let the light in

sarah suk // 석혜리

light horizontal

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when stringing words together, choose your thread wisely. sometimes it can be even more important than the words themselves. so go on; bead your poetry on strings of grass so they can glisten there like morning dew, appearing in the night but only seen with the rising sun. hang your words on spider webs, on christmas tree branches, on each string of your guitar making every song sing sweeter. thread it on your laundry lines and watch them wave with the wind. the words you wear around your neck feel like coarse rope rubbing at your collarbone with each step, or maybe- – – they feel like a necktie, looped on by the hands of a loved one, sterling silver, the lightest of chains not meant to ensnare but to highlight. it catches the sun. the words beam. i string my words on light horizontal and your alphabet dances in the dust.

i used to write poetry

photos | niagara falls, ontario

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you’ve never been one to shout from the rooftops. for some people, joy rises like a hot air balloon released from its hold and if they don’t scream, they might die. but for you, joy pools downward, making oceans at your feet, wrinkling your toes. you’re aging in your happiness. it’s a silent wading in the water but we can hear it all the way from here.

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one of my favourite places in korea is beneath yanghwa bridge. i only went once and it was by accident. i had just finished a roll of film and i regretted not bringing more because it was golden hour and the light was unreal. there were men fishing, skateboarders, dog walkers, people sitting on benches waiting for something, maybe waiting for nothing. sometimes when i think about this place i want to cry, but i’m not sure why this is. it was really beautiful.

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sometimes she still feels like someone pulled the plug in the tub right in the middle of her bath and when the water went down the drain, she went right along with it and has been stuck there ever since. she’s not there anymore but sometimes still she wakes up in the middle of the night and worries about who will blow out the candles while she’s gone.

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my favourite cafe in vancouver sells ginger cookies in the shape of totoro (his stomach is shortbread). i don’t love the taste of this cookie, but i do love totoro so sometimes when i go there i’ll buy one for myself and it always feels like a treat.

swimming lessons

how to ride the currents of time
and not get pulled in by its ferocious riptides?

a lesson on dishwashers

on the last day of 2016, i slept over at a friend’s house after a new years party (new years parties for me = eating guacamole and counting down to midnight, 40% in anticipation for the new year and 60% in anticipation to put on my pyjamas and go to bed). after the party, my friend farisia and i were cleaning up and loading the dishes into the dishwasher. she turns to me and we have the following conversation:

farisia: i don’t have a dishwasher at my house. do you know how to use this?
me: no, we use the one at my house as a drying rack. but i’m sure we can figure it out.
farisia: -holds up liquid soap- we just fill it with this, right?
me: is that the right one?
farisia: -reading- it says ‘dishwashing soap’
me: ok! pour it in!
farisia: -pouring- is this enough?
me: maybe some more?

we get the dishwasher going, congratulate ourselves and go upstairs to put on our pyjamas and sleep (the moment i’ve been waiting for since 11:30 PM). before getting into bed, farisia goes downstairs to get some water and a few seconds later i hear her voice call up from the kitchen. “um…. sarah???”

so i go downstairs and i see this:

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WHAT THE ??? WHAT ???

so as it turns out, liquid dish soap for sink washing is not meant to go in the dishwasher. ever. there’s special soap for dishwashers, people! special! soap!! it was around 130 AM at this point and farisia and i were on our knees, scooping up soap suds with our hands and crying on the inside. at one moment, we just paused to stare as bubbles seeped out of the dishwasher in a never ending gurgle of horror, saying, “it’s not stopping.” -thirty seconds later- “yep still going.” -thirty more seconds later- “yeah this isn’t ending is it?”

after half an hour of damage control, we decided to just let the dishwasher monster keep on foaming at the mouth and get it all out of its system. we lay a big towel down on the kitchen floor, went to bed and let the cycle run. in the morning, the monster was finally quiet, the soap stream finally run out. we cleaned up the remaining mess and pondered over the significance of our new year beginning in such a peculiar fashion. the takeaway? it’s going to be a year of unexpected surprises and deep cleansing, new experiences and humble learning. also, i’m going to do dishes by hand for the rest of my life. it’s safer that way.

twenty seventeen / a digital age

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chilliwack // 

dear blog, i know this will probably hurt your feelings, but i was 98% certain that my last blog post (in september 2016) would be my last one ever. but i’m back! (silence) in the interest of becoming better at online documentation and sharing with the world at large, i have made it my goal to blog at least twice a month. (more silence) i’m sorry that you probably have separation anxiety now because i keep abandoning you for long stretches of time. i completely understand your silent treatment. you probably don’t believe me when i say all this, but i promise, this isn’t just another new years resolution that i forget about after a week. (…) i really will try my best!

dear youtube, you’ve probably forgotten what i look like by now, but this year i’m going to try to revive my vlog. (sorry who are you again?) hey come on, it hasn’t been that long. remember this video i posted last october? the highlight video of my niece’s first birthday? (oh yeah that was pretty adorable)

i will try to post at least five vlogs this year! i was originally going to say one vlog a month, but i’ll be more realistic. (yeah ok) ok?? five!

dear twitter, my new online friend. to be honest, i never thought we would be friends, but it’s a new year and i’m sure i have something to learn from you (for any other twitter users out there, you can find and follow me here). i hope you can help me connect with the wider online community, particularly the writing and publishing community.

– the photo of the mountain was taken in chilliwack where my writing group had a reunion/belated christmas party. it was a magical day with a magical view and at night, the stars were so clear. when i arrived back in vancouver, i looked up and was disappointed to see that the stars looked like faded white out smudges you had to squint to see. the stars are brighter in chilliwack i thought. but that’s not really true. stars are stars and they are as bright as they are. it’s just that sometimes you have a clearer view.

i’m not the most online-savvy person, maybe partially because i feel like the online world is the faded star version of the offline world. you have to squint to see the light. but just as stars are stars, humans are humans, and if i can find my way to a clearer view, maybe i’ll also find a way to connect deeper with the people behind the computers and widen my scope. so here’s to 2017, an increasingly digital age in which i will try to live as i’ve always longed to live: in embrace and in learning. see you soon!

to my blog

the other day i was looking through my blog archives and was surprised to find that i’ve been running this blog (inconsistently, but nevertheless still running) since early 2013! now this may not seem like a crazy period of time, but i’ve had a history of ditching blogs throughout the years so i’m happy to see that this one has lasted for as long as it has. it’s proven to be a reliable space to share big (+ small) life events, passing thoughts, photographs, creative writing, and random musings, like the kind of thing you would write on a post-it note when you’re feeling poetic and proceed to forget inside your desk drawer until months later when you need your glue stick for a school project and the post-it note is stuck to it and you realize this post-it is probably stickier than the actual glue (because truly, does anyone know of a glue stick that works well because i have yet to find one).

i never did write all those posts i thought i would, like the one about my trip to tokyo, hong kong, and singapore. or the one about digimon (because i am forever devoted and digimon adventure tri started last year, is still going on, and in fact the third movie is coming out next weekend and i’m sO EXCITED it’s absurd) because i’ve been too busy watching it to write about it. haha!

this blog for me has been a reliable space and also the space between things. the space between the bookshelf and the wall, the fridge and the cabinets, where old archie comics get lost and need to be fished out with a naked roll of wrapping paper or chopsticks taped together. that awkward space in my wallet between the zipper and the coin pouch where dimes always get stuck. the space between 1159 and 12, the today and tomorrow. thanks, my blog, for being that place for me to toss my dimes. i know it’s not much, but i hope they add up to something as a whole. you are my online quilt stitched together with the words i dropped through the cracks, a comfort made of patches and parts of something larger, and for that i’m thankful for you.

one day

viewpoint

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this is the view outside my window. the soundtrack of my mornings is a symphony of construction workers with an interlude of yogurt-opening banana-peeling breakfast beats. i was going to say i’m used to the noise now, but to be honest, it never really bothered me in the first place so there wasn’t much to get used to. anyway, i wonder what they’re building?

it’s been almost three months since i’ve been in seoul and i feel like i’ve learned so much. about myself, about god, about north korea and about so many things in between. like how to catch bugs in my room with my bare hands (on the first try!). how to pack my own lunch box with the ingredients i have. how to be present in the present, to recognize the power that exists in little every day choices, to set gratitude as my default heart setting. i’m swimming in thanksgiving every single day because those are the waters that jesus has rolled out before me. i’m soaked in it and i hope its scent sticks to my hair, my clothes, my heart, the way chlorine in a pool lingers on your skin even after you shower. there is a lot to be grateful for!

despite the fact that i told myself, “i’m going to blog and vlog and really document my time here this year!” that hasn’t really happened. haha! public documentation has never been my strong point. nonetheless, i hope to somehow be able to share the many things i’ve learned/am learning/will learn with people in a meaningful way.

on more of a general update note: i am really loving my internship with LiNK, my mom is back in korea and my dad is coming to visit next week (woo!), my niece is still the best and is now starting to CRAWL what in the i miss her a lot, north korean people are some of the most incredible people i’ve ever met, i ate nengmyun today for lunch and it was really good, and i’m currently at my favourite cafe called WAFFLE IT UP where they sell waffles and gelato and drinks and the design is all wood and pretty and they have blankets in case you get cold and want to curl up in one while you’re studying in the ~quiet place~ which is the silent study section that i often hang out in.

garden of morning calm

it’s been a little over two weeks since i’ve moved into my nest and started my internship with LiNK and i’ve started to get a sense of rhythm in my day-to-day life. i’ve always been a bit stingy when it comes to spending money on myself, but i decided that while i’m in korea, i’m going to !TREAT MYSELF! a little bit. the first thing i did after i decided this was go to the store and buy a mega pack of 요구르트 (little yogurt drinks) to stock up my mini fridge. treat yourself: to each their own. hehe.

this past saturday, two of my friends and i decided to make the trek out to ~the garden of morning calm~ (아침고요수목원 in korean) which is in a small town called cheongpyeong. it took us a couple hours to get there from seoul via subway and bus, but it was totally worth it! i love gardens and this one is BEAUTIFUL and MASSIVE and they have a store where they sell snacks and ice cream bars which is completely touristy and a bit interruptive of the whole lost-in-nature feeling, but ice cream bars right? come on.

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okay wow. the first thing we saw when we got to the garden was snow falling from the sky. snow? huh? in the middle of spring? yes, my friends. CHERRY BLOSSOM SNOW. it was raining pink petals in this place like some kind of korean drama. ooooh. aaaah. take in the wonder.

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there are many trails in the garden and this one led up several flights of stairs, giving us a great viewpoint. gah! majestic. flowers and trees and streams, nestled in the mountains. creation is beautiful.

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i climbed a tree!

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though you can’t really tell in these photos, it was saturday so the garden was PACKED. people came with their friends, their kids, their picnics, their selfie sticks, etc. (funny non-garden related story about lots of people: the subway stations in korea get really busy and crowded so one time i reached up to scratch my head and i hit a woman in the face. she gave me the dirtiest look. i felt bad) (maybe that story wasn’t very funny) (i’m sorry, woman at subway). i can only imagine how much more beautiful the garden is at sunrise when there’s no people and the light is just beginning to wash over everything. truly the vision of morning calm.

march

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march was living at halmuni’s house, eating 꽈배기 (braided donuts covered in sugar) and coming home to a fridge of 요구르트 (little yogurt drinks, but not like western yogurt. google yakult to see what i mean). it was learning how to play 민화투 (card game pictured above) and watching korean crossword game shows on monday nights. it was coming home by 5 pm, 6 pm, 7 pm at the latest, packing one of halabuji’s old shirts into my suitcase, peeling roasted chestnuts. it was full of family and questions of identity and what it means to connect.

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march was foot long ice cream cones and bingsu in a cup (who remembers my passion for bingsu?? being in korea has re-ignited the fire. amazing). it was reuniting with friends, welcoming those visiting seoul and being welcomed back by those who call this place home. it was feeling embarrassed in front of my family because my spice tolerance is not as high as theirs (“but all koreans like spicy food?”) and then deciding that whatever, it’s not like they make bingsu spicy (that would be so… weird…). it was going back to new philadelphia church, re-visiting my old favourite places, forgetting to photograph things but remembering to journal everything.

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march was waiting. it was receiving. it was remembering the love of God and crying. and then it was remembering again the next day and crying again (haha!). it was getting the internship with liberty in north korea and joining the spring intern team as a resettlement assistance intern. !!!!!!!!!!!! craziness so so nuts. it was an open door, it was gratitude, it was ??? and !!!! it was moving out to a little one-room in seoul, my first ever time living solo with no family or roommates. it was a new beginning, and because nothing i’ve said so far relates to the above photo, it was also discovering this line of special kakao products at the face shop and feeling bummed that i had just bought sunscreen before seeing this because i could have gotten cute kakao sunscreen instead.

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april will be building my life here in seoul for the next five months. it will be finishing internship training and going deeper into the job (though my brain already feels full of things to process from the first three days!). it will be learning more about korea (north + south), about life, about God, absorbing, and growing. it will be enjoying the open rooftop at the place i live and drying my laundry in the sun. it will be ~BINGSU~ and shopping (!) and remembering to take more photos. it will be, i hope, a promising month.