Korea: A Retrospective

Today, three years ago, I was Korea-bound for the first time. After six months of emails and phone calls with Jason, who’d been there already for four years, the reality of the next leap was not only hitting me, it was engulfing me.

There were so many things that worried me about living abroad. What would I eat? What would I wear? How would I communicate? What was I going to do there? How were Jason and I really going to get along; together; in person; after not physically seeing one another for four years?

What would I eat?

For those who know me, this was a big fear. A big hesitation. I pretty much don’t like anything. I don’t like most veggies, I don’t like most seafood. In fact, a big part of my diet up to this point had been beef or chicken, potatoes, and one of three kinds of canned vegetables: Peas, corn, green beans. My mother and I thought for sure I would lose weight from the mere fact that Korean cuisine was based solidly around the foods I didn’t eat. I was so sure, that I packed all my skinny clothes in anticipation of fitting into them in no time.

But I wasn’t going to the 3rd world. I was going to Seoul. And Seoul is like going to the opera. The variations of sounds, smells, foods all co-mingled in the atmosphere. They didn’t just eat squid or noodles or mushrooms; they had everything. They had restaurants  serving American food I’d never heard of. (Restaurants I’d never heard of, that is) To my chagrin I wasn’t going to get skinny here. I actually gained a lot over my two years there. Very disappointing.

I did find A TON (by my standards) of food that I have since fallen in love with. Well, three dishes in particular. But I also discovered a heartfelt love for fresh broccoli (gasp) and cooked mushrooms (double gasp). There were also snack options that blew my mind.  See? I wasn’t going to starve. And when were weren’t eating those things, we could easily pop over to BK, KFC, Micky-D’s, and other fine dining establishments. And the grocery stores had pretty much everything we could possibly need to make ‘home-cooked’ meals. And if the grocery stores didn’t have it, Costco did.

What would I wear? 
Plus-sized clothing in Korea is pretty near impossible to find. At least for me it was. I went to the Gap and found a few things, only tops, and generally had to beg my family to send me clothes or buy online from LL Bean. And I survived for two years on four pairs of slacks from NY & Company, two pairs of jeans from Torrid, and about 15 shirts from random places like Target, Wal-Mart, Old Navy, and Torrid (again). The situation was far from ideal, and would have been better had we been able to get back to the US at least once in those two years. Oh well.

How would I communicate?

This was easy. Pantomime. Actually a good percentage of the people in Seoul speak English or broken English and we were able to ask for basic items. And most of the menus in chain restaurants were partially in English, so we made out OK. Subways and taxis had a good amount of English as well. My coworkers were always helpful, as were Jason’s, when we needed to make bank transactions, call the electrician, order a special pizza from the place around the corner, or order chicken deliciousness for delivery.

What was I going to do there?

Aside from starting my job as an editor for a Korean-based publishing company, we did all sorts of touristy things. We went to temples, visited museums, went shopping. When the newness of being there wore off, we bought bikes and went on rides, we went to an indoor amusement park, we checked out the zoo, bussed down to Andong for our friends’ wedding, flew down to Jeju for a long weekend.

How were Jason and I really going to get along; together; in person; after not physically seeing one another for four years?

If you’re not into mushy, romantic gestures, skip this part. The very first thing Jason did when we saw each other outside of the security check and customs area was kiss me.

OK, you can resume your enjoyment of the blog now.

We had our ups and downs. Jason and I had each other for support during our time in Seoul, and I think that from that we’ve been able to build something that few people have. The shared experience of living in a foreign country, while struggling with the day-to-day stuff of creating a foundation for a lasting relationship was something I think we’ll both cherish forever. After a year and a half of living together, Jason took me up to Seoul Tower, got on one knee, and asked me to be his partner in life, to be his wife.

I said yes. You can read more about that story here.

Since then, our lives have pretty much been a whirlwind of moving back to the US, buying a house, getting married, and starting a family. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Cluck

So it has been a VERY long time since I last wrote a blog. Just over a month, in fact. But I have good reasons.

For those of you who know me, know I work in publishing. And I’ve had loads of work come in the last several weeks. Including a few massive edits and starting up a new project of my own. After spending a few 12-hour days reviewing content, generating work schedules for writers and editors, as well as updating budget proposals and contracts, the last thing I want to do is writing (sit at a computer and do anything really). This job, which I’ve been lucky enough to have for the last three years, has also killed my reading bug. I’m quite happy to veg in front of the TV in my downtime.

On top of work, I had a little bitty wedding to plan and participate in. As the day drew near, I found myself not stressing necessarily, but generally overwhelmed with getting everything finalized and paid for.

Weddings are expensive! Now that it’s finished we can finally get back to saving for more exciting things like furniture and a tricked-out Prius. This is not to say that the wedding wasn’t a memorable experience. It really was; thanks to our parents, bridal party, amazing friends and family, and fantastic venue and vendors.

But, I have to say, probably the biggest reason for my blogging hiatus and a big distraction among other distractions has been this one,
little thing:

Jason saw this other image, and has since referred to our tiny fetus as a chicken. I think it looks more like an Ood.
We are due sometime around the second week in October. And we haven’t found out the gender yet, it’s still a little too early at about 16 weeks. But we definitely want to know so we can start picking out more gender specific (instead of neutral) awesome baby clothes.

Seven Monkeys in My Head

Sometimes it really does feel like I have a whole slue of primates jumping about in my brain. This is otherwise referred to as a migraine. Today’s was generally manageable. Y’see, on Sunday I slept funky and tweaked my neck somehow. And it’s been sore ever since. Today that pain crept up into my head.

Two highlights for today:

Jason and I both had excellent losses at our WW meating this morning. Mine was 2.8 for a total weight loss of 11.4 (I’ve now officially lost all the over-the-holidays weight).

We then went to Men’s Wearhouse to get the suits squared away for the men-folk. Jason has been talking about wearing a morning suit for the longest time, so that’s what we got.

Seven monkey migraine aside, it was a good day.

Keeping Up

So we have a house! we closed on the 8th and got our keys on the 9th. It really is a lot of house for two people and four cats. Or perhaps it just seems that way because we’ve got 1/3 the furniture needed to fill this place. I will post more pictures very soon. We are still in the process of moving over a lot of our stuff (including TWO vehicles) from various locations about Albuquerque.

Aside from our very strong desire to fill up this house with furnishing, we are still in the middle of paying for and planning the wedding. So, until we pay off the wedding (ie HAVE the wedding), we’re gonna be a little house-poor. But, we think the sacrifices are worth it. We are super excited to have this wedding!

Here is our new place:

No Kids Allowed…

Today I was going to talk about one of the caterers Jason and I are considering hiring for the reception. I was going to talk about the food options and tasting I’ve scheduled for the week after we get home. Instead, I’m going to talk about an issue a friend of mine recently experienced, and which I have read about on the forums here.

One of my very good friends is getting married in mid-August. Today she posted an update about her frustration with certain people complaining about their children not being invited to her wedding. Her invitations were addressed to the people she was inviting. Even so, these people still complained when they heard those three words many parents find offensive: No kids allowed.

I can understand a parent’s frustration with not being able to bring their children; after all, babysitters can be expensive for a tight budget, their children are actually very well-behaved (or can be) in the right circumstances, they don’t like to be away from the kids. But, pushing that frustration onto a friend or family member who has invited that person to share in one of the most important moments of their lives is beyond rude.

 When a couple sends an invitation to someone they hope to have join them on their special day, it is not OK to complain about the restrictions that couple has enacted. IT’S THEIR WEDDING.

As it so happens, my friend and her fiancée decided to have a small, intimate ceremony and reception. That means that space is limited and there’s not much room for extra little bodies. Instead of fussing about why their perfect children were not allowed, these people should be congratulating the couple.

For Jason and I, we are having our reception/ceremony at a venue large enough to accommodate a slightly larger guest list. We have quite a few friends with kiddos and have included them in our list.

If you receive an invitation to someone’s wedding and it’s not addressed to each member of your family, they are more than likely not invited. Before going off the handle, stop and think. Practice good etiquette. Contact the bride or groom and ask for clarification. If your little cherubs are in fact not invited, you don’t need to be insolent–take it with a grain of salt. Remember that it’s not about you or even your kids necessarily; it’s about the bride and groom. There are a myriad of reason why they might be saying “no kids allowed.” Most likely it’s budgetary restraints.

On the bride/groom side of things, if you do not intend to invite kids (or certain kids), you should not list them on the formal invitation. You should refrain from adding “and family” at the end of an invite. This even includes Save-The-Dates (as the family will assume that if you sent the announcement to the entire family, the entire family is also invited to the weeding).

For all of you brides(to be) out there, hold firm to your budget and your guest list. Remember that, even though they are your friend or family member, you don’t need to cater to their demands. Smile and try to shrug it off. You’re getting married! Now, smile again.

The Countdown Continues

It’s finally “Wedding Wednesday” (which just so happens to be on our 10-months-’til-the-wedding-day date) and I’ve been waiting for four days to showcase my “Wedding Wednesday” sign. I’m an educator, not a designer, so it’s pretty pathetic. If any of you out there are designers and want to rescue my sad attempt at design (I used OpenOffice thank you very much), I would love to see what you’ve got.

Back to our wedding news:

Several months ago I contacted LeeAnn at Casa de Suenos, a B&B in Albuquerque’s Old Town.


She told me all about their venue and super awesome wedding packages. Even though, at the time, it was still well over a year till the wedding, she was more than happy to give us information.

With the wedding now LESS than a year away, I contacted her once more and asked her a rather important question for a bride wanting to have an outdoor wedding: What if it RAINS?

LeeAnn reassured me us they actually have tent rentals on retainer. We have to watch the weather, of course, and make that final call three days in advance. I’m still iffy on that. I can watch The Weather Channel all day, but we all know how UNpredictable the weather really is. Who pays for my tent if I don’t need it? The weather man? I hope I don’t need the tent. I don’t want to pay for it. The grounds at Casa de Suenos are so pretty–I would hate to cover them up.

I made an appointment to visit LeeAnn with Jason the weekend after we get home. Pictures don’t really give us the WHOLE picture, do they?

PS: I really do love Steve Stucker, he’s my favorite weatherman!