Thursday, 20 August 2009

Seoul far


I never imagined losing a whole day on a flight across the world would take such a toll on my system. I've been in a haze... a constant state of complacence... I've been agreeing and nodding my head to every instruction thrown in my direction. My mom would be proud!

I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, wired and wide awake. I meant to wake up at 7 a.m. to go get my medical exam done at the hospital for 8. I guess the jet lag is taking it's toll. It was also boiling in my room at night - the AC was turned off automatically in the middle of the night, across the building. A good way to save energy... if it's not boiling in the building already. But I also think that's the jet lag talking.

I have a roommate, and we're staying in the dorms at the NIIED in Seoul. I'll be here for about nine days before heading out with my co-teacher to the apartment they've got lined up for me.

Entering Seoul was a bizarre experience. There's something to be said about being in a place where you don't recognize any of the signs... save for the little woman on the door, telling you it's the ladies room.

I bought a calling card while at the airport, and had to teach myself to use the payphone. Who knew that I had to hit the 'emergency' button on the phone, in order to use my calling card?

As I waited for the bus at the airport, I noticed a lot of young American guys mulling around the gate. Every so often an army guy would come in and yell for them to get on a bus. He would refer to them by their numbers. I guess they were all serving time on the American army base in Incheon.

The bus ride into Seoul from Incheon was interesting. It didn't feel like I was on the other side of the world... until I'd look out the window and see fields, water, and traffic that's somewhere in between the chaos of Goa and the organized mess in Toronto.

Generally speaking, people have been very nice and open. I've already had two people ask me if my naturally curly hair is a perm. I also think I bonded with one of the program workers, who was mock-timing me while I struggled to give them a urine sample at the hospital, this morning. Hey! I hadn't had anything to eat or drink in 12 hours. Give a girl a break.

Anyway, all in (less than) a day's work. I will have a post with photos soon. Until then, lots of love, from Seoul!


p.s. For all those of you wondering, Yes, I am loving the scenery at the NIIED dorms. :)

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

No baby steps

What's that point between absolute exhaustion and nervousness? So much so, you know you're craving some much needed bedtime, but you can't fall asleep? Is there a word for it? Because that's where I am at the moment.

I'm sitting on my empty bed, in my empty bedroom, with two stuffed suitcases and a carry-on bag that I pray will make it past the check-in counter. The car will be here at sunrise to drop me off at the airport.

I wasn't going to blog tonight, simply because I'm not sure where my thoughts are.

On one hand I can't wait to begin this new adventure. I'm excited for all that I've yet to learn, observe and take part in. I want to add to who I am, in the hopes that I'll become a better person down the road. I am going into this experience with an open heart and mind, knowing that whatever comes my way will enhance my character and help define my place on this earth.

Then, the other part of my brain kicks in, and I find myself shaking with fear. No, not the fear that's crippling (I'm well past crippling), but the kind that makes me second guess myself, and tends to over think and over anticipate. None of which I want to do.

I'm hoping the part that's willing to go with the flow and embrace all events and happenings will somehow overthrow the nerves.

I'm looking forward to sleeping on the plane.

To all of you who've shared your thoughts, comments and wishes with me over the past few weeks, THANK YOU! Your support has meant the world, and your actions and words will forever remain in my heart.

Here's to the next chapter... I can't believe I'm actually doing this!


Monday, 17 August 2009

Who's idea was it...

... to insist upon a 23kg/bag allowance while flying internationally? Perhaps a better question is: how am I supposed to pack my life for a year into two suitcases, weighing said amount. If I go over my limit, it's a guaranteed $100/bag!

I need advice, travelers. What are your thoughts? If you note the time stamp for this blog, you'll see 3 a.m. This is not a joke... I have been sorting and packing and sorting some more, trying to figure out what goes and what stays. It isn't working at all!

I have to try again tomorrow. Is it doable? Or should I go over my limit on at least one bag and allow for the extra cost?

And I haven't even gotten to my backpack yet.

I remember packing for my trip to Cuba a couple of years back, and thinking that I wouldn't need much because I'd be in my bathing suit for at least 75 per cent of the time. I was proud of my packing skills... only to get to Cuba and realize that I wish I'd packed more clothes and accessories.

This isn't an all-inclusive vacation now.

What do I do?


Thursday, 13 August 2009

Eyes on the Skies

I just realized today is my last Thursday in Toronto ... .... ...


I don't know whether it has something to do with the fact I'll be on a plane next week, but I've been spending a great amount of daytime and nighttime staring up at the skies.

The other day I was waiting for the bus, and the horizon directly ahead of me had this perfectly pillowy cloud puffing up into the sky. It looked like something out of a cartoon (or like the clouds my mother would draw for my art projects as a child). A beautiful cotton puff with this amazing shade of blue as the backdrop. Standing there in the middle of rush hour, I actually started laughing because I caught myself getting so taken up by the scene.

That day after I got home, I was sitting on the balcony while The Ginge chased after birds, and I caught sight of a rain cloud. It was dark and grey, looking obviously threatening.... but still so spectacular! I watched it burst open, pouring buckets onto the hot pavement below. It's funny because it reminded me of a monsoon rainstorm in India - the sun was shining through the entire show.

Which brings me to last night. I was having trouble sleeping and decided to go out on my balcony an get some fresh air. I also wanted to see if I could catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower. I didn't think I'd be able to see anything because of all the light pollution in the Big Smoke, but I figured I'd try my luck anyway.

As I stepped out onto the cool concrete and took a deep breath of fresh morning air, I found my eyes drawn to the skies again... but this time, to a thousand and one twinkling stars. I couldn't believe it! I thought I was imagining things (sort of like when you really want to see something and your brain starts playing tricks on you, leading you to believe it might actually be there).

I was amazed. What a way to begin two dozen! And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, I saw a shooting star (a piece from comet Swift-Tuttle) zoom westward, from the corner of my eye!

Yes, I made a wish.

Why is it that when things happen between about midnight and 5 a.m., they don't seem so real? In that moment I was taking everything in, grinning like a dopey kid. But when I woke up this morning, it all seemed so surreal.

Anyway, that was my 48-hour affair with the skies! Mother Nature, after the mood swings you've made us endure this summer, I'm learning to love and appreciate all aspects of you!


Photo courtesy of Popular Science (meteor shower)

Sunday, 9 August 2009

I'm OK. You're OK.

I'm overwhelmed.

I spent Saturday doing some of the shopping for my big move. I'm not quite certain why, but my nerves are rattled. Sometimes, in a quiet moment, I'll find myself thinking about what it is I'm doing... and soon enough I realize that I've freaked myself out.

The mind is a bizarre place, isn't it? I spent a good enough period thinking about making this decision, and now that I have, I'm thinking about all the reasons I shouldn't have done it.

I wish I didn't have time to think, just for that reason.

On a car ride through the city a few months ago, my friend noticed that I spend a great amount of time staring out the window. She likened me to another friend of hers who drifts off in thought sporadically.


The news seems to be digesting strangely across the board. Some of my friends are pretty thrilled about the opportunity, as they are well-traveled and know of how much one learns and grows when on their own.

Others say they wished I was given an offer good enough to let me stay in Toronto. I suppose in an ideal situation that may have been best... but that's life, right?

I met up with one girlfriend last week. She said she was excited about this opportunity, but admitted she was sad she wouldn't be able to have random dates with me any more. I shared her sentiments. We spent the evening along Toronto's harbourfront, taking in a free movie playing in the outdoor theatre by the water... truly, such a fun experience. It made me miss the city already. But the next day another friend reminded me that Toronto will always be here for me, so I have nothing to worry about.

I was grateful. Because I won't forget the city... but I fear sometimes that the city might forget me.


Photo courtesy of Zazzle

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Say Anthing...

Under a full moon night, a girlfriend and I watched this timeless 80s classic starring John Cusack. The movie showed at Toronto's Harbourfront (on the Sirius stage) to an audience made up mostly of girlfriends and spaced out couples.

What can we say about Lloyd Dobler?
He's every guy next door: the perfect blend of klutz, wreck, lovable geek, secret ninja and swooning romantic in one simply wrapped package.

And as we watched him, we swooned too.

I wonder about the guy from NOW magazine who introduced the movie. He was talking on stage, and towards the end of his shpeel he spoke to the men and women in the audience. To the men he said, "Guys, face it, we will never match up to Lloyd Dobler." And to the women he said, "Ladies, don't expect us to match up to Lloyd Dobler... because he's NOT REAL."

So? Truly guys, I think aspiring to emulate this fictitious character is possibly one of the easiest tasks you can take on in your life. It may be a daunting thought, but think about it - you really only need to do three things:

1. Keep it simple and speak the truth
No fancy stuff. Diane Court called Lloyd Dobler basic... and meant it as a compliment. I think being basic is a compliment... it means you're able to present yourself in the rawst sense... a sort of... "this is me, take it or leave it" kind of deal.

2. Maintain a sense of optimism
Lay it out there without fear of ramifications. Believe in true romance. Take risks and keep your toes and fingers crossed that it will all work out. If it doesn't, you leave knowing you at least tried and went after what you wanted.

3. Communicate
Use your words. Don't think for 30 minutes about what you're going to say over the course of 30 seconds. Give it a bit of thought and just speak! Let what's in your head and heart out. You'll be amazed at how much clearer things become.

No wonder this character not only became a movie icon, but also the secret desire for women from almost every walk of life. There's even a band out there called the Lloyd Dobler Effect.

Sometimes when we think we want glamour, what we're really asking for is... basic.


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Breaking news... for some

Because some of you saw this coming.

I'm thankful for having started this blog two years ago, because it's given me the chance to post big announcements and changes without having to repeat myself to every person in my life.
If you're reading this, you probably know what I'm about to say... and if not... here you go:

I'm moving to Seoul, South Korea in just over two weeks!

I quit my job at the magazine today, and have decided to accept a teaching position in Seoul for a year. If all goes according to plan, I should be back in Toronto by August 2010.

What's going to happen to Straight From the Curls?

Well, my work on this blog from the get-go has been very open-ended. I've written about everything from events in my own life to special features on this beautiful city that I live in. In the coming posts I'll be documenting my final days in Toronto, as I try to pack my life into two suitcases and move across the world.

In the days leading up to this post, I've had unbelievable lows and some good highs. I kept this information to myself because until today, I wasn't quite sure if I was planning on seriously going through with this adventure. But there's no turning back now, and I must admit I'm pretty excited.

Once I get to Seoul, I hope to keep track of my day-to-days on here. I want to share photos, thoughts and interesting pieces of information I gather on my travels. I hope you'll continue to frequent the blog and comment.

On that note, please comment... I love hearing what your thoughts are! You don't have to be a blogger, simply use the 'anonymous' or 'name' option from the commenting drop-down menu.

What's breaking my heart about the entire experience is the fact that I have to say goodbye to people I have come to love so dearly, for the first time in many years.

It's strange because I'm usually the one staying behind, watching others leave on to their ventures. But I know the timing's right. Whether it ends up being good or bad, I'm looking forward to what lies ahead.

I want to thank each and every one of you for all your support over the past few months as I've gone through the processes leading up to this decision. It's meant a lot and I am very blessed to have you all in my life.

Stay tuned for the next chapter and visit often!


Photo courtesy of Weblo

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Why'd I keep that?

It's a question I've been asking myself for over two weeks now, as I've spent the greater part of my spare time cleaning up the remains of the past 12 years of my life.

And each time, I'm not quite sure what the answer is.

All I know is that at the time I put the items away, it felt as though I'd always look at them as fondly. I imagined that every time I pulled out the Shakespeare paper I scored a measly C+ on, I'd look at it and say "Awesome!"

That's not quite the case.

In fact, I'm pretty irritated with the teenage version of myself, and in parts, am also furious with the twenty-something me as well.

What was I thinking holding on to every bank statement, paper, receipt, magazine, critique, clipping, cover, CD, nick-knack, stuffed animal and lanyard from years gone by?

My room is a landfill of crap! Few items of substance and a majority of dust-gathering nothingness.

The fact that I haven't searched for or even looked at any of these items for so many years should have been a warning sign.


Regardless, after a couple week of intense labour courtesy of my former self, I can finally see empty shelves and clean table-spaces in my room.

So far:
3 bags of clothes and accessories have gone to Goodwill
5 garbage bags of paper and old school assignments have headed to the recycling receptacles
3 boxes of books have been packed away
Approx. 20 (yes 20) pieces of makeup, hair product and expired moisture have gone out the door

And although I'm not quite done, I am starting to feel more relieved. When I first started, I went into panic at the fact that this would be such a daunting task.

There's really something liberating about cleaning away items that are reflective of yourself. You start to realize that, at the end of the day, they're just things and aren't of much substance. What matters is how and if those items added to or helped develop the person you are at the moment.

Then, you realize it's time to leave the past behind, live in the present and look forward to the future.

I'm feeling good today!
Incidentally, I also feared turning into Marjory the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock.
It works on so many levels.


Photo courtesy of EnvironmentalGraffiti
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