Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Update on Anna’s Post-Surgery Progress

Anna returned home last Wednesday (16 January). She’s feeling pretty good. She complains more about the itching than the pain. Anna did have to return to the hospital on Friday (18 January) because the needle that the doctors had put under her arm to collect the seroma fluid fell out. Seroma is a fluid that collects in the areas where the lymph nodes have been removed. Removal of this fluid is done for the patients comfort.

While at the hospital I also went to see a doctor about the pain I’ve had in my right elbow since July. I’ve been putting it off, because of Anna. The diagnosis is tennis elbow. Recommended treatment: Don’t use your right arm. Easier said than done; however, I’m currently wearing a brace which helps to remind me not to use my right hand/arm as much as I used to. Sadly, the doctor would like me not to use the computer for the next two months. I just smiled and said, “Sure.” Obviously with the all the writing I have to do this winter break, not using the computer is simply not an option.

Anna returned to the hospital this morning to hear the result of the lab analysis of the tissue removed during her surgery. The lab analysis found that five of the lymph nodes that doctors removed had cancer the others did not. So metastasis was fairly wide spread. Reduction on the main tumor because of the initial chemo was extremely significant. (There was a cluster of about nine smaller nodules). Before the initial chemo treatment Anna’s main tumor was nearly 5 cm in diameter. After the initial chemo, it was reduced to 1.2 cm. This bodes well for the effectiveness of her post-surgery chemo. The chemo regiment that her doctors have been using has obviously been quite effective on Anna’s cancer.

Anna’s next chemo session is next Thursday (24 January). Sadly, the hair that has been starting to grow back will once again disappear. She will have another three sessions and then her doctors will again re-assess the situations in terms of blood toxicity. As before, I suspect that Dr. Lee will push her to the edge of her endurance.

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Surgery Update

Anna’s surgery was a success, and here’s how it went:

This morning, I got a text message from the hospital at 7:59 am which informed that Anna had gone into surgery. The actual message said:

노지숙님 수술 시작합니다. 최선을 다하겠습니다.

This roughly translates as:

Roh Jisook’s surgery has started. We will do her well.

If the latter part of the message seems a bit creepy, blame the translator. I’m sure it’s an idiomatic expression and the meaning that it conveys is completely different from what the message seems to suggest in English (or at least I hope so!)

I was already awake and having a cup of coffee when the message arrived. BoA and Noah were still sleeping. I woke them about 30 minutes later after I had showered. I fed them breakfast and then we got ready to go to the hospital.

Around one in the morning, (I guess she couldn’t sleep) Anna sent a long text message that consisted of an itemized list of what she wanted us to bring. BoA and I did our best to find the requested items such as a hot pack, mandarin oranges, and a pillow.

We started off to the hospital around 10 and arrived by 11. Anna told us to go to the surgical theater on the third floor. When we got there we quickly learned that there were 3 surgical theaters on the third floor each with multiple operating rooms. After scouting around we not only located Anna’s surgical theater and her name promptly displayed on a TV screen but we also ran into a couple of Anna’s friends, 젤뚜루다 and 경아.  젤뚜루다 is a women who we originally met in Samcheok on the East Sea;  Samcheok is the place we’ve gone every summer since 2004 but we did not go this summer because of Anna’s breast cancer, so젤뚜루다 came to see Anna.  경아 is someone we have known since 2005 when we used to live at Woobang Apt.

At 12:50 pm I received another text message this one saying that Anna’s surgery was finished. The TV screen was updated a few minutes later. I kind of liked the fact that my phone got a message before the TV was updated.

Anna, however, wasn’t wheeled out of the operating theater for another 45 minutes, because they took her to a recovery area where they could observe her until the  anesthesia wore off.

Then at 1:35 pm Anna was wheeled out and when I asked her how she felt, she smiled and said, “I feel good! It doesn’t even feel like I got surgery!” Her eyes were completely dilated, she wore a big shining smile, her words were also a bit slurred and she giggled. (Anna doesn’t giggle).

I looked at her and I said, “I bet you do. The drugs they got you on would make anything feel wonderful.”

We followed the nurse and the attendant up to Anna’s room on the sixth floor (room 77 for those of you keeping score at home) and stuck around for about an hour. That’s when the nurse kind of shooed us off. We were actually getting ready to leave anyway, because I didn’t want Noah to miss his Taekwondo class. He’s been acting up lately, so I’d like to disrupt his schedule as little as possible while Anna is in the hospital.

Here are a couple of pictures. Anna after the surgery:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noah getting ready for Taekwondo:

 

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Chapter 95: The Cassock or “Moby’s Dick”

Today I decided to go through a bunch of half written post. Mostly I ended up trashing them because they were time bound thoughts, but here’s one that kind of stands on its own timeless merits. After all, who hasn’t gotten kicked out of Mrs. Lunt’s English class for deeply probing the meaning of a novel! I know I got kicked out of her classes at least twice. Once for asking if Arthur Dimmesdale was masturbating in a closet and again for this lovely quote from Moby Dick:

“…and had you strolled forward nigh the windlass, pretty sure am I that you would have scanned with no small curiosity a very strange, enigmatical object, which you would have seen there, lying along lengthwise in the lee scuppers…that unaccountable cone,—longer than a Kentuckian is tall, nigh a foot in diameter at the base, and jet-black…”

My question to Mrs. Lunt: ” Did the Mincer put the whale’s penis on like a condom before he began chopping up the blubber?”

I can’t exactly remember her answer, but I know I somehow ended up in the principal’s office.

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

End of November Update

Friday, Novenber 30th

Anna is in the hospital for her last Chemo treatment before her surgery. She has now completed two cycles of Chemo. She was supposed to go in yesterday for her treatment, but she wasn’t feeling well, so she gave herself an extra day. She will be released from the hospital either Saturday evening or Sunday morning.

After her release she will have two weeks to recover and then she will do another round of tests to ascertain the effectiveness of current treatments. The following week (December 17-21), is the week her doctor believes he will schedule her for surgery. I’m hoping her surgery happens closer to the 17th rather than the 21st, so that we will be able to have Christmas with her in her hospital room.

In other news, Noah completed her first week at a new Taekwondo school. He seems to be enjoying it. He tried to do Taekwondo this summer, but he just wasn’t ready. Oh, he wanted to do it, but he just couldn’t sit, wait and listen long enough to be able to learn what the sabunim (master) was teaching. He’s doing better now. He’s better able to control his impulses and to listen and follow along.

Noah uses the “school dollars” to buy items at the school store. 17 November, 2012

On Saturday the 17th of November, Noah had an open-house at his daycare. The open-house was organized around  five different situations: school store, school restaurant, performance, robotics workshop, and sports competition. During the performance, Noah and his classmates performed an English song about brushing their teeth.  The costums they had the kids wear are clownishly funny. Sadly, Anna missed this performance because she was again in the hospital receiving Chemo, but BoA and I both shot video.

Here’s the video I took of his performance. (Quality warning – this is a video taken on a smart phone, so don’t be expecting Disney like sound and special affects. However, google/youtube were very kind. They informed me that they had detected some unsteadiness in my video and they could run an anti-shaking logarithm on the video I uploaded. I agreed, so it shouldn’t be too bad, or so we hope.)

BoA has a video of me doing a tug-of-war against some of the other parents. It’s me and two other mothers against a father and these two other mothers. We smoke them, and it kind of funny how serious the women that I’m teamed up with are. They insist that I take off my socks so that I’d have better traction on the linoleum floor. Unfortunately I can’t seem to get the video off BoA’s phone, I keep getting some error message saying that the device is not connected to my computer. I will try to find a micro SD card and save the video to the  card, then transfer it to my computer so I can upload it to youtube.

Grr. I suspect, Andy took all the spare micro SD cards for his Nintendo DS. Don’t worry. I’ll figure something out; just check back for an update.

Friday, November 30th, 2012

A Dream Remembered

November 30th, 2012

I don’t remember my dreams very often, but when I do I am always a little disconcerted by the movement or sequence of the dream. One doesn’t travel in a dream so much as one finds oneself in juxtaposition to something, someone, or someplace else.

Dudley Cooperative

The memory of this particular dream begins interestingly enough on Massachusetts Ave in Boston. I am standing on the sidewalk and looking towards the Sacramento Street entrance to the Dudley Cooperative. Next I see a tiger walking out of the Agassiz School. Now I realize that it is impossible to actually look from the corner of Massachusetts Ave and Sacramento Street to the entrance of the Agassiz School on Oxford Street, but like I said above one doesn’t so much travel in a dream as experience sudden juxtapositions.

 I watch and/or follow the tiger to the entrance of the Dudley Cooperative. I go inside but instead of standing to the right of “The Den of Inequity” with Jay Hodos and Lisa Bromer playing bridge, I’m in what looks like the kitchen of my house on 1007 E. 15th Street in Austin, Texas. This doesn’t bother me because I know I’m still in the Dudley Cooperative, what does bother me, however, is that I see David Leaper in a T-shirt and plaid flannel boxer shorts (Yes, I dream in color) putting magnetized words into rows on my refrigerator. I start to say “What…” (as in WTF are you doing here), but he doesn’t let me finish. He looks at me and says, “I’m counting words.”

 

I thought dreams were supposed to be subtle and symbolic, but that was anything but subtle. Of course, it now makes me want to ask: “So, Dave, did you discover a curious bulge around the 8k band while counting words on my refrigerator in your boxer shorts?” Sadly the tiger was still on the move, so there was no time to ask such penetrating questions.

From the kitchen in Austin which is still somehow inside the Dudley Cooperative, I then follow the tiger into the yard behind the cooperative building on Massachusetts Ave. We/I cut through the yard and onto Sacramento Field where Paul Massari is playing Whiffle ball with my son, Andy (승현). Sacramento Field is slightly different from how I remember it. First there are no basketball courts, but instead there is a section of the Green Monster from Fenway Park. Also instead of some scruffy grass in the field beyond the basketball court, there is now a professionally groomed baseball diamond.

The scruffy grass of Sacramento field in Cambridge, MA

Although this bothers me now, it seemed quite appropriate at the time. I’m bothered by this because I don’t understand what the dream is trying to tell me. The basketball court at Sacramento Field is actually a fairly traumatic place for me since it is where I shattered my wrist, so why would my subconscious just up and move them? What is so symbolically important about the Green Monster? Why the professionally groomed field instead of the scruffy grass? And why am I following this bloody tiger?

To Paul and Andy: “So who won the Whiffle Ball game?”

Both Paul and Andy want me to stop and play, but I continue to follow the tiger from Sacramento Field in Cambridge, MA to 711 S. Henderson Street in Bloomington, Indiana. Suddenly I’m in my basement bedroom and Heather is there. She wants me to go to Chicago with her, but I know I shouldn’t go, but I end up in her white Subaru 900 turbo anyway and we’re driving through the bleak autumn landscape which is rural Indiana. Then the scene changes I see the tiger heading into a Taco Bell. I get out of the car, but it’s no longer a white Subaru 900 Turbo, but a Chrysler La Baron Convertible.  Robyn walks out of the Taco Bell with a to-go-bag and says it’s my turn to drive. I point to the Taco Bell and go inside.

I’m not a guy who’s really into cars, so why are they so memorable in this dream? I can clearly see the two cars in my mind’s eye, yet I haven’t thought of them in years. Also, why is the memory of not wanting to go to Chicago with Heather but going anyway so strong? This dream is filled with various places that I have been, but only Chicago feels wrong. Why does Heather morph into Robyn? What’s so significant about Taco Bell?

The scene changes and I’m clearly in a high-rise apartment building in Ilsan, South Korea and looking through the sliding-glass door of the veranda over a massive construction site (obviously Ilsan circa 1997) and “Song for Whoever” by the Beautiful South is playing. I knew Elise must be home, but I see the tiger crossing the bridge over the tracks of the Gyeongeui Line (경의선) near Ilsan Station and I’m suddenly standing on the bridge and then my alarm goes off… It’s 6:30 am.

Why the juxtaposition of Taco Bell and Ilsan Korea? Why no visual appearance of Elise, but only a suggestion of her through the music that is playing? Why “Song for Whoever?” And what’s up with this tiger? I suppose, if the dream is being obvious and not very subtle than the tiger must be a symbol representing Korea, Asia, or my life as it is right now, but my gut feeling is that’s not what it means. I live here; this is my life, so why would I need to follow it?

It’s not like I am following it because I feel lost. I don’t feel lost; not ever. In fact I always know exactly where I am. I remember the “where” of this dream very strongly but not what I am doing. Surprisingly, since everything else seems so vivid and clear, my actions seem very fuzzy; that is, the only clear thing I remember doing is following the tiger and moving from one juxtaposition of place and/or people to another.

Thoughts or comments would be appreciated.

 

Friday, November 30th, 2012

What’s going on

Yesterday was my birthday. It was also VJ-Day or as they call it in Korea: “Liberation Day.” To everyone who sent me birthday wishes via facebook and/or email, “Thank you. I really appreciate it. I’m a youthful 29 with 16 years of experience!

This was a photo I took from the ridge above the beach in 2010. We usually stay to the southern part of the beach because the northern end of the beach has a pretty strong rip tide.

This will be the first time since 2004 that we won’t be at the beach for my birthday. We usually go to Yonghwa Beach in Samcheok. Of course, there is a very good reason for this. Anna, my wife, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. We ended up celebrating my birthday in the hospital. We had the cake and the candles, Noah serenande’d me with the Birthday song, but we couldn’t lite the candles because a women next to us was on oxygen.

Anna discovered the lump about month ago. It must have been around the 16th of July. She, of course, showed it to me and I told to get it checked out. So, she went to a local clinic that gives mammograms for free. They confirmed that the lump looked suspicious and urged her to see a specialist at a local hospital. Anna scheduled an appointment at a local hospital and went to see the doctor. He determined that Anna needed a biopsy. Anna had the biopsy on July 23rd and we got the results back on July 30th.

The biopsy confirmed that Anna has an invasive ductal carcinoma, histologic grade 2/3, nuclear grade 2/3 and a metastatic carcinoma in the lymph node in her under arm. The good news is that most breast cancers are invasive ductal carcinomas, so it is treatable. With cancer, however, it is always better to catch it before it metastasizes and this is why Anna had the bone scan and full body PET/CT done. Both of those came back clean.

We went to get a second opinion from an American-trained doctor in Hannam-dong. Hannam-dong is near the UN Village and many of the Ambassadorial residences, so he is well known for handling breast cancer cases among the foreign-service community here in Seoul.

Doctor Lee, the doctor who is well known in the Ambassadorial community, had Anna do additional tests and he determined that Anna has late stage 3 breast cancer. The initial mass is over 5cm and it has metastasized to the lymph system. The spreading of the cancer into the lymph system is fairly advanced, so the doctor recommended that Anna begin chemo immediately.

Although the spread of the cancer is isolated to the lymph system, the doctor wants to treat this aggressively, hence the immediate chemo. There are several benefits to having chemo before surgery. First it may help shrink the tumor so less of the breast needs to be taken, although the doctor will probably recommend that Anna have the whole breast removed, just to be safe. Second it immediately starts the process of dealing with the metastasized cells. With cancer, it’s the spreading that is more serious than the initial tumor.

Anna started her chemo therapy last week. The chemo has really kicked Anna’s butt. It has sapped all her energy and has done quite a number on her stomach. She hasn’t vomited that often, but she has felt pretty nauseous.

Anna will receive six chemo treatments over the next six weeks. After this initial treatment, the doctor will re-assess the situation; however, the most likely outcome will be surgery to remove what remains of the initial cancerous mass sometime in October. After surgery, the doctor will again assess the situation. He will either recommend additional chemo or radiological treatment to clean up whatever cancerous materials remain.

Obviously this second assessment of Anna’s situation is more severe than the initial assessment. The doctor suspects that poor calibration of initial chest MRI and PET/CT scans generated poor data. And it is the data from which a doctor makes his/her diagnosis.

Anna returned to the hospital on the 14th of August for a blood test and the doctor has decided to keep her overnight for observation. Anna was kept for several reason. First her white blood cell count had dropped dramatically, second her nausea was worse than the doctor anticipated and she has lost 4 kg in one week of chemo. We visited Anna yesterday and they were pumping her full of both clear and colored liquids.  It was a veritable rainbow of fluids.

BoA returned from her trip to Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia the night Anna returned to the hospital. Anna’s unexpected hospitalization resulted in me being unable to go get BoA at the airport.  I had to stay with Noah. Luckily, because her school group arrived late,  her teachers had planned to stay in a hotel near the airport, so BoA was able to stay with them and then she took public transit  home the next morning.

Our phone conversation must have been pretty shocking.

BoA: “Daddy where are you?”
Me: “I’m at home.”
BoA: “Didn’t you know I was arriving today?”
Me: “Yes, but I thought Anna had Kakoa Talked your teachers.”
BoA: “Why?”
Me: “Mommy is in the hospital and I have to stay with Noah.”
BoA: “Why?”
Me: “Mommy has cancer.”
BoA: <fast and short breathes>
Me: “She’s OK, but the doctor wants to watch her.”
BoA: “Wait. I’ll call back.”

We decided to wait and tell her about Anna’s diagnosis when she got back from her trip, but we hadn’t intended that we would end up telling her over the phone as soon as she stepped off the plane.  She was aware that Anna had a biopsy, because she went with Anna to the hospital that day, but she left before we got the results back.

We’ll be heading back to the hospital again today. Anna probably won’t be released until her white cell count ticks back up enough so that she no longer at risk of infection.

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

The Housing Situation in Korea: The 2010 Update

For Anna living with her mother is hell on earth. We have invited Anna’s mother into our home on several occasions, and it doesn’t take very long before the two of them are snipping at each other.

This is especially true now. As Anna has gotten older she has realized that much of what she had blamed her father for doing to the family was in many ways enabled by her mother, so anger that used to be only directed at her father is now finding itself directed at her mother.

Unfortunately for everyone involved there aren’t that many choices available for us in terms of where Anna’s mother can live. She is not well enough to live on her own. The hospice care which the government provides is only available for four hours a day and 20 hours a week and Anna’s mother needs more supervision than that.

One option would be to put Anna’s brother, Anna’s father and Anna’s mother all in one place together along with the hospice care workers 20 hours a week. The major problem with this solution is that Anna’s mother and Anna’s father hate each other. Anna’s father has never really forgiven his wife for putting him under house arrest for ten years with the Sacred Heart nuns. (Obviously this is something I will need to elaborate on in more detail at a later date).

Anna, however, is leaning towards this option because it would force her brother to take some responsibility; something he is loathe to do. This would allow us to live in one apartment and Anna’s mother, father, and brother to live in the other. The problem is that we need to be out of Jangmonim’s APT by march 1oth and out of our current APT by August 1st. We have the option to buy the apartment we are currently in, but it would cost us $230,000 and that is more than we believe it is currently worth.

Anna looked at a house that is for rent in our neighborhood. She said it was spacious; two bathrooms, a utility room or second kitchen, a real kitchen, a large living room, four bedrooms and a small study. All we need to do is come up with the key money (or deposit). No monthly rent would be involved; however the key money or deposit is $120,000. Sadly we don’t have $120,000 in cash stashed away in our mattresses. We do have about $70,000 tied up in deposit money in the two apartments we are currently renting, so we would need to borrow $50,000 to come up with the key money we would need.

The positive aspect to this is that we would save approximately $800 a month, even after accounting for about $200 a month to service the debt, in rent and maintenance fees between the two apartments, the disadvantage is that it would take all our current cash and then some to get the place which would leave us no money to get a second place for Anna’s mother, father and brother in August.

Personally, I feel that we should go for it. Anna’s mother, father and brother have really become dependent on us; especially Anna’s brother. I think we should take the house. We can stick Anna’s mother, father and brother in the APT we are currently in, use the 60,000 in deposit money we have tied up in Jangmonim’s Apt and another 60,000 we would borrow from bank to get the house. Then bank the extra cash we would save each month so we can pay off the loan in 5 years or 6 years.

Of course Anna’s mother, father and brother would be facing an August deadline to figure out what they are going to do. The path of least resistance for them would to be use the land they’ve been fighting about to either get a loan or sell it so that they can  buy the APT. Knowing Anna’s family they would of course wait until the absolute last minute to make their decision, but in this case this might  actually be a good thing. There is a huge glut of APTs for sale in Korea at the moment, so by August the asking price for this APT should be significantly lower than it is now; thus making it an appropriate investment for Anna’s family.

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Off to Thai TESOL

I leave tomorrow for Thailand, and I’m feeling pretty good.

My PowerPoint Presentation is finished, but I may polish a slide or two before the actual song-and-dance. My handouts are photocopied and packed. I still need to get my poster markers for the workshop part of my presentation, but I texted Anna and she said she would pick them up as she swings by E-Mart. I will find the poster paper I need in Thailand. I need at least one adventure before the conference to make it seem real. 

The paper itself is not complete, but I have basically done this workshop a hundred times with my teachers-in-training, so all I really don’t need a written paper to run the session. All I will need are some notes for the theoretical introduction and some more notes for the processing of the workshop. The workshop is where I apply the theory I explain in the introduction and the processing demonstrates how the theory was applied and implemented. I will then have the participants assess the effectiveness of the workshop and the goal that the workshop aimed to achieve themselves.

Here’s the invitation to the Thai TESOL reception (see below). Rumor has it that’s it’s going to be pretty swank, since they are celebrating the 30th year of the conference.

The conference is being held at the Twin Tower Hotel in Bangkok. Here is a link to an online site that has compiled reviews of the hotel and here is another link to an actual review. I will also be staying there. It looks to be an average place, so long as I  keep my expectation low I should be pretty happy. That shouldn’t be too hard, because I will be happy if it is equal to your typical Korean Love Motel. The hotel already has one thing going for it and thatis a pool; most Korean Love Motels don’t have an outdoor swimming pool (see below). So that is certainly a plus.

If my room has wifi, I will try to keep the blog updated. If the room lacks wifi, then you may have to wait intil February to hear me tell of my adventures in Bangkok.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

25 Random Things about me

Originally written in February of 2009

The first decade of the 21st Century has come and gone and I am still trying to catch up. Some of you may well remember that last year around this time the big fad on facebook was to post 25 random things about yourself. Here’s a NYT article to help jog your memory if you have forgotten. In the article she said a google search brought back 35,700 results. A comparable google search today gives you 56, 900, 000 results, so obviously at one time or another this must have been a big thing, and since I have never pretended to be stylish, here is my belated list.   

A quick reminder of the rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about yourself. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.

Disclaimer: I actually wrote this at 35,000 feet while I was on the plane between Boston and Detroit. I never had time to type it up until now. Although my memory is suspect – I am over forty after all – I seem to recall being tagged by a staggering number of people, but since the facebook news feed isn’t a permanent record, I have no way to verify this, so instead I am just going to stick it here on my blog.

So let us start….

1. Best first date: Skinny-dipping in Walden Pond

2. Worst breakfast I ever had was homemade French toast. My roommate substituted Worcestershire Sauce for vanilla in the batter.

3. I was on a school bus going home when Bucky F. Dent hit his homerun against the Red Sox in 1978. The school bus driver, Walter P., stopped the bus, stepped out onto the side of the road, and shouted: “God damn f****** Yankees!” I was naïve in elementary school. It took me almost a year for me to learn what f****** meant.

4. Once upon-a-time I was a mall rat. My best arcade style video game was Tempest. My high score +200K circa 1982.

5. Queerest night: Getting drunk with the gay Baron in Prospect Park in Providence, RI. We spent the night discussing the definition of love.

6. I can eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I drink more coffee than any other beverage.

7. Raciest urban moment: I was chased by a Puerto Rican brother and his four friends after I had stopped to check out his sister and her friends playing in a fire hydrant. But seriously, she didn’t look like she was twelve-years old. The white T-shirt,for all intent and purposes, exposed her maturation.

8. Damelion was the name of my greatest Dungeon and Dragons character.

9. January 1st, 1981 my house burnt down. We were saved by our dog and everyone got out alive except for the cat. On January 1st, 1998 I found 200,000 won in an ATM machine in Seoul, South Korea, but 1998 doesn’t make up for 1981 in my karma accounting book.

10. Cats and dogs really do have inter-species problems.

11. In a rational world, war would never be a solution to a problem.

12. I don’t miss high school, but I do miss those Wednesday ski trips to Attitash and/or Wildcat.

13. My fist live 21+ show was X live (as opposed to dead) at the Paradise in Boston circa 1983.

14. My last live show, excluding the EV Boyz, was Elvis Costello in Providence, RI circa 2003.

15. I don’t get out much.

16. In high school, parental intervention can be defined as your girlfriend’s mother walking in on you while you are doing the wild thing.

17. Worst first date:  The blind date I agreed to go on in Korea. I spent the better part of the afternoon and some of the evening listening to the woman go on ad nauseum about how important money was to her. I suppose this shouldn’t have surprised me based on how materialistic South Korean have become especailly in terms of marriage and courtship. I  should have had the sense to never agree to this blind date, but I was curious. I was a writing teacher at the time and I had read numereous descriptions of blind dates. Sadly the banal descriptive assignements I read in my writing class were much better than the actual experience. Sometime living life vicariously is better.   

18. When I was student teaching in Austin, Texas, I once went through a whole lesson with my fly down. Tamika, what one might call a precocious student, informed me that she prefers men who wear boxers. I shrugged it off, until moments later I looked down a realized…I wear boxers and my fly is open!

19. Some say it pays to advertise, but in the wrong circumstance it could get you a year in jail or $25,000 fine.

20. Some of the most dysfunctional westerners I have every met live and work in Asia. Ask me about my trip to Vietnam some time is you want details.

21. I will never get a tattoo. I hate needles. Seriously, they make my heart palpitate and I begin to perspire at an alarming rate.

22. After the selection of George Bush in 2000, I purposely refused to file taxes. Instead I called the IRS to report that I would be participating in civil disobedience; however, with the election of Obama and his promise to close Gitmo and his strong stance against torture, I had the wonderful experience of doing eight years of back taxes. While I was toiling way to bring myself up-to-date, I wondered: “Was I really protesting or was I participating in Slacktivism?”

23. Biggest regret: Not going to New York University.

24. For the most part, I don’t miss living in the states, but I do miss frappes from “The Ice House.”

iceh3

25. Being a child is easier than raising a child.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Largest Snowfall Since I Arrived In Korea

I woke up yesterday morning and for a moment I thought I was back home in New England during a Northeaster, because when I looked out my sliding glass window and into the garden/patio, I experienced nearly white out conditions. I could make out the browning stems of the long dead marigolds, but not much else. Here’s the local news story if you’re interested.

I shrugged the moment of nostalgia off. I figured the snow would let up in an hour or so, because that’s what snow does in Korea. It comes and then it goes. The Seoul Metropolitan area is, after all, in the same latitude as Washington, DC and Northern Virginia.

With the snow banished from my thoughts, I went to the coffee pot and poured myself a cup of coffee and then I went to my computer and sat down to go through the usual morning routine:

  1. emails
  2. news
  3. facebook

On facebook I wrote: It’s Monday morning and I’m not working. OMG I’m on vacation! What will I do?

The answer to that questions came later that afternoon when through the apartment complex PA system came a request for help. “Please, shovel snow so emergency vehicles can get in.”

I spent four hours shoveling snow, because our apartment complex doesn’t have a plow and our maintenance workers are all over 65. I’m about 90% sure that the “emergency vehicles” that management suspected they would need were going to be for their maintenance workers. Even though the snow was light and fluffy, there was a lot of it and there are 24 five-story buildings in our complex. (See picture below). The retirees who oversee the security and maintenance do a great job under normal circumstances, but these weren’t normal circumstances.

 apartment
In the images (above and below) our apartment is thumb-tacked. According to “google earth,” we are exactly 1.55 miles from the boarder with North Korea. The Yellow line in the second picture is the boarder. The DMZ is everything between the yellow line and the highway we use to get to Seoul. Paju English Village, where I worked and lived from 2006 to the fall
of 2008, is the second yellow thumb-tack in the second picture labeled “EV.”
aprtment-dmz
Here are two more pictures from local news outlets (see below). Prior to this the most snow I had seen in Korea probably fell in December of 2000, about six inches of the stuff fell and I remember walking with Anna, who was six months pregnant, near old Seoul Station. We have a picture of it, but I can’t seem to find it. It’s not much to look at really. I was hoping to capture old Seoul Station in the background, but it was snowing hard enough and my 5 dollar Vietnamese camera optically challenged enough so it looks like Anna is standing in the middle of the North Pole with white snow in the fore and back ground, and light and dark grays making up most of the middle distance.

seoul-snow1seoul-snow2

With this post I hereby re-open this blog.

Paju
January 5, 2010

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010