Right Now

I am in a weird mood, akin to grief in some way. Maybe grief's second cousin. I finished Graham Greene's The Comedians last night and I'm a bit sad it's over. I think I always feel this way after finishing a book - some more than others. I step into another place and live there for a while. I got used to the idea of Haiti and the Tontons Macoute with their dark sunglasses and jeeps. I was familiar with the Columbus statue where Brown and Martha would rendezvous. I was fond of Joseph, limp and all, and could almost taste his famous rum punches. Anyway, it's over. I've put it back on the shelf, next to Villette, which also brought me to tears and showed just how much one can still manage to understand while skipping paragraphs of French I should be able to read.

Perhaps this mood is amplified by my current musical obsession: Goldmund's The Malady of Elegance. Also, I am mortified that I am just now discovering The Kings of Convenience. Go listen. Now.

However, I am definitely excited at the same time. Amazing how dichotomous I can be, eh? Tonight we settled with our landlord another year's contract. We'll be in Wonju for at least another year in our current apartment. We'll be getting new flooring in the office and our bedroom PLUS! an air conditioner for next summer! Woot. We only have to pay for installation for the air conditioner. The year's rent is incredibly reasonable and we've saved just enough in our "housing" savings account to be able to pay it all in advance come January. I'm thinking of doing a few things to spruce up our bedroom because it's so boring, and yet it's such a lovely place to be. I've been reluctant to put much more effort into the apartment since we don't own it and we'll probably move out after this next year here. But I think that's silly now. I should strive to make wherever I am a comfortable home and even though I might not own it, I can somehow make it mine.

I'm also currently thinking about Christmas gifts! Sadly, I'm doing more thinking than anything else! I know what I'm making for some of my family and friends and I just need to get busy.

Well, that's about all right now. Oh, and since I opened with books, I'll close by telling you I'm a few pages into Dave Egger's Zeitoun. I'm a reading freak these days.

What are you up to right now?


Keep on Keeping On

(via see me everywhere)

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through."
-Ira Glass


Well, Well

So, it turns out that I've pretty much started a revolution that has already taken place. Way to go for being behind the times, ChubbO. Mondays are not even a bad thing anymore, apparently. However, I would advise all my friends on Facebook and Twitter to stop posting "Oh noes! Monday woes!" on your status updates and such. Because you mislead a girl, who then realizes her Mondays aren't sucking, and decides to create a cute banner and start a revolution and rescue Mondays. But turns out, Mondays don't need rescuing at all. Way to go, Universe. Way to back me up on that one. Way to fill my blog with readers who all have good Mondays and read my post thinking, "What is she talking about? Having a bad day just because it's Monday is soooo 2009."

Anyway, I now declare Monday Doesn't Have to Suck a success. Because, it worked before I even made it up. How's that for awesome?


Join Me! We're Rescuing Mondays!

The strangest Mondays have been happening to me. I don't know what it is. I can't put my finger on it, but for some reason my Mondays just aren't as awful as they have been in the past. And I started cheering myself through my Mondays on twitter with the hashtag #mondaydoesnthavetosuck. Then, I got the idea that perhaps Mondays were in dire need of a rescue. Everybody is so negative about Mondays. And it's really not Monday's fault. So, I thought I'd start this little revolution in my own week and declare that MONDAY DOESN'T HAVE TO SUCK! So, some Mondays, I'll be posting a bunch of small, minuscule Monday-saving thoughts.

Why my Monday doesn't have to suck:

  • Early morning prayer with my husband. It's still dark outside, there are candles on the table, and I get to spend quality time with the man I love and the One who brought us together.
  •  I caught all the green lights home from my Monday morning class at the kindergarten. Usually, it takes about 15 minutes one way. Today, it took seven.
  • She&Him playlist that is just making Monday sound good already.
  • Vietnamese for lunch with the HubbO. Woot.
  • I'm giving a test in one class, which means for at least 20 minutes, I'll be reading Villette by Charlotte Bronte.
  • I only have 14 Mondays left of work until I quit! Now, seriously, who can have a bad Monday after that thought?
I would love company on this mission to rescue Monday from all the haters. Specifically, to rescue it from my own bad moods by taking some time at the beginning of each week to consider why this day doesn't have to be the one I hate. Help me out and rescue your own Monday from sucking!


Time to Be a Big Girl

0ver the past week, I've had some serious revelations about my character. Well, perhaps I shouldn't say revelations because that hints that I immediately came upon these things within myself, like stumbling and banging your shin against an out-of-position coffee table in the middle of the night. No, it's not like that. It is more like I finally decided to stop ignoring the large, lumbering ghost tapping on my shoulder from behind.

It is this: My main source of motivation, my main goal in life at this moment is to get from one comfortable place to the next. I think about hard work. I romanticize hard work. I admire people who work hard. I pretend sometimes that I do this kind of hard work. But, not really. I work hard to get back to comfortable. I work hard for short periods of time with shallow goals ahead of me. I sometimes aspire to discipline, but when I find it's more difficult than I planned, I easily let my aspirations slide out of memory. If I chance to look behind me, I can see pile after pile of abandoned intentions, shirked responsibilities, and avoided obligations littering the path I've come down.

I have been a child. I have not held myself accountable. It's time to grow up. It's time to accept that "comfortable" is not a worthy achievement. Comfortable is easy. Comfortable has little value and doesn't like to stay for dinner. It is short-lived, short-sighted, and temporary. It is best friends with indulgence. I'm tired of pursuing comfortable. I want to pursue something that matters and is meaningful.

I think I'm finally ready to figure out what that is. And chase it without restraint, no matter how much hard work it takes to get there. And no matter how little comfort accompanies me on the way.

"Virtue —even attempted virtue— brings light; indulgence brings fog."  -C.S. Lewis


What the Crap Wednesday: The Book Report Edition

 I teach English. I assign weekly book reports. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is too good not to share with the world.

Note: The summary my student wrote, although grammatically hilarious, is, in fact, true to the story of the Little Mermaid as written by Sue Arengo. The end of this story is in itself owed a huge What the Crap. I have reproduced her report exactly as she wrote it, paying special attention to capitalization and punctuation as the student originally put it down on paper. I'd also like to say that I am wildly proud of this report.

Describe this character: This picture is Mermaid She has Red wavy long hair, and she has green long tail.

Why did you like him or her? 
I like her, because she is kind, and she is a mermaid.

What happens in the story?
The mermaid is fifteen years old, she can see the sky. So she is fifteen, she go up to the sea. And, she saw a nice prince. So she loved him. And mermaid go to the witch's house. She saids "Can you help me? I want a leg, not a tail." So she can gots a leg, but she can't married, because prince loves another princess.

How did the story make you feel? Why?
I think prince is bad. Why prince didn't married with her? He likes her. But he didn't loves her? Why?! I don't know of prince!

What did you think of the story?
I think this story is kind of bad prince, mermaid, another princess too, because prince didn't married with mermaid. And why does princess loves her. I want to say to her "Mermaid, You can loves another men!!"


Can I get a What the Crap, people? Who wrote this? Oh wait, it was Sue Arengo. What the Crap, Sue? I mean, I know kids don't need every story to end happily ever after, but good grief. The Little Mermaid went through all that trouble to get legs instead of her stupid tail, and then the Prince just likes her? And on top of that, he marries another Princess in front of the Little Mermaid? Yeah, okay, maybe this is closer to reality than the Disney version. But, is it appropriate for a children's book. And if we're going to go all Realism on this story, where's the Little Mermaid's best girl friend telling her, "Mermaid! You can loves another men!!"

*If this is your first What the Crap Wednesday, feel free to browse earlier editions here
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