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 :*

A Pupu Platter Of 2012 Whathaveyous

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!

Wow, another year has come and gone, and I must say, 2012 was my favorite year of my almost-29 years gracing this planet.  So much that I had always dreamt of in years past same to fruition this year, and I can honestly say I am in the best place I have ever been in my life.  And it feels damn good 😉

I had made the resolution in 2011 that by the end of the year I would be living a life abroad ~ check.  In 2012 I promised myself I would do absolutely as much traveling of Asia as possible.  I came to Korea to conquer this continent like a blaze of fire, and in looking back I can say I did just that.  Along with the travel resolutions, I really put my best foot forward to work on getting what I really want, and making that start from within.  I try my best to communicate what I want, but a lot of time it fails when walls get put up, or life just gets in the way.  So, I’ve really tried to be as self-aware as possible just be the best version of myself and hope that it brings with it what I truly want.  That being said, 2012 has definitely been the happiest and most honest year to date 🙂

Now I’m just gonna throw together a few highlights from each month of 2012. Badabing herrrrrr goes!

I began the year on the beach in Koh Phangan, covered in florescent body paint and drinking liquor by the buckets with one of my dearest and oldest friends on the planet ~ my fave biatch and sista from anotha mista, Miz Diamond ❤

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January marked my first birthday to be celebrated away from everyone I’ve always shared my (obviously) favorite holiday with.  I felt a little down about it, then in flew a gift from THE BEST sista ever ~ Sista Schaeff in the flesh, in Korea!

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On her last night here, she snuggled my foot to sleep.  BY CHOICE! ❤

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In February I visited two of my favorite countries so far ~ Vietnam and Cambodia. I saw some of the most beautiful snorkeling waters, caught my first fish, shot my first gun, ate a bowl of pho a day, wondered why they allow Americans in, and saw my life flash before me about 1million times while in ‘Nam.

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In Cambodia I visited the most breathtaking temples I have ever seen, spent an afternoon with beautiful children in an orphanage on the river, saw insurmountable beauties in some of the deepest poverty stricken eyes, and struggled to hold back tears while walking through a living history at the Killing Fields and S-21 genocide museum remnants from the Khmer Rouge of the 70s~80s.

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In March I visited the happiest place on earth, AKA the DMZ, for the second time.  This time we rode bikes along the most intensely guarded border in the world, all while Obama paid the peninsula a visit and peered over to the North with us.

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April means Passover, which also means the sea parts in Korea.  I made the trek down south with a homie and we met Moses, crossed the parted sea and drank makkoli while doing so, obvi.

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Later in April, my favorite story to date came to be.  A couple morons went to a Lady GaGa concert.  They got all gussied up in the hottest of pink and the tightest of attire, only to miss the whole thing whilst trying to attain the most coveted seats in the house during the “GaGa cover band”…. *face palm* At least we looked sexy.

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In May, Wawa came for a visit.  We did many things, but by far our favorite day was our “Day of Culture.”  We visited Gyeongbukgong Palace, learned about the creation of Hangul (the Korean alphabet), ate a traditional lunch, drank tea in a lovely tea house, dressed up and cracked up in Hanbok (traditional Korean dress), and wrapped up with a journey to the Noryangjin Fish Market.  Twas a wondrous day!

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Then came June, and Buddha’s birthday.  A crew of us high-tailed out of Seoul to Gangneung, a little beach town on the East Sea. There were makkoli and soju spurred chicken fights, sexy man-wrestles, toasty bonfires, crashing of high class fancy Korean booking clubs and frisbee games resulting in broken pinky toes and racial slurs. The Buddhaman had an awesome birthday!!

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Then came July and two events which could be classified as the greatest events of the century. One more than the other, but one got more hype than the other according to the Facebook.  You can use your own judgement on that one.  One required us to dress to the nines to bid adieu to all the homies we grew to call family, and also the ones we grew apart from because a lot of people that came with us were weirdos, let’s face it. The other required some prior temple-sculpting, lots and lots and lots of soju, mudmudmud and practically no clothes. Mud Fest was by far my favorite event of 2012.  Shit was CRAY TO THE MAX!

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August was the most bittersweet month of the year I’d say.  It was sweet because I took a 2.5 week summer jaunt on over to the Philippines with my lovely lass from home, Brianne.  We saw some of the most picturesque islands, snorkeled and ate our faces off, hiked miles in our little warrior Havaianas, posed with stalagtites, missed the whale sharks, got in a fist fight with a very mean typhoon, and let tempers fly with shitty budget airlines.

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August was bitter because our contracts ended and some left KoKo and I had to face the harsh reality that the world as I knew it was shattering before me.  Well, that’s an over-dramatization, but that’s how it felt at the time dammit. I also got thrown into my deathbed by some plague I contracted in the Philippines.   So, not only were my friends leaving, but I was deathly ill and partying with an IV in the hospital, unable to hand out proper goodbye hugs. NOT COOL WORLD.

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Then on rolled September.  Grabbing my bearings on who was still left in my Seoul-cial circle happened naturally.  I got back in the go-out mode (at least for the time being), and some friendships from the previous year had the chance to blossom.  Late in the month for Chuseok holiday, a group of us gals decided to pop off to Osaka and Kyoto, Japan with boy toy Joshy. We frolicked by bicycle all over Kyoto, made the most of the typhoon stricken city by stuffing our faces with enough sushi and sake to fuel an army, and tore up (literally) a karaoke room.  Best weekend ever!!!

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October was of course Halloween, and we got down with our bad selves…and Bob the Builder.

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In November I actually had a REAL Thanksgiving, none of that Pho shit (pardon me, it’s just not suitable cuisine for Thanksgiving).  Josh Rich was also in town as my 6th visitor to the Orient. A Happy Happy Turkey Day it was!

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And last but not least, I think the winner for best December event goes to my dance crew’s (WORD TO YO MAMA’S HIGH WAISTED JEANS) epic ass kicking in the 90s dance battle for the African kids. Real winners put in the effort, and effort we put in. Obviously you would know this had you been at our latke-rehearsal party, our cheese and crackers rehearsal party where Matty ripped his jeans, and our final rehearsal party that almost interfered with us attending the actual party because we were too focused on perfecting our dance.  What a BOMB DIGGITY way send out 2012!!!

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As you can see, 2012 was quite the year, and it’s been a pleasure looking back on it with you. Here’s to an even better 2013, and going home to America in 10 days!!!!!!!

PEACE & CHICKEN GREASE, HOMIEZ.

The End of The Beginning & The Beginning Of The End

Today is the first day of school, and I wore my new vintage blue plaid blazer because you’re supposed to look your best on the first day of school, right? I also wore my new Koreanized spectacles which my amazing-not-anymore-co-teacher told me look very expensive. I’m fancy.

Since it’s the first day of school and I never wrote about winter camp or the end of the school year, I’m just gonna kill 2 birds with one stone.

Winter Camp came and went, thank god.  2 weeks for 3rd & 4th graders, 1 week of 5th & 6th grade little shits. We did Hollywood Week and it went fine.  I think the highlight for me was teaching myself iMovie and making them these music videos which I showed on the final day…A Day at the Academy Awards.  I taught them a song, they illustrated, I threw these together.

Weeks 1 & 2 / 3rd &4th graders: Hot ‘N Cold by Katy Perry.  Taught them oppositessss.

Week 3 / 5th & 6th graders: Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus. Taught them about LA…and gerunds (-ing words).

Korea’s weird in that we had winter vacation end of December to beginning of February, then came back for a couple weeks, the 6th graders graduated (cue waterworks…and I did), and then we had  spring break for a couple weeks and now we’re back a grade older.

I’m a bit nervous to be honest. My amazing co-teacher Leni is now a 6th grade homeroom teacher, so we won’t be teaching together anymore 😦 Jin and I will still be teaching together, thank god, and I have a new co-teacher, Mr. Jang, who I taught English camp with. I’m nervous about that because his Englishee is pretty bad and he giggles whenever I say hello to him…uh oh

This is our last lunch as a 3some because Leni now eats lunch with her students in her classroom. Sad face.

Thought I’d post some of the photos from the 6th grade graduation, because I freakin love those kids. I think I’m the only one who loved their 6th graders. I actually cried at their graduation.  Who cries at a 6th grade graduation? A loser cries at a 6th grade graduation. If I’m like this watching kids I’ve known for 6 months graduate elementary school, I’m embarrassed for my own future children.

Billy on the right was my favorite 6th grade boy.  He is so f’ing smart. and Jessi, on the desk (who spells his name like a girl) is a little rascal. Here they were writing their pen pal letters to Kendra’s class in LA!

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I’m impressed that they’re not covering their faces!

Money & his lil bro Rainbow ❤

Zidane. Oh how I love him. So smart and slightly cocky, but with a little heart of gold.

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Sweet lil thang was crying!

The lil peach on the right is Sally.  My fave 6th grade girl 🙂

So yea, new school year has begun, the frigid cold has dissipated and spring is upon us.  Ciao ciao winter coat! I will leave you with another disgusting thing that I have tried.  This is that ugly ass fish I like to call the penis fish.  To be politically correct, it’s actually called gaebul, but penis fish is more suiting.  I tried it with Leni when the whole school went on an overnight trip to Gyewah about 3 hours out of Seoul. Wasn’t too bad, but won’t do it again.  As you can see, I’m also a wiz with chopsticks. When in Korea!