Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Yellow Brick Road continued

I am so lost... I'm studying for the GRE, which in itself incredibly intimidating.  I'm smart, one might even call me intelligent, but I'm far from brilliant and this test seems like it was created for brilliant peeps.  I've spent about 5 hours studying in the past week, and I feel like I'm being badly pummeled. I'm taking the beating because I want to go back to school.  I have a degree in Communication Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.  It was a fantastic major.  I absolutely LOVED my classes.  Just about every single one of them.  I learned about people, cultures, language and how they all played a critical role in our lives. I loved being at UT, in the top ranked communication programs in the nation. I felt it gave me an edge in the career world. 

But so far, I haven't used my degree except in teaching.  And my degree is not in education.  I'm teaching, not because it's my passion, but because it's a means to an end.  We are young, we wanted to travel the world, experience new cultures, and save money and get out of debt so we flew across the world to meet those goals.  But our goals are expanding everyday and I've known since I've graduated that I wanted to go back to get a masters degree. I was never one of those students who couldn't wait to graduate.  Instead, I wanted to stay in my safe cocoon of academia.  It was warm and cozy in there, I understood what was happening. Within the walls of school clear, concise directions and goals had been laid out before me.  For my part, all I had to do was to follow.  Graduation was not an ecstatic day for me as it is for so many.  In fact, I missed my graduation.  (I was traveling in Europe) When the day came to walk across a stage in my tasseled scholar hat and cloak, instead of feeling like a warrior going out into the world ready to conquer, I felt the opposite.  I felt like a newborn baby being born, torn from the inside of its warm protective mother.  I was thrust out of my home of education, a place I had been nourished and coddled for nearly my entire life, and plunged into the "real world."  A world with critical issues, inequities, divisive politics and a general "life is unfair, deal with it" attitude.  I didn't know what to do with it, so I picked up and ran away.  We ran to Chile.  I had always wanted to travel, and Chile was an opportunity for me to give back in a way that I had never done before since it was a volunteer program.  It was difficult, it was cold and it was life changing.  We returned with the objective to teach and make money in Korea.  Chile had put us more in debt than school had.

Korea was the land of promise. The land that any foreigner with a degree in hand could teach English in, make money, see a new part of the world and save save save.  But we had to get Kyle a degree first.  A task that took longer than anticipated, but once it was achieved we were on a plane, together, hand in hand, onto another adventure.  We our in threshold of our second year in Korea, and most likely our last.  It is a year to save, grow individually by meeting personal goals, and to save for travel and school.  I am finally ready to move on to grad school.  I'm thrilled, to say the least.  I can't wait for school again.  Not that I ever really left since I am now a TEACHER at a school. 
But I am struggling.  I am struggling answering the fundamental question everyone asks themselves, "What do I want to be when I grow up?"  And it is a fundamental question that needs a decisive answer for one who is to spend THOUSANDS of dollars on further education.  So this is what I have so far...
  • I am a social scientist.   
    • I love statistics about people.  I love learning about how people interact, how they are persuaded, what makes them tick. 
  • I'm a people person
    • I need to work with people. I'm not a behind the desk gal.  I need interaction or else I go crazy.
  • I want to make a difference 
    • It's cliche, I know, but we have cliches for a reason.  I want to make a difference in the world. I want to know that my being here has been for the greater good. 
  • I need skills
    • although I love the study of people, it only takes a person so far in usefulness.  I don't want to be a researcher.  I want to be useful, not that researchers are useless, but I don't think it's where I'm meant to be.
  •  I've been considering business
    • not an MBA, but a background in business will expand my possibilities and broaden my perspectives. I'm looking at an MA at Thunderbird in Arizona.  It's considered one of the top International schools in the nation.  And they have programs for students without backgrounds in business.
    • I don't have a lot of experience in business, but I don't think I will be passionate about it though.
    • But, Kyle and I would love to have our own businesses some day, and having a business degree would be immensely useful.
  •  Sustainability
    • Recently, I have come to the conclusion I would like a focus on sustainability. Sustainability, with our ever growing world population is a practice that we humans will need to develop more comprehensively if we want to keep from drying up all of our resources and killing ourselves.
  • Community
    • I have an interest in communities, what bonds them, what creates them, what makes them  and powerful.  I want a part in growing communities.
  • I'm interested in too many things
    • I have always loved learning.  I could have gone into a lot of fields and have been happy, I think, and so I am having a hard time just choosing one thing to focus on.
  • Reputation
    • One thing I have been told is important in a school is there reputation amongst their peers.  If a school doesn't have a strong reputation or strong network then it doesn't matter how good your education was, the thousand dollar degree on your wall, is not worthwhile.
Is there anyone out there who can help?  Has anyone attended any of these schools? I'm so lost. I don't even know where to start when it comes to researching the reputation of a school or finding a good school.  I'm looking for advice from anyone who is willing to give it.  Thanks in advance.

I've come along way, I think from when I wrote my original post, "The Yellow Brick Road" and my struggle with the quarter life crisis, but I am far from knowing where my path leads.  And in all honesty not knowing can be fun.  I'm not sure I would want to look into a crystal ball that told me my future because it might spoil the surprise.  I'm learning to be present in the moment, to enjoy the days as they come and to enjoy the journey.
The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination. ~ Don Williams Jr.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I should actually be doing something productive right now

It's a lazy Saturday.  I have a "To do" list, but as soon as we made this list, my hubby fell asleep.  We slept over 10 hours last night, but he was still sleepy.  I think he's feeling stressed out from the job right now.  Anyways, while my baby (husband is synonymous with baby) sleeps, I should actually do something like write. I still have 1,000 words to write on my project for the week, but instead, I've been catching up on my blog reading and I came across a post that inspired me.  Bekah, from Country Mouse Tales has an adorable blog about her hubby and baby.  Her posts are clever and fun, but this post, ice breakers, intrigued me to the point that I decided to blatantly copy her idea. 
It's a get to know my readers post.  Yep, that's right.  This post is not about me, but about you. I want to know about you guys.  All of you stalkers out there, come on out and say hi.  I promise I wont bite, unless you spam me.  Then I might bite you.

I actually had another idea, a few months back, that I intend to initiate sometime soon, about creating more of a community here on the "yellow brick road" but this will be a good start.  We're gonna do an ice breaker.  A good old fashioned ice breaker.  Bekah, said she disliked school icebreakers, but I always found them fun.  They were a way to make all those strangers in the room into possible friends. 
One of my favorite ice breakers was one called, "Two truths and a lie." Most people are familiar with this ice breaker but for those of you who aren't, this is how you play.  You list three statements about yourself, in no particular order.  Two of them are truthful, and one of them is a lie.  And everyone in the room tries to guess the lie.  Lets all play.  It will be fun.  Even if you're not a regular reader.  Even if you just happen to accidentally glance at the blog, we want to hear from you.

I'll go first:  This will be easy for those of you who know me.

My nickname was Screamer as a child.
I met Cher when I worked for Disney World

I can't stand ketchup.

So take a guess, and then list your two truths and a lie.  You can either wait to post the truth or you can just list it at the bottom of your post. If you read these posts on facebook, feel free to post your comment on facebook.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I may have frostbite

I didn't actually get frostbite, but the next best thing; chilblains.  I haven't actually been diagnosed by a doctor, however.  This is the short and long of it.

I have been teaching in a classroom, that has recently been converted from storage facility to classroom.  The insulation is SEVERELY lacking.  Basically, I don't take off my coat, hat, gloves for the three hours of teaching time in the morning because the heater doesn't have enough power to keep the room warm when the walls can't do the job of keeping the heat from escaping.  Plain and simple, my classroom is freezing.  It takes me back to our time in Chile and zero heating.  Not pleasant memories.  After a few days of teaching in these conditions, one evening my my right foot began to swell.  Not the entire foot, just two toes.  The foot became fire engine red to the point that all people in the room were concerned that it might burst into flames at any moment.  I removed my toe ring as it was quite uncomfortable on my incredibly sensitive and swelling toe.  It was sensitive to the touch, like it had been bruised, but I had done nothing to cause it to be bruised.  The next day, I showed it to one of my new British coworkers who diagnosed it as chilblains.  "They're basically the first step in frostbite.  Not frostbite exactly but if you don't take care of it, that's where it's headed.  I've had them in the past, and thats basically what they looked like.  Keep them warm!"
First thing I did when I got home was look it up. On wikipedia the picture of the foot, was exactly what my foot looked like (except my feet are never white).  I treated them or tortured them depending on who if you asked, my feet or me, with hot water baths.  It sounds rather like a lovely idea, but even luke warm water felt like boiling water on my stubborn non-circulating feet. They've healed at this point, so I'm not going to waste my time going to the doctor, but at least I feel a little more justified in my constant whining when it comes to cold.  If I get nothing else from this experience, at least I wont be considered such an obnoxious baby now :) (or maybe I will)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Enthusiastic about English

One part of the job that I find dreadfully monotonous is called "immigration."  Because our school is a camp, the youngsters (or adults, depending on the program) are first taken to the gym to be given an orientation that all but 3 students talk through without listening to a word.  Always a great sign that the students will be attentive, although, the orientation is completely dull.  After which the students are taken to their dormitories, followed by a trip to "the airport."  Yep, they go to the airport.  It's not a real airport. That would be amazing, but instead they are taken to the room which is setup to look like the immigration desks when one flies internationally.  They are going through immigration as a symbol that they are officially leaving Korea and entering into an English only school.  But of course, the first words they hear after "immigration" are in Korean, so it doesn't really make the magic in the room stick.  The kids are typically terrified.  They stare at us as if we are aliens, trembling in their school uniform booties afraid we might get hungry and start to eat them.  We ask simple questions, "how are you?" "What's your name?" "Whats your favorite sport?" etc.  Generally its a struggle and I forget what questions I've already asked and what question I asked them 5 minutes ago when we both spaced out, she because she didn't know the answer and she has been pretending to be thinking about it rather than saying I don't know, and me because I have asked this set of questions about thirty times already in last half hour.

One student yesterday surprised me however yesterday.  Her English was a much higher level than the others and she was excited when answering the questions.  So excited in fact, she didn't want our little interview to end. Instead of walking away when I had finished, she began to examine me. 
Me: "What do you do for fun?"
Student: "I play my favorite computer game."
"Whats your favorite computer game?"
"Starbell" (or something like that.  I didn't really understand and I didn't really want to know)
"Great!" I said feigning interest.
"Teacher, what is your favorite computer game?"
(Stunned....What, she's asking me a question?) "uhh.. I don't like computer games."
(she stares at me like I'm an alien.  Everyone loves computer games!")
I continue- "but my husband plays World of Warcraft."
"What's that teacher?"
"It's a fantasy game."
(she stares at me again)
I continue, "it has elves and things in it."
"What are elves?"
"you know, those magic people with pointy ears."
"you mean aliens?"
"Yes, yes, aliens, that's exactly what I mean." I lie.  I don't think I can explain a game I never play, nor explain an elf from an alien right now.  "Have a great day!" I say pushing her along.

So, I'm not a perfect teacher, as you can see, but at least I have a story from it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Writers block

Sometimes writing scares me.  When I write, I want to create a work of art.  I want to paint pictures in the minds of my readers. I want to use words like a samurai uses a sword.  I yearn for my sentences to jump off the page, do somersaults through the air with a stream of rainbow following behind it's every action like a jet stream.  My goal is for the words to be a powerful wand and work magic, set off fireworks, open locked doors, stun and move people to tears.  I want people to try and grab the sentence off the page to tuck in their pocket to remember always.

But my words don't always work for me.  They defy me rather than obey. Writing is not  something that comes naturally to me.  Words don't flow through my finger tips like they do some writers, but instead slide like uncontrolled cars on a hill of ice.  They slip wildly, unbounded and without the use of brakes they crash into the nearest lamppost.  But before they can even get out of their vehicle to review the damages, another vehicle, a truck looses control down the slippery slope.  And in this way, I write, crash, slam, crunch. Sometimes what comes out is decent, even beautiful. But so much of the time, it is dribble.  I might as well have used the saliva dribbling out of a babbling, teething baby's mouth for the good my words have done me.

And for that reason I sometimes get writers block. I sit in front of the computer glaring at it menacingly hoping that my stare alone will allow it to yield something magnificent.  But unfortunately my eyes don't type, and my computer only sits their passively unresponsive.  I've been working on a personal writing project for a few years now, but my progress has been slow.  Snail speed even.  No, a snail stuck in molasses speed is more accurate. But this year, along with studying for the GRE, taking the GRE, applying for grad schools, running a half.marathon, I also want to finish this project.  I'm actually feeling quite overwhelmed.  I feel like my list is out of control, but I guess most people feel that way. So I am making a resolution, and I'm sad to say that this resolution pains me, but I plan to blog less, for a little while at least.  Kyle says that he will try harder to blog more frequently to pick up my slack so that I can prioritize what I need to concentrate on, but he doesn't enjoy it like I do.  He doesn't have a constant need to write and express his thoughts on a public sphere.  Let's face it, hes a boy.  So the more encouragement you send his way (because that is how he is motivated) the more likely he will be to keep up the blog.  I will still be writing, but often times when I really should be prioritizing my personal writing, I choose to blog.  Blogging is simpler.  It's an outlet where I can blab nonsensically and still be heard and appreciated.  It's much less intimidating. My words don't always have to be magic.  Dribble is perfectly acceptable in the blogging world.  But I resolve to not allow my blogging be an excuse.  I have to finish what I've started and I am determined to finish it this year.

Does anyone else find writing and saying aloud your resolutions difficult?  If they are said out loud then others will know and ask about them.  I run the risk of being held accountable. Commitment is scary.  And failure is always right around the corner making faces at you in that immature way that one can't resist responding in an equally childlike fashion.

This post is not goodbye, not in the least.  It's just a "I'm keeping you in the loop, and hope you'll understand" post.  Thank you for understanding.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It'll take a miracle get it all done.  Blog posts that is.  I don't know if you noticed a few posts back but the videos of the Philippines I posted on Youtube were removed for copyright material.  Songs.  I used commercial songs.  And because my account was flagged most of my videos were removed.  That means that someone has the great fun job of going back through those videos, uploading new songs, and reposting! Yippee!  Who knows how long THAT will take me.

 Plus.. you may not have noticed but I never finished my Philippines posts.  Yep.  We went on that vacation in September.  WAY BEHIND. 

There are a few others including a post a video from JULY that never made it up.

So hang tight, hopefully by next New Years, we will have fully updated, but not likely :)

Well, it's official, we are back in South Korea.  While we waited for our ride to come we sat and watched a Korean's women basketball game, and I found myself smiling.  I had missed the silly Korean commercials.  Even though I can't understand one word they entertain me.

As we drove down the crowded highway, passing the neon red crosses and clusters of concrete clusters of apartment buildings I realized I was glad to be back.  I'm grateful to have an income and although it wasn't exactly what I had wanted, to re-sign at our school, it was wonderful seeing familiar faces.

The flight was uneventful. We were at the San Antonio airport checking in at 6am in the morning and arrived at our apartment in Seoul a complete 24 hours later.  We're tired.

Before we left however we got some haircuts.  I had planned on cutting it for locks of love.  I even cut off the designated amount, but they have stopped accepting highlighted hair.  So now I have ten inches of hair if anyone wants it, and a new do.  Kyle chopped his hair as well.  He had enough for locks of love, but we didn't think about that until after.

And as this is a post of randomness I will mention one last thing.  Before we left Kyle and I made the time to go on a date to The Vineyard, the place we got married.  As we were leaving we noticed a flyer with a familiar face.  My FACE! As we looked around some more, we found two more photos, one 8x10 and a poster sized of the same picture.  It was never my favorite my picture.  I mean, I like it, and I think I understand why they like it.  I look happy.  I am a VERY happy bride.  But it doesn't really show much of their facilities.  Either way, I'm famous!  It's great.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's gone by too quickly

We leave for Korea on Sunday.  How could it have been a month already.  It has literally flown by.  I felt as if we have been riding the wings of a soaring pegasus touching down only for sleep.  I can't describe how wonderful it has been catching up with loved ones.  Some of whom we hadn't seen for a year, while others as long as ten years.  When did time get so emboldened as to speed past it's allotted speed limit.  When did it join Nascar and blaze by so quickly that a fast shuttered camera can only catch a blur.

On one hand, there are days when I can't wait for the day to spin past me in a whir so blurred that it will only be remembered as spinning funnel within my mind. But when a year has gone by or ten and I could have sworn I only just started high school yesterday, I start to wonder what kind of magic time machine life is?  How did I get here?  How is it that so much has happened in my life?  I was there.  I loved every minute of it.  Well... let's be honest, not every minute.  But definitely a majority.  I want time to stop.  I want to remember the moments and hold them in my heart and keep them still. But in the same thought, I want it to keep chugging.  I want to see where the next funnel we are engulfed into, spits us out next. Where are Kyle and Vanessa now?

How does one keep time from moving and yet continue to explore and live? How can I stay in my twenties, be creative and spunky and yet be a grandmother?  How can I keep the older generation, my parents, my grandmother, my aunts and uncles from aging and passing on, while still moving through time?  What do I even want here?  I want everything to stay the same, and yet change at the same time.

The bottom line is I'm happy.  Life has been so good to us.  But you know what?  It wouldn't matter how many countries we've visited, nor how many adventures we have been on had it not been for people like you.  People who remain in our lives.  People who love us and support us.  It's the people who matter.  It's the love that we are so generously given that really makes me happy.  We go back to Korea in just a few days and I am inwardly conflicted.  We enjoy being abroad, saving money and living adventurously, but we will miss everyone here. So thank you.  Thank you everyone.  Every kind word, every show of support, whether we are home or abroad, thank you. 

Thursday, January 06, 2011

We've been busy

 After Hawaii... which we will talk about later in more detail, we landed in Texas Christmas Day and hit the ground running.

First we had to wrap TONS of gifts, which were then opened only a few hours later!

I gave my grandmother an adjuma (Korean old lady) hat for walking and protecting her skin from the sun.  I think she liked it. :)

We took silly pictures.

My family posing for the camera 

Then we got to see long lost friends.  Well, not long lost, but our best friends we haven't seen in over a year :(

And I met the cutest kid ever, baby John.  And just because I'm his assistant auntie doesn't mean I'm biased.

He really liked my reindeer house shoes. He kept trying to eat the bells off them.  If you want to read more tales about baby John, you can visit him over at their blog.

We then traveled to Houston to have fun with the Rogers family on New Years Eve.  We had a silly string fight.  It was fun.

And we shot off fireworks.  One of them didn't really fire as it was designed.  It burst out of the tube and shot out low to the ground.  It was actually pretty scary but thankfully no one was hurt.
We've been having fun and staying busy.  Hope your holidays were as lovely as ours!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy New Years

We are in Houston now visiting with more family and friends. New Years day Kyle and I found a Shel Silverstein book and as we were getting ready for bed, curled under the covers to reminisce in "Where the sidewalk ends."  (In our theater class we did a rendition of several of the poems from this book while in high school and we have comforting memories from them)  We came across "Listen to the Mustn't" and I felt it was a perfect poem to start the New Year with.  What do you take away from this poem?

"Listen to the MUSTN'T, child,

Listen to the DON'Ts

Listen to the SHOULDN'Ts


the WON'Ts

Listen to the NEVER HAVEs

Then listen close to me--

Anything can happen, child,

ANYTHING can be."

Shel Silverstein