Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Korea Trip: Saturday

I'm just going to go ahead and warn you that the next three or four posts will be about my trip to Korea with RR. If that's boring for you, I don't understand how that's different from my normal blog posts, but feel free to skip them. No offense taken.

On Saturday, it was off for more shopping.  Although I'd worried about finding a jacket that would fit me in Korea, land of the tiny female frame, MJ assured me that I could find something in my size.  Actually, she said it should be no problem at all because I was close to her size, just "more glamorous," which isn't at all true.  I mean, I'm not overweight, not even by a few pounds, but even if I turned anorexic, I'll never be close to her tiny size, her frame is just way more narrow than mine.  If all that was left of us was our skeletons, you could still easily tell which one had been me and which had been her.  But despite my trepidation, the first shopping center had something that worked. Now there was nothing preventing me from being in the wedding.  I'm not going to lie, I had mixed feelings about that.

And also, I had a good internal laugh at the Korean use of the word "glamorous," which is not at all the English language meaning of the word, and which is not exactly a word I'd use to describe myself, either the way we mean it in the U.S. or the way the word is used in Korea. But the fact that MJ chose to say that instead of saying "You're close to my size but you're a little fatter," meant she basically called me the equivalent of "curvy." And of course, "curvy" is the safe way a woman will describe her friend who is heavier than her because it can mean "overweight," but it can also literally mean simply "having curves," which would make it a compliment. Yes, you weigh more than me, but in a good way. I'm not curvy in either sense of the word (though definitely I am heavier than MJ), so I was tickled to be on the receiving end of that exchange for once.

So, Saturday.  We went to E-Mart, which is kind of like Target.  I'd say it was like Wal-Mart, but I didn't see any screaming children running loose around the store, and I didn't feel like killing myself or someone else after being there for 10 minutes, and it seemed pretty clean, so it's not like any Wal-Mart I've ever been in.  On the other hand, it did have underwear in two separate sections of the store, and I can only assume that some other products were, for some reason, put in separate sections of the store.  So in the sense that it could be confusing and inconvenient to find what you wanted, it was very much like Wal-Mart. But I know which I'd prefer to be stuck at for an hour.

On the way there, we stopped at a place for me to buy some kind of hair accessory because I hadn't brought any bobby pins or any hair clips that would be suitable for a wedding-y updo. I spent $40 on a fancy clip. I didn't end up using it, but at least now I own a $40 hair clip. I have mixed feelings about that.

I didn't have as much time to spend in the E-Mart office supply section as I'd have liked, but I did have a chance to buy a small notebook that said "Seoul" on the front, and on the back had a drawing of a bear and a little boy and said "Good deal! You're in!"  It might be my favorite thing that I bought on the whole trip and possibly ever.  RR bought a bag of brown rice there so we could make rice in the rice cooker in the hotel room, the same bag that would later cause RR to get flagged going through customs because her "agriculture product" had to be inspected.  We felt no sense of foreboding when we bought it, though.  Just hunger.

I also bought some mascara and an eyelash curler. I had accidentally left mine at home, and I wouldn't have cared if I was just going to be attending the wedding.  But actually being in the wedding definitely called for mascara-wearing, I thought.  Plus, I wanted to see if Korea had managed to build a better mascara brand.  It hasn't. 

That's not a dig at the mascara I bought, which I like.  I don't want to hurt Korean-American relations by implying that Korea makes shoddy mascara.  But it's just mascara, which means that it winds up mostly under by eyes by end of the day.  So far, I still haven't found anything better than Blinc for actually staying on my eyes. MJ tried to ask a woman in the cosmetics department if they carried anything like Blinc, but the woman didn't really understand what MJ was describing. She thought MJ just meant waterproof, or something that doesn't come off easily. Eventually MJ was able to make her understand, and as expected, they didn't have anything like that. The entire conversation, though in Korean, was exactly the same kind of conversation you have with sales people here in trying to buy mascara. They can't understand that yes, you understand how mascara normally works, and this is different from that, so please stop trying to sell us regular mascara and listen to the words we are actually using to describe what we want. It was another "everywhere in the world things are different but the same" moment for us.

I really like the eyelash curler I bought, so I thought Korea had improved on that, but then I realized it was an American brand. So. I re-imported an American eyelash curler. I guess I indirectly supported the American economy, so I guess that's good.

We next stopped by a pharmacy so I could buy some more Benadryl. It wasn't Benadryl, actually, but a Korean brand.  It wasn't marketed for allergies, though, but as a sleep aid. The pharmacist seemed concerned and asked MJ why I was buying it, and she said it was for my allergies. Did the pharmacist think I was going to OD on the stuff? I don't know. I'm not sure why she was asking what I wanted it for.  You don't need a prescription for it, so I don't think it was really any of her business. Maybe they are supposed to warn people not to take too much? But she seemed surprised that I was buying it for allergies. I hope that it was because people don't usually buy it for that purpose and not because the pharmacist didn't know that diphenhydramine is good for allergies.

Of course, I can't say I'm surprised that it's marketed as a sleep aid. It certainly has that effect in large enough doses. If I take a full dose at bedtime, you can bet I won't be waking up on time the next morning.  I'm just surprised that it seems to be only marketed that way and not as a treatment for allergy symptoms. If the dramas I watch are realistic, and of course you can trust everything you see on television, then some people in Korea do suffer from allergies. So, Korean allergy sufferers, take note: that stuff works on your allergies, too. Just don't drive, sign any contracts, operate heavy equipment, call your ex, or make any plans while you're using it.

We also took the time on Saturday to get manicures.  I had mixed feelings about this, too. I don't like professional manicures because the stylist always rips out your cuticles, which is really not good for you. In the U.S., I've become comfortable with telling the person doing my nails to just leave the cuticles where they are, thanks just the same, but I don't know how to say that in Korean. So part of me didn't want any part of that barbarousness.  

On the other hand, for MJ's wedding, I didn't want to have a botched manicure, so it was best for a professional to handle it.  Plus, let's face it, as cliche as it is, going for a manicure with your friends can definitely make for some fun girl-bonding time.  So we went and got one of those gel manicures--you know, the kind you are supposed to have professionally removed because it takes super strong polish remover.  I removed mine myself about a week after I got back home using a scraping kind of tool that I've never used before and hope to never use again, no doubt causing some damage to my nails. The whole time I was scraping--and it took awhile--I was thinking to myself how stupid I was being and that I should just go to a professional to have it removed. But I just kept scraping because I'm lazy, and it was easier than having to leave my house. Can't say I plan on ever again having one of those manicures. But it did look nice for the two weeks I had it, in that over-done, those-nails-look-fake kind of way that's so popular among certain kinds of Texas women.  I can't describe the type exactly, except to say they tend to wear a lot of Brighton, and sweaters with designs knitted onto them, and very fake hair color, and it's not me. 

Maybe I was uncomfortable because it was just too pink. I wanted a paler pink, but I was told it was too pale and would wash me out. I didn't know how to say "this is what I wear back home, that particular bright shade of pink you want to use conveys a certain type of personality back home, and I don't want to be misleading people into thinking I drive to brunch every Sunday in my Lincoln Navigator, and while I'm there I drink a lot of mojitos and laugh very loudly, a lot, and later that day I go lay out by the pool to get a tan to compliment my fake blonde hair, and that I have a lot of opinions about things that I don't know anything about, and I either only like to eat at restaurants like Chili's or I eat at a lot of sushi and maybe Thai food because I think that makes me worldly."  I was pretty sure that wouldn't translate, anyway, so I just let them be happy with the bright, bright pink. 

Wow, that sounded really judgmental. And yet it's also true. If you live in Texas, you know exactly what I mean.

Anyway, after we got our nails shellacked, we walked around this mall-type area with MJ while she shopped very thoroughly for a jersey skirt to buy to wear on the plane for her honeymoon. After the second store, I think RR and I were both thinking the same thing, which was basically:

It was a process, let me tell you. The skirts all looked the same to me, she looked good in all of them, and in the end, I'm pretty sure she bought the one she had tried on in the first store we went to.  But at least she could be happy with her choice, and we could be happy that we'd burned off quite a few calories walking around.

After that, we went back to our hotel, and MJ went home to do last-minute wedding stuff. We hung out in the hotel, read books that we'd brought with us, and watched television. It was another good day. 

Next up: the wedding!

1 comment:

RR said...

Ha! Yep, we were both thinking that. At some point, I started to wonder if were were going to spend the rest of our trip in that mall area, circling past the same stores over and over again, while MJ held examined the same skirts again and again and again. I had forgotten what shopping with her was like. But I will say this in her defense: all of her clothes look nice, and every last piece of clothing in her closet fits right. So I suppose there is some benefit to her kind of shopping.