Category Archives: anything & everything

6 of 25!

Back in December, www.thedailybeast.comranked the Best Cities to Find a Date in 2012, ranking the top 25.  Now, I feel the “top 25” is a bit misleading as they list cities separately that are a part of the same metropolitan area; for instance Alexandria, VA & Washington, DC or Seattle & Bellevue, Wa.   Atlanta topped the list, but looking through the other 24 I realized I’ve either lived/worked in 6 of the cities on the list…all of which I found it extremely hard to find dates in…hench why I’m still single in 2012!   Rounding out the top 25….

  • Seattle, WA
  • Bellevue, WA
  • Richmond, VA
  • Norfolk, VA
  • Alexandria, VA
  • Washington, DC

I also found it interesting that Lincoln, NE was #3…maybe because the people there are so freakin’ nice and there is nothing else to do that everyone just goes on dates all the time.

Belltown Badness?

This is an interesting video and look at Belltown, the very neighborhood I live in.   I oddly feel safe, even when walking my dog alone late at night.  I live about a block and half from where the NYE shooting took place, yet on my block it’s quiet and calm at 2am with nothing more than a few drunk people stumbling home.  It’s amazing what changes in a matter of blocks.

New Year’s Resolutions (a bit delayed)

It’s now January 12th (almost the 13th) and for some odd reason I’m having a hard time grasping that it’s 2012.  Of course the first couple weeks of every year we all have to think one extra second before writing down the date on something, but other than that a New Year doesn’t normally affect me, but this year is different.  I’ve been having a hard time falling asleep since new years because I can’t seem to turn my brain off.  Every night I lay in bed, close my eyes then think and think and think.  “I want to complete this task tomorrow”, ‘I need to do that this weekend”, “Can I afford that trip”, “Oh, I need to pay that bill”.  It’s a never ending dialogue in my head of things I want to do this year, things I want to change in my life.

Every January 1st I throw out a couple cliche resolutions like “losing weight” and “saving money” and by January 2nd I’m usually thigh deep into a greasy cheese pizza while shopping online for brand new clothes that I can’t even fit into my already overstuffed closet.  I’m sure I’ll kick myself later for declaring this publicly on the internet, but this year just seems different.  This might be the first year in my life that I accomplish a few, if not all, of my goals.  Maybe that’s why it’s taken me 12 days to sit down and write this post, and 12 days to even declare my resolutions.  I haven’t over thought anything or jumped to any bold resolutions just because the date was January 1st.  This year I’ve taken time to mull things over, reevaluate my life and quietly decide on things that I want, I need! to change.

I think this year feels so different for a few reasons.  On December 31st as I stood in front of the mirror primping myself for a calm night out with my family to celebrate the New Year I noticed a few things.

  1. I’m fat.  Ok, I’m not wildly obese and on the verge of being crane-lifted out of my apartment and rushed to the hospital on a flat-bed truck, but I’m fat.  Like, need to lose the 40lbs that I’ve gained since college, fat.
  2. I’m old.  Yes, my mom is probably rolling her eyes and laughing at this one, but I literally pulled 4 silver-white hairs from my head as I got ready for New Year’s Eve dinner.  I could chalk it up to stress (that happens right?) but then it dawned on me that 2012 is the last year of my 20s!  Sure, I have 11 months till I hit the big 3-0, but it’s happening this year and as cliche as it sounds turning 30 terrifies me.  The whole “What have I done with my life? I thought I’d be so much further along by now.” is a whole other post on its on.  I could go on and on about about all the things 10 years ago I would’ve sworn I would have/done by 30.
  3. I’m tired.  Yes, I’m always tired physically, I could literally nap 3 or 4 times a day like a newborn baby, but that probably has a lot to do with #1.  This kind of tired is different.  I’m tired of settling.  Settling on my job, sure it’s a job, it pays descent, but is it really what I want to be doing for the rest of the my life? Is my career going anywhere? Sometimes I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel running furiously but not going anywhere at all.  I’m tired of doing the sames thing over and over, my life sometimes seems so monotonous.  Wake up, eat, work, nap, eat, drink, watch tv, shop, sleep, repeat.  I need some variety.  I need to try new things.

So there you have it, it’s 2012 and I’m fat, old, and tired.  Haha, saying it like that just sounds hilarious.  Don’t take this as a depression post.  Don’t worry, I’m fully aware that although I’m fat, old, and tired, I’m also young, lucky, and blessed.  I’m young and have a lot of life left to live.  I’m lucky to have a steady job in a time when a lot of people don’t.  I’m blessed to have amazing family, friends, and my fluff ball Lane in my life.

Sure I haven’t officially declared any resolutions here, but maybe that’s why I think this year will be different.  Maybe I’ll have a much better chance of accomplishing my goals without typing them permanently on the internet to haunt me.  This is the year…2012, the year of Maria!

My Favorite Things

Almost 2 years ago I wrote a post about my favorite things, which includes VT Football, Theo Chocolate, some fancy new lip gloss, , my rainbow flip flops, and the iPhone that I had yet to even get.  I figured it was high time for a update on some things that I’m loving lately and can’t seem to live without.  First let me say that I got that iPhone and I’m not going to list it in this post, but let me just say I LOVE it and it’s definitely something I can’t live without, which is sad, but true.

1.  CRUNKY!  This magical (and yes folks it’s truly magical) “ball chocolate” candy that I smuggled back from Korea is quite possibly the greatest 390 calories of sweets I’ve ever eaten.  Breakfast, lunch, or dinner…I would glady supplement any of all of these meals with a can of Crunky!  If only I could find a place here in Seattle that sells it, I’ll even settle for it in bar form at this point.  $100 reward to anyone in Seattle who can find a place that sells this, seriously, no joke.  Yes, it is impossible to type “Crunky!” without the exclamation point, it’s just that awesomely fabtastically magical.

2.  Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm.  This stuff, although not magical like Crunky!, is still pretty fabulous.  Like chapstick but with a hint of color, but good sheer color.  I rotate between the Pink Blossom and Rose tints, but might end up with every color if I don’t stay out of the Burt’s Bees aisle on my next Target trip.

3.  My apartment.  It’s been a while since I lived in an apartment that I truly loved.  I still miss my homey little townhouse style place in Alexandria, VA, but I must say, this apartment which I’ve been in for almost a year now is great.  How can you not love this view…

The roofdesk is fabulous, and I honestly just love it.  Good thing too since I already extended my lease for another year!  Sorry mover guys who I promised beer to if you saw me for a 4 year in a row, not gonna happen.

4.  Apple.  What can this company make that I don’t want to purchase?  I got my iphone, I got a MacBook Pro (which I love, love, love), I’m even jonesing for an iPad even though it does the same exact things that my iPhone and MacBook can do, but I still want one, I must have one!  Even their support products have won me over.  At the Army Exchange in Korea I finally bit the bullet and bought an Airport Express and this little bad boy hasn’t let me down yet.  Used it to have wireless in my hotel room in Korea and now loving that I can be anywhere in range, hit play on my itunes or my iphone and music plays through the big speakers.  Seriously Apple…make a product that I won’t buy & love, I dare you!

5.  Norehbang – better known as “Korean-Style” Karaoke.  I am completely obsessed with this type of private-room karaoke where you can literally sing the entire time you’re there.  I mean, sure I’ll head to a regular karaoke bar, but then I hang out for hours and hours just waiting and hoping to sing the one song I was able to submit into the see of others.  Why would I do that when I can go into a private room with friends and sing for hours on end with no interruption?  There is no reason, exactly!  This past Friday I found out there is a Norehbang right here in Seattle!  Thank goodness it’s a cab ride away and not walkable otherwise I’m fairly certain I would just move in, but if you’re wondering where I am on any given night, chance are pretty good you’re gonna find me here. (they call it Japanese-style, but we all know it’s the same thing).

So there you have it…my list of must haves recently.  Of course like last time I could go on and on for days, talking about things like Chipotle, my Kindle, Ferry Rides, the fact that a Potbelly Sandwich Works just opened up in Seattle, but I’ll leave you without all those details.   But once again… let’s bask in the best thing in my life as always…..cutest little dog ever!

Oh! The Places I’ve Been

Well, looks like I missed June-uary and only caught a glimpse of July-uary before summer finally decided to make it’s way to Seattle.  I couldn’t have timed my return from Korea any better.   The sun has been shining, the breeze has been blowing, and the roof deck has been getting used frequently.  It’s good to live in Seattle in the summertime.  With that said, the coming months are beginning to stack up to lots of travelling, just like most Falls for me, and I’ve finally decided that I really like to travel.

Sure, who doesn’t love to be in the comfort of their own home, but after a couple weeks I’m ready to hop back on a plane and explore someplace new, if only I could take Lane with me then it would be perfect.  I mentioned to a co-worker today that I’d love to live the lifestyle like George Clooney‘s character in the movie Up In The Air (On a side note: Who doesn’t want to be like George Clooney in any movie, or real life?  That guy is awesome.  If I were a dude I’d want to be just like him).  Then I thought, maybe one month on, one month off.  Yes, that would be perfect.  Travel all over for 1 month, then get to spend a whole month at home, then travel again.  I’d be happy with that and I think it would satisfy my ADD-“I’m bored every other day”-personality.

Over the past 12 months I’ve done a reasonable amount of travelling.  I know plenty of people who travel more than I do, but I know people who travel less, so I’d say I have a good balance.  Places I’ve been over the past 12 months…

  • Knoxville, TN for a week long business trip.
  • Washington, DC for some family time and of course Hokie Football!
  • El Paso, TX for another week long business trip.
  • San Francisco, CA: for a girls weekend.
  • Sacramento, CA to work for a week in our office there.
  • Virginia Beach, VA a quick trip to drop the dog off before heading on the next trip, and included a little side trip to Blacksburg, VA for some VT football of course.
  • Seoul/Pyeongtaek, South Korea!  Yeah, this was my first time in Asia and if it isn’t evident by the numerous previous blog posts I totally fell in love with Korea.
  • Virginia Beach, VA gotta head home for the Holidays
  • Virginia Beach, VA again…a mere 22 hours on the ground to drop my dog off before supposedly heading back to Korea.
  • Virginia Beach, VA again…Korea trip got cancelled, but the dog was in VA so I spent 2 weeks living and working from my parents house, it was relaxing and stifling at the same time.  I love my parents but have no desire to live at home ever again.  This also included a little side trip up to Arlington, VA for one night, but totally worth it.
  • Phoenix, AZ for what I wish I could say this was a pleasure trip, but it wasn’t.  (I miss you Grandpa.)
  • San Ramon, CA for another business trip, just 4 days.
  • Napa Valley, CA since I was already in San Ramon, convincing the sister to come down and meet me for a fabulous weekend of drinking wine in Napa wasn’t really that hard.
  • Seoul/Pyeongtaek, South Korea got to go back to Korea I went for another 8 weeks.  Squeezed in a little side trip to Jeju Island over the 4th of July weekend.
…and now it’s August again, and the year starts over.  I may be 28 and have out of college for 6+ years but is it really that strange that my years still seem to start around Labor Day?  The summer just seems like an ending, and then when the Fall rolls in, and the leaves change (or in Seattle, the rain just starts) and college football becomes my main reason for living it just seems like a new beginning of a fresh year.  So yes, I know that January is the beginning of the calendar year, and October is the beginning of the fiscal year, but for me September and college football will always be the beginning of my year.  We’ll just call it the Maria Year
Sorry…I lost track of the subject…so back to travelling…so I made 13 round trip flights, 1 one-way flight, and 4 round trip drives that included over night stays.  I’d say that was a descent year.  Wonder if I can top for 2011-2012…..on the docket for the next month..Atlanta, GA; Washington, DC; Blacksburg, VA; somewhere in TX….let the airline miles rack up!

A little piece of my Seoul….

Well folks, I’m back…back home in Seattle.  It’s been a rough 1st week home, and I will admit that for the first time in two trips to Korea and back I was finally be crippled by the jet lag.  I’ve been sleeping so much at night, during the day, whenever my eyelids start to get heavy I just give in and sleep.  Definitely need a sleep overdose intervention.

Last fall when my 2 month stint in Korea finally ended I couldn’t wait to get back to the good ol’ U S of A.  I think mostly in part because I had already gotten home sick during the Thanksgiving holiday and with Christmas being only 2 days away I was craving for some major family time.  This time leaving Seoul was less sweet and more bitter.  One week home and I’m already itchin’ to hop a plane and head back, heck after one day home I was ready to go back.   I am now home and Korea-sick.  My immediate reaction has been “Well it’s been nice to be in Seattle and visit, but now I’m bored and ready to go home”, but then I think, “Oh wait, this is home…”.

I’ve been getting asked the same question over and over the past week; “Why do you love Korea so much?”; and honestly it’s hard to pinpoint one or two things that I love about Korea, my initial response is always, “It’s just different…”.  Sure that may be a cop out answer, but honestly that’s what I feel.  I think I have city/living space ADD.  Seriously, I move apartments almost yearly like it’s my job, and over the past 10 years since college I’ve migrated between cities every few years.  I love Seattle, and I could definitely see myself here for a long time, but perhaps spending a year working abroad is just what I need.   I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all the whispers about me relocating to Korea for a year come true.  It’s so hard to not start making plans and not get my hopes up, but I’m trying to keep my head on my shoulders.  I know from what I’ve been through the past 6-8 months that nothing with this Korea work is ever set in stone.  So until I see something in writing I’m just trying to get back into my Seattle grove, without feeling like I’m back in a rut, and trying to just enjoy time in this fabulous weather with my friends and Lane.  I’m sad and missing Korea, but when it’s 75 degrees, sunny, and not humid in Seattle and it’s been monsooning in Korea for weeks now it’s hard not to feel like I’m having a nice vacation at home.

Sickness Induced Stupidity

Being sick is not fun.  Being sick away from home is really not fun.  Being sick in a foreign country on a business trip when you can’t really call in sick to work is really really not fun.  I will admit though it’s better to be sick 2 weeks before leaving South Korea than being sick on the 10 hour flight home, did that last year, that was really really really not fun.

I’ve got a cold, stuffed up, congested, coughing, sore throat, runny nose.  All that jazz, yep that’s been my life the past couple of days.  When my alarm goes off at 6:10 AM all I want to do is turn it off, climb back in bed and call in sick to work, but with deadlines quickly approaching it’s not really an option.   If only Lane was around to cuddle up to me and keep my feet warm while my fever rises.

out of bounds

When I travel on business it’s easy to get close to the people you work with.  On a normal 1-week business trip you’ll eat an average of 8 meals together, 14 if you include breakfast.  You’ll spend an average of 15 hours/day for 4-5 days with the same people and have plenty of time to chit chat between meetings, during car rides, or over meals.  After a week long business trip it’s hard not to feel like you know the people on your project team fairly well to a certain degree.

If that happens after just one week imagine what it’s like on a business trip for 1-2 months!  This is my second long-range business trip to South Korea.  Last fall I spent a total of 59 days in Korea, and now I’m on day 29 of a 48 day stint here.  As I’ve mentioned a million times before I love South Korea, but working, eating, living, and breathing with the same group of people for that long can be crazy!

The first couple weeks everyone is friendly and accommodating, especially if there are new people on the team you’ve never met before.  Then a few weeks in you realize the people you really want to hang out with and the ones you’d rather just see at the office and have an occasional lunch with.   I think I’ve realized that at about the mid-point in the trip is when people first start to get cranky about being away from home, then depressed from living on an army base (Yes! It is dingy and tan everywhere and really totally utterly depressing), and then they just get generally annoyed with every other person and want to be left alone.  I myself never seem to hit the last stage, I need human interaction and would probably just shrivel up and die if I spent every night alone in my room, but it works for some people, I get it.

Spending 1-2 months with the same people, living in the same hotel, eating the same meals, and working in the same office seem to make the normal walls of ethical professionalism just crumble.  Things that we learn about in our annual sexual harassment training just fly out of everyone’s mouth, and the TMI-meter is seriously off the charts.  (For all you old folks, TMI=Too Much Information).   Sometimes it’s nice to sit outside on a stoop for 4 hours and just chat with a co-worker, but other times you learn things that co-workers should never know about each other or you realize 10 beers deep that you’re telling a story that should’ve been locked in a vault for the rest of eternity, and the next morning you just hope that you’re co-worker was 10 beers deep and didn’t remember.  Also, the amount of alcohol involved in these trips; mainly just to keep ourselves sane and from dying of boredom; is a huge factor in the boundary-less life we lead here in Korea.

I like to think of my Korea business trips as a trip to vegas “What happens in Korea, stays in Korea!”.  I promise you that most of my stories are way out of control for this blog…seriously, my mother reads this blog!  We actually have a saying here, “OINK”, meaning “Only IN Korea”…which is totally appropriate.

Last fall I made friends with a co-worker a few years younger than me, and we were joined at the hip, first mainly for survival (we were the only two people under the age of 38!) and then I’d like to think it’s because we just became friends.  This trip is a bit different as there are now 3 others younger than me, and our little 4-musketeer group of youngsters is just one step away from causing complete chaos in a Seoul nightclub…ok maybe not chaos, but we are a semi-wild bunch to say the least.  Not only do we work together, live together (well in close quarters…I literally bang on the wall to communicate with my one co-worker) and eat together, but we drink, norehbang (karaoke) and generally just party together.

We all come here as co-workers, some of us have met once or twice for a projects, or talked on conference calls, but mainly we’re strangers, but when we leave here we know things about each other that no one should ever know.  We will have seen each other eat too much and drink way too much.  We will remember the time we slept side by side at 4am on the tile floor of a JinJilbang (korean spa), the time we danced a little too close for comfort at the club, and all the other things that we do that co -workers should honestly never do together.   At the end of this trip we’ll all say goodbye, we’ll hug, we’ll say “let’s keep in touch” and some of us will, some of us won’t, but no matter what we will all have a lot of blackmail on one another!  Oh the pictures…the boundary-less pictures.

I <3 Korea.

Have I mentioned that I love South Korea?!?!  Well, I do.  As I sit back in my depressing room at the lodgy; which many of us have begun to refer to as prison, concentration camp, hell, etc…you get the picture; I’m reminiscing over pictures from my trip here last fall and uploading pictures from the past few weeks.  Let’s just say that besides the drastic weather change, and a new hair cut that things haven’t changed much.  My pictures are still a great blend of scenery and history of this great country mixed in with pictures of food, soju drunk friends and lots and lots of dancing!  Oh goodness, I think I could live in Korea solely for the dancing and norehbang (karaoke)!!   I may not be the best singer, but lord knows I will pick up a mic and belt at a tune at any given opportunity.  I just feel sorry for my friends & co-workers that I’ve been subjecting to my vocal stylings.

In the interest of time, and because for once I’m actually at a loss for more words… Yes, I’m sure you don’t believe that last sentence, but honestly my mind is just dead this evening…I’m just gonna fill the rest of this post with some pictures from the past couple weeks.  This should sum up my time so far…

Far East Movement

Like a G6! Like a G6!   Nope, I’m not joining the awesome hip hop group that sings such classics as Like a G6, Rocketeer, & Go Ape (yes, that is a name of one of their tracks).  I have however made some movement to the far east.  I’m in Korea (again)!   Get it?? Far East Movement…going to Korea…therefore I’m made “movement to the far east”.  Hahahaha, I’m so punny!!!

After my return trip in February got cancelled last minute, and months and months passed I wasn’t sure I’d ever see my sweet sweet Seoul again, but low and behold, I’m here!  It’s strange that as the bus rambled its way through streets of Seoul and I peered out the windows trying to stay awake for just a few more minutes, that it felt like a homecoming.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Seattle, but there is just something about Korea that makes me feel like I belong, and no it’s not the short people.  Actually the average height here is pretty comparible to the US, I am still the shortest person everywhere I go.

Anyway, I’m completely and utterly excited to be in Korea again and to have a few extra days staying in Seoul before easing back into Army Base life (not looking forward to that!).   I feel at ease navigating the subway, ordering bulgogi, and drinking soju like it’s my job.  And don’t worry I’ll be posting pictures and stories of my antics over the next 6 weeks for all to enjoy.

Thank you Korea for welcoming me back, now let’s PATRY LIKE IT’S 1999! Some people are still dressing like that anyway…