Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Merry New Years and Happy Christmas

Ok, so it's been a while since I last posted a blog. This does not mean that I don't have things to write about, it's just been a combination of being lazy and not being able to get logged in. I definitely have quite a bit to discuss, so this could be a fairly lenthy post, or I could get tired and stop half-way through, who knows. Thought I'd discuss Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, my 1/2 marathon, Coming home plans, my laundry room being used a pool, vacation ideas, Alaska, Appalachian Trail, jobs, China and New Year's resolutions.
Thanksgiving was another success this year. It was the second straight year of being away and I was lucky enough to be able to have the friends I have and was able to celebrate with three dinners. First, all of the Ildong crew met over at my apt and had a quite untraditional dinner but it was a great time and I was thankful to be able to share my apartment with others for the occasion, although it did mean that I had to clean the place. On that Friday I headed to Hanam for Thanksgiving with my crew there. The dinner was held at Rachel's apartment and it was a bit more traditional, with turkey, mashed potatoes, potato salad,etc. It was a great time and I always enjoy getting everyone together while eating, drinking, and sharing stories. I feel really blessed this year to have come across such good friends all over Korea. To finish off the night we hit up the Noraebang (private karaoke room) across the street in Tres Belle. To finish off the wonderful Thanksgiving holiday weekend, my buddy Andrew was hosting a Thanksgiving party at a local bar that was reserved just for us on Sunday. It ended up being an AWESOME time and there were so many people there! We had four hams, two trays of mashed potatoes, pie, gravy, biscuits, and other sides. I wasn't drinking after having some more dental work done and was the designated DJ for a time followed by watching Jono and Dorian build a pyramid out of Bud beer bottles.
During the month of November and the first couple weeks of December I was trying to train "hard" for my first ever half marathon. I really wanted to do well in this race and also chose to run this race for a very particular reason. The date of the race happened to fall on December 19th, which happens to be the date that I lost my best friend and mom in 2001. One of the things I've been trying to do the last few years is using the days that are often the hardest and plugging in positive moments to soften the blow. What better way also to honor her and how hard she fought during her last few months than to train and run a 1/2 marathon (21km/13.1mi) and run it in a respectable time. It also helps that it was a Team Dirt race and there were many of my friends to hang around with after the race. I have to admit that I was very pleased with my time of approx. 1hr and 53min as I was shooting for under 2 hours. I think mom would be proud of me for that accomplishment and I hope some time this year to run a full marathon as well. I would also like to say that running a 1/2 marathon is challenging and your body hurts like hell for days but it's totally worth it and an awesome experience!
After the race we sat around for a while and drank Makolri outside the small conveiniance store near the finish line of the race. Once done there we hopped on the subway to spread our Christmas spirit to all around on our way to Itaewon to have some Taco Bell for lunch. We greatly enjoyed our Taco Bell and then proceeded to head across the street to Wolf Hound's, a local Irish Pub which is a pretty cool place to hang out at times. We spent several hours at Wolf Hound's and later had dinner close by and I couldn't think of many better ways to make the day more enjoyable than the way Dec.19,2010 went. I truly thank everyone from that day.

Christmas time is always a special time for me and this was the first one I have ever spent away from my family. I honestly can say that I wasn't happy about spending it so far from home. However, I had a great time with my friends in Korea. We celebrated in Ildong at Veronica's place and I decided to make the little cocktail sausages in bbq sauce. Everyone enjoyed and I liked making them as it is such an easy recipe. We enjoyed the sausages, ham, mashed potatoes, pizza, salad, and of course Sarah's eggnog. For our Hanam Christmas party, we all agreed that we would do a gift exchange and a 20,000 Won limit. I drew Jamie, who is the new guy in Hanam and Braden's mate from back home. I didn't know what to pick up for him. So, on the way to Hanam I stopped at E-Mart which is similar to a Wal-Mart, in search of a gift. I ended up settling on a set of speakers as I knew he had a laptop. Much to my surprise when I checked out, the speakers were not 20,000 won and were actually double. Oh well, I knew Jamie was a music lover, so kept them. However, I did not do any fancy wrapping. Hey, I already spent double the limit, lol. Once I arrived in Hanam we opened presents and I received a 12 yr old bottle of Scotch from Britta, which was cool and enjoyed watching everyone else opening their gifts.

The next morning we all gathered at Tom and Julie's for Brunch. I could only stay about two hours as I needed to head to Uijeongbu later to meet up with my friends from the "Bu" as they call it. After enjoying some pizza and coke, I said goodbye to everyone and headed to the Bu. I got to the Bu around 4pm and met everyone at a Chingu's apartment and listened to some tunes, drank a bit, and just hung out and relaxed. Later we decided to head to amazing world, which is the appropriate name as this place is a kid's dream: Darts, ping pong, pool, computer room, movie room, wii room, food, etc. The best part is that you pay 3,000 Won an hour, so cheap. First though several of us decided to head to Andrew's where we played a little NBA Jam on Wii. That's right Mail Man, a little NBA JAM! So awesome. Once at Amazing we played a little pool for a while and did a little Noraebanging before heading to the pc room after Charlie texted me that Dad was online. Sadly the webcams were not working for the room. Luckily though they did still have headphones and microphones! So I was able to talk to dad, Mallory, Beth, Allison, and D to the J. It's funny, we ended up talking for a few hours and when I finally got off it was nearly 3am here and all of my friends had left, ha ha. I guess that they figured I had left. So, I just headed down the street for a couple of minutes to the 24 hr Burger King where I grabbed some grub and listened to tunes and read a bit while waiting for the subway to start up. The best part of the next day was getting home and opening my Christmas presents. That's right I actually received my presents over a week before and I did not open any of the presents.

So, when I got home that morning I instantly opened my gifts. I really love my new WKU watch, loved the beef jerky, hawaiian shirt, socks, Montana book, Titans water bottle, as well as everything else. I'm truly blessed to have such a wonderful family. I can't wait until Beth's gift comes in the mail soon. They alsos recently received the gifts I sent them for Christmas and I loved seeing the pic of D to the J in his shirt I bought him playing with the fan I made. I'm glad everyone like their gifts.

For New Years Eve, Glendon had came to visit the night before and we had a great night of playing card games betwee
n us and Wally at my place. So on NYE we headed to Seoul after I got off work and headed to Gangnam where we met Braden and headed to Wa Bar. Wa Bar is a bit pricey but it has beers from all over the world. I ended up drinking beers from 5 countries that night which is nice when you consider the quality, or lack thereof, of Korean beer. I even had a Honey Brown from the States, yum. Glendon and I ended up staying at the bar until New Year's and afterwards headed for Hangdae to meet the rest of the Hanam crew. Once there I grabbed a 4,000 Won pouch drink and we headed to Zen Bar III. While at Zen Bar we had a fantastic time and sang and danced until the early hours. After leaving the bar, Glendon and I headed to GoGo's and Club FF to meet up with a friend from Seoul. It actually took a while to find as I hadn't been there in a while, but we eventually found it. I found my friend and danced for a while before tiring out, grabbing some kabobs(sp?) and heading to Glendon's to crash.

The next evening I headed home and just wanted to sleep after having such a grand New Year's. But oh were there surprises for me onc
e I arrived home. I got home to my LL pointing at my apartment. So, I wondered what was up as I knew all the lights were off and the door was locked. I walked up to the apt and walked around for a minute trying to understand what was the problem until I walked into the back and there it was. The pipes had froze and there was water everywhere, but luckily it's a seperate room and the water was just in there. So, for the next hourish I helped my LL change the pipe and clean up the mess. The following morning, on Sunday, he woke me up at 8am, and while I couldn't understand him, I know he wanted me to use my phone to call someone. I'm pretty sure he wanted money, and I'm inclined to give him some for fixing the pipe etc. Problem is that my translator, aka, co teacher is in Peru for the next month, so if that's the case he'll have to wait. Sadly, my friend Sean (Also from KY) that lives about ten min from me had the same problem, so I wasn't alone. really was trying to keep the heat off as much as possible since it's so expensive. Guess it will be a tight budget in February,March ha ha!

This week and next week I'm virtually doing nothi
ng. Although I am teaching a class or two a day during these two weeks and although I was told this at the last minute I really enjoy working with the 1st graders and K Monsters. With all of this free time I'm trying to get my going home plans situated and I'm actually very bummed at the moment. I wanted to visit Charlie before heading home with us so close but I'm not sure I'll be able to do so financially after all. Right now my plan is to spend a week or so in Beijing and then fly home. I know it's going to be hard not getting to see him, but I'm hoping we can find a way and he can visit Korea before I go or come to Beijing and we can hike the Great Wall or something. We'll see I guess. I've also got two weeks of Vaca coming up and I'm planning that as well. Hopefully I'll be spending a few days skiing/snowboarding with some friends. I'm also thinking of heading back up to the DMZ and checking out the 3rd tunnel with the USO. We're also working on an ice fishing trip with the Hanam crew that sounds like a great time and Jamie is planning on coming to visit Ildong the last weekend of the month as well. I also want to hike Seroksan and check out some temples/museums in Seoul during my vacation.

I recently was also about to apply for the Alaska Conservation Corp, which my good friend Claire did this past summer. I really want this job and think it would be a great opportunity. I've always wanted to spend some time in Alaska and this would also be a great chance to pay more on my student loan as this experience would pay another 2500 on them! I'm trying to look around for other opportunities as well. One I'm seriously considering is hiking the Appalachian trail or AT. I'm not sure I'll have the appropriate funds but I'm really wanting to do the entire as very few have completed the entire trail, and I want to be one of those people. So, my next adventure is still very much up in the air but I know I'll find something and it will be awesome!