Solo Adventures and Unwelcome Surprises

October is here! Complete with hot matcha green tea lattes and my 6 year old macbook hard drive (along with the first half of this blog post)…Gone forever, yay! -_-

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Myeongdong Shopping Neighborhood
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How rad is this cotton candy art!?

Just when you think you’ve got it all under control the Universe goes ahead and responds by throwing a massive ball of fiery madness right at your head…and all when Mercury Retrograde is ending.

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About a week ago, I was super amped for the new Macbook update, as I’m sure all my fellow Apple lovers were.  After my first attempt to update failed, the excitement turned into wtf Apple?  My laptop had gotten stuck in between “I can’t go back to the old operating system, and I’m sorry but you can’t update the new OS either.”  Soooo…I had two choices via the experts at Apple: spend the next six months using the snail speed windows side of my computer with the expectation some expert could restore my 10,000 songs and lifetime of photos (thank god for some hard copies)…or I could cut my losses now, hope iCloud saved a few good things and start fresh.

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So instead of thinking too much about what I was going to lose, I bit the bullet and pressed Erase All.  Yikes.  That iTunes library was my pride and joy…but Spotify took over a long while back…And all those pictures, and files I never really look at…Well, we all know how that goes.

I might be slightly faking it when I say this, but I know that this was an opportunity to lighten my load, for how many of those songs, files, photos, did I really need?  It also became a loud reminder to control the things you can control, and when you have no power in a situation.  I could have played the “I’m overseas and just helplessly lost my whole life on my laptop” card, but sometimes it’s better to just rip off the bandaid and not worry about things that are out of your hands.

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Now for the good stuff:

The past few weeks have been getting busier and busier as season rapidly approaches next weekend, and you can definitely feel it within the team.  Our first game is October 19…ALMOST HERE.  And I am so grateful for that.  I’m looking forward to competing in front of all of our fans and in our real jerseys instead of just the select few people that attend scrimmages.

Leading up to the opening game we’ve had picture day, fan day and media day and lots of interviews.  I’ve celebrated Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving), saw an awesome fireworks show for the International Fireworks Festival, took the subway and train by myself successfully, and went to my first Korean hockey game.  I’ve been fortunate to have a little extra time here and there to get out and about Korea (mostly Seoul) and even had a few days sans translator.

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Picture day is always an affair, but here we had a professional makeup and hair crew come in.  Mind you, the styles of makeup in Korea are definitely not what we are used to in the States.  I’ll spare you the photos but a lack of color on my face, along with no mascara and a heavy brow/bubble gum lip combo did not suit me.  The rest of my team looked so gorgeous, like little china dolls.  And I was able to sneak away for a few quick touchups and some color before I got my time in front of the camera. I did love my super-high pony though.  I’m not sure the girls knew what to do with my hair because I didn’t have any bangs to style, so they stuck my pony tail as high up as they could.

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Fan day was a few weeks later the same week, and we had an opportunity to interact with all of our loyal fans, some had even driven down from Seoul just for the day.  It was set up so that a few players were matched with a big group of fans.  My team was the green team and we had different competitions all day, like tug of war and who could create the best cheer.

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My Translator! – Thanks @hachikuro_s

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There was plenty of time for picture taking and autographs, and I got bombarded pretty much throughout the entire event.  It was a lot of smiling and signing but so worth it to see everyone’s excitement for the season.  When I first walked outside there was a group of kids that seemed like they couldn’t believe I was real.  They were all squealing with excitement and jumping up and down.  Something I definitely am not used to haha, but it shows how popular of a sport volleyball is here in Korea.

We’ve all been working really hard in the gym every day and the intensity has not let up.  It’s obviously harder some days than others, but my coaching staff is teaching me so much that I’m constantly learning, and that’s something I really hadn’t experienced in previous professional seasons so it’s really fun to be in the gym.  There will always be ups and downs when you’re working on mastering a skill, but I feel like I haven’t played at this level since I was at school, maybe ever.  I’m stoked to see how the next six months continue to develop me as a player.

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The last weekend in September was the Chuseok holiday, and we got lucky with an extra day off the Monday after the weekend.  I arranged with my translator to go up to Seoul on the train with her, and part ways to see if I could explore by myself (obviously I could, but not without a few surprise adventures along the way).  I had planned to have dinner with Taylor, one of the Americans from the Pink Spiders team as her mom was also in town.  We planned to meet at Namsan Tower, which is a huge tower on top of Namsan Mountain in the middle of Seoul.  I had allowed extra time for the cab and was ready to go, all excited for dinner with a view, when the cab drops me off and tries to explain something about how I can’t take a cab up to the tower.  Ok cool fine…So I find out I have to take a bus up there, and of course I can’t find a stop or the right bus until I see one going the opposite direction (I still get on, assuming it will make a loop) And almost an hour late, I finally end up at dinner.

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I spent the rest of the weekend enjoying lengthy hotel brunches and wandering different neighborhoods in Seoul, trying to dive into the culture of the city and getting some use out of my big camera.  Sunday, we had all planned to meet at Khat’s (another American) house for Korean Thanksgiving.  Of course, on Chuseok itself, limited cabs were running, so 90 minutes later when I finally get one and find out I am once again going to be late, I decide to head to Itaewon for a solo dinner and a glass of wine or two.  It actually worked out perfect, because by the time I would have gotten to Yongin, I would have been there probably only an hour or so.

Being able to escape for a few days solo was really refreshing and I know it was probably the last time we’ll have a break like that for a long time.  This past weekend I got to go back up to Seoul Saturday through Monday again, because we had a media event with all of the TV stations on Monday afternoon.  I spent Saturday night with the entire population of Seoul attempting to push my way through mobs of people to get a good view of the International Fireworks Festival.  It felt like we were at a massive rock concert.  I couldn’t believe how many people were out to watch it.  We found a less crowded spot on a bridge over the Han River, and got to watch the last half sitting down.  The competition was between the Philippines, Korea and the USA.  I have no idea who won or who was shooting off when, but there were some pretty rad, massive fireworks.

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Sunday I got a massage and got my nails done!  I found a little nook of cool, hipster restaurants and stores and wandered my way into a salon.  I think its safe to say this manicure is going to last forever.  Sunday night I took the metro out into Anyang for a hockey game.  We met some of the guys (Americans/Canadians) a few weeks ago when all of the Americans were out together, so even though I was by myself I decided to go check it out.  I took a lap around the stadium to scope out the scene and ended up meeting some Canadians who are here teaching English (the only non-Koreans drinking beer!)  They crushed Russia and we got to go out and celebrate for a little bit.  I’m so grateful that I’ve met some pretty kicka** people over here so far.

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Back to the grind this week and preparing for our first match, but I am beyond ready. Can’t wait to start reporting more about volleyball when we get rolling.  Til next time! XO.

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