A Thanksgivukkuh Miracle

The holidays are always a little odd whilst being abroad. It’s definitely the being thousands of miles and a Skype screen away from everyone that’s close to my heart, but I think it’s also in combination with the fact that as an expat in Korea we have to work right through our amazing Americana holidays.  And then it’s not til the last minute when we all realize that we need to get our shit together.

My first year here was the most depressing of the three. One, it was my first ever away from the world back home, and second, there were big talks of getting a group of us together and buying one of the big turkey dinners from the Army base, but that did NOT come to fruition.  Ultimately Steph and I spent our first Turkey day in Korea with 2 big piping hot bowls of pho in front of our faces. Don’t get me wrong, pho warms my soul on any other day, but on Thanksgiving it was pathetic and majorly deserving of a sadface.

Last year was much better. Though still accompanied by the lingering sadness factor, it felt a bit more like the holidays.  I had Josh “Gay” Rich visiting, which was a wonderful blast from the past, and my beautiful family over here managed to get our butts in gear to make a tasty spread of thanks in our microscopic kitchens.

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We even took these gorgeous family photos to top it off.

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Not ripping a page from years past, this year the holidays have begun to feel a bit more like the holidays should, and that makes Danielle a very happy camper! Korea obviously doesn’t get the right ring for an American Thanksgiving, and then Christmas likes to usually follow suit, except this year! This weekend began with a trip to the European Christmas Market that is held at Hansung University, which also happens to be 1 subway stop south of me, or a quick 20 minute jaunt. Nothing ever used to be close to me! YAYAYUYUH!

Joshy, Jee and I all met up Friday night after work for some piping hot Glühwein, a dinner made up of some mediocre excuses for European delicacies, a fully decked out Christmas tree and an extremely miserable looking Santa. But miserable Santa aside, the holidays were alive and thriving in the air, and it was a wondrously toasty night with my loves. It got me super in the holiday spirit!

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On Saturday we had our Thanksgivukkuh feast! It still took us a good nanosecond to get our lives together, and come to grips with the fact that of the 20 people we invited to our potluck, me, Tim, Joshy and Jee, plus a couple others, were the only ones to respond to be in our company. Hard feelings for all others aside, the few of us managed to slave away all day to pull off what actually ended up being my most favorite Thanksgiving feastgathering to date. Quality over quantity, as the saying so rightly goes!

It came fully equipped with a delicious homemade spread filled with some unsuspecting chefs (super impressed), and photos of said attendees taking photos of said feast. We are in Korea afterall, where the foodie photo reigns supreme, or you didn’t eat it.

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Greasy latkes were flipped by the token Jew on the block, in honor of the Thanksgivukkuh miracle of some 79,000 years.

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Fattening up was then followed by a few rigorous rounds of Apples to Apples (thanks Andria), Pilgrims and Indians arts & crafts hour with supplies hijacked from school, and a screening of the 2013 film most deserving of a Razzie Award, Sharknado.

I guess I can say goodbye to any form of political office with these totally un-PC photos of me sporting headress.

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The evening wouldn’t be complete without a family photo in front of a screenshot from said Razzie-deserver, of a man chainsawing himself out of the belly of the beast.

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It was a wondrously delicious evening with those I love most in this damn country that I live in.  A holiday which started out feeling a bit bittersweet with so many friends having already left really redeemed itself, and most of my homesickness as of late has begun to dissipate, thank God!

Even though being away from home during the holidays is sadface but has become my new normal, nothing says home, I love you or Happy Thanksgivukkuh quite the way a wacko Skype sesh with the Schaeffs does!

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Happy holidays from my crazy faced family/ies (sans Brotha Schaeff) to your’s!

I Came, I Fell, I Conquered

I know I’ve been a complete slack of a human being on the blog front as of late. I keep telling myself to post about the recent happs, but then life gets the best of me. In my defense, I’ve been a bit preoccupied with all the visitors I’ve had here in the KoKo.  I’ve been top of the pops lately if you hadn’t heard. In the past 2 months I’ve had 3 visitors to Korea: Jeff Davidson, one of my ATO homies from the good ‘ol SBeezy days, Josh “Gay” Rich, my old Santa Barbara neighbor and favorite non-homosexual gay person, and lastly, my long-awaited, MUCH anticipated visitor, Adam Allegro, photographer extraordinaire (http://catchthejiffy.com). It’s been awesome, and that brings my visitor count to 7 in the last 16 months.  Who’s next?!?!

To catch you up, because I’m sure Facebook doesn’t do that for you, I’ll show you some highlights from the past 3 months. It’s a bit of a time traveling experience, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.

The first highlight after Japan was Halloween.  Halloween is my favorite holiday, and last year it was a sour disappointment, despite my amazing costume.  However, the company I shared it with this year more than made up for last year. I got creative while exploring the world wide web and decided to go as a Roy Lichtenstein 1960s pop art lady (in case the uncultured folk out there are confused and just think I had really bad acne for the evening).

I kicked it with some saucy Japanese schoolgirls.

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Had my “damsel in distress” moment when I got rescued by Spiderman in a seedy alleyway in HBC.

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Then I went on to get down with Andre Agassi’s zombie circa 1990.

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A couple weeks later me and a bunch of Koreans decided to hit up a 1960s/Andy Warhol shindig.  Here’s me and Jee shmoozing with Mr. Warhol about being in one of his next films.

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Then we just got sexy with some spectacular wall art.

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Then I had an unexpected 5th visitor when Jeff popped over from Singapore for a few days on business.  Here’s us drinking somak (soju and beer combo) at Noryangjin fish market, over a plate of freshly killed sashimi and octopus.

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Shortly thereafter, I time traveled to a roller derby set in the 1980s. My closet and I love the 80s, and this was the perfect opportunity for me to cut up my newly purchased California Raisins sweatshirt into true Flash Dance style.  It also provided the perfect setting for me to showcase my wild agility and ability to stand on two feet.  My hands hurt for a good 3 weeks after this tumble.

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A couple weeks later Josh “Gay” Rich came for a week-long jaunt to the peninsula to learn what Gangnam Style is all about. I’m not sure if he discovered it or not?  He was my 3rd school visitor, and my kids thought he was very handsome and very TALL.  The girls were oogling at him and the boys were jumping to try and reach his head.  It was adorable.

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Then he met my 6th grade boyfriend, Jinho.  My little angel boy talked baseball with him and was so excited to meet him. I was like a proud mama.

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During Josh’s visit I also celebrated my 2nd Thanksgiving abroad.  Holidays are so weird in Korea.  They literally sneak up on you.  I swear I didn’t realize it was Thanksgiving til like 3 days before and we had to scramble for where we were doing our potluck because I was not settling for another bowl of Pho on Thanksgiving like last year.  Anyways, this is my beautiful Seoul fam plus Josh.  Every family has that one “special” member right?  Can you spot ours?

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This pretty much catches me up to present-day and my most current visitor.  Adam and I have been wanting to be on the same continent for a few years now, and the time finally came!  He just got out of the Navy stationed in Italy and has begun  his year of jet-setting across Asia to pursue his photography dream.  We started bonding over his beautiful photos a few years ago, so I’m thrilled to have him in my home-away-from-home to capture some stunning photographs of this peninsula that now holds a special place in my heart, despite all it’s oddities.  He’s been here since December 10th, and is here until January 4th popping all over Korea.

Aside from taking brilliant photos, I brought him to school with me as my show and tell special gift to my shithead 6th graders.  I felt they needed a little inspiration, and to many he was.  They were all impressed with his gigantic stature (6’4″), his ginger hair, a term I taught to my 3rd graders, and how his feet hung out over the back of his slippers.

Here he is with my best class of 6th graders.  They were amazing and had so much fun with him!

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He also handed out piggyback rides to my favorite 3rd grade babies.

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And met my 6th grade boyfriend again 🙂 Isn’t he just the cutest?

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He even arm wrestled my man co-teacher after my students dragged Mr. Jang over to the table.  Peep the video below to watch Adam kick his ass.

 

This week I also celebrated my 2nd Christmas abroad, but first in Seoul. I was actually feeling crappy all day, but was coaxed into going to my friend Keira’s for a potluck/housewarming party.  It ended up being really nice and quaint and I’m glad I went, because the holidays are already really depressing living over here that they shouldn’t be made any more by staying in bed by myself on Christmas day.  So, here’s another semi-family photo with some new Koreans that I met.  Once again, can you spot our “special” member?

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Last but certainly not least was the EPIC event that I partook in last weekend.  My friend Jeremy runs a non-profit organization (http://gosena.org/) where he raises money to pay for high school costs for a select group of students in the Namibian school that he used to work at during the Peace Corps. So a couple times a year he throws fundraisers where we spend an over-abundance on alcohol and have an amazing time and it goes to support little African kids.  Well, this holiday fundraiser was an In Living Color themed t-shirt tag party fully loaded with 90s dance battles.  However, the 3 other “crews,” if they can even call themselves that, didn’t even stand a chance against my craftily put together crew.  All hail to the 1st place champions: WORD TO YO MAMA’S HIGH WAISTED JEANS (or WTYMHWJ for short).  We featured a medley of jams sampling all the great hits from every NOW music CD you ever owned. We won the whopping prize of 100,00won which we generously donated back to the kids, and of course superstar status for the rest of the evening.

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If you want to relive the Macarena, Barbie Girl DDR style, the great Bboys, the amazingness of “The Carlton” or watch a tap dancer slam her ass so hard on the ground that she pulls her groin muscle, I beg you to please tickle your eyeballs with the video below.  I promise you it’s worth every second of the 4 minutes that it is.

 

I hope you enjoyed the speedy version of the past 3 months. I’ve felt like quite the sorority girl that I never was.

OH, and if you live under a rock, I’ll be gracing the United States of America January 12th~25th.  So, if you know what’s good for you you’ll accompany me as I eat myself a winter coat during the duration of my visit, and come celebrate my birthday the evening of January 19th.  SEE YOU SOON AMERICA!!!