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Amazing Year Day 84: Frequency

31 May

Boy did this day take a turn for the best.

It began with the promise of disaster as it was my last day to file for taxes in Taiwan, and I dreaded to discover the amount I owed. My work computer also decided that it needed to sluggishly remix itself.

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With the altruistic assistance of talented colleagues, I was able to square away my debt to the government. Thankfully it was a mere fragment of what I feared it would be. #victory

That’s all it took…

Ever drive in the middle of nowhere and you’re desperate for a good tune on the radio? Then you find a FM dial that may be slightly off but you can still make out the song, and you let it play. This is how I have felt for most of the past few years.

Not today. Someone. Somewhere. Turned my dial to the right frequency. I became myself again. Quirky. Confident. Random. Bold.

I miss people looking at me like I’m on drugs. #highonlife

Apparently my 37-year-old out-of-shape body couldn’t handle the awesomeness and I quickly crashed asleep after work. But…. even in sleep I had the right frequency as I was treated to a rare happy ending in my dream that woke me up feeling reborn.

Truth be told nothing “amazing” happened tonight, but it didn’t need to. I was on the right frequency, in tune with the moment, synergizing with the world around me.

My iPod obviously relished my demeanour and spoke to me through conveniently worded lyrics.

I’ll be a dreamer ’til the day I die
But they say oh, how the good die young
But we’re all strange
And maybe we don’t wanna change

Even subpar fried chicken known as Jipai (chicken steak, popular in Taiwan) was a slab of sublime succulence. You can’t go wrong with fried chicken. Sure American’s will stereotype blacks for loving fried chicken. Of course they do. But who doesn’t though? Sorry vegans. If you’re going to embrace the horror of predatory eating you might as well soak it in a vat of fatty grease. #Yum

We were the underdogs
Pure at heart
A million times the fool
Got nothing to lose

Between each bite, I continued my journey through Robert Olen Butler’s Intercourse, a flash-fiction collection of stream-of-consciousnesses of couples mid-intimacy. While Butler creates inventive mediums for his narratives, such as his collection Severance, which shares the thoughts of historical figures just as they are beheaded, his prose has left me underwhelmed. Not tonight. Of the five entries I scoured, they each left a powerful impression. Either introducing me to the late exiled boxer Jack Johnson, or the bittersweet loss of Hemingway’s suitcase of juvenilia.

Robert Olen Butlers Intercourse

I want to live, I want to give
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold

I also met a celebrity…

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Donald Trump’s Taiwanese Twin Brother

In the wee, wee hours, your mind gets hazy
Radio relay towers gon’ lead me to my baby

I’ve made it a daily habit to indulge at least one comic. Today’s treat was issue four of Joshua Wiliamson and Riley Rossmos’s Death Bed. After a surprisingly action packed opener, this 6-issue miniseries tapered off into irrelevancy. This issue though was pure 5-star brilliance with each panel smoothly capturing the soul of the main characters. I haven’t read such a subtle punch of graphic narrative since Tom King and Mitch Gerad’s Batman #23 when Swamp-Thing visits his Gotham to see his slain father.

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Didn’t wanna feel like it was all just filler

There’s also a new croissant place at the neighboring Mitsui Outlet Mall, and apparently it’s good enough for Taiwanese citizens to embark in their favorite pasttime: waiting in line. I don’t mind a long queue, but there better be warm-watered pirates, 999 happy haunts, or 100+ foot drop at the end of a long line. Tonight though, the line miraculously vanished, so I secured some of these “treasured” sweetly adorned pastries. #yumthesequel

At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet
And a freight train running through the middle of my head

Well folks, that’s all me write.

Song Lyrics:

  • Strumbellas – Spirits
  • The Golden Filter – The Underdogs
  • Neil Young – Heart of Gold (Florian Paetzold Edit)
  • Bruce Springsteen – State Trooper (Trentemoller Mix)
  • All Tvvins – Thank You
  • Bruce Springsteen – I’m On Fire (Nico Pusch Remix)
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Amazing Year Day 52: Pop Principal

29 Apr

When you’re a curious kid at heart, sometimes playing school principal can be a challenge. You are representing more than yourself, and professionalism, maturity, and clarity must blanket all that you do. Though sometimes, there is a chance to let your true self shine. When penning the principal’s letter for the 2018 yearbook, I first ventured to our inaugural edition from last year and I was stunned by what I read. At first glance, it’s what you expected a principal to say. That’s the problem. It could have been penned by anyone. Well not this year. I opted to give this paper made time machine a taste of my creativity. Instead of directly highlighting our new teachers and student accomplishments, I embraced the art of metaphor and wrote the letter as if our school was a legion of warriors on a quest for greatness. It wasn’t until I was able to sneak in the words “masters of the universe” did I truly feel at peace with myself. A pop culture reference from my ’80s childhood, now that’s winning. He-Man would have been proud.

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Amazing Year Day 42: Escape to Captivity

19 Apr

There’s always the risk of things going wrong on a field trip. Not today. Our 2nd annual Science Zoo trip was an overall success, thanks in part to our lead organizer, support staff, the teacher chaperones, and the 63 students who decided to behave themselves.

In addition, it’s true that you learn something new everyday.

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BONUS PHOTO: New Item at McDonald’s: Shake Shake Chicken with Seaweed Seasoning 

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The seasoning is still too salty, and the “chicken balls” are quite odd. Verdict: Pass (as in NO THANKS)

 

Amazing Year Day 41: Stress Balls of Fire

18 Apr

They say you can’t win everyday. But also the saying “no pain no gain” is also true. With this in mind, then what is winning in the game life? How about improvement?

Despite the myriad of challenges at work, and a handful of our executive members up until 1:00 a.m. discussing and deliberating, it was another step closer to the bigger picture.

“Doing it, and doing it well!”

Amazing Year Day 40: Membership

17 Apr

Here’s to developing a better lifestyle routine!

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Amazing Year Day 38: The Moment You Know

15 Apr

“If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.” — Sherman Alexie

During my tenure in Japan I had entertained the notion of applying to an Creative Writing MFA program. I knew my writing wasn’t at the level needed to secure a spot at a coveted university, but thinking about helped motivate me to want to change my habits to manifest into a routine reader and writer.

The biggest red flag was how I didn’t know any of the faculty. This wasn’t their fault, as they were all accomplished in their respective mediums and genres. These were the veterans who would help shape my craft and yet I simply wasn’t well-read enough to recognize any of them. Finally, without thinking about it, I realized today that several of the flash fiction authors I enjoy happen to teach at some of the very programs I was scouring. Now I can check off that I am a routine reader… now on to the writing part.

Amazing Year Day 37: Ba Ba Red Meat

14 Apr

If you’ve lived in Taiwan as an outsider (expat, foreigner, whatever we’re called these days) for more than an hour, then you’ve tasted or heart of the glory of Baba Kevin’s Barbecue. Most savour the succulence of his beautifully cooked animal flesh through his catering, but Taipei is also lucky to have a brick and mortar restaurant as well. It’s reasonability priced with realistic portions. This equates to much more affordable dining experience than TGI Fridays or Texas Roadhouse, with room (stomach and wallet) for dessert and you don’t need to bother with that gigantic doggie bag of leftovers that will rot in your fridge.

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: Celebratory Saturday

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?

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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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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: And so…

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!

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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!

#grateful