America, Celebration, Culture, Family, Farm, Funny, Summer, Travel, Uncategorized

Thoughts from an MOH

My best friend is on her honeymoon right now. I didn’t text her to check in to see if they’d made it safely to their destination but she sent me a message once she arrived. Not a message to necessarily tell me that they’d made it. She sent me her thoughts from a plane. 

I’m not sure who started doing thoughts from a plane. I want to credit her with it because I feel like she was the first one who came up with it. But, it may have been me. I’ll have to confer and get back with you on that one. 

Anyway, thoughts from a plane are literally just that: your thoughts about what is going on around you while on a plane. Maybe we started doing it because it can get terribly boring being cooped up in an airplane for a long time. Or, it could’ve been because you’re in such tight quarters that you can hear and see everything that everyone is doing. Either way, it’s funny to us to share our thoughts from a plane with each other. I wrote about it one time, if you want to read about it here

As I was saying, Jordan got married last weekend and part of my Maid of Honor duties were to write a speech, which I then relayed at her rehearsal dinner. 

I’m not a great public speaker, but I’m generally not terrible. I don’t think I did very well with this speech for two reasons

1. I wasn’t quite sure what emotions were going to be going on, so I was a little apprehensive about being overly emotional. I made it through just fine though.

2. I wasn’t sure what crowd size I’d be speaking to, so I’d made my speech more for a little bit more intimate of a gathering and there were quite a few people there. 

I feel like I’m generally better when I’m conveying thoughts through writing rather than speaking. It just comes more naturally. Even though I tend to write exactly as I would think/speak a thought. 

So, since I’d written the speech anyway, I thought I’d memorialize it in blog form. Because this seems like an official place to memorialize something of magnitude, right? 

Here they are: my thoughts for my best friend on the evening before her wedding: 

When Jordan told me that I would need to make a speech tonight, I wasn’t really sure what a Maid of Honor speech should be like, so I just wrote what came to mind. 

Jordan and I have been friends for a long time. Our families have been friends for over 100 years, so we technically have a long history together. But, I didn’t grow up with her, so I never really officially met her until we were around 14 or 15 years old. 

I remember the first time I heard about Jordan. I had just switched schools and some of my friends were hanging out by my locker, talking about this girl and her shoes. I have never cared too much for fashion and as an 8th grader, I cared even less. But, there was apparently a girl walking around in pink stilettos. And it was Jordan. 

It’s ironic that my first memory of hearing about Jordan has to do with shoes, because I swear, the girl currently owns about 500 pairs. 

I really got to know Jordan in high school. We had a class together and the first day I walked into class, there she was, seated in front of my desk, crocheting. She had her yarn spread out and could care less what anyone thought about it. I thought maybe during the lecture, she would take notes, but she continued to crochet. 

We did our classwork together, probably mostly because I was the one with the notes, and also because we were two of the only girls in that class. I’ll not bore everyone with stories of our youth, that most likely only the two of us would find funny. But, we began a friendship that has personally enriched my life a lot over the years. 

We are pretty much opposites when it comes to most things, so I think we both stretched each other in different directions in a way that causes so much growth as people.

Jordan wouldn’t let me have a slide show, but immediately, when I first started thinking about this speech, there was one picture of us that immediately came to mind. It was a picture of the two of us, on our last day of high school, right before we graduated. 

I had tried like everything to convince her to go to the University of Arkansas with me and she had likewise tried to convince me to go to OSU with her. But, both of us knew that the other place wasn’t where we were meant to be. So, we were going to be parting ways and on the last day of high school, that reality was sinking in a little bit more. 

You can tell in the picture that we had been teary eyed saying bye to all our friends. And, I know it seems a little bit childish now, but it was a big deal to us then. We were, in a tiny way, embarking into the unknown. We weren’t going to be full fledged adults by any means, because what 18 year old can really be considered an adult? But, we were striking it out on our own. 

We had no idea the people we’d meet or the new friends we’d gain, most of whom for Jordan are seated here tonight. We had no idea if we’d still be friends after it was all said and done. And, we had no idea the lives we’d eventually lead. So, the tears were understandable. 

But had we known then what we know now, how even though this step from high school into adulthood was a bit daunting at first, how it lead to so many great things, we may have still been teary eyed, but not because we were sad for moving on, but because we were overwhelmed and happy for the new things to come. 

And, as I’m writing this, I’m expecting that there will be some tears as Jordan and Jade now prepare to enter into a new, exciting phase of their lives together. But now we know that if we get a little teary eyed, it’s not for sadness of what Jade and Jordan are leaving behind, but for joy for the life that they’re about to walk into. Congratulations Jordan and Jade! I am so happy for both of you and can’t wait to see what blessings marriage brings to your lives!

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Asia, Celebration, Dessert, Family, Food, Funny, Travel

Settle Down, Seoul

There’s some political unrest in Korea, in case you haven’t heard. One of my friends sent me a message the other day about how they were glad we weren’t in South Korea right now, but I had just been wishing I were there. 

His message reminded me of this post I’d written when I was there last. Same country, slightly different political outburst, but here it is: 

I accidentally got caught up in a political rally today. 

This happened in Thailand a few years ago, when I dared Jake to go wave the huge Thai flag. 

Jake at the Shutdown Bangkok rally

I don’t know if political rallies can be your thing, but I really kinda like them. Such a sense of national pride, even if it isn’t my own nation. 

A couple of my friends are a news anchor and a journalist for a newspaper here in Seoul, so both of them have been catching me up on the political climate. 

Hyoseung, the news anchor

This rally has nothing to do with North Korea, so no need for immediate concern. In case you don’t keep up on South Korean politics like I do, their president Park Geun-hye has recently been impeached. It’s a long story, but some people have accused her of being involved with a cult and all sorts of other things. She had a 5% approval rating and was finally impeached a few weeks ago. 

As I am told by my friends, even though she’s been impeached, they are still calling for her to resign her position. (Which if you’re reading this now, and not when I originally wrote it, you’ll know that she did resign). I’m not exactly sure why, some of the more technical political terms get lost in translation. But, you get the basic idea. People aren’t happy with her. 

We were taking a taxi back to our hotel today when we were stopped by a lot of commotion. I knew that there was going to be a candlelight vigil tonight in the city (as there has been every Saturday night since the impeachment) to peacefully protest the president. I also knew that they were expecting a million people to show up to said candlelight vigil. I, however, did not know that the million people would be marching down the sidewalk that leads to our hotel to get to the point at which the protest would take place. Which is what the taxi driver hurriedly spouted off to us in Korean as he dumped us out in the middle of the madness. 


I love the Korean people because they openly embrace Americans. So, upon seeing that we were walking with them, we were quickly given flags to carry and Korean flag pins to wear. We were asked by about 100 different people where we were from. We had our pictures taken with more random people than I could keep track of. I eventually just stood off to the side, holding my Korean flag and waiting for people to come stand by me for their picture. Someone came up to us with a video camera to ask us questions and film us as we were walking along. 


Then, someone asked us what broadcasting network we were with. Which got me to thinking: maybe I should become a journalist. I do have an affinity for crazy crowds and political unrest. 

If anyone needs some quick, unofficial coverage of a B list event, let me know. Until then, I’ll be down in Hongdae, eating these little beauties. 

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America, Animals, Celebration, Culture, Family, Farm, Funny, Outdoors, Summer, Travel

Pura Vida 

We found a boy with a machete to cut a way through the jungle to take us to see a waterfall. I wish it were less sketchy than it sounds, but it’s not. 


We were supposed to be fishing on Lake Arenal in Costa Rica. But, the wind had other ideas. So, Plan B? A “horseback ride to a waterfall”. My mind is conjuring up images of a peaceful, smooth horseback ride down to a quaint waterfall, a splash in the water, then back on the horse and to the barn. This picture encapsulates my mental image. (Also, there’s the lake I should’ve been fishing in the background.)


What I didn’t have in mind was climbing up and down very steep hills (more commonly called mountains) on horseback and nearly sliding down the mountain on the back of said horse. 


I also didn’t realize that our guide would be a 15 year old boy with a machete and his uncle. Who didn’t speak much English.

Or that they would need the aforementioned machete to slice through the jungle to create a “path” that would could “walk” (read: slide) down.


Or that it would be such a slippery, steep, and narrow “path” that I would need to hold someone’s hand the whole time to navigate. 


These poor guys had to switch spots to constantly be in front of me to help me every step of the way. I know this because they kept talking to each other and saying “ella”, which I knew was me because I was the only girl in our group of 4. 

I only fell down twice, and laughed through most of it, as the ridiculousness of what we were doing kept setting in more and more. 


I also didn’t realize that this hike would take nearly two hours to complete and that it would be the most intense hike I’ve ever done. 

So, here’s me, not thinking about what I’m actually getting myself into. What’s new? 

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Asia, Culture, Food, Funny, Travel

Jet Lag Junkie

Jet lag has set in, which means I’m up at 2:48 am drinking a coffee and eating a kiwi. From 3 – 4 am, I went to the hotel gym for some yoga to start off the day, then was at breakfast, wide eyed and ready by 6. 

The unfortunate thing about being up so early is that nothing is open. So, it doesn’t really benefit you to go wander the streets. There is one place in the city that opens at dawn: the fish market. 

Early morning eel cleaning

Noryangjin Fish Market is where all the best restaurants in the city come to buy their seafood. Not surprisingly, there were no other tourists there at 7 in the morning, so we were quite the spectacle. Probably because I kept stopping to take pictures of stuff like this.

Is shark fishing even legal?

Yes, I wore white shoes this day

After our fish market tour, we made our way to a neat little shopping district. 

We ducked into a random restaurant that we walked by for lunch. It was the sort of place that requires you to take your shoes off at the door and sit on the floor to eat. 

When we were properly barefoot and seated, we realized that there was no menu in English. Our waitress also quickly realized that we didn’t speak Korean. A conundrum ensued, in which she was presumably asking us (in Korean) what we wanted to order. She was getting blank stares in return, so she did what any good waitress would do. Babbled at us in Korean, made a two sign, and just brought us something. 

Two steaming bowls of something.  

Still unsure of what we’d gotten ourselves into, I started pulling out chunks of bone and meat, hoping to identify something. If you’ll remember back with me to What Did You Say?, unidentifiable bowls of meat and vegetables don’t always work out in my favor. 

But, it tasted pretty good. Jake’s review of the stew was a little different than mine. 

I believe this is a correct direct quote:

“It doesn’t taste exactly like dirt, but just a little bit.”

Later in the day when we met up with some friends, I hesitantly asked them exactly what we’d eaten. 

It’s called Haejangguk, a spicy mixture of pork bones, vegetables, and broth. But, more commonly, it’s referred to as “Hangover Stew”. 

I’m not sure if I should be offended that she mistook my jet lagged looking face for being hungover or thankful that introduced us to the delicious Korean remedy. 

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America, Art, Canada, Culture, Family, Funny, Outdoors, Summer, Travel

For Hire

I’m not quite sure how we ended up in Toronto of all places, but we’re here. I assumed we’d fly through Chicago then north into Canada from there. That seems the most direct route. But, we were routed through Houston, then had a direct 4 hour flight from there.


Have you ever been bumped up from an economy flight to first class? Yeah, me either. 

But, apparently, if this happens to you, when they scan your economy ticket at the gate, the screen lights up and it makes a happy little sound and you know you’ve hit the jackpot. The reason I know this is because it happened to Jake, who was standing in line in front of me.

 I hoped my ticket would make that happy little sound too, but it made the regular scanning noise, sealing my fate for my cramped little seat at the back of the plane and a lukewarm coffee, if I was lucky. 

Jake politely reveled in his win of the day, while the Frenchman behind me tried to talk him into trading seats. But, two minutes later when we boarded the plane, the Frenchman and I decided economy wasn’t so bad after all. 

Jake happened to have won a seat right next to a screaming infant. The Frenchman and I bid him adieu and made our own jokes about how he had to sit by the be’be.  

As usual, I was seated on the last row of the plane. And as I took my seat, I could still hear the little guy next to Jake yelling. 

Some people might not expect this of me, but I’m not really great with kids. Kids are okay, I don’t dislike them. And they don’t dislike me. We generally get along. They smile at me and I smile back. We make small talk with each other. They hold my hand and look at my bracelets. But, I just don’t really know what to do with them. 

I’m fine with little babies, they pretty much just eat and sleep. If they’re crying, you have about three options for what they need. They’re pretty predictable.

But, from around 1 on to about 7, kids kinda baffle me. They can almost take care of themselves, but not really. They’ve got strong little personalities they’re developing. They don’t like coffee, they generally don’t like vegetables, they’re just not really that compatible with me. 

Jake, on the other hand, loves kids. He knows exactly what they want, he knows how to talk to them on their level, he can engage them, and they love it. If there is a kid in the room, they naturally gravitate towards him. 

I settled into the flight, talking to my new French friend, and putting on my headphones to watch a movie. As the flight attendant came to ask me what I wanted to drink, I took my headphones off and noticed that the be’be had finally quieted down. 

I resumed my movie, until something caught my attention. 


Jake. Walking up and down the aisle, carrying the now content, be’be, also known as Peter. 

Apparently, Peter’s mom couldn’t get him to calm down, so she handed him off to Jake. Peter’s dad and older sister were sitting in economy and as Jake walked by carrying Peter, the dad thanked him for helping out with the boy. 

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Peter had been throwing a fit in first class, in the seat between Jake and his mother. His mom had tried calming him to no avail, but Jake grabbed him up, set him on his lap, and he became content. “Peter likes you, Jacob” was the mother’s consent, and thus, Jacob and Peter were a pair. 

The family was Nigerian, and from what I could tell, the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” is used in the most literal terms there. 

Upon getting off the plane, Jake told me that he had been commended by the flight crew for making that flight enjoyable for them and the other passengers around him. He also informed me that he had been invited to Nigeria, in case we ever wanted to visit. 

I don’t think we’ll be going anytime soon, but I am having him add Nigerian Nanny to his list of job experiences on his resume’. I’d hire him any day. 

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America, Culture, Family, Funny, Summer, Travel

Fly By Night

Last weekend, I went to NYC. It wasn’t planned. Here’s the story. 

When my brother says be ready to go, you best heed his warning. Remember how I just wrote about his crazy ideas? He must’ve wanted to prove me right because he got another one. He decided he needed to get out of town for the weekend, so he found a flight and booked us both one way tickets to NYC. 

I’ve come to expect this type of behavior from him. So, it didn’t surprise me when he told me to pack a bag. I just asked what weather to pack for. 

I hate packing. My carry-on stays packed anymore. It was actually right in the spot where I set it when I got home from Laos. So, I don’t ever have to think about what is in it, I can literally just grab it and go. 

Which is what happened.

He scheduled an evening flight for us so that we could work all day. First thing in the morning, I got a text saying that the flight had been delayed a little bit. No problem, it gives us more time to get things settled before leaving. Later in the day, another delay. Great, I still have time to get the things done that I need to do. Direct flight, everything is going well. 

2:45 pm: text- Flight to New York: cancelled 

2:47 pm: phone call to the airline- “no other flights available til tomorrow, let’s see how we can re-arrange things..” Cue annoying hold music. 

I am at my desk, still in work clothes with my hair in a ballcap. Because I had plenty of time. So, I was going to get ready to go later. Because I had plenty of time. 

2:48 pm: Jake (on hold with the airline) tells me to go grab my bags and throw them in the car immediately. There’s a flight leaving for Chicago at 4:30 pm that can connect us to New York. 

2:56 pm: I’ve thrown on different clothes, grabbed my bag, no idea what I’ve got and what I don’t. My hair still looks a mess. I’ve got a coffee and keys in my hand, and we’re headed to the airport to see if we can make the flight. 

Should I mention at this point that we live an hour from the airport and we currently aren’t even booked on the flight that is leaving at 4:30? We’ll have to park, run in, and beg a desk person to let us on the flight because online booking is no longer open. 

When you need to get somewhere fairly quickly, putting me behind the wheel is a good bet. I’m cautious, but efficient. 

4:00: we arrive at the airport and make a run for it. No line at the desk, so Jake starts pleading our case. We have 20 minutes til boarding. That’s 20 minutes to get booked, boarding passes printed, through security, to our gate, and boarded on a plane. 20 minutes. 

4:03: the desk guy is on hold. He can’t do anything. Impatience is setting in.

4:08: the minutes are ticking by. Still on hold.

4:09: he’s on the phone. From this side of the call, we can tell the flight is full. Stand by is an option… They’re doing stand by. 

4:11: he’s trying to print boarding passes. Invalid city. Invalid airport code. Invalid city again. Make something valid! He’s going in circles and I’m going crazy. 

4:14: Jake pulls up boarding passes from his mobile app. We make a run for it. I’m halfway up the escalator when the desk guy comes running with Jake’s ID that he left at the desk. 

4:16: security, shoes off, liquids out, shoes on, liquids in, grab and run fast. 

4:21: boarding gate. Group 1 is through. Group 2 is starting. Our names are on the standby board. Not cleared. We’re here and we still don’t have seats on the flight. 

4:26: everyone is boarded, we’re at yet another desk, hoping someone can make something happen for us. There’s one seat available. Just one. Hopes dashed. 

4:27: desk lady is mad, who approved us for this flight? She closed the standby list before we were put on it, how did we get on here? What’s she supposed to do with us now?

4:28: Jennifer isn’t here. She had seat on this flight and she might not be on it. Come down to the door of the plane. We’ll check and see if Jennifer is on. If she’s not, one of you can have her empty seat and one can have the other empty seat. (Silently begin praying that Jennifer was late to her flight. Sorry, Jenny!) 

4:29: Jennifer, are you on here? Oops, Jen apparently slipped by. She’s here. Hopes dashed again. There’s only one seat, you’re at the door of the plane, you’re gonna have to decide what to do. 

4:30: wait, there’s a pilot on board as a passenger. And there’s one extra seat in the cockpit. He can sit up there. You can have his seat. Go ahead and get on. You’ll know what seats are yours. They’re the only empty ones. Literally. 

NYC, here we come, ready or not! 

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America, Asia, Food, Funny, Missions, Summer, Travel

Dear Passenger

Dear Passenger:

• to the person with their window shade up on the 7 hour flight, how do you not know that is inappropriate? Everyone else has their windows closed. The lights in the cabin are turned off. It’s nap time. 

• to the lady boarding with her family and acting like she’s settling everyone in for a week at church camp, while announcing personal family instructions loudly: I appreciate your enthusiasm, I really do. However, I don’t really need to know when everyone needs to be taking their medicine. If you do need me to help you remind certain family members of their duties throughout this flight, I will be more than happy to do that for you. Just give me a copy of your schedule and I will keep an eye on the clock. 

• to the screaming child: it’s tough, I know. I’ve been up since 3:51 am too. It’s a long day. You’re hungry, I’m hungry. We’re all cramped up on this plane together. I feel your pain. And if it were socially appropriate for me to be screaming and crying right now, I might consider it. But, it’s not really “in good taste” for me to join you. Also, thank you for the reminder that I am, in fact, still not ready to have children of my own. I knew that already, but you’re really helping to nail down that point. Thanks, kid, message received. Loud and clear. 

• to the sweet Japanese flight attendant who keeps bringing me water: thank you for recognizing the fact that I am drained and dehydrated and semi-miserable at this point. I wish you would do something about the annoying person with their window shade still up. But, you won’t because you’re too nice and too busy bringing me water. So, I’ll choose to be thankful for hydration instead. 

• to the business man, clacking away on your laptop, I am glad you are using your time productively. However, I am currently on hour 4 of the Hunger Games movie trilogy and you’re just a little distracting. I’ll let it slide, but try to keep your vigorous typing to a minimum. Please and thank you! 

• to the singles posted up by the galley, I know you’re both trying to get your game on at 30,000 feet. It’s a good time to chat because you have nothing else to do. I know that. However, I need immediate and direct access to water and coffee. Which is in the galley. So, could you move your little meet and greet to another location? 

• to the person choosing the meals to serve on these flights, can I lock you in a closed in, airtight container in the middle of the night and open a tray of lukewarm fish over rice? Can I let you experience that smell? It isn’t pleasant. Who is designing these meals?! Who thinks this is a good idea? What happened to a simple sandwich? Maybe some chips? I don’t understand. 

• to the girl who got too little sleep and is overly ready to be home, take a chill pill, It’s going to be okay. The baby will quit crying, the sun will set, the stench of the gross airplane food will fade (slightly), you will eventually pass out on your tray table from sheer exhaustion, you’ll get where you’re going. And when you do, you’ll soon be ready to go again. It’ll be okay, Brittney. Sit back and enjoy the ride. 

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