Saturday, April 18, 2009


Ricco (even though he probably doesn't know it) is safely one of my favorite people on the planet. He is someone I can count on at all times. He is never in a bad mood, is always wiling to listen, gives me his time, and is always there to talk. He is an incredible teaching partner, and day after day, I feel very fortunate to have him in my life.

But, at first, Ricco kind of scared me.

You see, last year I was 1) a fourth-year teacher, 2) in my second international teaching placement, 3)paired up with an expert in the school, and 4) surrounded by expert teachers and members of the international NIS community.

This year, though, things shifted around, and I found myself the 1) apparent expert between the grades 1-3, 2) the only returning teacher in the lower elementary, and 3) the teaching partner to a very brand new and very green young Canadian. And with no time or patience for an elephant on my back (nor a Canadian, at that), I immediately grew wary of Ricco.

Looking back, I owe him the apology of the century, as, for as fresh as he is, his amazing-ness far overgoes and makes up for the experience I thought he lacked. Each day he comes in with fresh and new ideas that he is eager to share. He watches me teach and shares his ideas about the lesson, with new ways to take kids forward. He is willing to listen, to try new things, and to take criticism when his ideas, frankly, sometimes suck. As a teaching partner, he is the pepper to my salt. He allows me to lead (which I do best), relinquish control (which I do best), and be the expert (which I do best). In return he picks up slack wherever it is needed and is always on hand to give exactly that. We are a glorious pair of teachers together, and I couldn't be more glad to have him as my right-hand man.

Recently, Ricco has really been a great influence on my personal life as well, and has gone above-and-beyond in matters of the heart. He speaks like a boy (duh!), only more thoughtfully, and is fresh with ideas about relationships and how we are all inter-connected in this world. His grasp on the comings and goings of humans and our impact on each other, emotionally and physically, is unmatched, and his ability to listen and advise thoughtfully are always appreciated and never unnoticed. He is never judgmental, and in more recent instances, is attuned to when a hug or generous words of encouragement are needed.

But more than that, Ricco is just a smart, cool, and fun guy. Incredibly handsome and well-built, he is the athlete who will run you over if even if you're an expert and he's not. He'll pick up any girl in the bar effortlessly, but is never really that interested. He constantly thirsts for understanding and knowledge and can already almost speak Japanese better than me (which is a great accomplishment, although also isn't saying too much). He reads books voraciously, ponders what he has learned, then shares his knowledge just when you need it. And, the catalyst of our group, with never a regret in his body, he's a bit crazy, without many limits, which allows us for many really, really fun nights out.

Ricco, if you're reading this pal (which I know you're not!), you're one of my favorites.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

25 things

If you're a fan of Facebook, you'll remember that before all of the 'What kind of (insert anything here) are you?' and 'Pick your top five (insert anything here)' quizzes started taking over the site, people all over the world were keen to write 25 things about themselves and post it, followed by a mass chain e-mail to 25 friends to try to get them to do the same.

Now, don't tell anyone, but, at the time I created a copy on my desktop and started writing. I figured that whenever I thought of something good, I could add it until I truly had 25 random things. But, although the list changed many times, I couldn't bring myself to post it. Jono once noted that this kind of thing is a bit 'self-indulgent', which I actually of agreed to. But, it's also a bit fun, and a bit random, and in the right place, worth sharing.

So I am compromising and posting it anyway, but not for everyone to see. If it's here, only those who really care and want to read it can. It was fun to write, and I relished the opportunity to be a bit random, which is something I don't do very often.

And now I present to you, 25 things about Wendy. I'd be interested to hear which ones shocked you the most!


1. My favorite song from childhood was 'We Built This City' by Starship. And while we're on the topic of childhood memories, I'll cross the line by telling you that the first sex-scene I remember was from the movie Top Gun. I remember that it made me feel very uncomfortable to watch.

2. I've lately come to think that when I complain, the Universe reacts by making the situation worse. Therefore, I am learning, quite through experience, not to complain. Otherwise, I've truly begun to believe that cosmic revenge is going to kill me one of these days.

3. With the exception of purple and orange, I have at least one pair of shoes in every color.

4. My favorite number is 4. I secretly use it everywhere. Mike has even figured out that whenever I say, 'ok, guys, pick a number between 1-10' that it is always 4. And therefore, he always wins.

5. Unless I am VERY impressed by a performance, I will rarely clap. It's not because I'm a jerk (well, that's a lie, I am a bit hard to please sometimes), but that I am really just a bit lazy.

6. It only took me 6 weeks to learn to read basic Japanese characters.

7. I couldn't think of anything to write for number 7.

8. The further away from my mother I am, the better along we get. Put is in a room together, though, and ask us to try to work a problem together, and it's all downhill from there.

9. My large eyes start conversations everywhere - with boys, small children, taxi drivers, whoever.

10. I am not even a little bit embarrassed to admit that I do not like showering, and that I do it less than most people.

11. The best advice I've ever received was from a 6-year old child, who wrote in response to the following question: 'To save the planet I can...'.
1. Always keep it clean
2. Pick up trash
3. Make love and good friends

12. I love grapes but hate raisins. I love pickles but hate cucumbers.

13. Whenever I go to Mc Donalds, I always order a Happy Meal. I find it's just the right amount of food, toys, and happiness.

14. I will, under no circumstances, eat red frosting.

15. I think I have discovered the three secrets to successful weight loss. First of all, a good heartbreak will for sure do the trick every time. But, if that's not in your plans (and let's hope it's not), try cutting out dairy and eating your last meal before 5pm. I swear, all three (especially in combination) work miracles.

16. I hate being left out. Hate, hate, hate. Whether it's an inside joke, a trip to the supermarket, or about a weekend away, I hate it. It is my deepest fear, and I am very, very, very, very, very, very, very sensitive about it.

17. I am very easily annoyed and have many pet peeves, the greatest of which is people who don't follow through on what they say they'll do. People who make mouth noises when they eat and drink would be a close second. The man sitting next to me at the coffee shop right now has received many an evil-eye for it, too.

18. Please don't make fun of me. I hate being the fool. If you are mean to me, I won't like you for a very long time.

19. I have a higher credit score than is probably possible. I am shocked every time I get it checked. Wanna buy a house? Have me be your co-signer and you're set...

20. I am obsessed with sticky notes. In my wallet, all over my house, covering my classroom, and even on my computer. My last purchase for my classroom was $200 in sticky notes. And I am not even kidding.

21. I crave touch. I don't care who you are - just touch me already!??

22. I keep a carton of a half-dozen hard-boiled eggs in the fridge at all times - they are delicious and convenient for snacking.

23. If you ask me for the recipe of my peanut butter cookies, I won't really give it to you. I'll ACTUALLY give you a really good fake that I found somewhere online.

24. Sometimes I am incredibly indecisive.

25. I leave music playing in my apartment even when I'm not home, just for the lingering aura that I imagine it leaves.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Another spring.
Another heartache.
Another set of lessons learned.
(although not necessarily in that order)

I'm talking to Ricco the other day, and he, in guy language, says to me, "Wen, we boys are different. To us, it's no big deal. We see a girl, and say 'Oh, she's hot. Sure, I'll go out with her.' But you girls, wow. You've got a whole checklist the first time you meet us. You're sizing us up already before we even say hello. Are we tall enough? How long is our nosehair? Are our toes crooked? [you see, I knew me and Ricco got along well for a reason] We men, and I can speak for most of us, are just different about that kind of thing...

Now Ricco is incredibly intelligent when it comes to people. You will commonly find him with his head in a book about relationships or the brain, or most recently, the female brain. When he speaks on behalf of most men, I take it with more than a grain of salt.

But he's right. And in the end, women do take relationships differently. And I have decided, as of late, that my checklist of no-way criteria includes Nobody named Chris, and No South Pacific men whose name starts with the letters J and O. It seems that men of that nature cause me more grief than any man with copious nose hair or crooked toes.

Ok, so that's a lie. I'm actually really fond of the memories and spring relationships I've had with my Aussie/Kiwi men. But, the news about my break with Jono (a collective sigh from you all, please), and all of the time I have spent thinking about it has most recently led me to believe that the 'J-O's, combined with spring time, mean heartbreak'. This will be my second in three years (and I don't intend on making it a pattern!).

Unlike last time, though, where April meant that I was facing a broken heart while heading into the dreary of cold of a New Zealand fall, I am in ever more awe of the unique April surroundings here, as well as the beauty and wonder of the freshness and warmth of spring. I nearly missed the cherry blossoms last year, and, although I refuse, by principle, to participate in the standard full out picnics to watch and take pictures of them, I do appreciate their very, very raw beauty. I have never seen anything like it.

So, the cherry blossoms, along with such pleasures as quick-drying laundry, growing tulips, playing softball, and opening the windows are keeping me light on my toes right now. I've decided to stop making lemonade (I was getting really tired of lemonade), and instead satiate my thirst with post-run banana-almond-soy-and-peanut-butter shakes (which also comes with an up-and-coming bikini body).

It's funny that in the light of a new love, or an old one lost, we seem to find that every song was written for us. It could be said that we can say the same for a good quote, or a good piece of advice. It is not unnatural that this happens, it is merely our mind's ability to take a piece of information and most closely associate it with our own true self, much like how you could probably read any horoscope and find that it matches you. Two such quotes that I have recently learned to make my own come from some incredible people,

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."
- Robert Frost

"I believe that everything happens for a reason.
People change so that you can learn to let go,
things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right...
and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together."
-Marilyn Monroe

I guess it is safe to say that life will always have heartache, and from that we learn lessons. We learn to be strong from what we don't understand, and we learn that pain is sometimes necessary, but almost always temporary.

Fortunately for all of us, though, life will most definitely (and most thankfully) bring the spring. It reminds us that all is well and good again, and that no matter the circumstances that, if we are strong, life will go on.