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 have a professional website: 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 webstie 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).
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.
We had "halloween party bis" today, with many more students than Thursday. Three shifts of children: trick-or-treat (to a classroom where I try to act scary - channelling my uncle), games, snacks, etc.
We were having a halloween party for the elementary kids this evening. The Thursday group is quite small, these days. Two girls came running from the "movie room" back into our "store" - where we sold the kids food and snacks and stationary for their fake money as collected from various teachers.
Razel, a teacher, asked the girls, "Is it a scary movie?"
THERE lives a Voice within me, a guest-angel of my heart, And its bird-like warbles win me, till the tears a-tremble start; Up evermore it springeth, like some magic melody, And evermore it singeth this sweet song of songs to me— "This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above. And, if we did our duty, it might be as full of love."
Morn's budding, bright, melodious hour comes sweetly as of yore; Night's starry tendernesses dower with glory evermore: But there be million hearts accursed, where no glad sunbursts shine, And there be million souls athirst for Life's immortal wine. This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above; And, if we did our duty, it might be as full of love.
If faith, and hope, and kindness passed, as coin, 'twixt heart and heart, Up through the eye's tear-blindness, how the sudden soul should start! The dreary, dim, and desolate, would wear a sunny bloom, And Love should spring from buried Hate, like flowers from Winter's tomb. This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above; And, if we did our duty, it might be as full of love.
Were truth our uttered language, Spirits might talk with men, And God-illumined earth should see the Golden Age again; The burthened heart should soar in mirth like Morn's young prophet-lark, And Misery's last tear wept on earth quench Hell's last cunning spark! This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above; And, if we did our duty, it might be as full of love.
We hear the cry for bread with plenty smiling all around; Hill and valley in their bounty blush for Man with fruitage crowned. What a merry world it might be, opulent for all, and aye, With its lands that ask for labour, and its wealth that wastes away! This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above; And, if we did our duty, it might be as full of love.
The leaf-tongues of the forest, and the flower-lips of the sod— The happy Birds that hymn their raptures in the ear of God— The summer wind that bringeth music over land and sea, Have each a voice that singeth this sweet song of songs to me— "This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above; And, if we did our duty, it might be as full of love."
- Gerald Massey (English poet and political activist, 1828-1907)
Still being sick, I had an exhausting day. I failed to post this in a timely fashion (meaning I failed to stick to my one-post-a-day schedule for the first time in a very long time), so I'm putting it up late, and back-dating it.
Chris, a sixth-grader, was doing a writing test. He was doing something weird with his fingers on his skull. It looked like a cross between a secret handshake and a massage.
"What are you doing, Chris?" I asked, gesturing at his hands.
"I'm thinking with my fingers," he explained.
Unrelatedly, a quote:
"I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences." - Gertrude Stein.
I worked for 4 and half hours and came home only to find that the battery had died in my door lock. I have one of those electronic door locks that prevail in Korea. My previous experience with the battery dying in the door lock is that the gadget gives some warning. They start to beep at you in weird, alarming patterns when they're getting low, prompting you to check their battery. But in this event, there had been no warning. Just a dull half-beep and no response when I keyed in my code - it was clear it was a dead battery, though.
The problem is that when I took this apartment, I never received a manual, old-style key. There wasn't one, I guess. That's easy enough to believe - misplaced and never replaced.
So I was locked out of my apartment. I felt rotten, just wanted to crash after work, I had a heavy bag of groceries I'd bought at the store on the way home. The building doorman downstairs made clear this was not something in his control - the building doesn't keep master keys to the apartments. That's not the way it's done. I had to call the landlord (hah... I don't even know who that is - it's anonymous through the real estate management company through my boss Curt - too many layers of middle-men to even contemplate). Or I could call a locksmith - that's what normal people did. I called Curt, and he reiterated the same.
I got the doorman to call the locksmith - I was feeling my usual telephone-in-Korean anxiety, and while I can communicate in Korean somewhat effectively face-to-face when required to do so, I hate trying to do so on the phone. I don't even like talking on the phone in English, anymore. As an aside, what's with my telephone anxiety, anyway? I like talking in person, well enough, after all. My student Jack recently commented, "Teacher, why do you like to talk so much?" But hand me a telephone, and I suddenly feel like I have some kind of handicap. I hate phones. Does this make me an honorary "millenial"? I read recently that millenials believe important communication should be by text or via social media like facebook or, worse-case-scenario, via email. "They" (millenaials, as a statistical collectivity) apparently believe talking on the phone is a waste of time and is for losers.
I waited about 20 minutes, and the locksmith came, and he tinkered around with it for almost 30 minutes, before declaring that he would have to break the lock. I had wondered if it would come to that. I knew that would make it expensive, since then it would have to be replaced. But I really, really just wanted to get into my apartment and start my weekend of convalescing from this horrible cold I have. I sneezed and coughed and assented to 200,000 won (200 bucks).
He broke the lock, and while he spent the next hour replaceing the lock he'd broken, I did my dishes and picked up some things, and as soon as I'd paid him and he left, I took some ibuprofin and decongestant and passed out. I just woke up. I hate sleeping in the afternoon on days off, because it messes me up with respect to my normal afternoon work schedule. I just couldn't not sleep.
I have been struggling with a suddenly really bad cold/flu thing this week, while carrying a rough and intensive inter-naesin teaching schedule. I'm exhausted, and feeling like a zombie-teacher.
What I'm listening to right now.
Sufjan Stevens, "They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!" A truly weird song. About Illinois. And Zombies. Or something.
...Actually, after just a brief googlification, I wonder if it's about that notorious and supposedly excellent TV series, Walking Dead, which I personally don't enjoy, despite finding its themes and approach interesting. Or maybe some other pop-cult zombie-fare.
I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Ring the bell and call or write us I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Can you call the Captain Clitus? Logan, Grant, and Ronald Reagan In the grave with Xylophagan Do you know the ghost community? Sound the horn, address the city
(Who will save it? Dedicate it? Who will praise it? Commemorate it for you?)
We are awakened with the axe Night of the Living Dead at last They have begun to shake the dirt Wiping their shoulders from the earth I know, I know the nations past I know, I know they rust at last They tremble with the nervous thought Of having been, at last, forgot
I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Ring the bell and call or write us I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Can you call the Captain Clitus? B-U-D-A! Caledonia! S-E-C-O-R! Magnolia! B-I-R-D-S! And Kankakee! Evansville and Parker City
Speaking their names, they shake the flag Waking the earth, it lifts and lags We see a thousand rooms to rest Helping us taste the bite of death I know, I know my time has passed I'm not so young, I'm not so fast I tremble with the nervous thought Of having been, at last, forgot
I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Ring the bell and call or write us I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Can you call the Captain Clitus? Comer and Potato Peelers! G-R-E-E-N Ridge! Reeders M-C-V-E-Y! And Horace! E-N-O-S! Start the chorus
Corn and farms and tombs in Lemmon Sailor Springs and all things feminine Centerville and Old Metropolis Shawneetown, you trade and topple us I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Hold your tongue and don't divide us I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Land of God, you hold and guide us
My student Giung sent me a text message this morning:
teacher i foughtwith my parent until late yesterday so i couldn't do my homework i'm so sorry i'll do it until tomorrow i'll promise you
Keeping in mind that Giung rarely does his homework for me, it was hard not to want to make some snark. Finally, I just sent back:
heh. 파이팅. .
In fact, this is a bit of a joke. The Korean I wrote is [paiting] which is, in fact, derived from the English "fighting" (via Japanese). But it is used to mean "work hard" or "keep trying." A student like Giung, however, with his high English comptency and ironic sense of humor, was likely to understand I was punning on the fact that he'd told me that he fought with his parents. In fact, he did - he was explaining what I wrote to the other students in class, today.