This is my first post since early November 2012, so let me start by saying Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Lunar New Year, dear readers. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other. Let’s take a few minutes and get caught up.
December, as some of you can probably guess, is always the craziest month of the year for us English teachers in Korea. On top of our normal work responsibilities, we have to plan our annual Christmas concert, conduct student evaluations, and write report cards. To add to the fun, I got sick towards the middle of the month and spent the vast majority of my Christmas break lying in bed. (I’ve been getting a lot of messages from friends back home lately, asking how they too might find a job in the ROK. They should take a lesson from this. Why did I wait until the Christmas break to take care of my illness? Because when you teach kindergarten in Korea you don’t have TIME to be sick.) Most of January was spent trying to recover from December. And now, just like that, it’s February. Time to catch a second wind and start putting some new plans into action.
The New Plan
So here’s the deal. The current school year winds down at the end of this month. I was hoping to move on to a high school or university position from here, but I need to have some form of TESOL certification to qualify for most of those jobs. So, I’ve applied for a CELTA course in Seoul (CELTA = Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults). My interview is on the 18th. With any luck, I’ll begin taking that course on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings in March. Obviously that will cut into my kindergarten schedule, which is why I’ll now be working in my school’s afternoon elementary program instead. I’m really looking forward to this change of pace – especially having my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings free. After a year of working overtime (12-13 hour days sometimes), I need some time to hit the gym, read, write, and basically just enjoy being in Korea. By this time next year I should be well on my way to a Korean university or a teaching job somewhere in the Middle East, but until then, at least I’m doing something I enjoy. 🙂
And Speaking of New Plans…
Before I get too caught up in my autobiographical self-absorption, I want to extend a huge congratulations to my friends Matt and Liz Collins on the birth of their first son, Oliver “Ollie” Andrew Collins. Ollie is the first baby born to a member of the Group (a close circle of friends; we all graduated from BHS together), and in my mind he’ll always be able to pull rank based on that fact. Granted, Mike Lujan got the jump on everyone and has already produced four kids. But he only went to BHS for a year, so technically he falls outside the guidelines. (Sorry Mike!) Nicely done, Collinses. 🙂
While there are no babies on the horizon for yours truly anytime soon, I do have a set of goals that I’m hoping to accomplish this year. Here they are in no particular order:
(1) Successfully complete the CELTA course – this one goes without saying.
(2) Build my savings – When I first came to Korea in 2011 I was focused on paying off my credit cards, which I did. Then last year I decided to buckle down and pay off some loans, which I also managed to do. These decisions were financially healthy (my credit score has gone up by 200 points) and this year I want to take them a step farther by putting myself on a monthly budget and building my savings. We’ll see how it goes.
(3) Spend more time with Kimchi – as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been extremely busy during the past year, especially over the past few months. My dog Kimchi has been a real trooper during this time, holding down the fort and keeping the apartment safe from burglars while I’m away. This year I want to repay the favor. I’ll be working shorter hours and trying to be a better dog owner. More walks. More fetch. Dog cafe’. The whole (ca)nine yards.
(4) Start playing guitar again – guitar fever is spreading among my co-workers, and it’s definitely got me in the mood to strap on an axe again. In my garage days, I was mostly just banging away on power chords. This year I’m actually gonna try to learn some scales.
(5) Start listening to new music – now, when I say “new music” I don’t mean I want to start listening to the crap that’s on the radio. I just mean that I’ve basically been listening to the same songs, bands, and albums for quite a while now and it’s time to branch out a little. So far I’m doing really well on this resolution. Anyone have any suggestions?
(6) Read something every day – it’s embarrassing how long it takes me to finish a book these days. This year I want to set aside a little reading time every day. On a related note: I will try not to buy any new books until I’ve already read the ones on my shelf. No promises, though. By the way, I’m only a few hours away from finishing John Irving’s Setting Free the Bears. It’s been an amazing read (I’ll blog about it when I’m finished) and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys good road trip stories.
(7) Write something every day – if you think it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog, you should see how long it’s been since I’ve tried to write a story or a script. Honestly, I just haven’t had the time or energy for it this year. And yeah, I know some people will say “real writers find time to write,” but people who say those kinds of things are clearly ignorant about how the writing process works. “Time” for a writer (and I’m sure this is true for many other things as well) doesn’t mean spare minutes and hours. It means having time to block everything else out and approach your work with an intense single-minded focus. (That’s why they’re called writers retreats and not writers lunch breaks.) Finding that kind of time is nearly impossible when you’re working 12 hours a day. Hopefully this year will be different. I might also start a vlog.
(8) Lose 35 Pounds -there seems to be a recurring pattern in my life. I spend one year getting into trouble and the next year getting out of it. In 2012 I gained a lot of work-related stress weight. In 2013 I’m going to melt it all off (already down 7.7 pounds).
(9) Learn Korean – I wanted to work on this one last year, but I ended up being a lot busier than I’d anticipated. No time like the present, I guess.
(10) Start Mountain Climbing – last year I hiked up a mountain for the very first time. It wasn’t an easy trek (remember, I’m out of shape), but looking out over the city from the summit was completely exhilirating. I know now why all the holy books set important scenes on the tops of mountains (see also: Moses, Muhammad, etc.) If you come into contact with the divine, that’s probably where it’ll happen. My friends Tammy and Sarah have said they’ll help me in this endeavor. You’ll be hearing from me in another 12.3 pounds, ladies. 🙂
A Vote Before Parting
I think I’ve covered just about everything now, so I’ll go ahead and sign off. But first, let me pose a question to all of you. This year I’ll finally have the time and resources to take a summer vacation. Right now I’m looking at three options:
(2) Go home, visit my family and friends. Bring Kimchi for his first trip to the States.
What would you do if you were me? Let me know, dear readers.
Here’s hoping 2013 is kind to all of you.