After my last post, I made a new weeks resolution. I set two, achievable writerly goals for this week and went to bed Sunday night pumped. And a co-worker was sick. The co-worker was sick again. And no, it's not that guy. Nothing in this post is about him. Anyway, another co-worker used a day of his vacation and that made us two teachers shy. Everybody taught seven or eight classes today. (I may have taught seven, I may have taught eight, but I don't really know since counting accurately was not among my skills.)
Today is also the day I signed my new contract and accepted a pay cut of about $300.00 a month. Unfortunately, I had a bit of mind rash when I read a clause that said if we teach at two schools we get an extra $100.00 a month regardless of proximity. As you might know, I teach at Yeongju English Center. What you probably don't know, is I also teach half a day at Yeongju Elementary school. The half a day isn't so bad, but with the pay cut, would balance that a little.
I was given a convoluted explanation of why Yeongju English Center is not part of the elementary school and then is part of the elementary school.
"Why doesn't the elementary schools native speaker teach classes at that Center?" I asked.
There will be social fallout for this later, but I don't care right now. He spends an hour in our office everyday during school and all day during breaks when he has no classes and he makes jokes about how he doesn't have anything to do but watch TV. The first time was ha, ha but the twentieth time, not so much.
Anyway, this is how it became clear that my efforts to not be bothered by the "ha, ha, I ain't got shit to do" jokes of Sir Keepingthedeskwarm were a failure.
This lead to a moment with my two-selves. The self that is filled up with this work and likes job security was like, "Effing sign it beyatch!" My other brain was like, "Noooooooooooooooo!" and "Run while you still can!" (Look, for every moment of joy I have where I work, there is also the emotional equivalent of antimatter, that's all.) My pen hovered and hovered and hovered. Eventually the head guy went away. He returned ten minutes later.
"Why are you on the floor?"
"I'm signing my contract."
Moving day is fast approaching and even though moving in South Korea can be exceedingly painless, it is not without it's distractions. For one thing, the new apartment is a two bedroom with a proper living room and a kitchen big enough for a dining room. I'm super excited to not have people in my bedroom when they come over, mostly because I can toss all the clutter inside and close the door. Yes, I do that.
But, the apartment does not have a washer or a refrigerator or a TV. I've live with the TV appliance before, though thanks to the internet, not without TV. I make this latter statement somewhat ruefully because TV is yet another distraction.
In fact, everywhere I turn there seems to be a plethora of distractions: horseback riding on weekends, baking, nail art, tv, audio books, and Boggle. Never mind that I'm terrible at Boggle, or that my nails more often than not look like a three-year-old did them.
My cat is also partially responsible. He does not like it when I use technology. He will sleep happily until I pick up the cell phone or start taping away at keyboard... fwap, he's in my lap or on the keyboard typing tttttttttttttttttttttttttt with his belly and thinking oh &*^((& when did I last hit save?
However, to be fair, the real issue is not all the other things. It's how I feel inside, which is to say, I'm not compelled to write. It is a far different beast than writer's block and is an indirect result of being fulfilled by work and life outside of work. That is the root of all things unwritterly these days.
When I first arrived in Korea in 2008, I faced a similar conundrum with my writing. Suddenly, I had a comfortable paying job. Not rich by any means but good enough and the lack of financial strain was initially a motivational reduction. Later it became a boon, but there was a transition period whereupon I questioned why I was writing if it no longer presented a significantly differently lifestyle. Because, lets face it, a lot of what attracts us to our dream is not only the thing in and of itself, but the lifestyle that comes along with it.
Going back even further in my life, I wanted to work with horses because I imagined that meant I'd get to ride horses a lot more when in reality, working in horses almost always means more time is spent scooping poop than in the saddle. In the end, I realized that I hadn't really been writing for financial gain, but rather to feel a void....
Ever since I was the smallest child, my brain has been a busy beaver and no work I've every done has satiated it's relentless creativity. Thus I created more work for myself in my spare time. This is at the crux of what I feared in going after a career in the good old USA (that and also never traveling to amazing places again). But life is funny that way and now I'm facing down the barrel of a new gun, one that has nothing to do with finances.
If life, both inside work and outside, can fill me up, what will motivate me to continue writing? I didn't know the answer to that until today, when, while rushing to the post office on my forty-minute lunch break, I suddenly found my mind drifting to a story of mine. Solutions appeared, dialogues took place in my head and I suddenly fell in love with story telling again. And also realize that success in writing not equate to a better life, but rather, just a different. What's left is telling a good story and I'd rather like to finishing telling the stories I've started, even if nobody but me reads them.
One unanswered question remains though. When I finish telling myself the stories I've started, will I be content or compelled to imagine new stories? Okay, my cat is jealous of my keyboard now, so I have to go. Have a great day!
Mariel R. is an ESL teacher, horse trainer, writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. She lives in South Korea with two cats, three horses, a German Shepherd and 17 chickens.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Goldy in English) R.I.P February, 23, 2018