Daily Journey Journal #97: calling across oceans

Beep. Bobeep. Beep. Bobeep.

The sound of Skype ringing yanked me from sleep. I scrambled out of bed, disturbing A unintentionally, and ran to the next room.

Video call

My little brother’s pixelated face materialized on the screen. He grinned at my sleep tousled hair and bewildered look.

“Did I just wake you up?”

I nodded, still looking for my voice.

He laughed. “Sleepy head, I’ve been up for an hour and a half already!”

Who is this person, I thought, and since when did my little brother get up so early?

Since he moved to the remote island of Chuuk, Micronesia, that’s when.

Words started flowing between us, interrupted and overlapped by the slow internet connection, but nothing could decrease the excitement of hearing about his new life and perspectives on his first time living abroad. It’d been over two months since I’d last seen B on Skype and almost as long since I’d heard his voice. He looked and sounded good. Better than good. This person before me had become more mature, more confident than I remembered, and happier, if that was possible. B has always been one of the happiest people I have ever known, and life on the tiny island seems to be adding to that.

“Everything is just go with the flow here,” he said. “So, we just really can’t stress about anything. If something works, great. If not, well we figure out something else to do.”

Some days, he says, the printer works and he can print off materials for his classes. Some mornings he has internet and water pressure, some mornings he has neither. Some days his students make it to Chuuk from the even more remote islands. And some days, they don’t. It’s day to day for him, and that works just fine.

We swapped stories about teaching adventures and differences in schools compared to our own schooling before our thoughts turn homeward.

“I tried to call Mum,” he said, “but, she didn’t answer.”

“She’s in Nebraska for Labor Day,” I said.

Since moving to Micronesia, B has become quite the communicator. My mum often jokes that she talks to him more now that he lives half a world away than when he lived just across town. I think this might be true, simply because he has more time and less to do on Chuuk.

“Ahh,” he said. “Well, I’m glad we get to talk.”

“Me too!”

As we chatted. I couldn’t help but think about my mum. The day B flew out for his adventure Mum wrote on Facebook, with much joking, that she must have done something wrong (totally not true!) because now both of her children live half a world away. Truthfully, both B and I are abroad because it seemed like to normal, natural thing to do upon finishing college. It is what Mum did right after finishing university. She lived in Morocco for two years doing Peace Corps and we grew up listening to her stories. Now we have both followed in her footsteps, only we all took different paths to get there.

As my brother and I said goodbye and made plans to talk again before I leave Korea, I couldn’t help but be proud of the person he has become. I miss him dearly and will miss him so much when I return to the US a full eight months before he does, but he is taking a path that will change his whole life forever. His life on Chuuk will be hard and frustrating at times, to be sure, but the experiences he will take away from Chuuk will end up being the stories he tells his children and the tales that inspire them to see the world, much as Mum inspired us.


Frayed: Different ways of life

Going through the daily routine is sometimes just gathering up the frayed ends of life and holding them together for as long as possible.

frayed social fabric

P.S. These are NOT my soju bottles. I cannot stand the chemical taste of this most beloved Korean alcohol, but it a favorite among Koreans and foreigners alike. The low impact on the wallet probably helps with that 🙂

Daily Journey Journal #96: dragonfly, dragonfly

All summer I have been trying to capture a photo of the dragonflies flitting all over the place and today I was finally successful. During our second trip to the tea fields this afternoon we missed the first train back to Yeosu which left us hanging out in the Boseong public park right at sunset. Luckily for me, the dragonflies were feeling like hanging out too and let me snap a few quick pictures before they fluttered off.

sunset dragonfly boseong

Daily Journey Journal # 94: the love of music

Music is one of my most favorite things in the whole world. When it comes to actually playing a musical instrument, I am dreadful at it, but listening to music endlessly, that I can do. Most of the time, regardless of what I am doing, there is music playing in the background. I love having its companionship as I write, cook, edit pictures, read, clean, breathe…

Just as I am addicted to listening to music, I become equally addicted to particular songs. Currently, I am quite attached to Shake it Off (Taylor Swift). For some reason, the music aspect (lyrics aside) sets part of me free and makes me want to dance around. I love how much a song can make my spirit soar and bring a smile to my face.

Like with my newest addiction, some songs just pull me in, capture me in the emotion and atmosphere of their beat, lyrics, melody. When that happens, I absolutely must listen to the song over and over, which usually ends up driving the people I live with batty (my bad!). When I am addicted to a song, each time it ends feels like I’m falling out of a piece of perfection and I want more than anything to return there.

So, I push replay and listen again.

I let myself fall headlong into the music and exist alongside the notes.


And again.

The beat becomes my heartbeat, the notes my thoughts and the melody my soul.

And replay, one more time.

Daily Journey Journal #93: to a new school year

This is my second year now of not beginning school in August and I must say, I am still getting used to it. In so many ways I miss how this time of year was marked by the start of the semester and all that came with a new academic year. New school supplies, new teachers, an empty brain just waiting for new things to fill it. Thinking about it all still fills me with the same nervous excitement that got me every year from the time I was in elementary school through university.

In honor of school starting, my top ten favorite things about the commencement of the new academic year:

1. The anticipation of a new school year, all the unknowns about to be discovered and how those things will shape the year ahead

2. Being a student athlete, going to practice everyday after school and competing every week

3. New notebooks, books, pens, pencils all holding so much potential in their frehsness

4. The start of a new schedule and the way that schedule made the days and weeks flow so clearly

5. Meeting my teachers, my first impressions of their personalities and teaching styles

6. Planners, planners, planners…the ridiculously organized part of my self loves the way life looks when its listed in a planner (while the spontaneous side of me is totally repulsed)

7. The effort everyone puts into those first days, into looking nice, acting nice and being interested

8. The energy of the first few days, fueled by excitement and curiosity

9. Reading the syllabi and finding out all the awesome things we’ll be learning over the year

10. Walking into each classroom for the first time, breathing it all in and taking in the spaces that will shape how I learn and interpret the information shared with us


Happy start of the school year!