Champagne Birthdays

(reposted from my original blog entry on Tickets To: originally April 2014)

Golden Birthday. Champagne Birthday. You have my attention

The day when you turn the age of the date of your birth. It’s supposed to be awesome. Of course I didn’t know what that was until about a year ago… but that’s cool. I love champagne so it’s a great excuse for a theme. It’s also a great excuse to drink champagne every day for the week leading up to my birthday.

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On Friday, my coworkers on my floor (there are three floors to my school) surprised me with a classic Korean cake and some streamers.

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On Friday night we had Korean BBQ (beef) and drank soju with pineapple Fanta. Then we went to our local bar and drank a bit. On Saturday I woke up early-ish, pre-cooked some food for my Sunday picnic (visit www.anotherfoodthing.wordpress.com for great recipes!), and made my way to Busan. I met some friends from Seoul and Ulsan there and we drank a bit. The day wasn’t sunny enough for the beach, but it was warm enough to appreciate. We had an amazing BBQ dinner, went to another bar, went ‘clubbing,’ and then, my favorite part, we went to the noraebong and sang our hearts and voices away! Seriously… how much soju and singing can a girl handle? It was fantastic.

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I looked hot in my little black dress with my teal dream shoes (see wittylmt.com for more info on that), I was with great company, I ate and drank well.

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I got back to the motel at 5 am and was sleeping by 6am. I left at 10:30am and was back in Ulsan by 12:30pm. I had a party starting at 2pm I had to get ready for. Because the weather was questionable my outdoor picnic became an indoor picnic: blankets on the floor, drawn park on my whiteboard, paper plates, etc. The good people showed up and brought many bottles of bubbly. We drank mimosas and sangria for a few hours and chatted merrily. A few gal pals stayed after everyone left and we chatted and watched Bad Teacher (excellent sitcom. Get on it). Today, I came to work and the teachers on the 6th floor bought me a Larva cake.  I will go home and drink more champagne since I now have 5 more bottles and chillax on my patio smoking hookah. All in all…it was a great birthday.

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Gang-cyst-ers paradise

I had a hernia on my stomach for over 10 years. I came to Korea and had it taken care of for about $600-700USD after everything (hospital stay, meds, checkups, surgery itself, etc). The reason I wanted to get rid of my alien baby was to be able to start doing core-work at the gym. So when I moved up to Seoul end of Dec 2015 I signed up for a gym.
They had a pilates class and since it had been 6 months since surgery, I thought – ‘This is it. Here’s where it all begins’. The next day I felt great in the way that one does after a workout they hadn’t done in ages. But I noticed my wrist was hurting a bit. Typical when you are doing lots of floor work including plank! So a couple days later a student points out my wrist. She said, “Teacher, what?” and pointed to my right wrist. Lo and behold, there was a bump on it. I looked it up and immediately recognized it as a ganglion cyst. I went to an orthopedic doc nearby and he aspirated it. He said if there’s tingling, numbness, or pain that I should be worried — otherwise, no sweat.
There definitely was tingling and pain, especially when I was typing (which is often). I was also on a pasta making kick and that was starting to get difficult. I went back to the doc and he said that I should just wait it out because it will go away, then he aspirated it again. This time I noticed the blood in the aspirated fluid. Doc said no biggie.
The thing never went away. It never got smaller, only bigger, and more frustrating as I continued on my everyday activities.
I consulted with another doctor at Gangnam Several Hospital (Yonsei University) here in Seoul. He mentioned aspiration and I told him how the first two times didn’t do much. He said the next step was surgery. It was March 31st and he was to do surgery on the 10th.
wpid-wp-1428397015929.jpeg this is what my wrist looked like leading up to the surgery.

The hospital said I needed to come in on the 9th for surgery prep. I went in and they had me in a corner of a 6 person room. I thought six people wouldn’t be horrible… it was awful. Granted, it was only 12,000won (~$12USD) per night. But for every patient, there were 1-3 family members with them. Not the kind that go home, the kind that require a cot and a chair and snore louder than anyone I’ve ever heard.

Unlike the hospital in Ulsan, this bed was controlled with a remote so I could sit up and what not. However, unlike the hospital in Ulsan, this ‘bed’ was really just a mat on a cart. The hospital was fancy and all, but I didn’t expect the ‘mattress’ to be so thin. It felt like I was sleeping on a mat on the floor. So I wasted a whole day on Thursday (wasted it because I could have been at work) and then slept in the hospital. When I woke up on Friday (day of surgery) I noticed my back wasn’t feeling great. No thanks to the stupid mat-on-a-cart bed. They wheeled me in for surgery. The first male nurse tried to put the IV in my hand. It was extremely painful. (I’m bad with needles and pain, but this was really uncomfortable). Another female nurse came over and yelled at him for something and they took it out. Then they reinserted it into my wrist near my thumb. It wasn’t as bad but still uncomfortable. They roll me into surgery and start the anesthesia. I remember the ‘light going out’ effect, but I don’t remember my dream this time. I woke up and they brought me back to my little corner hole room. I had a huge brace on my wrist and they had a special tie up shirt for me. My back was still hurting but the wrist was worse.
Then my coteachers came and sat awkwardly in my little corner for an hour or so. They brought me a sandwich and some snacks. After they left, the hospital brought me their food– foul smelling seaweed soup, kimchi, tofu, and rice. And a spoon. And chopsticks. For those of you who are right handed, I dare you to try and eat with your lefthand using chopsticks. Luckily, I’m not an idiot and I brought some forks with me. I barely ate because it all smelled so bad.

I napped, I played games, I watched TV shows. It was hot as fuck in that corner. I asked them to turn on A/C and they said it was on. I’m “blessed with a chest” and for those who don’t know what that’s like… things get sweaty and they get really uncomfortable. I decided to tackle putting on a bra by myself. I succeeded. But what I failed in, was putting my shirt back on. As I tried to put my newly-surgerized hand through the sleeve, *POP* goes my back.
I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move. The nurses came back in and made me remove my bra again because they needed to xray my back. . . which was a muscular problem but they didn’t listen to me. So, I was back in square one. They brought me a heating pad, which is smart, but when I’m already sweating like a beast it was the last thing I wanted to feel.

The next day they gave me muscle relaxers and helped me with the bra. My back was in extreme pain and my wrist was in extreme discomfort. My fingers were like sausages. Food again was pretty meh, but that’s Korean hospital food for ya. #bringafork
They wanted me to stay another night or two to observe my back, but I convinced them that I would be better at home since the hospital bed is what screwed with me in the first place. They complied.
I went to gather my belongings and noticed that my ring was missing. Not just any old ring. This was the .25 carat diamond ring that I bought for myself in honor of my 21st birthday. I bought it from Na Hoku in the Mall at Millenia and only took it off during massages and surgeries. When this ring was not on my finger, I didn’t sleep well. I had an actual tan line from this ring. It was a part of me. And it was gone. I searched high and low and the whole hospital ward was helping me look for it. It was not to be found. I don’t think it was stolen. I think it was in my locker and when I tried to get dressed, I knocked it out of the locker and the cleaning lady probably swept it up with the rest of the trash on the floor. “I’m sure we will find it” the nurses assured me. But you know when something special is truly gone, you can feel it. I could feel it in my heart and the pit of my stomach. It has not been recovered and I am waiting for the next step in that.

Back to the surgery. I had the brace on for 2 weeks before they took out the stitches. I have a mini-Frankenstein scar on my wrist and my range of motion is restricted. One month later, I can finally make a fist. I try to do exercises and improve my range of motion. Typing hurts a bit still, so does falling and catching myself hah.

Total cost: ~500$usd after everything (hospital stay, medicine, check ups, etc)

Passover in Short

Passover is another excuse for Jews to clean the crap out of their houses, gather, drink many bottles of red wine,  and eat copious amounts of food. We sit around the table with family, friends, and occasionally strangers to remember the hard history the Jewish people have gone through.

Our people were enslaved by Egyptians and Moses came and said some stuff and crazy stuff happened and we got away. However, in our escape we didn’t have time for our bread to bake properly so we carried the bread upon our backs and they never leavened. Hence Matzah/Matzo. Let me save you the hassle of trying this… stuff. You know saltine crackers? Take away the salt. Now imagine not having water to wash it down…but your mouth is already dry…you know that mushy feeling where it gets soft and impossible to swallow? Yeah.. that’s matzah. For 8 days (ish). Le sigh. Did I mention all of the other dietary restrictions for that week?

Anyway, some kids ask questions and we drink a lot of wine and we listen to the answers go on for a while. Then we sing in Hebrew and drink more wine. At some point we recall the 10 Plagues (extra wine if you remember them all in order!). We discuss the plate of food and all that is symbolizes. . . mostly the bitter herb…because we’re a bitter people. In case you hadn’t noticed, Jews have been getting the short end of the stick for thousands of years. (It’s worth it because we’re the Chosen People).

You think your Catholic mother can give a guilt trip? You haven’t met my grandmother. Seriously, the Jews are more stubborn than any group of people I have ever encountered. I got a tattoo of an Egyptian hieroglyph and when I showed my grandmother, her response was literally, “They Egyptians enslaved our People and you go and get a tattoo symbolizing Egypt??” ((First, Jews aren’t supposed to embellish their bodies in any way. Second, that was, like, thousands of years ago!))… I guess that’s why I’m always the ‘Wicked Child’. DAMNIT. (((((((for reference, the four children asking questions are Wise, Wicked, Simple, and the kid who doesn’t yet know how to ask questions)))))).

Anyway, wine is consumed, we recline to the left, we sing, we remember… as my family likes to put it: “We Fought, We Won, Let’s Eat!”

 ***Please don’t hate me for writing this, my uber-Jew friends!***

In the uber-religious seders, this is a very very long process. Literally, it doesn’t start until sundown and then it’s hours before you get to eat and then more hours of praying.

Passover Prep: From a Teacher

How to Prepare for Passover dinner for Teachers abroad:

1. Create a mind-map/brainstorm of your meal. Remember to use specific details and examples of the ingredients you plan on using with each dish.

Passover Brainstorm

2. Turn the mind-map into an efficient grocery list outline. You do not need to make complete sentences. This is to help you organize your thoughts so your essay Passover dinner isn’t messy or offtrack. Is your dish an appetizer or main course? This is the chance to decide before you begin writing cooking.If something can be or needs to be refrigerated, this is the time to acknowledge it in your ‘notes’.

3. Use the grocery list outline to gather your ingredients.

4. Keeping your mind-map and outline nearby, you can begin to assemble your dishes. It maybe easier to start with the body of the essay more time consuming meals first.

5. Proofread for any spelling or grammar errors. Check your dishes before serving for presentation.

6. Serve with a health “We fought, we won, let’s eat!”

7. מועד טובֿ
מועדים לשמחה and חַג שָׂמֵחַ (those vowels are oddly placed)

The Table is In!!

Hip hop hooray!

After many weeks of struggling to order a massage table, my goal has been accomplished. And this morning, the sun shone through my window and woke me with good spirits. A foreign number appeared on my phone, followed by a voice speaking Korean. Which I know nothing of. After much babbling on both of our parts, he said ‘ahhh. no english.’ and i said ‘ahhh no korean. err, hangul, or whatever’ and then he continued to babble and I hung up because it was useless. My manager called on my behalf and informed me a large package was awaiting me downstairs. There it was. A giant box with my soul’s purpose within it. It was waayyyy too heavy to lift so i had to slide it to the elevator and across the entire building to my apartment. Then, with the ferocity of child on a Christmas present, I tore that bitch open. Out came my beautiful new massage table. It was quite heavy. I opened it up and it came with more little gifts!! It’s like Hanukkah early! Not one gift, but many gifts!! I had a headrest, arm sling, arm rests for the side of the table, and the gift I least expected… a carrying case. OH JOY!!!! Only thing missing is a car to get me from here to there with it. 

But it’s here. And I am going to start my side-business again. Regaining my peace of mind in this country of Khaos. I welcome back my massage abilities.

The Mechanic’s Terminology

A friend of mine put a tiny dent into my car back on a popular summer holiday. He sent me to a mechanic friend of his to get it fixed. This mechanic was a big Italian (possibly) New York kinda guy. *You know… the giant gold cross necklace with fat fingers and creeping eyes* While waiting for a response from my friend on whether to go through with the $500 charge (obviously a rip off) the man and I were talking. He had seen my massage table and asked if that’s what I do. Instead of lying, I said ‘yea. I do outcalls.’ He said he could give me a bigger discount on the car if I gave him a  massage. I’m open to barter and trades so I said ‘Sure. Give me a call.’ Clearly, it had been before 10am since I gave him my card (aka I wasn’t awake yet). I also may have been thinking, “By the time this guy calls, I’ll be out of the country.” My friend ended up not wanting to pay $500 to fix a dent smaller than my fist (duh) so I left.

A few days ago I got a call from The Mechanic. He goes on about how his back hurts from his job and how Massage Envy doesn’t provide the massages he wants when he wants it and how he’s stressed and needs some stress relief. *BING* Flag  is up. Stress relief can mean two very different things in the massage world. It could mean ‘I have a lot of stress and I’d like to relax please’ or ‘I have a very specific location that I hold stress particularly south of my stomach and north of my thighs’. For some reason though (maybe the previously mentioned creeping eyes) stress relief sounded not quite right. But because it wasn’t blatant I had to keep going with my intake. I asked what time length he was looking for… 30? 60? 90? He responded with ‘Wow. Yea 90 minutes would be great.’ I said ‘ok! Just so you know, a 90 minute massage will cost $100’ and he responds with ‘Yea $100. $200. Whatever’ (((((???? okayyyyyy….))))) *BING* Flag turns orange – something doesn’t seem right with $100, $200, whatever.
My warning flag’s color change prompted me to explain what areas of the body I work on in a 90 minute massage. He said ‘yea uh huh okay’ a few times and responded with ‘Well is there any other therapeutic extras you offer? You know for stress relief?’ *Bing Bing Bing* Warning Warning. My flag is now red. Code red. Hooker nail polish red. ‘I usually offer hot stone massage or aromatherapy, sir. But those upgrades are currently unavailable’. “ookay” says he.

Therapeutic meaning therapy. Meaning something maybe out of balance or injured and needs repairing. In this case, The Mechanic used an excellent term to refer to an inappropriate action. Sneaky… but I’m smarter than that, douche.

I proceeded anyway (again, not quite post-coffee time). “May I have an address where the massage will take place?” ‘Uh.. I’m at a friend’s house so I’ll text it to you.’ “Okay, can you give me a general area so I know how to calculate the gas cost please?’ He tells me that part of town. “I’ll see you at 4:30, Mechanic?” ‘Yea. 4 sounds great. See you then. But call before, I want to make sure I’m awake and ready for you.’

He sends me a text with the address and, go figure, the address does not exist. The zip code is correct but the street (in all various blvds, st, rd, pl, ave, etc) does not exist. After my coffee and the review of the alarms ringing and flags waving in my face I realized I needed to cancel that massage. So I called to no answer. To no voicemail. I would think that a businessman would have a voicemail. Or anyone that has a cell phone ever. So I did the most unprofessional thing I could think of… I cancelled via text. My responses were ‘bbbkffpprrr. z. fjklf’ followed by ‘message right.’ followed by ‘flkjrjrrbkfflazzzz’ and again ‘too late’. I had a voicemail with no missed call that was 3 minutes of nothingness. Sorry Mr. Mechanic. But not really.

New Massage Technique: Serenade?

This is a story from a few years back while I was working out in Hawai’i.

I had been referred to a private client by someone who I know longer remember. This client happened to be VP of a particularly prominent shoe brand. As always, I turned the music on prior to setting up so the client can decide if it was what they wanted to relax to. My choice that session was “standards.” Sweet ballads by Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, etc. You know… classics. VP asks me how I came to listen to these old singers and I told him I had no idea. I like the music, it reminds me of days that I never lived (in this life). I told him it inspired me to sing and Ella Fitzgerald was my musical preference.
He made a proposition I have still not had matched. He offered me twice the agreed upon rate, if I would ‘serenade’ him to sleep while I gave a massage. I recall agreeing of course. My first (and only) paid singing gig?!  While massaging? Throw in some ballet and I could be on America’s Got Talent!
Like most of my clients, he was passed out within the first 10 (of 90) minutes. At some point I think I went from singing to humming and he actually awoke and said humming was not part of the contract. Ha!!! Amazing. He was asleep and woke up when I stopped singing. ((Good thing I didn’t get caught having stopped the massage – jk. I would never))

Nice guy in a great big cabin in northern west Maui. I never got a bad vibe from him and he followed through with his end of the bargain. If I could make that a new style of massage..  ahhh c’est la vie.

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