Social outings

I just went onto my blog to see what I posted about last time and couldn’t believe that Chinese New Year was only last month. It feels like it was ages ago! How has only one month gone by?

I feel like I have a lot of things to write about, but can’t quite sit still long enough to do it. I finally took the Christmas tree down last week, so that’s something. The dog was sick for like two weeks – with open sores, throwing up, and diarrhea. The whole 9 yards, which was fun. And, my elementary school students had their last art show for the year recently. So, two art shows this year in October and February. And, now we – the art department, Makerspace, and music department – begin work on our Grade 1 – 5 musical.

While I have not had the chance to do a lot of traveling since living in Cambodia, I have done more reading and socializing than I did last year. And this is something that I was hoping for. Last year I was essentially trapped during the school year and unable to think outside of teaching and school-related things. This year I have been in a book club, gone to movies in theatres, and met people out for brunch. These are not earth-shaking things, but they can be life-altering. I think it’s really important to do things and have friends. I certainly don’t do all the things, but at least I do some of the things!

The books I have read since joining the book club are: Chilean Poet by Alejandro Zambra and Megan McDowell, Circe by Madeline Miller, Babel by R.F. Kuang, Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri, and I’m currently reading It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. During my time in between books, I am listening to Spare by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and reading China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan. My favorite genre to read or listen to are autobiographies or biographies. So, I am really enjoying Prince Harry’s book. But I also quite liked Whereabouts and Chilean Poet, mentioned above. Anything that allows me to travel to a new place or a foreign land, I will surely love.

Some friends and I went to see the 25th anniversary showing of the Titanic recently. We had our hair done in 1910 styles at a local salon and dressed the part. There were drinks served at the theatre, as well as food and unlimited popcorn. I even won the costume contest with my “unsinkable” cardboard ship hat. The theatre was amazing with reclinable cushy chairs, gold blankets, and lots of space for food and drinks and movement. It was an awesome theatre! But I had forgotten how sad that movie was, though. Except that in watching it this time around, I felt like Jack’s character was imaginary . . . That potentially Rose made up that character as a way for her to deal with her unhappiness in her relationship and at being trapped on the ship. Just a theory. I also saw Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania a few weeks later. It was fun to watch, although a bit hokey. I love Paul Rudd and will see most anything he’s in.

My friends and I seemingly keep showing up for brunch at Planta, a yummy restaurant in town. They do a cocktail, coffee/tea, and meal for $12.50. It’s such a deal and so much good food that it’s totally worth it! The first time I went, I had eggs benedict. My second time was a combination of coconut pancakes and a shared pizza. Third time was a giant serving of avocado toast, and finally this last weekend, a burger. My friend Jamie and I met a friend-of-a-friend there this past weekend. He was in town visiting and reached out. We also tend to hold book club meetings there a lot, as well.

Roughly three-and-a-half more months in the school year! A quick March break next week, and Khmer New Year for a week in April. And then summer will be here before we know it! Very much looking forward to summer break and seeing what comes next! More soon!

Happy February!

Hello, hello! The Year of the Rabbit is here!!!

I have had a hard time trying to sit down and write this post. My energy is low and I took the month of January to sort of ease into the year. The Year of the Tiger was brutal, ending with me getting my first batch of Covid right as Winter Break began in December.

There are lots of things happening, but I’m not sure how to write about them all. They seem connected, but also separate. I’m trying to sell my car. I’m paying for part of my mother’s assisted living. I’m working for Toddle writing lessons. I’m teaching 28 classes a week. I’m organizing art classes locally at Coconut Park, which is around the corner from my house. I’m moving to Beijing in July. I’m starting a Learning Experience Design program online at Brandeis University in October. I’m hoping for more classes at Takeo Orphanage. And my dog has alopecia due to environmental allergies. 

Basically my next several years are planned out for me. This is great because I certainly don’t have the time to do the planning myself. My hope is to stay in Beijing for as long as humanly possible or until I finish teaching, whichever comes first.

I’m not someone who glorifies being stretched thin or overly busy. I took on the extra jobs that I mentioned above because my salary in Cambodia is not what I had hoped and my finances have already taken a massive hit because of my move back to the States last year. Leaving China or moving to Connecticut – however you want to look at it – was a colossal mistake. I think this coming move to Beijing is going to be fantastic and I am so excited about it. 

I am also really pumped about Learning Experience Design at Brandeis. Not only is it an awesome school, but the program I am entering is going to help me take everything I have done with my educational life to the next level. I am going to be learning cutting edge approaches to education, game design theory, and how artificial intelligence can be used for development and learning. I am super enthusiastic about all of it and creating transformative educational experiences for my students. I think my background in art is going to play a HUGE role in setting me apart from the pack. I am thrilled about this direction!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! May you find endurance, prosperity, and peace in this magical Year of the Bun-Bun!

Out with the Old

2022 was not a good year. Part of me wants to say it was a waste of my time. But that’s never true. You always learn things regardless of the goodness – or lack of goodness – in anything. And just because it wasn’t good as a whole, doesn’t mean that fun and exciting things didn’t take place. There were a lot of fun moments to 2022. But here’s hoping 2023 is a better year!

Things I solidified about myself in 2022:

  • I love snow. 
  • Water is my most favorite drink, but I won’t turn down a Negroni or a glass of Shiraz.
  • I do not thrive in small places: small cities, small schools, small communities. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn!
  • All of my senses need to firing on high all the time. It’s exhausting, but it’s what feeds my soul.
  • I enjoy sleep way more than I used to and get close to 8 hours a night or through naps. That’s a whole 3 hours more than I used to get!
  • While I was not raised in Nashville, I feel like it has reared me as a human. I’m very thankful for this.
  • Elephant sisters are important to have.
  • My identity is wrapped tightly to my job. So if the job’s not a right fit or not going well, my entire life is out of whack.
  • Binging streaming shows is super fun, but it does nothing for my health. Turn off the boob tube and take a walk. I’ve cancelled all of my streaming channels except for one. This is huge!
  • Making art can come and go in my life and that’s okay. I’m still a very creative person.
  • I love learning new things all the time. This is also exhausting, but important to me.
  • I enjoy listening to books more than reading them. 
  • Friends that I still have from second grade continue to be some of the most wonderful people I have ever met.
  • Adventure is my life blood.
  • Usually people are mostly good, but there are some who are not. People show you who they are in the first couple of minutes that you know them. Listen and take notice. Also a tough lesson to learn!
  • I don’t like coffee. I keep trying, but it’s just not good to me. Goodbye coffee.
  • I enjoy independence and being by myself on most occasions. I’m grateful for characters like Miss Havisham, the grandma in Moana, and other eccentric ladies of advanced age.
  • My pets like being back in Asia where they are both from (cat is Qatari and dog is Chinese). I’m not sure how they recognize this, but my guess is there is a smell that they both pick up on. It’s fascinating to experience!
  • Community can be built anywhere that willingness exists.