Mama Professor Writer

Work-from-Home Parents “Playing” on Their Phones

This morning, my son plopped down next to me with our book, Jellaby: Monster in the City, and said, “Let’s read this one!”

I was checking my syllabus and prepping a lesson plan on my phone. I told him we could read it in a few minutes.

He huffed and said, “Just get off your phone, and let’s read!”

First off, he got a talking to about being rude.

Second, that talking to came after my spluttering, “I… Did you… I can’t even…” for a good couple of seconds.

The tone really caught me off guard. My son, who is pretty accustomed to how much I work from home, still sees me on the couch typing and scrolling away, and thinks, “Mom is playing on her phone again.”

Now, he’s five, so my angst there is short-lived. However, I am a little sensitive to this type of disrespect in general, since I do work from home a lot.

You don’t have to go far to see the disrespect I’m talking about. At the playground, a mama is scrolling on her phone when one of her little monkeys decides to try jumping off the swings at the highest possible point.

(Whoever designs playgrounds should not actually be trusted around children, btw).

She rushes over and kisses booboos, but the moms on the next bench are already murmuring that if she’d put her phone down once in a while, she would have foreseen this problem.

With her fortune-telling mind powers, I guess.

I often see and hear the assumption that all parents utilizing screens are selfishly addicted to their fun-time, leaving their little ones neglected, lonely, and sad.

This stereotype has the potential to label almost all academic career parents and work-from-home parents as negligent. But, the truth is: we have homework, y’all.

I’ve read that paper (too many times) about how heavy phone use isn’t good for us in general- socially, emotionally, and physically. These arguments, though, tend to focus on the added stress cellphones give individuals who are now, all of a sudden, able to bring their work lives and social forums home with them.

Since people like me were already in that boat (working from home at least part-time), all I can say is that the cellphone has made bringing my work home with me easier, far more convenient, than ever in the past. I can’t regret that my job, my professional development, and home technology use are all tied together. I’m grateful for the time I can be home with my kids, even if I am often busy on screen during this “extra” time together.

Yes, we should take time to be in the moment. Yes, children need our attention.

HOWEVER, does that mean I have to save all of the reading, grading, and writing (that I could do while my kids play at the playground) for late at night, when everyone’s asleep? ‘Cause I tend to fall asleep, too.

I can be in the moment. I can give my kids attention. I can also grade papers on my phone while they build rockets out of legos. That’s why I wanted my huge-screen cellphone in the first place. My laptop was difficult to maneuver around little kids (in fact, they killed one a little over a year and a half ago. RIP, Lenovo).

My cellphone is a compromise. I can tag-team with Husband more, if my workspace is flexible. Since he is the full-time parent, if I just locked myself away in my room to work, the man would never have a chance to breathe. The phone is so important in this arrangement.

We have family time, play time, reading time, school time, and meal times. All of these times are phone-free.

But, then, there are still, like, 6 more hours in the day. And I have work to do. My kids have playing to do. So, we do our jobs at the same time.

I wish tech-shaming pop culture would stop telling my kids that by being on my cellphone/laptop I’m “missing all the important things.” Not only does it cast me in a bad light in my babies’ eyes, but it is bound to make them feel twinges of guilt in their future pursuits.

The future is looking like a big screen. Our kids will need to be involved in screen worlds, at least as much, and probably more, than we are. If we are going to keep repeating that balance between screen and non-screen time is important, then we need to stop judging people for using screens. The cellphone is the future. It isn’t just a toy.

I mean, my facebook app is always open (of course), but so are my gradebooks, syllabi, lesson plans, writing notebooks, camera, and email. I’m willing to bet that’s the norm for a good many of us, and that’s not changing any time soon.

We need to set a more positive tone for these work-from-anywhere practices, before our kids join us in them.






Mama Professor

17 Moments that Prove Being a Professor = Being a Mom

There are plenty of differences between being a parent and being a teacher of adults.

However, this list of similarities was super easy to make.

It took me, like, 5 minutes.

Let’s all think about that for a second…

17 Moments that Prove Being a Professor= Being a Mom


  1. Checking homework just to see if student/kid actually did it.

  2. Limiting screen time so student/kid will 1.) focus and 2.) not be so damn rude.

  3. No matter what you and the students/kids are discussing, being interrupted with, “Can we go outside?!”

  4. Only having their undivided attention at story time.

  5. Teaching respect.

  6. Loving their lightbulb moments.

  7. Understanding that recess and/or sports practice is their favorite “class.”

  8. Reprimanding student/kid for something and knowing all they somehow heard was, “She must not like me.”

  9. All slip-ups resulting in lame excuses- “I didn’t do it because everything else was more important, and I fell asleep.”

  10. The whining.

  11. Inspiring loyalty, effort, and love just by whipping out the candy.

  12. Equipping all of student’s/kid’s important lessons with a multimedia slideshow, preferably with a video.

  13. Repeating yourself at least 10 times.

  14. Bragging about your successful teaching/parenting strategies.

  15. Being told about how their other teacher/parent let them do it THIS way.

  16. Swapping horror stories with other teachers/parents.

  17. And, finally, turning out the lights in a quiet room? Guaranteed to send student/kid straight to sleep.



Fantasizing about Your Family Beach Vacation? I Can Fix That.

So, you’re dreaming about the beach?

February got you stuck in “Oh, I wish-” fantasies about warm weather, the smell of the ocean, your family frolicking while you relax and take in the sights and sounds of paradise?

I can fix that.

Prepare to love winter again.

That beach? First, you gotta get there.

And the odds are that “there” means waaaayyyyyyy over there.

Hours and hours.

With kids.

In an enclosed vehicle.

“We’ve traveled before,” I hear you say.

“Our kids are pretty good in the car,” someone affirms.

I think you’re not quite with me.

Someone is going to say, “I need to go to the bathroom! Now!”

And there will be no bathroom.

Someone will be fussy and upset. You will want to stop.

There will be no place to stop.

It will probably also be raining.

One kid will lash out at the other kid in a moment of cooped-up frustration.

About halfway through the trip they master the art of being just out of reach of your swiping-in-the-backseat-to-settle-them-down arm.

You resort to threatening to take away things if they don’t start behaving back there. By the time you actually get to your vacation destination your empty threats would have them on lockdown in the hotel room with no TV, toys, or foods other than broccoli.

But they know you’re full of it.

Anarchy reigns for the last two hours of the trip.

Once you arrive, check in, unload, and settle in the hotel, you simultaneously realize that 1.) you are now exhausted, and 2.) the vacation fun countdown has begun, and you now feel obligated not to waste a single second of it.

Even though you’re exhausted.

So, you open suitcases and fish around for swim suits.

You put little wriggly bodies into said swimsuits.

The boy’s is too big and you know he’s going to end up naked in the ocean at some point.

The girl is pouting because you are making her wear swim trunks and a sun shirt instead of either some skimpy bikini that traps the sand and seashells in the most uncomfortable places possible or a who-the-hell-invented-something-a-child-can’t-go-to-the-bathroom-in one piece suit.

The sunscreen. Oh, God, the sunscreen.

It’s normally hard to put sunscreen on little kids, but now they’re excited. They will never be less than two feet away. You will put the sunscreen on everyone with your arms fully extended in front of you (which counts as one last ab workout before you put on your own swimsuit), frequently having to stop to haul the slippery devils closer because they think you’re done every time you pause to get more lotion on your hands.

They are bouncing off the walls.

You begin the other side of vacation packing.

Boogie boards, beachy shoes, towels, water bottles, that hollowed out sunscreen container you saw on Pinterest that you can stuff your hotel keycards, wallets, and keys in, a cooler full of snacks, towels, beach blanket, those stadium chairs that fold up so you can throw them over your shoulder on a strap, shovels, pails, water squirter, and a lot more.

But somehow, after packing all that and trekking down to the water, you will still have forgotten at least three must-have items back in the hotel room.

I promise.

Upon arrival, The boy runs screaming directly into the water. Husband has to run screaming in after him, since the boy only imagines he knows how to swim and has no fear of going too far into the crashing waves.

Husband lifts a happily spluttering boy out of the water. The swim trunks are already down.

The girl wants to look for seashells.

You sit on a beach blanket and encourage her to look for shells.

But she doesn’t want THESE shells.

Slowly you are dragged up and down the beach while the girl scurries around gathering only the seashells with purple polka dots.

When you return to the beach blanket, it has been invaded by a super-sandy boy and Husband devouring the snacks.

You rinse the kids hands, but you still shudder every time they take a bite because bananas don’t make those sounds unless they’ve been given a crunchy coating of sand.

Family fun.

For several hours.

At some point, maybe when the kids are catching their breath from running screaming into too-deep water, swallowing it, thinking they were drowning, getting scooped up, crying and then laughing about the water that came out of their noses, you will look up and notice that the sunset is beautiful over the water.

And you will realize, “Oh yeah. I’m at the beach. On vacation.”

And you might blink a few times. And you will promise yourself that after the kids go to sleep, you and your husband will sit on the balcony and watch the ocean in the moonlight.

Which is sweet. And cute. And unlikely.

Because kids only sleep in a hotel after a lot of settling down. A looooootttttt of settling down.

And mama is already tired. The odds are, no matter how many beds the hotel room has, everyone will end up in one of them (yours), passed out by 9 o’clock.

And you won’t dare move.

Until 5 a.m., when the kids simultaneously wake up screaming, “Let’s go back to the OCEAN!!!”

And then you get a FULL day of family beach fun.

At some inevitable point during these trips, you start to fantasize about down time in your own living room. You imagine watching the kids playing in the back yard while you stretch out on the couch and channel surf.

Now THAT sounds like paradise.



Fayetteville, Lately Mama Professor Writer

A Girl, a Guy, and an Immigration Officer


This post is about my beloved’s experience with immigration.

I know that the current political environment is causing people to tell their immigration stories. I get that, but for years, my husband and I told his immigration story as a fun party anecdote. It has everything- romance, drama, tension, comedy, happy tears. It’s a show-stopper.

First, the fun part.

My husband came to this country with a 6-month sight-seeing visa. He had just decided to start his life over. He’d left his job, his home, his family, and come to America to visit with his sister and figure out what his next steps would be.

While he was here, he made a friend who offered to sponsor him for a work visa. Husband was all like, “Why not?”

And a year or so goes by.

Husband is then about ready to go back to Korea.

His friend once again tempts him into staying (I am endlessly grateful to this friend, btw), and talks Husband into applying for a student visa, so he can study English before heading back home to Korea.

Since Husband’s major in college had been Business English, he decided to try for the visa. His expectations weren’t very high, since student visas can be difficult to get, and Husband wasn’t exactly a traditional student’s age.

He got the visa! And in record time, too.

Husband signed up for a university ELL (formerly ESL) program. It was harder than he expected. A professor came to their classroom and encouraged all of the students to come to the Writing Center if they needed extra assistance.

That professor was my boss at the time.

Husband came to the writing center, we got set up with regular weekly appointments, and we bonded over his quest to learn English (or so I thought. Since then, he’s confessed that he thought I was cute. Being distracted, he didn’t learn a darn thing).

I liked him, even though I had no idea what to do with that emotion. I thought he’d asked me out at one point during the school year. He’d brought me a gift, and I sort of freaked out. He then changed his wording, and we continued our appointments without incident.

At our very last appointment, when we were saying goodbye, he actually asked me out. Well, he asked me if I wanted coffee, and I said yes.

A lie I have yet to live down after 7 years of marriage.

I don’t like coffee. I never wanted coffee.

I liked Husband.

Still do.

There was “coffee” (hot chocolate).

A “let’s just be friends” speech.

Sadness about the “let’s just be friends” speech (my dad drove an hour to bring me double stuffed oreos).

A rescinding of the “let’s just be friends speech.”


Engagement (brief one).


Green card?

I remember looking over the government documents, trying to understand the legalese enough so that I could explain it to Husband.

But I hyperventilated before I could manage it.

I did my weird, look-perfectly-calm-but-succumb-to-an-internal-panic-attack-until-I-see-stars thing.

Husband took away my laptop.

He contacted a friend of a friend who was an immigration lawyer, fluent in Korean.

Thank you, Jesus.

Why was I so scared? Well, there was a list. People were posting that the green card process was no big deal as long as you didn’t fit into strange categories, like, oh, I don’t know-

  • Having a large age gap
  • A very brief engagement
  • Difficulty communicating (we were still working on the English)

So, we did everything so, so right, knowing we were going to have to fight to prove our relationship was the real deal. The application said to send at least three pictures documenting our relationship. We had to buy an especially reinforced envelope to include all of the pictures we sent.

We practiced the relationship questions until we could have won a couples game show. We got ready for our interview with the immigration officers while drilling each other on favorite foods. We carefully took one last look around the apartment, so that, if we were questioned about our intimate spaces, we could prove we lived together.

Immigration time. This was before we had a GPS, so after a lot of tense yelling that it wasn’t me, but the MapQuest directions, that got us lost, we’d arrived.

Yellow waiting room. Hard metal folding chairs. A lot of tense-looking families speaking different languages.

Our turn.

Husband and I met with a woman who tried to set us at ease (easier said than done) and the interview got started.

We were completely blindsided.

After a friendly two-minute chat with me about how my family accepted Husband, the woman turned her attention to Husband. From that point onward, I might as well have left the room.

“Have you ever willingly visited a communist country, and if so, which ones?”


“What is your experience with weapons of mass destruction? Have you ever assembled or disassembled a bomb?”


“Have you ever infiltrated another country, be you at peace or war?”


So, it turns out, Husband did his military service in Korea years ago. He had also gone the extra mile and spent at least a year in their version of the Special Forces Marines. That unit had some rather specific duties and training that, apparently, included some knowledge of bombs and regularly infiltrating North Korea for training purposes.

Screw our age gap. They’d red-flagged Husband as a potential terrorist threat.

Husband’s neck had beads of sweat dripping down to his shirt collar. I sat by helplessly.

Since I was familiar with Husband’s English level, I saw his confusion and once tried to step in to help explain one of the woman’s questions. I was told to let him answer, and had to watch him flounder.

The interview was extra tricky. They had Husband’s information. They knew he had been part of a unit that made weapons and was trained to broach a sealed country. If Husband didn’t admit to these things, he would be very much in the wrong. But, under these circumstances, admitting to these things made him look like a threat anyway.

He did his best. I tried not to bite my lips off.

Somehow, we passed.

Green card approved.

It was all so surprising for us, once it was done. Get grilled. Get out. Green card.

I don’t remember what happened next. I think we might have passed out in the car in the parking lot for a while. I remember that I kept saying, “I’m shaking,” and Husband kept saying, “Oh god, I’m sweating.”

Eventually we scraped ourselves off the floor and started calling everyone with the good news and our surprising, sweaty, funny story.

The next part, the citizenship test and interview, is another story, but suffice it to say, we weren’t so worried then. We had even more pictures in the envelope that time, of two beautiful babies who look a little like both of us.

Mama Writer

Writing and Parenting (AKA Parenting while Thinking about Writing and Almost Never Writing)

What it’s like to want to write things when you have children: (Maniacal laughter.) I first realized it would be pretty impossible to work and write around my kids when my son was three mont…

Source: Writing and Parenting (AKA Parenting while Thinking about Writing and Almost Never Writing)

Mama Writer

Writing and Parenting (AKA Parenting while Thinking about Writing and Almost Never Writing)

What it’s like to want to write things when you have children:

(Maniacal laughter.)

I first realized it would be pretty impossible to work and write around my kids when my son was three months old. Even as a tiny baby, he seemed to despise my laptop. I swear he’d cry as soon as I put it near me. From that point on, I worked in shifts. I would either get up early, stay up late, work during nap times, or work when Husband could watch our son.

My writing and academic work was not compatible with childcare- not surprising, considering childcare is a super-intensive job all its own.

This was all a shock to New Mom Me, though. I vividly remember some talk aimed my way during my baby shower. It went something like, “Oh! You’re a college teacher! What a perfect job for a new mom! You only have class times and office hours on campus, and the rest of the work can be done at home while you watch the little one play!”

I have since decided that this person, who already had kids of her own, was probably laughing on the inside when she told me these things.


Evil- even if she did bring a posh diaper bag as a gift.

I guess no one is 100% evil.

Since then, I’ve been playing a painful waiting game. I’ve been looking forward to a time when I can work at home in peace.

I have 2 children now. One is school-age. One is almost school-age.

And I can’t believe I’ve been thinking, “When they go to school, I will be able to write,” for FIVE YEARS.

Five years.

I did manage to write here and there. It hasn’t been five years of nothing on the writing front, but it was five years of having ideas, wanting to write, and (almost all of the time) not having the opportunity.

It has been my experience that when I mention this

(My son just plopped down beside me and is interrogating me about what I’m writing. In Kindergarten and he still hates my laptop.

Now he is insisting I cuddle him, so I’m typing this one-handed.)

Ok- when I mention this to anyone, they seem to think I’m being ridiculous, as if I were playing the martyr, showing how much I work and sacrifice for my kids, how I always put myself last. They try to fix me and my mistaken priorities/ time management skills/ parenting strategies.


This is not just me. I don’t think that’s possible.

It is the nature of a child to be distracting to his or her parent.

It is the nature of being a full-time teacher with a family of four not to have enough time in the day for “extras.”

My creative drive is an extra.

(My kids have the sniffles and they just declared themselves too miserable to play. Therefore, cartoons are now playing- very loudly- in the background while I type this. Note to self- we are dangerously low on apple juice. It’s either brave the grocery store on a Saturday or risk a mutiny.)

(Also- grade those 50 papers.)

Fayetteville, Lately

Some Fayetteville Day Trips

We moved to Fayetteville last year because we fell in love with a job offer. I am still in love with the job.

I work pretty hard to stay in “like” with Fayetteville.

It’s a tougher city than I am used to. My dad summed it up pretty well. He said, “It’s not really like the South, is it?” For my dad, “the South” means manners and country good nature.

And he’s right. Fayetteville only seems like “the South” here and there. It is a hodgepodge city that a lot of the population considers a temporary residence. When you are just passing through, you don’t invest too much in a place.

It also has record breaking poverty and crime levels. The homeless population is through the charts, and, according to my research, there aren’t enough resources in the city to help.


A lot of people in Fayetteville need help.

A lot of people in Fayetteville are “just passing through” and have no intention of bettering the place.

Vicious cycle.

I am lucky to work for a community-minded university that has opportunities for outreach, and even service learning elements in our classes. I believe every little bit helps.

Okay. Long intro. What I wanted to make clear: I am not giving up on Fayetteville. With that said,

The best part about living in Fayetteville is the day trip distance.

My kids are old enough to handle day trips! Hooray! Those of you who suffered through the whole, feeding, napping, diaper-refreshing, mandatory cuddle time cycles of babies know what a big milestone that is!

We can drive for two hours without much complaint, and Fayetteville has amazing destinations around the 2-hour mark.

We have become regular visitors to Wilmington, NC. We love Kure Beach and have started to explore the many parks. We bought a family membership to the aquarium for less than $100.

Our aquarium membership also gets us into the NC Zoo (again less than 2 hours from Fayetteville) for FREE! There is a long list of participating zoos and aquariums that are either free or deeply discounted with the aquarium membership. The super-snazzy (translate: expensive) aquarium in Atlanta is 50% off with our membership. That wouldn’t be a day trip, but it’s still a valuable discount.

We are also only one hour away from Raleigh. I am slowly learning the ins and outs of Raleigh. I went to Chapel Hill for my undergrad years, but never really got acquainted with the neighboring city.  What we have found so far are free museums and a few wonderful parks.

The Art Museum, History Museum, and the Museum of Natural Sciences are free. You might just have to pay for parking, if it is a busy day.

Pullen Park is one of the main reasons my family goes to Raleigh. The park is right beside NC State, and features an impressively long miniature train ride, a beautiful old-time carousel, and paddle boat rides on their lovely little pond. Tickets to ride these things are not very expensive (only $1 for a train or carousel ride). Bring a picnic or eat at their super trendy (translate: local, organic, expensive) café. There are tons of playground features, including a sand and water play area. The walking trail around the lake is beautiful and borders NC State.

We also enjoy visiting Chapel Hill (again less than 2 hours’ distance). It’s my alma mater, and I like visiting memorable places and walking the beautiful campus with my family. Soon, I expect we will be ready to start attending some sporting events.

Fayetteville will grow on me. So far, I can at least credit it for having a wonderful location for exploring. Pick a direction and something awesome will be less than 2 hours that-a-way.



Adjuncting Is “Optional.”

'Do you, Tenured, take this, Untenured, through sickness and health, to have and to hold from this day forward?'
‘Do you, Tenured, take this, Untenured, through sickness and health, to have and to hold from this day forward?’

Adjuncting makes becoming a professor only something people can do if they 1.) kill themselves working multiple jobs or 2.) have someone to take care of them financially.

Look at the problematic dimensions and loops of prejudice.

She just has a master’s degree. What did she expect? We can pay her a quarter of what we pay a full-timer.

She has a husband at home who takes care of the finances. She just supplements. When a full-time position opens up, she doesn’t “need” it.

She knows how this works. That’s why she has three other jobs. We can cancel her class without notice.

They’re adjuncts. What did they expect?

Actually, we are only adjuncts because the hiring and payment of full-time professors is apparently one of the ways universities save money.

If you think tuition pays for a professor’s salary- we are getting down to some REALLY small fractions.

I have been paid $1300 to teach a 16-week class. Departments don’t come up with these numbers based on the value of the class or the teaching. It is like a universally agreed upon scam.

If no one hires full timers, the over qualified individuals who can only get jobs in academia will HAVE to accept our super-cheap, unreliably-termed, part-time contracts.

And we do.

With a Master’s in English and an impeccable teaching record, I applied for everything imaginable. I tried the party-planning route, advertising, middle management in retail, and more. Every full-time job opportunity resulted in an application during my adjunct years.

However, I’m a good teacher because that is what I am qualified to do. And résumé readers know that. A beautiful academic record resulted only in part-time academic job offers.

For five years.

A miracle broke the cycle. A librarianship coupled with writing center work that finally gave me a full-time titled position. Positions like that one are super-rare.

Once the “adjunct” title was off of my résumé, I was treated with infinitely more respect in the job market. One full-time job directly led to another. I’m in a different pool of applicants now.

I’m still the good teacher I always was. I still read, research, and write. I still attend meetings. The only difference is I now work less and get paid more. I am no longer an “adjunct” by title.

I didn’t earn the disrespectful treatment associated with the adjunct title, but I certainly received that treatment. I was a good teacher, used and overworked, and never made anything that could be termed a living wage from any of my positions.

Please compare.

At my most reliable adjunct position, I was paid $1800 per class for 3 classes a semester. You had to cut throats to get summer school. I was only so lucky twice. So, teaching 6 classes a year, I received $10,800 and 0 benefits.

I couldn’t live on that, so I had 3 other positions, adding up to about 8 classes per semester (16/year).

At my current full-time Institution, I am at the lowest full-time starting rank of Instructor, teaching the usual full-time load of classes: 4 per semester. For teaching 8 classes a year, I am paid $40,000.

Because I “deserve” it now. I’m “full-time”.

How can a system built around the pursuit of knowledge be so utterly stupid?

Fayetteville, Lately

Su’s Subs- A Fayetteville Surprise

Yelp Credit- Su's Subs

(Above photo credit goes to the YELP site).

This one was a surprise. Husband and I have been driving past the sign for a while. We talked about maybe, possibly, some day trying Su’s Subs.

We talk about trying new restaurants with kids in tow the same way NASA talks about visiting Saturn.

Then, we noticed the sign’s subheading in tiny font- “and Oriental Food.”

Now, that sounds interesting! We were determined to try this place… at some point.

6 months later.

I was eating lunch in a conference room on campus. My hall neighbor (henceforth known as Psychology Prof), pulled up a chair and opened a Su’s Subs bag that smelled A-MAZING.

He pulled out a bulgogi sandwich and a carton of piping hot french fries.

I felt my eyes go wide. The world spun a little.

“It’s a Korean place?” I rudely demanded as Psychology Prof was about to take a bite.

He paused long enough to answer, “The owner is Korean. They have a variety of food, though.”

Then I was left to eat my unsatisfying bagel while Psychology Prof polished off a bulgogi sub- with french fries! Have you ever heard of a more heavenly combination?

That evening, as soon as I got home from work, I opened my laptop and called Husband over.

Husband is Korean and the news that there was a Korean fusion restaurant down the street made him reconsider our dinner plans.

Who can eat frozen pizza when there’s yaki mandu down the street?!

I googled Su’s Subs and Oriental Food and got- well, not a lot.

Thank goodness the place is beloved enough that some helpful fan had taken a picture of the menu with his/her phone. The image showed up on Google. There was no official website, and I got the restaurant phone number off the menu photo.

And what an interesting menu! My picky kids could have regular, comfortable sub sandwiches, while Husband and I would be free to enjoy some Korean fusion.

Husband and I really wanted to just eat the appetizers, so we got a large order of yaki mandu and decided to share an entrée. We ordered the stir-fried vegetables with chicken.

I called. A friendly woman with a thick accent took my order, and Husband sped down the road.

He reported back with steaming food 15 minutes later.

According to Husband, the interior isn’t very bright. He said that he wouldn’t want to eat inside, but it was a very efficient fast food pickup.

The woman behind the counter seemed happy to see Husband.

He said something like, “I am picking up an order,” and she immediately asked him, “Are you a soldier?”

(We live in Fayetteville, NC. This is equivalent to politely asking someone “how are you?”)

Husband said no, and she continued, “Are you Korean?”

(Husband has quite an accent. I’m sure she already knew the answer!)

Husband said “yes,” but she wasn’t done yet.

“What’s your job?”

Husband answered something about being a full-time daddy before his food was ready and he left.

I thought that was hilarious.

While looking for this restaurant’s website, I noticed some reviews posted on Google. A few of them said something like, “Awesome food! The woman at the cash register was rude, though.”

I don’t know the particular circumstances of any of these reviews, but I do know there’s a cultural difference at work, here.

When Husband and I were dating, we went to his Korean church. Within 10 minutes of being introduced at a table of church fellows, I had been asked my age, occupation, if Not-Yet-Husband and I were interested in having kids, what kind of face wash I used because this woman recommended another one that would solve my skin troubles, and whether or not I was available to tutor someone’s high schooler for the SAT.

Not rude. After a few weeks of church visits, I learned that there’s a different cultural idea of “community.”

So, let’s cut to the chase. I can amend what the reviewers were saying online. The food was lovely- and there was very good, culturally-distinctive service! Steaming hot food, fast service, and friendly chit chat.

For us, the yaki mandu was pretty normal, but the dipping sauce was the GOOD stuff. The stir-fried vegetables were perfect, though we wanted a stronger taste. We would update our order next time.

Husband brought a menu home. Now, I am scheming to get him to go for a sub run.

That bulgogi sandwich is calling to me.

I scanned a copy of the menu, if anybody is interested in trying this place for themselves. The PDF is below.

Su’s Subs Menu

Fayetteville, Lately

Moving to Fayetteville in a Hurry!

A guide for anyone who has to move to Fayetteville at the last minute. The links are my advice only and I was paid zip-zero-nada to post them.

I’m here for you- and in the exact same boat. Must move now!

We moved into a lovely house last year, when I got a teaching position in Fayetteville. The landlords were cool, and the house was AWESOME. It was down the street from an elementary school that got rave reviews. We had struck gold!

Then, our landlords decided they wanted to sell the house. We are not ready to be buyers, and so… out we go. This has been my screen for the last few days.


That’s where I am now.

After the initial surprise had sunk in (we had only lived here for less than a year when they gave us 40 days’ worth of notice), we resigned ourselves to the situation and started looking for a new place.

I realize, now, that we really HAD struck gold last year. If you want to rent a house in Fayetteville, you are in for some hard work!

Since this is such a renter’s city, with the military population moving in and moving out with frequency, you’d think renting would be easy. Actually, it makes it harder.

The real estate companies and landlords are absolutely assured of rental traffic. You know those dedicated realtors who will bend over backwards to make the customer happy and strike a deal?

They don’t exist in Fayetteville!

I am calling agents and calling agents to try and set up a time to view houses. So many are saying “I will have to call you back” and never do.

Dedication is key, here.

So, after trying, flailing, and (hopefully) learning, I have some advice.

There are a number of steps to look out for:

1.) Many rental offices will not schedule times for a viewing.

The secretary who answers the phone simply says to come down with your ID and a $20 deposit, and you can sign out a key. You will arrive fresh from the ATM, a crisp $20 in hand, only to be told “Oh, honey, I rented that house out a week ago,” OR, “That house won’t be available to be viewed for three more weeks.” Always check that the house is still on the market before you traipse anywhere, no matter what the “just go to the office” secretaries say. Don’t get off the phone until you know you still have a chance for that particular property!

2.) Most of the official companies I have talked to will not “hold” a house for more than 10 days.

You found, applied, and are trying to put a deposit down for your dream house on May 15,th but want your contract to start on June 1st? Ain’t happening. You will be roped into paying prorated rent starting May 25th. I am coming from Charlotte, where renting is not as assumed, and the 10-day rule never came up there. It is practically a religion with the leasing companies here in Fayetteville.

3.) Crime. Something for those who are new to the area: If you google Fayetteville, you will probably get a ratemycity type of summary that talks about the crime rate.

I know that crime rate is sadly connected to the poverty level and, yep, this city has a high one. The city is also stratified, however, and there are plenty of “good” parts and plenty of “I can’t believe I see 7 year olds walking to school by themselves” parts. Research your neighborhoods! The Fayetteville PD uses on their website to show what crimes are on the map. Do you want to live in the neighborhood that had 20 robberies in a two-mile radius?

Big nope.

I also search the sex offender registry. They look just like everybody else, y’all. Here’s a link:

4.) Schools. Once you think you have a nice house, in a reasonable neighborhood, another big hurdle pops up: school districts.

We really did have it made in the shade with the last house. We found it quickly, saw that the assigned school had a good reputation, and snatched it up.

This time, every house we find that seems reasonable to nice is down the street from the school from hell. When you see the ratings for these schools, you may want to march down there and rescue the poor babies who are attending them.

We are trying and trying to find a reasonable house next to a reasonable school. Some search engines, like, offer a school district map. You can select a good school and it will show you what houses are for rent in that area. The Fayetteville tricky part is that the good school zones don’t have a lot of available options, and the not-so-good school zones have multiple gorgeous manors- on sale.

Home school? Is home school an option?

So, let me summarize:

Fayetteville schools are hit or miss. Watch where you are searching for a home.

Second, check your neighborhoods out. At least do a crime zone check, to give you a general idea of the area’s history.

Third, nag real estate agents on the phone to answer as many questions as possible. They are not easy to get ahold of.

And, finally, once you have found “the one” make sure you are ready to be under contract for it, and start paying the regular rent, in ten days or less.

*Oh, and don’t forget about! They have rental listings that you won’t find on the general search engines, like Zillow or Trulia. You just need to make a free account to use it, and you don’t have to be military.

The search continues! Good luck with your move!