To Go or Not To Go…

I’m currently torn on what to do today.

Before the last year ended, I made a promise to myself that 2018 would be the year I work on not being a complete recluse. That I would get out and go on some random adventures and with my husband working grave yard for the next couple weeks it’s the perfect opportunity for me to get out there. So, yesterday I sat down and made a list of places I wanted to go scout out and do some photography at. Of course, yesterday was a beautiful sunny day even with it being cold out.

Today it’s absolutely dismal outside. Cloudy, foggy, cold and, according to the weather app on my phone, a high chance of rain. Not that I mind the rain, but walking alone in it is no fun. Typically when I wake up in the morning it’s a little overcast but it’ll burn off quickly, that is unless it’s snowing. This morning when I woke up I was thinking it would burn off per usual and that by the time I had my coffee, did my workout and got ready for the day, it would be a nice day. But nooooo……

So here I am completely ready to take on the day, looking between my snow boots at the door and the pile of new books sitting in my reading nook. Do I go out into the world and still explore or do I curl up with a cup of tea and read a couple chapters?

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I think the books will win this time but I will tackle this bucket list eventually.

 

The Kindness of Strangers

Unless you’re new to the internet you’ve noticed how the term “faith in humanity restored” is used so frequently these days. Most people these days have a very low level of trust of those around us. Maybe it’s because we’ve all been hurt or betrayed in some way shape or form at some point in our lives. Or that the internet has cause the majority of us to become so cynical of the world around us. It’s caused most people to ignore each other day to day, mind our own business as we walk down the street living our lives.  Then, only when someone shares something online of a person doing something “extraordinary” is our faith restored for a moment. It took having dinner with a stranger to remind me that our faith in humanity can’t be restored by others alone but by ourselves.

Last night Anthony and I decided to be spontaneous and go to Hwa Hwa’s Korean BBQ for dinner. It’s a local favorite and highly recommended if you’re ever here. The restaurant is cozy with a cabin in the country vibe and the staff is very friendly. The main floor is slightly crowded, consisting of small tables with the a grill in the middle, a salad bar, and a play room for the children, while upstairs are more banquet tables in separate rooms for larger parties. Going for BBQ during winter is perfect because you get to warm up with the hot coals they bring to the table. It’s almost like camping inside.

The restaurant can get pretty full, especially on a weekend, so it wasn’t really a surprise that when we got there we were asked to wait a moment. It was then I heard I voice shout over to us, “you can sit with us if you’d like.” I looked over and there was a woman with her young daughter at a table. She had a warm smile and was waving us to sit across from her. Admittedly I was unsure at first and kinda shocked that she would offer her table to us. After going through the acceptable back and forth of not wanting to interrupt her time and her reassuring us that it was perfectly ok we took our seats across from her and made proper introductions.

She had already ordered her meal and so as her banchans, Korean side dishes served with every meal, were brought to the table we ordered for ourselves. I’m sure at first I was staring at her with my mouth agape, still unsure if I should even be sitting down. It wasn’t till the woman told us to help ourselves to what was on the table that I even took my eyes off her. She had a round face with a warm smile and kind eyes. After introductions the daughter asked to go play with the other kids and we settled into conversation. We shared a couple typical getting to know you stories, who we are, where we came from, how are we liking living in Korea. It slowly became comfortable and we started talking about photography and favorite must see places. By the end of dinner it was like talking with a friend about memories and experiences and where we should get dessert.

We got up to go, trying not to crowd the front counter as we went to pay the bill when our table host suddenly pays for our meal. I’m pretty sure both Anthony and my jaw hit the ground with a thud. We protested that she shouldn’t and she just shrugged it off like it wasn’t a big deal. Again I was staring at her. She was smiling and joking about how we didn’t need to worry, the dinner company was appreciated and she was going to be visiting family in few short days who would be taking care of her so she wasn’t concerned about the money.

After the bill was taken care of we walked outside with her and her daughter and said our goodbyes and goodnights. As we started for home I said I couldn’t believe she paid for our meal. We are complete strangers and she shared her table with us and paid the bill. Anthony made the comment of “faith in humanity restored” and I disagreed stating that it was a good deed by paying it forward. I’m reminded of the words my mother told me growing up “treat other how you wish to be treated.” By treating others with kindness and respect we show  that we are deserving of such treatment ourselves. A little kindness from a stranger, even just a smile, can set the path to a better world.

The Post Without A Purpose

The dreaded Slump. We’ve all experienced it in some shape or form. Reading slump, writer’s block, creative slump, you get the drill. It’s just this feeling of lacking. I’ve been going through this for the last couple of days. Not sure what to do with myself. Sure, there are a million ideas swimming through my head but I have absolutely no motivation to actually do it.

Like right now, it’s 7:30 in the morning and the sun is just starting to rise, casting a shade of shadowy blue on the early morning haze. Outside the window from my 12th story apartment window is our sleepy little village. (I will never get used to the fact that I live in my first sky rise that is planted in the center of the country. It just seems so out of place for me but I know that’s kinda the norm here.) By the looks of it, it’s going to be a beautiful but cold day.

I woke up about an hour ago. Actually the correct wording is I was awoken an hour ago by our cat Tumbles scratching at the side of our platform bed. Her way of trying to get the attention she thinks she wants despite the fact that her food and water bowl is still full. You stand up to see what she wants and she starts walking around the room like she has no idea she just woke you up. It’s become the only way for me to wake up early in the morning lately so as annoying as it is I’m also thankful. She half follows, half leads me to the kitchen where I start the coffee pot and then sprawls herself out on the living room floor.

The typical morning is spent drinking coffee, reading a book, catching up on some news stories from back home and then a yoga session before starting the day. The last couple of days though have been curled up in bed or on the couch with no desire to do anything.  Yesterday we had meant to go adventuring in Asan but one look at the -6 C weather outsides and both my husband and I decided the better idea was to just do some chores around the house and relax inside where it was warm. We’re both California kids, so these below zero temps are completely new to us. It does warm up quickly though so that by noon it’s not that bad standing in the sun.

Today seems to be starting no different. My eyes feel tired like I haven’t slept in years even though I slept fine last night. I’ve attempted to pick up my bullet journal to doodle with no ideas of what to doodle. I thought about working on some photography and just ended up starring at my camera. I desperately wanted to post something but after a long time of typing and deleting possible titles I just couldn’t come up with anything, so I just started typing. At least something is getting done even though it really has no point.

How does one get out of a slump? How do you break free of the doldrums? How do people typically deal with super cold weather? What do normal people do in winter?

A Dinner of Unexpected Events

Well, it finally happened.
I had that totally embarrassing moment at a restaurant here in Korea.
Think Christmas Story, when they chop the duck’s head off at the dinner table and the mother screams.
That was pretty much me.

So, Anthony and I decided to have a date night and to go try Shabu Shabu for the first time. I’ve been listening to people rave about the dish and had even watched a couple of my favorite YouTubers do vlogs at restaurants or make home made versions. For those that don’t know, Shabu Shabu is a Japanese dish of broth, veggies, meats (primarily beef or pork), noodles, and rice. It’s a family style meal in that everything is brought to the table on platters and everyone shares. The table has a grill or stove in the center and a large pot of broth is set to boil. You then add veggies and meats little bits at a time to cook and eat. Then you add the noodles, followed by  the rice. It sounded and looked so good. I had been begging Anthony to take me fore weeks now and I was really excited when he asked me if I wanted to go.

We carefully selected a restaurant with the South of Seoul app and held off on eating for most the day so we’d be ready for a big dinner. When we got to the restaurant and looked at the menu both of us were surprised they had a seafood option (I had only heard of beef or pork being the selected meats).

Now, as I said, this is a huge meal that you are sharing with your dinner party so I was hesitant about ordering seafood at first because I know my husband doesn’t like it. He encouraged me to order what I wanted. It was our date night after all and he wanted me to order what I wanted and not worry about him. So we got the special: Beef and seafood, which included shrimp, clams, octopus, and abalone. As for me, this is nothing out of the ordinary. I love seafood.
Grilled salmon? Yes please.
Sushi? Sign me up.
Oyster on a half shell? I’ll take it.
You get my point. The special sounded perfect.
Well, I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

First the waitress brings us the broth in this huge cast iron pot. I had never seen anything like it before. It looked like it was two half pots welded together so part of the broth was on one side and the rest of the both on the other. One broth had onions in it and other other had a couple tiny chilis. Not very spicy but the extra flavor was really nice. Then she brings a cart with platters of food. One dish was the beef, raw slices rolled and arranged in a neat pile. Another dish was a selection of different mushrooms followed by a plate of heaping lettuce leaves and bean sprouts. There was a bowl of rice mixed with dried seaweed, rice balls rolled in lettuce leaves with a dipping sauce, dishes of chopped cabbage with a sweet dressing, udon noodles with mandu, and of course kimchi. There were little kabobs of fish cake, crab meat, and sliced squid followed by whole prawns, little shrimp and fresh clams. We were in such awe of the feast set before us that it took a moment to realize that next to the shrimp was the abalone.

Still in its shell.

Alive.

And moving.

I balked at first. I’d had raw abalone before. I liked it. But it was prepared for me. This time…. well, I didn’t expect it to be like this. How was I supposed to do this? Do I dump the whole thing in pot? Do I try to remove it from the shell first? It moved again. I panicked and Anthony had the staff take it from us. We apologized and told the waitress it was our first time having Shabu Shabu. The look on her face along with the head nod was the equivalent of “no shit.” She was nice enough to bring extra shrimp to replace the abalone.

Once that was taken care of we went on with the meal. I put the shrimp and clams into the broth to cook and we started dipping pieces of beef into the broth and trying it. That’s when Anthony notices a large cylinder bowl they had placed on the table next to a matching one holding the utensils. He tilts the bowl slightly and quickly gets my attention. I can’t remember what words were said at this point but I do remember seeing him startle and then I reach for the bowl myself to take a look.

It was a small octopus.

Alive.

And moving.

I promptly started to cry.

So, here I am in the middle of the restaurant, crying that I’ve ruined dinner because I wanted seafood and I should have just ordered the regular beef. I didn’t know it was going to be served this way and I felt horrible because this was supposed to be a nice romantic date and I ruined it. Anthony took the octopus back to the waitress and came back to console me and calm me down.
In the end we finished the majority of the meal, there was so much food I don’t think anyone could have finished it, and left the restaurant agreeing to return one day and order just the beef (and a glass of wine).

It’s settled, I’m committed

I can’t believe that I’ve finally committed to doing a blog.

I also can’t believe I actually paid money for it, so I HAVE to actually work on it now.

I’ve been wanting to do a blog or something for the longest time but I never could commit to it. I tried to do YouTube but I constantly get wrapped up in the moment and could never commit to busting out my camera to record vlogs. I tried to do sit down recordings but I’m just awkward in front of a camera. I might (emphasis on the might) do  videos in the future but it’s really debatable. Writing tho, that’s my jam.

My husband and I currently live in Korea and I’ve been keeping a scrap book journal the last five months since we moved here. I keep it in my bag when we go out and I’d tuck receipts, cards, stickers, stamps, pamphlets and the like it while we were out and about and then when I was sitting down with free time I’d write about our adventures and plot out the next one. The poor book is so packed now that I need a big rubber band to keep it shut.

Not sure this gives you any indication of the penchant I have towards writing or scrapbooking.

Anyway, the blog that I am starting right now was encouraged by my family. Not just my husband, but my parents. Specifically my mother. See, I always send her texts and emails of what’s happening over here and the other day I sent her a story of a dinner of unexpected events. She said she loved it and even shared it with some of her friends and they all really like my writing. Looking at the story of the dinner I sent her and past stories of all the trips and falls and stumbles that my husband and I went through getting out here (and really any given time), why not share our misadventures with everyone?

So here I am, writing my first official blog and it will be just that. A collection of stories of our misadventures.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes and I hope you enjoy it too.