Sunday, April 21, 2013

Oh the places you'll go

(Warning: mom, this will make you cry. Sorry.) 

Lately, I've been missing my dad a lot.
I'm worried I'll forget what his bear hugs and belly bumps felt like and what his ridiculous chortle of a laugh sounded like. 
Lately, I've found myself asking Sean: did it really happen? 
Is he really gone?
Everything happened so fast: a flurry of Facebook posts, emails, plane rides, hospital, hospital, hospital, we're losing him, what now, celebration, cards, unfinished projects, back to Taiwan.
He's really gone.
What now?
I read this poem the other day, one of my favorites ever. 
I've been doing a poetry unit with my 8th graders over the past two weeks. Nothing boring like sonnets. 
We're learning to love poetry. 
We've been listening to rap and laughing our butts off with limericks. But then we had one serious day. Just one. I mean, come on, these kids are 14. I told them to bring in their favorite, most meaningful song or poem. The one that digs at them for some reason.So it was only fair that I share mine too.
And this is it.
And when I hear this poem, I hear my dad talking to me. I mean, I feel it in my bones. 
And while no, he never read me this poem he did give me this message every damn day of my life.

Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss 

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself 
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, 
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.


You'll be on y our way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't
Because, sometimes they won't.

I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,
And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up 
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's 
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never foget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
You're off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Three old Taiwanese men, a stolen poncho, and a girl named Jessy

This past month has been a lot of go-go-go-go, and unfortunately not the exciting, Jackie-and-Sean-travel-the-globe kind.

Mostly, it's been a lot of work for me and a lot of school for Sean.

But I don't want you to think nothing blog-worthy has happened.

Because that is so not the case.

So are you ready for a tale?

It involves three old Taiwanese men, a stolen poncho, and a girl named Jessy.

Okay, so once upon a time we asked to have our AC units cleaned. Min, our awesome go-to man, arranged for these gruff, no-nonsense locals to come over and take care of our little problemo.

The only issue?

Well, it's not like they could exactly call us up to tell us they were on their way.

For two reasons really. 

First, we speak English. They don't.

Second, well, we haven't paid our phone bill in about four months because the only people who would call us up were hookers.

Are you feeling lonely tonight?

Yeah, no thanks.

So, I go to school and get shit on by a bird thus making it necessary to go home and shower the poo out of my hair and all of the sudden there are three old Taiwanese men in the hallway.


I was naked. In the shower. And the door was open.

Even better?

Sean was in bed. In his man panties. 

The cheery on top?

The workers were completely unfazed by any of it.

How they had keys to our apartment? Who knows.

Why the fact that one naked and one nearly naked white person did not bother them in the slightest? Even a greater mystery.

They simply got to work, talking between themselves I'm sure about these crazy Americans.

Well, our AC units are mold free so I guess we cannot complain.

Two days later, we head to the movies in a downpour because our cabin fever escalated to the point we were cleaning for fun.

No way.

We donned our (hideously) unattractive ponchos and laid them out on the bike to dry and we watched (the god awful) Host only to find someone had stolen both of our ponchos. 

Then, the next day I went to Starbucks to get coffee and a worker asked me my name.

"Jackie," I said.

So naturally every time I go in I get a chorus of "HELLO JESSY!" and it even says so on my grande mocha cup.

Every time.

And I don't know about you, but I kind of like it.

Every time I go to Starbucks, I get to pretend to be this girl named Jessy.

And one thing I'm learning about her is that she loves to get a lemon tart with her order of coffee.

Every time.

I think I like this girl.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rain, thunder, lightening, rain, thunder, lightening, rain, thunder, lightening, rain...

This four-day weekend has been a disappointment since I first learned about it two months ago.

You see, Taiwan is not really a take-a-day-off kind of nation.

Nope, it's a hard working nation where kids go to school for 200 days instead of the U.S.'s 180 and once there they spend eight hours as opposed to the U.S.'s six.

That said, every once in a while the kids (and their teachers) are thrown a bone: hence, this four-day weekend.

When we first found out, Jamie and I sat down to find flights to South Korea. Nope. Then, Japan. Nada. Then, Singapore. Zilch.

The issue?

Simple: every other hard working Taiwanese person gets this mini holiday too and they bought up all the seats on all the airlines.


So basically, we couldn't leave.


So then we started looking around the island. We've been here for a while and certainly have not seen everything there is to see.

Kenting. Penghu Island. Sun Moon Lake.

All of these places are a high speed rail whirl away.

Too bad the cheapest hostels were going for $200 USD a night.

Basically, due to the holiday, every hostel and hotel jacked up their prices. What was once a $20/night hotel turned into a $400/night scam.

Incredulous, we decided: fine, let's scoot somewhere new.

Pit, patter, pit, patter, BOOM!

Then, seven days straight rain, thunder, and lightening worked its way into the greater Taiwan forecast.

What does that mean for us, one day into our extended weekend?

Well, I slept in until noon and got caught in a downpour the one time I dared to scoot out.

So, instead I've been obsessing online over three things very near and dear to my heart:
1. Planning the first leg of our summer trip: Vietnam.
2. Getting great ideas from other travelers at
3. Polka dot skirts at

While it's not exactly the ideal way to spend such a rare and glorious thing as a four-day weekend, it's not all bad.

We'll hit up Taipei and Taichung and look forward to my brother's arrival on May 8 and our departure for Japan on May 15!

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