RAISE YOUR GLASS: Story Arcs of 2013, Part Deux

BusanWhen this year began, there were a lot of things I’d never done before. I’d never spent more than two weeks outside the United States. I’d never been left to my own devices with a classroomful of children. I’d never lived in a real city (sorry, Tulsa). I’d never been to Asia. I’d never held a full-time job. I’d never had a boyfriend. I’d never kissed a guy. So, yes, as should be obvious by this point, I’ve experienced a lot of firsts this year.

I’m not sure how anyone else’s 2013 went, but mine was pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. People seem commonly to arrive at year’s end and experience mostly mixed sentiments. To be honest, I don’t really understand why. I’ve long believed that one of the principal keys to, if not happiness, then contentment is the robust management of expectation.

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DIRTY LITTLE FREAKS: Story Arcs of 2013, Part Un

The Teaching Life“If you do not stop talking, I will turn off the air conditioning, open the windows, and make you all sit on the floor,” I said, thoroughly exasperated. “Do you understand?”

Their affirmations of “yes, teacher” were of course accompanied by seismic eye-rolls and I had little confidence in their intention to heed my warning. In fact, I think we barely made it another minute and half before I simply stopped trying to talk over them, walked to the back of the room and turned off the thermostat, then methodically unlatched and slid open each window in the classroom. With the windows open, there was nothing to hold back the hot, sticky, Korean summer air from steamrolling through and turning the classroom into something just short of a sauna, which it did, and in barely any time at all. Continue reading

Communique No. 7: Wishing Everyone a Very Happy Holiday

English: A bauble on a Christmas tree.Before I wish everyone a happy holiday, I want to talk first about what I mean by that well-wish.

It’s been a while since I felt the term “Christian” was an adjective I wanted to apply to myself. Despite my best efforts, that word has come to connote to me many more negative attributes than good, even though I know few, if any, of those attributes are things I would consciously associate with Christ. I’m referring to more than just the rampant, increasingly shrill, and occasionally vulgar anti-gay bigotry emanating mostly from people styling themselves conservative Evangelicals, too. A few of the other attributes that involuntarily come to mind when I hear the word “Christian” are provincialism, group-think, anti-intellectualism, and cultural-fascism. I know people who do call themselves “Christian” and who I personally like, but they are increasingly few and far between.

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