August 25, 2010
Somewhere over the Pacific
So now that I am officially on my way, I can start to reflect on what exactly brought me to this point, what I have learned, and where I am going. When people first asked me why I moved to Wisconsin, I would tell them, “For a job and grad school.” Eventually that response devolved to become, “Bad decisions.” I became so jaded by my situation in Milwaukee that I didn’t even want to talk about why I had moved up there in the first place because it would necessitate elaborating on a long and, quite frankly, depressing series of poor decisions and failures on my behalf. No one likes to relive their worst moments in life, and by simply living in Wisconsin I was reminded of those abject failures on a daily basis.
This is not to say that I was miserable in Milwaukee; I had a great group of friends and I am thankful for the ability to be there for my dad through a very difficult period in his life. But after two years of feeling like a hamster on a wheel, I had to get out.
I’m excited to be on this journey now, but at first I described it as an “Honorable retreat.” I felt like I was not going forward, but back. Back to where I was when I first graduated from the University of Tennessee, back to a land that I loved, back to a point when I wasn’t advancing my career or academic goals, but I would not be struggling. I was throwing in the towel, living to fight another day, and getting out while I still had a scrap of sanity.
This is not how I feel now, and I’m even slightly ashamed to admit ever feeling that way. While I have taught in Asia before, I will not be in the same situation. While I don’t plan on teaching abroad forever, that does not mean that I cannot improve myself and therefore improve my career prospects. I can and will learn the language. I can and will get into a grad program that suits me. Moreover, this is a second chance, and second chances in life are inherently rare. It can be like Japan, only better. I know I will create many of the same friendships and memories as I did during my one year in JET, but this time I can walk away feeling like I’ve accomplished something. I’m going to make this time count.
August 26, 2010
Breathe Zach, breathe. You’ve made it Korea with your dog. You are both OK. Do not let this minor inconvenience of your apartment not being ready send you down the negative black hole spiral which you fell into when in Japan. New story, new ending.
Sydney seems to be understandably freaked out, but I took her for a brief walk and she already appears to be doing much better. When I brought her to the Animal Quarantine section of customs the woman looked at my certificate of rabies vaccination and immediately spotted a problem. The document was signed using a computerized signature as opposed to by hand. The woman had a rather annoyed look on her face and said, “It’s fine, just don’t do it next time.” Hey lady, there better not be a next time! I don’t know if I can handle this stress again! On the bright side, during our walk I think I turned the head of every attractive Korean girl I saw. I’m sure Syd deserves some (or all) of the credit. I’m not sure what the Korean version of “Kawaiiiiii!!!” is yet, but I’m sure I’ll learn it in short order.
OK, let’s get some sleep and start anew tomorrow. One day at a time, one day at a time…