Saturday, December 09, 2017

my buddy sings

At my Korean buddy JW's invitation, I attended a winter concert put on by a men's choir of which JW is a member. Here are a few photos of JW's solo and the concert's aftermath. I walked home in the 20-some-degree freezing cold after the event; that took about 90 minutes.

It was a great little concert at Cheongdam Catholic Cathedral, which is also JW's church. I don't recall the name of the song my friend sang, but JW said the group would be posting everything online (I'd have had this info if only I had grabbed a program).

Sorry for the blurry images. My cell-phone camera is temperamental, and while I hate to admit it, I generally suck as a photographer.

Let's start with the poster that JW texted me as an invitation:

Below is the only photo I really wanted to take: JW doing his solo. He said, afterward, that he was really nervous; I told him I didn't blame him, as I've performed for church audiences myself (drama, not music, in my case, as well as myriad other instances of public speaking).

I sat in the pews with JW's parents, as well as with his daughter MJ, who was being doted on by her grandmother. MJ didn't recognize me at first, which I found hilarious. She's a forgetful kid: last Christmas, she whispered a question to her mother: "How does Kevin know how to speak Korean?" I loudly and humorously boomed to MJ that that was the exact same question she had asked the previous year. In one ear, out the other. Anyway, by the end of the evening, MJ had remembered who I was—the guy who had gifted her with a pile of Christmas gifts like Barbie dolls and fun kids' games. To be fair, the girl sees me only once or twice a year; at best, I'm a vague, peripheral, almost-not-a-presence in her life.

Below, a glimpse of religious symbolism. JW's dad humorously wondered aloud as to why the cathedral felt the need to have a wall with two crosses on it. (Technically, and more specifically, one is a crucifix because it has a corpus.)

A blurry shot of the fam:

Next up, a not-so-blurry shot (taken by JW's wife) of the fam plus yours truly. JW's mother, who hadn't seen me in years, said I looked good. I patted my stomach and said, "Still fat," and she replied, "But not so much." I like JW's mother a lot. She used to be a professor of English at Sookmyung Women's University, where I taught from 2005 to 2008. Back in the day, when we all talked more frequently, she would pepper me with questions about how to interpret this or that poem, or how to approach such-and-such work of literature. I found this intimidating because she obviously knew a hell of a lot more about my own culture's literature than I did.

Choir, clergy, and the retinue:

JW, far right with flowers, looking stiff as a soldier for some odd reason:

It was nice to get out of the office and do something cultural for a change. The cathedral was redolent with the stereotypical incense that pervades most Catholic churches. I had fun looking at the statues in the niches, as well as at the Stations of the Cross (only fourteen in this church, not fifteen). I'm not a very "churchy" person, especially since my own mother's passing, but I do occasionally enjoy and appreciate the ambiance one encounters when inside the bounds of a holy place.

JW didn't walk out with his family: he said he needed to hang back with the other singers and help clean the place up. I walked out with the grandparents and JW's wife and kids. We talked about the upcoming Star Wars film, which JW's son JA is looking forward to seeing with me. I then checked my phone to see which direction I needed to walk in, and we all parted company in the below-freezing night. It was a bracingly cold but good walk back to my apartment. When I got back, I saw that JW's wife had texted me: "Where are you? Still walking??"; I had promised to send her my pics via text, so I did that. I also noted with satisfaction that my walk had taken me slightly over the 20K-step threshold on my pedometer, so that was another little bit of good karma.

A fine time, all in all. Such things need to happen more often.

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