delicious ambiguity + the joy of possibility

via Dismount Creative

the question I am asked second most about our move to Taiwan is this: what are you going to do?

when most people ask that question, they usually mean “do” for work, not just “do” in general. I don’t as of yet have a job lined up. there are some options I could pursue to continue working in my current field as a consultant. the school has said it would be easy for me to find work teaching English, or possibly tutoring other subjects. or I may not have a job at all, in the conventional sense or otherwise.

so what am I going to do? the short answer: I don’t know.

there was a point in my life [not too long ago, actually] where that would have terrified me. I was always the girl with the plan. in fact, I sat down and scheduled out every single class I wanted to take throughout college before I ever moved in to the dorm. and you know what? that plan, like most, didn’t work out. instead of loading myself up on classes and doing a summer internship so I could graduate in 3.5 years, I let myself actually enjoy college. I had time to meet friends, and Husband. I found an incredible internship and moved to New York and found a great job. and it all ended up working out much better than my original plan. so not having it all planned out, not knowing what I’m going to do? that’s ok.

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
― Gilda Radner

but, no, really. what am I actually going to do? the long answer:

let me start by answering the question with another question… what is it that I can’t do? seriously. I have two whole years where I can choose to spend my time however I like. two whole years to accomplish anything. I could write a book. start a business. complete a happiness project. build a kickass photography portfolio. bake 10 million cake pops. run a marathon on the Great Wall of China… the possibilities are literally endless.

I might not accomplish all [or any] of those things, but I have the opportunity to try them. or anything else I want. how incredible, how fantastic, how completely awesome that I have the chance to do this with my life.

[cue the fireworks and dancing unicorns]

and it might turn out that life in Taiwan may not be all pyrotechnics and musical numbers. it might just be little things like running through the park. reading. walking to the farmer’s market. meditation. learning to surf. skype dates. keeping a clean house. photography. cooking. learning Mandarin. biking to the mountains. daily journaling. planting a balcony garden. traveling. crafting. blogging to you lovely people… and that’s ok too. in fact, that all sounds pretty awesome.

so what am I going to do in Taiwan? I am going to live each day as it comes. enjoy the moment. try new things. kick the fear of the unknown in the teeth. do what I love. attempt to seize all this possibility and make something of it. and maybe in the process, if I'm lucky enough, I might unearth some deep self-truths about who I am and what I want to do with my life.

but at the very least, I will have an adventure.


home again, home again

I'm typing this post from the iPad, lying in the sun in my backyard in Michigan. isn't technology awesome?

on Sunday, I drove the first load of our stuff back to the mitten. packing up things gave me a lot to think about... what to take with us, what to leave here, what to get rid of. I think this move will be a great opportunity to get rid of some clutter in our life. this is only the first load of stuff I'll be driving back, but we made sure to pack the car to the brim.

included in that carfull was one of our cats, Beaumont. he is going to be living here in MI at my parent's house for the next few years. I’ve had more than a few emotional moments about leaving him behind, but 20 hours of travel to Taiwan followed by a 6 week to 6 month quarantine doesn’t seem fair to him.

I adopted Beau in October 2008. this is a picture from the first night I had him – just a baby. he is curious and energetic, loves to snuggle, and comes running when I call his name. and he is fluffy. very fluffy.

I will miss him dearly, but I know my parents will take good care of him. already he is settling in and getting comfortable here [that's a yawn, not a roar]. my parents already have a cat at home, Lulu, and even though she and Beau haven't made friends yet it looks like they will be able to co-habitat a little more peacefully than Beau and Rocky ever did.

other than introducing the kittens... we have had visitors in town, Daddy-Daughter lunch dates [with spectacular shaved brisket with smoked gouda in a MI cherry BBQ sauce!] and gone out to dinner with friends to celebrate my Mom's retirement from teaching preschool! I've also tried to take a little time to slow down and enjoy this whole not working thing... morning coffee on the deck, sitting in the sun, and photographing my Mom's gorgeous flowers around the house and yard.

with the help a friend [thanks Mike!] the rest of the car load has now been moved to "storage" in my mother-in-law's basement. tomorrow I’m headed back east with Katie in tow for a long weekend full of trips to NYC and lots of photo fun. she's coming out to help me pack another load of stuff to drive back next week, but of course we need to enjoy ourselves a little too. my "cousin-in-law" Dave is also driving out to visit this weekend, so I'm sure lots of fun [and photos] will be had!


welcome to unemployment

I am now officially unemployed.  kindof scary, but also kindof awesome.

I have some of the world's best co-workers who gave me a great sendoff, making me feel very loved and appreciated. I have worked for the same company for the past 4 1/2 years, have learned so much, and made some really great friends... so saying goodbye wasn't exactly easy.


many margaritas were had on thursday night at my farewell happy hour. the weather was perfect for sitting outside and chatting over chips + salsa. and when I walked into the office on friday morning [just a little hungover] for my last day of work...

... my cube was stuffed full of balloons! Erika and Kelsey had come in early to wrap everything in purple paper and throw in the balloons they had spent all week secretly inflating. they also hung up an American flag and streamers [I think trying to convince me America is awesome and I shouldn't leave them.] I cleared a path to my computer and left most of the balloons in my cube all day. it was like being a kid again! we had a lot of fun bouncing them around the office, and at the end of the day we all took out some aggression and had a popping party. 

walking out of the office building for the very last time made things seem a lot more real. we're really doing this! I will definitely miss my co-workers, but I'm excited for what's next.

I came home and took a brief but much-needed nap, then Husband and I drove down to Philly for dinner. I was feeling very bright and optimistic, so decided to dress the part. what to wear with yellow polka dot pants? a bright pink shirt and a big smile, of course!

we met up for some Ethiopian food with some of Husband's fellow Fulbright Scholars. they all went on a 6 week trip to Turkey last summer, but this was my first time meeting them. the food was tasty and the conversation was interesting, and by the end of the night I think most of them promised to come visit us in Taiwan [and I hope they do!]

I know the next few weeks will be hectic with packing and cleaning, but I have to say my last day of work and my first night of unemployment were very enjoyable :)


Thai food and a geography lesson

the reactions to the news about our move to Taiwan have been varied: from “that’s awesome! to “WHAT?!?!?” and everything in between. I think, however, the most interesting response we have received was “I LOVE Thai food!”

believe it or not, we have had at least three [yes, three] people make that comment.

now rather than go all snarky and I'm-married-to-a-social-studies-teacher elitist, I'm going to take this opportunity to educate you all on our future country of residence.

Taiwan is an island located off the southeast coast of China, with the Straight of Taiwan to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Japan and Korea are to the north, the Philippines are to the south, and Thailand is a 4 hour flight to the southwest.

Taiwan is located in the northern hemisphere, along the same latitude as southern Florida and Cuba. however the climate is a bit more seasonal due to the ocean and the mountains. the winters are mild [mid 50's and rainy] while the summers are hot and humid. they also have deciduous trees [maples!] which means the colors change when the weather does, but unless you are in the mountains you will never see snow.

the political and economic situation in Taiwan is rather interesting. they are not actually part of what most people call China [the People's Republic of China] but technically their own country - the Republic of China. they have their own democratic government system and an elected President. they also have their own currency: the New Taiwan Dollar [NTD]. a lot of people make jokes about "Made in Taiwan" but in the past few decades they have propelled themselves to having the 8th best economy in the world, and are known for manufacturing high-quality electronics among other things. Taiwan is one of the four "Asian Tigers"- their economy growing at a high rate, they have made great investments in their education system, and due to global trading they have become highly westernized.

Hsinchu City [where we will be living] is known as "the windy city" for it's ocean breezes. it is located on the northeast coast of the island sandwiched between mountains and the sea. that means we can expect precipitation... my raincoat and galoshes are already packed! all the rain helps beautiful plants and flowers to grow all over the city's parks. for this reason, Hsinchu is also known as "the garden city" and holds a flower festival every spring.

now when it comes to food, Hsinchu City is known for it's rice noodles and pork meatballs. in fact, they have an entire festival dedicated to meatballs! in general Taiwanese cuisine seems closely related to Chinese, though restaurants of all global cuisines can be found in Hsinchu- including everything from local produce and fish markets to American fast food. [I'm also pretty sure we can get some Swedish style meatballs at the Ikea.]

Husband says that in the teaching of geography [which he will be doing this fall in Hsinchu] it is important to review your key points at the end of the lesson. so I turn it over to him to recap:

1. Taiwan is near Thailand, but Taiwan is not actually Thailand
2. Our American perception of place (Taiwan) is currently "made in Taiwan" and "isn't that China?". However we're creating a sense of place (knowledge through familiarity) through research and our own personal connections that we've created.
3. The cultural landscape of Taiwan features American fast food. This is the unfortunate result of globalization.

*Be sure to review this AP Human Geography terms. The national APHUGE exam is Friday morning!*


much of this information came from the official "Welcome to Taiwan" website, which has a TON of helpful notes about visiting and touring the country. for info specific to our new city, check out the Hsinchu City Government site. all map images are taken from Google Maps.


a peek at our new home

this past week, I’ve been emailing back and forth with the wife who is currently living in the apartment Luke and I will move into. she has been super helpful in providing information about life in Taiwan, our new neighbors, and our new home [plus some pictures!]

we are lucky in that the school owns an apartment building for all the teachers to live in, and we don't have to find housing on our own. the building is only a 10 minute walk to the school, and backs up onto a large park complete with ponds, running trails, and a temple. I can't wait to explore our new neighborhood on morning runs and trips to the produce markets!

the apartment itself has one master bedroom with two smaller bedrooms/offices, 2 full bathrooms, a kitchen, a huge a living/dining area, nice wood floors and lots of light. I'm so excited to get there and move in [and take a hundred more pictures to share]. but for now, here are some of the photos the current residents sent us from when they moved in:

king size bed in the master
our kitchen: no oven, but super cool bright red cabinets
one of the offices
since we need to pack light most of our photos and artwork will have to stay in the states. I’m already dreaming up decorating ideas to make our home more “us”. we will be within walking distance of a Costco [for printing out digital photos], and a short bus ride from Ikea [cheap frames!] so it shouldn't be too difficult.

in other news, we have officially booked our flight to take off from Detroit on July 26th!  [that's only 80 days from now!]


hello, adventure

welcome family, friends, and random strangers on the internet!  this is a big moment right here: the first post.

perhaps it’s best to start with a little background information. I’m Jamie. Husband is Luke. and this summer, we are moving to Hsinchu City, Taiwan. Husband recently accepted a 2-year position teaching at a high school there. currently we live near Princeton, NJ [where Husband is finishing the school year in Philadelphia, and I am soon to be trading employment for a month of packing and driving our things to storage in Michigan.] mid-June we will be heading back to “the mitten” for time with family + friends before leaving for Taiwan at the end of July.

I’ve started this blog to chronicle life’s adventures leading up to and after our move to Taiwan. at this point I'm not entirely sure what all that will include... bits of our everyday life, travels around the region, experiments in the kitchen, attempting to learn Mandarin, my informal-rambling-run-on-sentence style of writing, etc etc. one thing I will promise is to share lots of pictures.

I plan to write here instead of sending mass emails, so feel free to subscribe using the links on the right sidebar, and leave any comments or questions here on the blog. [or you can email me directly at: jamiethewalker@gmail.com]

looking forward to sharing our adventures with you all!


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