Musical Morning

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When it comes to music, it’s often a struggle to get me to listen to something new. I tend to love a song deeply, listen to it over and over, get tired of it and stop listening, and then months or years later rediscover it and love it all over again. 

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A few of my friends and I would make mix CD’s for each other and exchange them, at first in person (in high school) and later by mail (in university). Yes, CD’s! It was a fun way of giving and receiving something physical, and not knowing what would play next. This is how I learned to love music from the likes of The Fratellis, Rocky Votolato, Trevor Hall, and Passion Pit. 

Before I moved to Korea, going to concerts was a much loved hobby of mine. Living less than 20 minutes from Manhattan worked to my advantage, and often times my friends and I would pile into a car and head to Philadelphia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Upstate New York. We even trekked to Tennessee one year for Bonnaroo, It was a fun social activity and a means to discovering new music, not to mention the experience of hearing music in those settings. 644196_10200248480758001_1548284177_n

For the most part, Western bands don’t travel through Korea very often. I was lucky enough to catch a Ra Ra Riot show a few months ago, and last year went to Ansan Valley Rock Music Festival (which was cancelled this year), and every once and a great while a friend will recommend a band (last year it was Alt-J). However, these days I’ve been tasked with discovering new music on my own.

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Lately, I’ve really been loving Laura Marling. She’s incredibly talented and such a darling. Honestly, before I started listening to her own work, I only knew her from Noah & the Whale, the song The Water which she did with Johnny Flynn, and her past relationship with the lead singer from Mumford and Sons. I’m so glad I finally got to listen to her as I think she’s brilliant. I’m currently listening to a live version of I Was An Eagle.

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I can still remember watching the sunset over the Manhattan skyline here. It was magical.

 

What music are you loving lately? I’m constantly looking for recommendations.

A Furry Friend

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Growing up, I was a pretty shy child. I was quiet, didn’t speak out, and while I always had good friends, I also always needed a lot of alone time. Fortunately, I wasn’t really alone because there were always pets in the house, at least one but often more at any given time. 

Between my brothers and myself we’ve had dogs, cats, snakes, hamsters, and fish.The first pet I remember was an orange cat named Spanky. I loved him so much, but the first pet I called my very own was a hamster. I insisted on naming her Magical Princess. (Cut me some slack, I was 4.)  

My parents' dog Lizzie (on the right) and her bff Cookie. I claim her as my own whenever I'm there.

My parents’ dog Lizzie (on the right) and her bff Cookie. I claim her as my own whenever I’m there.

Going away to university was my first taste of life without a pet. My roommates and I would always talk about getting a cat, but thankfully, we never actually got one. We could barely take care of ourselves; how would we manage to take care of an animal? Our apartment was messy enough as it was.

These days, I live alone. Alone alone. No roommates and no furry (or not so furry) friends. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s hard. There are few things better than cuddling with a cat or a pup in bed. It’s calming and reassuring having someone around 24/7, and I always view my pets as extended family. I did toy with the idea of getting a cat here in Korea, but ultimately decided against it. My studio is pretty cramped as is, and the 15+ hour trip home plus potential months of quarantine is simply too unfair for a pet to endure. 

Choco. In typical cat fashion Yes this menu is the perfect bed.

Choco. In typical cat fashion Yes this menu is the perfect bed.

I know it sounds silly, but growing up with pets around and then suddenly not having them is uncomfortable and strange. And since I can’t have a pet of my own, I’ve resorted to visiting any establishment that has a resident pet. My favorite place currently is an English Cafe in downtown Daegu. The owner is a lovely woman who has two precious kitties, Choco and Ouyou (Chocolate and Milk). As you can imagine, one is black and one is white. I die for them.

A Summer Treat

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A meal is not a meal without dessert. I always like to finish up with a sweet component as I think it rounds everything out. For me, dessert isn’t a ‘once in a while’ treat. 

In my mind there are two kinds of desserts. There’s light and refreshing (think sorbet, vanilla or some other light flavored ice cream and other fruity sweets) and there’s rich and indulgent  (think rich chocolate fudge or cake or creme brulee). Obviously, I tend to favor the latter category.

IMG_1603During the summer months, however, I tendto crave the lighter desserts. It’s so hot and humid that a rich decadent I-could-die-happily-after-this cake is just not as appealing. So during the more sweltering days, I tend to eat a lot of fruit and a lot of ice cream. 

This week, I went to a cafe called Sol Bing, and I had the best bingsu I’ve ever had. It was ice shaved incredibly fine topped with yogurt and sweet berries. It’s an incredibly light dessert, and it’s so cold and refreshing that it’s perfect for these unbearably hot summer days. I think I’ve found my new go to summer spot.

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I would have eaten this entire mountain alone. But don’t worry, I totally shared with a friend.

In America, I tend to live off of frozen yogurt, and it’s probably one of the things I miss the most. (Aside from bagels, cheese, and sandwiches) What are your favorite summer treats? How often do you eat in dessert? 

Only in Korea….

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Korea is an interesting place. It’s gone from one of the poorest nations in the world to one of the wealthiest. It’s got the fastest wifi, the most mobile phones, and everyone from toddlers to the elderly are tech obsessed. It’s a culture that’s based on Confucianism, work, friends, and family. In Manhattan, you can joke that there’s a coffee shop on every corner. In Korea, the reality is that there are three. Here are a few of my favorite things about Korea that are very typical of the culture.

Hostel entrance in Seoul, Korea.

Hostel entrance in Seoul, Korea.

Shoes Off

Before entering a home, you are supposed to remove your shoes. I work in a school, and everyone from the kindergartners to the principal puts on a second pair of ‘indoor shoes’. The same goes for many hostels and hotels.

Buy a drink, play with animals.

Buy a drink, play with animals.

Pet Cafes

I love pet cafes! Picture this, a spacious cafe with booths, lattes and smoothies, and dogs of all sizes playing everywhere. You can bring your own pooch or just sit and play with the numerous dogs owned by the cafe. Apparently a large number of these cafes rescue the dogs.

Downtown Daegu, Korea.

Downtown Daegu, Korea.

Drink Mascots

Drinking is a big part of Korean culture. So why not have mascots of beer and liquor running around the city?

I had to phone jail my 4th graders.

I had to phone jail my 4th graders.

Cell Phones

Korea is one of the most wired cities in the world. Everyone and their moms (and their kids) uses mobile phones. You get cell coverage everywhere from the mountains to the underground. The addiction is real.

Of course there is much more to the culture than just its quirks, but it’s these qualities that make the country so endearing. 

 

Take Me Back

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I have a terrible memory. I think perhaps I’m just not very observant, but regardless, I have a hard time remembering things. I can’t make mental notes, I need to meet someone twice before I can remember the name and the face, and I’m constantly misplacing things. Ask me what I had for dinner last night and I probably couldn’t tell you. Friends and family find it both incredible and incredibly amusing. I find it incredibly inconvenient.

 

I remember snapping this photo on my phone and thinking 'Is this really my life right now?' I'm happy I understood how lucky I was.

I remember snapping this photo on my phone and thinking ‘Is this really my life right now?’ I’m happy I understood how lucky I was.

However, every great once and a while, something will cause a flood of memories and nostalgia. Usually it’s triggered by seeing or hearing something. Today, it was Johnny Flynn’s The Wrote and the Writ. I think I listened to the album A Larum every day while I was studying in Paris, and so hearing that song transports me back three years. I can feel the Parisian autumn air, smell the boulangeries, and see in my mind the metro, the streets, the buildings. It’s such a nostalgic feeling, and I’m so overjoyed that I will be making my way back to that magical city. Even better, I get to introduce it to the loved ones I will be traveling with.

I love how memories work. I love how something as simple as the scent of baking cookies and take you back to a moment in time. Does anyone else feel like this? I’d love to hear some stories.

Taking Care Of Myself

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Ever since I started having thyroid problems late last year, I’ve been really susceptible to illnesses. I guess my immune system is just still worn out. I’ve been trying to make sure I stay on top of my well being because it’s really easy for me to just forget.

I know it sounds silly, but I’m the type of person who lets the way I feel dictate a lot of things. As you can imagine, this can be problematic when you’re getting sick all the time. Eating and living badly, getting sick and eating and living badly, and on and on.

If I’m not feeling well, I’m not going to eat nutritious foods. I’m not even going to eat comfort foods because they take time to prepare. I will literally exist on Hershey’s chocolate and ice cream for days at a time. I will walk into the nearest establishment with food (a bakery or a  7-Eleven) and grab the first thing I see. As you can imagine, this isn’t really conducive to getting better and staying that way.

So, over these past few months, I’ve been making a conscious effort to look after myself. As I mentioned earlier, I stopped drinking alcohol. I’ve greatly reduced my caffeine intake, I’ve been exercising more regularly, and I’ve been eating much more nutritiously. Next time, I plan on going a little more in depth on body image and confidence, but this post is already quite long.

I’d like to clarify I’m not doing anything drastic by normal standards. I’m not eating raw meals or juicing or even cutting anything out. I’m just trying to find a balance where I can feel good and keep these pestering illnesses away.

I will be turning 25 this year, and as I get older, the more important it is to be serious about my health. I know how much better I’ve been feeling lately, and I do plan on continuing. 

Coffee Talk

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I’m currently dreaming of a hot mug of coffee, creamy and slightly sweet. It’s like 88 degrees with nine thousand percent humidity. Okay, fine. I’d even settle with an iced coffee. Hazelnut. Oh, now we’re onto something.

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Once upon a time, I really enjoyed my daily coffee ritual. It was relatively simple – hot coffee in the winter, iced for the rest of the year. Always milk or preferably, cream. Sometimes sugar.

I stopped drinking coffee regularly last year when I moved countries. It wasn’t for lack of abundance, as I swear there are more coffee shops than people. But, it just became inconvenient. Coffee shops didn’t open until 9 (so no chance of a pre-work fix) and coffee is just … absent in coffee shops. Five dollar Americanos, yes. Drip coffee, no. I found that I just didn’t care for espresso and water, so I just decided to go without.

This morning's brew of the day.

This morning’s brew of the day.

Let me tell you, it’s a lonely life without coffee. Since my remaining options are basically instant powder or pay 25 dollars for a pound of Starbucks Blend, I’ve resorted to bottled sugar water. It does its job, but it’s like eating a Weight Watchers cookie instead of a Tiramisu. Minus the low calorie bit. I’m not making any sense. Someone send me coffee please.

 

Apparently

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Apparently, when your boyfriend tells you he wants to eat dinner at your house, this means you are supposed to cook something.

Apparently, when you’re used to eating scrambled eggs and baked potatoes for dinner when left to fend for yourself, the bar isn’t set very high.

Apparently, pasta plus onions plus garlic plus sausage plus whatever else you find in your cabinet can’t turn out that badly.

Apparently, when your boyfriend says he’s coming for dinner, that means he’s going to fall asleep for 3 hours and arrive … 3 hours late.

Apparently, this meal is fine enough as a dinner for one plus the optional Netflix date.

Apparently, my love for Robin Wright is not limited to just Jenny from Forrest Gump.

 

I love Kevin Spacey, and not just because he's from New Jersey.

I love Kevin Spacey, and not just because he’s from New Jersey.

Happy Fourth

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Since it’s the morning of the 4th, and I have no patriotic photos to show of today, I will use this one as a substitute.

It’s from last July with some of the first and closest friends I met in Korea. It was the last time we were all together. (And probably the last time we ever will be)

How sad those thoughts can be. But how happy the memories are.

Happy 4th to those who celebrate it. And Happy Friday to everyone else.

 

Step Back In Time

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I always feel a little lame posting TBT’s on social media like Facebook and Instagram. Realistically speaking, that’s the whole point of #tbt, but honestly for me it’s a little unnecessary.

Because I live abroad, and I spend a good deal of my work day on a computer, I’m on platforms like Facebook far more often than my friends in America. I’m uploading photos more often and making more comments, and so I already feel like I’m invading peoples’ news feeds. As a result, I tend to try and avoid making excessive posts. I’m not one to post food photos or daily life updates or selfies. I’m actually a terrible selfie-er. Which is funny because I used to be quite nifty when it came to mirror pics. Remember those?

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18 years old. First music festival. First road trip.

Well, since this is my blog and it’s dedicated to whatever I want to post at the moment, I’m putting up this old photo. (That was a long preamble for a single photo).

This photo was taken in summer 2009. Three of my friends and I took a trip down to Tennessee for Bonnaroo Music Festival. That entire trip was fairly spontaneous. I can still remember talking to my friends one random afternoon about how we really wanted to go. And so we logged onto the website and ordered our tickets. And that was that.

In retrospect, I think most of the decisions I make in my life are impulsive. I’m constantly changing thoughts, opinions, and ideas. I’m one of those people who really does change day after day, and looking at this photo proves it. Sure I may look the same on the outside, but I remember my 18 year old self’s mentality, and we’re completely different people. I won’t really get into that here.

Anyway, I really like looking at older photos. They really take me back to the exact moment in time, and I can sometimes even remember how I thought or who I was. It’s also nice to see how, even though it feels like you’re a totally new person, some things stay the same.

 

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