Oh, excuse me 8 months. I didn't notice you were there.

5:49 AM Jessica Montgomery 0 Comments


Things have been held at a constant pace of full speed ahead here. I can't really remember the last time I was "bored". Sure, sitting here at my school desk can be a little tiresome. I've logged in too many hours in this chair and my butt is beginning to feel flat (Is that even possible? Maybe not.). But honestly, what's there to complain about when in my free time (at work) all I do is listen to new music and research my next trip to Hong Kong and Japan? Not much. Not much at all.
 
Last week I decided to have a little dinner party at my place to celebrate the fact that...well, everything's fine here! Threats from North Korea have done little to impact any aspect of life here in South Korea. So, the name of my party was North Korea: Aint Nobody Got Time For That. Yep. I provided the 'Nuclear Noodles', 'Supreme Leader Salad', and 'Rocket Propelled Blueberry Cake'. Call me insensitive, but when you're here and your family and friends and your friend's family and friends are back home worrying, it does take a toll on you. And you do start to worry a little bit. (Or, at least have the feeling that maybe you should start to worry a little bit.) A little poking-fun was in order. So, we ate in celebration of the fact that nothing serious happened or was going to happen. Take that North Korea: You make threats. We party.
Though, a funny thing did happen... I live right by the Government Complex in Daejeon. It's actually directly across from my building. And as a couple of my friends made their way to my place they were greeted by guards. Guards hiding in bushes. Guards hiding in bushes with guns. Big guns apparently. On two separate occasions people walked in saying: "You'll never guess what just happened..." It added to the theme of the night that's for sure!
Seriously though, remember when North Korea was a 'thing'?
 
On a completely different note (Make art not war.), this past week I was fortunate enough to have been photographed by my artistic-peer and friend Sasha. She's in the process of making a body of work to show at the exhibition that I too have been preparing for. I had to take a cab to her place. She lives in an house-apartment in a residential area just outside of Dunsan so the ride there wasn't too painful. Aside from the fact that I'm pretty sure the cab driver hated me. I ditched out of that cab quicker than you can say "Yogio!" She's been here for about 6 years so her home was... homey! I loved it. Art and photo shoot props were tacked up everywhere. It reminded me of my room/studio space back in Michigan. She even had a lovable, squirmy, little dude of a Boston Terrier named Bruce Wayne.
Hair and makeup took about an hour. I leaned back in her makeup chair and the next thing I knew I had eyebrows made of blue glitter and a head dress made of seashells. Her makeup hand was impressively steady and delicate. I was never good at doing other people's makeup. (Turns out: She grew up around drag queens. Ah, yes! That might explain it.) After the makeup was complete she wrapped my hair around foam props (half of which we had to wrestle away from Bruce Wayne) and added octopus tentacles made out of handmade paper. Her latest series turns the women she photographs into goddesses based off of their and her own personal aesthetic. I just happened to be a sea goddess. Go figure. :)
The photo shoot itself took about an hour. My back was starting to feel the pangs of the heavy headdress and hours logged in at a computer chair. But I felt feminine and powerful. Sasha's direction made me feel comfortable and gave me a confidence that had me leaning towards the thought I might have a clue as to what I was doing.
 It was an amazing experience and one that I haven't had in a while. I miss getting weird with clay and paint. And the photos came out... incredible. I can't believe that they're me.
 
This past weekend I hopped a train with a couple of friends and headed two hours South East to the city of Daegu. I've never been to Daegu. I've always heard that it was eclectic, fun, and foreigner friendly due to the large military presence there. Having been, I'd have to say that all of the above are true.
After a late night of biking and beer, waking up in the morning to head to the train station would be a challenge for anyone. But I'm usually a morning person. But I'm not a morning person when it's freezing rain and our activities for the day include climbing trees and zip lining. Thankfully, we are a giddy and resilient little group that could have fun with a cardboard box and a flashlight. (This theory has yet to be tested.)
The train ride there was super cute. Me and my little group turned our chairs around so that we could face one another, share stories, and more importantly -share snacks. About fifteen minutes outside of Daejeon is started snowing. Snowing!!! We laughed at the fact that we packed Spring clothes and at the fact that we were being transported into Narnia.
Seriously Korea. Get your weather together. I know you've got something to prove to this little Michigander, but I get it. You're moody.
To throw another wrench in our weekend plans, our booking at the hostel was messed up and we were met by two other 'friends' who turned out to be THE biggest party-poopers on the face of the planet. Like I said, WE could have fun in a cardboard box. Safe to say that these two would've been kicked out of our cardboard box fort long ago. We might've even put up a blanket moat for extra measure...
So, what to do on a rainy day in a city know for it's outdoor activities? A dog/cat cafe of course! I've seen photos. But I've never been. Until now. So, how does a dog cafe work? Well. You buy an expensive coffee or tea of your choice and walk into a room to cuddle with dogs of all shapes and sizes. It wasn't long til we fell in love. We all sat in a circle on the floor and played into the whim of each dog. Some wanted to cuddle. Some wanted to sleep in your lap. And some wanted to attack your clothing. All of which were fine by me.
After spending some time with Man's Best Friend, we headed downstairs to the cat cafe. I wasn't too excited by this, but! there we met up with a friend of a friend (a Daegu EPIK teacher) who added to the group like no one else could. If those two that joined us earlier were fun-suckers, Willie was the opposite of that. We meandered about town for a bit and finally parted ways with the Debbie-Downers. Once they left, I swear to you the clouds parted, the sun came out and everyone couldn’t stop laughing. Since our adventure in the trees was post-poned til Sunday, we fell back on other things that Daegu had to offer. One of them being a shooting range. Kate had it in her mind that she was going to shoot something that day, and that day she did. We split up into two taxis and made the long journey north to the only shooting range in Korea. (In Korea it’s illegal to own a gun. Except if you're a hunter. Even then, the gun is kept at the police station during off-seasons. Smart.) Of course, to add to our anything-but-smooth-sailing weekend, our cab driver got lost. The other half of our group made it to the range and not two minutes after I said “Ya know, they’re probably there already.” we got a call from Willie saying: “Hey, we’re already here.” Oh yeah, and did I mention Kate’s umbrella broke in the car? We  couldn’t win. And yes, we were all ready to shoot some firearms.
We made it there with about a half hour left before the place closed. Four out of the six of us signed their lives away, were slapped up inside of bullet proof vests, escorted into a sound proof booth and were handed a police issue Glock. I wasn’t one of them. In lieu of everything happening around the world, I had to stick to my guns and abstain. Pun intended. So I was the photographer and cheerleader. Let’s just say…I don’t plan on making any of my friends mad anytime soon.

The nightlife in Daegu was promising. Yes. It was still raining. But that didn’t keep any expats away from standing outside to wait for a cocktail in a bag. I ordered a tequila sunrise. With no sun to be had. Cocktails in bags are famous here in Korea. Kinda like an adult Capri Sun. Walking around with one in hand is truly the epitome of what it’s like to be an expat in Korea: It feels like one big vacation. After dinner we hit up a couple expat bars and danced until we sweat out our tequila. This wasn’t difficult at all considering that the new PSY single was just released. Mother, father, GENTLEMAN! *grabs chin and swivels hips*
 
The next day we rose bright and early to head out to where we originally intended for our weekend to go: Herb Hillz Eco Park. This place was hilarious. Truly Korean. Everywhere you looked there were strange statues that seemed to have little to no cohesiveness. Buddhas next to gorillas, next to Superman next to the Phantom of the Opera, next to …wait, is that a Korean man dressed as a Mexican pulling a child on a donkey? Yes it is. The term politically correct is still young here in Korea…
But we didn’t come here for the statues! We came to Herb Hillz to tackle the tree top rope and zip line course. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve recently developed a fear of heights. But I’ve always wanted to zip line, and for a flat fee of $20 how could I pass up this adventure?
Staying true to Korean form, after a 15 minutes crash course in how to clip and unclip yourself to cables and how to attach your own zip line (All in Korean. Monkey see; monkey do I guess!) we were off! Left to our own upper body strength among the trees. I followed behind Kate and Dana behind me. We formed a little caravan of laughter and “What the hell is this?!” banter. Surprisingly enough, I never pictured myself skateboarding through trees 100ft off the ground....but that day it was made so!
We all made it through the course and carried with us an adrenaline high to last us the entire day.

I have SO much more to talk about! But, this post is running long as it is so I'll save my ramblings for a different day. 

Now, go try some kimchi!
 

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