Inconvenienced

I had an adventure today.

On a quest to find an ESL class to observe, I went to a certain building mentioned in an email. Come to find out, the classroom didn’t exist. There’s no such thing as 214-I even made a little chant about it and started singing it as I wandered around looking for the right place. There are a lot of buildings on my college campus. Some of them are giants, and some of them are mega-giants. Some of them have tiny nooks and crannies and stairs that go nowhere in particular. I’ve always been a fan of stairs that go nowhere in particular. They’re the thing I remember best about my grandfather’s old house-all those stairs. And the delicate music box unicorn. And the books (oh Nancy Drew how I wanted to meet you!). And the closet full of Barbies. (Yeah, I know, I know, unrealistic expectations and anorexia. But we didn’t have them at home, and they were so pretty…)

*ahem* and now we return you to our regularly scheduled broadcast…

No one knew where to send me-building managers, students at help desks, the library across the square-I had to go all the way off campus to the ESL office to find out what had happened (a 20 minute walk). It was frustrating at first, but then I realized that I must look kinda funny running around with a giant backpack muttering repetitive little ditties to myself and grinning the strained Joker grin with accidental spittle in a corner of my mouth at a rather handsome but disgusted-looking student librarian. And from there I started to enjoy it. So many places that I hadn’t really explored before-a vestibule outside the Ladies’ in that old library used to be a cloakroom, and little spidery legs of halls and a labyrinth of passageways with offices in an old liberal arts building, and then a street mural on the way to the ESL office-and finally, an old man playing a guitar in the alley behind the street mural. He was good. Tired-looking people were gathering over next to him, staring into the distance and petting their dogs. It was a great day for music-clear and bright and not too cold. Really, it was beautiful. At the risk of sounding like an 18th century morality textbook, that was the point at which I remembered this:

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.”

~GKC, On Running After One’s Hat

In case you were wondering, yes-I did make it to the class. After it was over, but seconds before the last person-the teacher I wanted to talk to-left. Score!

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Pork belly and sweet potato cake

Food. Just when I think it couldn’t get any more daring than this, it does.

I’ve been really proud of my little forays into foreign cuisine. Baby octopus arms, kimchi, paneer, Thai curry, “real” ramen, gyros, African peanut soup, homemade salsa… hey, I’d even tried 비빔밥 (bibimbap-steamed vegetables with rice and egg), 만두국 (manduguk-dumpling soup), and 짜장면 (jjajangmyeon-black bean sauce over noodles) in hopes of finding things I could recognize on a Korean menu next year.

Those Korean dishes I did manage to try on my own had turned out to be delicious-so on my birthday, I wanted Korean food. My awesome parents decided to indulge my every wish (months of begging pays off!) and we went to a Korean restaurant with a couple of friends. We decided to go family style so we could all have a chance to try everything. Wealth and riches! Reviews below-and sorry there are no pictures. Maybe when I’m done with Goal #39 pictures will be possible. For now, my webcam tends not to travel to restaurants 😉

– Fried dumplings: This was an appetizer, and it had already disappeared by the time the second half of the family made it to the restaurant. Dumplings are my absolute favourite Asian food ever. So even though this isn’t the most “Korean” offering on the menu, I will be back just for this.

– Pork belly: I’d been waiting for a large group to try this with. The sweet ajumma who has been helping with my Korean pronunciation for months grilled it at the table and cut it to pieces with giant scissors. There were two types of sauce with it, but I never found out what they were called. The sauces were good. The pork belly itself was a lot more chewy than normal American fare, and something on the order of 80% fat. Like inch-thick non-cured bacon without all the salt and chemicals that make it taste good. Probably won’t go with this again unless someone else orders it.

– Kimchi pancake: Kimchi baked with onion and flour and probably some other tasty veggies-delicious. It was a little hard to eat with the chopsticks, but savoury pancakes are such a brilliant idea. Have to learn how to make it now that Mom has taken to buying me kimchi from the grocery store but making faces whenever I open the jar-maybe it’ll be less fragrant in pancake form 🙂

– Kimchi soup: Tofu and kimchi in a flavourful broth, served in a very hot stone bowl. I need to work on my wimp factor. This stuff was spicy-but really good.

– Seafood/Tofu soup: I don’t like seafood, so not being able to tell what was in this was a good thing. Again, too spicy for my wimpy taste buds but otherwise great.

– Banchan: Mmmmmmmmm, pickled radishes! Kimchi! Glazed potatoes! I think all 7 people at the table found something they liked.

– Beef and pork bulgogi: Basically what Americans think of when we think of teriyaki or stir fry. Hogged by the little brothers and pronounced good. As they had been teasing me for months by groaning whenever I brought up the subject of Korean food, this was a pleasant surprise. Must go back and actually try these.

– Sweet potato cake: A beautifully packaged and decorated gift from Korean friend. She got it from Tous le Jours (yes, we do have one in my city and yes, I will definitely be going back). Pastry chefs are amazing. I can’t imagine making edible adornments like the rosettes and crumb dust on this specimen. Cakes (and overly sweet pancakes, cinnamon rolls, donuts, white breads…) have declared war on almost every organ in my body so I usually observe the ceasefire and avoid them, but I ate this and liked it quite a bit before things started to hurt. It was sweeter and yellower than I expected (we grow different varieties of sweet potato-another thing I didn’t know).

So.

Best. Birthday. Lunch. Ever.

15. Explore my square mile.

A steal from Colleen, who also inspired the style for this 101 list (“inspired” is a much nicer way to put it than “blatantly copied,” don’t you think?) This will be done when I have determined and walked the boundaries of a square mile around every place I live in the next 1001 days. It would be really interesting to be as familiar with each new place as I am with where I live now (a little over a mile from a public library heheh).

Progress: Done?

Update (6-1-2013) This is difficult. Anyone know of a way to find out square mileage around a specific location without guesstimating from google maps??? I have walked a mile from my house in 3 directions, but haven’t… circumnavigated it consciously, and there’s a highway in the way on the other side. So I think this one’s going to count as done. Until I move 😉

11. Visit a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This is another goal I “borrowed”, this time from Coffee Helps. Here’s the list of sites. I’ve never had a bucket list of places I want to go before I die (unless you count Scotland, Scotland, Scotland, Asia, everywhere else as a list!), but these are important places. These are places I want to put in my stories, to tell my friends and maybe my children about. They’re adventures. This will be complete when I’ve been to one site within the 1001 days (already visited one or two).

Progress: nada

10. Visit 5 places and spend a day in each.

To finish this, I can’t have been to any of the 5 places before. I will have to leave my hometown to get to them, and they have to be vacations from work and school. The trip plus the visit to the place itself must take at least a whole day.

Progress:

1. Houston! I don’t remember going to Houston before, and I definitely had never driven there. Let alone attended a murder mystery dinner and explored the natural history museum with a high school friend. This was an awesome vacation. October 2013.

9. Take an unplanned, spur-of-the-moment trip.

This can be to anywhere, provided it’s not the corner store. And barring major injury part of it must happen on foot.

Progress: Done! I finagled a trip with the fussy baby my mom was watching for his parents and walked him to… well, the corner store. But it was the really nice corner store, the organic market around the corner and down the block in the outdoor shopping mall. So along with taking the dog to the library the day before, it counts 😉

3. Finish paperwork to move to Korea.

Paperwork is the bane of my existence. Here are the current EPIK requirements:

– Application form

Diploma with apostille

– Original sealed copy of college transcripts

– Criminal record check from the FBI (fingerprints done)

– 2 recommendation letters

– Copy/scan of passport

And some extra requirements mentioned by my recruiter:

– Notarized copy of ESL/teaching certification

– Photos (*shudder*)

– Copies of contract

And after all that:

– Completed health check form for immigration

– Visa

Progress: about 2/11

2. Move to Korea.

I graduate from university this year. After graduation, I want to move to Korea and teach English. I know, I know, nothing to do with nutrition. But everything to do with getting out of the U.S. bubble and experiencing the world. Kdrama and kpop had nothing to do with this decision, promise! 😉

This will be done when I have a job and have moved into an apartment in Korea.

Progress: research phase

quiet

I’ve been experimenting with cutting back on internet usage lately. What a quiet week.

There’s nothing like actually finishing your part of a three-person school project early, the day you said you’d do it. And finding time to read library books, or write grandparents, or set up a prayer chain for a former roommate, or clear out space-hogging clutter. The recycling bin gives out very satisfying clunks as it digests your reams of outdated school papers… and unsubscribing from spam feels like dropping another ten pounds into that hungry mouth. You know, it’s just been peaches and cream and chocolate, really. I’m still procrastinating on something major-but hopefully with all this motivation (no internet access) I’ll be able to finish that soon too. Oh, and actually having time to volunteer at church? Priceless.

In all the library surfing, I ran across some great new resources on travel. Scotland is my lifelong dream-fell in love the day I picked up (and probably finished) The Scottish Chiefs. Unfortunately, dreams and money don’t always match up (especially on an aspiring teacher’s salary). Or so I thought. Some people actually make it happen: Chris Guillebeau set himself the goal of traveling to every country in the world by the time he turns 35. He’s self-employed. Thirty-one countries and two years to go. I am suddenly inspired to home-make all my lunches and set up a new savings account. Well, if I ever do buy that ticket, I’ll know what to pack. Ha. Ha. Ha. Just one bag…