Saturn Return-ing 30 in Korea

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Saturn Return

This week, I prepare to bid farewell to my roaries twenties and celebrate entry into the dirty thirty club.  This year in particular (29) has been pretty magnificent, but it hasn’t been without heartache and disappointment.  People keep bringing up this idea of Saturn Return .  “The longer, more elaborate version: This is the astrological period of our life when the planet Saturn completes its orbit around the Sun, coinciding with the time of our birth. It happens every 29.5 years, so if you have skated by in your late 20s, this period could get you in your late 50s.”  Is this where the No Doubt album name originated?  Gwen Stefani was 30 or 31 when it was released.  I was obsessed with these tracks.  I was 13 when Return of Saturn was released, but the lyrics seem more relevant now than ever!

I don’t hold steadfast and true to astrology, but one can find poetry and life lessons in just about anything.  The idea that I should learn something from the craziness of my twenties is certainly not lost on me.  While I’ve been a teacher in Korea, life in Seoul in Busan has thrown me some curveballs.  I’d like to share what teaching and living in Korea has taught me in an elementary kind of way.  Here are a few Dr. Seuss memes to, pardon the pun, bring it all full circle.

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I’ve Learned to Love My Body

Being naked isn’t a crime.  Ajummas (the old gals) at jimjilbangs (bath houses/ spas) strut around, full bush and fupas out with pride.  They don’t give a rat’s ass about my curvy stomach and hips or my prickly legs.  I’ve worked hard to drop the weight I gained after joining the workforce and quitting my varsity days.  Now I’m in the maintenance stage which means I really have to dedicate quite a bit of time and energy to not balloon again.  I have to nourish my body even if that means being a hunter for protein and veggies at my own grocery store.  Now that I’m mere days away from 30, I know I’m never going to be perfect.  Getting a luxurious facial or massage is allowed and should damn well be in the budget.  If I want to get botox or lip injections then that’s my own personal choice.  Through fitness, nutrition, a Korean skin care regime, and time to treat myself I aim to strike a balance.  I strive to be a better me than yesterday.

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What the Fuck is this Shit?

Sometimes you’re just not going to have a damn clue what’s on your plate, written on a kid’s test, or walking down a runway.  Just learn to roll with it.  There’s no point in getting up in arms over something you don’t understand.  Culturally – take some time to do some research if you’re even feigning an interest.  If you’re living in or even just visiting another country, their customs will likely be foreign to you.  Try to figure ’em out.  If it’s just some other expat prick leaving you scratching your head – dealbreaker.  Move the fuck along.

 

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Tough Memories

Is dating shitty guys all part of Saturn Return?  Looking back on Taipei and Tokyo suuuuuucks.  I remember the amazing moments we shared and the distances we traveled together.  I try to see the silver lining in it all, but it’s not easy especially when I’m pinpointing the exact moments in Tokyo when he was texting his…less than reputable woman.  The best I can do is reflect on the good times and, instead of looking for negatives, think of learning opportunities for the future.  I got to feel the bliss of romance in Taiwan and Japan.  That’s pretty rad.

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Ghosting

A decent person will respond when txted, messaged, or called.  Don’t give out your phone number if you have no intention of ever seeing the person again.  If you’ve had interactions you don’t want to continue, find a nice way to tell the person.  It’s one thing to have a friendship or dating situation fizzle out, but hiding behind technology is so cowardly.

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No Fucks Left

Guys, I’m 30.  I’m exhausted.  This isn’t my first rodeo.  If you’re a flakey friend or a douchey date I’m over it.  I have zero fucks (red, blue or otherwise) left to give.  Sorry if that offends you, but I’m just outta chances to hand out.

  • If he’s not giving me what I need, I should just move on.
  • I’m not going to change him.  If he wants to become a better version of himself he will.  If I can help…great!
  • Change yourself for yourself.  Never change for him.

 

 

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On the Subject of Impact

Sometimes it’s hard to be a lifestyle blogger with a major focus on dating.  The impact of constantly trying to put myself out there has definitely taken a toll.  Of course I believe in love and want to find the right companion…for me.  The whole idea that I have to work on myself by myself is a little ridiculous, in my opinion.  My gal pals keep telling me to stay single and work on myself.  I think that’s a load of hooey.  I’m definitely a more organized and productive person when in a relationship.  I’m a busy person and I really have to carve out time to spend it with the people I like.  “Love yourself first” is an over-used phrase.  I love myself just fine, thank-you very much.  Why is it that the last three men who have tossed those three little words my way suddenly run in the opposite direction when I finally return their affection and say them back?  I say “I love you” to my friends constantly.  There are plenty of poetic ways to speak and show your affection.  By the time I return home I’ll have no partner and no job.  Will I have prospects?  Who knows…but it’s terrifying to look into the unknown.  Hopefully “terrifying” will be spun as “exhilirating” sometime soon.

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Most People Are Cunts

This, ladies and gentlemen, is truer than true.  While there are some great, salt of the Earth human beings out there, most people are only looking out for #1.  I’ve seen countless men and women be treated like absolute shit because they’re just an option and not a priority.  So much time is wasted because people are shitty to people.  We like to hurt one-another.  Plus, let’s talk bloggers.  I’ve encountered some amazing, supportive women in Korea.  Most people think that expat/ travel/ beauty/ foodie bloggers are all in competition.  That’s not true at all.  If you look through any of my posts here or on The Toronto Seoulcialite you’ll find I try to take any opportunity to link to the supporters in the community.  That said, there are some real assholes around.  I don’t know how I’ve been unable to identify the patterns.  I want to give everyone a fair chance, but it’s exhausting when people want a piece of you for a free hotel stay or meal.  Boys and girls, there’s no such thing as a free meal.  If I’m working in contra with a brand there’s a multi-faceted marketing plan to go along with a post.  You don’t just get to share 1 sly pic on instagram and live a life of luxury.  There’s plenty of work to share around.  Stop being cunts and just support one-another, dammit.

 

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The Internet

Can people on the internet just stop and realise that bloggers are people too?  The number of degrading comments and threats I’ve received for discussing fluffed up dating scenarios is insane.  You can’t take anything some angry troll with a firewall security blanket says seriously.  This one is still something with which I struggle, as these people know exactly who I am (and often where to find me), but they’re safely behind fake profiles with stolen profile pictures (or none at all).  I love to get helpful suggestions from readers.  They’re few and far between, so if you’ve got something then please go ahead and e-mail me or leave it in the comments.  Recently a faceless Korean instagrammer told me to start YouTube as my lengthy posts aren’t always the easiest to understand.  That was a great suggestion!  Telling me to go back to Canada because I’m clearly someone who couldn’t get a job back home?  Not so helpful.  Ps. I was the Director of Sales and Marketing for a group of companies back in Toronto.  I took a major pay cut to come to Korea and don’t regret it for a second.

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Stand Out

In the Apgujeong area of Seoul, Korea, there are so many versions of the same face it’s scary.  I don’t want to look like anyone else.  I want to feel authentic.  I don’t, however, need to have my natural hair colour or bags under my eyes to feel authentic.  If someone is telling me I look tired and should ‘take a rest’, maybe I am tired and should slow down.  Having blonde hair in Korea constantly means I stand out.  Will I keep it back in Canada?  Who knows!  I definitely feel more like myself as a blonde (having gone back to the dark side earlier this year).  I enjoy the liberties Koreans take with style.  Some of the conventions are a little weird (the shortest skirts, most conservative tops, and most heinous shoes).  I hope I can feel free enough to stand out with my own personal style when I go back to Toronto.

 

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Those Who Matter Don’t Mind

I don’t think in 30 years I’ve had a birthday as amazing as this one.  The most important people showed up and completely showered me with love (and food – the true way to my heart and Seoul).  Having all of those people in one room was overwhelming, hysterical, and incredibly fun.  I’m amazed and humbled that I can be the brassy, unapologetically honest, wild, and sensitive person I am with the people I have met in Korea.  We’re never gunna survive unless we get a little crazy, but I know mine can be a lot to handle.  Thank you for showing me all kinds of crazy love.  My Saturn Return feels like a positive renaissance.  Here’s to the next 30.  Peace out, Saturn.

Expat Dating Diaries: The Military Man

Expat Dating - The 7 Worst Guys An Expat Can Date - That Girl Cartier

Photographer: Amanda Jordan

I’d like to preface this edition of the Expat Dating Diaries with a lengthy note to all readers.  Scroll down to TL;DR to skip!  This series is designed to be sarcastic.  It’s designed to incite a knowing laugh from women around the world living abroad.  Many of you have met men like the ones in The 7 Worst Guys An Expat Can Date.  This is not a man-hating article.  This is not a man-hating series.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  I love dating!  The stories and laughs I get from horrible dates make for girls’ night hilarity.  The shared moments and memories from great dates make all the bad ones worth it.

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Photographer: Tyler Barnes

To the gentlemen reading (we’re about half and half, right now according to Google), thank you for checking out my blog.  Sorry for the make-up and mush, but I’m assuming you knew what you were getting yourself into.  You probably can’t relate at all to these guys, you can see a couple of traits here and there in yourself, or you just want a good laugh at someone else’s expense.  You could switch these statements right around and apply them to the ladies, too.  I’m sure there are a number of traits you recognize in women from which you’d like to stay away.  Why am I only writing about the dudes?  ‘Cause I don’t date women.

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Photographer: Takahiro Sakamoto

I have several friends married to wonderful men serving in the military.  Some of them even met in Korea and got married here!  My family has a history in the RAF (my badass Grandmother) and the RCAF (my Grandfather).  I dated a kind and generous man in the Air Force.  I have no issue with the military.  If you find a diamond in the rough, the Military Man will be the most loyal and caring gentleman in the world.  The standard review of the Military Man (MM) in Korea, however, is that he’s a dirty dawg.

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Photographer: Richard Revel

TL;DR

Whew!  Now that that’s over with, let’s move on to the story.  The Military Man wants to settle down…in theory.  Being deployed over and over again means he’s a lone wolf.  More often than not he’s “exclusively dating” a few lovely ladies.  I’ve seen this countless times and am heartbroken for my friends who have been hurt.

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Photographer: Alondra Olivas

Three’s A Crowd

This is the kind of story I hear again and again.  My friend from Busan met a Tinder guy in Seoul for brunch.  He flew down to party with us in early spring.  They continued to see each other long-distance, and she was smitten.  The thing about men in Korea is that they seem to think that they’re entitled to two separate entities: foreigners and Koreans.  They seem to believe that never the two shall meet.  One long weekend 6 months into dating, she went up to stay with him.  She left his place Monday morning as he had to work.  Imagine her surprise when that very afternoon she saw him walking hand in hand with his Korean girlfriend off base in Gangnam.  Wasn’t he supposed to be at work?  Hadn’t they banged at his place that morning?

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Photographer: Skor

The Cherry Incident

My favourite MM is a guy I have actually met on several occasions.  We met through mutual friends on a day known in history as “the cherry incident”.  This guy is in the army and has quite possibly the most beautiful apartment I’ve ever seen in Korea.  Marble counter-tops, hardwood floors, a Japanese toilet, and le piece de resistance: a washer and a dryer. When my gal pals, my ex, and I were invited over to his place, he provided top shelf alcohol, mixes, and garnishes and told us to help ourselves.

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Photographer: Danielle MacInnes

For nearly 2 hours he rattled on and on about these beautiful, succulent, marinated cherries which were perfect in a Manhattan.  My friend had to try them, of course!  She couldn’t open the jar, so after an eternity of trying she handed it over to me.  Just as the lid to the jar popped open, time stood still and I heard a slow motion “Nooooooo!” from our host MM.  The rest of the night was tainted by the wailings of a sullen MM butt hurt that his pristine jar of cherries had been opened and would have to actually be used.  He also hit on me in front of my (now ex) boyfriend, then proceeded to tell me he wanted a one night stand with any of my friends in attendance.  Class act, MM.

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Photographer: Jeff Cooper

Fast forward to March when I moved from Busan to Seoul.  MM saw me on Tinder, and when we didn’t match he went and found me on instagram.  I was all moved in, but for two months he insisted he needed to help me move.  It’s impressive the creative ways these guys think up when trying to weasel their way into your apartment.

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Photographer: Leeroy

Musical Chairs

While I haven’t dated this guy, I’ve now met 4 girls who have.  One of them was actually his live in girlfriend during the cherry incident.  We didn’t meet that night, but I would later find out that she (and 3 other friends of mine) had been wined and dined by this MM.  He’s tried to intercept a couple of my friends’ dates by inviting their party of two over to his table.  He even flew a Tinder girl from the United States to Vietnam to meet up for a tryst, and when she wouldn’t put out he cancelled her ticket home.

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Photographer: Erik-Jan Leusink

The MM manages his time (and women) exceptionally well.  He’s an sensational liar and a master manipulator who can maintain several relationships at once.  Camouflage is key.  His phone is glued to him at all times.  He’ll never let you see it, of course.  MM must reply immediately for fear of mixing up names and dates.

Here lies Episode II of the Expat Dating Diaries and the 7 Worst Guys An Expat Can Date.  

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