Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year, New Post!

Well I just realized that we are about to cruise into the second week of the new year and I haven’t written anything since 2009. Sorry about that! As usual, I have very little excuse. It would be one thing if I was doing something interesting or important every day when I got home from winter camp…but the reality is that I’m sleepy and it takes all my energy just to focus on reading subtitles on Korean dramas. Sad, but true.

New Years snuck up on me this year (as every other holiday has) and I decided to go out on the town with Laura, Julia, Dana, and Ayzia. I met up with Laura in Hongdae around 6:00pm and we walked up to the club to buy tickets for the “event” we were attending (more on that soon). Then we headed down the street to a restaurant where we started on some galbi and champagne (yup, we’re that classy, haha). Julia and Dana rolled in a little later and met us at the restaurant. Now as I have NEVER been clubbing and I have NEVER been to Hongdae, I decided to just go with the flow the whole night and go wherever everyone else went. When I was told we were going to an “event” at Club Cocoon, I was down for it. Little did I know that going with the flow would be one of the best decisions I’ve made in Korea.

At Club Cocoon we attended a “Donkey Show.” Not what you’re thinking. According to Google Search results yielded after I returned home, it turns out that a Donkey Show is a “disco retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Uhhh…what that description leaves out is really the heart of the Donkey Show: scantily clad men dancing around to Korean remakes of 70s classics. It was…hilarious. (Hilarity only increased by copious amounts of soju and beer.) The four of us were the only foreigners there (a fact that was pointed out to everyone by the DJ) and there were a fair number of spectators. There were probably around 15 performers (with only 2 girls) who danced to such classic Korean remakes as “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” and “Macho Men.” It was the absolute pinnacle of entertainment. The men had STUNNING bodies and the costumes were hilarious. Dana got pulled up on stage to dance the Abracadabra dance with two of the boys, which was priceless. I seriously cannot describe to you how much fun we had. By the time we left the 2 hour show my cheeks hurt from laughing and smiling so much. I loved every second and I would have easily paid double the 40,000won that it cost. They’re performing until February 7, 2010. If you’re in Seoul, do yourself a favor and GO. Immediately.

Our favorite boys from the show.

The girls and the guy we called Fake Jeremy(me)/Hot Jeremy(Julia) all night.  Aka, the man wearing more eye liner than all of us put together.

After the show we went outside and met a bunch of the guys (including the suuuuuuper hot one with English tattoos) before meeting up with Boram (Julia’s Korean boyfriend). After a stop in the drug store for “emergency hair wax” and some sample eye shadow application, we went down to a restaurant/hof called Beerholic. Seriously. It was there that Ayzia joined us and our little six-pack became full. We punished a couple of bottles of Soju Cool (Dana being the ultimate Korean host and keeping Ayzia and I’s glasses full, full, FULL, haha) and ate a delicious green onion pancake before it was time to head out and find a place to actually ring in the new year. We tried going to one club the girls knew of, but they were asking a cover charge or something (I cannot really remember why that place was out) and we got separated into two groups. Laura and Dana went off to some dance club, while Julia, Boram, Ayzia and I went down into a Ho Bar (could not make these names up) where we (and a significant number of other foreigners) celebrated the slide into 2010 with noisemakers and cheering.

Cheers!  Hope your new year is SOju COOL! (nerd alert)

Just after the clock struck 12. (Or 10:00am EST, if you prefer)

Soon after the new year officially started, we headed out of Ho Bar and stumbled onto a giant, spontaneous Michael Jackson “Man In The Mirror” dance party on the streets of Hongdae. Literally hundreds of people (including tons of Koreans and foreigners) were dancing and singing in the middle of the street. I don’t care how you feel about Michael Jackson, this song is undeniably beautiful and meaningful. What better time than New Year’s Eve to be reminded that “if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself then make a change.” It was yet another awesome part of a wonderful evening.

Take a Look at Yourself and Make a Change. from Meaghan Shanahan on Vimeo.

After separating from the dance party, we went down to Club FF. Walking into the club I spotted a girl who looked familiar. Now she didn’t look familiar because we’d ever met in person, but rather because we had posted on some of the same forums on Facebook and I read her blog ALL THE TIME. It was Simi from Straight from the Curls! So, like a stalker, I walk over and go “Umm, ARE YOU SIMI?” and she says “MEAGHAN?!” aaaand then we spent about 5 minutes jumping up and down and hugging. It was a pretty wild moment, haha. We got our wristbands and headed into the bar where we stayed for a while and spent some time going between the levels, enjoying some drinks, listening to some music, and doing some dancing (I cringe remembering that part). During this time I was also texting back and forth with Laura and Dana trying to schedule a reunion. After some time in Club FF we went over to one of the quieter, emptier “sister clubs” called (I kid you not) Club Tool. See the sign below for its entire ridiculous name. I love Konglish.

"I have to get a picture for my blog!" 
(Simi and I)

Dude, I am a native English speaker and even I have no idea what this means.

We stayed in Club Tool for a bit (I was especially entertained by watching Ayzia rollercoaster from laying down, to dancing, to “resting her eyes,” back to dancing. It was pretty hilarious.) Then we finally got in good contact with Laura and Dana and met up at a 7-Eleven where we took an ultra classy picture (nothing says class like the drink aisle of a convenience store…). At this point, since Julia had worn heels and was (understandably) DYING, she and Boram decided to catch a cab and head home. Dana, Laura, Ayzia and I went and got amazing and cheap spicy ramen with an egg (shout out to Princess Hours) and it was pretty much the most delicious food you could ever consume while intoxicated at 3:00am. After the tastiness, we split ways and I took a taxi home with Ayzia and crashed on her extra bed from around 4:00am-11:00am. Around that time I got up and decided that there was no way I was getting in a moving vehicle of any sort so I hung out with Ayzia for a while and watched some Dr. Oz (terrible) on the Armed Forces Network until I felt a little better. I hopped on the metro around 3:00pm and got home about an hour later. Even though allllll I wanted to do was go to bed, I forced myself to stay up because I had a meeting the next morning and knew that if I took a nap I’d never sleep that night.

New Year's love.
Julia, Laura, Boram, me, Ayzia, Dana

Looking wrecked with the best ramen everrrrr.

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early to attend a meeting at the EduPlace headquarters about an hour south of my house (haaate when I have to transfer 3 times). EduPlace is the hagwon that runs the after school program at Sincheon, my school. I had met Dave, the guy who does the after school program once before, but I’d never met anyone else from there. They definitely have their stuff together and I am pretty pumped for my school’s winter camp. It seems well organized and I think the kids are really going to like the activities. They also obviously had a decent budget so the kids get to do cool things like building a wooden replica of a T Rex. They also gave us hoodies to wear every day. They are bright royal blue and have a powder pink heart balloon right across the chest that says “Exciting English Camp!” I laughed heartily. The not so humorous part is that it is HELLA tiny (thanks whack Korean sizing) and I feel incredibly self conscious in it. I think I’m going to have to e-mail the woman and be like “look, I can’t wear this…” We’ll see how that goes. The meeting lasted 2 hours (which I am apparently getting paid for- awesome!) and then they treated us to lunch, so I certainly cannot complain. I came home and basically vegged out the rest of the day. I also made plans to meet Dana and Julia for a 9:00am showing of Sherlock Holmes on Sunday morning, which I was pretty pumped about. I love Robert Downey, Jr. I set my alarm for 7:03am the next morning so I could leave at 7:50am (leaving time for me to stop at the ATM and get to Dana’s for the movie with plenty of time) and fell asleep.

Sunday morning I awoke with a start at…7:53am. DAMNIT. I overslept past the time when I was supposed to be actually walking onto the train. I frantically threw my hair up in bobby pins and ran out of my apartment. Then, to make matters worse, like an idiot I got off at the Seoul National University College of Education stop INSTEAD of the Seoul National University stop where I was actually supposed to be. I ended up being about 15 minutes late. (As a side story, I told Dana and Julia to go ahead into the movie and see if they could leave my ticket at the register or something. Instead, they placed my ticket under a fake wrapped gift that was under a tree and gave me directions to find it. It was like a treasure hunt. An awkward, awkward treasure hunt, haha.) The movie was decent, though nothing mind blowing.

After the movie we headed over to Mr. Pizza where we spent the next FOUR HOURS talking, taking advantage of the endless salad bar, and working our way through a Shrimp Gold Pizza. For the record, though it was tasty, it has not usurped Pizza School’s place in my heart. It was a seriously awesome afternoon just relaxing and discussing everything from life in Korea, to our plans for life after Korea, to KPop, to our travels, to random other topics. After parting I headed home and though I tried to go to bed early I ended up tossing and turning forever, setting the tone for a week of exhaustion.

Winter camp at Aju started on Monday and things have gone swimmingly. The kids are about half new and there are 78 students total split up amongst the five classes. This whole week I’ve done activities based around the If You Give A… series. My mom sent me the treasury, which includes If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, If You Give A Pig A Pancake, If You Give A Moose A Muffin, and If You Take A Mouse To School all in one book, as well a CD with songs and the books being read by famous voices. In the book there is also recipes and little activities to do with each story. She also sent the stuffed animal versions of the pig, moose and mouse, thanks to Kohl’s Cares (which, by the way, is a truly fantastic program). The kids love it. Today they were writing their own stories and some of them are SO GOOD. A personal favorite would have to be "If you give a Charlie Teacher a Bacon Cheeseburger." (Spoiler alert: He's vegetarian and asks you to remove all the meat products one by one until its just cheese and bread. Then he eats it. LOL.) Charlie was…honored(?) that one of the students chose him as their animal. Haha. I wrote and illustrated the timeless classic “If You Give A Porcupine Peppero.” Surely a tale for the ages.

This week we also got SLAMMED by the heaviest snow that Seoul has seen in 70+ years. According to the articles I read, areas in and around Seoul got nearly 10 inches, which is a LOT, especially when you have no infrastructure for dealing with snow. We got up on Monday morning to head to winter camp and it was snowing HEAVILY. Arianna and I slip-slided down to the metro which was packed with 8 million people. Then we got to make all of our transfers (complete with me falling on my ass in the Jamsil station in front of said 8 million people) and walk for 15 minutes in roughly 6 inch deep snow. It was lovely. It snowed all day and finally ended around 5:00pm.

Walking to school.

Same view, sans flash.

Playground at Aju.

The kids were pretty pumped.

Rachel (one of my students) sporting a flashy pink umbrella on the way home.

This street was actually awesome comared to the ones by my house.  It has taken them like 4 days to clear at all, and there is still basically a median of snow in the middle of the roads.
After camp got out to at 1:00pm I boarded the train for the arduous hour plus journey out to Yeongdeungpo Station (definition: the other side of the WORLD) where I was meeting Julia and Boram to see Avatar. In 3D . On the biggest movie screen in the world. Literally. I arrived about an hour early and ate lunch at Lotteria where Julia then met me. Thus beginning our total mess of an hour of trying to find Boram and being in the completely wrong movie theater/building/exit from the metro station. We ended up being 20 minutes late to the movie, and probably missing some crucial stuff. However in the scheme of things, missing 20 minutes of a more than 2.5 hour long movie isn’t so bad. And, can I just take a moment to gush about how awesome that movie was? I had wanted to see it since they talked about it on Bones so much (which makes sooooo much more sense now that I know that the guy from Bones was one of the main guys in it) and then everyone was only saying awesome stuff online. There is no doubt in my mind that, in the words of Jon Stewart, James Cameron is likely “a wizard.” I half jokingly discussed before how we’d been talking about how disappointing it was not to be closer to living like the Jetsons by 2010, but when you see Avatar you realize how much closer we are to the Jetsons now than we were when I was born. Between 1977 and 1983 the Star Wars movies were released and they were the mind blowing pinnacle of technology and special effects. Now, Star Wars could most likely be recreated by a high school student in their basement.

Avatar had a beautiful story (and an amazing score), but for me, the special effects were really second to none. I remember reading the statement someone made after seeing Avatar that said “Ok, I officially can no longer tell the difference between CGI and real life.” It’s so true! Yes, of course the Navi (blue people) are not real, nor are the animals. However the rainforest, with its stunning flora and fauna, and the landscapes could absolutely exist. No doubt. There is also no doubt that James Cameron is a true visionary. He started this project back in the early 90’s and had to “wait for the technology to catch up.” That is crazy. He has also now directed two of the world’s highest grossing movies EVER (Titanic is still #1 with a worldwide gross of nearly two BILLION dollars). How awesome.

Anyway, this week has basically been a blur of camp, the worst commutes of my LIFE (I am so not kidding…I have never, ever, seen more people packed on to a train thanks to impassable roads around the city), and the Korean drama Iris. This drama is very different, as it’s a spy action-thriller with a secondary love story. The others have all be gushy (I cannot believe that gushy is actually an accepted word in Microsoft Word, yet they still try to correct “haha” every time I write it), but this is much harder hitting and violent. Its good. It actually reminds me a lot of 24, cinematography-wise.

Next week I have another week of camp at Aju, then my winter camp at Sincheon. Then I have another week off. Jo Anna miiiiiight come that week, and I would be beyond excited if that actually comes to fruition. I’m trying (and mostly failing) not to get excited in case it doesn’t work out.

In news from the home front, my parents got a new dog. They had been discussing it and looking around on Craigslist, so I did some researching of my own and was strangely drawn to this young, male, red colored beagle. Now my mom has said on multiple occasions she doesn’t want another male dog (what with the excessive ‘marking’ they do), but something about this one made me send them his picture and info. Less than a week later, Rusty is a certified member of the Shanahan family. Interestingly enough, they were never able to access the DC area Craigslist posting where I found him. For some reason he doesn’t come up in their searches, but he did in mine, half a world away. Meant to be. He’s probably only about 2 years old and definitely a handful already (he’s only been living at our house for under 24 hours and already the stories are building up, haha). Maybe he’ll breathe a little life into Belle’s anti-social world. And he will definitely keep my dad busy.

My new little bro, Rusty.

This weekend I don’t really have any plans outside of buckling down and cleaning my apartment. Its seriously gross and embarrassing. I’ve just really let it go as I’ve been exhausted all week. I need to do about 25 loads of laundry, some dishes, and sweep the whole place down. Exciting!

I hope you’re all happy and well in the new year. I’d like to have some idea of who is reading this thing (aside from my Mom and grandparents, who I know read it because I talk to them about it frequently), so if you’re out there, drop me a line. Sometimes I put off updating because I rationalize that no one is really keeping up with it anyways. Leave me a message and give me a reason to feel guilty for not updating in a timely manner!


  1. I went onto a learning website the other day and I now have some idea of the Korean alphabet. If I bring my notebook, I could probably sound out some words on a sign. Though I'd still have no idea what they meant. Baby steps... By May I'll be fluent... I miss you. And I did a little countdown to myself, and a few of my coworkers, at 10am on New Years Eve so I could be with you in spirit. Now I'm going to head out (from Carl's apt) to DC to see some sights. I promise not to go stalk Rusty... See you in May. (PS We're booking that in February, nailing down details and all that jazz, so yay).

  2. so when is james cameron sending the check?
    : )

    cute puppy, by the way.

    <3 shannon

  3. if you promise to write more often, i promise to better keep up with your postings! (was that the kick in the pants you wanted??)

    love you, miss you