Here’s the tentative cover for the e-book version of “This Expat Life.”

This is the back-cover blurb: 

Bart Schaneman spent 5 years living and working in South Korea, mostly as an editor for English newspapers. He also taught English for a spell. “This ​Expat Life” is ​a collection of essays​ on uprooting your life to travel the world, what it means to be ambitious, and finally discovering the right place to settle down. Peppered throughout are Bart’s ​personal reflections on teaching and living as a foreigner in a foreign land.

Preliminary date for release is Oct. 21. Check back here for ordering info.

Here’s the tentative cover for the e-book version of “This Expat Life.”

This is the back-cover blurb:

Bart Schaneman spent 5 years living and working in South Korea, mostly as an editor for English newspapers. He also taught English for a spell. “This ​Expat Life” is ​a collection of essays​ on uprooting your life to travel the world, what it means to be ambitious, and finally discovering the right place to settle down. Peppered throughout are Bart’s ​personal reflections on teaching and living as a foreigner in a foreign land.

Preliminary date for release is Oct. 21. Check back here for ordering info.

Yesterday was a good Nebraska day. Up for two hours of novel writing before breakfast. An hour of house chores, then out to the farm to pick cantaloupe and swan-necked gourds. We were followed around by a Chesapeake Retriever/German Shepherd mix. She’s about fully grown but still a pup and fond of sneaking up behind a human crouching to pick potatoes and sticking her head squarely into an armpit.

On our way to Chimney Rock, above, we stopped at the Pink Palace in McGrew, population 99, for a beer. About a half-dozen farmers sat at the bar watching the Broncos game. A guy with a handlebar mustache and a cowboy hat pulled up in a golf cart and took a seat at the bar. He didn’t have to say a word and the bartender slid a bottle of Budweiser in front of him.

In Bridgeport, we sat at a picnic table on the edge of the lake, eating tomatoes and pesto from our garden, watching the trout jump. Then, on the drive home, as dark set in, we listened to Songs:Ohia in the truck as flocks of blackbirds alighted from the power lines, swirling under the moon.

Yesterday was a good Nebraska day. Up for two hours of novel writing before breakfast. An hour of house chores, then out to the farm to pick cantaloupe and swan-necked gourds. We were followed around by a Chesapeake Retriever/German Shepherd mix. She’s about fully grown but still a pup and fond of sneaking up behind a human crouching to pick potatoes and sticking her head squarely into an armpit.

On our way to Chimney Rock, above, we stopped at the Pink Palace in McGrew, population 99, for a beer. About a half-dozen farmers sat at the bar watching the Broncos game. A guy with a handlebar mustache and a cowboy hat pulled up in a golf cart and took a seat at the bar. He didn’t have to say a word and the bartender slid a bottle of Budweiser in front of him.

In Bridgeport, we sat at a picnic table on the edge of the lake, eating tomatoes and pesto from our garden, watching the trout jump. Then, on the drive home, as dark set in, we listened to Songs:Ohia in the truck as flocks of blackbirds alighted from the power lines, swirling under the moon.

Karma’s about as religious as I get. Even though I think it’s an overly simplistic way to view the world, there’s nothing wrong with living your life with it as a guiding principle. I quit Spotify the other day after it sunk in that musicians don’t make any money from it. I had been mostly using it to play the new records of bands I love. Stupid and naive, really. I want my favorite musicians to make the best possible music they can, and giving them money is a good way to help make that happen. 

A few days after I deleted it from my phone and my laptop, my boss gave me an iTunes gift card that I used to buy the records I’d been listening to on Spotify. 

It reminded me of walking through Insa-dong in Seoul. It’s a tourist street, something like the Korean version of Barcelona’s La Rambla. Vendors and street performers. Souvenir shops. One day, when I had just moved into my apartment in Hongdae and I didn’t have anything on the walls, I went down there to have a look around. I had my camera and was photographing a man in traditional robes paint on a piece of parchment paper spread out on a flat rock. He painted in the traditional style, using calligraphy brushes, and he did it quickly. In a matter of minutes he had drawn the portrait of a man next to Hangeul written vertically down the side. A few people laid down 1,000 won notes next to the rock. I took another photo and walked on.

As I walked I thought to myself, if you’re not willing to give an artist a little bit of money for the entertainment he just provided you, then how can you expect anyone to pay you for what you do? So I turned around and went back. I laid down a 5,000 won note and as I went to walk away the man rolled up the parchment and handed it to me. “Give,” he said. I went home and put it up on my wall.

The iTunes cards were gifts for our second wedding. Our first we had because I was moving to America and I wanted Nammin to come with me as soon as possible. This one was because my health insurance company audited me regarding my dependents. We needed to prove we were married in America or Nammin wouldn’t have health insurance. Isn’t that romantic? 

We spent last weekend in Denver, the city I associate with Neal Cassady more than anyone else. From a sidewalk table on Market Street, we watched the club valets next door rod each car they got in down to the nearby parking lot. Didn’t matter if it was a Mercedes or a Buick. Full speed down the street. The city smells like marijuana. Not just on the sidewalk or in the parks, but the odor of pot hangs over everything. Both would have made Cassady proud. 

Our half-dozen tomato plants are yielding more fruit than we can eat. Times like this it’s hard to imagine escaping to the city.

Karma’s about as religious as I get. Even though I think it’s an overly simplistic way to view the world, there’s nothing wrong with living your life with it as a guiding principle. I quit Spotify the other day after it sunk in that musicians don’t make any money from it. I had been mostly using it to play the new records of bands I love. Stupid and naive, really. I want my favorite musicians to make the best possible music they can, and giving them money is a good way to help make that happen.

A few days after I deleted it from my phone and my laptop, my boss gave me an iTunes gift card that I used to buy the records I’d been listening to on Spotify.

It reminded me of walking through Insa-dong in Seoul. It’s a tourist street, something like the Korean version of Barcelona’s La Rambla. Vendors and street performers. Souvenir shops. One day, when I had just moved into my apartment in Hongdae and I didn’t have anything on the walls, I went down there to have a look around. I had my camera and was photographing a man in traditional robes paint on a piece of parchment paper spread out on a flat rock. He painted in the traditional style, using calligraphy brushes, and he did it quickly. In a matter of minutes he had drawn the portrait of a man next to Hangeul written vertically down the side. A few people laid down 1,000 won notes next to the rock. I took another photo and walked on.

As I walked I thought to myself, if you’re not willing to give an artist a little bit of money for the entertainment he just provided you, then how can you expect anyone to pay you for what you do? So I turned around and went back. I laid down a 5,000 won note and as I went to walk away the man rolled up the parchment and handed it to me. “Give,” he said. I went home and put it up on my wall.

The iTunes cards were gifts for our second wedding. Our first we had because I was moving to America and I wanted Nammin to come with me as soon as possible. This one was because my health insurance company audited me regarding my dependents. We needed to prove we were married in America or Nammin wouldn’t have health insurance. Isn’t that romantic?

We spent last weekend in Denver, the city I associate with Neal Cassady more than anyone else. From a sidewalk table on Market Street, we watched the club valets next door rod each car they got in down to the nearby parking lot. Didn’t matter if it was a Mercedes or a Buick. Full speed down the street. The city smells like marijuana. Not just on the sidewalk or in the parks, but the odor of pot hangs over everything. Both would have made Cassady proud.

Our half-dozen tomato plants are yielding more fruit than we can eat. Times like this it’s hard to imagine escaping to the city.

In a place like this, where family is everything, the start of school changes the environment. We went out to the lake the other night with a cooler full of beer and watermelon. A few weeks ago every turn-in and campsite held a truck and an RV. Families sat around fire pits on vinyl lawn chairs. Lord of the Flies-looking bands of kids marauded the beach carrying sticks. Jet skis and wakeboard boats skipped across the water.

But now we could park anywhere. The farmers had drained the lake over the summer and the beach expanded far past the tree line. We drove on the packed sand as far down as we wanted, then spread out an old quilt and, aside from a guy up in the trees listening to the Steve Miller band “Life’s been goooooood to me so faaaarrrr” from inside his camper, we were alone. Fish jumped in the still water. Clouds moved over us. The sun set.

A year in Nebraska really is the full cycle of life and the memento mori comparison fits. When you know the cold death of heavy winter waits it doesn’t take anyone much convincing to live while it’s still warm.

American Airlines sent me a letter informing me I didn’t have enough miles to buy a plane ticket anywhere, but I could subscribe to nearly a dozen magazines for free. I went for it. Harper’s, the Sun, Outside, Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, TIME, and, for Nammin, Health and Elle. Gifts for your brain. In the summertime we can’t keep up.

If most of the time I feel like I haven’t matured enough, I can take comfort in the conversation I had with Nammin while we sat on that blanket. We were talking about plans and the future when I did something I’ve never done with any girlfriend or roommate or anyone really. A lot of the advice you hear when you start writing is tips from jerks. Guys like Faulkner who talked tough, who said things like a writer needs to be able to steal from his grandma. There’s lots of advice about closing doors, telling people not to bother you. Just stop being nice to the people in your life and get the work done. But I try my best to treat people well. I took the door off my office a long time ago. I asked Nammin on that blanket if she would mind if I made a hard push to get a book done by next year. A lot of lonely, solitary hours. Time she would spend alone in turn. She said “no, I don’t mind. I’ve been wanting to make some art, too.” I never knew that about her, and I never would have known if I hadn’t asked.