11 Sep

over the hill

Who taught: Rachel, Emily and Liz

Over the hill

over the hill party

I am not sure it is a good thing or not but people still think I am young.

In two months, I will be 38 years old. Lucky me because I would be 40 next year if I were in Korea. I think I mentioned this in one of my previous posts. Basically, Korea is one of the countries that use a very different system to count age.

My friends and I have a regular bible study on Thursdays. Last week, we talked about our ages and I mentioned that I would be 40 next year if I were in Korea. And, Rachel said, “We should have over the hill party then.”

Isn’t it very clear what it means? The expression is based on the assumption that 40 is the climax of our life. And, after 40, what’s waiting for us is the downhill.

Here is my thoughts! In one sense, that’s kind of sad because I do not have many days to reach the climax of my life but I am not sure what I have accomplished so far. Looking back, I have spent most of my time, studying. I have two master’s degrees and almost every day, I still study, reading books, listening to other people’s lectures and coding, to teach better. Oh… I am happily married and do have great friends. Well, I still have a long way to go financially but at least own a small house. Well, that sounds not bad, right?

On the other hand, it’s good because all I need to do from now on is going the downhill and we all know that is easy compared to climbing up.

I would have my over the hill party in about two years and will remind you of this expression. But, you could think about this expression on your own 40th birthday. In case yours is today, happy birthday to you and enjoy your over the hill birthday party! Remember! It’s all downhill from now and enjoy.

03 May

make out

Who taught: Emily

Making out(source: http://www.toothpastefordinner.com)

Two days ago, Jessy and I went to a restaurant to have lunch together with my friends. We were late because Jessy had a headache and, thus, we needed to stop by a grocery store to buy painkillers.

As we walked around the grocery store to find painkillers, Emily texted me. Here is what she sent.

“Stop making out in the car and get in here. I’m hungry! :)”

Frankly, I did not know what she meant by making out in the car. Besides, I was trying to get to the restaurant as soon as possible. So, instead of texting her, asking what she meant, I just sent a text, “Sorry! Will be there soon.”

If you are a native English speaker, you may imagine what happened in the restaurant. All of my friends were like, “What? Terry did not deny making out in the car. What the heck!” Yeah yeah yeah! They had to laugh. At least, I made my friends happy for a few minutes, right?

So, as Jessy and I got into the restaurant and sat in chairs, Emily had to ask me this question, “Terry! Tell me… Do you know what ‘making out’ means?”

I said, “No! not really.” Then, they were all like, “Oh, that is why.. At least your response now makes sense.”

The thing is we did not really go into details about what it really means. You know what my guess was? I thought making out in the car means having a sex in the car, which can happen in many cases. Don’t you agree?

Then, I had to look it up on Urban Dictionary after I got back home. Interestingly, it means just a long kiss, especially french kiss. But, I still think that is kind of weird. I mean, once you got into a long french kiss, how could you keep yourself from having a sex? I think that making out should mean “having a long kiss and eventually end up having a sex.”

To make it clear, we did not make out in the car on that day. I mean just on that day. 🙂

21 Mar

chip in

Who taught: Rachel, Emily, Liz and Nadire

Chips (source: http://www.donotyet.com/)

Spring is here! Yesterday was warm and beautiful in Pittsburgh. How about where you are? Hope you enjoy a lot today!

Today’s story is Nadire’s. If I remember correctly, she is from Turkey and has been in the U.S. for only a month. She lives with Rachel, Emily and Liz. A few days ago, they decided to have a small party at home. As Emily prepared the party, Nadire asked Emily, “Hey, Emily! Is there anything I need to do or bring?” “No, not really! Maybe if you can chip in with a bottle of wine, that would be great but do not worry about it too much,” said Emily. It is a very typical answer, right? Nothing special or hard for you, my American friends. A few hours later, Rachel saw bunch of chips and asked Emliy, “What are these chips? I do not think we bought them.”

I guess you probably realize it now. That is right. When Nadire heard Emily saying, “chip in,” she thought Emily want her to buy chips for the party. FYI, “chip in” means “contribute money or labor.” I think it is from the usage of chips for gambling. At least, that is my feeling about its etymology but I might be wrong.

Anyway, this is very possible. Nadire! If you get to read this post, do not worry about it too much. I have been here in the U.S. for about 5 years and I still have the same issue you just experienced. It will take time and you need patience. And also, most of all, you need to ask a lot of questions. In my case, whenever I am with my American friends, I do ask a lot of questions to them about expressions they use. Rachel and Emily said they now realize that native English speakers use a lot of expressions that might be hard for non-native English speakers to understand.

Admitting that you are a non-native English speaker and asking a lot of questions is the most important step to take to be able to learn new expressions. A lot of times, non-native English speakers are afraid of what native English speakers would think if they ask questions about expressions. They would think I am stupid. I think that thought itself is more stupid. If someone who is non-native Korean speaker would try to learn Korean, asking many questions, I would really do my best to explain expressions to them.

So, be always open to learn and ask questions to learn new expressions and probably use them later. I now get to use some of the expressions I learned from my friends. I feel very thrilled when I use them to my friends who taught them to me. I am sure they are proud of me too. Learning new things is so much fun. Keep up your good work, Nadire!

26 Jan

big cheese

Who taught: Drew, Jon, Emily and Rachel

The big cheese (source : http://www.ohgeez.com/)

Last Saturday, Jessy and I went to see Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra’s concert. My friend Liz is the assistant concertmaster of the orchestra. It was awesome. We were able to see some young musicians. They are all teenagers but performed like professionals. We were able to see their passion in music. One of the most beautiful things in the world is, in my opinion, seeing someone doing something with passion and happiness. Having said that, I would love to quote part of the President Barack Obama’s speech yesterday at the State of the Union.

One mother of two, a woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since she was 18 years old. And she told me she’s earning her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her children to pursue their dreams too. As Kathy said, “I hope it tells them to never give up.”

Very inspiring, isn’t it? At 55 years old, she decided to learn a new thing to pursue her dream. Hope I keep my passion at 55 or even older. Oh… and I also hope you do too.

Going back to the story being with my friends… Before the concert, we all went an Italian restaurant to have dinner together. During dinner, we talked about Emily’s story about her not properly being covered by health insurance. She has been waiting for a while to be covered by the company health insurance but did not happen yet. Hearing this, Drew said, “Who is the big cheese at your work? You should talk about it.” Well, based on the context, I was able to understand what they were talking about but the expression itself would not give any hint to me. The meaning of the expression is “most influential or important person in a group.”

I was so curious about the origin of the expression that I had to look it up. I found a few different theories but there is one very believable or probable. The Persian or Hindi word “chiz” means a thing. So, big cheese or big chiz is what? That’s right. It is a “big thing.” Now, are you a big cheese at your work? 🙂

I have a question. Can I say the big cheese in America is Barack Obama?

04 Nov

blue vs red

Who taught: Emily and David

Flag of South Korea (source: wikipedia)

As a South Korean, I am very fond of blue and red colors because the flag of South Korea has TAEGUK in the center which has blue and red colors to represent yin and yang. (For that reason, it is also called TAE-GEUK-GI.) Blue is yin and red is yang. Looking at the flag, you can tell the blue and red colors are tightly connected to each other. This represents a continuous movement within infinity, the two merging as one. (source: Wikipedia)

Two days ago, there was a midterm election in the U.S. from which new U.S. Senate and House of Representatives members were selected. (Some states also elected new governors.) I was very interested in finding out the result. Not surprisingly, it was a big win by the Republican party, GOP (Grand Old Party), over the Democratic party. One of the most interesting outcomes was related with Pennsylvania (PA) state where I live. Historically, PA has been considered as a Democratic stronghold. For this reason, people call PA a “blue state with red center.” Do you know why? The identified color of the Democratic party is blue whereas that of the Republican is red. In the center of PA, a very rural area with a very low population density, people are all republicans whereas most of the people other than the center are democrats. But, this time, Republican candidates swept PA. Especially, governor and senator were from the Republican party.

After the election, my friend Emily and David updated their facebook status, saying “PA is going Red.” Now, without knowing the context mentioned above, no one would be able to understand what it means. Or maybe, people might think PA is gonna be in debt since “being in the red” means being in debt. Don’t you think?

So, to sum it up, it was very interesting for me to see the conflict between Red and Blue in the U.S.

But, I am sure that the new leaders, regardless of their parties, will work together, just like yin and yang of TAEGEUK, so that the country is really moving up to the infinity and beyond like a soaring eagle.