Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Cookies

It's Christmas time! I'm in LA, as usual, for the holidays.

I'm not feeling well at all. I don't know if it's the holidays or if I just need a change (another international move?), but it's been a struggle.

More later, but this is the state of our Christmas pile so far.

Hopefully I get merry soon!


Sunday, December 02, 2012


Remember seolleongtang? Or seollontang? (That extra 'e' seems out of place to me in the first version, but that's how Wikipedia spells it.)

My entire family really loves seollongtang more than is healthy for us. We love it and crave it and will seek it out. I think my dad's favorite place when he and my mother stayed at my place for a few days was this restaurant.

Shin-Sun Seolleongtang
Gyeonggi-Do Goyang-Si Ilsan Dong-Gu Janghang-Dong 847

Telephone: 031.907.0025

경기도 고양시 일산동구 장항동 847

So, of course, being wintry and freezing (fuh-reeeeezing!), my sister and I made the (two block) trek to have some seollongtang of our very own. In pictures, here's how good it was:

My sister and I, we don't generally eat everything on a Korean restaurant's table. Not because we don't like it, but because there's a lot of food and there are usually one or two side dishes that we don't like. 

Not so at this place. My sister got the seollongtang with tteok (뗙, rice cakes) because she loves tteok. We ordered the mandu (만두, dumplings) because we love them and I wanted to try them. I'm a sucker for mandu. 

I don't know if it's because the weather's been so very, very cold lately, or because we just love it so much, but we hoovered up our meal, obvious from the "after" photo above. I had to take the before and after pictures because they were so funny- it looked like we had licked our bowls clean. 

Work's been a beast lately. There have been some personnel changes and I'm not a fan. There's also a niggling little feeling in my little head that some people are somewhat ... laughing at me. I need to work it out over the holidays, away from Korea and Koreans.

I have decided to stay at this company in Korea until the end of next June. Six more months committed to this place. 

I've extended my lease, as well. Though I have no idea when my phone contract is up. That's the only other thing with which I have to concern myself. 

Work-related function tomorrow in Seoul. I have a sinking feeling that I'll be there all day, freezing my eyelashes off.

It feels like I just got back from LA, but I'm flying home on Friday for a month (just a couple days shy of a month). I'm so ready to go!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Foliage

Sometimes, I really appreciate the fact that Korea has four distinct seasons.

I'm surprised the leaves have actually hung on as long as they have, as it's late November (Thanksgiving!! Too bad I can't find any turkey!) and the temperatures have gone down below freezing at nighttime.

I got back to Korea from LA last Saturday. It's been a rocky week, what with fatigue and jet lag and, of course, the fact that the weather had taken a drastic turn towards frigid in the couple weeks that I'd been gone. 

My sister landed in Korea two days before me and went to our hometown for the weekend before coming up to Ilsan on Sunday. It's been fun having her here, but it's tiring for both of us, as we're not in the best condition, and I've got work every day. 

For Thanksgiving, I think we're going to a buffet. No, not a turkey buffet. I've never been to the restaurant we're trying out, but we're going to be brave and see how it is. Hopefully, I'll post pictures. Work's been mercifully un-chaotic, so I've got a bit of time during normal business hours to do things like blog. 

I go back to LA in December, probably the first or second week, so I'm trying my best to be healthy and stay healthy before another long flight. You'd think that I'd have a million frequent flyer miles by now ... no such luck!


Saturday, November 10, 2012


Sometimes, an expat just needs a good ol' 'Merican burger.

I'm in LA until Thursday, which is great, because I'm at my parents' house til then, but is tough, because I have meetings all over the city til then.

This isn't part of any plan I've ever had in terms of my career. To be honest, it's not something that I ever saw myself doing. Maybe I like it and maybe I don't, but this whole marketing thing is making me reevaluate my reasons for being in Korea. It's been a year and a half now. I just got a call that my lease is up. I feel pulls from people in LA.

Making a big decision is never easy, but particularly unwise after a long business trip during which I was constantly with the CEO and one of the senior supervisors. Being with those guys for a solid nine days wasn't good for the decision-making portion of my brain.

Over the weekend (happy Veteran's Day!), I'm going to do a minimum of work and try to rest up. Ah, 11 hour plane rides ... Into the wintry wonderland that is Korea .... brrrr.


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Summer Days

This is the view from my hotel in Marina del Rey, where I've been since the 30th for AFM. I forgot how winter (um, "winter") can be in Southern California. Hot, chilly, breezy, warm- all over the course of one day.

Yesterday and today have been disturbingly bright and hot, a change from the overcast and nippy weather that first greeted us when we showed up at AFM.

I've been trying to find a way to snap a good picture of the beach, since AFM takes place right on the beach in Santa Monica, but I barely have time to respond to text messages, let alone run about snapping photos.

It's been a tiring and trying experience, though I feel that I've learned a lot about myself. For instance, I've found that I am able to fake my way through public speaking without anyone being aware that I'm a wreck on the inside, about to fall apart from nervousness. I've found that I enjoy public speaking after it's over. I've found that I'm good at mingling and playing nice, even when I don't like the people I'm schmoozing with.

I've also found that I need more than five hours of sleep each night to function well. When did I get so old??

So ready for a Disneyland excursion before going back to the wintry wonderland of Korea.....


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I'm at AFM (American Film Market) and it's a combination of mind-numbing boredom and breath-stealing chaos.

Check out Google today, the little animations are adorable.

Oh, happy Halloween!


Thursday, October 18, 2012


Wow, long time, no post.

I'm in Bangkok again, nearing the completion (please, please, please) of this film.

We got in yesterday at 1 in the morning, checked into the hotel and conked out, spent about twelve hours working, then back to the hotel again around 10 p.m.

We leave tomorrow on a 7:30 a.m. flight (holy cow, I'm not looking forward to that) to land at about 3 p.m. in Korea on a Saturday afternoon.

My weekends. They are so precious to me and I have no way of holding onto them. ㅠ_ㅠ (That's a Korean emoticon- crying eyes and an unamused mouth.)

I go to LA for work at the end of October, though, so that's good. Get to see my family, hopefully have enough energy to see some friends, and gorge on Mexican food before flying back to Korea for a few weeks of working madly before flying back to LA for the holidays and for me to get some R&R before 2013 starts. Whew.

I'm already so tired from this movie that I'm doubtful that I'll get anything fun done in LA, but at least the end is nigh. Hopefully.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Little Sister!

My sister's birthday is the 23rd, meaning that the birthdays of all my nuclear family members? September.

It makes September an extra-hard month to be away from LA, be away from the people whose birthdays I would like to celebrate with a hug and cake and gifts and more cake.

The world has gotten much smaller, of course. My mother sends text messages and knows how to FaceTime. Sending and receiving photos over Apple's Messages almost gives me the feeling that I'm right there. FaceTime gives me even more of that feeling.

My sister and I, being of the younger generation and all, use KakaoTalk, which means texting, sending photos and videos, and sharing wackadoodle things is even faster for us. Instant, even, the only barrier being the time difference between LA and Korea (it's a big time difference).

For instance, I texted my sister via KakaoTalk that I went on a bicycle ride for the first time in fifteen years or so. Even back then, I wasn't a good bicyclist- we never owned a bicycle in our youth, so we just randomly biked when friends came over and such.

Lake Park, right next to my work and home in Korea, has a very well-planned bike route that's just about five kilometers. After a very shaky first loop during which I was scared to fall more than enjoying the ride, I've come to appreciate bikes and Lake Park.

So ... that was a long detour, but anyway, my point was that when I texted with my sister about bicycling, we agreed that when she came to visit me in Korea, we would go on a bike ride.

Sister, here's a panorama that I took at Lake Park, the lake that you will see when you come to visit:

I hope your birthday was joyful and wonderful and all those other superlatives, and come visit me soon, before it gets too cold! Lake Park's weather waits for no one.

Big hugs and cake!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, 아빠!

My father's birthday is September 18. My mother, sweet lady that she is, bought him a new grill (!) for his birthday gift. The weather in L.A. has been, apparently, hot enough to still be called summery, so the parents have been grilling like mad.

See the chocolate-dipped fruit in the glass? I sent my dad a bouquet of chocolaty and fruity goodness, since sending him flowers is a little weird. I really miss my parents' very frequent barbecuing; it's simple and hearty but delicious and comforting in a way that I've only ever experienced at my parents' house.

Since I'm not in L.A. celebrating with my family (though my sister just got back to L.A. from a business trip in Madrid and is jet-lagged like mad), I celebrated with friends.
Alright, Dad's not such a sake fan (he is a Korean man that was born and raised in the motherland, after all) but he does like croquettes.

Actually, he either likes croquettes or I think he would like croquettes, it's one or the other. My reasoning is, he loves mashed potatoes. He loves fried things (I'm pretty sure fried chicken is one of his all-time top five foods). Croquettes are just mashed potatoes that are deep fried. Croquettes in Korea are also slathered with mayonnaise and tonkatsu sauce, with sliced fish flakes on top (katsuobushi).
Intestines! I really wish I had taken my dad to have gopchang (곱창) when he was in Korea. I think he would have liked the food, enjoyed grilling it himself, and eaten more onions than is wise (he loves onions).

These are just two foods that make me think of my father, though I've never had either dish with him. They are things that I look forward to having with him.

아빠 한국 놀러올때 꼭!꼭! 먹자!

Happy 60th, Dad!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Gizzard Shad

엄마를 위해서. ㅎㅎ 엄마가 전어를 좋아하지?? 아닌가... 에니웨이, 나 전어 먹었어. 아빠, 엄마가먹고싶으면 잘 하는 전어집 찾았어. 난 앞에서 곱창 먹을께. ㅋㅋ

Dude. Gizzard shad is the most unappetizing name! I had started this post and realized that I didn't know the English name of the fish that I had consumed. (In Korean, his name is jeon-uh, 전어). So I hit up Google translate and when "gizzard shad" popped up, I giggled. Can't be right.

Google, you are so smart. Gizzard shad, it is! Wikipedia tells me so- American gizzard shad, anyone? Though I'm pretty sure I didn't eat the American variety here in Korea. Perhaps an Asian gizzard shad.

Anyways. Sorry, tangent.

As I've mentioned several times before, I don't eat raw fish. No offense, fish, but I'm just not a fan of that gelatinous-y mushy squishy texture, and I honestly don't feel like raw fish tastes like anything but the sauce in which it was dipped.

One day last week, I worked late while some other friends met up ahead of time for dinner. I had already agreed to meet up with them once I was done with work, and those sneaky little fiends went for raw fish. Of course.

To the credit of this particular raw fish, it's not as bad as "normal" raw fish. First of all, it's a small fish served skinned but with all its bones. The fish is so small and the bones are so delicate that you just crunch the bones.

That bottle of soju is a good size reference. The fish was sliced diagonally along its whole girth. See how little it is? Wee fishies.

In Korea, I find that I'm force fed a lot of raw fish. Using the excuses that "it's healthy" and "I've prepared it just for you," friends will hold a bite right in front of my mouth until I eat it. (This is also how I was tricked into eating fermented skate, but that's a story for another post.)

Shad is not as bad as other raw fish because of the bones (crunch, crunch) and because it's generally eaten wrapped in lettuce with ssamjang (a spicy, salty, pasty sauce that I LOVE- seriously, at times in the summer, when I ate at home, my dinner would just be cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and carrots with ssamjang). (Oh, the breakdown: 쌈 (ssam) means wrap, 장 (jang, pronounced more like jahng) means sauce).

Nevertheless, raw fish is raw fish and I'm still not a huge fan. Better shad than salmon (shudder), but better cooked fish than any type of raw fish.
And lo and behold! After the raw fish course came a little group of grilled shad. (Is the plural of shad shads? That seems weird. I'm sticking with shad for singular and plural.)

The grilled shad really was very good. I don't know if I was just desperate for food because all I'd had to eat was a few bites of raw fish, but these were still yummy. Eaten head to tail, bones and all, they were really easy to eat, as well.

There is no elegant segue, so here it is: work sucks lately. Not because of the work, per se, but because of the people (ahem) and the politics and the drama. The work itself is, yes, stressful, as any movie is, but it's fine. It's nothing I haven't dealt with before.

The level of drama at this company, in this industry, in this country? Unbelievable. It's sort of like high school, but in high school, things are harmless because nobody has any money or any real control of their lives. There are parents and teachers supervising the whole thing. Right now, I feel like these people (Korean men, mostly) are toddlers in a sandbox, playing with dynamite and nuclear reactors. Okay, not that dramatic, but they do hold and obnoxiously wield the power to change a lot of peoples' lives.

I don't know what I want. I know that if I go back to the U.S., I will find a job. A job that I can do without too much pain. A job that I know inside and out. A job I can do well. A job that won't provide me with much in the way of challenges or new experiences, but will give me comfort and bring me closer (physically) to the people I know and love.

If I stay in Korea, I most definitely will be challenged. But I'll also have the ability to make my own role, to make a mark on the industry in this country. I'll travel, but I'll be responsible for a lot. I'll be pushed to do new things, things I may not like, but I'll have the authority to set up a system that I feel is right. I have friends here now, too, friends I will miss.

So what to do?

I don't know yet. Talking to people hasn't helped. People in the States tell me to "come home," whereas people in Korea tell me to stay. And people in Canada have told me to move to Canada, so nobody's helping!

My mother did tell me to do what makes me happy. I just don't know what makes me happy right now.

Once this movie is over, I'm going to take some time. Go home, see the house my parents have moved to that I've never visited. Hug the cat until she whines. Sleep. Walk around and speak solely in English. Wear flip-flops everywhere. Run around in public without make-up on. Be American.

Then we'll see.


Monday, September 10, 2012

It's September 11 here in Korea.

This day will always be in my mind, in my heart.

Coincidentally, I was on Facebook for the first time in weeks today (during a boring meeting) and ran across something that one of my friends liked.

Since it's about a New York cab driver and a New York resident, I felt it was fitting for me to have seen it on September 11. Here it is.

A sweet lesson on patience.

A NYC Taxi driver wrote:
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. 'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboardbox filled with photos and glassware.
'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her.. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.'
'Oh, you're such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, 'Could you drivethrough downtown?'
'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly..
'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued in a soft voice..'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired.Let's go now'.We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
'How much do I owe you?' She asked, reaching into her purse.
'Nothing,' I said
'You have to make a living,' she answered.
'There are other passengers,' I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug.She held onto me tightly.
'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.'
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut.It was the sound of the closing of a life..
I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day,I could hardly talk.What if that woman had gotten an angry driver,or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Happy Birthday, 엄마!

In the U.S., it is my mother's birthday today (September 5).

She likes to say that she is 60, but she's not. She's been saying she's 60 for years and years, and she's still not 60!

Because I'm so far away, I can't give my mommy a hug. But I can send her flowers, which I did. She sent me photos of them today, one of which is this one:

엄마, 생일 잘 지내고있지? 너무 보고싶고, 영화끝나고 빨리 미국 놀러갈께!

너무너무 사랑하고 고마워~~


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dear Korean Men

You are not my father.

You are not my husband.

You are not my boyfriend.

You are not my friend.

You are my co-worker.

You may think that because you are my senior, at this company and by age, I should kowtow to you. You would be wrong.

You do not have the right to nag me about anything unrelated to how we work together.

You do not have the right to make my life difficult because you are not paying attention or because you want to throw a hissy fit.

You definitely do not have the right to tell me how to live my life.

You seem to assume that I will do what you want me to do. I won't.

You can go straight to hell if you think I'm going to do anything in your best interest rather than my own.

I am completely and utterly sick of Korean men (not all of them, but a very large proportion of the ones in my life) trying to manipulate me. You are MEN. Stop gossiping and telling people things about me behind my back. It all comes out in the end and it just makes for messy and dramatic episodes that I neither want nor need in my life.


I'm sick of your drama. I'm sick of your rumor-mongering. I'm sick of your double entendres. I'm sick of you as a whole, Korean men.


Saturday, August 25, 2012


Just got back from a four-day trip to Bangkok for work.

Hot and humid but an interesting place.

More soon!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Let's Go to Sokcho

Sorry about the silence on the blog, it's been a difficult couple of weeks.

This past weekend, though, a few of us managed to escape for a couple days of fun.

The preparation for said fun was not without its trials- people that were supposed to come along pulled out at the last moment, we had a little scuffle about where to stay, and we had a little worry about the weather (rain when going to the beach is not a good thing).

In the end, seven of us took one big car (a Kia Carnival), a large whale-shaped floaty, several types of kimchi, an underwater camera kit, a whole bunch of shouty Korean songs, and trekked off to Sokcho, on the east coast of Korea.

A more detailed post will follow (hopefully), but here's the floaty and a shot from the underwater cam:

Of course, after a weekend of fun, the work week cannot begin softly and easily. It's been a bear of a day, and I've got several more hours of work ahead of me at 7 p.m. Memories of the weekend will have to sustain me.

Good news that my mother told me when we talked today- it's a holiday in Korea on Wednesday, hooray! My sense of holidays and days off is totally skewed in Korea because I've only ever worried about American holidays. Korea celebrates Liberation Day on August 15, when Korea was liberated from Japan in 1945. I'm not even going to get into the politics of the holiday, it'll be an endless blog entry.

Oh, I go to Thailand next week for work, so .... probably more silence on the blogging front. To all three of you people reading, sorry!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Demitasse, Ilsan

Janghang-Dong Ilsan-Dong Gu Goyang-Si Gyeonggi-Do 867
Western Dom 2nd Floor

Telephone: 031.931.5733

데미타 스
경기도 고양시 일산동구 장항동 867 웨스턴돔 2 층

In keeping with yesterday's post about patbingsu, here's another version of it. If yesterday's was the simple version, today's is the complex version, bedecked with all manners of decoration and difficult to spoon up without spilling all over the place.

Starting from the bottom, there's shaved ice topped with sweetened condensed milk, fruit (kiwi, watermelon, pineapple, grapes), cereal (frosted cornflakes), red beans, rice cakes, strawberry ice cream, and a cherry on top. Whew.

We actually went to Demitasse for lunch. And for lunch, we had a strange combination of foods.
Oh, sure, the salad on the left is healthy, but it was sopping with dressing. This is a weird Korean version of an American breakfast. For some reason, it includes French fries and an enormous pile of whipped cream (seriously, that whipped cream is out of control). Okay, I admit- those waffles were delectable. I don't generally like pancakes and waffles, but these were so good! Crisp on the outside with just a little layer of soft chewiness in the middle. Yummy. Sausages were not good, as per usual here in Korea.
Sandwich. The bread was delicious. Pretty decent sandwich, especially for Korea, where they put weird stuff inside at times. I don't want jam in my ham and cheese sandwich, thank you very much. This one would have been great with just a little more lettuce and either no onions or cooked onions, the raw onions had quite the bite.
And it all comes back around to the patbingsu. Yummy. They lit a little oil lamp for us, even though it was the middle of the day.

By the way, all the photos I've been posting lately have been from my iPhone. It's really amazing how great the quality of the camera on phones has gotten.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Beat the Heat

It's disgustingly humid here in Korea lately. As a Californian who has never known anything other than hot, dry summers that are blessedly cool in the shade, this humidity thing still throws me for a big loop. Stepping into the shade makes no difference? What's that about?

One of the very few redeeming things during this wretched weather is patbingsu (팥빙수), which is shaved iced that traditionally has red beans (pat, really pronounced 'paht,' (팥) means 'red bean' in Korean). It's now served with all kinds of nonsense on top, including but not limited to ice cream, fruit, candy, cereal, sweetened condensed milk, fruit, chocolate, and on and on.

This is a rather traditional version, with just red beans and rice cakes on top. The twist here is that the shaved ice is shaved frozen milk (or maybe milky water or watery milk?) so the ice itself is creamy and sweet.
The little cafe had adorable little plants adorning the tables. I love the wee bitty bubbles trying to sprout! The container it's growing in is quite small, about the size of a medium coffee cup.
Sorry about the silly face, but it's the only photo I had of this delicious ... smoothie? It's basically a pureed persimmon. It really tastes like a soft, half-frozen persimmon that's been thrown into a blender. Even with the big boba straws, this stuff is hard to drink (I ended up using my patbingsu spoon- if you look closely at my spoon, you'll see there's a face on it!).

I love the firm type of persimmon (which Wikipedia informs me is called Jiro) with a passion and don't really love the soft ones (Hachiya), but blended and slightly icy, it's really good. My new favorite way to have soft persimmon.

The air conditioner in my apartment is on the fritz, so I haven't been sleeping well. Summers in Korea equal random bouts of rain (hot, steamy rain), which mean drastic changes in barometric pressure, which in turn means that I'm not sleeping well. Air conditioning, though bad for the environment and all that, is the only way to trick my body into thinking the changes in pressure don't mean anything, but with my unit basically blowing hot air into my apartment, I'm in a half-dead state of semi-drowsiness for about sixteen hours a day lately.

Still debating what to do, but for now, am planning on enjoying what I can. Had a pretty good weekend, despite the weather! I'll post the photos ... someday. (Both of my iPhones and my MacBook are almost out of memory-- iPad is still hanging on, but I need to do some serious photo organization and clean-up!)


Friday, July 27, 2012

Pros and Cons

I have been pondering long and hard lately about where I want to live. 

There is a wildly swaying pendulum that goes from the desire to stay and fight to the overwhelming urge to flee. 

There are pros and cons, as with every other argument that's ever been made.

To me, L.A. and my parents are sanctuary. They are safety and comfort and unconditional love. 

Here in Korea, I have found a part of myself that I never knew existed. I am still finding out new things about myself, about my culture, and those discoveries are fun.

California will always hold a large portion of my heart, my soul, because I spent my formative years there. I will always remember those places, those people, those events. 

Korea is where I started, where my parents were born and raised. 

Is there a right decision, a wrong decision? I'd like to think that there isn't a wrong decision, just a choice that I make and live with and change if or when the time comes. 

Still, it's difficult. Knowing that my choice will impact not just myself but also my family and friends. What to do...


Friday, July 20, 2012


Despite things I've read about Skype, CineSync, GChat, and so on and so forth, I find that FaceTime is the most reliable form of video communication between foreign countries. In my experience, anyway.

Still a tough week, but it's Friday, thankfully. I'm so very ready for the weekend. Sleep! And maybe "The Dark Knight Rises"!


Monday, July 16, 2012


Today, I miss home. For the last few (rough) days, I've been thinking about and missing my old life, my original life.

I miss carne asada nachos. I miss Mexican food in all its incarnations right now, the craving's terrible. I miss proper margaritas on the rocks with salt around the rim of the glass. I miss real limes, those tiny little green bombs of lip-puckering sourness. I miss corn tortillas (and I never even really liked corn tortillas!), especially in enchilada form.

I miss my old company. I miss the people, the system, the ease with which I could navigate my workdays.

Most of all, I miss my family and my friends. People make the place.

Korea is going to be missed once I leave, too. In the last few difficult days, I have realized how much some of these people mean to me. They have rallied 'round and really made me feel loved, feel accepted, feel absolutely adored.

Why did I always think that life was going to be easy when I hit thirty? I guess it just means I still (STILL!) have a lot to learn. Dangit.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

(Eating) Night Out #2

Variation on a theme. Whereas I posted before about having intestines and then having fried chicken, last night, we opted to start with intestines (hey, don't fix it if it ain't broke!) and then going to an izakaya. As mentioned before, Koreans always need to eat when they drink. There are bars here that are like American bars, with bartenders and barstools and such, but there's not many. Koreans don't mingle with strangers, after all- they prefer sitting at a table with the people they know, drinking and eating the night away.

We went to a different intestines place because my favorite place was, sadly, closed yesterday. The owner apparently got married and went on his honeymoon. The restaurant's supposed to be open starting today, so I'm sure we'll be back soon.
After a round of intestines and soju, we traipsed off to an izakaya. This one, in fact. This place gets really busy on weekends, to the point that we've been unable to get tables here in the past, but since yesterday was a Wednesday, we managed to get in, get a table, and get more food with our booze.
We're not talking paltry little bar snacks in Korea, oh, no. We're talking soups, stews, braises, stir-fries, barbecue, and anything else you can think of. The udon here is quite good- actually, everything I've had here is quite good except the tako wasabi, and that's just because I don't like raw octopus and I really don't like wasabi.
Next up was Wing of Fish (지느러미), still one of my go-to bars here in this city. I just love the ambience and though the drinks aren't really special, they're decent. Their snacks are, of course, of the fattening and "why are we still eating??" type.
The last few times I've been to this place, I've ordered the mango vodka sunrise. Their variation on a tequila sunrise, served in a modified Absolut bottle. Cute idea, no? The drink is massive, which justifies the price on these suckers.
It looks like a slushie! A delicious, delicious slushie. The vodka sunrise is really much sweeter than I normally like in my drinks, but I still oddly love it. It's also so filling that one drink is enough. I can't generally fit anything else in my stomach by this point.
Look how Korean I've become.... I don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing.

I suppose as long as I don't start to sound Korean when I'm speaking in English, it's all good.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Love Affair

I'm having a torrid love affair.

I need a fix at least once a day.

It's ... not hot ... actually, it's cold. Because my love affair is with iced coffee.

Hello, lover. You look gorgeous. All cold and icy with those little playful bubbles. Yummy.

Korea's going through a drip coffee phase lately (I lay at least part of the blame on 커피프린스1호점 (The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince), a 2007 Korean drama that was hugely (HUGELY) popular and featured coffee) with artisanal, boutique-y coffeeshops sprouting up all over the place.
There are large chains, of course (Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Pascucci, Caffe Bene, etc.), but there are more and more places that specialize in drip coffee. These shops tend to be a little pricier and the coffee tends to take a little longer, but they're generally quieter than those mega-shops and have a nicer environment.
This is one of the local shops in my area, featuring coffee from single sources (Kenyan coffee is one of my favorites here). That lady back there makes all the coffee, including roasting the beans (before customers arrive, of course).
The shop is quite cute, too. Maybe they serve wine at night? I've only been during the day. It's cute regardless, and they have barista classes here. Apparently, it's called Ilsan Barista Academy (website's only in Korean, sorry).
Look at that. Those cookies are made on site as well, and are quite good. Yeah, it's just coffee and cookies, but the ambience and the soothing design really let me catch my breath when I'm having a bad day or give me a little respite when I need to get away from some of the little monsters at work.

All That Coffee
Shop: Crystal Building #106 (behind Homeplus) JangHang-Dong 756-3 Ilsan Dong-Gu Goyang-Si Gyeonggi-Do
Academy: McDonald's Building, Third Floor, JangHang-Dong 770-2 Ilsan Dong-Gu Goyang-Si Gyeonggi-Do

Telephone: 031.907.5748

정발산역 3호선
본점: 경기도 고양시 일산동구 장항동 756-3번지 크리스탈빌딩 106호 (홈플러스 뒷편).
아카데미: 경기도 고양시 일산동구 장항동 770-2번지 (맥도날드 3층).


Girly Nails

Because I'm a girl.


Monday, July 09, 2012

Duck, Duck ... Duck!

It's been a tough couple of weeks.

I'm homesick for my family and friends, and I've been having moments of feeling very out of place and awkward here. I don't know why-- is it Korea? Is it work? Is it me?-- but the random pauses of loneliness are surprising and not at all welcome.

Then-- BOOM! Things are as they should be. I am my normal smiley, happy self again.

Is this what senility feels like??

Anyways. Onward with my food posts!

A few weeks ago, two of the girls and I went to Anygol (애니골), an area in Ilsan that's a little bit slower paced and a little more spread out than the bigger shopping and eating areas. There's one street (alley?) that consists of faux traditional Korean buildings that house duck restaurants.

Korea has a lot of streets like this, that are themed- wedding shops, shoe shops, musical instrument shops, and everything in between- Koreans like to group all like things together. Makes it easier to bargain shop, I suppose?
Being a lovely summer afternoon, we decided to have a leisurely dinner at one of the duck restaurants, which is quite famous, if I'm not mistaken, called Canaan Duck (가나안덕). Because eating duck is ... a religious experience...? Whatever the story behind the name of the place, we had a good time and a lot of duck.
Duck! I've never seen duck served like this in LA. I feel like perhaps this is a Korean thing- raw duck, chop it up, throw it on a grill, cook the crap out of it.

There were three of us and one duck was plenty. These aren't huge ducks, but the skin is very fatty and what with all the sides, we didn't need to order more fowl.
I don't drink beer because I think it tastes gross, but I loved this beer glass. It's a diagram of how much soju and how much beer to pour into the glass, and what the percentage of alcohol is for each of the different measurements. And yes, this is a typical beer glass in Korea- they also have those big stein-sized glass mugs, but usually at fried chicken places and hofs, not at restaurants.
We all had on baseball caps because no one bothered to put on makeup. I'm turning so Korean, aren't I, concerned about makeup and such?? We didn't really eat or drink much this day-- I think it's because this was when it was just starting to get hot here, and the humidity really puts a damper on any desire to eat or drink until stuffed.
Aw, look at the happy, makeup-less Korean girls. This was actually taken while we were waiting for a table to open up, as the duck restaurants in this area have a very brisk business. Tons of people were loitering around- see the little arcade behind us? Kids were running around and playing on see-saws and other swings, adults were sitting around panting in the heat, and we were acting like idiots and taking photos of everything.

I drove for the first time in Korea yesterday!

We (the three girls in the photo above) went to watch a movie (YeonGaSi, 연가시) last night, so I took one of the company cars from one of the guys, who happened to be in the same shopping area as I was yesterday afternoon. We met for coffee and I took the car and the girls and off we went.

Driving in Ilsan isn't nearly as daunting as driving in Seoul, I would think. If (when?) I know my plans and I decide to stay in Korea for a year or more, I would seriously consider buying a car. Too bad I have no idea where I'll be in six months!