Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Halloween Blues (Or Should That Be "Oranges"?)

Normally, I read the latest post at Gothic Charm School with delight. Today, however, scrolling down the page only gave me a sinking feeling, as the Lady of the Manners gleefully describes how the Halloween season offers the chance to stock up on macabre housewares, skeletal jewelry, Halloween-themed clothing, craft supplies, stripy tights (which I desperately need - the last pair is wearing thin!), and various other necessities to maintain that "Every day is Halloween" spirit all year round.

And it's true - about this time last year I was running around the stores with my wallet held upside down. Bad for the budget? What budget? I was having fun!

This year is quite different, however. I'm ashamed to say that my enjoyment of Halloween is largely based on cheap, corporate cr...I mean, on the way every business in America joins in the Halloween spirit. I like walking into Wal-Mart and seeing all the terrible, cheesy, plastic costumes. I appreciate being able to order a pumpkin latte in a ghost-covered cardboard cup. I think funny Halloween t-shirts ("Witchy!" "Bats-tastic!") are a wardrobe essential.

But there are other, less consumerist joys of the season, too: mounds of little pumpkins at the grocery store; small tots dressed as princesses and pirates, two weeks before any actual trick-or-treating can take place; carved pumpkins on every doorstep; haunted houses, corn mazes, and pumpkin launchers; and, most importantly, the general air of spookiness that seems to settle in around October 1st.

That is all...not here in Korea. The only two businesses with any sort of Halloween theme are Baskin Robbins and Dunkin Donuts, and I can only save so many decorated cardboard cup holders. Pumpkins are yellow in Korea, not orange, and I haven't seen any tiny ones that our students can paint. Our students are clearly wondering why we're so Halloween-obsessed when it's so far away, and I haven't even spotted a Wolfman mask outside of the foreigner district in Seoul. Add all this up, and October in Korea is about as spooky as "My Mother the Car."

Sure, Linus and I have decorated the school within an inch of its life (we'll post pictures, I promise), have forced Halloween into every lesson since October 1st, and will have an absolutely smashing Halloween party next Friday. But there is definitely something lacking to our Korean Halloween. Would I trade my amazing job and my life here for black lipstick and plastic bat headbands? Of course not. But I have to admit, this is the first time I've had a legitimate craving for home since I got here.

Thank goodness for Mom and Dad, who sent me a care-box stuffed to the brim with glow-in-the-dark spiderwebs, Halloween stickers and tattoos, a light-up pumpkin and ghost, spiders, sparkly pumpkin garlands, and other Halloween essentials. There's no Halloween-y gloom that a cute li'l plastic pumpkin bucket can't cure.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10.5.11 Everything Shiny and New In Our Lives

In honor of our fortieth follower (welcome, Raphael!), I have gotten off me lazy bum for another post.

As many of you are already aware, I have taken the Big Leap into Real Gothdom. No, no, I didn't get that pierced. I dyed my hair black.

I've always been pretty experimental with hair colors - my all-time favorite was dark purple - but I held off on black for two reasons: 1) I wasn't sure it would look good with my skin tone, and 2) I didn't want to look just like every other little goth girl on the Internet (not to mention most Koreans). But as the Lady of the Manners wisely points out, we're all walking stereotypes anyway, so why not embrace the cliches? As it turns out, black hair looks much better on me than my natural hair color. Koreans, or at least the Koreans I know, are very outspoken about personal appearance, and when I was brown-haired I would get told about every third day that I looked sick, tired, and/or like I'd just cried. I've been ebon-haired for a week now and have yet to be accused of ill health or constant weeping. The black stays.

Linus took a less conventional - and also less intentional - route to awesome hair.

This was supposed to be a dark golden blonde, close to his natural hair color. As you can see, this is not dark golden blonde. That's fine by me; I always fancied gingers. This is just one of the steps Linus is making towards modifying his appearance. We visited Seoul for the first time recently and Linus bought many fancy items that will dress up his patent-pending Tactical Goth look. Less "Blade," more Great Gatsby... if Jay Gatsby had been a day-walker/hit man/sketchy priest, that is. It's hard to describe, but he has a clear picture in his head, and when his custom-made clothes are delivered (I told you they were fancy!), he will post a photo shoot.

The other primary piece of news is that we have welcomed two brand new members into our family. They're beautiful, pale-skinned, hermaphrodite twins. Beneath their tough exteriors they're truly delicate creatures, vulnerable to the slightest touch of a cruelly unmoistened hand. No, we haven't adopted circus freaks (although we're open to the possibility - you know how to reach us). Actually, we bought two pet snails from Home Plus. Have you ever had a snail ooze up your thumb and gently nom on your knuckle with its cat-like, raspy tongue? Trust me, it's a much more adorable experience than it sounds. Their names, of course, given our current TV obsession, are Barnabas and Josette. How do we tell them apart, you ask? Barnabas is whichever one looks bigger at the time. It's an imprecise system, but I'm pretty sure our albino lovelies don't mind.