Wednesday, October 31, 2012

So, my pragmatism is less than my imagination

Once upon a time, the Spirit of Adventure made tree forts inside the branches of a little girl’s mind.

When she was three, she donned her safari hat and khaki trousers and gallivanted throughout the sticky jungles and sandy deserts of Africa. She rode atop an elephant, a giraffe, and a very pokey crocodile.

At age six, she traversed the green rolling hills of the English country side roaming with her rogue royalty.  She needed no rescuing. The little girl was strong and quick and outsmarted all of the woodland creatures.

At age 10, she clambered aboard the ship that tossed her about in the tempest. The nymphs and Druids sang her praise. The cry of her heart's true desire beckoned her. She knew that if she kept now, believed this was her existence, she surely would fail in “real life.” So, she stopped. But, somewhere deep down she held onto that adventure, treasured it like a half remembered dream.

As she grew, the adventures shifted to reality. She voyaged from her house through the city to school. She focused on nothing but learning and acquiring. She analyzed the adventure books, experiencing them less and less. Suddenly, as if life eclipsed time, she became an adult. She locked those childlike fantasies in a file drawer alphabetically categorized under: no longer relevant.

The tedium of adulthood wore her down.  The woman felt a nudge. A push. The tickling safari sense seeped through her soul. She wore the shining armor, and she became the hurricane. She went on an adventure—a physical one, so different than the attic playtime of a child.

She flew so far east that when Artemis bid farewell to the woman, Apollo bid farewell to her friends.

The tops of mountains didn't have the sound of music; they had the sound of life, humming, buzzing, harmonizing with the thrumming of her heart. It echoed of her past. The peaks and valleys came together to form a beautiful tapestry.

The ocean, clouded with mystery and unadulterated joy, held all of her wishes all of her dreams of what is yet to come.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

So, I think I figured out the meaning of life

Click HERE to see me read it out loud, with hand movements, because I can't, for the life of me, talk without gestures. Haters gonna hate...

Poem of LIfe
I walk through the streets of South Korea
Tall buildings instead of trees shadow my stroll.
Coffee shops smell of good conversation
and overpriced drinks.
Cars lazily make their way through the
U r b a n   L a b y r i n t h.  
The city breathes in life and fumes and makes it something

I walk amidst this life as if in a                                                              dream.
Nothing really seems real.
The tide tugs at the shore, hoping he will
come out and play.
The mountain boldly challenges anything to be
as tall
and sturdy
 and strong
as her.
And the city, Oh, the city works as a hive.
I often move from
chamber                                        to                                                  chamber
spreading ideas and love as honey through combs.

But somedays are different.
The buildings suffocate.  
The cafes stifle.
The cars clog.
The tide has just another unrequited love, and the mountain falls apart.

These are the days on which I am
split and torn.
Neither here
nor there.
My heart and my brain work as
One yearns for home, while the other
And, my body is the vessel for this war zone, 
and even She is worn and apathetic.

It is on these days that I want to
from this life towards my
from which I so gracelessly ran not 12 months ago.

This leadens my
frayed and tattered

Walking and walking always and forever walking.

My eyes cloud.
My feet stumble.
So lost in my head, I barely catch
a beautiful act of love.

Four friends, age 7,
On the steps of their Hagwon.
Each puts a hand in the center of the circle and cheer.
I grin and pass by remarking its
Four hellos chorus behind me. I turn, and reply.

One brave little voice shouts,
I am Min Hee.
The ear to ear Cheshire Cat
grin and joy he has
 lightens my body.
Slowly, it lifts these consuming burdens I didn't even realize I had.

Walking and walking always and forever walking.

And from behind me,

The tinkle of small
grows into a
and ends in a sound of
And that, dear friends, is the meaning of life:
that sound of innocence resonating through the laughter of a

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

So, English is a more or less dumb language

                  Here is the thing about English: you can study it for years and years and still never be right. English is a compilation of every other language's cast offs. There are Germanic, Latin, Welsh, African and many other origins of words. Really, the only language sector that doesn't affect English is Asian and other character based languages. Because so many of the romance and germanic languages use a similar alphabet, English words come and go, mesh and become a entire entity in and of itself. This does not even count all of the idiomatic expressions on which so many English speakers are so keen.
                  English, for Korean students, is really difficult because of ridiculous spelling, grammar and various other tidbits we use to explain the unexplainable. For example, why
does the gh" sound change depending on the letters around it? In the word night it is an aye sound, but when it is in enough it is an eff sound. I can't tell you the answer to this, except if a vowel precedes it and a consonant succeeds it, then it is an aye. If it is at the end of a word, it will always be an eff.Native English speakers rarely take the time to question these more or less absurd nuances because we know it. We grew up knowing that all of our verbs are irregular, and there is no rhyme or reason to our plural system. But, for an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) student, these questions may grate on your mind while you are trying to sleep, when counting sheep just won't do it for you.
                  The English language, to a native speaker who has taken a lot of time and effort to study the language at its most basic functions, seems to be a bigger abyss the more I study it. Yes, grammar rules become clearer in my head, although rather muddy upon explanation. But, the sheer make-up and diversity of my language continuously stumps me. William Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll made things up, and they integrated
words into speech patterns and dialects. English, as a language, varies throughout the world. Not just the accents and dialects we use, but legitimate and actual words. In America, you may compliment someone's pants, but that would be rather offensive and crude in other parts of the world.
                  So, I can see the trouble of EFL students would have learning the written English language. It is confusing with all of the letters gathered in places that don't
always make sense. It is hard when there are three words for the same sound (even my American students would mess those up 97% of the time). In my limited knowledge of the Korean language, I find it so very difficult to wrap my head around the way written characters work.  When I write them, I do the lines out of order, and the words and groupings of sounds just do not make sense.  I can understand the struggle of going from a completely linear text and character based language to learning one with curves and three different ways to write a “g.” 
                  In comparison to learning other languages, English proves to be one of the most difficult because of its complete lack of one language root. When you learn German or French or Spanish, of course there will be irregularities, but for the most part you can figure out the words (both pronunciation as well as meaning) based on a defined and traditional set of rules. While I learned French in high school, I was able to pick up the alphabet and phonetic sense rather quickly, which allowed me to focus on the grammar rather than questioning whether this group of letters and that and that group of letters, which look the same, make the same sound.  I also learned quite a bit about my own grammar rules when learning them in a different language.  I never questioned why I used could, would or should instead of can, will, or shall. I just did it, as if I were on language auto pilot.  But, when I had to learn it in a different language, the rules became necessary to how I was able to express myself.
                In all seriousness, the English language is rife with both written and spoken anomalies with which many students, both native and non-native, struggle. We also like to add unnecessary phrases, set apart by punctuation, to make our sentences longer, so as to make them a “more intelligent” sounding sentence. But, really, the biggest issue of translating any foreign language into English lies within how the written language does not always match how a word sounds.  The written language turns upon itself and creates a maze of meaning, which frustrates and confuses students of all language abilities. So, from one confused English speaker to another, it will get better.