A Letter to the Leader of North Korea

Dear Mr. Kim Jong-Un,

Oh wait, that’s not right.

Dear Mr. President Jong-Un,

Or is it Prime Minister?  No, no, that’s not right.

Dear General Jong-Un,

Hmmm, that doesn’t sound right either,

Dear Great Leader,

No, I think that was your grandpa.

Okay, this is getting ridiculous!

Dear Kim,

On behalf of my little blog here at Life As I Understand It, I’d like to thank you for reading.  How do I know that you are reading?  Well, I have had multiple hits on recent blog posts from The Republic of North Korea, and considering that no one in your country is allowed to have Internet access, or any access for that matter, to the outside world, I assume that somehow, you are enjoying us Westerners as much as we enjoy us Westerners, and by the grace of God, you found my blog enjoyable, although slightly cheeky, and you have started to follow.  Thank you.

Since I seem to have your attention, I’d like to say a few things on behalf of the United States of America.  Please understand, I know you would be furious if one of your citizens spoke on your country’s behalf, but her in the good ole U.S. of A., we are allowed and welcomed to say what we think; we have freedom, which is actually one of our inalienable rights.  So anyways, I think a bunch of us over here are thinking you are out of your damn mind if you decide to actually attack the United States as you have done so successfully in the propaganda films you are showing your captive citizens.  It would not end well, you know, for you guys. This is not a threat by any means, I am more of a pacifist myself, as are many of the people I know.  To borrow from a 1960s Vietnam-era mantra, “Make love, not war.”  Peaceful, open communication really would be better for all of us, and I hope that you consider opening up some communication with the rest of the world, and check the tough, little-man image at the door.

Secondly, I don’t know if you have figured this out yet, but Dennis Rodman is kind of a freakazoid.  I have seen the pictures of you guys hugging it out, and although not shocked, I am a little bewildered.  Have you Googled him?  He likes to wear women’s clothes and make-up.  He likes to do anything and everything that is considered outlandish.  Do you know he actually married himself?  I don’t know how that is possible, but he did it.  You can’t marry someone of the same-sex in most of America, but apparently it is okay to marry oneself.  Who knew?

I digress.

By my estimations, you are a pretty conservative fella, I don’t know if you want your repetition soiled by hanging around with such a volatile wild-child.  Nonetheless, he does speak very highly of you.  He told Donald Trump on the Celebrity Apprentice finale that he thought you were a “cool guy.”  Wait, you probably knew that.  Don’t even try to pretend you don’t watch Celebrity Apprentice.  If you have the ability to Google this little blog, I know you would watch your “friend” on Apprentice.  Maybe seeing how he looked on the finale opened your eyes a little bit to how peculiar he really is.  I really think you should think twice about being his friend.  I am including a photo for you to maul over.


Lastly, I just want to say most of the world is saddened that the citizens of your country struggle the way they do.  By now you know I am a high school English teacher, and much of the way you run your country is very reminiscent of Brave New World and 1984.  You do know those books are considered dystopian literature, right?  Those worlds are not the ideal; on the contrary, they are fictional models of what not to do.  Maybe you could read some other Western works that our more upbeat and uplifting.  The United State Constitution is a pretty decent work.  Too pushy?   Too, you-should-be-like-us?  I get it.  You don’t want to be us.  Well, what about Walden by Henry David Thoreau?  It is also non-fiction but it has a really good message about living life with purpose.  I really think you would like it, and maybe it would help you see that keeping up with the Joneses is not all that it is cracked up to be, and you and the citizens of North Korea would probably be happier if you came out of your lives of quiet desperation.  After you finish Walden read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.  It’s not really a life changer, but it’s one of my favorite books, and I think you might enjoy it.

Okay, well, thanks again for reading.  I hope that you continue to enjoy, and I hope you take to heart what I have said.  I tell my students often, “Make a friend, be a friend.”  I think it’s important to be kind and show love.



Random Thoughts Day 10: I Am Proud to Be an American Citizen

The older I get, the more cynical I get.  As an American, I feel like political issues are tearing this country apart: health care, education, and gun control are just some of the topics that are fragmenting neighbors.  Republicans hate Democrats.  Democrats hate Republicans.  If you vote with your heart, and choose who you believe to be the best candidate, you are scoffed at for being idealistic.  Political discord brings a dismal and bleak tone to America.

However, the American people and the American political system are not the same.  the American people are united in one basic belief: We are the People of these United States.  We are united in a common belief of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  If anyone challenges that belief, we ban together to show them that we are strong, we are unified, and we stand as one.

Don’t believe me? Watch this video.  Be prepared to get goosebumps.

I am proud to call myself a citizen in the United States.  To my fellow countrymen, I may not practice the same religion or have the same beliefs and customs as you do, but that does not matter.  We are united.  We are one!

What Do I Tell My Children?


As many of the faithful know, I have three beautiful daughters.  Sometimes, when I look at them, I am jealous of the ease of their lives.  My own childhood was defiled by problems: parents who did not think it unhealthy to fight in front of the children, alcoholism, and at times, boredom.  I was not protected from the harsh realities of life nor was anyone ever trying to make sure I enjoyed it.

However, I parent differently.  It does not hurt that my husband and I are best friends.  It is rare that we argue, but when we do, we always make sure that if it feels like it is going to escalate, we remove ourselves from the children.  Secondly, it is difficult to be bored in this day and age.  Technological advancements make it virtually impossible to feel like the only thing there is to do is watch paint dry, and thirdly, I like activity, so we are always on the go.

Yes, I think I have created a pretty good childhood experience for the girls.  They are free from the extraneous worries of the adult world.  They are free to live life and enjoy it for its intrinsic value, and that is why, days like yesterday are so difficult.

I drove home from work yesterday in silence.  I do not know why.  Usually after I call the girls to tell them I am on my way home, I like to get lost and process the day with the sounds of the radio.  Yet yesterday, for whatever reason, I drove home in silence.

Thus, when I walked in, I found it odd to find all three girls in the livingroom.  As of late, the three have not been getting along as well as they used to get along.  At thirteen, ten, and eight, they all have variant interests and wants.  While Carson wants to come home and bury herself in her room so she can Facetime her friends, the other two still want to be rambunctious and play.  It is not uncommon for me to walk through the door with one of my daughters complaining about someone else.

Yesterday, though, it was different.  I walked in and the house was virtually silent.  I did not hear the squeal of laughter coming through the wall from Carson’s room.  I did not hear the playful sounds of Maggie and Lizzie fighting over the remote or whose turn it was on Club Penguin.  The only sound in the house was the hum coming from the television in the livingroom.

Turning the corner, they were all sitting together, gripped by whatever program was on the television.

“What are you guys doing?” I asked naively, unaware of the events of the last hour.

“Did you see this?” Carson asked with alarm in her voice.  I turned the corner to view the television.  Within seconds I read the headline and saw the initial images of the blast. “Boston Marathon Bombing.”

“Jesus,” I squeaked out as I took a seat on the couch with them.

The four of us sat together on one couch, and for a few minutes no one spoke.  I was trying to figure out what was being reported.  My daughters looked on in different levels of understanding.  Lizzie was more confused than anything; Maggie looked scared; Carson, well her eyes made me the most nervous.  She understood what had happened, and she is at the age where she can process the implications and feel concern for the safety of herself and others as a whole.

What do I tell my children?  How do I explain the unexplained terroristic attack of any individuals– knowing full well that no matter who the culprit, foreign or domestic, that this was an act of terrorism?  How do I explain the situation in such a way that they do not feel afraid to live their every day lives?  Running a marathon is not out of the ordinary, just as going to work or riding in the subway, but we all know that the World Trade Center came down on what seemed to start off as an unadventful Tuesday, and the London Subway was attacked on a pretty typical Wednesday.

These are the situations where I fear that I do not know how to parent well.  I do not want my children to be terrified to live, but yet, I need for them to be cognizant and sometimes suspicious of the world.  All the same, I do not want their nighttimes to be plagued by nightmares, nor do I want their daytimes to be crippled with fear.

“Who would do this?” my middle daughter asked.  I looked into her eyes, and I knew I needed to be the parent.  I needed to put her mind at ease.

“I don’t know, Honey.  Someone who does not have regard for others’ lives,” I said.  I grabbed the remote and turned off the television for a moment.  I wanted their full attention.  “Girls, events like what just happened are scary.  Innocent people are hurt, and right now, we do not know why.  Right now, the only thing we can do is pray: pray for the victims, pray for the families, pray for some answers.”

I looked into each of their eyes.  They are so young and innocent and good.  “It’s okay for you to feel badly for the victims.  It’s okay to feel upset.”

They all nodded in agreement.  I decided to save the conversation about living each day to the fullest for a later time.  They wanted for us to sit together as a family and just be.  We turned CNN back on.  We watched the images and heard the frightening details of the second bomb, and another probable explosive.  We each processed it differently.

As a mother, I have a heavy heart.  Every single victim is someone’s son or daughter, someone’s brother or sister, possibly, even someone’s father or mother.  Why do innocent people have to endure the pain and hostility of others?  Why is this unwarranted suffering thrust into these radiant lives?

What do I tell my children to help any of it make sense?