Saturday, April 30, 2011


I feel like I am on the edge of a sword.  Not quite balanced.  Unsure of myself.  Sometimes it takes the smallest gesture or comment to make someone rethink certain facets of their lives.  Of themselves.  Rethink how they got to this specific moment and what will happen next if the wrong decision is chosen.  The right decision is chosen.

This is all steming from a somewhat heated conversation recently had with a good friend regarding my future.  She simply stated her opinion, quite forcefully I may add, that I was no longer the kind of person easily satisfied with a quiet life in the suburbs.  Adventures far and few in between.  The bucket list that had been slowly shrinking, paused.  Am I really ready for grad school or does my nomadic spirit need an extention instead of a reprieve?  I began the grad school idea with the mentatlity that there would be plenty of time to make decisions.  I'm on the heels of May and still without a clue as to where I will go next.  While I currently live a life that is intricately laced with uncertainty, I would like a few things certain.

What am I willing to give up?
Who am I willing to sacrifice?
What is it that I truly want?

I know throughout all of this that the only person that I need to be worrying about is myself.  In the end it is only me that is truly impacted by my decisions, whatever the choice.  Even though I know this, the voice of my friend is still echoing in my ear, making me scrutinize my decisions.  For whoever is reading this, whether it be a loyal reader who has been there from the beginning or someone randomly stumbling across this blog, do me a favor.  Hell, do yourself and humanity a favor.  Think before you speak.  It sounds simple and the most basic of instincts but you never know how even the most seemingly innocent of comments can alter the mindframe of any one person.

Be careful.
Your words have more power than you think.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Easter and Birthday Combination

Another Wordless Wednesday for you.  This one is dedicated to the easter egg/birthday combination party that was thrown last week.  Included in these raucous pictures are some of the lovely birthday decorations provided by my coworkers, gifts from the itty bitties and the hilarity of 5 year olds on a hunt for candy.

"Jan happy birthday-Sunny"- Well after more than 14
months the little guy knows how to spell his name at least.

From my amazing coworkers Lia and Brendan

All the little gifts from my itty bitties.  I literally felt like friggin'
Miss America with all those flowers and gifts.  Loved it.

A portrait of myself and little Wendy.
Clearly she drew me on one of my fancier days!

My favorite gift of all.  After 14 months I now have a microwave!

A birthday shot with my 3C kiddos.  

The Easter candy "hunt."  

Ryan got quite the haul.

So did Eric.  Thumbs up!

Little Alice just wasn't quite quick enough.

By far the best shot of these kids throughout the day...believe it or not.

Forgotten Journal Entry

[I was going through an old journal today in my attempt at spring cleaning.  I found the following entry about my (then) upcoming visit to America.  It outlines all of my apprehensions, fears and expectations.  It took reading this entry to remind me how I felt all those months ago.]

I have a feeling that my visit home will be both instructive and relaxing.  Instructive seems like an odd word choice but it will be.  It will show me who still cares.  Who shows up.  Who's grown up. Who has abandoned that selfish train.  Who is still content at the same job that will take them nowhere.  Who has finally moved on.

I feel like here in Korea I have finally found my purpose.  This is very likely where I will spend some of the best times of my life.  The people I will meet.  Friends I will make.  11 months down and 10 to go.  More than halfway home...for good.  The idea of going home is still somewhat unimaginable to me.  I have too much left to do.  Left to accomplish.  Left to see.  Since being here I have seen Thailand, Japan and the beauty of Korea.  Korea is a place that will hopefully someday be seen by my family.  The Brewer family.  My own future children.  To show them the places that opened my mind, unleashed my soul and slowly mended my broken self.

Without Korea and the people i've met and experiences i've had, i'm not sure how complete of a person I would be now.  Before coming here I was in a place so dark that even the familiar and comforting voice of my mother couldn't penetrate it.  I didn't realize how truly unhappy I was until I was forced away from everything familiar or comforting and forced to stand without the crutch of those around me.  It took going out on my own to truly see what i was capable of.  Now, I know.

Now, I know.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quarter of a Century

[Thank you to everyone who came out for my birthday, both in Pohang and in Busan.  You helped make it the best birthday yet.  Even though I wasn't with my family for yet another birthday, my friends made it one for the record books.  I'm such a lucky girl!]

Last Friday was my 25th birthday.  I am officially part of the quarter of a century club.  To mark this auspicious occasion, my amazing friends in Pohang decided to make it one I would never forget.  They planned an entire weekend to commemorate my birthday.  It all began at TILT (our favorite foreigner bar) and ended on the beaches of Busan.

Just a few pictures from my birthday.  More to come soon.

My birthday ladies

One of my favorite guys, Chris Kuisle
Part of the crew on the beaches of Busan.  Thanks to Oliver for the great shot.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Love at any age

This Wordless Wednesday is devoted to the two lovebirds in these photos.  Over the weekend in Seoul I was mesmerized by them.  They walked so slowly with eachother, as if they did not have a care in the world. I hope someday I look as happy with someone as they were with eachother.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stepping out in Seoul

After almost 14 months of living in Korea, I can finally say i've been to Seoul.  Part of Seoul anyway.  I'm sure I missed out on seeing an untold number of cultural things but that will be saved for the next trip.  I may not have seen it all, but I got a little taste.

Myself and three other fabulous ladies (Willey, Sarah and Kristina) left Pohang bright and early at 8am.  Anyone who knows me in the slightest bit knows that I am far from being amorning person.  I am bleary eyed and tempermental at best.  We got on our bus and made our way to Seoul.  Imagine a chartered bus with reclining seats, a decent amount of legroom and gawking Koreans galore and you have our home for the almost 5 hour trip.

After arriving in Seoul, fanagling with the subway system and dropping our bags at our hostel, we were off to explore.  Little did I know just how exhausting exploring can be.  Down the stairs to the subway.  Up the stairs to the street.  Walk walk walk.  Down the stairs to the subway.  Up the stairs to the street.  Walk walk walk.  If I lived in a place like Seoul where it was necessary to take the subway everyday I would be infinitely skinnier and would have calves that supermodels would envy.  Here I am two days later and my lower half is still screaming.

Up and down...up and down...
The unknowing subjects on just one of the many subways
we took that weekend
We made our way to the area that would be described by my mother as "artsy fartsy." There were stands galore of handmade necklaces, knitted hats, pottery, name it, we saw it.  We were also fortunate enough to be in Seoul on FREE BEER DAY.  We couldn't quite figure out why we were seeing old women, young mothers with children in tow and everyone in between drinking bottles of beer.  Apparently FREE BEER DAY means the same thing in Korea as it does anywhere else.  Take advantage of it whether you really want it or not.  It's free.  It's beer.

I can only assume that the sign say "Free Beer."
My ladies of the day enjoying what we later found
out to be a nice Russian beer.  Meet Willey, Sarah and Kristina. 

Some of the cutest hats I have ever seen.
Mom, do you think Aunt Teresa can make one for Ben?
I had absolutely no clue what he was selling
but his hat made him quite the photo opportunity.

We spent the rest of our day putzing around town helping Willey find the perfect gifts for her month-long vacation to the states that is coming up shortly.  10 hours, a mexican burrito, quizznos sub and coldstone milkshake later (can you tell we miss western food?) we finally arrived back to our hostel to get some much needed sleep.  Little did we know that we were also staying with 4 of the noisiest Korean women ever to grace the planet.  Bright and early (6am) we are all woken up to the shuffling (intense opening and closing) of paper bags.  Talking.  More shuffling.  Loud laughter.  More shuffling.  Even the patented "Comer-glare" did nothing to get to them to be quiet.  Eventually they got tired of playing the "lets see which Waygook will snap first" and either went back to sleep or left.  It's lucky they stopped when they did.  THIS Waygook was on the verge.

Our last afternoon in Seoul was spent much the same way as the first.  We shopped til' we absolutely dropped.  No, we literally dropped when our tushes hit the seats of our KTX (bullet train) and slept the entire way home.  Now what was I able to purchase during this shopping endeavor you may ask?  I got quite the haul.  I got 6 books (in English mind you), the cutest panda shaped baby umbrella  in existence for my nephew, bracelets for my sisters, a handmade clock and a few clothing pieces for myself.  I spent far too much money but the experience and treat of getting away from Pohang for a weekend was completely worth it.

This shot of the busy street doesn't do the business of Seoul
the justice it deserves.

Will I go back to Seoul?  Well,  I am being forced to head back there twice in June when I take the GRE but as for voluntarily going back...we'll have to see.  This is not to say that I didn't have a truly outstanding time in Seoul with my girlies.  I had an amazing weekend but it was just too busy, loud and stressful for me.  I liked the big city feel to it but I don't think I could live there.  There were so many foreigners and options for western food (not that I didn't thoroughly enjoy it) but I didn't feel like I was in Korea anymore.

Change Korea to Kansas and all I needed was Toto, a blue and white checkered dress and my ruby red slippers to make my own version of Wizard of Oz  complete.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: A Biker's Jacket

Today's Wordless Wednesday is devoted to the fabulous jacket pictured below.  Usually the oddities of Konglish or unusual sayings are reserved for tshirts on teens or on the cup for that afternoon coffee break.  This particular slogan of "Pointed fox-like face with large pointed ears and a very busy tail" was embroidered on the back of the jacket of a hardcore motorcycle rider.

Only in Korea!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gyeongju: A Cherry Blossom Bike Ride

[Thanks to Emily and Kory for these great pictures]

Over the weekend I took my first true biker ride.  A group comprised of 5 foreigners and 17 Koreans took a little ride to the beautiful city of Gyeongju to check out the cherry blossoms that come out around this time each spring. 

The lot of us met up at our "bike shop" and began the process of organizing the groups for the ride that day and who would be taking care of the foreigners.  Because our group was so big, it took a lot of communication among our new friends to figure out how exactly this was going to work.  Everyone got in a line according to their group, found their group leader and hit the road.  My bike was the slowest of the 22 (embarrassing to say the least) and was put into the ending part of the group.  Thankfully I had a few fantastic Koreans to be in my group and make sure that my poor little 50cc was able to withstand the 70km trip to Gyeongju.  They formed a rotating box around me on the highway in order to "protect me" and checked in on me during every rest stop.  While my pride was understandably hurt, I was not so secretly thrilled that I was getting so much encouragement during my first, big ride.

Our group during a roadside photo shoot.  If you squint
you can see me on the far right on the orange bike.

There's always time to do the peace sign

I had to add at least one thing Harley Davidson
for dear old Dad

After the roadside photo shoot, we continued on our way.  We wove our way through the countryside to the bustling city of Gyeongju, stopping along the way for a few more pictures.  

At yet another photo shoot.  Here is the entire crew for the day. 

Due to the short-lived cherry blossoms, the traffic was absolutely insane.  Bumper to bumper traffic as far as the eye can see.  Thankfully, the fact that we were on motorcycles afforded us the ability to do a little weaving through traffic.  Don't worry Mom, I was as careful as could be.   The veteran Koreans we were with were seasoned in how to maneuver traffic, keep together as a group and seamlessly coordinate directions.

Maneuvering through traffic

The rest of our trip was beautiful.  We took a quick detour to see some of the more cultural sides to Gyeongju and to try and get our fill of cherry blossoms.  We parted ways with our Korean motorcycle gang as they headed up the coast and we headed back to Pohang.  I had an amazing time with them and learned just how difficult (but exhilerating) riding in large groups can be.

Just one of the beautiful cherry blossom trees 

On all accounts, it's safe to say that my first official bikers ride was a smashing success.  We got to Gyeongju and back without any casualties, saw the rare cherry blossoms and had one hell of a day.  For our next big ride in May I know one thing for certain: a faster bike is a must.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Sunrise Park

Last week included a fun-filled field trip (say that 10 times fast) with the itty bitties.  We went to our local Sunrise Park where the little ones got to see all kinds of animals, run around and be as loud as they wanted.    We also threw in some obstacle courses, relay races and of course the Korean favorite, rock/paper/scissors.

Checking out the turkeys and ostriches
So many little time
Of course Wendy, let's wear a mask and pearls to a field trip.
The Korean past time, ka-wi-ba-wi-bo (rock/paper/scissors)
The best group shot taken on that beautiful spring day
Boys will be boys
With two of my favorite kiddos, Sunny and Ryan
The tiniest itty bitty at Kids College, Alice

In Korea old men generally walk around with their hands
in their pockets or behind their backs.  Alice is 3 years old
and already has it mastered.
And so the relay races begin.
Our very own "Mr.Bean" attempting to grab a chocolate
He couldn't quite figure out that he couldn't use his
hands during the relay race...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Slow Computers

"Lightning fast Internet."  "Unparalleled internet speed."  "One of the most technologically advanced countries in the world."  All of these quotes are supposedly about South Korea.  People ooooh and ahhhh over the supposed speed of the internet here and how it is the wave of the future.

Balogna. I really want to say a different word but Dad just would not be please with that kind of language.

For more than a month I have had the slowest skype imaginable.  I cannot get my internet speed to go fast enough to get good video.  Due to the fact that I am far from being technologically savvy, I have turned to my technie minded friends here in the "internet hub" of Korea for help.  I have been assured that there is nothing wrong with my computer and that skype should be working perfectly.  I guess my computer and its piss poor internet connection has a different idea.

Hopefully I will be able to find yet another computer guru to fix my lifeline to my friends and family.  My internet is fast enough for my blog, facebook and to check my mail but the complexity of streaming video to a different country is proving to be too much of a challenge.

Let's hope that all of this can be fixed this week.  Hopefully all that kimchi I have been eating will give me the good luck that I so desperately need.