18 April 2013

My Surprise Trip Home!

So waaaay back before I moved to Korea (kidding, it hasn't been that long), one of my most favorite family members got engaged.  Like I don't play favorites with the people I'm related to, but if I had to pick one person in my family to live through the apocalypse with me, I'd pick her.  Anyway, I'm talking about my aunt Jenn, my mom's youngest sister.  She & Jonlloyd got engaged (ermm... memory... failing...) sometime maybe in the summer of last year?  So I knew they'd be getting married while I was in Korea, and I thought it would be really cool to be able to come home for the wedding... but once I got here, I realized that vacation at my particular hagwon does not exist, and going home for her wedding was going to be a no-go.

Through a series of events and weird pleas and a lot of begging and kissing up to my faculty manager, I managed to get two whole days off from teaching and fly home for the wedding!  I only told my dad (he is a really good secret keeper apparently, way to go Steve Mulkey), and surprised everybody else flying into LAX Thursday morning of the wedding week.  Because of the horrendous 16 hour time change, and having to be at work by 6pm on Monday, I had to be on the early flight out of LAX back to Incheon to make it to work in time literally (but at the same time not literally) 34 hours later.

The trip started eeeearly Thursday (4/11) morning local time in Seoul.  I was up early Wednesday morning for the Korean classes I've been attending in Seohyeon twice a week, and was at work for the 7 hours following class, dragged my butt to the gym after work, and made it home just before midnight Wednesday.  I knew the time change was going to kill me, so I figured if I could stay up all night until my flight at 10am (which meant leaving my apartment around 6:30 - Seoul traffic and sheer mass numbers of people makes travel a complete mess) I might be a little bit better acclimated by the time I landed in L.A.  My Asiana flight from Incheon had a four hour layover in Tokyo... I spent most of the layover on my computer (shocker) and walking around Narita-Tokyo airport wondering where all the coffee shops were and why all of the shops were designer brands.  I feel like Dorothy out of Kansas, except Shidoknee out of Korea... who would've thought that the airports in Japan & Korealand would be so different?   I have a new found appreciation for my home airport of Incheon, now.

My flight from Narita to LAX was relatively painless, thanks to the TV in the headrest with tons of free stupid TV shows and movies.  WITH the exception of the lovely Japanese man who elbowed me in the temple not once, not twice, but actually three times in the matter of a few hours.  I landed at LAX right around 11am Thursday, the same exact time I left Korea (big bonus flying that way around the globe, you gain an entire day)!  Spent what felt like seventeen years going through immigration... America is literally nuts-o.  A little over an hour later I came out of the gates and found my dad waiting for me inside the terminal... weird emotions came over me and I totally cried and felt like a big huge baby seeing him again.  There really is nothing quite like family to make you totally lose your mind.

Spent a few hours with him, checking out the studios he's been working on in LA, got to take a heaven sent shower at the hotel, then went to Jenn's to surprise my mom, Sabby, Jenn & Jon.  My dad decided to drop me off around the corner and walk in a few minutes before I did, so I waited about thirty seconds (I was excited, okay!?) before ringing the doorbell.  My mom answered it and the look on her face was absolutely priceless.  She looked really confused, then really happy, then like she didn't actually believe it was happening.  My aunt Sabby cried like a big baby, and then things were straight back to normal with Jenn handing me a margarita and my mom trying to get my everything/anything under the sun that I wanted and Sabby telling me to help her in the kitchen.  Standard.

Later that evening my cousin Brittany & uncle Wayne were supposed to show up at Jenn's, so my mom and I went out to grab some crappy American Chinese food (obviously, what else would I eat with three days in America?) and come back to surprise them.  By far my favorite reaction was Britt's.  Big ups to my aunt Jenn for getting a video of the whole thing... seriously so cute, I love my cousin to the moon and back (even though I basically just made fun of her the entire time for crying).

Friday was a big day and I basically had an aneurysm trying to drive in Los Angeles - literally probably one of the most difficult things I've done in the past year.  My jet leg was horrifying so I slept until about 7am, watched the news on North Korea (laughable, actually), and headed to Jenn's house shortly thereafter.  I knew that everybody had a bunch of pre-wedding duties and I didn't really have anything on my plate, so I stole Sabrina's truck (big oops story here, hindsight is 20-20 I guess) and went off to pick up a good friend of mine, Marty, who happened to be in L.A. at the time.  I met Marty in Korea and we taught together for a few months before he came back home and started off on this insane across-the-country bicycle trip, and we just happened to both be in Los Angeles the same few days, so we got together for lunch in Koreatown and had some sub par Korean BBQ.  Made me thankful that for the times I really do want good Korean BBQ, I have it on basically every corner while I live here.  Caught up with him for a few hours, and by the time I finally got back to Jenn's it was way later than I had planned and I basically made everyone late for the rehearsal dinner.  I am an excellent planner, as proven here.

The rehearsal dinner was at an awesome restaurant called Home, and was loud and chaotic and embarrassing as most of our family events are.  This is where I got to see my cousin Dev, his girlfriend Adri, and my brother Jacky-Lynn for the first time since I'd been back.  It was INSANE how much Jack has grown - he's now taller than me, still skinnier, and his voice no longer does that weird fake-deep thing, it is actually changing!  About blew my head off of my neck to see him again.


 Saturday morning was another horrifically early wake up call, or more like never-went-to-sleep-now-I'm-wide-awake call.  I stayed over at the hotel where the Schultinereny clan was staying because Adri had an entire room to herself, and I didn't feel like sharing a fold out couch with my stinky 16 year old brother.  We were in bed probably by midnight or so, and my eyes were glued open staring at the ceiling from 4am til about 6am, so I decided to start my day then.  The soon-to-be bride was already awake & posting on facebook, so why not?  I got up, brushed my teeth, drove to Jenn's to pick up the truck full of wedding furniture (long story from the previous long story about hindsight being 20-20 and me being a huge idiot) to take to Conan's house, where the reception would be held later that day.  Unloaded the truck by 7am and then sat at Starbucks by myself wondering what I was supposed to do with the remainder of my morning.  Ran some errands for myself, my kids, and Jenn, then headed back to the hotel to wake up my dad & Jack.  Jack and I made a quick Starbucks trip and laid around watching stupid reruns of our favorite TV shows for a few hours before we had to do anything worthwhile.  It was really nice getting to see him again.  He's grown up so much it freaks me out, but he's still the same kid that I've always adored.  He really is an awesome little man, my parents should be proud.

Then it was time to hike!  A chaotic few hours led up to us finally getting to Griffith Observatory (you can hike the Hollywood Hills from here, it's super popular apparently), finding parking, and figuring out where exactly we were going for this ceremony.  I set off with Jack, Britt, Tim, Dev & Adri on a quick hike up to the amazing place where Jenn & Jon were saying the "I-do's" at 3pm.  We got there early and hung around as lots of people we didn't know showed up to watch the big moment, too.


We hung around for a little less than an hour when the van and 4Runner finally arrived!  They were carrying (obviously) Jenn & Jon, both sets of parents, my parents, Britt & Dev's parents, and two other family members plus stinking Tommy & their videographer.  Aaand the guy who was marrying them.  The rest of us suckers had to hike up and look like crap (hahaha best joke ever by the way, Jenn).


After the ceremony we had a few hours to clean up and not look like we just sweated our lives away climbing a mountain.  Jack and I found the closest Chipotle (I told you, it was a 3-day bender of terrible America food for me), ate til we about exploded, and went back to the hotel to change.  That evening, we all met up again at Conan's house in Glendale which was absolutely gorgeous, for the reception.  I got to see all the remaining family members there, my mom's cousins Erica, Heather, their crazy kiddos who don't look like they've changed one bit since Britt's wedding almost two years ago (oi vey)!  A bunch of great aunts, uncles, second-third-whatever-cousins once removed, the whole shabang.  Didn't take any pictures myself at the reception, was probably too busy stuffing my face with red velvet cupcakes and being force fed a drink called "punch me in the face" by my dear Uncle David (that's real).

Sunday morning was a startling early wake up call, with a return flight to Incheon leaving LAX at 8am, I was up a little bit before the sun.  14 hours of travel later into a time zone 16 hours ahead of Los Angeles, and I was (strangely enough) "home."  Beautiful things I appreciate about living in Korea: no immigration/bag check/anything.  You get off the plane, you claim nothing at customs, you show your alien registration card, and you're on your way.  The bus system is great, I only had to wait about 15 minutes for my bus that took me straight to my apartment's front door (not being dramatic, that's real).  Did a quick costume change, unpacked, tried to make myself look like I had showered that day, and headed off to work for a quick 3-hour class.  Local time: 7pm on Monday evening, LA time: 3am on Monday morning.  Hurting.

But oh so worth it.  Thanks for having me, putting up with me, loving me, and accommodating me everybody.  Can't wait to see you all again in November when I'm home (for, I think, good)!

(all photos used in this blog courtesy of/stolen from Jenn, Brittany & myself)


  1. Loved hearing all of it. But you left out the part where you and I had room service on Friday morning before Jack flew in. That was MY claim to quality time with you.

    1. OMG you're right! I could barely remember half of the stuff I wrote in here anyway, trying to piece together what day was what... yikes.

  2. LOVE THIS SO MUCH! First of all, you are a WAY more entertaining writer than I am and I loved reading it and reliving it all over again. I about died at the part where "life got back to normal" when your mom tried to get you a bunch of stuff, jen gave you a margarita, and my mom told you to help in the kitchen. HAHA

    We were all so surprised and LOVED HAVING YOU THERE! uhhhh seriously it would not have been right without you, so THANK YOU foreverandever for putting your poor body through the jetlag to come.
    Also, my mind=blown at how gigantic and grown up Jack is too!