#YesAllWomen and Why It Matters to the Church

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I’m angry.  I’m angry, and I’m praying, because I know that my anger does not work God’s righteousness. I’m angry, and I feel the impotence of that anger, because no amount of awareness or words from me will bring justice or change.

God creates with purpose: He calls us to live and work passionately and joyfully for His kingdom. He gives us goals to work towards. I believe firmly that as He gives us things to love and build up, so He points us to hate and destroy what is evil. Tonight, I feel that push to fight. So I am writing, though I’m late to this discussion already.

This is not my story. It is the story of a friend who gave me permission to write about it here. All names and locations have been changed, per her request. No other detail is altered.

A preface:

Over the weekend, a horrific and violent tragedy at Isla Vista, CA, cost seven people their lives and injured several more. The instrument of this massacre was a deranged young misogynist who posted a YouTube video prior to his killing spree, detailing all the ways that ‘you girls’ were responsible for his murderous, evil acts.

I watched the video with my husband as the news broke. It was sad. It was chilling. It was demonic. In itself, it was angering enough to inspire scores of blog posts.

In response to the killings, a massive social media surge under the hashtag #YesAllWomen opened up a sobering, thoughtful, and revealing discussion about the worldwide state of female oppression. I believe that this hashtag is important. As a Christian woman who self-identifies as a feminist, I’m writing to ask you not to ignore it.

Allow me, brothers and sisters, to issue the disclaimer that, tragically, must accompany that label: I do not hate men. I love men. I love people. I love God. I love Jesus Christ.  I have many Christian friends to whom this message does not apply. I love you.

I hate sin, and I hate Satan. I hate his works in God’s created world. Oppression of women is Satanic. And it is everywhere. And it IS in the Church.  Oppression angers me outside of the church, but it does not surprise me. In the Church? It infuriates. It ought not be.

The story:

Meg is a friend and fellow ex-pat. We meet on Tuesdays for Bible study at a neighborhood café. For the past few weeks we have been moving slowly through the book of Malachi.  This week, like other weeks, started as a general update and discussion about life and current events, eventually landing on the Isla Vista story. We picked up the Bible study at Malachi 2.17, reading about the Lord’s promised return to purify and judge the corrupt priesthood prophesied against earlier in the chapter. We stopped at 3.5. We didn’t get any further.

Malachi is an intense book. It’s not directed at pagans or outsiders. It deals with the rot at the core of those claiming to be in God’s service. It calls out the wicked priests and the wicked people who support them. In the section we read, God proclaims a day where he will witness against ‘sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts’ (Malachi 3.5, ESV).

After we read this verse, Meg started to speak. She told her story quietly and slowly, even with occasional laughs—not of joy but of shock.

Before moving to Daegu, Meg worked at a Christian university in another city. She’d told me before that things hadn’t worked out with that university, but she hadn’t told me the details. Her university hosted a seminary with a large international enrollment.  Meg was working alone in her office when one of the international seminary students, who was studying to become a pastor and in Korea on scholarship, came in for help on his thesis. Her officemate was out and they were alone. He was married and Meg knew him casually, through friendships with other students from his home country. While she was checking through his thesis, he pushed her up against her desk and began kissing her.

She pushed him off and screamed for help. He stopped.

Administration was brought in. Initially, he blamed Meg, insisting that she’d come on to him. After some time, he confessed the truth.

The response of the administration of the Christian seminary was that the incident was 100% the fault of Meg. Because “he had needs and he was away from his wife, and she was alone with him in the office.”

The university had no policy about opposite gender teachers and students working together.

Further, students who knew Meg and supported her were warned that involvement would jeopardize their enrollment (which, for international students, meant visa status and scholarship money).  Coworkers at this Christian school who knew her assured her privately of their support but said nothing to administration. She sat through meetings answering questions like ‘What did you say when he asked for help on his paper?’ and ‘How did you say it?’ She was told she was not allowed to bring an advocate or a friend to these meetings—a dictum which she now regrets following, but was so shellshocked at the time that she had no ability to defy.

“The worst part—worse by far than the attack itself—was how institutionalized the response was,” she said, pushing the last of her iced coffee around the bottom of the glass. “It was so hard to believe that now—in this day and age—in the CHURCH—I could be treated that way. Worse than that? He has his degree and is back home now, working with young girls in churches, doing who knows what, because of his needs.”

The truth, as Meg says herself, is that it could have been much worse. She has friends whose stories are far, far more disturbing and horrible. She shared how supportive her church outside the university was, and how friends tried to help her locate support groups for women—either expat or Korean—and though they didn’t find any, she appreciated how they tried.  She is grateful to have a job at a secular university where the boss and administration have clearly outlined policies that they rarely if ever have to enact. And she knows that there will be justice, one day.

The point:

I have never been treated that way. But I, and Meg, and all women, everywhere, have been, and are, afraid.  That is why #YesAllWomen matters.

All women have, at some point, feared a man. When we are alone, we fear the physical presence of what is not even there. And, if we are not afraid—if we brush off that fear and something happens— we are scolded, ridiculed, or punished. Punished for not being afraid enough.  That is the reality of being a woman, across the world, in any culture.

This is not and has never been God’s will. We are called to oppose fear. Stand against a system that punishes victims and celebrates, condones, or ignores attackers. Speak with humility of what we do not understand. Pray without ceasing.

#YesAllWomen is important because it is true. Please, please do not discount or ignore it because it is ‘secular’ or ‘feminist.’ I have seen how defensive Christians can get in the face of ‘feminism.’ Please, let that guard down and consider what #YesAllWomen is saying. Institutionalized injustice is not a specter magicked up by bitter jezebels intent on usurping men.  It is a reality, enacted and encouraged by the enemy of God.

In the Church, it looks like accusing women of overreacting if even the word ‘sexism’ or ‘feminist’ is mentioned, or greeting its mention with eye rolls and gusty sighs. It looks like ostracizing a woman who speaks confidently.

It looks like church administration teaching that ‘boys will be boys’ and that the only prevention for violence against women lies in the woman’s ability to dodge it.

It looks like NOT REFUTING what the world teaches about men. My mother has a favorite saying that echoed through our home growing up: ‘Absence of malice is not an excuse.’ Let that sink in. A negative virtue is not a virtue. You are not helping us by defining us as a man’s sister, mother, or daughter. You are not helping by condemning young women for revealing dress. You are not helping by shaming victims or refusing to stand against aggressors.

Christian brothers: Accept that you have no idea what it is like to experience fear for your physical wellbeing at all times and in all places.

You are not called to shush, to roll your eyes, or to condemn. You are not called to dominate that discussion. You are called to pray. You are called to help. You are called to hold yourselves and your brothers accountable. You are called to consider that there are things you cannot understand, and in those moments, to pray for understanding

For Meg, for the victims of Isla Vista, for yourself, for the message of Jesus: #YesAllWomen matters.

Introspect

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I like writing. But I don’t like writing as much as I like other things.

(Things: Eating, Singing, Talking, Reading. You, probably.)

I write, when I write, not because I’m compelled by an overwhelming need for the written word, but by an overwhelming need to express myself in a way that I feel can be understood. If I can only find that through writing, then I write. Evidence: how I almost never ‘finish’ (or at least sustain) any writing project. It’s not just laziness (it’s partly laziness), it’s lack of motivation. When I can find an outlet more easily elsewhere, I take it.

So when I came to Daegu, I knew how badly I would need to express certain things, and I knew how much I would need something I could focus on successfully, and could, to an extent, control: therefore I blogged a lot. I needed to. It was catharsis and adjustment.

After over a year and a half in Daegu, when I need catharsis and adjustment, I have Really Good People I can talk to (I collect those). I have extracurricular activities and commitments and friendships and so many other ways to keep my life in good, solid perspective: therefore I haven’t blogged since January.

Of course, there is a reason why, tonight, when there are many other things I could and should be doing, I’m writing this post.

In a few months I’ll be moving on to something new (though still, to my surprise, Korea). I’ve prayed and filled out applications and interviewed and scanned documents and it’s all becoming very real. And I don’t know what it’s going to look like or what I’m going to do or how I’ll feel about it when I’m there. This is when I need to write. This is when I need to put words down in order, and watch paragraphs grow. And, too, watch them end.

Korean students still say hilarious, outrageous, touching, crazy things. I’m still eating food that I cannot generally identify. New experiences and new challenges arise on a weekly (daily, hourly) basis, and that hasn’t changed since the writing stopped. These are things I’ve grown easy with. I take them in stride. I don’t notice them as readily as I once did. But the coming upheaval, sometime in the next five months, will ensure that once again, I’ll be noticing everything. Once again, everything will be new and out-of-focus and contextless.

I’ve known this for some time. But tonight I’m a little overwhelmed by the bittersweet of it. So many good things to leave behind and so much to anticipate. Strangest of all, the good (so much) that won’t end in five months, things that are good now that will carry over to be good then. What will it all look like when I get there?

I don’t know.

The temptation is to try as hard as I can to project what that future will look like: to number the days left and analyze every imaginable outcome, spending more time and energy analyzing my life than I do living it. Expending more energy trying to protect myself from undesirable outcomes than I do pursuing the only outcome that matters.

Thankfully there is another option.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

There’s so much I don’t know, and sometimes the sheer weight of that becomes noticeable, but as I follow Christ, the ever-repeated reminder is that I don’t have to. Not even when my own emotions take me by surprise and I have to blog again, after a million months, just to sort it out.

If you feel like that, occasionally, try Psalm 37.3-7ish on for size.

Year in Review

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Happy 2013, friends! I write this on my sister’s new laptop in my new bright blue penguin bedecked pajama pants. O Christmas. I’ve had an amazing vacation made up of the usual McMahon Christmas insanity plus the added measure of my little brother’s wedding. With Christmas and wedding finished, the first days of 2013 will mark movement. Tomorrow morning I head back to Daegu and back to work: back to intensives and waking up at 6.30 for the 7.25 shuttle; back to mostly-decent cafeteria food and not understanding what anyone says most of the time. Back to coffeeshops and cheap restaurants and germy children and dry, dry cold and excellence in friends and in public transportation.

2012 is getting mixed and mostly negative reviews. That happens every year and I have nothing meaningful to contribute to that discussion. But I did figure that, for my first post of 2013, I ought to tally up what I gained and lost and ventured in the Year that Was.

In 2012:

  • James married Christina and Jonny married Nina, making a gain of two sisters. The boy-girl tally of the McMahon family now stands at 6 boys, 8 girls. LADIES. WE’RE FINALLY IN THE LEAD
  • Kezia was born, bringing the niece-nephew tally to 3 boys, 4 girls. I AM WEIRDLY COMPETITIVE ABOUT THIS
  • Participated (as an instructor) in two intensive teacher training programs for South Korean elementary school teachers. Was woefully unqualified and felt nauseated most of the time, but finished without students realizing that
  • Realized I hate teaching
  • Discovered running
  • Three 10K races under my belt. One more and a half marathon on deck before summer 2013
  • For the first time in my life I own over 20 pairs of shoes, only one of which are flip-flops. Note: THIS IS NOT A POINT OF PRIDE
  • PARIS
  • Sang on purpose in public with a band. More than once. And liked it
  • Went on a date by accident (with this guy). And liked it
  • Moved into my first and second Very Own Apartments
  • Arm-wrestled dozens of assorted Korean elementary and middle schoolers. Only lost three times but those boys were beefy hulking 8th graders and plus they cheated
  • Became by default the worship leader in my church service. Am working on liking it
  • Ate too many waffles, drank too many mochas, regret neither
  • Developed crushes on BOYS and got over them
  • Discovered the magic of Korea in the spring. Am very much looking forward to re-discovering it
  • Turned 25, which I did not blog about but which I celebrated for about a month. Hashtag birthdaypalooza
  • Got kicked out of CostCo
  • Completed my first year of employment in South Korea and began my second

2012 was many things but one of them was not boring, and that shall be attributed it as a merit. That might be the theme of 2012 in the life of Colleen: “The Year that Was Not Boring.” Other possible titles: “God is Good and so are Waffles” “Running is Not Just for Being Chased or Needing to Pee” “Singing>Teaching>Teaching Singing” “Trust in God and Be Brave”

I like that. Maybe I’ll make it mine for 2013.

For the Children

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You know those ‘scared straight’ programs where busted gangsters and whatnot try to frighten at-risk youth into becoming law-abiding citizens? Or, this?

If that program had an evil twin where they scare good kids into being criminals they could force the children to look at my planner for the next two weeks. “She never had a parking ticket,” they’d say. “And this is how she ended up.” Because no amount of not-prison is worth this week’s schedule.

So maybe I’m a little busy. OBVIOUSLY zero percent of my insane next 10 days is due to procrastination. OBVIOUSLY. Shut up! It’s my blog!

Here’s part of my to-do list:

  • Buy gift supplies for kindergarten faculty and Korean staff
  • Make Christmas gifts for kindergarten faculty and Korean staff
  • Make Christmas gift list for family
  • Buy Christmas gifts for family
  • Buy wedding gift for Lil Bro and Nearly Sis (aka Nonatheen)
  • Buy train ticket to Seoul for flight home
  • Book hostel in Seoul for night before flight
  • Find and compile sheet music for next week’s Christmas music class
  • Distribute Sheet music to teachers
  • Compile music for next week’s caroling party
  • Bake for caroling party
  • Compile supplies for Christmas craft class
  • Learn Kindy lessons
  • Finish writing TOEFL prep class finals review
  • Finish writing TOEFL prep class final exam
  • Decipher grading system for Toefl prep class
  • Grade final exams
  • Enter semester grades
  • Do laundry
  • Send Caroling party email
  • Pack
  • Attend social function for new teachers
  • Organize Sunday’s worship service
  • Prepare for church Christmas rehearsal

It feels like finals week. Why does it feel like finals week? THIS IS WHY I QUIT SCHOOL PEOPLE. THIS IS WHY.

And now, with all of this on my plate, I am going to finish this super-necessary blog post, and go for a run. FOR THE CHILDREN.

 

Pops

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I could write this post about how crazy last weekend was, specifically Sunday, in which I ran a 10k (my best yet), led worship at church for only about the third time ever after having not been there for three consecutive Sundays, and then hosted the final stage of a progressive Thanksgiving dinner in my barely-moved-in apartment, with around 20 people and a million desserts my friend Carrie and I made from scratch the day before.

I could do that, and maybe I will, tomorrow, while I should be doing other things (read: working). But not just now.

Today is my Dad’s 60th birthday. If typing that freaks me out, I can only imagine how he feels. (Jk, Dad.)

My dad has, at various times, been at once my father, pastor, teacher, principal, choir director, and personal-Elmer-Fudd-impersonator. He has his father’s twinkling Irish eyes, a legendary mustache that I have never seen him in person without, an infectious laugh, and a love of salty snacks that he passed on to me, along with his penchant for predicting movie endings. (I’m kidding. I can never aspire to predict movie endings as well as my dad.)

Dad and I never had too much one on one time when I was growing up. This is one of the functions of raising/being raised in a family of 10 children.  This means that the memories I do have of just us are that much more special.

When I was in –maybe 6th grade?–there were a few rare Saturdays, and even Sundays when I begged off of church because of a probably imaginary stomachache, when by some miracle Dad and I were the only ones home. During those afternoons, he taught me a little about sanding, varnishing, and refinishing the odd pieces of furniture that filled our house, or tried to, before being demolished by some elbow, or knee, or head, or all three in rapid successsion.

(He also tried to teach me to housepaint, at the expense of my Great-Aunt Marge’s shingling–which is a different story altogether and one any relatives reading this should immediately disregard).

As a broke young newlywed public schoolteacher, Dad used to paint houses during vacations for extra cash, and he still enjoys making run-down things beautiful and functional again (one byproduct of this is that we have a family tendency towards pack-ratting, with my mother attempting massive yearly purges).

But to return to the point: we had one desk that always sat in the dining room, so-called more out of courtesy and less so because anyone ever actually dined in it, a desk on which rested a Brother Word Processor, the kind that typed with yellow letters on a black screen. I wrote floppy disks full of terrible poetry about nature, none of which rhymed because that would make is less DEEP, at that word processor. Dad told me that if I sanded and varnished it, the desk would be mine.

I don’t know if I can accurately convey what those words mean to a fifth child, an angsty middle-schooler with Deep Feelings about the Sea and Sunsets and Things, to be told that something Will Be Yours. I was an acquisitive little booger. Seriously, in that moment, I could have told you who Dad’s favorite kid was. TOTALLY NAILED IT. HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW, SIBLINGS.

Jokes aside, I remember working on that desk. Dad taught me how to remove the old varnish, first with the coarse sandpaper, always going with the grain of the wood, moving to ever-finer grains until the wood was clean and smooth. He only helped me on the first step, checking to make sure I wasn’t going too hard or too fast.

I’m pretty sure I never finished that desk (at least, I have no idea where it is now). But all my best memories with Dad are the same: just the two of us, making something together. Attempting to build Mom’s pantry, or re-covering the end tables in the dubious basement ventilation. Figuring it out together, watching and learning and staring blankly at mismatched doors even though we totally followed all the alphabetical instructions. Companionably silent.

Of course, I was rarely helpful. He could have gotten it done faster–and with less stress, maybe some alone time that has been a practically nonexistent commodity for his introverted self these past 30-odd years–without me. But he didn’t. I always knew my father loved me, but those moments I knew it more.

I’ve lived away from home now for seven years, and we don’t talk too often, because of another trait of his I’m coming into: Dad can’t do small talk with close people. Small talk with strangers, yes. But not with family. It doesn’t work. He goes deep or he doesn’t go. This is a tendency I am discovering bits of in myself as I grow up, which means that our occasional Skype conversations from the Other Side of the World are legendary. We trade opinions about everything from Faith to Culture to Current Events. He tells me about the kids he’s helping, and I tell him about all the poop jokes my students make.

It doesn’t happen often enough for either of us, but he knows I’ll call, and I know that when I do I’ll be able to hear that grin start way down deep and come up with these words:

“Well, now, daughter.”

pops

Happy birthday Dad.

Thankful: a non-exhaustive list

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For Thursday mornings, teaching 40 Early Childhood Education majors from Yeungjin College in English conversation, who make me forget that teaching is not on my list of favorite things;

For the new place, inside and out:

MICROWAVE! STORAGE! FRESH-BAKED COOKIES! (that is my oven on the right there, say hello, oven)

Just around the riverbend

 

For the fact that I will wear and then probably burn this Sunday morning:

the number of doom

For flying home in less than a month for Christmas and the wedding of these two:

Nonatheen!

For these people, who make every day here better:

hooray hoorah

For fall holding off against winter for as long as possible, and for the advent of our Lord, and the start of Christmas music season, and for finding the closest kimbap shop to my new place, and for how hard Korea tries to do Christmas lights, and for too much storage which I didn’t know was real, and for apple season, and for good books, and for Alistair Begg’s podcast, and for pie day in the cafeteria, and for laughing so hard you get leg cramps and are mistaken for very drunk people at a bus stop after getting kicked out of Costco, and for new boots, and, mostly, for this:

This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Movin’ On

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Only about a month ago–I actually have no idea how long it’s been– I moved out of my on-campus dormitory room into a real apartment of my own.

Tomorrow, I will leave that apartment and move to a different one, closer to the downtown area, away from the little neighborhood I’ve come to know fairly well over the past year.

I can’t say I regret leaving the apartment. It’s a good place, but I never really felt like it fit me. No complaints, though. It’s an apartment, it’s space of my own, away from work, and I’ve been grateful for it.

The new place, though, is on the tenth floor of a true Korean high-rise apartment building–and, if sources are to be trusted, I will have a View. Which incorporates the river and farmland as well as cityscape. Here, my bedroom window looks across the street into other people’s apartments.

(They are very boring. They watch a lot of TV.)

No, I will not miss this apartment, particularly; the water pressure in the shower head is so weak that I practically have to crawl into the sink to use it, and there’s almost no natural light. But I will miss the neighborhood of Taejeon-dong. It’s almost perfect. It has the feel of a small town, but it’s only just over the river from the heart of the city. There is a multiplicity of decent samgyepsal restaurants, running trails, corner stores, and coffee shops–not to mention the Baskin Robbins across the intersection. And a bank. And a post office. On nice days the ajummas all gather to sit on the curb across from the convenience store, next to the cart that sells red bean fish cakes and crispy thin waffles that are not nearly as good as they smell. They gossip and giggle and scowl together, and if, when you catch them staring, you smile and bow and murmur ‘anyeong haseyo’ they grin and chatter to each other in approval or amusement. Old men walk the pavement, stopping outside the fried chicken stands, hands clasped behind their backs, moving deliberately in that trademark ajoshi strut, and always, swarms of little boys and girls chase each other up and down and in and out. I’ve never heard a police siren.

It’s been easy to get to know this little slice of Korea, and I suppose right now I’m trying to psych myself up for the change that will begin, whether I like it or not, at 10 a.m. tomorrow, when the moving van arrives.

New adventures don’t conform. They just happen. And you make of them what you will.  Getting to know this new part of the city will be just that: finding new routines and regular spots, enduring the stares of strangers again, learning to love where I am. This time, with a view of the river.

Paris in the Fall

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Paris is magic.

The gardens. The food. The cobbled streets. The tall, attractive men, who are everywhere. The bread. The cheese. The butter. The food. The bread. The Cheese. THE CHEESE.

Oh, the cheese.

I don’t know what they do to French cows. Play them classical music? deep-tissue massages? lavish them with compliments?

Whatever it is, IT’S WORKING.

I arrived Saturday evening and felt pretty good coming off the plane, and even heading to Vic’s I chattered ambitiously about walking up to the Sacre Coeur that evening. After an hour on the train/metro, we reached her apartment, and these:

Stairs

built-in stairmaster!

which brought an abrupt end to my willingness to move around anywhere, at all, that night.

I will say it’s not always easy to feel secure living as a single girl in a foreign city, but those stairs are an automatic security system. It would be a dedicated thief who would break into the outer building, cross the courtyard to the inner door, climb 500,000 stairs of increasing steepness, navigate myriad hallways, and cut through two 2-inch deadbolts and a latch, and then climb down the winding stairs with his spoils. Should that thief exist, I should almost have to concede he’d earned whatever he took. Poor guy.

There is barely room in Vic’s apartment for both of us and my suitcases, but we made do (thanks to high ceilings and pretty darn good storage). The bathroom is about the size of a kennel, and the kitchen sink is three inches deep, but the futon bed was wide enough to share without kicking, and the two ivy-fringed windows face west (into some trendy-looking offices. I wanted to make signs introducing Victoria to them, but she wouldn’t let me 😦 ).

Thanks to jet lag I was asleep before midnight all but two of my nights there, which is pretty miraculous. Bonus: I generally awoke VERY ALERT around 6-7 am. Here is a thing about the lovely Vic: she is not, nor shall she e’er be, a morning person. Non-morning people tend to hate me, which is unfortunate, because I LOVE them. They are a never-ending source of entertainment. Cruel, cruel entertainment.

I caught my first sight of this lady Sunday morning on a blowzy pre-church walk all around the 6th arrondissement (which is French for administrative districts, or navigationally heinous):

The Tower and the Seine

Towers and boats

I am assuming it’s a she, because it’s graceful and French.

Anyway. I could give you a day-by-day account, but I will instead give you a list of highlights:

Summitting the Eiffel Tower:

Towering

It DOES tower

Tops

Seine from above

The ONE completely sunny day of the week (all the others were at least a bit overcast) happened to be our day at the top. It’s cliched, it’s touristy, it’s overrun with people–and it is utter, utter magic.

Angelina’s hot chocolate and La Duree macarons:

Angelina's

That’s the realest, heaviest cream ever skimmed

ALL of the food was noteworthy, but these were the most stupidly expensive/ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT expenditures of the trip. I cannot explain what the blood orange and ginger macaron did to me, but it is beautiful and perfect and I will cherish the memory always.

Beauty

Small Cookie, Big Deal

Shakespeare and Co. bookstore:

Books

Glorious

Upstairs is a piano and some nook-like reading rooms. I could live there. with cheeses and breads. and someone to play the piano, because I can’t and I wouldn’t want to waste it.

Finally, the crowning moment: Open mic night.

This took place Friday, my last night in Paris. Vic’s church (Hillsong Paris) hosts an open mic night once a month, and when she realized it and my visit would coincide, she offered to learn to play a song.

Vic'n'Len

Music Folks

I’m learning to be game about these things, rather than have panic attacks about them.

So we did Adele’s version of Bob Dylan’s “Make you Feel My Love.”  It is one of my Favorite Songs of All Time (do not ask me, ever, to compile that list. C’est impossible!). It was…surreal. I don’t know when I have ever had that much fun singing in public. The crowd was small, and warm, and ridiculously welcoming and receptive, and…I don’t know what else to say but that Vic and I blew the roof off the place. All the other singers (there were about five) were absurdly talented and affirming and adorable. The entire night was a gift. AND THEN. THEN. I got to sing (with the guy from Vic’s church who organizes the event, whose impossibly French name is Clement)–spontaneously, with zero practice, one of my other Favorite Songs of All Time, Duet Category, Parentheses Wistful: Brooke Fraser’s ‘Who Are We Fooling.’ (That is the most bizarrely punctuated sentence I have ever composed, possibly.)

You may not know this about me, but more than anything in the world, besides Jesus and Family and Best Ones, I love harmonizing. You guys–I love it more than I love cheese. If I had to choose one it wouldn’t even come close.

For once in my life, I am not exaggerating.

I could write forever about it but the point is: Getting to sing those songs, especially THAT song, was deeply special for me. Especially the harmonies, and we hit all of them exactly right. I am my own worst musical critic and I know.

Seriously, I encountered nothing (almost nothing) of the famed Parisian snobbery, with Vic by my side to coach my dismal French and follow all the social protocols that nobody tells you and which are so imperatively important (like: greet the shopkeeper as soon as you enter, wherever you go, and also say thank you and goodbye, and repeat it if they don’t hear. In French.). But I have to say…

When and how do French people poop?

All the eat is bread and cheese and despite the occasional addition of fruit I could NOT figure out where these people are getting any fiber. No wonder everyone thinks Parisians are crabby. They have been constipated FOR THEIR ENTIRE LIVES can you imagine the agony. Maybe it’s the coffee, but the coffee wasn’t that strong.  Seriously, French people, HOW ARE YOU POOPING. I know your dogs are– I have been on your sidewalks.

Good luck with that, Paris.

ANYWAY. The whole vacation can be summed up in so many ways: surreal (I’m IN PARIS), hyperbolically exciting (First time in Europe!), and, mostly, relaxing. This is absolutely in its entirety due to a.) the goodness of God b.) Victoria, who acted as hostess and tour guide and navigator and linguistic buffer the whole week, while juggling grad school classes.

champion

Champion

This girl is a champion.

Paris in the fall is incredibly lovely, especially walking in the seventh arrondisement, wandering past dead-leaf gardens through the atmospheres of every corner cafe, redolent with hot buttery goodness.  The entire week is weighty with experiences that I am looking forward to remembering as long as I’m around. I could say so much more: the banana-nutella crepe, the chocolate crepe, the duck breast and goat-cheese crepe, the pumpkin soup, the farcis provencaux, the tall, handsome, well-dressed, beardy men apparently EVERYWHERE–but really I couldn’t say all of it, no matter how long I make this post.

Paris, je t’aime. And I’m grateful.

lights

Guess Who’s Back

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All right, ALL right. All right! I’m writing. I’m doing it. WRITING. AGAIN.

(All caps is to my writing like stretching is to my exercising. An essential component.)

(So are parentheticals.)

‘Where have you been, young lady?’ questions my blog. Sternly.

Forgive me, blog. (side note: does anyone else remember those neo-pet/tamagotchi things from junior high? and how if you left them alone they’d starve, or behave destructively, or poop, a LOT? [I never had one because 1. my mother knew better than to spend our discretionary income on digitized poo and 2. if one of us had one then the other 9 would feel slighted. Which, for the record, I would have been fine with, provided I was the 1 and not the 9.] Luckily blogs…do not behave that way. Though I might write more consistently if they did…that’s not the kind of regularity I’m striving for. Poop jokes! Get ‘em out. )

(NESTED PARENTHETICALS. I think I pulled something)

Anyway. I can shame myself by explaining the hiatus as laziness, or appear virtuous by explaining it as busy-with-real-hard-work, or I can say what is true: Korea and I have been getting to know each other a little better.

In fact we just celebrated our one-year anniversary, and life, as I mentioned a little while ago, is more and more even-keeled, less of an obvious adventure and more of the sort you have to hunt for.

Let’s update. I moved into the new apartment. Living off-campus has been and is Glorious. Despite the fact that out my window I can no longer see an airplane, the trade-off for an accessible Korea is more than worth it.

However—after a month, just starting to feel like this apartment fits me—I will be moving again.

It’s a question of economics–the school I work for owns the apartments I and other teachers will be moving into, whereas in my current location, they pay rent—but UGH moving again. FROWN EMOTICON.

On the other hand—hooray, exploring a new neighborhood again! Hooray daily adventure! The new place will be much closer to Daegu’s downtown area, so more accessible for the friends I’ve made outside of work.

(Yes. I have those. and they are NOT—all—amorous taxi drivers.)

And–the Wonju Marathon, which was to have taken place three weeks ago, was canceled. However, we intrepid runners found another run (in Daegu!) for the end of November. Thanks be to God, the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving. This will be our last run together–one of the four of us will leave Korea at Christmas, and another will relocate to Europe come February.

SPEAKING OF EUROPE (peep my fly transitions, yo): At this time next week, I will be IN THE AIR somewhere over Russia probably? on my way to PARIS to visit THIS KID:

SnowBeast

O, Canada.

Of course she doesn’t usually look so fancy:

Roomies

nearly two years and many haircuts ago

That’s a bit more normal. Jk. OF COURSE she is far lovelier than either of these would suggest. Ps. how ’bout that hair though? what did I DO with it all? I can’t remember.

I will hie me on my overdue vacation time to visit Vic, otherwise known as Erstwhile Roommate, currently residing in Gay Paree as a graduate student. One of my nearest and dearest forever. Last week we spent an hour on Skype discussing the game plan for my fleeting week-long vacation and this is what we came up with:

  1. Eat EVERYTHING
  2. See EVERYTHING
  3. maybe buy some boots (see earlier post about how my feet don’t fit in Korea)

And that’s really about it. Simple and easy to execute. I will die of cheese-surfeit, covered in brochures about ART, baguette crumbs, and super-cute scarves. Happy to my core.

In closing (peep my utter lack of transitions, yo) here is a promise from me to the Internet: I will write more. You’ll see.