Well things have been a bit hectic here the last couple weeks. Last Wednesday my manager pulled me into her office…and informed me that they were unable to book as many students for the kindergarten classes starting in March. The director was willing to be “generous” and offer a 3 month (unpaid) vacation back home starting in March until June and then come back as an afternoon teacher. “Isn’t that wonderful?” was the delivery. To say I was a little shocked would be an understatement. I just got back from one vacation, and my bank account reflected this. A 3 month limbo, even back home, is not really what I was looking for. If I had a lot of savings and didn’t mind burning it all a backpacking trip through Europe would be great but my current funds don’t really allow for such an expedition.

In many ways I have to reassure myself that coming over here and is not just taking a small detour in accomplishing the goals I have in life. I look forward to Masters school and starting my career back home and justify my time spent here as a great way to become a more well-rounded student and gain a larger perspective on the world. I do truly believe this. There is a small nagging voice in the back of my head that does sneak up from time to time and sel-criticisms of just procrastinating and enjoying the easy lifestyle that Korea offers ex-pat teachers is not the path right now. 3 months of coach surfing and spending all of my savings would be giving those self-doubts a little credence in my opinion.

Back in Bellingham I worked afternoon and evenings at UPS immediately after graduating. While having the day to myself was nice I remember that a lot of my time interacting with friends was later at night and most of the friends who socialize at these hours do so at bars over drinks. This is all fine when you are still riding that postgraduation high. I’m 26 now and trying to flex some of the maturity I will need to really accomplish the things I desire to do in my life and revisiting this lifestyle doesn’t have a huge appeal to me.

Plus, while many teachers I talk to don’t really like the kindergarten classes (especially other guys) these are the times when I get the most gratification from teaching. The physical energy you have to expend is quite a bit more with students at this age but the payoff is immense. The influence and admiration you gain with them and being able to see how rapidly you are affecting them in a positive manner is one of my favorite things about teaching.

I explained both these things to my bosses and a compromise was struck. I am going home early March and coming back near the end of April to start kindergarten classes in June. My director gave me a decent raise and is going to put me back on the payroll in May. I will be the most veteran foreign and morning teacher at this point and the second longest teacher at my school. I will also be the oldest one. Amazing how much can change in one year.

Enough about work, on to my impromptou trip back home. It took a little scrambling to figure out the logistics but I’m already anticipating my return home. Aroung March 9th I fly out from Incheon to Tucson, Arizona. My best friend is attending school there for his Masters and has Spring Break starting on the 10th. I have never really been to the Southwest and look forward to not only the adventures but the warm temperatures and cuisine of an Arizona Spring. After a week or two there I’m cruising over to LA to reconnect with some friends and family for about a week and then flying up to Seattle for the duration of April.

Sometimes you have to roll with the punches, such is life. I’ve got my gloves laced tight, a smile on my face and am ready for some epic adventure-filled rounds Stateside. Viva!

Up on the 17th floor of the Metropolitan tower…Great radio show. Might just be the first time “Annyong Geyseo” was uttered on Seattle’s corporate radio waves. Purely Epic. Headbanging, laughing and all in all a great time. Sounders tied but hanging with the hermano and great friends who own the airwaves was an outstanding time!

The view, the friends and the music. I will miss this vantage point.

  So I have been woefully inept in the last two weeks at updating my blog. House-sitting, going to shows and first Spring BBQ’s have been great distraction! As is typical in this beautiful Ecotopia I live in (Pacific Northwest) the sun has fled and rain is falling.We natives learn not to complain though, we wouldn’t have all the trees and verdant hills without the precipitation. My amiga Marcela always says blogging is easier in the winter, even though it’s not snowflakes falling I can see some merit in her argument.

  This second half of Compact Prepack deals with a more data driven side of my preparations for getting the heck out of Dodge. I’ve been making lists of what music I need to load onto my Ipod and what shows I need to burn onto DVD (Arrested Development, Pete and Pete, Portlandia and Archer at top of list) to take with me. Figure these will be great time killers while waiting for first paycheck and also keep any potential homesickness at bay. Plus in tracking down which friends will have what genres I can swoop from I’m killing two birds with one stone.

    In order to get all my freshest of dancehall and reggae needs I get to go visit Chuck Blendah out in the San Juan Islands. For blues scholars and other Seattle hip-hop I need to trek up to Snohomish County to visit Maximus then go even further up to Bellingham (right next to Canadian border) to visit Kevmeister at the lake house and download his indie and electronica. My hardcore and metal needs will be the easiest to get to in Capitol Hill at the Metalshop amigos pad, but since they are the Kings of Metal on the Seattle airwaves their library will be the hardest musical labyrinth to navigate. Props Kevin and Ian, I look forward to being on the show at least one more Saturday night!

 I love being a representative of the many native eclectic and epic music scenes/bands and can’t wait to show others what our city has to offer besides the often associated grunge scene. On that note here is one of the paragons of Seattle singer/songwriter savagery, Mr. Rocky Votalato. I’ve been a huge fan of his old band Waxwing and his performance in the indie film Edge of Quarrel (Hardcore vs. Metal take on Romeo and Juliet set in my homecity) was definite highlight of cinema back in my High School days. He finished his tour here the other day and while this isn’t the vein of music I usually tap, his vocal chords take me back to golden days of entering the scene and escaping the suburbs for one night for a cultural breath of fresh air.

   It’s crazy to think that there are only two months left until I leave the ‘burbs of Washington and head out to Seoul, South Korea. I will be staying in the Yeungdongpo area of Seoul (I think it’s kind of like a borough) and working for the Sogang University Language Program (SLP). Working from 9am-6pm I start out my mornings working with kindergarten students and finish the day working with elementary students.

   With the time I have left it has been a real blessing to be living at my parents house. I originally moved in here to help save money but have found that quality time spent with them is a reason in and of itself for my current living situation. The feeling of helping with dinner and sometimes micromanagement of my little sisters (they can be a handful sometimes) is that much more gratifying when I think about the fact that I won’t be seeing them in person for at least one year. It completely balances out the fact that I’m sleeping on their couch and the limited bus routes around this area. I’m truly thankful for the lessons of my father in showing me the importance of family against the odds.

   My mother died from AML Leukemia when I was a young child and the bond between him, my little brother Nick and I has only strengthened through the years. Since remarrying (my stepmother Patti) and adopting three little girls (Shirley is the eldest followed by the twins Hannah and Sarah) he has shown me that no matter how non-traditional, love and perseverance through the obstacles of life are the defining aspects of a family. 

   This appreciation of the present moment has extended beyond my family. Time spent with some of my good friends has seemed that much more savored. Though I know I will be making numerous new friends, the ties of friendship nurtured throughout the years are strong with those I have cherished the last 7 years.

  Savoring each moment, whether it be watching a movie at the house. Catching lunch or drinks in Seattle, or even moments of reflection on the bus or train to or fro the city have been an unforseen gift of my decision to live abroad in Korea. Added to the fact that I am continuing the legacy of my father and both grandfathers in visiting Asia during the periods where they were coming into their own as young men only reinforces my feeling that I have made the right decision. It’s currently an odd tetter-totter inside of me between soaking up the present and wishing time would go a little slower, and great anticipation for the adventures and self-growth of the future creating a desire for it to already be May. Probably the best dissonance I’ve experienced in my adult life, haha.

   All in all I feel intensely pleased that already my perspective on the world and my life in general, both my goals and the values I hold to be a priority, are rapidly developing. This development is so enriching and thus begets more of the same establishment of perceived depth. Life is good and with my life I hope to share that sentiment.

The family at my cousin's wedding.