Unemployment

In case you were confused by the title, I’m unemployed. I was going to work on that wall project, maybe you’ve heard of it. But, apparently it, like everything else, has been outsourced to Mexico. So, now I have nothing to do.

It’s not too bad though. I’m caught up on all my shows. Stranger Things was crazy to watch at 3 am; I don’t suggest it. I swear after I watched it, Millie Bobby Brown’s Instagram posts just started showing up on my feed. And I’m exercising a lot. Yesterday, I ran for two minutes and passed out. That’s one minute longer than before.

Like most unemployed people, I prefer the term temporary retirement. I feel the cop that retires only to be called back in reluctantly. And I have permanent butt damage from my couch. It’s like a deflated birthday balloon, flat and sad.

Mostly I just sit around and think of things that only high people think about. Like we should call regular movies, reverse musicals? Or why people don’t have horns on them to let cars know where they are?

As you can see, my life is real fun.

Applying for jobs is hard. I know you are probably mad. You’re thinking She’s a millennial. Don’t they all just make blogs and YouTube for money. I WOULD LOVE TO DO THAT! I would love to work from my bed, like I am right now. If only it were that simple. I don’t know how to do things like that for money. It’s too stressful. But I heard the new tax bill has a tax break for private jet owners. So the tax break for Tweeting should be any day now.

 

I promised a friend I would talk about her. So, to satisfy her selfish needs, here are some words about her:

If I had the Photoshop skills to put your face on Wonder Woman’s body, I wouldn’t, because you look exactly like Gal Gadot.

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Bye Bye Yellow Haze

I’m back in America. I know. It’s weird. My Korean experience (I’m referring to me living in Korea, not some last minute relationship I had with a Korean. I’m not that lucky), but anyway, my Korean experience is over. Now I’m forced to talk about it with everyone I meet. You know what that means! Yeap! I’m forced into a very weird talk about the political climate between the U.S. and North Korea all of the time. This is how the conversation usually goes: Continue reading

The Mystery Ends

He holds his coffee as if it is a gift from God. This gift was never extended to me or any of the other foreign teachers. But watching him wait patiently for the coffee to drip slowly into his cup, like a child supervising their mother baking cupcakes, I felt like I too was able to drink the coffee. Of course, I can’t drink the coffee. The nice old man didn’t even offer us a cup when he installed it. The nice old man just came in one day with it and showed only them, not us. We are the neglected children toys of the office, only sought out when they realize we are worth thousands on E-Bay auctions.

But tomorrow is my last day so I must find a way to say goodbye to people I have studied for one year when they called me simply, “foreign teacher,” the entire time. But now, they probably won’t even notice the new person at my desk. My replacement has the same color hair as me so they will never know. I like to think he will notice. Of all the others, he will miss my invisible presence, like when people miss their moles after they are removed.

As for my goal of talking to the Anchovy for an entire conversation, I failed. I didn’t know what to say. The only thing I know we have in common is we get water at the same time, and we both believe in ghosts, I assume. I have no idea. I have a new goal of getting a selfie with him on my last day of work, I’m not sure how that will go.

 

Yeah, that goal failed, too.

The Anchovy has a kid. I have said this before, but I just want to remind you. That kid is 100 days old today. In Korea, this is an important day which is celebrated with gifts of food and drink. So let’s all take a moment to say congrats to the Balding Anchovy and his unknown wife about their 100 day old baby. Based on the name of the child, I cannot tell if it is a boy or a girl. In Korea, boy and girl names are completely interchangeable. Isn’t that cool and super trendy now?

Today’s it. Today’s the day I say goodbye. I don’t know what is going to happen, but I did my hair and makeup for real today. So anything goes really. I will have many hours to think about as I have nothing to do at work today.

There will be a party, I will have to say something to all of them as parting words. I don’t know anything I want to say; I mostly just want to take a picture to prove they all exist, especially Anchovy and Loud Chewer. Loud Chewer chews so loud. There are no words to express how loud it is, except excessive smacking noises. Some people think I make them up. I can’t make this up. For one year, I’ve been starred at while also being ignored at the same time. Like a homeless man selling cans. I suppose the weirdest thing about leaving is becoming visible again. Fully visible, not just a zoo animal to be watched be never approached.

In the moment I decided to say, very uncomfortably, “This year has been fun. Let’s eat.” This was coupled with nervous gesturing towards the snacks they bought for me. The perfect way to end this experience. I ate the snacks and smiled politely so I could leave and never come back. I said goodnight as I was leaving, but they still said nothing to me. Sounds about right, eh?

Other than that, I’ve just been reflecting on all that I’ve done this year. And it wasn’t a lot. Sure, I did a lot of travelling, and I’m about to go to India (this part was written before I went India), but I still don’t know how to pay bills or balance a checkbook. But what 23 year old really knows how to do that stuff anyway. And what does it mean to even balance a checkbook? When is it unbalanced? Why does balancing help your financial situation anymore?

There are some things that living here has taught me. For example, I want to be an elderly Korean woman. They have so much confidence. They will do or say anything they want. That is the way to live. (Unless you are a man talking about reproductive rights. You shut up.) So every day we should all say to ourselves, we deserve as much as an elderly Korean woman does. (Again, unless you are a man talking about reproductive rights.) That means you deserve the seat on the subway, and you deserve to push anyone down that gets in your way, even a nice younger woman carrying many bags. You deserve to put your stuff down at the checkout counter first, even before the people behind you. You deserve the best.

You deserve to harass people on the street until they take your Jesus tissues. Or force them to grope you for some reason. Nevermind, please don’t do that. That is not okay. An old lady did that to me. It was not okay. But you deserve to enter the many women-over-60 beauty contests and win. You deserve it all.

 

Now we know we all deserve the best. I will apologize for the lateness of this post. I started it a long time ago, but couldn’t finish it. I didn’t feel like the experience was over yet. But when I finally got my license renewed, I realized that my year in Korea is over. The experience has changed, and everyone wants me to reflect on it now. That means I must officially say goodbye to the Balding Anchovy. This was difficult. What made it the most difficult was learning that the foreign teachers are now required to talk to the Korean teachers for 30 minutes twice a week. I want to know if he wonders if the tongue or the lips get in the way more for a dentist.

I must accept that he is a mystery I will never fully know. Because I don’t speak Korean and he doesn’t speak English well. He is probably just a normal dude that is shy. But in the words of Wonder Woman, “It’s about what you believe” (read in bad Gal Gadot accent), and I believe he is teacher by day and crime-fighting anime character by night. Based on the evidence though, that is the most logical explanation of his life.

 

India and Nothing Else

India had always been that great mythical place you can never go to. So, as I was landing in India, I questioned if losing the myth was worth it. But obviously at this point I had already invested a lot and carved out 20 days of my life for this. I had to go, right? Of course I didn’t have to. But how would I feel if I planned it and failed to go?

At this point, it looked like all the places I’ve been, but I know it wasn’t or at least wasn’t supposed to be. But I knew this was the time, my only shot. I’m young, I know how to defend myself well, and my IBS hasn’t fully progressed to can’t-leave-the-house status yet. I just didn’t want to go alone is all.

I’m proud to say I made it through the entire trip without buying a sari. I had the common sense to know that even if I wore it while in India; if I ever wore it America, I would just be a dick. So, I didn’t waste the money. I wasted money on countless other things. But that’s just all part of the experience.

The moment I arrived in India, I thought, well shit, no turning back now. So I got in the taxi the hotel got for me and headed into town. I was in New Delhi. And driving in India is absolutely terrifying. Everything is communicated through honking. It’s like if an entire city of blind people figure out how to drive. Get too close, honk. Just want people to know you are there, honk. Etc. If I could describe their honks as actual words it would go like this,

“Hey, hey man. I’m right here this is my spot.”

“Oh, I see you, bro. Don’t worry, I got you. I’m gonna turn now.”

“Cool cool. You turn. I’m gonna just quick dodge this cow.”

“‘ight man. Cool.”

“Good talk bro!”

I don’t know why they talk like American frat boys, but it just seems right.

The first hotel seemed nice. There was an air con and hot water so I couldn’t complain much. I also got to watch Charlie’s Angels when I arrived. I slept in the bug infested bed with no issues and went up to eat breakfast in the morning. I got a personal driver for a day of sightseeing, which sounds much fancier than it actually was. But still cool.

When I got to the first place, I was immediately stopped by three families entering the temple. They asked me for a photo with them. I thought it was weird, but then I figured, this happens to famous people all the time so it must be okay. I lived the rest of my day as a celebrity. I was followed at every site I went to. So somewhere on random Indian Facebook pages, there are pictures of me with families and men claiming I was beautiful.

I say “claiming” because I think they thought I was beautiful just because I was foreign. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m beautiful. But I’m not the striking beauty you ask to take pictures with. I fit into the Liz Lemon category of beauty—cute, but a little uncomfortable looking pretty.

(If you don’t know who Liz Lemon is, I can’t help you, and you definitely should not be reading this blog.)

I saw many great things my first day. I don’t think I peed the entire day. Wow, that’s not good. How did I not notice that? Oh well.

The second day I checked out and left to meet my tour group. And this next hotel was noice; it had the water pressure of America. Water pressure is everything. Everyone knows that. Anyway, I laid on the bed in that hotel all day, it was like being home.

When I finally met my tour group, I quickly realized that I was the only American in the group. I was so relieved. Americans are a pain in the ass to hang around all the time. So for two weeks, I got to hangout with awesome Aussies, Irish, and English people that just understood that I didn’t vote for Trump and I didn’t have to talk about it.

Our tour guide was this great dude that is completely obsessed with Chai tea, so I would like to call the next part of my trip—

CHAI, CHAI, CHAI

We went from place to place just looking for Chai now. Varanasi, Arga, Tordi Grah, and Jaipur was all about the Chai.

Varanasi is a city on the Ganges and one of the oldest cities in the world. It is most famous for Indians as the place to cremate their dead. They walk the body through the town and to the water where they burn the body in the open then scatter the ashes in the Ganges. It’s a really beautiful ceremony. The city is also near Sarnath, which is where Buddha gave his first sermon after his enlightenment. So, in other words, this place is important. Which is good because we had to stay there extra long because the train to Agra was delayed by 10 hours-ish. And the good Chai place was right next to our hotel, so we didn’t have to search long at this place. And we got to go on a boat, twice. Boats are the best place to be on vacation because they allow you to be on the water, like a beach, without getting covered in sand. The perfect combo. As a treat for our train being delayed, we got to go to a fancy hotel to swim and eat dinner. It was really nice. It was also the place my cold started. So that was fun.

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We met this man and his monkey in Varanasi while hiding from rain.

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I picked the one lassi that looked like poop already. It was still good though.

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The Australians forced me to try Vegemite. It wasn’t bad for something that comes out of a tube.

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The slowest rickshaw driver in all the land. Thankful I did have to pee while on the ride because then it would’ve just been boring.

But, lucky for me, when we finally got on the train, we were on it for about 17 hours, which I slept the entire time. It was a sleeper train so you get beds. This did two things: removed my cold and got me really comfortable peeing over a hole in the train. So, two birds.

When we got to Agra, we went straight to the Taj Mahal at sunrise.

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Next was a bus to Tordi Grah, which is a tiny village between Agra and Jaipur. It was very beautiful, and we got to stay in a castle. So, at this point in the trip, we officially won the highest level of vacation status. We also went on a sunrise hike. Apparently, everything in India happens at sunrise. So I got to hike up a mountain with people that were much older than me, and, by the end, I was the only one unable to move my legs. Hence the nickname Grandmaw Ames. Going to Tordi was like the scene in the movie right before the bomb goes off when the director decides to put everything in slow motion and take out the sound because it’s more artistic. There were no busy roads, no honking, and no crazy smells, except for the cow shit. But that is everywhere.

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Before Chai on sunrise hike, unable to move

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After Chai, life has been given

When we left Tordi, it was very upsetting. I wanted to stay there and bark orders at people like a true princess. There was also a hot guy staying there that, so far, I only got to make moderate eye contact with. Guys didn’t ignore me in India like they do in South Korea, I wanted to try this new visibility.

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My castle

In Jaipur, we got to see the Bollywood moive, Judwaa 2. I believe Judwaa means twin, based on the fact that the movie was about twins. And it was something. The movie itself was amazing, but the crowd in the movie theater was the stereotypical crowd from a strip club in the 1970s. It was like the crowd you would cast in a movie about a strip club. There was whistling and cheering when the star came on the screen. It was crazy. I’m scared to watch the movie without the crowd actually because then I won’t know what to do at certain parts. The music was amazing though. I can’t stop listening to it. I’m listening to it on a loop right now. I have no idea what he is saying but I’m excited. I don’t think I like music in English anymore. I don’t see the point.

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Movie theater in Jaipur

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Elephants rides at the Amber Fort.

When we got back to Delhi, all I had energy for was shopping. So that’s what I did. I also had extra money, and I didn’t want to exchange it again.

The next day everyone went home. And even though my trip took extra long because I had to go through China. Never willingly schedule a layover in China, trust me, it was always end badly. So when I finally got home over 24 hours later, for flights that were supposed to be 16 hours, I was just happy to be back in South Korea.

When I found the bus home, a very attractive man asked if I was going to Daegu. Yes, I answered in a flirty voice. He looked at me and said plainly, Get on the bus.

Yeap, I was definitely back in Korea.

 

The Balding Anchovy: Preparing to Say Goodbye

“I love you more and more.”

“I love you more and more.”

“I love you more and more.”

He just kept saying that.

Not to me of course. But to another teacher. I think they were talking about something grammar related, but you never know.

 

I’m coming to the end of my year in Korea, which means I’ll have to say goodbye to the Balding Anchovy soon.

I go back and forth on how I’m going to do it. Part of me wants to choreograph a dance for him or memorize a dance from High School Musical. While another part wants to write a heartfelt letter and not sign my name.

Either way, I can’t decide if I should tell him about the existence of the Anchovy chronicles. How do you tell someone you have never talked to that you constantly write him because he’s such a mystery?

But either way, I know he “accidentally” called another teacher my name yesterday, so I like to think he’s going to miss me.

Our relationship has come a long way from him laughing at me at the Christmas party when I sang Journey. And what we have now is a beautiful and completely unspoken bond between us.

I should invite him and his wife over for Christmas one year.

There are times in your life, when you just have to say, “Holy Sh*t, that’s a nice wall.” The first time I said this was 2014 when I built my first wall with Habitat for Humanity. The second time I said it was at the Great Wall of China this spring. Tony the Tiger agrees that it’s GRRREAT!

I was only there for one day, and it’s not really a relaxing walk on the wall. By the time I reached the end of the trek, I was cursing my legs for ever being born. Then an old Mongolian woman tried to sell me some Cola and said she does this hike every day. I truly felt ashamed of my earlier tears and actual crawling.

But I would do it again!

My friend and I decided to go to China for a three day vacation we got from our job as ESL teachers in South Korea. We were so close, so we figured why not. We only had time to go to the wall, then return home. This wasn’t a problem, because we both had the same general feeling about China—it’s a beautiful place, but we only care about the wall.

So we booked our flights and accommodation, we were ready to go. We just needed one more thing. We went through the annoying process of getting visa and, counting travel costs to and from the embassy in Korea, it cost us about $200. To get your visa for China, you need to have your flights and accommodation booked and paid for. But, unless you are some major criminal mastermind, you will be approved and get your visa in about a week.

Now, to go to China for less than 3 days, you don’t need to get a visa as an American. But, you have to fly into another country before heading back to wherever you are living. We didn’t have time for this, so we decided to go with the visa. It doesn’t expire for ten years, and you can go as much as you want. (I will be taking advantage of this to go to Shanghai Disneyland for my birthday this summer!)

We chose a hostel recommended by a friend of ours called 365 Inn in Beijing, which is located right next to the Forbidden City. The original plan was to go to the Forbidden City when we arrived at our hostel, considering we were so close. However, our airline had a different plan. Our flight was delayed by hours, getting us into Beijing after the Forbidden City closed. I will never travel with that airline again. (*Cough cough* Air China *cough*)

(To be fair, AirChina did give us food vouchers because we would have to be in the airport during lunch time, which to us meant spend it all on Dunkin’ Donuts. And we did. $14 worth of donuts is a lot of donuts.)

The Forbidden City closes pretty early so if you want to make that a part of your trip, look up the times first. I did, however, get to see the city from the outside and it is beautiful. Truly a missed opportunity. But luckily, I have 10 years to go back.

Our hostel was great, very clean. The staff spoke fluent English and Chinese so they are able to make any arrangements for you. They also offer a tour of the Great Wall. 365 Inn doesn’t do the tour themselves, but they are connected to a company that puts on the tour. There are two options: easy and hard, basically. We decided to do the hard one because we thought we were in shape. To my surprise, I was not. My friend had just completed a marathon, while I almost passed out because I had to run to catch the bus. The tour comes with a bus ride there and back, breakfast (which is just bread and juice, there is an option to opt out, and I recommend it if you are a person that needs real food; there are convenient stores and dumpling stands everywhere, also a McDonald’s nearby), and a delicious almost non-stop lunch.

The bus ride was long and bumpy, making it a little difficult to sleep. But you can still get a couple of hours in. Did I mention the bus leaves at 6 a.m.? You will be tired. When we arrived they explained the route to us and gave us an English map. Navigating the wall is pretty easy; it’s a wall, so don’t be worried that the guide isn’t with you the entire hike.

This is the entrance we used. The hike was mostly the western part of the wall.

entrance

The hike was rough. I’m young. I do yoga. But I looked like a dying dog, mostly because I was crawling for the majority of the hike. My friend made sure to photograph the event, and that picture now has the most likes on my Facebook.

About halfway through the hike for me.

horizontal running

The hike features major inclines, many stairs of course, and steep drop offs. I’m constantly standing in the middle of the walkway. In my mind, if I get even close to the edge, the wind will knock me off. I did manage to get one picture of me sitting on the edge of the wall. This was accomplished by me crawling to the edge, and then sitting.

Can you tell all my muscles are flexed in the goal of not dying?

sitting

I was passed by many of the elderly and even children. It got so bad I swear I saw a pregnant woman pass me. Most of time I was thinking to myself, don’t go for the cool picture, just don’t die. Take tiny steps. Crawl when needed. Don’t be a hero. But I made pass the seven or eight small towers to get to the goal. It was truly amazing. The weather was also perfect, sunlit and windy.

I started the hike strong with just regular stairs. So you get a good warm up. At the top of the stairs, we were able to stop and take a breath, thank goodness. As I was already dying.

The key to getting through was taking a break at every tower, and there are a lot of towers. Another key, for me, was to not focus on balancing. I’m one of those people that when I see tiny stairs that I could easily fall off of, I will fall off of them just thinking about it.

View from the bottom of the stairs.

bottom of stairs

Along the walk, there were many sellers of Coke, souvenirs, and such. The key is to not look them in the eye. I looked one woman in the eye, and she followed us for a few minutes trying to sell us chopsticks and popsicles. I don’t know why she thought I needed chopsticks at this point, but I wish I bought some to use as tiny walking sticks later.

The best part (once you reach the bottom again), there’s beer, and other things, I guess. But definitely beer. It’s not great beer, but it’s cold. And that’s all beer needs to be, if you don’t agree with me, this is a travel article, not a beer review.

We got back to the hostel fairly early. Early enough to go to the Forbidden City, but our legs had different plans; so we decided to stay in and watch the Mindy Project. The next day we were heading back to Korea. This flight, thankfully, had no delay, and we made back early enough to take a nap before going to bed and back to work.

In the immortal words of Sean Spicer, “It’s a wall, not a fence.”

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For more information about the 365 Inn hostel or visa information, visit the links below.

http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/365-Inn/Beijing/16667?dateFrom=2017-06-20&dateTo=2017-06-23&number_of_guests=2

(For Americans) http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/hrsq/

(For Americans) https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/china.html

Shanghai Disney: The Sleeping Dragon

I recently went on a trip to Shanghai Disneyland with my co-worker. We went because it was my birthday, and what better way to celebrate your 23rd than by going to Disneyland.

We booked a fancy hotel and everything. The hotel was so fancy they had one of those mirrors attached to the wall that you can pull out. And a rain shower so you can feel like a streaker in the shower.

It was a great vacation.

Except, I’m sad to say, I pushed a few children.

But, let me just say that parents are teaching their children how to push in line and disrespect people. So, when one kid jumped over the barrier to cut the line, I “guided” him back to his family.

 

I did receive the greatest present of all time: I met Captain America. Well the character at Disneyland, I met. I like to think he will remember me because my friend and I  were the ONLY TWO WHITE PEOPLE AT DISNEYLAND. I hope he always remember me, too.

 

Disneyland in China is not helpful to foreigners at all. I know it is partially because of China’s rules, but it is also just the park being difficult. I made a quick tip list if you are planning a trip as well:

  1. DO NOT go during peak season. Too many people are there and you will spend more two hours in line for every ride.
  2. Get to the park two hours early or two hours late. In China, they check EVERYONE’S ID before going into the park so the line to get in is so slow you will consider dark things while waiting.
  3. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is amazing so go on it. Also, Peter Pan’s flight will bring tears, do that one too.
  4. If you go when it is sunny, everyone will use a parasol that will poke you in the face multiple times. So wear a hat or a simple hairdo that won’t be messed up by umbrella stabbing.
  5. Get portable WiFi and a VPN. Disneyland’s WiFi is only available with a Chinese phone number. And you won’t be able to post anything to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, basically all social media, without a VPN.

I hope this helps you if you are planning a trip to Shanghai Disneyland.