My name is Jared Way. I was born in California, and became an "adoptive" Minnesotan. Now I'm contentedly expatriated in South Korea.
For many years I was a database programmer, with a background in Linguistics and Spanish Literature.
I quit my well-paying job and starting in September, 2007, I spent 2 years teaching EFL to elementary kids in Ilsan (suburban Seoul), South Korea. From April, 2010, until April, 2011, I worked a public school position in rural southwestern Korea (Yeonggwang County). I have since returned to Ilsan and continue to work there.
As of June, 2013, I remain in Ilsan in South Korea, but I was diagnosed with cancer, and have been undergoing treatment. As a consequence, the focus and tone of this blog has changed somewhat.
I started this blog before I even had the idea of coming to Korea (first entry: Caveat: And lo...). So this is not meant to be a blog about Korea, by any stretch of the imagination. But life in Korea, and Korean language and culture, inevitably play a central role in this blog's current incarnation. Let's just say... it's a blog about whatever I happen to be thinking, that currently takes place in Korea.
Basically, this blog is a newsletter for the voices in my head. It keeps everyone on the same page: it has become a sort of aide-mémoire.
If you're curious about me, there is a great deal of me here. I believe in what I call "opaque transparency" - you can learn almost everything about me if you want, but it's not immediately easy to find. I also maintain a work-related blog on the Korean portal Naver: jaredway.com.
I like to take photographs. I'm NOT a photographer. Recently, I've been trying to consolidate my "good" photos and have opted to try hosting them at a website called panoramio - partly because I mostly take pictures of landscape or scenery and panoramio is well-integrated with google earth. Here is a slideshow of some of my photos.
A distillation of my personal philosophy (at least on good days):
I have made the realization that happiness is not a mental state. It is not something that is given to you, or that you find, or that you can lose, or that can be taken from you. Happiness is something that you do. And like most things that you do, it is volitional. You can choose to do happiness, or not. You have complete freedom with respect to the matter.
"Ethical joy is the correlate of speculative affirmation." - Gilles Deleuze (writing about Spinoza).
Geofiction - this has evolved into a significant "hobby" for me. I like to draw imaginary maps, and these sites enable this vice.
I have, in fact, been working as a volunteer administrator for OpenGeofiction for about half a year
now. I enjoy it, and I've learned a lot. I created and maintain the site's main wiki page: OGF
The above work has required my becoming an expert in the Openstreetmap system. Openstreetmap is an attempt do for online maps what wikipedia has done for encyclopedias. I have considered becoming an openstreetmap contributor, but I feel that my current location in Korea hinders that, since I don't have a good grasp Korean cartographic naming conventions.
I originally discovered the above site when exploring this site Urban Geofiction.
Another geofiction site Norscand. They recently linked to OGF, too.
TEFL - my "profession," such as it is.
Online English Grammar reference Grammarist. Useful for settling disputes over grammar.
Think about it. We could have built a high speed rail network for the whole country for that price - if you assume $100 million per mile construction cost (very generous), you could get more than 10000 miles of high speed rail.
Today is 설날 [seollal = lunar new year]. A holiday, and the beginning of the Year of the Monkey.
Koreans celebrate the lunar new year by eating seaweed soup with ttoek (plain rice-cake) for breakfast. I had some "instant" 미역국 (miyeokguk = seaweed soup) and had bought some tteok in a bag from the convenience store downstairs yesterday.
So I did that - picture at right.
Utterly apropos, because of the video...
What I'm listening to right now.
Coldplay, "Adventure Of A Lifetime."
Turn your magic on Umi she'd say Everything you want's a dream away And we are legends every day That's what she told me
Turn your magic on, To me she'd say Everything you want's a dream away Under this pressure under this weight We are diamonds
Now I feel my heart beating I feel my heart underneath my skin And I feel my heart beating Oh you make me feel Like I'm alive again Alive again Oh you make me feel Like I'm alive again
Said I can't go on, not in this way I'm a dream that died by light of day Gonna hold up half the sky and say Only I own me And I feel my heart beating I feel my heart underneath my skin Oh I can feel my heart beating Cause you make me feel Like I'm alive again Alive again Oh you make me feel Like I'm alive again
Turn your magic on, Umi she'd say Everything you want's a dream away Under this pressure under this weight We are diamonds taking shape We are diamonds taking shape
If we've only got this life This adventure oh then I And if we've only got this life You get me through And if we've only got this life In this adventure oh then I Want to share it with you With you With you Yeah I do Woohoo Woohoo Woohoo
I decided to rearrange my apartment today, to prepare for the monkeys, as well as to recover from the flood a few days ago, and it got complicated - I disabled my internet somehow. It appears to have been temporary, or my fiddling around fixed it, as it is working again. I'm not sure what happened. Maybe the cable was bad, or suddenly discovered its innner badness when I moved it around.
I was walking to work this morning, and noticed the political banners at the big intersection of Gobong and Jungang. I guess it's not just political season in the US, but here too?
I tried to make sense of the 민주당 (Democratic Party) banner as I waited for the traffic light to change so I could cross the street. It said,
더불어민주당 deo.bul.eo min.ju.dang [come] along with the Democratic Party
The dictionary gives "throw your lot in with..." as a gloss for 더불어 but that has a bit too much of a negative connotation (as in, just give up and throw your lot in with) in my mind to serve as a good translation of a political slogan, so I preferred to try to read it as "come along with."
The Democratic Party is the slightly more leftward of Korea's two parties - I was standing under the banner of their opposites, the more right-wing 새누리당 [sae.nu.ri.dang = "New Frontier Party"], who currently control the presidency through the dictator's daughter. I don't think it's quite time to elect a president (that will be next year), but I think there are local elections and maybe parliamentary ones, coming up.
I won't say my kitchenette sink is broken. It's just a little bit wonky. The drainpipe under the sink is just snapped on. Thus, if I am moving something around under the sink, it's possible for the drainpipe to snap off. It's easy to fix - just snap it back on.
Yesterday I took out some of my recycling, and so I was pulling the bag out from under the sink. I guess the pipe snapped off.
Normally, when this happens, I notice immediately - the water runs down out from under the sink cabinet, instead of down its drainpipe, and onto the floor where I'm standing. This is hard not to notice, and thus I will stop, mop up the spilled water, and move on.
Last night, we had hwehsik (회식 = work dinner). It went quite late. I am not drinking alcohol, because of my ongoing surgical procedures, but... I was really groggy when I got up this morning. Fuzzy-brained. Out of it.
For some reason, I decided I needed to do the dishes, first thing when I got up. The sink was full of dishes, and they were in the way of filling my coffee pot. I have been busy with work, lately, so I had been letting the dishes pile up a bit - as much as they can, given my limited supply. So I started doing dishes. I did them all.
Somehow, I was utterly oblivious to the river flowing at my feet. I guess that sets a new standard for groggy.
I flooded my apartment.
My bed, being on the floor, served as absorptive material to mop it all up. Now I am doing a lot of laundry.
I've written before about how I reward my students with "alligator bucks" sometimes - a kind of point system or in-class currency. I also have a rare, special "Lucky Seven" bill, denominated at 7 alligator bucks. If you possess one of these "Lucky Sevens," you can use it as a homework pass, to get out of a zero point result for undone homework.
Yesterday, my student Sophia came to me right before our listening class. She brandished her "Lucky Seven" and I thought she was going to confess to not doing homework. Instead, she wanted to know if it also could be counted as a normal seven dollars, in our economy system. She was really hungry, she said. I sometimes have snacks on hand that I "sell" to my students. She wanted to buy some chips that she knew I had in my "snack drawer."
I shrugged, and said sure, if she wanted to spend her seven dollars on a snack, that was fine. "Are you sure you don't want to save it in case you don't do your homework, sometime?"
She grinned. "I always do my homework!"
"I seem to remember a few times when you didn't do homework," I observed.
She was adamant that she would never need the lucky seven. "I will always do my homework in the future," she promised.
We went into our listening class. "OK, let me see your homework," I began.
"We had homework?!" Sophia said, with a dismayed look on her face and a handful of chips paused, halfway to her mouth.
This indicates a situation of intense, complete change - as if a silkworm orchard is tranformed into blue sea. It came up in the context of discussing the fact that, because I was stationed near to my current home when I was in the US Army in 1991, I had seen Ilsan back when it was a small village amid rice fields, and now it has become a high-density connurbation of half a million. Seungbae used this phrase to describe that kind of transformation.
On Saturday I met my friend Seungbae and his wife, who came out to Ilsan to visit. Seungbae is one of my closest Korean friends, and was very supportive to me through my cancer two years ago, but I don't see him much, because in his current job, he has been living in Mexico City. He is my "Spanish-speaking Korean friend," whom I met way back in 2010 when I was living in Suwon and looking for a job - he was looking for a job at that time, too. He found one, and is doing quite well.
Anyway, recently Seungbae's been tasked by his company with setting up a new company office in L.A., but has been back in Korea for a few weeks. So he came to visit. We went out to eat at the 본죽 (Korean-style congee restaurant) that's across the street from my apartment, and had some coffee.
I am lucky to have so many good friends who stick with me despite my antisocial tendencies.
Llega el invierno. Espléndido dictado me dan las lentas hojas vestidas de silencio y amarillo.
Soy un libro de nieve, una espaciosa mano, una pradera, un círculo que espera, pertenezco a la tierra y a su invierno.
Creció el rumor del mundo en el follaje, ardió después el trigo constelado por flores rojas como quemaduras, luego llegó el otoño a establecer la escritura del vino: todo pasó, fue cielo pasajero la copa del estío, y se apagó la nube navegante.
Yo esperé en el balcón tan enlutado, como ayer con las yedras de mi infancia, que la tierra extendiera sus alas en mi amor deshabitado.
Yo supe que la rosa caería y el hueso del durazno transitorio volvería a dormir y a germinar: y me embriagué con la copa del aire hasta que todo el mar se hizo nocturno y el arrebol se convirtió en ceniza.
La tierra vive ahora tranquilizando su interrogatorio, extendida la piel de su silencio.
Yo vuelvo a ser ahora el taciturno que llegó de lejos envuelto en lluvia fría y en campanas: debo a la muerte pura de la tierra la voluntad de mis germinaciones. - Pablo Neruda (Poeta chileno, 1904-1973)