Reflection and Appreciation

Three years ago I was picked up at a Korean airport in the middle of a rainstorm. My friends Kate and Chaz had already been there for a year and they took us on a combination bus and taxi ride to their apartment. The lights in Busan shone red and orange and yellow and reflected … Continue reading Reflection and Appreciation


The Little Tea Shop That Could

On a whim, my wife and I took our scooter up into the mountains behind our home to visit our most favorite traditional tea and pottery house. The tea service is free, and all of the kettles and pottery are handmade with amazing attention to detail. We've got only five weeks left in Korea, so … Continue reading The Little Tea Shop That Could

Swearing in the Classroom

Ji-eon approached me while I stood at the lectern. She sheepishly grabbed a  black dry erase marker and wrote “sheet” followed by the word “shit.” Her cheeks flushed in embarrassment. “How to say?” she asked. I showed her the vowel sounds and had her mimic them back to me. The i in kid or lift … Continue reading Swearing in the Classroom

What’s your plumbob?

Cotton candy clouds. Perfect pink popcorn petals. These are the words my wife, Kimmy, uses to describe cherry blossoms. For a few short weeks in spring, everywhere we look the trees are covered with them. Then, as they age, they fall from the tree limbs like a soft snowstorm. The petals collect on the ground … Continue reading What’s your plumbob?

Censoring Cigarettes

"Did you hear what happened in America?" I asked. "No," Eunha replied. She's a fourteen year old, exceptionally brilliant girl whose fluency in English can largely be attributed to her time spent in India. "What happened?" I didn't want to tell her about the violence at Sandy Hook Elementary, so I told her, "Don't worry … Continue reading Censoring Cigarettes

Combatting the Cold

December for me means snow, falling and resting on the ground, the sidewalk. It means gloves warm enough to brush it off my car and then touch the frozen steering wheel to guide myself to work. It means the cuffs of my pants frosted in white as I come inside from the cold. But in … Continue reading Combatting the Cold

Navigating the Streets

While living abroad, I've wanted to write a story or some poetry that captures my time here. My every attempt has failed, but I've not given up. I often ponder ideas while on the bus or taxi stuck in a traffic. And traffic in Korea is a chaotic ballet, where red lights mean “stop” only … Continue reading Navigating the Streets

Magnificent Muse

For Koreans, seeing vendors selling their goods on the street is normal. It’s not balked at or given a second thought. But everyday, on my walk to the grocery, I pass a trio of old, hunched women who sit on upturned buckets surrounded by red plastic trays of produce, their old faces wrinkled by the … Continue reading Magnificent Muse

Grammar Moves on the Dance Floor

Suh-tee-bun! That's my name (스티븐) pronounced in Korean. Each consonant must be followed by a vowel sound, which means my two-syllable name has three syllables when spoken in Korean. Perhaps I'm a bad ESL teacher for not always correcting my students' pronunciation. "No," I could say, "Stee-ven," and I could tap my front teeth and … Continue reading Grammar Moves on the Dance Floor