Thursday, September 30, 2010

2 and 1 - In the thick of it...

Less than 24 hours to go.
Just finished hauling 10 bags of stuff to the curb in front of my apartment. Trying to leave as blank a canvas for the next occupant. I hope she can tell that this flat has been filled with joy.

And a strange, overarching peace abides... at least, that's what I keep telling myself.

Doing some last minute things tomorrow: closing up bank accounts, picking up some last minute shopping.

Have friends who will see me off, both from my apartment and at the bus terminal. This means the world to me. Hadn't realized just how much until this moment actually came. Funny the things that matter in the end.
Signing off, for the month and for the project.

100 days complete tomorrow.
And a new chapter begins.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

3 - "Struggle"

In class yesterday we were discussing healthy foods and the exercise involved planning a healthy menu, with a main dish, sides, and dessert. One girl raised her hand and asked:
"Teacher what is kind of potatoes... struggle potatoes?"
Me: "Do you mean 'mashed' potatoes."
"Ahhh! Yes, yes." She said. " 'Mashed' potatoes."

Oh, thou potato, you valiant and worthy opponent.

Monday, September 27, 2010

4 - Slipping away...

It's Monday night (11:39PM korea time). I am about to pull an all-nighter to get my stuff packed. It never feels like enough, but somehow, I'm trusting that it will be enough. Harder than it looks, simpler than it sounds.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

5 - LAST long walk on a Saturday...

... because this was my last Saturday here.

A restaurant by my house.

The Sun through the clouds.

The river (moving water).

... and me!

Friday, September 24, 2010

6 - Phonetic...

The homework assignment involved listening to sentences online and writing them down.

I kept seeing things like:


The word was "altruistic"

Gotta love those phonetic spellers.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

7- All worthwhile...

Today was one of those days when it all seems worthwhile, when despite my weaknesses and shortcomings, the greater purpose of God prevails.

Had coffee with an awesome young man who is interested in serving our church in leadership and seems to be a direct answer to our prayer for God to raise up men of action and service. It's absolutely awe-inspiring and incredibly gratifying to see the church inhabited by such people.

In lighter news, I saw Resident Evil: Afterlife in IMAX 3D. Am glad that I got a chance to see another movie in Korea because I'm just convinced that movies look better out here. The seats are more lush and supportive, the screens more attractive than anything I've yet to experience in the States. One can also select one's seat when the ticket is purchased so there's no need to come early to claim a good spot. The movie was quite well-done for a shoot 'em up zombie flick and I left strangely inspired to live my daily life better.

If that isn't the summation of a successful day, then I don't know what is.

Keep the faith and fight the good fight!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

8 - Fleeting...

"Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it."
W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge

(shamelessly stolen from

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

9 - Single Digits...

I'm in the single digits and it still hasn't sunk in yet...
Six parts excited, one part nervous.
Today I purposely made my room messy to remind myself that I still have work to do.

Monday, September 20, 2010

10 - Such a shame...

"Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?"
Kurt Vonnegut

Sunday, September 19, 2010

11 - Home Stretch

Second to the last Sunday at church. One of our deacons had his last Sunday today. At first, I thought that it was silly that the leaving people were crying when they went up to speak, but now I think I'm beginning to understand. It's kind of like death, this leaving. We're completely saying good-bye to one set of friends, acquaintances, places, and routines. But we get a reprieve on the other end-- Family and friends waiting to welcome us home. It's a bit morbid to think this way, but alas, all part of the journey.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

12 - Message in a Bottle

Question: "What message would you leave for yourself 2 years and 7 months ago?"

"Everything's gonna be OK."

Really. That's it. And actually, that message holds true for me at almost any age before now. I live by the creed that "...absolutely nothing in God's universe happens by mistake."

Friday, September 17, 2010

13 - Contents of My Life...

What was in that box? Why, I thought you'd never ask.

Box #1 -
Chambers, Oswald Complete Works of Oswald Chambers
Gross, Terry All I Did was Ask
E. San Juan, Jr. Beyond Post-Colonial Theory
Soyinka, Wole You Must Set Forth at Dawn
Stanley, Thomas Millionaire Next Door, The
al-Bayati, Abdul Wahab Love, Death, and Exile
Elliot, Elizabeth Let Me be a Woman
Blanchard, Ken One Minute Entrepreneur
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly Creativity
Buechner, Fredrich Telling Secrets
Buechner, Fredrich Sacred Journey, The
YBM/SiSa Great American Short Stories
Pausch, Randy Last Lecture, The
Berlitz Korean Dictionary
Zinsser, William On Writing Well
ed. Boxer, Sarah Ultimate Blogs
Revere, Steven Survival Korean
Complete Guide to the TOPIK, The
Korean Grammar in Use
Sogang Korean Level 1A + grammar book
Sogang Korean Level 1B + grammar book
Sogang Korean Level 2A + grammar book
Hall, Jean and Dorial Ashtanga Yoga and Meditation

Thursday, September 16, 2010

14 - Murphy

"I always tell my kids if you lay down, people will step over you. But if you keep scrambling, if you keep going, someone will always, always give you a hand. Always. But you gotta keep dancing, you gotta keep your feet moving."
Morgan Freeman

In deference to the "Murphy" from my last post that did, indeed, visit me I should note that I broke a tooth late this evening. The good news is, I'm still in Korea. Worst case scenario: I'll need a root canal, core, and crown. Best case scenario: They can patch it up in one visit. Most assuredly, the cost will be a fraction of what I would pay in the States.

As one Korean co-worker remarked, "That's one of the best things about Korea. When I was in the States, they wanted to charge me $2000 to have my wisdom teeth pulled. For that price, I can buy a round trip ticket, fly to Korea, have the work done, fly home and still have change left over."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

15 - Change

“We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”

~Charles R. Swindoll

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

16 - ConTENT and things I meant to say back when...

At the risk of inviting hubris (or "Murphy" of Murphy's Law), I would say that I am quite content where I am right now. I don't wish I was staying longer; I don't wish I was leaving sooner. I feel like I have been here the exact amount of time I was meant to be here and that I have done all I was supposed to do. Preparations for leaving aside, I want to take a few seconds for myself and realize that I really am that content.

Today's assignment was a trip to the pension office to claim my pension from the Korean government. It's meant for retirement and hopefully I'll be able to open up an IRA with it once I've been working (and paying taxes) in the States for 2 years.

Meant to say back in August, to any family (Aunt Dianne, Uncle Art, Aunt Rosi, Cousins Eddie or Julie, Uncle Ed, Aunt Merry, Uncle Brandt, Aunt Kathi, Uncle Jerry, Cousins Josh or Jess) I miss our August reunion. It was something I dreaded being dragged to as a kid, but as with so many things, I have come to appreciate it more now that I'm older.

Love you and miss you all!

Monday, September 13, 2010

17 - This or that...

Am starting to get packages ready to send home and feel like it's a constant battle of "this one or that one." I don't want to clutter up my life in the States with too many possessions, but at the same time I don't want to leave behind something that I might end up missing.

Today's package: World maps that have hung on my wall since Jan of 2009.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

18 - Getting lazy...

I feel like I'm getting lazy out here. I've felt this way for a long time. I feel like I have little to contribute as I am right now. I'm looking forward to this change and hoping that I can kick myself out of this mood.

Tongue in cheek, I offer:

"You can't teach people to be lazy-- either they have it, or they don't." Dagwood Bumstead.

19 - Common Denominator

I'm always fascinated by the activities that bring people together. Was at a party this evening and it was interesting to note the different interests that actually draw people out of their houses to meet with one another. Yoga, sports, drinking, travel, food, and TV shows seemed to be common denominators.

From my experience, the single most unifying force for me out here has been my church. I've used it as the source of my social network, support system, and entertainment hub. I'm fortunate because this particular church, for all its quirks and oddities, has an intensely diverse cross-section of human experience. There are parents with babies, parents with teenagers, retirees, single military personnel, married military personnel, as well as us 20-something English teachers. This mecca of wisdom and experience comes together on Sunday morning and I would be more likely to call in sick to work than I would be to miss church.

Creating community is a vital activity and one that I don't take lightly. As I'm preparing myself to go through this building process once more with new people in new places, I look at what I have right now and realize the many ways I am truly blessed in this situation right now.

Friday, September 10, 2010

20 - Marking time

Being hit by a few of those "lasts" ... lately.

This is the last time I start a new series (unit) at my school. I just checked my attendance sheets and scoped out the last class that I'll teach on my last day. Get ready, kiddos! I'm just getting started. : )

Thursday, September 9, 2010

21 - being enough.

Had lunch with a friend this afternoon.
"I just never feel like I've done enough." I said.
"Join the club." He said.

Whether it be saving, studying, learning, working... It's so hard to strike that balance between contentment with a job well done and the continual drive to do better. I suppose the core comes down to who I measure myself against. I have all these grand hopes and dreams, but in the end I suppose that it's enough for me to know that I'm made some really great friends, paid off some really heinous debt, and got to do some pretty cool work while I was here. Corny, but true.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

22 - Passion

Things about which I am passionate:
(in no particular order)
Effective Communication
The written word
Living debt-free

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

23 - Deer in the Headlights

Is kind of how I feel right now. Less than four weeks left...

Monday, September 6, 2010

26, 25, 24 - Another Trip Afield

Jetted off to Cebu, in the Philippines for a long weekend away.

Packing shot. My ongoing effort to be organized.

Shot of the "island paradise" the day after we arrived. Apparently, it was a bit cloudy.

The hotel we stayed in.

Magellan's cross. Because it was Sunday (I suppose)

Friday, September 3, 2010

28 - 27 - Flying By...

I know I'm being lazy, but I'm on vacation, darn it!

Arrived in Mactan, Cebu yesterday at 1AM. Tropical palm trees and blue skies abound.
Went for a massage and some city touring today and am about to head for the pool now.

Pics to come (I hope.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

29 - Taken Care Of...

In my ongoing quest to cover all the bases while I still have health/dental/vision coverage, I scheduled a cleaning at my dentist. (Mac Dental Hospital, Beomeo subway stop, exit 10- 053-745-2876- tell 'em Christianna sent you). I found them on a recommendation from a friend out here and found out that they also work on our school's boss, the illustrious "Mr. Moon" and will usually give a 10% discount to MK employees (or their friends).

This afternoon when I went for my appointment, they got me in early, gave me a check-up, gave one of my fillings needed "maintenance", gave me a cleaning (also called a "scaling": normal cost: 70,000) then told me that b.c they did the original filling, it was covered by a 5 year "A/S" (After Service) warranty. Then, after I told them that I was going back to the States for good, they gave me copies of my dental records.

Total cost of the visit: 30,000 won. (a special "home going" discount)
Lately Korea, you've been rocking my world.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

30 - Momentus...

Down to the wire here.
I feel the urge to say something profound, but no luck.
I go through my work day (4:25-10PM) hacking through 6 classes, walking up and down the stairs thinking, "only 30 more days of this..." and I'm not sure how I feel about it. One part sad/scared, six parts elated and looking forward to the future. I feel like that's a good ratio.

Leaving for the Philippines on Thursday on this work-sponsored vacation. Returning late Sunday night.

And I leave with a kid quote.
Me: What would you buy with one million dollars?
Kid: A pencil case and mechanical pencil.

Monday, August 30, 2010

32 & 31 - Getting close...

Come too darn far to quit now!

Even if I'm just marking the days and don't take the time to always do a proper update, I want it known to myself that I was here and I was keeping track, darn it! I watched every single one of these days go by. Sometimes I didn't do my best, while sometimes I gave more than I thought was humanly possible, but I was present and showed up for every single one of these days. That counts.

After reading a comment on my "Decisions, decisions" post, I have begun to re-think NOT taking the TOPIK test. As my friend pointed out "the day after the test, my friends will still be 'there'. The test won't." It's worth noting.

Said good-bye to yet another friend today. She and her husband (and their pre-born little one) are heading back to South Africa on Wednesday. She's one year older than me and has been in Korea on and off for about 5 years. The first two times she was here alone, but the third time she came back with her new husband and now she leaves with a new little one in their mix. Even though I haven't spent that much face time with her, that friendship is one of the most important ones in my time here and I'm so glad that we're leaving so close together. She gives me hope.

And along that theme, here's my quote for the day:

"Writing is an act of hope. It means carving order out of chaos, of challenging one's own beliefs and assumptions, of facing the world with eyes and heart wide open. Through writing we declare a personal identity amid faceless anonymity. We find purpose and beauty and meaning even when the rational mind argues that none of these exist. Writing therefore, is also an acto f courage. How much easier is it to lead an unexamined life than to confront yourself on the page?"

Jack Heffron

Sunday, August 29, 2010

33 - Another Send-Off...

Aaron, you will be missed!

Missed a post yesterday (which I realized as I lay down in bed at 2AM) but I'm giving myself a break, as yesterday was simply jam-packed. Did the "Sky Jump" at a local amusement park with a friend, then on a whim, decided to walk home from said friend's house, which was a 2 hour long jaunt.

More to come...

Friday, August 27, 2010

34 - Work in Progress

The stability of my life here in Korea has granted me the opportunity to take a good hard look at myself. I came here knowing no one and having only two suitcases to my name. I live alone, so I know that if there's something in my apartment, it's because I chose put it there (or not to remove it). I have absolutely no one but myself to blame for the abundance of paper, magazines, (or dust bunnies) currently clogging my corners. Likewise, if I have friends, they are a reflection of what I have put out into the water or because Providence has put them into my life to teach me something. I have learned that in friendship, as in life, one tends to reap what one sows.

My character defects are abundant. This is something that I have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt. I tend to be critical, judgmental, prideful, vain, and full of sloth. Day by day, I'm learning how to be accepting, kind, humble, disciplined, joyful and full of praise. There are days when I falter and say things that I shouldn't, but it's a constant negotiation of figuring out how to nurture myself and my values, while putting the character defects to death. What's a defect and what's a vital part of my personality? This is the ongoing question, but I hope that the answers will come with the willingness to gaze unflinchingly at the truth.

I believe that Ms. Anne of Green Gables summed it up best when she said:
"...but if you only knew how many things I want to say and don't. Give me SOME credit."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

35 - White page

On the difficulties of memory:

Student: "Teacher, when I try to remember, my mind goes to white page."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

36 - More than one place...

"I read so I can live life in more than one place."
~Ann Tyler
(via word

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

37 - Decisions, decisions

Since I came back to Korea six months ago, I have been studying to take the TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean). Now I find out that the test date falls on the last Sunday of some good friends. Do I take the test (that I've already paid and studied for) or do I pass it up in favor of spending time with friends.... Really, to be honest, I'm not that excited about the test and don't feel like I'm going to perform that well, but maybe that means that I should buckle down and study for it anyway. On the other hand, Sundays and my community at church are important to me, too.

Take the test or hang with friends.

Decisions, decisions...

Monday, August 23, 2010

38 - That's the Spirit!

Me: "What does 'unwind' mean?"
Student: "'Unwind' means 'destroy stress'"

Yes, yes it does.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

39 - You Remind Me of all the Best in the World

Just spent the day with the world's most amazing 13-year old. We got ice cream, rode a virtual roller coaster, bought pencils, and ate McDonalds. It was a thoroughly satisfying afternoon.

I first met this young spitfire at after church lunch two years ago. "Hi," she said. "Want to hear my life plan?" and she proceeded to lay out her goals and dreams for the next 40 years of her life. Today at our church lunch, she mentioned that she'd added a new dimension to her life picture. "I've even planned when I'm going to die." she said. "84" "What, 2084?" someone asked. "No, WHEN I'm 84." she corrected him. Obviously.

I took her out on a downtown date this afternoon in celebration of her first day of high school, which happens next Monday. We hopped on a bus after church, chatting about school and her love of horses, and life in general. "I'm nervous," she said. "Because the first step in my plan starts this year. High school leads to college, and I'll have to get into a good college if I want my plan to work. If I mess up in high school, I won't get into a good college and then my everything might fall apart."

"Take it easy," I want to tell her. "You're not going to college today."

She walks with her head forward and her shoulders hunched, intent on getting where she's going... right now. She so reminds me of me at that age, only more aware, more courageous, and more willing to find answers.

As wise people have told me, I keep telling her: "All we have is these 24 hours. That's all God gives us." Plan for the future, but live in the present, knowing that things can change in an instant.

Every time I tell her, I tell myself.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

40 -For Now, Just Listen

"Music is a total constant. That’s why we have such a strong visceral connection to it, you know? Because a song can take you back instantly to a moment, or a place, or even a person. No matter what else has changed in your or the world, that one song stays the same, just like that moment."
Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

I heard this song in a cafe on Wednesday and instantly I was catapulted back to early spring of 2008. It was February. I was watching the movie this song came from with my best guy friend in the world, and over popcorn with his cats wandering in and out of the den, I ranted at the movie for reminding me so much of someone about whom I cared a great deal.

This wouldn't be an honest blog account if I didn't mention that there are times when my mind still drifts back to that time and those people. The ache has lessened, but the memory is still there and will be, I suspect, as long as there are songs to remind me.

41 - Non-Urgent Hospital Visit

Am stocking up on my prescription before I go.
Doctor = 3,600
Pharmacy = 3,600

Total cost = 7,200

Korea, some days you make me smile.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

42 - Nightwalking

My new (resumed) hobby is walking alone at night along the path by the highway. I realize that in practically no other country is this as safe as it is in Korea.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

43 - Traffic Jam

"I want to write books that unlock the traffic jam in everybody's head."
~John Updike

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

44 - Threads

"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects."

~Herman Melville

Monday, August 16, 2010

45 - The "Gift" of Teaching...

It always gives me a little kick when I am "blessed" with the kind of students that I once was: bored, unmotivated, spacey, and opinionated. I would become disinterested with the beginning of the lesson, space out and miss some important detail, then be lost for the rest of the period. I would then proceed to "punish the teacher by doing my absolute worst on the assignment and showing them that they weren't the boss of me. That's right people, I was a joy to have in class.

Now that I'm on the other side of the desk, my challenge as a teacher is to deal with these students that I was was with empathy, understanding, and a healthy dose of "youneedtostraighten theheckupandflyright".

Sunday, August 15, 2010

46 - Getting it Right

"I have never though of myself as a ‘born’ writer—anymore than I think of myself as a ‘natural’ athlete, or even a good one. What I am is a good rewriter; I never get anything right the first time—I just know how to revise, and revise."
John Irving, Trying to Save Piggy Sneed

In life, I feel like we're constantly offered the opportunity to "revise". In any given situation if we haven't gotten it right the first time, it feels like we're often given other chances to learn the same lesson over again. Sometimes this is a blessing; sometimes this is a curse. In my current situation, I feel like I'm being offered an opportunity to re-learn the ability to say good-by. In the past to make a transition easier I've soured relationships/work situations to the point where it was actually a relief to be leaving them, but I realize that this may be my pattern.

In this current transition, I'm aiming to work to my very best right up until the end and be able to close out my contract knowing that I have finished well.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

47 - The Frugal Files, Part 3

Gym Membership.
Instead of joining a gym, I just walk the path by my house. It's about a mile total, so I simply repeat for the number of miles I want to log in. Plus, with the humidity, it's like getting an extra trip to the sauna (OK, that part is said with a bit of a smirk, but still...)

Every won counts!

Total Savings: 30, 000 won per month.

Friday, August 13, 2010

48 - Hallelujah!

Last day of Summer Session. Hurrah!

In celebration, I offer up these pictures of the little munchkins holding their final presentation posters. The topic was "Famous People". Now, I remember looking at pictures other teachers had posted of their students and being like "yeah, and?" but I assure you that these little 'uns have oodles of personality.

First up, Jung Eun (Jenny). She was the lone student in the class the first week and spent four hours keeping four different English teachers entertained with her witty banter and stories. (She's the one with the brother who got the cold shower...) She is very much the epitome of "cute" and wore lacy socks and some variation of ruffles and bows every day. She chose Park Ji-Sung as her famous person.

This is Na Young. A taciturn little thing, she would sit quietly unless prompted to speak, which she would do, but only very reluctantly. I heard from other teachers that she was quite the little instigator, but she never acted up in my class. She is, in her own words, "not a girl-girl", but for her famous person, she chose to research Kim Yun-Ah.

Seung-Soo was the zen calm of the group and would quietly and earnestly complete his work. He chose Thomas Edison and his pictures of lightbulbs seemed to mirror his personality.

Doo Young was by far the most entertaining and on the last day, busted out with his rendition of this song, made popular by one Rob Schnieder . He seemed to have the soul of a crochety 60 year old man in the body of a very antsy 10 year old. He scribbled all the drawings for his poster on Alfred Noble in less than 20 minutes and then wacked them onto the poster board with a glue stick, and announced himself done. I was about to protest, but noticed that his poster was actually quite good. He seems surprised in this picture, but maybe it's just his masked earnestness.

It was a great experience that is thankfully no more than a memory now.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

49 - Reminder

"Music isn't just a pleasure, it's a transient satisfaction. It's a need, a deep hunger; and when the music is right, it's joy. Love. A foretaste of heaven. A comfort in grief. Is it too much to think that perhaps God speaks to us sometimes through music? How, then, could I be so ungrateful as to refuse the message?"

~Orson Scott Card

50 - Things I Will Miss about Korea, Part 3

Cheap take-out.

Delicious kimbap dinner delivered straight to my desk:
total cost= 2,000 won.

Oh yeah, baby.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

51 - Things I WIll Miss About Korea, Part 2

Adorable Kid Quotes:
Me: What kinds of magazines do you like to read?
Jae Hwi (international age 10): Furniture magazines!

Monday, August 9, 2010

52 - Things I Will Miss About Korea- Part 1

Umbrella Baggies
When it rains, department stores put out stands with little plastic baggies in them so you can wrap up your wet umbrella and not drip water all over. (Yes, to be crude, it does look a bit like an "umbrella condom")
Caveat: After wrapping up your umbrella in said plastic bag, if you come outside and it's not raining anymore, be sure to unwrap it once you get home otherwise you chance coming upon said umbrella weeks later, still in the damp baggie, only now covered in rust. Not that I would know, or anything.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

53 - Contact!

Affirmations do help, for sure.
The good:
Played from memory.

The bad:
It was so incredibly shaky, I couldn't quite believe it. Partly b.c it was my first time playing this piece in front of an audience, but also b.c I knew that I hadn't really practiced enough. The good news is that now I have played this piece in front of an audience now, so hopefully the next time I play it, it'll be better.

Onward and upward!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

54 - Woodshed

It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness, of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappoint and never-satisfied love."

~Benjamin Britten

My affirmation:
"I am going to perform brilliantly with accuracy, passion and clear dynamic contrast."

Friday, August 6, 2010

55 - The Stories We Tell Ourselves...

"Submerged" was the word I was hunting for last night, with 10 minutes to go until I had to post. "Submerged" because it so perfectly captures how I feel right now.

It's been a long time since I've had to memorize anything for anything (vocab and KStudy excluded) and while I'm in the process of trying to learn this Sonata by heart, I find myself asking myself how exactly I go about doing that. I find that it's helpful to break it down into chunks and for me, I create a story that goes with each chunk.

The Sonata opens with an invitation to come on a journey, we've saved up money, and the women wear hoop skirts and turn on pointe. Then it links to a section with the family patriarch and his lady getting onto the ship, next come the two brothers rough and tumbling, then the men and women are courting on said ship, and then, the final victory as the ship pulls into port. And that's the first half of the Sonata in my brain.

Great blog on overcoming performance anxiety, which I hope to do this Sunday...

Ship Ahoy!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

56 - Summer is for... music.

I'm currently subsumed with trying to learn this bad boy for Sunday.

In between teaching summer session and doing my regular job, I'm holed up in my apartment, sitting straight-backed in a vinyl cushioned chair and practicing for hours on end. Living the dream, I tell you. Living the dream.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

57 - Just Splashing Around...

Much to my own amazement, I've managed to keep up with a post a day for coming up on close to 50 days. Miracles abound!
Now that I've proven to myself that I can actually be consistent like this, I'm aiming to put more content into my posts and actually say something rather than just blurting out whatever happens to be on my mind at the minute. I suppose through this blog project I've proven that I can get in the water and paddle around; now the great task is to actually point myself somewhere and swim. Intensive classes finish at the end of next week so I hope to have more time after that. Of course, what time I do have will be more occupied with getting ready to go, but I ought to be able to start to make something worthwhile. Onward ho!

58 - Good Eats

I was late with the post for today, but with good cause, as I went out for dinner with some cool colleagues. We went to a gamjatang and it were delicious. All you can see from the pics is the uncooked sesame leaves, but the soup was really quite lovely. The restaurant we went to is open 24 hours so if you're ever in the area and need a place to stay, order a huge bowl of soup and break out a pillow.

Monday, August 2, 2010

59 - Summer Storm!

There is currently a summer storm rocking it's way through our neck of the woods. Lightning just blinked outside my window and I heard what I thought might have been my neighbor moving furniture, but what actually turned out to be thunder. As a co-worker summed up her weekend activities, she said that she and her boyfriend went for a bike ride and they just went "away from the rain". That's very much the weather that we have around these parts in this season. One side of the street can be getting drenched, while the other side is sunny. The trick is to know which side of the street you want to be on.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

60 - Another One Bites the Dust

Just bid farewell to another friend. This one is leaving for law school at the University of Ottawa. I'm sad, but incredibly joyful because it means that my homecoming is getting closer. One day at a time...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

61 - Family


My role as helper is not to do things for the person I am trying to help, but to be things; not trying to control and change his actions, but through understanding and awareness to change my reactions. I will change my negatives to positives; fear to faith; contempt for what he may do to respect for the potential within him or her; hostility to understanding; and manipulation or over-protectiveness to release with love, not trying to make him fit a standard or image, but giving him an opportunity to pursue his own destiny, regardless of what that choice may be.

I will change my dominance to encouragement; panic to serenity; the inertia of despair to the energy of my own personal growth; and self-justification to self-understanding.

Self-pity blocks effective action. The more I indulge in it, the more I feel that the answer to my problems is a change in others and in society, not in myself. Thus, I become a hopeless case.

Exhaustion is the result when I use my energy in mulling over the past with regret, or in trying to figure ways to escape a future that has yet to arrive. Projecting an image of the future, and anxiously hovering over it, for fear that it will or it won't come true uses all of my energy and leaves me unable to live today. Yet living today is the only way to have a life.

I will have no thought for the future actions of others, neither expecting them to be better or worse as time goes on, for in such expectations I am really trying to create. I will love and let be.

All people are always changing. If I try to judge them I do so only on what I think I know of them, failing to realize that there is much I do not know. I will give others credit for attempts at progress and for having had many victories which are unknown to me.

I too am always changing, and I can make that change a constructive one, if I am willing. I CAN CHANGE MYSELF, others I can only love.

(Families Anonymous Literature. One of the 5 Basic Readings)

Friday, July 30, 2010

62 - "Jombie"

One of my elementary school students has a fascination with "jombies" (zombies) and this evening, I think I'm beginning to feel a bit "undead" myself. I've slipped into a twilight land of consistently not enough sleep and although this is familiar ground, I'm not really used to having to be presentable in front of people while inhabiting said territory. I kept losing my train of thought in class and felt like I was taking micro-naps all day. The good news is we're officially halfway through our 4 weeks of summer session, which means 8 10-hour work days down and 8 more to go. One of those days even includes a Friday of presentations/parties, so really we're more than halfway done.

It's all downhill from here, baby!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

63 -Exactly Nine Weeks Left...

In nine weeks, I'll walk home from work, either by my usual route: up the escalator and around the courthouse or for a change, up the narrow side street by the shanty town. My bags will be packed and ready to go.

I hope to then...
~haul them down the two flights of winding in my apartment, walk out to the corner
~get into a taxi that will take me to the express bus station.
~board a bus bound for the Incheon Airport
~get on a plane bound for Shanghi
~connect to a plane bound for Newark Liberty International Airport.
~wait in a customs and immigration line (well, I don't really hope for the the "waiting" part, but necessary evil, I suppose)
~confirm that I have not travelled into any rural areas in the past 30 days, nor am I carrying more than $10,000 worth of merchandise...
~hand over my passport
~receive my passport back (... and I'm hoping they say "Welcome home.")

And finally, I hope to...
~walk out and meet my mom.

I look forward to this day as the last page in my "English Teacher in Korea" chapter and the first page in the "Rest of My Life" chapter. Of course I have my own desires, wants, goals, plans... but I know that they're none of them worth the time it takes to think them out. Oh, God Almighty Creator of the Universe, give me grace to dream dreams that You would want me to dream and the courage to make them come true.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

64 - Sounds of Summer

In the summer time (usually the last week of August)we used to go to a choir school summer program run by a Presbyterian church a few towns over. I have fond memories of being in chairs at 8:30 in the morning singing warm-ups, doing call-and-response rhythm games, coloring in pictures of Bible stories, and eating snacks of mini powdered donuts and juice.

The Apostle's Creed set to music. Add that to the list of things that remind me of summer.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

65 - Memories of Summer Pt. 1

I was listening to the cicadas outside the window today at work (it was 9PM).
"What would you call the sound that they make?" I queried the office.
"Buzzing, maybe?" answered co-worker M.
"It's stronger than that," I said. "More like an intense sonic chatter,"
"I never really thought about what to call the sound they make." said co-worker S. "But I love them."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because they remind me of summertime."

Things that remind me of summertime:
~The smell of sunscreen.
~Mint gum
~The Lion in Winter
~Big fat books

Monday, July 26, 2010

66 - Highlights of My Day

That first cup of coffee. Made in my French Press, with a spoonful of creamer.
Cracking open the pages of a good book in bed at the end of the day.

Makes it all worthwhile.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

67 - Reality Sinking In...

Just had a farewell dinner w. a good friend as she prepares to move back home. I remember when she had seven weeks left... then 15 working days... and now on Wednesday she'll be living her life in the west again.

"Do you feel prepared?" I asked.
"No." she said. But really, how do you prepare to move your life from one country to another?

Wheels down. Ladies and gentlemen, we are beginning our descent into repatriation. Please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full and upright positions. Please have a thirty second summary of the last two and a half years of your life ready for anyone who asks and don't forget to smile. We hope you've enjoyed your flight aboard Korea Airlines and do think of us again soon.

Happy trails!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

68 - Six Items or Less...

A very interesting project in which the participants choose six items of clothing and pledge to wear them (and only them) for one month. (Things like underwear and work uniforms don't count).

Veeeery interesting and definitely in keeping with my own personal drive to simplify my life. The first round of the experiment has finished, but their starting sign-ups for the second go round.

Friday, July 23, 2010

69 -A Burden Shared is a Burden Halved

This evening, I called on Student A to answer a question ("Make a sentence with the word 'region', please.") A look of terror crosses Student A's face as he clearly has no idea what the word "region" means, but rather than humbly admit his ignorance... he reaches out and whacks his friend on the arm. No reason or provocation. He just thought he'd share his difficulty with his friend. If that isn't just the story of human interaction?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

70 - Departure/Arrival

I love train stations and airports. Something about the coming and going always puts me in a reflective mood. When I took the KTX coming back from Seoul, there was a little crowd gathered at the arrivals section of the station. There's nothing like witnessing a tearful reunion (especially when you're looking forward to one of your own).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

71 - Revenge

Jung Eun, one of my little I7 girls (international age 10) demonstrates hardball sibling rivalry.
Hot water in most Korean apartments is controlled by a console and it turns on and off with the click of a button.
"When my brother and I fight and he takes a shower, I just turn off the hot water." she said, with an innocent (evil) grin.

Well, then. That's fighting fire with fire.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

72- Gotta love that summer heat!

Yesterday (7/19) was Chobok (초복), marking the first of boknal (복날), which are the three hottest days of the year by the lunar calendar. In honor of the day, our boss (the illustrious Mr. Moon) generously donated a watermelon to the staff room, which we scarfed down during our last 5 minute break of the evening.

Although chicken is popular in Korea all year long, samgyetang (삼계탕; hot chicken soup with traditional medicinal herbs, including ginseng) is the most popular boknal dish. You might understand the concept ofiyeol chiyeol (이열치열; to relieve heat with heat) and accept the Korean custom of eating hot food in the summer. Understandably, Mr. Moon did not donate samgyetang to the staff room as this would have been even more difficult to scarf on the run.

Chobok is the first signal of the hot summer. The peak of the summer heat is jungbok and malbok is the last hottest day in summer. Usually each bongnal (boknal) comes at 10 day intervals. Koreans have a saying to "fight fire with fire" and usually eat hot foods to combat the summer heat during the bongnal (boknal) season. I just drink decaf hot coffee and hope for the best.

(Info shamelessly cribbed from and

Monday, July 19, 2010

73 - When it rains... means that summer session's about to start!

Our school's summer session starts tomorrow, which means that I'll be teaching from 9-1PM running home to take a nap, and then teaching from 4:25-10PM. Lather, rinse, repeat for four weeks (we do have Wednesdays off, though).

Looking forward to it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

74 - Field Trip!


Two for one: sleeping pic + the ubiquitous Asian "take a picture" sign.

NOT the Trevi Fountain

Although it looks like one.

Lotte World!
A major recreation complex in Seoul, South Korea that consists of the world's largest indoor theme park that set a Guinness World Record open all year around, an outdoor amusement park called "Magic Island", an artificial island inside a lake linked by monorail, shopping malls, a luxury hotel, a Korean folk museum, sports facilities, and movie theaters all in one place. (thank you, wikipedia.)

In line for the "Aeronauts Balloon Ride".

The ceiling.

Us IN the balloon.

Sky line.

Mega Ice Skating Rink

Drunken Baskets

Viking-type Ride

View from the top.

The ride warning signs.
Caution: "Not Allowed Pregnant"

Movenpik restaurant "Marche" where we ate dinner. One on (almost) every continent.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

75 - Field Trip

Planning a field trip this weekend (despite the torrential rain). Will hopefully be back with a much more informative and interesting post soon!

Friday, July 16, 2010

76 - Passport to a Slice of Home

That's right, folks. Good ol' Costco.

A membership from the States will work over here and my word, does mine ever earn its keep. There's something special about the smell (food court pizza, hotdogs, and churros) and the sounds (mammoth shopping carts chuntering around and industrial crates lifting pallets of toilet paper or tires) that just sends me right back to America.
Good, bad, or ugly: capitalism does have its uses.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

77 - Family Resemblance

To my memory, I've so far taught four sets of siblings (that I know of) here in Korea:
YongSan and BongSan (Identical twins discernible only by the soul patch BongSan sports.)
and SuBin and ChulGi

"Teacher teacher!" ChulGi exclaimed. "Next series, my older sister will be in your class."
"She will, will she?" I asked. "What's her name?"
"Her English name is 'Star'" He said, proudly. "And she is very good at English." I wondered if the personality would match the moniker and 'Star' did not disappoint. She proved to be a bubbly girl filled with interesting stories and observations. When I mentioned her brother one day in class, she rolled her eyes.
"So annoying!" she said.
"He's very proud of you." I told her.

In the world of sisters, I remember one of the sweetest moments in my sister life happened when my sister came home from one of her first college classes.
"Some professor asked me if I was your sister." she said.
"Really?" I asked. "Who?"
She told me and I gave her a hug. For some reason, that family resemblance recognized meant a lot to me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

78 - The Frugal Files: Part 2- ReUse

My tea drinking habits. Strange to relate, I actually prefer weak tea. One bag can last me 6-10 cups. That's right, folks. Or as an English friend once exclaimed, "What do you do, just introduce the tea to the water." Yes, yes I do. It's more like a celebrity sighting. The water's like "Oh, my gosh I'm such a big fan!" and then I'm like "No, sorry, the tea's got better things to do."

Total Savings = about $10 a month.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

79- Scenes from SoKo: The Local Convenience Store

Located about 100 steps from my front door. The proprietor sells things like stationary, bread, and light bulbs (and ice cream and potato chips... not that I would know). I've rolled out to visit him in pajamas and slippers. It's a new experience, this being so close to a center of community commerce. I quite enjoy it. I catch glimpses of the little kids running down to buy cucumbers for their moms (and a bag of chips for themselves), the middle school students buying ice cream and candy, the grandparents fussing over watermelons (and trying to see how many bottles of soju they can fit in one backpack).

It's quite a happening place to be.

Monday, July 12, 2010

80 - The Frugal Files: Part 1 - Watering Hole

People who know me know that I drink an insane amount of water. We're talking 4-6 liters (120-180 ozs) a day. Really.

It costs 5,000 won (about $4.50) to have a 25 liter bottle of water delivered directly to my apartment, which is rather cheap, but it's a hassle and I always feel so bad for the poor guy lugging those barrels of water up the stairs.

So rather than shell out cash and hassle the poor delivery man, I haul my own collection of water bottles down to our local watering hole, which is about about 500 steps from my front door. It's a round fountain with 8 spouts that hosts a varied crew of water-seekers: the old men and women filling carts and jugs for their families, shop keepers and taxi drivers taking a water break, college students topping up bottles and throwing them onto the back of their motorbikes, and children grabbing a drink on their way to school. I join them and become part of this cross-section of society, bound together by our mutual need for water. How privileged we are to have such an abundant supply-- clean, fresh and free for the taking.

Savings: about $40 a month and some poor delivery guy's back.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

81 - Technical Difficulties

My keyboard is acting up... That's my excuse for today. Not very valid, but there you go.
Also, it is raining. A lot. Not very profound, but we give what we have.

Hope to have more later.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

82- Syllabus

Going home in February made me realize just how mentally flabby I had become. My life here in Korea is not without its challenges, but I must admit that not much is required of me in the way of cold, hard intellect.

In an effort to combat said laziness, I challenged myself to try to read a book a week for the (approximately) 30 weeks that I had left in Korea. Realizing that this was a bit of a tall order and also realizing that I would rather read one book of weight than four books of fluff, I have since amended this challenge to the more nebulous, but still challenging "read as much as possible". Will be aiming for approximately 15-20 new books before I go home.

So what's beside my bed right now?
David McCullough's excellent (Pulitzer-prize winning) biography of John Adams. Something about living abroad has made me want to read more about my home country. Go figure.

Friday, July 9, 2010

83- Sounds of the Wild, Wild, Workplace, Part 1

1. Students begging for "mercy" on a test. (He got it, but only because he used that word)
2. Me: crashing into the door of the staff room with a CD player the size of a compact car, which I carry in the crook of my arm, like an expensive purse.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

84- "Earthquake"

In my last class of the day, I tried for a little light-hearted revelry, taking a (tiny) flying leap, and landing in front of an unsuspecting young gentleman with his head down on his desk.

"Earthquake." he muttered, under his breath. And his desk was promptly taken away (for one minute).

That's right. Cross me and .... lose your desk.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

85 - Blog-stalking

So when I first came to Korea, I "stalked" a number of Korea-centric blogs. It was mostly to check out the scene and get an idea of what I would be coming into, but I ended up being hugely motivated by a few very special bloggers. I was a silent presence, contributing to their hits but not outright announcing myself. In an interesting and freakishly rare turn of events, last February, I actually ended up on a tour bus with one of the bloggers whom I knew by sight, but I'm supposing had no idea who I was. We ended up hitting it off (I never let her know that I read her blog...) and now we're friends on facebook. Now I'm wondering if I ought to go find these women and let them know how much their blogs inspired me...

I'm thinking that I just might do that.

Here's to those silent, motivating forces.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

86- Affirmations.

I am willing to change
I am willing to release my old patterns and negative beliefs.
The power that has created me has given me power to create my new life.
I choose powerful, fulfilling, new thoughts.
I begin anew right here, right now.
I love my family and my home.
I feel nurtured, warm and safe.
My body takes me everywhere easily and effortlessly.
I bless and prosper others and they in turn bless and prosper me.
I stand in truth and I live in joy.
I love who I am and I love what I do.
Every moment is a new beginning.
My life is so sweet.
I am special and wonderful.
The more I love myself, the less stress I have.
I release the need to blame anyone, including myself.
My heart is receptive and open.
I release any limitations based on old limited thoughts.
I joyfully look forward to the future.
Knowing that friends and lovers were once strangers to me, I welcome new people into my life.
As I love and approve of myself and others, life gets better and better.
I open my home and welcome guests with music and love.
My friends are like a loving family to me.
I go to sleep at night feeling great contentment.
I am at peace.
I respect all the members of my family and they in turn respect me.
I look forward with enthusiasm to the adventures of the day.
I delight in my world and my world delights in me.
I see myself as beautiful, lovable and appreciated.
I am proud to be me.
I love myself exactly the way I am.
My income grows greater and greater every day.
Joy Joy Joy!
I lovingly allow joy to flow through my mind and body and experiences.
Divine wisdom resides in each of my friends and family and they are joyous, safe, and secure, wherever they go.
I love all God's creatures, animals great and small, every creature, every insect, bird and fish has its own special place in life. They are just as important as I am.
I communicate easily and lovingly with all living beings and I know they deserve my love and protection.
My body is flexible.
Keeping my mind flexible and agile is reflected in the flexibility of my body.
I know that I am divinely protected and safe.
I relax and flow with the effortlessness of life.
Healing energy constantly flows through every organ and joint and cell.
I move easily and effortlessly.
I am aware of the wonderfulness of life.
I deserve and willingly accept and abundance of prosperity flowing through my life.
I give and receive joyously and lovingly.
I am connected to divine energy.
There is always an answer to every question, a solution to every bump in the road.
I am always guided in infinite wisdom. I trust it and God and always feel safe.
I am constantly being guided and lead in ways that are for my highest good.
Recovery creates space for miracles to move in.

Monday, July 5, 2010

87- The best laid schemes...

I can't help but think about the future at this stage of my life. I think it's only natural. On the cusp of possibly the second greatest transition period of my life (the time directly after graduating from college being the first) I find myself casting forward for all possible iterations of my life after returning to the States.

As my best friend from college once remarked in the May of our senior year, "I've never been less certain of where I'll end up three months from now." and now I find myself in that place once again. I have plans (loosely laid, of course) dreams, visions, secret hopes and desires. All I can know for sure at this stage of the game that I can't know anything for sure at this stage of the game. And I am learning to be OK with that.

"To A Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest, with the Plough"
Robert Burns.

Small, crafty, cowering, timorous little beast,
O, what a panic is in your little breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
And fellow mortal!

I doubt not, sometimes, but you may steal;
What then? Poor little beast, you must live!
An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
Is a small request;
I will get a blessing with what is left,
And never miss it.

Your small house, too, in ruin!
Its feeble walls the winds are scattering!
And nothing now, to build a new one,
Of coarse grass green!
And bleak December's winds coming,
Both bitter and keen!

You saw the fields laid bare and wasted,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel plough past
Out through your cell.

That small bit heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter's sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

88 - Live Water

"Live water heals memories. I look up the creek adn here it comes, the future, being borne aloft as on a winding succession of laden trays. You may wake and look from the window and breathe the real air, and say, with satisfaction or with longing, "'This is it." But if you look up the creek, fi you look up the creek in any weather, your spirt fills, and you are saying , with an exulting rise of the lungs, "Here it comes!"

~Annie Dillard

I found the river today. I knew that it existed; the map said so. I finally found it today.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

89- Things You Couldn't Live Without

I recently posed a version of the "desert island" post to my kids:
"What would you take with you on a desert island?"

The answers ranged from:
"'Computer games' or 'Television' to ones like 'My mother, to do cooking'." I tried to impress upon them the gravity of the situation. "Things you need to stay alive." I said. "You are alone on a desert island. What do you need to live?"

One boy raised his hand.
"Air-Con?" he said, timidly.

So in that spirit, I offer you my list of:
7 Things I Couldn't (or wouldn't want to) Live Without
1. Water (well, obviously)
2. Coffee (it keeps me from killing people)
3. Some kind of very large bag to haul things around with
4. Pencil and Paper
5. Good stout walking shoes
6. Skype Convos
7. Community of Faith

All on a desert island.

Friday, July 2, 2010

90- Downpour

I got caught in a sudden rainstorm on my walk earlier today. It was inconvenient at first; I kept thinking about my shoes getting and considered going home, but then I realized that I had the time to stay out and push through. As the clothes grew wetter and heavier on my back, I realized something so freeing about being in a time and place doing something that few people would voluntarily choose to do. I knew that as soon as I got back home, I would throw my clothes in the washer and take a hot shower, with no lasting damage sustained from being out in the rain. My body ended up healthier, my mind ended up clearer, and my shoes ended up cleaner than they were before I started.

Moral of the story: If you're ever caught in the rain... sometimes the best thing to do is keep walking.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

92 - Ulterior Motives

"I have ulterior motives when I write," I confessed to Mordantt one night.
"Everyone does." she said, immediately.
"Really?" I asked.
"Oh, yeah." she answered. "I am a historian and I can safely say that through the ages, people are never writing what they're writing for the reasons they say they're writing it."
"Interesting..." I said.
"The fun part," she said. "Is figuring out why they're actually writing."

93- What You Leave Behind

Helped a good friend move tonight. And by "help", I really mean that I sat on the bed reading a magazine, while she talked out her plans. She is on the cusp of some major publication news and packing for a three week vacation/trek to Vietnam, while orchestrating her own repatriation back to Canada.

"Is it strange that I don't feel anything right now?" she asked.
"No," I answered. "I think that's probably really normal. You don't have time to feel anything right now. You're too busy doing it."

Her apartment had boxes waiting to be shipped, cords, cooking implements, sheet music, half a dozen of pairs of salsa shoes, and old journals. How to decide what to keep and what to throw away? In these moments of transition, we decide what's really important... and what doesn't really matter all that much at all. Sometimes the choices shock us. Sometimes they're reassuring. Sometimes they're difficult, but sometimes they happen as naturally as breathing. My hope is that we all of us leave this season in our lives as better versions of the people we were meant to be.

Monday, June 28, 2010

94- Therapists?

Kid quote: (Shamelessly stolen from one of my colleagues.)

The vocab word is "Therapist"
Question: "Who can make a sentence with 'Therapist'?"
Answer: "The United States of America was attacked by therapists?"
or "Osama bin Laden was a therapist?"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

95- Plot Twist

In an interesting development, Anne Oh, from our beloved church DFIC (Daegu Faith International Church) got married yesterday. I've known Anne for more than two years and in that time, we prayed about so much: kids, friends, our church, and the search for a soul mate. We've cried, laughed, plotted and worked together and it was an honor to witness this milestone in her life.

Our humble church transformed for the occasion, decked out in a flower trellis, rose petals, chiffon and tulle.

Jenny, Anne's daughter, and Angela, Brian's daughter, as flower girls.
Brian and Anne behind them.

Anne with her new husband, Brian, and the Pastor behind them.

Jenny giving a tear-jerking rendition of "The Climb". She did an excellent job. :)

Church friends group shot.

Whatever else, Anne's wedding is a reminder of just how quickly circumstances can change.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called "truth." ~Dan Rather

In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years. ~Jacques Barzun

If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job. ~Donald D. Quinn

A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary. ~Thomas Carruthers

A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others. ~Author Unknown

Friday, June 25, 2010

97- 6 more months 'till Christmas

This will be my first Christmas in American soil in 2 years and I'm thoroughly looking forward to it. Never too early to plan, I figure.

And this is the song I remember most:

"You Are the New Day"the Christmas version, sung by the King Singers

“...fold around me where I fall… Bring in the new day."

“This new day will be a turning point for everyone. If we let the Christ Child in and reach for a new day. Christ the way the truth the life. Healing sadness ending strife. You we welcome Lord of Life. Born on a new day. You are the new day.”

Thursday, June 24, 2010

98- Ennui

Sometimes I find that I suffer from a case of too much freedom.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

99- It Figures

Starbucks in Korea does NOT serve decaf.
Decaf? (*makes X with arms*) Nope.

I am not surprised.

100 Days Officially Begins!

According to my cheery little counter, I officially have 100 days left before I repatriate back to the good ol' USA. In practical terms, this means that I have 100 days to process, pack up, and move close to 2 and a half years worth of my life in Korea. It also means that I'll be faced with a whole lotta change a whole lotta quick.

What will change:
~Physical location
~Work situation
~People around me
~Country of residence

What will not change:
~Daily habits
~Work ethic
~People I care about
~Country of origin

You know what they say (cliche but true) "The more things change, the more they stay the same." I hope I can learn to realize and develop the things that are staying the same, while embracing and welcoming the things that will change.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Preparing for the 100 Day Countdown...

In preparation for my last 100 days in the country, I have been trying to think of something that I could do once a day, for 100 days, that would make me a better person. I kicked around a couple of ideas: take a picture a day (which I might actually try), learn a Korean phrase a day (which might be a good idea... but more on that later), or find a joke a day (which I also might try, if only for your benefit, dear reader). Try as I might, though, I couldn't come up with one distinct thing that I would be dedicated enough to do for a solid 100 days, as is the point of this exercise.

Though I have my moments of sloth, I'd like to think that I have cultivated some daily habits of which I am enormously proud. My good-lady-mother and her dear-mother before her have been faithful journal-keepers, and so I have kept a daily journal faithfully since 2000. Also at the *ahem* "strong insistence" (and shining example) of the good-lady-mother, I have learned the habit of a daily meditation time, which has also served me quite well. I offer these as examples (to myself, mainly) that strong, beneficial daily habits are worth pursuing.

Is it cavalier to think that I would be dedicated enough to post once a day for 100 days? Perhaps, but darn it, I will give it my darn-est. I spent the better part of yesterday evening figuring out how to install that darn counter you see in the upper left-hand corner (seriously, that little thing took me close to an hour) but now that I know how to do it, I'm guessing (hoping?) that doing something similar might take less time in the future.

It seems like that's often the way: it takes a long time to learn a skill, but once you master that skill, it becomes easier, (and dare I say more enjoyable?) to use. I am trusting that this skill of distilling my day into a blog post, and the discipline of carving out a few minutes to post it, every day, will become easier --and more fun-- as the days count down.

So, here's to this grand 100 day experiment!

(and thank you very much for reading. :) )

Thursday, May 27, 2010

All's well out here...

Just a quick note to friends and family that all is well out here in SoKo, despite the turmoil w. the North. Call me self-interested, but the only immediate adverse effect seems to be a drop in the exchange rate from won to dollars.

(info taken from the CSIS Critical Questions: The Aftermath of the Cheonan, written by Victor D. Cha.)
At 9:22 p.m. on March 26, the ROK Navy corvette Cheonan sank in the Yellow Sea just south of the disputed Northern Limit Line near Baengnyeong Island after an explosion in the ship's stern ripped it in two. Of the 104 South Korean sailors on board, 58 were rescued; 46 are dead or remain missing. Experts from the United States,the United Kingdom, Australia, and Sweden assisted in an internationally transparent investigation into the explosion, the results of which were announced on Thursday, May 20. According to the team of international investigators, "The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that the torpedo was fired by a North Korean submarine... There is no other plausible explanation."
North Korea still denies any involvement in the Cheonan's sinking and accuses the South of deliberately souring relations.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Serious, Non-Life Threatening Conditions, Part 9

I have a case of the "Now Disease". From what I've heard, though, I'm in good company. Symptoms include:
~Wanting to know where I'll end up seven months from now... RIGHT NOW.
~Wanting to know what you think of me... RIGHT NOW.
~Wanting this, wanting that... RIGHT NOW!!!

Add this to the list of things about me that I'm actively seeking to change.

~Daily application of faith and prayer. (What???? How LAME is that!-- Lame, but true. Simmer down and give it a try...)
~Communion with others who have this disease and who are also working for a cure.

But to be fair to me...
One thing about me that is actually rather quite lovely:
~I do the dishes immediately. (Yes, that's right: I've gone from being someone who would rather get a root canal than pick up the sponge, to someone who actually doesn't mind doing them at all. Just ask my mother for references...)

And on that note, I am now off to clean my apartment. Or at least make a darn good show of pretending to clean my apartment. Act as if!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


(Jae-Jin covertly scribbling on the desk.)

Me: (busting his bubble) Jae-Jin! Your turn.  Start reading from page 24. 

Jae-Jin: (surprised) What the... (swatting away a fly)... bug!

(entire class erupts in laughter)

Jae-Jin: (proud of his impromptu witticism) Teacher... sound is like a bad say.  Sound is like... 

Me: Yes, thank you, Jae Jin.  

(Enter our new expletive:  "What the bug?")
Sometimes the kids just make my day.