Spring has Sprung!

The weather has been so nice lately! It really affects my mood. It’s so easy to wake up when the sun is already up, so most days I get a very early start. I’ve been teaching online classes starting early and it makes my whole day feel productive to get so much done first thing in the morning.

Over the weekend we celebrated the coming of spring with our neighbors and some of T’s classmates at a huge all-day cookout in the courtyard behind our apartment. We were able to come and go all afternoon and people were still celebrating. Then on Sunday T and I went to Fillmore Glen State Park to do some hiking. We don’t often both have a whole day free, and it was nice to get out of town, especially for T’s birthday. Unfortunately the main gorge trail was still closed despite the nice weather, but we hiked up the rim trail and got some exercise. I’d like to go back when the trail is open again so we can see some of the waterfalls.

It is also the time of year for spring cleaning. I’ve recently become obsessed with dust. I feel like I dust daily and yet every morning there is a thin layer of it already beginning to pile up again, and particles glittering in the air. This week I did some really deep cleaning, using the vacuum attachments to get every nook and cranny and invested in some decent dusting cloths. I even wiped down the walls, swept and mopped the hard floors twice. We’ve got a small air purifier in the bedroom which helps reduce allergens but doesn’t really collect much dust. I’ll keep this up for a week and see if it’s making any difference. Both of us have mild dust allergies, but I’ve noticed a significant improvement in sleep quality since we got the air purifier, so it must be doing something.

While doing all of this cleaning I’ve also rounded up a lot of things to donate to the Salvation Army. Since we’ll inevitably be moving in a couple of months, even if we don’t know where yet, I figure it’s a good idea to get a head start on de-cluttering. I donated a bunch of clothes on Monday, and then went inside and found some professional looking clothes for myself. It’s amazing what you can get there for so cheap, and some stuff is practically unused! Since I’ve started teaching online I felt pretty underdressed (I must admit I wear t-shirts and pajama pants around the house all day, since I just work at home!). Thanks to the Salvation Army, I’ve now spruced up the wardrobe a bit.

And the number one thing I devote most of my time to (other than work)? Studying Japanese. I was telling T the other day how much easier it is to pick up this third (technically fourth, but I barely remember Spanish) language. After 5 months of dedicated study I’m at the same point I was after 3 years of studying Korean. My brain is just much more ready to accept it, and the book I got for Christmas (Fluent Forever) had a huge impact on the way I study. I’m really excited to see where I am at the end of this year. If you didn’t know, it was my New Year’s resolution to try and learn a new language in one year. Every time I am feeling lazy and am lounging around watching TV, I ask myself if at the end of the year I’ll be proud of the effort I put into studying. So there’s a lot less TV watching (although sometimes I do watching stuff in Japanese), and a lot more page turning. I am thinking about taking the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) at the end of the year, if it’s easy to take in the US) just to see where I am.

I just can’t sing the praises of taking video-chat language lessons enough. Using Cafetalk, I get to chat with a native speaker 3-5 times a week. Even if the conversations are redundant or simple, having to think of the right word or expression over and over turns it into a real, long-term memory much more quickly than looking at flashcards. It’s been so much fun, and I wish that more people knew the joy of language learning so I could share it with them.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading this far!

Naver

 

I haven’t been writing much on here lately because whenever I have free time I’ve dedicated it elsewhere. I’ve been working on my Naver blog, which is my Korean blog. I suspect if you plug the text into google translate it will make no sense, so I apologize for that! So instead of making you do that I’ll try to summarize what I’ve written about lately.

- T and I have really been enjoying Better Call Saul, the spin-off show that’s come out after Breaking Bad. I’m a huge fan of the writing, directing, and amazing acting of the main characters. Unfortunately the second season is airing right now, so it’ll be a while before I can see more on Netflix!

phlebotomy2- I have to get my blood drawn regularly. It’s always a huge hassle for me because my veins are apparently super tiny and difficult to find. There’s one woman who works at the school clinic who gets me on the first try EVERY time– she’s amazing and I always ask for her, and I don’t know what I’ll do when we have to move! But anyway, there was a whole ordeal last week because she was on vacation and nobody was able to successfully draw my blood. Just when I think I’m getting over my needle phobia, someone comes and pokes a million holes in my arms and traumatizes me all over again, hah! I’m waiting until she comes back before trying again.

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- I write on that blog for homework. Every week there’s a theme for the chapter I’m learning in my Korean lessons. This past week we talked about different forms of media, and I had to write about the first Korean media I was exposed to. For me it was a soap opera called “Let’s go to school, Sangdoo”. I’ll fully admit that it’s because of that show I eventually learned Korean! You may know the main character from the show, who later became Korean pop star/singer Rain. I actually think he’s a fantastic comedy actor, and although his music is fun I love his movies and TV shows more. It’s too bad all of his attempts to break into the American/English-speaking movie scene have been tremendous failures. The guy just can’t speak English, and they always put him in these bad guy ninja roles, which is pretty stupid casting for a prettyboy comedian actor.

 

Trip to ABQ

 

The busiest times are always the hardest to write, aren’t they? And yet those are the only times there’s anything interesting to write about! Last week I went to Albuquerque to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and two young nephews. It was a pretty relaxing vacation for me, although it gave me great insight into what life is like with two very young children to take care of. I enjoyed playing with my nephews and getting to know them a little better. I can’t believe how much they learn and grow, even just in the week I spent with them, let alone as whole years go by! So I’m glad I found the time to visit them this year, and hopefully it will be easy to get together wherever we are all living next. That’s still a big mystery for T and I, at this point!

I spent a lot of time with the kitty last week. As K and P were busy with the kids or already in bed, the cat sought me out and was my constant companion on the sofa.

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I asked K and P if we could see some nature, so we drove to the Albuquerque Volcanoes on the first day of my visit. It’s not much of a hike with two kids though- Z was ready to turn back pretty much the instant we set foot on the trail. But it was really beautiful, and such a dramatic change of scenery from anywhere I’ve lived before. A camera can’t really capture the colors out there as well as the human eye.

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One day after dropping Z off at school we drove up to the foothills of nearby mountains. Just a gorgeous day!2016-03-07-09.09.07 2016-03-07-09.09.33-2

 

K knows all about the best food in town. We had some donuts from Rebel Donuts, which featured a “Blue Sky” donut as a tribute to Breaking Bad. I don’t have any pictures, but I got to see THE car wash while I was in town !2016-03-07-09.46.18My last day we drove up to Santa Fe and had a look at some local art galleries on Canyon Road. I didn’t take any photos worth posting (and you can’t take pictures of the art in the galleries, anyway), but I enjoyed it more than I had expected. My favorite was the Longworth Gallery featuring works of magical realism. The works there made me feel like I had gone back in time to my childhood, when both my sister and I were really into fantasy and magic.

 

Time in the Kitchen

Ever since returning from Magfest I haven’t had much to write about due to massive quantities of work! I actually love having an excess of work because I know exactly what to do when I get up in the morning, but I’ve made some time for other activities, too.

Last week was the Joint Ventures book club meeting. Everyone read The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton which was my suggestion. It was quite long compared to what we normally read, so only about half of the group actually made it to the end. I was pleased that most people enjoyed it thoroughly once they finished it, and the conversation was enthusiastic enough that those who hadn’t read until the end were excited to finish it later. I’m really in love with this author, and I was really eager to have the chance to share her work with other people, and hopefully get her some new fans. I’d been dying to talk about the book.

I’ve also been doing a little bit of cooking, having been inspired by the Michael Pollan Netflix miniseries “Cooked” as well as some other cooking programs. Although I haven’t dazzled Tristan with newly developed cooking abilities, there’s been a huge transformation in our kitchen over the past couple of weeks. These days the freezer is nearly empty and the fridge is jam packed– it’s usually been the other way around! I’m reminded of when we lived in Korea and frozen food was practically non-existent. Except we just didn’t cook then.. but it has been fun to be more involved in the preparation of foods, and it’s had a marked impact on my diet, especially snacking. If you tell yourself you’ll only snack on things you’ve made, the interest in snacking fades away!

English lessons are also going well. My discount period has ended and I no longer offer free trial lessons, so I’ve not got nearly as many lessons booked, but those I do have have become repeat customers. I’m enjoying getting to know a variety of interesting people. One of my students is nine years old, but I’m pretty sure her English (and passion for studying it!) surpasses my other adult students! I thought I’d be teaching more Koreans, but I think there just aren’t many Korean users on that website. It turns out to not be a problem as my students are all intermediate or advanced, so there are no communication problems.

That’s it for now… I’m off to ABQ for a few days, and am excited to see my sister, brother-in-law, and two adorable nephews, as well as a change of scenery!

From Korea to Ithaca