Pre-Grieving

I should be home by now. In fact, I’m sure my coworkers are already snug in their Woobang nests. Instead I got off downtown for 2 fake errands…and I can’t really tell you why I did it.

I guess I’m starting to get nostalgic.

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Which…is dumb, because I’m still here, right? I have over a month to go. It’s like I’m pre-grieving someone or something that hasn’t died yet. But I feel it slipping through my fingers. Another week went by, then another, and another and it’s already almost the end of April.

I’m sitting in a cafe I’ve never been in that has open-air windows and I’m on the second floor, overlooking one of the busiest intersections downtown. Couples, kids, couples with kids, college students in letterman’s jackets (although I couldn’t tell you what on earth they lettered in), high school kids in their dark colored uniforms, and the occasional sore thumb foreigner walking by.

The weather is gorgeous, 68 degrees (20 for y’all metric/celsius normals) right now, at 7:44pm. There’s a slight breeze and there’s lights everywhere still. I’m facing another coffee shop (sans open-air windows, BOO), and I see 2 no, FOUR cellphone stores from my vantage point. Is it creepy to people watch this much?

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I think 98% of all the dudes walking by are drop-dead beautiful. I wonder if I will find Korean guys so heart-stoppingly lovely when I’m not surrounded by them 24/7. Sorry, all Korean guys. I’m watching you. You’re gorgeous. Don’t worry about stereotypes. If someone doesn’t want you or doesn’t like “Asians” then they are the idiots, not you. That said, try not to be dicks to women about their weight/looks (not that you all do that). It’s ok if you’re not into a certain type; just say someone’s not your style. Don’t be an asshole and point out exactly what it is. You’re not all Kim Woo Bin either. And if you *are* Kim Woo Bin, just. Message me. I’d like to punch you on the shoulder like a 8-year old boy on the playground and pull your pigtail and shout “I LOVE YOU” and then run away and tweet about our moment forever.

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I’m eavesdropping on all these conversations right now. I understand zero of them. I’m sitting with one headphone in and frantically typing this nonsense, looking busy. I look totally professional, right? RIGHT? I wish I could understand; I pick up words and verbs here and there but I’m like level 1-2. I know, I’ve been here 2 years and my Korean is still shit, despite all the kids being like “TEACHER YOU KOREAN SPEAK WELL” and my frantic “Shhhh don’t let a Korean adult hear that I”m talking Korean to you in class” mode.

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I’m so deep into pre-grieving that I’m looking into grad schools in Seoul despite the fact I’m A) definitely going to Chicago for at least a year to study at Second City Improv and B) I don’t even know what I would *want* to study. I’m all “I would maybe spend thousands of dollars on that major, sure, or maybe that one,” which obviously makes a lot of sense.

I hate this part. The tearing apart part. I put it off for so long that I pretty much just bleed when it happens. There’s no slow tapering off. It is violent and gross and I’m kind of worried how I’m gonna be those first few weeks back. Leaving Arkansas…I mean, it’s been two years and I still miss most of them with all of me. I sent them dorky care packages full of weird makeup samples and even weirder socks, and they returned the favor. Sure, the magic of technology keeps us tenuously connected, but it’s not the same. And I’m going to miss THESE idiots (lovely idiots) fiercely. I’m already planning on spending my weeklong Philippines vacation next month just sitting in an hammock writing thank you/goodbye letters to everyone (and that’s a lot of everyones). Or maybe I’ll just kidnap you all and put you in my suitcases. I’ll poke air holes.

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I know in my sad, sad, banana strawberry smoothie-filled heart that its time to go, though. Today I was walking to class and one of our Korean staff leaders asked me to take part in a group picture that I had no part of. In that, I didn’t know nor was I interacting with this tour group all day, they just wanted a foreigner face in their group shot. And I got so…angry. Just immediately, 1-60mph/96kph anger. We jumped over irritation immediately. In the past, I wouldn’t have minded. And I wasn’t having a bad day; I was doing ok. I was just immediately DONE. It was like “do you not see me walking to class? Do you think I must just be free since you see me?! WHO DISTURBS MY WALKING SLUMBER?!” And of course my customer service self said “sure” but when I walked away after the picture I looked at our Chinese intern and we both made the most irked bitch face at each other about it. And 20 minutes later, our photographer is in my classroom for 5 minutes taking “action shots” as I have a rude posse of 6th-graders ignoring me and I almost asked him to leave (super faux pas) before I yelled in Konglish.

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DGEV has been a good part of my life the last 2 years. I’ve learned a ridiculous amount of slang/Korean and met wonderful people both Korean and foreign, I’ve learned that I can handle just about anyone for 45 minutes and that I’m ok in front of crowds of people I don’t know. I didn’t think it was possible after working retail, but I’m even more comfortable introducing myself to seriously, anyone. Bus, street, doctor’s office, doesn’t matter–there’s always someone in your face asking “where are you from?” since the answer clearly isn’t “here.”

In a glorious way, I’ll probably never be rude to an immigrant again. Not that I think I was…I just now would have more grace with people. Being an immigrant/non-native you guys–it’s like pulling your skin off everyday. You’re putting yourself in an uncomfortable environment BY CHOICE and saying “I will make it work and I will become a better person through this.”

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I’ll never forget in my last 2 weeks at the fruit retailer, a guy came in and asked for “Opis.” I was like, “I’m not sure what that is, can you repeat it?” “Opis, OPIS.” *thinking* “Is it an acronym? I can google it for you” and he’s frantic, loudly saying “OPIS OPIS for computer, OPIS” and I’m like “can you spell it for me I must be doing this wrong” and he then turned and his eyes lit up when he pointed at a yellow box on our shelf that said “Microsoft Office.” A half-second later I realized, having read Roy-Gene’s post about f/p sounds for Korean ESL learners (wherein he found out that his hospital Visa visit “check finished” was definitely not “check penis”) that this guy was Korean and just wanted Microsoft Word and I was just in the way.

I cannot tell you the THOUSANDS of Korean people who have had buckets, mountains of grace with me. I accidentally swear in Korean, I mispronounce, I use the wrong level of honorific (or none at all) and they are unending in grace. They laugh at my bad jokes and over exuberance at K-Pop. They try their best to use English with me and walk me far, far out of their way to help me get where I’m going (even if I just got lost around the corner). They help me buy tickets and text cute boys and box up my groceries so they won’t be squished on the bus. So helpful.

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Maybe I could have gotten away with more time here. Maybe I could just change jobs and stay in Daegu. Or make the big leap to Seoul and do comedy with some of the Stand up Seoul people there–who are equally awesome. Maybe. But right now, I know that DGEV has been a good chapter, but the DGEV chapter just has a few pages left.

I don’t have words for how nervous I am about this Second City chapter. It’s scary and weird and what if I can’t make it in America anymore? I might now be as funny as many of you have said, but I want to try. I want to be a shriveled up, awesome old woman in sequins saying at least I tried it and didn’t wonder “what if”—OH MY GOD I just want to be Betty White, don’t I?! Well, that just clicked. But anyways, improv…I think it’s like Korea. I’m throwing myself somewhere uncomfortable and saying “I choose to make this work for me and I will become a different, better person through it.” Or at least look cool while trying.

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You are not perfect, Korea. Nowhere is. But you have been very, very good to me. You’re trusted me with your children, with your time, with a very lovely sum of money. You write English on your signs for me and smile when you see me like I’m someone famous. You’ve let me eat your food, blog about you and fall in love with your people. Thank you. I mean, I doubt Park Geun Hye would read this, and if she did, that it would mean much, but it’s been very, very good, and I’m grateful.

I’d like to come back sometime. If you and Kim Woo Bin would have me.

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Thingamabobs (you know, I got 20).

In the words of my Korean non-husband (WHO IS HAVING A COMEBACK ANNOUNCED TODAY), “long time no see long time no see.”

Here’s what you missed in the last 4 months on “Glee:”

  • Pizza Hut is the husband I tried to cheat on with McDonald’s, the evil, non-delivering, dicks and yet Pizza Hut lovingly takes me back like Hosea’s wife and delivers me gorgeous, glorious pizza with no trauma or difficulty or Korean. Website here
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  • me trying to teach kids how to say “freckles” and explaining it in Korean only to discover I’ve been saying “줄넘기 (julnumgi aka jump rope) instead of “주근깨 (jugeunggae aka freckles)” FOR MONTHS. MONTHS. “Hey kids, look at all the cute jump ropes ON YOUR FACE.” Not nightmare-inducing at all, I’m sure.
  • getting into an existential crisis about how I’m now Korean 29 years old (read this for why) and I’m like one foot in Ms. Havisham territory despite the fact I TURNED 27 JUST 3 MONTHS AGO. I’ve slid over into the mental block of being 29 and I can’t claw back out.
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  • doing one of those quizzes where you put your music on shuffle and answer questions to only get “This song describes how you will die: Too Much Food-Jason Mraz” and “This song will play at your wedding: Rollin’ Home Alone – Jason Lytle” which is unacceptable and hence I’m never playing again because my iTunes is clearly out to get me and artists named “Jason” are dicks.
  • met a guy from Bellingham who went to Sehome High School on my birthday in Seoul at a random, hole-in-the-wall bar and he kissed me on the cheeks 3x as he told me to smell a fir tree for him when I went home (I did).
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  • I’ve been writing down my dreams and you guys, you should all try this. There are some real gems, such as “at one point I reached up and touched his right bicep as part of the dance. then we took a weird group photo where someone sat on me and i was their legs. ” as well as “i was at first on horseback and we were like, trying to catch a old murder/solve on a and were riding down the hill behind the now food pavilion in lynden. […] then other people came and i fake slit my own throat and laid down in the water and watched what they did.” Just…even weirder things going on in my sleep, guys.
  • I need to throw out a shoutout to O’Fallon Brewery for spotting me a 6pack, and my former co-worker John Mitchell for draggin it over halfway around the world. I told none of my other fiends about this because you best believe I gollum’d those real hard and told NO ONE MY PRECIOUSES WHEACH BEER JUST FOR ME.
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  • Just was gifted some gummy bears from a student and the bag said “made with real fruit juice” and let me tell you that is a nightmare waiting to happen. I used to work on a raspberry harvester and when the season is done and limping out with its’ tail between it’s legs, that’s when you do “juice” barrels (or some farms just do juice only). If you’re lucky, there’s a sorter sitting there throwing out the weirdest stuff (dead birds, worms, plastic bread ties, mold, unsolved CSI mysteries), but usually, there’s not. They are literally pulling blood from whatever turnips (raspberries or whatever else) go across the belt. So the next time you see “made with real fruit juice,” you better start hoping you get one of the *good* superpowers.
  • Saw my first Korean celebrity, “God of Asia” Lee Min Ho, when I went to H&M for a pair of leggings and emerged empty-handed to about 250 people outside the doors looking expectantly towards the black, heavily-tinted bus in the street. I grabbed a passing Korean girl and, gesturing at the bus, asked “누구세요?” (who is it?) and when she replied I shouted “진짜?!” (REALLY?!) in her face like a grown-ass woman clearly in control of her faculties. And let me tell you, it is unfair for him to actually be so good-looking in real life. There is some weird juju going on there. anigif_enhanced-buzz-14966-1389606273-34 vs IMG_0592
  •  Had an impromptu 8.5-year high school reunion when I was home and everyone is married to everyone else’s somebody and half of the people are showing baby pictures and it was great. Beer and people you used to be afraid of sharing bottomless fries with you is just magical. Also, when you see a guy that 16-year old you had a huge crush on and 27-year old you is still like tumblr_lu5jnkcTFs1qd3x44 then you know it’s time to go before you embarrass yourself and his mom (hi Leslie!).
  • I have less than 2 months left in Korea. I know. It’s weird. I’ve decided to go ahead and pursue a year (at least) of Second City improv comedy training in Chicago. Yeah, dreams! I can’t even tell you exactly what I’m going to do with it, but unless I want to be a shriveled up “what if” grandma wondering about it…I’m going to do it now, before the aforementioned fake Korean husband locks this down. Classes start August 17 and before then I’ll wrap up Korea life, travel to 3-4 Asian countries (Japan, Philippines are locked, possibly also Thailand, Cambodia and/or a Vietnam, China) and then be home for a couple of weeks, Tulsa/Little Rock for a week and then the great migration to the Windy City around August 1.

I’ll let my spirit animal, Adele, close us out.

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Zen.

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After feeling slightly, lovingly chastised from my Nana last week as she told me how she checks for my blog every Sunday and I hadn’t posted, I’m back with a post about finding some tai chi or whatever, early on the posting schedule because I gots stuff to do tomorrow!

Myself and Marty, a newer teacher from BC, Canada, and I decided we were going to go and see Thor 2 last night. It would have been the second time for me and the first for him, but hey. Why pass up an opportunity to see Chris Hemsworth’s muscles and Tom Hiddleston’s pained looks?

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So off we went, and met up with Roy-Gene at HomePlus (Korean Walmart) after we discovered that Thor 2 didn’t play until 8:30, was 2 hours long and our shuttle left at 9:40 and neither of us wanted to pay $20 for a cab because we’d miss the shuttle just to see said muscles and faces. So we decided to go shop for irrelevant things (and yes, I can hear some of you saying, “but you’re a person with iThings! Why didn’t you just download an app or consult with the great and powerful Cupertino and know what time the movie played before you got there?! Well, little sassmouths, I tried and the CGV app is all in Hangul [Korean] and there is no option to switch it to English. Also my link with the mothership terminated on my last day. I can no longer predict iPhone releases or what size iPad is the best fit for you either, so there).

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After Marty and I had each bough a frivolous, excellent hat (mine makes me look like Amelia Earhart, I’ll selfie it soon) and rung out, the three of us decided to head back to the Donga/Daiso/Chilgok IC4 “aka our pickup by the shuttle” area. Having an inordinate amount of time and being relatively fit (read: have 2 legs, will walk), we all decided to walk along the river back rather than take a $3, 3 minute cab. You know, I would have been fine with the cab but heck, why not walk.

IMMEDIATELY these two take off at bat-out-of-hell-speed. I had just bought a donut and was totally fine with hanging back and eating it alone slowly, lovingly as the brisk November wind whipped through my greasy hair and the river babbled away on my left and older Koreans walked by me swinging their arms dangerously.

This past 2 weeks we’ve had some staffers from the University of Colorado: Colorado Springs (UCCS is the partner school with Yeungjin College for DGEV) visit, which they usually do about every 5-6 months. This time they brought a therapist, Dr. Field, with them to talk about resiliency in education for students and educators, which was a great topic and opened my eyes more to what motivates students and also how we can not all go crazy being here. I kid, I kid. Kind of.

I put off wanting to talk with her one-on-one for a week and then had a slight panic attack on Tuesday that she was leaving Thursday morning and I wouldn’t get to run my current dilemmas past someone who is a professional and might actually talk me out of my tree (which is a tall, knotty, difficult oak). She graciously agreed to meet with me and hear me out about life.

Guys. Therapy is such a weird word. Such a loaded word. Really all it is is just talking. Talking to someone who can help you untangle the rats nest you’ve made of your thoughts and memories and hopes and dreams and fears. I’ve gone in a couple times to talk with someone in Arkansas and it was truly one of the best decisions of my life. It was put best to me as “if there’s something up with your foot, you would see a doctor. No question, right? So if you’re worried or there’s something you need to talk out why wouldn’t you see a doctor?”

There is something wonderfully, gloriously freeing about telling a stranger who has no reason to root for you, no obligation to be in your corner all your life and having them look in your eyes and say “that’s a lot. You are allowed to feel overwhelmed. Your feelings are valid.” It’s like opening the doors at the end of Legally Blonde and walking into the whiteout.

It doesn’t solve everything (or sometimes anything) other than your own anxiety about being anxious about your feels. I want to just dump all the pieces of my life and push them across the table and then look up, hopefully, and say, “how do I put it together? What should I do?” But a therapist is neither a genie nor a toothless gypsy soothsayer. Unfortunately. That would be kind of awesome. But really, I don’t know how legit advice would be from someone who lives in a lamp or who is lacking in good oral hygiene.

Regardless, it was the 110% right decision. She even said “I think you’ve already decided what you want to do. Trust yourself.” I’m almost 6 months here, guys. 6 months of looking back to missing all of you in Arkansas and Washington and Oklahoma and 6 months of looking forward nervously trying to figure out “what am I gonna do?” And I’ve realized that with so much past and future that I’m missing the present.

Yeah. That was kind of cheesy. You may slap me 1 time the next opportunity you have. 1 freebie. But truly. I’m trying to think of things I’ve done here in 6 months and there’s so much more I wanted do want to do. And now it’s about to get cold as Jötunheimr up in this place and the opportunities for traveling and hiking are getting slimmer.

As I walked behind Roy-Gene and Marty, I realized that I didn’t need to speed up. If they wanted to walk fast, go for it. I’m walking along a river in Korea. IN KOREA. There’s maybe 3 of you reading this blog who will ever be able to do that. And here I am worrying about job opportunities when I get back in June, 6-7 months away. There’s a mammoth, gently-curving monorail being built along the river that makes all of the neon behind it look like the world Blade Runner was supposed to be. My donut was nothing like the Lynden Dutch Bakery nor Shipley’s (long may they prosper), but it was a donut. I’m healthy. I have legs that work. A threadbare NorthFace. Jeans without holes in the thighs (for now). Sturdy fake Converse that carry me. A comfortable bank account where I can buy faux-Amelia Earhart fur hats and peanut M&Ms and a random pomegranate. An iPhone that I can take pictures and capture my sights.

How unbelievably stupid and selfish to not breathe deep the crisp November smells of crackly, decomposing leaves; bow and whisper “anyong hashimnikka” to the Koreans getting their brisk walks on at 8:26pm; and just rest in the moment. This moment. This moment to remember and treasure and just be in. I don’t need to look forward nor back and miss out on being here. Just walk and tear off pieces of donut and breathe and take another step and be in Korea in this time and place and hop on stones across the river and swing my plastic bag and just smile. I’m happy. My heart is pulled in a lot of directions but it’s resting here. And here is blessedly, beautifully happy.

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40 Days and 40 Nights.

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This is why I don’t do journals. I skip a day, or a week or a month and now I’m all THERE’S TOO MUCH TO SAY WE MIGHT AS WELL CURL UP IN A BALL AND JUST EAT CHEEZITS AND WATCH DR. WHO, Y’ALL. I realized today on my countdown that there’s only 40 days and 40 nights (still not over you, Josh Hartnett) until I land in Seattle for Christmas. Apple pies, Diet Coke and family times!

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Ok. So its been almost a month since you heard these thought-to-word patterns (hold on I just remembered I have to message someone congrats on Facebook) and I’m back. 

This is what’s gone down:

  • Zombie play is complete! While it was a great ol’ time, I am exhausted and was ever so glad to rest up this weekend. I also fulfilled a lifelong dream of losing part of my voice as well as hanging out with some super-cool people. Next week is the 24-hour play festival and though I’m terrified as heck, I think I might try to write something. 
  • I got a phone. Well, to be honest, I took my unlocked iPhone 4 with me, but finally got a SIM and some service to call the friends I’ve made (you and I both know I made them all up, honestly). 
  • Celebrated 5 months in Korea on Friday–Steven and I both wore jean jackets to commemorate the fact that I viciously tweeted the following on the first day I met him: Image
  • Saw Thor 2 and fell madly in love with Tom Hiddleston all over again. Have barely restrained self from googling “tom hiddleston girlfriend” for now. FOR NOW, I SAY. Image
  • Dressed up all last week–thank you DGEV!–as zombie, Spider-Man, Ursula from The Little Mermaid (which confused the Koreans a LOT) and a vulcan from Star Trek (which REALLY confused them as they though my vulcan ears were “hobbits.”) Image
  • Visited an American military base, Camp Carroll, in Waegwan, about 20 minutes away. Is it possible to get anxiety attacks there? I was the only foreigner with 10 Korean adults on a field trip–and we’re all eating amongst a sea of American camo at Pizza Hut, Subway and Popeye’s Chicken. It’s really weird to see no Hangul (Korean) writing and to only hear so. much. English in one place. I felt like I wanted to say hello to the military people but didn’t because A) what would I say? and B) I don’t want them to think like 10 Koreans kidnapped me and are keeping me for themselves or something. 
  • I have had the most wonderful, sassy adult students this month and it gives me hope. The Ulsan City Officials group of 7 that were so high that we could have moralistic conversations in fluent English, the Daegu City Officials that all hugged me and tried to set me up with their sons–they’re so lovely and I miss them already. Image
  • Drank booze out of a ziploc bag at Bunny’s–it was magical and I can’t wait to do it again. 
  • Missed Apple peeps immensely as new iPad launched, Mavericks released and WHAT IS THIS iPHOTO AND iMOVIE UPDATE YOU GUYS?! 
  • Watched the amazing, breathtaking Colorful Daegu Festival 2013 parade and even made a video about it here! (sorry, no can embed) https://vimeo.com/78453759
  • Took a shameful amount of selfies that I can only 64% attribute to my Halloween costumes… Image

And now I’m heading off to bed to sleep and prepare for the next week of whatever. Maybe I’ll even shave my legs if I’m feeling adventurous, you know, for TOM’s sake (yes, I already googled it I have no self-restraint). See you in a week!

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SpiderPig.

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In which I spend the best $10 of my life but first talk about my feelings. I really like to make you work for it–believe me when I say this title is going to pay off by the end. You are welcome to savor it. (Above photo top left (TL): flying saucers and my toes, TR: just that everyday Korean life, BR: FaceTiming with the Dad for his birthday, BL: New less-than-$3 scarf that I never want to take off.)

Sometimes it takes a concerted effort to relax. I’ll notice that I’m walking really fast, but there’s no destination. I’m carrying a ton of stuff in a backpack, but I don’t even use half of it. I’m frantically searching for something to buy, but I don’t need anything. It’s interesting how the subconscious can work like that. I didn’t think “walk faster,” but I was. I didn’t need a new hoodie,” but I wanted and felt like I needed it. I’m no psychologist, but I find it interesting to shrink my own brain. I have to stop, say “slow,” and make myself see things. A new coffee shop. A sweater that, gasp, looks like it will actually fit me. A 40-minute sit alone on my laptop at the shuttle pickup, relaxing in the perfect weather at 8:22pm on a Sunday night.

Dang. I feel so good right now. I still miss all of you. I’m fracturing a little, into my horcruxes. There’s the me that misses all of you and still sometimes cries at the 2 months until family time and unknown amount for the rest of you. That’s harder, the not knowing. I learned that after college. Once I started working for Apple, there was no guaranteed Fall Break, Christmas, Spring Break, etc. Every time you said goodbye you didn’t know when the next hello would be. It’s easy to ‘x’ off days, but when there’s no finite number, it is overwhelming. As millennials (that sounded even more pretentious then I thought it would), we often make our friends into family. I think that’s especially true for those of us that move far from our family–while they are irreplaceable, someone must hold that position of accountability and unconditional love in your life that you can see everyday, so we create new siblings and forge new bonds that feel almost as strong as blood.

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And there’s also new me. Who is old me, who all of you know, but who is Korea me. I can get somewhere and the language barrier is a scalable thing. I can take buses, subways, transfers, cabs, trains–and still get home, safe and by myself. I can buy new things without hating the cost (as much). I mean, I’m not throwing it out there, but it’s nice to flex for a $20 pair of shoes. Which I just did. I’m not afraid to ask for help from a kid, an adult, another foreigner, the internet. Apple taught me that. There’s always going to be specs and products and adapters and How To’s sort of things I don’t know–Google is my best friend. And if not, a big “I’m stuck” smile and a polite “mien hanmida? (excuse/pardon me?)” is gold.

I don’t hug as much, which is really weird since I definitely consider myself a hugger. You can always ask for hugs, but that feels unusual. I can also offer hugs, which is fine. But I miss Mom cuddles and Dad hugs and Lisa squeezes and Everett long hugs. Those ones where I know you’re coming out of your love at me and I don’t have any choice or social reason where I get to refuse. I’m just getting loved out of your overflow and swimming in happy.

Sometimes I don’t miss you guys. And that’s a strange feeling. I’m just sitting here on my laptop feeling very “I am a 25-year old, self-sufficient American woman living in Korea and today, I’m doing ok. I’m doing the damn thing and I’m not failing at it and my heart isn’t shattering anymore.” There are times when I think about staying another year. And there’s times where I think DEAR GOD JUST PLEASE LET ME GET TO THURSDAY, I CAN COAST TO FRIDAY FROM THERE IS IT THURSDAY YET WHY IS IT ONLY TUESDAYYYY?!?! It’s not a decision I have to make soon. I’ll be home for 2 weeks in December, and I don’t have to make the great renewal decision until I think around January 1st. Start preparing your arguments, “yedera (you guys).”

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Sidebar: You know what’s great about Korea? There is (knock on wood) like no crime. I’m sitting outside a building–a car dealer, I think–in a city the size and density of New York, eating a banana and typing on a $2500 Mac. And no one is bothering me. They walk or ride their bikes on by, savoring the last few hours of the weekend and the glorious, just-enough-wind weather. Couples holding hands and walking slowly, groups of adolescent boys in tracksuits and blindingly bright running shoes shoving each other and laughing, pairs of girls with one earbud in each giggling and all of them fantastically themselves. I’m pretty content in this moment…except the part about sitting on a granite step. That is starting to get a wee bit concerning.

Let’s see, my day, my weekend, my week: I’ve been participating in the Night of the Living Dead production with the Daegu Theatre Troupe and it’s been pretty fun. I’ve met some great people who have opened my eyes to thrift store shopping in Daegu–just you wait until the reveal at the end of this, where I spent the best $10 EVER–and took me around to find where ladies of the night buy their hair extensions, for you know, *science.* We had play rehearsal both Saturday and Sunday, which was a little draining to get out from the village and stay out until the 9pm shuttle both days since it’s an hour-long trip each way and you’re dependent on a bus that only comes back at 3 and 9pm. But I got to get some great food–even Indian!–and hang out with Jill, who I met at DTT auditions and is one of my favoritest people here, as well as a shopping buddy now!

I’m at the bus so early because I fast walked/trotted over to the “saucers,” which are apartments with what I can only assume as helipads on them that are brightly lit at night–They’re actually apartments called Centro Palace and are a pretty well-known downtown icon at night (see top left in the above photo), but I prefer alien saucers, don’t you?–to meet up with a lady seller (that didn’t quite come out right…) to buy a romper. At night. In the dark. But don’t worry, “Korea Me” is super confident and kind of intimidating since I’m bigger than 89% of the population, so it’s all good. We found each other and I bought a romper! Don’t worry, Trace, it’s not all bad. It’s quite cute, although it’s sleeveless and might need a cardigan A) because the weather is getting cooler and B) it is scandalous as hell to have bare upper arms/shoulders in this country (and if I’m being honest, C) because I don’t really like my upper arm/shoulder area…).

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Now I’ve slowed my roll on over here to sit, eat a banana and enjoy the rest of my night here, which should last another 14 minutes. I keep forgetting to download this time lapse app that Carp showed me to record with; I want to just set it in the window of the bus and show you the night colors. Some things about Asia are exactly what you’d think: lots and lots of neon and bright night lights, cutesy animal icons and strange logos.

Guys, I kind of want to try on the romper. I’m in leggings, red Toms shoes, black slouchy hat, glasses and red Star Wars tshirt (which another guy in the theater troupe was wearing today. Of all the shirts in all the world from all the Target men’s sections, it had to be on both of us. On the same day.). Oh the bus just arrived and saved me from the shame. ON THE BUS and there are only Koreans. I think every possible village guide and Korean YJC-Chilgok student is on here. There are no teachers–which is weird, considering how many of us got off downtown at 3, but this is the only bus back since then. Either someone with more experience is teaching them one of about 3 ways back or they are about to spend a lotlotlot of money on a cab home (about $30-40).

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Ugh. Bus typing is not nearly as much fun. 1, there is no beautiful weather enclosed in the bus and 2, the jostling makes typing a little difficult. However, I will say my butt is at least marginally happier off the granite.

This is so rambly. But of course, if you know me and you’re reading this, it doesn’t surprise you. I just jump around, jump around, jump up jump up and get doooown (insert music break). Speaking of music, I’m really into Lorde’s entire “Pure Heroine” album right now. She looks kind of odd and watching her perform is kind of spooky but I could (and have) listened to that album on loop. I previewed the whole thing, put it on my iTunes wish list and yet only held out for about 26 hours before I just went ahead and bought it for $10. (Don’t worry, this is not the aforementioned “best $10 ever” that was promised, that is coming later. Although I would say the album is also worth $10 if you have it to spend. It is much more than just “Royal,” though that track is excellent.)

Do do do do do how have I written almost 3 pages of mostly single-spaced typing? And why was it so difficult to do in college? This is so easy peasy to record my brain chirps. Merpity merpity merp. Happy song. Happy chirps. Happy me.

So onto the greatest purchase of 2013, maybe all time. We had descended to an underground thrift store (I mean this not in a hipster-y “it was so underground and exclusive” way, but rather in a “we descended into a dimly lit batcave so ‘underground’ that it was LITERALLY underground” way) to see this huge yellow Southern Belle costume for a theme party one of the girls, Kita, was going to tonight. As she got it off the wall the rest of us wandered off, picking up leather Hard Rock Cafe jackets and 80’s electric teal snow pants (which looked eerily familiar to me) when I saw it on a wall. The most gloriously, fleecy red and blue object that is treasured by millions, dare I say billions of people the world over: a Spiderman fleece onesie.

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I picked it up, carefully cradling the precious in my hands as the wrinkly ajumma wandered over and held up 10 fingers. Only $10?! WAS SHE ON CRACK?! (1. No, because pretty much all drugs here are zero tolerance and they will send your ass straight to jail with like no chance for parole for even smelling like weed, regardless of your citizenship and/or good looks and 2. If anything this lady was clearly smoking mothballs.) Now, I’d tried on a few things during the day’s thrifting, almost all either not fitting my voluptuousness or just looking daft (I’ve been reading a lot of Bear Grylls and hence I like this word) as heck–I had pretty much zero chance of this one working out. But I held it up and thought, “maybe.” I slipped the right leg over my jeans, thinking “okay, not terrible.” Left leg, “acceptable.” Now the scary bit: hips, “mmmmkay.” Shoulders–am I too tall for this? “Nope, it’s working.” I’m starting to feel the first dangerous inklings of “could it actually be?!” Breathing heavily, I did up the buttons. With every one, my “ohmygoditisworkingitisworkingitisworking” grew until the last button was fastened. I looked in the mirror and threw the hood over my face and turned to face the huge (3 person) crowd that had assembled. MerryDeath (who I *think* is named Meredith but chooses for obvious awesomeness reasons to go by the former name) said, “If you don’t buy that, we can’t be friends.”

And now I own a Spiderman onesie and at least one new friend.

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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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