Living abroad with student debt

Cha – ching . Cha – ching. Cha – ching.

Can you hear that? That’s the sound of your education racking up each year. Higher and higher it goes. Cha – ching. Cha – ching. Cha – ching.

One of the perks of teaching English overseas in countries like Korea or Japan is that you can pay down your student loan debt quickly. This is if you are a devout saver. I on the other hand have come to ask myself the question:

“Should I be saddled by debt and miserable paying it each month with no life?” Or, “Should I be saddled with debt and enjoy life?” Read More

"Everyone’s goal is to be married with kid(s) by 27?"

“Everyone’s goal is to be married with kid(s) by 27?”

“I have seen too many girls from my high school pregnant waddling down the aisle”,

” OK, you got pregnant you don’t have to rush into a marriage and be miserable”

Three quotes from a friend that happen to resonate with me. While I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that will disagree with me and want to throw shit my way, by all means go ahead. Doesn’t fucking bother me.

If someone were to ask me two years ago, where I pictured myself to be today, I would have given a very different answer than my current reality. I would have told you that I would be happily married with a kid and living in our own place.

Wait. Stop. Rewind.

How old are you? 27.

I’m at the age everyone I know is married, getting married, has kids, or is pregnant. Congrats to all of you. Ahem.

There is this unsaid perception about how life should be. You know…that sequence of life? The all powerful, perfect, traditional life? You know…the one everyone idolizes. The one that people say, “Look at them, been married for 50 years!” Or you see quotes flying around that, “We were born in a time when if something was broken we would fix it, not throw it away…” Good for you.

Let me add to that last quote, that social acceptance was also different 50 years ago. They might fix broken things, however, if you were a different race, interracially married, an LGBT individual, or had mental and behavioral disorders…guess what? You weren’t fucking accepted. Not only that but domestic abuse was common as it is now, and back then divorce was not accepted. Do we look down on couples who get divorced because of violence? Violence is not something that should be endured.

So let’s start there…these old celebrated couples are not interracial marriages. Mine was and if I had been born during that time where things were meant to be fixed instead of thrown away. I would have weathered a marriage, where words and hurtful insults would be hurled at us daily. But I wasn’t married during that time, I was married in the here and now. But that prejudice of interracial marriage is not gone in this day and age. It still exists and people still stare at interracial couples and they can still hear insults from others. Luckily, I never heard any insults, but there was always staring.

But that is not my point. My point is times are changing. The way people view and accept marriage is also changing. My generation is the first generation to live at home longer than any other generation due to being saddled by debt, unable to get a decent job, and the cost of living out of our reach, unless we landed that well paying job with benefits. Or we had parents who wiped our plates clean of debt by putting a second mortgage on their house without so much as a thank you from their children.

That defines a generation of us getting married later and also submitting to the pressure of society to be married by a certain age. To be bombarded by questions:

Why aren’t you married yet?

You should start looking to date someone.

Maybe if you are married you might hear this:

Do you want kids?

How come you are not pregnant yet?

When can we expect the baby?

The problem with these types of questions is they inflict pain on to an individual if you do not know what is going on in that marriage or that person’s life. Most people used to ask me about having a baby for two years. Not once, did someone ask to say, “How’s your marriage going? ” Because had they asked, they would have known there was no baby on the horizon. Why? Because our marriage was falling apart and it was being hidden from others. The question jabs more at someone’s heart if the questioner knew that the person they were asking wanted children.

I’m the type of person who dreamed of being a young mom with kids. I wanted to have my first child by the time I was 25. However, life didn’t go as planned. I was responsible enough to know that having a child does not fix a marriage. I was responsible enough to know before getting married not to have a child and get married because of that child. Why? Because having children does not fix relationship problems between two individuals.

It is a widely believed concept among individuals desperate to maintain a loved one in their lives, or to rekindle some flame, or help the relationship, I will have a child. Don’t do it. Don’t be so selfish as to want a child for your own benefit.

Some people say you fix what is broken. Sometimes what is broken can’t be fixed. Because if you sit and let yourself think, you realize it isn’t right. That moment when you knew you should have stopped and didn’t listen. You were right then, but ignored it in order to go with what family and friends expected of you. Because there is a guide to life and we should all be following that antiquated guide.

Sometimes we make decions that are hard but right. Somedays you have to ask yourself can I see myself with this person in 20 years? That number seems low to some people, but it is a very long time. When the love in your relationship fades and you become mere strangers in each other’s presence with no words exchanged or loving gestures, it is time. It is time to acknowledge that you cannot change yourself to be the person the other individual wants you to be. Because you are you. That person married you for who you are not who they want you to be. Only you can choose who you want to be.

That is a lesson that is tough to learn. It is a lesson I have learned, I have refused to change for anybody again. Take me as a I am, because if you don’t like it, I will move on. You don’t fix yourself to make a relationship work, because you are afraid of what will be said about you for your marriage failing. If the marriage is failing it is, there isn’t much to do, but acknowledge it, realize where it went wrong and how you and your partner played a part in it. Because everything is a two way street, we each have to accept our own responsibility in success and failure in life.

The part about being knocked up and waddling down the aisle might offend quite a few people. I know people who have done that. A shotgun wedding. You are pregnant, so what? I think our traditionalistic society drenched in Christianity still views everyone has a sinner who has a child before marriage. Therefore a shotgun marriage ceremony is the solution. Now when your child gets older and goes to do the math, they will know you got married because of them. You can say we planned to get married anyway, blah blah blah.  You might have! But why rush it for a child? So that you can seem and appear normal and socially acceptable to society?

Is it really such a terrible thing to have a child before marriage? Are those single mothers and fathers raising their kids alone terrible people? Are those couples who can’t afford a marriage ceremony who have been raising their kids for 10 years so terrible, just because they never tied the knot? Is that how we,
as a society, look at unmarried people with children?

If so, it is a shame. It is sad to know that the type of parent and person they are looked at as, is based on how they had their child. And people will refute that it isn’t true. Why hold in your own bias against it, when you will knowingly pass judgement on that person?

I’m not putting people who have shotgun marriages down, rather I would hope they realize they don’t have to have an impromptu wedding they may not be able to afford, because of a child that is on the way. The people who love you in your life, will still love you no matter the choice you make.

My only advice is that marriage is easy to get into. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get married. Most people can get married for under one hundred dollars at their local city hall. Marriage is a relationship that has a piece of paper attached to it. It recognizes that  you belong to each other for the rest of your lives until death or divorce, that’s what it is.  Some marriages are great and some are pretty crappy. But you know it is everyone’s choice to make that decision. Having been married myself, it is a hell of a lot easier getting married than getting divorced. So before you jump in, realize that. You can raise kids without a piece of paper attached. When you are ready to do it go ahead. Don’t let family, friends, and society dictate what you should do.

I wanted to write my thoughts on this, because a lot of people dwell on this issue especially as we get closer to 30. I’m 27, divorced, and without kids. Will I marry again? Only time can tell that. Do I want kids? More than anything else, but I will wait until it is time. I won’t be a young mother like I wanted, but at that time I will have lived enough to know that I made the right choices in life and am happy to have my children when and if they come to me.

A favor, an opinion for those fighting to overturn Prop 8 and DOMA

A friend of mine on facebook, who is also an English teacher in South Korea, was asking for any info or thoughts about same-sex marriage. She is teaching at a high school and wanted to compare views.  I said I would write something up if she would like, and I sent it to her. She said I should publish it, though I have nowhere to publish it but on my blog. And what I wrote may not be 100% correct, please advise me on that. ( You know who you are.) So I wrote from my memory, what I remember seeing and hearing, and putting the pieces together. Read More

Musings of an overloaded mind

“Did you know…..?”

” Have you heard….?”

No. And no. I did not know. I have not heard.

The moment you walk away from everything you know…it comes back at you. Moving half way across the world there are days I am thankful I am in a new place. I can meet new people. I can be myself. I can hide in a cave if I want and never leave. Or I can be highly sociable and tolerate others.

One thing I was thankful for was not hearing the updates from home. About this person and that person. The ‘did you know’s…’ and ‘have you heard’s…’ I’m cold.

Am I a bad person? No.

Am I a loving person?  Yes.

Because I do not care, does it make me a bad person? Most people will answer that with a yes. You are a cold hearted person. You should care about others.

Should I? That seems like a loaded question.  Most people who feel “I” or anyone else should feel a certain way are the one’s who are bothered by me not caring. And why should it bother you? Because I do not care about every detail in your life? Because I do not need to hear the news about every person I left back home?

So  in the eyes of many I seem like a cold bitch. Fine. That is all right with me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. And here is mine:

I don’t care. I never have. Why should I care about people who make minimal effort to be a part of my life? Why should I care about those who are never there for me when I may need them? Caring about others is a task. It isn’t easy. It isn’t easy to always keep the door open for anyone to walk through. Come inside and take a seat and drink some coffee while we talk about our worries and dreams and the future. Yet, I am a person who leaves that door open.  It isn’t a physical door. So if you look for it you will not find it.

No, no. It is the door inside my mind that leads to a set of chairs deep inside my heart. I have always left the door open. For anyone who has crossed paths with me. For friends old and new. For those who have walked out of my life and who have gone separate ways. That door is always open for them. Because that is the type of person I am.

The sad part about always leaving the door open for others is…no one has that door open for you. So when you go knocking…no one answers. When you reach out silently, when you leave clues that you need that extra hand, you are often overlooked. That is the kind of caring I receive. Should I care?

Outwardly no. Do I care? If it is important of course I do. My reaction might not be what others expect. It never is. People don’t understand how I think or how I feel. I often feel that I have always been less than everyone else in my life. I have always had to struggle longer and harder than others. That all the things I want in my life I do not have. When I look at those closest to me who have everything I want in life, they all shake their heads and say, “What is your problem?”

The sad thing is…a friend knows that isn’t the answer. Do you know my heart? Do you know my mind? Do you know what I think about at night? The long conversations I hold with myself?  I want to ask someone, “Have you ever flipped your life upside down?” ” Have you gone after one thing in life to realize everything else has slipped out of your hands?” ” Do you know what it is like to age and look around at your friends and realize you are jealous?” Jealous of all they have. And yet those friends have no idea you are jealous. Why? Because it is hidden beneath a faint smile and a lump in your throat.

My life isn’t planned. It never has been. It never will be. I live day to day. And day to day I wonder will I find happiness? Will the things I want in life come true? Will I find love? Will I have children? Will I finally love myself? Will I stand before all of the people I know with confidence in myself? A feeling of self-worth radiating from my being?

Never leaving. Never changing. Always settling…does not lead to happiness. Making things work just because of how you want to be perceived in life doesn’t bring happiness. That is a lesson I know. That is also a lesson that drives me forward. I am not perfect. Somedays I believe I might just end up by myself.

So when someone gives me news of others…should I care?

I choose not to. If I am close to that person I would hope they could tell me whatever news about themselves first. Why do I need to hear it from others?

Escaping from what bothers you is not the right thing to do. However, if listening to it hurts you and makes you sad. Then don’t listen. You have heard it once, time to move on.

So, I leave these words I have kept in my mind here.  Why should I care? Why do I need to feign interest in others? I don’t. Like it or not, it isn’t my problem how you feel.

When you read this and think there is something wrong with this girl. Or is there? Maybe you will question your own beliefs. Maybe you will reflect on those closest to you. Or the ones you believe to be the closest to you. Being a good friend, a true friend, is not an easy thing to do. It means being there through thick and thin. It means painting a smile on your face when sometimes you don’t want to. It means giving advice you know will hurt but at the same time you know needs to be said. And hoping that your own friends will give that same advice back to you. Will listen to your worries and hopes as you listen to theirs. That they will give you a hug if you need it. That no matter what you think you can tell them and they won’t judge you. They will understand you.

Very few friendships are 50/50. There is always one friend who gives more of themselves to others. The only bad thing about that is they are the ones who never get that same amount of love and affection from friends poured back on them.

I care about my friends. I love them dearly. But, I don’t need updates all the time. If they want to tell me they will. If they want to come and sit down for coffee or tea they will. And we will converse as the closest of friends always do. And they can look me in the eye and smile, “I understand you.” That one sentence…means a lot. Your heart, your mind, your belief…I understand. I’m here for you.

The words I say to others, just once in a blue moon it would be nice to hear back. To go and knock on that door only to realize it is already open. And my friend is sitting there asking, “Do you want coffee or tea? It has been a long time my friend…what have I missed? How have you been?”

{This post became full of rambling thoughts. It might not be easy to follow, but it flows from the heart. Sometimes we just have to express how we feel, even if others have no idea why or what is the matter. All is good. The mind and heart are now lighter.}

When you are sick have 미역국 (Seaweed Soup)

One item I have been requested to do before I leave is to eat all of the food that is mine. There are odds and ends in all of the cupboards for various types of cooking, but my mom wants her space back after I leave. So my job has been to create meals with the remaining ingredients. At times I am lazy that I do not want to cook anything or look for the missing ingredients I need. I used to cook a lot of Korean food, however, as it is just me I am cooking for with maybe the exception of my mom, I do not cook much. I like leftovers occasionally, however, I dislike eating the same thing for five days.  With that being said one of the items sitting in my cabinet for a while has been 미역( Miyeok / Seaweed). The only thing I know how to make is 미역국 (Miyeok gook/seaweed soup). But I have been  unenthusiastic about going out to buy a missing ingredient.   So tonight as I was feeling rather sick and did not feel satisfied after eating a can of nasty Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, I ventured out to the store to buy the remaining ingredients.

I finished the soup in about 45 mins and luckily I was able to use up some of the dry shiitake mushrooms I have though I don’t think they are normally put in the soup. I bought some beef and sliced it up though next time I think I will spend the money and get a nicer cut of beef, so it isn’t as tough.  All in all the soup came out well this time and I can feel it clearing out my sinuses. Lucky for me, I will be enjoying this soup for the next 3 or 4 days.  I feel I have prepped myself a little more and it is just a little reminder that hey I can cook with Korean groceries so  I do not need to spend a fortune when I am in Korea.

Without further ado here is my soup:


A bouquet for mom

Over the course of the last few months and the few weeks to come I have been thinking of the people to say good-bye to. My mom supports me 100% in this process and knows this is something I have always wanted to do and have put on hold for many years. She has become a bit of a ‘sap’ as I jokingly say. In reality, she is just going to miss her baby, the oldest, me. So, for Christmas I made her a present made of wire and buttons and made it into a tiny bouquet. A bouquet that will not die when I am away. She was a bit touched and it made her happy. Nothing professional but it seems to have come out rather cute. Sometimes a little gift of saying “Thank you for believing in me,” helps say I will miss you while I am away.


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