31 Times I Instagrammed My Life At 30

30, as it would sound, was quite the transitional year for moi. Transitional sort of makes it sound like it wasn’t a good year, but au contraire my friend, au contraire. Transitional in the way that the year had so many types of ups and downs, but all for the good I’d like to think. I started my thirtieth year on the planet dedicating my day to the fashion of a rapist (unbeknownst at the time), went a bit viral on the interwebs, got heart-swollen and then heart-crushed during the wind-down of my Korean life, left the continent I never thought I wanted to live in to put a new twist on my life in the continent I dreamt of since the age of 10, found out what I’ve always been wondering – do I have a BIG VOICE? and had a couple reunions to set my heart aflame along the way.

And all of these lovely happenings were documented via the Instagrammer. So, to ring in my 31st, and the Age of Aquarius, without further adieu, I give you my thirtieth year on this great planet of our’s through the lens of my iPhone 5S and a filter or two.

1. Puddin’ Pops & Rapist Fashion

I don’t think much needs to be explained here, as the fashion is self-explanatory. However, if you must have your hand held, I rang my 30th birthday in with a dinner in which we were all required to wear a Cosby sweater, alla Bill Cosby. I made chocolate pudding cups and we enjoyed an evening in our old-man best. Naturally, my first thought once the allegations came to be was “Holy shit, I themed by birthday around a rapist!” Not many can say that and…laugh.

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2. Lunar New Year In The Organ Black Market of Seoul

In Korea, and Asia for that matter, Lunar New Year is the big deal when it comes to new years. So, to fully immerse ourselves in the Lunar New Yearsness of it all, a group of us went out to China Town in Daerim, also known as one of the sketchiest parts of Seoul, and where you could very well find your organs for sale if you walk down the wrong alley. We all came back to the safe side of Seoul with all our organs in tact, and a gut full of delicious MSG.  It was perfection, even if we did eat at a restaurant where dog was being served at the table just beside us.

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3. Hello Baby Gavin!! 

Gavin wasn’t the first baby of a friend to be born, but he was the first baby of two of my oldest friends to be born, and Auntie D met him when we was just 2 days old! Mommy Kendra was exhausted, Daddy Justin proved to be a baby whisperer, and baby Gavin had a big head from being a trickster in the birth canal. But my god, was he a dream to hold. Heart swells don’t even come close to how happy this moment made me!

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4. In N Out & A Date With My Boo

Collin came down from The Bay because I specifically ordered him to. However, he came home a little bit earlier because he got in a horrendous bike accident. So, I drove my toy car rental all the way down to Riverside, which beforehand, I had no clue where it existed. I had no service on my phone, and got lost on the return home, but before I left I did get to eat In N Out on Collin’s handmade preschool plate. It was a magical day with my boo.

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5. Fab 4 Bangin’ Booties

These 3 are my hearts when it comes to women. A trip around the world we are, and this winter after a champagne brunch in Manhattan Beach, we took my favorite photo of us. It’s just as perfect as those badonks.

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6. The Baby Tour of Los Angeles Continued

This was a special one. Sista and I thought we’d never get to meet Kian, the newest edition to our crazy clan! But we did, and shortly after he had surgery on his head, making him the world’s cutest little race car driver. He was and IS a doll and I am obsessed with his little face!!

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7. Tommy Boy & His Ego Came Back

Tommy and I got close fast, and this time he returned to Korea, professed his love, and we swapped each other’s rings for a day. We walked the Suwon Fortress on St. Patty’s Day, and drank expensive Yellowtail under a temple whilst overlooking all of Seoul. ‘Twas divine.

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8. Ultimate Finds Whilst Vintage Shopping

This makes me sound like a bitch, but oh well. These 3 words sum up mine and Veny’s sentiments to a tee when it comes to new friends, particularly those LBH’s in Korea. I still regret not making this purchase. OH WELL.

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9. Glamping & KPorn

We had been talking about going Glamorous Camping for quite some time, but alas that never happened. Until we stumbled upon the new Glamping bar in Itaewon on Taeho’s birthday. We sat around on beanbags and he was gifted this very special magazine by Joshua. He’s always so thoughtful with his gifts. Taeho very much enjoyed the black and white imagery.

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 10. Continuing the Love of Abandonment 

Abandoned places that is! Joshy is my breaking-into-abandoned-places partner in crime, and for this wild ride at Yongma Land we took our third member of Destiny’s Child along for the ride. Joshy, Veny, and I nearly broke into Yongma Land, though that is entirely unnecessary. Just leave it to us to find the more ‘scenic’ route to enter an establishment. We basically went off-climbing to get in here, and once we were in we had tons of fun riding broken rides and watching creepers have cosplay photoshoots.

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11. Slumbering With Snoring Ajummas

No one wanted to go out of town for this long weekend, so I took it upon myself to jet out of Seoul solo to Ganghwa-do just off the coast of Incheon. There I fulfilled my desire to do a sort-of temple stay, as I slept on a mat, in the sweltering heat, beside a bunch of snoring ajummas who kept throwing candy and fruit at me. It was an experience I will not soon forget.

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12. Life in Polka Dots

Kusama Yayoi is a Japanese artist who’s work consist of one of my favorite things – POLKA DOTS! She literally lives in a polka dot world and created it for the world to see. The end of her exhibit is a room where you get to put your own dots anywhere and become one with her polka dot world. It was stunning, and smelled like feet in there.

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13. Gone Viral Between Two Ding Dongs

My phallus-loving sister and I went to a penis cafe located about an hour outside of Seoul in Pocheon. The entire cafe is themed around the male ‘important part’, and after I wrote about it, my post got picked up by an online magazine and they used me and these two ding dongs as their enticing photo on Facebook. I was thrilled! What a way to make it big!!! Thanks internet!

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14. Saying Goodbye Is The Worst Thing Ever Invented

A week of saying goodbye to the babies who stole my heart was quite possibly the most miserable thing I ever did. After 3 years it was time to part with my kiddos, and these boys made it so hard!

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15. Lovers Getaway To Yang Yang

Perhaps one of my favorite trips done in Korea was this one to Yang Yang. Veny, Joshy, Dustin, and I rented a swanky Sonata and road tripped to the gorgeous coastal town of Yang Yang. It was bittersweet to say the least, and this photo with my first friend in Korea is perfect. We came full circle from looking haggard (if that’s even possible for her) on our first bus ride, to frolicking on the beach not wanting this amazing experience to ever end. Love my Venylove.

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16. The Fucking Core

Weeding through the nut bags we were surrounded by was some work, but at the end of those 3 years I found some of the most solid friends a girl could ever ask for. For our last weekend all together we ended up at some crazy club in Gangnam. It was loud, there was seizure music, there were tears, but it was the best.

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17. #tits

Korea is good for the Trick Eye Museums and the sex themed locales, even though the mere mention of sex causes a stir. But I’ll have you know, despite the contradictory culture, the Love Museum does NOT disappoint, as my kookster in krime and I discovered one rainy afternoon. After many phallic photos, this one of me helping The Hulk hold up some tits was a great indicator of the afternoon amazingness.

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 18. Dolled Up And On a Boat

What ended up being a failed attempt on ‘everyone’s last weekend together’ turned into a divine evening with these gorgeous lady lasses. We dolled up, took far too many posy pictures for my liking, and watched all the KKouples take romantic selfies of themselves under the Han River water show.

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19. Straddling That Border Up North

In the movie The Interview they show all the North and South Korean military hanging out in this room watching Kim Jong Un get his ass shredded on live tele. Well, it’s a bit different in real life. You actually only get like, 5 minutes in the room, and the guards take shifts for show. Mostly. But, here we are, checking off another BIG must-do on the Korean Bucket list of life. Straddling the most heavily militarized border in the world.

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20.  Asianization Meets Europeanization

Getting this Spanish visa was no easy task. As an American it is near impossible to get a work visa in Europe, but thank heaven that programs like the fakakta one I’m in exist! The day I finally stared at (and immediately snapped this photo) this visa gracing MY passport, I literally let out a giant squeal. No joke. I wanted this visa in my passport since I was 10, and 20 years later shit got real. Thank you Javier at the Spanish consulate in Seoul!

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21. The Saddest Day Of My Life So Far

Joshy holds the biggest chunk of my Korean heart, and being the last person I saw and shared a deliciously overpriced naengmyeon and jjigae meal with tore my heart out, despite what these cheesers may say. Saying seeya later to him turned me into a waterworks show and I did not stop crying until well after take off. It was the shittiest.day.ever.

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22. I’m A Bridesmaid!

First, don’t kill me for this photo. You’ll thank me when we’re old and grey. Second, Jeanelly found her wedding dress, then asked us all to be her bridesmaids, then we had a Fab 4 slumber party filled with dress up, sexual Korean face mask selfies, and of course, watching Bridesmaids. It was only suiting.

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23. Reunited With My Soldier 

What are the chances that the next time I visited NYC my Israeli soldier would be there at the same time, 4 years after our last rendezvous in the Big Apple? Well, he was, and he came to Kayla and Jeanette’s birthday, and my heart could burst I was so happy to see him in front of me.

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24. Imbibing Where Honest Abe Once Did 

With only 2 choices of beer to choose from, light or dark, we opted for the more delicious dark at McSorley’s in NYC. My reunion with my Sammy baby was long past overdue, and seeing Shika Shocka was the cherry on top.

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25. #grandmaswhorally Became A Thing

Here we have my first photo from Spain indicating that I do in fact have friends! This was also the night that the hashtag #grandmaswhorally stuck. What started out as a lazy night where none of us wanted to leave the comforts of our boudoirs (in my case, my hostel cell bed), turned into a delightful evening of sangria, homos all around, evening drinking on a terrace, and feeling old, but still young enough to kick it.

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26. I Found An Apartment, That Turned Out to Be Hell

After a solid 2 full weeks of piso hunting around Malasaña, I finally found one that I should have known was too good to be true. What started off amazing, and quite hilarious, with a naked David hanging in my room, turned out to be a horrendous experience. Let’s just say THANK GOD I’M OUT OF THERE, and someone’s got some (dog) shit flying their way soon.

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27. Mama Schaeff And Her Face Mask Came To Visit

My mother, the world traveler, finally came to visit me in one of my far away homes. We museum hopped, we fought, we ate tons of shitty fast food because Spain is all about the pig and Mama don’t eat the carne, and she walked into a nail salon and asked the nice ladies for a face mask because there’s too much smoke in Madrid. This is what she looked like for the duration of her stay.

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28. 1999 Meets 2014 

A reunion in Madrid that my 14 year old self surely would have died had she known would happen, happened. It was the best, and this cafe con leche from Federal pretty much sums up my feelings about said reunion.

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29. The Asian Who Always Visits Me

Jnetty was my first visitor in Korea, and was one of my first visitors in España. Surely I love her so! So much that I snuck her into my hell hole of an apartment late night, and the next day we popped off to Sevilla and Granada, where we wandered through the stunning walls of the Alhambra in the frigid cold. She even tried her hand at the Español, and failed when she asked for the ‘jambon’. However, she greatly succeeded in getting me kicked out of my dark dungeon of a penis hanging apartment. THANK THE JAMBON ABOVE. No one tells Dani ‘no visitors allowed’.

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30. Leaving Germany In the Most Jewy Way Possible

It might as well have been 1940something that snowy afternoon when I left Berlin headed for Prague. Upon entering the train, our first class tickets became null as our car was ‘out of order’. How, I’m unsure, since it was tagging along with the rest of the train just beyond the locked doors. But, out of order it was. So there I sat for 6 hours, along with about 5o other people, trying to find comfort on the train floor. Here I am finding some semblance of comfort under this man’s rear end. I could not have exited Germany in a Jewier fashion than this. It was utter perfection, and the story itself more than pays for the reimbursement we should be owed.

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31. Why Yes, I Do Have A Big Voice!

For my 31st birthday weekend I popped off for a romantical rendezvous in Brussels, which despite what this blow horn might convey, was quite the quiet little town. We indulged in delicious chocolate and beer aplenty, played with aluminum balls, and even enjoyed a side of terrorist scares in the city. It was a weekend I did not want to return from!

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And there you have it! My life as seen through most likely the Valencia filter with the sharpening tool on Instagram was divine. Though filled with lots of weird emotions, 30 was my favorite year yet and I can’t wait to see what 31 will dish out! If these photos left you intrigued, do follow along on Instagram at @dtschaeff

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I Finally Stood In North Korea

You could call me, in all my matourity, a DMZ veteran if you’d like, seeing as last weekend marked my 4th visit to that very very scary border to the North.

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I went once on Mama’s Schaeff’s birthday when sista came to visit me on my first birthday in the Koko. I went twice for 2 leisurely bike rides along the barbed wire majesty, and even got interviewed for all of Korea to witness. But, this last time, this last time I’ll have you know, is the most legit it has ever gotten, and will ever be gotten, unless I ever actually go to visit the North, which is highly unlikely. But never say never. 5 is a good number.

I finally got to check off that fatty trip to the Joint Security Area / Panmunjeom from my Korean Bucket List, and stood two feet in the North next to a soldier guarding the door to the Hermit Kingdom.

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I think many people are pretty out of the know when it comes to the two Koreas, so when they hear I live in Seoul and that it’s within an hour’s drive of the North, people are like WTF ARE YOU DOING, GET OUT OF THERE BEFORE YOU GET BOMBED. But it’s so not like that.  It’s so chill, and the North’s shenanigans are so far removed from anyone’s waking thoughts. 

I say this because I never get scared knowing that I’m so close to Kim Jong-un and his missles and $800 bottles of brandy.  But, last Saturday I could feel myself getting more and more tense as we reached the JSA. And honestly, it wasn’t because I thought anything would happen. But it’s just such an intense place, and the dress code was so strict, and the security just to get into the JSA required 2 busses, no pointing, no taking pictures of the building behind us, no walking behind soldiers and no touching of tables. There were so many rules and I really had to practice keeping my gestures to myself, because you know I like to gesture. I fucked up, as you’d imagine, but I’m still here so it’s all good.

The tour that we went on took us to 3 places at the DMZ. The first being Camp Bonifas, which, fun fact, is home of the world’s most dangerous golf course. One wrong move and your ball could land in a field of unexploded mines.  Camp Bonifas was named in honor of the Captain who, along with one other, was murdered by North Korean soldiers for cutting down a poplar tree, in what has since been deemed The Axe Murder Incident of 1976. Our tour guide could not stress this incident enough. Everything he spoke about, which I’m not sure his facts were all straight, always came back to this Axe Murder Incident.

First group shot at Camp Bonifas. Fun fact, the girl next to me refused to wear the skirt provided since her’s was too short.

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Just beyond Camp Bonifas lies the JSA, which is comprised of blue buildings that straddle a thin cement slab separating the North from the South, and are maintained by the UN. The particular building where tourists are allowed to enter is where the military meetings necessary to uphold the Armistice Agreement are hashed out. I’ve heard it can get pretty wild in there when they get going, stomping on tables and ish.

By entering the building on the left, you can legally say you have been in North Korea, but a photo will have to act as your passport stamp. Just beyond the blue buildings is North Korea, and if you look close enough, just up to the left of the soldier’s shoulder you can see a North Korean soldier standing post.

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Visitors from North Korea can also come to the JSA for a tour of the DMZ from the North, and apparently just the day before there were tons of North Koreans. We were told not to point or return any friendly waves or smiles if we encountered any North Koreans. Not because of anything malicious towards them, but because if we were to do so, they could take that as us believing that North Korea is great and use it to further brainwash their people. Pretty fascinating and I didn’t even think of that as an issue until told not to. Of course I pointed because my fingers have a mind of their own. Thankfully no North Koreans were in sight.

This soldier is standing directly on the border, and we found out the hard way that you are not supposed to walk behind him when Jenny accidentally did. Whoops.

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You’re also not supposed to touch or put anything on the tables, which again, we fucked up on. Well, Veny did. Triple whoops.

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No trip to a huge attraction would be complete without this guy, his big smile, and my “THIS GUY” face. We were also the last two out of the building. I’m seeing a trend since Dokdo. Token troublemakers.

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They also took group shots of us, where girls had to bend down like sorority girls. I’m also pretty impressed with their turbo airbrushing skills.

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Following in the haste of Dokdo, I almost forgot to get a picture of the room in its entirety, so here is the cockeyed shot I got as we were bolting out the door, last but not least.

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On our way out of the JSA we stopped at the Bridge of No Return, which we were not allowed to get out and see, but just view from the bus.  As the Korean War drew to a close, prisoner exchanges were done here. They were given the choice to stay in the North or South, but if they crossed over from one to the other they were never allowed to return again.

We just take selfies here.

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And our final, final stop was at Imjingak, where I’ve actually been on all my trips before this. Imjingak is home to the Freedom Bridge, which was used after usage of the Bridge of No Return was shut down following the Axe Murder Incident.  I didn’t get a photo of the bridge, but we did get this sick shot. That’s North Korean soju that I’m downing on ‘G” for Garry.

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Last fun fact for you. While military service is mandatory for men in both the North and South, service in the South is just around 2 years depending on your branch, whereas 10 years of active duty is required in the North.

If you’re looking to catch a tour of the most heavily militarized border in the world, the tour group that we went through was called Tour DMZ. We originally wanted to do the USO tour group that sista and I went through when she was here, but that is sold out for months, so we got the next best thing. For a half day tour to only the JSA the cost is 85,000won. There is also a DMZ and 3rd Infiltration tunnel tour, and another combining the two tours. 

I’ll leave you with a pointer for the wise. If you are hurtin’ to purchase some North Korean liquor at the gift shop at Camp Bonifas, I’d probably advise against it, unless you want to burn yourself from the inside out.  Spend the cash monies on some North Korean wons instead.  Now you tell me! Have you been to the DMZ / JSA or even North Korea? What did you think? Were there any differences between this tour and your’s? 

 

30 Spectacular Things I Conquered Before 30

My twenties were freakin AWESOME, and everything they were supposed to be, according to every Buzzfeed post you’ve read in the last 5 minutes.

I started them in love with a spectacular guy, got far too intoxicated all too often at the so appropriately nicknamed University of Casual Sex and Beer, entertained a handful of delicious guys who’s names all started with the letter J, graduated college and immediately hopped a Eurail through Western Europe with my bestest friend, suffered a brief heart murmur for a hott Italian boy named Giuseppe while in Barcelona, worked my ass off in the industry that I always dreamt of being a part of, revisited the place where I became a woman atop Masada, and picked my life up to move to the place I only thought I never ever wanted to live, ever.

And well, since the last decade and everything that came before were so breathtakingly tremendous, I thought it only appropriate to send them out with the same bang that they came in with, only with less vomit and blue tongue.

So, without any further ado, here we have 30 bomb diggity things I did before turning the fab age of 30 this Monday!

1. Skydived out of a helicopter while attempting to shout “HOLY SHIT!!” over the Swiss Alps, in Interlaken, Switzerland.

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2. Road tripped cross-country to spend Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Disgusting.

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3. Grew my first grey hairs in my “Garden of Grey” while coordinating fancy events and GLAM SQUADS for Jenny from the Block.

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4. Got LASEK and “restored” (if that even means they were ever perfect) my eyes to 20/20!

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5. Got my degree and hit the road for a month through Western Europe with MayMay.

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6. Went on Birthright, and big surprise, came back head-over-heels in intense L**E (?) with a sexy IDF soldier.

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7. Went fishing for the first time in Phu Quoc, Vietnam and caught a school of my very own fish…that I later ate.

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8. Was a bridesmaid for the first time in the wedding of 2 of my dearest high school friends.

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9. Watched, with pure glee, as my favorite dance teacher tapped his face off as Mr. Braithwait in Billy Elliot on Broadway.

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10. Took an authentic Thai cooking course in Chiang Mai.

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11. Schaeff family roadtripped to Graceland, Mt. Rushmore, the White House and nearly all 50 US states in a 15 seater van.

12. Saw *NSYNC, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Madonna and The Rolling Stones (amongst others….) all live in concert. Teeny bopper fo lyfe.

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13. Spent a Fab 4 New Year’s Eve on stage with Kanye West in Vegas, long before he was half of Kimye.

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14. Made the overseas move to Korea and lived in my own apartment for the first time.

15. Swam with Spinner dolphins in the wild, off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

16. Had a great young love (and a big chunky camera!)

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17. Took a bath with, and rode an elephant, through the Thailand jungle.

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18. Gallivanted through Angkor Wat.

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19. Got Bat Mitzvah’d atop Masada, while my family laughed beside me, and then I slathered my body in Dead Sea mud.

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20. Laid with baby tigers, spooned a mama or papa tiger, and caught a couple tigers by their tails.

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21. Got stuck in a typhoon in Osaka, Japan with nothing to do but karaoke Celine Dion and drink sake all night long!

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22. Walked (quite scared) through the Red Light District and watched a live sex show in Amsterdam.

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23. Let my knockers out as part of a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast.

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24. Saw Heath Ledger and Ben Affleck on Leno, James Franco on Conan, sat front row at Ellen and went to the Grammys! Shameless “I’m so LA” brag.

25. Witnessed an actual sea parting, with Moses, during Passover, while wearing a “Shalom” fanny pack, in the Jindo province of Korea.

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26. Visited Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany (and took this severely awkward photo), and Anne Frank’s hiding place in Amsterdam, two WW2 places I’ve always wanted to see.

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27. Taught myself how to make a few signature Koreans dishes. Here we have some kimchi jjigae.

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28. Shot a Vietcong AK-47 in Saigon.

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29. Learned to read and write Korean.

30. Started and MAINTAINED this here bloggy blog!

 

HELLLLLOOOOOO 30!!!

Places In Seoul That I Love: Noryangjin Fish Market

I realized that I’ve had so many visitors to Koko, yet I’ve never actually written about some of my favorite places to show people on their visits! What a realization to have 2.5 years after spieling my life away to the internet universe!

After having so many people come, I’ve gotten in the swing of making a list of all the must-sees, dos and eats to make sure they get a good dose of the unique, the fun, the traditional and the delicious during their jaunt.

Of all the sights to see in Seoul, by far my favorite is the Noryangjin Fish Market. I’m actually a huge nerd about this place. I really really love it! Though I realize that there are probably much better fish markets in the world, this was the first one I had ever been to, and it totally blew my mind! America doesn’t have warehouses filled with row after row of tanks with every sea slug and penis fish under the sea, so it’s one of those “I’m totally in Asia” things, at least to me.

When you first enter the market, you’ll come in from the 3rd floor where you are hit with the bright lights of the fish sale stalls.  If you come early enough, all the stalls will be open and there are some in the way back selling sauces at wholesale prices, and tons of other kinds of kimchis, and dried fish. I’m not sure what time those stalls close, but I think early because they’re usually all shut down by the time I’ve come for dinner.

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Everything is for the eating, and you can hand pick the sea creature that tickles your best fancy for the eating. The fisher person will scoop it up and (though quite sad) kill the fish right there on the floor in front of you. Prices are by weight typically, but like lots of things in Korea, with cash, prices can be negotiated, especially if you’re buying several creatures. After they kill it, they can sashimi it up for you right there, or dice it up so you can concoct a soup.

If you’re not one for the killing in front of you, nearly all stalls have pre-made plates of sashimi that usually run between 10,000-15,000won. They usually like to look down on you for not buying fresh, but whatever. Not everyone looks at every living creature as something to kill and eat like many Koreans.

My favorite thing to make people do at the fish market is try the sanakji, or live octopus. The baby octopi run between 3,000-5,000won, and they’ll definitely grab it right by the brain out of the water and slang it in your face because they LOVE making the foreigners jump! You may even find yourself gettin a squirtin from a silly man and his penis fish.

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After fishing for your dinner, you’ve then got to head into one of the restaurants just behind the stalls in the very first row. These are some of my favorite places for a REAL FUN Korean dining experience. Nearly every time I’ve been with a visitor, we’ve somehow managed to attract the attention of a neighboring dining crew, typically ajussis, who decide they want to take shots of soju with us, or throw a couple monster crab legs our way.

When you sit down at one of the restaurants, just hand them your bag of creature, and they’ll do their wizardry magic for you. Sometimes you don’t know what to expect, like the time Cori and I got scallops and were horribly disappointed by the BBQness of them.

Then, other times you’ll be tremendously pleased with the outcome, like this last trip I took. We bought Sebastian the lobster and a heaping amount of shrimp that they steamed for us.  One word. BOMB. They also threw the remainder of the fish we turned into sashimi into a soup for us.

Shika, Dustin’s friend who was in town visiting, showed us all how to demolish and devour a lobster. Made me feel a little nostalgic for my felt Sebastian claws.

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I decided it would be fun to play with Sebastian’s head and sea whiskers (I don’t know what you’d call those?)

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And the aftermath. Hugely successful trip to the fishery.

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If you are on a first visit to the city, I 110% suggest going to the fish market. Even if you’re not into eating fish, it’s still super fun to walk around and explore and interact with the ajummas and ajussis running the stalls. From my experience, they freakin love foreigners!

Another little plus, if you’re finding yourself still not full, walk across the bridge from the fish market and go grab a hot dog wrapped in a pancake. So weird, but SO RIGHT.

Directions: Take line 1 or 9 to Noryangjin, and go out exit 1. Go up the stairs directly out the exit and walk over the bridge. You’ll enter a big warehouse and just go down to the 1st floor, and voila!

 

 

 

Lucky Number ’13

With the finale of 2013 behind us, I thought I’d throw together a nice lil round-up of some of the whathaveyous that occurred, and some of the thoughts, feelings and doings that made this last year my best, most favorite yet. I feel like it’s so cliche to say the past year was the best yet and “2014 really needs to top it”, but when I reflect and look at myself and how I truly feel I’ve grown as a human, I’m entirely certain that this past year gradually saw me grow into the skin I am meant to be in.

Here goes…in absolutely no particular order.

1. A Penny For My Thoughts

As I’m sure you know, I love writing, but I was never one to really keep a consistent journal or diary of personal thoughts until this year. When 2013 started, I found myself having feelings that were getting squashed, and began tormenting me into weird girl-over-analyzing-mode.  I hated that feeling, and I hate not being able to communicate properly, so I really made a conscious effort to carry a journal around with me everywhere I go, in case I just need to jot something down, or get something out of my head and onto paper to at least clear things up for myself.  I also made a point to blog more consistently, and took a crapton of my time to organize, categorize and tag my home on the internet into some semblance of searchable order.

2. I Can See Clearly Now, The Blur Is (Almost) Gone….

Remember this post? Well, unless we don’t talk regularly, you’d know that I finally got my peepers zapped, and for the first time in over 20 years, I can see (almost) crystal clearly with the aide of nothing but my own two hazel eyeballs! As silly as it sounds, in the past year I wavered a lot on whether or not to go through with the procedure. I have come to really love my specs, and they’d become a huge part of my essence, so the thought of giving them up simply made me very sad. In the end, I decided that not perfecting my eyes because I like how I look in spectacles is a stupid reason, because HELLO, fashion glasses! My world of options has just opened up exponentially as I transcend into the world of poser! Not to mention, if I decided to get LASEK back at home, I’d be paying thousands upon thousands (literally) more than I would here, where the procedure is probably done 10x better and more frequently.

I ended up going with Gangnam Saint Mary’s, based off the recommendations of some friendzies, and their super attentive and thorough care. Awesome place if you are lookin’ for that 20/20.

This was me for the first few days post laser blast acid trip:

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3. Lights, Camera, Action!

This year I took the liberty of throwing myself into some performance things that were all my own, and a few for charity at the begging of a scammer (that secretly didn’t need any begging whatsoever).  On a whim, I auditioned for the shadow cast of Rocky Horror Picture Show, something that frankly FREAKED me out, took me well out of my comfort zone, and had me feeling the happiest and most liberated I’d felt ever. I joined a flash mob dance class and found myself crossing “Participate in a Flashmob” off the ol’ Bucket List. I haiku battled Yo Mama to a runner up seed, and then saw my dream of Lip Sync battling (though I wish against one Jimmy Fallon), materialize into full fledged felt lobster claws and a first place redeeming win!

Here’s my latest in the Let Your Freak Flag Fly department:

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4. Signed, Sealed, Delivered

The thing that probably helped me grow the most this year was having the courage to be completely vulnerable and say exactly how I feel, putting it on paper, signed, sealed, delivered the old fashioned way. Even though it didn’t return the results I’d hoped for, it returned something quite necessary to light a fire under my ass to move on with my life. My words are out in the universe which makes me feel amazing, and now I know what I really truly want, and it’s not going to be one-sided work anymore. In fact, I’m glad I didn’t “get” what I thought I wanted, because I gained the perspective to know that’s not for me. You really can’t change people and just have to accept them for who they are sometimes, it is what it is, and exactly how it should be. Even though the situation still makes me a little sad when I think about it, overall I’m 150% happy with what and where we are now. Onward and upward!

5. On That Gypsy Life

The year began with my first trip home in 1.5 years, filled with tons of food, family and the coolest friends who flew in from everywherez. Only to be followed up with training and boating and bussing my way through Thailand and Laos. I played with tigers, cooked authentic Thai cuisine, border-crossed into Laos in the back of a pick-up truck and temple hopped til my feet hurt. I planned my first ever solo trip to Bali and the surrounding islands, where I got my fortune read by the famous Ketut Liyer, got stranded in the middle of the Gili Islands whilst snorkeling, and took the most invigorating yoga class ever. Cori visited me in Asia for the 2nd time, and we conquered Tokyo and its robots. That there is a city which is more fantastic than I had ever imagined. I even became one of the less than 1% of the Korean population to touch down on that sacred Dokdo soil. I’d say it was a mighty successful year for that passport of mine.

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6. Speaking Of Passports…

I added 48 brand spankin’ new pages to mine! Mama Schaeff may think all my passport excitements are silly, but that passport is my most prized possession. And, well, now I’ve got 48 more pages to stamp full of journeys!

7. Anyeong “North Korea”

It was a huge decision when I decided to stay a third year in the Koko. That pretty much involved a 2 hour phone conversation with Papa Schaeff til about 3am the night before my decision was due, and a not-so-hefty Pros/Cons list for me to finally make up my mind. One of my conditions was that it was a million percent vital to move from my isolated studio apartment in Danggogae, to something amidst civilization. So, I traded in my huge studio for a quaint little 1 bedroom plus entryway that Jeewon helped me find. And let me tell ya, it’s made a world of difference living amongst YOUNG HIP PEOPLE and bright lights!

Oh yea! Here’s a tour of my new abode. Sit tight, it’s a long one!

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Ta da!

8. My Clothes Fit More To My Liking

So I lost 15 lbs this year. I did more yoga, jumped a lot of rope in my apartment, wandered around exploring a lot more than I used to, and quit eating that rice that Koreans seem to absorb into who the hell knows where.  I tried on a dress that I hadn’t worn in a little over a year just the other day, and what used to hug my tuchous quite snugly, now just slinks perfectly right on over it. Virtual pat on the hiney to moi!

9. Makin’ Moves

I finally got serious in thinking about and figuring out my next move come fall when my third and FINAL contract in Korea is up. Europe has always been the highest of the highest on my Must Live There list, so to Europe, most likely Spain, I shall go. I found a couple teaching programs, I’ve downloaded some Rosetta Stone, and will begin the application process this month. Definitely looking to make Paella a staple cuisine in my near future.

10. Gave A Little, To Feel A Lot

2013 ended with a group of some of my nearest and dearest cooking heaping batches of seaweed soup in Jeewon’s kitchen, to distribute to the homeless. We made about 80 bowls of soup, all of which were gone from our cooler within 15 minutes of our arrival at Seoul Station. This was definitely one of the most special things I’ve done, and it felt awesome to ring in 2014 with a huge swelling heart.

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Now in 16 days, 2014 will mark my 30 year anniversary on the planet, and I am seriously so excited to turn the BIG 3-0! I finally feel so ready to leave the glory of my 20s behind and get into all that the next check box has to offer. I really felt like 2013 was a huge year for me, and come to think of it, I didn’t even really try to make it that way. I didn’t make any major resolutions, and the year actually shittily started in tears, so I am quite pleasantly surprised! Cheers to a bomb diggity year ahead!

WTF?! Wednesday ~ The Dirtiest Soap On The Block

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today marked the third day it’s snowed this winter in Seoul, but the first time I’ve woken up to a winter wonderland that’s stuck through the night, and formed a giant ice skating rink through the day!

I see many a fall in my near future.

Today in WTF?! I have decided to take it back to one if the first things I ever found so unbelievably odd about this country.

When it comes to getting clean, my mind just wanders to dirty with this soap doodad.

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I don’t think I need to address why I feel dirty every time I wash my hands in an elementary school or public restroom. I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.