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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Fish Fillet O’ LIES: How Korean McDonald’s Delivery Broke My Heart More Than Boys

So in Korea, you can order McDonalds AND THEY DELIVER IT TO YOU. These crusaders of goodness mow every pedestrian in their path down to get to you (I know because I appreciate their work ethic from the sidewalk they pushed my face to in their quest for short delivery times).

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So now that I’ve approached the twilight phase of this time in Korea, I found myself up at 11:36pm talking to YMKCW (Young Male Korean Co Worker) on Kakao (a messaging app similar to iMessage, but cross platform Android/iOS/PC/Mac), and we were mutually complaining about how hungry we were and I decided I was not truly an expat unless I could figure out how to order McDonalds at an ungodly hour. Despite YMKCW’s (very nice) offer to order for me, I turned him down and turned to the internet because I am a woman who solves her own hankerings for questionable food products, dammit.

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I was directed to McDonald’s Korean page, and chose “English” in my tab. And then I chose “Order.” And then the problems started.

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WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? Oh. Oh. Wait. What the hell is my address? *frantically scrounges in wallet* Note: I usually get all messages/mail/packages shipped to my school’s address, which I have memorized. I’ve never shipped anything/written my address to my actual apartment down.

Bailey>YMKCW: What’s our address?

YMKCW>Bailey: your address?

Bailey>YMKCW: Yes?

YMKCW>Bailey: you don’t know?

Bailey>YMKCW: I know the region/city/district/neighborhood…

YMKCW>Bailey: I have to look it up

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**suddenly runs to kitchen because I realized I HAVE BILLS like an ADULT, y’all, BILLS BILLS BILLS which have my address on them.**

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ITS HAPPENING. I”M DOING THE THING.

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Wait. What the hell is this. I JUST WANT TO STUFF MY FACE FULL OF MURDER. What even is this message?! WHY ARE YOU KEEPING ME FROM BEING HAPPY? *PS: do not put these kinds of messages in Google Translate because it is strange as all hell*

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PPS: It said something like “please select the proper address we found” aka the blue link in the bottom but I COULDN”T UNDERSTANDS.

Bailey>YMKCW: What *IS* this?! FEED ME ME FEED FOOD BIGBANGBIGBADBIGMAC

YMKCW>Bailey: your address? just click the blue address and then confirm.

And then….finally…the big moment:

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Champion Professional Mountain Climbery.

Growing up in Lynden, I kind of hated the Pioneer Museum. Yes, Phoebe Judson is a saint, she named Lynden with a ‘y’ instead of Linden because it was prettier….blah. I realized that there were a lot of places around Daegu that I didn’t know, and started my vacation last week  with a $5 tour around Daegu.  An entire tour bus, a non-English speaking guide, a driver and…just me. Do you see where this party train is going? 

We began by checking out the Bullo-dong Tombs in eastern Daegu (Dongdaegu), which are huge mounds of dirt where it is thought the rulers of the area in the 5th and 6th century AD were buried. My guide was (is?) a professor at Yeungjin College, my employer, and had a laugh or two with me in the sunshine as we walked along a bunch of graves. His daughter is a pharmacist (or going to pharmacy school?) in LA, and he told me how he misses her. 

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Next we visited a brass museum, which was a little forgettable since pouring molten hot metal and beating it with sticks *sounds* like my jam, but really isn’t. Well, maybe *actually* doing it would be, but watching videos of it just isn’t. Then we drove to Mt. Palgongsan and Donghwasa Temple, where I fell truly, madly, deeply in love with some lanterns. This is when my Korean and Chinese speaking guide began to warm up to me as she watched me chase grains of rice around a bowl with chopsticks in vain. She has a 4-year old daughter and is expecting her next one, a boy! in just 4 months. Sidebar: I have got to stop hanging out with so many gorgeous pregnant women because I am not carrying another life and I haven’t figured out how to dress as classy.

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By far my favorite part of this tour was the Daegu Safety Theme Park, which might be a slightly tragic translation error for somewhere with a memorial of the Daegu 2.18 Terror incident in 2003. Just like everywhere else I was the solo person accompanied this time by a Yeungjin graduate (YJC IS EVERYWHERE THEY ARE BIG BROTHER), Josh, who took me inside this huge room that was actually a hydraulic lift to watch a super sad video dubbed terribly in English about the attack that claimed 198 lives and injured over 147 more. Hearing a girl call her mom on a cell phone and say “There’s smoke, I can’t breathe, I love you” in Korean just broke me. As the video ended and the lift went down to the floor I stepped out to see the actual subway car they had transported to the park. I can’t really remember a time in my life where I could reach out and touch where someone had lost their life. It feels strange to me that my favorite tours aren’t sunshine and lollipops and aquariums but places like this and Alcatraz. Where life, messy and heartbreaking, happens. (“I’m sorry” written in Korean at the memorial, below)

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So then I got on a bus to Mokpo, 4 hours away, and discovered that I had told my host the wrong week that I was coming. This prompted a flurry of filling out my CouchSurfing profile, AirBNB, Facebook,  and attempting various smoke signals to try and find somewhere to stay that night. I was kind of nervous excited (read: terrified) about maybe sleeping in a jjimjilbang and kept repeating that Helen Keller quote: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” I arrived in Mokpo to see Jenna, a high school friend, arrive with blankets and a place for me to stay with friends of hers that night. 

RISE AND SHINE, YO, YOU GOT A TOUR IN THE POURING RAIN TO DO! Another day, another guide with almost no English at all, 4 museums, a lunch where I put a whole clam in my mouth and raw oysters too, 5 Koreans over the age of 50 and then…then…I climbed a mountain. 

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On our Mokpo tour there was a couple in their 50s with maybe 1% English to my 2% Korean. So we had pretty much just done a lot of smiling at each other for about 4 hours. The tour ended and the guide asked me, “you want to climb Yudalsan?” Thinking it was all part of the tour still, I said “YES!” only for him to jump in his car and leave me looking at the two of them as they gestured to get in their (very nice) car. 

Now…Single White Foreign Female 101, Chapter 2: “Liam Neeson Will Not Always Be There” ($39.95 on Amazon) dictates that getting in the car of a nice looking couple with which you cannot communicate is not really the *best* idea. But in the spirit of Ms. Keller and saying “yes” to unknowns (Improv Comedy 201)…I got in. We drove about 5 minutes to the base of the mountain (please, nobody google how tall this mountain is, I know I was no Bear Grylls here but I’m proud of my tiny accomplishment) and the rain is starting to just dump out. I’m in dark jeans, wool socks, Nike Frees, a deep green hoodie and my 8-year old black North Face fleece and my hosts are in full-on Korean hiking gear. If I looked like a natural-colored wayguk bear waddling around, they looked like a flower garden full of the happiest, brightest poppies you’ve ever seen. So we started climbing. The rain got worse. Station 1. I feel good. Station 2, it’s getting slick. Station 3, fog. Summit. A glorious, rainy, happy heart. I wonder how I ever work indoors. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. I belong here on top of mountains. It’s in my hair, my eyes, my joy. Rainy, cold, wet, and the Koreans are laughing at how happy I am. I’m thinking of Marty and Mr. Kredit and home and here and wishing I had someone to share it with. But you can’t wait for someone else to live your life, right? At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. 

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Going back down was treacherous but we found a surprise temple as we came back–hello, Indiana Jones, where are you? My hosts asked “jowa Soju?” which means “do you like Soju?” and I answered back with a slang phrase taught to me by Freddy Richmond, the cool, smoking older brother I miss dearly: “hanjan harkayo (lets have a glass).” Which I meant as a joke…and then we started driving around a shipyard and I was quite convinced that I was about to be cut up for parts. They’d tested me out and found I was halfway competent at climbing things (aka lots of stairs) and were going to sell my organs to the shipmongers. Which was fortunately not true as they then took me to a restaurant where we ate live octopus (낙지) and Soju! I only wish I’d taken a photo…but then you wouldn’t have seen all the tentacles squirming, which was kind of the coolest thing ever. I know that kind of luxury isn’t cheap and they wouldn’t let me pay for it either. NakJin and JeongSun: Thank you for teaching me about friendship without words; it’s not something I’ll easily forget. 

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And then…Seoul. I took the KTX going aaaannyywhere…to Yongsan Station. I putzed around eating kimbap outside a palace and walked around Bukchon and another palace before my 2o’clock tour of the Bukchon Hanok village. The village is full of hanoks, a style of wooden houses that grew in popularity in the 1920s and 30s as Seoul expanded. The area is carefully preserved and yet very modern. For my Arkansas friends, think Hillcrest. Tulsa friends, think Blue Dome district. Old, historic, and full of too many hipster artists to count on both mustaches. I then went down to Itaewon, the foreigner district, for an hour to hunt down a few cans of Diet Coke and a new shirt or two before attempting to rendezvous with my host for the night. As I sat on the floor of Nowon Subway Station…I started to feel…off. I secured secondary housing (the second time this week, if you remember), as my host thought I was again coming a different day (do I need to set my clock differently or something?). And as I walked into her place, I pretty much became *that* scene in Bridesmaids. If you know, you know. I was every character in every place in her tiny bathroom. I nominate me for worst houseguest of the ever.

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After surviving the night, I pretty much crawled home to Daegu and the safety of my bed. Which only took about 9 hours to do, but still. MADE IT. 

I had a difficult time with this vacation. I requested it over 6 months ago to go to Hong Kong with college friends, but plans fell through in January. I only get 2 true vacation weeks of my own (we have to take 2 at Christmas) per year, and here I was, *wasting* it (or so I thought) as I bounced through Korea, a county I already lived in. Work was very slow this week, with people having mornings or whole afternoons off and I was angry that I was gone on an easy week. Angry I had to use this time and felt like it was wasted. Friends were in Thailand or Bali or the Philippines and I didn’t even leave the peninsula. And then I got sick and had to come home from Seoul on Friday rather than Sunday. 

I’m instead trying to focus more of my world on positives: 

1. I didn’t have to teach at all this week. 

2. I climbed a mountain. 

3. I ate live octopus and soju with absolute strangers. 

4. I saved some money! I think!

5. I saw some really old, unique places in this world that I may never have seen otherwise. 

I leaped. A little leap, but it felt kind of good. Next time: bigger leap. 

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Acting out.

I should write more often. But because I should, I won’t. I don’t. It’s been over a month now since my last post, and that’s ok. Things here at the Village keep on trucking; we’ve had a lovely and slow 3-4 weeks thanks to exams and grade changeover in the Korean schools. Most of us had the opportunity to co-teach with several different coworkers, giving some new insight and ideas into classrooms and management. I was most definitely blessed to see a big variety of classes and work with some of my favorite people and see how they run their classrooms, which is great. 

I’ve just signed here for my second year at DGEV, which will renew as of June 1. I’ve found a lot of happiness in teaching our university and adult students, and without further education on my part, I wouldn’t be able to do that at a university or college in Korea. I’m really honored to have the chance to lead the Adult Program with my 6-year partner-in-crime-and-chocolate, David Brown. He’s heading out April 1st, but he’ll get me up to speed and then we will have a large ceremony where he will transfer his power to me by the ritual passing of the sock puppet, a hallowed tradition. 

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On a personal note (I mean, clearly this website is all about me, so of course it’s all personal), I am positively chuffed (thanks Brit friends!) to say that I did my first real acting yesterday. After a power-course of rehearsal all day yesterday, Daryl, Nikki, Rae and I produced something beautifully insane and genuinely fun. We were one of 8 groups participating in the first ever Daegu 10 Minute Play Festival. Our story, “The Zister Sisters” was written by someone in the Carolinas, and depicts 3 strange sisters’ attempt to check their mother into a nursing facility. The youngest sister, Edith (Rae), is lovably, laughably lost, 20 and still waiting on her Hogwarts letter. Elaine (Nikki) is the middle sister, and hasn’t been home for 10 years–she’s currently sporting an English accent and some suggestive business wear. The oldest sister, Edna (meeeeee) is fed up with the fact that she has to care for their 86-year old mother, Edith, and herself, having just divorced Ben Isaacs, “a rich old one-eyed Jew man from Detroit” who cheated on her with the produce lady from the Piggly Wiggly. Hilarity ensues as the sisters clash and the director of admissions, Fleming (Daryl) tries to keep the peace. 

I thought I was going to mess everything up. All 3 of my castmates have done acting (Nikki was even in the Les Mis film, SHE SO LEGIT) and I was convinced I *was* the weakest link, goodbye, embarrassed that 10 of my friends from work paid money to see me ruin the thing. BUT I DIDN’T RUIN IT. It was funny and great and magical and I didn’t throw up and my voice didn’t shake and I love, loved hearing people laugh. It was like a superpower. I even got a message from a friend of mine who I really respect as a writer with a lovely, warm compliment and I’m just bursting. I’m so grateful to my friends for coming, for laughing, for buying me drinks after and most of all, for putting up with me. 

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(me, Rae, Nikki and Daryl)

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People I am lucky to call friends and work with (plus Marty and Elins, who came too)!

 

 

Pros vs. Cons vs. Chimek

Few things are more sacred in Korea than chimek. The ritual so awesome it got a celebrity mashup name, chicken and mecju (beer) is known pretty much the moment Korean kids enter the world through the portal of cuteness and stickers from whence they come. It’s super social and frankly, super awesome to have fried chicken and beer as plentiful as Starbucks in Seattle.  

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However…it’s not something you usually do alone. And here I am, solo white female wayguk (foreigner) on her laptop watching Dr. Who, having ordered a $16 basket of chicken and 500ml beer on my own. If I’m being honest, I only know of like 5 restaurants in Chilgok, and most of them are social-oriented. I haven’t really found places for people desperately alone…or maybe I’m just not looking and MAYBE I JUST REALLY WANTED CHICKEN, Y’ALL. 

I got off campus on the 2:20 bus thanks to the generosity of David Brown and 3/8 of my soul sold to the scheduling gods—hanging out with my friend Elins on the ride in as he tries to teach my brain how to not insult people in Korean—so I decided to hit up the CGV and see if there were any movies worth watching. After soothing my soul with the baby blue pools of peace that are Chris Pine’s eyes in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” (sidebar: when have financial analysts ever been SO DANG HOT), I meandered over to one of my favorite Chilgok coffee haunts: Coffea Coffee. 

I like it for the cement wall atmosphere, not for the fact that the bathrooms are OUTSIDE and you need a passcode to get in them. I put off peeing for 2 hours until I was ready to eat my own arm off (and also ready to go into kidney shock or whatever [insert Brianna medical term]) and went. Way in…good. Wait 4 minutes as employee having smoke break is chatting on the phone in the stall…painful. Way out…APPARENTLY I SET OFF SOME KIND OF ALARM AND SO I JUST RAN. Yeah. Reaaaaalllly classy way to represent all foreigners: setting off the bathroom alarm in downtown ‘burbia. At one point I pretended to talk on my phone in Spanish. THE SHAME. 

Having run and following the whims of my stomach, I stumbled into Okkudok, gateway to chimek heaven and personal torment. 

Me: “Hi! Aanyong haseyo!”

Dude: “Aanyong haseyo.”

Me: “Uh, one. Hanna. Hanbyeong.”

Dude: (weird look)

Me: “One person. Solo.”

Dude: (holds up one finger) “…hanmyeong?”

Me: “Yes! Neh! Just…solo. Hanmyeong.” 

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Just so you are aware: hanbyeong means “one bottle,” so God only knows how that sounded. 

And then I walked over the bridge over Terabithia, into the Daiso, and bought DB a water bottle because I’m afraid his kids will all be mutated due to him reusing the same cheap, single-use plastic water bottle for the last 4 months and then sat my butt down at Starbucks, ordered a $5 tall vanilla latte and just planted. I’m about 10 minutes away from the bus, which comes in at 9:25 to go back to the commune. 

I totally didn’t start this one as a “let’s do a play by play of the most exciting Tuesday EVER,” but there it is. I started it to talk about my feelings about being 8 months in and needing to make some serious decisions about the future. But in classic me mode, I’ve put it off with rambling about the mundane for 40 minutes. 

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So at DGEV, you need to make a decision about renewing when you are 8 months into your 12-month contract. Which for me is February 1, aka about 10 days from now. In November/October I was convinced I wanted to go to Chicago in June for 4 weeks of training at Second City Improv. And while that’s still something I want to pursue, I’m not 100% convinced it’s the right step for right now. I…kind of like Korea, you guys. 

I’m sitting in a Starbucks and there’s…46 people that I can see in here and all of them are (or at least look) Korean. Not a single foreigner. And that doesn’t scare me. It’s…kind of normal. It’s kind of nice to sit and just listen to the static of not understanding other people’s conversations. And it’s not unlike that game on “Whose Line” where you can make up whole conversations that people are having based on their body language. 

I like the people I work with: Koreans, foreigners, whomever and I finally feel in my stride at work—I’m co-chair of the Adult Program with DB, I’m part of the Social Committee, I have free room and board and gym and heat and water and a HUGE bathroom all fo’ no’ moneys. I can probably name about 100 Korean words or terms, and can slowly sound out words in Korean and write them myself. Most importantly I have about 3 insults I can use, which is gold in any foreign language. 

I told one of my Korean friends that I was thinking about staying another year here and was really surprised when he said, “that is good…and bad.” I said, “Don’t you want me to stay?” “Yes…but you are sad.” GUYS. WHAT. I actually feel mostly happy and good (at least *decent*) at my job now and don’t curl up in a ball and weep missing you all most nights. But it’s totally taken me aback and I’ve been questioning it the last 9 hours. Which would probably freak him out knowing how much trauma that’s caused me. Am I sad? I don’t…think so? I don’t feel any more sad than I did living in Tulsa, or Little Rock. Sure, life is up and down and sometimes you’re in a relationship and it’s great or you’re in a relationship and you’re lonelier than when you’re single and you see couples everywhere and some days the job is magical and you teach an old person how to FaceTime their kid in Afghanistan and sometimes you’re screamed at because a rich, drunk 24-year old dropped his iPhone in the lake over the weekend and OF COURSE it’s your fault as the creator of the device itself and sometimes your students laugh and love you and sometimes they sleep and mumble about how you’re a fat waygookin and sometimes you fall asleep texting someone special and sometimes you fall asleep heart wrenchingly lonely, but that is the same anywhere, not just in Korea. So…what I’m trying to say is that I don’t feel exceptionally sad.

tl;dr that last paragraph: I *think* I’m not sad here. 

I kind of feel like I’m at the point of excitement and joy about Korea, learning Korean, and exploring things and people that I should have been when I arrived…it’s only taken me 8 months to get here. 

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BUS BUS BUS 

I love public transit here. Cheap, simple, reliable DEAR GOD WHY CAN’T I FOCUS WAS IT THE CHICKEN IT WAS THE CHICKEN, WASN’T IT.

OK, so, back to decision time. Let’s list it:

Pros vs. Cons

Pro: free room and board and gym and shuttle and wifi and utilities

Con: it’s kind of out in Egypt and is a real buzzkill on weekends to get into Daegu and meet non-work people

Pro: living overseas! Widening horizons! 

Con: sometimes you’re not really in the mood to stretch and it’s really frustrating, also, language is really difficult.

Pro: new people!

Con: you miss old people (old being relative) a lot. A LOT. Technology is a shallow representation, but kind of better than nothing. Insert clip of “Lonely” by Akon.

Pro: Cash moneys

Con: is there a con? I don’t think it’s corrupted my soul yet…

Pro: build up a resume of international work

Con: have no home base

Pro: Koreans are almost always awesome and loving and kind and funny, especially if you’re willing to try their language.

Con: Koreans are sometimes mean and very blunt and straight up rude to foreigners. 

Pro: re-signing another year means +$1000 bump in pay plus another round-trip airfare to anywhere. As well as a favorable look at my evaluation and potential annual bonus. 

Con: brain dislikes the idea of another year adrift with all things in 3 different states and 2 countries, as well as heartstrings snapping as I spend another year away from relationships. 

 So…clearly I’m not any closer to making a decision, but here’s where my brain is currently at: 

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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.

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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