Monday, December 29, 2014

I Want To Belong To You // Katie Herzig (cover)

Here's one more cover before the New Year. I'm thinking that in 2015 sharing a couple videos a month will be great accountability for me to continue practicing and stretching my skills.


I Want To Belong To You
by Katie Herzig

Have you ever seen such kindness
Such resigned delight all in one glance
Right when you pass me
I watch, you see
You smile, I breathe
Air in my chest
I’m trying my best

The sun left me so quickly
I am stuck under the moon
I want to belong to you

I pray no one will find you
I’ll stay right where I am
‘Til you come back
Don’t let me lose you
Before there’s a chance to begin

Suddenly light on my feet
With a sweet rearrange of the day
Everything’s changed now

One quick exchange
It’s not the same
Kind of goodbye
Gone with a sigh

The sun left me so quickly
I am stuck under the moon
I want to belong to you

I pray no one will find you
I’ll stay right where I am
‘Til you come back
Don’t let me lose you
Before there’s a chance to begin

To My Ten Year-Old Church-Going Self

I grew up in a conservative, Christian religion. Some of my earliest memories are sitting in Sabbath school (the Saturday equivalent of Sunday school) and listening to Bible stories on the felt board and being hushed in church for picking fights with my brother over who got the last Cheerio. I attended our church schools from kindergarten to my last year in college. To say I grew up in a fully religious culture is an understatement. For Pete's sake, we produce our own brand of veggie meat.

Photograph by Wade Dunkin

So, my innocent ten year-old self would probably be abhorred to know that my twenty-seven year-old-self works in a secular environment at a non-religious school, doesn't regularly attend church, and has had more alcohol to drink in the past year than in my entire life (and that's saying a lot because I really hate the taste of alcohol). And yet, I have more peace and joy in my life than ever before. I am growing in my awareness that life is a gift and how I respond to it matters. And if that's not the best definition of spirituality, I don't know what is.

Life is a gift and how we respond to it matters.

How I think about God and church and spirituality has changed a lot in the past few years and I think that's okay.

I'm learning that the best kind of Christian is not one that protects themselves from "the ways of the world" but one that engages with it fully from a place of openness and love.

I'm learning that no amount of Christian education will "save" a person from making some really terrible decisions.

I'm learning that there are more similarities than differences between the world's various religions. What we seem to be fighting about is semantics.

I'm learning that church attendance was never meant to be the signifier of a "good" Christian.

I'm learning that while my generation may be leaving our church buildings in droves, it doesn't mean we are leaving the church. Those beliefs and that lifestyle don't expire when we walk out the door. I promise. We will do church differently and that's okay.

I'm learning that I do not have a spiritual life. I am a spiritual life.

I'm learning that there is a little piece of God in me, which makes me awesome. But there is also a little piece of God in everyone else, which makes me humble.

I'm learning that I come from dust, and yet, the Universe was made for me. Whoa.

I'm learning that the pain in me is the same pain in others. The joy in me is the same joy in others. We are all in this together.

So to my ten year-old self, I need you to know this: 
-God can't be put in a box or a building.
-The world is less black and white than you might like it to be.
-Your judgment of others doesn't make you better than others.
-The symbolism and fundamentals you practice right now matter. Just less than you think.
-Don't throw out all "religion" and "church" to be cool. There's a lot of good there.
-Some day you'll be pretty angry at God and find a way to blame most of your problems on him/her. That's cool. That's normal.
-Oh, and P.S. while alcohol does taste as bad as your parents said it would, drinking it doesn't condemn you to hell, and it's just a nice way to show respect and appreciation to a gracious host.
-Keep growing. Keep learning. Onward.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

There Will Be Time

"And indeed there will be time for the yellow smoke that slides along the street, rubbing its back upon the window panes. There will be time, there will be time to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet. There will be time to murder and create and time for all the works and days of hands that lift and drop a question on your plate. Time for you and time for me. And time yet for a hundred indecisions and for a hundred visions and revisions before the taking of a toast and tea."

                                                  -T.S. Eliot quote from the movie, Wish I Was Here

Will there be time?
For meeting?
For creating?
For indecisions and revisions?

This doesn't feel quite true, but that doesn't mean it's not.

It probably just means I'm imagining scarcity. A season of "not enough". Not enough time or money or experience. Not enough. Scarce. A fearful way to live.

Korea always feels temporary. We have no intentions of staying here forever and ever. So there's always "after Korea." There's always, "Well, after Korea we should..." but most of the time, "Oh my word, what will we do after Korea?" And I wish I could say this is a recent phenomenon, like we're just feeling this way because we might be leaving in August, but in one way or another, I've been thinking about what happens after Korea since the first day we got to Korea.

We are a hopeless species, aren't we?

"Living in the moment" has become such a catch phrase in recent years. Like it's a thing we all want to do, but usually it takes some kind of traumatic experience before any of us really do it. Being present. Being here. Now.

So, in my attempts, a song for your holiday hangover: "Details in The Fabric" by Jason Mraz.

Wishing you peace and time and abundance.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Don't Play With a Lion's Whiskers"

Disclaimer: This conversation that I had with one of my Korean co-workers is not meant to constitute everyone in Korea. She cannot attest to how everyone in Korea feels about the subject. But I still think one story matters and chances are she is not alone.

It's not often that American pop culture is something I want to talk about in Korea. There's just not a lot of good things to say about Miley Cyrus and the human orgies we call "music videos". Most of the stuff we produce is a little provocative for Korea's more modest media. But with the latest Sony announcement to not release their comedy about North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, I brought it up to Jiyoung out of curiosity.

"A lot of people in America are talking about this. Do people in South Korea seem to care?"

She answered easily: "Not really. I don't think it's big news."

This was surprising to me because I expected that South Koreans would either be humored or enraged and I was really curious to know which. However, her response was mostly, "Meh."

"There is a Korean proverb," she told me. "It is not wise to play with a lion's whiskers while he is sleeping."

"Yeah, I think I get that. In English, we say, 'Don't poke a bear.' "

"Right. I think America is just poking the bear with this movie."

I explained that "America" was not releasing this movie, a few Americans were. And I asked, "Is Hollywood responsible to North Korea? I think they can make whatever movies they want and if North Korea retaliates, then that's their prerogative, I suppose."

"Maybe you're right," she said. "It is their right to say what they want. But I wonder if they ever think about South Korea, how this will effect us?"

I was a bit taken back by her candor, but leaned in for more.

"You are far away from North Korea," she said. "You are the most powerful country in the world. If North Korea retaliates toward you, you'll be fine. But what if North Korea retaliates toward us?"

She talked about how North Korea is like an ornery step-brother, but still family. How it's easy for outside countries to pitch all these ideas of reunification or intervention, but South Korea is slow to act because they know what this could mean for their safety and well-being.

"You think that Korea and America have a great relationship. We really don't."

"But the U.S has military bases here. America wouldn't just go provoking North Korea without talking to South Korea first."

"America might warn us, but probably wouldn't ask our advice. We are not friends with America. We have a relationship. We have to care."

"You have to care about what?" I asked.

"About American economy. American politics. You effect us. We have to...umm...what's the word?" She reached for her cell phone and showed me the translation: tolerate.

She said that some people want the military to stay in Korea for protection, but others want them gone. I asked why. She said that sometimes U.S. servicemen are seen as troublemakers. She wouldn't go into a lot of detail but I did five minutes of research and found plenty of information supporting her claim:

-from South Korea publicly asking the U.S. to keep it's service members in line

-to a city mayor cancelling a "Friendship Concert" because of a "never-ending string of crimes by American soldiers."

-to the director of the National Campaign for the Eradication of Crimes by U.S. troops in Korea (yes, it's sad that this group is needed) seeking punishment for servicemen crimes by Korean courts versus American courts which often fail to properly carry out justice.  Sadly many establishments in Seoul have barred soldiers from frequenting their bars because of complaints from female patrons.

-and unfortunately, we have a long history of getting out of crimes during the American stay in Korea.

I understand why Jiyoung would feel some hesitance against the notion that the U.S. and Korea are friends.

"We are grateful for the U.S. and their help during the Korean war. They have provided a lot of training and protection from North Korea. We do a lot of trading of goods with America that greatly benefits our economy and people like you come here to teach English. We are grateful. But provoking North Korea with this movie is just another thing that potentially strains our relationship with America."

I asked her if she was glad to hear about the movie being shut down.

"I am relieved."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Try // Colbie Caillat (cover)

I preach it cause I need to hear it.


Put your make up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim
So they like you. Do they like you?

Get your sexy on
Don't be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong
So they like you. Do you like you?

You don't have to try so hard
You don't have to give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don't have to change a single thing

You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try
You don't have to try

Get your shopping on,
At the mall,
Max your credit cards
You don't have to choose,
Buy it all
So they like you. Do they like you?

Wait a second,
Why should you care, what they think of you
When you're all alone, by yourself
Do you like you? Do you like you?

You don't have to try so hard
You don't have to give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don't have to change a single thing

You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try
You don't have to try

Take your make up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don't you like you?
Cause I like you

Friday, December 12, 2014

Shirley and Moe

Marriage is a really beautiful thing.
It's also a really agonizing thing.

Shirley says of her late husband, Moe: "It was always nice to have his arms around me."

I can't watch it without crying.
Without wanting to just snuggle up to Jeremy
and scream about all the injustice of this thing called "dying".

But it's beautiful too.
To think about the love we share and spread and how it makes us better.

Recently, an acquaintance in our part of the world asked, "Well, you two. What makes for a good marriage?"

It seemed such a large question for such a simple occasion, We both sort of took a deep breath and immediately unqualified to respond at all.

What do we know about marriage in only two years?
What do we have to say about this beautiful thing without dirtying up the edges with our fingers? What do we know?

Apparently, a lot.

Because we sat and talked for quite awhile about how marriage is beautiful and agonizing. Sometimes on the same day.
How it breaks you, but also builds you.
How it strengthens and melts your heart.
How it makes you consider if your reaction to "this person" is really about them or if it's really about you.
How it gives you a partner in life and there are few things better than a lazy, Saturday morning with your best friend.

I don't get a lot of chances to talk about our marriage. Mostly because there's not a lot of people to talk to in general. But I'm always quite proud of what we've built whenever I get the chance.

Like today, a co-worker unloaded about 30 minutes of frustrations with her husband and her marriage. Things like not coming home. Things like broken promises. Things like not being a good father to their kids. And in moments like this, I want to sympathize by adding a list of things my husband sucks at too. But I can't, because that wouldn't be true.

At one point, she looked at me and said, "You really love Jeremy, don't you?"

"I do."

"And the nights grow cold without you
and the world is filled with the anguish of my loneliness
and the stars join me in sorrow
while I long without wearying to hold you once more in my arms
to embrace you and kiss you and love you
all my love"

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

For The Days When I Want To Complain

There's a hallway at school that I walk at least two times a day: once in the morning when I arrive and once when I leave to go home. It's the beginning and end to my day. And I've made it a habit of reciting a mantra whenever I pass through:

I am not a slob,
I am a beauty of another kind.

I am not less than,
I am more than enough.

I am not susceptible to the opinions of others,
because I know who I am.

I am a beautiful soul; 
imperfect and flawless
at the same time.

I am a strong, confident, intelligent, beautiful woman
who is worthy of love and belonging.

And while it's certainly no quick-fix, it's a good reminder of things I know to be true. Things that don't change. Things that I need reminding of.


But today, the word's aren't sticking. They fall empty on the ground like discarded trash. I mumble through the damn mantra and move on with my day, determined that shouldering through is my best option.

But it's not. And on a good day, I know that.

So, I'm starting again, even when it's hard, the best way I know how: gratitude.

-The week before Thanksgiving, our friend Becca, sent us a holiday box full of goodies like gluten-free stuffing mix and pumpkin pancake mix. We've got the sweet pumpkins and pine cones on our table.

-My dear, friend Kylie sent me some dangly earrings in the mail. They are delicate and beautiful and make this girl feel special. (Sidenote: why is "dangly" not a word? I don't want "dangling", I want "dangly"!)

-Yesterday, Jeremy came home with a giddy bounce in his step. He couldn't wait to show me that he'd made paper Christmas stockings that we could hang by the tree. That guy.

-There's a gal in one of my 5th grade classes who has a crush on me. She's the cutest thing. And sometimes, I'll look over and she'll be staring at me, but won't have noticed it until my eyes get big and I say, "Hi." She'll get flustered and go back to her work.

-I have a co-worker who regularly asks me, "How does your mind feel?" instead of "What do you think?" and it makes me chuckle.

-One of my "old" students that I spent last year teaching, saw me in the hallway yesterday and gave me a hug. The only English words she seems to know are "Ms. Bo!" and "Hi!" but she's got a sweet heart. She's also our province's best ping-pong player. Who knew?

-The other day, a home room teacher down the hall walked up to me and said, "Gift." She waved a small Korean flag and handed it to me. I said, "Thanks!" and "Why?" and she just walked away because certainly "gift" surpassed what she was comfortable saying in English.

-This morning I stepped outside to ride my bike to work in long underwear, my puffy jacket, hat, scarf, and gloves to find that it wasn't as crazy cold as it has been. That's something!

-I have this first period off. Yay! Then, only three other classes to teach today. What a blessing.

-유자차 "yoo-jah-cha" is this citrusy-tea drink that we love. It looks like orange marmalade in a jar, but you scoop it into hot water and it sinks to the bottom and it's's just...great.

-During the week, just about the time when I think America has gone to sleep, my Mom sends me these random e-mails at sometime after 1am (her time). She's a night owl, so this is like her prime time. But I'm always surprised and touched that she takes the time just to say "hi."

...and last, but certainly the best thing about this day: I'm wearing my adjumma pants.

An "ajumma" is an older, married Korean woman and they have a reputation for being a bit aggressive. (look, she even made Wikipedia!) Like, they've lived this long in a hierarchical society with so many people above them, so now they are just going to let their hair down and do whatever the hell they want! And often times, if you see an adjumma on the street, she's pushing people out of her way and wearing a combination of loud and mismatched patterns. I don't know why this is a thing, but it's a thing.

Here's a popular Korean TV show called "Running Man" where they'll do certain stunts while imitating "the ajumma." I'm not the only one who knows these pants are awesome.

But I may be the only one who wears them to school and gets away with it.

Like, I said: grateful.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Christmas Song

Perhaps its the dump of snow that has me in the holiday spirit. The past week in Korea has been icy cold and casting fresh snow on us about every other day. It make my morning bicycle commute really terrible, however, I try not to think about too much and turn up the heating blanket I use at school. We've been piling on more layers, spending more time in pajamas, and drinking more tea, because the season demands it!

Even though Korea is a largely Christian country, they surely haven't caught on to the intense holiday marketing campaigns that start in October in the States. And I can't say I'm exactly disappointed, just surprised. It's rare to see Christmas lights or trees, though I have heard some K-pop renditions of Christmas songs once or twice on the radio.

So Christmas spirit around these parts is mostly do-it-yourself. We've got the tree. We've got the YouTube fireplace. We're drinking the hot chocolate. All that's needed is my favorite Christmas song, appropriately named: The Christmas Song.

Sidenote: I'd never actually had roasted chestnut before last week. They are quite common round these parts, though oddly absent from the country where we sing the dang song!

So, I would like to dedicate this song to my sweet, Mom and Dad in Colorado. I know how much you miss having me home to play piano, so this will have to do this year. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Rarer Than Love

"See nobody believes in friendship
People talk about it. 
That's the thing about friendship. 
It's a lot rarer than love
Because there's nothing in it for anybody." 

-a quote from the movie Are You Here?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Morning Train (Original Song)

I've written a handful of songs in my life. It doesn't come easily for me. In fact, most of the time it's excruciating and slow and stupid. "Stupid" like every lyric sounds stupid and awkward until I play it for a friend and their like, "It's good."


This one's pretty good, I think. My friend, Emily requested "The Gun Song" and she's talking about this one, which I've chosen to title a little less like an NRA-theme song. I wrote it a few years ago reflecting on a train ride I took in Australia. I took the trip to Australia on a short holiday from the year I spent in Cambodia. It was not a good time for me: dark, probably the worst season of my bulimia.

That morning, I had had breakfast with this kind Aussie couple that was letting me stay with them, they drove me to the train station, so I could spend the day exploring Sydney. Before getting on the train, I went and threw up my breakfast. I boarded the train and sat thinking to myself, "I am not in a good place. I wish someone would notice." But around me were all kinds of people that were likely fighting their own battles. People who might also be wishing someone--even a stranger--would ask, "How ya doin?"

So I started the train ride feeling really bad for myself "sitting on the morning train, the morning train no one can see her, looking past the darkness in her eyes," and then, started thinking about pain and how we all have it and how we all want relief from it: "living in a world that needs to heal."

Here it is:

Morning Train

Sitting on the morning train, the morning train
no one can see her
looking past the darkness in her eyes

Two seats down a business man, he reads and scans
and moves his hands
searching for a way to make a buck

Stepping on with snow-white hair
a wrinkled face that longs to share
the stories that have brought her there

Furrowed brow with headphones on
he stares ahead, he won't respond
hiding in a shell that's made of steel

Living in a world that needs to heal

If it's not my problem, then it's nobodies problem
we've all got our problems of our own
and the world is just too big
and the need is just too great
and really all we want is to go home

Looking in her baby's eyes
she walks and cries as she's denied
the water to survive another day

Working for a meager pay
he sweats and bleeds and falls on his knees
living in a life no one deserves

Breathing fear and disbelief 
running far to seek relief
witnessing too much at eight years-old

Living in a world that needs a home

If it's not my problem, then it's nobodies problem
we've all got our problems of our own
and the world is just too big
and the need is just too great
and really all we want is to go home

He holds a pistol to his head
hoping that he'll soon be dead
wanting to escape this hell on earth
losing hope in all that's left
a hurting world of pain and death
wondering if there's any God at all
cause if there was he'd catch us when we fall

If it's not my problem, then it's nobodies problem
we've all got our problems of our own
and the world is just too big
and the need is just too great
and really all we want is to go home
but none of us will get there 
on our own