The Worst Class You’ll Ever Dread Teaching

The draft of this post was written last Saturday night. I delayed posting it until I could finish and edit it.

Is it too soon into the reincarnation of the blog to post about something that’s just made me cry? Maybe–yet here I am, six hours before I have to wake up again to begin a 10-hour workday filled with some of my toughest classes. Instead of sleeping, I’m pounding away at the keyboard, telling myself to stop crying, it’s not worth it to consciously add all this stress to my life.

What am I talking about?

Teaching teenagers, of course.

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October 2015 Goals

Before each month I set three Goals for myself to complete by the end of the month. These goals are things that make me happy, that I’ve intended to do, but needed that extra little push to get started on. The Monthly Goals are not to guilt myself into doing administrative duties that I’ve been putting off; instead, they are to get me excited about pursuing actions that I believe will add to my life physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually.

In October, my three Goals are:

1. Sign up for Vietnamese lessons.

Why: One of my biggest regrets from my 13 months of living in South Korea was not setting aside the focus to learn Korean. Sure, it’s possible to get by with only English in most major cities in the world nowadays, but when you come into another person’s world, whether it’s only for a short visit or more long-term, it’s presumptuous to not try to learn that other person’s culture and language, at least a little bit. So far in my one month of living in Hanoi, I’ve met and befriended wonderful Vietnamese people. A genuine smile and a “thank you” goes a long way, but I feel like I can delve further by learning Vietnamese.

Actions to take: Look up organizations offering Vietnamese lessons. Study on my own time. Befriend locals and practice speaking Vietnamese with them.

Actions taken: At the end of September, I joined a Beginners class with Let’s Speak Vietnamese, which operates in a small cafe just down the street from my workplace! I’ve attended about three weeks’ worth of classes so far and have learned numbers, pronouns, essential phrases, and phrases of introduction. There’s a bit too much English spoken and not enough time to practice our own spoken Vietnamese for my taste, but I appreciate having a class structure to kick my lazy language-learning butt into gear. LSV also places a good amount of focus on pronunciation, which is arguably the hardest aspect of Vietnamese for foreigners to grasp. To add to that, I intend to connect further with some Vietnamese friends I have here, and practice speaking with them.

Excitement level: 5/5. I love that I’m actually getting serious about learning a new language!

2. Join a gym.

Why: I haven’t properly been in a gym since 2013. When I’m set a task, I work hard, but on my own I tend to revert to lazy inertness. I know that merely buying a yoga mat and doing ab exercises in my apartment will not suffice (because I’ll be too lazy to keep up the routine), so I need the added pressure of a gym membership and a singularly focused space to get myself moving.

Actions to take: Research gym offerings in Hanoi. Weigh cost vs. equipment/class offerings. Then set aside the time in my day to actually visit the gym and check it out!

Actions taken: So far, I’ve only researched gyms. *sigh* Hanoi’s Western-quality gyms are prohibitively expensive ($200-per-month membership, anyone?), which is why I really have to check out what’s within my price range. A few spaces look promising. My task next week will be to check some of them out and hopefully make a decision by the end of the week!

Excitement level: 3.5/5. The thought of having to listen to sales pitches and bargaining for a reasonable membership cost is a drag, but right now I have a lot of free time I can fill on weekdays, and I’m looking forward to being able to do yet another thing during that free time.

3. Start blogging again.

Why: Okay, blogging is inherently selfish, I cannot deny it. But I have words and thoughts I’d like to share, and I feel like blogging is one of the things I can do to keep up with my purported dream of being a writer. (HAH. I seriously have to work on that. #NovemberGoals…)

Actions to take: I’ve been planning this for a long time, but I didn’t want to do it in September, because I was already busy with moving and settling into Hanoi. I’ve got pages of notes, both on paper and on my phone, notes on blog names, possible posts, and more. So yeah, suffice to say that I have been thinking about it!

Actions taken: Well, you’re looking at it now!

Excitement level: 3/5. Sigh. I don’t know why I’m not more excited about restarting a blog. Maybe because blogging seems to have changed so much since I started six years ago. Now, there seems to be such an emphasis on the commercial success aspect of blogging, since, y’know, everyone and their mother has a blog, and the only way that your blog can be legitimate is to have a dozen ads, a steady revenue, and a stream of all-expenses-paid promotions. Ever since I stopped book blogging, I’ve been struggling to find a blogging space of my own again. Will this blog reincarnation be “it”?

So that’s it for me! Three goals per month to focus my energies and desire for self-improvement and self-fulfillment. I know I was a little late getting these goals posted up this month, but at the end of October I’ll reflect on my Goals and how they have affected me.

Do you set monthly goals for yourself? How do you motivate yourself to do the “big” things that you want to do in your everyday life?

Merry Christmas From On the Road

I’m writing this on the 4000 Islands in southern Laos. It must be one of those backpacking catch-22s that where there’s fast Wi-Fi, you’ll be too busy doing non-computery things, and where things are a little slower and you actually want to be reliably connected, the Internet is for shit. That, plus a little…encounter that I might write about presently, explains the delay in uploading blog posts about my travels.

Christmas screeched up on me this year. There has been a decided lack of three things in my life that I associate with the advent of this holiday: cold weather, friends and family, and Christmas songs and decorations everywhere. In all likelihood this day will be much like others for me, and so I leave you with this picture of my relaxation buddy and I:


She found me yesterday as I lunched overlooking the Mekong River. The island has lots of endearing stray animals, but for some reason all the cats here are born with stubby tails or no tail at all. Stray cats always drive home the realization that my cats have all been outrageously fat. I mean, look at this:


And this:


Happy Holidays! Until next time.

…Aaaaand We’re Back

The main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace - Seoul, South Korea.

The main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace – Seoul, South Korea.

Remember that time last year (wow, was it really only a year ago) when I said that I’d be doing some heavy long-term traveling? Remember when I, bright-eyed and already headlong into traveling, decided to start a travel blog with big ambitions?

Lots has changed since then, hasn’t it. Continue reading