Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for the ‘musings’ Category

The New Year

Posted by quirksalight on January 1, 2011

Looking back on 2010, it’s been a crazy ride. A year of massive changes in all aspects of my life, from work, dating, friends, and location, roller-coastering is a mild way of describing it.

January: Move to NYC, received and accepted my invitation to the 152nd A-100 class.

February: Prep for starting, snowmaggedon of DC, met some interesting folk in NYC

March: Meet up with friends in NY for the last time in a while, learned to snowboard properly; Move back to DC for A-100!

April: Complete A-100, first post is Seoul, Korea.

May: POL/ECON training

June: Pack out, good-byes to friends and family; arrive in Seoul on June 24.

July: 2+2, get to meet Secretary Clinton,

August: Another year older…

September: Chuseok, Typhoons and Conferences

October: Bangkok!

November: G-20, Yeonpyong Island, Marine Ball, St. Andrews Ball, Thanksgiving feast for 25

December: Eating across Asia with friends; Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore; military exercises off the western coast of South Korea. Holidays with friends old and new; ringing in the New Year with new friends, very grateful for the year that had just wrapped up.


Posted in 152nd, adventure, ancedotes, musings, vacation, work | Tagged: | 2 Comments »


Posted by quirksalight on July 28, 2010

One of the hardest things to figure out is what is legit to post online and what is not. The general rule I tend to use is that if I’ve got to ask myself whether I should or shouldn’t post, I don’t. This might be overkill, but better safe than sorry, and I’ll know more where that line is, the longer I’m in the Service.

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, blogging, musings, thoughtstream | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by quirksalight on November 5, 2008

…is a powerful emotion. One of my friends called it “too religious and wishy-washy”, but to me, it’s what keeps you going when times are tough. When you are hurt, stressed, fearful, and/or depressed, it is hope that keeps you taking that step after step until things improve, until you find your solution. It is the hope the drives your determination. You hope that your actions will improve your future, so you go on.

Today, was an amazing day. It was the election of the first African-American to the United States presidency. Do I think that there will a magical new day? No. I do believe that Obama will be the JFK for our generation; reinvigorating our generation into greater involvement in government, for public service.

In a nice bit of coincidence, I also took the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT), November 5th, 9am-12pm Korea time (GMT +9:00). Feeling drained, and pessimistic, I joined the Democrats in Korea at the Orange Tree in Itaewon for the live election coverage party. And felt hope. Listening to McCain’s and Obama’s speeches, I felt so much respect and hope for the future of our bruised and battered nation. We may be down, but we sure are not out for the count. And it made me want ever more to be in public service, to do something. Yes, indeed we can.
That, is my hope.

Posted in 2008 Election, ancedotes, commentary, election, election 2008, Itaewon, Korea, musings, Nerdity, Politics, Social commentary, thoughtstream, US history | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

One step forward, one step back

Posted by quirksalight on July 20, 2008

This weekend was the shark dive at the Busan aquarium. With a couple of friends, we were to do a discovery dive in the shark tank at the aquarium. Of course, the most dangerous thing in the tank was us, not the nurse sharks. In the briefing, we were warned about the overly friendly green turtle who associates divers with food. And yes, turtle restraint techniques were discussed. 😛

However, I didn’t end up diving. Two weeks ago, I did a discovery dive in Osan and had a blast. So I signed up for the shark dive in Busan thinking that I wouldn’t have a problem. Unfortunately, I was wrong. We suited up and I already I felt uncomfortable. The wetsuit was too tight in my arms and I was uneasy at the constrained feeling of my upper arms. But, I was excited to do the dive and thought that it would be easier when we’re in the water and actually doing the dive.
With all our gear, we got into the shallow water to go over the basic skills, as it was a Discovery dive. I knew from my previous experience, that the mental adjustment of breathing via the regulator and not breathing through my nose took about 15-30 minutes. And that I would be uneasy during that period.

We’re in the shallow water, with the snorkel, no fins, and breathing through the regulator as we listen to the instructions given by the dive master. And all the time, warning signals are flashing in my brain, telling me that too many things were wrong. Arms constrained, improper breathing, dry mouth, thirst,…. and my fight or flight instincts were triggered. It didn’t help that we were just listening, with no physical activity to distract us. I got up, took off my mask and regulator, practiced some mental focusing exercises, and tried again. And again. The third time the flight instinct became overwhelming, I took myself out of the water, telling the group & dive master that I felt myself hyperventilating and beginning to panic, and decided to stop. When asked if I was really sure, I replied that I would be a danger to myself, others, and the fish in my current state.
I stepped out of the BCG, stepped out of the water, and put my snorkel away. The first thing I did was to pull my upper body out of the wetsuit and I immediately felt calmer. Still, it took about 15 minutes to fully calm down my flight response. Once calm, I sat down to figure out what went wrong, especially when I had a great time two weeks ago. I believe that the addition of the tight wetsuit, plus the long inactive time with the mask and regulator on were the variables that caused the flight response. The inactive time was much shorter the first time around, and I wasn’t wearing a wetsuit either. Another thing I noticed, was that the upper body constraint was the key point, as I had no problem sitting around with the wetsuit on up to my upper chest.

So now what? Waiting for me when I got home were my scuba study manual & documents from Aquatic Frontiers. I still want to learn. I believe that I can overcome the flight response. Why? Because I’ve done so before. Because I HAVE to. The next step is to have a frank discussion with my dive instructor and take each step of the scuba certification course as it comes. It’s going to be interesting.

Posted in adventure, ancedotes, Bizarre, challenges, friends, Korea, musings, Sports, travel | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

I think I get it?

Posted by quirksalight on March 19, 2008

Which is about what sums up my first week of teaching. It was pretty fun, the kids are for the most part, pretty enthusiastic and interested.
The second week has been a veritable roller coaster of classes being rowdy, highly motivated, to very not so much. It’s midnight on Wednesday, and I’ve still got to prep for next week. At least it’s not Sunday night before. 😛

Will update more later, especially on the day trip to Wolmido when I get a chance to breathe. 🙂

Posted in Buheung MS, Bupyeong, Incheon, Korea, musings, teaching, teaching english, travel | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The end of Day 1

Posted by quirksalight on March 1, 2008

And I’ve finished most of my cleaning. Finally!
I feel bad for my school; they hired someone to clean the apartment before I got here, but whoever was supposed to clean didn’t do much besides wiping the counters and the floors, and cleaning the toilet. Which was a problem, as the entire kitchen needed to be scrubbed, outside and inside of the cabinets, fridge, etc. Then the bathroom… oh god… that was the walls, shower divider, sink, the whole shebang! That was easier, as the bathroom is tiled and made to be hosed down.
But now, I did my first load of laundry in a laundry machine that took me 15-20 minutes to figure out what did what:

Posted in amusing, ancedotes, annoyance, Incheon, Korea, musings, teaching english, travel | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Goodbye, dearie…[sniff]

Posted by quirksalight on February 15, 2008

So yesterday, I sold my car. She was my first car, and I had my little dear for six and a half years. We’ve faced idiots on the road across the entire northeast, four license plates, bikes, long-ass grocery runs, and beaches. But it would be a waste for her to just sit in a driveway for a year, unused and alone. 😦
She’s gone to a set of new parents, who’ll take good care of her. One of them helped keep her in shape for years, so it’s all good.
And yes, it was on Valentine’s Day.

Posted in ancedotes, car, musings, traveling | Leave a Comment »

Bands and Beer

Posted by quirksalight on December 30, 2007

Yesterday was the night of the small get together of people from high school that I organized at Sweetwater Tavern, a bar/restaurant chain in Northern Virginia. Turnout was low; in fact, it ended up being me and one other person. Which actually was a good thing; CL was a friend of mine from HS that I hadn’t talked to in 10 years and we spent a long time catching up and seeing how our lives had taken us. Interestingly enough, we had both gone into the biological sciences with her starting a Ph.D as I was leaving it.

One of the people (DP) who couldn’t come had a gig with her band, Don’t Panic, on the 29th at Bistro Europa in Alexandria, VA. CL and I headed over there after beer and dinner to catch the show and catch up with her.
Pretty sweet… it was a good time. One of the band’s first incarnations and performances were for our high school talent show. The band practicing a cover of U2’s “With or Without You” in the chorus room is a memory that’s flashed through my head over the years, as I associate the song with that scene. Turns out that they still play it (and did tonight); yep, still the memory flashback.

Posted in Alexandria, amusing, annoyance, Beer, Don't Panic, Food, high school, memory, Music, musings, restaurants, VA, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by quirksalight on December 5, 2007

Yesterday, I received a phone call from the Director of the Korean Education Center at the Embassy about my application for the EPIK position. Two documentation issues came up. I had a document missing, transcripts proving I had been educated in the US from 7th grade on, as I was originally born in Korea. Secondly, I did not have a copy of my Naturalization Certificate, but I pointed out that I have a US passport, and he agreed that should be enough for proof of US citizenship.
Apparently, I also need to declare my #2 and #3 choice of posting assignments. Since I declared one location, it seems that I must declare the other two, else the committee will read it as I will only accept Incheon for my posting (which is not the case). The problem is, I really don’t know where I want to be. I chose Incheon b/c it’s right next to Seoul, and hence, my family. The ones I haven’t seen in two decades, with the exception of a cousin and a grandmother, and would like to be able to reacquaint myself with. Looks like I’ve got 48 hours to do some research.
So now, my interview is scheduled for the morning of Dec. 7th at the Korean Embassy in Washington DC. After that, the interviewer writes up his recommendation and sends it to Seoul for the final review, and I find out if I’m in around the New Year.

Posted in adventure, applications, EPIK, future, Korea, moving, musings, teaching, teaching english, travel | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Old ghosts…

Posted by quirksalight on November 14, 2007

Yesterday, I received a very unexpected e-mail. It was a forward of an obituary from a Virginia newspaper, of someone I went to high school with. Actually, my high school debate partner of my senior year. We hadn’t talked since graduation, and weren’t really friends.
The funeral itself; well… a half of dozen of us, all of whom know each other from the high school debate team, headed to the funeral home just outside of Fredericksburg for the services, then to the burial in Alexandria.
I can’t speak for the rest, but I’m not too sure what I feel at the moment. Sorrow for his father, losing a son. Regret that a classmate was dead. Wondering, what happened last week, the last couple of years leading to this.

But the last words I have for him are of thanks. In his passing, people have come together, people who haven’t spoke in months, years, conversing once again. Whether or not these tenuous connections will stay complete or break once again is up to us. But thank you, for threading us together once again.

Requiscat in Pace.

Posted in Bizarre, death, Funeral, high school, musings, People, thoughtstream | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »