Sunday, November 23, 2008

Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?

No, I'm not channeling Joyce Carol Oates. I'm actually looking for a job. I teach English overseas so I'm perusing Dave's ESL Cafe International Job List trying to decide where I want to be next. Where have I been?

Seoul, South Korea - 2 years, 1 in the north east and 1 in the south west. The first year we lived at the foot of a mountain that had foxholes on it, the second we were down the street from the best Mexican restaurant in Asia.

The Philippines - 3 separate 1 week vacations. Dirty, slightly dangerous, but quite beautiful if you looked in the right places. The people were wonderful. I bet I could go there right now, a year and a half after my last visit, and there would be people who knew my name and would greet me warmly.

Thailand - a week and a half last Christmas. Agog. Still. Especially with the foot of snow in my backyard. I'm applying for a job there. Living in Thailand would not be a hardship even though they pay peanuts.

Concepcion, Chile - 3 months. The food was amazing, the people were wonderful, the cold was crippling. They aren't big on heating buildings and, contrary to the palm trees, it does get down to freezing.

I've traveled pretty extensively within the US too, but that just gets unwieldy to list.

So where am I going?

Well, I've applied for jobs in Dubai, Chiba Prefecture Japan, and Thailand. I was just looking wistfully at a job in China even though I promised my mother I wouldn't work there after some damn fool sent her an article about and ESL teacher who died under mysterious circumstances while I was in Korea. So far I haven't been qualified for the posts in Morocco and Turkey that have popped up. I applied for a school in Costa Rica, but never heard back. I'm not even sure my email went through. I'd love to teach in Belize, but they, inconveniently, already speak English.

So where do you want to go? Are you the type that always has a bag packed or are you more of a home body? Have any suggestions for places I should look at more closely? Do you think you know a place that more closely resembles heaven than Phuket Thailand? 'Cause I'll go check.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Symbolism? Me?

Dara blogged about whether modern literature is too shallow. I think you get what you give, but that's not my obsession right now.

In the usual pinball effect of my brain, I bounced from thought to related thought until I landed in the glorious multi-ball slot. I started dwelling on the symbolism in my own books. Right now I'm working on the third book in the Arden FD series. Yeah, Arden, my nod to Shakespeare.

Dan is a paramedic and a suddenly reforming playboy. He met Rebecca because she ducked into the station to get out of a downpour. That rainstorm changes Dan. Rain is a nice symbol for new beginnings. Rebecca is an illustrator and watercolorist who has been making fine art because it pays better, but she hates doing it. Her major piece is called "Broken Home" (it's a smashed dinner plate cemented to a board.) Now, about halfway through the story, she is cutting mats and the blade slips, slicing open the inside of her wrist. Not deep enough to do real damage, but a dead ringer for a serious suicide attempt. The art is killing her.

When I chose to have the characters meet because of a rainstorm it was because I got caught in a rainstorm one night while walking home and chose not to duck into the local station. The symbolism dawned on me about a month ago when I dusted it off to finish it. When I thought up Rebecca's major work, I figured it was funny and realistic. I only realized it was symbolic of her relationship with her parents and her fear of giving her heart to anyone yesterday. The cut was something someone I knew in college did. It was a plot device to get Rebecca into the fire station so Dan could work on her just like the rain was a plot device to get her in there in the first place. Now the snow globe she's about to make, that's totally on purpose, but I want Dan to decode it.

If you write, do you intentionally put in symbolism or do you see it later? Or do you never see it?

When you read, do you assume the author created the symbols on purpose or that they were happy accidents?

And if you're interested in the conversation about modern lit being shallow, head over to Amused Authors