Pale skin woes

As the smog in the sky continues to block out every last UV ray, my skin grows paler and paler. Pale skin in itself would not be that bad, but when my skin gets pale, the red bags under my eyes stick out more and more.

In the summer when I am tan, those bags blend in. But usually during the winter, I get comments about how I look tired or sick. Now I am trapped in an eternal, sweaty summer with the effects of winter! How unfair!

Almost everyday I get a comment about how I look tired, or a question asking if I feel okay. It probably doesn’t help that I am a skinny boy, too. In fact, if you met me today, you might wonder if I just escaped from my parents’ basement where they have been keeping me for my whole life, feeding me the leftovers from the cat dish.

But alas, I am healthy, not tired (most of the time), and although skinny, I am fit.

On the other hand, maybe I should just go along with this ‘sick’ shindig and see how far I can milk it. Hmmmmmm.



Say my name, say my name

It’s seems my name will never cease to be an anomaly to the people of Indonesia. Most of the time I hear my name, I’m happy if I at least hear a ‘t’ and an ‘r.’ What’s interesting is that people here are very capable of pronouncing my last name, which is the exact opposite of most people in the US.

Here are some of the variations of my name:

  • Most Indonesians call me Taylor. If they read my name out loud, they read it as Taylor. If I tell them my name, they repeat it back to me as Taylor. One of my students last year realized during the last week of school that my name was Tyler, not Taylor. He was flabbergasted and asked if he had been saying it wrong all year. Yes, son, you have. He still calls me Taylor half the time because now he can’t remember which one is right.
  • The teachers who know the difference between Brady and I mostly call me Tyler, though there are a few who call me Taylor.
  • The other day I let a student know that VanderZanden means “from the sand.” Now he calls me Tyler From-the-sand.
  • Lots of places, including the bank and the hospital, think my middle name, John, is my last name.
  • On my savings account, though, my name is Tyler John Vandezanden. On another card I have, my name is spelled Tyler Venderzanden.
  • Today I was caught off guard. The guy that distributes towels at the gym apparently previously memorized my name from my member card. When he gave me my towel today, he said “Here you go, John.”


What happened in Colorado a few days ago is something that is almost unspeakable–unspeakable in the sense that it is hard to find words to say about it. I was just looking on CNN, and they had short profiles of each of the 12 victims. Although each profile is absolutely heartbreaking, I’m glad I read them because it reminded me of how short life can be.

One of the most powerful motivators I have ever come across is thinking about what I will have done with my life when I die. And the kicker is that nobody knows when their time will come.

Looking at the ages of the victims from the movie theater shooting, I am about the average age. That makes me ask myself, if I died today, what would people say about me, and more importantly, what would I have to show for my life?

And I’m not talking about stupid selfish things that I have done or acquired. The places I’ve seen, the things I can put on my resume, those will be useless when I am gone. So what are the things that will really matter? What are the things I’m doing with my time on earth that have eternal significance?

Those questions will be the questions that lead me during this next week, and hopefully for the rest of my life.

Here is the link to the CNN article remembering the victims of the shooting:


Now that school has started, I have no time to do anything. I haven’t gone to the bathroom in a week and a half. The only thing I have time to eat is the dust on my desk (ew sicko!). The kidz are back. My voice hurts from going to conversational volume to teacher volume (or person-who-has-really-loud-conversations volume). My desk is a mess. Underneath my desk is a mess. My classroom is half decorated (which is still so much better than it was last year). Lots of things which are supposed to be done are not. Beyonce has a great album. How am I gonna be awake during my personal training session today? So far so good with my students. The new year 7 students are small and adorable as always. My skin is pale and transparent, and I look like a 1000 year old zombie.  I have to go back to work.



A list of things Australian:

  1. Australians are stylish and I feel like I need to buy all new clothes. Soy un slob!
  2. Hillsong actually does have it going on.
  3. Why is food so expensive here?
  4. Did you know the Sydney Opera House was designed in the 1950s? Que progresivo! 
  5. The auditoriums in the Opera House are surprisingly small. Why?
  6. Wallabies are so cute and I want one right now. I must have. 
  7. If they wanted to, wombats could do some serious damage. Good thing they are mild-tempered and likely also very depressed.
  8. Being on the other side of a dolphin cruise’s 99.4% guarantee of seeing a dolphin is surprisingly easy. Cheers to being the .6%!

    Look, there’s nothing!

  9. Why do all the stores close so early here (like at 5 pm)?!
  10. Koawas awe sweepy.


  11. You do not want to run into a wild cassowary for it will damage you.