Sunday, March 7, 2010

a focus on the positive. heart-y style.

three day weekends. green tea lattes. sharing deep-dish pizza after a long run. the trainer with kind eyes at my gym. crunchy almonds. running with a friendly, old man who motivated me to maintain my speed. pink roses from justin's mom. watching tommy act with vigor. making chocolate candy with vincent class. jihu's proud moment on stage when he clearly exclaimed, "i like spinach." prepping my lesson plans two months in advance. a twenty mile run that calmed my nerves for the SIM. swapping mitch hedberg jokes. mitche hedberg's voice. refreshing mandarin oranges. korean girls cheering for me during a hard training run. wearing my cowboy hat to a soju cocktail birthday party. listening to fleet foxes at work. pretty soap dish from kevin's mother. consuming an entire box of belgian chocolates. the kindness of strangers. patience. long, late-night of dancing at a new club in hongdae. eating delicious dalk-galbi with my coworkers. all of the hard work jo did for baeum. na giving me an eye make-up makeover. finding the time to paint my nails black. the cute boy that wore "cowboy" boots to gogos. kim yuna's success and talent. joannie rochette's strength and grace. everything going smoothly at the goyang international women's marathon. witnessing a cow and chicken kiss under the disco lights. service bananas. snapple apple. giving justin a run for his money. a goodbye dinner of shabu shabu, with Jess. drinking my first two cups of hand-dripped coffee with terry. the sales rack at forever 21. andy's angry ears. getting..."lost in ilsan"... free lunch of samgyetang. martina mcbride's intense vocals. the feeling you get when you're inspired. making a tentative plan for my future. saying goodbye/hugging bill, annie, libby, and jihu one last time. spring. team dirt sign. going to see wolfman with sun. honey orange lattes. the beads of sweat after a good cycling session. late night giggle session with stephanie and driving justin crazy because of it. two pairs of free running shorts.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The end of the first decade of the century...

2009 was a year of letting go, acceptance, adventure, reflection, and good-byes.

Sunset on White Beach, Boracay. February 2009.

I said hello to 2009 with thousands of Koreans in the heart of Seoul. Ended my first contract in Korea and sadly said good-bye to E-spirit. Rode tandem bicycles with the girls around Chuncheon. Barack Obama became the P.O.T.U.S. Met a boy that likes magic and books, who later became one of my better guy friends. We watched Nanta and Ballerina Falls in Love with a B-Boy. Had one of the last Girls' Wednesday Wine nights and said good-bye to Sarah. Shook my booty at my first URSeoul gig and said goodbye to Alana. I taught my students English and they taught me more about patience. Took an evening run on the dusk-lit shore of White Beach.

Rode tandem bicycles with the girls in Chuncheon. February 2009.

Traveled alone to Boracay, where I was welcomed by friendly people who made my trip memorable. I went para-sailing. Ate my first schnitzel and learned how to windsurf. Contracted the Dengue Fever and traveled back to Mississippi. Helped Timmy with his short film project and discovered an abandoned teddy bear. Rode a 4-wheeler. Let go of the hurt and said good-bye to the One I knew. Accepted history as it was and decided not to repeat it again.

First picture of the gang at Seoraksan. May 2009.

Hiked Seoraksan with Joey, Jeff, and Jess...then formed the "Four Musketeers." Danced to Garth Brooks at a bar called Nashville, with people from Gumi. Fish nibbled on my toes. It tickled. Fell in love with life and it's endless possibilities. Became a Baskin Robbins fan and celebrated my conversion with an entire bucket of raspberry cheesecake, chocolate, and Oreo cookie goodness. Helped make an olive-tree with my roommates Julio and Cessilia. Said an all too early goodbye to my country music pal. Swooned over Gu Jun Pyo and the F4 gang. Listened to a Jeremy Camp song and it triggered my spiritual reawakening. Had an imaginary sword fight with a pretty bartender to help team asparagus win.
The finished olive tree! April 2009.

I went to the aquarium at the 63 Building and had a lovely glass of wine with flowing conversation. Tabi, Jeff, Joey, and I traveled to the beautiful Jeju-do. Shot a heavy manual hand gun (Smith & Wesson) for the first time. Drank from a rather large monkey bucket and realized that monkeys and buckets combined are never good. I planted rice paddies in the rain near the DMZ while I squished cold mud between my toes. Tensions between North and South Korea deepened. Reveled in the fact that I didn't have to bend down or bump my head on the ceiling in one of the tunnels at the DMZ.

Ate raw beef with shredded Parmesan cheese in Apgujeong. Went to a male host bar with the girls. I bungee-jumped off an apple-red bridge and lived. Coined the names Blaze & Fury with the co-founder of the "Bandanna Gang." Chanted "chamchi" and "maekju" while white-water rafting. Had my first taste of the delicious dong-dong-joo. 2009 Pandemic: Piggy Flu. I discovered podcasts and became a fan of the Moth. At Boryeong Mud Festival I was tackled by intense ajummas whose pants kept falling down. I was the cause of someone's happiness and the cause of someone's pain.

Preparing for the jump. June 2009.

The world said good-bye to Ted Kennedy, Patrick Swayze, Michael Jackson, Fera Fawcett, and Ed McMahon. I ran off a mountain and floated hundreds of feet in the air. Met and surpassed my physical goal for 2009: to run a half-marathon. Played a tasty game of Texas Hold'em with the Korean version of Skittles. Said good-bye to Athos, aka Jeff Light. Soaked up the sun on an isolated Muii-do. Purchased an electric tennis racket and protected myself from those blood-suckers. Thanks to Joey, I learned a basic magic trick. Guiltily followed the Twilight and True Blood series. Spoke in third person and learned how to speak with a proper English accent.

Paragliding. September 2009.

I saw RENT and ogled Adam Pascal & Anthony Rapp. Surprisingly, President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Started volunteering. Renewed my sense of purpose. Reenacted portions of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" on the subway platform at Itaewon Station. Saw the video of a nude Aramis running down Itaewon's infamous, Hooker Hill. I married Richard Gere's age. General Motors declared bankruptcy. Borrowed an ajumma's visor for a quick photo-op. Rode the steepest wooden roller coaster in the world. Fell off of the stage at Club FF. Hiked the entire outer ridge of Jirisan in three days time.

In the background you can see the rest of our journey.

Made kimchi and wore a hanbok. Dressed as a gypsy and kissed a priest. Justin Becker titled me "co-capitan" of team dirt. Increased my Korean vocabulary. Realized my lack of ability at the following: DDR, darts, and pool. I was charmed and amazed by a brilliant "dead-eye." Participated in a world wide marketing scheme, by running in the NIKE 10k Human Race. Stayed up all night to say goodbye to Joey and was comforted at the fact I got his swivel touch lamp. ;)

Kanye West disrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech. Said a painful goodbye to GE. Had a blast snowboarding for the first time and didn't break any bones. Traveled to China with three lovely ladies. Experienced a frigid -16c temperature on Christmas Day. Ate strange and unusual creatures off of a stick. Was blessed with so many amazing people to share this past year with.

First time snowboarding. December 2009.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Some highlights from the past few months.

Time has slipped through my fingers again and now I must update you all.

In March, I returned to little Korea after a month of travel and rest. My mission upon returning to Seoul: to find a decent paying job and to save as much money as possible for another amazing vacation and to return home indefinitely.
My job search was tiresome and fruitless, until the day I received a phone call from another "adoptee" who knew I needed some help.

At the beginning of April, I started teaching at BFE. Basic Facts: part-time hours paid by the hour, no benefits, 1 hr commute from my flat, kindergarten aged children that speak minimal English, and I speak minimal Korean. My thoughts at the time: I saw it as a challenge and accepted it. I would learn more Korean, be able to find more work and have a larger income, AND really see my efforts as a teacher, teaching English phonics to Korean children.

I find that my current challenges are blurring what I saw from the beginning. My students are very young, and because they are so young they don't care and don't put forth much effort into paying attention to me or the lesson (who can blame them, when I was their age, I too wanted to play and run around). It has taken over a month to finally get more hours of work a week(a meager 12 to 23 hours).

Despite my complaints, I have seen some great things come from this job. My Korean has improved slightly...even though I'm still at the beginner level, my ability has come a long way. Some days, I really see a breakthrough with some of my students and it REALLY makes my day. I also get to see their characters grow. I have one little boy who is absolutely precious. When all of the other boys throw the cards around and gather their bags to hurry out the door, he is always there helping me pick the cards up to put them back in place. It is such a small gesture, but it touches my heart and makes me think about what kind of people my students will be when they get older.

Although working with children can be difficult and tiresome I have received some clarity through writing this. The benefits definitely outweigh the negatives.

Are you wondering, is it all work and no play for Noel? Lately, I've been living for the weekends.

Cherry Blossoms at Kyunghee University

Girls at Hooters (Sun's first time!)

2nd day of my trip to Seoraksan

Since I have returned to Korea I have: hiked Seoraksan (a large mountain that is a few hours from Seoul), been to quite a few going away bashes (Korea is full of goodbyes), had a blast running a 10k race, got a view of Seoul from Namsan Tower, ate some delicious, yet difficult King Crab for the first time, made an olive tree with my roommates, saw my friend Kat perform in the Vagina Monologues, went to see Nanta (really fun show that involves cooking and drums), danced at various venues, was introduced to the artists Mirou and Matisse, wrote a review for a restaurant in Itaewon, lost at Texas Hold'em to an Irish woman named Deirdre, volunteered at a food kitchen and dog shelter, visited Myeongdong Cathedral and stayed for mass that was in Korean, went to the 63 Building aquarium, got spooked at the Seodaemun Prison, and went to see the Cherry Blossoms at Kyunghee University.

My roommate Julio enjoyin' the free food.

Myeongdong Cathedral

With Wolf at the animal shelter

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Continuation of Top 10

10 Things That Made Me Happy Today

1. Spring weather
2. Warm Chocolate-Chip Cookie/Cake
3. Lavender colored flowers
4. Getting the morning phone call from You.
5. Salmon steak that was seasoned just right.
6. Watching Sweeny Todd on the big screen TV, while running.
7. My students' smiles.
8. Being able to sleep in.
9. Seeing the goofy Korean boy in big, black framed glasses on the subway.
10. Listening to Kenny Chesney

10 Things on my mind

1. Jobs (short-term/long-term)
2. My W Days
3. Purpose
4. Grad school
5. You
6. Missed moments
7. Waiting/Patience/Respect
8. Study Korean
9. My next vacation
10. Completing unfinished letters

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Changes that came and that are coming.

So here's a quick and short update with the events in my life. Sorry there aren't many elaborate details...may return with some at another point in time.

End of January: Say goodbye to the people at Espirit Institute.

Beginning of February: Say hello to a new apartment. Conveniently located in the center of Itaewon, a very diverse area of Seoul. Have a short get-away girls' weekend to Chuncheon. Popular for it's DakKalbi and the Korean drama Winter Sonata.

February 10th - 17th: Visited the beautiful island, Boracay in the Philippines. I was introduced to some wonderful people and to some beautiful sunsets. Pictures are on facebook and will eventually be added to my Picassa albums online.

February 18th - until: I arrived in Mississippi early in the morning. The tentative plan is to stay until the beginning of March and then return to Korea, where I will be working for an undecided amount of time.

Continuing with my Lists of Ten:

Top 10 Things to do in 2009

1. Go Skydiving.
2. Visit a place in MS that I've never been to and never thought about going to.
3. Continue to eat healthy and be healthy.
4. Go to New York and New Jersey to see family.
5. Go on a picnic and fly a kite.
6. Learn how to cook a new dish and perfect it.
7. Take lessons/classes of some kind (salsa dancing, gymnastics, hapkido or taekwondo).
8. Shoot a gun.
9. Perform on stage.
10. Watch a sunrise (this has been difficult, especially since I'm not a morning person).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Feeling Compassion--Inspired by the Bushisms on

Okay. The United States has a new President. There is no doubt we should welcome in the new and hope for the better, a change so many Americans are wishing for. Change can be good, who can deny that?

I can't help but feel sympathy and sadness for President Bush. Gasp!...Sorry, you guys! Some people may say he's uneducated, that he's inarticulate, or look at what he has done to our country over the last eight years!

He's a fallen man. A man who made mistakes. Some big. Some small. Whatever the error, he is still human. As humans, we are imperfect. We make mistakes.

Oh wait a minute, as President, shouldn't he (or she--one day) be held at a different standard? Yes, but should a man be belittled and ridiculed for every mistake? No.

If you said yes, then think about all of the mistakes you have made in the past. Then imagine what it would feel like to have each one replayed for the entire world to see and relive it for every single day that you have breath in your lungs.


Ouch, right? OKAY, so yeah, some of it IS funny (not the point)... Hopefully, he can find it humorous...but if he's like you or me, it's going to be more painful before he finds it comical (Oh before I forget, I don't like one-sided journalism. I don't like how the media attacks.)

Sure, man should recognize their mistakes, see their imperfections. Accept it, try to change what they can, and move on. Bush can't change anything he has done over the last eight years, neither can you or I.

I'm sure he is wondering what he could have done better for America. Yet, he has millions of people who hate him, who blame him for the state our country is in. Who, possibly, for quite a long time, will not be able to walk outside the comfort of his home without feeling the weight of regret, judgment, and ridicule. Do you think society will let him just forget? Do you think society will let bygones be bygones?

I don't.
It's not right.

We get to move on with our lives. We get to stash our mistakes away in a secret file in our minds. Maybe Bush can too. Maybe he's really strong and the public voice won't bother him. Who knows?

I wonder what Bush is feeling this very moment and what he's thinking. Also, I wonder the same about Obama.

Obama has a big burden on his shoulders. He has to try and repair a country that is in disarray economically, etc. My hope, is that he lives true to his promises of change. My hope is that he doesn't reach the bottom like Bush did. I hope our nation will get stronger and our leader will make the right choices, just as I hope the people of my country will too.

***SIDE NOTE: Please forgive any spelling, grammar, punctuation errors. It is really early in the morning and I'm a little loopy.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcoming the new, accepting the old, and hoping for a better "something."

2008 came as quickly as it disappeared. For the majority of this past year I spent it in a new country, or rather, my "motherland." I'm thankful for the people I have met, the places I have seen, and the experiences I was blessed with. If I had stayed within the confines of the Mississippi state line I would never have gone to Thailand, not have been as self-sufficient as I am right now, and possibly be stuck in a rut that I couldn't get out of. Living in South Korea has definitely been a good experience for me, even though I have felt lonely at times.

Hope. That is what I have for the new year. I hope to overcome my weaknesses and turn them into strengths. I hope for forgiveness and for answers.

I don't really have resolutions, but I have goals.

On New Year's Eve, I went to the center of Seoul to "hear the bell" ring. The massive amount of people was overwhelming. We were all squeezed and squished together making it very difficult to breathe. There was a semi-threatening wall of police men as well...the number of them was threatening, not that they had any sort of weapon. I didn't manage to get back to my drafty apartment until five and then slept till sunset.

Happy New Year...Make it the best.