Monday, December 20, 2010

The Weepies - Be My Honeypie [Official Music Video]

So cute and so appropriate for the holiday season upon us. Love someone, and show someone your love!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Between a rock and a hard place

I update this evening from Korea, naturally, way to late/early to be updating, but this is my usual Sunday night I can't sleep routine, so take it for what it is. I have a headache the size of this country, and no pharmacies are open until business hours tomorrow. This is partly what is causing my lack of sleep. Also, as I tried to calm my headache by taking a hot shower (which was actually a lukewarm shower) due to the powers that be hating me right now, I discovered that my drain no longer drains. Son of a b#^&*. So here I sit, with an inch and a half of water in my entire bathroom (I hate Korean bathrooms being the whole room). To make matters worse, I know what caused the drain clog. It's my damn rabbit. I can no longer keep him in the balcony storage area during the day any more because it's so cold he would freeze. So where does he go? In the bathroom. Fair enough. Except I think his hair that she sheds everywhere must have clogged the shower drain. Son of a b^&*# I'm not allowed to have pets in my apartment. So what do I tell my landlord/supervisor? That I was only pet-sitting? Surely that story will fall flat when they find out the sheer volume of hair that clogged the drain. I can't go on like this anymore...I just want to shower in a clean bathroom that doesn't have water everywhere. I just want out of this blasted country. On the positive side, I did get to see the Nutcracker today, and it was just as I remembered it, only with Korean dancers, which kind of reminded me of the March of the Siamese children scene in the King and I for a while. I'm sure that makes me a horrible voice of racism for saying so. So, happy holidays from this tired gal. Good night.

Self Check FAIL

How to Deal With Global Warming Deniers

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another one where I have no original thought whatsoever: LOL.

You know you want to play!

1. What color are your eyes? Some have told me green, some have said blue. It's your call.

2. How tall are you? 5'7 on a good day

3. What are you most afraid of? Spending eternity trying to figure out what truly makes me happy...and mediocrity...LOL. I don't know. I hate this question.

4. Do you play an instrument? Studied piano for ten years up until college when I no longer had access to a piano, played flute through high school in band, and I'm a pretty serious recorder player (beyond fifth grade)

5. What is your favorite physical feature ( on yourself)? I hate this question too. I don't really like anything about myself, but I suppose people have said I have some pretty good legs, hee hee, and of course there's that Jewish nose. LOL.

6. Goal you would like to achieve this year? Ha! I stopped having goals when I stopped achieving goals. Perhaps that's my problem. I would like to finally become fluent in Spanish, and maybe I should work on my positive attitude on a more frequent basis. But let's not fool ourselves. My first goal is to get out of KOREA already. Six more months. Six more months.

7. What are your favorite clothing stores? I really like KOHL's and Target. I'm not into spending lots of $$$$$$$ on clothes.

8. Favorite vacation? Outer Banks when I was 14 was pretty awesome. Family and beach and chill time pretty much rocked. All those trips to Jekyll Island and Tybee Island and Savannah rank right up there to. I'm not picky. Give me a beach and a week I'm good.

9. What are you most looking forward to this holiday season? My trip to Jeju Island south of Korea for three days.

10. When was the last time you went swimming in a pool? A month before I left for Korea, so seven months ago at the YMCA in Shoreview, MN. I used to love to go swimming when I belonged to a gym.

11. Do you speak any other languages? Spanish but I wouldn't call my self fluent by any means anymore. And some choice words in Korean, but my Korean is about as good as a dog's English.

12. What is your least favorite chore? Oh god. I hate all of them. This is tough. I hate laundry, and cleaning the bathroom, but I HAVE to have a clean bathroom. And doing dishes. My apartment is pretty much a shit hole all the time.

13. Do you get regular manicures and pedicures? I like pedicures when it's sandal season, but only once in a very long while. I'm too cheap for regular pedis. If I did my nails they would be messed up the next day, I use my hands way too much.

14. What was the last thing you cooked? Rice and curry sauce for dinner tonight

15. What states have you lived in? Georgia, Minnesota, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arizona, California, and very briefly in Florida right after I was born
(or so I'm told.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The one where I quote someone else

Because whenever I seem to get down with the state of the world I turn to other writers I admire, and tonight seems to be no exception. Garrison Keillor and the Writer's Almanac never disappoint.

Today's entry is exceptional:

It's the birthday of writer Grace Paley, (books by this author) born in the Bronx (1922). Her parents were Jewish Socialist immigrants from Ukraine, Isaac and Manya Gutseit (which they changed to Goodside). They spoke Yiddish and Russian at home, and English in public; her father learned English by reading Dickens. Her family was affectionate and noisy — they loved to sing and to argue about politics. Young Grace absorbed different immigrant languages in the streets of the Bronx, and she loved listening to the gossip of family and friends and neighbors. She said: "The word gossip, which is considered so terrible, is really just another way of storytelling. And it's the way women tell stories, and it's kind of denigrated, 'cause its women who do it." And she said, "It is the responsibility of the poet to listen to gossip and pass it on in the way storytellers decant the story of life."

After high school, she took a class on English literature from W.H. Auden, who was her hero. During a lecture, he asked if there were any poets in the class who would like to meet with him and discuss their work. Out of 250 people, only five raised their hands, including Grace. She arranged to meet with Auden, and after an initial setback because she went to the wrong cafĂ©, she did meet him and he read her poems, which she had written in his style, using British phrases and formal language. She said: "You understand I was a Bronx kid. We went through a few poems, and he kept asking me, do you really talk like that? And I kept saying, Oh yeah, well, sometimes. That was the great thing I learned from Auden: that you'd better talk your own language. Then I asked him what young writers now ask me — and I always tell them this story — I said to Auden, Well, do you think I should keep writing? He laughed and then became very solemn. If you're a writer, he said, you'll keep writing no matter what. That's not a question a writer should ask."

So she kept on writing poems, but she had plenty of other things in her life — she did occasional work as a typist, she was active in community projects, and she took care of her two young children. She had moved to Greenwich Village when she got married, and she spent many afternoons in Washington Square Park, hanging out with other mothers, hearing their stories. She would write down poems on scraps of paper, but she was too busy to think of writing anything much longer. Then she got sick, and she sent her kids to daycare so that she could recover. She had several days a week all to herself, so she started to write stories, drawing on the voices of the women she spent time with in the park every afternoon, writing about the kinds of events and characters that filled their lives.

She wrote three stories, and she showed them to a couple of people, including her friend Tibby McCormick, whose kids played with her kids. Tibby had just separated from her husband Kenneth McCormick, an editor at Doubleday, and Tibby guilt-tripped him into reading Paley's stories by telling him that their kids spent a lot of time hanging out at Paley's house and it was the least he could do. So he read them, and he came to see Paley and told that if she would write seven more stories, he would publish a book. And that was The Little Disturbances of Man (1959). Her first story in the collection, "Goodbye and Good Luck," begins: "I was popular in certain circles, says Aunt Rose. I wasn't no thinner then, only more stationary in the flesh. In time to come, Lillie, don't be surprised — change is a fact of God. From this no one is excused." The whole story had sprung from that single phrase, "I was popular in certain circles," which one of her aunts had said many years earlier. Paley said that she often based a story around a single line or phrase or way of speaking that rattled around in her head until she created a story for it.

She published just two more collections of stories, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974) and Later the Same Day (1985). But she gained a devoted following, and when her Collected Stories was released in 1994, it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. She knew each story inside and out, and when someone would tell her that they loved one of her specific stories, her response was: "What's wrong with the rest?"

She never made her living as a writer alone. She taught at Sarah Lawrence and the City College of New York. And she was a passionate activist for social causes, protesting against nuclear proliferation and against wars from Vietnam to Iraq, and lobbying for women's rights. She said: "I think that any life that's interesting, lived, has a lot of pulls in it. It seems to me natural that I'd be pulled in those ways. [...] And you are privileged somehow to do as much as you can. I wouldn't give any of it up. And I've talked a lot about this with women's groups because I think that in whatever is gained, that everything, that the world should be gained. But that nothing should be given up. I think a good hard greed is the way to approach life."

She said: "You can't write without a lot of pressure. Sometimes the pressure comes from anger, which then changes into a pressure to write. It's not so much a matter of getting distance as simply a translation. I felt a lot of pressure writing some of those stories about women. Writers are lucky because when they're angry, the anger — by habit almost — I wouldn't say transcends but becomes an acute pressure to write, to tell. Some guy, he's angry, he wants to take a poke at someone — or he kicks a can, or sets fire to the house, or hits his wife, or the wife smacks the kid. Then again, it's not always violent. Some people go out and run for three hours. Some people go shopping. The pressure from anger is an energy that can be violent or useful or useless. Also the pressure doesn't have to be anger. It could be love. One could be overcome with feelings of lifetime love or justice. Why not?"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fill in the Blank Friday

OK, I'll play along with this blog I read. You should too. It's fun. Everyone's doing it!

1. I wish I had more confidence and didn't over think EVERY LITTLE THING I do and say. Seriously.

2. Yesterday I felt totally overwhelmed at work. Too much to do and too little time to do it. Gotta love those crazy Koreans.

3. Today I will relax with a movie or call it a night early, being happy for the weekend.

4. Tomorrow I will relax on a Saturday like I usually do. Listen to new NPR podcasts (YAY for two This American Life episodes I haven't listened to yet) and clean my apartment. Then I will probably wonder around and do some last minute Xmas shopping and prep to get gifts in the mail. Maybe do some Yoga online.

5. Maybe I will find that eye doctor in Seoul that speaks English (I know there is at least one) and go for that free eye exam they advertise and get new glasses. I do need them.

6. Someday I will be sure of what I want and happy in the moment. I hope. :)

7. I love when things are calm and quiet. And after a busy week, I LOVE being ALONE. :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I haven't updated anything real or substantive on this blog in a while, and it's late here, so I will attempt an update. As I sit here and type this, DAMN YANKEES is the only thing on TV in English and you know how I love musicals and I've never seen this one, so I'm enjoying the musical numbers. Though this one is just a little too...old fashioned for my taste, I fear, and I didn't watch it from the beginning so I am a little lost.

The weekend started off a little slow. I am frustrated with my apartment never being clean enough for my standards and having no control. I am frustrated with being here six months and having to do six more months. I am just plain frustrated right now, and I have no idea why.

I did get to see a neat event this weekend though, and it's something I probably will not get to do justice to it, but I will try. It was Project Runway meets Battle of the Bands for Graphic Designers, in Korean. At a place that can only be described as part artist loft, part restaurant, and part bar. I was told it was German themed, but saw no evidence of Germany anywhere, not that I'd know what German was if it hit me in the face in a dark alley.

The whole thing took some getting used to, but by the end of the evening I found myself rooting for the "top left" screen or the "bottom right" screen as the designs come together in fifteen minute increments. You really had to be there. But it was a fun way to spend the evening and kept me from wallowing in self-pity, so I suppose it was an evening well spent.

As another week approaches (It's technically Monday now) I find myself eager to have something to do again but not wanting to go back to work. I guess it's no different from the rest of the working world. But as I think about it, I can't help but wonder: Maybe I'm whiny, but there has to be something better...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Another weekend

Full of too much time to think about my nonexistent career track of a future...oh joy! Back to cleaning the shit hole of an apartment. I love Korea, oh boy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Watch out Japan: Here I come!

It's official. I've been in Korea for six months to the day today.
It's official. I've purchased my one-way ticket to Japan for June 2011.

I'm going there to see a childhood friend get married. But I'm always willing to hear what there is to do there too. What should I plan to see while in Japan?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I love this

Teenage Dream

Glee is, and always will, rock my world. Which is why I am perpetually 15 years old.

One of the things I like about weekends

Aside from getting out of the city, is catching up on pod casts and generally tuning the world out. And I know this next sentence will make me out to be my parents or a similar middle-aged woman, but I have really enjoyed listening to Terri Gross's Fresh Air podcast. The way she interviews just about anyone is incredible. This weekend I happened across her interview of Jay-Z, the hip hop artist from the ghetto and it blew me away. Never being a true hip fan and to be honest, kinda blowing off the whole genre of music to begin with, this interview totally changed my perspective on the artist, and the music. It's worth a read and a listen.

And the Hard Knocked Life video is worth a watch as well. This is what I do with my weekends in Korea. Does this make me a forty-year-old woman? If it does, who cares? I am who I am. LOL.


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Friday, November 12, 2010

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

UPDATE: I have a lot of thinking to do here.

Here are some of my thoughts so far:

Feel free to chime in if you have something constructive to add.

The idea that the certificate is internationally accepted is the main appeal. As I stated on my blog, the allure of the training is that I would do it in London, at the original Maria Montessori Institute.

Since coming to Korea, I have gotten a bit of the "travel bug." The idea of going back to the US right now with the economy still in the shitter is not alluring, and I am struggling to come up with things to do after my contract is up here.

It's been an interesting six months so far, and I know it will be an interesting six more, but I don't think I can do another year, and I'm starting to stress about what comes next.

The idea of grabbing just "any other teaching job" I can find (IF I CAN EVEN FIND ONE) is not appealing to me any more. I've been there and done that.

But like you said, the idea of shelling out 10K is not appealing especially when I know job opportunities are limited.

I do eventually want to open my own school or learning institute for young children. I was incredibly inspired by my internship at the Children's Museum in Charleston, SC and would like to eventually be doing something similar in the future, but the reality is unless you own a business like that or have shelled out 1000s for training that life is JUST NOT SUSTAINABLE (unless you are independently wealthy already) and let's face it, none of us really are.

I know Montessori attracts a certain audience, I don't know also if I'm willing to work with that audience.

So bottom line is, I guess I still have a lot of thinking to do on the subject.

I know I want to spend a few more years (at least) abroad.

I don't want to go back to the states just yet. I just don't want to spend another year in Korea. The idea of London or Australia is appealing because of the language non-barrier. Many of my stresses and struggles this year have been with the language.

I have thought about the peace corps and have started an application there.

I have applied to several independent private schools for children with developmental disabilities back home, in the US.

I'm just so confused, all over again. I should have all of this figured out after 29 years of age. LOL.

I know from experience (as this is my primary field since undergrad) that any private school, as wordsmith said, is going to have their own set of requirements for what they want their teachers to have and to know.

I also know that I vary greatly about what I believe and like to pick and choose from a host of philosophies based on the children in any given classroom. I know I don't agree with the traditional public school approach and was miserable teaching in that setting for the four years I did it. Montessori is the closest set of beliefs that match my own about educating children, but I know they are not the only ones and I don't really subscribe to "total free choice" in learning either. I also don't really like the idea of being at a parents' beck and call which is what private school essentially turns into, or that's what I'm finding out this year. I know any job is just a job and that I'm eventually going to just have to suck it up and get a job somewhere and deal with it, but I would like to settle in someplace I can remotely live with for more than a year.

I have done a fair amount of research, and all of the alternative methods seem to be in schools with severely developmentally disabled children. While I love helping people and enjoy teaching, I don't think that's the population I would choose to work with for a career. Props to those who do it. I have friends and family members who do and love it. I just don't think it's for me. I've worked with a few children with autism and it just didn't feel right for me at the time.

I would like to apply the Montessori method and teachings with upper elementary students. Supposedly, Ms. Montessori's research spans children ages birth through 14. But it's only ever used (at least in the states) from what I've observed and researched, with preschool and kindergarten aged students. I know from experience that I connect the best with and am most comfortable teaching the upper elementary grades. I loved my fourth and fifth grade reading groups and such and hate the traditional read and answer comprehension question classroom models that are so widely used.

But I just haven't come across any schools that implement this with relatively on track, developmentally typical, nine and ten year old children.

It just doesn't happen. Or those jobs are taken and the teachers don't leave until they retire and then are replaced by their nieces and nephews. It's always something.

Sorry for the ranting. I will figure this whole thing out. I swear, this teaching thing has been the core of my QLC for at least ten years now. ARG.

I just want to have SOME DIRECTION IN LIFE. You know? Who here agrees with me?

Again, feed back would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

If Dreams Had Voices

I've been thinking about this for a while now, but only recently has it come back and hit me full force. Maybe it's the writer's neurosis and maybe it's just a passion calling again and again, but I can't shake it, so I'll blog it. Now more than ever, I feel it is my calling to study the Montessori method of educating young children. It's already a part of who I am as a teacher and already a part of my general teaching philosophy. Part of me wanted to get up and do this after finishing my undergrad degree and student teaching. I don't know why I didn't. Back then, a huge part of me said just go out and get more experience before making a decision like this.

Montessori training for a teacher is expensive in the United States, it will run about $10,000 for a one-year diploma certification. But, it's well worth it in the end, I think. The career opportunities for Montessori-certified teachers aren't numerous, but they are optimal. You have your pick of a school and working environment when all said and done. And after six plus years of less than optimal teaching gigs, I think I deserve a better break for myself. This year, while in Korea and learning lots, has taught me more than ever than I am not a traditional teacher. I'm not a worksheet teacher. And Korea is a worksheet country. So is the United States for the most part. It's dawned on me in the past five months of teaching that I loathe front of the room, call and response teaching. It doesn't work for me, and it doesn't work for the average six year old child.

I've been doing some research. Turns out, I've always wanted to go to London, UK. Turns out, the original Maria Montessori Institute just north of London offers a one year comprehensive diploma certification for Montessori teachers. 7,525 British pounds for the year's tuition. It's a full time program, complete with schooling on theory and philosophy, history, and student teaching and practicum hours in a Montessori classroom. I did the conversion and it comes to about $12,000 US dollars. That's all I have so far, but it's worth it for a career I can definitely stick with in the end.

An added perk: This certificate is recognized internationally, so I could go any where in the world and have a teaching gig at the end of the year. Average salary for a certified Montessori teacher with a four year Bachelor's degree and experience is somewhere in the range of $45,000/year, according to some quick internet research. That's definitely enough to pay back the loans in a year from the money I took out to pay for this thing. That's in the southeastern US.

Not sure of all the details, but the program for next year starts September 2011. If all goes well, I could be in London by that time. A true dream come true.

Mom: If you are reading this, don't freak out. Give me a Skype chat and we'll talk through it. Don't share with you know who just yet. Details have to be worked out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm shocked this didn't happen ages ago...but still a little weepy...LOL

I read this on a forum I frequent, and mourned a little for my childhood. I owned one of these up until my sophomore year in college, when I switched over to a CD portable player. It wasn't until I was out of college and working could I even begin to think about affording an MP3 player, and not even an iPod.

"The Walkman is officially dead.

After more than 30 years on the market, Sony has decided to end production and sales of their Walkman portable cassette players.

The final batch was produced in Japan back in April of this year and as soon as they're sold, there will officially be no more.

Since 1979, over 200 million Walkman cassette players have been sold.

Sony does say however, that they will continue to make and sell their CD and MiniDisc-based Walkmans.

Sure, we all love our tiny pocket-sized iPods, but the end of the Walkman is an end of an era!!"

Monday, October 25, 2010

I love this! Stress management in a nutshell.

Stolen from another great blog I read frequently.

Here are some great ways of dealing with the burdens of life:

* Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.

* Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

* Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be "Recalled" by their maker.

* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

* If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

* It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to be kind to others.

* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

* Nobody cares if you can't dance well, just get up and dance.

* When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

* Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

* You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

* Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

* We could learn a lot from crayons... Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names,
and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

*A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. ---Will Rogers

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Temple Stay

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Awesome Weekend in Korea

Once upon a time this shy girl wanted adventure. She's been working too hard. She needed a mini-vacation. And this weekend in Korea, she got it. She got it in the form of an Adventure Korea trip to the Gochang province and the surrounding area. It was seriously the best thing I did for myself in a while. This is such a beautiful country there are no words beyond that. I have posted pictures on my numerous internet outlets, and that should satisfy most of you, but this weekend was one that left me in awe of nature and pumped for the week ahead. I haven't felt that in a while.

Saturday we got an early start at 7am. We left Seoul and headed south for three hours. We visited a military fortress and hiked around it once for good fortune. We watched a military festival in progress there. We reloaded the bus and checked into our hotel and met new friends at dinner. Everyone that did this trip was super friendly and seeking the same experience, I think. Many different ages and backgrounds. It's so neat how a thirst for adventure brings us all together in that way.

Sunday we got an early start as well. After a quick peanut butter toast breakfast, we headed up the mountain on a three-hour hike! Gorgeous scenery and invigorating climbing were the main attractions. Fall here is beautiful. The weather was gorgeous. I am so thankful for all that has been given to me. All of the opportunities that have blessed me over the years. The fact that I am here, able to do these things, still amazes and amuses me.

We finished the hike and after a traditional Korean bibimbop lunch, we reloaded the bus and went digging for clams! In the mud! I've never done that before! It was an amazing experience, there are no other words, like I said before. I will have more on this later, but for now, I just wanted to say what an incredible experience this was, and I hope that you are blessed in whatever you are doing at the moment as well. Take time to enjoy the little, finer points in life.

What other time do we have but the present?

Pictures to come!


Me :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'm going to share one more thing tonight

Because this was so eloquently put.

‘Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.’ ~Lao Tzu

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on twitter .

A lot of people come to Zen Habits (and read other personal development blogs and books) because they want to improve something about themselves. They’re not satisfied with their lives, they’re unhappy with their bodies, they want to be better people.

I know, because I was one of those people.

This desire to improve myself and my life was one of the things that led to Zen Habits. I’ve been there, and I can say that it leads to a lot of striving, and a lot of dissatisfaction with who you are and what your life is.

A powerful realization that has helped me is simply this: You’re already good enough, you already have more than enough, and you’re already perfect.

Try saying that to yourself, as corny as that might sound, just to see if it sounds true. Does it resonate as something you already believe (in which case, you can probably stop reading now), or does it not feel right? Do you feel like there are things you still need to improve?

The thing I’ve learned, and it’s not some new truth but an old one that took me much too long to learn, is that if you learn to be content with who you are and where you are in life, it changes everything.

Consider what changes:

  • You no longer feel dissatisfied with yourself or your life.
  • You no longer spend so much time and energy wanting to change and trying to change.
  • You no longer compare yourself to other people, and wish you were better.
  • You can be happy, all the time, no matter what happens in the world around you.
  • Instead of trying to improve yourself, you can spend your time helping others.
  • You stop spending so much money on things that will supposedly improve your life.
  • You can be smug about it, like me.

OK, the last bit was a joke, but the rest is true, in my experience.

And here’s another realization that I’ve written about before: You already have everything you need to be happy, right here and right now.

Do you have eyes that see? You have the ability to appreciate the beauty of the sky, of greenery, of people’s faces, of water. Do you have ears that hear? You have the ability to appreciate music, the sound of rainfall, the laughter of friends. You have the ability to feel rough denim, cool breezes, grass on bare feet … to smell fresh-cut grass, flowers, coffee … to taste a plum, a chili pepper, chocolate.

This is a miracle, and we take it for granted. Instead, we strive for more, when we already have everything. We want nicer clothes, cooler gadgets, bigger muscles, bigger boobies, flatter stomachs, bigger houses, cars with leather seats that talk to you and massage your butt. We’ve kinda gone insane that way.

The sane thing is to realize we don’t need any of that. We don’t need to improve our lives. We don’t need to improve ourselves, because we’re already perfect.

Once you accept this, it frees you.

You’re now free to do things, not because you want to be better, but because you love it. Because you’re passionate about it, and it gives you joy. Because it’s a miracle that you even can do it.

You’re already perfect. Being content with yourself means realizing that striving for perfection is based on someone else’s idea of what “perfect” is … and that that’s all bullshit. Perfect is who you are, not who someone else says you should be.

Also, as corny as it may sound, I love you, completely and unconditionally, and if everyone else in your world betrays and abandons you, you always have me. :)

Now stop reading this blog, and go be happy.

Dear Friends

I have been really bad about updating this thing with my adventures. I'm in this wonderful country, far far away from my home and yet I have nothing to say most days. Mostly because this has been a work experience. Most of my time has been spent in the throws of teaching at Jesus Miracle English School. Wondering what I've done with my life. Not really teaching anything either. Or maybe teaching SOMETHING, but not really having my heart in it. Mostly because I have no ownership of what I'm teaching. I teach something and my boss lady comes in and tells me to say it a different way or do it differently. She had my Kindergarten kids copying a whole story map and paragraph on Friday, without (I can only guess) really knowing what they were writing. And so it is in Korea. Then she comes up to me at lunch and says "They're getting better. I bet they could hold their own in an American first grade classroom." That, I have no doubt. Having taught first grade for a whole four months, I have no doubt. But at what cost are we getting results? Are these kids going to grow up to hate writing and reading English? I won't spend any more time speculating than I already have, but I just wonder about the futility of our efforts. What does it all stand for?

In the throws of my existential crisis, I have signed up for a few travel experiences with Adventure Korea, a local travel website for expats in Korea. I hope that these experiences will bring me the clarity I need to continue this experience for a year. I know that this experience isn't entirely about work, at least I don't want it to be. I am going on a trip next weekend with them, to see some fall foliage and then another one the following weekend to a temple to explore Buddhism a little more. I've been wanting to leave the city since arriving here and this is a perfect opportunity. I'm almost dreading starting work tomorrow, but I will continue to keep a positive attitude for the week ahead. I can do anything for seven more months! :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

For months, we joked...

We joked about what the initials of the school I work for stand for.

For those that don't know, I work for a school called "JM English."

For months we've called it Jesus Magic English in a mocking tone. Never once did I take this seriously. I knew the owners are uber-Christians. It never bothered me and still really doesn't. I just think it's ironic, even funny.

Today I had discussion before a movie with one of my Korean co-workers and learned, that yes, in ALL SERIOUSNESS, the J.M. in JM English stands for "Jesus Miracle." No joke. I didn't know what to say. OK then.

Here I am, the Jew girl turned Unitarian hippie turned confused, working for Jesus Miracle English Hogwon in Seoul, South Korea.

My life HAS taken a turn, has it not? We all go on this bumpy ride we call life, and this is not a turn I thought my life would take, but I am here. For better or for worse. Let me enjoy some of it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What Teachers Make

Every now and then I revisit one of my favorite poems when I need some inspiration. Here it is, in all it's glory. TAYLOR MALI, ladies and gentlemen:

He says the problem with teachers is, "What's a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"
He reminds the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about
Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the other dinner guests
that it's also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we're eating, after all, and this is polite company.

"I mean, you¹re a teacher, Taylor," he says.
"Be honest. What do you make?"

And I wish he hadn't done that
(asked me to be honest)
because, you see, I have a policy
about honesty and ass-kicking:
if you ask for it, I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor
and an A- feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won't I let you get a drink of water?
Because you're not thirsty, you're bored, that's why.

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
I hope I haven't called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today.
Billy said, "Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don't you?"
And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.

I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write, write, write.
And then I make them read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math.
And hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you got this (brains)
then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
I make a goddamn difference! What about you?

My List of things I HAVEN'T yet done after four months: Suggestions Welcome

Things to SEE, DO, and PLAY While in South Korea

1. Changdeok Palace, Insadong: Secret Garden and Royal Library are highlights to see here. Guided tour needed

2. Kimchi Museum and Aquarium at COEX Mall

3. Visit and use a public bath and gym

4. Inwangsan Shamanist Hillside Walk

5. Olympic Park

6. Take a cooking class

7. Seoul Drum Festival (October)

8. Norebong (Spelling is wrong, but the Karaoke room)

9. Ahyeondong Wedding Street

10. Beautiful Tea Museum, Insadong

11. Dongdaemun Market

12. Namdaemun Market

13.Noryangjin Fish Market

14. When I need new glasses, Supreme Optical. Staff speak English and frames start at $30/pair. You can get an exam on site too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Generally Tuesday Before Chusuok

Why we needed to drive an hour to play four field games and eat lunch is beyond me, but so is everything else in this country, so I will go with it.

It has dawned on me that I haven't updated this blog with work and teaching-related Korea things in quite sometime. It's the week before Chusuok here, which is the week-long harvest festival holiday in this country. Koreans have described it to me to be their version of Thanksgiving, where all families gather in one small space to be together and do family things. Mostly bicker. No, I'm only kidding. But I'm sure some negativity happens when family is together, as it is like any family gathering in the states.

Work wise, that means I have a light load this week. We had a field trip today (described above as generally the most pointless trip ever) but I will go with it because it's one less (no, actually four less) classes I have to teach. Friday will be the same shinanigans, as we have a celebration for my morning kindergarten planned. And by planned, I mean planned by Korean teachers and we show up to speak English and pretend we are running the show when we really don't have a clue. That's how they want it. And by they, I mean my boss. Stay tuned for kids in traditional Hanbok robes. It will be adorable, or so I am told. In many ways this has been the easiest teaching gig I've ever had, and in many ways it's been the most difficult. But more on that later.

Next week I will teach MONDAY, and by teach I mean review content from last week and pray the little darlings retain some ENGRISH/KONGLISH over the holiday week-long break. Did I mention I get a WEEK OFF? Yeah, stoked about that one. Don't quite know what I'm going to do yet, because I didn't get my act in gear to plan anything far enough in advance. Because this is the one holiday where people all over the country MOVE, all train fares are booked solid for the entire week. So I plan to stick around Seoul and explore, and maybe do a temple stay just outside of Seoul. Stay tuned for photos.

But generally things are going well. Kids are generally well-behaved and eager to learn, and did I mention cute? I could do with a little more social life outside of work, but that will come. I have only been here for FOUR MONTHS, and as I type that, I can't believe that September 30 will mark my FOUR MONTH Koreaversary. And yes folks, I just made that up right here because I am that awesome.

Feel free to comment with anything else you care to know about this note, or anything you think I missed commenting about. I'm all out of ideas and motivation to write. Later.

Hope everyone is well who is reading this. Keep in touch and drop me an email. I miss all of you!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Plus Two Stars, Teacher"

"Why is that?"
"You funny, teacher."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I'm Rediscovering Some Songs from a Talented Lady...

...that got me through college. Her name is Cosy Sheridan, and she's a folk singer that verbalizes every thought I've ever had that I've never been able to express. She's got some great songs. Here's one of my favorites that's been on my mind a lot recently.


I lock the door. I turn off the porch light
I unplug the phone for the night
It's best when there's no one in sight
When you dance the Introvert Waltz

I dance fast and then I dance slow round the kitchen table
Past the cupboard to the stove
It's strictly a one-woman-show
When I dance the Introvert Waltz

Call me shy. Call my proud
Tell me how life is best when it's lived out loud
I get lonely in a crowd
That's why I dance
The Introvert Waltz

For some I hear the party is bliss all night revels are hard to resist
They're mystified if you might like it like this
If you dance the Introvert Waltz

American Limbo? I think so.

This American Life recently did a show about people in limbo. Ira Glass cited the original meaning of the term as the state of not knowing whether someone was going to heaven or hell. It was a show that everyone really should listen to at one time or another, and I believe that so much that a embedded it on my blog a few posts ago. It got me thinking (and that's never a good thing). Just how many people out there are in a perpetual state of limbo? I know I have been, am, and probably always will be.

Living in Korea, is a huge LIMBO move for me. Not knowing if I'd have a job in America next year, I moved to the other side of the world. I moved here, and I feel that I don't belong in a lot of ways, like I am living a huge lie. Is this what limbo really is? It's so surreal. What is life supposed to be like? Certainly not like this. Everyone I have talked to feels the same way about this place, like they are buying time between two places.

For some it's graduate school.
For others it's marriage, or a stronger relationship upon return.

At least these people have a goal at the end of this. I don't have anything. I'm floating. Is this what LIMBO feels like? Is everyone so mixed up? I don't want to do the graduate school thing and I definitely don't want to do the marriage thing anytime soon. I do know that I just want to keep exploring, but at what point does a wanderer become a sad, pathetic soul with no direction? There's a fine line when one walks the LIMBO line. I don't even know if I want to continue on my chosen career path when I return. I keep emailing people that can say they help me with renewing my certification in Minnesota for teaching reading, but am getting no definitive answers until I submit transcripts, so I just wait.

To those that have gotten out of their LIMBO state (if there are those), how did you do it and what advice do you have for those still there. Does it ever end? Or do we just muster through and do the best we can with what we have? I need some philosophical answers here.

College was also a huge limbo period. They say (who are THEY, anyway?) that college is supposed to be the best time of your life; it's the time when you really know who you are. Did anyone feel this way in college? Speak up now and comment if you really knew who you were in college, because all I knew about college when I was there is that I wanted out. Four years of HELL.

Every teaching position I've ever had has been a LIMBO in every way. My professional years since college have been lived by the year, buying time until something better comes along. I envy people who are happy with jobs for 5 and 10 years at a time. It's not like I'm all that flaky, either. I would love to stay in one place for more than one year, but nothing has ever felt quite right. I can't help but start to take it personally now. "We're sorry, you're a great person, but we have to let you go." EVERY. DAMN. YEAR. This is what people do. This is what companies, school districts, and nonprofits do. It's not personal, it's business. Numbers games, bottom lines. There's always some excuse. But deep inside, maybe it is me. I'm just not a fit for the world.

Other LIMBOS in my life?

--AmeriCorps*NCCC (where everyone was in the same position -- I think the TL's words for this was "this organization is a cesspool for mental illness" or "why do you think they keep a counselor on staff?")

--Minnesota (great people, bad weather)

--Girl Scout Camp (four summers of crazy)

--Mail + More (retail hell post college)

Just to name a few. I'm sure I could go on, but I've already done that too much thus far. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. As a therapist once told me, I can go from 0 to 100 in rocket speed. That's probably what this post just did. I have a few things to ask.

Do we ever really get out of limbo?
Are we ever truly happy?

At what point do we have to stop searching and just be happy with what we have?

Comments welcome.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I need to do more reading on this, and I will...

...but, I also need some input too. Teachers, moms, or anyone that works with young children or foreign language learners.

What is your take on the language acquisition debate?

Is language simply a series of patterns to be learned and memorized, OR, does language need meaning behind the patterns to be learned effectively?

I know this will open up a can of worms, but it's been on my mind a lot lately in, well, my current position.

On another teaching note, I had a kid (of course, a Korean kid) tell me that SHE wants to be president of the USA today. Good luck with that one kid. Hate to burst your hopes and dreams...but, there's this thing we have called the citizenship rule...try explaining that to a newcomer English speaking nine-year-old. LOL.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

This American Life is Embeddable now, apparantly

Just thought I'd share this awesome show that I have listened to every week for over a year now with my blog audience. Love it. You should too.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I've been really good at posting other's posts lately,..

...but not so good at posting my own thoughts. Maybe because I am hiding something. Maybe because I haven't been so public with my journal. I've been doing a lot of paper journaling lately, and I do promise a longer update soon. It's 2am here nearly, so I'm off to bed. (Thank God for not teaching until 10am again!) Let me know what you want to hear about in the future...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

This girl did it, and now I want to as well.

Blogger on the Run: "I did it. I just ran my first triathlon. Now, I am prone to second guessing myself after races. What if I hadn't gone out so fast on the ..."

Amazing post, and so inspirational. I want to start training again. :)

I agree with the author here, the tunnel at the DMZ really isn't that exciting, but I had fun anyway

While browsing the web today, I came across this article from NPR, about a book that looks interesting not only for two attractions in Korea (one I've done and the other one I want to do) but from this excerpt, it sounds like the author is a hilarious woman and makes me want to do a Temple Stay even more than I already did.

Here's the excerpt:

Excerpt: '101 Places Not To See Before You Die'

101 Places Not To See Before You Die
101 Places Not To See Before You Die
By Catherine Price
Paperback, 272 pages
Harper Paperbacks
List price: $13.99

An Overnight Stay at a Korean Temple

In theory, an overnight stay at a Korean temple sounds like the perfect activity for anyone struggling to escape the pressures of modern life. You'll meditate, you'll learn about Buddhism, you'll go vegetarian. Concerns and cares will slip away as you drift into a blissful state of conscious awareness.

Unfortunately, that's not what it's like.

I signed up for one of these sleepovers through a program called Templestay. Created in 2002 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism — the largest Buddhist order in Korea — the Templestay program aims to allow visitors to "sample ordained lifestyle and experience the mental training and cultural experience of Korea's ancient Buddhist tradition." In other words, it's a chance to test-drive life as a monk.

The meditation center I visited, about two hours from Seoul on Ganghwa Island, seemed like the sort of place that could inspire calm. The grounds are nestled between rice paddies and a leafy forest, and the center's brightly painted temple sits several stone steps up from a gentle brook and a small pond stocked with lotus flowers and koi.

When my friend and I arrived — several hours late, thanks to trouble reading the bus schedule — the Templestay coordinator introduced herself in fluent English and led us to the room where we'd be staying. It was empty except for sleeping pads, blankets, and small pillows stuffed with plastic beads. After we'd dropped off our bags, she handed us our clothes for the weekend: two identical extra-large sets of baggy gray pants and vests, along with sun hats and blue plastic slippers. We looked like we'd stepped out of a propaganda poster for Maoist China.

I'd assumed that most temple life involved sitting still and cultivating enlightenment, but instead our first activity was community work time. Clad in our Mao suits, we followed the coordinator to the garden, where eight other Templestay guests squatted between raised rows of dirt, piles of potatoes scattered around them. They gave us hostile glances as we approached — thanks to our late arrival, they'd been forced to harvest potatoes for three hours in eighty-degree heat. I couldn't blame them for their animosity; if I'd been digging in the dirt while some assholes took the slow route to Ganghwa Island, I'd be pretty pissed off too. But such negativity seemed to go against the spirit of the retreat. I adjusted my sun hat and joined them in the field.

After we'd assumed our squatting positions, the coordinator explained that we were supposed to sort the potatoes into piles of small, medium, and large — and then left without demonstrating what the Buddhist definition of "small" was. After a half hour spent tossing any potato smaller than a golf ball into a nearby box, I looked up to find a monk standing above me, examining my work. I smiled. Expressionless, he picked up my box and emptied it onto the ground.

It was time for meditation.

Once we'd learned the correct way to arrange our shoes outside the temple door, the Templestay coordinator demonstrated how to prostrate according to the Korean Buddhist tradition: kneel down, touch your forehead to the floor, and rest your hands, palms upward, on the ground. Then do it all in reverse, like a movie playing backward. Repeat, ideally several hundred times.

To me, the main value of the prostration practice was as a quadriceps exercise, but any improvement in the shape of my thighs was mitigated by the pain it caused in my arthritic knees. I had plenty of time to reflect on this discomfort when we followed our prostrations with a meditation: sitting in silence for a half hour, a slight breeze blowing through the open doors at our back as if beckoning us to escape.

After a slow walking meditation through the temple grounds, a vegetarian dinner, calligraphy practice, and a discussion on meditation led by the temple's head monk (I spent most of the time killing mosquitoes and then feeling guilty about the karmic implications), we were sent back to our rooms to get rest before our 3:30 a.m. wake-up call. Lying on the floor, still dressed in my Mao suit, I fidgeted till 1:30.

Two hours later, the sound of the mokt'ak — a wooden percussion instrument played every morning to start the temple's day — jolted me awake. I pulled myself up from my floor mat and stumbled through the predawn darkness to the temple, where pink lotus lanterns illuminated a small group of people inside, creating the kind of picture you would send home to friends to make them feel jealous about the exotic experiences you had while on vacation.

There is a difference, however, between postcards and reality. For example, no one sends postcards at 3:30 in the morning. Nor do most people's vacation plans involve getting out of bed in the middle of the night to sit for a half hour in silence with their eyes closed. I watched through cracked eyelids as the Templestay coordinator repeatedly jerked herself awake just before tipping over, like a commuter on an early-morning subway train. I was close to succumbing to the same fate myself when I noticed something that kept me awake: a gigantic beetle crawling on a lotus lantern hanging above my head. This beetle was easily the size of a large fig; having it fall on my head would have been the equivalent of being smacked by a mouse. I began to focus my attention entirely on the beetle, sending prayers into the ether for its secure footing.

My prayers worked — the beetle remained aloft, and we were eventually allowed to go back outside. After sneaking a cup of instant coffee with a Venezuelan couple, I pulled myself through another walking meditation and followed the other participants to the main room for a Buddhist meal ceremony. A highly choreographed process of place-setting, serving, and eating, it included a final inspection by a head monk to see if our bowls were clean. "You do not want to disappoint him," said the coordinator. "Doing so would reflect poorly."

She then walked us through what would take place during the meal ceremony, including a final cleansing: we were to take a piece of pickled radish and use it to swab our dishes. This caught the attention of a young Canadian woman.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," she said. "But how is wiping my bowl with a radish going to make it clean? What about germs?"

"We fill the bowls with very hot water," said the coordinator, sidestepping the question. "So when you use the radish, the bowl is already very clean."

"Is it, like, a hygienic radish?" asked the Canadian woman.

"Yes," said the coordinator. "It is a hygienic radish."

Things went downhill from there. Exhausted and cranky, one by one we began refusing to play monk. If one of the whole points of Buddhism was to cultivate acceptance, why, I asked, did we have to go through such an elaborate meal ceremony? The Venezuelan couple went a step further: they left.

Wishing that we had the same kind of courage, my friend and I instead counted down the hours until we returned to Seoul, and upon arrival treated ourselves to a bottle of wine. Several days later, the Templestay coordinator e-mailed the weekend's participants and invited us to a workshop to perform three thousand prostrations to "inspire yourself into practice." The idea sounded horrifying, but it reminded me how difficult it would be to live like a monk. Which, as the coordinator suggested, may have been the point.

Excerpted from 101 Places Not To See Before You Die by Catherine Price. Copyright 2010 by Catherine Price. Excerpted by permission of Harper Paperbacks.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I have to say something

Because I love this blog so much.

Set… turn down the shouting voices of opposition and take a few quiet moments to center yourself.

Today’s prompt: What things does your character believe in so strongly, that she is willing to fight for them? Write a scene in which this belief puts her at odds with someone she cares about. OR What are you willing to fight for? What are you secretly a supporter of, but you are looking for the courage to speak up about?


I'm going to do these prompts soon enough, but I just want to say how thrilled I am for BANNED BOOK MONTH. September 2010. Go forth and don't censor. Write.

My New Life Goal

Is to finish reading the books on this list.

Sadly, I'm only at 15. I will get there. So many books, so little time. Today, I am working my way through Confessions of a Shopoholic (don't judge, I need my light chicklit here people) and will get though Judy Blume's Forever.

Can't wait.

I'm such a YA dork.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cool article found on one of the forums I frequent

You readers know I'm a fan of 20-something stories. Well, this just happens to be one fantastic article all about 20-somethings delaying adulthood. Legitimizes my life a little bit. Hope it does the same for you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"We don't have a teacher for your all-day class..."

Woke up this morning feeling like death was handed to me on a silver platter. Fever, runny nose, sore throat, headache, body ache, chills, you name it, I felt it. When calling in sick, I was told that I would not have to teach my first class and could go to the doctor. The head teacher even made me a house call visit to "make sure I was not lying."

How condescending is this? I know it's another culture, and I know they don't believe in substitute teachers here, but for real? I was then escorted to the clinic, where I was told after less than five minutes of examination that I have the flu (I could have told you that) and mild bronchitis. The female doctor spoke very good English and didn't hesitate to write me a prescription for FIVE different medications.

Most of which I suspect are very heavy doses of pain medications. I received these in individual packages of pills, so now I look like a drug dealer, LOL. For crying out loud, I want to do is sleep. Any other country would promote rest for healing, but not in KOREA. Jesus. So yeah, I contaminated I don't want to know how many children today. No, I couldn't go home. It's been a day folks. Keepin' it real.

Upshot? A visit to the doctor will have you waiting no longer than ten minutes and have you paying no more than $3.60 for the doctor and $4 for the meds. America can take a lesson here. Not sure if this is because my health insurance is super good or because Korea is just that cheap, but I don't question such things.

Also, Korean women coworkers aren't afraid to push their tea on you. Tea. Soup. Good for health. Ha.

AND...I love how they thought they were DOING ME A FAVOR by "letting" me skip my first class to go to the doctor. I'll give them that one, I suppose. In the name of compromise. Sheesh. I love this country. I love my life.

Another fabulous writing prompt from LHA

Today’s prompt:

1. Pick a color.

2. Write down its name then list ten things that the name or the color itself make you think of.

3. Here’s the tricky part. Write ten verbs that spring to mind when you look at that color or its name.

4. Choose the verbs and nouns that resonate the most with you. Write a scene that uses those things and verbs OR go off on an extended riff about what associations those words create for you.

5. Bonus points: Do the exercise again with a different color. This time, combine the nouns from Color One with the verbs from Color Two.


Friday, August 13, 2010

All I can say is

I am eternally grateful to the weekend upon us. I have a DMZ tour planned and a book exchange shindig to go to. I have two whole days that I am NOT GOING to think about work. Never mind the fact that I brought some books home with me and there is work to be done. There will be no work this weekend. None. At. All.

I should do this prompt this weekend

I should do this prompt this weekend courtesy of this woman. You should too.

Who can you write with this weekend?


“WRITE. FINISH THINGS. KEEP WRITING.” Neil Gaiman’s advice for aspiring writers.

Set…. After you make this weekend’s writing date, find a quiet spot and make the world go away.

Today’s prompt: Your character finds a box hidden at the back of her closet. Inside it are things from her childhood that someone saved for her. What is in the box? (Hint – focus on the way things smell.) OR If you found a box of items from your childhood, what would it contain?

Scribble… Scribble… Scribble!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Is it a bad thing...?

That I slightly relate to this guy today?

Seriously. I come home from one of the shittier days at my job and read this. How easy would it be when Korean teachers are backing you into a corner to grab a can of soju and jump off the fourth floor of the school?

Before you start panicking, I'm not suicidal. I would never do that. But really. It's a nice fantasy...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Magic Number Four

I love memes. I don't feel like thinking. Here are some things about me.

Four Jobs I Have Had:
* Teacher
* Store clerk in a retail shipping store
* Construction worker
* Babysitter

Four Places I Have Lived:
* Minneapolis, MN
* Athens, GA
* Marietta, GA
* Charleston, SC

Four Movies I Could Watch Again and Again:
* When Harry Met Sally
* Love, Actually
* Garden State
* Sense and Sensibility

Four Television Shows I Love:
* Designing Women
* Mad Men
* Glee
* The Office

Four Authors I Enjoy:
* Barbara Kingsolver
* John Green
* Laurie Halse Anderson
* Judy Blume

Four Places I Have Travelled To:
* Seoul, South Korea (obviously)
* Taiwan
* Fergie, British Coloumbia
* Xalapa, Mexico

Four Website I Visit Daily:


Four Blogs I Visit Weekly

Four of My Favorite Foods:
* Peanut Butter
* Cheese
* Watermelon
* Ice Cream

Four Places I'd Rather Be:
* Asleep
* Reading a good book
* In an exotic foreign land
* Watching Mad Men

Four People I Want to Tag:
* Emily
* Valerie
* Abby
* KT

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I'll go ahead and copy some of the notes I jotted in my travel journal taken by writing them out the long way (seriously, who does that anymore) since many of you readers have asked to hear about travels in Taiwan. Be warned that they may not be coherent or even relevant.


I'm on a train to Heulen, Taiwan from Taipei and I must say, traveling by train is definitely a superior way to see the world. I just saw some people working on fields with an endless chain of mountains in the background. This is really UNREAL. The vacation started out well. We stayed in Taipei last night at a hostel called the Chocolate Box Backpacker's Hostel. It was quite charming actually. Taiwan, outside of Taipei, is quite green and full of luscious vegetation. Surprises me because Taipei is such a dirty city.

*******20 minutes passes********

Now we've entered the ocean side portion of this train ride. It's seriously like something out of a movie. And every now and then we'll go through a tunnel and there's the ocean. There are no words here. It's just all too surreal. Pinch me. Am I really here? Really? I guess this is what I wanted when I wanted to travel.

*******A few hours and a bus ride later*******

Taroko Gorge, Eastern Taiwan.

Youth/Family hostel that is actually surprisingly swanky.
Explored the gorge today in 95% humidity.

Green rocks and spiders the size of my hand.
Really pretty butterflies.
And flowers.
Really steep cliffs, but that's a given.

It feels really great to not have any responsibilities or anywhere to be. Also feels great not to be tied down to a computer and the Internet.

Good company. Jeff, Hanna, and Amy make good travel companions just because they are so laid back. We can just chill and enjoy going to an aboriginal village tomorrow and then going to hang out on the beach the next day.

(A note from the future: The aboriginal village doesn't actually exist in Toroko Gorge, but we found out that there is a pretty trashy aboriginal TOURIST TRAP. It was a hilarious travel moment.)

Taitung, Taiwan

*******After a few train rides and nauseating bus rides...********

Taiwanese people are really nice and almost selfless. I feel really comfortable here. Either that, or we got really lucky. We are watching CNN for the first time since entering Korea over two months ago. Where, might you add? We are in the upstairs of a B&B, which is no different than someone's house. When we entered, we passed the owner's two children sitting on the floor watching TV. They stared at us pretty intensely when we entered. We are waiting until the ferry to Orchid Island comes at 7:30 am tomorrow. By the time we got here, the last ferry had already left (the train ride took a little longer than we budgeted for) and getting this place was an act of God. I feel that we were watched over by a lot of people today.

It's also amazing how traveling like this with no idea where we are going to eat/stay the next night is not for people plagued with anxiety and depression like yours truly. All sorts of internal dialogue got brought up, and I am very proud of working through it the way I did. It taught me that things do work out for the best. I did have to spend a few hours in the B&B alone. I am better now. Oy.

I have one more day's worth of journal entries to post, and I will do that tomorrow or the next day. I hope you enjoy my random ramblings and commentary. I really did enjoy my vacation and wish I were still there. I am back at work this week thinking of our wonderful friends we made and scenery we left behind there. I will be somewhere even more exotic sometime soon! I'm off to plan my next adventure!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Another poem I wrote a long time ago

Inspired by a picture taken at the children's musuem...I should post this on the poetry blog as well!

I’m back!
And I’m ready to play!
Look at me.
I’ve got my smock on
And I’m holding myself
Like I need to pee

If I don’t tell my teacher
Then I won’t have to stop playing
I’ll just keep going
I’m back for more
Of what
Only time will tell

My pigtails say that I am young
But they really don’t know how young
I’m not supposed to be at camp
My big sister takes care of me
Nothing to worry about
Because I am three

Story Starter Thursday

I'm putting this out there. Laugh if you wish. I'm starting a story starter day one day a week on here. This is something on my computer that I discovered just tonight. I wrote it three years ago. It's awful, don't judge, but I thought someone would have some fun with it. Feel free to continue the story on your own blog, or include it in your writing somewhere.

The adventurous Miss Caroline--ahem that’s Princess Caroline to you—and the awful case of the “I can get anything I want because I’m so cute” disease

There once was a little girl named Caroline Elizabeth Riana Schutzelbutz.

Her mommy called her care bear, her nanny called her C, her father, (whom she saw once a month on a good month), called her boo precisely because he couldn’t remember her name, and the kid that came over from the neighboring palace once a week for a play date called her Princess, at her request.

To put it lightly, Princess Caroline was a little hard to deal with. But who could blame her?

Somewhere early in her childhood someone had told Princess Caroline that because she was so cute, she could have anything she wanted. Without lifting a finger. It didn’t matter that her mother was exhausted. It didn’t matter that the pre-school teacher took every opportunity to remind her mother that she was raising a spoiled rotten brat.

Not enough Pepperidge Farm Goldfish on her plate at snack time? No big deal. Miss Caroline Elizabeth would merely put on her sunglasses, sprinkled with no less than 14-karat-gold glitter, and gingerly march on over to one of the teacher’s assistants. Can I please have some more goldfish? Why sure, the adult would say, and pour more goldfish.

Boys hogging the swing at play time outside? Simple. March over to the swing, slather up the best cute face and saliva in her mouth, smile, and plant the biggest, fattest, wettest kiss on the biggest kid in the class, Herman Hooverbinger. That sure got him to move fast out of the way!

I haven't been good about posting lately

And that is really because I haven't had the time or energy to put together a coherent post. I really don't have anything to say of substance. I'm in this foreign land. I don't really know what I am doing here, and I feel like I am floating in a cloud, on autopilot, to get from day to day in one piece. I'm anxiety-ridden yet hopeful, exhausted yet excited. I keep pushing and don't think I have anything left to give. But I will keep giving what there is left.

Tonight we had our before vacation staff dinner. It was at a galbi restaurant, and while I will spare you my feelings on pork galbi, I will say that it was nice to get to know a few of the Korean teachers outside of work. It was also the first time I sat on the floor to eat, traditional Korean style. Word to the wise: it hurts my legs to sit for an hour on the floor under a small table. But that's beside the point. I was sitting at the same table with two of the teachers that are relatively close in age to me, and it struck me just how much we had in common. How human we all are. It may sound silly, but at work I am so busy, I see these people as my supervisors, my bosses, and people above me. Tonight I got a different view. Tonight I saw two young, beautiful, graceful Asian women with a sassy sense of humor and a child-like sense of wonder.

They held their chopsticks in suspense as they coyly asked me in broken English: "Do you have boyfriend?" It was kind of cute how they debated back and forth for a while in Korean who was going to ask me this, as if they were afraid to ask this ridiculously girly question. They both giggled as they asked too. What are we in? Seventh grade? Obviously. We're sitting on the floor, crossed legs, giggling. It's seventh grade all over again. After I told them no and that I would prefer to be alone most of the time, they both looked sort of horrified, shocked even. One of them takes this into consideration, and then agrees that when she's with someone she'd rather be alone but right now she's searching actively. I ask next, because I have nothing better to contribute to this awkwardly funny situation "Are you actively searching?" Both answer "Yes" without hesitation. They later ask me if I have contact lenses and why I don't wear them. Don't know what that was about, but I'm not going to read into it too much. I love how superficial this culture really is.

I say this because I have a sick fascination here with women and marriage across cultures. In Korea, I'm finding that it's almost religion that women expect to get married and have children at a certain age. And it's expected that educated women marry educated men so that they can stay home with the children while the man goes off to work. At least I think that's how it works.

It hit me today just how strong these two women were. This was the second meal today I've had with them. We also ate lunch in the same room at school earlier in the day. During lunch, there were four women, all in different stages of life, speaking Korean but I could feel the strong woman energy vibes shaking me to my core. The woman directly to the right of me was about six months pregnant, in her mid-thirties. So dignified. Across from her was a recent college graduate, next to her was a middle-aged woman sporting a wedding band. Across from her was a younger woman in between all of their ages, from what I can tell. They smiled, they laughed, they spoke a lot of Korean, but I could tell they were happy. I'm not making much sense here, but in my mind this picture sticks out for some reason. So many different lives, but one life under the school roof. We all have ONE ASPECT of our lives in common. For better or for worse.

This was not what I meant to say at all. Tonight I'm rambling because I'm in a rambling kind of mood. I had a point to all of this, but somewhere between dinner and bedtime I lost it. That's right folks, I must be going. I will find my point, hopefully, and post away at a later time.

There was also a moment during dinner where I asked about children, and if they had any. I was unsure of the answer and if it was even socially correct to do so, but I don't think it was too bad. One of the women replied "I'm a miss...I'm not married." I wanted to say, "That never stopped anyone in my country before" but I figured I had better hold my tongue on that one.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Found this randomly online tonight, thought it was too cute not to post

With time, women gain weight because we accumulate so much
information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no
more room, it distributes out to the rest of our bodies. So we
aren’t heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy.

Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think,

“Good grief, look how smart I am!?”

(Must be where the term ‘Smart Ass’ came from… )


Monday, July 19, 2010

I need ideas

For active games for six-year-olds using little or no equipment.

I am also glad I have vacation coming up in a week. And open class is over. And I'm thankful for Tuesday field trips and general lack of expectations. I'd write more, but I'm off to work. Later!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A View from the Subway

Every now and then I like to post a random picture to say to the world, "Hello, I'm alive." This picture was taken last weekend from the subway on my way to Itawon to get a haircut. Itawon is where the westerners hang out. There's a big western community there. Rumor has it the army base is there too. I'm falling into a rut with blogging and life lately, and that is probably due to the culture shock let-down. I'm here, and that's all I can say now. Just living life as usual. I need help. Leave comments with ideas.

Since I'm posting lyrics anyway...

Thought I'd go ahead and post this one, only my favorite number of all time. This is what I say to the Koreans and their crazy ways. I am a master of my territory. Don't mess with me. LOL.


Don't tell me not to live, just sit and putter
Life's candy and the sun's a ball of butter
Don't bring around a cloud to rain on my parade
Don't tell me not to fly, I simply got to
If someone takes a spill, it's me and not you
Who told you you're allowed to rain on my parade
I'll march my band out, I'll beat my drum
And if I'm fanned out, your turn at bat, sir
At least I didn't fake it, hat, sir
I guess I didn't make it
But whether I'm the rose of sheer perfection
A freckle on the nose of life's complexion
The Cinderella or the shine apple of its eye
I gotta fly once, I gotta try once,
Only can die once, right, sir?
Ooh, life is juicy, juicy and you see,
I gotta have my bite, sir.
Get ready for me love, 'cause I'm a "comer"
I simply gotta march, my heart's a drummer
Don't bring around the cloud to rain on my parade,

I'm gonna live and live NOW!
Get what I want, I know how!
One roll for the whole shebang!
One throw that bell will go clang,
Eye on the target and wham,
One shot, one gun shot and bam!
Hey, Mr. Arnstein, here I am ...

I'll march my band out, I will beat my drum,
And if I'm fanned out, your turn at bat, sir,
At least I didn't fake it, hat, sir,
I guess I didn't make it
Get ready for me love, 'cause I'm a "comer"
I simply gotta march, my heart's a drummer
Nobody, no, nobody, is gonna rain on my parade!

Why I love musicals, part IV

While reflecting on the topic of my favorite musicals recently, I neglected to mention this one. I LOVE Funny Girl, because I am Fanny Brice. No doubt about it. You will not rain on my parade. Maybe that's why I've been so moody lately. She's dead on in this song, and I now see why. It's really hard to admit when you are lonely. This song sums up the hidden emotions perfectly.

Fanny and Nick steal a private moment
at the party and discover they are both
a little lonely. Fanny sings:

We travel single-oh
Maybe we're lucky, but I don't know--
With them,
Just let one kid fall down
And seven mothers faint.
I guess we're both happy, but maybe--
We ain't.
People--people who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world,
We're children, needing other children
And yet letting our grown-up pride
Hide all the need inside,
Acting more like children
Than children.

Lovers are very special people,
They're the luckiest people
In the world.
With one person, one very special person
A feeling deep in your soul
Says you were half,
Now you're whole.
No more hunger and thirst
But first be a person
Who needs people.
People who need people
Are the luckiest people
In the world!

Nick has to leave the party early because
he's going to Kentucky the next day but
promises to call Fanny when he returns
to New York.