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.
One thing that happens every time my friend Peter leaves Korea is that I get a pile of books. I am his Asian book storage facility, because he knows I appreciate them.
One book he left with me is a book of poems entitled "A letter not sent" by Jeong Ho-seung (정호승). The book is bilingual, which I like, with translation by Brother Anthony and Susan Hwang. Brother Anthony is a Catholic monk based in Seoul and prolific translator of Korean poetry - I've written about him before on this blog. Peter actually seems to know the man through their shared membership in the Royal Asiatic Society.
I particularly liked this poem (note that I copied the poem's text from the book, so any strange typing mistakes, especially in the Korean where my typing skills are imprecise, are my own and not in the original).
밥 먹는 법
밥상 앞에 무릎을 꿇지 말 것 눈물로 만든 밥모다 모래로 만든 밥을 먼저 먹을 것
무엇보다도 전시된 밥은 먹지 말 것 먹더라도 혼자 먹을 것 아니면 차라리 굶을 것 굶어서 가벼워질 것
때때로 바람 부는 날이면 풀잎을 햇살에 비벼 먹을 것 그래도 배가 고프면 입을 없앨 것 - 정호승 (한국 시인 1950년-)
How to Eat
No kneeling in front of the meal table; the rice made of sand should be eaten before the rice made of tears.
Above all else rice on display should not be eaten; if you must eat it, you should eat it alone; otherwise you should fast; by fasting you will grow lighter.
From time to time on windy days, you should mix grass with sunlight and eat that; and should you still feel hungry you should do away with your mouth. - Jeong Ho-seung (Korean poet, b1950)
One comment on the title. The translation of the title, "How to Eat," isn't completely literal. Literally, it is "Rules for eating rice." But "eat" and "eat rice" are essentially synonymous in Korean (in a way that can sometimes lead to confusion for Westerners).
I very much prefer the literal title, and I think the poem is playing with the semantic overlap between "eat" and "eat rice" which means the title should include "rice."
I have written a nonnet as a kind of "response" to this poem. I will post it tonight as my daily nonnet.
I went into Seoul yesterday to bid farewell, once again, to my friend Peter.
Mostly it was just hanging out and watching him finish packing. A few of his other friends came by, too. I'm not sure my social skills are very good, anymore.
It was a cool, windy day, relative to the recent oppressive heat of August. A squall of rain crossed the city as we were leaving. The air was quite clear and the clouds were many stark shades of gray, like an abstract coloring book pattern in the sky.
Here is a picture of Peter, with a friend of his, and me, after going out in the street from his apartment (well, former apartment, now). In fact it is raining lightly in this picture, but it's hard to tell.
I've been feeling a lot of stress, lately. The work cycle is at that typical September peak, as kids start their Fall semester at school, we wrap up the summer special classes, and enrollment starts heading for that hagwon-biz Fall surge. I have month-end writing tests to score, student comments to write, and new student interviews.
Further, there has been a kind of rumbling of parental dissatisfaction with the current state of the curriculum in the youngest cohorts. That means lots of wasted time in incoherent discussions and meetings about curriculum, and the resulting decisions which, inevitably, will not be the ideas I advocated for.
Layered on that is the fact that September 1 is the annual contract renewal date, which always forces me to contemplate, once again, the occasionally Faustian nature of my current, complicated, and unsatisfying relationship with my job, my host country, and the Korean healthcare system. It is easy to begin to wonder if it's all worth it.
Additionally, I was "volunteered" for some extra work, at work - of the least favorite kind, which involves sitting and mucking with a computer trying to transcribe some simply atrocious English conversations: Bad, non-native speakers talking buzzword-filled English to the worst kind of consonant-glottalizing, modal-verb-abusing, corporatese-spewing Britishers with stunningly loud background noises and interruptions. I feel like my willingness to be helpful is being abused, and of course it's hard when the utility of the work at hand seems dubious at best.
I have a hospital appointment coming up, too. I always dread those - anticipating them is much worse than just being there dealing with it. Having moved past the worst of the jaw necrosis problem last Spring, I enjoyed a relatively hospital-free summer after the Big Anniversary Scan in July. So my "just deal with it" reflex is rusty.
All said and done, I feel unhappy.
I am going to Seoul today to bid farewell (version 3.0? 4.0?) to my friend Peter, who is once again returning to the US, this time to start graduate school.