kick ’em when they’re down

red light2Warning: This post contains blood!

The other day I’m out riding my bike. I’ve just left my apartment and am headed left, towards the light. The plan is to turn right onto the main road and hit a few hills. I’ve been missing my bike! Trouble is, the light’s red and there’s a car there, also turning right. I come up slowly behind it, clicked into  my pedals but ready to click out, waiting to see what it does. The car starts to go but then stops, starts again and stops, and (those of you who are cyclists know where this is going) . . . Crash! I’d lost my momentum; I knew I was going to fall, and I did.

I toppled hard to my right, and even on the ground had difficulty getting out of my pedals. My left calf was smarting, but I didn’t pay it any attention. A passenger in a car waiting to turn left beside me had rolled down his window so that I could hear him laughing at me. I ignored him — didn’t look over —  and finally got upright again. The indecisive car had finally moved on and my lane was clear. I peddled on. Continue reading


try too hard3You say you want the real me,
I say I want it, too.
But how can I destroy me,
reveal myself to you?

We all of us have demons,
dark things we’d rather hide.
Though, honest, we’re not heathens,
still it can’t be denied . . .

That none of us is perfect,
no beauty is unflawed.
And what appears a defect
should sometimes be hurrahed.

But maybe that’s my downfall —
it’s too late, I’ve bought in.
Won’t listen to your windfall,
perfection is my sin.

You say you want the real me,
I say I want it, too.
But how can I destroy me,
when I am my own glue?

Click below for an audio recording of this poem.

“I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.” – Robert Frost


Image: Google

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where does the thunder go?

Rainy Day on Folsom Lake


We’re on our boat and it’s Labor Day. No one’s out because it’s stormy, and we like it this way. The lake is ours.

With the wind in my face, and the rain to my back, I pretend I’m alone. I am alone. My thoughts fly with the wind rushing past me — over mountains, hills, and plains; forward, backward, now. And I realize:

I am not alone. Earth is ours.

“Why the Egyptian, Arabic, Abyssinian, Choctaw?

Well, what tongue does the wind talk? What nationality is a storm? What country do rains come from? What color is lightning? Where does thunder go when it dies?”

― Ray Bradbury

Image: Folsom Lake, California (by me)

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finding the here and now

I made it. Starting at 7:45 a.m. (we got a late start) and 45° F (7° C) on Sunday, my dad and I took off from our cabin and didn’t look back. We rode clockwise around the lake, starting from the south shore. It was my first organized ride—Bike the West: America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride—and kind of fun. There were a lot of cyclists on the road and people cheering along the way.

The first big climb was around Emerald Bay, a popular tourist spot on the lake. At the bottom of the hill, right by the shore, is an old home called Vikingsholm. It’s quite pretty and made entirely from materials native to the Tahoe area. Continue reading


Searching for inspiration, I am finding none. Some would say I’m pessimistic. I would say I’m not.

It’s been a hard month. Big decisions. Life changes. The feeling that I’m out there on my own.

And yet not quite.

I’m not alone, and I know it. Even far from home and with a family torn apart, I have more support than most.

I’ll write again soon—about things more worthwhile. I guess I just wanted you to know, blog:

*You *are not alone.

another year

A new year and a new blog.

Maybe I can start over again. Maybe.

The thing about New Year’s resolutions is that they don’t usually work. If there is something I really want to do or change in my life, I don’t need a date on the calendar to do it. All I need is drive.

And yet, somehow, January 1st provides many people with the clean slate they desire to make that longed-for change.

Quite frankly, I already know that 2012 will be just as if not more challenging than 2011. The chances that I’ll find tons of time to blog are slim to none. But, as I told a friend the other day, the longer I put off writing, the more I feel something in me dying. I was not meant to be a teacher. Not for life.

[Give me writing. Or give me death.]

Oh yeah, and cheers!

Another year.

food and fun fair

Here we are–the Food and Fun Fair. It’s an annual event here at HKAA. Something that students look forward to and teachers/parents . . . (?) The idea is simple: Each class/group on campus sets up a booth and sells something–for six hours on a Sunday. The goal is to make money for the school and have a fun day (I guess). Our primary students are performing a Christmas pageant at 1 o’clock–a Christmas pageant that I wrote and directed. We haven’t made it through it once without our students–particularly the little ones–goofing off, and I only just threw together some costumes this morning, so we’ll see how it goes.

Luckily, I’ve heard that, of the thousand or so people that are supposed to show up today, only about 100 actually pay attention to the performances.

It’s hard to believe Christmas is coming up so quickly, or that this year I won’t see my family. But, somehow, it’s okay. My family and friends will be with me in my heart.

Anyway, here I go. Off to the races to be a bit more useful and helpful. Hopefully, maybe, someday soon I’ll find time to post pics.

(Much love to anyone reading this!)

just another day

Sitting in my classroom. My desk is catty corner to the room. My students Joseph, Jenny, Manhei, and Qubee are in Chinese class in front of me. This is my one 4o-minute break all day.

In many ways, I am an irresponsible teacher. I did not do a lot of prep work last night. I was too busy responding to emails and stringing blue lights around the mini silver Christmas tree that Karen gave me. Karen is all about decorating for Christmas.

It hit me this morning that Christmas is less than one month away. That’s hard to believe. Where did 2011 go? It seems just yesterday I was bundled up by the river in Danshui, drinking hot cocoa from 7-11 to stay warm, watching the New Years’ fireworks with my dad and brother. It is scary how quickly time goes.

I told my 4th grade boys that during Religion this morning. They didn’t believe me.

Why would they? They’re nine.

I’m looking forward to Christmas—even though I’m not going home, even though I won’t see my family. It will be nice to find time to breathe. I’ll probably work–at least a little. Otherwise I will never catch up on grading. I also hope to visit friends in Taiwan. Hong Kong is slowly becoming more and more familiar, but, honestly, I’d still be lost here without the help of my good friend/local guide.

It’s warm here. I keep expecting it to get cold. I miss having four distinct seasons.

Just another day in my classroom.

Just another day.

[Every day–even a down day (see my last entry)–is a gift.]

personal rant

At the end of the day you’re another day older. And that’s all you can say for the life of the poor. It’s a struggle, it’s a war. And there’s nothing that anyone’s giving. One more day, standing about, what is it for? One day less to be living.

At the end of the day you’re another day older.

Lyrics to a song from the musical Les Miserables. A phrase that comes to my mind all the time.


I chose this path. I chose this life. I love living abroad. So why is it that every job I’ve had abroad has been so hard?

And this time it’s not even cultural differences I’m talking about. I am working on an Adventist campus. I grew up around Adventists. There is nothing about Adventism I don’t know.

And I suppose that’s just it: Adventism. The rules and the regulations and the closed-mindedness and the frowning upon anyone with different ideas. I downright despise the religion I grew up in.

Well, that’s part of it. The rest is the ridiculous workload and the demands on personal time. No two people can efficiently run a 6-grade primary school. We need help. Not to mention now we’re being asked to interview students for next year. I won’t even be here next year.

I shouldn’t write when I am down. I never blog when I am down.

I never blog at all these days. When do I have time?

I miss writing.

I miss home.

I never miss home.

I miss it.

whys and wherefores

My goals for this blog are as follows:

  • Write regularly—more regularly. One post a week. I can do this. (I tell myself.)
  • Share Asia. Compare and contrast my experiences in Taiwan and Hong Kong and beyond.
  • Explore the world. Connect ideas.
  • Search for meaning. How do the events and places and people and nations of the world connect and interconnect?
  • Search for my own life’s meaning—not as in a box or a label, but as in a purpose and in a connecting of ideas and life experiences. Being defined is, to me, a goal. An aspiration. A standing out. A purpose.

Life: Insert meaning [here].

p.s. Happy Birthday, Derek! I love and miss you.