Korea: Looking Back

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(Written two weeks after coming home.)

Already I miss Korea. I was desperate to leave the situation I was in, but Korea itself was never the problem.

I miss walking up the uneven sidewalk to the crosswalk, where I always waited. Sometimes I waited with others, sweat pouring off me in the summer humidity.

Sometimes I waited in silence, the special padded silence of falling snow, on those rare mornings it fell.

Sometimes I would run into a coworker. Let’s leave it at that.

I miss the walk; that calm ten to twelve minutes on the way, when the steady rhythm of my feet evened out the day ahead of me. The first wrinkle ironed.

I must have walked that way and back hundreds of times. Almost every day for two years. Sometimes on weekends too. I wonder if I had closed my eyes and felt with my feet if I could have guessed where I stood at any point along the way.

I miss waiting for the 102 bus to Jeongja, where I played D&D. I miss walking to the station in fine weather to the mall to shop, or just to the Kimbap King to get food that didn’t come from a convenience store.

 

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The path to school – one I walked hundreds of times, and every season it changed.

 

I miss the spring rain of cherry blossoms.

I miss the few friends I made there. I miss the things we said to each other every day.

Funny, how quickly all the problems shrink as they move past. Funny, how everything that seemed heinous seems laughable now. Funny. It’s not.

Korea from this moment looks like my regular life, the one I will return to when I wake up.

I wonder what Korea will look like when I realize I have woken up.

I wonder what Korea will look like ten years from now.

Korea, Korea, land that I miss.

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Excerpts from my journal; Late June 2017

June 26

It’s been nearly a week. I’m home on vacation now, trying not to think about the fact that my week is nearly taken up by meetings with friends and appointments and how much that stresses me out. One day I will plan a vacation with actually nothing. But I suppose it’s good to be doing all this. I did need the chiropractor, and I’m sure I’ll have fun. I just…enjoy not having a schedule sometimes.

The flight was good. I’m getting so used to it now the dread is abating for the most part. Even the prospect of a twenty-one hour flight to NZ isn’t daunting. It’ll be long and boring but it will end. I’m glad I’m to the point where flying isn’t a big deal.

There’s a lot to do, and I keep not doing things. I keep putting off contacting people because I don’t actually want to do anything. I just want to sit here and sleep and walk around and look out the window and think about nothing.

It’s odd though, because as soon as I landed I felt like I’d never left, like the six months since I was here last didn’t even go by.

The best part so far has been the D&D playing and planning I did with my brother. I got off the plane, he took me to eat, and then we went to his friend’s place to play. My brother is the Dungeon Master for his friends, and he brought me in as a surprise villain – a white dragon. It was beautiful. I was an excellent liar and an excellent villain. They were so indignant. It made me want to move home just so I could join their games.

I’m here this coming Saturday night too, so I get to play again. That’s about the only thing I actually want to go out and do. I am such a nerd.

July 29

While I’ve been home I went on a road trip with my best friend. It was amazing in a lot of ways, kind of painful in others. For instance, staying in a five-star hotel convinced me that staying in five-star hotels is not something I enjoy. Particularly the valet part. I don’t understand how valets work, so I kept opening my own door as they were reaching for it. Awkward. And I kept getting to the hotel door before them too. Awkward. I also got my own luggage out. Not even in some display of female power; I just didn’t realize they were going to do it. Other hotels don’t. Ha ha ha ouch.

And the room itself was just a room. Granted, a very clean room, and one with impressively massive pillows, but, in the end, just a room. We didn’t use the facilities, so I’m guessing a lot of the fancy was down there.

We walked around the downtown area. That I enjoyed. I like pretending I’m urban and cool and walk around downtowns all the time. Which I do, in Korea, so I’m not sure why I felt so falsely pretentious. It might have had to do with the fact that I had to hold my dress down the entire time. Curse the wind.

So we walked and had lavender coffee and went to a scratch kitchen (where they make everything from scratch. Shame, as I was hoping for one of those scratching sticks) and had amazing burgers and then to a bar to meet her friend and I had two gin drinks with strange names that were pretty good, experienced DIY s’mores, which seems dangerous with open flames and alcohol so abundant but okay, and went back to the hotel room early for such urban walkers and instead watched TV and did at-home pedicure treatments. Ah yeah. My kind of night.

July 1

It’s been several days again. My time in America has almost ended, but not my vacation. Tomorrow night I will leave for New Zealand. I keep putting off mentally thinking about it since I’m pretty nervous, I guess. I wouldn’t have thought so. I think I’m just worried it won’t be as good as I want it to be. I want it to be the best thing in my life, but that’s a pretty high expectation. The memories will be good. The experience might have a lot of discomfort and stress. That’s okay.

Tonight I’m going back to DnD. Tomorrow I leave for Middle Earth.

Excerpts from my journal; Mid June 2017

June 14

7 is my unlucky number. It’s unlucky because every morning I wake up around 5:30 or 6am, and so when I go to bed and set my alarms, I tend to see “Alarm set for 7 hours and xx minutes.” And I used to have a mini panic every time. I’m getting less than 8 hours of sleep tonight! my mind would yell. I’m going to be soo tired tomorrow I won’t be able to function, and my skin will get worse, and my health will deteriorate, and my mind won’t work properly, and I won’t be able to be creative tomorrow night!…and so on. I firmly and utterly believed that I needed at least 8 hours of sleep to be okay. Even if the time was 7 hours and 59 minutes, that wasn’t okay. Because I knew that I would spend at least half an hour actually falling asleep, and then I had blown it. But going to bed before or at 9 just wasn’t okay either. Aside from being too grandmotherly (and I already have that image, thanks), it would mean I only had 4 hours of time every evening. Between showering, eating dinner, and the other mindless tasks I need to do every night, that would not be enough time to do all the relaxing and working on of projects that I wanted. I’ve always had a weird relationship with time.

My internet stopped working on Monday night. It’s a bummer. I did a bunch of things to it and tried to fix it myself for two days, but at some point you just have to adult up and call the dang service man. Well, in this case I made my Korean friend call in case the English person asked me questions I didn’t know. But it got done. Now I just have to go home and wait awkwardly until the service man comes, then wait awkwardly while he fixes it, and maybe awkwardly answer his questions. Awkwardly. Boo.

I do love Korea though, because they sent me a text with the guy’s name, number, and picture so I don’t get a creeper. Considerate.

I have become the school editor. Today I had 3 things sent to me by coworkers to be edited. Looked over. Even my boss’s boss has sent me things to be checked before they get posted or sent out. I am the editor. The Editor. I feel like I could legitimately get that on a mug now.

Today is Wednesday. Meeting day. Which means the last part of my work day is always a nasty cold sore on the mouth of the day. Ugh. Usually it’s fine, but always painful. Always just a lot of meaningless dribble.

June 15

The first week I was in Korea, I didn’t have a coffee maker. I bought and drank the cold coffees from the convenience store downstairs, but it was a sad and lackluster replacement. There’s nothing like hot, strong, fresh coffee to wake you up.

I wanted fresh coffee desperately before I got a machine. I had to be creative to get it. I had a saucepan, and paper towels, and a thermos. I made filters from the paper towels, set it in the thermos, added the grounds, then spooned boiling water from the saucepan over it. Hand dripped coffee, bam. It was amazing. But time-consuming. I did that for way longer than I should have. I feel like it might have been a week, or it might have felt like a week.

I ended up ordering a machine, so that delayed the process even more. Eventually, the tiny, red, four-cup maker came, and he’s been my morning friend for two years. Bless him.

Last night the internet got fixed. Kind of. It worked for about an hour and then kaput. I got angry, laid down and read a book for a while, then went out and unplugged it and plugged it back in. It worked. Then this morning it was out again. So I got angry, made coffee, then went out and unplugged it and plugged it back in. It’s working now. It might just become part of my routine. What a pain.

I use a curler on my bangs now. I’d seen girls in dramas use them. Their front hair curled up, looking ridiculous, as they did their makeup or headed to work. Yes, work. It reminds me of the old ladies who would go about with curlers in their hair. I even see some of the high school students at school doing it. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s supposed to be cute? Like, oh, you’ve seen into my getting ready moments. Oh, you see me trying to be pretty. 

Today it seems like many things happened in a very short space of time. But now I can’t actually think of what they were. Just a feeling then.

June 16

My body is for carrying my head around. So let’s not get carried away on vanity.

This morning I was on watch duty in the elementary hallway. Teachers take turns making sure kids don’t destroy themselves or each other. As I was watching, a first-grade girl walked up the stairs reading a book. She was walking really slowly and paused as she stopped by the shelf to change her shoes. She read with one hand while she awkwardly pulled her shoes off with her feet, then, still reading one-handed, she sat down on the floor and slipped on her indoor shoes.

That instance made me want to write a story about her. Imagine who she’ll grow up to be. Imagine how great of a person if she continues to keep up her love of reading. But there’s the potential for mischief too. She’s a little strange. A little odd. It could help her or hinder her. I know. I was always a little off too. Always on the outside. Always.

Yesterday as I was walking home I noticed something new. While waiting at the crosswalk, I don’t usually look up. People notice other people looking up, so they look with them. Most people look at the ground or straight ahead. But I looked up because I was tired. I have stood at that crosswalk a hundred times by now. I noticed then for the first time the tower. There’s a big metal pole that I’ve passed many, many times. It’s much thicker than an ordinary streetlight or telephone pole, but it was always part of the background. As I looked up, I noticed that it was standing alone, and was very tall. My first thought was that it was an alarm, for air raids or bad weather. But there were no speakers. Three-quarters of the way up was a small platform with a ledge you could walk around and a small railing. Whirligigs were placed at intervals all around. The same thing at the very top, with another smaller projection with some unseeable instrument at the top. I assume the tower is for weather. The whirligigs and possibly the rain collector testify to that. It must relay information to the nearest weather station. I looked up and down the street and didn’t see any others.

I tell this story because it was amazing to me to notice something for the first time that I’ve walked by for almost two years. Strange what the mind overlooks. Strange what becomes just part of the background. A lesson, to always look up.

June 18

Yesterday I was out all day. I don’t do that very often. I went shopping with my friends, ate lunch, then watched Wonder Woman. It was…wonderful. Haha ugh.

I did love it though. As a movie, it was just great. Better than good, but not amazing. But as empowerment, it was epic. Gal Gadot is my new hero. She should be the ideal woman. Beautiful, kind, strong, muscled, fighter.

One of my other friends had said she loved the movie so much because it was a contrast to other female superheroes. Many other movies portray women superheroes as men without…uh…man parts. They act exactly the same. But Wonder Woman acted like a woman. They didn’t steal her femininity to make her strong. I agree. They showed a mother’s love, a daughter’s independence, womanly tears, and compassion. They gave her those things without making her weak. It was beautiful. And they didn’t emasculate the men around her either. That was important.

Yeah, I loved that movie. It made me aspire to be her, and that’s what superhero movies are about. They should make us want to be like the hero. Men should look up to Captain America because he is good and just and strong. Women should look up to Wonder Woman for the same reasons. She is good and just and strong. 

Let’s keep our heroes.

Today I have my last D&D session before I go on vacation. Most of my party will be leaving Korea for good, so we’re doing a special Battle Royale tonight. 

 

June 19

I have strep throat again. I had it about a month ago, and I guess I didn’t kick it. I left it a while before I went to the doctor, so maybe that was why. This time I went as soon as I found out, today.

I didn’t go to my usual doctor though. A friend found an ENT closer to home, and specialists in Korea are cheaper. Win win. The reason they’re cheaper is that it’s usually a very tiny practice with one elderly doctor and a couple of nurses.

This time, I went in, handed over my ID card to get signed in, and was seen about two minutes later. I sat down in a very strange chair. It was kind of like a dentist’s chair, but I didn’t get laid back. There were a variety of instruments next to the chair, also like a dentist’s, that I wish I could have seen closer.

The doctor came out, and elderly he was indeed. He asked me if I spoke Korean, and I said no. I do, enough, but it’s always easier to just speak English in a doctor’s. I’m not up to the phlegm chapter of “Learn Korean Vocabulary.” He asked me what my symptoms were, and painstakingly typed them in English into his program. Then he took a look and said, “Ah. Your tonsils are infected.” Yep. Knew that. So then he told me to say ‘ahhhhh’ and the nurse handed him a metal spray bottle attached by a hose to the console next to me. Uh huh. Okay. What? He sprayed my throat, swabbed it with a metal pole, then sprayed something else after. It tasted like medicine. In a word, awful.

I grimaced as he told me I would need antibiotics. Thanks, that’s what I’m here for.

Then came the strangest part. The nurse told me to come with her, and she led me to a tiny cubicle off to the side. There was a contraption set up I had to sit down in front of. Now, if you grew up with asthma like I did, you’ll probably know what a breathing machine is. If not, pay attention. There is a long plastic hose attached to the main part of the machine. This hose extends and is attached to a head that you typically hold and breathe in and out of. You dispense the liquid medicine underneath and the machine vaporizes it so you can inhale the medicine.

I say typically, because this one was suspended in a plastic sheet to be hands free. So she started it up, the vapor started to come out, and she told me to…in broken English…come close and open my mouth and say ahh. That’s all. She didn’t tell me to breathe specifically but that’s what humans do so I did. I sat leaning forward, about eight inches away from the opening, breathing in the general direction of the vapor. I could taste it, so I know it was working, but really? I couldn’t hold it? It couldn’t be rigged so I didn’t have to lean forward awkwardly for a minute?

The minute passed, and I was done for real. I got my prescription, took it down the hall and got my meds. Done in ten minutes. And the best part? The entire thing cost about 7,000W, less than seven USD. Now to see how fast this works. And if I can open my eyes tomorrow without a headache. Culture day is coming up…

June 20

When you’re a small child teacher, I’d say kindergarten to second, every time there’s an event, you end up with the same dilemma. Students are supposed to do the work themselves. It makes it more meaningful and that’s the whole point of the event. But children can’t make things and decide things, so the teacher inevitably does everything. It’s just easier. I hung the flags and put up the photobooth because it was easier than figuring out how to tell my students to do it well. Plus with the tonsillitis or whatever I have, talking is too hard.

Excerpts from my journal; Early June 2017

June 1

I have no clocks because I don’t like to be reminded of the passage of time. I don’t remember what the book was called, but something I read once talked about how we took power away from God when we made clocks and set them up as our new idols, forever worshipping the efficient use of time. Killing time, spending time, allocating time; all new ideas that turned time into currency, to be bought and sold, and, most condemning of all, wasted. The notion that we could waste the seconds, that they somehow should be wrung out for all they are worth, is not ingrained in the human psyche. Rather, it was invented along with clocks. The ticks, so arbitrary in reality, march our lives along to a beat, and woe to the one who steps out of line to admire the view. He will be crushed beneath the march of the future.

So I don’t keep clocks. The ticking drove me mad. I can’t sleep when I hear ticking, thinking of all the time I’m not sleeping, not using well, but lying awake as the hours tick by. You could drive me insane quite easily if you stuck me in a room with a clock. So I don’t keep them.

Going along the highway and being able to absorb the ads and billboards is like having your finger on the pulse of the culture. When I’m in a bus riding down the Korean highway system, I don’t have my finger there. I can’t feel it. Usually. Today I was able to (probably) correctly translate a phone company billboard. It said something like “Customers are family too.” It’s the kind of inane, cliche thing billboards usually say. It was weird, because in that moment something shifted in my perspective. All the mystery and attractiveness of foreign life flickered, shuttered, began to fall. The mystery is being shaken slowly down, until life in Korea becomes as commonplace and media-saturated as America was.

June 4

As soon as I sat down all my words dried up. The words that had percolated with the coffee while I was washing the dishes, that swirled and seemed ready to drip down my fingers, slid back up with gale force speed as soon as my digits headed for the keyboard. Is it because I forgot to close the cupboard doors?

Getting lost is not something to romanticize. Getting lost is scary and dangerous. What if you ask the wrong type of person? What if no one knows? What if no one will try to speak your language and you end up staying out all night? Getting lost is scary.

Who stopped by during the night to gurgle and wake me up, and drop me off a feeling of desolation? This is why I shouldn’t read about deserts first thing in the morning. I get all dried up.

And there is a bubbling sensation in my left shin. Like something has been blocked. Maybe I just need to exercise, or maybe I walked too much. It’s hard to say.

My body is only a vehicle for my head, after all.

I dreamed of a sunburn and blistered skin last night. I looked it up today to see what it meant. Dreammoods.com said “To dream that you have a sunburn indicates that there is an emotional situation or problem that you can no longer avoid. Some urgent matter is literally burning through to your soul and demanding your immediate attention.” Well that’s true. I have an external and an internal problem. Externally I am worried I might be deported. There is talk, and lots of teachers at some Canadian schools have been. So there’s that. Mostly I am afraid of dealing with a lot of stuff. Not the actual event itself. I would live, and it would be amazing writing material.

Then there is the matter of if I were, what to do with my life. That is always an internal situation, but this threat makes it seem more real, more immediate, thrust the question into the forefront of my brain. That frontal cortex so famous for making us rational beings. Anyway it was a burning question yesterday, so my brain turned it into a weird sunburn on my back and pus-filled blisters on my chest. I tried to go deeper into meaning but blisters didn’t turn up anything useful.

I listened to a sermon about Joseph and dreams today. I wondered if any of my dreams are like his, showing me my future. Or are they just my brain turning problems into pretty metaphors and the result of too much pork?

June 6

I just ordered pizza online. This is a huge moment in my expat life. I have never EVER ordered food by myself to be delivered. I have had friends call for me, and have gone to pick up food oodles of times, but this is my first time doing it all alone. I am stupidly nervous and proud. What if they ask me something in Korean? It will be okay. I am telling myself it will be okay.

They said they will deliver around 3:24. Seems oddly precise.

Travel writing. What is it? The definition I just found on Google says it is writing in which the author describes places they have visited and their experiences while traveling. Or something. Am I a travel writer? No. I don’t really travel. I just happen to live in a foreign country. But I do not travel around and have experiences on purpose. They happen more or less by accident. Just as interesting.

Take, for instance, that fear that many people have that when they are out and about everyone is watching them. If you’re a foreigner in Korea, that’s not just idle paranoia, but a fact of life. You either perpetually hate it or end up resigned to it.

June 8

This morning on my way to work I dropped my trash off. I hate taking out my trash. For one thing, I’m always scared my landlord will come and yell at me that I’m doing it wrong. For another, I have to walk by the convenience store and other shops there, and it’s weird to do something as personal and gross as taking out the trash so publicly. Like anyone sitting outside the convenience store has to watch stanky trash go by. Way to ruin the ice cream and chatting, yo.

At one point, I hated taking the trash out so much I had about six bags on my balcony, and had to take them out all at once on a weekend. I decided never again, and have since just taken them out like a danged adult in the mornings. Paying the bills is another danged adult thing I dread. It’s easy, really. We pay at that same convenience store, and there’s a nice young kid who does it in the morning. But I have to do it before work, and usually I’m just not up for anyone saying anything to me at all. I wish he didn’t speak English, because then the exchange could be in silence. Much like going to the cafe down the road.

June 9

Amazing how quickly a mood can go from great to terrible in the space of five minutes. Just give me three thousand questions from five kids and that’ll do it.

Today is Friday. Thank God It’s Friday. On the one hand, it’s really nice having a consistent daily schedule. On the other hand, it sucks feeling like you only get to live on the weekends and for about 3 minutes every night.

I bought a new ergonomic bag for my trip to New Zealand. It’s just as silly as it sounds. It has a billion pockets and zips in such a way that doesn’t let hooligans MUG ME. Come at me, bro! My zippers are body side and protected. It’s really only for the one trip, and maybe camping if I ever go. B said I should wear it in Seoul. That’s a laugh and a half. You don’t dare be unfashionable in that city.

June 11

I am writing in the early morning, around 10am, and it feels good. It feels flowing and natural. 6am might be too early, but 9 or 10 feels just right. Coffee in me, juice at hand, food in my belly.

Keep it locked up tight, the worries. Don’t borrow from tomorrow.

This is being a writer. This is being a real  writer. Forging ahead. Figuring it out. Working with zero budget and borrowed minutes from an already-busy life. Not knowing if you’ll get that dream agent, or if your book will ever be a bestseller, but sitting down in front of the page anyway  to make the sentence in front of you the most beautiful sentence that it can be.” – Lauren Sapala

This amazing quote will help me forever. Thanks, Lauren!

June 12

Today is going pretty well. I have a lot of extra time since we’re doing nothing but testing this week in LA. I should have lots of time to write and read. I could also be working on Summer Camp stuff. Oh yeah.

Well anyway.

Let’s see how creativity goes at school. I might read a book. I might write a new story. I might do none of those things. But whatever I do, I want to do it nicely and gratefully and not worry or stress out too much.

This week does feel a bit like a copout week. Like even the classes without a test feel like they should be lax, easy, not real, where I can sit and just relax. 

I just sent off my reports cards. It felt pretty anticlimactic. There wasn’t the feeling of intense pressure to get it done. That’s down to my incredible planning skills. I had as much of it done as I could do a couple weeks ago, and added in what I got when I got it. No hurry, no worry. Of course some of the teachers were late getting their grades to us, but we expect it by now, so we can plan in their lack of planning.

June 13

Last night was strange. My dreams were intense, but I can only remember part of one. At one point I woke up slick with sweat. Actually dripping. I don’t know if it was from the heat or some brief illness. Either way, I had to strip, and so then woke up cold around five. Interesting night. I feel okay now though. I did my meditation as soon as I could and listened to part of a TED talk from Ann Lamott. I’m really getting into TED. They’re bursts of inspiration for life.

I also found out I’m a multipotentialite, which is a word I love. Emilie Wapnick is my new hero. I’m excited to delve into that topic and explore more. I keep finding out that I’m not as weird or crazy or flightly or spastic or lost as I thought, but just very very different.

I kind of don’t like that though. I’m getting tired of finding out I’m super different than the world. I’m going to have a list after my name of all the reasons why I don’t fit in and am NOT LIKE YOU. INFJ. HSP. MP. When will it end? And I hate that this is a concern but I feel like I’m trying really hard to justify myself, and no one is going to take it seriously. Oh my gosh, they will say, you have so many things special about you. You must be the most unique snowflake to ever sputter and fall from the sky.

 

Excerpts from my journal; May 2017

May 25

Fruit flies are the smoke of summer. Leave a bag of trash out for an hour, go to close it, squeeze the edges and poof! – out pop three of the suckers, whirling into the air like so much vapor.

Funny how the things you used to be scared of don’t bother you forever. I never wore contacts when I first needed glasses because I was scared of the idea of something in my eye. I could barely touch my eyes at all, and I was terrified a contact would roll back and be lost in my brain space. Finally I got sick of glasses and got over it and started wearing contacts, and got really comfortable touching my eyes and messing with them, as you do when you wear contacts. And then, today and once before, I’ve rubbed my eyes too hard and pushed my contacts up past my upper lid so they’re caught above my eye. Gross. A bit painful too but mostly just freaking annoying because you have to pull your eyelid out while you roll your head down and eyes up to get it to shift down again. Do that and dig with your other finger under your eyelid until you grab the thing. No worries. But I still won’t watch Minority Report.

My mornings are way better these days because I bought hazelnut coffee. My local small grocery store didn’t have it, so that meant that for months I just drank the other kind of coffee. But last weekend I went to the big store farther away, the one that takes me about twenty minutes to walk to, because I needed to get makeup. So I got makeup, and some on-sale shoes, and two bags of hazelnut coffee.

The shoes are cute, and the makeup is smoky because I had just read about beatniks, and the coffee is nutty and amazing and makes my mornings lookforwardtoable. You can get me up easy if you promise coffee.

May 27

What a day. It’s always strange to have a full Saturday when normally I just laze about at home and wile away the hours reading or watching TV.

It was Sports Day, and it went amazingly well. All the teams did something right. Even though my team had a sucky cheer, we came in second overall so it didn’t matter. And in the end, after the prizes are handed out the kids just want to leave anyway.

I got a sunburn, and my eyes hurt and my stomach hurts but I’m so happy it’s over. Sports Day is rough just because it’s outside in the heat and sun and extra chaotic. Other events like Wax Museum, being indoors, might take a lot of preparation but it’s easier on the teachers. I don’t just care about that but…yeah, I just care about that.

Today was also the day my brother and I finally pegged down our accommodations and tours for New Zealand. Sorry, Middle Earth. I should call it what it is. I think that was causing me a lot of stress too, not having those taken care of. I was worried we wouldn’t get the places we wanted or the tours would be sold out, yadda yadda. But we got them paid for and done, and we got our ETAs for Australia so we can enter, and we found all the amazing places to visit and eat around each city so…I think we’re good to go. Everything’s coming together, and it’s starting to feel like we’ll really be there. Oh man, oh man, oh man.

I even looked at souvenirs to buy, but honestly, I don’t want much. Maybe a poster or shirt or the one ring, but not a lot. Pictures and memories of good food and travel. Just seeing and being somewhere else. And seeing my brother have fun will be all I need.

May 30

I shake my shoulders and try to shake them into a place they fit. Music sends waves through me that jangle my soul up and shake the water, letting it settle more comfortably again.

Didion writes with no mercy. There is no soft justification in her. Just the facts, ma’am. Yes, sir. Cold and clear and hard. Got it. Meanwhile I spin a gossamer around every word. Pounding out word after word carefully, not to reveal too too much, not to hurt or imply anything uncomfortable.

May 31

“Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.” – Didion

I like to read Joan Didion. Her pieces don’t excite me, don’t thrill me, but they do keep me fascinated, keep me reading. There is some peculiar power there. And I recognize in my writing, even before I read her, an echo of her voice. She writes like me. To read her, and to read me, when I’m being honest, you’d probably think we were unhappy. We write like unhappy people, looking at life ironically, cynically, bluntly. They say INFJs have a sad soul with a happy personality. I am certainly that way. I’m rarely sad for people to see. I write like I’m always sad. I’m always melancholic. But I wouldn’t say I am a sad person.