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.