Thursday, February 05, 2009

Today I ran 18 km and started to read a book on Greek philosophy. If you know me well, these two acts more or less defined me for the last four years ("Oh God, he's either going to talk about how far he ran or how akon is actually a Greek word meaning unwilling"). Lately, finally making more than $200 a month and free of university tuition, I've found myself indulging in $6 whole pizzas and $8 cafe mochas, not to mention a limitless stream of Law and Order (the SVU variety).

After six months in Korea, I've mostly forgotten just how it is that I ended up here and, to some extent, become a different person. My days are a constant blur of eating confectionery products, trying to make sense of the Korean I hear around me and laughing at the Korean habit of adding a "y" to words ending in consonants, thereby turning them into adjectives (things can be lunchy, churchy, Englishy, finishy). Of course, my days back home were a constant blur of eating confectionery products and trying to make sense of the English around me, but I've turned my time here into a neverending vacation, treating a year-long stay as a short-term vacation. This would certainly explain my ambivalence towards cleaning my apartment.

Beginning with a crossword on Tuesday and continuing through today, I'm slowly reclaiming my life, or whatever the appropriate cliche might be for the solution. Still, there's a vast disconnect between life here and the reality of taxes, student loans and job prospects back home. Just about anyone under 300 lbs, with the right colour skin (it was iffy for me in a few cases) and a university degree can get here in 6 weeks, and completely forget about whatever it was they did back home. Life in Korea becomes sufficiently encompassing that you tend to forget where you came from and what you do there for a while.

I came to Korea because I applied to grad schools and came up a Buffalo Bills-like 0-for-6. My plan after that was to spend a year or two teaching overseas and then try to make a living as a journalist, and it still is. There are many opportunities for anyone with a few half-baked ideas and access to an email account to submit articles to Korean English-language newspapers, which would be a logical first step. Much like how I signed up for a March marathon in December and then more or less stopped running for six weeks, or the time I skipped a lecture on weakness of will because it was raining, I wrote about a half dozen articles and kept them to myself instead. Once again, I find myself doing the complete opposite of what I need to be doing. After spending four years studying how I should live my life, this is vexing if not surprising.

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