Wednesday, August 31, 2005 

Okay...I should already be asleep, so this will be fast. Here's an update:

- Open day on Saturday for my K-7 class. This means the parents will come and watch me teach their kids on Saturday. Add to this it'll be on a Saturday, in a different room of the school, trying to show off what we've been practicing straight and solid for two weeks...this means there's no way the kids will behave and there's little chances of it going well. I'm trying to be optimistic, but at this point I feel more like a drill sergeant and/or that I'm brainwashing the kids. The storybook for this month is too hard, so we've been working primarily on that and it's embedded in my brain, let me tell you that much. I catch myself singing or humming the chant or the story in my mind or under my breath throughout the day.

- You know the deodorant that says "Strong enough for a man, but pH balanced for a woman?" (Or something like that anyway.) The deodorant in Korea should say, "Made for Asians...white people, and any other people that actually might even consider sweating or smelling bad without deodorant need not even bother." Korean deodorant is more crappy than I could express. I'm counting down the days till I send my sister money so she can send me something that works better. (FYI, I don't stink. But I worry about stinking because it's a possibility...and that's just no fun.)

- I talked to my nephew and my niece this week for the first time since I left last August. This, aggravated by the growing discontent with my job, is bringing about the intense desire to go home. I don't want to go home to stay, but I do want to visit. Sadly, it's not even a possibility until Christmas time, and that's not even for sure. But it's hard. I've been in a bit of a funk - combining all of the above - work is crazy, then there's still too much paperwork, not enough time, etc. etc. I miss my friends and family. La la la...whatever. It'll all work out, I know. But right now I'm counting down the days until December.

AND.... (drumroll please) I somehow managed to find my friend Megan's blog - though she hasn't blogged in awhile, it's still there and it has a picture of her, and seeing her makes me happy (and homesick...but I'm trying to be optimistic here). She is linked on your right.

And one last note, check out the China Aid website on the right as well. A guy I go to church with just came back from a month trip in China and Mongolia, working with/for one of Brother Yun's (The Heavenly Man) co-workers mentioned in the book (I'm thinking it's Brother Xu or Xui, but I can't recall off the top of my head). In any case, the website is much more up-to-date about what kind of religious persecution is actually going on in China. It's horrible stuff to read, but it's good to know what's actually going on. And for verification purposes (though this won't mean much, probably) he knew a handful of the 27 people that were arrested a few weeks ago. There is every reason to believe those that have yet to be released are still being tortured. God help them. And on that chipper note (not being irreverent, it's just how I deal with things) I'm off to bed. How blessed I am. Night all.

Edit: I published this, put the cat up for the night, then laid down. In bed, I remembered that I hadn't done spell check and I knew I had spelled embedded wrong (I spelled it with an "i") so I got up to do this. Compulsive, much?

Saturday, August 27, 2005 

I attempted to copy and paste the message I got when I signed into Yahoo messenger from wonderful and fabulous Dr. Fazio, but I did something wrong, so it didn't work. The message though, was telling me that the package she sent to Israel for me last November just arrived at her place in Oregon. It took a whopping nine months, but the package went from Alabama, to Israel, back to Alabama, then to California, then to Oregon. Wow.

Since it seems to be the day for talking with long-semi-lost friends, I'll share also that I got to talk to Jessica Faircloth on the phone last night for over an hour. It was wonderful - the last time we talked was in February before her twin girls were born. They were down for a nap when I called, so we got to catch up. She is an extremely interesting person and she's had a remarkable life. And now she's the mother of six-month old twins. She and Mary (my cousin, also with twin girls) are both deserving of superhero status if you ask me.

And on a completely random note, do any of you cat-owners out there have a problem with your cat trying to drink out of the toilet? I've known plenty of dogs that do that, but never cats. I realized that's why Claude fell in the toilet earlier in the week. I always try to keep the lid down, but if I ever forget, he ignores his water dish and goes straight for the toilet water. And that's really just kind of gross. You know though, if the toilet is properly flushed, I have no problem sticking my hand in to get out the bottle, brush, or Bethany's make-up that fell in (that used to happen all the time when we lived together in the Ghetto). I would, of course, wash both my hands and said item quite well (with antibacterial soap, too). But some people absolutely refuse to go toilet-diving in a clean bowl. I understand it's a dirty place, but I think there's a good chance you touch a lot of equally disgusting things throughout the day without knowing it (especially if you work with kids or animals). And that's my deep thought for the day. A little sad, eh? Ah well...I have to go clean. Jenny is coming over later to give me a Korean lesson (and she's allergic to cats so I have to rid my apartment of cat-ness...or at least try.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 

Google Talk, will you marry me

Please, please, download Google talk. I didn't even think I had a microphone on my laptop, but I do. None of the other messaging programs would work....but I talked to my sister online tonight through Google talk! And it's free! Phone cards here are cheap, but this is even cheaper! You have to have a gmail account to do it though, so if you want it and don't have a gmail account, comment and I'll email you an invite. Wow. This has brightened up my day substantially! Yay for Google!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005 

And now...for the highlight of my evening...

I just heard a thump and a splash and went into the bathroom to find a very embarrassed and ashsmed cat in the corner shaking himself off and licking himself off. Curiosity didn't kill this cat, but it did make him fall in the toilet. I laughed...a lot. In fact, still laughing. It's times like these where I realize just how severe the need for a digital camera is. Working on it, anyway.

I'm probably going to Jeju Island the second week of September. It's a semi-tropical island just off the southern coast here and it's gorgeous. The pictures on the official website don't do it justice. I've seen some pictures that are just remarkable.

And you know the kind of paper kids use when they're learning to write? Well I got a small notebook that they give to kids who are learning how to write Hangul (Korean writing system). So I can practice. I'm beginning to learn Korean, did I mention that? There are twenty vowels though, I think (if I remember Jenny correctly) and my brain can't handle it so well. But I'm working on it. And I have time. That's all for today. By the way, thanks Freezer for your help. But I couldn't get it to work. Ah well.

Monday, August 22, 2005 

Today was the last day of the summer intensive. We had time for games, and then each class presented a skit in English. Each class had to pick a theme, from the book we went through, and then make up a skit about it. My class chose dessert. We were the Yummy Dessert Factory. The skit consisted of me (the boss) telling our audience what amazing desserts we made and what a great factory it was, then each time someone on the "dessert assembly line" got it wrong (peanut butter instead of ice cream, hot sauce instead of whip cream, etc.). In the end, I got splatted in the face with a plate of whip cream be honest...was my favorite part of the whole thing. Though I did feel slightly silly when the Korean teacher asked them afterwards (in front of everyone still) whose idea it was to splat me in the face with whip cream and they were all, "It was HER idea!" I felt rather sheepish. So, Korean culture is huge on respecting elders. To get them to agree to splat me in the face with whip cream required a discussion about how I'm American, not Korean, and how it's different. I had to reassure them countless times that I was okay with it, that I wanted to do it, and thought it was funny (they did too, I didn't make them, I swear). Afterwards, all four of the students in my skit surrounded me and kept on asking, "Are you okay? Are you okay?" Of course I'm okay...I'm just covered in whip cream! Ah...but it was fun. They took pictures, and I asked them today if they would send them to all of us teachers. Not only was the skit humorous, but the points we got from the skit combined with the points from the English word game earlier made us the winners of the day! Yay for first place! (I could totally be one of those parents.) I now have a stylish cute pink bag that matches four of my fourth grade girls. And yet another high point of the day is that it was the last day of the intensive. Now my teaching hours will go back to a manageable level and I might actually be able to accomplish the work I need to get done. We'll see. And since I vowed to myself that I wouldn't do any work tonight, I sat and figured out how to do expandable post summaries (a big feat for someone like myself). Now I'm going to go back to my book. Night all!

Edit: Anyone know how to take off the "And on and on and on" part on all other posts? Blogger help said that part was an exercise for the individual blogger to figure out. Help, please?

Friday, August 19, 2005 

Rickie has started a discussion about tattoos and tattooing over at his site. I commented, and what I said just got me thinking even more. I want to expound more on it here, because I can and won't feel bad for taking up space on his comments, but I'm conflicted. Here's why:

1) I think about myself too much and God too little. I'm very self-centered.

2) I think about myself mostly negatively, but it's a constant worrying, self-deprecating (which fuels my sense of humor about myself often) kind of thinking...I find that when I want to compliment someone I usually add something about my inability to do/be/achieve/etc. whatever it is I'm complimenting them on. And it annoys me (about me, that is). Beyond that, though (which is actually a little off the point...imagine) I just think about myself too much. Kylie told me tonight that I worry so much about being screwed up that I make myself that way. She has a point. I found that, in the past, when I was on a self-improvement kick (emphasis on self) I not only made no progress towards being more mentally and emotionally healthy, but if anything, actually regressed. I find that it is only through seeking God that I am healed internally. It is because of that that I am hesitant to post any more of my thoughts about my tattoos. I also don't want to glorify sin (not referring to the tattoos themselves, but internal motives and attitudes that led up to them).

This is why I've been blogging less lately. I'm trying not to take myself too seriously, because when I start to think about my life, I'm quick to point out all the things I do wrong and all the areas in which I fail. There's no's not as if I can look at my life, then look to God's grace and be grateful. I usually just see my own failure. Which makes me one of the most miserable idolaters ever, because I have absolutely no confidence in my own deity. This might not make a lot of sense to some of you, and to those, please forgive the ramble. These are huge issues within me, though.

3) I just think too much, period. (But then I think about thinking too much, and it all becomes a mental jumble, and I just want to stop I go to sleep. Like now.)

Saturday, August 13, 2005 

I should be in bed right now, but I'm not. I tried to call Bethany, but she didn't answer. After I hung up, I looked through my address book to see if there was anyone else I could call. Since it's 11:30 PM here, it's 10:30 AM in the time zone Jacksonville and Orlando are in...only a handful of people I know live there, and it's too early (9:30 on Saturday morning) to call anyone in the neighboring time zone. But at the back of my address book was the cell number for an old friend. I almost tried to call, but didn't. It's an old friendship that ended badly.

And you know what? I'm just going to say what I mean for once. I think this old friend made a major mistake in their life, twice. In between, there was hope for the friendship. But now none. Thinking about it reinforces my twisted idea that relationships of all kinds with other people are unsafe and damaging.

But on the other hand, I providentially came across contact information for another old friendship, one that also nearly ended badly. (It was bad, but it wasn't an end, just a near-end.) Though it ended poorly, I have thought about this person a lot over the past few months, and emailed them to apologize and express my thanks for how God used them in my life. I have come to realize more just how easy it is for me to shut people out of my life lately, and I use things like friendships ending badly and getting hurt as a justification for this. But God is changing this fear of...whatever it is (commitment? rejection? hurt?) from a cold and defensive pre-emptive heart (I'll hurt you and maybe myself before I'll let you do it) to a less-prideful (I wouldn't dare call the state of my heart humble) open to correction heart that is genuinely interested in being close with others. I hide behind so much (activity, animals, etc.) to keep people away, and this is changing now. Thank God. That's all for now...gonna try to call Bethany again.


An anniversary of sorts

On August 12, 2004 I got on a plane in Pensacola that was headed for Israel (the plane in Pensacola was actually headed for Memphis, but you get the point). I say that I spent five months in Israel but the reality is that it was more like four and a half. Obviously though, five sounds more respectable than four, and four and a half sounds like I'm trying too hard, so I just round up and say five. I arrived in Seoul on December 29. I was happy to make it past the five (four and a half?) month mark because it made me feel like less of a living-abroad failure. Now that I'm approaching the seven and a half month mark (more joking at this point) my perspective is, by God's grace, considerably different.

When I express my surprise at where I am in my life right now, it's not always a statement of being entirely happy or content with where I am, and it has absolutely nothing to do with pride (of the self-centered sinful variety). With that said, I am quite surprised sometimes at where my life is and the possible directions it could be going. There's lots about Korea that I don't love, but the things listed on the "don't love" side of the paper are much fewer in number than they were in the first few months I was here. I'm actually making an attempt to learn the language. And despite the fact that I eat Western food semi-frequently lately, I do like a lot of Korean food (I do not, however, like the kind of food that still has a head and/or eyeballs, or could be seen in an aquarium as well as on my plate). I'm not sure if I'm quite different than I was a year ago, but I do know that I've learned an awful lot. I'm pretty much settled (though that settled is subject to change as God reveals His will to me or as I am shaken from my selfish stupor that could be clouding my judgment) on staying here another year. I don't know if I'll stay at the same school for another year, that much has yet to be determined, but I'm more than likely going to be in Seoul for another year. I love the city, despite the smells and crowds and such. I also love my church. Thinking about staying another year though, makes me a little sad as well. Bethany bought a car about a week and a half ago (congratulations, Bethany!) and I was immensely proud of her for doing something so grown-up. I don't feel grown-up at all. In fact, I sometimes feel like I'm missing out on some of the growing up experience....almost like being held back in a grade, while all my friends move on to the next level in school. I'm 24, and while I'm certainly not in a rush to be married or have kids, I'd like to be slightly closer to it than I am at the moment. And then there's the ever-constant homesickness of missing family, Bethany, and a familiar culture. But I'm still rather certain that this is where I should be, at least for the meanwhile. It's a mixed bag, I tell you. This is something Peter and I talked about and it was nice to have someone who understood it firsthand.

The point of this post though, is not to complain. I'm actually not complaining. I'm content with where I am right now, but it's a bittersweet situation, as is much of life. I've grown up enough to at least realize that. So, here's to my out-of-the-country-for-one-year anniversary. Cheers!

Saturday, August 06, 2005 

From the newspaper today:

The Korea Consumer Protection Board said yesterday that over the last two months it has received two reports of juice bottles exploding at room temperature and injuring people.

There have been twelve reported incidents of this over the past five years, with injuries ranging from cuts (glass and plastic bottles exploding) to torn ligaments and nerve damage. That would absolutely suck.

PS - I got Jack Johnson's new CD today. I was walking a different way than I normally do to get a taxi to go to the store and buy a bookshelf, I saw one on the street (to be thrown away). I saved it (and myself about $30 or 40 dollars) but had the misfortune of trying to carry this cumbersome, taller-than-me bookshelf back to my building, and then up one flight of stairs until I could knock on one of the other teacher's door (and wake him up, I might add) to get him to help me get it up the other two flights. Yay for a new-to-me and free bookshelf!

Friday, August 05, 2005 

My Vacation

Okay, I'm back. Yes, Peter's in China. (He said I could say that.) And Freezer, he doesn't email anyone - so don't feel bad. (We actually had a conversation at the airport as I was leaving about his inability to communicate via email.) I was in China for five days, with Peter for four, and in Beijing for about half a day. Pictures are below. I'm not sure if the page is loading strangely only on my computer, but there are quite a few, and if they don't all show up, just click on the August 2005 archives link and they'll all come up.

So my vacation. In five sentences or less: Relaxing, refreshing, necessary, facilitated recuperation. (That only counts as one as this parenthesis counts for nothing.) Pete and I had a lot of really amazing and deep conversations, about spiritual things, about living overseas, and much more. That was one of the best parts. The other best part was how it opened my eyes further to the spiritual darkness that exists in the world outside the Bible Belt. I had an amazing time, and I want to go back.

I realized today that I've been blogging for over a year now - this blog combined with the L'Chaim blog from Israel. More than a year....I won't wax eloquent about it, but I will say that while I may be as wordy as I was then, it's wordiness coming from a very different heart and attitude.


Ironic, if you ask me

Welcome to the land of random and slightly bizarre - Peter and I were talking in a coffee shop and I interrupted him to ask, "Is that the Declaration of Independence behind you on the wall?" He didn't believe me at first (I think he thought I was trying to distract him so I could do something malicious) but he finally looked, and it was. In my opinion, it's beyond ironic. Posted by Picasa


A famous cultural place Peter took me to - I can't remember the exact number, but there is an absolutely ridiculous number of Buddhas carved on this building. Posted by Picasa


Close-up of the same building - you can see the small Buddhas, and these are carved on every level, this small, on all sides of the building. Anyway, here are three languages, one of which I forgot (I hope Pete doesn't read this!) but definitely is Chinese and Mongolian, and one other. Umm.....I'm wracking my brain to remember. I'll edit this if I do. Posted by Picasa


If I remember correctly (which, as we know by now, is doubtful) this is basically a Buddhist statement of faith. It shows what they believe. If you see the outermost level of the circle, that represents reincarnation. Inside the wheel are pictures of judgment, heaven, etc. Fascinating. I tried to find a link so you could read more about it if you're interested, but I couldn't, and I'm getting rather tired. My apologies. Posted by Picasa


On our way out of the temple we visited. In fact, Peter didn't hear me say I was stopping to take a picture, so he's up beside the incense altar thing. Interesting, if you look up on the corners of the buildings, there are little animal statues. The number of animals shows the importance of the building. Interesting also is that the doorways are all raised, due to the belief that it helps keep evil spirits out and good spirits (my tour guide in Beijing said luck) in. Posted by Picasa


Taken from the parking lot, looking up at the Great Wall. I did not climb all the way up, either. There wasn't time, sadly. Posted by Picasa


Obligatory pose next to the statue with Chairman Mao's quote about how climbing the Great Wall is necessary to be considered a hero. I should mention that on this section of the Great Wall (there are five sections semi-close to Beijing) this statue was about five or ten steps up from the parking lot - so perhaps Chairman Mao's standards were a little low here. Posted by Picasa


This is from the Great Wall - I think the Coke umbrellas throw a nice refreshing commercialized breath of not-so-fresh air into this picture...but they do help show a realistic view - most of the buildings below are actually souvenier shops and restaurants. Posted by Picasa


A shot looking up, towards where I was not brave (or foolish) enough to climb. It was hot, and the climb takes at least 2 hours, my guide said, and we didn't have the time. Truthfully, my legs were already wobbly though. The stairs are so narrow (built for ancient Chinese feet not these monstrous Western skis at the ends of my legs) and were so uneven that it was difficult and challenging. I do want to go back and do it sometime though. Posted by Picasa


Looking from the Great Wall, across the valley, to the stretch of Great Wall on the next mountain top. The section I went to was the First Magnificent Pass. The guardhouse was placed so that they could send signals to nearby soldiers to warm of approaching enemy troops, and so it was said that one soldier manning the guard tower at this pass could keep out/protect the land from 10,000 invading troops. Posted by Picasa


Facing the other direction. I admit, the mountains had me stunned. Florida has, at best, hills. I was blown away by it all. Posted by Picasa


From one of the guardhouses (you can kinda see the raised doorway at the bottom of the pic), looking out toward the pagoda that sits in the middle of the valley. That pagoda (the one you can see, not where I'm taking the pic from) is the important guardhouse I mentiond in the last picture explanation. Posted by Picasa


Climbed back down, and this is the important spot. Posted by Picasa


Me, red and sweaty, on the Great Wall. (Before I left, I told my sister Jen that what I wanted the most was a pic of the Great Wall, and she pointed out that it was also necessary to get a picture of me ON the Great Wall. It was wise advice, and I took it. Thanks, Jen!) Posted by Picasa


This is quite interesting. They have stretches of these chains along the uphill incline between the sets of stairs, and there were all these padlocks. Couples who come to the Great Wall bring a padlock, lock it onto the chain, and throw the keys over the side of the wall - so that their love will last forever (as long as the Wall, I'm assuming). Posted by Picasa


Obviously not China, but cute nonetheless. They're fast friends...that is, whenever Claude (AKA, Evil Psycho ADD Kitty) is sleeping. The rest of the time Daive spends trying to shield herself (especially her face and her tail) from the relentless attacks of said psycho kitty. Posted by Picasa


Another. Posted by Picasa


Last one, promise. (He is exceptionally cute here, though.) Posted by Picasa

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