Hangouts in Daegu

Last week Nate and I had an awesome opportunity to show some friends around Daegu!

For me they were brand new and for Nate they were 50% new.

Nate went to high school with Soonja and Soonja married Dane and Nate married me! Soonja and Dane were traveling Korea (and taking loads of photos) for a weekish and Nate took some time off of work to show them around. I can’t take off work during the semester but my evenings were free, so I managed to meet up with them downtown for some fun evenings.

The first night was a Tuesday, and I took no pictures because I was too busy eating 감자탕 (gamjatang) which, if you don’t know, is pork spine stew with dark greens and potatoes. Aka Amazing. Wednesday night we went for 찜닭 (jjimdak) which, if you don’t know, is steamed chicken with glass noodles, carrots, potatoes, hot peppers, and a brown sauce that has the addictive properties of illegal drugs. Again, no pictures. Thursday night was a Japanese restaurant that is on my top 5 meals ever in my life. We got there right when it opened and the owner/chef was so kind. He brought us out some free dishes, including a skewered pig skin that was slightly like bacon, but we just called it Candy Pig. Sweet and salty and chewy and smoky and moist and…I drooled on my laptop. And I took no pictures.

Then: Waffles.

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All the glory.

We closed it out at Old Blue. Old Blue is a jazz bar and I had a few gigs there back when I was still doing the live music in Daegu. It’s such a cozy classy place and it was fun to be back.

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In the mornings and afternoons Nate took them up Apsan Mountain and exploring Seomun Market, and we all together hit up the stationery stores and trolled the underground shops for Konglish Tshirts.

hazy days at Apsan!
hazy days at Apsan!

There were so many good ones but Nate and I came away with these:

we wear these in public
we wear these in public

Nate’s got the yellow-Freud-rainbow-square and I have taken the other slogan as my new motto. It’s got…something.

Our little mid-week break with Soonja and Dane was especially great since Nate and I have become Old Married People who NEVER stay out late, and since Nate works evenings, are NEVER downtown on weeknights. We got to take them to all of our favorite places and discover some new stuff too, PLUS we did noraebang (Korean karaoke). Which was no small thing, since S&D are both trained, super-pro musicians and Nate and I were coming off of bronchitis.  We had a blast anyway. And…duh…closed out the night with ‘Don’t Stop Believing.’ Soonja and Dane gave us the chance to go out, explore, eat, and play tourist in the city that’s been our home for 4-5 years. Thanks guys 🙂

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We tried so hard to get a group picture…and this was the best one. #yikes

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Ten Things Tuesday #3

Annnnd it’s a streak, y’all.

Three weeks running.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who made this possible.

(you’re the real stars…

not really.)

(that just sent me down a youtube rabbit hole of Jenna Maroney’s best moments.)

Which seems like as good a place as any to start this week’s ten things:

  1. Playlist of the best moments of 30 Rock: go here. It’s just…so good.
  2. I miss living with a clothes dryer. Not for most things, but for towels and sheets? come ON. Nothing compares. I say this as I look at the two laundry racks currently festooned with stiffly drying clothes. sigh.
  3. Recently all I want to wear are Big Ol’ Sweaters. pants optional. The vibe I’m looking for is ‘shapeless.’ I’m wearing this one right now:
    get it here
    get it here. (that’s me in the picture. Lasik truly does work wonders)

    (but full disclosure I do not wear pants when I blog at home. i mean are you kidding me? that is the behavior of sociopaths.)

  4. I love poking around on other people’s blogs but I am so so so so uncomfortable about commenting. Am I the only one?  Is it that awkward for everyone else? I sense a post on this topic coming on…
  5. Ann Voskamp is a champion and basically everyone knows it, but this post messed me up, is messing me up, shall will should would may might must can could continue to mess me up, for always, because that’s what Jesus does: he messes you up. Read it, read it, read it.
  6. Over the past week I’ve come to some uncomfortable realities about my habits and my health, and the result of those things is this: I have had Brussels sprouts (Shannan’s) for two days in a row, and yesterday Nate made me run up a hill. I almost divorced him but Jesus kept us together.
  7. Do any of the rest of you use the stickynote feature as a sort of mental trashcan, so that whatever is stuck in your head ends up there and it multiplies and stages a hostile takeover of your desktop screen? Just me? Okay then.
  8. I found coconut water at Emart and I’ve been hoarding the last two bottles. So good.
  9. Four more nights with the Serial Killer Eye Guards. I’m gonna miss those weirdos. (no I’m not.)
  10. The East Coast of the US is getting HAMMERED by winter storms, and I’m so jealous it’s making me a little twitchy. Be safe, but o my friends, revel for those of us whose winters are barren.

 

Handel’s Messiah: December 2014

This is a bit of a throwback, but It’s something I meant to post about and never did, so let’s be trendy together and call it nostalgia. Or um vintage. Yeah, way vintage guys. Way.

One of the nicest things about The Boy is that he likes method and tradition and routines. I think this is nice because I appreciate aspects of those things without being able to maintain them myself. Kind of the same way I feel about zookeepers. What a fun job it must be that I will never ever be good at.

Tangent.

My one exception to tradition maintenance is Christmas. I have all the tolerance in the world for Christmas traditions and routines, and also very strong feelings about which ones I like to follow and which ones I will not. That’s the same thing as tolerance, right? Yes. Moving on. Nate only has one Christmas tradition he feels super strongly about, and it was a new one to me: every year, Nate goes to see Handel’s Messiah performed.

(swoon. he’s so classy.)

This was a Pagaard tradition that’s now been inherited by our 2-member Pagaard extension, so we’re keeping it going. Of course, living in Korea limits the opportunity to do so. By ‘limits the opportunity’ I mean there is ONE place in the whole of Korea that annually produces the English version of the Messiah, in a little Methodist church up in Seoul, a 2 hour train-ride north of us. Nate’s gone every year for four years.

(swoon swoon swoon.)

So we took a weekend off in mid-December to see the show and see Seoul lit up for Christmas. The company that does the production is volunteer-based, which means it’s a labor of love. (Let’s just say that this year, there was a lot of love.)

(Our pictures are also a labor of love, in that we similarly have the very best possible intentions. And yet they turn out like this.)

RIP Beard
RIP Beard

Once in Seoul we checked out Myeongdong, one of the bigger shopping areas in Seoul.  It’s insane and busy and packed and fun to wander in–when it’s above freezing.

Don't know that guy. but the pose works.
Don’t know that guy. but the pose works.

Then, gloriously, this happened. I love this place. Some of this stuff was flavored like Ballantyne…scotch? Whiskey? I am ill-equipped to answer this. and there was a Guinness milk chocolate flavor in there too. Neither of them got me tipsy, so don’t worry Mom.

IMG_0043Eventually, we got to the main event.

The choir, gearing up
The choir, gearing up

The church was full. We sat with Koreans and Americans and South Africans and Austrians and all of us were totally captivated by the movement of the music. A few of the instruments weren’t tuned properly. Nate has perfect pitch, and I grew up with people who have perfect pitch pointing things out to me, so it got a little painful at times, but you know what? It was so great. People from everywhere, crammed together, hearing this incredible story of prophecy and fulfillment in Jesus, for us, going on to the end. I’m getting goosebumps a month later, thinking about it.

Christmas isn’t Christmas because of the manger but because of the Cross, and because of the Resurrection and the Ascension and His promise to return.

Behold, I tell you a mystery;
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…

The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

I want to post all the rest of it. Because it’s just that good. But go here and read it and be reminded of the Truth.

After the Messiah we walked around Seoul to see the lights…

Seoul Christmas Light
Whimsy!
Seoul Christmas Lights 2
Festal Cheer!
Seoul Christmas Lights 3
!!!

 

 

So Festive.

Our hotel was located on this mysterious stretch of road in Seoul between some majorly bustling areas which somehow manages to be completely dead after 9pm. In Seoul, literally one of the largest, fullest-of-people, busiest cities in the whole wide world. Luckily, we found signs of life nearby (Korea has a habit of building soju bars and meat restaurants in close proximity) and ended the night on a delicious note.

Korean side dishes. Nom.
Korean side dishes. Nom.

2014 marked our final winter in Korea, so we’re a little extra aware of everything about it, and extra grateful for everything we get to experience here. It’s weird and amazing to consider where we’ll be hearing the music of the Messiah next December. I can’t wait.

 

A wee bit of thanks

I am thankful.

There are people who get grumpy about how thankfulness get so jam packed into this particular season and who inquire why folks don’t express gratitude more during the rest of the year, come on, right, ugh.

These are probably the same people who get annoyed by “I love you” mid-February.

But I say go for it. I am thankful all year round and I love my fambly and my Savior all year round, but what’s wrong with dedicating a holiday to it, drawing a little more emphasis than normal, surrounding love and gratitude with celebration? Calm down, cranky Facebook demagogues.

(but don’t start me on New Year’s resolutions. jk.)

Our wee little, baby little, fledgling Thanksgiving went off without significant hitches. We slept in (8.30!) and while Nate ran I made a triple batch of these beauties for the office T-day party before whipping up a salad and boiling the water for STOVE TOP STUFFING. A wedding gift that we’ve never yet used meant we could fit the entire meal (excluding salad) on one dish. Which we then ate off of communally. Hashtag life hack.

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the chicken looks terrifying. which is what you get when you buy it from the back of a pickup truck.

 

After Nate prayed a Thank You prayer, we feasted whilst watching a Friends Thanksgiving episode marathon. The football episode…so good.

we are all Chandler Bing.

Then a quick jaunt to work for a few hours for me, biscuits in tow, and now I’m home and Boy is working, and I am resisting mightily the leftovers in the fridge til he comes back to share them. #WifeOfTheYear

I’m thankful for so much this year. Not least of which that this year will soon end.

(Is that too sour? It’s true, though it’s also a topic for another post.)

But before it does, and before we move on from this amazing, carb-laden holiday:

I’m thankful for Nate. For our sprout of a marriage. For all the laughs and plans and dreams and lazy times and busy times and serving times and for making me better, and making me believe in better. I love you.

I’m thankful that I have what I have. I could live with less and I believe I will in the very near future. For now, we have jobs and money and benefits. I’m grateful.

I’m thankful for family far away. I miss them so much. I’m missing the crop of McNieces and McNephews grow up, and I hate that, but I’m grateful that they are there and well and provided for.

I’m thankful for family close by: friends who are family who will make leaving this country so, so hard.

I’m thankful that I’m loved and forgiven and valued by the Creator Himself. I’m thankful that there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. I’m thankful that no matter how dark reality is, we have hope in Him.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

In-Convenience Stores

What is it about accidental naps that are so very discombobulating?

The husband got a wee-bit zealous chopping bell peppers at lunch last week with our $10 knife from PowerMart. We had two bandaids that were so old the sterile wrapping floated off because the adhesive had faded. He tied a sock around his finger while I finished lunch. Teamwork! Resourcefulness.

When he left for work (Nate works from 3-10pm. Hooray never eating dinner together?) I had a long mental list of things I needed to do. I thought about them as I was reading blogs on my laptop getting increasingly drowsy. ‘You’ve got to run,’ I muttered to myself.

Ha, said myself. Silently.

Three hours later, I woke up.

Stressful naps shouldn’t be a thing, you guys. It’s such a sucker punch. It’s like…when you bite into a peach and it’s secretly rotten. RUDE. just RUDE.

Anyway, that was last week and by now that bell-pepper cut has mostly healed, WITHOUT stitches. (he was unsure for the first couple days, whereas my reaction was ‘RUB SOME DIRT IN IT’ #Proverbs31woman) and today I heroically resisted the sneak-attack afternoon nap.

Our neighborhood is a recently-developed labyrinth of 4-and-5-floor apartment buildings, all named things like ‘Aceville’ and ‘Sapphire’ and ‘Trump House’ and ‘Starbucks’ which latter items should indicate the state of Korean copyright law.  On every corner is either a phone shop, a meat restaurant, a real estate office, or the main event: a convenience store.

I can walk to my corner, look left, and see three convenience stores, on that street alone.

On the one hand it’s pretty great, in our still developing area, to be able to walk about 150 steps to get snacks, flour, milk, coffee, a razor, bandaids, yada yada yada.

On the other hand, as card-carrying Former Fat Kids, Nate and I have a shared instinctual and deeply problematic draw to these establishments. For the candy aisle, which carries my favorite Korean candy bar, whose incomprehensible English name is Freedom Time? and for the ice-cream freezers, where every one of my popsicle-obsessed childhood dreams can come true on a daily basis for the low low price of 60 cents (SIXTY. CENTS.) with…

The Jaws Bar.

via

It seems fitting that here, properly into Fall, is my ode to the Jaws bar. that’s the name, in Korean, on the wrapper: jyo-seu. Jaws. Because it’s gray and shaped like a sharks head and the outside tastes like orange and the middle is soft strawberry. It’s cool and fruity and did I mention SIXTY CENTS, and mama loves a bargain, and mama also loves processed sugars. #deliverus

And Nate has so much more strength of will than I do on this, which is wonderful, unless I were to go out when he’s not here and accidentally on purpose get a snack and then make sure I leave the wrapper in the garbage cans outside so that I’m not caught in my iniquity. not that that has ever happened all the time before. I mean.

What I’m saying in this post can be summed up thus:

  1. Maybe invest in knives that work
  2. People almost never need stitches
  3. I should reintroduce coffee into my lunchtime routine
  4. please someone help me I have to go to the grocery store now and I have no self control

 Ps. We had us some real good times this weekend! I’ll post about it soon. unless I die of Jaws-bar surfeit before then.