Pre-Guest Prep

Later today, a cousin of mine will be visiting Kris and I in Seoul. It will be the first visitor that we’ve had in a long while, and it is a visit that we have been looking forward to ever since the plans were first forged at our wedding in January. By now, we are well-drilled in getting ready to have someone over, having had quite a few of our family at our various houses in Korea over the years that we’ve spent here.

The first thing that we did was try to make a rough plan of what we will do whilst my cousin is here. Luckily for us, there is a long weekend coming (Kris actually has this whole week off, while I still have to work 2 of the 5 days), so there were a number of tour group trips available. We selected one that we thought sounded the most exciting – a trip to visit Geoje island (the home of the beautiful beach in the featured image of this post). There were options to visit Jeju island, the Hawaii of Korea, but we’ve already been there, and the itinerary of those trips was identical to that which we had been on before, so we decided against that. We are all excited for Geoje, as it is a new place for all three of us, and the activities sound intriguing.

With four of the seven full days dedicated to Geoje, we only had to fill the remaining three days, which will be spent exploring the vibrant culture and sights within Seoul itself. This is much easier this year than in previous visits, as we actually live here now. While I’m working, Kris will play tour guide, giving my cousin Catherine an idea of what Seoul has to offer. Once we return from the trip on Saturday, we can revisit those attractions that she found most interesting and take her to some of our own personal favourite places.

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Beyond planning the days out, we have made sure to keep the house clean. Instead of the normal piles of dishes in the sink and dirty clothes festering in the laundry basket, we have maintained empty vessels for discarded cutlery, crockery, and clothing. We have vacuumed the house three times this week. We have even deep-cleaned the couch that our cat Catsby loves to sleep on, returning it to its original royal blue form from a mixture of blue upholstery and white fur.

Even though we have been busy with two Ultimate tournaments in the past two weeks, Catherine’s upcoming visit has been the event that we have been most looking forward to for a long while. We cannot wait to show her a glimpse of the country that we have called home for a time far longer than we expected to. Between going on an adventure to Geoje together and seeing as much of Seoul as we can squeeze into the all-too-short time we have, we hope to craft an experience that we will all remember and talk about for years to come.

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Stagnation and Preparation

Some days, I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything in my months in Wonju. I feel like taking a part-time job was a poor decision. I could be making more money! These past few weeks have most certainly been one of those times. Luckily, in the last week or so, things have started to take an upturn that might begin to justify the monetary sacrifices that have been made thus far.

For a while, I have been feeling utterly lackluster professionally. What little elementary school teaching I do has been unfulfilling. I have been writing less than I did even last year, when I held a full-time job. I haven’t been keeping to any sort of streaming schedule. I have been neglecting this blog. The only aspect of my professional endeavours that I have been proud of is my adult classes, which I have actively striven to make as engaging and relevant to the students as possible, with moderate success. So I have been looking forward to those classes most of all.

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As far as my writing has been going, what little I was doing in that area was not giving me any sort of emotional or monetary payoff. I may have written an article or two for GosuGamers.net, but they weren’t articles that are going to get to the front pages of subreddits. The majority of the dripping tap of story pitches I sent to potential employers returned no sound once I had dropped them into the bucket that is the Internet. All that were honoured with responses were nothing more than polite declines. Until an acceptance came back.

Greater than that, an acceptance of an Esports-related pitch. My first actual paid Esports commission. Sure, it may not be much money, but it is the first time someone will actually be paying for my views and research in Esports. I was overjoyed at the news.

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I would like to say that I have been toiling endlessly on the piece, researching and refining it until it shines brighter than the red faces of Brexit voters when results were announced. Sadly, that would be a lie. But, I have been preparing and crafting the piece every day since I was chosen for the job, and I do feel that I will hand in a piece that I will be proud to put my digital signature on and claim as my first dip into the world of professional Esports writing.

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The other major preparation I have been doing is for travel. First, I will shortly be visiting my mother in Dubai, a reunion that I am excited for, because I haven’t seen my mother in a few months and it will be good to catch up. More significantly (sorry mom), Kris and I are headed to Seattle in the first weekend of August to attend The International (essentially the Dota 2 World Series). We are elated to be going, and neither of us can quite process the fact that the moment of departure is almost upon us.

So, while feelings of mediocrity will always feature in my internal monologue no matter how forcefully I try to eject them, they are currently being tempered by one minor success. Here’s hoping that I can chain a couple more onto it.

Bacon, Bacon, Bacon, and Bacon: The Story of How Kris and I Met

Those of you who have met or hung out with me in the last three years and change most likely also know or know of my indescribable girlfriend Kris. We have been going steady for longer than any other previous relationship of mine. But where did it all start? How did we meet? Was it love at first sight? The tale begins on an otherwise ordinary night out with my close friends of the time, on the 21st of July 2012…

I had organised a get-together at my favourite restaurant in the entire world – Gino’s. It is a place of many family memories. My mother, my brother, my aunt, and I had all worked at the restaurant. My mother had even owned a franchise branch of the chain at one point. I had been going there since I was one month old, and I felt it high time that my friends join me there. So, I roused my friends, and we met for a late dinner after our regular evening of board games.

We entered the restaurant at about 21h30. We waited for a short while to be seated. When our table was ready, we were met by Kris. I didn’t know it quite yet, but this was the point at which my love life would be forever changed. Even in her work outfit and crusted with the frustrations of an evening’s work, she was the most beautiful girl that I had ever seen. She served us curteously and efficiently. She also showed her charisma and sass, perfectly fitting in with the banter that was flowing around the table. Since then, she has told me that she hated all of us at that point, because we came in late, were a huge table, and took forever to order our food. Clearly the woman is capable of acting nice in order to earn a tip.

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Pretty much our table

As the night wore on, we did manage to put in our orders right before the kitchen was due to close. Most notable amongst these was my one friend’s request to have a calzone (pizza dough which is filled with toppings, folded over, and baked like a pie). This was no ordinary calzone. It was a calzone with four ingredients: bacon, bacon, bacon, and bacon. He was one of the last to order. Many people who had ordered before him carefully pondered changing their order after this culinary revelation, but no-one did.

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All throughout the meal, I was sneaking glances at Kris whenever I could. I may have appeared to be keeping up with the conversation of the table, but I was doing anything but. I just didn’t want to look like a creep.

The night wore to an end far too quickly for my liking. We paid the bill (making sure to leave a generous tip) and got in our cars. I came with one of my friends in his small car. The moment I was inside, I began the first phase of the grand plan to woo the waitress. There was little opportunity to reveal my intentions in the restaurant without seeming like a creep. Over instant messaging, however, I could be as candid or secretive as I wanted whilst learning more about the fascinating person that is Kris.

There was one obstacle – I did not have her number. Because I had worked at Gino’s myself, I knew that if you asked the waitresses for their number, they would refuse you, no matter how interested they were. This was a policy of the restaurant, created by Gino himself to protect the waitresses from creepers like myself. Luckily, I had a solution to this problem. I simply messaged one of my friends from Gino’s who was also waitressing that evening and asked her for Kris’ number.

Yes. I asked someone else for Kris’ number. Via BlackBerry Messenger (BBM – long may it rest). I am quite cretinous. Despite this, Kris and I chatted briefly on my trip home from the restaurant. After a few casual back-and-forths, whilst discussing something completely unrelated to romance, Kris dropped the news that I was dreading. She had a boyfriend. I turned to my friend. We shared a short stare. I screamed one word, whilst my hand contorted into a claw around my BlackBerry. CURSES!

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The road ahead looked rough for me. Yet, I was willing to travel it. I had navigated my way out of the friend zone before. I was determined. I had never wanted anything or anyone that much in my life. Just over a month later, we were a couple. And we are still blissfully happy, three years later, on the other side of the world. Valentine’s Day may not be something we celebrate, but the general  buzz of romance around the world led me to remember the day where my love for Kristen began. Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day, everyone.

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