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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.



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.


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


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!


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?


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: 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!


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.”