Here We Are Again…

Every Second Sunday--the Seoul Writers Anthology

Well, I’m thirty-five. It’s been about forty minutes now, and I can’t say I feel a whole lot different. I’m sleepy (it’s 1:40 AM), but that’s about it, ha!

It was a pretty good day today. I went over to the release party for the anthology compiled by the writers’ group I belong to in Seoul. One of my stories was included, as well as several other writers whose work I’ve gotten to know over the last year, and as I held the book in my hands, I felt really, really proud. Not just for me, but for the entire group, and really, for all the writers and would-be-writers out there struggling with words to weave a tapestry of truth. As difficult as it is, I find it such a noble way of self-expression.

Later at night, I met my best friend in Korea, Peter, and his significant other, and we went to watch “Eat Pray Love” with Julia Roberts. I had been waiting for it to be released here in Korea for some time, and I was glad to see it. Was it a perfect movie? No, it smacked a bit too much of the predictable rom-com formula to come off all the way real. Still, it was a pretty movie to behold with all the gorgeous scenery, and Julia Roberts remains a luminous screen presence as ever.

Tomorrow, my actual birthday, I’ll actually be spending it practicing with the choir that I belong to. We’ll be having the big annual concert in two weeks, and we’ve been rehearsing like crazy. Seriously, things have been intense. From memorizing the lyrics to all the songs, learning the choreography, having to work out all the time (I have to go shirtless during our rendition of “Mamma Mia”; don’t ask!), and dealing with our director’s obvious growing frustration with us (he’s announced that he’ll be stepping down if we don’t receive positive feedback after the concert–talk about laying on the guilt trip thick), it’s just been a lot of pressure. Hopefully, I’ll feel it will all have been worth it after the concert is over.

You know, it’s been an interesting year. Last year on my birthday, I was in Paris walking along the Champs-Elysees after listening to Tori Amos in concert, wondering what the following year was going to hold for me. Well, a year later, I am proud to say that I’ve put in a lot of work to develop my writing muscle. I’m well into writing my would-be-novel (I’m currently on a break to focus on the upcoming concert, but as soon as it’s over, I’ll be heading down to Gyeongju, to write the next scenes which will take place in that city), which has been my most important accomplishment this year.

So what will my thirty-fifth year hold for me? Hopefully, I will finish my novel in the next three months or so, and (fingers crossed) good things will happen from that. I’ve also just started applying to various university teaching positions (the next semester starts in March), so I hope I can find a good school where I can get my teaching groove back on. And of course, I would like for me and my loved ones to stay healthy. In the end, only time will tell. All I can do is keep giving my life my all and wish for the best… Tommy, happy birthday; in my opinion, you’re not the worst person to be.

ADDENDUM: I spent my actual birthday rehearsing with my choir for more than five hours. Things actually went pretty well, and I am cautiously hopeful that we’re not going to suck all over that stage. I actually told myself that I wasn’t going to mention it was my birthday to anyone, but soon after we sat down to eat dinner, I ended up blurting it out to the guy next to me in the most out-from-left-field way ever, something like, “I think I’m going to order the bulgogi, and oh, today’s my birthday.” Of course, the news quickly spread and the members did the whole bring-out-the-cake-and-sing routine (this IS a choir, after all), and I actually started tearing up a tad before I told myself to get a grip. I guess I did want to hear someone tell me “Happy birthday” today in person instead of over the phone or through an e-mail. So the next time someone you know acts like he or she doesn’t care about his or her birthday whatsoever, be aware: that person could very well just be in denial. Like me.

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