This much twitching I would notice for sure

Checking you out!

My Writing Fiction Course recommends that if you aren’t already doing so, have a writing journal where you compile notes and observations about people and your surroundings.

I have been doing this in a diary form for a long time.

writing

My friends could also tell you that I’m always taking a screen-shot of funny things they text or  writing hilarious things they said down.

I’m much more of a dialogue person that anything else. When I read or watch a movie, I focus mostly on dialogue and story. If it’s not good, I don’t enjoy it.

What this means for my writing though, is that it’s harder for me to give the reader enough detail to imagine the situation. Everyone always tells me MORE DETAIL!

Something I need to focus on is writing more about smells, appearance, and touch. It’s not just the words, but also how people convey these words that is important.

Recently my friend was talking to me about the fact her faces twitches when she is nervous. She says she sees it on her students’ faces too when they have to talk to her in English.

Really?? I’ve never noticed that, I told her.

This much twitching I would notice for sure

This much twitching I would notice for sure

I normally hear it more it their voices, maybe see the panic in the eyes or feel it after I high five their sweaty palm for talking to me.

But facial twitching… interesting!

One of the reasons I really enjoy BBC Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch is that his power of observation are amazing. I wish my observational skills were that good! But I suppose, it will only improve with practice.

So now I’m off! Going to sit in a public place and people watch.

sherlock

say what

Reflections on Truths and Lies in Fiction Writing

The first class of Writing Fiction is writing about lies and truths (see previous post)

We were then supposed to read other people’s paragraphs and answer these questions:

  • Is there anything that distinguishes the fictitious elements?
  • Are there common elements that you and your fellow writers write about as ‘facts’?
  • Do any of these passages suggest stories to you?

You know, sometimes it was really hard to tell what was fictitious and what was not when I was reading other people’s paragraphs. Everyone wrote about really different things, but I thought that some people’s paragraphs felt like it could ALL  be true.

I think the line between fiction and nonfiction can be really grey depending on the topic/details.

I think what made things stand out as being fictitious is when it seemed really over the top, something that was just TOO incredible or coincidental to believe. But perhaps I’m wrong and it was the truth, and something else mundane was the lie.

I’ve had some CRAZY things happen to me in Korea that when I try to explaining to people at home, they just can’t understand or believe.

say what

Actually, the paragraphs I wrote for this assignment were about my life in Korea, but I twisted it a lot for the lying paragraphs. But had I not told you most of it was a lie, would you believe it’s true? Most people don’t know a lot about Korea, so I could tell you “this is true!” and you might believe me.

The same goes for talking to people in Korea about America. For example, as a joke I tell my students I’m friends with Obama. They always says “Teacher!! REALLY? No!! LIAR!” but then I shake my head (no smiling or laughing) and say, “Yes! Really!”

Barney, minus the drinking at school, ha

Barney, minus the drinking at school, ha

Because I look so serious, and I am from D.C., some of them actually believe me! Or, at least, they have enough doubt in their mind to ask my co-teacher if I am lying or not.

obama dancing gif

This is so epic. Whoever made this, I love you!

It seems easier to lie about things you know something about, versus something you know nothing about, at least for me.

I think this is important for fiction writing. If you want to lend more weight to your writing you should add details of “truthfulness” even if your story is entirely fictitious.

I don’t think there are many common elements that the other writers and I are using as facts because all of our paragraphs are SO different. There are so many  different topics, different points of view, and different styles. Even if you gave two writers the same 3 lies, 1 truth to work with, the paragraphs they would write would differ and I might not think they actually have the same truth.

Actually, this seems like an interesting experiment. Give a group of writers the same 3 lies, 1 truth and see what they come up with. Then ask other people unrelated to the task to figure out the truth and the lies.

experiment

A lot of these paragraphs seem like they could be short stories or  that they could even developed into longer stories. Even just writing my two paragraphs I felt like I could maybe turn it into a larger story of some kind if I gave it more thought…. We shall see!

Apparently I like writing, but I don’t do enough of it

I just started participating in an online course from Future learn. It’s a Fiction Writing course and will last 8 weeks. For more info, go here.

I haven’t done any online courses (#ds106 4 life), or writing courses since my last year of Uni in 2011. 4 years ago! CRAZY!  Time to kick myself into gear and be creative.

The first assignment is to write 1 paragraph with 3 lies, 1 truth and write 1 paragraph 3 truths, 1 lie. The purpose is to realize the relationship between fact and fiction.

Here’s what I wrote:

I hate where I live. This city is comprised strictly of grimy factories and giant apartment complexes that house the workers who slave away in the factories. The city has made a halfhearted attempt to plant trees around to help beautify the city, but the trees are scraggly and wasting away under the noxious air. If I didn’t wear a face mask, I would be choked by the pollutants and yellow dust that drifts over from China. My city likes to blame China for all of its air quality problems, not their stinking factories, but everyone knows better.

How did I end up here? Money. I needed the money. Even though working here pays only a pittance, it’s better than what I could make at home. At home, in a land far, far away, the economy is in the toilet. No jobs, no prospects, no future. I thought this place would be an adventure, and I guess I was right. I could have never dreamed that moving here would alter my life so dramatically. But has it changed me for the better? I’m not sure.

~~

Can you tell what are the lies and what are the truths?

 

When a Korean criticizes the artwork you did just for fun

I showed my painting I did the other week to some Korean adult students I teach and that’s the first thing one of them said: “Terrible. It looks so childish. I did that when I was 10 years old.”

Seriously?

My friend Kate also showed a picture of our painting we did that night to one of her Korean co-teacher and the Korean said, “I looked at the paintings and they looked like elementary school work….”

As Kate put it: “Many Koreans don’t see the point of doing something unless it’s 100% or a masterpiece. The point of the evening was to drink and see what happens, not drink and vomit a Michelangelo.”

Exactly! If only I had a gif of someone vomiting a Michelangelo… anyone want to get on making that?

I find many Koreans are blunt. Too blunt. They often make comments about your appearance (weight, clothes, blemishes) and about other things which might be acceptable in their culture, but to a westerner it’s just rude.

One story I always remember is a friend of mine, Sara, told me how at lunch her female Korean coworker who had terrible English tried to tell Sara was a lot fatter than Korean women. Then, to make the point abundantly clear, when they later happened to be in the bathroom at the same time, this woman actually leaned over and grabbed Sara’s stomach and said “See! Fat!”

Sara isn’t even fat! She’s not bone thin like many Koreans, but she’s a normal size!

Korea, you’re killing me.

Blonde Moments: Buffalo

We all have so called “dumb blonde” moments where you say something really ridiculous and/or dumb and people laugh (either in their head or out loud if they’re jerks.)

And some of us have more of these moments then others.

An example from the past:

Talking with a teacher about where she is from.

T: I grew up in India but I studied in Buffalo.

Me: Oh, cool. My mom went to the University of Colorado.

T: (blank look on face–)

Me: Wait… You mean Buffalo, NY! I was thinking Colorado Buffalos for some reason, they’re the school mascot for the University of Colorado….

T: (Still blank look on her face)

Me:..ok I’ll just crawl in a hole now….

Copy-cat

One of my middle schools just had a school festival and during that time a bunch of student art work was on display.

There was a whole section of tree art done by 1st graders (7th grade USA) and this one picture particularly stood out for me with it’s vivid contrast of Pink and Green.

This picture is poor quality and taken with my phone but you can get an idea of what it looked like.

Fast forward to a water color painting party with my friends. I decided to copy that painting colors and image because I really admired it. So here’s my version of the tree.

Haven’t tried painting with watercolors in years! Fun experiment.

I’m not sure if I can track down the student who made the original painting since I don’t teach them and the name is really blurred, but if I can I want to tell them their art inspired me.

I bet in a million years they would have never thought the random foreign teacher at their school would like their art so much she would copy it.

Best thing I’ve ever bought in Korea

Hands down, the best thing I’ve ever bought in Korea was this bike I got second hand from an English teacher who was leaving Korea.

I can’t tell you how much time I’ve saved biking to and from work and also money from biking to and from downtown instead of taking the  bus or a taxi.

Taxis are actually quite cheap in Korea compared to many countries like the U.S. or England. But still a 5,000-10,000 won taxi ride (roughly $5 -10 USD) adds up over time.

Buses are also cheap as well, about 1,100 won ($1) to use, but normally they are quite crowded, especially during rush hour. Also, the bus drivers slam on their breaks frequently which means that all the times I’m standing (which is most of the time) I end up flying into some Korean.  Yay~

Wouldn’t be surprised if this happened in Korea ^

I’ve rented a car a couple of times in Korea to do road trips with friends and while I don’t mind driving on the highway and in small towns, driving in my city is ridiculous.

Korean drivers don’t always follow “the rules of the road” especially the taxi cab drivers who cut in and out of lanes and drive through red lights.  It’s really stressful to drive in the city because I know if I got in an accident, the police would favor the Korean person over me even if it wasn’t my fault.

 

I still miss my car, but if I can’t have my car my bike is the best option. Plus  color coordinated bike outfits are fun.

#tbt Talking about Bikes vs. Cars with my German Friend Marieke

This blog is dusty

Wow.

Apparently it’s been over a year since I’ve last blogged. Where did the time go? I think I must have been abducted my aliens….

I’ve been busy, sure, but one year without posting is a little ridiculous….

Sorry everyone!

Really going to attempt to brush up on my blogging and art projects because it’s been so long I think I forgot how to do art. Noooooo!

Exo

Diversity Comics, Year 2

This is Year 2 of teaching my students about Diversity in America.

My lesson originated from some Middle School students’ comments “Teacher. Black skin, not good.”

In Korea they are all about having porcelain skin. If a student has darker skin they often are teased “You African! You India! Black skin!”

Every time I hear this I am shocked because I view people of all  skin tones equally. I would  never even think darker skin= bad, because to me that is such a narrow, old school world view.

In a effort to expose my students to more diversity I talked about my friends at home and how they are all different from me in terms of languages, skin tone, religion, etc. Then we watched a Simpsons video called “Mypods and Boomsticks” which discusses how Homer believes Muslims to be terrorists until he learns the error of his ways.

Then I discussed my experience of living in Korea as a “FOREIGNER!” Everywhere I go, everything I do Koreans watch and observe me or try to interact with me. I don’t speak Korean fluently and I didn’t know much about Korean food or KPOP before I moved here. It  was and still is at times hard to live here.

With that in mind I created the following scenario:

Imagine you and your family move to a new country: Mexico.  You look different from most people. You can’t speak the language (Spanish). You don’t know what music the kids like. You don’t know the food they like to eat.

You meet a Mexican Boy or Girl who wants to learn more about Korea and you. What do you talk about? Korean food? K-Pop? Clothing? Make a comic discussing something about Korea.

Here are some of the best comics from this year

 

Note that a lot of the “Mexican” characters have blonde hair and blue eyes… I think they were using me as a model, despite the fact I’m not Mexican.

While I think that this lesson got some of the students thinking about how different things are in America, I think it would be better to have the students get a chance to interact with more diverse people.

In my city there aren’t a lot of people with darker skin. If the students see a person like that, they probably see them from afar and don’t get to actually interact with them.

I hope one day they can all go to America or another diverse country and experience diversity for themselves.