It's Christmas Eve in Korea. I have no Christmas tree. I have no lights. I have no new dog. I just shipped the puppy-pooch off to the vet for 10 days this morning. I will be boarding a plane and coming home in a matters of days.
But you know what? It's time. It's high time.
I say that, but then I think about leaving Korea, leaving the kids, leaving the great friends . . .
I was looking forward to having my little apartment filled with good cheer and good food, good barks and good laughs. But that wasn't in the works, and that's fine. I'll see my dog again stateside, and I won't lose touch with the special people here. Plus, I have my health and a wonderful spouse. I have also forged significant and long-lasting relationships here, one of which has changed my life in ways I never thought possible. On top of having the best female friend ever - she's charming, witty, and British! (kinda) - we have become co-authors of a fantastic book. I know the editor who winds up publishing it for us will be the luckiest gal alive, aside from me.
So I'm returning to the land of the grim. Increased poverty. Stagnating wages. Outrageous Bush-era tax cuts. A President who doesn't seem to care about issues that matter to most Americans. But it's time that we stop thinking of America in that way. We're all right about feeling down on America: it is grim and it sucks right now, especially because a lot people who are running the country are tone deaf. People are hurting and in terrible ways. That is why I don't want a soul to feel bad that I'm crying like a water faucet on full blast at the moment. Because my tears are for the great things and the good people I'll be leaving behind (especially Abi). I'd names others, but I don't want them to freak out, and I'm not sure about their privacy wishes. But to the friends I've made here, and who I will miss sorely, you know who you are. You have been supportive, fun, and genuine. I look forward to seeing all of you back in the states.
The sadness that I'm reading in emails from you, well, that's different from what I'm experiencing. The need for a voice, for change, that's what I hear you demanding through your despairing notes. That's why it's time for me to return.
We're going to make this work. I'm determined.
I've made thousands of connections across the U.S. I'm in contact with hundreds of you on a regular basis. You are talented, smart, capable. On top of that, you want things to be better, and you want it now. We need to stop letting D.C. decide that the focus should only be on 'prospective' students. That's bullshit. We need to let them know who we are. That's why I am intent on opening an office in D.C. The decisions are made when you're in that swamp of a city, and I'm willing to sweat it out.
It's Christmas Eve and bitterly cold, but I am filled with good cheer. I've been in touch with a number of my Board Members already about my imminent return, and we've been discussing ways in which we can move forward.
AEM, Inc. is the best present I could have received on this very special, yet odd Christmas, and if it weren't for your generous donations, we wouldn't even be a non-profit. There you have it: AEM is a wonderful gift, and I want to thank all of you for making it real.
Now it's time to get down to business. Grant time, friends. Legal defense fund time. All of this will lead us to establishing an office and a presence in D.C. It's time to get busier and to get things accomplished for the indentured educated class.
Happy Holidays to all of you (non-believers and believers alike). Most importantly, Abi and husband, thanks for being the best gal pal and husband ever.