In Remembrance

For my grandmother, Mary Mansour Durel.

She wrote poetry and read voraciously. In 2013, she self-published her poetry; it filled an entire book. That book sits by my bed and I trace her life through the poems, following her across the country from West Virginia, through Mexico, Georgia and everywhere in between.

She was an English teacher, got a Master’s and then married and had 4 kids. She told me stories about students begging her to not make them speak in front of the class–seems like I got my teaching style from her.

As long as I knew her, she always had a couple wriggly dachshunds running around. She’d sing to them and grumbled about the tunnels they dug in her yard. And then write poetry about the dog burrows.

She smoked cigarettes on her back porch and crocheted elaborate lacey things. When my mom first divorced, they would smoke and crochet together, bonding by talking crap about men.

She was tiny, under 5 feet, but had a way of staring down her nose at you just the same. Last year, a stranger called her an “adorable old lady.” She pratically snarled at the memory when she told us the story.

She would email me. We’d exchange book recommendations, discuss her dogs, the weather, and why my getting lost in Madrid at 2 a.m. was a terrible idea. She’d lecture me about my copious use of F-bombs on Facebook. She encouraged me to keep writing and to keep traveling the world.

She was an incredible woman.

I miss her.

When You Can’t Get Home In Time

Alert: this will not be happy and upbeat. If you need optimistic Jeannette-ness, please click on a different link. You have been warned.

I’ve lived abroad for the majority of my adult life–well the post-college adult life. It’s been awesome  and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But it isn’t all visiting ancient ruins or drinking exotic booze with new people. One of the hardest parts of living abroad is being so far from the people I love. And I just had that brought home to me in the worst way.

Last month, I found out that my grandmother was dying.  Continue reading

Korean Tasty Treats: Vegan Korean Food

Food in Korea is delicious. Ergo, I’ve decided to stuff my face and gorge on ALL THE FOOD. And because I want to gloat about my Korean treats to all my friends and loved ones back home (waves), I’ve decided to start writing about the delicious stuff I eat.

The other day, I went in search of the most elusive food–a vegan restaurant in Korea! Why the hell would I do something like that? Too much time in Portland, obviously…
Nah, I’d managed to acquire a Couchsurfer who was also a vegetarian. And in Korea, if you don’t eat meat you might as well be a vegan (cheese and dairy, not so much).

The Food

In true Korean ex-pat style, I attempted to read the Korean menu. Failed. And then I attempted to read the English translation. Failed again. So in the spirit of “I’m hungry, feed me!”, I pointed at something on the menu and said “two.” The waitress was not impressed, but she did scurry away to (hopefully) get me my food.
And then, this arrived:

Are you overwhelmed by the variety of wonderfulness? ‘Cause I definitely was.
This amazingness is also known as yoenipbap (연잎밥), or lotus-leaf-rice with ALL Continue reading

EPIK Orientation Winter 2015: Part I

I know what you’re thinking: I’ve been in Korea for over a month at this point–so shouldn’t I have more interesting things to talk about than my work orientation?! Well yes, I could talk about terrorizing my students, fighting Korean bureaucracy, or even the joys of getting a taxi at 4 am! I could…but that will wait for another day.

To recap: I left Oregon on February 17th and arrived in Seoul Incheon Airport the following evening (February 18th for those of you who majored in English because you suck at math). I managed to find my hotel and crashed…

February 19th 
I woke up at a semi-normal morning time (yay for exhaustion!) and hauled my jetlagged ass back to the Incheon airport. There, I found myself in the international terminal and was directed to the EPIK! Welcoming Desk! of EPIKness!

Some terribly perky person asked if I had my passport and visa, and then gave me a number and told me to sit and wait with the other 200 English speakers milling around the terminal. I was promptly confronted by Promotions Boy and his camera: “Smile pretty for the video!!” I ran off to the nearest coffee shop instead. If I’m expected to be perky, I need ungodly amounts of caffeine–which the 16oz Starbucks didn’t begin to give me. I hid from Promo Boy and made new friends with some of the other new teachers.
10991055_712312682223438_7955218070169186403_n Continue reading