Instead of writing a general catch up post (though I'll give you a quick recap), I thought I'd start writing according to theme. This post will be about friends.
Now, I like the people that I work with. Korean, Canadian, Welsh, they're all decent folk and I get along with them for the most part. But outside of work, I don't spend a lot of time with any of them, even the Canadians who live in the same little apartment building. So I've been trying to branch out, make friends in other places. I've succeeded in three different social arenas.
I went to a clothing swap in Seoul a couple of weeks ago. No pics, but I got a lot of neat stuff that was new to me in exchange for getting rid of some clothes that didn't fit me anymore (due to losing all this weight). I met a cool chick named Jonna (pronounced yawn-ah) and some other really awesome ladies, and we had a fun time chatting, trying on each others' old clothes, giving our unbiased opinions on who looked good in what, and munching on snacks.
I frequent a forum at Dave's ESL Cafe where lots of Korea and ESL teaching-related discussions happen, as well as the more random forum fare, and threads for folks who want to buy/sell/trade things. I've met a few folks by buying things from them on the forum and meeting up in various parts of Seoul to swap cash and goods. It was a random thread on weight loss, however, that led me to meet my friend Michele. She offered to help me with a diet plan and acted as a cheerleader to keep me on it. I lost a good 6 or 7 pounds with her help! We've hung out a couple of times now, once in Itaewon and once at her place up in Incheon, and I'll be visiting her again this weekend for homemade pizzas and jimjilbang (Korean sauna/bath house). More on that next weekend.
Anyway, here's Michele and her wonderful boyfriend British!Sam (not to be confused with Canadian!Sam):
My school is set up a bit differently than most Korean private academies (known as "hagwon"). It's a government-funded English center, with a full library on the third floor, our school on the second floor, and a daycare center on the first. Though I technically work for the school, I teach my Library Program classes on the third floor in one of the two library classrooms. As such, I've had more interaction with the library staff than some of the other teachers.
Hae Young and I met when I was volunteering at the library Christmas program one weekend. She said she would show me around Seoul sometime, and we've been trying to get together for a day to hang out ever since! Our first several weekend plans fell through completely. Then, for my birthday, she got as far as meeting me for a nice ride on the subways before getting called into work. It turned out okay, but we both felt we should try for another time.
FINALLY, last weekend, we met up for a Sunday movie. I'd suggested Tangled, but it was sold out, so we wound up seeing Sanctum instead. We were joined by another library staffer, whose name I mangled so badly he said I could just call him "Dog." Or maybe it was "Doug." I'm not sure.
Hae Young bought me an adorable head band (which I should really take pictures of sometime) with a little bunny on it, and after the movie we went out for melt-your-freakin'-face-off spicy chicken. It was delicious, but so hot I couldn't eat very much.
Here's me with my new Korean friends:
HOLD THE KIMCHI, PLEASE!
NO DON'T EAT IT!
So, there you have it. New friends.
IN OTHER NEWS...
Itaewon is my new favorite place on the weekends since Michele showed me where the foreign food markets are. I can now buy Cheetohs, ginger ale, Pop Tarts, oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes, and any number of other dubiously healthy Western foods. She also introduced me to Tartine bakery, which does this amazing Romanian peasant bread and their own (expensive!) butter.
Itaewon also had this red panda hat, which I HAD to buy, because... come on. Red panda.
It has little feets!
AND A TAIL!
That little street-crossing tunnel near my apartment had more art in it last time I went through. A whole design school's art show, actually. I walked through about a block's worth of amazing paper sculpture and other works. I also took a bajillion photos with my iPod, which I'm not going to post here because it would make this post a mile long. Instead, have some links.
Argh, that's taking forever, too. I'll figure out a better way to post these. Maybe I'll just stick them on Facebook. :P
Magpies are really common here, like crows are in Minnesota, but magpies are prettier. Now, I love me some spooky black birds, but magpies have a certain dignity with their long tails, crisp black and white markings, and that glossy iridescent sheen of blue-green-purple to their dark feathers. Canadian!Sam calls them "majestic" and I can't really argue the term. They are. They're majestic. I finally got a (not very good) shot of one. They're pretty bold birds, but oddly camera shy. I'll see if I can't get a better shot with the good camera, now that the weather is warming up.
I took a picture of this random sign in the subway station because I thought the little dude looked like a chibi Castiel from Supernatural, and that amused me.
I also took a picture of this sign in the bathroom where I work.
As you may have noticed from previous posts, I've lost a lot of weight since I got here. Still flabby in the middle, but that could be cured with a bit more exercise to tone up the muscles. I appear to be losing weight at an average of a pound a week, which is nice and healthy. I could probably be losing more if I laid off the sweets entirely, but hey, don't expect miracles from me. The rate I'm going at is just fine.
Here's a recent pic. I'm barely sucking it in! Ignore my double chin there. XD
This was a reference shot for my Valentine's gift to Chris:
Gus is doing much better lately as well. He had some kind of scab on his nose, but I think that's because he scratched himself. I really need to take him to a vet and learn how to trim his nails. He has a swanky new cage and gets lots of fresh veggies in addition to his hay and pellets, and as much free time to run around the apartment as I can possibly allow him. Essentially, if I am awake, at home, and not cleaning, he has the run of the place.
Edit: I had some Gus videos up, but they weren't working properly, so I took them down. Will try to fix the problem and re-post later. :(
And that's it for now. Next weekend I should have plenty of great stuff to share about bath houses, Incheon, and making pizzas.