Sunday, November 20, 2016

How Daniel Tiger is helping me move past this disastrous election

How many stages of grief are there?

After Donald Trump's surprising election victory, I hit the anger stage pretty hard. I was angry that an incredibly experienced and intelligent woman was beaten by a neophyte with a bully-complex. I was angry that I hadn't realized half of my country's voters didn't care if someone was racist or misogynistic. I was angry that some of those voters were my family.

In order to deal with my anger, I shared a lot of stuff on Facebook. Because it's so effective and changes minds and is healthy. (ha)

Then, when I was at my lowest, when I thought I was going to be angry forever, Murphy was watching Daniel Tiger - he of the little ditties that help kids navigate their ever-expanding universe. And Daniel's song that episode shook me a bit, gave me a plan to deal with my election-anger.

"Saying 'I'm sorry' is the first step. Then 'How can I help?'"

So I'm sorry.

I'm sorry to the people of color in the US who feel even more abandoned.

I'm sorry to anyone whose sexual orientation is anything other than "hetero" who feels like maybe it's won't get better just yet.

I'm sorry to every other woman who, like me, is horrified that this person's views on women were just validated.

I'm sorry Trump's views were validated.

Now, how can I help?

Being out of the country and on a limited income, I realized it may be difficult for me to help in an obvious way. So I started thinking about what I can do from here.

I can start at home. I can teach my child that every human is important. I can teach my child to love the way Jesus loved when He was here, and the way He still loves now. That means every fucking skittle in the bowl is loved. (bah! see? anger. still there.)  I can work with my husband to be an example of love. We can be aware of our self-speak, so she doesn't grow up thinking it's ok to feel less valuable because of how you look. We can be aware of how we speak about others, so she learns to be compassionate. When we are angry about an injustice, we can discuss it in terms of solutions and "how could this have been handled better?" I can start here.

I can be an example of compassion for my students. I can model acceptance and tolerance. I can encourage kindness. I can emphasize love and belonging. I can equip my young students with the tools to solve problems constructively, and with empathy. I can ripple-effect the hell out of my little corner of this world.

I can be a better friend. I can listen with empathy, with understanding, without judgment. I can be a safe place for the people I love to feel reprieve, to just bask in each other's warmth.

But I can't do that if I'm angry. And Facebook fuels my anger. I have unfollowed nearly everyone who shared blatantly false and invented "news" articles, full of hatred and venom (ironically, most of those people are today calling for "an end to the negativity"). But even seeing the constant barrage of posts that justify my anti-Trump stance make me angry.

So I feel like I have to back away from the F'Book (all the kids today say this, right?).

This feels like giving in. It feels like accepting that a person I truly believe to be a danger to our country is gonna be just fine running it. I feel like I should remain hyper-vigilant and if I don't obsess over Facebook posts I might miss something. But I just... can't.

I will keep sharing Murphy-pics and JD-videos, because we have a lot of family who likes to keep up with our adventures. But I will do my best to avoid filling my wall with "gotchas" and "I told you so-s" and "OMGs" because me sharing that stuff is not going to change anyone's mind.

But me being a better me might.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Movin' on up?

So there we were, stuck in our tiny apartment for who knows how long...

Then my amazing friend/coworker stepped in. She decided the new teacher at school must be a foreigner, and that new teacher MUST take over our apartment, so we could get a better one. And that new teacher was arriving by July 11. FINALLY!! We had a date. We had a deadline. We had a light at the end of this dank-ass tunnel.

We started apartment hunting again.

We are well-versed in Korean real estate now.

We knew what we wanted. Two bedrooms. A decent living area. NOT a basement apartment. And not above a noraebang (boozy karaoke room bar) or an all-day shouty vegetable market. Oh, and within our school's budget, of course.

We searched. We had near hits. One apartment was huge, but it was in a terrible area. One apartment was amazing and clean and beautiful, and another couple signed a lease on it LITERALLY 4 minutes before we showed up. It was a very roller-coastery time.

Our director spent another evening taking us to apartments. We saw 3 (again). We found the one (again). We wanted it (again). It wanted us. It was June 25th. No reason not to jump on it, since the new teacher would be here in a couple of weeks.

Our director said not now.

Our director said she had to be sure the new teacher was actually coming before she would let us move. The new teacher already had a ticket and a visa. Our director wanted to wait. Our director crushed us. Again (squared).

My good friend here and JD both pushed me to push back. It was hard. I'm not a push-back kid. I'm a doormat who presents a convincing illusion of... of something less doormat-y. But this was too far. This was another thoughtless way of wreaking havoc on my family and our chances of feeling settled and comfortable in a foreign country. So I told her it was not ok. And that I would have to find another job if she couldn't make this right. And that my family could not stay on this roller coaster any longer.

She signed the lease that day.

We moved in the second weekend of July. We had so many incredible people show up to help us. We had 500 square feet to spread ourselves out. It felt like a mansion. Murphy spent half of the first week just running back and forth through it, loving that she could actually do that. It was perfect.

500 square feet of start-over-again.