Monday, January 17, 2011

Cheese and Skis Please

The three-day Martin Luther King weekend comes just soon enough after the Christmas break that the two short school weeks feel kind of like when you stick your toes in the water to test the temperature and then pull them back and recoup before you actually dive into the water. Maybe the metaphor's a bit lame, but the break was definitely refreshing. I feel like that's a bit off-the-mark for why we have the holiday, but Joo and I did watch MLK's last speech together and discussed it.

In other news, Joo and I started a little evening tradition that 10-years-ago-Dan probably would have shunned us for... we watch a little bit of comedy TV each night before going to bed. I don't know exactly when or where I started associating TV with the pits of Hell, but I seem to be against it at almost every stage of my life (in my social university days, it was the anti-relationship box; in my early spiritual fervor, I saw it as selfish complacency; in recent years, I have considered it the epitome of materialism and a waste of precious time).

Thankfully, Joo has loosened me up a bit and since we needed a bit of laughter and relaxing into our schedule, we chose a random sitcom that we could borrow from the library. Our choice was, "How I Met your Mother," a sitcom about a group of friends living in New York City and their life experiences (now that I write it out, it kind of sounds like Friends). So we've been watching a couple episodes each night to get the laughs rolling.

On Saturday night, we had Dave over to try out the fondue pot Jusu and SangOk had sent us from California. We tried a cheddar-cider fondue (figuring it would be best to shoot for a mild fondue since this was Dave's first) and it turned out nice albeit a bit sweet.

Monday evening, Craig and Aimee Howley invited us to their home for dinner. In addition to a lovely tour of the house (with the cherry-on-top being a harpsichord-style piano piece by Craig), we enjoyed a tuna-chicken-artichoke salad (I just had a sudden wave of sorrow for steadfast vegetables like carrots and lettuce that never define a salad enough to get mentioned in the name) and some home-grown homemade baked goodies like whole wheat bread and squash pie.

We broke from tradition a bit in that, instead of giving our hosts gifts, we received them. They gave me a recent book on place-based education and unexpectedly gave Joo (and me) a Nordic Track, which was perfect since we had just been talking about budget-y ways to exercise indoors.
So, it ended up being a lovely weekend for Joo and I amidst the gray January doldrums.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Ultimate Start to a New Year

The start to another year... I was just reflecting a bit on my kairego concept of time that I used to journal about. Basically, rather than measuring time in seconds, it measures time in memories. So a week of travelling through new places would have a much longer kairego than a week of routine daily schedule. Anyway, the point is that I was just thinking back on my life and of my memories from each month. I think that, on average, the Januarys and Februarys of my life have had the shortest kairego. December is full of non-routine celebration, anticipation, seeing old friends, and then it feels like January is the time to buckle down into a schedule and not surface until the birds start chirping in March.

So as I hold my shiny new ultimate frisbee in the apartment, I close my eyes and think of what it would be like to be playing frisbee down in Columbia. I had a little help from Paint in this imagination exercise...

However, how I got this new Discraft UltraStar is a story in itself that may actually chalk up a memory in the January wastelands :) I got an email the other day from Clint at the Disc Golf Station, who had read in my profile that I like frisbee, and had offered me a free disc if I could throw in a link on my blog. Apparently the blog had reached some critical mass point because I received another offer soon afterwards. At that point, Joo slyly added culinary arts to the interests on my profile just in case it would spark any freebies. I drew the line at cosmetics though...

We spent New Year's Eve at the Korean church playing traditional games such as kongi (below) and yutnori (the next two). Everyone was in competitive spirits and it was fun to feel the sense of community there. Having not attended church regularly since I left West Liberty six years ago, it is difficult to find the rich intergenerational mix anywhere else in the "real world."

Before break ended, I completed one more major task on my holiday to do list - bringing my travel stories to another plateau and making my first real book. Since my relationships with my professors tend to revolve mostly around career topics, math, education, etc., I wanted to share some of my past travel stories with my advisor and this seemed like a good excuse to further develop my travel book. After doing some writing for the first couple weeks, I happened to recall that my friend's Aunt Susie worked in the preservation department at the local library and that her tasks involve book-binding. Sure enough, Susie was more than happy to oblige and I spent a day learning how to hand-stitch book signatures, glue spines, create a case, and trim with the medieval-looking guillotine. Here's what it looked like (unfortunately, I only had the resources to make one book; for those of you waiting on a final product, it will probably take several more breaks before I do some self-publishing.)

Perhaps it was celebrating the new year's opening in a church, or maybe it was her diligent attendance at Bible Studies these days, but something enabled a mild version of the Stigmata for Joo (according to legend, the wounds of Jesus which physically appear on a person for no external reason; in Joo's case, a cross-shaped pattern). Unfortunately, I don't think it was quite well-defined enough to sell to the National Enquirer, but it at least warranted a blog picture.

Our first guests of the new year were the Stricklers, who drove down from Kokomo to rest after the busy Christmas season at the jewelry store. Aside from a long marathon-style walk Wes and I took, the visit was mostly one of indulging in relaxment (e.g. extremely chocolatey cookies, a movie with absolutely no merit other than entertainment - "Wanted," and long hours lounging in the comfy living room furniture).

We closed the week by driving up to Columbus to an ice cream shop called Jeni's to celebrate Craig's 59th birthday. He told us stories of birthdays past (beginning with his sixth birthday when he - unfortunately for the boys who were teasing his older sister - got a real bow and arrow).

As I listened to Jenny and Wes recount stories from the five months they just spent in India, and then talked to several friends who will be travelling overseas this year (Justin McAuley taking several trips to Japan, Alex Friel moving to China for a few years, Dave Whitsett teaching in South Korea, my advisor to Spain, etc.), it feels odd to be the Stayer for once. Odd but good. Joo and I are really planting roots here in Athens and, even if the winter months hold a shorter kairego, they are floating by pleasantly. :)