REPORT A PROBLEM
For me, the beginning is always the most difficult. Perhaps this is because I'm scared that I won't be able to finish adequately, or because I fear that I have lost all of the real passion that used to reside within me. Maybe it's just because I'm purely and simply lazy. I have spent a good portion of my life trying to put off beginnings, but I can't push this one aside any longer. I need to start making words again, or I'll lose them completely.
So here I am.
Aching to spill everything, just searching for someplace to begin.
I used to think of this place as magical, but that magic has turned into gnawing isolation. Oh, America. I miss you so. I am sorry for this affair. It is only when I leave your soil that I realise its importance to me. Why am I not with you now, fighting for you, relishing in your history and beauty? My bond with you faded back in 2000. I was still a kid then, not yet willing or able to forgive as I do now. I remain unhappy with what happened, but I have hope for you. I have hope.
My earliest memory: I am in some great big lot, some car lot, someplace where people put their life savings down on a piece of machinery that simply gets them from point A to point B. The sky is the sort of bright blue that vary rarely makes itself seen (or is it grey?), and my parents are buying a red van. I look up at the van (it's so
!) and my dad (of this I am sure) reaches down to grab my hand. I am happy.
The littlest people become brilliantly happy with the littlest things, it seems.
This is how today went: I woke up at 9.30 with a dull headache. Showered, dressed, ate a bowl of little kid cereal at 10.30. I was in my office before 11am – photocopying, making lesson plans, getting ready for the semester (the beginning is always a workaholic's wet dream). It's sixteen hours since I started working, and I'm finally back in my room, staring longingly at my bed. I've got a body that's exhausted and a mind that's still hyped up on caffeine (or is it the other way around?) from some headache medication. At least the headache is gone.
I haven't gone outside in three or four days. I've lost track. My body is exhausted to the point of not allowing my brain to function properly, so I'm stuck with nothing to say. Tonight is not a crying night. It is not a night for watching romantic comedies or sending messages to the people whose arms feel like home. Thinking about home just makes me want it more. My memories tonight are from a long time ago, when I still thought that unrequited love was romantic and lovely. Tonight is a night to fall into bed. That is it.
I originally met Danielle at my first high school's freshman orientation. She was inebriating. I fell for her instantly (in a chiefly platonic way) -- her tiny birdlike features, grungy clothes and animated personality sucked me in completely. We would later become the kind of friends that only teenage girls can become -- clinging to each other, never parting, whispering secrets and dreams in the dark. I had no idea how much she would affect me, or how many lies she would hand over to me without a second thought. She never cared about me the way she cared about her fixes.
I only ever get messages from you when you're drunk. I know this because you always feel the need to announce it, as if it's something new, as if there's anything I can do to help you. I can't be your saviour; you have to play that role yourself. I'm sorry you're sullen again, but I'm not sure I've ever seen you feeling another way. I'd try to make you happy, but it's never worked before. "Stop destroying yourself," is what I want to say, but instead I say, "you're wonderful." "You're worth much more than this." "I love you."
Delete. That's all I want to do tonight. I could write a thousand words, but I would just want to delete them all. I don't want to admit that they're true. I don't want to let anyone know (least of all myself) how much you still mean to me after all this time. It's like you're constantly pulling away, but every time I am finally ready to move on, an alarm goes off in your head and you realise that you can't let me go. Let me go! Let me go because you wouldn't ever be willing to keep me.
The digital age makes it far too easy to track people down. Just sign into your myspace account and search for someone; you've got the whole world at your fingertips. Things that should stay in the past can easily turn up to haunt anyone. I find myself sitting in front of my computer screen late at night, shocked that someone is married or has two children or even still exists. My thoughts refuse to believe what I am seeing: was it
six years ago that we were hanging out? And here I was thinking that 1990 was only yesterday.
My life for the past one point five years: neon lights, fifty million people in a country the size of Indiana, stores that are packed like the Saturday before Christmas
, being able to ignore most of what's happening around me because I don't know the language, public transportation, private karaoke rooms, private DVD rooms, love motels, public bathhouses, watching crappy movies and TV shows (because at least I'll understand them), getting shoved aside by people who are older and thus 'more important' (whatever that means), trying my best to not be lonely, not even coming close to succeeding.
It was the middle of the afternoon before I realised that today marks the sixth anniversary of September Eleventh. No matter how much the government screwed this up by turning it into a reason for an unjust war, I still feel more than a twinge of melancholy whenever I think about it. I vividly remember turning on my roommate's television that morning and staring at it with my mouth gaping, unable to believe that this horrible thing was really happening. This was my generation's assassination of J.F.K. – we'll always remember exactly where we were when we found out about it.
It doesn't matter that I get frustrated by the administration at my job, because looking at my students' faces when they understand something for the first time makes all of this worth it. I see them outside of class and their faces light up because they're actually talking to a foreigner! Such a scary thing it is, no doubt. Knowing that they're remembering the vocabulary I give them daily, understanding the grammar I explain to them, catching on to the pronunciation -- they think that I'm making their lives better, and so I am. It's a great feeling. I feel justified.
There are so many things that remind me of you. Albums, movies, zoos, road trips, The House on the Rock, gas masks, hangers and cleaning products. I can't listen to some of my favourite songs without memories of you sneaking into my thoughts like smoke swirls through the air. I sometimes wonder if you feel the same way about me, but then I think that you're not the kind of person who's felt that way about anyone in a very long time. It makes me sad, because letting things get to you like that is what makes life so joyful.
“Will we make it?” I ask Jay, jokingly. I figure we’ve only got a few miles to go, so even this traffic jam shouldn’t slow us down with 40 minutes to spare.
“No, I don’t think so,” he says.
“What? You’re kidding, right?”
“No, this happened to me before, and it took me at least 45 or 50 minutes to get there from here. Wouldn’t it be horrible to get there at 10:05?”
We arrive to the station at 10:05 for the 10:07 train. Run, run, run, and we get through the doors literally 10 seconds before they close.
I've had this horrible backache for about four days now. Usually these things alleviate with time, but this one just seems to be getting worse. It's actually starting to worry me. Maybe something is really wrong! It's probably just that my bed, which is as hard as a rock, isn't really helping. I keep trying to work the knot out, but the pain is just constantly there. It's this searing knife pain that shoots through my entire system every single time I move. It's there even when I'm not moving; just not so sharp. Make it go away! Someone! Please!
I went to a public bathhouse today. It wasn't my first time there, so I wasn't really surprised by anything. It was nice, though, sitting around lazily in hot baths. Korea might have a puritanical culture when it comes to actual sex, but American culture is much more conservative when it comes to nudity. When you're surrounded by naked bodies of all shapes, sizes and ages, it's easy to realise how silly it is to make such a big deal about them. They're just bodies. They sweat and smell and grow and shrink and decompose. We should all just relax.
Having grown up in America, I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to be from a country with just one ethnicity. I must look like an alien here, or maybe a movie star. One time a girl who was old enough to know better came up and took a photo of me from three feet away. She just got out her phone and clicked away like it was no big deal, like I was a monkey in a zoo or some rare statue in an art museum. I was too shocked to even make a response.
I wish we could be together right now. I'm not yearning for anything big; it's the small things that make togetherness so great. I'd love to make dinner with you again, or sit next to you on the bed while we're both reading our own thick books. If you were here right now, I'd lay down with you and hold you as if I didn't want to ever let go. I would run my fingers through your beard and cup your face in my hands so as to remember every contour. I'd imagine the rest of my life with you.
Here's how it goes: I get a crush on a boy. Maybe he likes me back, and maybe we spend some nights sleeping in the same bed and I look at him like he's an angel. Then he becomes distant. Sometimes he doesn't like me back, so we don't ever wake up together. Either way, I fall into the friend category and eventually get over it. Many years later, after he's already a distant memory, he tells me, "I really like you," or even "I love you." As if he expects some grand prize. As if I can give one.
Why do I constantly find myself with roommates (or kitchen mates) who refuse to clean up after themselves? Is it really that difficult to wipe the table down after you make a mess on it? Or, for that matter, to not leave the sponge laying in the sink with dirty dishes? Do people seriously not realise when they've surrounded themselves with filth? Do they not see the huge piles of clean dishes that need to be put away? Also, do they not notice that every dish they wash is still dirty afterward? Am I living in such an oblivious world?
I want my words to touch people in ways that other words have touched me. I want to go to graduate school and study 1950s American popular culture and gender dynamics as if it is the last thing I will ever do. I want to learn Spanish in South America. I want to watch nothing but educational programming on television. I want to feel like my life is more than just my job. I want my hormones to calm down. I want to feel something real again, because when it comes down to it, even these desires are relatively mute.
I've escaped from my city for the long weekend. Escaped from the factories and the building that holds my entire life. I like what I've seen of Gyeongju so far, which isn't much. Tomorrow I will search for old kings buried far under the earth; temples and palaces and dynasties long gone. Hundreds of years ago - I'd like to feel that, royalty and common people and all. Right now, though, I'm about ready to fall into dreamland. My eyelids are slipping down, waiting to fall into a resting position, weary from all the activity of the past few weeks. Sleep...
If someone told me that it's not difficult to get a sugar daddy as a young female foreigner in Korea, I wouldn't be at all surprised. Today, two middle-aged men took my friend and I under their wings, showing us the museum here before insisting on taking us to a very fancy traditional Korean restaurant. It was interesting, to say the least. I wouldn't been worried elsewhere, but I never really feel unsafe here. Today was an adventure! Rich men in suits, Korean history, expensive food, and good times. They didn't even expect anything in return. Welcome to Korea!
Career paths I have wanted to travel down at some point in my life: artist, writer, contemporary singer, opera singer, volcanologist, teacher, professor, historian, professional student, photographer, librarian, archivist, museum curator. So many choices. I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but that means they're not really important. I've wanted to be a singer my whole life, but that's a hard career to chase after. I knew I wanted to be a writer in high school, but I didn't know how difficult it would be to make myself continue writing. Now I have a history degree and nothing to do with it.
I always wondered why my parents were so hooked to their television sets, but I think I finally understand. I find myself downloading TV shows every week, looking forward to them, thinking about what will happen on them when the next episode airs. It gets me through the week while most other things just pull me down. It's quite depressing, when I think about it. I look forward to these shows so much because the reality of my life is quite dismal. Work, eat, sleep, always waiting for that next fix of television -- reality or drama or nerdy science show.
I recently joined facebook. I tend to jump onto these social networking sites pretty late, though I spend so much time on the internet. I was looking around today, and can I just say that THE INTERNET IS CRAZY? No, really. I'm having conversations with people I haven't talked to in 8 years! People are married! They have children! I am getting old! Chaos is raining down on my little world. Life didn't used to be like this. We're not supposed to be able to find people from high school with the click of a button. It's wonderful, yet disturbing.
I used to be obsessed with the number 27. It wasn't anything serious, though. It started with some guys I hung out with in high school. I drove down to Nate's house one night and started to notice that there were 27s everywhere -- on the milk carton, the light fixtures, a big stuffed animal, and even a painting of Jesus. I asked why, and Nate said that 27 was magical. I went along with it for fun. I found out that there were a lot of strange coincidences surrounding it, but in the end, it was just a number. Right?
So, I'm going to be honest: I forgot to write this entry yesterday. I feel lame! I can't believe I got through almost an entire month without forgetting, and then failed on the 28th day (which happens to be my sister's birthday). I wasn't even doing anything important. Just teaching and looking at profiles for the new season of Project Runway (yes, I know, I know) and reading a book about Ireland from 1922 to 1985. I'll look at it this way -- it's still the 28th in America, so that makes this sort of (kind of, not really) okay, right?
I'm sitting here looking at the mountains in the distance and wondering why I'm always so angry and tense these days. My job is demanding and my social life almost nonexistent, but I have it pretty good, right? The air is becoming crisp and fresh (as fresh as it can be with all these factories around) and I'm
. I ought to be out there learning and thinking and experiencing. I ought to be reading books and articles and teaching myself everything I possibly can. I have a whole world to watch. There is beauty left to be seen, definitely.
So here we are: the thirtieth day. I don't know why I stopped writing. I think it was because I was scared. Do I really have that passion? More importantly, do I possess the raw ability needed to push out meaningful words? The doubt stops here – no more cowardly journal entries. Tomorrow I begin real writing, putting more than just a few minutes into these hundred words each day. Tomorrow I see if I can still do it, and even if it feels like I can't, I'll try my best. To feel something. Anything. To create and destroy and live.
The Tip Jar