Flying high, fine as wine.

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There is a jug of pre-booze in my room right now and I just want to stare at it. I spent yesterday up in the sticks of Yeongcheon (yes, I had to look up the event on FB to discover how to spell it) making wine, riding ATVs and crafting soap with 6 coworkers and about 40 new friends on a trip through the Daegu Compass, a magazine for expats in the area.

We started out driving an hour from downtown Daegu on a bus to the winery and were given bowls to fill with grapes. “Take your time,” they said. “It will take a lot of grapes,” they said. “Don’t get any rotten ones,” they said. Well, joke’s on these suckers. Obviously they don’t anticipate a girl who spent 3 summers sorting, stacking and singing Britney Spear’s “Lucky” to raspberries on Honcoop Farms. I filled that bucket in 6 minutes flat and only left 2 bodies out in the rows. (They’ll be fine. Maybe?)

We plucked the grapes from their stems and threw them in a jug that we filled and labeled with our names. Then: SQUISHING. I…you guys…this is one of the best/weirdest/most cathartic things ever. I may at one moment have softly whispered, “FINISH HIM” but Chun-Li didn’t appear, unfortunately. We sealed the jugs (which will take 3 months and a bajillion steps) and ate some BBQ for lunch before stage 2: TOTAL DOMINATION.

We arrived at ATV nirvana with about 16 ATVs available; 4 heavies (Polaris Sportsman X2 800 [for my brother, y’all]) and 12 lightweight quads. I promptly jumped on and did a fast lap through the course, which included about 100 feet of a shallow creek (BEST BEST BEST). Then it got real. I’m pretty sure I was told at least 3 times to slow down and “no jump!” But I would have dishonored the men in my family by doing so, naturally, I didn’t listen.

We got to ride on the back of the heavies with the Korean guides, one of which was, I kid you not, a TWELVE YEAR OLD BOY. I got up behind him and realized there were no handles…so I gingerly put my right arm around his bird-sized ribcage (touching my stomach on the other side, this kid was a *rail*).I looked back at my co-workers and mouthed, “is this legal?!” as he took off into the sunset. Just kidding, it was only 2:30. No sunset. Once we entered the rougher back course, the kid reaches back and grabs my left arm and wraps it around him too. 

Now, let’s have some real talk. I neither want to fall off this ATV as we go through an even deeper stream, nor do I want to somehow scar/maim/creep this kid so I’m frantically trying to curve my spine convex (concave? Sorry, Mr. C., I can’t remember what one was what, hence my B in Chemistry) to really try not to touch any “bits” to him. 

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I know. I KNOW. So then this kid hits a bump and of course we’re suddenly like SEAM TO SEAM, you know?! I try to let go and scoot back and he puts my arm back. And you know what, I’m sure this kid does this like every day, it’s a family-owned business and there were at least 8 of us that rode with him but you GUYS I have never been more happy to get off transportation in my life. Except maybe that 11-hour flight to Seoul. 

Then I think, let’s go with this kid’s dad, who has been driving people up the creek bank and we’ve been referring to “The Crazy One.” Cue the Steve Jobs quote because this dude was definitely a rebel. He drove us up embankments then mid-way would just let go of the throttle and we’d coast down backwards, got up to 40mph on a bridge and most definitely hit all the jumps. He told me I was a good rider; all props to my brother and dad who taught me to lean into a corner. In general, the ATVs were the best part of the activities: it’s been awhile since I’ve really gotten to do some jumps and floor it around a gravel corner, but it did make me miss the bro and pops. 

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Yeah? Awesome! We then drove over to Skylake; an all-natural shop where they make soap, shampoo and tea. We got to make some lovely decorative flower soap and pet a Golden Retriever who was clearly happy for the attention. The view from this place was gorgeous; my coworker Jeff said it best with a “this place, this view, just makes me stop and feel at home.”

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After all day, I finally went and sat in the back with a big group of people who clearly had been having as much fun as me and were all Department of Defense teachers, several with a Special Ed concentration and even a speech pathologist. And these people were, in a word, fantastic. 1. They brought their own cooler. 2. And they were sharers. 3. They adopted me and said to friend them on Facebook, asked me about my life, told me about theirs, told some great stories and we laughed all the way back to Daegu. We hugged goodbye and us DGEV folks went to grab dinner and wait for our shuttle back to the village. 

SIDEBAR: I got some Indian food. There was Indian food at the place we went to. THERE WAS NAAAAAAAN AND CURRY AND I THINK I SCARED THE KOREANS. Probably because there were a bunch of foreigners with weird jugs of homemade booze swinging around. And because I keep no secrets from you guys, I will admit that even burping later and tasting curry made me smile because I can go back. 

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All in all, a great day with friends, new friends made, WINE made, SOAP made, jumps landed and blisters formed. We’re back into it tomorrow with a busy week at the village and a Personal Development session on Friday afternoon coming up. Thanks for reading, e’rrrbody. I’m in a good place and I hope you are too; or at least, not, like, on hold with a telemarketer. 

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In which I actually get to be a professional Zombie.

GUYS! I MADE NEW FRIENDS! I’m so excited! Not that my co-workers aren’t great, but it’s good to make connections outside of work (which I was turrrrrible at doing in Arkansas [although there were a few of you]) but they were all friends of work people. And if work people were busy, I was pretty much just chilling with my best best frannnn: Netflix.Image

So a couple months ago the Daegu Compass, a magazine for foreigners in Daegu, posted that there was a theater troupe about to put on a production of “The Princess Bride.” I put the date in my calendar, creeped all their Facebook/website posts, and thought how cool it would be to be a part of it, and promptly put it out of my mind. 

Two weeks ago, DB and I attended said production of “The Princess Bride.” The story was word-for-word the cherished favorite it is everywhere, and I again revisited the stalkery of FB/website of The Daegu Theatre Troupe. I asked a few co-workers what they thought. I remembered being TERRIFIED by the DTF (Drama, Television, Film) majors in school. Then I saw that they were going to put on a production of “Night of the Living Dead” and that auditions were September 7th. I put it in my calendar and fretted about it for 2 weeks. 

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But now that DB has moved off campus and Roy-Gene is probably going to go and do the same, I’m stuck either getting to know new co-workers (bahahahahahaha except for like the 6 of you I already like) or branching out. So yesterday I went out, got brunch with Leslie and Colleen, then headed to the YMCA to be brave. I got a coffee for the nerves, and frankly, as a hand prop. You know when you can’t figure out what to do with your hands and you need to look productive? COFFEE CUP. Doesn’t matter that it was empty by the time I walked in and I couldn’t find a trash can for 4 hours, I *looked* like I was a coffee-drinking, put-together person in bright orange shoes. 

Theater/theatre, drama, acting people kind of scare me. Sometimes, they can be jerks. They have such a small club and they all like, crew together and it’s sometimes hard to break in. Sometimes they are amazing and welcoming and take you under their beautiful, lavender, feathered wings. I already had a back-up of “If they’re crazy, you can leave. You don’t have to stay. We’ll buy a fish and that can be our friend.” I resigned myself to “this may not go well and it’s ok we can survive.”

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I have never been so happy to be wrong. We meet on the 4th floor of the YMCA building and I sit down next to this girl playing a game on her iPhone. Apple products make me feel SAFE, don’t judge me! I FEEL YOUR JUDGEMENT. I sat like right next to her. I didn’t know if this was going to be ok because there were a lot of empty seats. It’s kind of like taking the stall next to the already occupied stall when there’s like 20 stalls in a bathroom. Luckily Jill was awesome and my trust of someone else with an iPhone proved correct as she was also a n00b there and had just moved to Daegu from Seoul about a week and a half earlier. The theater people started to arrive and the in-jokes and clear demonstration of love between them began with the gift-giving of food. And not like, cookies. Tupperwares full of of pasta and peppers began to float around and I recognized many of the actors from the recent production of “The Princess Bride.” 

The 2pm meeting of “here’s us, here’s what we do, here’s what’s new” was great and surprisingly really open to us newcomers considering what a tight-knit group this clearly was. At 3pm scripts and sign-up sheets were passed out and Jill and I started running lines together. We actually ended up auditioning together and switching roles to read with Gareth, an awesome New Zealander who says “girl” with venom and better than anyone I’ve ever heard. Jill and I ended up leaving about 5:30 after exchanging info with some people and decided to grab a burger and beer (and a double gin and tonic and a Georgia Peach Iced Tea) at Traveler’s and just hang out and talk for 3 more hours and be friends. 

Needless to say: everyone was great and made us feel like we were welcome and part of a team and invited us out and to be friends. I made several new contacts and I got cast as a zombie. LIFELONG DREAM ACHIEVED. There’s going to be so much makeup and groaning and eating of brains and just plain FUN, GUISE! I’m so glad I did this.

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IT MAKES ME WANT TO DO A DANCE! A BEAUTIFUL DANCE LIKE TH–but no. I’ll contain myself. 

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In da club.

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Last night I went out to a club, only my second ever and the first time in 4 years–my first was my now-sister-in-law’s bachelorette party at a club in Vancouver, B.C. This time, however, I didn’t make a phone call to the Dean of Men (my boss at ORU at the time) from the bathroom saying “I hope it’s ok, but I’m going to have a drink since it’s summer and, well, someone bought me one!” Had there not likely been long distance charges, maybe I would have…

I worked some OT yesterday, and after my 6th day in a row, I was ready to curl up in a ball and relax the rest of the night, maybe prep a little for this upcoming week. Of course I’d just started my period, and all I wanted to do was get in sweats and do this:

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But that wasn’t gonna happen because that would be boring and this post wouldn’t be entitled “In da club.” Annie came in around 4 and convinced me that nothing would be better than going out with people, getting dressed up and dancing. Cue the montage! I had no idea what to wear, it was still 85 degrees out, and what the heck does one wear to a club?! I Project Runway’d my American Apparel circle scarf into a top with some black leggings and flat sandals, threw on some false lashes and headed out.

After grabbing some food downtown, we (Annie, Carrie, Melissa and I) met up with Carrie’s Korean friend Gabriel. And then we proceeded to eat and drink more. Koreans are known for Soju, their drink of choice. According to Roy-Gene, it tastes like soapy alcohol water, and I kind of agree. At 18% alcohol, it’s not like the booze back in ‘Merica. Anyways, the Koreans like to do lots and lots of shots of this, coupled with cheap beer in small glasses. We played some drinking games and went out to DANCE DANCE DANCE.

Sidebar: I know my mom (and some other people) really aren’t fans of hearing about drinking and clubs and dancing and things. That’s okay! I don’t mind! Here’s your warning that a lot more of that is about to happen and a disclaimer: We were in a big group with English and Korean speakers, no one drove (thank you big cities and taxis!) and no one got drunk–aka this story ends well. Sorry for the spoilers, everyone else. No deaths. Also, I’m 97% sure that my mom had a fake ID at some time in her life…so… now that I’ve revealed that I probably won’t get any care packages.

We go to the first club–nope, too expensive. We hit a second club, and a 30-minute debate in 2 languages ensues about money and covers and who cares? it got resolved eventually and we went in. We descended 3 flights of stairs into the lighting scheme from Jay-Z & Kanye’s video for “N—s in Paris” (sans panther/tiger/leopard/liger), where there was a central catwalk splitting the middle of the dance floor, and it had 4-5 metal poles going ceiling to floor. There was an equal amount of people on the floor to the catwalk, all of them Koreans, and a healthy mix of guys and girls. After purse planting at a table, we all jumped up on the catwalk and had us some fun.

Let’s talk about Koreans dancing. They have no rhythm and I love it because I have no rhythm. It’s all from the waist up, a shoulders-bouncing, head-banging thing with no hips or feet. Interestingly, there’s very little touching. Almost none. It wasn’t until…well. You’ll see. Here’s an example of Korean dancing:

ImageWe danced to Macklemore, Annie Lennox (Sweet Dreams, timeless), Daft Punk and I’ll say, the DJ did a great job. Seamless transitions. We danced and hopped and swung around the poles and tried really hard not to fall off the 2 foot catwalk. Photographers kept coming over to take pictures of the 4 foreign girls laughing and having fun in the club, great PR–I’m positive I’ll look like an idiot in those–but I really was having a blast. Around 1:30, Carrie and I decided to step down from our pedestal and take a breather by dancing on the floor.

Creepers, enter stage left. The old guy who had been standing and smiling at us all night (not dancing, by the way, just standing and smiling) moseyed over, as did a guy with an honest-to-God green glowstick who decided that he was the raptor and Carrie was a–what do raptors eat? Geese? extras from Jurassic Park?–rabbit. Carrie was a rabbit. I DON’T KNOW I’M NOT A PALEONTOLOGIST. I laughed and high-fived Carrie for attracting such a stud, and then a guy in a white button up arrives, puts his arm up to signal to the bros and decides that this white girl (me) is going to be gifted with getting all of his business. Read: ALL. HIS. BUSINESS. There are no secrets when it comes to Korean boys and their skinny jeans. What a gentleman this guy was: just walks up and grinds himself on me, not even a hello. At least dogs who hump your leg lick your hand first. You want to just walk up and molest me? You think because I’m dancing with my friends that I want that? You want a power play? I will emasculate you with no words, sir. I didn’t need to speak Korean to pull “the bro” down a few rungs. I actually look up at his friends, who are hooting and hollering and shoving each other at his success, roll my eyes and yawn, yes, yawn up at the wolf pack as this guy is grinding up on me. I had hearing loss from the bass and yet I could clearly hear the audible “oooooooooo!” of the bros sensing my diss. It was tangible. That dude is never, never going to live that down.  It’s 2am and the foreign girl is done with you and your stupidity. Good luck finding someone with your attitude, asshole.

Gabriel got us a taxi home and we were safe and sound and in bed by 2:35, smelling of cigarettes and peeling off my eyelashes. I gotta say, I think it’ll take another 4 years before I feel like clubbing again. I had a blast dancing with friends, and I appreciate that it took 2 hours before I got half-groped (which would have taken 20 seconds in the states), but I think I’m ok to stay in bars or my bed, thanks.

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It’s now September 1st here in Korea, which means that I’m now 3 months into my contract here at DGEV, aka a quarter complete. It has flown and it has crawled. I’m having a lot of fun playing volleyball and teaching adult students, dancing with friends; and some nights I miss people so much that I just think “fall asleep, fall asleep” as the only escape from sadness.

In everything I’ve done, I’ve surprised myself that I can not only survive, but thrive. I can get a good job. I can move across state lines. I can do an apartment. I can’t really do a dog alone in said apartment, but I can find the dog a better home with amazing people. I can pay all of my bills: phone, car, insurance, student loan, etc. by myself. I can live in a foreign country. I can create lesson plans. I can say words in at least 8 languages, and tell a taxi driver how to take me home in Korean. I can occasionally cook things that won’t poison myself or others. I can do this. I am doing this.

Sometimes when I’m struggling, I strangely enough like to write words on myself. I know, it’s odd duck, but hey. You’ve read this far. You should not be surprised. Last night I came across an Arabic proverb: .الجيات أحسن من الرايحات: “What is coming is better than what has gone.” Immediately I grabbed a sharpie and wrote it in Arabic on my left forearm–I wanted to see those words, to remind myself that great things and people and times are coming. I won’t always be lonely. Tomorrow is a new day, June 1 will come again, and I’ll hug the people I miss most. I’ve always told myself that someday I’d find something worth tattooing, and last night I decided to go ahead and just OH MY GOSH, MOM, PLEASE BREATHE. BREATHE. IN, OUT, IN OUT. I DIDN’T DO IT, I SWEAR. I had you going, though, right? RIGHT?! Don’t lie. I’ll ask Dad.

As an apology, here’s a look at how I attracted Sir Grinds-a-Lot in the club. Obviously I could teach a class–applications will be available for interested parties TBA. Image

Until the next time, my babies.