Monday, May 19, 2008

Bloggy bits and bites.

One of my students is excited that "the handsome one" endorsed Obama.

He sure waited until late in the game (shades of USA in World War One? Methinks he's hoping to get a VP undercard for tipping the balance.)

Ever notice how the music running through the heads of every aspiring composer who appears in a movie sounds like a movie score? Why don't they make movies about musicians who want to be avant-garde junkyard/power-tool percussionists, or experimental industrial electronica found-sound mixers? It's so totally unfair to all the great musicians who don't like "Oooh" choir synthesizer effects and soaring violins and low-voiced women "aaah"-ing over low, echoing digeridoos and double-bass reverb.

Point in case: the music doesn't start until the 2:00 point, but . . . An American Symphony

by Glenn Holland/Michael Kamen

Mr. Holland should definitely have gotten into movie scores.

I like the way the music playing in someone's mp3 player changes the way they walk down the street: instead of a normal gait, it's just so much more fun to walk behind an elbow-flapping, wrist-flopping, neck-craning disco-strutter. . . until the next song comes on (which is also entertaining, if they go, say, from Miles Davis to Metallica)

Next: It's funny how the tiniest thing -- getting just the right amount of sugar in your starbucks coffee -- can be all it takes to turn the corner and make a good day into a very good day.

Met a German dude on Friday night named Rainer who gave me this view on American football.

"It's not a ball. It's shaped like an egg. And you don't control it with your feet, you control it with your hands. It should be called Hand-egg, not Foot-ball."

I want to write a story about a guy who names his car "the Bull" just so that he can say, "Mess with the Bull, you get the horn." Har har har.

Quote from a twelve-year-old I know: "I'm the only kid in my group of classmates who's never had a boyfriend or girlfriend. Even Jeremy had a girlfriend back when he was in First Grade, but he says he didn't really know what love was back then."

Girlfriendoseyo took me down with a zinger a little while ago, while we were hanging out with her best friend. (Guess she was fronting or something.) On the odd fact that every old lady in Korea adores me (or at least my curly hair -- the young ones are hit and miss, but every old lady wants to know if it's a pama [perm]): "Roboseyo, the old Korean ladies like you because you have the same hairstyle as they do."

--which is true. One of the most shocking "Didn't expect Korea to be the same as North America THIS way" realizations I had was in my first year, when I realized Korean old ladies do exactly the same thing with their hair as western old ladies: cut it short, perm it, and dye it blue (optional). For comparison:

some Western old lady hairdos:

Some Korean old lady hairdos:

And me.

I've been busy as anything with certain important but boring, unbloggable tasks that aren't fun to write about, but cause computer-screen overkill and freon wave headaches or whatever it is that you get when you spend too much time in front of a computer (self-generated mad cow disease, perhaps? Fear the spontaneous spongiform!) so I haven't yet had a chance to flesh out the essay, "Five Things I'd Change About Korea," with links and funny pictures and soundtrack buttons, though I might do that this weekend: the text is complete, it's just a matter of getting it blog-friendly, link-rich, and fun.

Meanwhile, had a funny student day last Thursday, one in my public speaking class who refused to follow instructions and just tell the darn story, and instead made Aesop's fable, "The Ant And The Grasshopper" into a weird gay fetish fantasy, and then another student came into my next class half-cut, about two beers into his night of drinking, answering questions this way:

(it was a business English class)

Me: "How much money does the CEO of IKEA have?"
HDS (half-drunk student) "True wealth is not money. For example, I have God, and because of that, I am truly wealthy."
Me: "Next question."
HDS (to another student): "Celia, you are beautiful and charming."
Celia: Uh. . . thank you?
Me: So, uh, page ninety-eight, everyone?


Anonymous said...


Did you have another post up "today" (your today is Monday, my today is Sunday still) or was I just imagining? Whatever it was that I read, it was really good.

Regardless, I have been reading a lot different expat blogs over the last few weeks and especially over the day after my "experience" commenting on Marmot.

I am ethnically Korean although I'm not sure exactly how Korean I really am. Certainly, other Korean American have and would comment that I am very "white". That in itself if painful to hear (although I can't articulate well enough why) but the experience of reading various blogs in the last few days has also been painful.

After my experience yesterday commenting on Marmot, I asked myself why I felt compelled to comment? Why was I being branded with nationalism for a country I hardly know anything about while at the same time, I'm dismissed by the Korean American community?

At the end of the day, my identity is forever linked to Korea, Koreanism and Korean-Americanims. My best guess is that when I read some of the comments of expats on Marmot, part of my identity popped up and waved it's flag. I'm still struggling through my feelings about last two days but it felt like my family's dirty laundry was being aired to stranger and strangers were now telling me how to fix my family's problems. That's the best I can articulate. All families have their problems but certainly very few people want a non-family member to tell you how messed up your family is and what you can do to improve your family situation. The only way that's acceptable is if you paid good money for that advice (therapy)!

My identity is mine only and I live a very content and happy life. I try not to spew negativity about my personal experiences. I don't try to shout out potential solutions to whatever flawed situations I see. I merely try to live as a good civic citizen (citizen of American, Korean-American community, and Asian-American community in general). That's the best way to make a difference in my mind.

Thanks for handing me an olive branch when I felt so saddened yesterday at Marmot. It was so very kind of you. I found those rays of hope (amongst all the negativity) with you help.


Roboseyo said...

I did have another post up, but I'm saving it for later this week, because I want my readers to have a chance to digest what I put up THIS weekend, before slopping another big, long post down. You'll see it again, soon, after it's had a few more days of simmering, where I can edit, shorten, or sharpen it. Because of the topic, I want to fine-tune it before I put it up. Glad you liked what you saw, though.

Re: the comment board at Marm:

If you want to get by on there, here are some tips:

1. as your post gets longer, your chance of attracting the "in good faith, trying to have a serious discussion" commenters instead of the "snarky fly-by one-liner" commenters.

2. If you get defensive, they know they've got you, and then they'll all pile on. (see especially your posts 26, 28, 31 -- by answering their snarky comebacks in kind, you let them drag you down to their level.) You'd have done better by responding to the first one-line comeback with a longer "hold on, let me hedge what I said there a little, and develop what I mean so that people take it seriously and know that I'm not just trying to provoke a reaction" post, instead of a snippy, one-line response.

3. If it's worth it to you, spend some time lurking to see which commenters are worth reading and which ones are usually just offer up knee-jerk reactions. Lurking will also give you some time to spot which topics just not to broach: I pretty much NEVER comment on racism issues, or any expat vs. korea issue, just because it's. . . let's say, like talking to your father, and it gets personal really quick. Why get involved? It can be fun to watch the pyrotechnics, from a distance, but I don't feel like getting close enough to catch any crossfire.

Roboseyo said...

You said
Certainly, other Korean American have and would comment that I am very "white". That in itself if painful to hear (although I can't articulate well enough why) but the experience of reading various blogs in the last few days has also been painful.

. . . it felt like my family's dirty laundry was being aired to stranger and strangers were now telling me how to fix my family's problems

That first part, that's hard. Sometimes I also feel like I'm neither here nor there -- I don't feel like a Canadian anymore, and when I go back there, there are parts of me that my Canadian friends just don't understand. The only one who gets it is my cousin, who lived in Taiwan for two years. I'm sure for you, it's amplified far beyond what I've experienced, because your entire life has been characterized that way. No matter how well I learn Korean, even if I get a Ph.D in Korean history and culture, I'll never be completely accepted here because my ancestry is Dutch and my nationality is Canadian.

(unasked-for advice begin:)
Just please remember that strangers are not the arbiters of who you are. They're strangers, and in the end, their opinions and ill-informed judgments only have as much power over you as you give them. (:unasked-for advice end)

And what the hell does it mean to be "white" anyway? Who wrote that entry in the dictionary?

but you know, the thing is, the world doesn't quite work the same way it used to -- I mean, identity is really slippery these days. What with the speed of communication and the development of the global community, and migrant populations, if Korea's a "family," there are people living in the house that weren't there before: migrant workers and imported wives from southeast asia, international businesspeople and english teachers from all over -- we're here, we're investing time and energy and passion in Korea, we have a stake in korea, and it hurts us, also, to be told that we don't deserve to be part of the discourse on how to make Korea a better place, because we weren't born here, with the right blood in our veins. It also hurts Korea to exclude us from the conversation, because the more viewpoints there are in circulation, the more likely the best ones will gain consensus.

And Korea's family has some members who are in other places, by adoption or emigration, and where do they fit on the scale? Identity is too often used as a form of exclusion instead of inclusion, and I wish people would just look at me and you as humans, instead of as members of any of the categories to which we belong.

But back to Korea's dirty laundry: part of joining the international community IS becoming open to international exposure and criticism -- everybody gets their turn to be the brunt of criticism and embarrassment (look at Austria these days, with their incestuous basement-confining father whatchamacallit scandal -- I'm sure they'd LOVE that story to have been buried in the local press and kept quiet internationally, but there it was, on BBC and CNN's front page), but everybody also gets access to the benefits of being part of the international community. The fact Korea attracts international attention, positive OR negative, is proof that Korea is one of the major players in the world now -- the fact Stephen Colbert mocked Rain isn't a slur on Korea's culture: it's PROOF that Korea pulls some weight now, worldwide. You didn't hear Colbert mocking The Ivory Coast's top popstar.

Good luck sorting all this business out, or finding peace with not having to have it all sorted out. Nice to meet you. Glad you enjoyed my blog, and I hope I'll see you around at the Marmot's hole, or on the K-blogosphere again. Don't let the negative ones pull you down their suckhole. it's not a fun place to be, but there ARE people who are optimistic. In fact, sometimes I think the very act of complaining about something is an act of hope -- if there were no hope things could improve, I'd resign myself to life's suckiness, instead of defiantly complaining. Better again to light a candle, than to curse the darkness, but sometimes one needs to name the darkness before we can go about looking for matches and candles.

all the best -- Roboseyo