I’m Just So Tired of This

For the most part, I plan to keep this blog focused on travels, fun things to do and see and watch and eat.

However, in the wake of what’s going on in my country right this moment, I need to use this platform to air my thoughts.

A man opened fire on a crowd of concert-goers a few nights ago. This post isn’t about him. This post is about all the times we, as American citizens, say, “Thoughts and prayers” and then go right back into the same system. I wish I could say this was an isolated incident. It’s not. I’m 33. The first mass shooting I remember was Columbine. I was in middle school at the time. Since then, I’ve seen coverage of countless mass shootings. Countless deaths. Countless thoughts and prayers.

Thoughts and prayers.

And then we do nothing. We don’t take a look at our laws and figure out a better way. We don’t look at our health care¬† system and find a way to get people better access not only to mental health care, but health care in general. We don’t look at toxic masculinity and address the role that guns play in our society. We don’t look at how racism plays into the idea that a person of color or a specific religion is either a terrorist or a thug or a criminal or an “illegal,” while a white man is a “lone wolf.”

We don’t even look into the fact that calling someone a “lone wolf” romanticizes the image of a mass murderer. Wolves are strong and powerful. A man, hiding in a hotel room, so many floors up and shooting into an unsuspecting crowd of innocent people that can’t even see where the bullets are coming from, is not strong and powerful. He’s weak. He’s a coward. And he is not alone. There have been many before him. And there will be many after him.

I live in a country where men carrying Nazi flags are referred to as “good people on all sides” while a black athlete protesting racial injustice is a “son of a bitch.”

I live in a country where one person’s right to own guns trumps a child’s right to go to kindergarten without being murdered. Where the right to own a gun is more important than the right to cancer treatment, a living wage, an education. I live in a country where it’s easier for a man with bad intentions to buy a gun than it is for a rape victim to get an abortion. I live in a country where a woman fleeing domestic violence is blamed for her death because “why didn’t she just leave?” While her husband was able to legally buy the gun he used to kill her.

I live in a country where it is illegal to sell Kinder Eggs, because we are not smart enough to see the plastic toy inside and not choke to death on it. But we are apparently smart enough to be trusted with a weapon designed to murder 58 people and injure 500+ more in a matter minutes. Because, self-defense and overthrowing a tyrannical government! Makes sense, right?

I live in a country that is collapsing from the inside. You ever notice that there are a lot more terrorist attacks from ISIS in Europe than there are in the U.S.? Want to know why? Because Americans, as a collective, do more damage to our fellow citizens than ISIS could ever dream to. They don’t need to destroy our people. We do a much better job of it on our own.

Many will say that now is not the time to bring politics into it. Or to argue. Or to state the obvious. It’s a time to mourn. A time to pretend to reflect on the tragedy of innocent lives lost. You can pray and mourn all you want. But it means absolutely nothing if we don’t have the hard conversations. The first step to getting help is admitting there is a problem.

Well, here I am. An average, American citizen admitting that my country has a problem. Several, actually. Now, what are we going to do to help fix the problem?

Thoughts and prayers.

Just like always. Nothing more. Nothing less.

 

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Falling In Love: Seoul Series Pt. 1

I recently took a trip to South Korea. And I was instantly in love.

So, how does one fall in love with a country or city? It’s easy, really. When the country is as amazing as South Korea.

There were several things that made me fall in love with South Korea, and Seoul in particular.

The first was the people. My older sister and I went to Korea knowing only how to say, “Hello” and “Thank you” in Korean. We didn’t know the language. The money. The subway system. We could barely pronounce the names of neighborhoods. We landed in Korea with only a basic idea of how to make our way to our Airbnb apartment in Hongdae.

It would have been easy for us to get lost and overwhelmed and frustrated. However, the people of Seoul were kind and welcoming. It seemed that the people of South Korea wanted us to feel welcome and at home.

If we looked lost, they would stop and ask us where we were going. Even if they didn’t speak more than a few words of English. We were helped by strangers in the subway when our luggage was too heavy to lift off the train. A tour guide helped us order food at a restaurant. A group of grandmas in Busan offered me a seat on the train next to them and then gave me the thumbs up and big smiles when I sat down. The security guard at our apartment building asked us if we had eaten yet and if we were enjoying our time in Seoul. A group of passing school children waved at us as we sat in a cafe drinking smoothies.

The more time we spent taking in the sites and shopping and eating, the more Seoul started to feel like home in a way that no other city aside from Kansas City has before.

The second thing that really made me love Seoul was the combination of ancient and modern. Visiting the City Hall area, there are several ancient palaces. They are beautiful and breathtaking and stunning. And what made them stand out even more was that they were surrounded by modern skyscrappers.

New and Old

There’s a huge, very old Buddhist temple right across the street from a giant, modern shopping mall.

The left side of the street:

Temple in Seoul

The right side of the street:

Coex Mall

When walking down this street in Gangnam, you hear the noise of the traffic. The movement of people from one place to another. But as you pass through the entryway to the temple, you hear nothing but a peaceful calm. The day we visited, they still had paper lanterns from a recent holiday. As the breeze worked it’s way through, we could hear the gentle flapping of tiny banners hung from each lantern. It was easily one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever visited.

Lanterns in the Wind

The third thing that made me fall in love with Seoul was that there is so much to do and see and explore. From palaces, to street shopping. The trick-eye museums and animal cafes. The DMZ and amusement parks. South Korea is a world of it’s own and we were never bored.

I’ll do another post of some of my favorite places that we visited. (Including my absolute favorite stores to shop.) Suffice it to say, after two weeks, there was still so much that we didn’t have time to see and do. South Korea truly has wonderful things to offer for just about anyone, you just have to know where to look!

Between the wonderful and kind people, the combination of modern and ancient, and the abundance of things to do, I have fallen in love with South Korea. My heart has felt homesick ever since I landed back in the states. But I know that someday soon, I will make my way back to my second home and find more reasons to love it.

Have you visited a place that instantly felt like a second home? Where do you want to visit someday?

Love Is Not Over: Why I Chose My Blog Title

In my “About Me” section, I mentioned that I love Korean Pop music. I got into kpop somewhere around 2009. Over the years, I have loved many groups and many songs. (I’m sure I’ll post more in the future about my favorites) A few years ago, I discovered a group called Bangtan Sonyeondan or BTS for short.

BTS has a lot of really great songs. They write songs not just about love, but about challenges that many Koreans face in society today. They are an all around, standup group of guys. Not only do they sing and dance and rap, several of their members are active participants in the lyric writing, composing, and producing process. In short, I love them. They are talented. They are hilarious. They work hard.

So, what does all that have to do with my blog title? Simple. “Love is not over” is the title of one of my favorite songs by them. (I’ll post a link to the song at the bottom of this post.)

The song is beautiful. But aside from that, I love the sentiment behind the phrase, “love is not over.” It’s the knowledge that sometimes things end (relationships, jobs, years.) But even as those things end, there is a new beginning on the horizon. The love you feel for someone might change or end. But love, in general, is still out there. You will love again.

There is hope in the statement, “love is not over.”

And hope is something I needed when I started this blog. It’s been a rough year. Between homelife, career, politics, loss of friendships, the devastation of discovering fertility problems. 2016 and the beginning of 2017 was not overly kind to me.

“Love is not over” is my personal reminder that, though there have been setbacks and though things haven’t gone how I’d planned, the life ahead of me is mine for the taking. The endings may have been difficult, but I’m in a better place to accept the beginnings headed my way. As I start over in so many ways, I have hope that things didn’t work out in the past because there would be no room for the future I’m currently heading towards.

I have hope that love is not over.

Love Is Not Over (I do not own this video. But the person that made it is wonderful for taking the time to put it together!)