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.