Saturday, June 20, 2015

How We Made Our Money

The love birds today.
When we adopted Diego "The Shark" Burrito he turned out to be more than we had bargained for and we knew we needed help, and he needed a friend and we needed a break.  Which is how we found ourselves rolling in Money.  

The Facebook post said that Nyx came form the streets, but was the sweetest, tiny girl they had ever met.  However, because their big dog kept harassing her they needed another foster immediately.  Something about those big mournful eyes grabbed me through the screen and wouldn't let me go.  There was also something about her nearly hairless, boney, desperately sad pictures that said to me, "No body is going to want this dog.  It's not cute.  If you don't give her a home for a minute she won't make it."

Thinking I had lost my mind, I texted the Harri-bou-bou the photos of her and said, "What if we try this for Diego?"  We worried about it overnight, and then in the morning said to each other, "We gotta try something.  Can't be any worse than it is now." An hour later I was off to Suwon for the hand off.

Of course, the moment I saw her tired little head rested on her foster moms chest, carefully wrapped in a scarf sling because she didn't want to be alone, I knew she was something special.  When I took her from her temporary people, she put up no resistance. Rarely have I met something that wanted so desperately to be saved.  She had put all of her trust in humans, any humans.  It wasn't that she had given up,  she was just too tired to do it on her own anymore.  Her fragile little body easily flowed into any shape of mine as I wrapped the scarf around me, she didn't even wiggle.  She was just too tired to fight. 

As her gentle nature won me over on the subway home, my fear for her with Diego grew and I wondered if I had rescued the lamb only to deliver it to The Shark.  He had never liked other dogs so I knew I needed to be committed to helping them get to know each other slowly.  When I arrived home I put her down carefully went to let Diego meet her with just noses between a gap in the sliding glass doors by opening it just a bit. Except that was not what happened at all, the door stuck a little and then slid back much faster than usually letting Diego race into the room right at her.  My heart stopped, he was about to eat the sweet little bite of a lady.  

Then, just as he was about to run right over her, he pulled up short and came to rest with his nose gently touching hers. He stood there, still.  She carefully sniffed him, he moved gently away to give her space, and I didn't move at all from the sheer shock of him being affectionate.  Diego was in love at first sight.  So enamored was I with this process I had not noticed that Diego still had food he hadn't finished on the porch.  Of course, Nyx was a starving dog so she smelled it right away and eased herself out to give it a little taste. 

When I realized what she was doing it was too late and my heart dropped again.  I had let my guard down too soon. "The Shark" had earned his nickname because of his desperate and violent need to protect his food and space.  The true love was about to end as soon as it started... except... Diego did nothing.  He just watched her slowly and delicately eat all his food while he sat a respectful distance away.

And that's how it's been ever since.  From the moment they touched noses he loved her.  She can do no wrong in his eyes.  Even though long gone are they days when Nyx passively viewed the word, he doesn't care.  He loves her when she takes all his toys, eats all his food, or refuses to let him on any sofa.  The only thing that matters to him is that they are together and he will cry for hours at the door if she has a day out without him.  His love for her, helped him learn to love us because she loved us and his fear and anger slowly started fading away through his big happy puppy feet.

And that is the story of how The Shark was saved from extinction and how Nyx earned the full name Nyx Money.  You see, she is our hope in a new day, our lucky penny, that $50 dollars you find on the street on the day you've spent your last dollar.  She makes us feel rich and we are happy every day that we decided to save our Money.

Her first days off the street.
One the way home for the first time.
Their blooming romance.
How they spend their days.

Friday, June 19, 2015


Yesterday reading Korean almost made me cry, but not for the reasons you would think.
(I totally hate these types of intros, but this time it's true!)

Sometimes it just takes one strip of plastic to change your life.

For years I have struggled with Korean, not with understanding it.  That I grasped quickly, but the ability to actually see it.  To recognize what I was looking at as what I had learned the day before.

So what was my problem? A serious case of dyslexia that continues to haunt me and make languages an emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting process. I simply can't see what I am looking at.  It takes years of constant exposure and focus to ever so slowly capture all of the information my brain needs to create a stable picture of a word. In turn, this causes a disconnect between visual and auditory content so that I can't recognize what I see and what I hear as being related.

To fight against this is a certain type of hell.

To make things more complicated, struggling to learn Korean was making it so that I could no longer read English.  I stopped being able to read books because my eyes forgot how to see our alphabet.  This is not a good condition for an English teacher and a horrific condition for a writer, so basically I was/am screwed.

So, after failing yet another Korean exam in which I knew all of the information, but was unable to recognize the content due to a change in font and paper type, I decided to start looking for help.

Here are the tools that changed my life:


This is smartphone and tablet app that allows you to chose different special font settings for online content.  This makes it much easier for dyslexics to catch all the details and read for a longer amount of time.  It's truly brilliant and I use it every time I research a new grammar point or read a word list.  For me, if I can see the words and grammar accurately a few times then I can read them on white paper pretty easily after that, although proof reading my own work remains a tricky issue since my brain sees what it thinks instead of what exists.

Offline: Colored reading guides

However, for books and tests.  These are the big guns.  A friend recently ordered them for me after I posted about desperately needing some but not knowing where to find them in Korea. Which is why I almost ended up in tears. Yesterday I opened my text book and was easily reading along solving problems when I thought, "Wow! All the studying has really paid off.  My text books are cake now.  I can read easily. Everything makes sense."

Then I stopped myself.  I haven't been studying.  I have been lazy and going to the beach.  The only thing that is different are these strips. So I took the strip off. Once again, I could hardly recognize a thing.  Put the strips back, BAM!!!! I can read things with fluency.  It was like being punched in the stomach.  All of the struggle, fight, tears, anger, and frustration boiled down to one strip of colored plastic.  It was one of those moments I didn't know if I felt happy or angry.

So please, don't be a hero and don't ask your loved ones to be heroes.

If you know you have a learning disability - or think you might - use the tools available for you. Maybe you don't have access to diagnosis, just try the tools and see if they help. Don't waste time with self doubt, insecurity or stubbornness - don't be me. Get help before you waste two years of your life trying to recognize the word "you".


Monday, June 15, 2015

Personal Legend

Where do you start?
When the wall is so big and impossible?
A place where we jump,
and scramble and claw
our way up the mountain alone.

Is this just a wall, or is it us?
A symbol of our demons conquered
and our legends made.
Where we pull ourselves past our fears
as we sweat out our tears.

It started as a day in the sun,
but now I only see the things that chase us.
The reasons we have ended up here together,
and how we all rely on each other
to catch one another in the fall.

Climbing Icheon
[네이버 지도] 경기도 이천시 관고동 (거리뷰),

Friday, June 5, 2015

You lost me from Hello

Book Reviewed: What Happens in Tuscany
Author: T.A. Williams

Recently I was given a gift certificate for doing a Beta reading of the fabulous new book by Lisa Brunette, a friend and author who writes the Dreamslipper books.  It seemed appropriate to use the gift card to further support authors and find a bunch of new things to read from the Amazon eBooks, every expat readers best friend.

Since I love reading books about life, travel, relationships, adventure, etc - but I am not into romance novels - it can be hard to find the right book for me.  What Happens in Tuscany seemed like it might fit the bill and the reviews were decent so I gave it a try.

Although there was nothing egregiously terrible about the book, and I enjoyed many elements of the plot, it failed to hit home.  I couldn't connect with the characters.  Just when I thought there was common ground, they would do something that just seemed, well, out of character.  There was a dissonance that made me feel like I was lost.  Throughout the entire book I just kept thinking, something is wrong.  The two lead female characters didn't act or think like any women I had ever met.  It was like they where copies of a copy.

Having read thousands of books in my life and never having had this experience before, I thought.  What kind of woman writes a book like this?  Who is like, "Hey I was ruffled, nearly sexually assaulted, and photographed nude by a stranger - but that's not a big deal."  Honestly, you don't just toss in an incident like that and treat it like is was a crazy Saturday at the pool. Who thinks like this?  So I google the author.  It was not written by a woman.  It was written by a man.