My life, tomorrow, will errupt with activity. I will be teaching an English camp in the morning from 9am-12:50 pm, and then I'll be heading to work as usual from 2-9. The camp is 10 days long and I must have temporarily lost my mind, because it coincides with our summer break here at ELP. Which means that instead of a week off, I will have a week of teaching middle schoolers who can barely say their ABCs English. But I will have my afternoons free. And I will have a nice chunk of change in the bank afterward. I'm also this week catching up with my running plan. I'm living in week 5, but running week 4. I think I will sleep well. So, there's that.

Also, I wanted to tell you that last night I was propped up on my elbows, lying on my stomach in bed, reading Why I Wake Early, a collection of poems from Mary Oliver. And after I read page 43, I had to flip over onto my back, sling one hand over my chest, and let the tears soak back up into my eyes as I stared at the ceiling. This poem devastated me. Just devastated me. 91% of that devastation was from it's beauty and perfection. The other 9% of the devastation stemmed from the fact that I didn't write it first. Not that I'm capable of Mary Oliver quality. But whenever I read good writing, really good writing, there's some twinge deep in my chest. It's related to regret and I think it's a cousin of jealousy. But not quite. Anyway, back to being devastated. It was just that good.

It's the middle of summer, so I will share this mid-summer poem with you. Be careful. You might have to flip over onto your back and take a few deep breaths. I plan to live in this poem for the next two weeks.


In the early curtains
of the dusk,
it flew,
a slow galloping

this way and that way
through the trees
and under the trees.
I live

in the openmindedness
of not knowing enough
about anything.
It was beautiful.

It was silent.
It didn't even have a mouth.
But it wanted something,
it had a purpose

and a few precious hours
to find it,
and I suppose it did.
The next evening

it lay on the ground
like a broken leaf
and didn't move,
which hurt my heart

which is another small thing
that doesn't know much.
When this happened it was about the middle of summer,

which also has its purposes
and only so many precious hours.
How quietly,
and not with any assignment from us,

or even a small hint
of understanding,
everything that needs to be done
is done.

~Mary Oliver

P.S. I wrote this post instead of scavenging for my dinner tonight. Because sometimes, poetry trumps hunger.


The Gift of Watermelon

I'm seriously beginning to doubt that watermelon is a gift.

When someone gives you a watermelon, sure, your first thoughts are, "How thoughtful! How lovely! How heavy." And then it's basically all downhill from there. Watermelon is a lot of responsibility. First, it's a hassle to get into. And second, where are you supposed to put it?

I am as excited about watermelon in the summer as the next person, but good grief don't give me one. The gift of a watermelon is really someone saying, "I think it's time you rearrange and clean out your fridge." If you do not rearrange and clean out your fridge, your watermelon will not fit in it. Even if you cut your watermelon into lovely lunch box size pieces to take to work with you for the millenia to come (because that's how much watermelon you now have), you have to put it somewhere. I like to keep some sliced up in a plastic Lock-n-Lock with a lid. But that Lock-n-Lock was probably already in use in my fridge. So, when I received the above watermelon, I had to empty out a whole bunch of things to make space for those cut pieces. And then, I still have the other big hunk of watermelon (I guess that's a fourth? Half of a half?) to store somewhere. In our fridge, I get to throw it in the bottom crisper drawer that is just deep enough to hold it.

And then there's the dilemma of how to consume the watermelon. I was only given half a watermelon, and it has turned out to be an inconvenience. I can't imagine anyone gifting a whole watermelon. That's just mean. I like to freeze some of it, but only so much because of freezer space and also, you must get out all the seeds. So, the gift of a watermelon is really someone saying, "Hey, you don't have enough to do. Pick all the seeds out of this with a fork."

Let's face it. You can only make so many watermelon smoothies, fruit salads, and watermelon-on-a-plate-let's-call-this-dessert before you are out of ideas. And let's face it, we are only two people. So, inevitably, we will watch this watermelon rot in our fridge. In other words, the gift of a watermelon is really someone saying, "You're a terrible person." And you believe it because you are such an irresponsible, uncaring, and insensitive person that you will let a wonderful, delicious fruit like watermelon go to waste sitting in your crappy fridge that freezes anything if it's too far back on the shelf.

Unless you believe that someone is in need of a serious fridge purge, needs a hobby that involves a fork, or is simply a terrible person, don't give them a watermelon. Otherwise, go for it.


A Year Ago

{me, dad, and mom watching fireworks in Tennessee, July 2009}

Last fourth of July, I was with my family in Tennessee, watching fireworks outside while the sky was preparing a huge thunderstorm. It was Kenny's first 4th of July celebration and he seemed to enjoy it. I miss my family more around holidays. It makes me realize how important tradition in our family was, and still is, to me. I am staunchly against any changes made to our holiday traditions, even if I'm not there to witness or experience the changes. Perhaps I feel their continuance is some kind of insurance. Even though I'm not there, I can trust that things will go on the same as they always have, so if and when I do return, I can settle back down into my place there.

I often feel like my family is growing and evolving without me. And that may well be true. Even from this distance, I can see the ways they are holding each other up in love, supporting each other disappointments, and generally rejoicing in each other's existence. My family does all of those things for me, too. But sometimes I feel I'm outside the circle.

I know, I know, I don't have any right to complain. I'm the one who picked up and moved. I'm the one who decided to come back to Korea. I'm the one who is trying to make a life in this country rather than mine. If you said all these things to me, I would have to admit that you're right. No one forced me to make the decisions I've made. And the thing is, I don't regret my choices. Every day I know I'm in the right place. I know that I'm supposed to be with Kenny, wherever in the world that is. That feeling of belonging- of being able to belong anywhere in the world because I'm with the person who helps my life make sense- that's something worth following. I never doubt that I'm in the right place. I just doubt that I'm doing the right thing in this place.

I will always miss my family. I think until I have a family of my own to help me make new traditions, I'll feel like that puzzle piece everyone searched for but couldn't find because it fell between the couch cushions. I know that I'm missed at home. I can't wait to get there and see my sister's new house. I can't wait to just ride around in a car running errands with my mom and make her laugh so hard she can barely drive straight. I can't wait to sit with my dad and try to listen more than I talk. There are so many things I'm excited to do. And I'll get to do them at Christmas for two weeks. I am excited for Kenny to experience Christmas at our house, too.

{bursting with love}

I can't stop thinking that if I were doing the right thing, if I found a way to support myself in a way that nourished and enriched my spirit instead of draining it slowly, that I wouldn't quite wish myself home so much. Not to say that I think I'll stop missing my family. Nope. That ache will always be hanging around, waiting for the right moment to smart so intensely I can't breathe. But that ache is cherished because it means I was and am a part of a family that knows what real, unconditional love is.

This fourth of July, I watched two kind, generous, and loving people get married. As they start their journey together, I hope that I can start another of my own, too. One where I am brave enough to do what I need to do. To dig out my place in Korea, even if the shovel gives me blisters.
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