bram brack a yeasty irish cake that we eat
around halloween. I'm a yeasty irish gal
..yeasty meaning: youthful; exuberant; ebullient.


obsessions of late

It's  spring, how-de-doo... 
hello wormy

I'm currently trying to make my box of an officetel a home....  What ever is an officetel you ask?    

An officetel is a  high rise with studio offices inside that are basically given to or sought out by people to also be apartments.  

As an office, it's a great concept! There is somewhere to cook, eat, sleep, but as an apartment it's a bit on the suck side.  Made as quickly as possible and probably breaking all non-existent building codes in Korea, these "apartments" are crappy, fall apart easily and are either super hot or freezing depending on the season it shouldn't be (no heat retention in winter / no air flow in summer). 

But it's better than the all encompassing Korean housing style known as "villa".  A villa is a small walk up building with about 10 apartments inside, the shower comes on a handle beside your toilet.  So you can shit, brush your teeth AND wash your hair at the same time.    So yes, I'm happier living in my (retardely expensive) officetel, and am currently trying to make it a home (as you know if you read the first line of this diatribe!). 

How to make a space a home?  I'm guessing put some shit on the walls and buy some plants.  So this is what i've done and well hells bells, it worked.  I'm feeling so much more "homey" these days that all i've been doing is staying home and baking, and now 9kg heavier, maybe i should rethink this homey methodology...  

But I am obsessed (OBSESSED I SAY!) with my little plants.  Especially the tomato seedlings that are growing and that a worm came out of!  I feel like a worm in my plants is super good luck, so if they up and die, I might just jump out my window (but don't worry because i will put on the "safety harness" and attach it to the "hook" that comes with my officetel in case we ever need to jump out the window).   A cat is also a nice addition to make your space a home.  Too bad mine punches me in the face when I'm sleeping. 

Obsession #2 is good ol' Sufjan Stevens (and he better be good because he's a christian and it pains me that i love his music because he is a christian (I'm so not down with listening to "christian music") so if he turned out to be a "bad" guy that would kill me just a little bit more) and his new album.  Actually I'm not obsessed with his new album "The Age of Adz",  for some reason I'm semi NOT obsessed with the album.  But I am obsessed with the 25 minute song "Impossible soul" that comes last on the album.  It's like the bonus mini-album, and by gods (that sufjan happens to love) it's the best little mini-album EVER!  Why you ask, well I dunno, I'm not a music critic, i can't really express my feelings about it without using the adjectives - amazing, wonderful, awesome - which you don't really care about.  So musically it just has everything and it makes me tingle, so i love it.  

I am also obsessed with making cute photoshop icons for my hiking group (ninja poop image taken from cute ninja web site btw...).  Said hiking group is also an ongoing obsession and every time I climb those mountain stairs I love it more and more.  You should go take a hike, because honestly it's the best feeling ever.  And maybe it will help me get rid of that homey 9kg I decided my body wanted, but actually doesn't at all. 


solo saturday

yes yes i love you too....
did i mention that i don't drink anymore?  well that changed last night.  i drank.  3 drinks (or maybe 6 because they were doubles).  loaded off my rocket.  and all the reasons why i stopped drinking presented themselves to my very haggled face this morning at 7am. 

binge drinking
hitting on cutie Korean boys
wanting to smoke more than anything
getting into a strangers car for a ride home instead of taking a taxi
eating everything in sight when i got home (which means binge eating an entire squash!)
drunkenly using my computer....

felt like shit all day.  it's funny, i have no problem not drinking, it has seriously been months now and I've been around alcohol and at parties where people are loaded - no problem!   but I've noticed that whenever i hang out with certain friends i INSTANTLY want to party!  WTF is that the only thing i can do with these friends?!  I've spent hundreds of hours with these girls NOT drinking, but maybe truthfully, most of the time we have spent together has been with a giant glass of gin in our drunk hands.  Is there a way to get over this?  because i do want to see these people, but i don't want another repeat of last night....

must have been on SUPER sale...
 so as the lord of alcohol punished me and made me feel like shit all day, i did not much of anything.  mini bike ride around the river, shopping at the hideous people filled e-mart (why WHY would i even attempt to go there on a saturday).  E-mart is koreas version of walmart.  horrid yellow giant E, i hardly ever go there, but i went there today.  like beating oneself with chains.  it's packed, saturday in korea is like christmas in canada.  you can't move for having your toes rolled over by a shopping cart that's being pushed by a 2 year old child while the parents are giving the ol' push and shove to a crowd of  people surrounding the free samples of the crappiest cheese known to man. 

I managed to get out alive with cans of things that i can't find at the korean market, the only place you should go to shop.  oh wait I forgot to mention that most (no no.. ALL) korean supermarkets are filled with salespeople who yell at you to buy whatever they are standing in front of. OR if you are going into the low budget supermarket they have a dude on a mic (or if you are REALLY lucky two or three) at deafening volumes, just letting you know that you should buy the lettuce.  oh and wait, those oranges are 5 for 4 chuns, and the cow meat is OH SO GOOD.  you learn how to get in and get out of there so fast that shopping is a breeze.

This is also what I've been doing lately.  Getting acupuncture treatment on my knee that I banged a few weeks ago hiking.  Don't know if it's working, because it's only a muscular treatment, and I might have knocked the bone BUT it sure does feel crazy good!  who wouldn't want to put tiny needles into their bodies?  I'm wondering what else i can stab? my wrinkles?!  oh wait, that's called botox.

tomorrow will be filled with hiking and i hope to heck i don't fall off any mountains.  I'm so frustrated with my clumsy self.  i have actually googled how not to be clumsy and will try to put into practice the "tips" i read. which included not taking and actually looking at what you are doing (ie watching where you put your feet).  this will not be an easy feat for me as i have been known to be a talker.  and a fool with my head in the clouds.  can i bring myself down?


spring in hagye-dong

spring sprung
April, how did you get here?!  famous Aprils???  the only one I can think of is April the news reporter from teenage mutant ninja turtles...

I wake up before my alarm now, wunderbar.  I used to lazily laze away in bed until 8am, but these days 6:30 seems to be the time my internal alarm clock goes off and wide awake i am.  Or maybe, 6:30 is the time the sun makes its way through the filth/yellow dust lining my windows and wakes me up.  either way i love it.  not hearing my alarm go off is honestly the BEST thing ever.  ugh to alarm clocks.  i think alarms are  like number  8 on my hate list... well going up to number 2 when they are fire alarms/car alarms/north korea is bombing us alarms, but maybe like number 50 (as in i don't care at all) when it's just the monthly "just in case we are bombed" practice alarms....

if you squint you can see the dirt
It's a new year (my year starts in March just so you know) and I have moved from Amsa-Dong to Hagye -Dong in Northern Seoul.  It's nearly exactly where I want to be, close to bukhansan, suraksan and dobongsan. and look!! what's that outside the window?? why it's the hill i climb up and over to get to baramsan.  Just in case you haven't noticed I'm still obsessed with hiking.

Moving was a giant pain in the ass, actually everything from Feb till tomorrow was a huge pain in the ass.. I left my old job with my old company (STILL waiting to get paid half of my severance...fuckers).  I had to find a new job with a new company. Pretty straightforward right?  well not if you are a picky picky person.  I don't want to work in the morning (this is the time when i want to do EVERYTHING - such as blogging at 7am - and I don't feel like using this awesome energy on such horrible things... like work...) AND I don't want to work in the evening.

So basically I want to work from 1-5.  And for the past 2 years that hasn't been a problem.   but this year, well, it WAS a problem.  finding a job that offered those hours, with the bonus of decent pay and the accepted extras (housing, flight, bonus, pension, medical) was next to impossible.  As the job search continued, it seemed that well well, I was being a bit too picky (hogwash dear readers!) so finally i settled for a job  from 1-6:30 (with a one hour break, but still, i would rather go home at 5:30) with 95% of the extras... That 5 percent being housing allowance instead of housing.

Now this could lead me into a HUGE diatribe on housing - finding housing - and moving into said housing in Seoul, but I'll keep it short.  Acquiring shelter should be easy, just walk into a real estate agent, go look at places and choose one!  easy... not likely.  I spent days looking at shitty shit holes that were in my "budget" (basically 500,000 per month).  So then i upped the ante to 600,000 a month and found a wonderful little officetel in Hagye.  Done and done right?!  Fuck that shit... back to real estate office where they want to charge me nearly 700,000 for the real estate agent fee... after bursting into tears (my #1 stress tactic) and watching a yelling match ensue between fraudulent real estate assholes and new company manager, we get the fee down to 300,000....  still WTF, when i moved to amsa it was only 150,000...

hagye dong, here i am.  a million apartments mirror image of each other, looked down upon by a giant mountain and lined by a busy river.  I'm enjoying it and my new gym, and I'm getting used to my new school.... I'm enjoying waking up with the sun, writing a blog while i clean the toilet and bake squash (yup no joke) while listening to the bbc all before the hour of 8.


tin woman

Today it's been decided, but, I guess it always was there. I am a person void of emotion, feeling, need for others, and well a bunch of other horrible adjectives that describe my insane ability to detach and remain emotionally separated from the people i should love.

Do I have no heart?

No, not 100% true, but a good % higher than your usual norae bang score.

Val is leaving today, and as things go, I probably won't see her again... ever even maybe.. but for some reason, this does not bother me. This doesn't make me cry, or feel sad that I won't see one
of my good friends anymore in Korea, it doesn't phase me that I will miss her, her wonderful singing and guitar playing ways. Fall bike rides, eating tuna and other fun activities we do together will not take place anymore, but all my brain computes to my heart is "oh well, see ya later! have a good trip". How does this happen?! How does it not affect me in the least to see people go, one after another, basically completely out of my life (well crackbook keeps us all updated with each other doesn't it), and I don't give a shit.

I don't want to be like this, an emotionless shell, but honestly, it's like I've been evolved for living in a country where you meet people and after a year or two they flee. OR for living a life where the 5 members of my family live in 5 different countries and we don't see each other more than once every few years.

So I have no heart. But as i said before, no not true.

The problem I realize is this, that when I do meet people who I hold super dear and don't ever want to let go (ie a boy/girlfriend) I decide that they get to have the 98% of my heart not used on anyone else and then they have to suffer that excess amount of love.

Not a good system I say! Not a good system you echo! but that's how I roll, I don't want people to depend on me, so, in turn, I usually don't depend on others for much. Ohhhh the therapist in you is thinking now about my eggshell childhood and how this has molded me into who i am, and well you are right! I had to say "hello, goodbye" once every year or two to my dad, my brother, sister, mother etc etc etc. you just can't keep crying you know.

So here I am in Korea, a shell of a person, who somewhere deep down has so much love. I guess I do put it out there but in a different way.... I put into my smile, and love it in turn when it's contagious and people respond with toothy grins. I put it into my stride, the muffins i bake for hiking friends, texts i send out to wish a happy friday or a good monday... Into making people feel good, accepted and happy. I put it into my punch, that only the sand bag at boxing gets to feel the impact of.

maybe I'm just way to self involved.

I had my monthly bike ride from Bundang to Amsa today, a wonderful fall morning, the sun shining on my face as I rode and sang the 30 odd km back home. A perfect fall day to make you feel happy if you were feeling down from having your friends go home... or in my case to make you feel happy because you are alive.

I'm taking a million pictures along the ride to make a video about the ride (because everyone must be interested in the bike ride from bundang to amsa!) and this makes me laugh because all the bikers going to the other way are just wondering what on earth I'm doing... and they are also wondering what on earth I'm all about in my shorty shorts and tights and blue bow in my hair.

I'm taking a million pictures of this man sitting on a bench surrounded by yellow flowers on a brown fall day (because the light was so great and I really wanted to capture the moment, but then after uploading the photos they were nothing like I though they would be and instead I will have the perfect imagine of the man and the flowers, but only in my mind)


osaka i remember thee well....

I've been going to Japan every year since I arrived in Korea and the most wonderful of wonderful things there are the bike lanes, and all the bikers! It makes me so happy to see them, to remember them and now to share them with you. I made this vdieo from a collection of photos shot in Osaka back in 2007.


quitters never win

Welcome to day 32 of my new life. Come on in, take a seat but leave your booze, smokes and anything delicious to eat at the door.

32 days ago (that's nearly 5 weeks yo!) I decided I was done! Done with the hangovers, the smelly smokey clothing, the stupid beer belly that I have even though I don't drink beer (well, unless I'm already drunk and well... fuck..... then I'll drink anything that has alcohol in it).... the empty wallet after a night out that I DIDN'T EVEN REMEMBER!

oh and there there is the guilt/shame feeling that I did something... I MUST have done something stupid, embarrassing, dangerous, or fucked up because well... I'm a crazy drunk! I'm not one to just have a few drinks and go home, no no no... not Andrea that's for sure!

During the past few years I have tried to reign in this behaviour, and I am a sight better than i used to be (cut to the movie about my life -scene 39 perhaps- where a younger drunk andrea is lost, crying and surrounded by a pack of boys), so I've definitely gown up some about my drinking habits, but not enough to the point where I haven't had to stop sending out my fair share of those "Sunday morning apology texts" ....

Drunk Andrea is FUN ANDREA and well... I like to have fun! and people tend to LOVE drunk Andrea... just watch her make a fool of herself maybe....

So cya later booze! well for now away, because, well quitters never win do they.... I plan to go 110 days without touching the devils poison. December 24th I will board a plane for Malaysia and once in my seat will order myself 10 gin and tonics...

So why quit drinking if I'm just going to start again? Well i think that after 110 days of abstinence I will hopefully realize something about my drinking habits - OK so I already KNOW a thing or two... but maybe I will able to ADMIT something about my drinking habits and REALLY realize what I am doing to my mind and body. And If i can do it, last 110 days, I really think that I will feel differently about drinking. I never NEVER though I could actually go this long (only 32 days!) but every day makes the next one a little easier and reaching my goal more important.

The worst part of my favourite activity is that it goes hand in hand with what just happens to be my second favourite activity, smoking. Wow doesn't that work out just perfect.

So now it's been 32 days without having a cigarette, which is crazier than 32 days without a jig of vodka. But somehow, and really REALLY i have no idea how, I haven't given in. Last sunday was actually the hardest, after hiking (which is the other only time I drink beer, because for some reason beer after hiking is THE BEST EVER) I really, really REALLY wanted a cigarette, I even though of buying a pack, having one and throwing the rest away, because then I would only have had 1 right... but I didn't do it, for some reason.

I really want this, this time.

So 32 days ago I decided I was finished with that life of debauchery and I went on a detox of sorts. I started taking some 한국 (Korean traditional medicine)which is made up of ginseng, tree bark and maybe dog shit (it tastes like dog shit that's for sure, not that I've ever eaten dog shit, but I used to own this big black lab and MY GOD sometimes when I had to bend over his droppings and poop n' scoop a big hot steaming.... ok wait, you get the picture...).

The 한국 also promotes weight loss, and you are not supposed to have any sugar, and defiantly not have any sugar coming from ALCOHOL! So, I thought, if I'm going to give up the devils poison, why not the cancer sticks too. Because dear readers remember, best friends need to stick together. so they can stick together - outta my life beatch!

So it's going super well in the sans booze et cigs department, and I have been sticking to the food regime more or less (less when i went to that wedding 2 weeks ago and there was an ice cream machine!!! like the one you get soft ice cream from, but hey you can control it YOURSELF!") and then there were the 3 days I spent in Busan during Chuseok (korean thanksgiving) where I was "on vacation" so I just ate whatever, but I still didn't drink/smoke!

And how do i feel.... My god I'm feeling pretty dang good! You know how bad you feel when you have a hangover, like that shitty, head pulsing, don't want to get out of bed soi'lljustlieherealldayandtheneatanentirepizzatomyself type of hangover? Well I basically feel 100% the opposite of that.

Now that is a good reason to go 110 days.

(it's too bad Marilyn makes it look so goooood)