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Amazing Year: Day 7

15 Mar

When Jaewon and I moved to our new apartment we soon felt the area’s mystifying pleasantness. We couldn’t put our finger on it, but something was “just right.” This week a piece of the puzzle unveiled itself as the street in front of our complex welcomed a quaint parade of blooming sakura (cherry blossom) trees. We may not be drinking sake with friends over a blue tarp, but for a couple that dearly misses Japan, it feels good nonetheless. Happy cherry blossom viewing everyone, wherever you are!



Amazing Year: Day 6

14 Mar

In an otherwise standard day, I would like to point out some things that I have observed.

I spotted a hippo at my local dental office. This honestly brightened my day more than any tooth whitener on the planet. Yes, I take photos of any HIPPOS I spy. If I were to visit the Nile, I’d never make it out of there.


I am not a healthy consumer of edibles and liquids. However, having avoided ALL sodas/pops/carbonated beverages for over a month, I can proudly say that I am LESS unhealthy. #winning

Coke Bottle

Goodbye Coke. You are only eye candy to me now.

The cereal world in Taiwan seems to be undergoing a revolution. Rice Krispies  have arrived, among other questionable varieties. Viva la breakfast!


NEWSFLASH: A second dentist has offered his opinion (also known as a second opinion) and believes he can place a crown on the tooth that recently received an eviction notice. Hooray! My wallet is breathing a sigh of relief.

Amazing Year: Day 5

13 Mar

Today was the day I heard the news, and from a dentist, an endodontist to be exact. Prognosis negative. Even a hero of pristine white monuments far and wide was unable to save my little guy. It’s sad to see another tooth bite the dust. So I wrote a poem in memory of my friend who I abandoned for most, okay all of its life.

Bye Tooth

The truth is

you’re not even alive

you’ve been a dead corpse

for many a month

a tombstone reminder

of what once was

it feels just like yesterday

okay not really

that you were a budding flower

in a bountiful garden

where the waters flowed

with sugar

and more sugar

I don’t even want to write this

stupid poem

but tooth, you weren’t


you just wanted to live

(tear break)

as long as I did

I couldn’t even give you that

thank you for your service

little guy

for all those raisinettes, and dead cow patties you chewed your way through

for when the chocolate got hot, and the icees ran cold

we will build a bridge in your honor

or drill a hole with a tooth that won’t die like your pathetic…

sorry that was uncalled for

you’re the victim here

I am the villain

(dessert break: nutella with crackers)

sorry I’m just too focused on the nutella right now

bye tooth

Amazing Year: Day 4

12 Mar

Today was destined to be one of those mind-boggling workathons. A 13-hour shift filled with meetings, deadlines, and mentoring. It still renders me delirious how a plan can come together. Last year at this point, our World Scholar’s Cup squad was just two teams, and six students. We’ve evolved to bustling gargantuan force with 11 teams, and 33 students. Nearly all of them eager to pledge their time to hone their debate skills and research. It’s tiring work, but I’m happy to lead them. Thirty years from now when I hang up the boots, I think creating student-driven clubs will have been my legacy. The students need an outlet for expression, leadership, and growth and it’s a joy to see them blossom.

Following the tiring shift, it was time to unwind. I learned back in Florida that when you feel you have no time for anything then it truly is time to just STOP! and refuel. I did. Sort of. A pleasant midnight stroll on deserted streets felt like an eerie vacation. A trick. A mirage. I had secret plans. Work. Obtain new ID photos from a curious 24/7 booth.


Then it was on for some play. It was Monday after all, the day I plunge into one of 52 Pep Talks for Writers. 


I enjoy books which have a calendar-friendly collection of installments so that I can have something to look forward to each day/week/menstrual cycle. It also prevents me from rushing too quickly. It’s important to allow the little nuggets of wisdom to dissolve into my soul. This week’s lesson was all about reaching out to find or become a mentor, and the importance of sage advice. Turning on the reflection lamp, I thought about all of the personal and professional mentors I’m grateful for. Here’s to hoping a shoutout to all these eclectic path makers get their own post soon. In the interim, Neil Gaiman will serve as my fantasy (double meaning intended) mentor.

“We all need someone who helps open the door to a bolder, truer vision of ourselves.” – Grant Faulkner


Today also marked my first entry in a new journal titled Great Thoughts Notebook. The idea from was flash-fiction marvel Stuart Dybeck’s entry in the Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, another delightful ditty I dive into in careful increments. Dybeck beckons us to find the “lint” of our childhood and from there to find our stories.


Day 4 already. Wow. Here’s a final photo, a family photo (of sorts): my most recent notebook buddies complete with a complimentary shot of some socks (my feet are inside them…. cliche, right? I prefer footless sock shots).

“A notebook is a net for collecting stray perceptions, dreams.” – Stuart Dybek


Top Left to Bottom Right: Children’s Literature Vol. 17; Short Fiction Vol. 2; Kid Jokes; Poetry, the Worst; Great Thoughts Notebook; Comic Drawings; Thoodles; Young Adult Literature.

Amazing Year: Day 3

11 Mar

My good friends Mike, Bob, and I, among other special guest stars, loved to aimlessly drive around the not-so-mean streets of the northern Buffalo suburbs doing what we called “Rediscovering Western New York.” It actually amazed us how we were always able to find new residential pockets, or obscure places in an area we called home for most of our life.

I’ve been in Taiwan for nearly six years, and I can honestly say I have yet to truly discover it in the first place. But at least in my immediate surroundings of Linkou, New Taipei City, I thought it was an appropriate time to whip out the new camera and hop on one of Taiwan’s friendly-neighborhood bicycles and “rediscover” my borrowed home.

On the writing front, I came up with a new story about a ghost writer and started etching out its core ‘plot.’ I’m beginning to gravitate towards more simpler, cliched topics in the hopes of adding my own take on what has been done numerous times before. It’s exciting to get started with short fiction. I’ve learned my lesson from picture books, and hopefully it won’t take 10 years to get published. Regardless, if I enjoy writing every day then it’s worth it!

Amazing Year: Day 2

10 Mar

I’ve just turned 37, and after finally crawling into bed at 1:30 a.m. after finishing important school work, what was in store for the weekend?


Back to work. Yep. Well…. not exactly. Because today was SPORTS DAY! Specifically, my school’s first ever American-esque field day. It was awesome! It takes a village, and our teachers, staff, PTA, and students really brought their competitive and youthful spirits to the games. We all had a blast watching them compete in water balloon toss, basketball, soccer, and a variety of other oddball challenges.


After “work,” my wife Jaewon and I continued my annual birthday Taiwan tradition by feeding our faces at Friday’s (never stop a dude from enjoying his Sesame Jack Chicken Strips) followed by book buying at Eslite.


I’ve been stocking up scores of books as of late so I was doubtful I would find any to fit my fancy, but lo and behold one from my favorite author (#NeilGaiman) I’ve been wanting for some time made itself known and was quickly purchased. Now if I can only read the other 100 books waiting in line. 🙂


Speaking of reading, I concluded all of the issues intended for DC Comic’s Rebirth Deathstroke Volume 5, and boy were they awful! Christopher Priest is praised for his work on Black Panther, but his run on Deathstroke is a stroke of stupidity (in my opinion, I was raised to never disrespect a priest). I’m sure many like it, but I just can’t get into the myriad of characters, all of which we are not permitted to care for or even have an idea of their true desire in life. Having finished issue 29, I will bid farewell to my regular reading of Deathstroke.

Amazing Year: Day 1

9 Mar

Today was the 37th time I became one year older, and thanks to caring students and colleagues going into work as an old man proved to be worth every minute!

Multiple rooms of students broke out in song, many a cake were sliced for all to enjoy, thoughtful gifts were opened, and even teenagers typically spare on compliments wrote endearing messages.

At the end of the normal work day, I felt it had went well and I truly felt appreciated and thankful that I could share my birthday with so many that I cherish and respect. Then as I walked into the main office, one of our staff members alerted me that a parent had stop by and demanded a meeting. “Oh well, that’s the end of my birthday,” I thought as I prepared to encounter the possibly irate parent, and then… “Happy Birthday….” Like clowns out of a tiny car, teachers and staff poured out with a special cake. Thank you to everyone for a great day!


But then… another present unwrapped itself as I remained at school untill 9:00 p.m. with dozens of students as we viciously prepared for our upcoming World Scholar’s Cup tournament. Truly the most fun I’ve had as an educator is when I’m able to work with students in cocurricular clubs and see their passion for learning while they improve their skills.

While on paper it was a typical day in the life of a teaching / coaching Principal…. but for this 37-year-old it was AMAZING!


The Amazing Year Prelude

8 Mar

“There is no such thing as a ‘year.’ Only 365 individual days.”

I swore to always be a Toys’R’Us kid frolicking in Neverland, yet Father Time has been aggressively chipping away at my youthful spirit. Now on the verge of turning 37, I’m grateful for having a loving wife, family, and friends and for all intensive purposes a blessed life, yet a sludgy numbness has begun to encase me. Curiosity only glimmers once in a great while. I feel a void of zestful eagerness in my life.  I am proud of finally publishing one of my children’s stories, and I continue to write and revise for various mediums… but I just know that I can do better, so thankfully someone showed me how…

“In one year, you get 365 chances to improve. There is no excuse for not kicking butt each and every year!”

To chronicle the last year of her 30s, my friend Claire remarkably posted a photo for each day of her 39th year. I must say that it was truly astonishing to see how Claire embraced her husband Neal, family, friends, and truly lived each day to the fullest. It’s also important to know that she had an extremely positive and uplifting year both personally and professionally. Is this a coincidence? No way, Jose (or whoever you are). She was thankful, upbeat, grateful, persistent, and consistent. These are surely ingredients for success.  Thank you Claire for setting such an awesome example in living.

“For a dream to come to true, you must tackle a nightmare of a challenge EACH and EVERY day.”

Now I aim to the do same. I am a published author, yet I still don’t call myself a writer. Why? Because I haven’t made it a consistent routine. Until this happens, there will always be a void in my life. In addition, the more I push myself to live each day to the fullest and stay consistent with updating and sharing with the world (or Jose, you, and whoever else reads this), then I too will be able to treat myself to an AMAZING YEAR of becoming a happy writer and hopefully can inspire you as Claire inspired me!

“Years come and go quickly when you are in your thirties. Probably because we forget to treat each day as one lifetime.”