Daegu

Daegu Story Slam | once a storyteller, always a storyteller…

Last weekend, I went out on a limb and stopped into a monthly Story Slam meet-up in Daegu. I vaguely recall seeing past events shared to various local Facebook groups I was in over the years, but I always turned up my nose and just assumed it was something I had no interest in.

Oh, how wrong I was.

I don’t remember if I took the time to research what an actual Story Slam is the last time my interest was piqued, but this time I made the effort. And I was immediately enraptured by what I saw.

I was born to be a storyteller…

In short (if you don’t want to do the research), a Story Slam is like an open mic for people to (obviously) share their stories. A theme is chosen for the night/event and your story should somehow relate to it. You’re given a certain time limit to tell your story and it does have to be a story – not a poem or something you’ve written or a performance: it’s a real-life story that happened to you. You don’t make notes, you don’t over-prepare, you just get up and tell your story to (most likely) a room full of strangers.

Now, I love telling stories… If you’ve read any part of this blog, my guess is that’s pretty apparent.

I’m constantly recounting epic tales to my friends about my ridiculous experiences, family interactions, and crazy Tinder-related sexual escapades over the years – I love hearing and telling a good story. I love flexing my funny muscle and hearing my pals laugh at the stupid situations I’ve found myself in.

To get a feel for what exactly a Story Slam is, I watched several YouTube videos of other storytellers doing their thing at various events across the US and I knew immediately I wanted to see it in action. Many speakers told funny stories and had the audience laughing, others told heart-wrenchingly honest stories that plucked at listeners’ heartstrings – on both sides of the spectrum, these were my people.

The problem was that these one-off videos didn’t really give me a completely clear idea of what a live event would be like, so I needed to see it for myself. I decided that I would attend the next Daegu Story Slam.

And here’s the kicker: I decided to be brave and went alone.

(I might also add that the event in Daegu is held every month in a bar… and I’m doing Whole30 this month so I’m not drinking… So I resolved to buy someone else a drink to earn my spot at a table.)

a lone storyteller…

I didn’t know anyone in town that would be willing and able to accompany me to the latest Story Slam, so I decided to go on my own and just sit and observe. As it turned out, I did know a few people who ended up being there throughout the night, but I sat on my own at a full table of strangers most of the night.

The theme of the evening was “Confessions” and the event hosts were collecting “anonymous confessions” from the audience. I dropped a couple of my own in – participation is key, right?!

As the night wore on, the hosts kept encouraging attendees to be a storyteller because just a few people had signed up, so there were several spots available.

I hadn’t planned on telling a story but there were openings, I was being given an opportunity to observe before jumping in to see how it “worked,” and my friend, William, encouraged me.

My conversation with William went a little like this:

“You should tell a story,” said he.

“Well, I’m just not sure what story I should tell… I have plenty of things I can confess to and few things I’m overly embarrassed about, so I guess I could,” I replied.

“You can totally do this. ‘A little bit brave’? How about ‘a lot brave.’ You can totally tell a great story,” he gently pressed.

“Yeah, okay. I’ve got a story,” I said.

So, I signed up and it was like I had been doing it forever…

I put my name in the hat and when I was called up, I told a fantastic tale about how I have always loved to laugh but it has caused me trouble in the past… because I used to have a terrible time trying to hold my bladder. (Translation: I used to pee in my pants from laughing too hard all. The. Time.)

I was invited to the mic and introduced and it was made clear to the audience that it was my first time. Everyone cheered their encouragement and I hit the ground running with my story.

 

daegu story slam

 

And you know what? I was nowhere near as nervous as I thought I would be. In fact, I was completely energized and just a tinge nervous – I was barely aware of my heart beating a little faster and my face wasn’t getting too overheated.

It was like I had been telling stories to an audience for years.

I’m no stranger to public speaking, but I’ve always been nervous about being in front of people. I just don’t know what happened that night…

I’m glad I took the leap…

What I haven’t admitted to you, Reader, is that I almost didn’t go… I had been out shopping for a few things and had some cumbersome bags; I didn’t have a buddy to join me in a bar and I wasn’t drinking alcohol. But I dragged myself to the gathering anyway and saw just a single face I recognized.

Since returning to Korea in September (surprise!), my friend pool has dwindled and changed. Folks have moved, had babies, or left the country altogether. That initial decision of bravery on Saturday night introduced me to something new that I know I’m going to love being part of and opened a new door for meeting people.

It was a fantastic decision.

 

I haven’t taken many brave steps over the last 12 months – something I’m a little ashamed to admit – but this one was a good one. I’m so glad I went, even with my shopping bags and no tag-along pal. Sometimes, being brave doesn’t mean stepping far outside of our comfort zones – even small steps matter.

Thanks, Daegu Story Slam community, for offering me a seat at the table and an opportunity to be part of the human connection in that room. It was a blast.

 

As we close out 2018, what brave steps have you taken this year? What do you want to do before the year is over? There’s still time! Share with me in the comments.

 

What Are You Doing with Your “Korean” Life?

I wrote this post with the intention of having it published by the Daegu city blog, but after careful consideration, I decided to publish it on my own. 

If you don’t live in Korea, that’s okay. Instead of reading it like you’re in Korea, insert your own life circumstance. It could be your physical geographical location, your job, or whatever you want it to be. But no matter “where” you “are” in your life right now, take a good look at your surroundings and consider what you’re doing with your opportunities. If you’re not happy, where can you make a change?

As we exit the first month of our new year, to me, it always seems as though people (myself included) lose sight of the goals and aspirations we had when we broke into our new calendars. This year, reignite that flame you had. Chase after those dreams you dreamt. Pursue the things that matter most to you.

Make this your year, Reader.

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If you’re like me, you love living in Korea. The day I arrived in Seoul, I was scared out of my wits, but I knew I had made the right decision – literally the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

I decided to come to Korea to teach because I was tired of being in dead-end jobs that I loathed. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology and like so many others of our generation, I realized too late that I didn’t want to work and retire in my chosen industry. So, what did I do instead?

I worked in sales. And I was really good at it. But I effing hated it.

There is nothing in life quite like doing a job you hate. I was always stressed, always sick to my stomach, and I watched as the companies I worked for turned me into someone I wasn’t. I was tired of standing on the sidelines of my life and whispering to myself that there had to be “more out there.” I decided to do something about it.

I came to Korea to teach for a year. And lo and behold, a year has turned into nearly 3.

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happily ever after: a traditional Korean wedding…

Over the summer, I had the honor of attending an American friend’s traditional Korean wedding. I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to a couple of weddings in Korea – both celebrations of love between a dual-Korean couple – but this was even more special, as the ceremony was steeped in history and tradition that is absent from the popular Westernized weddings in Korea today.

My friend, Nicole, was gracious enough to let me take photographs at her wedding and share some of the exciting moments with you, Reader. 

Contemporary Korean Weddings

Traditional Korean weddings are somewhat of a rarity in Korea today. Instead, Western-influence wedding halls seem to line the streets in popular areas of town and are sometimes even tucked away in unlikely places – like in my neighborhood, tucked behind a “Debec Mart,” a neighborhood mini-mart.

Korean weddings are interesting because even though they seem like they’re trying to imitate everything about Western-style weddings, they’re also totally different. What’s fascinating about Korean wedding halls is that they sell the bride and groom an entire package for their wedding, much like a wedding planner might do in a Western country.

It’s truly a mix-and-match situation: the couple is presented a list of all the offerings the hall has, and they choose from this proverbial buffet how their short ceremony will go.

Korean wedding hall

Lobby of the wedding hall where my co-worker, Emily, was married.

The Wedding Necessities

Everything, from the gown the bride wears to the photos, is provided by the hall. (That’s right, ladies! Korean women don’t buy their wedding dresses; they rent them from the hall. They choose one, wear it on their big day, and give it right back.)

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I didn’t mean to leave you, Reader… I promise…

READER. I’ve been a terrible blogger. I know, I know, I’ve been absent for a good three… maybe even FOUR… weeks… This isn’t an April Fools joke. I for reals left you for a while.

And I’m really, really sorry. The good news is that I’ve got lots to tell you. (Because let’s face it – even though some of my stories are crazy, they’re totally, TOTALLY, entertaining.) The better news is that I’m not going to do it all in one post. (You wouldn’t want to be stuck reading the same post for a full day, would you?)

I’ll make a big “to do” post on goals for April tomorrow; but for now, I think we should just get caught up on where things have gone since we last, erm, “spoke.”

So, let’s get down to business.

  1. Our school got a new teacher, Brandi. She’s super-awesome and the even cooler news is that she and my little sis, KSD, share the exact same birthday. That’s right, folks, random birthday twins. As a result, I feel super protective of her and have been dragging her around to all my activities, including dragging her to Busan for a day of fun. (She doesn’t seem to mind, though, so don’t get the idea that I’ve been evil or anything…)
  2. I posted a blog post written by my friend, Anna Wickham, about being a little bit brave. Hers is the first in a series I’m planning to carry through much of this year. If you missed it, you can read it here. You should also check out Anna’s blog, The Worldly Blend.
  3. I have been out on not one, but TWO Tinder dates since posting about Project Tinder. One of them was great, the other one was the worst nightmare I’ve ever had while awake. More on that in a coming post. Trust me, you’ll want to read all about that one…
  4. I am totally behind on my reading schedule because of the aforementioned bad awful Tinder date… Basically, I fell off the bandwagon on everything because I was so shaken up by that situation… I also went back to ingesting sugary stuff… In essence, the March intentions are almost all completely smashed. :( But you know, whatever.
  5. I paid off a GIANT credit card! I had $1000 left on one that I’d been carrying a balance on since 2010. I also closed that account in 2010 because I couldn’t afford the regular monthly payments… The company agreed to lower my payments if I closed the account; so I had a credit card with a nasty balance that I couldn’t even use. FINALLY paid that b***h off! And you know what? Once my dollars transfer into my account in a couple of days, I’m going to pay off another one that is sitting at $1875. Paying down credit card debt never felt so liberating and painful all at the same time. (That’s a lot of money I would have preferred to use elsewhere, you know?)

    LOOK!

    LOOK!

  6. I went back to book club and invited the ladies to join me for a food project I’m working on for the city. We ate at a buffet/steakhouse until we were about to explode and then walked to the nearby river and played a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity. Not surprisingly, I won. (I’m truly a terrible person on the inside…)
  7. It’s officially spring in SK and my allergies that I always try to ignore are kicking in, full-swing. I had BKFF take me to a doctor this morning because the last two nights, I’ve been waking up. Ugh, it’s gross and I’m semi-miserable. Yuck, yuck, yuck. At least the cherry blossoms are beautiful, though!
  8. I started taking a Korean class again and it is way more challenging this time around than it was last time. The teacher is using a different book series (which I don’t really care for….) and she doesn’t speak English in the class except when I ask a question and need clarification. She is really sweet and high-energy, which is good because I need someone exciting to keep me awake; but most of the time I have no idea what’s going on… She speaks so fast. I figure the challenge is a good thing, but sometimes I ask myself why the hell I signed up for the class in the first place…
  9. I’ve been questioning whether or not leaving Korea next year is the right move for me… In some ways, I am ready to go home and be there for a while. However, on the other hand, I keep thinking how great it would be to have just one more year to save now that I don’t have all that credit card debt hanging over my head. I’ll never have another opportunity to live like this again, most likely – to have such low living costs and the ability to see this part of the world. I read yet another “wanderlust-y” article today on Wander Onwards that inspired me to change my plans again, so, here I am, considering change… The next step in my plan seems so close, and yet, I’m not sure if I want this part to end yet… I’m sure more on this will come up soon.
  10. I’m currently in the process of getting a Korean drivers license so KBFF and I can make a pilgrimage to the new IKEA Korea. She’s never been and I truly believe she needs to be subjected to the awesomeness that is the maze of IKEA. Plus, I really want a lamp and they’re crazy expensive here.

So there you have it. Ten things to get you quickly updated on where things are with yours truly. I promise that I’m going to be back with you regularly, twice a week, from here on out. Sorry I was gone for a while, Reader. I had to recuperate from that Tinder date and my schedule just went crazy for a while. I’m so glad we’re getting back together – I really missed you!

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Enough about me… How have you been?! I hope to hear from you in the comments!

project tinder… a “real life” science experiment…

Happy Tuesday, Reader! Let’s get down to business.

Lately, I’ve been taking notice of what “search terms” randomly lead people to my blog and apparently, something along the lines of “Tinder in Korea” is a big one. I’m here to tell you that if you found this blog that way, Tinder works in Korea. But enough about that. Let’s move on to what this post is really all about.

Several months ago, I was introduced to Tinder. I was immediately hooked. And I realized quickly after I started swiping faces left and right that it was more of a game to me. Let me explain.

First, if you’re not familiar with Tinder (maybe you’ve been living under a rock, or somehow don’t have regular access to internet, or you live in North Korea), it’s a rather simplistic “dating” app. Well, it’s more of a “hookup” application, if we’re being really honest. Basically, you set up a VERY limited profile about yourself – you can add up to six photos and write a “blurb” that’s around 500 characters. You can also link your Facebook account to show similar interests to other users who also link their FB profiles. You choose your search parameters – age, gender, and the maximum radius for a search. Once you’ve done all that, you’re ready. The application “scans” within your preferred radius and you’re suddenly presented with up to six photos of potential “matches.” The beauty of the system is that you’re allowed to be completely shallow and the other person will never know. If you like what you see, you “swipe” the photo to the right. If you’re not so enthused, you “swipe” to the left. If you and another user both “swipe” each other right, it’s a match! Simple as that.

Now that we’ve had our lesson, let’s get back to the meat of this [very one-sided] conversation.

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