Best Weekend

This past weekend was awesome/tiring/awesome again in many ways. My friend Kyle, who graduated from Miami last year and now lives in Chicago came over to Oxford for the weekend. We went out Friday and Saturday, the former night spending it with Emily as well. We went to a couple of house parties and made a couple of Mc Donald’s drive-bys, but so many memories accumulated from those two nights so keep me laughing for quite a while.

 

I have to say, I didn’t get much sleep this weekend, but I was able to catch up on it last night after dinner. Emily and I were able to meet up my our dad’s side of the family at the Greyhound Tavern in Covington, KY. After a week of corresponding and e-mailing, we were able to get everyone together for a meal and a lot of reminiscing.

More to come later…

So It’s Weird…

Today was my final day at the bookstore. Funny, the sadness hasn’t set in yet – ha. No really, it’s interesting how set people get in their routines and everyday happenings. Before DuBois, I was new at Fifth Third Bank, a job that I never thought that I would be good at. I made friends, then left there to move to Oxford and work at DuBois. I remember applying for a job there, completing the application. I had no idea that months later, I would be meeting dozens of new friends and really, have my first legit exchange with Joe, while helping him find his books.  I got really used to how things worked around there and here in Oxford, but I wasn’t really being challenged anymore.

So here I am, approaching the penultimate challenge and I am scared to death. I look at Joe’s photos and see how he is doing in Taipei and I know that I will be where he is: well, not literally, but I will be surrounded by a world that I really have no idea about.  It’s weird to think that almost instantly I will go from being scared/nervous/disoriented to brave/content/familiar with Seoul.

 I wonder when it will happen…

Things Falling Into Place

Besides packing, the only aspect of my journey that has been frazzling me is obtaining my work visa. Last night, Drew, my recruiter, finally obtained the code that I need to contact the Chicago Korean embassy and e-mailed it to me. So now I must ship the code, two passport-sized photos and my actual passport to Chicago to get stamped for my visa and have it returned to me. Otherwise, I would have to physically go to Chicago myself – which I would LOVE to do, but Time isn’t that generous and neither is my P.O.S. car. 

Oh, Joe just called from Taipei! Which is funny, because I didn’t intend to write about much in this post, but hey, just let me go. It’s about 11 p.m. in Taiwan and he and Luke just got to their hotel. I was able to speak to him for almost half an hour, so I am more than satisfied.  I am also glad to have been able to intercept his call because I am off of work today – I’ve only missed one or two of his calls, but the feeling is pretty awful.

So today will be encompassed by a trip to UPS, probably selling some CDs, and packing more of my apartment up.

Two things:

Yesterday I was at work, training a friend of mine on the register at the bookstore, when a student came up with their Fall books to purchase.  I was scanning them, I noticed that one of them was Intermediate Korean…..WHAT! I was definitely impassioned.

“Miami has Korean language classes…. now!?”

Spanish kicked my ass for almost 2 years and NOW Korean is available…. the language that I am punishing myself for not learning a lick of.

Second, I am excited because the film “The Host” just came out on DVD and I was able to rent it yesterday. “The Host” is the latest South Korean horror movie that features a parasitic monster that terrorizes the city of Seoul…. I’m uber-excited to watch it! I hope to be somewhat hip to the pop culture of South Korea, but so far it is Rain and “The Host.”

Well, I have spent some time here and on the phone, so now I must definitely get moving if I want to be somewhat productive today.

The After-Party

So, after being sick for two days with a fever- no doubt from my excessive insomnia this past week- I arrived last night at Casa de Ritz to pick up Lauren to go out to Brazenhead Pub ready for a night out. When we descended her basement stairs to say “bye” to her parents I was surprised…

Not only were we NOT going out, but my friends and family had assembled at Ritz’s house for a Going-Away party… that had been planned MONTHS in advance! I immediately brought my hands to my face because tears sprung out of my eyes, instantaneously. The night was awesome, as my folks were there, Lauren’s folks, Josh, Kara, Mike, Erika, Emily, Tulsi, Allie and Rory, and Andi. 

I had always wondered what it would feel like to have a surprise party

Anyways, there was cake, Chinese food (close enough), a keg, and beer pong, complete with a door that Ritz and Emily found and we covered it with Sharpie and beer spillage.

We are pretty baller… more to come later.

 

 

Everything Must Go!

Today was mine and Lauren’s big yard sale. I went over to her parents’ house last night to set up shop so that we could start selling our belongings at 8 a.m. Once we had finished filling up the tables however, both of us had experienced an unsettling feeling: just because we had to wake up pretty early the next day did not mean that we could not go out the night before, right? With that, we had convinced ourselves that we could go out and be in bed by midnight so that we may wake up at 6 to start organizing. I probably should have known that our intentions were not quite that innocent.

Lauren and I had decided that the best idea for Friday night would be to attend the Tortuga concert to see our friend Mike play in his band the Aristocrats, as well as see our other friends. The concert was held at our friend Jeremy’s house and was zombie-themed:

Lauren and I were having a great time even though we had not participated in the zombie costumes. However, the party did provide free beer.

 

 In other words, even though I had set the alarm on my phone for 5:45 a.m., me and Lauren decided to stay at the “after party” until about, um, 5 a.m. So needless to say, we sat in Lauren’s parents’ front yard, very tired all day and pretty much unable to haggle effectively.

We had previously discussed having the yard sale from 8-4, but we ended up shutting it down a couple of hours early because the crowds had become sparse. All in all, I achieved my goal: I earned almost eighty dollars selling handbags, jewelry, pictrue frames, my stereo, and other things that I cannot take with me to Seoul.

 VERY fun night, but I realize just how much I will miss the Oxford scene… or some aspects of it.

The Korean Iron Chef

Tonight was the night I tested out my “Korean Cooking For Everyone.” Though I have said that I am researching the native cuisine, I decided to embark on a trip to Jungle Jim’s to actualize my skills in lieu of my knowledge. There were several dishes that I wanted to try, but I decided to cook for my friend Mike, as well as myself, and he wasn’t daring enough to try squid or kimchee – WIMP.

So I ended up choosing a dish called Kamja Chorim, or simply Boiled Potatoes and Beef. Though it might sound easy to master, I do not consider myself a cook. I even used some freedom with the spices, and I was very impressed with the result:

I purchased a bottle of Sake as well, but I was too wimpy to try it just yet. So we made the meal more casual:

Oh yeah, did I mention that I received my camera in the mail yesterday?? I love it.

Annyongha-simnikka…

Geez, I thought that I at least knew how to say “hello” in Korean, but my buddy Christopher “Knows Everything About Korean Tradition+Culture” Ahn told me that my “rendition” isn’t exactly perfect… it’s “Hi.”

So, I had a pretty disorienting dream just a moment ago. Mike and I saw “Live Free and[/or] Die Hard last night at 12:30 a.m. so I was exhausted when I came home last night around 3. Anywho, just 10 minutes ago I was having a dream that for some reason, I arrived in Seoul almost one month early prior to starting work. My dream wasn’t lucid enough for me to recall why I was there so early, but when I called friends and family in the U.S. to let them know that I mde it okay, no one knew that I had left! I guess that this is one of my nightmares realized: that perhaps my leaving really won’t make a difference in most people’s lives, though I will ultimately be by myself in Seoul. The humorous part of the dream had to have been the fact that I didn’t have a place to stay in Seoul so I stayed with Chris and his mom – who in fact, are Asian-American, therefore U.S. residents, not Korean. His mom, who I have had English conversations with, spoke no English at all in my dream and just giggled at me. I’m not quite sure what the dream means, but I am very glad to be awake and drinking coffee.

Weird dreams aside, I am planning to make up in my total lack of language practice by knowing what foods I like or will be inclined to like so that I might not accidently order a hot, spicy fish stew with eyes looking back at me. But seriously, I think that I am pretty open-minded about exotic food, so I don’t forsee complaining much – there is always McDonalds.

Note to self: no more Bruce Willis films after midnight… may cause wild dreams.

Some Things Just Fall In Place

Hello everyone – Hope everyone saw at least one firework on the 4th of July. I spent the entire day off work doing, eh, pretty much nothing and then watched the Oxford community fireworks with my buddy Chris. They were pretty good, but punctuated by moments of rain and lightning, which somewhat magnified the splendor of our country’s favorite patriotic pasttime.

As I had hoped, I heard from the “two men” since my last post. On Monday, I received the OK to send my documents to Drew so that he can start getting my work visa for me. I was on-edge the entire time at the UPS store but “Marques” assured me that Drew would get the package on the 5th of July (he actually got it yesterday!) So I awoke this morning to receive Drew’s confirmation and also the actual contract to read and sign in my Inbox. It is all very exciting because with the contract, I actually got the handbook, which details the Do’s and Don’ts of the company. So far, I know that I can’t be late and alas, wearing my nosering is prohibited – Mom will be glad.

Mom purchased my plane ticket Tuesday and sent me the itinerary this morning – she loves me. I am grateful because I have read a lot of blogs from expatriates (other instructors overseas) and many of them are not quite as lucky as I am, as they describe going overseas with only a few hundred dollars and borrowing money from other instructors for housing and food. I know that I complains about working at the bookstore, but I would be lying if I said that they haven’t padded my wallet and allowed me to have fun during my last few months with my friends. I definitely will not be able to party in Seoul like I have been in Oxford lately.

Yesterday I purchased a digital camera from Amazon. It looks pretty wonderful and I got it for a great price. My last digital camera served its purpose I supposed, but it is now, and has been, obsolete and pretty unimpressive.

Well, time does fly and now I must get ready for work. I only have twenty-three more days at the bookstore!

Painting the silence

So… a response from one man.

I was home yesterday with Emily while we were getting ready for my mom’s cousin’s early 4th of July party when I received a phone call from an undetermined area code. A low voice said “Hello” from the other end and while I could guess who it was, they asked “Do you know who this is?” Thinking that my mind was playing tricks on me, I responded “No, who is this?” The voice instantly softed: “It’s Joe.” It was all very lovely. It makes me grin to remember that instant. While I might have been at my wit’s end the last couple of days, all of my discontent dissipated when I heard his voice.

I know that it is going to be hard to be pretty much alone in Seoul – I’m going to miss my family terribly – but it is consoling to think that even through telephone a voice can be as conforting as Joe’s was to me yesterday, after a week almost going by since we had last spoken. I know that we are going to be very busy, and also having a lot of fun, but it is all still too hard to imagine what things are going to be like a month, a year from now.

Being at my mom’s cousin’s house was a great time, to say the least. My mom’s side of the family does not meet as often as we used to, but I have relished the conversations and mostly seeing everyone grow and change, I think, for the better. At once I realized how much I had changed, and yet, how much I still needed to find out for myself, about myself. I am confident how my travels and somewhat disconcerted. I think that my mind will be more at ease when I know what step is next to take, but then again, does that idea transfer for many different situations?