Wednesday, June 28, 2006

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Visas are here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We fly tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't really write anything because I am using my old work machine and I have to get out of here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bye bye belfast

'she is handsome she is pretty she is the girl from belfast city'

xxxxx

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sleeping Rocks

I mostly hibernated this weekend and partook in some much needed sleep. I'm not sure why I love sleeping in so much but I am really looking forward to two more days of this.

Friday ended tearfully, albeit it was not that tearful for me because I have this weird disease that stops me from crying if anyone else shows the slightest emotion. It's like I turn into 'super comforter', one who will not crack in the face of a tearful person.

So I'm also just waiting for the inevitable massive crying 'i don't wanna go wah wah wha' breakdown that tends to accompany every leaving. D is preparing as well, knowing right now is really the calm before the storm.

It's weird to think that this time next week I will be in a classroom, teaching.

I will be in a place that is warm and humid and so disgustingly hot that I cannot wait. See what 3 years in the UK has done to me??? I'm willing the weather of muggy July Toronto to simply hurry up and get here. I really need to get to the beach.

I'm trying to get in as much relaxing as I can, preparing for the next few months of high anxeity stress.

I actually called Big A on Sunday to chat a bit about the logistics of arrival. I got what I can only assume was his voice mail. The woman was speaking entirely in Korean. It scared the shit out of me.

In less than a week's time, I will be surrounded by language that I CAN'T UNDERSTAND. One of the most frustrating parts about backpacking Europe was that I couldn't really communicate. I'm a very social person. I have trouble leaving a party. I am enivitabley one of the last people to leave. So the lack of understanding and communication is going to be my biggest challenge.

And then there's the thought of teaching children WHO MAY NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT I'M SAYING. And I have no backup, you know the way your friend teacher used to become frustrated, roll her eyes and just start speaking in English. We won't have that.

I'm very excited - happy that now work is done I have the time to ponder and think about all these things.

We still have one piece of the puzzle left. We head back to Dublin tomorrow to pick up our passports, with our visas in them. Without those in hand, it doesn't actually feel that real. We're both still joking that somehow, it won't happen for us tomorrow, that they will have gotten the numbers wrong, that it's all a rouse, a dream even and tomorrow I'll wake up to some sort of author disaster or publicity nightmare.

Just hoping if that does happen, I won't be woken up too early.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Dear Me

Dear Me,

This is an open letter to you from youself to remind you why sometimes are a dumbass.

It is not wise to avoid the gym all week in an effort to simply 'chill out' at home. You have forgotten yet again that your mental health depends on the endorphins you stir up after a good run at the gym.

It is especially not wise when you then have to come to your last day of work, having not really worked out for a whole week.

Like they say in the movie Scrooged, you are probably going to have a lot of 'nie-a-gare-a-falls' moments today. Just make sure you have lots of tissues near you.

You are probably already feeling a bit weepy and I know you hate that you know what's coming because little-miss-last-minute always panics at crunch time, don't you?

Just look forward to some final G&Ts tonight. Not that the old lady drink won't make you depressed enough.

Maybe you should try to convince everyone to have a 'sweat' party and go hit the treadmills.

Somehow, I don't see anyone in Ireland going for that.

Signed,
Your smart self - unlike the self that will be reading this

*********

flights booked....
visas getting processed.....
nothing left to do but pack....

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's In The Numbers

WE ARE GETTING CLOSER!!!!!

We got confirmation numbers from Korea for our visas a few days ago and after planning and executing a stellar book launch last night, I got up bright and early to keep the process going.

Trekked down to Dublin today to the Korean embassy office to finishe the final step in the process. If all goes well, (read: INTERNET, CROSS YOUR FINGERS) we will have visas in hand by next Tuesday.

I don't really have any more news or words to really say today but I read something so poignant, I thought it best to share.

This is the way deal with a difficult situation with grace and beauty

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

On Boose

In Leeds, they tend to abbreviated things. You are not 'on the bus' you are 'on boose'. You are not 'in your car' you are 'in kaaa'. You are not...well, you get the picture.

I take the boose to work every day and D is often referencing the fact that I get 'on booose'. I can no longer pronounce the work bus...even looking at that on screen, I hear 'boose' in my head.

Cleaning the apartment last night, I found a scrunched up piece of paper I had written a posting on months ago. Since my brain is filled with many things, I figured I would share this with you today:

'I scoffed at the thought of having to take the booose to Drogheda to get the train to Belfast. Normally, the train goes directly from Dublin to Belfast but it was Sunday and in Ireland people do work on God's day as there was track works going on.

I had arrived at Connolly Station, ready to get my seat on the train, zone out with a book and my lunch. After attending a book launch in Tipperary the following Saturday, I really just wanted to get back to my house and my Sunday Times and my roast chicken dinner.

The thought of getting on a booose, getting comfortable and only then to have to uproot and move to another form of transport in Drogheda, race amongst other passengers and scurrying like families of ants to get the best places to sit was not my idea of a good hangover-Sunday activity.

Then I looked out the window.

I realised being on boose meant seeing the countryside and this was not just any country, this was Ireland.

I was touring Ireland by boose, watching the villages go by as if I was on my own holiday, in my own car.

I was actually doing what so many times I had wanted to do - what people always say is so spectacular.

Touring the Irish countryside. And I was doing it all by chance. Wow.

One of life's little gifts.'

I will miss Ireland but I know I will have great memories from my time here that I can take away with me and will always be part of my every day life.

Just like the Leeds boose.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Waiting Game

Patiently waiting for visa numbers to come through to get the process moving.

I have never dealt with a 'no problem' culture as much as this one. They are very serious about their schooling but perhaps nothing else is really that urgent. Must be that whole 'live in the moment Zen' thing.

I feel a bit silly going on at this space about the visas - feel like this is the only thing I ever write about. I guess it's just the one thing that is taking a bit longer to fall into place.

I laughed in my head when Big A made a comment about all the questions I was asking on Sunday.

'You know', he said in his Big A voice - if you know him, you can definitely hear it in your head now, 'I didn't talk to anyone before I came. I just kinda got a plane and came.'

I'm all for the 'just experience it' because I DID THAT when I QUIT MY JOB SOLD MY HOUSE MOVED TO ENGLAND THREE AND A HALF YEARS AGO but you tend to learn things through this process that you know will make your life easier on the other end.

Plus, I know for a fact that Big A actually missed his first flight because after going through security, he followed the first group of Asians he saw (!!!), sat at a gate with them, only to find out that he was sitting amongst future passengers en route to Beiing and NOT Korea. (You gotta know him to know that this is exactly something he would do and somehow still manage to land with his two feet)

I do have a lot of questions. D and I are very thorough - we did study journalism - and perhaps that's what frustrates me most about people's questions. To quote a break up saying, 'It's not them it's me', as for some reason, I interpret questions dealing with the all the steps in the process as some sort of challenge to my knowledge.

'Where is the city?' turns into 'Are you really sure you know where you're going?'

'What type of school is it?' turns into 'Do you really know what you're getting into?'

'Have you ever taught before?' turns into 'As if! You! A Teacher! Ha!'

My mother thinks it's because I care too much about what other people think of me.

I guess that's true. I would hate to think that people would suspect me to not actually thoroughly check these things. For some reason, the chemicals in my brain will not allow me to ponder the possibility that perhaps people might just simply be interested. That it's NOT ALL ABOUT ME.

Self conscioulsy self absorbed.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Don't it always seem to go when you don't know what you've got..

(sing)

Paved paradise and putting a parking lot..ooooo...bop bop bop bop...ooooo..bop bop bop bop

As you can see the positive energy fairy visited this weekend and I am the most excited about this trip as I have been since we decidedt to take the plunge.

This song popped into my head this weekend after I thought of ONE MILLION things I could write on my blog.

I remember the first time I heard this song was in my high school english 'enrichment' class. I remember feeling so privelaged to be in 'enrichment' english, like I was really cool. D always laughs at my ideas of 'cool' saying there is NO WAY we would have ever dated in high school as I sounded like the biggest nerd.

But ANYWAY in we had this funky 'enrichment' enlgish teacher who I think used to be a university professor and in turn married one of his students (this is not so creepy as he did not marry a high school student and oddly enough, it never really seemed weird) but he used to have this section of his class where he would bust out one of his LPs, play us a song and then ask us to disect it. The Joni Mitchell classic was one of those songs. I have no recollection of the analytical discussion, I just always remember that song from that class.

(I think I could acutally wrote more blog entries just on that class as I'm thinking about it but trying to focus myself here...)

I actually woke up on Sunday wanting to tap tap tap away at the keys about our Korea experience and since we no longer have a laptop and cancelled the internet, I was stuffed. What's worse, the week before, not only did we have D's laptop from work but we also had the backup latptop that I could have at least typed blogs into to upload today.

And of course, all my words have fallen out of my head so I know longer can remember exactly what I was going to write. Good one, dumbass.

I should thank those who left kind comments last week and sent emails with encouragement. I feel like a bit of a jerk sometimes with my woe-is-me melancholy crap. I guess I just want to accurately represent this experience.

I had a great chat with Big A yesterday, our contact in Korea, who is one of my oldest and dearest friends from high school. He's setting everything up for us in Korea and helped to reaffirm that although our flights seem to be very 'last minute', this is very 'Korea'. I've read this, that things tend to be left until the last minute, but it was good hear that things are still going on course.

I also realised that he has not really changed very much in the last 15 years. His cheery disposition and almost child like belief that things will just fall into place still amazes me to this day, even more so that he tends to be right.

And so, I'm starting this week with renewed excitement. It's finally kicking in. I'm MOVING TO SOUTH KOREA! I'm going to be in sweltering heat (yes yes yes!!) in two weeks time. I'm going to meet a million new people and experience the vulnerability of not knowing the language. I'm going to stick out like a sore thumb in amongst the Koreans and I'm going to have such a facination with other people's facination of me.

I also found out that it may not be as difficult to still talk to my mom every Sunday. A little piece of home that I cherish on a weekly basis.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust

It's D's last day at work and as per usual with our journeys, I'm still at the office for another week.

He always seems to end up finishing before me, ultimately taking care of all the last minute details while I scramble to leave my job intact for the next person to take the seat.

I have been trying to put together a 'leaving document' for my predecessor ever since I gave my notice 3 week ago. But things are so busy for us that I have only gotten as far as writing the title.

I'm having an 'anxious day', possibly because I have not been to the gym at all this week and also because I was taken out last night by work and perhaps have the 'hangover fear' looming over me.

I'm getting used to the up and down roller coaster of this whole experience but the negative feeling of anxiety is the worst one.

We're still waiting on visa numbers and I can only hope that things will fall into place very quickly next week. It dawned on me yesterday, after hearing about our flight information, that we will be taking off in two weeks time.

I'm hoping a good swim will shake my sillies away and am determined to head straight to the gym once I get home. I could do with a bit of head clearing, some strenuous exercise to get the happy hormones going and allow myself to stop thinking of all the lists I have going on in my head.

There is another going away BBQ for us tomorrow and I'm beginning to feel very spoiled. Ever since my birthday celebrations began, I have been getting the party treatment.

It is still quite surreal. It really has not sunk in that in 2 weeks time I will land in a place that is very very foreign. I suppose that's a better thing, to just let the time go quickly and then I can fully experience it when I arrive.

The 'cheesy daily quote' today:

To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing

Funny how sometimes the daily message hits it right on the nose.

We just have to do it. Well, we already are doing it. It just doesn't feel like it.

D handed in his laptop today and we are now computer-less at home. I won't be able to check my email on a Sunday morning. I feel a bit like I'm regressing back to the days when we were in Leeds and had nothing. I'm thinking it's a good thing but I'm finding it harder to give up the simpler pleasures this time round as I realised how easy they make life once I had to live for awhile without them.

Hopefully Monday will bring clarity - that and 5 days left at work. eek...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Why we Make a Good Team

We both decided that we needed books for this adventure.

Last week, we sat down in front of an Amazon screen to purchase some. We compared our wish lists.

He - How to teach english as a second language, teaching for dummies, teaching grammar to non-english speakers, all-things-related-to-the-job-you-will-spend-30-hours-a-week-doing

Me - Lonely Planet 'Korea', Culture Shock 'Korea', Hot Spots in Korea,all-things-unrelated-to the-new-job-you're-hoping-to-do-in-Korea.

Perhaps my calling is for a travel agency and he should just go and be the teacher.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Jumping Off a bit of a Cliff

We have been so busy at work that I am finding it hard to find room in my brain to actually process that in 3 weeks time, I will probably be on my way or almost on my way to S. Korea.

I'm a very last minute type person. I feel emotions at the last minute. I deal with situations at the last minute. I finish all assignments at the last minute. I suppose this is called procrastination and I'm certain I've written a blog about that.

I'm certain that I will suddenly realise at the last minute that the plane I'm getting on will be taking me to a place where I don't know the language, I don't know anyway (minus our friend A who got us the job) and I have NEVER TAUGHT ENGLISH BEFORE.

There are a few things causing anxiety:

I have a place to live and a job. This sounds strange I know. And it should make it easier. Suddenly we don't have to worry about finding those things.

But I don't really have the freedom to up and leave if it's not working. No one is tied to anything but I'm not really a quitter (smoking habit case in point) so I can't see myself go through all the effort to start it and then not finish it.

D's last day at work is Friday so it will begin to sink in a bit more. We are still waiting on our visas, which I can only describe as an excrutiatingly tense experience, having given up our homes and jobs without visas or a return flight.

When I say out loud that we're going, the next question for the curious person is 'when is your flight?' My answer is: We dont have one yet.

I feel funny when people ask us questions about it because we don't really have many answers and for the first time, I don't really care. Okay, well I'm trying not to care.

It's not really all figured out and I'm sure that it won't be until my feet are planted in S.Korea.

I suppose in my heart of heart I knew that it was time for us to leave anyway, regardless if this thing all goes 'pear shaped' and we end up not there.

My back up plan is Greece. I keep telling people to keep it light and friendly but you can hear in the voice that they think you're a bit crazy when you don't have a flight somewhere you're telling people that you're going to.

We have European passports, which means we can work anywhere in Europe. So what is the worst case scenario if it all falls through?

The world become our oyster, all over again.

I'm trying very hard to take a different approach to this one. Many times I've stressed and worried about all the details about a place before moving abroad and in the end, the stress seemed futile. It didn't create anything good at the time and was forgotten the minute we arrived.

These are the thoughts for the minute.

Ask me on my last day and you might find I've chained myself to my desk.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Downsizing

One of my favourite home tasks has always been grocery shopping. I love the look of a full fridge, full cupboard, filled with a variety of food that I can choose from because, being a Gemini, I never quite know what type of food I'm going to want.

I love heading to Tesco but mostly Sainsburys to wander the aisles for such necessities as pesto and sardines and sun dried tomato paste and kalamta olives. You know, just the basics.

I can't count the number of times I get the 'big-D-sigh' 'eye-roll' and 'Why on earth did you buy that? You won't eat that'. He's gotten his way with fresh things like grapes (I love them but always seem to forget to eat them and therefore have been relegated to 'food A should not bother buying as it will go bad in the fridge'.) but I can still get away with cupboard food though because it never goes bad....ah the mini victories of compromise.

With this new 'heading-to-S. Korea-to-teach-english' plan, we are probably not going to do any more big grocery shops.

If all goes well, we will be gone by the beginning of July. D's last day at work is next Friday and I'm becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I have CHOSEN to leave my dream job. I have to make sure I don't hype S. Korea up too much in my head as it has big shoes to fill and I really don't want to become a grump on my new adventure.

At the same time, I feel ready to go, ready to move on, ready to try something new. I will get back to publishing once our feet are planted back in Canada. I just couldn't resist the opportunity to live in Asia, even if for only one year.

But back to the groceries...

We needed margarine spread last night because we didn't have any in the house. As we reached the section, both of us reached for the large tub, the one we normally get, to last us a few months for the minor times that we actually use it.

We stopped. Looked at each other. And then I said it.

'Well, do we need the big one?'

'Oh,' said D 'Well, I guess maybe not'

'I mean we're only going to be here for a couple more weeks'

And that was that. Our house has been downgraded to 'small serving size purchases'. No more anchovies for me.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

More Proof that Canadians are Schizophrenic

I am a proud Canadian because of the recent courage and intelligence shown by some of the brave men and women that every day work hard to keep us safe.

When this story first broke, I felt a sense of great pride and honour, somehow wanting to express to our intelligence agents how happy I am that they are willing to 'fight for their country' by working - and sometimes living - in the underworlds of our society.

And then of course, we come to our politicians. If all the law enforcement involved with the recent arrests and seizure of explosives were as asleep at these dumb asses, we certainly would be in trouble.

Proud and disgusted all in the same day.

Canada rules, eh?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Where to Start?

The city break for my birthday started this way:




Crazy birthday girl on a double decker bus in Times Square.

Okay this wasn't the EXACT beginning. I'm leaving out the flight, which was not delayed. The arrival at the hotel, in a TOWN CAR, the surprise Broadway show SPAMALOT which even D enjoyed, despite not actually always enjoying Monty Python and the wandering in awe at night in Times Square.

But above picture expresses the glee I was feeling from the moment we left Belfast until my feet touched the ground last Tuesday.

If I thought I was happy in this picture, I didn't know the half of it.

That night this happened:

MY PARENTS SHOWED UP AT THE HOTEL ROOM TO TAKE US FOR DINNER!!!!! MY PARENTS LIVE IN CHICAGO!!!!!! I couldn't stop jumping up and down when I saw them at our hotel room door.

I couldn't believe D had pulled it off. I am the nosiest person on the planet. I speak to my mom EVERY SUNDAY. She hates keeping secrets.

I thought that was the icing on the cake but again, I had NO IDEA.

Although I don't have the picture to prove my glee later on that night, there was yet another knock on the hotel room door at about 10pm.

I opened it to a bottle of champagne, which I assumed had been sent up to the room by my sisters and brother and a little token of..WHOAAAAA..LOOK LEFT...MY SISTER AND BRO-IN-LAW WERE STANDING THERE!!!!

I think I crushed them with the hugs.

Sadly their flight had been delayed for 5 HOURS and they spent the entire day in an airport.

But they were there. And so the next day, I did capture this shot:

After a glorious day wandering the streets with my shopping warrior sister, I was still in shock. It was so hard to believe it was actually happening. I loved every minute because I wasn't sure what would happen next.

And I should have been prepared because on the last night, after my sister and bro-in-law had sadly left, we were sitting with my parents on patio having drinks and the next thing I know this happened:

MY BROTHER WAS IN NY!!!!! FOR SCHOOL!!!! COINCIDENTALLY!!!!!

The universe does really listen and karma does matter.

The only person missing from the piece of the puzzel was my other sis H. She was at a wedding in Maine. Although, to this day, I'm still expecting her to show up on my doorstep.

Thank you dreamy D. Thank you mom and dad. Thank you adoring siblings.

Thank you for adding to the moments I always worry are slipping away.

Thank you for caring so much about an old lady's birthday.

I think this might be the best decade yet.

************

For those of you curious about Korea, I do apologise for not elaborating but I'm still basking in the glow of my amazing birthday. Quite a few things have been rolling around in my brain over the past week and I hope to get them up over the next couple of days. Just know, the adventure is on....