Paper Anniversary: Chicago

One. Whole. Year. In Chicago.

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What happened?

  • Got rehired at a great job; free transit, great co-workers and tolerable dad jokes.
  • Started classes at Xavier’s School For Clowns Who Think They Funny
  • Found legit big apartment with 2 roommates who were equally legit and has affordable rent in a safe and cute neighborhood.
  • Discovered 7-Eleven’s rewards program where they give me a free soda after I buy 7 and 7 is God’s number…so…7-Eleven is now the church of Diet Coke.
  • Began attending a Krav Maga gym full of loony characters and lovable idiots. I even voluntarily went camping with them in June.
  • Joined a survey through Northwestern University to kick my own butt about being healthier: it’s just tracking food and tracking activity. That’s it (30lbs down)!
  • Got new roommate that has a BEER FRIDGE and seriously, if that’s not enough she’s the only person who asked me about my life in the interview. #numbah1draftpick
  • Graduated from Second City’s A-E Improv Program after a first-day-of-class fire happened.
  • Ran in the Color Run for the 2nd time, got 2x as much powder and was a magical unicorn.
  • Saw so many ridiculously good sketch shows and improv sets and women being bold as all hell in their comedy. Inspiring and challenging.
  • Took a Korean class and surprisingly, got an award for being the top student in our class. Also won a pound of coffee for making a shoddy keynote, but caffeine addicts such as myself refuse to recheck the numbers.
  • Helped write a Second City Student Revue with 6 of my favorite classmates of the aforementioned Xavier’s School FCWTTF.
    • Shows will be August 26, September 2, 9, 16 and 23rd (more info to follow)
  • Went home to Washington State and was invited to perform at the Upfront Theatre in Bellingham. My family and friends (all 15 of you!) got to see what I’ve chosen to move halfway around the world for…and I got to perform with their incredibly welcoming MainStage team, including the OG himself, Ryan Stiles.
  • Eaten 4 deep dish pizzas, 2 Chicago hot dogs (sans ketchup, natch), 1 Italian beef (dipped) and 1 Old Style Beer.
  • Created a 90s-themed improv show “And A Bag Of Chips” with my babes from Coached Ensemble and we SOLD OUT THE THEATER.
  • Purchased 1 Cubs hat and 0 Bulls, Bears or Blackhawks gear; attended 0 professional sports games.
  • Complained about “Lolla” approximately 4x this weekend and took a picture of 2 17-year olds sitting shirtless on the floor of my Brown line train. Fools! *shakes grandma fist*

It’s been a great year, y’all. It’s not all sunshine and Sears Tower ledges and Aidy Bryant sightings and there’s sometimes more loneliness and tears than I’d like to admit, but overall this still feels like the right place for right now. I’m learning and growing. Plus, most of the people I’ve met are pretty darn great. I’m proud of doing this so far.

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To us, Chicago. Get me a good gift. Preferably one with cheese on it.

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Yes, and watch me now.

I’ve graduated from several things. High school, college, CELTA, potty training (debatable)–and today, I graduated from Second City’s Improv Program.

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10 months ago I moved to Chicago. I had no long-term housing, only 10 hangers, and didn’t know anyone. On a muggy Wednesday last August, I sat in a room with 19 strangers and wondered if this would be my tribe.

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Was I right in having moved halfway around the world from Korea for this? Would they get me? When would I eat Korean BBQ again (still unanswered, which is unacceptable)?

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Then…a woman with a foreign accent slammed open the door and shouted “You must get out of building, the roof is on fire!”

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And ever since then, we’ve been stuck with each other. Sure, we’ve subtracted and added some members as the months went on; scheduling and life and new jobs and such, but overall, these people were my lifeline.

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I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to Wednesdays so much. From 11am-2pm I got to see these stone-cold weirdos, then eat lunch and frantically scribble nonsense for my 4-7pm Writing class, which will continue until August.

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It feels pretty unreal to think that next Wednesday morning I won’t see them. Not Jolie’s I-just-came-from-the-gym-but-I-probably-look-better-than-you-did-at-prom stylings, nor Scott’s this-is-just-improv-but-I’m-singing-this-operatic-scene-like-the-pro-I-am and Patrick’s I-broke-my-kid’s-ankle-beating-him-in-capture-the-flag moves.

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These people have supported me, loved me, encouraged me, let me cry on them (even ugly cry) and championed me in ways I haven’t deserved. We were all just a group of strangers trying to follow our fear or defeat our anxiety or live our dream and our willingness to be open on this journey and love each other has changed my life. Not a joke.

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I promised myself (and my family and friends and the rest of y’all) that I was going to give this comedy thing at least a year. I owed it to myself to try it. To see if it’s a real thing, a true thing, or if it’s a fling.

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I think it’s a thing, guys. And I’m not going anywhere yet.

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The roof, the roof, the roof was on fire. No, really.

Also known as: “The true story of how my X-(Wo)Man powers manifested for the first time ever during a class at Xavier’s School For Comedy Nerds and hence I tried to burn my own dreams to the ground.”

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I was only 20 minutes early to class yesterday, which David Brown should be proud of; I’m still not 100% used to relying on public transit everyday and my 3-hours early to the airport brain was still in full effect. I ran into Starbucks to get a donut to go pee. I mean, I probably didn’t need the donut, but a) I didn’t want to be THAT early and b) having worked retail, I get really neurotic about using bathrooms where I feel like I don’t deserve it/haven’t bought anything. That sounds weird but makes sense in my brain, I promise. Also I just wanted to smash a donut into my face what more do you want from me?!

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I walked through the hallway between Adobo Grill and Starbucks on my way to my first ever class at Second City, trying to just be cool and not pulling a Disney princess spinning moment in the lobby.

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Improv A will usually meet on the 3rd floor, but because summer intensives are finishing this week, they had us go to the 1st floor…which is a little bit less shiny and gorgeous, but still. SECOND CITY CLASS, Y’ALL. We could be in a literal dungeon and I would still be excited.

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When I came in at 10:57am, there were about 15 people sitting in chairs around the perimeter of the room and it was dead silent. Not even a sniffle. I quietly sat in a chair between two guys, and tried to melt into the walls. 2 minutes later, our teacher, Kevin Reome arrived and we started class by taking roll, moving into some fun games to loosen us up physically and mentally as well as learn each other’s names.

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As we kept building on one of the games, each level gave us more info about each other starting with names, favorite band, favorite movie and finally, birthplace. When it came to my turn and I said “Bellingham,” one guy on my left said “ooooh” and I looked at him and thought “there’s probably a million Bellinghams, right?” and because the game was fast-paced and ongoing, I didn’t really think about it again until his turn, when he said “Seattle.”

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We made eye contact, and as he said “I went to Western,” my little heart burst with such joy. Dumb, yeah yeah, but having just moved here less than a month ago, it was so…”nice” sounds like too trite of a word, but sure, nice to have someone know where I was from. Ryan and I chatted on the break and he knew where Lynden was. LYNDEN. Tiny, little, Dutch, don’t-buy-alcohol-on-Sundays-Lynden!

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We all jumped into another game, and about 15 minutes after the break…

No, but really. Suddenly, a woman opens the door to our classroom and shouts in a Slavic accent “You must get out of building, the roof is on fire!”

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We all looked at each other and at Kevin like, “is this…is this like a thing? Is this a hazing thing?” because come on. A Russian woman shouting that there is a fire on the roof on your first day of the first class of improv comedy? It was like they were insulting our intelligence.

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But Kevin grabbed his bag and said “let’s go,” and we all hustled outside, back through the labyrinth of halls out to the Piper’s Alley lobby, and then we smelled (but didn’t see) smoke. The Piper’s Alley building (where Second City lives) is a 4 story building, and if there is smoke smells all the way on the 1st floor…something was clearly going down.

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We exited out to North Ave and saw 4 fire trucks had already closed the street and a couple of hundred people were on the far side, taking photos and talking. I have a sneaking suspicion that someone kind of forgot we were back there in the dungeon…I mean, clearly everyone else is already out and the calvary closed the street during the time for…whatever. Eventually someone remembered and, foreshadowing: the fire never got down to the 1st floor so ultimately we would have been fine and never the wiser until class let out 45 minutes later.

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It doesn’t look terrible, right? This is about 5 minutes after we came outside, 12:56pm. We snuggled our 17-person class together as Kevin told us, “we’re definitely not going to be allowed back in, so class is done and I’ll see you all next week Wednesday.” Half the class left, and those of us who stuck around soon realized that as the smoke got heavier we were standing around getting cancer, so we went moved east, out of the wind pattern.

Ryan and I rounded the corner onto Wells St to find a bar and grab a beer, since we would have class at 4pm again together (Writing 1), and we saw what looked like the heaviest part of the smoke coming out of the 4th floor/roof above Adobo Grill and several Second City offices.

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I mean, it didn’t look great, it’s a FIRE, but it still looked minor-ish and like something that would be resolved in time for us to have class in about 3 hours. We grabbed a beer in Corcoran’s Grill across from Second City, and chatted about where we were from, why we were taking classes, and such. We noticed that more and more people were coming in from the back door of the bar, but no one was leaving out the front…when we peeked out the windows, we saw that they’d closed the sidewalk and that the fire was most assuredly not improving.

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Yeah…we’re not having class today. Ryan headed home and I stuck around for another hour, actually running into my professor for our writing class and meeting him for the first time, and walked back out to the intersection of Wells and North to see the full scale of damage. It was not pretty. I hadn’t realized quite how bad/far spread it was, having stood only on one side most of the fire, but it was extensive. About 5 minutes after this picture I couldn’t even see down North Avenue past that tree.

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I had a moment here, on the corner, where I actually wondered, “what if there isn’t a Second City left?” What if I moved my life here from Korea and the dream is drifting away in little ash flecks from pictures of Bill Murray? Which is kind of dramatic, and rude, considering there are a million and one amazing options for comedy and training in Chicago, such as iO, Annoyance, CIC and so many more.

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The Chicago Fire Department reported that over 150 personnel were deployed for the 3-alarm fire, and you could tell. So many fire trucks, ambulances, support vehicles and people were present, shutting down the streets in every direction and while I was a little disappointed that Jesse Spencer and Mouch never showed up, it was still impressive how much coordination I saw between firefighters, paramedics, police, reporters and even the bystanders.

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Hello, news helicopters.

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Oops. Caught.

Around 3 I decided that since I wasn’t making a difference, was probably in way and definitely had way too many pictures, I grabbed a bus and headed to early dinner with Joanna, a former co-worker from K. Hogwarts (she still works there). So, something good did come out of that fire, I suppose, because we didn’t think we’d be able to meet up due to my classes and her schedule, but we did! We gorged ourselves on chicken at Crisp (where her brother works), laughed, reminisced, licked our fingers and chatted about life.

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Photo stolen from Joanna, but taken by her brother, who makes damn fine chicken.

I’m still not sure what they’ll do about classes for the future; it seems like the offices were destroyed but the theaters are safe. For the full story, including details of how the fire started, here’s the Chicago Tribune’s report and photos from the Chicago Fire Department’s official Twitter that show some of the damage.

So…how was your first day of school?

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Waiting and Waiting and Waiting Some More.

I wanted to wait to blog until after tomorrow, my first Second City class, because that’s what I’m here for, right? I’m so excited I could barf. I’m so terrified I could barf.

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But I wanted to blog about this feeling (not the barf one), the waiting. The ‘just wait’ season I’m in is about to end and I’m so glad because I am not great at it. I feel like Rapunzel in Tangled just dancing around my hair jungle and asking my stuffed totoro “When will my life beginnnnnnn?!”

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I finished my job at K. Hogwarts on May 31, spent June in Japan and Korea, traveling, saying goodbye, etc. July 1 I flew home, fought a WWE bout with jetlag, loved on/with my family and friends, and flew to Tulsa on July 22, seeing folks, driving to Little Rock on the 24th to chill with my friend family and finally, driving to Chicago with Michael on July 31.

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I’ve spent August pretty much just…sitting. It is the worst. It’s great to sit for a weekend. It’s great to vacation for a week. Or two. But having spent 3 months (THREE MONTHS!) now not working, not having structure, not having a patch of space that is mine mine mine is…exhausting. Which is probably the most pathetic first-world problem ever, says I, a white woman sitting in a Starbucks and blogging on a $2500 laptop.

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But it’s true. I moved out of my Korea apartment on June 6, and since then, have stayed in people’s apartments and houses, and I’m so grateful, truly. I am just tired of traveling out of suitcases (even though I have stuff hung up in my place now), and I want to just have my space to hang stuff on the walls, eat off of dishes I haven’t seen in 2 years, laugh/cry about what I thought was worth saving before I emigrated.

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Since I have had almost nothing on my calendar, I’ve become a weird, nocturnal squirrel. Probably more like a gremlin, if we’re being honest, since I like to eat after midnight and do occasionally shower. I go to sleep anywhere from 3-4:30, waking up from 11-12 (once, 12:45), and I don’t consider myself fully awake until 1-2pm. Which is ok on a Saturday or vacation, but other humans don’t subscribe to my hours, so I find myself watching unhealthy amounts of Criminal Minds, convinced someone is going to kidnap me from my basement room; I talked to Kevin, the dog of the people I’m staying with, holding long conversations about how much poop we could fit in the plastic bags I was carrying (hers, not mine); I probably have enough frequent flyer points at Walgreens to open my own franchise; you get it, I get it…

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HOW I LOOK SO GOOD

I AM BORED, PEOPLE. BORED. And I realize that it’s no one’s fault but my own–I’ve ventured out to get a library card (nerd), walk the dog, get groceries, explored the Broadcast museum downtown (free admission AND free Rice Krispie treats, can I get a HELL YES [also, nerd]), walked the dog some more, fallen in love with Matthew Gray Gubler’s muppet-isms, had some beers with a couple of new and re-activated friends, picked up dog poop in bathtub, ordered weird stuff online (including your birthday present, Brianna, YAY!), Skyped people I love and miss, laundry from sitting around in own filth, this list sounds impressive except its been FOUR WEEKS of this.

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But finally, it seems about to change. Classes at SC start tomorrow, I just signed paperwork for a job that starts on Friday…finally I have a reason to get out of the house before 9am…I’m just ready to go. To try the damn thing that I moved from Korea to do.

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YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! *pumps fist*

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Hello, Chicago.

I’m sitting in a Starbucks on Irving Park. In Chicago. I live here now.

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No, really! I do. I am.

I came home from Korea on July 1 and spent 3 jet-lagged, laughing, warm/hot/muggy weeks with my family. I got to meet my giggly poundcake niece, Olivia, take Zoe on a walk to the park, eat green beans right off the vine from my Nana’s garden, have sweaty grass hugs from my Papa, listen to Brianna rap in the car, shoot some jugs full of water in the backyard with Dad, cook all my favorite foods with Mom, watch Em drive and start basketball games and come home from a One Direction concert like me after BigBang’s. It was wonderful.

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Then I flew to Tulsa, hugged a lot of people, ate some real barbecue (MY GAWWWWWWWD YES), and went to Little Rock. Where I then proceeded to hug even *more* people, ate more real barbecue and other assorted favorite foods. Someone tell me why my pants are tighter… And then Michael and I drove me up to Chicago (with a pitstop in BFE Missouri to see Casey & Steven, my favorites), dragging a beached whale of a U-Haul trailer halfway across the country to start my new life.

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So, I’m here. And in less than a month, I’m starting classes at the Second City Training Center. The home of comedy legends. And here I am, a 27-year old woman who majored in Broadcast Journalism at a small Christian college, who worked for the retail arm of the #1 company in the world, who just spent 2 years teaching in Korea and traveling in Asia…jumping off of a cliff. A metaphorical cliff.

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Except I am. At least a little. Right now, I’m walking around my neighborhood, Albany Park (unofficial Koreatown, which is kind of hilarious in the context of my life); learning a new bus system, carrying pepper spray (yes, Dad, its in my bag now). And I’m not scared of Chicago–not smart–thanks to 2 years of super safe life in Korea. I’m scared that I’m going to be bad at this–that I will have romanticized comedy and my role in that world.

I like comedy. A lot. I like performing it. A lot. I love when something I’ve said or done can make someone laugh, in any language. And I don’t know if Second City and improv and sketch writing is my niche. But I feel like it’s now or it’s never for this step–before I don’t have the funds or the ability to go, before I have another person’s dreams to consider or tiny humans who look half like me run around–I want to try.

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So I’m here. And I’m about to try. And I’m looking forward to where this next step in my life is going. I know a lot of you are as well–your texts, messages, calls and prayers are all balm to my heart. They are tamping down the doubt and insecurity that threaten to overwhelm me in a gas station bathroom in rural Lick Creek, Illinois and every time I look at Amy Schumer sketches and think “could I do that?”

So, to parallel how I began this blog over 2 years ago, the night before I left for Korea, I’m taking a deep breath and thinking:

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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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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.