Monday, December 20, 2010

Out and About

School's out, so I took advantage of the day to finish paperwork and run a few final errands before heading to the USA. Wherever I go, there are always reminders of loved ones around here. Can you guess whom I thought of when I saw this?

See you soon, Miss REP (and the rest of you, sweet family)! xo

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy Virus Returns

This has nothing to do with anything, but it amuses me to no end and thus I'm compelled to share. 

I still haven't figured out the concept behind Happy Virus... is it a slogan, motto, mantra?! Will it one day replace Carpe Diem as the go-to quote for graduates and yearbooks? Before I leave Korea -whenever that day may be- I need to get to the bottom of this matter. For now, though, I give you this: 

For Unto Us

I've just returned from a superb performance of Handel's Messiah presented by Camarata Music Company. The piece does not grow old! When the chorus sang For Unto Us a Child Is Born, I got goose bumps thinking about the truth behind the powerful lyrics, taken straight from Isaiah 9:6:
For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Snowy Commute


My commute yesterday was simply the best one yet. It was early in the morning, the snow was falling, and very few people were out. Quiet, peaceful, and such a sublime way to begin the long and crazy day that ensued. 


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Quest

Today I was on a quest to find a very specific item for someone's Christmas present. I knew what I was looking for but had only the vaguest idea of where to search. I wish there had been a camera filming the sequence of events that unfolded because it was highly entertaining at the time and still is as I reflect on all that transpired. In any case, after visiting close to 10 vendors, I finally struck gold. Mission accomplished, and new memories made.

Incidentally, this is the neighborhood where the bulk of my quest occurred. Not your typical market for gifts, right?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Up on the Roof

It's currently 12 degrees Farenheit although according to, it feels like 0 (and, according to me, it feels far colder than that). Yet, in spite of the freezing temps, I found myself up on the roof of one of the poshest residential towers in Seoul. My hands were shaking because of the wind and general nervousness from being up so high, but perhaps the photos can convey a hint of the exhilaration I experienced. 

Now, in the comfort of my apartment, I'm eager to embrace another exhilarating moment -the warmth of blankets piled high.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Merry Star City

Christmas decorations in Seoul are certainly eye-catching. 

The above display, located in the Star City mega-plex, was made for photographing cute little kids striking cute little poses. This darling girl was a riot to observe. She ran up to the display and immediately struck a pose while flashing the ubiquitous peace sign. As her parents captured the moment on film, she continued to switch up her poses, all the while maintaining her giant grin and happy giggle. She made me smile and also made me that much more excited to see my adorable nieces next week!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chocolate Fitness

There's no end to the random appearances of English words around here. Case in point:  above photo. Admittedly, it's kind of a catchy name for a gym (and, I'm now blogging about it, so it does get people talking). As far as I could tell, though, there wasn't a trace of chocolate to be found there.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Homemade Snowflakes

After a busy day at work interviewing 30 students, followed by a busy evening at home cleaning and moving furniture around, I was in need of a relaxing activity to help me unwind. I'm usually not very good at relaxing, but I managed to find something that was both calming and productive:  I spent about 30 minutes cutting snowflakes from assorted paper. What a fun and creative outlet, and with every incision, I actually felt myself becoming less hyper. Bonus:  on Saturday I'm having people over for a Christmas party, so the snowflakes will come in handy making things more festive around here.

When the hustle and bustle of this hectic season have you feeling depleted, try making snowflakes. Twenty or thirty minutes should do the trick, and you'll have something pretty to look at afterward.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Snowy Reminder

We had a genuine snowfall today. The flakes were big, and they stuck around for awhile. Looking out my window now, I see a pretty, white glaze on the nearby rooftops.

Even when it poses an inconvenience, it's kind of hard to be frustrated or mad when it's snowing. Something about the way snow falls ever so gently to the ground seems to bring levity. It reminds me of forgiveness -how God cleanses and renews us when we call on Him. And it prompts me to actively forgive others.
...wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.   -Psalm 51:7b

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

43 Interviews = Inspiration

We're in the midst of giving oral exams at work. Today I interviewed 43 students. By the end of the week, I will have interviewed another 65.

As the students answered questions about topics I'd assigned in advance, I listened attentively and in awe. Most of them did remarkably well, fielding questions relating to travel, careers, luxury items, and achievements, among other subjects. Even the handful of students who struggled a bit still amazed me -they can all do something that I simply cannot. Which brings me to a point:  I need to keep up with my Korean lessons and practice, practice, practice.

I've been able to avoid the Korean homework piled on my desk for the last few weeks. Legitimate busy-ness relating to work has kept me preoccupied. And yet... as my mom likes to say:  we have time for the things we want to have time for. Evidently, I haven't really wanted to re-prioritize my schedule to accommodate learning Korean. Today I realized why:  I don't want to suffer through the embarrassment or awkwardness of not knowing enough (whatever enough is). Skipping class and keeping away from my homework and books enable me to operate in this safe -but ignorant- bubble.

One colleague phrased it this way:  you can't learn to swim until you get in the pool. Interacting with my students today -all 43 who endured my many questions- drove home the idea. They were an inspiration and, I suppose, the kick in the pants I needed to get back on the horse. Or in the pool.    

Monday, December 6, 2010

Spit Shine

If and when I ever do leave Korea, there are certainly things I'll miss about this place. Rather than expound on all of them right here and now, I'll mention one item in particular.

Today I brought two pairs of boots to a shoe-repairman on campus. Thinking I'd drop them off and return later for pick up, I was surprised that the man had me wait. As I sat there while he worked, I watched in awe as he transformed my boots into nearly-new shoes. Over the course of 30 minutes, he replaced all the heels, and then buffed, polished, and shined the boots. He even threw in a couple of spits which made the experience all the more compelling. The most marvelous part? All the aforementioned services for the bargain price of 15,000 won (less than $15). 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Red Sauce at Night

Though not wild about the word happy (happiness, after all, depends on the possession or attainment of what one considers good which, in my opinion, sounds so conditional and fleeting), I do derive great delight from cooking. I love that it's both creative and productive. I like having an end goal in mind and then exercising liberty in how I achieve it. 

Tonight I sought to create a red sauce, more or less from scratch. As indicated in the above photo, I combined a myriad of ingredients, in addition to many seasonings -oregano, dried basil, Lawry's, and a few others- to achieve my objective. The entire process was enjoyable:  dicing shallots and garlic, chopping fresh tomatoes, and opening cans of tomato pulp and paste... all of it gave me great satisfaction. Granted, the evening would have been enhanced by the opportunity to feed another hungry mouth or two, but I still managed to enjoy myself -all the while listening to Christmas carols.

On this Advent Sunday, let's not forget the Source of eternal joy:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders.  And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.   -Isaiah 9:6 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rosarita Rapture

Today has been spectacular. After a quick round of teaching, I met my friend Amanda for an afternoon of sightseeing in Hongdae. We visited myriad boutiques, bakeries, coffee shops, and cafes, and we walked everywhere. Good thing, too, since we concluded with a hearty Mexican dinner at On the Border. All in all an excellent day. 

Incidentally, Amanda brought me a fantastic gift (see above photo); I am over the moon now that Rosarita refried beans are back in my life. In fact, I can't stop beaming. Definitely a contender for best host gift ever (thank you, AMS).