Tuesday, July 10, 2012

So, sometimes things suck

Like right now, 12:13 am, there is rhythmic thumping going on in the apartment above me with interspersed,"oh yeah" I am pretty sure they are choreographing a dance to this or they could also be moving particularly large piece of furniture and want to affirm their strength. One of those two things, probably.

Other things that suck are people's due dates. I know I have talked about this before, but everyone here has an exportation date. September, November, February, never.

One of my Sisters is leaving at the end of August. I do not mean sister biologically nor in the traveling pants sort of way, but in a way of kinship and shared appreciation for the finer things in life. This past Saturday, we celebrated her and all of her awesomeness.

We met up for the game outside of Homeplus, a pretty big space.  But, no worries, the best part about being a foreigner in Korea is when you're trying to find people. All you have to do is look to where all of the Koreans are gawking, and you will find a rag tag gaggle of waygooks.

Trying to get anywhere with the Sisters is like herding cats. Every one of us are more or less independent women who think and act for ourselves, and are generally very vocal about it. So, when you have a group of 15-20, that gets to be a lot of opinions. So, finally after some starts, beer stops, head counts, and buddy checks, we made it to the stadium.

We found the other half of our group sitting in the right field bleachers. The thing I love about this group of friends, is the undeniable joy in one another's presence. When new folks walk up, it is just like being greeted by family. Their eyes light up, and you are greeted with a resounding 'Heeeeeeeeeey!" I cannot express how amazing it feels to be so immediately included.
A big part of that reason is my dear friend, Kathy. From the moment I met her, she just spoke to me as if she's been my friend for years. It was a little off-putting at first, because I don't make friends very quickly. And the fact that she was so ready to be my friend came off as a pleasant albeit weird surprise.   Kathy has been a part of this group for three years, and I know that she will be in each of our minds as we all live out our adventures.

Okay, less sappy more baseball. Got it. I have been playing and watching baseball my whole life, so it baffles me when people do not know it or understand it.

I sat by my friend Kelly (who is a Cardinals fan, although we all have faults), and after the second baseman messed up the play for the third time, we both got super feisty.  Let me be clear, I do not know this team or this league; I don't really even like them.  But, if you drop the ball three times, you deserve to be kicked in the shins.

Kelly shouted insults, I got all ruffled, and we both came to the conclusion that we should probably just go out there and show him how to do it. That didn’t happen.  Because, you know the language barrier.  And, I don’t look good in orange, so really, the feistiness was all for naught.

The game continues, and after lively conversations rife with smack talking and innuendo, we departed the stadium in a gargantuan gaggle.  For the record, Lotte won and Samsung did not. 

We took a bus to Seomyeon and went to dinner.  Now, trying to seat and feed 20 foreigners is usually a big deal in this country.  Doing that with one ajumma in the back cooking, was probably a poor choice on our part.  But, we livened up the evening with several games of pool (all of which I lost. Sorry, Mom!) and some spirited dancing.  Only one or two of us hit the dance floor, but it was enough to make everyone in the bar think that we were a bunch of crazies.  

Right after dancing, we ordered a “fire show” for our friend Kathy, for whom this whole celebration happened.  Each of the bartenders spun bottles through the air, all of which were alight with fire.  Not as cool as Knorch juggling, but cooler than taking a standard shot, no matter how saucy the name.  They stacked a shot glass filled with rainbow colored liquor atop a pyramid of glasses, and the last bartender started the shot on fire, which ran down the pyramid and made it look like the sunrise in Egypt.  I am not saying I have seen a sunrise in Egypt. I am just saying.

After we sorted our bill, we headed to a dance club.  Now, this group of women love to dance.  That might be a lie.  I love to dance, and so do a fair few of others.  So, immediately after entering the club, I grabbed some water, downed it, and Kelly and I shuffled onto the dance floor.  Obviously, we start busting moves, because that is what BAMFs do on the dance floor. 

Now, here is a small confession.  I had noticed a small rip in my pants pocket during the ball game, but thought not much of it.  Somehow during the beginning of the night, that rip became a bit larger.  Then after an instant drop to reclining hero’s pose, I heard a tell tale rip.  Whelp, the back of my trousers now had a moderate rip in them, too.  No worries, though it was dark, so the obvious course of action was to keep dancing.  At this point in the evening, my friend Kelly and I had a legitimate dance off.  The whole dance floor was ours: jagged edges and all. It is tough to say who won.  Chickadee, has some sweet moves.  During this dance off, I dropped into a front splits, and low and behold, the front of my pants gaped open. 

It was at this point of the night, where I pulled my shirt down, hid my shame, and told my friends I was leaving.
Them: “Why are you leaving?” 
Me: “I am no longer wearing pants.  They are shredded!” 
Them: “Not one person in this club cares whether you wear pants or not.” 
Me: “Hmm, Maybe.” Then Catholic guilt bludgeoned, “Oh, God, no. NO! I can’t. Maybe….Nope, no way.”

So, after saying my goodbyes, I get to the elevator.  My friend Jax said, “And where do you think you’re going, Miss?” 

I looked about the club, thinking the rather obvious response is that velociraptors were chasing me, but instead I said,, “My pants are no longer pants right now…”

“That’s not a good enough reason.”  With that, she took me near the elevator, took off her pants handed them to me, and said, “I’ll trade.” 

Since, I am a glutton for awesomeness, I traded trousers with her and went back to the dance floor like Lazarus raised from the dead.  I tossed about some more moves.  We had a big way-gookin’ party on the floor as a last and final hurrah for Kathy. 

So, I went home in another woman’s pants, which is something that has never happened before.  As I reached home, I sat in my bed thinking about all of the things that happened today. 

I keep coming back to this idea of transience and depth not length of friendship.  Kathy has been such a rock in this sisterhood for many expiration dates before me, and there will be women in that group for many dates after me.  I am so thankful and so blessed to have found this group of people who are so phenomenally strong and connected.  I will say this, folks, Busan (and Daegu) have some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. 

So, it sucks that you're leaving, Kathy. But, I know that Taiwan is gaining a rock star force of nature.  Knock ‘em dead, kid.  Or, not actually dead, that’s a lot of paper work.  But, Go get ‘em, slugger.  And all other meaningless aphorisms.  We’ll miss you.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

So, I spent a week at home

One of my best friends from college asked me to be in her wedding two years ago, so it wasn't like it snuck up on me. After a chat with the principal telling him I loved working at his school, and I promised to come home. I got the green light.

I will split this blog into three parts: flight home, duration of stay, flight back to Korea. Please feel free to pick and choose your adventure.

Flight home:
After a ridiculous folly of taking the long way to the airport, I showed up to my international flight winded hot and only one hour before my flight. Let me break this down: when I was a child, my father flew about the country and my mother is absurdly early for things. They raised me with the mentality of being at an international flight at least three hours before boarding. So, arriving at the airport subway stop with a meager 57 minutes nearly gave me a heart attack. I sprinted towards international departures, only to find myself in the international arrivals floor. I gasped and gaped around for five minutes until bellying up to a help desk to explain my situation. The woman printed my ticket and pointed me upstairs. I hustled upstairs expecting hoards of people jockeying to get through customs and found this wide open expanse. No customs, very little security,   No lines. Just space. A giant sign for my flight. I sat down at my gate completely baffled with 51 minutes to spare.  All of that fretting all for naught.  I hear my boarding number over the pa system. I boarded this little jumper (my layover was in Japan). I glance over at the man sitting next to me. Honest to God, Brother had a legitimate Walkman, fuzzy headphones and all. About halfway through the flight, I see him push a button. EJECT A TAPE. Flip it over and press play. This was my thought process: “oh, man oh man oh man oh man. I wish I had immediate Internet access. All of my friends need to hear about this.” But alas, I devoted a Facebook status and a blog post to it, so I feel delayed gratification, which fits really tight and uncomfortable on my skin. I am, if anything, a spoiled youngest child.  If you would like a play by play of the most high maintenance person I have ever seen or the witty an mildly inappropriate banter between Captain Marine Pants sitting next to me, please email or Facebook me and we can set up a time to Skype, because these things need ridiculous facial expression and melodrama.

Time spent home:
The wedding was beautiful. Amie was absolutely stunning and Kyle was debonair. We danced the night away like crazy fools.  I loved spending time with the party, and our transporation was a school bus, so I call that a life win.

On Sunday, I went hiking with my sister and brother in law. It was a beautiful park, and lo and behold, I saw some members of my church hiking at the exact same park (300 miles away from where the church is). PS I love and miss you, Congregation. You are in my thoughts everyday!

I saw the movie Brave, which was awesome despite my complete inability to understand animated Scottish accents. There are some skeptics that suggest that the main character is a lesbian based on the assumption that she wanted to make her own decision on her life partner, and she didn't want to marry a man that just won all of the Highland Games. That doesn't make her a lesbian, that makes her a progressive woman. However, if there was a left field lesbian experience in any Disney-esque flick I would be completely and 100% in favor of it, lesbie honest.

I went to Wisconsin Dells, which is the water park capitol of the world. I spent the day amongst family and friends, soaking up the sun and loving my life. I went camping and started the fire with only one match, because I am part girl scout, but mostly rock star.

On Wednesday, I relaxed and recovered from jet lag, camping and sleep deprivation.

Thursday I spent the day with my godson, his sisters, my beloved, Gabe and Aunt Mary and Uncle Paul. We went swimming and hung out. I found out that my dairy ingestion was no longer as strong as it once was. I could no longer finish a bowl of Wisconsin Mac and cheese, and that made me real sad.

Friday was just a mish mash of stuff. I had brunch with my dad, went for a walk and then saw Madagascar 3. Then, I hit the dusty trail.

Plane ride back to Korea;
Super grumpy flight attendants.  This woman looked at me and said, “Whaddya want?”  I politely asked if there was shellfish on the noodles, and she responded, “I don’t know that.  You can’t expect me to know these things.”  Actually, yes, I can.  But, maybe she’s having a bad day. So, I took the high road and decided to vilify her behind her back over the internet.  Sounds mature.  Meep, oh well. 

This is the actual cool part.  So, I left Chicago just after the sun had set.  We flew north through Wisconsin.  I saw Milwaukee, Fond Du Lac, and Green Bay, then just expanses of water.  As we flew west, we chased the sunset.  Out of my window, I could see the sun setting ahead of us, the moon rising behind us and the northern lights were seriously right outside of my window.  The river changed green to blue to purple, and it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  I watched the lights dance and stars come out for about 40 minutes.  One thing I do not like about Busan, is that I do not see stars.  

This post is ridiculously long, and rather unnecessary.  But, I thought it would be nice to recap some of the week.  There is a pretty good story about me almost being kicked out of China and catching a cab with a Russian man I’ve never met (imma call him Dmitri Vladimir Raskalnikov).  Don’t worry.  I didn’t end up dying or even a little scathed.  But, I do not have room, and you do not have time to read it right now.  But, if you want to know facebook or email me, and we can figure this business out!