(Employed) Culture Shock

When Good Man had been working for a few weeks he came home, flopped stomach first onto the bed, and mumbled, “You Americans work harder than Koreans.”

“What do you mean?”

“Koreans might be at work for more hours, but a lot of times we are just waiting for the boss to leave so we can leave. You Americans get more done.”

A few minutes later, he was asleep.


“My boss is about my age,” Good Man said.


“Well, that is already a little weird to me, but that is OK.”


Good Man frowned, “But he is also boss of someone who is older than him. And…is that OK?”

“In America, yes.”

Good Man clucked his tongue, “It is hard for me. In Korea, if you are young, you are junior. Middle-aged, middle level. Older, higher level. Maybe not everywhere, but most of the time. Here I don’t know who is higher level just by looking. And I don’t know what to call people.”

“You’ll figure it out,” I said, laughing.

“I know, but here you have to talk, too. In Korea, when someone higher talks, you just nod and say ‘yes.’ Here, they actually want to know what you think. Why are you asking what I think?”


One of the reasons I wanted Good Man to live here for a while was so he wouldn’t have to work the long hours Koreans work.

The joke’s on me.

Since he’s been employed, Good Man has been out of town (during the weekdays at least) more than he’s been in town. He’s been at company dinners (without the forced drinking)! He’s gone to bed at 4 am, and he’s been up before 4 am for conference calls. And he loves what he’s doing.

At first I was angry, and we got into some battles over housework and cooking. But it settled down fairly quickly and now the time we spend together is easier, calmer, and more relaxed.

Still, I’d prefer not to have the alarm go off at 3:45 in the morning!

3/4 is Three Quarters is 0.75

“What is 3/4? Is it .85?” asked the clerk at the fabric store, after she’d cut my fabric.

I looked at her, a grown woman, and tried to not use my teacher voice. “It’s .75.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Just like when you have three quarters you have 75 cents? 3/4 is 0.75.”

She thought for a moment and then nodded, “Ohhhh.”

I handed the bank teller my slip, “I’d like it in quarters, please.”

“How much?”

I smiled, “All of it.”

“All of it?” The teller seemed surprised.

“Yes, all of it.”

The teller popped his head over the wall to the employee next to him. “I need $100 in quarters.”

The guy next to him popped his head over his computer screen. He’s the teller I usually go to, but I hadn’t seen him. “Getting your laundry money?”

“You’ve got it.”

The first teller handed me the quarters, “This is going to be—”

“Heavy, she knows,” said my regular guy with a chuckle.

An Understood Lie

“I brought my mom my laundry,” Good Man said from Seoul, over Skype.

“Why? Get it done in the hotel.”

“I know, I know, and I can expense it, but it is like 5,000 won for one sock! One sock!”

“Amanda!” Mother called, “It is OK! I am happy! When I see [Good Man]’s face I am happy!”

“You should pay your mom for doing your laundry,” I said.



I smiled at how Mother says my name. “Yes.”

“Have you been to Jejudo?”

I thought for a moment and decided to tell the truth. “Yes, [Good Man] and I went together.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that.”

I laughed, “He lied to you. Please don’t be angry.”

“Oh, I understand, I am not angry.”

I talked to Good Man later. Apparently it’s completely OK that we lied because we weren’t married and of course we would have had to lie to escape for a trip like that. I knew at the time his Mother knew he was lying about something, but he disagreed. I was calling him on the face-saving, and he was keeping it up.

Squirming Worms


You taught me how to read,
you taught me how to write,
you taught me how to make poems with rymes at every sight,
you taught me how to multiply as hard as it sounded,
how easy it was I really was astounded,
simple machines were fun to study, that’s why you’re my budy.
I don’t want to leave you with those squirming worms, please loop with me Ms, and teach me for four more terms!


And so another school year ends.

I can not believe how much I loved teaching gifted third graders this year. I can’t believe how quickly the school year went. My administrative team was excellent. I got along with my coworkers (although none became true friends like Fairy Godmother did), and I am actually looking forward to coming back next year.

I know that gifted education is truly where I belong as a teacher.

And just as this school year came to an end, one of my absolute favorite students from my very first year of teaching contacted me to see how I was doing. When I got her in fifth grade, she knew French but no English. I had absolutely no idea what to do with her. I set her up with various websites to help her with her English. I found a French-English picture dictionary in the school library and during independent reading time she’d buddy up with a student and they would practice vocabulary together. She’d teach them the French words, and they’d teach her the English words.

I gave her a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank in French because we were going to do a big unit on WWII. She read the book over winter break, came back to school, and devoured every single book in the library about Anne Frank. Two years after I had her, the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta held a show about Anne Frank, and I took her to it.

I have always wondered what happened to her. Unlike some other students who have kept up loose contact, once I left Atlanta, I lost all contact with her.

Well, she just graduated, and she’ll be going to college in the fall.

When I first started teaching, I told myself I’d give it five years. If I hated it after five years, I could leave and go into law. I wanted to become a high-powered defense attorney. Sometimes I am amazed that I’ve been doing this for eight years.


Boss: Did [Good Man] tell you he’s going to Korea sometime next week?

Coworker: Well if he didn’t, you just got him in trouble.

I just took Good Man to the airport. When I got home I realized that he left his jacket here. Even though he’s packed for multiple trips this year, he still forgets something important each time.

Oh well. He probably has a jacket at Mother’s house. And if he doesn’t, or can’t get it quickly enough, he can buy one.

Still, this is a man who needs a packing list.


“I have a bunch of quarters in my purse,” I said to Good Man, who was doing laundry, “I got them because…well, it’s a long story.”

“You were dealing drugs. Microdealing,” Good Man said, nodding his head, “I know how you make change.”

Without Duct Tape

Stony Man Hike Album

This weekend Good Man and I went out of town. Saturday night we spent the evening in Luray. The weather was hot and we dealt with a few thunderstorms.

Thunderstorm Panorama


Sunday morning we got up early (which is so unlike us) so we could go hiking. We went to Shenandoah National Park and did the Stony Man Trail.

We were on the trail by 9:15 am. On the way into the park, we saw a doe by the side of the road. On the trail we heard a woodpecker that we frustratingly could not see. The mountain laurels were in full bloom, too.

View From Stony Man Mountain

Mountain Laurels

Since we made it on the trail fairly early, there were very few people on the trail with us. The ones who were there were mostly polite.

Except for The Three Women.

The Three Women would not stop talking. Loudly. About European trips, whether or not Africans are made for cold weather, about other hikes…

At one point Good Man looked at me and said, “여자 셋 명이 모이면 접시가 깨진다.” He dramatically simplified the translation to “those women need to shut up.”

We were ahead of them on the path and heard them coming up long before we could see them. I stopped to take some photos. I stopped for a very long time. Speaking Korean, I said to Good Man, “Let’s wait.” He nodded. We gave them about ten minutes space so we could enjoy the peace.

Good Man Sleeps on Little Stony Man Mountain


We found the Passamaquoddy Trail that completed the loop a little rough. It was rocky and close to the edge of the mountain, so I was a little nervous, but it was fine.

I also ended up using our first aid kit for the first time. I was wearing convertible pants and something started rubbing against my leg.

“We need duct tape,” I said playing with the zipper on my pants, “then I could cover whatever this annoying thing is.”

“You are so Minnesota country girl,” he said.

“No, I’m not.”

Good Man shrugged, “OK, you are so American. You Americans love duct tape.”

“Ah! Scissors! It’s the zipper tape.”

“We don’t have scissors, except for your sewing scissors in the car.”

I mentally ran through the contents of my backpack, punctuated the air with my pointer finger and said, “The first aid kit!”

A small snip of the zipper tape later and the problem was fixed. I felt like a good Girl Scout.

Shelf Fungus

We finished the circuit hike in about 2 1/2 hours and had some lunch before heading home. I noticed Good Man’s eyes were really heavy, so I offered to drive. But after ten miles I realized my eyes were heavy, too.

I pulled over into a picnic area and stopped the car. “We’re napping for an hour,” I said.

And so we did, before finally leaving the park for good.

Run and Leap

Good Man stared at the king-sized bed. “How are we supposed to get into this thing?”

I stood next to it. Our bed at home doesn’t even reach my knee. This hotel room’s bed went past my knee, past my hip, and fell at about my natural waist. “I dunno, climb up?”

“By what, standing on a chair?”

“Maybe you can run and leap.”


‎”‘Do not handle snakes. A dead snake can bite and envenomate you with a reflex action for 20 to 60 minutes after its death,'” I read to Good Man from Appalachian Trail Guide to Shenandoah National Park: With Side Trails. I closed the book. “Oh my God, snakes are zombies!”

Hurry Up and Wait

Mailed in Good Man’s I-751 (ten-year green card application) last week and got the NOA today. The Notice of Action is basically the government’s way of saying, “Hey, folks, we got this, and now you’re a number to us, so wait.”

And so we wait.

And now I fret because apparently they’re doing RFEs (Request for Evidence) on people who don’t send in tax transcripts and instead send in tax filings. Sigh. Guess which one we sent in?

But what can we do but hurry up and wait?

Great Falls Park

I found Great Falls Park by driving past it last weekend. Although it’s a national park, it’s not shown on the Virginia map at NPS’s website. (If I’m missing it entirely feel free to point it out. It seems to me that their map of Virginia is missing two counties and a couple of cities. So strange.)

Great Falls has waterfalls from the Potomac River, remains of the Patowmack Canal, ruins from Matildaville, and features Mather Gorge. It’s a rather small park (800 acres/1.25 sq miles), with fairly flat trails.

I chatted up a park ranger who told me they’ve had no drownings this year, and that is very unusual. They had eight or nine last year. He said it’s often people who try to rock climb with no gear, jump off of the cliffs, or swim across the river and back. The park is full of signs that mince no words. IF YOU FALL IN YOU WILL DIE.

When we got there, Good Man said, “How come nobody told me you could see this in Northern Virginia? Why have I never heard of this?”

Great Falls Panorama
(Much Larger Image)

Galls of Some Sort

Ladybug Hanging Out

Matildaville was a city that basically disappeared when the canal closed around 1830. These are the ruins from one building in the city.


This was taken near some remains of the Patowmack Canal.


Heron I

Heron II

Heron III