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.

Continue reading

THE KOREA KRONICLES, PART XI: Moving On Up, and Other Recent Developments

The New ViewThis past weekend, my fellow teachers and I finally moved into our new dorms (see my new view at right). This is a move I’d been expecting since I first arrived in Korea. Before I even began working at Daegu Gyeongbuk English Village, I’d been told not to settle in too snugly in the teacher’s dormitory as, in April, we’d be moving into fancy new dorms that were secluded from the main campus and, by extension, from the children that overrun it five days out of the week. So April turned into July, big deal. The point is, we’ve moved, and the new place is spectacular. I mean, even the old dorms were way better than anything ORU was able to slap together or hold together with duct tape, but my new address is, minus a few to-be-expected bugs to be worked out, without a doubt the nicest dormitory I’ve ever seen. Continue reading

THE KOREA KRONICLES, PART VII: Why Han’guk Is Better Than Mi’guk

ChilgokHow do you tell your best friend he or she really doesn’t sing that well, despite whatever strong beliefs he or she may have to the contrary? How do you tell your wife, husband, or partner that while you definitely appreciated the thought and the effort, he or she should take more care to put two cups of sugar, not salt, into the cookie batter next time? How do you tell the people in your home country they need to extract their heads from their collective asses and get their shit together? I’ll be honest on the first two: hell if I know. The last one, however, is a much easier conversation to provoke. Simply remind America using cold, hard facts that this self-perpetuating mythos that its the greatest thing to ever happen to humanity amounts to little more than a national circle-jerk. Actually, it’s even worse than that: we’re talking about a massive sausage party consisting of old, balding, obese men who’ve long since passed their primes repeatedly telling each other they’re still God’s gift to women and, since it’s so often repeated, actually believe it. That’s really sad, folks.

Continue reading