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.
Walking to work is very easy and convenient when the Koreans are holding their monthly civil defense drills. At 2pm on certain Wednesdays (I haven't quite figured out the pattern, I confess - I used to think it was first Wednesdays but clearly today wasn't one of those), the sirens go off and all these volunteers and police go out and pretend we're being attacked by North Korea. Mostly this involves making everyone stop driving their cars. Everyone has to sit in their cars at intersections for 10 minutes or so, while the drill happens, emergency vehicles pretend to ciruculate, etc.
It makes walking to work very pleasant, because all the wide avenues in Ilsan are carless (well, moving-car-less - they're all pulled over or stopped at intersections). If you jaywalk at mid-block, you can stroll casually from block to block, avoiding the intersections, and never worry about a car.
For 10 minutes. Then it's back to psycho-driving-taxis... the usual.
Whether what we sense of this world is the what of this world only, or the what of which of several possible worlds --which what?--something of what we sense may be true, may be the world, what it is, what we sense. For the rest, a truce is possible, the tolerance of travelers, eating foreign foods, trying words that twist the tongue, to feel that time and place, not thinking that this is the real world.
Conceded, that all the clocks tell local time; conceded, that "here" is anywhere we bound and fill a space; conceded, we make a world: is something caught there, contained there, something real, something which we can sense? Once in a city blocked and filled, I saw the light lie in the deep chasm of a street, palpable and blue, as though it had drifted in from say, the sea, a purity of space.
Yesterday, after work, Curt invited me to "drive around" with him. We have done this before, though not that often - I would say it happens once or twice a year. Often, it happens when he has his two kids because his wife has to work.
So we go do something hopefully fun with them. I would say this time, it did not really work out. For one, I was not really up for it. I felt tired after work and eventually I developed a beastly headache. By the time I got home, I felt the worst I have at any point since the dregs of my radiation treatment. It was not any particlar fault. . . just how it worked out.
I do not think the kids really had that much fun either. First we went to a temple - Curt seems to find my interest (as a foreigner) in temples fascinating, so he often suggests it. We went to one I visited before with my friend Peter, some time ago, in northern Paju, called 범륜사 [beomryunsa]. I like it there because it is in a steep mountain valley, but there was not much to do if one was not planning on hiking.
So we drove down into the town of 적성면 [jeokseongmyeon], ate some ramyeon at a bunsik joint, then we drove east to the Hantan River north of Dongducheon, where there was a cheesy "prehistoric village" - one of those classic Korean roadside tourist traps. I find the plethora of these tourist traps clustered right along the DMZ fascinating.
The little one, Curt's son, had fun, but his daughter was bored. We saw statues of cavemen, fake grass huts, and some mammoth-hunting talbleaux. Were there mammoths in Korea? I do not know. I was definitely puzzled by the collection of international flags flying beside the wild-boar hunting scene. The shoot-your-own-bow-and-arrow booth was closing, so we did not get to do that.
Finally, we left and came back. The sun was setting and I stared at the barren hills of North Korea right across the Imjin River as we zoomed along the 8 lane expressway back to Ilsan. I pondered the contrast.
When I got home, I went to bed and passed out, well before my usual bedtime. My blog post yesterday was one of those "pre-queued" ones, which was not really meant to go live. But. . . oh well.
Fortunately today, my headache was gone. I still felt lousy though.
[daily log: walking, 1 km]
I walked home with my coworker Ken from work, because he lives near me. Normally he doesn't walk, but today he did, as we were talking about some things. When we were walking home from work together, this old woman marched passed us walking in that very typical "old Korean person" style, kind of pumping her arms and half-marching.
Ken laughed and said she walked like a communist. I was trying to think how a communist walked.
Last night we went out for a drink and some food (beer and chicken wings) - very western - at a place near La Festa near my apartment. It was just the "elementary team": Ken, Kay, Helen and I. There is going to be a major staff change at the hagwon, and it is going to be a difficult transition for the hagwon and for me, I expect. More work, at least in the medium term. I'll give details later when I can feel confident I'm not breaking any confidentiality issues.
This morning, I finished one of my history books that I bought a few weeks ago. It was The Birth of Classical Europe, by Simon Price and Peter Thonemann. It's a kind of summary of the classical period. The first half could be called "the rise of Greece" and the second half could be called "The rise of Rome." I was most interested in the peripheral cultures - the Cretans, Trojans, Phoenicians, Etruscans and Celts were the "runners up" in the classical Mediterranean sweepstakes. I was particularly interesting in the interesting fact that Massilia (modern Marseille in France) was a flourishing Greek city before Rome. I hadn't really thought about that. It was an interesting intersection of Greek and Celtic culture.
I had a really exhausting day. I'm not sure why I found it so exhausting - it wasn't that different than some other days, although with so many speaking classes, I spoke a lot - that might not make sense, but anytime I ask students to make speeches, I have a policy of making sure to "model" good speeches for them - so I end up giving a lot of speeches in my speaking classes. Also, I think I haven't been sleeping well, lately.
So anyway, I don't have much to say, and I have nothing interesting from the internet, as I haven't been doing much internetting either. I guess this is an appropriately banal entry to make the day after having made explicit my intention to be uninteresting.
The first few years, it wasn't very consistent. After a burst of frequent posting during my trip to Europe in February, 2005, I missed almost an entire year in 2005-06 as I became absorbed by that difficult job in Long Beach / Newport Beach. My total number of posts for the first 3 years was something around 50.
Once I realized I was going to be changing careers and coming to Korea to teach English, however, I became more focused, and I've averaged at least a post a day for the last 7 years (since late 2007). My blog administration tool tells me I currently have 3841 posts - this includes a small number of posts that I've "backdated," - transcriptions from my pre-blog journaling.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with it. It's not always interesting, I'm sure - I'm not interested in being interesting. I don't want to become a "popular" blog or perform any kind of broader, journalistic function. This blog is nothing more than an exhibtionistic kind of journaling.
Todos los que no entienden de perder Te dirán no pasa nada la vida seguirá Todos los que no saben de soledad Te dirán todo se olvida, otro ocupa su lugar Como van a saber si no han nadado en la profundidad Ya conocerán la verdadera sensación del mal Lo que a tu lado fui me lo guardare Solo pido que deje de doler Lo que a tu lado fui me lo guardare Solo pido que deje de doler A todos nos tocara enfrentar Por primera vez la mirada que nos cambia A caso no es algo natural Buscar en los demás el consuelo que nos falta Ya te encontrara siempre te va buscando en la verdad Un día entenderán lo poco que va quedando en su lugar Lo que a tu lado fui me lo guardare Solo pido que deje de doler Lo que a tu lado fui me lo guardare Solo pido que deje de doler Lo que a tu lado fui me lo guardare Solo pido que deje de doler Solo pido que deje de doler Solo pido que deje de doler Solo pido que deje de doler Solo pido que deje de doler