How to Vulnerable

I do not like it, Sam I am.

But every bit of life these days tells me how important it is. not for you, but for me. Or, maybe some for you (that’s not in my control) but mostly, yeah, for me. It’s not just fault-sharing (that’s not the point). It’s transparency. It’s baring burdens so we can bear burdens. And even though I don’t like it, here’s some vulnerability for you:

  • I have more drafts of posts than published posts. because I am too scared to post things that don’t have jokes in them. for example,
    • I have had this post open in my browser for four days.

    FOUR. Days. That’s how hard it is to be open, even if (even if!) I’m not being a downer, but just also not one of those monkeys with cymbals. You know.

it’s actually ~miss~ chanandaler bong
  • I have watched more than one episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. Yes. I am ashamed.
  • I thought boundaries were for other people, until I very, very, very mush needed them for mineself.
  • I thought that boundaries meant fear and vulnerable meant weak and independent meant free. So basically I should have my English degrees revoked.
  • I have always been scared of failure, which, as all the smart normal you-people know, is fantastically paralyzing and empty.
  • That’s the portrait of Colleen without Jesus: fantastically paralyzed and empty.
  • I am an extrovert who has to be forced to put on pants and leave the house, because as much as I like people and company, I like pantslessness and complete control of the internet more. #sloth

It’s Friday and I’m going to post this. No more waiting to see if I can make it better. Because that’s not the point. It never is.

Dongseongro Festival


This festival is a Big Deal in the Pagaard house, you guys.

Because a year and a half ago, it was at just such a festival that I felt feelings for The Boy. Watching him do an acoustic cover of Electric Feel on the stage by Debec Department Store. And totally freaking out and going straight home afterwards and scrubbing all my floors, Cinderella-style, in an attempt to calm my brain down about feeling things about a Boy.

And yes, I was an adult with two university degrees, why do you ask?

But this year, lo! hark! how different it all was. Which is a testimony to 1. the grace of God 2. the patience of Boy and 3. the virtue of floor-scrubbing as mental exorcism.

Thanks to Nate’s open-mic days his first few years in Korea, he’s pretty well-known to the guys responsible for organizing entertainment for big festivals like this one. Dongseongro is the name of Daegu’s big downtown center of the city, where all the big stores and shopping and flagrant consumerism flourish. We met because of our musician-y hobbies (someday I’ll post about our story, but for now, our wedding website will suffice) and Nate’s connections mean that when they need to fill space for live music, they call on us.

So we got to play two sets this weekend on two of the festival stages. One Saturday and one Sunday. We had two weeks of warning, so two weeks to prep a set list: we wanted to do songs that would be mostly recognizable, since we’d already be subjecting these poor Koreans to songs all in English.

If we wanted to sing in Korean, we’d probably go with this:

Just for the sake of mass appeal. Obvs.

Koreans have a totally understandable fascination with diva pop. I can’t tell you how many times a taxi driver has seen me get in, and immediately and proudly switched to his collection of Whitney, Mariah, and Celine. So we threw in two Whitneys and a Winehouse. And one of my favorite covers ever, The Civil Wars’ take on the Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back.’

Awesome camera work by our best buddy, So Young.

Um, can we please talk about The Boy in that color? Teal. Tan. Shades. hashtag dang.

We ended up with six songs, which balanced nicely, since the MC at Saturday’s show cut us off early, and Sunday’s MC asked us 2 minutes before the set to extend it by 10 minutes. No exaggeration. That’s two jittery people in a tent behind the stage having this conversation:

‘What other songs do we know?’


Bill Withers came through for us in a big way:

We had a great time. Everyone was in a good mood, and even when they had no idea what we were singing, people stayed to listen, which was 1. flattering 2. awkward 3. there as a pigeon who landed on the stage in front of us and strutted back and forth during one song who was probably the real star of the show.

Singing with The Boy is one of my All-time Favorite Things. Oprah style. We’re going to miss this when we move back, but that we get to do it at all is pretty great. (but watching these videos back reminds me I should never ever ever clap in public or wear any of what I was wearing or leave my house ever again.)

And this is what I married:

For which I say, Praise. the. Lord.

In-Convenience Stores

What is it about accidental naps that are so very discombobulating?

The husband got a wee-bit zealous chopping bell peppers at lunch last week with our $10 knife from PowerMart. We had two bandaids that were so old the sterile wrapping floated off because the adhesive had faded. He tied a sock around his finger while I finished lunch. Teamwork! Resourcefulness.

When he left for work (Nate works from 3-10pm. Hooray never eating dinner together?) I had a long mental list of things I needed to do. I thought about them as I was reading blogs on my laptop getting increasingly drowsy. ‘You’ve got to run,’ I muttered to myself.

Ha, said myself. Silently.

Three hours later, I woke up.

Stressful naps shouldn’t be a thing, you guys. It’s such a sucker punch. It’s like…when you bite into a peach and it’s secretly rotten. RUDE. just RUDE.

Anyway, that was last week and by now that bell-pepper cut has mostly healed, WITHOUT stitches. (he was unsure for the first couple days, whereas my reaction was ‘RUB SOME DIRT IN IT’ #Proverbs31woman) and today I heroically resisted the sneak-attack afternoon nap.

Our neighborhood is a recently-developed labyrinth of 4-and-5-floor apartment buildings, all named things like ‘Aceville’ and ‘Sapphire’ and ‘Trump House’ and ‘Starbucks’ which latter items should indicate the state of Korean copyright law.  On every corner is either a phone shop, a meat restaurant, a real estate office, or the main event: a convenience store.

I can walk to my corner, look left, and see three convenience stores, on that street alone.

On the one hand it’s pretty great, in our still developing area, to be able to walk about 150 steps to get snacks, flour, milk, coffee, a razor, bandaids, yada yada yada.

On the other hand, as card-carrying Former Fat Kids, Nate and I have a shared instinctual and deeply problematic draw to these establishments. For the candy aisle, which carries my favorite Korean candy bar, whose incomprehensible English name is Freedom Time? and for the ice-cream freezers, where every one of my popsicle-obsessed childhood dreams can come true on a daily basis for the low low price of 60 cents (SIXTY. CENTS.) with…

The Jaws Bar.


It seems fitting that here, properly into Fall, is my ode to the Jaws bar. that’s the name, in Korean, on the wrapper: jyo-seu. Jaws. Because it’s gray and shaped like a sharks head and the outside tastes like orange and the middle is soft strawberry. It’s cool and fruity and did I mention SIXTY CENTS, and mama loves a bargain, and mama also loves processed sugars. #deliverus

And Nate has so much more strength of will than I do on this, which is wonderful, unless I were to go out when he’s not here and accidentally on purpose get a snack and then make sure I leave the wrapper in the garbage cans outside so that I’m not caught in my iniquity. not that that has ever happened all the time before. I mean.

What I’m saying in this post can be summed up thus:

  1. Maybe invest in knives that work
  2. People almost never need stitches
  3. I should reintroduce coffee into my lunchtime routine
  4. please someone help me I have to go to the grocery store now and I have no self control

 Ps. We had us some real good times this weekend! I’ll post about it soon. unless I die of Jaws-bar surfeit before then. 

One Year From Now

Gyeongsan Station

So we’re going to San Francisco, which i still can’t spell for the first three tries. Swapping KTX lines for highways and Golden Gates. (That’s Gyeongsan Station above, from a summer weekend trip to Seoul.)

We’re planning to be there for good.

I haven’t even accepted that thought into my brain. I haven’t tried to yet, I haven’t thought about it.  I haven’t thought about why God is calling us to California, because I’ve learned that the kinds of answers I would want would likely not be given (questions with lots of ‘how exactly‘s and ‘what if___’s). And because we’ve been preoccupied by other things. Things like midsummer hospitalizations, and upheaval in personal relationships. Things like juice fasts, and mutant canker sores. Things like taking a lone free day and cramming it full of cuddling on our single bed and walking around our fledgling neighborhood and justifying a limited amount of junk food and talking about important things in the Word.

But then I try it on, the one-year-from-now. I test the fit and the give and the make of it, and when I do, I’m immediately overwhelmed.

Things I’ve said in passing as jokes start assuming shapes of fears, real tragedies in the mind of a scared little girl, wanting to hold on to everything she has and not wanting to let any of it go.

“My kids are gonna be Californians.” (some of my best friends on earth are from CA, it should be noted, in fairness.)

“This will be my last real winter for a while!”

“Oh, it’ll be great, unless we get shot in a gang war or the Earth crumbles into the sea beneath us.”

As glib commentary, these do pretty well. As thoughts I think to myself, alone in the apartment on a Wednesday, officially 1 year away from when our visas expire and we are ready-or-not booted out of Korea (it most likely won’t come to that)…they start to spiral and morph. Suddenly I’m ten years down the road and half of my children have beachy waves (nice!) and do nothing but smoke weed and surf all the time and also they call me ‘bruh’ which is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE I am their MOTHER. Also why do these children have weed in the kitchen. or anywhere. The other half have had plastic surgery and keep telling me they’re in ‘The industry’ and THEN then there’s an earthquake and a gang war AND–we become ‘Niners fans.

I talked to my best friend about this and she said: ‘It’s NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. They’re gonna be in Northface in 65 degree weather talking about fair trade coffee.’


I’m still joking because that’s what happens when I’m uncomfortable. ‘But I’m excited about the Move!’  I cry, truthfully. Because I am. It’s an amazing adventure and a dream fulfilled and it’s so exciting–

but parts of it are scary and uncomfortable. I’m not going to build snow forts with my kids on their Christmas break? They’ll never know the joys of a snow day or even a 2-hour delay? They won’t care about the Red Sox vs. Yankees? And forget the Hypothetical Future Pagaards: I won’t ever get to feel that magical season-shift again? Do the leaves change color and have they ever even heard of clam chowder or apple cider? (Why are all of these related to weather and food?)

How do I trust when my only frame of reference comes from The Rock and Full House?

What is the most trivial thing in the world to one is monumental to another, and for me, these silly, joke-questions are tough to swallow. Even tougher? the Other Questions that hang out in the back while the sillier ones are hogging time in the front. Questions like ‘What will we do?’ about money. About jobs. About kids. About RAISING kids.  Questions like ‘When we have kids…if Nate’s pastoring, I’ll have to work full time. Am I gonna miss everything?’ ‘Will we have to live in a bad neighborhood?’

‘Are we gonna be safe?’

‘Will it be beautiful?’

I can qualify this easily enough. Of course I know that where He leads, we follow. Where we are called, we go, and we make no demands on what that going might entail. To paraphrase one of my favorite bloggers, Shannan Martin, ‘Going’ has only a very little bit to do with your geographical location, and every bit to do with people. We are and we aren’t going for us. When you follow Christ, disobedience is death: in that way, we’re going for us. We can’t stay where we are. For death can look like a long, comfortable life spent country hopping from teaching job to teaching job. Death can look like a lot of things. But so can Life. We go to find Life, and we go to share the Giver of Life.

Knowing that, and knowing that I’m being a Big Giant Baby, ought to make it easier to know that I have ZERO idea what the rest of my life is going to look like. And it does, most of the time. Which is why in general I have always avoided thinking about the future. I knew two (now three) things: I will walk with the Lord and I will always have my family. Add Nate. That’s three, and that’s got me covered.

I don’t really think through what that first item means, sometimes.

I will walk with the Lord. The going, the not knowing, are on purpose, and so will be the loss and the gain and the broken assumptions I didn’t know I made. So if that means that all three of those not-jokes are super true, then that’s the truest, most, onl-iest plan I could ever dream for my future. For my family. For ever.