A Short Note on Avoiding Politics

It’s not a secret to people who know me that I had no problem leaving the United States when the opportunity arose. The 2016 Presidential election was devastating for me, and then I watched my dad die. I don’t intend to blog about politics, but there’s no guarantee. What I want to mention is that the lack of politics – or, really, of political attention – has probably added back years to my life.

We seem to notice what is much more easily than noticing what isn’t. What isn’t is trash all over the road-side. It took a few drives to realize the roads here are very clean. Like the US, there are still cigarette butts all over the place, but it’s free of bottles and bags and cups and anything else people seem to throw out of their cars. This is made more striking when considering there aren’t trash cans anywhere. The US has trash cans on every street corner and trash on every street, and Korea is the opposite.

What isn’t is road rage. This is despite some of the most daring driving I’ve seen in my half-century on this planet. I fear I may meet a premature end via motor vehicle while here. However, the driving is not aggressive. If there is space (heck, even if there isn’t), a car will move into it. Busses and cabs do whatever they want; know this, and give them clearance. Drivers will go way over the speed limit and then slam their breaks when approaching the moving camera zones. I do it now too. No more searching for hidden police vehicles and radar guns. Just speed and then slow down through the zones. Makes sense. And take none of this personally.

What isn’t is constant negative news – for me at least. I considered myself very well informed in 2016. I watched the national news from a reputable network and avoided the sensationalistic local news. I read stories via the Washington Post and New York Times. I paid attention and prided myself on it. And it all broke my heart. If you had asked me what I thought about people, I would have told you they sucked. The news confirmed that. Politics confirmed that. However, if you asked me what I thought about my neighbor, coworkers, friends, family, the guy on the corner, I would tell you they were great. I didn’t like the lot of us but seemed to love the individual.

Now I am trying to avoid the news. I’m sure there is plenty of the same here as at home. The country impeached former-President Park Geun-hye and then arrested her on corruption charges. But we don’t have Korean cable, and I’m avoiding internet news. We’ve barely watched television – at least compared to what we did in the States. When I look at social media, though, I see what’s going on. I see postings and reactions from friends. I look up whatever is happening and then quickly shut down those stories. They’re all bad. They’re all unbelievable. They make me embarrassed and ashamed for my home country. So I bury my head in the sand, which makes me feel guilty, but I think it’s good for me. I’m happier this way. I am finding ways to do kind things. I am healing my heart and loving again. I’m working on assuming that people are good. Someday I may again get involved in politics, but right now is not that day. Living in a place that has a different language and alphabet makes it easy to stay a little ignorant. Viva la ignorance!

How Did I Get Here?

It all starts with the idea, right? How did the biggest decisions you’ve ever made get started? Listen for the message, and live without regret.

I’m on day 15 living out of a small hotel room. Before moving to Korea, I was in a two-room hotel in Fort Worth Texas with my husband (Chris) and two dogs (Molly and Sophie). Getting the dogs on their first elevator, getting them to poop outside in a new place, getting them over the fear of all the turmoil, and getting them to stop barking at every noise were the smallest challenges. Now I’m in a single-room hotel with my husband in Sacheon, Korea, with our six suitcases worth of stuff, anxiously awaiting the delivery of my precious pups and the move to our home for the next two to three years. How did I get here?

On my 50th birthday, Chris proposed to me at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado. We’d been together 3 years and had gone through the formal process to be informally married (it’s a real thing in Texas) for some practical reasons, but this was the real deal. Back at the hotel, I quickly called my parents to tell them. And then I got punched in the gut: My dad said he’d been diagnosed with metastatic cancer. He was terminal.  In a matter of days I quit my job and began driving from Texas to California every 2-3 months for visits. I needed to spend time with him and my mom. And for the next 17 months, that’s what I did.

The experience of losing a parent is its own blog entry. But it leads me to now. In January, as my dad was in increasingly poor health, Chris mentioned an opportunity to work in Korea. He was going to get more information. And in February, after my dad died, I was 100% in. Leaving my mom behind hurts my heart in unbelievable ways, but this beautiful man I married (another blog entry) told me I could visit as much as I wanted. So that’s how I find myself living in this very small room hoping and praying and wishing and begging that my very old dogs survive the separation without thinking they’ve been abandoned and make the flight okay. They’ll be here no later than June 2. That’s 10 days. We can do this!

I hope to share my journey through these writings which might on occasion include some practical information for anyone considering taking on something similar. I’m new to this, but I enjoy writing and have friends who’ve expressed interest in my experience. So here we go. Thanks for joining me

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