Settling in

This is what I posted on my other blog

A broad abroad

Yesterday, I was in a mood, and it hit me: this is the reality of moving abroad.

Moving abroad seems to hit (me) in stages. Stage 1 is AH MAH GAH MY LIFE IS SO MUCH BETTER HERE THAN IT WAS AT HOME, which is true because back home a perfect storm of external factors were brewing on US soil to make the past three months really really shite for ya girl.

–except for having some of the best friends in the world, hands down. And as someone who’s done a little traveling, I can say that with even more certainty. Being home was such an amazing chance to reconnect and bond with friends whom I will never ever give up, sorry guys you’re stuck with me–



Stage 2:…..cracks in…

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Doha so-fah

So about 8 days ago, I upended my life again, got on a plane, and 12 hours later I landed in Doha, Qatar.

After waiting at the airport for a while, I got sectioned off from the other noobs and taken to my accommodations–

When we promptly got into an accident.

My driver–by the way, in the first three days that I got to Doha, I said the words “my driver” more than I’d ever said in my entire life–

My driver suddenly slowed so as not to ram into the back of a car that had hit the breaks, and as a reward his car was promptly slammed into.


It was fine; everyone was fine; his car was fine.

On we went to my accommodations, an apartment that was apparently in the desert version of the trap–corner stores out the wazoo and mofos with nothing to lose wandering the streets, although he told me I might be moving. Lol might.

See, my school has some kind of weird set-up, where you can either win the housing lottery and live like Drake in the city center, in towering buildings that overlook the Arabian Sea if you are on a high enough floor,

Or you live in the damn trap.

Usually they stick the single men in the trap, but for some reason they also stuck me there. Maybe they just know me…I’m happy to live near the single men😉😉

“Wait,” the driver told me, as he parked and left the car running in the 100+ degree (fahrenheit) heat.

Thirty minutes later he reappeared.

“Wait,” he told me again.

He disappeared again.

All this time, I was texting my good friend A, who already lives in Doha about meeting for dinner. “I don’t know if I’ll make it,” I told her. “They have me waiting in a car.”

More time passes….my driver reappears. “Your apartment is not clean….wait.”

My name must have got changed to wait on that plane I’m thinking, but if there’s anything this summer has taught me it’s how to chill out in inconvenient ass situations,

so I sat and waited, periodically plugging my phone to my macbook to give it a little charge–naturally, alone in a foreign country with my living situation unsorted in the dark and extreme heat my only real concern is my phone dying.

Eventually another man comes to the car and knocks on the door, gesturing for me to roll the window down.


He introduces me and tells me he’s driving me to a hotel for the night and that my apartment will be ready tomorrow.

So we go to the hotel and get checked in. Funny enough, the restaurant where my friend wanted to meet for dinner was in the hotel anyway, so with the help of overly helpful doormen I was able to drop my luggage in the room and meet up with the ladies.

Wrecked and exhausted, I drop my tired bones on the bed after dinner and promptly drop into a deep and restful sleep…for all of four hours,

At about 3 a.m., my eyes spring open. “It’s 8 p.m., psycho!” my circadian rhythms were telling me. “Let’s do stuff!”

For the next four hours, I dicked around on my phone and stressed out about it dying–unprepared traveler that I am, I never bring adaptors–then I dragged my corpse out of bed, picked out my most professional “nervous about my new job” outfit and headed to that free hotel breakfast.

My driver came for me promptly at 7:10, and we headed to the cafeteria of my new school, where all the teachers were downing instant coffee and trying to stay awake. I happily joined them. We had a two-hour meet and greet planned, which was both incredibly helpful and incredibly “I could still be sleeping.”

At 12:30, they rushed me from work and over to the hotel so that I could check out, then I went to my new digs in the trap, although I was told again that I might be moving the next day to the de-luxe apartment in the sky.

In the meantime, though, I got settled in the hood and met my neighbor, M, this cool ass fellow teacher. A picked me up and took me to the mall so that I could get some swanky ass work clothes (it’s Doha; sue me), then the three of us ended up having dinner at Vellaggio mall, which is made to look like a cross between a street in Venice and the Bellagio in Vegas.

The next day, they actually followed through on their word and moved me into this fancy ass apartment. Yo, your girl got four bathrooms now, fuck with me.

Slight damper, because nothing in life is perfect, these swank ass apartments are infested with roaches. Thankfully the heaviest infestation in mine is in the maid’s room (does not actually include maid), and it could be worse–one of my coworkers has an infestation in her fridge. They eat her cheese.

*Pause to gag*

The first week was full of meeting new people and getting too drunk, which is odd considering it’s the Middle East, but that doesn’t keep westerners from alcohol.

We ended the week on Thursday (because the workweek here is Sunday – Thursday) with a coworker happy hour. Naturally, I skipped dinner and got shitfaced off bargain $6 drinks and woke up with a phone full of selfies, a bit of chagrin…and no passport.

That’s right. On the lovely cab ride to school (went in with coworkers to try to do some extra prep for the first day of classes), I noticed that I was minus one the most important document in my life at this moment in time.

However, I have had a lot of practice at being extremely buddhist this summer and keeping calm when the house is on fire. I began texting everyone I was with and A advised me to call the hotel we were at. One major difference between Doha and Korea: The ability to call places because English is spoken.

Phone calls were made, and after a couple hours spent of me trying not to shit myself, my precious passport was found and recovered. No harm done.

And that, ladies and gents, was my first week in Doha.

This is going to be a fun year.

Going home

If you want to know the absolute dirty truth, I’m so scared of coming back to the states. The states itself. After two years away, I’m really like this person who doesn’t really know much about home except that people get shot and robbed all of the time.

Abroad, you can generally trust people. In my experience, (with some exceptions of course) generally you can meet people and spend time with them and it’s all good. You can step into a new country and onto the metro with your luggage and trust that you’ll be OK in most places (probably mainly because I’ve been traveling in east and southeastAsia, which is just generally one of the safest regions in the world, Manila aside).

I land in New York in eight days and I’ll take the subway to Brooklyn and it’s going to be after dark. I am terrified. There are guns in America, and people use them. Plus did anyone see that episode of girls where Hannah fell asleep on the train and woke up and her bag was stolen off her sleeping body? Ugh. I don’t wanna die!!! Haha.

I left Korea march 2nd, but I haven’t made it home yet. Right now I’m hanging out in Dubai, sleeping in and contemplating going to the gym (as one does).  I’ve got a lot of free time on my hands and I’ve been thinking a lot, and there’s no running from the fact that I am simply scared to come home. I’m scared of it all…scared of the good times ending, scared of being robbed or shot, scared of coming home and being out of synch, scared of coming home and eating crappy American food and gaining weight/developing digestive issues. I miss kimchi and Galbi tang. This heavy Arabic food makes my tummy hurt.

I know it’s silly, and that coming home also has so many good aspects, mainly seeing all of the people I’ve loved and missed for two years. Meeting babies, actually attending weddings. Going to birthday parties, watching wedding videos, and just hugging everyone I haven’t seen in two years that much tighter.  I know it, and I absolutely cannot wait for those moments with the people I love.

But it’s a mixed bag, is all I’m saying. Fear of the unknown, and I guess after two years away even your home country can become a bit unknown.


I went to Hong Kong last week, and that’s where I rang in the new year. Oh, but it wasn’t glamorous. It was actually me being the fifth wheel, me crying a little, me rushing down 16 flights of stairs to catch the fireworks, me eating (authentic!) Chinese food, me drunkenly calling my aunt to whine.

It was great because it was honest.

You don’t always want to party and go nuts.

I rang in the new year feeling a little….prickly. A little uncomfortable, and a lotta bit in my head.

I’ve been traveling alone recently, but I went to HK with a friend, and I would definitely say that over the past year D has become a close friend, but still this trip taught me a lot about myself because it taught me how much I don’t want to show who I am.

I don’t have a problem with who I am, mind you. I’m me, and I’m a little morose, and I tend to overthink and I feel self conscious about my hair and I like to read a lot and I don’t always (or ever) want to talk, and that’s fine.

Things affect me. Things make me want to cry. Things make me want to hole up in my apartment for days, or at least for the rest of the night, and just sit alone in my own stuff and feel things through until I can face the world again with the face I’m comfortable showing.

But over the week of this trip I was so damned uncomfortable because I was with this girl for an entire week and over the course of that week I had to, inadvertently, unavoidably, honestly and truly show who I am.

I don’t mind being who I am.
And I don’t mind telling who I am–I’ve been doing that for five solid years with this blog.
But I do mind those moments when I’m stressed and overwhelmed and feeling ugly and feeling sad and feeling irrationally scared–I mind showing them. I mind when there’s nowhere for me to retreat, when I have to do the ugly work of knowing that it’s showing on my face, of knowing that there’s nowhere to run and how can I sort this out and will this person accept these feelings that I can’t help and don’t mean to hoist on them?

It all sounds way too intense, but that’s kind of the thing. For the past two years I’ve been playing at who I am, playing at a newer, lighter version of me: BryoneyLite, 2.0. Stay in my square, stay in my safe space. Funny how being in such a foreign environment, a place where everything external is generally uncomfortable, makes it so easy to stay inside my box internally.

I’ve been brave these past two years. I’ve traveled on my own, and I’ve faced down many fears. But inside I’ve stayed squarely in my box, stayed committed to the face I put on in public. BryoneyLite. Not prone to depressions or melancholia of any sort. Reader, “writerLite” (no actual writing done).

But that’s not me. I’m as cheery as I am morose; as motivated as I am depressed.

I want to be me again, and I want out of this square little box.

I think I did well in 2014. I’m drinking less, I’m eating more vegetables, I’m sleeping more. I go to the gym four times per week, I do face masks once or twice each week and I’ve saved a little money. I’ve even managed to get a couple things published that I’m really proud of, though I’m no closer to writing that novel (oh well).

But I’m going numb inside, and I’m losing connection. I’m losing my creativity, and I’m starting to really believe that there’s nothing about me that says my life shouldn’t be ordinary. More and more, I’m feeling like a face in the crowd.

So in 2015, what I really want, is just out of this box. I want to feel again. I want to feel intensely, like I did when I was 18 (but maybe not exactly like that because it was a bit much). I just want to feel. And i want to write. I want to write something for me, something that is beautiful, a story that is moving and touching, that I see through from start to finish. Something I can be proud of.

I want out of this box.

Well-Cared For Kids

I take it back.

I take it all back.

I think the universe is punishing me for ever having dared give up on this whole writing dream of mine. These children are awful. At any given moment at my job, there is the spittle of a student who has just the worst damn lisp in history all over me. On Wednesdays, we eat lunch with the kids and I can see the spit flying from his lips to my salad.

When he’s not spitting he’s screaming, either in outrage or excitement. Either way, it’s blistering to my eardrums.

I hear their voices ringing in my ears on the weekends, these awful children. They have a chant: “My mommy said that jajjangmyeon is not a delicious.” (Jajjangmyeon is korean chinese food, it’s noodles in black bean sauce–MSG loaded and actually quite delicious, but that’s not the point). In the dead of night, when all is silent and I’m drifting off to sleep, their shrill voices float by my ears. “My mommy said that jajjangmyeon is not a delicious. My. MOMMY. SAID. THAT. JAJJANGMYEON. IS NOT A DELICIOUS. YEAH YEAH YEAH.” It’s haunting.

When they’re not spitting on me, screaming at me, or chanting the chants that will imprint my soul and haunt my very being after school has finished, they’re fucking bickering.

Good gawd, I never realized how annoying bickering is. All day it’s TEACHERRR! and I DON’T LIKE JASON! and DON’T DO THAT PLEASE. All. Damn. Day. I remember fighting with my brother when I was a kid, and I remember how angry my mother used to get. I never got it back then, but damned if I don’t get it now–it’s the worst thing ever to be stuck in a room with: the sound, the sight, and the general feel of it all fucking SUCKS. It’s so draining.

Then there are the emotional issues. X student is friends with Y student, but he’s actually really competitive with Y student so can you manage X student’s emotions so he doesn’t feel bad? (uhh…?). T student wants to be friends with X and Y student and is jealous that X and Y students play so well together but actually T student is the screaming spitter, but still can you make sure they all play together? (uhh….?). Q student is actually cool as hell but the only girl so she’s gonna demand all your attention simply because you’re two girls lost among the madness so can you give your full attention to her whilst managing the three boys? (uhh…?). Ah, and finally, Y student is an overworked six year old who after this will go to piano, art and taekwondo; he’s moody and exhausted because of his grueling schedule, and he’s also a bit of a compulsive liar, so can you get a ton of work done while he’s constantly interrupting you with his swinging moods of extreme silliness and pissed offedness from thinking about his schedule? (uh…sure?).

I only have four students, not 20, so it’s not a lot to complain about really.

But the universe sure showed me for ever thinking of giving up writing.

Still, I can’t help but think, when I see these extremely cute little kids in their burberry coats, with their expensive lessons to which they’re being shuffled back and forth, that they’re so well cared for. And I’d like to have a couple of those well cared for kids for myself one day. Not the brats through.

Find something you love and…

2 hours ago, it was 11 something and I was excited about getting nine hours of sleep. I feel like my body needs it. My schedule has picked up a LOT lately, which is great, because I’m definitely still paying for Bali.

But now it’s 1:17 a.m. in Korea, and I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m just not that tired after all.

I should be. I woke up early, worked out for an hour, worked a full day, and then did an hour class after that. On the way home, finally, I was thinking about how not tired I am, and how I regret having picked up dinner and depriving myself from the pleasure of cooking for myself.

See, the thing is that even though my days are long, I don’t hate them. And even though I spend my time working, really actually working, not deskwarming but actually interacting with students for 8-9 hours a day, I often find myself feeling energized.

I think I really do love being a teacher. They say find something you love and never work a day in your life, right? I don’t know. This doesn’t really feel like work. I mean, it’s a place I have to go every day, but like you can’t be too serious once you’re there. I laugh, like genuinely laugh, like caught-off-guard LOL because it was actually funny laugh like once an hour. Because these kids are crazy and hilarious. My kindies have gotten into the habit of sniffing me, and so they regularly get up from their seats to grab my arm and take deep inhalations from their little diaphragms. Then they proclaim to me that I smell “a lot good and a little bad.” It’s completely absurd. But it’s really funny.

And I never know where the day’s going to take me. I have two boys that I work with, and even though we have a textbook, a lot of times we stray from the curriculum. One day they broke down for me the politics behind the two-party system in Korea, and the attitudes of the older and younger generations toward Korea’s leaders. The next, they wanted to hear and tell ghost stories, then they ran out to one kid’s mom because they were scared, because they’re only 10 Korean age (which makes them 9).

In contrast to this, I have the fact that I had six solid months free and didn’t write a damn word. I write, but I feel tired afterward. I do it, but I power through it. I think about the environment I would have as a writer. I could work at a newspaper/magazine and be surrounded by sardonic, cynical, world-weary, oh so clever adults. Or I could work at home by my damn self and descend into madness in the dreary and silence of my own mind.

I honestly don’t think this writing thing is for me, not to make a career of. I feel like I made a choice a long time ago that I didn’t want to live in my head. That it was actually really important for me as a stable and happy person to get the hell out of my head. Looking back, that was probably the day I gave up writing as a potential career, realistically. Because where else would I reside, really, but in my head as a writer?

And here I have teaching. And it’s fresh, and new. And i’m up and standing and moving and laughing and sometimes being stern but other times chasing little children around a play gym. And i’m not being read and revered by millions, but I’m teaching a handful of kids how to think critically and express themselves and damnit, that’s fulfilling and satisfying as hell.

I really like what I do right now.

Mastering your emotions

Although it’s morning/afternoon for folks in the Western Hemisphere, it’s past midnight for me and I’m up contemplating my emotions, wondering what I’ve done.

For my entire life, my emotions have ruled me. Up until maybe a year ago, I was obsessive, passionate, manic at times, depressed at others. I was always riding the highest high or the lowest low. I could feel EVERYTHING, my skin was always prickling and my hairs were always standing on end.

I wasn’t so much creative as I was seized by a torrent of words that would rush through me, a storm started by some sort of emotional state. I was writing sporadically, but I was always “going through something,” so I was also writing quite regularly.

I felt like there was something wrong with me and I hated it. I hated myself for not having a hold on my emotions. I hated the lack of restraint and fantasized that one day I would be a woman of composure, one whose cool was hardly ever broken. And these days, I’m nearly there.

Living in Korea for 1 + years means that when I’m awake and “going through something,” it’s most likely 3 a.m. for my loved ones, so I gotta solve my own problems. At first, this sent me into a tailspin, but over time, little-by-little, it has evolved into a level of calm that I would describe as “can’t be bothered.” There is a knowledge that the darker feelings are there, but since I know I don’t really have the support system of best friends and mentors and confidantes to help me work through them, they never quite pierce the surface.

Funny thing is that in the past, I would always try to get over my breakups by talking about them 24/7, and my cousin would always tell me that if I talked about them less I would feel them less. How funny that she was right about not only that, but feelings too.

So now I live this existence where I’m no longer swept away; I’m no longer marooned on an island surrounded by a sea of my own feelings. I feel angry sometimes….but it’s not rage. It’s more of an intellectual annoyance that dies out after a few quips and some simple statements aimed to directly cut through to the heart of the matter. I feel depressed sometimes….but again, it’s more in my head than my heart. I think thoughts like “I am feeling depressed right now. I am not a happy woman today.” But then I binge watch a TV show or read a novel, and I can’t be bothered to feel my “depression” so intensely.

I am, more or less, exactly the woman I set out to make myself in college, and you know what?

I worry that along the way I ruined something that was key to my essential Bryoney-ness. I barely know this person who thinks sarcastic thoughts and communicates her feelings in a succinct and concise way. Years ago, I felt like the only way I could express the torrent of emotions pouring through me was with writing. Now, I go through most of my days feeling completely uninspired, and asking myself when it’s OK to give up on a dream.

I feel less and less convinced that I’ll ever actually write that novel, and I wonder if this whole haphazard writer “dream” didn’t get started because it was just the first thing I can remember anyone saying I was good at, and I fixated on it.

Sometimes I think I’d like to be a chef. But then again, they say don’t ruin your hobbies by making them into careers.