and red dots
glide through the city
and I stay
with bated breath
stroking ginkgo leaves
bells and orbs
Category Archives: personal
A friend told me last night, “Everyone has flaws.” Of course, everyone does. It’s just that when it comes to my best friends, the people i love, i have a much harder time accepting flaws. Because i’m too much of an idealist.
I hold the people i love to a much higher standard. I want them to be perfect. I want them to be the kind of people everyone respects, adores, and emulates. I want them to be the shining ideal of a person, a representation of all the things i stand for. And when they fail to be that, i’m crushed and inconsolable. It hurts me deeply.
And that makes me afraid i’ll never be happy with anyone.
…moving to a new city every few months. Not becoming known or committed to anyone or anything anywhere.
I miss Vietnam. I treated my two weeks there as a parallel universe; i convinced myself that nothing i did there mattered to the “real life” i led here in Seoul. I did whatever i wanted without a thought or a doubt. And i came back here feeling…different. I wouldn’t say “transformed;” not only is that way too cliché, but it doesn’t even really make sense. I felt more sure of myself, like i shouldn’t ever be afraid to do anything anymore. Like i hadn’t properly lived before i took that trip. Like i hadn’t trusted myself enough.
I’ve only just realized that i’ve been more confident in everything i’ve been doing since my return from Vietnam. I’m much more confident in my teaching, i’m more confident with people in general, i’m more confident in being myself at work, at a place, in a culture, where it’s probably not a good idea to be entirely myself. I don’t really give a shit about acting “Korean” at school anymore. I’m fed up with surface courtesies and the never-ending obsession with appearance. I hate feeling like i have to act Korean because i speak Korean. I hate that everyone there expects me to do so. It’s not fair that i have to take on all the responsibilities of a Korean teacher just because i’m capable of it. I don’t get paid nearly enough for that.
The Dosa Man had relocated to a seedy alley with barely any foot traffic. His cart was smaller, with a tiny square of a grill and not enough counter space for his mise. I tried making dosas, failing with each attempt. Too thick, too burnt, too fragile, too thin to hold the fillings… The burner flames grew and shrunk and died of their own accord. To the left were two slabs of cooked pork, black, prickly animal hair sticking out of the skin, big globs of fat bulging out of every crevice. Dead meat, dry and tough as shrunken leather. As dead as the stiff grey rat cadavers swept into dusty corners.
I was running inside the wet stairwells, my panicked footsteps ringing in the ominous open space. I was in a boxed room, claustrophobic and defunct, dead creatures piled up in previously unknown nooks and crannies.
There was no way out of the building; its exits led to further exits which only led to growing piles of products, metal and plastic all hammered and melted into the same shape.
At the end, i was with a man, a man i had met that day. We were alone in the store; it was locked up for the night. All the red 80’s furniture looked like imprisoned toy soldiers, silenced and chained down to rest until the lights go on again in the morning, welcoming customers. The shutters came down, landing on the concrete in a jangly mess, a shudder traveling up their neat, parallel spines.
We were trespassers who felt they had every right to be there. Maybe we’re employees. Well, who’s to say we aren’t? We were two children in hiding, crouched underneath the counter, sketching a grandiose plan to pull the greatest prank ever; we were armed with a blueprint of the building. I liked him; he liked me. And we were just playing, two grown-ups having sex where they shouldn’t be. And underneath our childlike hesitation, we really didn’t give a damn about what might happen to us.
You encounter a problem. A big, but simple problem that can be resolved in one of two simple ways, one of which hurts you. You know how this problem will be resolved, and you know it’ll be resolved in the way that hurts you, and you know there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s like being trapped in a maze, a maze with a “good” exit and a “bad” exit, except you don’t get to find your own way out; you’re getting dragged towards the “bad” exit, where pain and suffering await you.
It’s not fate. There’s no such thing as fate in this world. It’s like being at the mercy of someone else, having a say in what they do to you in this maze, and being heard—intently and with great consideration—but ultimately not having any power to change their mind.
It’s unfair. It’s unfair because you can’t shake the feeling that you have a right to influence the outcome—the right to make moves of your own—but you can’t plead your case because it’s just a feeling, not a fact.
And meanwhile, with each passing day, with every turn you’re forced to make, you inch closer and closer to the bad exit. How would you feel? How are you supposed to feel?
If i were the one making the moves, i’d not only listen, but change my mind.
I have a comfortable life here, but it feels unfulfilling in so many ways.
I like my job, but i wish i could be doing some real teaching, i.e. not EFL teaching (refer to this post for more on this).
I miss learning. A lot. Ever since coming here, i haven’t had any time to read intellectually stimulating material. I used to consume so much information back in the States; i’d read regularly and catalogue images. I miss that. I miss that so much. I miss having the time to look at interesting things online. I’m getting stupid! And i think it shows!
On the other hand, i’ve grown so attached to my apartment that i don’t think i could bear to leave it in August. I don’t know why i’m thinking so far ahead. I’m usually not like this; planning has never been a strong point or even an interest of mine. I think i’m afraid of going back to the States, even though i miss it a lot, because it would mean finding a new job and being closer to my family (because if i were to go back, i’d probably go back to NYC).
I’m not even sure if i wanna go to grad school for Philosophy anymore. I become more and more afraid everyday; i have so many doubts. ‘I’m not smart enough, i’m not hardworking enough, i’m not passionate enough…’
Maybe my life here is holding me back from doing what i really wanna do. I’m starting to think all of this was a bad idea. I think everything will be better if i go back to school, and the most cost effective way to do that would be to enroll at Yonsei, i think, but their application period isn’t until October. I don’t know how much longer i can do what i’m doing now without being disappointed with myself.