Back from Asia. Culture shock galore.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Party Strike.

I'm officially on a party strike. I know everyone else does the exact same thing after the holidays but this is strange for me. You usually can twist my arm or more accurately, I can twist yours :)

This stance has been taken because of one main thing. My health. I've had an onslaught of strange, mildly superficial ailments over the last few weeks and it has to end. Swollen glands, wierd deformity on my earlobe that my colleagues ensure me is not assocaited with head & neck cancer, stomach issues (I'm banking on this being an ulcer) to name a few. Working for a company that specializes in medical health doesn't help. I was up at 3 am on a Thursday morning googling tonsillitis and appendicitis. It's got to end.

On a cheerier note. I've been much more productive during this strike. Imprisioned in my King St. apartment in Toronto isn't even a quarter of the nightmare it was being holed up in my cell of an apartment in Seoul. For one, I have the internet, a kitchen, a bathtub and space to walk around.

Here are some things I've accomplished:

1. Buying flowers. I've gotten in the habit of this lately so it's not strictly limited to the strike. I find that my high ceilings really compliment flower arrangments and with the extra money saved from no boozing -- why not splurge?

2. Reading. I've finally finished my book! I used to be such an avid reader. I'm making a comeback. I can actually contentrate again.

3. Blogging.

4. Cable. This may be a given for others but not me. I rarely watch cable. I haven't installed my cable splitter yet so if I want to watch it I have to unplug the cable chord to my computer -- I'd choose internet over tv most days. However, with the extra home time, I decided to give it a try. I watched a few hours of StarTV to catch up on important news and enjoyed two Saturday night moves on TBS. GTS.

5. Language Studies. I like to study languages. I never fit it in but last night I did go over some Spanish verbs in preparation for a quick trip to Cuba (more on that to come).

6. Yoga. Hell, I even used my purple yoga mat.

7. House-cleaning. Not only did I scrub the tub, I bought a new closet organizer and did all my laundry and watered my plants. I do try to stay on top of the plant thing if nothing else.

When you spend 5-6 nights of the week out, and the other 1 or 2 in bed with a hangover or catching up on personal hygiene like shaving your legs and washing your hair -- you never have time for the domestic things. Funny, I still haven't tackled my cooking resolution. That will come next...

Ok, some more pics. The first one from my brother Nick's annual "Festivas" party in L-dot. He's holding his trophy -- meaning behind the award undetermined. The second one is Jim and Mel after hours. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

To a New Year...and Memories of One Past.

My list of new years resolutions are as follows:

1. Make more blog posts. ha.

2. Compost. I have the green bin outside, I have the molding, disgusting produce -- why the hell not.

3. Cook more. Surprisingly, I've been baking the last few months but no real authentic, from scratch cooking. If nothing else I want to try out my grandma's pierogi recipe that's been magneted to my fridge since I moved in. I even have a nice fold-out table from Home Depot to do the "pinching" on.

4. Hang out with more kids. Even though some of my friends don't believe this I truly do love spending time with children. I always feel more relaxed and I can be my natural silly, scatterbrained self.

That's about it for resolutions.

I've been pretty wrapped up with my new job and holiday socializing. I always have mixed feelings about this time of year. In one way the season forces everyone together and it is super great to see old friends and family. On the other hand, I resent having all my weekends pre-booked (not by me) and no down-time and huge gift expectations and don't even get me started on the travel stress. Oh, another resolution was almost "buy a new car," but after tallying up the budget for the first quarter of 07' that doesn't seem like such a hot idea. I'm stuck suffering through arduous Greyhound bus rides. The last was particularly painful because two college-aged guys starting rambling on about the pros and cons of nuclear war and satellite intelligence
behind me. Not that I'm opposed to stimulating conversation...

Since I haven't chatted about my year in Asia in awhile, and this blog was specifically designed to focus on that, I think I'll share a short anctidote about my Christmas in Korea.

Last Christmas Eve, after a day spent teaching cheesy carols and sharing chocolate and duk (Korean traditional rice cake dessert), I contemplated the evening's options. At the time, I was dating this very sweet and slightly naive Korean guy who wanted to spend quality time "together." It's important to note that Christmas day has become a romantic holiday in Korea. If you're miraculously one of the non-Christians, you would be out twirling pasta carbonara with your sweetheart -- as Italian is the dating food of choice (girls like it apparently). I, however, was not interested in smooching with some new guy but instead opted for getting shit-faced with my friends at a pub while eating cake with chopsticks and periodically having my photo taken by a group of drunken young Korean admirers. The cute guy did show up later and my friends thought he was cute too so he drove me home and spent the night. He produced a second cake from his trunk with candles and I made a few more wishes.

New Years followed the same lines. I choose to have a nice, quick dinner with the boy and than joined friends in Itaweon for the usual hoop-la. The boy, I recall, was disappointed in my casual, flighty behaviour, and probably spent the remainder of his evening cursing off Canadians. Ah. I still do feel slight guilt over that.

And finally, Chinese/Korean New Year. I spent this holiday holed up in my one room apartment slurping ramen noodles and watching any English TV I could find. I did have a suitor drop off a bag of apples from his hometown later in the night. That gesture was one sweet move in a very long, pathetic trail of let-downs. I've avoided discussing him for many reasons but might get into it another day.

All in all. No turkey, no wrapped gifts, no egg nog. BUT, no stress and no depleted bank account. I can't really pinpoint which Christmas I preferred -- 2005 or 2006. (Oh, I did receive a box of instant stuffing in the mail from someone, I forget who...ahhhhhh. I didn't eat that during the holidays though. I devoured it during one of my many all day hangovers.

On a completely different note, I've attached a picture from lovely Amy Kivell's 30th birthday bash on January 5th. It is so nice to see everyone again!