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What you don’t want to do on a cold January day in upstate New York: move across town. Unfortunately, nobody gave that memo to my father, which explains how I found myself shivering and gulping down hot coffee (props to Hudson Coffee Traders for being the only local coffee shop open on Sunday mornings) this afternoon. Didn’t actually do a whole lot in terms of moving things. Turns out that when you’ve got a bunch of guy friends, you don’t really need your 23-year-old daughter around pretending to move things in. After the guys left, I stuck around to clean up a bit and begin unpacking boxes.

I came across a box of things from my grandfather’s house. I was in Korea when he passed, and by the time I came home, his house was sold and everything in it boxed up and stored away. A few of the boxes reappeared today, and after my father left, I started looking through them. I found old pictures, my grandparents’ wedding album, letters my grandfather wrote his parents during the war, my grandmother’s birth certificate and even my grandfather’s dog tags. Read the rest of this entry »


Have been trying to find the good in the past few days. General life stress and not knowing what the next few months holds has thrown me into that senior-year-of-college mindset. Not the happy-hour-before-class mindset, but the what-the-hell-am-I-doing mindset, the one my poor, very understanding roommates had to endure for a good chunk of that year.

Colder-than-cold weather, losing my iPod and a lack of winning things has made this week fall flat. Even excessive dessert-eating couldn’t pick things up enough. We’re still not back to where we should be, but at least the week is over. The insanity at work is just starting up and will be increasing steadily until early February. But now I’ve got my bed, plans to meet up with Korean friends in the city tomorrow and the best piece of news ever: a musical featuring Spice Girls songs is in the works.

I was at that perfect, extremely impressionable age when the Spice Girls made their debut. Friends would get together and pretend to be the Spice Girls (and I, despite having a red-haired best friend, was always Ginger), my trapper keeper was covered in Girl Power stickers and I even remember what I wore to see Spice World (a mini-skirt, because I was such a foxy 11-year-old). I cried when Geri Halliwell left the group. The list goes on, but I’ll show some restraint here. I mean, remember my addiction to Boys Over Flowers? (BTW, I still love Kim Hyun-joong with all my heart.) That’s how I was when it came to the Spice Girls.

Suffice it to say that my mood brightened a bit when I found out that the producer behind Mamma Mia is planning a similarly styled musical featuring Spice Girls songs. Mood was also brightened when I discovered an embarrassing error in the first graph (once a copy editor, always a copy editor). In case you’re wondering about future gifts for me, just know that I will never turn down tickets to this show.

Can’t embed and it’s too difficult (and late) to find a postable video, so here is the link to one of the best pick-me-ups in the world. It’s time to spice up your life, friends.

With headlines focusing on the situation in Haiti and the election in Massachusetts, it’s a wonder I’ve seen three stories in the news this week about my former home.

CNN Go has launched Asia Beta, and while I’m usually disappointed by the ratio of stories about places I’ve visited to places I haven’t, I was pleasantly surprised to see a story on Seoul’s Namdaemun Market. Not to be confused with Dongdaemun Market, Namdaemun is black market paradise. I only made it there once, and was so close to finishing my contract that I didn’t feel the need to pay three times the market value for hard-to-find American goods. Lisa and I hit up the market on a Saturday, which was the biggest mistake one could ever make at Namdaemun. The alleys were packed with bargain-hunting shoppers and haggling vendors. The smell of kimchi permeated the air, and, as usual, not in a good way. Highlight: the pineapple on a stick bought from the vendor outside the metro for a solid chun won (slightly less than US $1). Less of a highlight: standing on the tips of my toes and struggling to take this photo of the madness:

The second story of the week, also from CNN GO, was about the North Korean government allowing Americans to enter the country on guided tours. Brits, Aussies, Kiwis–basically everyone except for Americans–have been allowed in the country. This loosening of restrictions is a definite step in the right direction for U.S.-North Korean relations. I rarely say this, but I wish I was still in Seoul, if only for this (and dolsat bibimbap). I’ve heard stories about the “guided” tours, and few of them good, but I’m still intrigued. Last year, it blew my mind that just an hour north of me existed an entirely different Korea, one with state-run media, the world’s largest standing army and a ruthless dictator. North Korea is a fascinating country, and one that only about 2,500 Americans have seen since the end of the Korean War in 1953. If the two Koreas are ever reunified, I’ll be on the first plane to Incheon. Who’s with me?

The closest I've gotten to North Korea--windswept and cold at the DMZ.

The third story this week is my favorite–the Ministry of Health closed early yesterday and sent workers home in the hopes that a few extra hours out of the office and at home would allow the workers to”spend quality time with their family, and moreover, hopefully, have more kids,” according the The Korea Times. Monetary incentives are even being given to families with multiple children. It’s quite a different situation in neighboring China, where the one-child policy has been in place for three decades.

Seriously, when Koreans can pump out kids who look like Donny's son Scottie, why wouldn't they want to have as many as possible?

And that’s your Korean news for the…week? Month? Year? This whole unemployment thing makes going back there for a few months seem like such a good idea. After all, I’d have an apartment and a steady job, plus the company of my good friends who are still there. But going to Korea for a second time would be much different, and I don’t think I would be prepared to go back to something that isn’t “my” Korea. Friends who started around the same time as I did have returned home and resumed their lives. Many of them are pursuing jobs in education, Korea an appropriate step along the way. I’m still trying to figure out what my year there was. The chance to run away? A free ticket to somewhere new? Or just a cool idea cooked up in a college bar with Erin? In my time there, I learned a lot. One of the most obvious was that I am not a born teacher. I’m a journalist, though struggling to figure out what that even means anymore. As good as my year in Korea was, it’s not to be repeated. The door to Korea may be closing, but my heart will stay open for at least a little while longer.

Heaven forbid I let last week sink into oblivion without letting the world know how awesome it was. Was going to do a play-by-play, but my memory isn’t that good. Here’s the short list:

-Started the new job. Temping at town hall, taking money and making small talk with the characters residing in the Town of Ulster. (Just today, the father of the guy who stole my car in high school came in to pay his taxes. Small talk is less fun when all you want to do is yell out “Your kid stole my car!”) There are no cannolis at this job, but I did learn how to use a typewriter. Win!

-Won WKNY sports trivia. Melissa won a radio trivia contest? About sports!? Yes and yes, friends. Can you name three of the top five highest-grossing sports franchises? Neither could the handful of old men who called in before I got through. Two of the teams had been pretty much established–New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys–but what were the other three? Did I know? No, so I threw out my best educated guess. Having just spent a year living with soccer-crazed Brits, I offered up Manchester United, which I then discovered to be the top-grossing sports franchise in the world. My prize? A couple hot dogs and a car wash. Not a big win prize-wise, but the bragging rights were priceless.

-Speaking of winning things for being smarter than other people, last week Jerry and the Pacemakers killed at Skytop Trivia. Well, maybe “killed” isn’t the right word. We won by a single point. Even still, we won. For the first time. Ever. This was the epitome of exciting, and an obvious win for the week.

-Returned to Keegan Ales’ Thursday mason jar night. Haven’t been to mason jar night in a few weeks, so Thursday was a treat. Some Internet research the other night led me to discover the return of Keegan’s Super Kitty, my all-time favorite beer. A liter of the good stuff, which sits in the 93 percentile on, sells for a hefty $25, but I’m almost tempted to go for it. You don’t know heaven until you’ve tasted a Super Kitty. Readers of the Times Herald-Record agree, having rated it 2009’s best local alcoholic beverage. Definitely a win.

-I was already in high spirits by the end of the week, but a trip down to Washington only amped the mood. It’s been a month since my last visit, and that’s just too long. Goal: to be a permanent resident in time to take advantage of the more temperate Washington winter. Upstate New York is just too cold for this girl. Plus, I left my warmest winter coat in Korea. Brrr!

After a solid weekend, the requisite return to New York. Sigh. Love this place, but it’s just too small. The week kicked off to a solid start and we’re coasting now. Lost trivia last night (and we weren’t even close), but won a free pizza from WDST this afternoon. (Good thing my coworker called in during the all-request lunch to request the Allman Brothers’ “Sweet Melissa.”) A few hours later, one of the cops on duty pulled me aside to tell me that one of the guys sitting in the courtroom waltzed through security with a Levon Helm‘s Grammy in his bag. “A gram?” I asked, thinking it more likely that someone appearing in criminal court would mistakenly bring in drugs, not one of the world’s most prestigious entertainment awards. Sure enough, this guy (who most most assuredly not The Band‘s Levon Helm) was carrying around his Grammy award. Not entirely sure why, but I’ll leave that to the authorities. I live among the crazies, what can I say.

I’ve left this post in drafts for a few days, updating sporadically. Weird things keep happening, and so the post keeps growing. Let’s put an end to the nutso. Posting now!

Has the past week been particularly weird or crazy for anyone else? Or do I stand alone?

Stopped for a few minutes at a gas station in northern Jersey yesterday, I whipped out my phone and checked Facebook, noticing that cousin Hannah had updated her status: “golden globes = target commercial = MY COUSIN”

Her cousin? Me!? No, can’t be. My two years as a Target cashier got me nothing more than a lot of red and khaki-colored clothes and a 10 percent discount. So who could she be talking about? More detective work led to cousin Steven Ezra, a performer with Momix Dance Company. The Target commercial aired Sunday night during the Golden Globes, but my short attention span kept me flipping channels during the commercial breaks.

Haven’t been able to find it on Youtube yet, but if you go here and click on the “Target Art Expands” box in the top row, you can watch the video. Steven Ezra is the only guy in the video, so he shouldn’t be hard to spot.

I planned to write about last week, easily the best week I’ve had in a long time. I was also hoping to finish up the Guatemala/Belize/Mexico post. But something happened to me yesterday. Something big, my friends. Life-altering, maybe. As I lay in Rachel’s [impossibly comfortable] bed last night, flipping between Teen Mom and the Golden Globes, I came across the preview for a movie that will make, if not my year, then certainly my February.

Patrick Dempsey…Eric Dane…Bradley Cooper…I’m drooling like a puppy here. Valentine’s Day is like a peppy, less-heartbreaking version of He’s Just Not That Into You (and I was just not that into that movie). Also looking forward to the two Taylor Swift songs on the soundtrack (and the fact that not one, but two of her exes also appear in the movie).

The Post calls it “The Next Love Actually.” I think I can handle that. February 12–mark your calendars, my friends. You can find me in the nearest movie theater.

It should also be noted that I’m beyond stoked for Tooth Fairy. My crush on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will never die. Ever. IMDB gives the most interesting bit of trivia yet:

“The script for this film has been in development since 1992, originally titled “Sweet Tooth”. The original story involved a U.S. Marine whose father, the original tooth fairy, was dying and who had to take over the family business. For years, Arnold Schwarzenegger strongly considered taking on the starring role.”

I’ve been back in America two months now, so enough of this “Youth in Asia” business. I went on a quest for a new blog name and found one, no thanks to you people. Left to my own creative devices, I came up with “Wanderlust.”

Wanderlust: a strong desire for or impulse to wander, or, in modern usage, to travel and to explore the world.

Yeah, that’s me in a nutshell. I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing, but I’ll keep on wandering and blogging about it. Now wander over to your blogrolls and change the link to my blog. Oh, speaking of which, this blog has graduated from kindergarten. We’re talking Bam!

I promise a real blog entry in the next few days. My trip to Guatemala, Belize and Mexico was fantastic, but I was a failed traveler and didn’t take many photos. Luckily, my sister did, so I’ll be posting some of those. This upcoming weekend in Washington (and a meet-up with a good friend visiting from Korea) will make it into the blog at some point, too. Unsure what the next few weeks have in store, but one thing is for sure–you can read about it here.