Tuesday, December 21, 2010


December has rushed by faster than a Brian Wilson four seam fastball (WORLD SERIES CHAMPS!)

*Yea, I'm still excited about that one!

Work is a continuous joy and so are my students.  Don't get me wrong... there are days that they drive me batty, but that's to be expected.  Work really doesn't feel so much like work.  I enjoy preparing my lessons... I enjoy helping my students develop a second language. I've said it before, but I know that teaching is what I need to do. Whether it's in Korea, the States, or anywhere else. 

My birthday came and went in a flash.  I spent it with a few friends.  We went to what we thought was going to be a huge German festival, but it turned out to be five tents, a skinny santa, some sausages, and hot wine.  Not even saurkraut?!  What kind of German festival is that?  I had half a mind to start a book burning party.  Ok, yes, that joke may be in bad taste...
Nonetheless it was a good time with friends huddled around a propane heater sharing a drink and a powdered sugar sprinkled waffle.

Thailand!  Christmas!  It's only three days away!  I'm looking forward to Bangkok and exploring the city, temples and local fare.  But my heart and mind are really set on Phuket and Naki Island!  Away from the hustle and bustle I will slip into a blissful state in which I will not want to return from.

December tried to sneak past me... but it didn't go unnoticed.  It's been an amazing month.  One that will be with me for the rest of my days.  The days and nights may be bitterly cold but the snow still melts underneath my every step.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Culmination

No matter how hard you try to remain unflappable and centered, a day will come along that just sort of pushes you around a bit.  I've had time to go through the day and think about this and that and I feel centered again.  My day began like any other day.  Walked to work, clocked in, and started preparing last minute items.

Within ten minutes of being at work I inadvertently upset one of my close friends.  Realizing my error I quickly apologized... but that feeling of disappointment in myself would hangover my head the rest of the day.

Twenty minutes later I was told I was to have a parent meeting with a concerned parent.  That had my mind racing about what the concerns were.  I began to question my teaching... was I doing a good job?  I pressed on.

The meeting went well and the conversation was very productive.  But I still didn't feel like I was doing a good job, although the director and immediate boss reassured me I was.  I guess everyone can have doubts from time to time... and I try to take those times as opportunities to better myself and focus new found energy on the task at hand.  But inturn it can be unwanted stress and distract my mind from clear thoughts.

After work I was able to unwind at the gym and focus on non-work related issues.  As I walked home I stopped by Kate's place to say hello to her and her friend Leslie.  In less than twenty minutes I was walking out the door feeling a meriad of emotions... Irritability, frustration, embarrassment, and pretty much down right foolishness.  What I thought was turning into an arguement was a total misunderstanding... And by the time Kate and I cleared the air on Skype I felt like the biggest shmuck in Korea.

It's funny, I tell myself all the time to think before I speak... choose my words and have meaning and purpose behind them... but it's inevitable... my mouth must like the taste of my foot.  Nothing terrible happened today.  No catostrophic event... I wasn't fired, wasn't even talked to sternly... it was just a parents meeting that I was nervous about...  I didn't get in a knockdown dragout fight with my friend, it was just a misunderstanding... 

Today was just a day that flicked me in the nose and said, "Pay attention!"
Message received.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Cup of Coffee pt. 2

  "Good morning! Can I help you with anything?  Our coffee is freshly ground and brewed every morning.", she said in an unrehearsed tone.
  He replied with a hint of hesitation in his voice.
  "Yea, that sounds like a good way to start my day."
  His attention was else where, she could tell.  He was still finishing his fleeting visions of the robust crowd engulfed in smoke, song, and dance.
  "Is it a daydream?" as she look directly into his overted eyes.
  "Uh... sorry, it's just the counter here just made me think of another time and place."
  "I get that a lot.  Before I bought this place it was a local watering hole.  The bar was something I just couldn't part with.  I've researched the company that made it and it seems this was shipped all the way from London around the early 1920s."
  "That's really interesting. If I owned this place I would've probably had to find out where it came from to."
  "Here's your coffee.  Why not have a seat.  No sense in just standing next to the bar."
  "Good idea."
  "You know you look kinda familiar.  But I don't think I've seen you here before."
  "No, you probably haven't.  Actually I know you haven't.  This is the first time I've ever been to Torry Lake."
  He took his first sip of his black coffee and looked at her with tired eyes.  He tried to hide his weariness, but his unkept hair and wrinkled collared dress shirt reeked of a red-eye flight and a two hour drive from the airport.
  "Hmmmm... I'll think of it before you finish that cup of coffee."
She stared intently for a moment studying his face.  An uncomfortable silence fell across their little corner of the shop as he glanced up from his cup. There she stood a foot away while the corners of her mouth began to rise in heart felt recognition.  She knew why he was here.  He felt she knew.  He felt somewhat foolish but knew he couldn't leave.  He needed to see this through no matter the end result.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


The downtrodden man rises from the ashes of despair.
The chains of social acceptance no longer restrain his imagination.
They no longer control his movements. 
The black-rimmed glasses of third party perceptions are calmly, yet forcibly smashed in the presence of ordinaries.

He does not claim to be extraordinary.
He is just a man.
But he refuses to fall in rank and file.
He will no longer model himself in the eyes of others.
His vision of himself will shine through.
It will blind some with enlightenment and leave him unrecognizable to others.

Today and forever more he lives with purpose.
Those who can not except his metamorphosis matter less and less.
The focus becomes inward...
Life becomes more meaningful when he strips away the superfical, social posturing.
Contentment is followed by peace... relaxation... bliss...

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Cup of Coffee

The brass bell attached to the top corner of the old oak door rang as he pushed his way into the quiant coffee shop.  The smell of freshly roasted coffee and sandal wood incense made an aromatic refreshing pair. 

Buried in their books, laptops, and writings, the patrons barely acknowledged his presence.  He made his way to the counter which was situated against a very old and worn brick wall.  As he approached he noticed the counter didn't belong in a coffee shop.  The polished mahogany stretched almost the entire span of the wall.  It brought an image forward he only had read about and saw in movies.  A 1930s speakeasy.  That's where this handcrafted bar would have been more suited. 

Just as he began to invision the burly doorman, the brass band playing some swinging toon as the women in their flapper dresses danced with reckless abandon; a woman popped up from behind the expansive bar.  She was easily twenty years his senior but the years had been extremely kind to her.  The contours of her face and neck blended sentually with the golden brown color of her shoulders.  Her dark auburn hair was cut short to show off the nape of her neck.  He was struck by this unexpected and pleasant feeling.  She radiated a warming auroa, her smile said everything he needed to hear.  Little did he know, that cup of coffee would change his life.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Routine

  There is a fine line between being stuck in a rut and becoming comfortable and content with a routine.  I'm definitely in the latter.  The honeymoon phase of Korea is over, but there is still excitement that lurks around every corner.  I still venture out through the subways, connecting cities, and meandoring trails along the river.  But my day to day life has become the foundation of my happiness.  I like waking up every morning with a purpose... I like the fact I'm doing what I love... teaching. I get to walk to work, I don't have to drive.  I like going down stairs at lunch and eating with my fellow teachers.  I usually just sit back, eat and listen to them talk about their day.  I'll add to the conversation once in awhile but I like listening... I like getting off work at night, going home, throwing on my gym clothes and walking with my friend to the gym.  When does a routine become a rut?  Well I'll let you know.  But for now, I'm happy and content and living in the moment.

Monday, November 1, 2010


  Emotions are a very strong thing.  They can be a great motivator or a crippling hindrance.  The funny thing is, all emotions are, are chemical reactions in our brain.  When you start to really think about that the more we just might view ourselves as addicts.  Is it a long leap in thought to go from a heroin addict to a person addicted to the feeling falling in love gives them?  Does it cheapen the thought of love or any of our other emotions by looking at it in such a matter-of-fact way?  Does it make it any less wonderful?  I still like the feeling, but some of the mystery and wonder of it all are lost.  Sometimes not thinking or understanding how things work can be a blessing in disguise.  I wish someone would come along and become addicted to me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stayin' In...

Last night a few of use went to the college area of Seoul near Hongik University.  It was a good time filled with music, drinks, dancing and rubbing elbows with some locals.  Today, though I felt fine from the activities of the previous night, I was what you'd call a slug.  I left my apartment for about an hour to go on a walk... but other than that I've been inside fiddling around with some chores and the computer.  I'm now starting to get a little bit of cabin fever!  I would have to guess this maybe only the 2nd time since being in Korea that I vegged out all day... I mean I still woke up at 7:30am and here it is almost 6pm!  Aggghhh!  I guess sometimes the body and mind just don't need outside stimulus... sometimes they need to turn off and go on autopilot. 

I can't believe it's going to be November already!  It's moving so fast I need to really get organized and have a clear vision of what I'm doing next... Obviously it's been on my mind a lot... I've listened to advice from family and friends and I hear a reoccurring theme... Things will work themselves out... I believe that... but they will only work themselves out if I pursue that in which I want... Sometimes I don't think I'm as actively involved in my own life.  My attitude was one of, "Oh well... maybe next time"  "No big deal"  "Something will come along" and I see the laziness in that attitude now... I understand I can't control every aspect of my being... but I need to start controling those things in which I can.

Alright I gotta get out of this cave!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

True Ramblings

I usually write everything down in a journal first then edit myself a bit and type it out... But this is an unedited, outloud thinking, spur of the moment account of things in my head...  I see from my past posts, the title of my blog 'Korea' may be a bit off.  I've mentioned it only fleetingly... Sometimes it is hard for me to write about the things that are right in front of me... the everday occurrences... They seem unimportant... 'what I ate today' 'my one minute walk to work' 'the lunch break that went by too fast'... these are all things we all experience... just in different settings... but maybe it is these unimportant and sometimes mundane aspects of life that need to be looked at a little more closely.  Are we missing out on half of our life because we coast through these moments?  I'm gonna make an effort to be conscious in these times... I don't know what it'll bring... maybe boredom?
Korea... what can I say about it?  It's become like any place you've lived... It's where I live, it's not my home, but it's where I live.  The people are friendly and yet they'll run right into you on the sidewalks and in the subway... I've gotten good at the shoulder check... I don't move out of the way anymore... let them.  I'm bigger than most... but I still can't shoulder check an older lady, but they are the worst.  I guess they've earned the right to smash through the throngs.
I've been thinking a lot about the next step... what is it?  Options on the table, well hopefully they turn into options.  1) Get a teaching job in California.  That would be the ultimate... for various reasons... 2) Get a teaching job in the USA.  I'll move anywhere right about now just to get started. 3) Back to school?  Masters?  Something different? Almost feels like a waste of time right now... 4) Stay in Korea another year... if the option is on the table and I don't have any interviews in the states... do I do it?  It may be 10 months away, but it's rapidly approaching.  I sometimes feel like I'm in an episode of the Twilight Zone where I play the character who can't quit attain the very goal that he feels will complete him.  Only to realize too late that he didn't need it... Am I chasing the wrong dream?  Is teaching that important to me?  I know I like doing it... but doors really aren't opening... I realize most industries aren't hiring... but there are jobs out there... I mean I do have a great one right now... But I don't see myself staying here indefinitely... It just feels like starting my real adult life is on hold until I obtain an actual teaching job in the states... I can put down some roots... I can start living...  Oh I'm living now, smelling the roses, and soaking up as much of Korea as I can...  But this isn't my home... I'm renting... Maybe I'm too focused on tomorrow and not enough on today... Life is what happens to you when you're too busy planning it... Right you are John, right you are.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Whatever comes to mind

Today consisted of:
1.  Gym (almost got sick from overexcursion... but it kinda felt good)
2.  Shower
3. Laundry (throughout the day)
4. Lunch @ ButterFingers (Chive Waffle with sauteed onion, fried egg, and roasted cherry tomatoes!)
5. Grocery shopping @ EMART (yea, it's like a Wal-mart)
6. Looking for fresh Basil (A lot harder than it sounds... still haven't found any)
7. Drinking coffee w/ my friend Kate while reading (good local shop)
8. Relaxing at home (internet, watch a little Daily Show online, just chillin.)

Today was a good day!

Lesson 3:  Know what buttons you're clicking before doing so... (This happened on Thursday at work)
I was typing up my Fill in the Blank tests for the month.  I have four to type every month and I do them weeks in advance.  I like to be ahead of the game.  Well the word program I use at school is all in Korean, but the commands are the same.  So I typed up all four tests went to hit print and accidently shut the window instead.  Oh yes, of course I didn't save it!  Shit!  At least I left myself plenty of time to do it later...  but still that just makes me wat to punch something!  (I finished them on Friday... and I saved them)

Friday night was fun... Saturday morning was tough

The headache hurts less and less as the years go by... The Jameson and Guinness only compliment the symphony of the night.  They take their gracious exit when the sun rises, only to leave me with the blurry images of the night before.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

California is On My Mind

This is my California...

The light dances through the chloroplast and casts its last greenish hue of the early fall on the sidewalk.
I caught a glimpse of California in Korea today.
I ran through the crowded streets as if everyone was at a stand-still.  The sweet smell of the decomposing sycamore leaves transported my thoughts... transported my being.  My pace increased and my heart pounded.  I stretched the limits of my abilities and the pain was still unable to reach me because I caught a glimpse of California in Korea today.
She walked into the room with her informal elegance.  The lights softend and so did my heart.  Her smile would melt even the most ironclad of men.  The vibrations of her voice resonated in my head as if the unwritten works of Mozart were a secret only I posessed.  The Beach Boys were right. I wish they all could be Californian Girls.
I caught a glimpse of California in Korea today.

by Josh Niehues 10/7/10

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Travel through space and time
Rewind that moment in my mind
Come back to me, that enigmatic image
You seem to be just out of focus
You're just out of reach
I piece together fragments of you...
it's incomplete...
how can you be incomplete?
I feel I'm losing the essence of you
Like the fleeting rays of a sunset

by, Josh Niehues (10/6/10)
continued at a later date... perhaps

Monday, October 4, 2010


(picture from http://www.jhsharp.com/ )

They walk with their heads hung low. 
Their shoulders slump as their arms swing slowly to and fro. 
Defeat drips from their brow. 
 Feet soaked in a soup of blood and muddy water become numb to the cold, numb to the pain.
They shuffle through the dregs.  The torrents of rain add to their misery.
The eyes of the horsemen ever watchful underneath their worn leather calvary hats pierce through the souls of their captives.
If you could see into the eyes of these down trotten boys, you would see experience beyond their years.
A life raised in nature... a life apart from what some would call civilization.
But this latest experience... indescribable.
A blank spot, as if they tried to forget... needed to forget in order to retain their sanity.
They stared into the abyss and saw the purest darkness, the emptiness that accompanies a person when all is lost.
They stare at the ground moving like the walking dead...
Only one thought enters... Why?

by, Josh Niehues
Oct. 4th, 2010

A Day...

  It was a good night the other night.  Everyone came over for an informal dinner party.  Kate and I rocked the stuffed bell peppers!  Wild rice with sauteed yellow onions and mushrooms.  I marinated some pork and added it in... Dylan brought a pumpkin stir-fry which was stellar and Leanne hooked up some Pizza School!  Sammy locked down the dessert with melon popsiciles.  Azzurra provided ingredients and cookware.  It was a team effort!
  At the time of this transcription I was sitting outside a little coffee house in my neighborhood.
'A little Korean kid is playing hide'n'go seek with me through the window.  It doesn't matter were you're at, little kids are just cute... no mom, that doesn't mean I'm ready to have any... gotta find a vessel first.
  It's a perfect day... At any moment the ominus gray clouds could punish us with torrents of rain, but they hold back and let us enjoy the autumn day.'

It's quiet outside except for the continuous humming of traffic outside of my window... It has become that white noise that I hardly register anymore... like the dryer running at night... but then the buzzer goes off and it startles you... Similar to the blarring of the bus horns as they run red lights...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Old Ones Revisited

Pull You In

Hold it in, push it away, repress it, hide from it at all cost. The agony that seemed to affect my every move, coursing through my veins, making my blood itch. A dark abyss of loneliness, the empty promises of another day. Why are you back again? Why do you dance in front of me with your tantalizing lure? I know your tricks, the methods you use to capture and imprison my heart. It seems the more I fight you the harder you hit back. Like a heroin addict I hate you on the come down, but when the needles in my arm I never want your warm embrace to cease.
I want it to last this time. The fires from dried pine needles burns with an intense fiery passion. As exciting and dazzling it is to the eye, the body gains little comfort from it once it goes out. The cold creeps in and chills the words that are spoken in its absence. I want the steady burn of a well-stoked fire. Every new log rekindling our desires, our hopes and dreams of our future together. I can't hide from you, I'll relax my iron grip on my heart, I won't push you away, I'll pull you in.


True to form with elegance and grace
starlight floats down to caress her face
I follow her every move, just a pace away
Hoping to be apart of her beauty one day
Through the courtyard and garden she went
Down the steps and passed the pond
The moonlit night carried her on
There he waited in a carriage for two
He embraced his beauty and they rode
away in the midnight blue
It was hard to keep my emotions at bay
So without a word I walked away

Pull You In and Midnight by, Josh Niehues 12/22/08

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Travelers can be Douchebags

  How can I fully explain the feeling one gets after countless encounters with self-described "Enlightend World Travelers" (EWT's)?  Well, before I answer that question we must first examine the 'twentysomething' world explorer.  Explorers of the past ventured were few people dared.  They saw what few from their homeland would ever lay eyes on.  Our 'twentysomething' EWT wants to associate themselves with these past Explorers.  They feel a connection with the past... they are searching for a unique path... the unexplored waterway... They want to be the first to leave their mark in a foreign world.  I feel that the EWT wants to feel important in their explorations and not just gain self-enlightenment but also general praise from people who dare not venture past the castle walls.  Their desire to become the center of attention, their elongated prose about their awesomeness utterly stifels the air in any room.  Travel no longer becomes about experincing new cultures and gaining a better understanding of the world as a whole... it morphs into an egotistical resume builder in which every stamp in your passport increases your value against less traveled people.
  I have no problem with people sharing their experiences.  I rather enjoy hearing peoples stories.  Most people I run into are good quality people.  But the EWT scoffs at others experiences... They were there first, they saw it before you, their experience was more real and exponentially more enlightening than yours.  The general douciness of that trian of thought, the ignorance in their eye-rolling makes me want to head-butt them in the nose, throw an elbow to their throat and then ask them how that experience was!  Enlightening I hope.
  There are many English speaking teachers/travelers from every corner of the English speaking world here in Korea.  But there is something strange about coming across them in the streets... they won't make eye contact or even acknowledge your presence half the time.  It is if seeing another person from their native tongue is ruining the experience for them.  The analogy I used with my friend was, "An astronaut rockets to Mars only to find a colony of humans already inhabiting the area."
  If these EWT's were truly enlightend they'd have gained a little humility in their travels and learned how to interact with people.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tornadoes in my mind

              The spring afternoon was nothing out of the ordinary.  Patches of high clouds dotted the relatively blue sky.  People piled on to buses and subways, some waiting impatiently for their carpool to get off work.  It was a normal uneventful day.
                I was walking towards my kitchen sink, about to wash off a Braeburn apple I just purchased from the local produce stand.  Audie always make sure to save the cream of the crop for yours truly.  I’m a creature of habit and I have my rituals and routines.  I’d ride my Trek 21 speed from work on exactly the same route every day.  I’d pull off at Audie’s stand in time to hear his latest off-color joke and pick up my snack.
                While I was washing my apple I started to notice a subtle change in the color of the sky.  It was close to sunset.  The oranges and reds slowly overtook the cool blues that inhabited the sky earlier.  The sparse clouds began to multiply and collide together forming an impenetrable blanket.  At first I thought it to be a normal spring storm.  I made my way to the sliding glass door which overlooked my modest sized backyard.  But the real treasure of the view was that of the harbor in the distance.  Small cutters and fishing boats were scattered throughout.  It seemed like a few of the smaller boats had decided to forgo their evening sail with the impending storm.  I opened the sliding glass door to take in the crisp ocean breeze.  Nothing was out of the ordinary.
                My apple core lied in the waste basket as I finished up my shower.  As I was toweling off noticing my ever increasing bald spot I heard something fall in the kitchen.  It was followed by a rush of air down the hall.  That gust cut through me as I stood naked and semi-wet.  Goosebumps instantly covered my body.  With a towel wrapped around my waist I walked into the open spaced living area.  The waste basket had blown over and the remnants of my apple lied near the dining room floor.
                As I walked to pick up the small mess I glanced outside.  I don’t know if my first feelings were that of shock, denial, fear or utter surprise?  But I know they all rushed through me in a split second.  Across the other side of the harbor the oranges and reds of the setting sun were being devoured by black ominous clouds.  I know shock came over me because I remember thinking, “These are clouds you’d see in the mid-west, not in California!”
                Just as that thought entered my mind the funnel cloud began to form.  I’m no expert in weather by any means, but I knew this was a rare occurrence.  I forgot about how cold I was and race down the hall to grab my video camera.  I stood at the edge of the sliding glass door filming as it touched down some fifteen miles from my backyard.  I felt reasonably calm about my own safety.  There was a large body of water in-between myself and the tornado.  In the same instance I felt unbelievable sadness for the people who were in its path.  The camera continued to roll… it seemed like an eternity but realistically I was only standing there for seconds when I noticed something strange.  There seemed to be no destruction in the wake of the twister.  And the flying debris that is usually associated with these natural wonders was non-existent.
                Baffled as I was the unfolding events left no time for my brain to process what was occurring.  I now feared for my own safety.  The less than destructive tornado was still an intimidating and awesome sight; especially when it began to cross the harbor and headed straight for me.  The boats seemed to be unharmed as it made its way quickly across the harbor.  The waves hardly seemed affected by the surging winds.  The winds were so tremendous my waste basket tipped over again and my hanging plants began to sway as if a frequented earthquake was taking place.  I closed the sliding door but never took my cameras attention away from the approaching anomaly.
                It was too late to run anywhere truly safe.  So I did the best I could and braced myself in a doorway.  Like I’ve mentioned, I live in California, it was grilled into me as a young boy.  Earthquake, safest place is under a doorway.  They’re structurally sound and will keep most of the ceiling from falling on you.  Granted, this wasn’t an earthquake but old habits die hard.
                At this point my camera was on the oak hallway floor, more or less pointed down the hall towards the sliding glass door.  I felt the barometric pressure in the house increase tremendously.  It felt like I had just dove twenty feet down in a pool of water.  My ears popped and felt plugged.  The tornado was right on top of my house.  I blacked out…
                When I came to, my house was bare.  I mean everything except the structure was gone.  Bowls, cups, plates, my flat screen T.V.  No, not the flat screen!  Pictures, even my waste basket was nowhere to be found.  I had no clothes in the house except for the towel that was loosely wrapped around me.  Everything that wasn’t part of the structure of the house was gone.  Or so I thought.  I saw on the dining room floor, the apple core.  My plants swung gently from the ceiling.  I investigated the rest of the house.  The garage was empty.  No car, no bicycle.  Nothing.  Even the light switches and fixtures, and as far as I could tell, even the wiring and plumbing just vanished.
                I walked outside clinching my towel tight.  My modesty was still intact at least.  There was an eerie calm and stillness in the air.  I stood just behind the large Sycamore tree in the front yard.  Partly to hide my naked torso, as well as to hide in part of fear.  I had no idea what had just transpired and what to expect next.  Then the loud buzzing in my head began.  There was a pressure inside me similar to what had just happened inside my house.  I knelt down on the freshly cut grass anticipating the inevitable blackout…
                I’m not sure if the following events were that of a lucid dream or a reality that I personally witnessed.  But I know that that day the tornado came was absolutely real.  I know this to be a fact.  Across the world, infrastructures were unharmed yet possessions and technology were wiped from the earth.  People slowly stared coming out of their houses and haring their experiences with each other.  Slowly information from surrounding towns, cities, states and eventually countries came in.  All told of the same story.  A ‘selective tornado’ I heard one person call it.  We slowly started to build our communities back up with necessary essentials.  Clothing and food were of top priority.  It took years to get there, but we managed.  But I heard nobody mention what I had experienced after I blacked out the second time in my front lawn.  I would hold that secret close to me until now.
                It felt like I had awoken, but my mind was foggy and I was not in my front yard anymore.  I was in the middle of Time Square.  New York City.  And if that wasn’t strange enough I had pajama tops and bottoms on.  I guess they’d have been something Ozzie would have worn to bed back in the 50s show ‘Ozzie and Harriet’.  It’s funny, but my attire was the first thing I noticed.  Then Time Square, then the lack of people on the streets.  When I say, “lack of people” I mean no one.  Not a taxi, not a tourist, or a half-naked cowboy singing country songs.  It was quiet.  Then a door opened high above my head.  High above the buildings.  It was the sound of an enormous mechanized door.  As it opened, the abundant white light flooded the ground.  Something was descending from the light.  I couldn’t make it out at first.  The closer it got the more it began to resemble a formation of soldiers.  But as they reached the ground they weren’t dressed in BDU’s but rather in a variety of business suits.  Men and women in business attire.  I was flabbergasted.  And I found myself at a loss for words.  I couldn’t utter a single word.  A single sound.  I approached the formation but no one averted their eyes from ready front.  I got closer and was about to grab one of them to gain their focus but I recoiled in horror.  The woman I was approaching had no moth.  I looked from a distance at all the others… all the same.  Where their mouths should have been was just skin.  I wanted to scream and then I realized…
                The formation did not move, but I could hear in the distance more and more mechanized doors opening.  I had a vision of this happening in every village, town and city across the world.  It was if I was watching a TV screen inside of my head.  The pressure began to grow.
                I’m lying in a bed.  No more Time Square.  No more formations.  It looks and feels like my room but something isn’t right.  I can’t wiggle my toes.  I can’t move my legs, my arms… I can barely blink.  I’m frozen in my bed.  I’m frozen by fear.  Something is in my room!  SomeTHING'S are in my room!  Those lanky gray bodies!  Aaaaahhhh!  I want to scream at them!  Those damn black eyes!  They’re all knowing and all encompassing!  I fear them more than the devil himself!  One approaches my bed and leans in closer to me.  Its face is nearly pressed against mine.  The long, now bluish silver finger touches my forehead… Darkness…

So, that’s basically a dream I had the other night.

Story (dream) written by,
Joshua J. Niehues  (9/15/2010)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rainy Days

I'm a lucky guy to have such a great family
It's been raining pretty steadily the past week and some of the teachers here seem to be affected by it.  Not that anyone has lashed out at each other, but it's their general demeanor.  It's almost as if it's a perpetual Monday.  After I finished eating lunch I went down stairs to the corner market and bought a coffee and a piece of chocolate.  I just sat underneath an umbrella and relaxed.  Just watching people and cars pass me by and listening to the eb and flow of the surging summer storm.  It reminded me of an early Sunday morning show on CBS.  I believe it was called, 'Sunday Mornings with Charles Koralt'.  At the end of every show there would be a peaceful scenary; a snow covered cabin with white fluttering smoke streaming from the chimney or a close up of an early spring creek full of snow melt.  I felt like I was watching that today and it made me smile.  As a kid I always wished I could've been at those picturesque places.  Today I was.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


 Next week is my 1st week with my own class.  I've been learning the way things work around here.  The curriculum is very similar to that of back home.  The library is stocked full of books any elementary student in the States would recognize.  The children here put in extraordinary hours towards school.  Many of my kinder students have schedules that would rival that of a grad student working on their thesis!  An ordinary day has them in my class by 0930.  They get a twenty min break and thirty min lunch.  We end class at 1430 and their day is just beginning.  Many go straight to a music school where they learn various instruments.  Some of the girls are enrolled in ballet where they hone their skills for a few hours a day.  Soccer is big here and boys and girls play.  The homework that we are instructed to give them can be anywhere between 2-3hours a night.  I'm sure most of these kids don't get to bed this side of midnight.  Remember these kids are only 5-6 years old.  The older kids that come in the afternoon have all those extra curricular's, plus Korean elementary school.  No wonder the US lags behind in so many educational categories.  Oh and the government and parents are backing teachers and education.
  Ok, I promise I won't go into a political rant, I don't have the answers by any means.  Well... maybe I'll make one small comment.  I always come back to a quote I saw back in college.  It just sort of stuck in my head... it just made sense to me.
  "The only way tomorrow's problems can be solved today is by getting today's population ready to face them."  -Arthur F. Corey
  I guess the debate would be, "Well, how do you prepare them?'  By the time the debate was over or one side ran out of air I'm guessing the problems would be many.

On another note, I've been wondering how this experience is going to change me and if I'll be able to have the perspective to recognize it.  I look back on my life and analysis important personal events and most of the time it is hard for me to differentiate from who I was and who I became.  It's easy to say that I've matured in some aspects of life but the ideas, concepts, and beliefs I've held, discarded, and looked at with new eyes are harder to pinpoint.  We all continue to evolve and sometimes it happens without us even knowing it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010



Here are some pictures from around Bundang-Gu, Seongnam City.  There are also some photos of my co-workers and some of my students. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Korea wk 1

  Though I may be more than 5,000 miles away from all my friends and family technology shrinks the distance considerabily.  I'm not as nervous being here in a country where the majority of the people I encounter don't speak my language.  It has never ceased to amaze me that amount of communication you can do with hand jestures and body language.  Other than the language barrier and indicipherable signage, life here is pretty much the same as back in California.  When it comes down to it, we all need to eat and drink, we all laugh and cry, and we enjoy our family and friends.  Too bad we couldn't teach that very simple model to our politicians and religious leaders.
  Lesson 1:  Don't plug in your American surge protector into a convertor that is plugged into a Korean surge protector... you will overload the circuit as my friend Azzurra found out.  She blacked out her room on such an experiment and like any good friend I tried to do the same.  But as for me my surge protector switch was in the off position before I plugged it in.  Once the switch went into the on position... well we both jumped.  Only plug an American power strip into a direct wall outlet!
  Lesson 2:  Buses don't drive a circular route.  The other day Azzurra, Sammy, and I rode the 51 bus out of Bundang all the way to the end of the line, where we thought it would circle back to where we originally got on.  Not the case.  It stopped at the Bus depot miles from our rooms and without emotion the hand jesture from the Bus driver translated as, "Yea, end of the line.  It's very obvious you American's don't know where you're going. Off my bus!"  Luckily Azzurra and I were there because I think Sammy would have curled into the fetal position were she would have been found days later by someone walking their dog.  We walked about a mile or so and got a Taxi back to our general area.  It won't be the last time I get lost over here... but you're never truly lost if you can find your way back.
  I'm going to try and post on this blog once, maybe twice a week.  It won't be riddled with explicit details but more a general overview on certain aspects of my year here in Korea.  I'll start writing about the school I teach at next week, since I won't start teaching my own class for a few days.