If it's not Orthodox New Year's yet, that still counts as being on time with my annual review and preview, right? I am thrilled to report that not just one or two but several of my reach-for-the-stars hopes for last year were realized:
A nice cat to whom I am not allergic did, in fact, become mine. My friend Bella reports that Trixie is doing well at home, but seems to be suffering some separation anxiety this past week, as she has been displaying remarkable emotional neediness. I miss her. Fuzzy beasts are harder to keep in touch with than humans. I am pretty sure the restaurant in the building next to my apartment serves fresh dog meat--there were an assortment of dogs barking in cages in the back, and why else would a restaurant have them in quantity? There are several boutique pet emporiums/veterinary treatment centers just a few blocks away. Around here there are two extremes of animal husbandry--outright cruelty and over-the-top coddling.
I did like my new job, my employer and coworkers did like me, and I got a nice bonus (not a raise per se, but close) at the end of the year!
I got to go abroad again, do something useful (surely visiting friends is useful, and now teaching is more so), and have a great and bloggable adventure.
I was able to erase the fiscal debt that I had long owed my mother. My car is still functional, but should it eventually need replacing, I now have enough in savings to replace it with a newer used model.
For 2017, here are my dreams:
1) Really do a good job teaching and be asked to stay on.
2) Meet a good and Godly guy and be happily married. (And have Amy be similarly settled at the same time--I don't want to be the only one affectionately engaged, especially as we're friends away on the other side of the world together, and I know she would love to be married and have children.)
3) Get the book translation published! Surely I've achieved the requisite quota of rejection letters now...
4) Visit three other countries in Southeast Asia.
5) Have at least one friend and one family member come visit me here on Jeju.
6) Hike at least 100 miles of local trails (cumulatively, not at one go!), including Hallasan, which I can see from my apartment building (there is snow on the top right now).
7) Get at least 5 essays/articles/stories published and get paid for them!
8) Befriend at least one local artist and make at least one real Korean friend (these two are not mutually exclusive).
9) Be faithful with my Bible reading and pray regularly for myself and others.
10) Write that novel (or non-fiction book, for which my skills are frankly better suited) about which I keep talking, but which I haven't yet drafted.
This morning, I went back to the same church which I visited when I was here in September, and I recognized several of the people at the service, including the fellow who's a drummer and aspiring chef. Amy said he was impressed by my recall. The only reason I remembered the details is because I blogged about them almost immediately and later reread the post several times. This blog is my brain's external hard drive. We also ran into the young naval officer, but other than a cordial greeting, didn't have time for conversation. Perhaps next Sunday?
Did I mention that I'm 44 years old by Korean reckoning? In less than 6 weeks I've gone from being aged 41 to 44. It's like being in a wormhole. And the Biblical stories of Abraham and Sarah, Ruth and Boaz, Elizabeth and Zechariah are becoming more and more comforting, as I unexpectedly find myself in a childless (and spouseless) middle age. At least I haven't had any hot flashes lately, just precipitous drops in blood sugar levels. And the latter is nothing that a fresh fruit smoothie can't fix.