It was just a year ago…Really?!

Every day I think about Vietnam. I think and Mr. Tam and Mr. Tien. I think about my room that had walls that would swell when it rained hard. I crave my diet of pho tai, bahn mi, chicken and rice, coffee and beers. The HEAT. I miss the heat. I wonder what I will see my next visit. There are a lot of experiences on my Asia travels that I wouldn’t want to repeat, but the overall experience was amazing. I hope to seriously put that trip into some organized form of media, either literally or visually. Considering I lost a lot of photos, I should do something special with what I have. I do regret not having the camera charged at certain times. Thank goodness for the internet.

 The image of the dark skin warrior helps me remember Pepper who recently passed away. I want to return to the pagoda in Hue, but now the images are just imprinted on my mind. I am impressed at how I can almost replay any second of my trip at will. It makes it easy to admit that I am happy and excited about the new group of Vietnamese students learning and studying at Intrax. I made friends with a few souls in the last group. I brought them into my house and we shared food. They loved Rufus. I think it is really cool that I get to meet so many different people. Keep it on your vibrations, I get to substitute my first few classes this mid-week. I am so pumped. Send me all that good energy.

A year ago I would sit in an air-conditioned coffee shop surfing the internet to find a place to watch the Rugby World Cup with other English speakers. I tried daily to sooth my nerves and homesickness. My little blue book lost caused me so much heartache. It isn’t until now that I feel like I am ready to pull it out of retirement and use it, but I am considering having all information tattooed on my ribs.

A year ago I was in another world! I was in Vietnam, man! I was somewhere out of this world. My heart beats fast when I think of it. I can romanticize the anguish and frustration I felt. I relish those feelings now. I challenge myself to feel them again, but in totally different situations, with Karli there to talk me down. Being in another world can be intense.

I picked a challenging part of the world. Every layer is full of mystery. It can be hostile without meaning to be and then it can be down right hostile. The way of the world I guess. Besides losing my passport upon entry in Danang I was a blessed traveler. My guardian angel was in the form of a small, round faced, motorbike driver. He wore a blue Hollister tee, white cargo shorts and plastic flip flops. He gave me his card and it read, Mr. Tien Motorbike Tours. The next morning we became brothers. Phone, money, immigration, travel, food, drink and hotel…he hooked this brutha up. I am forever in his debt…

It’s been about a month since I have seen Mr. Tien online. I hope he is busy with motorbike tours. I try not to think of my last moments with the brothers. It was as emotional as walking away from Karli’s side and getting on the plane to leave her. It was so sad. It’s so weird to miss all of those feelings I had while I was going through it. I left a piece of myself in Vietnam. I gave a few pieces away to each new friend I made. I look for an opportunity to reclaim those pieces.

I left a few of those pieces in Thailand too! Aw, I miss me some Kenny Lund. He goes by Ken, but it sounds so stuffy. Hey, he’s a professional, so I understand the change. I always slip back to Kenny. He is one of the sweetest people I know. I miss our Leo conversations as ‘Massage, massage floats up from the street. I don’t miss calculating bahts after finally mastering dong, but I totally miss my cheap chicken wings, pork ribs, fresh fish and fresh fruit. The pineapples are superior to any other in the world. Sorry, Hawaii. Thailand. The home of the daily massage. I hope that they have recovered from the disastrous flooding last year. I hope the road to Zion gets repaired. I wish Garden International School has a great academic year and Mr. Ken finds dramatic success with the kids.

My eyes see double exposure these days, Danang transposed on to San Francisco, I realize I totally missed my Indian summer last year. This year I get to see my Giants succeed as NL champions of the west instead of watching rugby (not hating, totally tolerating) San Francisco is beautiful in its Indian summer. More people are milling around. The street fairs come to a closing of the season and Halloween is in the air. I want to be a bear this year.

I cannot believe it’s been a year. Did I really go to Vietnam? Was I really gone from San Francisco?


Pepper will be sorely missed. He will maintain a status of inspiration. He was a friend, father, mentor and a gentle Sugar Bear.


K-Dramas, the greatest escape…

I heard that Korean television was really popular in S.E. Asia before I left for Vietnam. The first time I saw the power of the K-drama was in a beer parlor in Danang. Vietnamese youth soccer tournament finished and the channel was changed to an action drama. I knew immediately what was happening as I watched everyone shift to the edge of their seats and lean toward the TV screen. Cold beers were silently handed out to be noisily opened and deeply slurped as they read the Vietnamese subtitles. It was subtitled in Japanese too.

I fell to the K-drama while staying Thailand. I caught on to VJs on the Scene, Poseidon, and He Who Can’t Marry. English subtitled, Korean television is stylish, creative, new and limited in episodes. It is very conservative and lacks provocative material. They tend to blur the sight of weapons and blood. It’s actually refreshing when I think about it. American culture has become so desensitized by the rapid stream of violent images and stories in the media. I am in love with Korean TV. There is a lot of reading involved, but I am addicted.

HE WHO CAN’T MARRY: A funny story about a 40 year old architect with an eccentric personality. It’s very Monk like. He meets a doctor whose father is trying to marry her off. They have an obvious attraction for one another, but they need to navigate the comedy of errors called poor social skills, obsessive compulsive behavior, and meddling family.

IRIS: This is a glossy spy show with a bit of romance, but definitely attractive people. I hated the ending, but it is definitely worth a watch. It had an interesting story line.

COFFEE PRINCE: I fell in love with this show. It is super sweet. It was this show that hooked me into Korean television. It had a very refreshing story line that I don’t think would have been handled in such a smart way in the United States. I am a sucker for a cute face and there are a lot of them. It has a smart story and was my first peak into Korean culture. It had a slightly queer slant to it.

KIMCHEE FAMILY: This is another heart felt story. Beautiful story of family and family tradition. All of the food looked amazing and it made me even more hungry for Korea.

GOURMET: Reading the story behind the live action show, one could recognize the comic behind it. It is filmed very stylishly resembling comic book panels. It’s a story of sibling rivalry. It is very compelling set in a large kitchen. Again, it will make you hungry. It is set in a famed traditional Korean restaurant. There is a lot of Iron Chef like competition.

HISTORY OF A SALARY MAN: It is a comedy-mystery and one of the funniest shows I’ve seen out of them all. The comedic timing was amazing. The characters were larger that life. They were richly played, on the border of being over done. I laughed out loud a lot.

SIGN: It’s a Korean CSI. The censorship was interesting. Blood and weapons are blurred out. The 20 episodes consisted of a tight story with surprising development. I was sad that there were only 20 episodes and I truly wanted more, but I seem to be able to respect the end of a story and looking for something completely new. There was a nice twist to the story and a surprising ending.

MY ONE AND ONLY: I caught onto this KBS drama in the mornings before heading out to my morning commute. It’s a story about a few families and their drama. This was a daily drama and lasted about five months, maybe shorter. It was about a Korean family that come up against a few challenges as they deal with status difference, ethics, and each other.

21ST CENTURY FAMILY: This show has only eight episodes. It will have you in stitches. If you watch any Korean drama it has to be this one. IT HAS TO BE. WATCH IT…

MAN OF EQUATOR: It was a frustrating story, yet compelling. It provoked crazy feelings as I watched the deceit play out. It ended like shit, but it is totally worth the watch. Character motivation was confusing, and it made me wonder about Korean culture all the more. Would you remain friends with the man who tried to kill you? Do you think you could be such a friend to a person who would sacrifice your life for their own? What if they didn’t succeed? Would you seek revenge and expose them? Watch and see what happens.

HARVEST VILLA: This show was of my all time favorites. It was a mystery and a comedy. It was stylishly done and it had the best ending of all the K-dramas I have seen to date. There is a fortune hidden somewhere on inherited property and everyone knows about it except for the son, who inherited the property.

BECOMING A BILLIONAIRE: I watched this one because Lee Bo Young was in it. I first watched her in Harvest Villa…listen, she is so beautiful. In this show she plays someone you might not want to get to know, but the character is worth getting to know. There is the main character who grows up believing that his father is a millionaire. He wears a mysterious looking necklace that is suppose to be proof of the notion of his wealth. In his search for his father he meets a billionaire’s daughter with a bad personality…and, well, you can love it or leave it. I watched the whole thing. I can’t help to think that it was making a statement.

A GENTLEMAN’S DIGNITY: This was a romantic comedy I really enjoyed. It was about four guys that have been friends since high school. They are all entering their 40’s and the show has been billed as a male version of Sex in the City. I really love some of the truths about men as they are revealed in a honest sincere way. The characters have endearing flaws and there is great character development.

DR. JIN: This show is about a neurosurgeon who travels back in time to the Joseon Dynasty in 1860. Driven by the Hippocratic Oath he inadvertently changes history’s timeline and has to work to correct all changes so he can return to current day. I love the whole idea of time travel. The period costumes were very interesting. I enjoyed watching some of the actors from …Salary Man…play these different characters. I saw quite a few actors from the different dramas in this one. I appreciate the range that these actors have. In America an actor has season after season to be in a character.

HERO 2012: Set in the near future, bankrupt and corrupt, South Korea. Deported from China, the mayor’s son receives super human strength after being saved from death by an experimental drug.  Then he becomes an unlikely super hero. Fighting the corruption he must in the end confront his father and brother, who are the center of all the corruption and violence.

BRIDAL MASK: I am currently watching episodes of this show. It’s a period drama based on a popular Korean manhwa by Hun Young-Man. The setting is Seoul in the 1930’s Japanese colonial era. It’s a story of two brothers who at different times don the Bridal Mask and fight for the independence from the Japanese.

ALL ABOUT MARRIAGE: This is a longer show with 56 episodes instead of the standard 20 or so. I think it has been introduced as a weekend drama to me. It reflects the life of 4 couples who live under the same roof. This drama will depict this generation’s love, marriage, and divorce in a bright and simple way. I am about half way through this drama. It is so eye opening to see the conservative thought on family and marriage. Even when one would think a parent would think this way or that, you become shocked at how strict they can think. Sometimes they are shockingly obvious and honest and I hope I am never scolded by a Korean.

I like that fact that the shows have an ending. I have been able to watch so many different stories instead being bogged down with characters and waiting for character development. I enjoy watching the actors stretch themselves over many different characters and shows. I think it showcases their talent and strength to play so many characters. I have a list of other shows I would like to check out. I think the K-drama is something special. I think Americans could enjoy their format of limited episodes. Every show I have watched on Hulu. Search under genre or type in these titles directly into the search bar. Happy watching.

Black and Tattooed in San Francisco not Vietnam

A year ago this week I was in Hanoi, Vietnam. I was experiencing two of the most challenging weeks in my life. I was pushed and jostled on sidewalks. I scrambled across busy streets clogged with motorbikes, dodged splattering oil at food stalls, and flipped table top BBQ settings. I was stressed out hearing voices. I began to draw inward. I experienced the most intense feelings on the surface of my skin that has since been numb upon my return. Please follow the link below for a quick synopsis of what I was feeling Traveling While Black. It was posted a year ago on a friends website. I also invite you to read some of my archived posts and relive my trip to Vietnam.

I’m hanging out at the one place I can get free coffee. I have a window seat and reflect on the past year of my life. This time last year I was packed to live a life in S.E. Asia.

before purchasing another piece luggage

It’s currently 73F in Danang as Vietnam moves into its wet season. It is 64F in San Francisco as we enter our short, late summer.  I still think of living in another country. I am thinking Korea 2013.

Acclimating to being back this whole last year has been difficult. The job search was urgent upon my return. My ego was still in pieces from the rough handling at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi. Faith in me had waned as I watched any opportunity to teach ESL fizzle.

Making future plans with little faith made every day hard to wake up to. I would slowly open my eyes to the day and watch my friends doing what they wanted, thriving in their passions. I would shake on the inside with aggravation. Musicians, educators, writers, performers and healers were working their hustle to make ends meet, but they wouldn’t change it for the world. What am I doing wrong?

I felt movement in my life, but saw no motion. The feeling of movement kept me on the verge of nausea. My OCD kicked into overdrive, making lists, creating schedules… I spent hours watching Korean dramas. By the time I found a position as mental health client’s rights advocate I was twisted in the head. It is one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. My heart hurt to turn 39 and be so far from my dreams and desires.

Old, familiar feelings crept in. They began to feel dangerous…depression. I felt so much of myself slipping through my fingertips. Those little everyday blessings became worthless to me. Each effort and life achievement meant nothing. I couldn’t be told differently. I couldn’t tell myself differently. Sleep was the answer. The unconscious was my only comfort. Unable to act as if, I allowed the feelings to wash over me and remind me that I DO know how to take care of myself…anti-depressants.

I didn’t need to talk anything through. There was no amount of words or organization of thoughts that would fix my depression. I was spinning my wheels going through DBT and other mindfulness techniques. I talked to myself tirelessly to rise out of the muck flowing in my head. Prozac shut that shit flow down.

I believe that there is something chemically wrong with me. I have no shame (well, maybe a little) in equalizing it all out with medication. It works…for me. It’s been three months now and I almost feel normal. I continually feel overwhelmed about life, but I can persevere. Lion’s pride is close to the surface and it will be hard to shove it down. I look forward to the day I feel like I am on the prowl once more.

I currently work a few nights a week at the Cove on Castro. I absolutely love it there. I love the staff, especially Alberto.  He’s not only young and hot, but he reminds me of the boys I hung out with at 888. The monitors at the Cove show all images of the LGBT community including transgender people and events. Solange, the owner, is beautiful, youthful and silly. The Cove is like my adult Ortega. The Cove and Ortega deserve their own blog entry.

In May I began to work as an English Conversational Intern at Intrax, with plans on moving onto their substitute teaching list. I’ve applied and interviewed for some after school programs to no avail. I applied to USF’s M.A.TESOL program and was denied.

It doesn’t seem so much for an update. It feels like I have left so much out. So much has happened to me in the past year it may take a few more months to truly reflect on it all. I don’t feel like I have too much time to reflect. There is so much to do. Thanks for waiting and reading my inconsistent  posts. It’s nice to have an audience.


HAPPY NEW YEAR! Man. It’s 2012. Where is your zombie survival kit? I hope you had a great holiday season, because I did. Shortly, after returning from Asia, K and I went to New Braunfels to celebrate Thanksgiving with my parents and extended family. My love for Texas runs deep. Each visit I think about staying…We did a drive by of where it all began.  It looked so small, wearing the same Sears siding installed in the late 70’s. The whole street was as I had left it 25 year ago.

For Christmas we spent time with K’s family. They are a lively bunch and we are still trying to figure out how to play Epidemic. New Year’s Eve included a decadent surf and turf, conversation and fireworks on the television. We woke to a bright Cali winter morning and left overs. I thought I might do the first loads of laundry for the year, but then decided to watch Doctor Who episodes.

There was a lot of good energy during the holidays. I am on the other hand experiencing pot holiday blues. In combination with the finality of adrenaline withdrawal, built up from my time in Asia, I decided to replace my stolen Trek with a beater hybrid and sweat out the last of Asia as I rode up hill to my interview at Seneca Center. I am also feeling withdrawal from meeting my friend Tien on webcam. As of late the internet has been so bad for him that our webcam sessions end up silent with us both trying to figure out how to make it better. I have understood that they have been very busy going on tours and that makes me very happy. I hope to call him after this trip using a calling card. Jeez, I miss those guys. I just wished he used skype.

So the New Year has been rung in. Unemployment has been exhausted. I am still ready to be present for 2012. I have been blessed to pick up some bussing shifts at the Cove on Castro It kind of reminds me of my time working at Ortega at UCSB. I’ve also been pulling weeds and cleaning up gardens to make a little bit of money. I spent 2 hour precariously trimming a nice old German woman’s tree in front of her house.I see opportunities on the horizon.. I am wide eyed, expecting nothing, but knowing it will work itself out.

Sucks I couldn't reach the last bit.

In the meantime, I will be working and shaping my first novel for publication. I’ve decided to self-publish. I’ve been considering publishing straight to Kindle. There are a couple print on demand websites I have been thinking of using for assistance. I am happy about my accomplishment. I just want to take it further than the few friends that have read it so far.

-It was a fall in San Francisco. Little did the city know that murder would blow in with the fog. Lea Bellamy shouldered a ghostly feeling. The queer community collected deep long sighs in their scrap books as Unit T investigated the new violence threatening transgender men. As Lea helps her friend live through the horror of his attack, she is faced with confusion, uncertainty and melancholic wonder. What is the low pressing feeling she has following her? Who is killing transgender men in San Francisco? Introducing a cast of characters who hope to attract the love and affection of the city that helped shape them.-

It is the first of a series of about seven books I have outlined for Black and Tattooed Press. We will follow Lea, friends, the LGBT community through all kinds of mysteries, not always murder. I am hoping to use Lea and her story as a vehicle to tell of my own experience of transition from female to male. A few situations are embellished, but there are certain concepts that time and time again travel through a transition story…but how many transition stories do you read from the perspective of a person of color, in this way? So I am excited to put the group of stories together.

Besides editing, I am thinking of changing my blog to a proper website. I think it will be more flexible in how I am able to showcase what I want. I want to post graphics, and sketches of works in progress. I do more than write you know. My mind has been in a lot of places as the last year came to an end and I still need to flush out what it is and how things will come about for this year.

I set up a deadline for myself for self-publishing. April 17th. I might be making it tough for me, but if I have to I can push it back some. Otherwise, I am quite good at meeting my self-imposed deadlines, even if that means cramming a lot of work in a few days. With the fervor of the new year, it seems like a reasonable timeline considering what I have already accomplished so far.

With all that said, the blog will be quiet for a while. I will periodically post pics, links and short tales as I study for the CBEST, CSET and GRE(if need be) and look for employment.

This year’s resolution is to be present. I think last year was about escape. I did that, but I didn’t do it so well. This year I will be present, in San Francisco, in 2012…(and the subtitle changes)



Home…so what’s next?

The flight from Thailand was uneventful. I wish I had taken my camera out of its cozy spot in Gordon’s backpack. I kept everything together just in case I should leave something on the Burger King or Dairy Queen counter. The back pack had been searched for small medical scissors and the laptop had to be scanned on its own so with everything wedged in tightly I didn’t even want to open the side pockets. I wish I had taken some pictures of Bangkok as we took off for flight. Miles and miles of the surrounding area was under water. Imagine looking at Katrina destruction without the blown debris. It was quite sad to see, but I had a better idea of the extent of the flooding. Two weeks before my departure we saw satellite images that showed the affected areas in blue. There is no way to really describe the destruction, but from the air.

I flew EVA, an airline out of Taiwan. It was decent. There were TV screens on each seat. They served tasty fried rice. There were no single air vents, so it tended to get warm throughout the flight. We had a three hour layover in Taipei. I wandered through the brightly lit shops that soldeverything from make-up and fragrances to clothing, electronics and postal services. The flight from Taipei was bumpy. There was quite a bit of turbulence and a few loud snorers. I think I only slept about 2 hours on that leg of the flight. I stayed awake because I wanted to ease back into a regular time schedule and ease up the jet lag experience. I was excited to wake up from my nap to a breakfast of rice porridge and the knowledge that we had two more hours left of the flight.

The top side of the clouds was stark white and smooth. I imagined it appeared as the Swiss Alps would in the dead of winter. There was a smooth wave from the clouds as the plane bumped into them, in its descent. A clear patch revealed sea lions basking in the sun on the Farallon Islands. Then again the clouds closed up under the plane. I was so grateful to have the mind to keep my Giant’s hoodie with me. My feet were swollen in my shoes. My toes were cramped, but at least they were warm, because I knew it was going to be cold. It’s San Francisco. Ugh, cold. The pristine white of the clouds had long switched to a velveteen grey. They had been smooth and soft on a layer of air. There was a stark difference from Asian air. I could automatically feel the atmospheric difference, the jitteriness, the gray. My daily rain showers turned to frigid wind and heavy moist clouds toying with your mind. Nevertheless, the mist held the Bay Area like any loving mother waiting for her child, no matter how restless that child was.

And then there was the Bay. I could see the Dumbarton Bridge in the distance. Lower and lower the plane went, still over water. Our wheels touched solid ground with a slight nudge to the backside. I had watched every minute of our descent through the window. I was tired, but not shaken or bruised, nor defeated or sad. The chill was familiar when disembarking the plane. The immigration officers were covered in tats and everyone in line with me was Chinese. Yup, I’m back in SF.

I shuffled my bags through x-ray machines, declared nothing and waited at the curb for K to get me. I pulled my hood over my bald head, turned on my cell phone and waited for all the strikes to come through notifying me of voice-mails, emails and texts. Oh my HTC Hero, oh how I missed you…  My Danang Nokia with a Thai SIM card was dormant deep in the pack.

She came in a big blue truck. Her arms fell onto my shoulders and her cheek pressed to my lips. All of the familiar was wrapped up in the package of my wife. I am so grateful for technology. I was able to talk to her most nights and more often than not I got to see her face with my cats in the background. Then there was email and gchat. Technology is great, but nothing can replace the real thing. It is so good to see and touch my wife. We picked up where we left off…jabbering my ear off about driving dump trucks for her sidewalk garden projects. She’s so cool.  It was nice to have her voice and learn that she wouldn’t have to work the weekend after all. It was a nice weekend. I was able to spend time with my brother Brent and my wife and my buddy Rob.

It was an interesting week indeed. I am glad to be back and see my people. I abhor the chill that is fighting to find place in my bones. I am a tad bit under-stimulated. My nerves are so accustom to vibrating at 8 or 9, all that is left is a soft slow tingle through my fingertips. A slight imprint of the foreign remains on my conscious and there is a hunger for it. There is a low rumble for the new, the strange, things gentle, some hostility, and culminating challenges. I am left to really search that out myself.

I went to Asia to work. Again, I had impeccable timing reaching Asia in major development, especially in how they hire foreign teachers. Asian countries have become more stringent in the ways they handle work permits for teachers. I went to Asia half-cocked and was disarmed immediately when the subject of my documents came up. Vietnam accepted my local background check, but Korea only accepts federal background checks. Some schools are fine with post baccalaureate certificates while other schools prefer graduate degrees. There are a lot teachers working in Asia without redentials. They began at a different time. The feeling I got was that I didn’t have the experience to back up my certificate. My 100 hour TEFL certificate was suspect. I tried to hold my head high and exude the teacher spirit, but they called my bluff.

I returned home set and intent to go into the education field. Moments before leaving Pattaya I began to check Craigslist and look into my options of programs, schools and degrees. I began to pick up information about informational sessions being held at different institutions. From the time I returned home until the week before Thanksgiving, I researched, went to meetings, and asked questions. I know there is more confusion ahead.

I want to find a somewhat local institution with a program that can meet my needs. I feel I need a fine balance. There are options to have loans forgiven, but that involves working in an under-performing schools for about five years. I don’t have a problem with that, but my long term goal is to get into an international school. Teach abroad. The options I have sitting in from of me cross over and cancel each other out at the same time. I’ve been wondering about my own teaching philosophy, but my feelings are all over the place. I need to have a long sit down with myself and create something that resonates with me.

Stanford…A short discussion with a dear friend led me to research STEP. Brent’s conversation began and the universe opened up to me. Granted, my timing is horrible and I will have to wait to apply for Fall 2013 due to certain tests I will have to take. On the other hand, as I had agreed to follow my dear friend to campus, I found that STEP was having a meeting that same night. I gathered my questions for the educational program at Stanford and went to their special campus. Stanford is a special kind of campus. I just feel smart…STEP involves a year in the classroom in a local school, classes are at night after school,and supposedly there is a supportive community where I can get as much support as I need.There are loan forgiveness programs to look into, but I will be 45 before I can teach over seas working the schooling off.

CSUEast BayI skipped the program session at Cal State. I first considered the distance I would have to travel for classes. Taking BART to the end of the line did not appeal to me. The program lacked a Master’s component. They only offered TESOL as a certificate, not a degree. The Master’s component is a big deal for me. For me to return to college at this age means I need to get the most I can and I need a Master’s. Let’s face it, a Master’s degree carries weight and the Stanford name carries ton.

On-line options…Phoenix University has an education program, but it is so annoying trying to find out about their programs. You need to fill out on-line forms, which in turn fill your inbox with spam. I would appreciate an on-line page that simply explained their program. USCThey have a program that is a Master’s in Teaching and Master’s in TESOL. If I were to do the on-line route, I would pick USC simply because of the name alone. I would have to do my diligence in finding a job to back up the theory I would be learning. I feel it could weigh as much as Stanford as long as I have the field component locked in. There are many online options. On-line schooling makes me nervous. I do well in a classroom, exchanging ideas live as opposed to posting my thoughts on a forum waiting for a reply. I may do it, but the cost of the education on-line is no cheaper than in-class.

AlliantIs a for-profit university with many branches. The focus of the meeting revolved around the fact that you needed to be working in your own classroom. Job postings mainly refer to credentialed teachers. If accepted into the program you will receive a letter from the school stating the acceptance into their credential program and then the hiring school can work on getting you an intern credential to teach through the year. I ask, “How can I get into the program without having a school to work in? How do I work if I do not get accepted into the program and get the letter of proof of enrollment?” I am hard pressed to follow their logic.

SFSU…The meeting was a waste of time. It was about filling out the application, not the program. I will have to talk to someone directly about the M.A. TESOL program, but was sad to find that it focused on adult learner instead of children. I was also disappointed to find that their credential program didn’t include an M.A. option.

BATTI…My head has been swimming in educator preparations for the whole week. I was annoyed that the post for the event at San Francisco Day School didn’t clearly state what would be discussed. It mentioned that it was teacher intern related. At least there were cookies, I didn’t have to suffer two hours of pointless information and I learned about teacher prep at Mills College.

USFThis was my last meeting of the week. I wish I had actually made it to the breakout group for my interest, but I know this is the school I want to go to. They had an awesome food spread at their graduate open house. There were people to answer my basic questions, but there are programs I could mix and match and I feel like I need a little more guidance in making an informed decision. It seems like I can get something that could work for me, but I am not absolutely sure. I’ve been tossing around a lot in my head and with graduate school you need to narrow your studies down. I just want to find what is best for me.

The search continues…

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am sorry to inform you that I cannot post a new blog until I download some photos. I found myself in Texas without my camera cord. I am acclimating to being back in the United States. I am enjoying my week in Texas for the Thanksgiving holiday, but I have to disappoint you and not post an update. Soon my friends, soon.

The road to Zion was broken…

I was in Thailand two weeks before deciding to come home to the States. I totally understand that two weeks in Pattaya is no way to get a full sense of a country and a people. I am also here at a devastating time. A large portion of the country is flooded by water. Pattaya is flooded with people. Pattaya is more than a tourist town, it is second to Bangkok in sex trade, girly bars, and special massages. At the same time there are a lot of Europeans and their families that live here. The largest population of people is Russian with a sprinkling of German, Norwegian and Scandinavians. The languages mix with the Thai, but very little English is heard by my ear. Condos and hotels rise up shadowing the soi

My friend Ken lives in the middle of Jomtien Soi 7 . At one end there is a market and on the other end there is the beach that is crowded with umbrellas and vendors walking around selling things from Omega watches, handmade necklaces, steamed crab, fried shrimp and ice cream bars. Restaurants, souvenir carts and food carts line Beach Road. Western and Thai food is offered at a larger price. I often went to the market. My regular was sam tam, pork spare ribs, salted fish, chicken wings and fruit. Everything in the market is fresh, but it is a tad bit more expensive than the food choices in Vietnam. I like the variety in Thailand much better.

I’ve lost more weight. I’ve reached 85kg, almost hitting my personal goal. I feel fit, having access to a roof top pool for circle swim Why am I leaving? I am not feeling the country or the people really. I realize that I have only been here two weeks…In the land of smiles, that’s all it is. I feel a lack of substance. I want what is behind the smiles. I want genuine emotion and knowledge of the people. I don’t trust what I don’t know. I had a different reality in Vietnam that I truly appreciated. Granted I didn’t like some of the meanness and aggression. There was a certain curiosity the Vietnamese had for foreigners. There is also a different mindset of a people when their homes and country have been invaded and colonized that I can relate to. This isn’t so in Thailand. Don’t get me wrong. I have seen beauty in the land.   I just don’t understand when I ask about the people and the country that I am not told, not allowed to know about the struggle I am sure they have had to deal without outsiders.

My first week in Thailand involved some beach time with a book and a cold coconut. Mornings were consumed with job hunting on I have yet to receive a response from any school, but I am sure that is mostly due to flood conditions. Ken went to work early, making a 45 minute drive to Rayong. I was up by eight to skype with K at the café at the end of the soi. Thursday I went to work with Ken at Garden International School. The white building rose out of the greenery. We had a breakfast of grapao at the café across the street and had some more coffee. It was nice to be in the classroom and soak up any knowledge of teaching and style I could. Ken is a great educator. He has energy, patience and control. I had opportunity to work with a special needs child using finger phonics.

Thursday was a long day. It was Diwali and the school held a program in the evening. All wished that the rain wouldn’t come, but it did. Nevertheless, families showed up to eat some amazing Indian food, watch some poetry recitation and dances.  I really enjoyed being in the small international community. The children were delightful; although I am sure they have their moments. The highlight for me was when they danced to Kesha. The show went without a hitch as Ken made the show flow even in the torrential down pour and in fear of electrocution. Ken does a lot in his school and I am finding that his hard work will only provide him more success.

The weekend led into his October holiday. It seems that the British school system has breaks every six weeks or so. We tried to make plans to go to Bangkok for my job search, but found that the news was giving us information that made us decide that it wasn’t the best option. We changed our plans and followed his friends to for a few days. We took a ferry after a 3 hour drive. The dance music ended as the iPod charge died, but we popped in some island music from Hawaii to set the mood.

Island View Resort sits on a pier overlooking islands in the bay. We took our initial moments there to chill out, stretch our legs and have some lunch. The lunch fortified us for a kayak trip to a white sandy beach far in the distance. Ah, the beach…We had limped along in a two man kayak with three. My paddle was broken and Oliver who sat in the middle and attempted to help paddle with his hands but only succeeded in putting more water in the boat and all over me. The distance was much further than we thought. The beach was great once we got there. The water was awesome. It was clear and alive with crabs and sea urchins. I found some sea shells as the kids played in the sand. And before we knew it, it was time to return for a shower and some dinner.

Dinner was amazing. Mango cashew fish, sautéed shrimp, and tom yum. (pic)We deserved the feast after the kayaking we had done. Kayaking on the ocean is really hard. We had to fight the wind and the current. Arms were weak, but not too weak to shove fried mango fish into my mouth. (pic of dusk)

The next day was action packed. I got up early with the kids and went to the pool for a swim and some aqua aerobics. I almost joined them in their game of freeze tag but knew I would have been it the whole time. After kayaking and swimming I decided that an American breakfast was in order and it needed to involve a pancake. It was the first time I saw KaoTom (rice soup) and knew I would order that the next morning.

We wanted to set out fairly early to beat the heat. There were plans to ride elephants and see waterfalls. Dieter, the resort owner sat down with the drivers and explained what was possible to be seen in one day. Koh Chang is a fairly large island. The side we stayed on was very quiet. The other side comprised of hostels, bigger resorts and more beer bars and clubs. Dieter pointed out a large mangrove to walk through, waterfalls to climb and where the elephants were located.

Our first stop included food as some didn’t eat at the resort. It was kind of expensive. I watched as the motorbikes buzzed around. The kids played a Lilo andStitch game that was included in the ice cream. Once we were on the road we stopped at a waterfall. It was a little hard getting to over the rocks, but there was a rope we used as a guide. It wasn’t the biggest waterfall, but the flow was quite strong. We tried to swim up to the first spill out, but it was like swimming in one of those small exercise pools. The water was crisp and cool, cold in Thai terms. It was nice once you got fully in. I didn’t stay in it too long because the fish would begin to bite you if you stayed in one spot too long. After we cooled off in the hot morning we walked through a large mangrove. Roots reached down from the branches into the water. The walk way wound around the grove and some had to stop afterwards for some ice cream. We thought that after we would try to get to Long Beach. We were ready to cool off once more and lay on the white sand. We turned onto a small road that had a warning sign as we entered. As the road had a sign saying Road to Zion, I felt we needed to at least try to get there. Well, the road was broken. It was also a bit harrowing turning the large truck around on a hill as we only managed to make it to where the road was literally broken. Motorbikes continued on a small path to the right of the hole, but we needed to turn around. Most were quite nervous and scared, but I didn’t have any fear.

We took another break taken at a beach side resort called Bay View Resort. It was a nice, quiet and romantic looking resort. I thought that it would be a nice place to stay with K. It reminded me of Hawaii. It was very quiet and rustic looking. Once we left all I could think about was getting back to our resort for a massage. I was quite tired from all the excitement and just wanted to chill out. Young children can be exhausting. We stopped for some chicken and sam tam and before I knew it we were on our way for another waterfall trip. I backed out of this adventure. I was just too tired. I lay back in the bed of the truck and relaxed a bit while everyone else took a small jungle trek. This is where I thought about how I wasn’t clicking with the people or the land. It’s my own colonized mind for sure, but honest for me. I really looked forward to that massage and a nap before dinner. Others spoke of burgers, but I wanted some crab.

Well, due to the wait I had and disappointment of not being able to book a massage, I ordered a cheeseburger with no veggies. I didn’t want Thai Tummy. It was the last of their burgers and it tasted really good, to the disappointment to others on my trip that had a burger in mind. I went to bed with a full stomach, but was exhausted. The next day we would return to Pattaya. We hadn’t listened to any news while we were out and Ken and I were surprised to find the city swollen with people. People were escaping the flooding in Bangkok. We found that the stores no longer had bottled water. I had received no responses to my CV. I began to think that Korea would be my next stop.

The next few days I began to focus my job search in Korea. Each response I received was informative. I was informed that I do not have the proper paperwork to get a proper work visa in Korea. The effort I would need to make while abroad would take just too long for me to gather for the work permit. I sat down with my friend Ken and talked a bit more about my options in Asia. It seems that I have impeccable timing. Asian countries are really cracking down on how foreigners are hired for teaching jobs. A TEFL is enough, but there is more documentation people need to have to begin teaching out here. As much as I heard it was easy, it just hasn’t been. I began to review my own goals and decided that the best thing I could do was to return home to my wife. I decided that I will return back to the United States with plans and intentions on furthering my education and get a proper teaching certificate, possibly with a Master’s in education. This way I will have everything and there will be no question to my qualifications or experience.

I am not sad about my decision, nor do I feel defeated. I might have a little disappointment and may feel like I might have let some people down, but I persevere. It has been a crazy two months for me. Deep down I do wish it had gone differently. I’ve done the best I could have and with that I need to figure out all the lessons to be learned from this experience. I am sure that there will be more blog posts concerning this crazy trip while I am in the States. It has been more difficult to put into words the feelings and rationale I have. I look forward to searching myself some more, but back home with my wife and kitty cats. I also missed family and friends. I look forward to reconnecting to my life in San Francisco. I look forward to surfing the momentum I have created by the experience of travel.

I know I will come back to Asia. I know I will be able to have a different appreciation for the places I haven’t had a chance to see. But now, I look forward to having some steamed crab on the beach on my last day here in Thailand. See most of you soon.

Zed (Z in British English)