Wednesday, November 28, 2012

So, sometimes I actually do things

So, while wallowing in my epic fail of NaNoWriMo, I realised that I haven't told you much of my everyday life. And, no, I didn't spell realised wrong. Recently, I got into a nerdgasmic conversation about the aesthetic pros and cons of the Queen's English. I decided I liked it better. So, it ain't wrong; it's British. Back off. Ha. See what I did there?

Anyway, last time we checked into my everyday activities, as opposed to lurking around the awkward recesses of my brain, we were in a classroom listening to people speak about me in Korean, and me agreeing to sell my soul to Gangnam Style.

Life update: present day
Reason number one I freaking hate uneven tables: when I accidentally graze my foot across it, it spills my coffee all over my darn trousers.

Back to the story:
September passed per usual: birthday celebrations and late autumn camping trip. This year, however, it wasn't to Lapham Peak or the Schmofernuffle Springfallsington (made up name because I forgot what it was actually called), it was beach camping on Geoje Island (remember where I bitch slapped a jelly fish?). While camping, I almost punched a douche-canoe of epic proportions, but I got my act together. And, when my friend BH and I chatted by the break waters, we saw an honest to God sea otter...or Ewok, maybe? The jury is still out. Regardless, otters are my spirit animal, and all I wanted to do was snuggle his furry face. But, he galumphed toward the water before I could love him.

All of October consisted of Ultimate tournaments or games. Highlights included: dressing up as Richard Simmons, a little verklempt that the rain made my curly hair change to Afro idea futile. But, it was a fun costume, and I found out what it would feel like to have boy parts- unsettling to say the least.

Moving into November, I debuted my handspring skills while 3/4 of the way in the bag during Ulti finals, which is always a healthy and safe life choice. Not. I also hopped a plane and went down to the Philippines for a tournament. It was such a trip to play Ulti in the ever dropping chill of South Korea (about 40* if you're American, and if you use Celsius, figure it out here) to playing in 97* tropical heat 13 degrees above the equator. I was a sweaty, sweaty mess, but it was some of the best ultimate I have seen. I also ate mangoes like it was my job.

On Monday, I went with my friends John Johnson (swear to God, that is his given name...and one of the few I will use in full on this blog) and JC (not Jesus Christ...although, He made an appearance or two) to the Old Spanish settlements on the outskirts of Manila. 

We got out of the taxi and blustered about with our huge packs sticking to our backs. As we tried to decide how to best see this huge area, BJ (his actual name, not initials) came up and started talking to JC. I swear, J could make a friend in Bosnia, he is so stinkin’ nice. So, J set us up to take a tuktuk around the battlements after we ate something.

BJ walked us around the corner and took us to this restaurant where Homeboy is just chillin’ on the sidewalk, grilling all kinds of stuff. We eat a huge amount of rice and assorted meat on a stick (I am the worst trial vegetarian ever), bananas, and dried fruit for under ten American dollars.

After we finish, John Johnson and I climbed into BJ’s tuktuk, and J climbs into BJs brother’s side car. BJ pedaled us towards the fortress and we walked through this gateway soaked in old age and sun rays. The modern photo ops clashed with the dilapidated roofing and crumbling walls. Walking through this space, which is older than my country, gave me such an intense sense of connection. How many men and women of how many races have passed through this very spot? I felt so blessed to have such a communal life experience. It was incredible.

We continued on our tuktuk tour and saw some neat cathedrals, in which the Jesuses and Blessed Virgin Marys were of all races. I had never seen a collection of Jesuses of various nationalities. Usually, a church picks a look and decorates according to that. Interestingly, all of the Christ figures, regardless of race, wore gold and velvet robes, even while carrying the cross. It was such a jarring realisation to my more or less arian Jesus-raised brain. It blew my mind.

Also, the acoustics were stellar.

We finished our tour on the outskirts of the Spanish compartment. John Johnson, JC and I walked on the walls like it was nobody's business. It was so interesting to see the fortress and small part of the city from such an angle. I could almost imagine the men and women bustling about in the early 1500s- it looked a helluva lot like the 'Bonjour' scene from Beauty and the Beast. But, that might be because I want to live in Provence and be Belle, but not marry the Beast. Lesbie honest, I am not super qualified to rank them, but he is the least attractive of all of the Disney princes. Feel free to refute, but I posit Prince Eric as Hottie Numero Uno, followed by Aladdin. Evidently, I like me a swarthy gentleman. Interessant. I digress. 

On Monday afternoon, I got on a plane to come home, and slept most of the flight. My buddy BGM got some choice photos, which I promptly untagged, but are still floating about the interwebs. See if you can spot ‘em.

Last weekend, I went to Seoul and danced my face off in true Botsford fashion. Although, my grandmother was much more akin to the jitterbug and swing, which was decidedly not how I danced.

And now, I am so looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend spent with Rufio and a bottle of wine that he won't spill this time.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

So, today's the fourth Thursday of November


Tonight, I am looking at the moon, Daddy. It tells me that it’s 8 am by you. It whispers thoughts and prayers for you so far away. Everyday, Mom, I wake up and look at the ocean counting the tablespoons of salt water that separate you from me. I send you kisses on the tides, hoping you receive them.

Today, a normal Korean Thursday, made me so sick inside. My ex-pat friends gathered at the foreigner bars to share some semblance of home. I made Brinner for a dear friend and I, and we watched The Daily Show. I couldn’t handle being around many foreigners tonight. It seems so Piano Man—someone’s playing memories, but we’re not sure how they go. We just want to forget about life for a while.

When I asked a friend who has been here a while how she deals with it, her response struck me quite strangely—either adopt Korean traditions and holidays or gather with your foreign friends to remind yourself of home. She, of course, put it more eloquently. In that moment of consideration, I recognised that I do not want to adopt Korean traditions, because that would also suggest that I believe in fan death and that writing your name in red means you’re going to die. On the other hand, a gathering of foreign friends also seems like a husk of what it should be. My family has ridiculous traditions that usually end up with me passed out on Uncle Beaver’s recliner or davenport.

Last night, some friends and I cobbled together a phenomenal Thanksgiving dinner. And by cobbled, I certainly mean that we tore that nonsense up. K brought her A-game with four different dishes (one of which were pumpkin tarts that were unbelievably good. We had several metaphors for their taste, none of which are public forum appropriate). BH brought a bean salad that burst with flavour and also out of the bowl. J produced a squash doohickey that was citrusy and tart and date balls, at which my friends, with the average maturity of a 7th grade boys bathroom stall, snickered (it might have mostly been me). And, there was wine to go around.

And, while I looked around the room last night, I felt a kinship with these women. It is a kind that human words cannot capture, just emotion. Each of these people has changed my life in such a significant way that wherever our adventures take us, they will always be nestled in a safe place never forgotten.

I thought back to the years I have known my best friends. Every life step I’ve taken, they’ve been there with me—to either support me or yell at me, or sometimes both. But,  they love me without abandon. I look at my friends back home, and I would be such a worse person without them. They’ve taught me compassion, kindness, well-timed wit, and a healthy dose of self-confidence. 

Today, especially, I very poignantly miss my sister. She has been my best friend, my worst enemy, and everything in between. We are such different people, with different goals and opinions, but I know that she will always look out for me. I want so badly to be with you today, Sarah. I want to hug you and play euchre and giggle and finish each other’s sentences. I don’t know if this makes it better or worse. But, I am a mess right now and currently undergoing a very needed cathartic break.

Today’s message sounds exactly like a high schooler’s daily journal hastily scribbled in an acid washed composition notebook. But, I feel today. I feel scared and young and not even a little bit ready to be living in a country thousands of miles away from home. But, then I look at the things you’ve given me, friends. You have given me strength, faith, and perseverance.

I surround myself, either physically or digitally, with people who want only the best for me. I draw power from all of you, knowing that with it I will be the best person I can be. I hope I make you proud.