sky or the stars. She had always been beautiful, but she had always been lonely, even when she was with him. He looked back at her shadow and the soft gloom of her words before he left, casting a long shadow in the soft, dark night.

Ha Na finally called her sister. It would be too hard to tell her parents. Would they understand? She had always been different from everyone else in her family, but they loved her. She loved them, too, but she felt burdened by them. She had never been able to live up to their expectations. Maybe she wasn’t meant to be a daughter– a sister– a wife.

What had she wanted to be? Happy? When had she been happy? She remembered, but her memories were colder than winter and frozen somewhere in the past.

Ha Na’s apartment was quiet, because her parents had not returned from whatever roads they were traveling while they visited her. She drifted off to sleep and woke up when her mother tapped her softly on the shoulder. Her father pulled her up from the floor.

They had told her to go back to him, but now they were silent. A month had already passed, and nothing had changed.

Were they finally giving up on her?

They left, whispering I love you softly in her ears as their arms held her tightly and then let her go. She would miss them, but she knew they couldn’t stay.

Did he still have everything she had given to him?

She would like to take it all back.

She would like to be someone else– someone other than herself– someone different. There had been a reason for the difference, but she couldn’t see it anymore, and there had been a reason to believe in love, but that boy she had loved– she knew that he wasn’t it anymore.

She wondered if she would ever return to him, her husband. He had been drinking again. His slurred words filled her ears as she listened to him outside of her locked door. He banged on it with his fists, as if he could break it down. She was tired.

She wanted to sleep– to forget– to dream.

Instead, she listened quietly as her husband slumped down against her door. She couldn’t see him– his head buried in his hands and his heart beating too fast in his chest, but she felt him and she knew she had carved the soul and smile out of his body.

They weren’t in love, she thought, but he couldn’t let her go. Maybe he had thought that she would always be by his side, just like a shadow. She fell asleep while her husband snored outside of her door. She dreamed of someone other than her husband’s face and smile, of the sound of laughter.

When she woke in the morning, she heard her husband as he snored. An hour later she knew the change in his breathing meant he was still half-asleep, but would wake up soon. Silence, and then the sound of his shoes as he walked down the stairs was similar to the sound of her heart as it beat: Slow, steady. He would keep walking away, and her heart would keep beating, both of them alive and yet both of them dead.

She slipped into a tee shirt and cleaned, putting away the sheets and the pot from last night. It was half-filled with noodles she hadn’t eaten. The clock ticked, chronicling her hours spent alone.

Love was never going to come back. Without it, everything had fallen apart. She was flattened, now, thin and incapable of living. She fluttered, her breath like butterfly wings in and out. She was a butterfly sinking low– about to die, but carried on by some eternal wind making promises that could never be fulfilled.

Ha Na’s lease expired.

She had spent the past few months asleep, barely aware of anything but the past. She was finally ready to return, because there was nothing left: Not of that boy, not of that girl. She didn’t know who she was, but there was a feeling inside of her.

She was hungry. She was starving. She was tired of being a skeleton.

For days she had dreamed of a devil that had ripped her into pieces. It had hovered over her as she slept and had followed her as she walked down streets filled with strangers. She was sure that she would die, but she was still alive…

It had only been a dream.

So much of her life had only been a dream.

Her husband was silent as she made her return. The car he drove her in was loaded down with the things she had taken. They were all going to return to their places. The paintings would be placed on the walls in the living room, and she too would hang herself somewhere in the house. A painting and a skeleton: Both of them nailed to the wall. As he drove, she stared at his alien face and hands. Had he changed or had he always looked this way? There was nothing familiar except for the silence in the air and the distance between them. For some reason, she wanted to speak to him, to touch him.

Was he real?

They slipped back into their life without a sound, and it was as if she had never left. They smiled when their family and friends made their visits, but slowly their smiles slipped away.

He came home drunk and forced her into bed, breathing heavily and weeping. The smell of soju on his breath and skin, the feel of those alien hands on her skin and the hard pushing of his body into hers…

Suddenly, there was so much pain inside of her.

Where had it come from, and why did she finally feel alive as he pressed himself against her and into her? She held him close, her arms wrapped tightly around him. She dug her nails into his skin until red, half-moons appeared. There was something falling from her eyes, but she couldn’t move to brush away the tears. His hands reached up gently, and he wiped her tears away with the soft skin of his thumbs. Who was he, this stranger in her bed and this man inside of her?

Why did it hurt to see him again?

She should never have married him. She should never have left him. His voice was hoarse and loud. It broke the silence that had always been between them.

“I missed you.”

The words slipped into her ears as she closed her eyes and came. They collapsed and fell asleep, exhausted. When she woke, he was gone, but she remembered everything and knew that it hadn’t been a dream.

Remembering to Forget

She wandered around their house, searching for that door. This time she was sure that she would find it.

There were thoughts escaping from her head and weaving their way into the walls. She had always been sad. Had she made him unhappy? It must have been her fault. She had been unable to love him.

She had been unable to love herself.

“Not that you lied to me but that I no longer believe in you has shaken me.”

She whispered the words of Friedrich Nietzsche to herself. They hung over her head like the devil that had ripped her to pieces. They were words that put her heart back together with clumsy stitches. They were the pain and truth that she had never been able to accept. Who would she speak them to: The boy that she had loved, her husband, or herself?

She spoke them to herself, the innocent girl of her youth who had died after first love came and went.

“It is not that you lied to me. It is not that those dreams you dreamed never came true. It is not that he never loved me the way you thought he would. It is not that I have never been able to love again. It is not that my family is all I ever had, the very people you pushed away in anger. It is not that I am alone like you were.

It is that without you and your hard, unyielding ways I can no longer believe in myself. Why must I bend, break? And I have spent so much time looking for you. I think maybe I have spent too much time looking for you and all the things you had. If I found him again– my first love, would you also come back? He knew you. He believed in you. I left myself behind in order to find you, but you were already gone.

There is no door to the past, and I can never go back. All I have is this empty house– this empty heart– this empty marriage. And suddenly, it has occurred to me that I have never given myself away the way you did.

If the world around me is empty, it is because I have always been a part of the past, living only in memories. I would like to let you go. I would like to be myself even though I am nothing like you.

Youth, I woke up one day to find you gone, and next to me was a snoring man and a devil that hovered over me. I am no longer afraid. I am terrified, because I have been asleep and unable to live and breathe for so long. What have I lost? If I have lost my belief in myself and in love, then I have lost everything. What am I looking for? What am I looking for…”

She sank to the floor and pressed herself against the wood, knew she had been there before. She lay on her back and stared at the ceiling. The light of morning pressed its way through the window and settled onto her skin. There was a sudden stillness, a memory of a soft thumb on her skin. Breathless, she closed her eyes.

When she opened them, she began to rise and then stilled.

Her husband was lying on the floor next to her. He had taken off his suit and changed into a white tee shirt and jeans. She turned her head to face him and stared into his eyes. Suddenly, she remembered his eyes– his smile– the day they had first met. His hand slipped into hers, and then he looked away, looked up at the ceiling.

She did the same.

They stayed like that for a long, long time.

The Man That I Left on The Moon

Introduction

At first there was this silence that lingered over us like the thick, black night hanging outside and the soft, warm blanket draped over us. My mother’s voice echoed in my ears, suddenly, as if she was singing me to sleep with a lullaby from some far off place.

My mother was far away– miles away, light years away.

The Man That I Left…

He held me loosely in his arms, and I thought that he might let me go in the morning. When we were through, I snuck out onto the balcony that overlooked a crater on the moon. I had traveled far to see him. He had told me to come, but his cold embrace reminded me of a lost love, of a love that I had lost.

Still, he didn’t make me unhappy– being on the moon did. It always seemed like night, and gray sand blew over hollow craters. We were trapped in glass, and even though I couldn’t see where it began or ended I knew that there was no endless horizon, no limitless sky. I could see the stars, though, and they glittered and sparkled like the diamond ring that he had given me on earth.

Black eyes flecked with silver pierced my gaze as I turned to leave the crowded cafe. I was on my way to work– coffee in hand, but he stood in my way, blocking the exit. When he smiled, only one corner of his mouth turned up. It was his dimple that caught my attention.

When I blinked, he was gone. When I blinked again, I was gone, too, or at least not in the cafe where I had been only moments before.

That day when I had disappeared from the cafe with him, I hadn’t wanted to return to earth; because, I would be leaving soon to meet the man who would be my husband, but I knew that I wasn’t capable of loving him. That day, as I looked into his alien eyes as we stood underneath an alien sky, I had thought that I would be capable of loving him.

I went back inside and slept beside him. His ribs pressed into mine as he breathed. He was exactly my height, and our bodies fit together perfectly– like a pair of matching puzzle pieces, but I could never get used to the way his bones and his body and his heart pressed into and indented my skin, pushing me to the edge of the bed, to the edge of some cliff the more I struggled to put distance between us.

I was capable of loving him, but I was also capable of losing him, of being lost without him. Afraid, I packed my things and left quietly in the morning.

His black eyes shone, glittering and sparkling like the stars in the sky– like the diamond ring on the living room table.

He was different in indescribable ways, and I didn’t think that we had much in common other than the fact that we had both wanted to disappear from the world that we knew.

We spoke different languages, but he had learned mine by the time we met on the moon. I wasn’t sure how old he was or if we would ever be able to have children together, but I didn’t want children, anyway. I didn’t care about his age, anyway. Occasionally, I would fall into his eyes and get transported to faraway places with colors and sounds and smells that I had no name for but began to adore.

I don’t know what he saw in me, but he was always blocking my exits and taking me to new worlds with new beginnings. I had always been too poor to travel. I wasn’t sure if he had anything other than the black shirt and jeans he always wore. I had bought him clothes once, but he had washed them in hot water, so I complained about the way they fit on him, and he never wore them again.

I wandered around the moon lost in thought after I left him, and I don’t know how he found me, but he did. When he was angry with me he rarely spoke and would only stare at me. I didn’t know what he wanted from me. Maybe, he didn’t know either. I wasn’t sure if he knew what marriage meant. He had studied earth for some time, he had said, and wanted to give the woman that he loved a diamond ring, to get married.

I was tired, so I held his hand and let him usher me to a cafe where I sat and sipped the coffee that he bought for me. I looked at him carefully before saying, “I don’t want to get married.”

“Why?”
“Because, I don’t love you.”

He cried, but aliens have a different way of crying that I can’t explain, and I had never seen him cry before. It made him seem younger but less attractive. I felt sorry for him, but I had stopped being able to comfort the boys and men in my life after I turned 16.

Suddenly, he got down on one knee before me, but I quickly rose and left. This time, he didn’t block my exits, and I didn’t disappear.

The Man That I Left on The Moon

There was something important that I knew I was forgetting; but, like everyone else, I lived with desperate longings and lost loves killing me softly every time I happened to remember the man that I left on the moon.

Skin Art Temporary Tattoos

*The “Beauty Tips and Tricks” Series*

I don’t wear any jewelry and always keep my makeup to a minimum, so I love to accessorize my outfits with my fingernails and toenails.

Now, I also love to accessorize my outfits with Skin Art Temporary Tattoos!^^

Yes, I’m afraid of commitment– and not just when it comes to relationships. I wanted to get some star tattoos, but how much would they cost? Would I like them a few years, months, or even days from now?

Would they even look good? 

So, I went online shopping and found these adult and artistic temporary tattoos:

One~

One~

Two~

Two~

Three~

Three~

Four~

Four~

I put my first one on last night, and it was super easy! I loved it immediately, and since it’s not supposed to last for more than five days, I can also get rid of it later.

Free~

Free~

No commitment, no problem.

But, last night I also had an amazing reunion with a girl that I met in Korea in the summer of 2012! I had contacted her this past winter and found out that she was no longer in Korea but in law school at Baylor, which is in Waco, Texas– just an hour away from me!

We missed each other over SXSW but finally met up last night at the Korean bar and connected over samgyubsal and soju before going back to my apartment for more drinks, but we also connected over my SHOES once she got into my closet.

I did a quick wardrobe change and picked a nice outfit with her help. Even though I wore this top last night, it was what went best with my shorts!

Ootn~

Ootn~

She also asked me about my “tattoo,” and when she found out that it was temporary– and that I had a lot more, she asked for one, too.

Sparkles and a sparrow~

Sparkles and a sparrow~

We had a great night getting dinner and then going downtown with all of my friends.

(She also gave me wise advice about Tao 2, wise advice that my friend and older sister Maria Edwards has echoed so well.)

So, what are some of your favorite accessories?

I, personally, can’t wait to try on more of these temporary tattoos!

The Way to My Heart is Through Your Credit Card

*Diary*

What happened three years ago (and what happened last night) has absolutely nothing to do with money and everything to do with trust and love.

So, this is one story that has to start with my ex-boyfriend…

My ex-boyfriend left his very nice home in Apgujeong at the age of 16 and started working at the Samsung in Suwon. Like a good Korean son, he gave his first, very big paycheck to his mom and continued to spoil her after that. He had the heart of an angel… and the tattoo of a crucified angel on his back.

(Although some of you might not know it, having a tattoo in Korea can mean certain things, and he was definitely a “bad boy.” He loved bikes and owned a gorgeous Harley Davidson… or two. He would also tell me stories about growing up in Korea– stories that made me laugh and cry, but those aren’t meant to be shared.)

After losing his sister in a terrible accident, he decided to leave Korea and ended up working at the Samsung here in Austin, Texas. After six months of being here, he got into a fight while at a club downtown and decided to go to a different club– the club where we first met. Young, drunk, and having fallen in love with him at first sight, I followed my heart, and my feet led me off the stage where I was dancing and right by his side.

After drinking and dancing the night away, we walked to his car. On the way, he gave me his jacket since it was cold, held my hand, and asked me to be his girlfriend.

Of course I said yes.

He was my first boyfriend, and he spoiled me with Betsey Johnson, fancy dinners, and yes, his credit card, but he also spoiled me with couple toothbrushes, daily phone calls, and a broad shoulder to cry on. I was 21, Nigerian-American, and inexperienced. He was 27, Korean, and experienced. Despite our differences– no, because he was patient, understanding, kind, and saw beyond our differences, we stayed together and– as crazy as it sounds now, almost got married.

(He proposed to me the night before he left for Korea with an 18K gold ring that his mother had given him. It fit perfectly on my ring finger, and I wore it off and on for the next two years even after we broke up, but– like many things, I learned to let it go.)

Sometimes, I wonder what would have happened and who I would have become had we not met, but then I can’t imagine not knowing him and not being who I am today because of him.

As for him, he broke up with his girlfriend (again) and recently bought a new apartment… and a new Lamborghini. As for his credit card, I found it buried underneath my old ones a few days after I moved into my new apartment last year. It reminded me of how much he did for me– how much he trusted me– how much he loved me.

It wasn’t about his credit card, and it wasn’t about being spoiled by him. It was about the amount of trust that it took for him to give me his credit card, and it was about being someone that he wanted to share everything he had with…

It’s strange, but a credit card– what was just a sad souvenir from three years ago, brought a smile to my face this weekend.

Friday Night

I went to my internship in the morning, and (as one of my friends already knows) I was anxious and worried all day. Would I really get to see Tao 2, or would he end up going swing dancing on Valentine’s Day with another girl after all?

Well, my friend told me to think positively, and I did. I got my hopes up– not too high, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed despite the drama that was about to unfold!

My friend and her boyfriend, aka Mr. Awkward, came over to my apartment around 11:00 to pre-game, which is when you drink BEFORE you go out.

Pre-gaming~

Pre-gaming~

We got ALL dressed up, but if you don’t have anything nice to say about either of our outfits, then please– don’t say anything at all.

Garter socks~

Garter socks~

She's my best unni~

She’s my best unni~

Us~

Friends (and sisters) forever~

Surprisingly, everything went as planned– at first.

As “planned,” even though I was supposed to text Tao 2 first, he texted me first, and he met up with us downtown as soon as he got off of work.

(As I found out later that night, he’s a sushi chef and a part-time student. He works to support himself, and he just bought a new car, which is impressive since he’s only 22!)

We got some drinks at the bar and started dancing, but it didn’t take long for my friend and her boyfriend to start fighting (again)– this time for real.

(He’s a flirt.)

By the end of the night, Tao 2 and I were with his friends, and we were all outside of my favorite club– just talking, when he suddenly wished me a Happy Valentine’s day and gave me a hug. Since my friend and her boyfriend were still fighting, this was the perfect chance to ask him to take me home!

Anyway, I haven’t been that excited about being in the passenger seat of a car for awhile, and we had a short but sweet car ride together. I definitely ended up liking him even more after we talked, and we made plans to hang out again on Saturday night.

Saturday Night

On Friday night when we were all outside, I made plans with one of his friends that I immediately clicked with, and she and I pregamed at my place before going downtown. Soon after, one of my best friends from high school, college, and now law school met us downtown once she was done studying; and, Tao 2 met us downtown once he was done working.

(Nothing can tear my best unni and I apart– not even her crazy boyfriend, so of course they met us downtown, too– just later on in the night.)

Anyway, the four of us were at the bar in one of my favorite clubs when Tao 2 Epic Failed at ordering drinks– his expression was sooo cute, so I said that I would buy a round instead. I was standing there ordering our drinks with my friend standing in between us when he reached across her and handed me his credit card…!

*Sigh*

Of course, only my friend (who knows literally everything about me AND my ex-boyfriend) and I knew what had just happened, and we smiled at each other secretly.

There was something about the way they both gave me that little piece of plastic that really touched me– maybe it was the look of trust in their eyes, or maybe it was the surety with which they didn’t hesitate to hand me something that is so hard to share. After all, it’s one thing to share your “crayons,” but it’s another thing to share your credit card!

(Think about whether or not you would give your credit card to someone else– for a minute or for a lifetime.)

Anyway, there were SO many unexpected and amazing things that made last night special, like when my new friend and I bonded over drinks, discovered our mutual love for Korea (and Kpop), and blasted EXO in my car on the way downtown… like when Tao 2 was doing his Dance Dance Revolution dance and a “fanboy” ran over and told him how “dope” it was… like when Tao 2 stepped on my shoe and grabbed me (Korean drama style) and said after I mildly seriously freaked out about my ($200.00) Stylenanda shoes getting stepped on, “I was just worried about you, not your shoes!”

… Like when I was in a circle of my new and old friends– just drinking or dancing, all of us having fun and happy together.

^^

Tao 2 has tentatively agreed to let me take him shopping, so if he lets me dress him then I will definitely share that here!

This Tuesday, though, my new friend and Tao 2 will definitely go get Korean food (my idea) before going to his place to hang out and play video games (his idea). I have no idea if she likes video games, but I do!

All in all, I had a great weekend, and I am ready to get back to school and my internship, which is going REALLY well. I’m also waiting to hear back about a “dream job” here in Austin that I applied for– international business transactions and access to higher education for international students, so wish me luck!^^

Tao 2, Tryhard Dongsaeng, and The Buff Gentleman

*Diary*

I managed to take a few pictures before racing out to meet my friends, and this was the best one only good one.

Ootn~

Ootn~

They were nice enough to come pick me up so we could go to Dirty 6th together, but when I walked outside it was unexpectedly cold and drizzly, but by then it was too late to change into something warmer!

>.<

Anyway, last night was definitely interesting; but, I’m not sure where to begin to tell this tale, so I’ll just jump right in…

Tao 2

Tao 2 is SO cute– really, he’s adorable, but my friend’s boyfriend is the most awkward and annoying person alive right now. We were all at one of our favorite clubs, and my friend and her boyfriend were briefly separated from us. Tao 2 suddenly said something to me that I couldn’t hear, and when I asked him to repeat it he said shyly as he played with his hair:

“No, I don’t know.”

Then, I did hear him say, “Go dance,” so I followed my friend and her boyfriend onto the dance floor, and he followed along like a good little boy right behind me.

A few minutes later, Mr. Awkward and Annoying says:

“Hey, why don’t you teach him how to dance?”

*Awkward moment*

Tao 2 is very shy, and he got embarrassed and fake punched Mr. A and A before telling me that he doesn’t know how to dance. I smoothed the moment over as best as I could, but I definitely wasn’t going to “teach him how to dance,” which I made clear. After all, I’m not a dance teacher, and I don’t have any reason to teach Tao 2 how to dance OR to dance with him UNLESS he asks me.

Later, I definitely explained the following to Mr. A and A: That if Tao 2 wants to dance with me, then he’ll ask me– that Mr. A and A doesn’t need to make things awkward for me OR Tao 2 by trying to intervene on his behalf.

(He may have been asking me to dance earlier, but I really couldn’t hear what he was saying!)

Anyway, Mr. A and A is always trying to hook Tao 2 up with girls, but I think Tao 2 has fun doing his own little dance revolution thing all by himself. I talked to him when we were outside, and he said he doesn’t really like clubbing here, because he can’t “dance.”

I just laughed but not in a mean way.

Then, we went to my favorite club– we always go right before downtown closes, and Tao 2 bought us ALL some shots– by now we had picked up two more girls, so there were quite a few of us. As always, he was quickly surrounded by a horde of girls, and that’s when I met Tryhard Dongsaeng.

Tryhard Dongsaeng

TD is a gu boy– “Shin,” but last night when I met him for the second time ever he was suddenly older– 23. I let it go, because Korean guys (around here) are always lying about their age:

“I’m a freshman, but you know Korean guys have to go to army for two years, so that’s why I’m older.”

… Sure.

First, some important information:

I have a “friend” who slept with TD, probably the same night that I met him, which was over summer.

Why does this matter?

Well, some Korean guys (around here) think that just because my “friends” are open, that I am open, too, which might explain why he kept trying to kiss me while we were dancing AND why he asked me when the club closed and the lights came back on:

“What are you doing after this?”

I just said that I was going to go outside and look for my friends, because he was trying WAY too hard. I don’t even know why I wasted my time dancing with him, but I was a little too drunk to make good decisions, anyway.

So, I ditched him and found my friends, and except for Tao 2, we all went to another club where we were waiting in line in the freezing cold before I finally left to take a taxi home, which is how I met The Buff Gentleman.

The Buff Gentleman

Well, there’s nothing like walking alone and wearing a short skirt and tank top after 2 AM on Dirty 6th. From Beyonce to mamasita to things I shouldn’t say on my blog, I heard it all within just two blocks.

Thankfully, to my left there suddenly appeared this gorgeous, icy blonde, green-eyed buff gentleman (but no taxis) who talked to me (normally) and asked me where I was going. I let him know that I was trying to catch a taxi and go home, so he said:

“I can catch you a taxi.”

We ended up walking and talking together for QUITE sometime before my friends texted me letting me know that they weren’t going to go into the club after all and could take me home.

So, TBG walked me ALL the way to where we had parked, and he also got my number and said that we should get breakfast sometime.

He texted me around noon, and we have been texting all day since then, so breakfast sometime might actually happen!

Not a bad way to spend Saturday night!^^

Anyway, after all that happened, my friends and I ended up meeting some of their friends at karaoke, so we got to sing all night before my friends dropped me off at home.

I will be seeing Tao 2 again next weekend, but another funny story about him:

He was saying good bye to me and extended a fist for a pound. I froze in disdain, and when I blinked and opened my eyes suddenly his fist was a hand. I blinked again– still not pleased, and when I opened my eyes he was hugging me.

Girls, sometimes, boys can understand what you mean without you saying anything at all.

Things Oppa Said

*Diary*

“I don’t want to make you wait for me. It’s hard, and you’ll get hurt.”

(내가 와야 니가 안 힘들어)

“Love– not sex OR consideration, is more important in a relationship between a man and a woman.”

(사랑더 중요해)

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” 

(착하게 말해)

These are the things oppa said, but I would ALWAYS argue with him, especially when we first met. Why?

Well…

I wanted to wait for him, because I really liked him.

But, if I was waiting for him to come back right now, then I would miss him– a lot, and it would hurt– a lot. Instead, he’s a treasured memory, and we’re both happy– and we’re both not making promises that we can’t keep.

If we do meet again, then there won’t be any broken promises between us, either.

I like that.

“Consideration” (배려) or “Love” (사랑)?

My ex-boyfriend was always considerate of me.

(I wish there was a better translation for 배려, but there isn’t– or if there is, then I just don’t know it.)

My ex-boyfriend always took care of me and my friends– even my sister when he finally met her. We were in love, but because our love didn’t work out, I thought that if I had taken more care of him, then we wouldn’t have broken up even when we were long distance. So, to me, consideration suddenly seemed more important than love.

However, he told me that love was more important.

Looking back, he was also the first person that I opened my heart to since my ex-boyfriend.

(By then, I had finally thrown away The Ring.)

And, looking at him one day, I felt that feeling– one that I had forgotten: Love.

Now, I think that feeling– that love, is more important, because in that moment I realized how rare and precious it is.

I wasn’t always nice to him.

I was mean to him, because he made me nervous, and I didn’t know how to talk to him. Once, he even scolded me when I wouldn’t look into his eyes as we talked.

I was also jealous, and I didn’t like his job– something I told him the night we met and a few times after. He was at the bar almost every night– always drinking with customers, working late, and going home tired.

It hurt me to see him tired, but for some reason I couldn’t comfort him. He was older than me, and he was a 상남자 from Busan– not Seoul, or a “rough guy.” He was also a gentleman but always straightforward and strict– always short with his words.

So, after seeing how I was hurting him with my words and actions– even though I didn’t mean to and didn’t think I could hurt him, I started being nicer. I did those small things I had forgotten how to do, like smiling and saying oppa– both like I mean it. I left him lollipops when he was tired, and I looked him in the eyes when we talked.

It’s important to have boys or men in your life, and not just as lovers but as friends and “brothers.” It doesn’t matter who they are– what matters is that they listen to you, understand you, and do what’s best for you.

Because, good girls can say, “I’m right,” and great girls can say, “I’m wrong.” However, the best girls can say, “I’m wrong, but I’m going to make this right.”

Listening to the things oppa said to me again and again in my head almost everyday even though he’s already gone, I realized that I was just a good girl– until I met him.

I never thought I could be happy without my ex-boyfriend, so I spent the past two years trying to replace him.

I was wrong– I could never replace him. I was wrong– I can be happy without him. And, I’m a better girl, now, because of the things oppa said that made me realize I was wrong– because of my family and my friends who stayed by my side through thick and thin, helping me make things right.

This is what I said, in a poem I wrote in April when I had finally decided on my New Year’s Resolution:

“And this year I decided to break my habit of clinging to people I had loved but would never love again– to dreams I had dreamed, but would never dream again.”

… Because I want to fall in love again, because I want to dream again.

I hope you all have met or will meet someone who makes you want to fall in love again– who makes you want to dream again– who makes you want to be a great girl!

^^

The Hangover

*Diary*

I’m at work, for better or for worse.

(I’m working at a marketing firm just for the summer before I go back to finish up my last year in law school.)

I’m eating Whataburger that took forever to get, so I was 20 minutes late even though I would have been on time. It also tastes horrible,  but it’s hitting the spot, anyway.

Girls, I’m hungover.

But, why?!

Last night I went to the Korean bar with five of my friends for Girl’s Night Out. We sat down and first thing oppa did– he brings us two bottles of soju. Two more friends surprised us and came later, and they ordered two more bottles of soju

So, we drank a lot!

(Lemon + soju + beer, try it.)

I drank more than I had planned, but that’s nothing new. And, there’s ANOTHER new Korean boy working at the Korean bar! We hit it off immediately, which is really funny because he’s the third boy that I’ve met there in the past two or three months.

(I talked about Korean boy number two, aka “Nice Guy” in THIS blog post. The date was terrible by the way. I don’t even want to talk about it, he was just that bad. I was bored the entire time, and he talked SO much– about his religion, and “sharing his energy with people”, and his “dancing and singing,” and blah blah blah… Seriously, don’t even get me started.)

I thought that I would care more about seeing oppa again– I mean it has been two weeks since we “broke up,” but I don’t. He’s still really nice to me and a lot of fun to be around. And, more importantly he’s right about me needing to meet a nice guy. It’s just funny that I keep meeting new, nicer(?) Korean boys at the SAME Korean bar– where he still works.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun, and now I’m just trying to survive the day.

I’m supposed to see Nice Guy Number Two later tonight, but its my friend’s 21st birthday. So, we’ll see what happens!

NG #2 is REALLY cool, and his English is REALLY good, which is becoming more and more important to me the more I meet and date Korean boys.

We are the same age, and he has a really cute tattoo on his arm of a heart. He said he’s going to fill in the other half when he finds his other half!^^

(So cute.)

He kept coming over to our table, and he even had a few drinks with us.

And, my best friend is going to Korea. She was with me last night. When he found out that she’s leaving, he said,

“I’ll be your new best friend.”

(SO CUTE.)

We talked outside before I left for a LONG time. I even told him about my blog, and he said he wants to help me write something! I really love everything about him so far, and he also smokes Marlboro’s and wants to be a fireman.

(I picked up a thing for smokers after dating my first Korean boyfriend. He smoked Marlboro’s a lot, and I began to LOVE the smell.)

Anyway, lots of flirting with a cute Korean boy and more fun times with friends,  and my hangover is almost gone, too, but 3:30 (when I get off work) feels SO far away…

>.<

My Summer in Korea, Part 1: Settling In

*The “My Summer in Korea” Series*

I had always wanted to go to Korea, but not to teach English or see my ex-boyfriend. I really wanted my trip to be about me, my chosen career, and my future.

After careful planning and convincing my mom that South Korea was different and separate from North Korea, I finally made it happen. I went to Korea in the summer of 2012. I was going to study law at Sungkyunkwan School of Law, and I was going to complete a human rights internship with NKnet. I received some scholarship money, but I paid for most of the trip with money I had saved up from working two to three jobs for a few months…

Suddenly, I was on my way!

My flight to Korea~

My flight to Korea~

My oppa’s friend picked me up from the airport, bought me my first meal in Korea, gave me some good advice about life in Korea, and took me to my hotel.

First meal~

First meal~

I stayed at Nox Boutique in Yeoksam-dong, Kangnam-gu for a few days. I booked my hotel before coming to Korea, and I made sure to find a real hotel, not a love hotel. They had great service and free breakfast!^^

My room~

My room~

I spent the first night alone, but my friend in Korea (we met online) rode the subway for three hours to see me and we finally met in person for the first time the next day, which was hard to do since I didn’t have a phone!

Where we decided to meet~

Where we decided to meet~

He stayed with me at my hotel for the next two days. We also got to date, and I was really thankful to have him with me. It was nice to have someone to talk to and eat with, especially in a place that was completely brand new to me.

At Kraze Burger~

At Kraze Burger~

Couple burgers~

Couple burgers~

Yummy~

Yummy~

On the third day I went apartment hunting, which is really fun in Korea. I went to this small, cramped office and was shown different rooms on a website. Then, my realtor drove me around to look at the rooms I had liked. I found a cute little one room apartment that fit my budget, about 450 a month. My friend also helped me move into my apartment.

The entrance~

The entrance~

My bed, my painting, and Gray, my teddy bear~

My bed, my painting, and Gray, my teddy bear~

My closet and some of the "kitchen" and "living room"~

My closet and some of the “kitchen” and “living room”~

My shoes~

My shoes~

I lived in Nonhyun-dong, a neighborhood in Kangnam. After my friend from the countryside left, I met up with a few other people I knew and friends I had who were also in Korea.

One friend took me to Hong-dae. We walked around and went to a small concert hall. Afterwards, we grabbed some food with a new friend we met at the concert who had come to Korea from China.

Hongdae~

Hongdae~

Hongdae~

Hongdae~

Hongdae~

Hongdae~

Hongdae~

Hongdae~

He was inspired to sell Korean-Mexican fusion food after eating some at a taco stand in Austin, TX, which is where I live and go to school! Small world~

He was inspired to sell Korean-Mexican fusion food after eating some at a taco stand in Austin, TX, which is where I live and go to school! Small world~

Hongdae~

Hongdae~

Ran into the lead singer outside at a gas station, and then saw him inside, too. He talked to me, but I didn't know he was going to sing until he went on stage~

Ran into the lead singer outside at a gas station, and then saw him inside, too. He talked to me, but I didn’t know he was going to sing until he went on stage~

Concert in Hongdae~

Concert in Hongdae~

Concert in Hongdae~

Concert in Hongdae~

Makgolli~

Makkgeolli~

Pajeon~

Pajeon~

Odaeng tang~

Odaengtang~

Afterwards, we went clubbing, but I wasn’t impressed with Hongdae clubs. Everyone was so young and wild. The clubs were also dangerously packed and pretty boring as far as music goes.

Cocoon~

Cocoon~

A few days later, my other friend took me to the downtown area of my neighborhood, which was just five minutes away! I was shocked to see what was on the other side of the street and behind those tall buildings.

DT in Nonhyun-dong~

DT in Sin-nonhyun~

DT in Nonhyun-dong~

DT in Sin-nonhyun~

Ho Bar~

Ho Bar~

Outside in the street~

Outside in the street~

Inside NB~

Inside NB~

Inside NB~

Inside NB~

At 5 or 6 am it finally closed~

At 5 or 6 am it finally closed~

My friend from Korean class was also in Korea, and a few days later I met her. She taught me how to use the subway. We also walked around and ate a lot of delicious food.

Tous les Jours! Now there is one in Austin, TX where I live, too~

Tous les Jours! Now there is one in Austin, TX where I live, too~

From the day I met my friend's girlfriend~

From the day I met my friend’s girlfriend~

They bought me yummy food~

They bought me yummy food~

I miss it!

I miss it!

We got closer when we came back to America, and now she is my best friend! We are planning another trip to Korea and many other parts of Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia) soon. In the end, my first few days in Korea were great thanks to my friends!

And, be sure to check out My Summer in Korea, Part 2: Working and Going to School and My Summer in Korea, Part 3: Dating!

Finally, if you ever need any help while you are in Korea, just leave me a comment or email me at westerngirlxeasternboy@gmail.com! I know some good people and can give you tons of advice about having fun AND staying safe.

^^