Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stories, Showers, and Shopping!

There are always new things to learn and experience whenever you are visiting foreign countries. From America to Korea is no exception.

Here are a few stories and pictures of some of the first things I've encountered!


I'm going to wager not one reader has ever showered while sitting on the toilet! If I'm wrong, please let me know!!!

I hadn't either till I got to Korea. This is definitely the most functional shower seat one could imagine :-)

There are endless possibilities of weird ideas for using this shower, but I won't get into those.

I'm just happy to think of this as a throne with special effects and enhancements! No other kingdom has this feature! :-)



I'm sure I'll come across a lot of these, but here are a couple I just saw in the apartment when I moved in.

Stamped on the eggs it says, "16 OMG". Are the eggs 16 years old, oh my god??? Or were they from the famous rooster 16? OMG!


And I liked it when I opened the cabinet door and saw that the corn flakes were taking flight!
Guess they were tired of being couped (pun intended) up in the kitchen cupboard!



Today was my first trip to the local market where I got to buy some fresh greens and fruit and nuts. Made my own trail mix and hoping to get a juicer somewhere this week (I'm told they're available somewhere) for my veggies!!


Cute story: When I asked my boss/driver what one of the greens was he said, "Popeye" and flexed his biceps! It doesn't look like spinach from the US, but hopefully it tastes good and keeps me healthy!

Friday, June 28, 2013

The journey continues...

It has been a seemingly endless time of travel from the USA to Jeju, South Korea. I can't remember how long ago I began this journey, whether in days or hours.

The good news is that I made it to my final destination. Where is that? Some place google maps hasn't been :)

It's interesting that I'm not jet lagged at all. It seems my body is naturally on the Orients time zone. No wonder I have such difficulty in the USA!


Now on to the story of my excessively long journey...

It all started in a small town outside of Nashville.

A very good friend lives there and I was visiting for a short time when I got an email confirming a position for a job in South Korea I had previously applied for. Yipee! But now the details.

I had to drive to Chicago to submit my application for a visa.

1st day: 8 hrs driving to South Bend IN to stay overnight
2nd day: 6 hrs driving to and from and around Chicago to go to the consulate for 1/2 hr (thankful             for the short wait time) business.
3rd day: 9 hrs driving return trip to town outside Nashville. Why longer than the previous trip you ask? Unfortunately that journey was plagued with accidents, road construction, and endless heavy traffic. In addition to that trip there was also 2+ hrs of driving home for a concert I attended that night in Nashville.
4th day: pack and relax, whew
5th day: pack more and anxiously worry about not having a flight to Korea
6th day: pack pack pack and frantically pack all day after receiving flight info late last night
7th day: up at 6 a.m. to fly from Nashville to Chicago. Arrive in Chicago, wait for ride, go to stores to waste time until appointment at consulate late afternoon. Receive visa, book hotel for remaining 12 hrs in Chicago. Drive 2 hrs to hotel (rush hour traffic), go get first meal since leaving for Nashville at 7 a.m., then wander through more stores for last minute items before crashing for a couple hours.
8th day: Wake up at 2:30 a.m. to go to airport. Drive half hour to airport, wait in line one hour, say good bye, wait in more lines, then sit in ORD for over 3 hours while the weather outside causes delays.

SHORT STORY INTERJECTION ~ Outside of the fact I only wanted to go to sleep and was therefore not eating or trying to be awake, I had a woman who was so enthralled about my violin that after much begging on her end I finally pulled it out and serenaded the stranded crowd that had gathered (literally filling every seat and more floor space around me). I was so tired that I messed up the first Bach piece I played, but then a little girl sitting on mama's lap was so enraptured that I went over and played Twinkle Twinkle for her while her mama sang. She never took her eyes off me. Then I played one more Bach tune, which I successfully completed and put away the instrument. People clapped. I tried to play quietly with a practice mute. Someone took a video. (If you find it please let me know). And because I wanted nothing but to sleep I turned down payment offers of coffee, breakfast, and snacks from Starbucks. If I'd been awake the  experience would have been far more gratifying I think, but it was good none the less.

After the impromptu half asleep performance we finally started to board the plane. The priority people got on and then they had to delay boarding some more for the lightening. Once we finally all got on the plane I passed out. The doors weren't even closed before my eyes were shut. That is typical for me. What's not typical is waking up a couple hours later, looking out the window, and seeing the runway right outside. We hadn't left yet. Still waiting for a break in the weather, we were stuck on the tarmac for over 2 hours. When it was almost time to turn back and deplane we finally got the all clear and took off for San Francisco. I knew there was no way I'd make my connecting flight to Seoul and I'd had the good fortune of meeting someone in Chicago who was also going to Seoul on the same flights as me, so we were sticking together. While I'd been sleeping, he'd been calling United and asking about future flights and rebooking himself on a potential flight we might be able to catch. He gave me the number and flight information and I called United and had them change my flight as well. It was nice to know I had a confirmed seat once I got to San Francisco. Unfortunately though, we would miss the two direct flights to Seoul that day so this flight was to Toyko and then to Seoul. Still, we would hopefully make it.

After a successful flight to San Francisco, that was just a little long, we landed at quarter past the hour. The flight to Toyko was schedule to leave at twenty till the next hour. (I'd lost track of what hour I was in at this point). We got excited thinking we could run through the airport and make this flight, but as we taxied up the tarmac we were informed that there was no gate for us so we would have to wait 10 or 15 minutes for one to open. SERIOUSLY??? Since both my travel buddy and I were seated at the back of the plane we didn't have much hope of making the Toyko flight anymore and he could sprint through the airport but I had two violins strapped to my back and a heavy rolling carry on so jogging was barely possible. At half past the hour we pulled into the gate and by twenty five till the next hour we were off the plane. My travel buddy was off much sooner than I and he said he would stall for me. So after I got off the plane, off I went jogging through the airport. (Yes, it is possible to jog with two violins strapped to your back, a heavy carry on behind you and a pillow and teddy bear in your arms). After multiple escalator rides that seemed to take forever because I couldn't pick up the carry on and run up or down the steps, and several upset passengers who didn't see me coming, I finally arrived at the gate for the next plane.

Let me say here, thank technology for the ability to look up flights and gates so I didn't have to waste time doing that or finding someone to ask once I got in the airport.

I got my printed ticket and headed onto the plane. I wasn't the last one. They were kindly waiting for several passengers trying to make the flight from other delays as well, so we were about 20 minutes late or so closing the doors.

My delays were not over yet. Turns out there was only one working runway at SFO so we had to wait and wait on the tarmac for clearance. We finally turned onto the runway only to be told to GET OFF because another plane was coming in so we rerouted back around to the line again. Ugh.

We finally took off for Toyko though and I was awake, sweaty, hungry, thirsty. I'd not eaten all morning as I'd planned on having breakfast in San Francisco. Well, that obviously didn't happen so I was famished. Most of you know by now that I'm a fresh eater and tend to the vegetarian side of the scale. Well, when you're hungry, you eat what they offer, which was processed chicken and rice and wheat buns and stale salad with one wedge of tomato. That was the first meal, and the second was a ham and "cheese" sandwich on a white bun with vanilla ice cream. (I don't eat lactose much either). Then breakfast was a "meat" patty, "cheese" omelette and some broccoli quiche thing. By the time I ate the ice cream I was nauseous and came very very close to throwing up but managed to calm myself down. Once breakfast came along I only ate the quiche and I could barely manage that.

I didn't sleep much on that flight because I was stuck in the economy section in a middle seat. Not much you can do there. I watched one movie, Mame, a couple random tv episodes and spent the rest of my time trying to sleep or not trying to puke.

Day 9: We arrived safely in Tokyo and my travel buddy and I walked to the next security point to get to our connecting flight to Seoul. (In Toyko, you have to go through security when you're transferring flights). I went to get my passport and flight ticket out of my jacket pocket only to discover they weren't there! When I had boarded the plane I'd been so frantic and harried that I couldn't remember what I'd done with them. I unpacked my jacket, and the violin case top (which I thought were the only things I'd opened in the plane), but to no avail. So I hurried back through the airport to the gate of the plane I'd just left and asked if they would go search my seat to see if the documents had fallen out of my jacket pocket onto the floor during flight. While they were searching I opened my suitcase and dug through everything. Luckily, I found them. They had slide into my laptop when I had apparently stuffed them in the outer pocket of my carry on while I was running onto the plane.

Thankfully, I rushed back to the security check point, breezed through and located my next gate. I was so early I even had time to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, sign on the the free wifi and email my employer picking me up in Seoul that I was on my way. LUXURY :)

The flight to Seoul was thankfully uneventful. I watched Singing in the Rain and was stuck in a middle seat again. This time they served a white bread half sandwich with "meat", "cheese", and "egg". I ate it gratefully since it had been a while since the quiche thing.

I arrived in Seoul to discover (not unsurprisingly) that my luggage had not. So I went to the United counter and described my luggage and filled out a form and gave them a phone number of someone to reach to send me my luggage since I still don't have the exact address where I'm staying.

After that was all done I went through customs and immigration and headed out of the airport to find my ride. Although he didn't speak English, he was very nice and helpful and I would write things into his iPad translator (thank technology again!) and he would nod that he understood.

Since I arrived in Seoul so late that night (I think it was after 9 p.m.) he was instructed to get me a hotel room and have me fly to Jeju the next morning. So we drove about a half hour to the hotel (which was interesting and pictures will be posted to google+ later) and I crawled into bed at midnight. The bed was the hardest bed I've ever attempted sleep on and with my cell phone dead and my outlet converter not suitable for the plugs I barely closed my eyes fearing I would not wake up for my ride.

Day 10: 4 hours later I was dressed (in the same clothes) after a shower and ready to go to the airport. We went to Gimpy airport instead of Incheon (which I'd flown into) and I got my ticket and said good bye to my driver. Then I walked through the pleasantly small airport with a half hour to spare :) Purchased a strawberry and banana smoothie at a cafe (boy was that good!) and waited for my flight.

The short flight to Jeju was nice and I finally had a window seat, although I didn't use it because the flight wasn't even an hour long. Deplaned, picked up my carry on from the luggage carousel and called my boss to say I'd arrived. A taxi was sent for me within 10 minutes and off to my new apartment I went. It took about 45 minutes of driving and I enjoyed watching the scenery as it went by. It was weird that the taxi monitor read that I owed him 35000 won and all I'd been given for the ride was 20000. I was worried, but when I handed it to him with a look of concern he said it was all right. I don't understand how that worked. But I'm happy it did.

The apartment is nice. HUGE compared to a cruise ship crew cabin (pictures will be uploaded to google+ later). After a nice nap, my boss picked me up and we drove to the aquarium where I was shown the tour, saw part of a show, had a meeting with the director, met the synchronized swimmers and the aerialist, ate lunch (?) in the aquarium's cafe, and then went to choreography where we watched a video of the show with our choreography, then mapped it on the floor to the music with direction, then remapped it on the floor without direction. Today we run it on the stage.


My luggage is still lost. I am trying to learn my music by ear from recordings. I still can't remember enough Korean words to communicate. Haven't been to a grocery store so I'm hungry right now.

BUT, everyone is very kind. My boss bought me a towel to take a shower (although I can't get the hot water to turn on so I'm waiting it out for now). Everyone is very friendly and helpful with my lack of Korean or Russian. (I'm the only one that speaks fluent English so the Korean management talks through a translator, my roommate, and she speaks in Russian to the swimmers and aerialist. Occasionally someone will clue me in with a few words as to what is going on.) The one meal I've had was quite tasty. I live within walking distance of the aquarium. There is free wifi at the apartment and in the office at the aquarium!


I'll write more about the aquarium and the island with pictures later. For now, this is just the update of my travels to get here. I think that is quite enough too :-)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NBA -> CHI -> ORD -> SFO -> ICN

Do you think that's enough flying?

For two days I certainly think so. I much prefer cruising for long distance travel. Unfortunately, time is of the essence and so I must travel faster!

What a whirlwind it's been, but I finally have my visa in hand, my flights in order, my bags packed, and I'm ready to go!

I'll keep this blog going from overseas with select pictures (find me on google+ to view them all), funny stories (there are always funny stories when trying to learn a new language and culture), and show updates.

Would love love love to have visitors.

I'm sure it's going to be an amazing adventure with lots and lots and even more lots of learning.

And I'm ready!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Here I go again on a new adventure!

It's finally time, yes finally I say, for another big adventure.

It's been nearly 2 years since I was last working full time on cruise ships. In the interim I've been getting odd jobs around the country in music, sales, home improvement, personal assisting, and anything else I could do that wasn't permanent so I could get a travel job.

The last 2 years have been a long and hard road of uncertainty, poverty, hunger sometimes, frustration and searching.

Through it all I never lost track of my dream even though it seemed like I should give it up and move on or as most people would put it, "get a real job (grow up)". But I don't conform to popular definitions or expectations. I never have and I never will.

Now, it's all worth it.

I'm flying out in the morning for Chicago where I will retrieve my visa and continue on to South Korea, specifically the island of Jeju.


I can't wait! A new place, a new language, a new culture, and new food, a new job, and new friends are all part of this new adventure on which I'm embarking!

Details are not firm yet so I will write more later on other aspects, but for now, this is where I'll be working and some pictures of the island.


And please, if you get the urge, VISIT ME!! 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Where to next? The beach of course.

This is a question that is so frequently asked to myself that it just sits in the forefront of my brain constantly.

Usually, I can answer a week out, and if I'm lucky two plus, but sometimes I don't even know where I'll be a week away.

This coming week is a case in point. Monday I leave Tulsa for Nashville. This decision was only made three days ago. How long will I be in Nashville you ask? I have no idea. Potentially one week, potentially two weeks.

Where will I go next?

I'm sincerely hoping to a new job in South Korea, but if that fall through cracks I'll be off the the Dallas area for a few days before heading who knows where after that.

Such is my non existent calendar of life. It's nigh impossible to plan a week or more in advance. I feel terrible when people need to know and I just can't say. How can I when I might not even be in the country, let alone a certain state?

I get comments about how this would be so stressful and it's amazing how I can manage with such enthusiasm and vigor, but truth be told, I love it most of the time.

Imagine, there are always open doors to walk through. You may have no idea which one you will choose or which one(s) may close, but there is always a seemingly endless stream of possibilities awaiting you. This to me is exciting, invigorating, delightful, and most importantly desirable.

Yes, once upon a time I went to work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, parked my car in the same spot, when home to the same bed, looked out the same window to the same view every day, ate at the same restaurants, danced with the same friends.

"Stability" felt like the ultimate prison.

I LOVE MY FRIENDS, and I love visiting them all over the world, reconnecting, reintroducing, remembering. That's what makes it so special all the time to me. I get to not just experience the familiar, but the new. 

It's a true statement when I say I'd rather be homeless on the streets so that I can take any chance that comes along, than to be tied down and unable to change when the opportunity arises. It's all about viewpoint really. For most, the lack of change is what is comfortable. And even if you take a short trip outside the comfort zone, you know you're coming back to it soon so the edge is removed from the scariness that is the change. But what makes people better? What gives people perspective? What inspires people? Change does. It may not feel like it or even seem like it because it happens in masked forms all the time. But change makes so much more of our world possible and when change doesn't happen it is also what hinders and corners us without our realizing.

I'm hoping to take on one of my biggest life changes this month and move to South Korea for a new job. There are many things that I will write about this later if everything goes through and I do indeed move there, but for now I just want to share that this is my dream of change for myself.

SO, after that little rampant....I have no idea where that came from because I actually just wanted to post a picture of something that I'd really really like to have and could really really use since I don't have one at all. What is that something you ask? Why, thank you for asking. It's a one piece swimsuit :)  My last one got ruined and damn if I can't actually afford a new one since technically it's a want and not a need. But summer is fast approaching and I'd really love to go swimming in something other than shorts and a t-shirt.

And, I'm prepared to offer a deal :)  Should any reader be so kind and thoughtful and generous and etc.  I'd be happy to show off the swimsuit in person a) in South Korea on the beaches of the beautiful honeymooners island Jeju should I get the job in the next week   or b) at a predetermined location that I'd be able to afford travel to, which limits it to the Midwest, or a non self funded flight to where ever you are. And if it's beachy, I play a mean smashball, and if it's pooly, I play a mean water volleyball (references available upon request!), and if it's boaty, well, I like pina coladas :)

There are many swimsuits I've drooled over recently with all the summer advertisements running, but here are my top picks.

Click on the links above the pictures to be directed to the website preset for purchase!

This one is on sale half off if purchased before Monday at noon!
Classy, sophisticated, and retro, yet sexy and chic.

This is a coloful, unique and beautiful swimsuit. Love the cut, the color and design!!
Fun, bright, and playful (like me), yet feminine and flattering!
Gottex Folklore Paisley One-Piece Swimsuit

Technically it's a one piece and no, I wouldn't be able to wear this suit everywhere, but I love it anyway!
Visually stunning, head turner for sure. Sassy and sexy and ready to party!
Very Sexy Cut-out One-piece

So there are classic, fun and sexy suits here, of which I pull off all three quite well if I do say so myself.

So take your pick and let's hit the beach, the boat, the bay!!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Quercetin: a flavonol, plant-derived flavonoid found in fruits, vegetables, leaves and grains.

As many of you are completely aware I'm sure, it's allergy season. achoo. gazuntite.

Here's a short background of my experience with allergies and then I'll get to the quercetin.

As a child I suffered severely from allergy symptoms year round. It didn't matter whether outside or inside, animal, plant, dust, pollen; I was allergic.

My allergies were so bad that many nights I would sit up unable to sleep and just trying to breath. Finally, my parents took me to see an immunologist. I got pricked all over my back, and wouldn't you know it, I'm allergic to everything!

So I started on allergy shots. I got two shots twice a week for a while, and then once a week until I began my masters degree. My entire childhood basically!!

I was also taking prescription drugs to aid the shots and make my symptoms even less.

After a lifetime of drugs and shots I could live a mostly normal life without dying from the allergens everywhere. I still sneezed every morning, never left home without a full pack of kleenex, and took over the counter allergy pills every day. It was the best I thought I could ever do for myself.

Then I was told about quercetin. Being a hippie sort, I tend toward organic, natural, farm fresh, herbal, etc. So given the chance, I eagerly laid down the prescription pills and started a supplement of quercetin everyday.

I would like to now report that I've been off of the prescription pills for over two weeks. It's prime allergy season and I've been wandering around Indiana, Tennessee, and Oklahoma so I've had plenty of opportunity for really good allergy attacks and so far everything has been great!

And I mean fantastic! I rarely sneeze in the morning. Today I sneezed twice all day and it was in the middle of the afternoon. I blow my nose less than half the time that I used to blow it and my nose is definitely less runny too. My eyes are less itchy and my sinuses are less clogged.

All in all I'd say QUERCETIN WORKS! It worked for me.

Now there are a bunch of different things that quercetin is supposedly good for in addition to allergies, such as heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension and certain kinds of cancer.

You can read all about quercetin here and here.

This is what the natural plant looks like.

If any of you have used quercetin successfully or unsuccessfully, I'd love to hear your stories!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Who's up for a camping trip?

It's been years since I went camping. Way too long! And I miss it.

Recently stumbled across this extremely useful website for camping tricks. Maybe you know some or most of these already, but maybe you're like me and you'll just keep going, wow, I never thought of that!

So anyone up for trying some of these things out? My favorites are the seat hammocks for car camping (I have a hitch on my car so that's TOTALLY useable), the tic tac boxes for spices (I love spices so this would be a handy way to not have to bring your glass containers from home), oh and the pigs 'n a blanket on the stick!!!! oh yeah :), and the floor tiles are so much more fun than the blow up cushion ones I've always used.

So check out the website, see what you'd like to try and hit me up for a camping trip!

I want to watch the sunset in one of these;

Get these seat hammocks for car camping.

While eating one of these;

Before crawling into one of these....

Invest in a two-person sleeping bag.

on a fun cushy floor like this!

Use foam floor tiles for a softer, more comfortable tent floor.

Who's with me??!!

Busking Opportunity??

Recently perusing the news headlines I saw this link to a concert put on by musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra. So of course I clicked on the link and was quite entertained by the spontaneity and good nature of these musicians.

When it seems like everything is going wrong, play music!

As I was watching this I wondered...I'm most likely going to be on a long long flight to Korea very soon. Could it be possible to play my violin for a mini concert maybe during a meal or something? Set out my case for tips :)  It would certainly be lots of fun and definitely break up the awful monotony of the long flight.

Thoughts? Opinions? Ideas?

Check out the Philadelphia Orchestra perform live on the airplane!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Heart's Desires

So this is going to be a little post about conflicting desires of mine. Nothing deep, just fun.

The first desire is for a job...specifically a violin travel job....specifically in South Korea on the island of Jeju. More on this might come later if I get the job, but all you need to know now is that it would be six months spanning July through December of this year. I REALLY WANT THIS JOB!!

The second desire, although almost on equal level of the first desire, is to attend the contra dance weekend in Seattle this coming October called Dancing Fool. It is not only where some of the best dancers go every year, but this specific year also has my favorite contra band, The Great Bear Trio AND my contra mentor from LA, Frannie, as one of the callers. If there ever was a heaven on earth, being at this dance weekend would certainly be a candidate!

But I can't do both :(

Would somebody PLEASE invent body splitting so I can be in two places at once by then??

And while I'm on the topic, if I go to the dance I'll definitely need a new contra tradition of mine that I like to get a new contra piece for every weekend. I don't go to enough weekends to make this tradition insane yet so I'm still sticking with it. Already picked out the one I want for Dancing Fool... It's even 50% off and would be hella cute on the dance floor :)


In the worst of all possible worlds, I'll be neither on Jeju this fall nor in Seattle for Dancing Fool. This is where the song Glitter and be Gay comes to mind in a very haunting fashion mainly for the meniacal laughing part. Ironically from Candide, it certainly wouldn't be the best of all possible worlds. If you get this last reference please comment!!

And if any of you feel up to helping make any of my dreams come true I'll gladly accept any and all proffering toward that regard. Just let me know what I can do in return!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Terrible Drives

Last night tied for 4th place of the worst ever drives (8 hrs+) I've done.

It poured (wipers on high) for all but the last 45 minutes. Sometimes it was so bad I had to pull over because I couldn't see the road. I was driving overnight for 8 hours. Two days before I had severely strained my lower back doing squat lifts at the local cross fit gym. The pain was so bad the first night I was throwing up so the following day I stayed horizontal with my legs raised and then that night I attempted this drive. Now if I could have laid the seat back like I wanted and just cruised down the road I would have been mostly fine, but with the rain pouring down as heavily as it was, I was forced to sit up as straight as I could.

Sometimes the rain was so brutal that I had to pull over and the rest of the time I had to drive under the speed limit to avoid hydroplaning. All I wanted was to get home and lay down with my feet up to rest my back, but the night was dragging on longer and longer. To make matters just a little worse, my cell phone signal was either non existent or so weak that it couldn't hold a phone call. That is usually how I entertain myself, keep up with my friends, and stay awake while I'm driving on long trips, but not this time! I managed to sneak in one half hour call and am very glad I did, but had been hoping for hours of conversation. Oh well.

The one bright side to this drive was the fact that I was not worried about hitting a deer. Driving two lane and even remote divided highways causes concern for me and I strain to see any movement on the sides of the road to anticipate a potential disaster. With all the rain driving down so hard I knew the deer would either be taking shelter or eating in the deepest parts of the woods. Definitely not trying to cross the roads in the open unless it would be absolutely necessary and I was believing it wasn't. I didn't see a single deer on the drive, which I was happy about! And had it not been raining so hard I'm guessing there would have been a few.

What are you worst long road trip stories? If you would like, I can relate the top stories. Just ask!