Archive for the ‘vagabondage’ Category



July 28, 2007

One of my odd jobs lately has been providing some translation for a fashion design professor I met through a mutual friend. She produces what she calls “art-to-wear.” Her latest works include body painting and body suits that employ traditional patterns and pictures from the world of Buddhism. Such encounters are the types of things I’ll be missing quite a lot as I move on to life in Appleton. Don’t know how often I’ll be coming across things like this…


or this…


Still, the time has come, the goodbyes have begun, and it’s time to walk down a different branch in the road.


The Cats of Minsokchon

July 26, 2007

Some brief thoughts, but first a song for your enjoyment. The song and thoughts have no relation whatsoever. I’ve just been giving it a pretty hard listen, so, I thought I’d share. Pure pop, of the summer variety, by a band named Phoenix. They hail from Paris, and sing in English. Go figure… Song’s called, “One time too many.”

We said goodbye to Jaime, who had a splendid time here in Korea (and we had a splendid time hosting her). It was her first time in Asia, and she was very excited to take in everything. She seemed to really like the bath house, especially. I second that.

The monsoon weather has set in to a pretty even pattern, lots of haze, sometimes cloudy, occasional showers… and always humid. Luckily, we’ve escaped the wrath of heat I faced two years ago when I was here for a summer of research. Daily temps over 100 and scorching sunshine. No thanks.

A sign that home is near . . . the 10 day weather forecasts no longer apply.

A sign that will be near our home . . . I ordered a wood name plaque for the 방랑당 bahngnahngdahng. It turned out incredibly well. I got goose bumps when I saw it. Then, later that night, two of my study partners, Yujin and Giseok, gave me a going away present – a big dojang (stamp) with the characters 放浪堂. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Gave me goosebumps and a few tears. I’d show pictures, but that’d spoil it. If you want to see them, you have to come to the bahngnahngdahng.

Finally, we visited the Korean Folk Village in Yongin (한국민속촌). I hadn’t been there in 13 years. They’ve made continual improvements, and the entire site is just fabulous. The preservation of trees has made all the difference, as each section remains separated from the other, lending the entire park a feeling of multiple cozy villages nestled into one another. An interesting side-note, and one I hope that others will catch onto, such that the little guys might gain a little fame… the village is full of chubby, beautiful cats! There were cats everywhere we looked. Of course, they steered clear of the humans, and rightfully so, but they seemed to love the village the most of anyone. They reminded me of the cat portraits from the Joseon dynasty painters Kim Hongdo (김홍도):

Kim Hongdo

-Hwangmyonongjeopdo (황묘농접도)

and my personal favorite, Byeon Sangbyeok (변상벽):


-( I don’t know the title 😦 )

-Myojakdo (묘작도)

To the cats of minsokchon MAN-SE!- may they live long, peaceful, and happy lives (and stop fighting with each other, you two I saw – you have a huge space to yourselves, enjoy it!).


Home Sweet Home

June 7, 2007


Behold the bahng nahng dahng. Yes, you heard me, the bahng nahng dahng. For you Korean readers, that’s방랑당 and for you Chinese character purists… that would be, 放浪堂. It means, roughly, the “Hall of Vagabondage” (or, to be precise: bahngnahng 방랑 [放浪] wandering; roaming; roving; a Bohemian life; dahng 당 [堂]: hall).

I hope we’re not jinxing anything here, since we realize that the house is not 100% ours until the closing paperwork is signed, but our offer has been accepted, the inspection completed, and the financing secured. Therefore, hopefully it’s safe to present our home for the next few years, 5xx E. Pacific St. in Appleton, WI. We’re thrilled to have found a place that is just minutes from the downtown area and a mere 4 blocks from my office (my daily commute will take me through City Park, a nice way to start and end each day and site of a soon to be constructed plaza). We’re especially jazzed about the front porch, on which we are already fantasizing about mid-afternoon naps with the kitties (the family-sized hammock has already been ordered) and later-afternoon beers with the New Glarus Spotted Cows. Have a look at the Flickr set if you are so inclined. The house is currently under renovation, hence the unfinished state of some of the rooms. However, all work will be completed by our move-in date in early August. Of course, we’re looking forward to everyone’s visit!

M here: Well, I must say it is very strange to be making such a monumental purchase without ever having seen or witnessed firsthand the product. Thank the heavens for internet, digital cameras, and Kinkos. The local Kinkos has been invaluable in providing us a place to quickly download, print, sign, scan, and return all the key documents of this undertaking. Sadly, I know its interior better than our home-to-be. But, I am getting intimate with the place the best way I can. In the style of any garden variety oriental-style seeker, I’ve named the abode, and already have a Korean style name-plaque (hyeonpan 현판) in mind that I’ll be having carved up before we head back. Why name a house? Well, maybe its the Confucian in me. Confucius was the one who was big on names, and on using names as the first step to create the reality you seek in life. In other words, if you want to live in Heaven, name your home “Heaven,” as a prerequisite first step. I don’t want to live in Heaven yet, for now, it’s just a happy little “Hall of Vagabondage.”


Closing the Ann Arbor Chapter

April 25, 2007

This past April, filled with staggered goodbyes, has really made me feel the bittersweetness of vagabondage. [see flickr set] It was much more difficult to leave Ann Arbor than I had anticipated it would be. This, of course, is directly related to the sadness I feel about leaving beloved friends and valued colleagues, all of whom will be sorely missed.  As trite as it may sound, with each new move, life becomes more complicated. We now have cherished friends living on at least 4 continents and 12 different cities. In a perfect world, we could visit ALL of them once a year for at least a week each. Until that magic day when Matty and I both become wealthy independent scholars and make this possible, however, we will console ourselves with the thought of how fortunate we are to have met so many wonderful people on this journey so far. Here’s hoping that our next episode in Appleton will bring us similar joys and sorrows.


a few days in april

April 3, 2007



Decided a change of pace was in order. I look really tired, because I am. I hope it doesn’t bore you too much. )


Another round up the hill

March 23, 2007

Today I decided to zap the blues with a long hard run up the nearby mountain, Ansan. The last time I tried this, I got a little lost and was barked at by Army guard dogs. Today, the only problems I had were clucking ajummas complaining, “Oh now, it’s too slippery for that kind of running down the mountain, by all means. . . .”

Last time I made the following prediction:

Now that I know the path, I’ll make it in under an hour next time, fo’ sho’.

Today’s time up the mountain: 45 mintues. Huzzah.

After a shower I headed off to dinner at my local diner and met a group of Americans who are missionaries at a church next door. Interestingly enough, the pastor was a graduate of… Nathan Hale High School and the son of the pastor at a Baptist Church on Layton Avenue. Another person in the group was from Williamsburg, Virginia, where our dear friends are living and where Dominica is headed today. Inneresting.


a day in the life

March 19, 2007

The temple trip was only 24 hours, but it was just what I needed. I feel refreshed, refocused and re… uh… re… uh… really hoping my better half gets here soon )

A warning: A LONG post follows… with pictures, and videos, and mp3s, and long religious digressions. Beware. You might be bored, you might not make it to the end. But, the post is as much for me and my scrapbook as it is for you, so certainly, don’t feel obliged.

If you have dialup, you might reconsider clicking on this. If you want to know the details, email me.. I’ll tell you all about it (and why you should invest in broadband). Read the rest of this entry ?