Sunday, December 12, 2010

Belated Thankfulness...

Sadly, it's my first real American holiday season in four years, and I skipped my annual Thanksgiving post because I've been stressed out, busy, and a bit depressed.  I should not post at all when I feel like this, but I feel like maybe I owe you guys an update.

Certainly, I am thankful for many, many things this year.  It was a very eventful one:  I got married this year.  I went on an amazing honeymoon to two new countries and a second one for a week to Jeju.  I managed to move our family to America and find a decent job within a month in a horrible economy and establish an independent household.  I did all this while reducing my total debt load by more then $12,000 (and all of those earlier things I mentioned cost a pretty penny).

But 2010 has also been tough.  Not perhaps as tough as 2009 for me (the year my father, mother, and myself all spent prolonged periods hospitalized for various reasons), but I feel as though 2011 holds less promise and that I have comparatively little in the upcoming months to look forward to.  After several years of one big exciting life thing after another, I've hit the point where the life changes to come feel more like assuming responsibilities.  This is the year I turn 30.  Apparently, it's also the year where I have to grow up and accept that there are some things I simply will not do with my life.  For example, I will not go back to grad school full time and become a professor.  It's something I've always kind of thought about... but I realize now that it's not the life for me.

American life feels like a struggle to pull myself out of the financial cesspool of the middle class.  What should be a very nice salary for someone my age is instead a crippling barrage of saying "no, thanks, we can't afford it" to every opportunity that comes along (and in America, opportunity and choice are overwhelming).  My health insurance premiums alone eat up about 8% of my salary--and that's before either of us get any medical care.  Rent is about the same as the take home for one of my two-week paychecks.  So much of U.S. culture is consumerism, that it's really hard to adjust to it when you have no money.


We have family nearby who support us and love us (and let us steal food and use their sailboat...).
Min Gi's family in Korea is healthy and supportive and we can stay in near-daily communication with them thanks to the free wireless internet options in this area.
Although we can't "get ahead" and pay down my student loan and save up for a baby like I want to, we aren't suffering for our basics--something many Americans these days are.
My health has been in steady recovery mode for the last year.  Despite some issues with catching colds after starting my new job and the depression, I'm back to being almost as healthy as I was before I left for Korea, which is amazing when you consider that I now have a pretty serious disease.
We (desperately) miss our friends and support network in Korea (including the best job I ever had and likely will have for some time), but we are so grateful for the good friends we have in this area.
I am thankful to be working at the hotline again.  I think it may be my higher calling.

and... saving the most important for last...

I am thankful that I married Min Gi.  He really is the best husband I could possibly have chosen; I believe that even if I had been allowed to make someone up from scratch to be my partner, I couldn't have come up with something better.  He continues to surprise me with his thoughtfulness and kindness and patience and humor every single day.  In all my life, I've never been as excited to come home at the end of the day as I have in this year we've shared together.

Happy belated Thanksgiving, all.  I had a good one with my family and extended family and am looking forward to Christmas with more of my extended family.

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