I have been going to bed around 3 A.M. and waking up around 1 P.M. for a while now, and the schedule feels as strange as it probably sounds to people who actually have paying jobs. It’s like I never feel all the way awake, walking around with one foot in reality and the other who-knows-where… It sometimes feels like I’m living in a cloud; sometimes, it feels like I’m falling apart a bit. But hey, I’m writing, so I can’t complain.
This Thursday, I will be going back to the elementary school where I worked for three years up until last summer. The sixth grade students will be graduating, and I promised them when I left that I would come back for that. It’s a bit intimidating, because it will be my first time back. Mostly, I’m a bit worried about the teachers’ and staff’s reactions. I hope the principal isn’t still peeved at me for choosing to leave. As for the homeroom teachers, they may just look at me as an intruding outsider, which to be fair, I am now, having given up my teaching crown of thorns. But what outweighs those worries is the graduating kids themselves. I do miss them. God, it’s crazy how life can change Just. Like. That. One day, you’re swarmed with kids who are practically getting in line to tell you that they love you and that you’re a genius (mostly because I could beat all of them at chess) and handsome (lots of brain-washing went in there) and the next day, you’re in your apartment all day typing away at a computer, and you don’t talk to anyone for so long that you almost forget that you have a tongue. Just. Like. That. Anyhow, the kids have been sending me text messages to remind me they’re graduating (my favorite: “I VERY MISS YOU!”), and I will definitely be there, as I very miss them, too. (For some reason, I keep wanting to show up with a fedora and an overcoat, like a mysterious stranger from the past…)
Fortunately, I’m designed to handle solitary confinement better than most, I think, but even I do start to feel a bit stir-crazy at times, so it was good that I actually went out into the world on Sunday and dared to interact with some people. First, I went to an Itaewon coffeehouse for a meeting of a writing club made up of English speakers. The meetings are basically workshops where people post stories or poems on an internet bulletin board in advance and then everybody reads them and people have open discussions on them during the meetings. Since it was my first time showing up, I couldn’t post anything of my own, but still, it was actually pretty energizing to discuss people’s works and hear what other people–a pretty diverse bunch, I was glad to see–have to say and so forth. The next meeting’s in two weeks, and I plan to post the prologue of my novel. It’ll actually be the first time I show my writing (not counting this blog) to other people in… I can’t remember how long. First, it was because I was really protective and sensitive about my work, and then by the time I got over that, I was simply too busy to be doing any writing at all! But now here I am. Just. Like. That.
After the writing club meeting, I rushed over to Jongro-3-Ga for choir practice, and I must say, that’s one cool thing about being bi-cultural and (somewhat) bilingual. You can be having an English discussion on a short story one moment and then be gabbing and singing your heart in Korean a short subway ride later. After two hours of singing, the members actually went to a nearby theater to see a Korean movie called “Harmony.” It’s basically a Korean melodrama about female prisoners who decide to form a choir and that ends up changing their outlooks on life. As you can imagine, the story’s fairly predictable (think Lifetime Original Movie), but if there’s anything Korea can serve up better than a steaming bowl of kimchi stew (yum!), it’s melodrama. Oh, trust me on this one, and there’s nothing mellow about it. After two hours of domestic abuse, incest, adultery, attempted suicide, a mother giving up her son for adoption, and a sudden WTF?-inducing death penalty decision, they would’ve needed to cut up a parachute to make enough hankies for us to pass around. The bottom line of the movie was basically, life sucks (especially for women), but music is very nice. Ugh, it’s absolutely manipulative, but boy oh boy, did they drive the point home with an extra-sharp nail…
And speaking of depressing melodrama, what better way to introduce the next band on our Top 101 Countdown: The Cure and their obsession anthem “Lovesong.” They just don’t make dark, Gothic alterna-Gods like they used to. Teenagers in the late 80’s and early 90’s could choose to mope to Depeche Mode, Morrissey (or the Smiths), New Order (or Joy Division), or the Cure. Then the zeitgeist of alternative music shifted from depression to pure anger, and out came the grunge movement. Now? We have Kesha and the Black-Eyed Peas… Hmm… I guess it’s nice that pop music is a lot happier now, but let’s face it, it’s also a whole lot emptier. Bring back the MOPING, I say!!!