Foreign Living

Posted November 2, 2012 by damonasumner
Categories: Food for Thought

“You guys want to go to London for our summer vacation?”

That was never a question asked my in house. Shucks, I’m not sure we ever took a family vacation, let alone travel across the world.

Yet, the lack of global traveling wasn’t because my parents were cruel and negligent. They were hard workers, legal-hustlers, good people.

Seeing the world just wasn’t ever a part of the dinner time discussion.

I’ve been in China now for roughly two months and I keep saying, “man, I NEVER thought I would be in China!”

Growing up I loved sports.

I wanted to obtain a good job(after I realized my prayer of being taller than 6’1 wasn’t really going to come through and sports would only be recreational), marry a pretty girl who shaved her legs more frequently than she washed behind her knees. I figured I’d live in the state I went to college or move to a state with a strong job opportunity. We’d settle there, have three daughters and vow to never put a “isha”, “ika” or “que” in their names. We’d grow old there, be well-respected in the community and own a barbershop named ” D’s Cutz”.

My worldview, at the time, didn’t see myself ever actually exploring the “world”.

I’d make a bold prediction and say, neither does yours.

Last year, I asked a third grade student, in a financially-struggling community, to tell me what state he lived in. He told me the city. I asked him what country did he live in. He told me the state. He said he had never heard of Canada!

Maybe it’s me but desiring to see the world we live in, isn’t being pushed, promoted, encouraged in these times; at least not like the concept of finding a good job, stacking money and getting some status.

Now, let me stop and say that if you’ve got a good job and a great family and are loving life in the city that you grew up in and have a daughter named Tanika, Tanisha or Tanique, I’m happy for you.

All I’m saying is that: this globe is far bigger than you could imagine.

It’s far bigger than I could imagine.

There are cultures bubbling with traditions unfathomable to a country fried steak-eating southerner. There are places on this globe with food so exotic and different that after attempting to plow through their buffet, your taste buds would be screaming for SPAM.

The other day I’m pretty sure we accidentally walked into a butcher shop. There were cages full of ducks, chickens, cats and geese, all staring at me, as we walked by. Their stares pierced into my soul and I could tell that they wanted to whisper, “save me bro. I haven’t seem my brother in six days and I don’t think he is coming back.”

I couldn’t observe that image in the sweet land of America.

The fact that there were over six hundred men and women,in downtown Shanghai, outside in the streets, dancing to 12 different songs, simultaneously, at 9:30pm, on a Wednesday night, rocks my world.

Have you ever thought, “I wonder what the fine people in Uruguay are doing right now?”

Have you ever pondered, “I wonder if the sweet people in Estonia enjoy ‘Scandal’ as much as I do?”

Have you ever fathomed, “I wonder if the great land of Angola hopes that tall tees and jersey dresses come back in style soon?”

This world is too grand to go unexplored. So don’t let it.

Save, plan and just take a risk.

Whatever country you’re reading this in, it’ll be there when you get back.

I promise.

What country have you always wanted to visit and why?

Big Bad Wolf

Posted September 11, 2012 by damonasumner
Categories: Guidelines to Life

I’m always slow, never taller than 5’8 and can’t quite make scrambled eggs as good as I want.

Maybe you’re like me and sometimes your dreams have too much of reality in them.

Mine do.

I remember in one dream I ordered three whole cheesecakes, all for myself. I was dreaming, so I figured that I could handle all that heavenly goodness. Wrong. The next scene in the dream was me vomiting in a public toilet, while listening to the greatest hits of John Travolta, on the store’s PA system.

We can’t escape reality, even in our dreams. Yet, my short time in China has taught me something else about dreams.

Our fears are only as scary as our Dreams.

When I was fifteen, I remember losing sleep over how I was going to ask this particular girl out. I mean I dreamt about every possible scenario. The worst possibility I figured was that I’d ask her, she’d say no, but also announce it in the school paper that she had rejected me. I’d get so embarrassed that I’d drop out, get a pet crab and name him Sebastian. I’d never leave my room and get a bad case of Shingles. Eventually, I would become that guy who worked third shift at Walmart, but always requested to work in the women’s lingerie section. Crazy right?

Fear is subtle. It takes dreams and with the most covert action of force, blows them out of proportion.

Fear always finds a way to become the big bad wolf.

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Take China for example. Since this past January, I toiled and worried about everything, China. Was this job going to be fun? How was my family going to be taken care of? Would I be able to find a good taco shop? (I have yet to see a SINGLE Hispanic here.)

I wrestled with the thought that maybe this move to a foreign country wasn’t a good idea because there were so many loose ends that needed to be tied up. There were tons of “what ifs” and honesty I wasn’t sure if we’d have money, on one salary, to eat every night!

But you know what?

Fear is just a over-glorified magnifying glass.

So many times, our daydreams create this monster that can’t be tackled. Yet, when we finally muster up the courage or are forced to face our fears, we end up saying, “oh that’s it?”

Yea, that’s it.

Fast forward to now and I’m in my petite chinese apartment, eating a snickers, impatiently waiting on my wife to arrive, so we can ball outta control at this flea market I found around the corner.

I haven’t died. I haven’t gotten the bird flu or been thrown into a Chinese prison because someone over heard me listening to some Lecrae. At restaurants, I order my food like a four-year old, with pointing and grunts, but I am making it and enjoying every moment!

Had I listened to my fears, I’d probably still be in Atlanta loving life, but only because I allowed my fear to control me.

That girl in high school did reject me. It hurt, but nowhere near the fictional fears that swam in my head for nearly three months.

Don’t let fear control you.

Big bad wolves only exist in fairly tales.

What are you fearful of right now?

A Good Thing

Posted September 11, 2012 by damonasumner
Categories: Food for Thought

Tags: , , , ,

You ever meet someone who you knew was out your league?

I did.

I want to pause for a second and highlight the woman who has been my oxygen since 2005.

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KaToya Sumner. My gorgeous wife.

As this blog returns soon to its consistent-self, full of banter that portrays my life’s adventures, I have to introduce many of you to the sidekick, of the guy who writes things occasionally that shouldn’t even be thought of.

In a nutshell, we started dating on the day of our high school graduation, dated through college, got married in school, had a baby, moved across the country then moved across the world.

I still can’t really believe how I got her.

My “game” at that time was on Urkel. I had some leftover baby-weight that refused to go away, a Mazda 626 with no a/c and a bent up trunk that no longer opened from the outside and daily I quoted phrases from Dragon Ball Z. (you know that show was bananas. Don’t lie.)

Nonetheless, I’m eternally grateful.

I love my wife for millions of reasons but probably the number one reason why my heart burns endlessly for her, is simple.

She’s better than me.

Daily she showcases the compassion, love, hard-work ethic, charisma, consistency, I’d never dream of. Shucks, I’d much rather stay at home, eat a box of Star Crunch in an afternoon, and enjoy our son. Yet, she challenges my lackadaisical posture to continue to strive for excellence.

Many of you know us and would maybe think that we are great together. Thanks, I’ll take that. But please know that she’s carrying most of the weight. It hasn’t always been a walk in the park.

I used to really suck.

Once, I took a walk with a mutual friend, who was a girl, at 3AM, in college because we weren’t tired. (KaToya is my only girlfriend. I didn’t have much “boyfriend” experience to go off of, except for reruns of Fresh Prince.) I told you I used to suck. Past tense.

In life, we always utilize our human bodies to do work, play sports, enjoys our favorite activities, yet, never for a moment think of the millions of cells, organs and bones, that allow us to do the things we love; backstage, behind the scenes, without recognition.

KaToya is my backbone.

Now, as I type this post, in a hotel thousands of miles away, she’s remained behind for a few weeks to work, take care of our son, empty our storage pretty much single-handedly, drive across the country and still has managed to encourage me.

Flabbergasted.

Seven years later, so much has changed between us. My weight, our finances and our family structure are just to name a few, but one thing hasn’t.

I still don’t deserve her.

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Made in the USA

Posted September 5, 2012 by damonasumner
Categories: Uncategorized

“Where can I find some sesame chicken,” I asked. “America,” she proclaimed. 

This broke my heart. 

I was confident that when I arrived to shanghai that everything media, movies, music, national geographic and mall food courts had declared to me about china were true. Far from the truth. 

No one looks like “Liu Kang”. Pandas aren’t domesticated. Spring rolls are nowhere to be found. 

America’s china is so much better than China’s China though. 

Let me clarify. 

America is very good at what he does. America will take a concept, a reality, or a piece of history and romanticize it to the point where you will walk away and think, “man, slavery wasn’t so bad. It was really a good economical decision.” He did that with China. He took a sweet people who work tirelessly for their families and somehow molded them into a karate-crazed congregations of twins. 

America lied.

But I miss that lie. 

Don’t get me wrong. There’s times when I walk out my front door and anticipate tasting some type of mysterious meat that was just killed, skinned, and boiled in an alley and served on a rusted shopping cart. Then there’s other days when I would prefer to walk into a “China King”, see Pablo cooking in the back and order some Sweet and Sour chicken. 

Mornings come when I love the fact that no one in my apartment building can understand me but can only reciprocate a smile that screams, “dude, I have no idea what you’re saying. I’ve actually never seen anyone as dark as you. Can I touch you? Forget asking, I’m just gone touch you anyway.” Yet, some evenings have come when I’d like to play a good game of Taboo with some Chinese Americans who only shop at American Eagle and have nothing but Lil’ Wayne in their iTunes. 

America, I hate you. 

You lead me to believe that China was just a more closed-eyed, Triad-ruined version of you. False. 

The other day I saw a Chinese woman who had to be at least 6’7. Last weekend, I saw a mother allowing her son to urinate in the bushes, right on the street. He was 13!  That’s not American. 

My time here has continued to reshape my worldview about this globe we stroll on daily. So many misconceptions, inaccurate facts, man-made opinions drown our feeble minds that whenever your bubble is forcefully busted you have no other option to be humbled. 

I have been.

It’s been refreshing. As the sun rises every morning I continue to be rocked with the fact that this Earth oozes with different nationalities, people groups, ethnicities that there’s no need for some second-hand version created thousand of miles away. 

So, sorry America, I no longer need your China. 

Even if it is better.  

China: It Begins

Posted August 21, 2012 by damonasumner
Categories: Uncategorized

I ate a dog!

Well, not exactly. It could’ve been a dog. It looked like a dog, smelt like a dog, but I’m not sure.

For those tuning back in to Damon’s corner, I just moved to china. Yes, the great land where kungfu is manufactured, eight year old girls are beasts at making Old Navy’s pea coats and where there are no traffic laws. Zero. I almost got ran over twice, by a small Volkswagen and by an old, Chinese man with more wheels than teeth. Still not keeping up? Ok let’s review.

In December 2011, I was in a class with colleagues and a girl was talking about her time as a teacher in South Korea. I thought, “wait, my family and I could travel the world, get paid and still impact lives?” So we started talking, praying, researching and dreaming. Months later, I had an inteview and accepted a teaching position in China with Disney English. This is the sweet and short version, more posts to come on the bumps and bruises that came along the way to me being here in a shanghai hotel lobby typing this post because this hotel is stuck in 1997 with poorly-working wifi.

Nonetheless, I AM in China. It feels like a dream. But it came true. (unlike that 7th grade dream to be 6’3 by the 11th grade.

I’ve been here for roughly five days now and have seen some things that I thought I would observe and a few sights that I didn’t expect. Here a few observations:

-Chinese people aren’t fat. I thought it was a myth but I have yet to see anyone over 121 pounds. You’d think after all those egg rolls someone would break the mold but nope. And just to be clear, if you’ve ever seen a fat Chinese person, they weren’t from china.

-There’s a ton of stray dogs and cats. I didn’t think they’d allow food to roam so freely.

-It’s much cheaper here. You’d think since the Chinese make 98% of the earth’s products, they’d be an expensive country, right? Naw. A mani/pedi is 30RMB. That is $5. Please be sure that I’m having Shin-Chang Mu-Hao on my toes tomorrow!

-Everyone looks the same. Period.

-There’s quite a bit of kids running through the streets around here. Now I’m not sure how the economy is around shanghai, but someone isn’t enforcing that “one child policy”. Just saying.

An adventure awaits after I open my hotel door every morning. I don’t know the language, I’m the ONLY black person on the continent and the humidity could melt a wildfire, but that’s ok! Experiencing a once in a lifetime opportunity with my family is mind blowing (my wife and son come to shanghai in September).

This simply confirmed that traveling is a must for me and mines. I’m ecstatic.

The adventure awaits!

Where have you always wanted to take an adventure?

M.I.A.

Posted December 26, 2011 by damonasumner
Categories: Food for Thought

Tags: , ,

Whew!

What a year, huh? Last time we chatted it was January and I was telling you that this world was broken. And it is, but we’ll get to that later. The real questions are:

Where have I been?

What have I been up to?

Did I write that book?

Let’s start with the first two.

I’m still residing in Atlanta with my family, except when I wrote my last post; my son had just turned one and was hardly entertaining. Now, my son is about to turn two and can eat a medium pizza by himself. I’m a proud dad.

Nevertheless, as the dudes in the hood say, “I’ve been grindin.” I’m teaching at an elementary school, taking teacher classes in the evenings, I’m doing stand-up comedy, still a dad, husband, son, brother and still serving with Blueprint Church.

I’ve been busy. Yet, in the midst of all of that, I lost something. I lost this very thing–sitting here in front of my computer, with an empty wrapper of a Little Debbie snack next to me, typing away endless rambles hoping to bring joy and inspiration to someone.

Has that ever happened to you?

You ever get so entangled with life and the “hustle and bustle” that when you come to shore, you realize some things are missing?

Maybe for you it’s your family. Maybe for others it’s their careers. Maybe for a few it’s their relationship with God. Whatever it is, it’s still there. Whatever that passion/hobby is, know that you can scoop it up and get back in the groove.

Losing things isn’t always bad. It can help bring humility to our lives that we may need, occasionally.

But it has to be something worth fighting for, worth searching for, worth losing sleep over.

So, here I am.

I found what I was looking for. My blog.

What’s gone missing in your life? 

How do you plan on finding it?

(And no, I didn’t write that book yet.)

2011: Part ONE

Posted January 19, 2011 by damonasumner
Categories: Food for Thought

Tags: , , ,

2011 will be the greatest year of your life.

Sounds good doesn’t it.

Well, I have good news. 2011 could be the greatest year of your life.

I also have bad news. 2011 could also just be another year.

pic from Flickr neilpomerleau

Crazy, right?

I was talking with my wife at the end of 2010 and inquired, “why do we always see the upcoming year as THE year?”

Is it just I?

Am I the only one who struggled with the idea that the “new” year will bring a better job, a better marriage, a better relationship, better health, more money, more traveling, more adventure, more of this and more of that.

The problem with this thought is: you.

As much as we wouldn’t like to admit it, we are the roots of the issue. Somehow, the world didn’t get the memo because when the clock hit 12:00am and the calendar flipped to January 1, 2011, you were supposed to transform. You were supposed to be more diligent with your diet and more discipline with going to the gym. You were supposed to be a harder worker on your job, a better husband, a greater mom, and a smarter student.

I’m sitting here, unlike you, and I’ve already failed to accomplish goals I set out for this year.

Despite the date, nothing has changed.

Why?

This world is broken.

And with a broken world could any year really be your greatest?

(To be continued)

 

 

 

 


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