Apr 032024
 

You’ll be shocked to know that I completely and totally didn’t want to leave Korea yesterday. I hate to say that I was thinking about this moment starting at the middle of last week which is so bad because obviously our looming departure prevented me from fully being present and enjoying myself. I mean, our last day was filled with misdirected outbursts and projections because I was so upset about having to leave the next morning. I hate it. I have never felt this strongly about a place before where it completely turns me into a monster when I have to leave, kicking and screaming, lol.

We arranged for a Kakao taxi to pick us at 5:50am to take us to Seoul Station. Here’s one last look at our hotel. I really liked it. We stayed in a different area this time – Seodaemun, and when I say that the subway entrance was right outside of the hotel’s front doors….literally couldn’t have been more convenient. If you’re in Seoul and not utilizing the exceptional subway system, I’m sad to inform you that you’re not doing it right! Cheap, easy, efficient. Plus, it’s part of the process. I am already homesick for the upbeat subway jingles (though I guess I can just reach behind me and push the button on our Seoul subway sign!).

My last banana uyu, at Seoul Station. :( You can get banana uyu in the States but it never tastes the same. I’m not being melodramatic – there is actually something different about it, I swear!

Chooch and his new Kakao Friend. It’s tradition for him to buy a Kakao Friend plushie on every Korea trip now. He moderately deviated from tradition by not selecting an Apeach version though! This was on the airport train to Incheon airport. :( I was numb for this ride. Emotionally dead.

The other two times we went to Korea, we flew Korean Air. This time, it was Delta and both flights were mid. Barely any Koreans on either flight and the flight attendants were meh. On this flight in particular, there was one older white dude FA who was actually such an asshole. He wasn’t rude to us in particular, but I witnessed him being a jerk to some other passengers and saying inappropriate things to his fellow FAs, like, “Can’t wait for this party to be over,” “Can I take my break yet?” “This is disgusting” while acting like pushing a beverage cart was part of a prison sentence.

There was an old Asian lady sitting across from us and one row up – she didn’t speak much English and all she kept requesting was hot water. But I guess at one point, this shit head was walking by and she tapped him to get his attention and he snapped, “DO NOT TOUCH ME. NO, WE’RE NOT GOING TO DO THIS” and I was so fucking tense around this prick like he was Alcoholic Dad just come home from the corner bar. THEN, later in the flight, he said to one of the other FAs, “That’s the hot water freak.”

I am 100% filling out a survey about this flight.

He made me so uncomfy!!!

I have so much to write about and so many pictures to sort through! This is going to take a while and I’m going to be crying a lot, I think. Henry kept calling it a vacation but this was so much more than that to me. Korea is my everything. <3

Anyway, I somehow made it through my first day back at work but now I’m ready to crawl back into bed at….5:30PM.

Mar 312024
 

Today we explored to a new-to-us neighborhood (문래) and it ended up being pretty excellent honestly. A little out of our comfort zone, but that’s part of traveling, right? Being able to read Hangul really comes in clutch.

Anyway we are about to go back out for dinner but I wanted to post this picture of Chooch because I spent all morning taking “senior portraits” of him with the “good camera” but then this picture I took with my phone in Mullae ended up being better than all of them. Isn’t that always the case!!

Mar 292024
 

I only post when we’re on the train I guess, so here I am with another quick check-in on the KTX from Gyeongju back to Seoul. We did an overnight trip here and it was…chaotic and full of dramatic arguing as is our brand but also really fun and beautiful too. Gyeongju is famous for having Silla Dynasty burial mounds and they were breathtaking in person, I was actually in awe.

I have to talk about The Tree though as the main topic of this post. When we arrived yesterday, it was downpouring. Like, 100% rain all day. Long story short, we ended up switching plans around and instead of Gyeongju World, we headed back to this trendy little tourist area around the burial mounds called Hwangnam Dong. On our walk into it, there was this lone magnolia tree in front of some of the mounds and some people were getting their pictures taken there. I wanted one too so Chooch took one of me and Henry but I didn’t like it so I wanted a do-over but by then, there were more people waiting and I panicked so we left.

Henry and I woke up around 6am this morning because I wanted to go back out and see everything in the not-rain before going to Gyeongju World, and to also have him take my picture by the tree again but it was still just as frustrating!! Some guy came over and started taking pictures at the same time so I felt self-conscious and stepped away from the tree but then a couple with freaking paparazzi lenses showed up and did a full-blown fashion shoot and then another couple came and they started talking pictures FOR each other and I was like FUCK IT!!! so we left.

The terrible picture Henry took of me squinting into the sun.

Anyway, after walking around for a bit, we came back to the tree because we had to pass it to go back to our guest house anyway, and I was like “ok there is only one couple there, let’s wait.”

Yo. They were absolutely fucking ridiculous about this tree. The amount of pictures the boyfriend took of the girlfriend was absurd. With her jacket on. With it off. With it over her shoulder. With her back to the camera. With her side to the camera. Facing the camera. All the while, some man was flying a drone RIGHT OVER THE TREE.

Then the girl swapped places and started taking pictures or the boyfriend!!! THEN THEY STOOD TOGETHER UNDER THE TREE WHILE LOOKING THRU THE PICTURES.

THEN SHE WENT BACK AND STARTED POSING FOR MORE.

THEN ANOTHER COUPLE APPROACHED and I said WE HAVE MAGNOLIA TREES IN AMERICA WHO THE FUCK CARES and stormed off. And that is the end of my story about The Tree.

However, we had time to kill before catching our train so Chooch and I went back and walked around the main burial mound area where we stumbled across an even more popular tree.

I mean, this really is beautiful though. But not standing-in-a-line levels of beauty. Also I would die of anxiety having my picture taken in front of a literal queue.

Also? Those aren’t hills. They’re actual burial mounds for the royal family from the Silla Dynasty.

It gave me chills, for real. But also, when the first mound was created 100s of years ago, I wonder if those people ever would have predicted that it would turn into a historical/tourist destination with a street lined with self-operated photo rooms, cafes, and pancakes in the shape of giant Korean coins and stuffed with melted cheese.

Mar 272024
 

Yo! We’re on a KTX to Gyeongju right now so I have some downtime to check in with you, Blog. First of all, I can’t believe it’s Thursday already. I started getting the WE HAVE TO LEAVE SOON panic basically from the very first day here. This country has me by the heart. I don’t know that I will ever be able to explain it but the ensuing crash of depression once we get home is going to hit me hard so probably just best to avoid me for a while if you know me IRL, ugh.

Anyway, for today’s micro update, I will talk about yesterday morning’s scheduled activity! I thought it would be meaningful to make our own wedding bands while here in Seoul and I found someone offering a ring-making workshop on AirBnB Experiences which I never look at but something made me check it this time.

The workshop is held by a jeweler, 충호, in their studio in Hongdae (actually a bit outside of Hongdae I think). We were a half hour early because we just wanted to make sure we knew where the place was and were going to just continue walking around but she ended up showing up just then and unlocked the door for us so we got started right away!

First, she apologized for not speaking much English but she did a great job explaining the process to us and even though we couldn’t really have a conversation, the vibe was still pretty chill and casual. I mean, I was my usual spastic self though because I was worried about fucking up my ring but it was fine!

Then, the three of us (Chooch wanted to make one for himself too) had to choose the style and we all somehow chose the same so it’s like these are our family rings now lol. Except that Henry and I chose to have our engraved. My ring has his initials and our “marriage date” and his has mine. AWWW.

I was actually surprised that Chooch opted to do this with us rather than roam about Pokemon Go’ing.

I wonder if Chungho was happy to get rid of us though lol.

Chooch is currently sitting across from me on the train, spinning his ring on his finger like an old man gangster.

And yeah that’s the story of our wedding bands. Now I just have to get my replacement engagement ring lololol ugh.

Mar 262024
 

I have a lot to say about this because it’s been 23 years in the making, but for now, as a placeholder: IT WORKED. WE DID IT. HENRY AND I GOT MARRIED TODAY (3/26/24) IN SEOUL!

I’m eternally grateful for my dear friend Jiyong and her husband signing as witnesses for us when we visited them in Jeonju on Monday, and for the Jongno District Office not requiring witnesses to be physically present.

I’m appreciative of my friends back home who endured my constant stressing and hand wringing over the logistics. “What if this doesn’t work? What if we go all the way there and they’re like NO and then I look like a dumb dumb, like, ‘ha, u thought.'”

I love that Chooch came along for the ride and I love that he was thoroughly put-out when he had to CROSS THE STREET to come over and take these pictures for us GOD FORBID we interrupted his Pokemon Go’ing that he was doing while waiting for us to complete our bureaucratic gymnastics.

I love that in spite of all the people over the years who hated us, spread rumors about us, stood in front of our house harassing us, cyber bullied us…ok this is really just two people lol…we stuck it out all these years. It was really rough at times but we made it work.

This feels like such a relief and it’s also still kind of surreal but don’t worry, within 30 seconds of the license being stamped, I was already telling him he was annoying me so really not much has changed. Back to the regularly-scheduled Henry beratings :)

Now I’m going to relax and fully enjoy the rest of my time in my favorite place in the world without this hanging over my head!

Mar 242024
 

Good morning from the Yongsan train station! We’re currently sitting on the 505 waiting to depart for Jeonju where we will be spending the day with my friend Jiyong! I haven’t seen her since she moved back to Korea in 2021 and I’m so stoked for this!

I have so much to recap already but for now, here are some pictures from our last destination last night – the DDP. It’s one of my favorite places in Seoul and we will be going back at some point during the day but I wanted to see it at night when it’s at its most majestic.

DDP stands for the Dongdaemun Design Plaza and it has several futuristic, space-shaped buildings that has restaurants and galleries, shops, a museum, a space for exhibitions (there is an NCT127 one happening right now!!!)

Right before we exited the subway station to the DDP, we stopped at an Emart and as Henry paying, Chooch goes, “Look–there’s an NCT Dream T-money card” because my plight on this trip is that I couldn’t find a T-money card (to use for the subway) that spoke to me. They used to have vending machines full of cute options in some of the more popular / college stations but we couldn’t find any and the convenience stores didn’t have any I liked so I ended up going with some non-T-Money option called NAMANE or something, which can also be used as a debit card. I only went with that because they had Wiggle Wiggle designs, one of my favorite Korean brands.

Anyway, I thought Chooch was joking but then I saw it (it was Haechan!!) so Henry was like “Jesus Christ” and went back in and bought it hahaha.

I texted this to Janna because she can never tell which one Haechan is. When I said what I was doing, I heard Chooch whisper to Henry, “Oh that’s who that is?” Wow.

It was so good to be back here. The vibe is impeccable – so chill and cool and fun to run around looking at everything. This is also where Seoul Fashion Week was happening the first time we were here in 2018!! These steps are actually where the celebrities were walking when they were dropped off there!

I love that it’s so futuristic yet it is also the location of the Igansumun Floodgate of Seoul City Wall.

Henry’s gonna Henry.

P.S. this was supposed to have posted yesterday but my blog is a piece of shit.

Mar 232024
 

It’s 6:03pm and we’re at our hotel – Shilla Stay in 서대문! We landed around 3pm and everything went smoothly – got to take the subway for the first time, Henry was only moderately embarrassing, etc etc. Oh it was annoying on our Delta flight here (Korean Air is so much better but the droll flight itself is best reserved for the vacation journal) because before we took off, one of the flight attendants said to Henry, “WOW, excellent job on the overhead bin!!” and you know that fucker is taking that compliment to the grave.

First food of Korea: subway kimbap!

View from our room. You can see the Blue House in the background! (Where the President lives except I believe this current one has opted not to live there.)

Well, we’re all going to freshen up and then go out and explore! We’ve never seen much of this area aside from the major tourist attractions so bye for nowwww!

Mar 202024
 

A bunch of us law firm lovers of Barb got together at DiBlasio’s (a certified Barb approved restauran) for a memorial dinner. I was even part of the “party planning committee” lol: Wendy was in charge of reservations/restaurant-related logistics, Jeannie handled the official email invite and kept track of RSVPs, I was on decoration duty, and Aaron…oversaw this I guess lol.

I made prayer cards since that apparently is my fall-back if I ever decide to leave the law firm. The nuns at the church where we had my aunt Sharon’s memorial service went ape shit over my DIY prayer cards and kept asking, “where did you have these made??” My…dining room? Lol.

Sue even took some extra prayer cards to give to some of Barb’s friends <3

Anyway, I made a regular version with like, Mary on it or something but then I made a Barb-version using this picture that Tyler took of her YEARS ago at work:

I was lowkey nervous that some people might find it inappropriate but they collectively proved me wrong!

The attendees were, in addition the Party Planning Committee: Sue, Rachel (who wanted to talk about college things since she had twins who are also waiting to hear back and I was like I AM SO STRESSED CAN WE NOT), Nate, Lucas, Ethan, Lauren, Amber and Tracey who I haven’t talked to in years because she left our dept for another dept years and years ago, so that was really nice and I forgot how effing funny she is.

Anyway, I was sitting with Tracey and all of the directors of our dept and totally felt like the kid who snuck over to the Grown Up Table at Christmas, lol.

But yeah, it was reallllly nice sharing Barb stories, reminiscing about the dept in general (I love hearing stories from the Pre-EK days too and there was plenty of that last night!), laughing uproariously a multitude of times (our table definitely had the most fun!), and eating good food at a place Barb loved.

And it was also nice to talk about my marriage plans for next week which actually relieved some stress, especially at the end of the night when everyone was hugging me (ugh but also aw) and telling me they were excited for me, that things would work out, to post lots on Instagram, etc. I have felt kind of lonely & insane during this not-wedding planning process because there’s a part of me that feels stupid talking about it, I know it’s dumb but I am so bothered by the fact that it has taken this many years and I’m kind of embarrassed? So anytime I get excited about something, I sort of just sit on it. But these last few weeks my friends at work (not work friends – just friends) have made me feel really special and seen. These people are like family to me, honestly and actually. But I am so sad and upset that Barb isn’t here for this. She was one of the biggest advocators of the “Get Erin Hitched” movement! It’s just that I have made so many amazing friendships through work and Barb was at the heart of it all. Barb was one of the people who interviewed me for that job! And she was the reason I stuck it out in the beginning when I wasn’t sure if I liked it, if anyone liked me, if I would ever fit in. There are layers of emotions and issues here that I still need to work through. Losing Barb was one of the worst things ever and the ensuing grief has proven to be more complex than I imagine.

In the parking lot, Sue returned some of the paintings I made for Barb over the years which were found during the house-cleaning process. It was bittersweet. I’m happy to have them back and to keep them in Barb’s honor but also just sad and depressed about it. It still doesn’t feel real?! Like, today I had the urge to text her and tell her some of the things we gossiped about last night and then, with my hand hovering over my phone, I said, “Oh. Right.” Grief is so weird.

Mar 162024
 

Chooch actually joined Henry and me at the cemetery today, but only because it was some Pokemon Go event and I guess that still exists?! So it was actually him that suggested we go for a walk which was wild but you better believe I took him up on it.

Here he is, about to walk past one of his Pokemon Go friends? Enemies? How does that work? I don’t know, but the cemetery was rife with mindless walkers today.

Anyway, I have had not a damn thing to “talk” about on her that isn’t completely negative, so please just enjoy some photos of a nice early spring day in March while I go back to panicking about our trip/mission/expedition/elopement whatever you want to call it.

It’s me, here I am.

This is one of my favorite sections of Homewood Cemetery because it gives me Wonderland vibes a little bit.

Meanwhile, Chooch was being super argumentative and snarky so I yelled I CAN’T BELIEVE I RAISED SOMEONE SO BITCHY AND SURLY and Chooch goes REALLY? I CAN.

Earlier in the day, I did a trial run to make sure I can actually walk in the CHILD-SIZED boots I got on clearance at Target because I thought they would look cute with my not-wedding dress, and they are fine, thankfully!

This just feels so fake, lol.

Oh well, bye.

Mar 092024
 

Checking in from the tail end of the weekend! It’s been an OK one but the weather was so shitty. It rained ALL DAY yesterday but I was still able to take a few walks because I’m a psycho, and then Henry and I did some shopping for our trip which he keeps referring to as “vacation” and I correct him every time because this is in no way a “vacation,” this is a “MISSION.”

I can’t even put into words about how stressed I am about this. “Oh, let’s elope, it will be less stressful than planning a wedding.” Remember when you said that, Erin? Remember?

We leave in less than two weeks. I’m freaking out, man.

I did get one thing off of my to-do list that has been weighing on me: some of us arranged to have a memorial dinner for Barb, for past and present law firm people to come and share stories and laughs in Barb’s honor. Jeannie assigned herself the task of sending out the email and keeping track of the RSVPs, Wendy was in charge of locking down the reservations, Aaron is the….token bro? And I assigned myself the task of “decorations,” if you will. I knew that I wanted to make prayer cards since there wasn’t an actual funeral service or visitation, and I thought I’d also make a photo board to display photos of Barb around the office. But then in secret I thought, “What if I try to paint a portrait of Barb?” I haven’t painted in years. Truthfully, I never thought I would again. And the notion of “coming out of retirement” had been weighing heavily on me for weeks but I FINALLY pulled out the paints yesterday and committed to at least TRYING.

It was pretty gnarly at first. I asked Chooch if he knew who it was supposed to be and he said, “Barb, right?” So that was good, but then I stupidly asked, “Does it look bad though?” and he goes, “I mean I thought that was just your style…?”

LOL, bro.

Anyway, I worked on it some more today and I think I’m OK with how it turned out! The dinner is next week so to be continued…

The weather today wasn’t any better, just a different form of “wet.”

“I didn’t know it was supposed to snow today!” I cried, and Henry was like, “It was all over the weather forecast, so…”

Not the one on my phone! It just had the squiggle lines which I think means “WIND.” I don’t know.

We thought there was supposed to be a long enough reprieve to run out for some Yinz coffee and take a cem stroll, but SURPRISE! SNOW SQUALL!

I got this coat on major end of the season sale from Dolls Kill (it’s Delia*s brand!!) and didn’t think I’d have a chance to wear it this year but, Pittsburgh weather yo.

This is my “Drink Yinz Coffee” ad, before the snow.

And then, the snow.

Mausoleum Selfie.

This dick.

Then we came home and I watched some more One Day episodes which I have been pleasantly surprised how much I like it.

And now it’s almost time to put another weekend to bed and start a new work week. Hamster Wheel City. :/

 

 

Mar 082024
 

Chooch and Henry were just in the kitchen half-arguing about something probably when Chooch stormed out and yelled, “WHY DO YOU DO THAT?! You just evacuated the whole kitchen!” And then to me he goes, “We were mid-conversation and he just shoved one of those crackers in his mouth while talking!” Here is the part where Chooch took the liberty to imitate Henry talking with his mouth full before retreated back to his lair.

Chooch cannot be in the same room while Henry chews. To be honest, it’s hard for me as well.

I’m going to miss these interactions when he’s in college, savor every moment, etc.

In other news I have been so stressed that I worry I’m going to crack my teeth so this was a nice, much-needed laugh, thank you Strained Relationship Between Chooch & Henry.

I don’t really have anything else to say. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not!

Mar 052024
 

Because doofus Henry made a terrible decision in the 90s, he needs a certified copy of his divorce decree thing in order for us to get married. We knew this months ago when we first started researching “can foreigners get married in South Korea” and I asked, “you have that, right?” It’s one of the things we need to have with us at the US Embassy.

“Yeah it’s here somewhere,” he said, buffeting “somewhere” in a cough.

He was oh-so-sure it was in the attic closet, that he saw it last year when we were cleaning the room out pre-Chooch’s lounge but then put off looking for it until THIS PAST WEEKEND.

Hi, we leave for Korea on March 22nd let’s wait a few more weeks, why don’t we. Jesus Christ.

And guess what? As expected, he couldn’t find it. So he figured he would just have to go through the county and get a new one.

Except that he couldn’t find it that way either.

“I mean, you did get divorced, right? She married someone else, so I hope the divorce was legit?!” I asked.

Apparently yesterday he was trawling my blog looking for when he got divorced because he couldn’t remember the date? (Long Time Readers may remember that this was the thorn in my side for the first half of our relationship – he and Thing just being “legally separated” and not legit divorced, which USED to be the reason why we were never married, which then just turned into complacency I guess, wow our love story is really one for the ages.)

“Omg is that why my stats were so high yesterday?” I cried. Ugh, I was so excited thinking people were actually visiting this wasteland.

“Yeah, and let me tell you, that was fun seeing how much you torture me on your blog,” he huffed. “I should get hazard pay.”

OK calm down, sweaty betty.

Anyway, I asked him if he found out the date or year from my blog and he said no, to which I said, “Yeah no shit – I never wrote about it because I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to write about ‘her’ remember?” Even though she dragged my name through the mud every fucking chance she got. (My favorite is still that I was some internet dominatrix and my blog was just one big sex channel.)

God!

So today, he called me like a real American hero and excitedly panted that he found where it was filed. “I thought to myself, ‘what would she have done’ so I googled HOW TO GET THE CHEAPEST DIVORCE IN PENNSYLVANIA.” Apparently, some county three hours away came up, so he called and bam, they have it. So now he’s out getting a money order and a priority envelope so that he can send them $10 and get this shit sent to him ASAP.

I guess he thought I was going to swoon at the manly-man-man way he handled this but instead I said, “Wow, terrific, too bad you didn’t do this back in DECEMBER when I first started ‘nagging’ you about it. Wait a little longer next time, jackass.”

“In case you were wondering, it was 2011 when I got divorced,” Henry said, and I fake-snapped my fingers. “That’s right! I knew I was sitting in this one particular desk at work when it happened, but it was a desk that I sat in on two separate seat-change rotations so I couldn’t remember which time.”

Henry just stared at me. “Wow, if it’s not where you were sitting at work, it’s what song was playing,” he said, clearly just jealous at my personally-tailored mnemonic devices.

I’m still not fully convinced that this is going to happen, but I guess only time will tell. There’s still the chance that I’ll come home from Korea married to someone else, lol.

Feb 282024
 

Tonight drained me – it was chaotic, ridiculous, careless, surprising, ended with a studio audience chorus of “awwww.” It had some night walking in it too so here’s Ten’s Nightwalker and now I’m going to bed in hopes that tomorrow is boring.