Tuesday, November 24, 2009

S & M

On a drive from Minnesota to Wyoming a few years ago, Jason and I hit a deer. I don’t know if the deer lived or not since it was dark and I was too afraid to go looking for it if it wasn’t. I know that may seem heartless but I couldn’t image having to kill it if it was close to death and suffering. We didn’t have a gun or any other type of weapon, so it wouldn’t have been a merciful thing to do. I’ll spare you the thoughts I had on how I might have to do it. Instead I’ll tell you this, it screwed up my back pretty good. I went to a chiropractor in Wyoming for a few weeks (and had many nice massages) to deal with the impact. (haha)

It had been pretty good since then – only occasional stiffness in the morning and the usual back pain from my waitressing days in college. Then a few days ago I did quite a number on it. I’m not sure if it’s due to the deer injury or not, but my back seized and I was in some serious pain. Since I don’t know any chiropractors in Korea I decided to try the local way to cure pain. Acupuncture.

My co-worker Heather took me to a place very close to where we live. After an initial consultation, I was put on a table with a heating pad on my back. So far – so good. Then they placed a dozen clear plastic cup thingy’s on my back which were attached to a machine. When the machine was turned on my flesh was sucked up inside them. I probably don’t have to tell you that this hurt…but I do probably have to tell you it looked like I had udders on the wrong side.

After that fun, the doctor then inserted a seemingly unending supply of needles into the strained muscles in my back. It hurt must less than the nipple creator did. After about 10 minutes, the needles were removed. Then I was hooked up to a machine that massaged my back via electric shocks delivered through small circular disks attached to my skin. It wasn't quite the relaxing meditative Asian experience I'd anticipated - no trickling water fountains, paper screens, or strange twangy music.

Even so, I went back the next day. The nipple things were bypassed this time - probably due to the horrific bruises that hung around for over a week. Instead electrodes were attached to the needles that were again put in my back. The needles allowed the electric shocks to penetrate deep into my muscles. Every time a shock was delivered it made my whole body tense up and I made a strange gasping sound. When the nurse told me that I would have to deal with this for ten minutes I cursed aloud, albeit softly. And yes, after this I still went back one more time.

Surprisingly all that pain has paid off – either that or it distracted me enough to forget my earlier whining. Luckily it costs much less than it does in the states. I only paid about ten dollars (spread over three visits) for this new experience. I’m quite the bargain hunter these days.

(Photos curtesy of Heather)

Ahhh...the heating pad was very nice. Thankfully they put one on me before AND afer the treatments.

Told ya...udders.

How on earth does this help a sore back? Anyone?

The least painful treatment of the whole experience.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Halloween Lessons

Halloween came and went this year with no real celebrations at the Schmidt-Behuniak residence. We were invited to a costume party at a friend of a friends’ place but turned the invitation down – it was raining like crazy. Plus, we’re trying to save as much money as possible before the end of the semester. We want a vacation – hopefully a nice long one to somewhere warm and tropical.

We’ve been pretty good at saving – as it helps when you send most of your paycheck overseas. It’s kind of like when I put Kitty on a diet. She has no opposable thumbs - or any fingers for that matter – to make herself food, so she has no choice but to lose weight.

I do miss celebrating Halloween though. Before this current drought, I had been in costume for the last 25 years or so – and not only on Halloween. I’m sure I skipped a few years in high school because my only memory is when I dressed up as Betty Rubble. My girlfriends were Wilma and Pebbles. Surprisingly, none of our boyfriends at the time were into dressing up as Fred, Barney, or Bam Bam. My mom sewed me a cute costume and I dyed my hair black. The only problem that year was that I used semi-permanent dye so my hair slowly morphed from black to violet, to a yucky gray, and finally back to blonde. I never made that mistake again.

And actually, that’s what most of my costumes end up being – lessons on “what to never do again”. For example, I now know its best not to improvise with other people’s extras at the last minute. Quite a few years ago I decided not to freeze my buns off for Halloween. A friend was having a party and I knew I’d end up standing around a bonfire most of the evening. I shredded white sheets into strips and wound them around my long johns (both top and bottom) and pinned them discretely. I finished off my look by putting my hair up in a ponytail and using a long piece of the shredded sheet as a bow. After adding a little fifties style make-up, I was ready to go. I was going to be a cute, fifties inspired mummy. I was feeling very warm and very proud of my costume.

Since my place was centrally located, it was usually the meeting spot where my group of friends gathered before parties or bar outings. My friend Jonas had come over and was dressed as a vampire. Did I want some of his leftover fake blood, he asked. Of course I did. I have a problem with saying enuffs enough – which my fat tire attests to as well. So, blood was squirted onto my cute mummy costume and I suddenly morphed from being a cute fifties inspired mummy to a dirty tampon – complete with the string (aka my ponytail).

I was horrified but my friends quickly told me it was no big deal. They were probably just ready to leave and knew I’d take another hour replacing the dirtied strips. No one else will think that, they said. But ho! They were wrong. For weeks after the party I had people come up to me and say, “Hey, aren’t you the one who dressed up as a dirty tampon for Halloween?” I’ve never been good at lying so it didn’t occur to me to deny it. I’m sure that there are people out there that remember me that way. (Cringe!) The other lesson I learned is that your friends lie to you when it’s in their best interest. :)

Jason and I both have Thursdays off this semester, so we try to get out and do something different each week.

On this particular Thursday we walked around Pyeongcheon Park and looked at the strange sculptures they have there.

It's empty inside...in case you're curious.

The leaves are starting to turn here - this is a gingko tree.

We met up with Nathan, Kat, Fritz, and some other random people for the Seoul International Jazz Festival a few weeks ago.
It was cool jazz...of which I'm not a fan. We entertained
ourselves by throwing popcorn at Jason instead.

After the festival we decided to grab some galbi for dinner. (Kat demonstrating the proper way to wear an orange apron and cut meat with scissors.)


(This is for Theresa) Look! It's here too.

And here I always thought it stood for International Grocers of America.

We went on a work outing this weekend to...you guessed it...ChangGyeongGung Palace.
There's an interesting (and morbid) story about one of the princes who lived in the palace in the 18th century...give it a read if you're interested. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Sado

It was nice having an English tour guide, even though she pointed to an open field and said, "That's where they kept the Jew." Koreans say Jew instead of Zoo. After a shocked moment of confusion we all cracked up.

That's right! No fires allowed.

Marnie & Jake

It's best to wear slip on shoes most everywhere in Korea - and good socks!

Jason & I

Thomas & Eunha

Luckily I sit near Heather in our office. She is one of the funniest people I've ever met.

Seoul Tower in the background.

Tamara and Isabella faint from exhaustion. I don't remember the inspiration for this picture...imagine what you will.

Eunha is an artist. She does watercolor paintings, and has quite a few shows a year in Seoul. She made a five minute sketch of me while waiting for our lunch to arrive.

What do you think?