America, F*%# Yea!

The 4th of July is arguably one of my favorite holidays.  It’s been mine and MayMay’s *special day* since we spent it together in Zoo Bar with Sammy, his homies and a bunch of Brits in London on Eurotrip 2006.  Ironic place to fall in love with such a holiday, doncha think?! Well, whether we were in London, San Francisco, Newport Beach or Manhattan Beach, we’ve spent each together up until last year. Needless to say, I miss my MayMay tremendously more today than the usual huge amount that I always miss her (and everyone else for that matter).

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The holidays are always a bit odd while living abroad. While I find myself to be the happiest version of Danielle since transplanting into Korean society and traveling my face off, I do get a teency bit homesick on days like the 4th of July.  It’s weird knowing that back in the states it’s a long weekend where all my friends are together with fireworks and beer bottles popping everywhere, and here I show up to work wearing my red white and blue and it’s just any other day.  While teaching yesterday, I actually looked around my classroom and so many of my students were decked out in red white and blue.  Totally unintentional, but it made me smile and think “AMERICA, FUCK YEA!”  Despite noticing their wardrobe, I completely forgot to tell my kids that it was American Independence Day. There went that little cultural lesson.  I blame it on the humidity and the AC Nazis.

There are tons of times when I am totally made aware of my Americanness while living overseas, and one major way came when my co-teacher and I were leaving school. I’m in the midst of getting ready to move from my current apartment in “North Korea” to somewhere more central.  While I’m sitting here not stressing about being able to find an apartment, my Vice Principal has relayed countless times through Jin, and then this time directly to me,  how I should “hurry up and find a place”.  Most Koreans live at home until they get married, or have never made a big move across the world, so the idea of finding an apartment on your own is a big process and takes time and figuring out. After my VP told me I better hurry up, all I responded with was “I’m fine. My Korean friend is helping me. I’ll move when I get back from vacation”, and that was that.  When we left, Jin had told me how well I handled that. It made me very aware of my Americanness and how I’m so used to being independent, moving around (and across the globe!) and handling things on my own in the real world.  While  Americans are typically out of their parent’s house and figuring things out for themselves at 18 years old, many Koreans live at home into their 30s.

The rest of my 4th of July consisted of teaching all day and meeting up for some bomb burgers and a Root Beer float at Salt & Butter in Apgujeong Rodeo with Tim and our funny friend Brian.  Joshua, our *AMERICAN*, and our token Chinese PandaLin were supposed to come as well, but work and rain interfered with that fun. Sadface.

Now to flashback in honor of one of my favorite holidays, and to celebrate the greatest nation on the planet, here are some of my favorite 4th of Julys past spent with some of my greatest loves in the sun!

San Jose with the Baller & MayMay. 2007 was the year I learned that Bretty gets his *unique* dance moves from his awesome mother.

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Puppy time in Newport with my MayMay in 2008.

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Fanny Packs & sunkissed whistle blowing with my JeanellyBellyBluJ in Manhattan Beach 2011.

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Shenanigans in Manhattan Beach with DeBarros and a very patriotic Chizzy.

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Happy Birthday America! Even though you’re sometimes really messed up and I have no desire to live on your soil for a very very VERY long time, you are by far the best country in the world, and home is always where the heart is! Cheers to 237+ more years of beautifully celebrated diversity and freeeeedom!

 

 

 

ByeBye, HeyHey ~ Off You Go To “A Whole New World”

I can’t believe I am even writing this post.  It actually pisses me off that I’m making myself do this.  However, I’ve come to use this blog space of mine to pay a little love to the people near and far who I want to give a big virtual hug to no matter where we both reside in the world at any present moment at any present time on any day of dire significance.

This one is dedicated to my beautiful Stephanie Anne Heyduck, who has become one of the nearest and dearest to my heart during this last year and a half in Korea.  It makes me really sad that her time here has expired, but that’s what comes with the expat territory.  Those who we become so close with weave in and out of our lives and that’s that.  I guess it’s what we indirectly signed up for in choosing a lifestyle fueled by wanderlust; bonding together with others who also thrive on that same passion to wander and move about this glorious globe to explore and conquer.

As we’ve cuddled, danced and traveled our way through an ever-growing friendship, it’s always been apparent to me that Steph is totally one of those people who is unbelievably wise beyond her 25 years.   Whether it be in matters of the heart or the world, she always manages to have the wild child in check with the mature adult who’s got their head screwed on straight.   She’s also one of those people that just knows something about everything, no matter the topic.  I only know a few of those kinds of people and she’s one of them.  It always kind of amazes me and I’m just like WHA?!  Where you come from?!  She’s a special one, and I love her dearly.

Now for a little journey thru some of my fave highlights of the past year and a half frolicking thru the far East together 🙂

The first time I met Steph was when Jeanette and Carmen were visiting.  It was maybe my 3rd week living in Seoul, and Jeanette and Steph realized they had practically matching tattoos.  Friends.Seoulmates.WHAT.

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Here’s the first time Steph, Katie, Abby and I officially became a foursome after each others hearts.  We hiked to the top of Namsan Tower and then struggled to take this photo in the geographical center of Seoul! Many of my “I’m so happy I’m in Korea moments” have been spent with these ladies, and they’ll all always hold one of the most special places in my little Korean heart.

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She introduced me to one of my favorite Korean foods, Shabu Shabu, in the Ying Yang pot, one freezing cold night after shopping our butts off in Myeong-dong. Nom.

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We’ve had some shenanigans, and this was one random night out on the town while everyone else got down on a bus filled with soju.  Hey, we all make mistakes. She dragged me, she loves me despite it 😉

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We got money hungry at the Trick Eye Museum. AKA the most fun museum EVER!

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Then we got ballsy and decided to eat some live octopus together for the first time.  Actually not so bad and kinda fun.

Somewhere around this time we decided we’d bare it all and get naked with each other at the jjimjilbang.  We did, and it was weird for like 2 minutes, and then it was awesome, and then we went again, and we became obsessed even though we didn’t do it as often as we thought we would.  But still.  It brought us as close as 2 naked platonic girlfriends can get.  Both in and outside of our sexy jjimjilbang attire.

Her family came to visit, got us smashed to pieces during her mom’s first date with soju, and then Papa Heyduck did a sorority pose in this photo with us all.

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There were a couple girls nights in.  This may have been what they started out looking like.

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And then the aftermath to the tune of some Disney movies and Twilight and makkoli and soju.

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Then we took on a bit of traveling together.  First came that unforgettable typhoon of a trip to Japan where we rode bikes around Kyoto…

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Got our plans “horribly” rearranged by an unexpected typhoon…

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And then relocated ourselves to the nearest karaoke room where Steph gave us this private show (before I inevitably hogged the mic).  Adele or Celine perhaps? The sake won’t allow me to remember.  Whatever the song, her voice sang it magically.  From this moment on we became noraebang obsessed.

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Shortly after, we went to go Barack the vote together.  We were VERY excited to make our voices heard.

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And after he won the election, the two of us rented out the VIP room at a local noraebang in Itaewon (because it was the only one available), drank ourselves silly on a Wednesday night, and sang our Disney hearts wild for 2 hours because we were so happy for our man Barry.  One of my all time fave Steph & Dani moments to date. “I can show you the worldddddddd……”

Of course by far one of my favorite things everrrrr that we’ve done was going to Thailand and Laos together this past February.  You don’t really know someone til you either live or travel with them, and we traveled really really well together.  We had such an amazing time playing with elephants and tigers, cooking exotic cuisine, crossing the border like a coupla Mexican cholas in the back of one too many pick-up trucks, and meeting lovely French lassies and gorgeous Argentinian men along the way. (I have majorly slacked in posting about that trip, but it will be coming soon, I promise. Eeeep!)

Needless to say, friendship is nothin if you’re not there to help hoist your friend’s fat ass up on top of a hormonal elephant…

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Or sit down next to each other in some tiger pee to get those one-in-a-million shots in life!

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Tonight after Abby and I had to fight back premature tears while saying bye to Steph at our 2nd to last dinner together, we were talking about when we first signed up to move our lives to Korea.  We had envisioned living amongst a new culture, with new foods, new experiences, new travels, a new language to make up the white noise in our background, and we knew we’d make friends abroad.  But, we both made the connection that neither of us had really put much thought into the relationships we were going to build and who would soon become our family whilst carrying on our new lives.  I guess you don’t really plan or think about those types of things because they’re organic and happen as they will. With the ending of year one a slew of great loves left, but Stephanie is my first great girlfriend who’s been there since the beginning, to leave Korea, and that’s a killer. Great girlfriends are not easy to find, and she is just one of those friends that I am so lucky to have snatched up.

To wrap it all up, I love you Stepaneeeeee, and I’m gonna miss you, like, times 10 million to the max.  But, I know we are both wanderers and this is just a BIG “see ya later”.  My time spent in Korea would never have been quite the same without you in it, and I hope this next chapter of your life is a lot less (kimchi) smelly, but just as fulfilling as the past 2 years have been.  I love you to infinity and beyondddddddd.

<3,

Dani

Running For Ramen……..Sike

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve obviously heard that there’s been a bit of a ruckus going on over here on this tiny little peninsula in the far East for about the past month or so. While I deeply appreciate all of the concern that Mama Schaeff and all my friends have shown during these very trying times as I’ve been running to the corner mart scouring for the last package of ramen and kimchi and whatever bottles of water I can manage to hoist between my arm and bosom up the treacherous hill to my apartment….I AM FINE. WE ARE FINE.

I just thought I’d put this little piece of work together to reach all of you state side who only have the US media as a point of reference to where I am living and carrying on life as normal. I will admit, yes, I have had some nerves about it because who knows what the hell that fat fuck (pardon my French) will do in an effort to flex his barely-there muscles, and with little to know guidance or from what I’m sure, life/war experience.  I actually got my first ounce of fright last week at lunch when my co-teacher, Jin, told me that her mom was getting scared.  I think, at least for me, that bit of anxiety comes from just the fact that we really don’t know what he will do.  I read an article about the past and present young and reckless leaders of North Korea and when they rose to power.  I thought it to be a bit interesting, and frightening.  It’s like handing a kid a gun and telling him to just blindly shoot in the dark with Kim Jong Un.  Who knows what he’s capable of.

HOWEVER, since all this has gone down, I have pretty much scoured the interwebs and read everything and its mother about what in Gods graces is going on, but I am obviously by no means well-educated, just trying to stay as best informed as I can.  But, just on the basis that I am living here, and functioning, and carrying on life as I have for the past year and a half, nothing out of the normal has changed.  On that note, I’m really not scared in the least.  I don’t think that an attack on Seoul in going to happen.  An attack will probably happen, but that will probably be to an island.  In fact, just this afternoon while on my way down south after school, I snapped this shot of some soldiers riding the subway probably playing Anipang or some new stupid mobile phone game.

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Keep in mind, I live pretty much as far north in Seoul as you can get and just about 4 hours ago, North Korea issued this very “legit advisory” notice to all foreigners (because we always listen to what North Korea says….).  These soldiers must be taking our well-being and their fellow brothers’ very seriously.  The very thought of every foreigner and every Korean storming Incheon or the KTX down to Busan to peace out to Japan makes me want to poke my eyeballs out.  As if I don’t get shoved enough on my daily morning commute.  Eeeep!!!

Until the US Embassy sends out something of more urgency than the following, I’ll continue on my merry little way.

April04, 2013

A Security Message for U.S. Citizens

The U.S. Embassy informs U.S. citizens that despite current political tensions with North Korea there is no specific information to suggest there are imminent threats to U.S. citizens or facilities in the Republic of Korea (ROK).  The Embassy has not changed its security posture and we have not recommended that U.S. citizens who reside in, or plan to visit, the Republic of Korea take special security precautions at this time.  The U.S. Embassy takes as its highest priority the welfare of American citizens in Korea.  Should the security situation change, the Embassy will issue updated information.

We urge U.S. citizens to keep in regular contact with family and friends.  U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), to receive the latest travel updates and information and to obtain updated information on travel and security issues.   

**Rest assured I am registered with the Embassy and they have all my contact information should I need to be evacuated.

Well, aside from calming your jets on the rising tensions that you’re all reading in the news, I thought I’d include some screenshots that I got a great giggle and smile in my heart from. I know you guys only care, but seriously, take a chill pill. But, and that’s a BIG but, know that I appreciate your love and concern for the schaeff schaeff ❤

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Well, for mine and my fellow peninsular comrade’s safety, I hope the big guy upstairs is just talking a big talk and we don’t get a special surprise tomorrow on April 10th. I would like to stay safe, not have to actually panic, buy ramen, flee to Japan for anything other than leisure, and I’d like the above Mama and lady loves who voiced their concerns to actually book the flights that they’ve been planning to.

Sending lots of kimchi kisses to everyone :*