Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kiss My Grits

Yah that's right.  I'm a waitress.  Prior to getting this job, I thought we called them 'servers', but apparently in International Falls Minnesota, the term Waitress is alive and well. 

So here's how it went down:  Keri, Kelly and I took advantage of Karley having her permit and made her drive us out to the lake so we could stick our feet in the lake and have a drink.  Then we hopped to the next lodge and had another.  I asked if they needed any help, kind of on a whim.  She wasn't sure, but she let me fill out an application.  Keri was convinced that I acted such a fool that I would never be hired.  Two hours later, I got a voicemail asking me to come out on Thursday at 5pm. 

Not for an interview, it seemed.  To work.  I got there at the appointed time, and ended up shadowing a seasoned waitress.  I feel uncomfortable calling her that.  Let's go with server.  Anyway I ended up shadowing this seasoned server, with 20 years' experience.  I worked for five hours.  The newest member of the staff!  I reported for duty on Sunday as well.  I didn't feel comfortable taking any tables yet, but it didn't matter.  We only had a table of nine and a table of two. 

I wasn't scheduled to work again until the following Saturday, but something came up on Monday night and they needed me to work the shift.  BY MYSELF.  OH. MY. GOD.  I mean, I'm no idiot, but there's such a ton of stuff to do when you're a server.  You have to show up two hours before anybody even gets there to set up and prep and chop and refill and wipe and clean and whatever.  So I did.  And thank goodness there was a list of things that needed to be done.  Well by the time anybody even showed up my armpits REEKED.  BAD.  Like pepper.  Terrified that somebody might smell it as I reached over them to clear a plate, and terrified the cook might see me do it, I secretly snuck a wet soapy paper towel and washed out my pits in the back storage room.  Triumphant, I emerged.  The mirror is right above the garbage I used to throw away the paper towel.  What I saw made me want to die.  The wet paper towel caused a huge wet spot in my armpits, which now looked exactly like a prison inmate's jumpsuit after a full day of cleaning the ditch in the hot sun. 

So now I had to tell the cook what happened, lest he think I was Sweaty McSweaterson.  And I had to NOT raise my arm in front of any of my customers, while serving them food and clearing their stuff off the tables.  ARGH.  In the end I had two tables of five, and three tables of two.  16 customers, all very nice and patient with me.  I decided I'm going to tell every table for the rest of the summer that it's my first time serving.

The night ended just as embarrassingly.  Somebody from Nashville was playing his guitar in the bar area, and I joined in for a fantastic fun amazing sing-along.  I was given a free gin and tonic by the bartender to celebrate my first night of solo serving in my whole life.  And before I knew it, the gin/tonic was refilled a second time.  Also, I had forgotten in my hasty stressful solo evening to order anything to eat.  And so there was no way I could drive home.  Guess who had to drive me?  The cook.  What a trashy trashy fool.  Now I'm Trashy McSweaterson, of French Addition.  Today I brought my nephew back out to the lodge in the "Drive of Shame" to pick up my car.  p.s. it was 5pm, and I was still wearing my pajamas.

Another Version of the Horrible Bus Ride Story from Vietnam

Click here to read from Summer's blog about the Bus Ride from Hell

She has much better photos and remembered details I had forgotten.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Currying Favor. Not Flavor.

How do you get your dad to love you the most?  Maybe you dress in your Sunday best to go on a walk with him, while he ignores you and tells X person on the phone about his "petey" issues? (Kelly)

Maybe you mow special messages into the lawn, too big for a proper photo, but stating "I 'heart' MY DAD", only to get in major trouble later for wrecking the lawn? (me)

Or maybe you jump on the riding lawn mower to help get the lawn done quickly?  Which makes the lawn look like crap and it turns out that it has never in 20 years been mowed with anything but a 20" push mower in alternating directions.  (Keri)

Notice Kelly, watching the scene of the lawnmowing unfold. What a lazy.

We can't win.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sushi in Duluth

Sushi is kind of a new obsession for my family.  When my dad had to be in the hospital in Duluth, the in-hotel room magazine featured an article about a new sushi joint opened by some dudes from Minneapolis.  It's called Hanabi, and it's fabulous.  The ambiance is great, the food is delish and the drinks are...well, drinky.  I give it a couple thumbs up.  But, keep in mind we're kind of sushi-new.  We actually googled sashimi and unagi and sushi at our table because we were trying to get all the terms straight.   

We're high class folk:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sha Sha Resort

The kind of place where a girl could feed a chipmunk, if she weren't afraid of wild animals...

Stick her feet in the lake if she weren't afraid of sharks...

And perfectly time a foot splash photo, if her shark fear were to be hastily eliminated once all eight feet were in the water:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hal-isms Vol 4: How Much are You Worth?

"There ain't a one of you worth forty dollars, but maybe I'd pay that for all of you combined."

My dad's sister Julie once said:
"If I traded you in for a bottle of ketchup I'd still have to pay 57 cents."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Dad has a Uterus?

So when I spent the night in the hospital room with my dad, he had me up at midnight, and then 2AM, and then permanently up for the day at 5AM.  As I was helping him out of bed for the bathroom, I asked, "so dad, where's your favorite daughter now?"  Now...Kelly has a cold, and that's why she claimed she couldn't spend the night with him.

My dad replied, "Oh she's probably at the hotel, snoring away, getting a new bug that can come up through my UTERUS and into my lungs and darn near kill me."

(I think he meant URETHRA?  Later I told Kelly and she wasn't worried.  She said he never denied that she was the favorite.)


"You ain't my favorite, but that Kelly can stick it in her ear."

Saturday, June 19, 2010


After his prostate surgery, my dad and I were sitting in the kitchen, kind of talking to each other, but not really.  I overheard him thinking out loud.  He said to no one in particular:

"I should shoot a crow.  But what if I gut-shoot him and he has pain like I had? Go in peace brother, we've fought too long. Eat grasshoppers. Crap on my lawn. Wake me up early in the morning."

This man and crows have a stormy relationship let me tell you.  He once interrupted a story I was telling (while standing in the doorway after driving five hours to visit him) to grab a gun and shoot a crow out of the front door -- that sits in city limits.

One time he was visiting me in my high-rise downtown Minneapolis apartment the year we had a HUGE crow infestation (seriously, The Birds-esque).  He saw them off my balcony and went running down the hallway to 'go get his gun' and I had to explain that kind of thing was not acceptable illegal.  You can't just go shooting guns off balconies, even if the crows had it coming.

Come to think of it, when I was a kid, he always told me that I was "pooped by a crow, and hatched by the sun".  In other words, I think he may have killed my real parents.

Hal-isms Vol. 3

"My bowels.  My poop tank."

"Oh Ellen, get up and give everybody a hug.  Get a bad back."

"Is that Lady Gaga?"

"I don't give a horse's hind end.  I just don't want him pulling on my tubes."

"You think there's one part of Minnesota that my foot hasn't touched?"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Favorite Daughter?

My parents have 5 daughters.  Of course we have a never-ending debate over who is the favorite one.  Of course ol' mom and dad get a kick out of it and do their best to exasperate us wherever possible.  Apparently, sometimes, I am the favorite.  Other times, I've never been the favorite.  It depends on who is asking, I suppose, but Kelly is always thinking she IS the favorite.

Now I am quite sure she is right.  For the last three days, I have been spending precious time in the hospital with my dad, quite willingly, actually.  I am so happy that I don't have a job and can be here for my mom and him.  Six months ago I would have been calling from my desk at work, wondering "how he is", probably while eating lunch and typing an email.  Now, I'm here.  I'm throwing my back out assisting him in and out of bed, rubbing his shoulders every five minutes, fetching water and cell phones and learning to change embarrassing hospital equipment attached to his body, seeing his naked hospital butt and having the image seared into my brain forEVER.  Naturally, the first night, when it was time for my mom and me to go to the hotel, I offered to stay in the room with him.  He said no.  I offered again, told him I didn't mind sleeping on that visitor couch because I am used to four months now sleeping just wherever.  He said no again.  So I went with my mom to the hotel.  The next night, same story.  On the third day, I heard him on the phone with Kelly.  She was on her way here from Ohio.  After he hung up with her, he said, "she'll spend the night with me here."

FYI: I'm typing this from the couch in my dad's hospital room.  Kelly's back at the hotel. 

Some Hal-isms Come With a Story

He spent all night last night hallucinating.  About betting at horse races.  And then he told me that he started seeing people who weren't there, and it ended up being like the corner of his pillow. 

"What about this guy?"  I asked, pointing to his robe, which was hanging at the foot of his hospital bed.

"Oh, he's OK, since he's right in front of me.  But I got peripheral assassins at all hours."

Hal-isms Vol. 2

"I thought it was colon cancer so I just let it go."

"I feel fine when I'm sleeping."

"Jimminy Christmas.  An hour ago it was five minutes."

"Everything I look at I gotta memorize.  My birthdate, my name..."

"The rest of my life is going to be spent emptying pee bags.  Sitting at the cabin.  Farting."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

As Hilarious as Prostate Cancer Can Be...

Maybe some people are wondering what the heck is going on around here.  So I'll get serious for one blog post (forgive me) and tell you what I know about my dad's surgery.

My dad has been having pee problems for about ten years but didn't really think anything of it.  He would have to go all the time, is all.  Plus when he went to the bathroom the pain went away.  It turns out that his prostate was enlarged and just like on those "going problems?" commercials, it was putting pressure on his bladder.  When he would go to the bathroom the pain would go away.  Obviously.  So anyways, my mom works at United Health Care in International Falls, and they were offering free health screenings and somehow she convinced my dad to go.  They gave him a PSA test, which is a routine prostate cancer screening test.  Well his levels were high enough to cause concern and after having a real doctor's visit he found out that he in fact did have prostate cancer.  And now here we are. 

His doctor anticipated the prostate itself was about the size of a golf ball.  Not until they were mid-surgery did they realize it was actually the size of a tennis ball and had fuzed itself to dad's insides.  Like his bladder and Uranus.  How the heck wouldn't they know?  You ask.  Well.  My dad is a tiny man.  With a tiny pelvis.  If you look at him from the back.  But, he has kind of a big belly.  My mom always said that he has always worn the same jeans size since she met him, he just sort of wears them under the belly now.  So they just didn't see the correct size of his prostate, and then when they got way down in there in his tiny pelvis with their instruments to remove it, there wasn't a ton of room to move around. 

Here's the really cool part.  The surgery was performed by a robotic machine.  Seriously.  Called the Da Vinci.  The doctor does all his stuff from a remote control, and the machine sticks five needles into the patient's torso, in a half-moon frowny face shape.  Then somehow miraculously the prostate comes out in a zillion pieces.  They don't normally do it laproscopically when it's so big because it takes too long and because they dont want to cut it up and release cancer into the body.  But of course they didn't know it was so big and they were already in there so they just went for it.  So the normally 3 hour procedure took 9 and a half hours.

Click here to read about awesome Da Vinci Prostatectomy

Would anybody like to see the handsome and brilliant SUPERman who played a Prostate-removing video game for 9 1/2 hours and rendered my dad pretty much cancer free?

Dr. Eric Lauer

So now my dad is in the hospital for a few extra days, his recovery is expected to last 3 months now instead of 3 weeks, and today I accidentally saw his butt.

Overheard in my Dad's Hospital Room

"Hal has an obese stomach."

"They could have at least drawn some underwear on him."

"Rectum? It almost killed him."

Someone Has Made a Terrible Mistake

When my dad asked me to move some tubes that were tangled around his feet, imagine my horror when I realized they had replaced his big toenail with the big toenail of some gross dude.  I'm going to have words with the staff, let me tell you.

p.s. don't tell him I posted this, or any other thing about him.  Ever.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Yay! Never fear, Summer-isms fans!  This popular feature of my blog will now be replaced by 'Hal-isms'.  Here are a few gems to get us started:

"The next time I see a Japanese man I'm going to kick him right square in the *ss."

"You talk about your crap kissin' your underwear, I had my small intestine rubbin on 'em."

"Well I don't want a burnt pork chop."

Just one of my Obsessive Compulsions

I can't pass a clover patch without zombie-zoning out of whatever conversation I happen to be in, veering off the walking path, and staring at it until I find a four-leaf clover.  Ever since I was growing up at South Falls Apartments, or the 'ghetto', I have been obsessed.  When I was little I used to find five-, six- and seven-leafed clovers quite frequently.  I haven't seen one of those for a long time.  But I find four-leafed clovers pretty much every time I look.  Which is part of the compulsion.  I HAVE to find one.  And if I don't, I keep looking until I do.  It's fun!  Join in.  There is one in the above photo.  Can you find it?  Click on the photo to enlarge it if you need to.

So on Sunday I took a few inadvertent walks around Minneapolis (my car is at my mom and dad's place up north) and I marveled at just how many clover patches there are here in Minnesota.  They were nearly impossible to find in SE Asia, but trust, I did find them.  But here they are EVERYWHERE.  Anyways, BAM!  I found TWO right away.  Bam Bam!  Then at the third patch I had to search a while.  Right alongside Busy Lyndale Avenue.  When I finally found one, I held it up in triumph to the man walking by me on the sidewalk.  But he wouldn't look at me.  Then I held it up in triumph again to the couple that were parking their car.  But THEY wouldn't look at me.  And so I threw the thing to the ground, pretending I wasn't actually trying to get anyone's attention by waving a four-leaf clover and looking at them with huge eyes and wide smile and kept on-a-walking.

Which leads me to this confusing find:

We have a pretty cool mayor in Minneapolis.  I don't know anything about his politics AT ALL, but he sure seems to be motivated to push public transportation and tries to keep Minneapolis a bike-friendly city.  (We were voted number 1 in the US!)  He even participated in a triathlon that I did a couple summers ago.  So this whole bike share program got me very excited, until I checked out how it actually works.

You have to swipe your card, which secures a $250 deposit.  Then you are straight up charged $5 for a 24 rental.  Which might be OK if you get to keep the bike for 24 hours and then return it.  No, you have to keep it at their docking stations.  They are located everywhere, but everytime you remove and return it, you have to pay EXTRA based on how long you had it out.  0-30 minutues is free.  31-90 minutes is $3 extra and so on.

So tell me, "Who is going to use this service?!"
People who already use public transportation.  They're trying to help folks who already take the bus.  ARGH.  In Denmark, you pop in a dollar coin, get the bike out, and when you return it, you get your dollar back.  Same as in Australia.  You just make the bike ugly enough that nobody would want to steal it.  At least that's what it looked like they were doing.  I'm disappointed in this program, because while it should encourage people to go from CARS to BIKES, it's not doing that at all.  And probaby the most expensive part of the program went to installing the HUGE money taking and card swiping machines that operate the elaborate bike stands.  Also, no bike lock is provided, so if somebody steals your rental, you're on the hook for $250.

WOW.  I can't believe I actually stated an actual opinion on my blog.  About something I hardly care that much about.  Must be back in America!  The point of the story is, I was going to have to pay $8 to borrow a bike to get me from my hair appointment back to where I was staying, and so I opted instead to ride the bus for $1.75.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pete Hexum, Super Tough

The one on the bottom is my brother Pete.  He's super tough. 

For example, today, Pete was relaying the story of the doctors' explanation of the outcome of my dad's 9 1/2 HOUR PROSTATE REMOVAL SURGERY (which by the way took three times longer than most prostate removal surgeries...since my dad's prostate was the size of a TENNIS BALL and decided to fuze itself to the embarrassing innard part that rhymes with Uranus).  He said, "and you know, I got emotional, but I didn't cry, obviously.  Because I'm super tough."

And then the doctor said that Pete was next.  For prostate cancer.

Get well soon dad!

(Dead squirrel meat. Apparently not effective in the prevention of prostate cancer.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I miss Cooking

I'm staying with my friends Matt and Laurissa for the week that I'm in Minneapolis and was way too excited for the use of their kitchen the other morning.  Laurissa emptied the fridge of it's contents and we made a yummy breakfast...mom's veggie egg thing, bacon, croissants and potatoes.  Something new I haven't tried before:  potatoes don't have to take an hour for breakfast.  Boil cubed for ten minutes-ish, then sautee with olive oil and butter and tons of herbs/garlic until crispy.  You probably already all know this trick.  Sometimes I'm the last one to figure things out. 

I really missed being in the kitchen, and am probably happiest in my life when I'm chopping vegetables.  I'm hoping that by making fantabulous meals Matt and Laurissa will ignore the scene in their guest room:

While eating, we got a nice show.  Apparently the neighbors don't know we can see straight into the shower, and that's why Matt and Laurissa got shades on their window.  I think if you click on this photo to enlarge you can see boob...by the shampoo bottles:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Shut Up, Airport Worker Man

On the left, please find my passport photo, taken back when I was Scarlett Johansson.  On the right, a Visa Photo I had to have taken in New Zealand so I could travel throughout Southeast Asia.  After ten tries and a really dumb lady photographer I was getting pretty irritated.  Plus tired?  I don't know.  The point is...cram it, every Passport-Stamping-Customs-Staff-Member who has ever had me come through their line.  They look at my passport, then at me, then back at my passport, and then they say (yes, they ALL say it):
"You shouldn't have cut your hair."

My drivers' license photo is almost identical to the one on the left.  And, since today is my b-day, I have to renew my license and get a new photo.  Crap.  As far as taking good photos, well...it's like Summer would say.  "You're not very good at this."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wrappin' it all up with a nice bow

Yesterday, the last day of a four-month trip, I managed to lose my wallet, camera and laptop.

The wallet I left at the check in counter, and was returned to me by a nice man.
The camera I left in my seat on the plane, and was returned to me by a nice lady.
The laptop I just plain lost.  I called and emailed and checked with Lost and Found about seven times.  Then I found it in the back seat of Laurissa's car.  And then I remembered putting it there.

A brief synopsis of my last few days of travel:
Saturday night I accidentally kicked a bathroom stall door with my pinky toe and lost the nail and a heck of a lot of blood.
Summer left for Bangkok on Sunday afternoon. 
I went back to our hostel and went to bed at 9pm but didn't fall asleep until 1am.  There was a loud snoring man not three feet from my face.  It was so loud and he was so close that I actually reached out my arm and touched his head to get him to stop.  Several times.  Sometimes I didn't touch his head, but instead just banged my ring against the metal bed frame near his head.  That was not as effective as the head-touching.  Another man was talking in his sleep.  Two girls came in at midnight and turned the light on and got ready for bed.  A German guy who had the bunk above me saw that I was awake and had a long conversation with me even though everybody else was trying to sleep.  A group of people talked loudly and played guitar outside the window near my bed.  All this time, I should have been irritated, but I couldn't help but smile, as I knew it was to be my last night in a hostel for a very long time.
The next day, I planned to go to the Contemporary Art Museum.  First I packed and showered and Skyped my mom and Cory for some last minute 'on my way home!' conversations.  My dad told me to stay away from 'that Vandersloot'.  I traveled for an hour by subway only to find out that, like every city in the world, Seoul also closes it's museums on Mondays.  Dejected, I returned to a shopping area I remembered, spent too much time and no money and got back to my hostel with barely enough time to make my flight.  I RAN with my 40 pound backpack on my back to the airport shuttle and made it to the airport just in time.  My plane sat for a long time before departing, which narrowed my connection in Chicago to 45 minutes.  So I asked the flight attendant before we made our descent if I could move to the front of the plane to get ahead of everybody in customs.  That's when I left the camera and it was subsequently returned to me.  I was the 15th person off the plane, but with running I made it through the passport control area first.  Then the bags didn't come out for ten minutes and it became 6:50.  No matter what I wasn't going to make my 7:15 flight.  But lots of people missed their connections and I got ahead of them in line.  ha.  They put me on a 9:45 flight, and I checked my bag, but I begged the check in man to let me on the 8:20 flight and that's where I left my wallet. 
I got on the earlier flight, without my bag, and borrowed two cell phones to ask my mom to log into my facebook account and put an SOS out there to let my ride know that I wouldn't be on the original flight.  Once in Minneapolis, I found Laurissa, we went and had drinks to kill time and then returned to the airport to grab my bag and that's when I lost my laptop, or so I thought.  It wasn't until the next morning that I found it in her backseat so I had a fun night trying to remember what I have on the hard drive besides EVERY PICTURE I TOOK FOR THE LAST FOUR MONTHS.  So glad I found it.

Today I caught up some on my favorite shows, up to and including the Lost season finale, for which I have not yet formulated my opinion.  Well at least I can finally read Sarah's blog post about it, and go back and read everybody's facebook status updates that I had previously avoided like the plague.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Listing Minnesota

I love making lists.  It's what I do.  Or did, more accurately, since there has been nothing to really list for the last four months.  I have tried listing the stuff in my head that I need to do in a day, but it's just not the same as writing the list down and crossing items off of that list.  And so, while waiting in the teacher's lounge at Shawn's school, I triumpantly and maybe a little smugly took out my little notebook -- a gift from Teri, depicting a girl and the quote 'She packed up her potential and all she had learned, grabbed a cute pair of shoes, and headed out to change a few things' -- borrowed a pencil and wrote the following:

Minneapolis: (I'll be there for a week before heading to International Falls)
Watch LOST finale
Travel insurance
Open new bank account / figure out misc erroneous charges on debit card
Target -- t-shirts and swimsuit
Meet renters, visit storage in basement
Visit Advisors
Punch Pizza
Activate cell phone and car insurance
Research a new backpack
Reactivate Netflix, send to mom and dad's
Mail - change address.  But to where?
Go visiting

International Falls:
Get motorcycle license
Refresh Spanish - lessons?
Travel insurance
Sell old backpack, buy new one
Research around-the-world ticket
Run/bike/swim - Murphy - beach
HSBC bank
Sell car?
Cash out 401k?
Road trip plans...North Carolina? or fly?

Oh yes I did put 'watch LOST finale, Chipotle and Punch Pizza' on my Minneapolis list, so if anybody wants to join for any or all of those three activities, let me know.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Today gets done twice

I fly to out of Seoul at 6:45pm, Monday June 7th.  I arrive in Minneapolis at 8:40pm, Monday June 7th.

So if I screw up June 7th, I get a second chance.  Stay tuned for messages from the future. 

Jjin jil Bang

Sauna!  The cheapest place to stay in Korea.  It's also an arcade and a spa and a bar and a cafeteria and a steam room place.  You can purchase a pass and then just sleep there.  And people do.  All over the tile floor, they lay down and go to sleep.  So that's what we did.  But first we played air hockey and basketball and sang karaoke in a really hot booth.  Then we went into this thing that looked like a furnace, and it was SO hot inside, hotter than the hottest sauna, and then we went into a cold room and sort of did a back-and-forth.  I had really planned on staying in the jjin jil bang until it was time to fly home on Monday. 

The karaoke booth was fun.  In Korea, karaoke is called Norae-Bang, and it can be dangerous because prostitutes sometimes offer their services at such places.  When we found the booth at the jjin jil bang, we were excited.  There were even like a million songs in English.  Of course we went for the old standards -- Total Eclipse of the Heart, Crazy by Gnarls Barkley, Islands in the Stream, and Shawn and I belted out 18 and Life by Skid Row.  It was fun, but because it was located in a sauna, the booth was at least 95 degrees inside.  So we didn't pay for another 20 minutes.  The funny thing was that Koreans produced videos to the songs, so on the screen you didn't see Bonnie Tyler singing Total Eclipse, you saw a Korean woman, following a mystery man, through a forest.  She is crying, and his face is never visible.  There is a rose...you get the picture.  Same for all of the songs we chose.  The best part seemed to be the cheesy video that went along with the song.  The point of the song...well it just seemed to have been missed completely.

And then the boys went to the boys sleeping area and the girls went to the girls sleeping area.  Summer and I finally found a sleeping room with lights out.  We stumbled in, and Summer stepped on a girl who was sleeping in the walking area.  We found two mats.  Two half-inch flat uncomfortable mats, with brick pillows and they weren't next to eachother.  Somebody was snoring loudly.  There were at least 30 people sleeping in this room.  I woke up at one point and both women on either sides of me were on my two foot wide mat with me.  So I moved to another unoccupied mat.  Then I woke up and Summer had gone downstairs so I followed and I found her sleeping on a massage chair.  I layed on a sawed-flat tree bench next to it.  In all I got about 7 hours of sleep.  We decided we'd have to get a hostel for the next night. 

Then it was time to shower.  Which is done in a very large room and no clothes are allowed.  We knew this because we tried to wear our clothes into the shower area (obviously) and got rejected.  So we looked at eachother and shrugged our shoulders.  We shouldn't have bragged just yesterday that we had gotten away with 7 weeks together and never had seen eachother naked.  So, we undressed and grabbed the provided towels, no bigger than a dishtowel.  I held it up in front of me, and we walked the city block through the lockers to the showers.  Naked women everywhere.  Naked Asian women.  Naked Asian thin beautiful women.  ARGH.  We got to the shower area and found hot and cold tubs, and shrugged our shoulders again.  We couldn't beat 'em, so we joined 'em.  We sat in the hot water, then the cold water, all the while trying very very hard to look only at eachother's face.  After all that we had to shower, which is done seated on a plastic stool and in front of mirrors.  I have never sat on anything naked in my whole life, except the toilet.  And there I was, sitting on the hot tob bench and a plastic shower stool.

Facing fears!

Mudeung Mountain

So we hiked a mountain!  Folks in Gwangju are coo coo for hiking, especially the older ones.  They are completely geared up in the cutest outfits.  They have walking sticks too and honestly they were pretty fit.  I was like huffing and puffing my way up the mountain and these old folks were just passing us no problem.  It was kind of adorable. 

Here we are, hiking:

p.s. when we left our apartment, we had to walk through adorable groups of college kids (we were staying on campus with our friend Su, who teaches there) and we felt pretty embarrassed...I personally had on cargo-y shorts with tennis shoes and a tank top and back pack.  Summer had her Keens on.  Nuff said.

We didn't make it all the way to the top because of time constraints, but we did get some spectacular views.

It's pretty steep also.  In all, we hiked about 3 hours up the mountain and then about 1.5 hours down.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Korean Drinking

It's a little tough to find cocktails anywhere.  Mainly you'll find beer and Soju, which is a rice drink, not beer and not wine.  It's pretty good, but the whole table usually orders one bottle and drinks it from tiny tiny shot glasses.  The etiquette for Korean drinking is pretty funny.  You can never pour yourself alcohol.  Somebody has to pour yours for you, and you need to keep your eyes on peoples' glasses so that when they are empty you promptly fill them.  Of course this means you have to hope that somebody is watching your glass too.

When somebody is pouring your drink, you hold your tiny shot glass with one hand, and place your other hand either on the underside of the glass, or on your other wrist.  It's polite or something to receive with both hands.

If your glass is empty and nobody notices (and you're Korean), you say (in Korean) to the person next to you: "Are you busy?"  And that's a clue that you need more alcohol.

If you're American, I found that usually if you tap tap tap your glass on the table for a while, somebody will get the hint eventually.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Korean Elementary School

Our friend Shawn teaches English in the school system here, and we got to visit his classes today!  It was pretty fun, although I was disappointed to find out that I wasn't able to teach any kids to speak fluent English in just one day.  In fact, we were really only there to answer questions for about ten minutes at the end of each class period.  It was fun.  The questions depended on the level of English of the student and varied from:

"Do you wear your shoes inside the house?"
"Do you like kimchi?"

"How did you find the flight to Korea?"
"What do you do to cope with jet lag?"

Of course, "Are you rich?", "Are you married?", "How much money do you make?" were asked.  It was very adorable.  When I told the class that I had 5 brothers and sisters, there was a collective GASP! followed by hands over mouths.  I also told them Americans eat hamburgers and french fries all the time.  ha!  Spreading the stereotype.  You have to say what they know, I think.  And that's why when asked who my favorite American Music Artist was, I replied, "Lady Gaga". 

Cute little signs leading up the stairs at the school:


The students go to school on Saturday, and also most have nightschool at an Academy.  They are in school until midnight or even later, and work on homework after that.  It's a pretty brutal schedule, and my English-teaching friends here don't really know how effective it is.  Kids just don't have the attention span for it.  They test well in subjects like Math and Science, and do very well at memorization.  I think it's ridiculous.  Poor kids!

But so cute and polite.  They all take off their little shoes and change into tiny slipper-style shoes for class.

I Can't Believe Koreans Eat SO Much

Koreans for the most part, from what I have seen, are thin. Skinny even. So it came as a huge surprise to me that their favorite activity seems to be eating. Most women do not exercise.  I met a girl who 'didn't like walking'.  Here, you can easily spend an entire day having meal after meal, and snacking between and realize at bedtime you did nothing else.

Shawn brought us for Ssum yup sal for our first meal in Korea and I decided then and there that I love this culture. Meals are served family style, with a main and then several myriad side dishes. These are usually some sort of kimchi, or fermented vegetable. (Fermented one month, but sometimes up to 6 months.) Ssum yup sal is pork, which you fry yourself, with garlic (oh! the garlic!), onion, and mushrooms. You take them and wrap them in lettuce leaf with sesame leaf and any number of sauces and side dishes. You also receive a hefty bowl of soup, and two to three types of salad. Here is a photo of Ssum yup sal, during the fry part. The pork is very fatty, like bacon, but THICK.

Another traditional part of the meal is like a pancake, but has vegetables in it. It's DELISH:

Then, when you are so stuffed from salad and pork wraps and soup and pancake you can't even breathe, your after-dinner snack comes. You choose between a HUGE bowl of burnt rice in hot water, ice cold noodles, or sticky rice. I chose the cold noodles. The red bottle is vinegar, which you add to the noodles, along with hot mustard.  I kept my hand in the photo to illustrate the size of the bowl:

(I got complimented on my excellent and proper use of chopsticks, so thanks mom and Kim for teaching me when I was a kid how to do it right.)

Then, you leave that restaurant and go for a walk, to the next restaurant, where you start out with snacks of tomato and corn. Summer is smiling because she is allergic to corn, and a plate of corn to her is like looking at vomit, it grosses her out so much.

Then, soup is ordered. Seafood soup. Tofu, fish eggs, oyster and fish intestine soup.

Here is me, eating fish intestine. I really ate it. It was kind of like eating squid, just a little chewy. And looked like a brain.

Look at these tiny tiny people.  I plan to move here an eat my way into a size zero.

This last one is from a totally separate meal, but just look at all the food!:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Kady got Seoul

Today Summer and I are visiting Shawn's classes all day and then we leave for Seoul at about 4pm.  I love Korean kids, so I'm pretty excited to go and teach them English.  I will probably teach them dad's favorites:

"Little bird with yellow bill
Sat upon my window sill
I lured him in with crusts of bread
And then I crushed his little head"

"Blackbird flying in the sky
Dropped some whitewash in my eye
I did not laugh I did not cry
I just thanked God that cows don't fly"

Stuff like that.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer-isms, Vol. 10

"You look just OK."

"We might even be wearing makeup in Korea."

I'm Multi - Lingual now

The following are spelled phonetically of course.


Hello -- talofa lava
Thank you -- fa fay tai


Hello -- Sawadee kah
Thank you -- Kop oon kah
No problem -- Mai pen rai
I don't have much money -- Mai mee tong


Hello -- Helo


Thank you -- Com on


Hello -- sa bai dee
Thank you -- Kop jchai

Cambodia :

Thank you -- Au goon


Hello -- Anyong hah say oh
Thank you -- Han sa hom nay dah

And that's all you need to know.  And when you're trying to say anything in any country, it's best to just say their version of Thank You in any situation.  "BLA BLA BLA BLA BLAH" (them)  YOU:  'THANK YOU'  One time, the time, you know the time, that Summer tried to not let the old man get a free ride in our tuk tuk and she pushed him out with her foot and then pointed her foot at him, she said, "Mai pen rai" one thousand times in apology.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gwangju, South Korea

Yah.  I'm vacationing from my vacation.  On Monday, I slept until 4pm.  Then I got up and watched half of season six of Lost.  Today I woke up around 10am and watched the rest, except for the finale.  So I am saving that to watch with my new friends here.  We'll have a lil' party and watchy watch it.

I'm here until Friday and then I head for Seoul.  This place is fun and the food is amazing, but I'm being very lazy.  On Thursday I plan to hike a mountain to atone for the laziness.  But until then...I'm getting fatter.

Probably not going to post a ton in the next few days, internet is spotty.
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