Seoulicious’s Weblog

I’m a girl who loves to be spontaneous. Next stop: Seoul, Korea

God is good, all the time… June 16, 2012

Filed under: Family,Reflections — writersparadise @ 7:38 am
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I’ve never been the type of person who wore my religious beliefs on my sleeve.  I’m Christian and I believe the Lord Jesus Christ is my savior.  However, I don’t really talk about it much with people who don’t share my similar beliefs.  As a Christian, I’m supposed to reach out and spread the Gospel to others who either have never heard of Jesus Christ or to those that have heard of him but choose not to follow him.  I’m not so comfortable with talking about my beliefs but I thought I would share my recent experiences on this blog as a way to become more comfortable talking about them.

I was “saved” when I was six years old.  For me, this means that I have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior and I put all of my trust in him.  It also means that I will receive eternal life.  Being a Christian brought along many trials and tribulations in my life but I never lost my faith and never doubted my Savior; until last year.

My mother passed away last year due to complications of diabetes.  I didn’t think her death would challenge my faith but it did.  She suffered from diabetes and kidney failure for almost 12 years.  However, she maintained her faith in God through it all. We always prayed together and our main prayer was for her to be healed.  We believed that if anyone could heal her, it was God.  After she was diagnosed with these diseases, I went on with my life and so did she.  Her life was very mundane compared to mine though.  The last 12 years of her life was dedicated to kidney dialysis treatments and a lot of time spent in the doctor’s office.  However, she rarely complained.  She still went to church, prayed for others, paid her tithes and kept the faith.

I was always surprised that her faith never wavered in God.  She said that she knew God would heal her one day.  If not in this earthly life, then in eternal life.  “God is good, all the time,” she said.  I remember her telling me to never let her struggles or her eventual death negatively affect my own faith in God. That I should continue to pray, go to church and fight the good fight.  Back then, I couldn’t fathom my beliefs being negatively affected because I was still believing she would be healed in this life.

But last July, I called home for our weekly chat, and she didn’t answer the phone.  I thought maybe one of her friends had taken her out or that she was at the doctor’s office.  I felt a little worried because ever since I moved abroad, I had more anxiety about her passing before I could see her again.  I told myself she was fine and that I was just worrying too much as usual.  However, the next day, she still didn’t answer the phone and then I received an email from my sister saying Mom was in the hospital.  I called my Father and he said that a recent leg amputation wasn’t healing.  The doctor had to cut more of her leg.  He said I should come home.

I wanted to panic but I kept thinking, this must be apart of God’s plan.  He will heal her and she will get a prosthetic and she will have an amazing testimony to tell.  The second amputation never healed and the doctor said he would have to cut more but my Mother refused the last surgery.  Since the doctor couldn’t guarantee that her blood circulation would properly heal the wound, we understood her decision to refuse the surgery.

During this time, my once very talkative and outspoken Mother was very quiet and still.  “What are you thinking?”, I asked.  She said she was so tired and just wanted to go home.  She wasn’t looking for an earthly healing anymore.  She wanted to cross over into eternal life.  One week before August, she decided to end her dialysis treatments.  She moved into a hospice and I watched her slowly slip from this world into the next.  On the morning of August 1, 2011, she was healed.

This wasn’t the healing I was expecting.  We prayed countless hours for an earthly healing but it never happened.  I didn’t know what to do with all of these feelings.  So, I chose to step away from the church for awhile.  I still sporadically visited a church but my heart wasn’t in it.  I didn’t want to listen to messages of putting your trust and faith in God.  I didn’t want to hear people’s testimonies of how God performed a miracle in their lives.  I wanted him to bring my Mother back and heal her in this earthly life.

I know that all of us will die someday and that most people will have to endure the loss of a parent but I felt our time was cut short.  She will never see me get married, have children or do so many other things in my life.  After she passed, my faith in God and his abilities took a nosedive and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get it back.  Little did I know, he was already planning a way for me to get it back.

Right before my Mother passed, I found out I was pregnant and luckily, I was able to tell her the news.  She was so excited to be a grandmother and she told me that she had been praying that God would “grow her family.”  Although we knew she wouldn’t be able to be here when he was born, we knew she would be with us in the spirit.  When I returned to Seoul, I began my prenatal care and did all of the necessary blood tests to insure everything was ok.  However, one test came back abnormal and the doctor said that I would have to get an amniocentesis to see if my child was in danger of a certain disease.  I didn’t want to have an amnio done but I also didn’t want a disabled child.  At this time in my life, I really didn’t feel prepared to handle any more diseases attacking my loved ones.

I honestly didn’t know what to do.  In my family, whenever problems arose, we always turned to God.  I didn’t feel like I was on speaking terms with him but I decided to pray.  I cried and cried and cried.  I asked him how could he expect me to have faith now after the disappointment with my Mother.  I didn’t get an answer from God but I continued to lay all of my feelings out on the line.  I was only 5 months pregnant at the time, so I had to wait awhile and see if my child was going to be sick or not.  The remaining 4 months of my pregnancy peacefully passed with no anxiety from me.  I was surprised that I wasn’t agonizing over my baby’s health day in and day out but I think God’s grace stepped in and calmed me.

On March 19, 2012, I had a healthy baby boy with no complications.  He really has brought joy back into my life and I can already see a little bit of my Mom’s spirit in him.  Just like her, he loves people and he loves to smile.  My faith is slowly getting back to where it used to be and I think it will grow stronger with every challenge I face in life.  And for now, every time I look at my son, I’m reminded that “God is good, all the time.”

Seoulicious

 

Are you tied to your culture’s food? February 7, 2012

Filed under: Food — writersparadise @ 10:56 pm
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When I first started dating my husband, he was excited to try new foods he had never eaten before he met me.  As I mentioned in another post, he is Korean and I’m American.  The only foreign foods he had ever tried before meeting me was the occasional Italian, Chinese & Japanese food but it was all very Koreanized.  I also think he had eaten hamburgers before but I had my doubts when I saw him dissect it with a fork and knife once. 

I’m not exactly an International Chef but I like to dibble and dabble with my cooking and make food from other cultures.  Whenever he came over to my place, it was as if he stepped into another land and was presented with more food options than his native Korean.   Seeing him gobble up the different dishes I made definitely put a smile on my face.  Maybe there is a little truth behind the old cliche, “The best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”.   He gave my food very high marks and said he preferred my cooking over restaurants.  Maybe the best way to a woman’s heart is flattery!

After we got married, I wanted to add some Korean dishes to our nightly dinners.   First, I made Kimchi Jigae and he was shocked beyond belief that I could make a decent pot of his favorite stew.  From then on, he started asking about other Korean dishes and I told him that as long as I had a recipe, I would give it a shot.   Soon thereafter, the number of Korean dishes being made went from twice a week to five times a week.  And now, he almost never requests anything but Korean food.  I’m not too bothered by this yet because it is cheaper to cook Korean food instead of international food all of the time.  It’s been nice to see our grocery bill go down substantially in the past months.  However, I do wonder if all the initial enjoyment of the other foods was a ploy to reel me in! 

When he returned from a business trip to Germany back in November,  he had a, “I have to eat only Korean food when we move to the States” epiphany.   Not eating rice or any other Korean food for two weeks in Germany really did something to his food psyche. 

He’s excited to embark on a new life in the States in a few years but he’s not willing to let go of his precious Korean food.  He has an attachment to it that I just can’t wrap my head around.  He can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never crave something new.  He’s even going so far as to insist that our son grow up eating mostly Korean food.  Hmmm, what??? I don’t think so….

I would never cook only one cuisine for my child.  I was actually the child who was a big pain in the butt at dinnertime in my family’s household.  My mother was a black woman who was born and raised in the South.  So, our nightly meals consisted of mostly Soul food with Spaghetti and Hamburger night thrown in for variety.  Every week I pestered her to make something different.  I had no idea what “different” consisted of but I knew there must be more to food than collard greens and pinto beans!  She had no idea what “different” consisted of either because she hadn’t been exposed to other cultures and decided that “different” was going to have to be having breakfast for dinner a few times a month.  I still wanted something “different” but my desire was quelched for a little while.

I told him that our child must eat food from both of our cultures because he can’t embrace one and shun the other.  Unfortunately, he has no idea what I grew up eating and it’s hard to describe it to him.  I can’t really buy my culture’s food from the foreign food marts here and I’ve learned to deal with it.  But sometimes, I wonder if it’s the universe’s way of biting me in the behind and saying, “Well, you always wanted something different”.

Seoulicious

 

The best of both worlds… January 31, 2012

Filed under: Culture — writersparadise @ 8:46 pm
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Around this time, back in 2008, I remember putting a lot of hours into researching “life in Seoul”.  I was adamant about not visiting the “foreign area” too much because I really wanted to have a “Korean” experience.  I thought a “Korean” experience entailed:  going to temples/palaces, seeing the countryside, navigating through markets, shopping in underground malls and eating exotic food on a regular basis.  I was worried that if I frequented the “foreign area”, I would somehow be too lazy to seek out not seek out Korea’s unique culture.

On my first night in Seoul, you’ll never guess where I ended up. Itaewon(the foreign area)!!  My then coworkers were going clubbing there and asked if I wanted to join.  I never say no to going dancing and I rationalized that getting to know my coworkers trumped my desire to not visit the foreign area so soon after I landed. 

This whole idea of feeling guilty for frequenting the foreign area got me to thinking why I even cared so much about what area of a city I chose to hang out in back then.  I think the initial error in my thinking was approaching my time in Seoul as if it were a vacation.  When I go on vacation, I want to do what the locals do and I enjoy getting out of my comfort zone for a short time.  But my life in Seoul has been anything but a short time.  I also think that as an American, I didn’t want to be grouped with those that travel to foreign lands but have no desire to assimilate.

After I did all of those cultural things I mentioned earlier, only a few months had passed and I still I had a lot of time left on my initial one year stay.  So, I just combined my foreign/american life together and stopped caring about what neighborhood I was conducting my life in.  I’ve come to realize that I truly can have the best of both worlds here.  Living here in Seoul allows me to experience all that it has to offer as well as feel the comforts of my own country as well.

Sometimes, when I’m out and about, I’ll over hear what I presume to be newbies talking about their time in Korea and I have an inside laugh when I hear them say, “I want to experience Korea’s culture while I’m here and I definitely don’t plan on going to Itaewon that much”.  I wish I could pipe into their conversation and say, “Just you wait and see little one.  Just you wait and see”.

Seoulicious

 

So much has happened… January 30, 2012

Filed under: Family — writersparadise @ 5:49 pm
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For any curious minds, Seoulicious is still currently living in Seoul although she thought she would be long gone by now. 

I noticed that my last post was back in September of 2010 and here we are at the end of January 2012.  My life has done a complete 180 in the past 16 months.  I was supposed to return to the States for good by September 2011 but my mother became very ill and passed away in August 2011.  I was lucky enough to be home with her before she passed and I’ll always cherish those last 5 weeks I had with her.   I’ve never talked too much about my personal life on here because this blog was only meant to capture my adventures in Seoul.  However, now, I will be talking more about my personal life as it plays out in Seoul.

Which brings me to the present.  I met a nice guy here, fell in love, got pregnant and decided to get married all within the past 12 months!  All of my friends back home were super surpised to find out about my nuptials because I haven’t really talked about any one guy in a serious manner in a very very very long time.  I had my first real relationship right after I graduated from University and after that went bust, I just dated lots of random/interesting/foreign blokes for the next 10 years.  I kinda thought I would never get married and I was fine with just dating while I was young and possibly having some type of partner in my older years.

Then, I met my husband the week after Valentine’s day last year and he became smitten with me.  I’ll admit, I was a little slower becoming smitten with him because we were very different from each other.  I was also still in the, “I don’t want anything serious” stage, which he had a hard time understanding.  He is Korean and since we are in our thirties, he thought I was ludicrous for just wanting to “date” at my age.  Gotta love the cultural differences.

We had a civil ceremony in August of last year and we plan on having a wedding after the baby is born.  Speaking of the baby, I still can’t believe I’m finally going to be a Mommy!  It’s been a dream of mine since I was in my teens but I always knew I would be older when I decided to start that chapter in my life.

Which is why I said my life has done a complete 180 because I’ve gone from singledom to being at the brink of having my very own family in a very short time.  I really enjoyed my single years but I’m ready for something new.  I’m interested to see how my experience will be different living in Seoul as a wife and mother compared to my single party lifestyle before.   So far, the transition has been a little difficult but I think my Mother’s death is mixed into those emotions as well.

I’m due in March so I only have 6 more weeks before my little bundle of joy arrives.  I’m not sure how much I will be blogging but let’s hope I get a few more posts in before the little munchkin turns 1!

Seoulicious

 

She calls it glamour… September 16, 2010

Filed under: Seoul,Shopping — writersparadise @ 1:09 am
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I went shopping with a new girlfriend of mine two weeks ago.  We met haphazardly in a bathroom in Dunkin Donuts.  That might sound a little sketch to some, but Dunkin Donuts is quite the chic spot here in Korea.  I’m talking two to three floors of modern design to accompany your donut eating experience.

While I was washing my hands in the ladies room, she complimented me on my purse.  In turn, I asked her where she was from because her accent sounded very American.  She is originally from Korea but went to high-school and University in the States and Canada.  We exchanged numbers and a friendship was born.

Back home, I never really do major shopping with my friends.  If I’m shopping for shoes and purses, I will let them tag along.  However, if I’m shopping for clothes, it’s usually a one woman show.  I’ve fluctuated between a size 12-16 during my adult life and never really wanted to bring my “under size 8” friends along for the ride.  My new friend, M, is way under a size 8.  She is barely a size “0”.  Of course it looks perfectly natural on her since it appears to be genetic but it would give me great joy to know she had to eat 1 carrot a day to fit into those super skinny jeans.

So, the last time we had coffee, it must have slipped out that I had never been to Coex Mall and she gasped, “Really??”  It’s not just a mall; it’s the largest underground mall in Asia.  Along with retail stores, it has a museum, aquarium and a movie theater all rolled into one.   As soon as she said, “We have to go there next time we meet”, I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy.  If I don’t like shopping with my American friends, the good lord knows I will be cringing when I shop with my Korean friend.

Though I thought about it, I didn’t back out of going on this excursion.  If anything, I thought maybe this would help me start exercising.  I mean, anything is possible, right??  So, we meet and we just stroll through the grounds at first but eventually we enter a “way under size 14” store.  She is thumbing through almost every hanger in the store as I peruse the limited purses and shoes they have.  I think I looked at one “biggish” sweater and she suggested I try it on.  I said, “M, I can’t wear this.  I need to lose at least 40 pounds before I can try on clothes in a Korean clothing store”.  To which she replied, “What?? Why do you want to lose weight?  You’ll lose your glamour.”

My what?? My glamour.  I laughed a little but instantly adored the term.  I never thought of my “more than generous” curves and cleavage as my glamour.  I don’t want to condone being overweight b/c it sure isn’t what the doctor ordered for a healthy long life.  However, until I can finally lose those final wretched 40 pounds, why not be a little positive and call it “My glamour”.

The both of us didn’t buy anything substantial but we had a good window shopping time.  And even though I was envious of her being able to fit into everything in that damn mall, it was comforting to know that she might even wish she had a little bit of my glamour…

 

The financial crackdown July 24, 2010

Filed under: Finances,Neighborhoods — writersparadise @ 2:52 pm
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For all of those who don’t know, I came back to Korea for my third year but I’m no longer in Seoul.  This year, I forced myself decided to live in a different city.  Now, I live in a city called Songdo which is in Incheon which is nothing like Seoul.  It’s like moving from Los Angeles to Riverside.  Yeah, it pretty much pales in comparison but, I’m strangely comfortable here so far.  Am I, dare I say, growing up??

I’ve always loved cities and what goes on in them.  The constant noise, traffic and endless choices of things to do appeals to my nature.  I’ve always said I would never move to the surburbs because I hate cookie-cutter anything.  However, trying out a suburb in a different country doesn’t seem as horrid as doing it back home.  At least here, there is still some adventure with daily activities being that I still don’t speak Korean(smh).

Self-evolving is a trip.  Five years ago, I never would have been able to live in a suburb.  Depression would have set in fast and I would have been running back to the city with only the clothes on my back if necessary.  But now, it’s quite calming to be away from it all.  I’m about an hour away from “it all” so it’s close enough to still go and fill up on “city life” when needed.  I do get bored every now and then because I don’t have any friends in my new town but it’s not too bad.

Growing up is not the only reason for moving to the sticks changing my environment.  The other reason was pure and simple economics.  I spend too much damn money in the city!  I hardly ever turn down an invitation to do anything so being in Seoul was detrimental to my financial health.  Most people that come to teach over here are hypnotized by the “You can save half your paycheck” line spilling out of recruiter’s mouths.  While this is true to some extent, it is very hard to do.  If you are not frugal back home, then 9 times out of 10, you will not be frugal in a new country.  Especially with all the instant friends you will accumulate and cool places to travel that will just burn a hole in your bank account.

Everyone knows that Mark Twain quote about not regretting things that you did and I don’t but sometimes, I look at my bank account and go, “Why lord Why??”  I have done a lot of cool things in the past 2 years that prolly would have taken me a long time to do if I was just working back home but now I’m on a mission.  A “saving” mission that is.  I’m not doing any big traveling this year and I’m cutting back on partying, lattes and restaurants.  It’s gonna be tough but I’m excited to see my bank balance go up and not down.  And at the end, I intend on rewarding myself with something extremely cool that I’m not going to announce now.  Me and K are doing something big in 2012 and before ya’ll say what about your bank balance going down again.  I reply, “This is a saving mission, not a keeping mission”….

 

The Next Chapter May 17, 2010

Filed under: Reflections — writersparadise @ 10:28 am
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I popped my blogging cherry on Myspace way back in 2006.  Funny how 2006 seems way back since I was living in a different country back then.  I always loved to write and thought blogging would be great practice.  I never really blogged much on that site though.  Then, in 2007, I started a blogger account and wrote about 30 posts.  30 is wee small for a year but I did most of my reflective writing back then.  I was in such a transitional stage in 07′.  Friends were getting married, having babies and simply moving on.  I felt a little stuck in my life and proceeded to leave the US in 08′.  Today, I went back to blogger and reread over some of my old posts.  I haven’t written too much about my emotions on this wordpress blog so I feel like starting a little section for these oldies but goodies.  Enjoy..

The Next Chapter – written August 07′

One of my best friends left LA last night to go and get married in Australia. She and her fiance are happily awaiting their nuptials in a few weeks. They met 2 years ago, fell in love quickly, and decided to get hitched. After they get married, they are permanently relocating to Australia to start their new life together.

In the past couple of years, many of my friends have been getting married, having babies and moving to new cities, in hopes of embarking on the next chapter of their lives. I can’t help but think back to a conversation I had with my mother when I was 25 years old. She insisted on bursting the fantasy bubble I lived in at the time. Back then, all I cared about was having a great time with my girlfriends and not putting too much thinking towards the future. I always had big dreams of what I thought the future held for me but when I was younger, the “future” seemed so far away. I was more interested in where my next cocktail was coming from!

So my all too responsible Mother decides to sit me down one holiday while I was visiting her and says, “Baby, I know you love how your life is right now but it will change soon. Your friends will get married and move on and you have to start preparing for that”. Of course I knew my fantasy bubble couldn’t last forever but I wasn’t ready to step out of it. Not quite yet. I didn’t want to discuss the topic any further so I just said my infamous, “I know that Mom!”

Fast forward 5 years to present day and she was right. I knew she was right because she is always right and not in the “Parent’s have life experience” under their belt kind of right. My mother is extremely intuitive and kinda clairvoyant at times; so she is always right even when I don’t want her to be. I took heed to what she told me 5 years ago and in the past 2 years, I slowly started taking steps to prepare for the next chapter.

It might sound odd but I purposely stopped hanging out with my close circle of friends as much. I stopped being the friend they could always count on as being present at every social occasion. I started hanging out with just myself so I could learn to be happy with just me. I took myself out to dinner, movies and the occasional bar and I had fun with me. I began to learn how to not make the life I had with my friends so crucial to my existence.

The next chapter of life can mean many different things at different stages of our lives. It can be going to college, starting your career, getting married, having babies or dealing with the death of loved ones. But underneath it all, I think my mother was trying to tell me that the next chapter of life is learning how to be alone and enjoying it.

Learning how to be alone comes at different times for everyone and no one can escape it. Friends leave, siblings leave, children leave and spouses leave. The only person that will always be left is you. My mother says I am lucky to learn this life lesson now when I am young than when I am old. She didn’t learn how to enjoy being alone until I went away to college and she still says that was the hardest moment she had faced in her life up until then. Codependency can truly be a bitch at times.

I still soak up and love the company of my friends but I have left the fantasy bubble and I have no intentions of ever going back.