Giggity Giggity

I’ve promised my friend Anna that I will write a blog post everyday for November, annnnnd it’s already November 3. Catch up time!

November 1

November 1st marked the day of my first real, proper, grungy, smokey, rock gig in a pub. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not cut out for this rock thing. I listen to classical music more often than not, I don’t particularly like sex or drugs, I wear flippy skirts and I like pink gel pens. Today I’m wearing a black pleather jacket and I’m concerned that I’ve over done the cool factor.

Nevertheless, when the lead singer asked if I would join the band as a pianist and female vocalist I jumped at the opportunity. The one time I had seen Malarkey perform I had the best night of my South Korean life. The crowd loved them, the band loved the crowd, and the covers they did were well chosen and fun. Why wouldn’t I want to be a part of that?

After a brief foray on the bass, I was finally back on the keys and knew what I was doing. I was so pumped for this gig. Practice and sound check went well and we booked out a motel room (jacuzzi with waterfall tap included) to get into costume. Costume. That’s right. This was Halloween. We had decided months ago that we were to go in drag. We had Lana from Archer; a female Mudkip; a man with a snake in his bra; a not-quite-spice-girl/not-quite-royal wearing the aforementioned pleather jacket; and my favourite, a bloodied up Beatrix Kiddo. I went as a punk rocker; faux-hawk, scary eye makeup, chest hair, bra-less man boobs, and stubble included. I looked decidedly feminine but overall it was effective!

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I’m still on a high from the gig. Whilst I was a bundle of nerves during my first vocal solo, and the sustain pedal got stuck on sustain, once that was over I picked up and I really enjoyed the night. I love being in this band and who knows? Maybe I will finally embrace the inner rock goddess that desperately wants me to let go.

November 2

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so CLOSE. Going from a Saturday filled with high energy performances to a Sunday filled with directing high energy performances was a poor choice. And yet, it is the life I have chosen and the life I love. The day started beautifully. A sunny brunch, followed by enthusiastic practices and a script writing session until the late afternoon.  “Late afternoon” was the problem. By the time I had finished I was shaking from caffeine intake and hangry. I snapped at a friend, she pulled me up on it… the water works started. I am not a crier. This was weird. I was overtired. Everything is good justt… stressful.

Standing there in the bus terminal, crying like I’d just lost my love interest in a K-drama, we made our way to a cafe where my friend worked her magic and convinced the cafe to make my favourite drink, a minty hot chocolate! Coupled with a vent, cinnamon sugar pretzels and hugs it wasn’t long before I was feeling a lot lighter.

In the end the tears were worthwhile. I came home tired but determined to get myself on track and I’m going to be taking extra special care of myself this month to prevent another wet-eyed attack even though my to-do list looks like it was written by Obama on speed.

I’m super pumped about this blogging challenge. A lot is going to happen this month and I think it will be healthy and fun to write about it. I also want to reflect on the year that was, considering that I am now entering my 12th month in Korea. My next post will be titled “Luncheon in Suncheon”, something that I promised a friend I would write a looonnnng time ago.

A Summer to Remember

First an explanation: After a not so brief encounter with cyber stalking (for lack of a better term) I decided to take a step back from publicly detailing my life. I didn’t abandon social networks but I did decide to put the blog on hiatus for a while and kept in touch with only a few people. Now that ties have been cut as extensively as possible with said stalker, for a couple of months, I’m feeling nervous, yet comfortable enough to continue the tale of my marvelous life here in Korea.

It was spring time when I last wrote, and now summer – my first summer in 18 months – has come and gone. My poor skin didn’t know how to handle the pressure and left me sun-ripened for a couple of weeks after climbing Halla-san, South Korea’s tallest mountain, and lazing  about on Jeju island:

I also made my (assistant) directorial debut for the farce “Rumors!” by Neil Simon, which turned out to be a fantastic success and learning experience. Furthermore I wrote and conducted my own arrangement of “geek” songs, after a commission from the council of Alleycon 2014, a western style comic convention in Gwangju:

Gwangju, as I’m sure you have noticed has become my second home in Korea and I’m happy to announce that I will be moving there in just 7 weeks. 99% of my friends live in Gwangju and my “second job”, managing a choir/performing arts organisation, is centred there. Whilst working full-time next year I will also be studying a Master of Applied Linguistics online, with a part in literature, so that I can eventually come back to study Science and English education. After the stress of the last few months defined goals for my career, savings, and life in Korea have done wonders for my health, mentally and physically.

I won’t write anymore today. I just wanted to get back into the swing of it. My friend Anna and I are intending to blog once a day in November for the blogging version of nanowrimo (na-no-blog-mo). I’m sure I will have lots to write as my latest project is directing a cabaret and dessert night to be held at the end of November. I don’t have to time to pause and that’s just how I like it!

Oh yeah. I’m also in a rock band and was in a k-pop contest winning team. lol.

Rumors and K-pop contest photo credit to R. Kojic; choir to L. Crone

Restless for Rest – A Coastal Adventure – Part 1

It was a while ago now that I took off along the southern coast of Korea for my 6 day Buddha’s Birthday holiday, yet it is still fresh in my mind like it was only last weekend. I was in the midst of May Concert rehearsals, teaching was full steam ahead and I was just starting to get serious about studying Korean.

I was busy! I wasn’t really ready for a holiday. It seemed to come at me unexpectedly, forcing a break in productivity.

I was in one of those outwardly annoying phases one projects when they are pushing themselves too hard  and forget the value of relaxation. I’d been in hospital for stomach ulcers that had caused perforations in my stomach, bad enough to need stitches, and leave a large dent in my wallet; I had sprained my ankle and I wasn’t sleeping. BUT OHHHHH NO. I WAS FINE. FIIINNNEEE LOVE. Idiot Heather.

Some part of my subconscious wasn’t quite so stupid, and listened when some Korean friends suggested I try a temple stay. I booked my self in for 3 nights at the Golgulsa Temple near Gyeongju in the South East of the country. I chose this particular temple for two reasons. First, I was keen to visit Gyeongju, one of the most historically interesting areas in the country. Secondly, Golgulsa is known for training in the art of Sunmudo, a Korean martial art; sweating my frustrations out seemed like a far more welcome idea than seated meditation.

Before I headed off to Gyeongju I had some things to take care of in my own province. I had a “western” breakfast date with a friend, Lindsay, completed with a peanut butter milkshake and a suggestion that we trip 15 minutes south to visit friends in the coastal city of Yeosu. This would be my first visit to the Korean coast. I had heard many a “you won’t be that impressed”, “you’re Australian, don’t bother”, “the water is gross and muddy in the west” – so naturally, I was keen to go. It may be the product of growing up a short walk from the relatively small, windy, basalt encrusted, seaweed stinking bay that is Altona Beach, but colour me impressed Yeosu – you’re perfect! It was small and unassuming; southward facing (so that the sun was never in my eyes); dotted with islands and cool water, perfect for paddling; surrounded by a lovely boardwalk and palm trees. It was a perfect, homely paradise.

Alas, adjective-inspiring siesta’s must come to an end, and I ventured back into Suncheon and onward to Gwangju the next day for a joint rehearsal with the Hoshin University Choir. I had hoped to skip this rehearsal, however conductor guilt got the better of me. It was lucky that it did! I received a call from a non-English speaking government worker telling me that I had incorrectly disposed of my garbage, and I needed the Head Conductor to take the call for me! I’m still not entirely sure what I did wrong, but the conductor guy got me out of a fine by saying “waegookin” multiple times so ummm… yay?

I wasn’t to make it to Gyeongju that night and expected to make an uneventful pit-stop overnight in Daegu. Ha! “Uneventful”! I was to discover that Korean motels can be… interesting. Often called “love motels”, rooms are available on a nightly basis … and an hourly one… to satisfy the ahhh… “love” drive… of young adults in Korea still living at home. One can find vending machines filled with “toys” and “protective gear” and some very interestingly themed rooms; the appeal of which I will never understand. I got Snoopy:

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CLIFFHANGER!!!! Part 2 will be up tomorrow 🙂

Adventures in Choral Gwangju

Those of you who know me well, know that it doesn’t take long  for me to find a project, or five, related to the arts. So it was, that I found myself becoming a “Player” (committee member) of the Gwangju Performance Project and starting a choir under that umbrella with a girl Caitlin, who has become a dear friend. This all happened rather fast, I had been planning to start a choir once play rehearsals were up and running, yet after Caitlin posted on Facebook asking whether a choir existed, I knew I had to get the ball running fast.

Approximately a month ago we had our first rehearsal. I’d planned a bunch of fun, easy pieces to get our new members excited and ready to create the relaxed Saturday afternoon activity we wanted. Of course, this is Korea. “Easing into it” is not a well known concept.

It didn’t start well. Stepping into a taxi I slipped and sprained my ankle worse than I had since my dancing days, and I ended up being late for the rehearsal! About 5 minutes after I finally arrived, Dr Shin of the Gwangju International Center walked in holding an ominous looking score. He asked us whether we would be interested in performing with the Hoshin Choir (a semi-professional choir in Gwangju) for the May Concert. My face fell; everyone else’s lit up. I was terrified; they were excited. Dr Shin gave me a 35 page score of Korean patriotic songs I had never heard and told me to conduct. I… stumbled through it. For a month we practiced these pieces, not really knowing if we were doing the right thing because we wouldn’t meet the Hoshin conductor until about a week before the concert.

I became an invigorated, stressed out, sleepless being. I was determined that we would get these pieces down. Terrified that we would fail; confident that we wouldn’t.

A week before the concert we discovered that we were to sing almost the entire score in Korean rather than the provided translation! I was also told that I was to sing the opening solo – in Korean!

After a month of pushing these poor choristers to their limits, the concert day arrived. It was an incredible event. A host of classically trained musicians performed throughout the evening and we were to close the concert. I must say, I’m not sure I’ve ever been prouder of myself or others. If anyone would like to see a video of the performance, just send me a message and I’ll send it along.

On Friday, for the first time in a month, I managed to clean, hang out the laundry, wash the dishes and prepare a meal at home. I was even able to test my ankle out with a short jog after work. I’ve been going non-stop. Even on my recent holiday to the East Coast of Korea, I had itchy feet and felt the need to keep moving. It may sound tiresome to some, and it is, but I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.

I’m starting to think I’ve landed on my feet.

It's all a farce.

It’s all a farce.