Sunday, September 19, 2010

Never Gonna Give You Up

Within the past six weeks, I’ve been stranded a week in Japan with no money (or rather, I had money, just no way to access it, which was even more frustrating); lost electricity in my apartment for almost a week following a lightning storm; was cornered by a would-be attacker; lost phone service for over a month because of ARC reasons; started a new job; lost a tooth; moved apartments twice; survived a typhoon (Ok, so I slept through the typhoon but it passed right through my area, smashing plate glass windows and uprooting large trees. I could have been crushed by one of those trees were I not such a sloth); and was kicked out of a restaurant for the sole offense of . . . drum roll . . . being white (the woman kicking me out actually called up someone on the phone to translate it for me). Do you know what all that means? It means I have the best diary ever!

I have to think back to my diary just a year or so ago. It was full of mundane observations, such as the time I saw the homeless man using his cardboard “Feed me” sign to shield his cell phone from public view as he texted on it.

Also, my previous diary contained more than one entry that related my daily commute from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti as I rode my $10 mountain bike – “The Nevermind”— through all sorts of foul Michigan weather. Dripping down the hallway after one particularly bad rainstorm I simply told anyone who inquired about my sopping state that I’d jumped off the Titanic and swum there.

My diary from one year ago also chronicled interesting executive-type experiences, such as the time an overseas VIP was scheduled to visit our offices. Apparently, the VIP was a stickler for “tidiness” in the workplace, rumors claiming he’d fired people for sins such as keeping a disorderly supply closet. I was told to hide all my paperwork, folders, books, pens, pencils, stapler, calculator, calendar, and office phone (phone!?) deep within the confines of my desk drawers. I truly hoped the phone would not ring while hidden in the drawer, as that would have been embarrassing. As the arrival time for the sovereign VIP grew imminent, my boss and I discovered (to our horror!) that the company coat closet was full, so we crawled under our respective desks to hide our coats under our wastepaper baskets. So inspiring was the office-wide terror about the VIP's impending visit that had the wastepaper basket been large enough, I would have crawled under it myself.

Ok, so those diary events have a certain amount of retrospective amusement about them, but most of the entries inbetween them formed what can be loosely described as a foodie log focusing on the various types of chocolate I consumed on any given day and my reactions to it. (“Cinnamon chocolate. Mmm.” “Curry chocolate. Bleck!”) And more often than not, there weren’t even any written words, just greedy little fingerprints in cocoa smudging the pages, providing proof that I was still alive and also making it very easy to track me should I engage in any future criminal activity, such as, say, holding up a Godiva factory or hijacking a Little Debbie Truck.

A year and some weeks later, I now sit proudly at a brand-new cubicle! One where the phone is allowed on the desk, though my new workplace has kindly requested I not plug it in less it disturb people by ringing. Now is the time I was originally slated to leave for my RTW trip. I’ve worked in Korea and successfully finished my original one-year contract with “ivy league” Yonsei University, receiving the generous year-end bonus all Korean companies provide to their foreign employees. Now is the time when I should be loading up my rucksack and moving forward into the world.

After a series of unfortunate events, such as listed in the first paragraph, the average person would probably call quits on Korea and move forward as planned. Know what I call those people? Smart. They are smart, smart people who know when to give up. These people also probably understand that living more than one year in the world’s most precarious nuclear hotspot is, in fact, not smart. But that’s where I come in. These people have smart as their primary strength. Me, I have stubborn. Sure, the world may be filled with people who are smarter, stronger, and own more powerful weapons of mass destruction than me, but I have Olympic-level ability in stubbornness. And sure, the aforementioned series of unfortunate events may have driven me to the sort of desperate edge wherein a person in a position such as myself might shout, while on a public sidewalk, “You think you can beat me down, world? You think you can make me cry? Go on, try it!” (Such a public outburst worked to create a nice bit of space between me and everyone else nearby, which made for a refreshing change since Seoul is possibly the world’s most populated city and, generally speaking, there are at least three strangers in close bodily contact with me at all times – an intimacy which can double in number during subway rush hour!) Err, theoretically, I mean. All this is theoretical, except for the question asking the world if it thinks it can make me cry. That is a rhetorical question, by which I mean I would prefer the world not to answer.

Sure, I'm having a rough time right now, but this, too, will pass. And what’s more, in spite of everything, I still like Korea and I like my new job as a full-time editor. So, it’s one more year in Korea for me. One more year of doing the editing I enjoy all day and doing the dancing I love all night. One more year with the friends to whom I grow closer every time I see them. One more year eating fresh, delicious, cheap restaurant food. One more year replacing all the necessities of life with their cute counterparts. (Are the slots on your slotted spoon in the shape of a winky face? Is your toothbrush holder in the shape of a little piggy? Is your winter hat adorned with kitten ears?)

This has been a disasterous couple of months for me, true, but I'm not going to let it defeat me. I will rise up, every time.

(Exulting in Korea's adventures or readying myself to leap off the edge? Either way, wish me luck in exploring the infinite abyss.)

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