What the SCRAP Wednesday

Kind of like What the Crap Wednesday, only it has to do with the ridiculous nature of The Never-Ending Wedding Scrapbook! It has been over a year since I've been married, and over 6 months since I started my wedding scrapbook, and guess what. It's still not done! But I did finish a few pages before we left for Korea in August, and I just put them in new sleeves because a lot of them got ripped when the Mumsie shipped it from home. So, I thought I would give you a hint as to how it's turning out.

This page has our vows printed on each side. 

These are the lyrics to the sweet song Kenny's friends sang for us.

Inside the little pockets are the words we recorded that played as we washed each other's feet.

One of my favorite spreads. 

The end for now. Still have the front page and last page to do! 

Right now, I'm looking forward to getting started on a book of our Annapurna trekking in Nepal. Got all the pictures printed and bought the book. Now I just have to find some scrapping supplies in Korea!  


What's Working

Instead of complaining about all the things I'm not doing right at the moment (okay every moment), these are all the things I'm doing that are working.

This kitters hug is working for me. Not so much for the kitters, eh?

I'm getting up early in the morning. Now, my definition of early may not be your definition of early. By early I mean that I am getting up early enough to be showered by 9. And that's progress people! I got so tired of coming home to a junky house that I never felt like cleaning at night. Then I would sleep in late and not have time to clean up before leaving. There were always lunch dishes in the sink when we would come home from work, the bed would be messy, and my office desk a disaster. I didn't talk about it before, because usually when I talk about something before I do it, I just turn myself into a big fat liar. So I just started doing it. I get up in the morning with the goal of going to work with a clean house behind me. It's so nice to come home in the evening and relax with the HubbO instead of feeling guilty because we both have to clean up when we're tired and cranky and hungry. So, getting up and getting straight into the shower works. (I'm also much nicer to my husband post-shower!)

Doing work at work. I have the best work schedule a girl could ask for this semester. Every day I have a break from 3:30 to 5:20. I used to use that time to explore the Internet (many times believing I had come to the end of it), write emails to friends, read a book, or go out for coffee. Although I still sometimes go out for a walk with Saralyn and sit on our bench in the sun at the park across from the school, or run some errands during this time, I make sure all my work is done first. It is making me better prepared for class and that is making my classes go well. Not that I didn't prepare before. But I would oftentimes forget things and be running from class to office again and again, going to the copy machine, or waiting on the printer. And all of those things were a waste of time when I had a huge break to prepare! So, now, I'm focusing only on work first. When all my work is finished and I've got everything I need ready, then I'm free to do whatever I want! It also helps that Kenny's grandmother is still hanging on. We could be called to Seoul for her three day funeral at any moment, so I have to be uber prepared in case other teachers need to teach my class or if they have to welcome my students into their own classes. Doing work at work totally works.

Counting calories. I downloaded a calorie counting app on my iPhone, but realized it wasn't doing me much good since I couldn't just plug in kimchi bokkumbap or ddeokbukki into the thing. So this morning I got Kenny to download a calorie counting app from the Korean app store. I'm having to learn a lot of new words to use it, which is great too, but now I can get closer to knowing how much I'm eating. I'm also being extremely aware of snacking. I used to snack during every break at school, feeling very deprived if I didn't have something to eat every time I wanted. But now, if I must snack, it's once and one thing. I've also cut out my daily Iced Caramel Macchiato except for once a week. I can drink other kinds of coffee, but I don't. Iced Caramel Macchiatos are my favorite, so I don't settle for less. This is helping me sleep better at night, I think! And also helping me curb an extra 200-300 calories a day. Counting calories works.

The weather is working for me, y'all. Finally. I've gotten rid of the jackets and am simply wearing long sleeve t-shirts or a t-shirt with a sweater. Can't wait until I can fit comfortably in my new jeans! That's my everyday outfit for summer: jeans, t-shirt, light sweater, and FLIP-FLOPS BABY! I even painted my toenails red last night just in case flip-flop weather shows up unexpectedly! Warm, spring weather with blue skies works.

Tights that look like jeans. I bought two pairs of tights that resemble jeans at Uniqlo this weekend. I mean, I know they don't really look like jeans, but they're close enough and the right colors. And y'all, as long as The Belly is hanging around, these leggings are making my dreams of sitting and bending comfortably come true! I have a pair of jeans I can squeeze into (I have two pairs I fit well, but they have been retired for the gaping holes in the thighs!), and I do wear them. But by the end of the day I usually find myself in a bad mood because I'm uncomfortable for most of the day. So, leggings and all things elastic and stretchy work.

Those are a few of the things that are working for me. What's working for you?


Imagine All the People: Saralyn

[This post is one in a series that gives you a picture of the people I love, the people who put up with me, and the people who refine my character by choosing to be in my life even after I take the last piece of chocolate. You can read the others here and here. (Yeah, it's a long-drawn-out-never-ending-whenever-I-feel-like-it-or-bother-to-remember-it-series.)]

I like to say that Saralyn got lucky because she was assigned the desk next to mine. But really, I'm the lucky one. Saralyn is my opposite. Perhaps that's why I like her and also why she interests me. She's interesting to listen to because she's never going to have the same perspective on something as I am. She's also the calmest, most together, laid back person in my life. Her refusal to allow unpleasant things or situations to ruffle her or undo the rest of her day is pure inspiration. I love having my ever-frequent freak outs in the next desk because she allows me to freak out, and then, she gets busy suggesting extremely reasonable solutions that I could have thought of if, well, I wasn't me.

I like her because she is straight-forward. When she says, "I don't mind. Either is fine with me," or "Whatever you think. I'm up for anything," she actually means it. Our friendship works so well because I'm all decision-making queen and hardly ever "don't care" which place we eat, what place we go, or how we get there. And she so rarely has her own agenda that when she does express a certain wish, I'm glad to oblige her. (Not that she doesn't have her own agenda in general. But I mean inconsequential agenda. Like which coffee shop we're going to or how many other coworkers I share the fresh-baked, still-warm, chocolate banana bread with.) I guess I like her because she helps me to relax by example.

Saralyn has also taught me more about teaching in the last 5 months than I learned from experience in the last year and a half. She is generous; she emails test templates, shares lesson plans, and takes the time to look at others' work. She is helpful; she listens, she thinks, and she takes the time to give solid advice. She is cheerful; she laughs often, she sees the bright side, she takes the time to encourage others to stick to their goals. I can tell she's an amazing teacher without ever having the privilege of sitting in on one of her classes. Also, she can do theoretical math on top of simple math and addition. So it's like having a human calculator with you at all times. This is a benefit when you function under Danielle Math.

I am already mourning the month of August, when I lose yet another Tim Horton's-loving friend to distance and that land of space and ice, although she tells me they do have summer in Canada (and a Prime Minister, not a President. Get it right or pay the price). She will be missed. I am afraid of who will sit in that desk next to mine in a few months. They have a daunting role to fill. Maybe I should start taking applications?

And of course, Saralyn likes my cats, and thinks they're cute, and talks to them in the little voice sometimes. That always helps.


Lord help us all. It's Monday again. And Miso is feeling it, too.


chubbO does chiaksan: a photo essay

Balance stone upon stone. One for my mother, one for my father, one for my sister.

Envy temple guardian's headress.

Look up.


Tastes as fresh and clean as it looks.

Greet dragon.

Obligatory we were here shot.


Puppy face at the bottom of the mountain.

Surrender heart and go home.


We didn't climb very far. There was still ice on the top of the mountain, though most of the snow had melted, resulting in splendid, clear water. There were these stairs, though. And I thought my legs were going to quit and demand severance pay. We didn't get very far, but it was a beautiful day spent outdoors. And there were plenty of puppies to play with and snap about 50 photos of in 5 minutes or less. It took enormous self-control to post only two of those photos.

I'm remembering last weekend in the shadow of this weekend. Yesterday Kenny and I were called away from an awesome 2S2 meeting in Wonju. We drove to Seoul because his grandmother is extremely sick and expected to die soon. There will be a three day funeral at the hospital in a special room. We will not sleep. I will wear a black hanbok. And then, I assume our family will crash into a bit of grief and a bit of joy and a bit of relief.


2S2 Wonju- On a Saturday so all is right with the world!

Come on out for an awesome time of games and drinks at one of the coolest places in Wonju. Cafe Namu is a straw-bale house turned coffee shop/ pub. It's a really cozy, cool place to hang out. Hope to see you there! By the way, we're still meeting at Holly's at 2pm. As usual!


When You Don't Need To Photoshop a Thing

Happy Tuesday, everyone! (Or, happy Monday for those of you Stateside. Hi, Mumsie!) This is the first untouched photo I've thrown up here in a long, long while. I've decided I definitely need a white Jindo with a pink nose. This sweet face melted me into a puddle of goo which Kenny had to scoop off the pavement and haul to the car after our Chiaksan hike this weekend. More pictures to come! And more puppies!

Also, make sure to click on over to see the new April design! I took the header photo at Guyongsa, a temple at the bottom of Chiak Mountain.


The Books that Changed Me

From childhood, where my mother frequently found me holed up in my closet with all my books stacked in a big pile, slowly reading one and putting it on another pile beside my Playskool oven and stove combo, books have been shaping me. (Alas, I never imagined this rather round and squishy shape being the end result, but I'm working on it, people!) So, when I read The Korean's Top 10 List of Most Influential books, inspired by this NY Times editorial, I made a mental note to make one of my own.

And surprisingly, I actually read my mental note a few days later. Usually those things get put behind large signs that say, "Drink coffee," "Feed the cats," "Shower." They get lost along with all my other mental post-its covered in reminders to pluck my eyebrows, mail that letter, and clean that spoon I found in my cup holder. But this mental note was not lost. Like Ross Douthat and The Korean before me, I'm also not listing my Top 10 Favorite Books. I'm sure the lists would overlap in a lot of places, but I'm going with my gut here. These are in chronological order, approximately. 

1. The Bugg Books by Stephen Cosgrove
 (Granted, a series and not a single book, but influential nonetheless!) My grandmother owned almost all of these "Topsy Turvy" books, that had two front covers and two stories that met in the middle. I would stay up late at night whenever I spent the night at her house reading a story, flipping the book over, and reading another. Every story starts with the same lines:
As you lay on a summer's day
In a cool and shady place,
Don't look up into the skies;
Instead look down and squint your eyes.
              Squint your eyes so very tight,
           And if you wish with all your might,
       You'll find the land of More-Than-Small.
             In this land live buggs- that's all!

These stories were just like the Serendipity books, also written by Stephen Cosgrove, and happened to be the first series of books I ever read my way through in the closet next to my stove. Each story contains a different moral, teaching children to share, to value fellow-bugs over money, to be kind, and to believe in the magic of the animal world. I believe that these books are responsible for my uber-sensitivity when it comes to animals. Believing that even small bugs that are insignificant to me (and all other furry animals for that matter) have their own struggles with good and evil and work so hard to make the right decisions makes it really hard to step on a spider without thinking twice. (Crickets are different, though. They have no moral compass at all, so a swift shoe swat is completely ethical in my view.) I hold Stephen Cosgrove personally responsible for the tears I have shed at even the slightest hint of animal cruelty, the breath-interrupting sobs at those humane society commercials, and the headache I gave myself trying not to cry when the boy had to push the ape and be mean to him in order to get him to leave and be free at the end of that Born To Be Free movie. These books definitely shaped the way I see the world. 

2. On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I heard this book before I read it. A good friend in high school, Taylor Jones read this book to me while we sat in the hallway during 3rd period Latin. I was a teacher's assistant and he was in Latin II, but this class was Latin I because the other didn't fit into his schedule. So, most days, we ended up on the cold, hard floor in the hall. I was fascinated with Kerouac immediately. This book changed the way I thought about writing and using profanity in writing. When Taylor read, I could hear Sal and Dean; I could hear how every word fit perfectly, even the bad ones. For a Southern Baptist sophomore in high school, this was life-altering. I didn't choose to use "bad" language myself until college, and even now, I'm very selective about it. My thoughts on what it is that makes profanity profane began that day in the hallway at LaVergne High School.

3. Beowulf.  This book changed the way I interacted with every text I came across afterward. Perhaps this is less the book, but more the teacher under which I read it and discussed it. This was the first book that I felt shift things on my insides, in my soul. I felt other books had perhaps influenced my thinking, but this one affected my heart. Maybe that's vague and perhaps it's not completely something I could ever explain. Can we ever fully comprehend the exact way a book becomes a part of us as we read it? I'm not sure. And I'm okay with that.

4. Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie.  For me, this book did for history what the Bugg Books did for animals. It made the people who used to live before me real.  I just happened to pick it up while browsing through the basement floor of Shorter College's musty library. I really had no reason to be down there. All the literature and English major's books were on the second floor, upstairs, where the only bathroom I would poop in besides my own was located. I remember truly connecting with the characters that Massie resurrected and reading the letters between Nicholas and Alexandra, cherishing the way he called her his "wifey."Before reading this, history was hard for me to connect with, even in college. Of course, I had always connected with history through fiction (i.e. Faulkner's Light in August; Ellison's Invisible Man and Juneteenth), but this made me see real people as real people.

5. Wilderness and the American Mind by Roderick Frazier Nash.  I was a junior in college taking a class with the brilliant Dr. Wilson Hall when I read this book.  It was on his syllabus. Reading this book was my wake up call to the ethics of environmentalism. It is an interesting history of the way America's ideas of wilderness evolved over time. Even the LA Times calls this book one of the hundred most influential books in the last 25 years. Almost all of my ideas about what wilderness is and should be were born in this class, and are a direct by-product of this particular text.

6. The Collected Poems of Anne Sexton. This book had to duke it out with a number of Billy Collins' collections. Because I view Billy Collins as pretty much the master of the English language. Period. However, I think Anne being a woman had something to do with the way I connected with her poems. This collection of poems forced my heart up into my throat so many times. I cried over these verses, I agonized with these lines, and I felt for the first time that someone had looked inside my brain, rooted around in the depths of my darkest corners, and put what they found on paper in the exact words I would have used. Sexton helped me fully realize that good poetry is universal and how. Whenever I want to read good poetry, I reach for this volume. (Billy Collins is such a darn close second. And perhaps he changed the way I wrote more than Sexton ever would. But I think the way Sexton writes about sex and relationships as a woman pushes her up there, just a smidgen.) 

7. The Poisonwood Bible: This book taught me that truth is not the same thing as fact. I found this book on the bookshelf of an 80-year old English woman. Her name was Shiela and she was living in Cornwall when Kenny and I visited her in January of 2007. I began reading it and when we went back to Exeter, headed straight for Blackwell's to purchase my own copy. (I was more eager to get my hands on my own because this amazing girl I attended Shorter with recommended it. And when something has the Joanna Burgess stamp of approval on it, whether it be books, music, or plays, it's worth taking the time to experience it.) This book confirmed so many things I felt about Christianity and it's war on culture that was (and is) so distasteful to me. I also read it during the time when I was discovering how much of our lives are woven into narrative arcs so we can make sense of them. How we turn our lives into stories. How truth resonates through even fictitious characters, places, and circumstances. And how sometimes the truest things never took place at all. 

8. White Guilt: How Black and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era by Shelby Steele. Let me remind you again here that these aren't necessarily the best books I've read, but simply the ones that changed or influenced my thinking the most. This book doesn't necessarily provide very many answers for the continued racial tensions in America, but it does do a good job detailing what's not working and many of the reasons why. I think this book resonated with me because I did and sometimes still do tend to wallow in "white guilt." I almost always side with racial minorities or the weaker party on any issue, regardless of right or wrong. I just feel like the old white men have won so much and made the rules for so long and something in me feels responsible for that, even though I know it's ridiculous. This feeling has many unexpected consequences that I feel Steele illustrates clearly. I guess this book changed the way I think about power, the people who have it, and the people who don't have it.

9. Incandescence: 365 Readings with Women Mystics (Rereleased as A Little Daily Wisdom) by Carmen Acevedo Butcher. This reader definitely influenced my views on Christianity and what it looks like. It introduced me to the Mother in God, the passionate women who shaped our religion and yet so seldom are recognized or even heard of. The mystery of Christ has been lost. We are so afraid of the word "mystical" anyway. This daily reader from Carmen Butcher opened up a feminine side of Christianity that resonated powerfully within me. Her translations are incredible. I feel like these mystics are writing me a letter; my name seems to be at the top of every page, and I imagine their scrawling signatures at the bottom. I love reading of the strength, the vision, and the gentle humility of these amazing, suffering, and saintly women. The binding of my copy is busted and some sections of pages have fallen out. I keep the book together with a rubber band. I know I should purchase a new copy that isn't about to crumble or lose its guts, but I love this book. I love the underlining in it, the notes I made, the way the particular sentences take me back to the feelings I had when I first read them. This is one of those books that leads you down a path of personal revelation, resolution, and revolution. I love it.

10. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy: This is one of those books that would also make it onto the list of my top 10 favorite books I've ever read. Reading it while in India was amazing. It, along with White Tiger, finished up the work that the Poisonwood Bible started. The narrative made India come alive for me while I was there. It also made my world so much wider. Roy's writing is perfection. I loved rolling her sentences around in my head. I used to think that Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko was the book with the most perfect word choice, the way her sentences lined up so neatly one after another, flowing into my world and showing me another. But I think Roy finally topped Silko. 

There are so many more books that belong on this list. A few that didn't quite make the cut: A Light in August by William Faulkner; Turtle Island by Gary Snyder; The Gift of Good Earth by Wendell Berry; Bluebeard and almost everything else by Kurt Vonnegut; What We Say Goes by Noam Chomsky; A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers; Catch-22 by Joseph Heller; The Collected Poems of Charles Bukowski; The Journals of Sylvia Plath; Everything by Rumi; Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison; The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

I am still being shaped, chipped away at, and refined by the books I read. 
What books have made you who you are?


Good, Good Friday

Death, be not proud, though some have called you
Mighty and dreadful, for you are not so;
For those, whom you think you do overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet can you kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but your pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from you much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with you do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
You're slave to Fate, chance, kings and desperate men,
And do with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than your stroke; why swell you then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more; Death, you shall die.
~John Donne: Holy Sonnet X

That is the Good Friday Morning reading in Following Christ: A Lenten Reader to Stretch Your Soul by Carmen Acevedo Butcher. (I know her!) And I thought it was so appropriate because the flowers on our veranda have been sick and weary of the dark grey skies and weather. Like me. But today, they seemed to perk up and behold the sunshine. A few more good, good things on this Good Friday:

You didn't really think I'd post two times in a row without squeezing in some photos of the kitters, did you?
Have a lovely, rejuvenating, death-conquering, redemptive Good Friday, y'all!


Dear Self,

Stop making decisions that don't support what you want! The top five priorities in your life are:
1. Enrich your marriage by being present in every moment.
2. Write when you want to write. Stop allowing small obstacles to stand in the way of spending your time the way you want. If you want to write, sit down and write! Don't make a list of things you need to do first.
3. Study Korean. There are people who have been here far less time than you and are way ahead of you. Spend time not only reading and writing, but SPEAKING. Stop canceling or postponing classes with GeumOk. Those decisions do not support your desire to be fluent!
4. Be social, be kind, be involved. Don't just watch your life from the outside and wish it were different. MAKE IT SO. Everyday you have the opportunity to be helpful, kind, and compassionate to a room full of amazing coworkers. Do it.
5. Be active. Be intense and focused about physical activity in the morning before school. Be serious about making healthy eating choices. So far this week, veggies have prevailed. And you feel so much better! And your skin is even getting better! Keep it up so you can be proud of yourself and actually fit into your clothes. It will be one less thing to worry about when you make this a habit and it doesn't have to be so intentional. But for now, stay focused. Be intentional. Make decisions that help you, not hurt you. (P.S. Cookies hurt you. Just in case you were having your doubts.)

There you go, self. Clear. Simple. Now, when it comes time for the tiniest, most quotidian detail of your life, make the decision that moves you in the direction of these goals. Because this is where you want to go. Stop whining, bitching, complaining, being loud, stupid, and lazy. Live your life fully, with joy and INTENT.

All the best,

Dear Weather,

Although it was a great April Fool's trick to give us two Februaries and no spring this year, I'm kind of over it. If it snows one more day, I'm going to have to take some kind of emotional health holiday and go somewhere warm. Where I don't need to wear socks and coats and more than two layers. Seriously. Stop with the rain and the cold and the SNOW FOR GOODNESS SAKE. Help a sister out and pour some sunshine on me. It makes me feel thinner, you know? Do it for me.
Also, tell Winter we're through. I broke up with him in January. Hoped he'd have moved all his crap out my place by March, but it's April and he's still calling me. Stop it.

Please bring Spring,
Weather Affective Disordered Wife

Dear Saralyn,

I cannot thank you enough for all the support you've given me over the past few months. Super duper congratulations on getting into stupid graduate school. Because now there's a sobering countdown going on. You'll only sit in the desk beside me for a few more months. And then what if some weirdo comes in and takes your place! And I have to sit next to the weirdo. And the weirdo doesn't bake chocolate banana bread (I just realized all my favorite Canadians have baked banana bread and it's always delicious. Why is that? Is Banana Bread Baking a requisite for graduation in Canada?)  and doesn't understand my need to not have to share that banana bread with the rest of the teachers and also doesn't forward me all the templates he or she makes for tests. And what if the hypothetical weirdo doesn't let me copy every classroom strategy, teaching technique, and filing method shamelessly? And what if the weirdo doesn't like riding in the trunk of my car and makes waves every time all of us try to pile in there? And what if they don't keep stashed of Ice Breakers Sours in their middle desk drawer? And what if they get mad at me for losing my glue and my stapler and my calculator all in the same day and don't let me use theirs?  Oh my God. Somebody call Philip, because I just out-worried him! But seriously. If I have to sit next to some deranged mentally unstable person, I'm blaming you.

No really, congratulations! Probably.

The Weirdo in the Desk Next To Yours

Dear Readers,

Forgive me for the blogging break. Do you still love me? Maybe I should start being all "prepared" and "organized" and "thoughtful" and let you know when I'm going to fall off the face of the Internet. Oh well. I'm back. Maybe. Sort of. Oh my back fat. I love you guys.

Wonju Wife
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