The Long Overdue Wrap Up Of A Whirlwind Week In The West

Let’s get in our Tardis and jaunt on back to the week of June 20-28, when…too nerdy.

A month ago, I spent a week back in the states…too boring.

#MURICA. JUNE 20-28. (THAT’LL DO PIG, THAT’LL DO)

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So I got to go to my various homes and here is that story.

**For best experience, play song**

I hopped in a plane at TAE with a dream and no cardigans, off to Seoul for 9 hours. How did I fill those 9 hours? GREAT QUESTION, YOU DIDN’T ASK! There is a jjimjilbang (Korean spa) in the bottom floor of the airport and I went down there to explore and paid less than $10 to sleep for 5 hours and soak in the hot/cool baths. If you remember my previous naked jjimjilbang horror story from last summer, don’t worry: this was nothing like that. I mean, there was nakedness, but no emotional/physical scarring. Just blissful sleep on a hardwood floor and solo soaking. I didn’t see another soul near me the whole time. Incheon Airport earns my vote for best.airport.ever.

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I then slept fitfully through about 11 hours of flight until I landed in God’s glorious green Promised Land: Western Washington via Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. I squealed as I hugged my mom and two sisters and we (almost) all went on a mutual pee break before starting the drive back to Chez Bai(ley).

Upon arrival at the Nest, I discovered my dad, our dogs, and my Nana’s homemade Raspberry Pie. And although my body didn’t know what time or day it was, my stomach started hyperventilating at the thought of real, Washington raspberries (I left last year before raspberry season and it almost killed me [y’all know my blood was almost exclusively Diet Coke, raspberries and David’s Original Salted Sunflower Seeds before Korealand]).

I spent 4 sleepy, blissful days with my family at home: going on a lunch with my Dad at Boundary Bay Brewery and exploring a farmer’s market after which my dad proceeded to disobey me and keep snitching the artisanal whole wheat sourdough bread we got for dinner. Belated Mother’s Day (and early Brianna birthday) pedicures lady-times, steaks and lasagna and just lazy, jet-lagged, 4am happy-for-a-Keurig moments with the people I love and who put up with me living far, far away.

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**view from the end of our driveway**

THEN THERE WAS YOU, ARKANSAS.

From SEA>PHX with Brianna then PHX>LIT solo, then I was back in the land of Sonics, sweet tea and hogs fans. I was wearing shorts (I know. I flew in shorts. I wear shorts now, thank you boxing) and a tshirt and just felt like everything in life was clicking back into place as I hugged Michael, was gifted a nice, cool can of Diet Coke and we headed to the place where I cried, sweated and loved: The Apple Store.

And there you all were.

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The cool tones of the heavy tables, the immediate straightening of iPads that my fingers couldn’t stop caressing, the dulcet tones of indie-pop and cobalt tshirts. Oh, yes, and the people. My husband, the Bearded One, rustled out of his perch of power; the now ear-pierced Trace, my host and stylist; Abs, who although he had promised me his voice would startle me when I returned TOTALLY STILL STARTLED ME; and Lisa and Rampage and Everett (update: still smells like I imagine Jake Ryan smelled outside the church with Molly Ringwald) and Jonathan and Patrick and and and and all of you. God, everyone. Even if I didn’t like you, my heart was so happy to see you. Even if I met you that day, I was so, so happy. I forget how a place becomes a home. And while Arkansas is gracious and accepting, the people that work at that Apple Store are in a special class of magic. Thank you guys for molding me, loving me, and most of all, for missing me. I only teared up once. Or twice. Counting is irrelevant.

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Look at these gorgeous people. Such family. Much love. We Ross shopped, Birks shopped, strange-drag-white trash-awesome-shopped, we ate (Chipotle, Damgoode Pies, Shipley’s Donuts, Whole Hog)…and I just cannot say enough about these people. I am most myself around them. I want to be better and aim higher and laugh more and make them laugh. I don’t really feel worthy of them all missing me, but then again, that’s what I think a friend-family is. They have seen me cry and grow and fail and win and cry again and hopefully there is a time where we will all be in the same place again together and continue doing that.

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OK, no more sad sad, onto Tulsa!

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There’s truly no better way to start off a road trip than with Shipley’s Donuts. In fact, I just called Ruth Bader-Ginsberg and we stamped that into law. You’re welcome.

Michael and I began the drive to Tulsa and talked and laughed and I cried and we listened to music and it was strange, doing it again a year later, in the same car and same drive and just a better life place. For both of us.

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We wanted to swing by the revamped Woodland Hills store, so I alerted the local paps and got this reply, which is hands-down “Why I Love Jeff Smith 101.”

 

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After more hugs and intros and people I also love, I hugged Michael goodbye again in Tulsa and strutted into the Mayo Hotel as the very classy doorman (bellhop?) let me weep a little on the marble floor and 9-floor-long elevator ride behind my huge sunglasses.

Thus began 36-hours of wedding: rapid 20-minute change into dress, new birks, some semblance of make-up and jump into a huge truck to the rehearsal dinner.

Sister Act.

Sister Act.

Then the next day, I got to sleep in a little and go do mini-boxing workout (already out of shape from 1 week of non-jump roping…) with Dad as the other Bailey ladies had to go and sit for their hair/makeup preps. I spent the morning sweating, then drinking fantastically strong coffee, going on a long walk around downtown Tulsa with my Dad and talking about life. I’m really glad I had no data on my phone this trip; it really made me want to wring every drop out of being with my family for such a short time. And being able to just SIT and watch dogs in fountains and drink water and talk with my Dad was priceless.

We then hoofed it back to the hotel as I showered and started my relatively simple get-ready process, watching Alien on my laptop as I curled my hair, my Dad yelling out plot points from the other room. I snuggled on my dress and off all 5 of us went to the trolley. YES, TROLLEY! to the church.

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The beautiful thing about being family and yet not in the wedding party was a) not buying a dress, b) not doing that all-morning in a suite getting ready thing, and c) relaxing, having no job.

Oh, everyone has to take pictures? Haha, not us!

Oh, everyone has to take pictures? Haha, not us!

Then we laughed, we danced, we sang, we ate, we danced some more and Jordan and Luke were married. I shoved everything into my suitcases…which surprisingly had a lot of room left HAHA WAIT FOR THAT IN THAILAND HAHAHAHAHA…and slept for 3 hours before going to start the next leg of the journey: TUL>DFW>ICN (no spa this time)>BKK.

Thank you beyond measure to my families in Washington, Little Rock, and Tulsa. You lighten my soul and I will be back in two shakes of my two sizes smaller butt.

Until then…

anigif_enhanced-28447-1402951723-13…in Bangkok.

 

 

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Night Blogging Is For Idiots, And I’m One Of Them.

If you asked me what one of the stupidest things you could ever do is, night blogging would be in the top 5. Behind hotdog-eating contests, black tar heroin and Snapchat, #4 has got to be night blogging. #5 is probably texting and driving or something mundane like that.

We’re all so brave in the darkness, aren’t we? It’s why we love campfires and candlelight and sitting outside under the moon. Our secrets scurry back like roaches into our hearts when the sun rises or the fluorescents come back up.

Jetlag is kind of a bitch, you guys. I haven’t posted since mid-November and I thought I should squeeze one more in before I turn 26. Or in Korea, pre-28 (you’re like 1 when you’re born and then everyone gets a one-up mushroom on January 1st. So I was 1 for about 13 days and then turned 2). Lovely system, that.

When I first went to Korea I would wake up at 4am, then 5, then 6 until now I have to roll out of bed by 7:45 in order to shower, sprint into the caf, grab a piece of toast and setup my classroom by 9. Versus here where I’m going to bed at 12am, 2 and now 4am and sleeping later. Is it supposed to get worse before it gets better?

I got in bed at midnight, then decided to start watching “Gangster Squad” as it’s one of 4 movies in my iTunes I hadn’t seen (because I forgot to load new ones up, sigh), promising myself I wasn’t going to watch the whole thing. Good lie, self, it’s now 3am. So then I turned off the laptop (you sense foreshadowing, grasshoppers) and rolled around in the dark for 24 minutes trying to mentally write a letter and just getting more and more upset.

SO WHAT DO I DO?! I get up and sit down in my closet and go through bins of my old stuff from high school. What a perfect way to soothe your troubled, emotional, teary heart, huh? “Dang I looked good then.” “Why did I think that outfit was great for picture day?” “I wonder what happened to her?” “WHY do I have so many people’s senior photos?! And Tolo pictures from people I’ve never met?!” “I wonder how much weight I’ve gained since then; oh look, here’s my dresses hanging up in my closet…maybe…” no, no, I refused that. Mostly because I’ve tried it before while in college and I know if it didn’t work then it’s not working now.

Being home is weird. It’s not the first time I’ve said that either. I’ve now lived not-in-Lynden for 7 years. Tulsa, Little Rock, Korea—I’m making a wide loop around this little town. I know that everyone has that “I’ve-grown-and-I-don’t-fit-in-the-same-emotional-(and-physical)-shape-that-I-did-before-and-how-do-I-reconcile-adult-me-with-old-me-that-everyone-here-knows” dilemma. Which I’m sure compounded with attending my now-high school age younger sister’s basketball game tonight. The same court where I slid and sweated and laughed and cried and spent hours and days and years of my life on. To see my same coach. To see some of the same parents. To see old teachers. And strangely, to want to hide.

I love seeing my family, I don’t dislike the hard-working feel of this place, and there’s about 20 people I miss dearly here…but for the other 89% of you…if I look like I’m on the phone, I’m probably not. I don’t have a SIM card for this country no mo’. I just don’t know how to act around you.

It’s weird to think about turning 26 tomorrow and looking at my old ACT scores (31, y’all) and my sports tshirts and the smiling, makeup-less face of my younger self. What would she think? Am I happy? Did I think I’d be married? Did I think I’d have more stamps in my passport? Did I have any concept of what Facebook would be like? Would she be proud of who I’ve become? Let’s cut the shit—am I proud now? Am I happy?

I don’t know the answer. I can truthfully say I’m happier than I was 6 months ago. God, that move was difficult. And for as much training as I did with customers and coworkers at Apple, I was not prepared for Koreans (who are lovely, amazing, gracious people, but it’s different), for children, for “WHAT DO ALL THE SIGNS SAY” 100% of the time. You keep expecting there to be a relief but you’re living there now. The mission trip does not end in 2 weeks, dear.

I finally feel comfortable in my job. I know the right jokes, the right timing, the right mix of clownish foreigner and how much soju I can drink before spilling state secrets. I have now taught from 1st grade to 60+-year old government employees how to hopefully speak better English…or at least how to murder each other at dodgeball. I have Korean friends (I know! I haven’t scared them all away with my crazy!), and I can write my own name in Hangeul (unfortunately that is due to rote memorization and not because I have mastered the language).

In short, I’m comfortable. I’m 6.5 months complete of my 12-month contract. I have enough deodorant to last through the inevitable rise (and subsequent fall) of the Terminators, and enough Korean skills to not embarrass my school in public.

But having just crested and now starting the downhill slope of the summit begs the question: “What’s next?” There’s a finite end to this contract, unless I wanted to renew.

Options:

1. Move back to Arkansas, love all my friends to bits and have no idea what to do with my life/job but be very well-fed by Trace, well-entertained by Abs and well-loved by Beard and Co.

2. Enroll in Second City Summer Intensive for the month of June in Chicago, learn to act and write improv comedy for 4 weeks…then…dunnos…move to somewheres and hopefully implement said learnings.

3. Renew contract with DGEV or merp over to some other school and stay in Korea as a teacher.

4. Move back to Lynden/Whatcom Country and watch my sister continue to grow up and be gorgeous and amazing and being with my family and learn to cook and not be selfish and live far away and have no idea what to do with life/job but at least I would be with family. Maybe become a sports coach.

5. Pursue potential opportunities with tech-based IT consulting firm that hunted me down on LinkedIn and wants me to do Field Support work as a Mac/iOS technician for Facebook Korea (Seoul) or Facebook Australia (Sydney) and move to said places for at least a year.

6. Become a reclusive hobbit, wither, die, haunt you all as a Internet ghost. Marry Benedict Cumberbatch’s ghost and have tiny detective ghost babies and a pet pterodactyl.

The thought of going somewhere new and ripping my heart of out another place might just kill me. Truly. I’m still not over you, Arkansas. I love really deeply and I just want to give and love and find a home. When I decide you’re mine, it’s over. You all get down deep inside of my heart and though I hide it with snark and putting my face in my iPad, leaving is traumatic. It gives scars. Imagining that pain again, so soon, makes me having to consciously think happy thoughts and rock back and forth.

I open my heart and eyes and my arms to any feedback or comments anyone reading this might have, and thanks for listening. Especially you, Benedict Cumberbatch. We need to decide what to name the ghost babies.

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PS: Mom, I’m sorry, but I’m gonna need a Venti tomorrow/today.