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Author Archives: Meagan Mastriani
CANCER (June 21-July 22): Big rivers don’t travel in straight lines. Their paths are curvy and complicated, with periodic turns and bends. In some places they flow faster and in others they’re slower. Their depth and width may vary along the way, too. Your own destiny is like one of those big rivers, Cancerian. In some years, it meanders for long stretches, slowing down as it wanders along a crooked course. It may even get shallower and narrower for a while. But I expect that in 2014, you will be moving more rapidly than usual. You will be traveling a more direct route, and you will be both wide and deep.
This is not easy to admit: 2013 was in many ways a shallow, narrow time for me. When I reflect on the past 12 months, I feel mostly sadness. Since leaving Seoul, I’ve struggled to find a new place in the world. My life (and myself) changed so much, I spent much of the year in panic of loneliness and uncertainty. I’ve sensed an inner fading, withering, calcifying—and it frightens me. As a person who considers herself tenaciously—even stubbornly—positive, this confession is extremely difficult. It is why I have avoided this blog (as well as my own private journal and even my camera) for so many months.
Please don’t misunderstand—I am very, very grateful for so much of what happened this year and above all for the love I’ve received. My thanks, always, is genuine and unconditional. I am not bitter or despairing. But I am sad. And it’s okay to accept that.
I knew writing this annual post would be painful—and it was, especially thinking of times with my old friends who I miss so much—but it was also surprisingly healing. I traced the course as my happy memories swelled up just before leaving Seoul, then thinned to a trickle during my first months back in the States. Then, unexpectedly, the river began to rise again at the end of the year—I hadn’t noticed until I wrote it all down. Maybe my horoscope’s right, and I’ve made it around the bend to a wider and deeper place. 2014, be good.
JANUARY / Began (unintentionally) to number my days in Seoul. Spent many hours with Ruth and baby. Had several great meals out with Alexa. Celebrated Seoulist’s 1,000th fan. Lumberjack party at the multi-room. Shot several snow-dusted stops for Seoul Sub->urban. Talked life-affirming talks with Sonja. Made some very tasty soups. Watched a lot of Dawson’s Creek.
FEBRUARY / Spoke at the first Seoulist skill-sharing workshop. Drinks and first real conversation with Violet and Sonja at 채비다방. Invited to dinner with Mullae artists’ collective. Shindig dance party. Played improv games and read stories aloud at 모임. Yaeri’s bachelorette party. Began working on my zine and met with Corners. Jungho came to town and we went to the 찜질방. Yaeri’s #bigfatkoreanwedding. Paju Book City with Violet. Wrote so many dialogue scripts for English educational books.
MARCH / Lovely evening at Cafe Sukkara with WanLin. Made manhole cover crayon rubbings. Stopped writing in my journal. First weaving lesson (thank you, Sonja). Natural dye workshop in the hanok village (thank you, Yaeri and Sonja). Zine published. Sold zine to all my favorite local bookstores (thank you, Ellie). “Book launch” and going-away party (thank you, everyone). Moved back to Atlanta. Collected lichens. Applied for work.
APRIL / Applied for work. Took many, many long drives. Muddled through “existential malaise.” Hiked and ate BBQ with my brother in the North Georgia mountains. Sweetwater 420 Fest. Did my best to rekindle old friendships. Became friends with Tim. Record Store Day. Became friends with Kellie. Went on some dates.
MAY / Spent ten glorious days in San Francisco with Jungho, Ming and new friends. Got inspired. Made some silly video diaries. Decided to move to San Francisco. Met the King of Wands. Perfect dusky picnic at Kennesaw Mountain. Candied rose petals. Ate at Little 5 Pizza a lot. Best Coast show. Grew strawberries and mint.
JUNE / Was offered my job. Decided to stay in Atlanta. Gin tasting at Miller Union. Hunted (unsuccessfully) for a bungalow. Geocached with Tim at Kennesaw Mountain. Potluck dinner (Tim’s first pear) and Goosebumps mini-marathon. Became friends with Jackie. Bonded with Kellie during a party at the Goat Farm. Started working at Nebo. Got bad news at a Waffle House. Cut my hair. Fireworks in an empty church parking lot with my brothers.
JULY / Found my own place. Marbled paper on a rainy day. Birthday dinner (Tim’s first marshmallow). Weekend workshop at Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild. Atlanta Street Food Festival. Watched fireflies in the backyard every night. A very strange date at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Wrote and received lovely letters.
AUGUST / Geocached all night. Became friends with Melissa. Became friends with Krissy. Moved into The Half Carriage. Nested. Took many long walks with Bingsoo. Ate 빙수 with Kimmie on Buford Highway. Nebo Ping-Pong Tournament. Learned and learned.
SEPTEMBER / Nested some more. Dollar tacos at Hand in Hand. Picnicked at the Beltline Lantern Parade. Nebowling. Began first full class at Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild. Screamed on rides at the North Georgia State Fair. Shot the Hooch with The Sprinkle Group. Shannon’s birthday party. Snape killed Dumbledore.
OCTOBER / Pulled an intercostal muscle. Met a great Taurus. Stared at the sky on Flux Night. Atlanta Streets Alive with Krissy. Got emotional during my first Tarot reading. Spent many hours at the loom. Choose ATL Launch. Got kicked out of camp in Cartersville. Made another camp. Drank mulled wine and shared stories by the fire. “Pumpkin seeds.” AiMA Awards. Timberly’s birthday at Neko Case show. Scared children at Halloweenkle. Stopped using shampoo.
NOVEMBER / Corn Maize with the Train Hobos. Got a pizza hat from Jae. Spent every weekend weaving. Finished my biggest woven project ever. Car accident. Admired fall foliage. King Lear at the Shakespeare Tavern with Tim. Cried forever at Catching Fire. Had a dark lipstick phase. Shannon and the Clams show. First Thanksgiving with my family since 2010. Brother ate a pig’s eyeball. Friendsgiving and Shannon’s last day at the Goat Farm. Got carpentry lessons from Dad. Tie-dyed in my bathtub.
DECEMBER / “Second Chance” at Victory Sandwich Bar. Got a photo with Santa at Lights of Life. Nebo holiday party at Sweetwater Brewing Co. Afterparty at Ri Ra. Taught Tim to emoji and smize. Drunk Wii bowling at Jae and Colin’s new place. Kimmie’s holiday wine night. Helped bring a stolen dog home. Started using shampoo again. Christmas with my family. Free admission day at the High with Shannon. So much delicious food. Friend Christmas. New Year’s Eve singalong.
As promised, a few more snapshots from Jangseungbaegi. I can’t decide whether looking at these photos makes me miss Seoul more or less. Perhaps it’s not a quantitative but rather a qualitative difference—I will always miss Seoul a great deal, but I can’t decide whether these photos make me miss Seoul more sadly or more fondly.
Missing something is such a tangle of heartstrings. I feel moored by this knot, this coil of sadness and love. At times, the mass appears organized and meaningful as a clove hitch; other times, it’s chaotic and raveled as a snag. But it’s always there, always fastening me to one place or another. I have missed, do miss and will continue to miss Seoul in many different arrangements. Perhaps even in ways that I am not capable of missing people. Seoul.
When I’m out shooting photos, I often try the same shot several times, making micromoves between each frame. At the computer, when I’m selecting which photos to edit and post, I flip back and forth between them to find the best angle. It creates a slight animated effect that I decided to recreate in gif form. Here’s a silly glimpse into the ways I entertain myself when I’m taking and processing photos. Enjoy (but probably don’t look at them all too quickly or your eyes may stop working).
These were all taken near Jangseungbaegi station on a Seoul Sub→urban outing a few weeks ago. I really liked the neighborhood and will share more (non-gif) photos of it soon. (As most of you already know, I’m back in Atlanta now! While I’m figuring out what’s next for me, I’ll be posting photos from my Seoul archives—there is still lots to come from my favorite city.)
PS: Don’t forget to leave a comment to win a copy of my photozine!