Thursday, October 16, 2014


The other week, as I was cleaning the house, I found myself rummaging through a spare dresser drawer that I use to store items that I come across but neither have a dedicated place to put them nor wish to throw them out.

It's my odds-and-ends drawer. In it, I am currently keeping a candy tin filled with pennies, a red rubber duck with horns (don't ask), a Star Trek:TNG communicator badge, my dad's old pocket watch, empty money belts, a Ziploc bag containing paraphernalia and cash from my last trip to Scotland, two other Ziploc bags that each contain my kids' teeth (tooth-fairy collections), and various business cards.

I know: I keep a lot of crap in that drawer.

But what caught my attention, particularly because I'm writing about Jeonju University in the sequel to my novel, was this card.

This is my old ID card from the university where I taught English language in 1998. I was 33 at the time.

I can still read Korean—that is to say, I can sound out written Korean but I may not necessarily comprehend the words. I recognize the name of the university in Hangul, at the top of the card—Jeonju Dae Hak-gyo. The second Hangul line, while I can sound it out, I only understand the second-half of the line: it says Gaek-won gyeo-soogyeo-soo meaning professor.

Gyeosunim, the title of my sequel, also means professor.

 But it's the third line of Hangul on my university ID card that always gets me. It's my first name—not the name that I use. Not the name that people call me by.


The photo is passport-quality: no smile, eyes forward. My haircut was fresh from the barber shop in the student-commons building. I looked like any male student who had his hair cut at that establishment.

I've looked worse.

Since I found this card in my dresser drawer, I've been wondering what to do with it. I've taken it out of the drawer and put it by my night stand, where I have various odds and ends that I've found from my years in Korea, items that I'm using for research. But I don't know what to do with it, now that I've taken a photo of it. Do I keep the digitized copy and dispose of the original or do I keep it?

Perhaps, for now, I'll throw it back in the drawer where I found it.

Here's to Throwback Thursday.

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