One. More. Day.

Okay, I think I may have jumped the gun a bit. Turns out I AM sick. No wonder I've been so tired and moody lately. Whatever. All I know is that I've got one more day of entertaining, grading, shushing, and wearing retardedly uncomfortable dress shoes. Hooray for vacation!

Aside from being snotty and gross for the last few days, I spoke with Dawn this morning and apparently the whole PNW is snowed in. Flights are being delayed and/or cancelled left and right. Oh dear god I hope she gets here in one piece. I've SO been looking forward to seeing her smiling face for the last 3 months...

And now, for your viewing pleasure, my flickr DILO. I cheated a bit, and did my 'day in the life' on Saturday. Whatever. Sunday was snotty and full of bitching, complaining, and an unsuccessful trip to Costco. 'Nuff said.

In this DILO: My room, Gyeongbukgung, Insadong, Chungmurro Station and various points in between. Check the whole day here.


Last night a DJ saved my life.

Bleh. I feel the winter blues have finally set in. I am tired and I want to sleep all the time. I go to bed early and get up late. I don't want to socialize. I am not sick, but everyone around me is. I am burnt out and tired of teaching. I miss my family. I feel like I've been holding my breathe for 8 months. I need to exhale. I need some open space. I need a break. I hope the vacation will recharge my battery for the downhill slide.

Kashiwa Daisuke. At least there's a silver lining.


-6 Degrees Celsius.

It was bitterly cold on Sunday, but I managed to get off my ass and outta the house to take some photos.

Deoksu Palace.

Ellen and me.

King Sejong.

Squishy Koreans.

Ellen and Judy.

Seoul Museum of Art.


I've never seen a finer Jesus.

Hey, Jesus has got a point...
See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die


Robots take over Hagwon-ga

I finished a couple of drawings this weekend.  I feel they accurately depict life on Hagwon-ga. Enjoy.

Polybot 1

Polybot 2


Thanksgiving Feast

So I just realized I've posted more this month than in any month past.  Maybe I DO have a lot a free time.  Whatever.
Last night was our Thanksgiving feast at Justin's. It was spectacular. Normally I think Thanksgiving is a big ol' waste of time.  I mean, come on, a holiday centered around the complete massacre and subsequent takeover of an entire race of natives?  Not really a time to celebrate.  But I digress.  This day I truly had much to be thankful for.  That, and the food was phenomenal. 

I gotta say that Justin and Jamie know how to throw a good dinner party. These two men single-handedly (or would that be double-handedly) put together a damn good traditional American meal in a country where kimchi is the shit.  Hell, a week ago Justin didn't even own an oven. 

The menu?  Turkey, of course, with what Justin called a 'bacon yarmulke', sourdough bread stuffing (WITH breakfast sausage), homemade hobak juk, mashed sweet potatoes, good old garlic mashed potatoes, a delightful waldorf salad, the most amazing candied yams, Amanda's kick ass green bean casserole, and potato soup (come on, potatoes are really easy to get in Korea!) Oh, and green salad. But who wants salad when there's so much fatty deliciousness in which to partake?!  

It was actually a really good time spent with really good people.  My mom called late last night to see how dinner went and it broke my heart a little to tell her that, although I love her, this was possibly one of the best Thanksgivings. Well, except for the FIRST Thanksgiving.  Gotta give credit where credit is due.  
Anyway, I love the sense of community that living in a foreign country provides and it was really awesome to see all of my friends and coworkers cooking and cleaning and chatting and enjoying themselves.  Even if there was no pumpkin pie.  Check the pics here.



This is why Christmas in Korea is kicking Christmas in America's ASS.



I like photography.  For many years I forgot that I liked photography.  Korea has reminded me that I like photography.  And now I have a new obsession -- picnik.
Taking pictures is fun.  Editing, manipulating, and tweaking them is even more fun.  Check it:

I took this pic last summer at Hyeopjae Beach in Jeju.  It was a weird day.  Hot and sticky, of course, but then these clouds rolled in and generally cast a pall over the beach.  I was feeling more than a little lethargic at this point.  I'd been in a funk all day; unfortunately I failed to convey that in this pic.

This was my test run shot on picnik.  I think the the sky and the clouds and the sand  look eerie. I was feeling really bizarre that day, not myself at all.  The contrast of colors and the highs and lows capture my emotions far better than the original ever could.

Damn, I wish I had more free time...


10 Reasons Santa's Not Coming to Korea.

Now that I've done my part in assuring you that I do, in fact, enjoy living in Korea, I can safely poke fun.  This is actually a list compiled by my friend Erica because apparently we have nothing better to do at work than make asinine lists that only those living in Korea will find amusing.

Reasons Santa's Not Coming to Korea.
He got sick off melamine cookies in China.
He's still waiting on his visa.
Dog isn't the only meat that provides "stamina." Look out Blitzen.
Korean parents report, "nice, but not nice enough."
He's tired of taking his boots off at every house.
Wait...where is Korea?
He's tired of taking hits to the sleigh. Apparently N. Korea takes that whole "DMZ" thing pretty seriously.
He's got all the drunken spousal abuse he can handle at home. Why even leave the house?
He's tired of lugging his sack of toys through all those Soviet Bloc apartments. Get a chimney!
Mrs. Clause hates kimchi breath.

*Thanks to Erica, Trevor, and Justin.

Koreans don't make hand turkeys.

Okay, it's not quite Thanksgiving, but I sent money home today and it was more than a little painful.  I think I need a reminder of things that I'm truly thankful for.

LSD-1.  This class kills me.  Tonight were we doing some peer revising for a newscast the kids will do next week.  Some of them were really getting into it, so getting their attention to discuss homework was a challenge.  I had just about all of them on board.  All except Jungmin. When I called his name he said "Teacher, we are disgusting!"  The class was rolling.  When he realized what he'd said, a giant smile spread across his face.  I wanted to cry.  Oh, and I typed up the Batman and Barney versions of 'Jingle Bells' and 'Joy to the World' for them.  We were singing all night.

The first snow.  I pretty much hate snow from January on, but I have to admit I become a child when it first starts falling.  And it's retardedly funny to see adult teachers prancing with sheer joy just because it's snowing.  

*Side note.  One of my favorite snow memories was from last winter.  We'd just gotten a new student from LA.  It had been snowing all morning and the kids and teachers were giddy.  I went to class and realized my new student was missing.  I was annoyed and a little pissed, until I peaked outside.  There, he'd built a miniature snowman and placed it on a stack of logs that looked into the classroom.  He said, "Miss Mindy, I never seen real snow before.  Sorry." So we searched for a some sticks and gave the man some arms.  I prolly got played (turns out he was a master manipulator), but who cares?  He made a cool snowman that kicked it on those logs for most of the winter.

Weekend Getaways.  I vow to do this more when I get home.

The lady down the street who's tailoring my pants for 5,000 won each.  So much easier than buying new jeans online, having them sent to my parents, then having them sent here. And with the ridiculous exchange rate, so much cheaper.

Heated floors or ondol. So much of Korea seems ridiculous, inefficient and altogether illogical to me.  Not this though.  This kicks ass.

Not having Christmas shoved down my throat.  I find I'm actually looking forward to it now that the pressure is off.  Go figure.

Korean snack food.  Ain't nobody snack like the Koreans snack.  And where oh where does it all go...?

Friends with money, free time, and a desire to fly for more than 10 hours. Dawn will be here in less than a month.  Seoul, you better watch out!

A sense of home.  When I dropped Sara off at NC to catch the Airport Limo it really hit me that this is home, at least for now. And it feels like home. Is that weird?

Living in Korea, there are so many things I bitch about everyday that sometimes all the good gets lost.  Sometimes I have to take a step back and remind myself why I came here, what I hoped to gain from these crazy experiences and how they can help me become a better me. That, and I drink A LOT of Coke.

Oh, and we made hand turkeys today, so I'm thankful for that too.


Jeju, Round 2.

After a week of hell, I needed a rest.  Jeju and a giant bed at The Shilla to the rescue. Tim, Janet, Erica and I spent 36 glorious hours drinking, eating, laughing and bonding with the island's nicest cab driver.  It was a weekend well spent.  
Check the pics here.


It's about time!

You can FINALLY buy the Wonder Girls' super hot single "Nobody" on iTunes.  Rad.
And just in case you needed a reminder as to why they are so fabulous...

Monuments to Consumerism OR Lotte's Plan for World Domination

Today was Pepero Day.  What?  Yeah, that's what I thought.  
Every year on 11/11 people buy massive amounts of pepero snacks to celebrate, um, snacking? Anyway, peperos are long slender sticks made from who knows what and are often dipped or coated in chocolate.  Sometimes other flavors are added like crushed almonds or mint (or crack, as was the case today.)  They are a mighty tasty treat, but really South Korea, and entire holiday?

These are the kind you get if the kids LOVE you...

And this is what everyone else gets.

Korea celebrates everything.  They literally will invent a festival or holiday to commemorate anything, but I think Pepero Day takes the cake.  

I will concede that Americans have their fair share of useless holidays meant for people to spend money or consume copious amounts of candy. (OR alcohol. St. Patrick's Day anyone?) 

So, in no particular order, here are some of the more ridiculous holidays:

Black Friday is literally an entire day to buy, buy, buy. People line up at the ass-crack of dawn in the freezing cold to get smoking hot deals on more crap they don't need.

Buy Nothing Day  America, you're not fooling anybody.

Autistic Pride Day Kind of an oxymoron, as apathetic seems to be the best adjective I've used to describe most people on the Autism spectrum.  Apathetic people rarely take pride in anything, right?

Singles Awareness Day Please don't send me your sad forwards; I'm well aware that I'm single, thank you very much.  And no I will NOT attend your "girls only" snoozefest cocktail party.

Might as well put Valentine's Day up here as well.  A whole day created to make men a little bit poorer and women a little bit more pissed off -- brilliant!

And I guess one could argue that any holiday Americans have "borrowed" from other cultures and perverted qualifies as well.  Damn, that includes any holiday spent either drunk or in a sugar coma.

Oh, and what about certain religious holidays?  (You know who you are?!)  One could certainly argue that when a sacred religious day has been reduced to a jolly old man or a giant fuzzy bunny that the day has indeed become useless.

Damn, that went south fast didn't it? Really puts Pepero Day into perspective I suppose...


Things you never hear in Korea.

I have a list, but it's Friday night and I'm not ABOUT to start that shiz now.  I gotta write this down, though, because I just heard a most foreign sound: police sirens.  

More later.



559 individual hits on my Flickr site yesterday.  Who the hell is viewing all those pics?


October Snapshot.

Damn it was a busy month.  A quick rundown:

1. Made it to the Jinju Lantern Festival with Janet, Erica, Liz, and Trevor in early October. Slept in the tightest pension, toured Jinju Fortress with the amazing fall colors, and saw more than one Korean tranny.  Check the rest of the pics here.

Jinju Fortress.

Jinju Fortress.

Thousands of Buddhas.

Russian Nesting Dolls.

Lantern Festival.

2. Finally loving my job.  Sometimes (okay, most of the time) Poly makes that insanely difficult, but if I block out all their bullsh!t and focus on what really matters, I find myself enjoying every minute of my day.  Good thang I got that degree in Criminal Justice...

3. I feel good. Really good.  Better than I have in any fall past, I think.  It's a strange feeling, this sense of joy and calm that has taken over my psyche. Usually fall sucks. Like REALLY sucks. But my supreme optimism is winning. Take that, 'Glass half empty, pessimistic American version of Mindy!'

4. Sara came to Seoul, and oh did we have some fun.  One giant house party, one stolen purse, a long hike up Moraksan, some sleepin' over, MANY amazing Stone meals, much pointing and staring, a Tiger Woods sighting, fuzzy bunnies in Beomgye, many 'Anyung Haseos' and 'Kamsahamnidas' and an AMAZING night in Hongdae that ended with a third place costume contest finish.  I'd say the trip was a success!

Making new friends in Insa-dong!

Justin's 2nd Anniversary Party.

Seoul Tower is for lovers.

The King and the world's tallest Girl Scout!

5. The Former Yugoslavic Republic of Macedonia relay team rocked Seoul.  Thanks girls for an amazing night!

Suited up and ready for the race.

Ready, set, TEACH.

The entire relay team.

FYROM in Hongdae.

Bar Boom, Hongdae.

I'm looking forward to the next two months, but many thangs will change. Jeju Round 2 coming up in a few weeks, then Dawn makes her Asian debut. And then Tim and Janet leave. Much sadness will steal my heart as I will miss gossip and homemade chicken wraps and mayhem...  Eeek, I've gotta stop!

Should I stay or should I go now...

Man, it's been a short month.  The weeks seem to fly by.  Today is my 6 month anniversary, things are changing, and I'm feeling contemplative. 

Korea was an option I had been considering for well over a year before I left the states and I never really wanted to limit myself to just one year. Weeeellll, an option to stay has just presented itself and I'm seriously considering staying.  Life here is good, the people are wonderful and I'm *finally* starting to love my job.  Oh, and the money would be amazing.

And Mom is not happy.

Thus is a life led with too many choices and not enough money.


More K-Pop fabulousness!

My obsession with the Wonder Girls continues. Enjoy!

The 'well being' list continues

Of course saran wrap and PC bangs are good for your well being.  Sometimes Korea mystifies me...

For those of you keeping track that's:
1. kimchi
2. coffee
3. green tea (ice cream, toothpaste, hell green tea needs its own list.)
4. hot chicken soup
5. Soju
6. burgers
7. beer
8. pizza
9. dog soup

Did I forget anything?


Sarah Silverman might make me do it.

Damnit, and I wasn't gonna vote. Don't skewer me here, people. I know the issues are important, but my big fat BLUE vote goes straight into a sea of RED. I know this is an important election, I watch The Daily Show, but apathy has crept in and I'm starting to care less and less. Does it really matter which party is in charge, they all pander to money and lobbyists? Besides, I don't even know if Idaho will still LET me vote now. It might be too late...


A quick lesson in American Government.

I found this map on my friend's blog, Blogadilla.com, and thought it needed to be shared.  

Every election, Americans start bitching about how effed-up and outdated the electoral college is and that it desperately needs to be changed.  Being from Idaho, I usually get the "I live in a red state, but I vote blue, so my votes count for NOTHING" argument.  However, Tim presents an interesting flipside that I never even considered.  Check it out.



Idahoans are not very extroverted, agreeable, neurotic, conscientious, or open. Go figure.

And one more thang...

In October I have a girlfriend coming to visit from the states and I'm frantic. I've spent my whole summer exploring OUTSIDE of Seoul and now I have no idea what we'll do for the week. I've got the basics covered -- the DMZ, Seoul Tower, Tea in Insadong, and the Noryangjin Fish Market. The only part of Seoul I know intimately is the Express Bus Terminal and that's 'cause I've spent many mornings there waiting to catch a bus OUTTA Seoul. Hell, I don't even know Anyang that well. Help a sista out. If you live here AND you read my little blog AND you've got some tourist-y ideas shoot them my way: missmindyloo@gmail.com

Many thanks!

I could do this or I could do that.

For the past six or eight weeks I've been referring to the summer of '08 as "the neverending summer." It seems that I've packed more sun, fun, beaches (six in Korea!), road trips and theme parks into this summer than any other. And it never ends. It's nearing the end of September and there's still summer fun to be had, which got me thinking -- it's so strange to be living in a country where none of the "normal" seasonal cues take place. Yes, the Korean rainy season is over, and gone with it are the oppressive heat and humidity, but since I'm not a long time resident its disappearance really means nothing to me. Except maybe the personal freedom to wear underwear again.

No, I'm talking about things like the first day of school, college football, the last Alive After Five, cool evening bike rides, the appearance of Halloween candy (and decorations! Go Dad!), and brisk mornings. I was teaching a vocabulary class the other day when I was shocked to learn it was indeed the first official day of fall. When did this happen? I have yet to throw on a coat when I go out. The leaves are still as green as ever and my friends are planning another surf weekend in Busan.

Summer crept by at a snail's pace and now I've been shoved into fall, kicking and screaming. I have a love/hate relationship with fall. I love the start of the school year. For the past two years I've had the pleasure of working with the most amazing group of kids. Everyday was interesting and fun and crazy and enlightening and by the time summer was over I was more than ready to be back at work with them. I also love throwing on my hoodie when it gets a little brisk on the patio, watching the Broncos play on Saturday afternoons, riding my bike home from work, and helping my dad get ready for his annual Halloween extravaganza (this is not an exaggeration.) Yeah, fall's good.

However, it's also a very hard time for me. Every fall for almost as long as I can remember I have slipped into depression. Some seasons are better than others and last fall was especially easy. It was so easy, in fact, that I wasn't really worried about being all the way in Korea without my family to lean on. But I can feel it coming on, even without all those seasonal cues. I am trying to stay positive and busy. I have told my friends. I am making a conscious effort to be honest about how profoundly this season affects me, which is HARD. So send all your good vibes and positive thoughts and whatever else you can muster my way. I have a feeling I'm gonna need it!

Or I could just get Mom to send the Wellbutrin...

BTW, I really should have been typing a report for work instead of pouring out my innermost thoughts on the internets. You're welcome.


Chusok in Busan.

Every weekend I have grand plans to kick it at home, get some cleaning done, and recharge. This never happens.  My plans are always thwarted by last minute getaways and invites to theme parks and mandatory Saturday conferences.  Whatever.  You only live once, right?

Last weekend was Chusok, the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving.  Chusok is a huge holiday, and of course this means Koreans are on the move.  En masse.  According to my students (and a little help from Wikipedia), most families travel to their hometowns to visit relatives and to pay respects to those who have passed.  And watch movies.  All my kids said they were excited to watch movies and eat songpyeon, a tasty ricecake. (I'm hard-pressed to believe it is actually tasty.)

Anyway, I was invited by my friends Amanda and Nicole to go surfing in Busan.  I don't surf, but I do like the beach, so I agreed.  Glad I did.  The midnight ride was long and cramped (4 women, 2 Aussies, 2 Kiwis, 1 Canadian, and 1 HUGE Tongan rugby player), but Busan is a kick ass city.  Very chill.  Beautiful beaches, cheap love motels (yay!), an excellent bar scene, and apparently some good surfing. 

The Love Motel.

Surfing at Songjeong beach.

Amanda and me at the beach.

The boys go swimming. Songjeong Beach.

At the bar.

Octopus at Haeundae Beach Aquarium.

Sharks at Haeundae Beach Aquarium.

Evening on the beach.
Checks the rest of the pics here.