Last year I had a Caucasian English teacher friend who was married to a Korean man and had two children, and we’ve fallen off from writing each other. She was going through a rough spot at the time and was feeling really oppressed by this place. And I was here in the height of culture shock and she kind of eased my transition a little. And I didn’t really understand what she was talking about, because I was trying so hard to be open and positive. And then I found that Youtube video, made by another English teacher, entitled, “hate this place,” and wrote about how life under Y’s thumb was like.
It comes and it goes, that feeling. But lately it’s been building up again to a cacophonous drone, like those cicadas outside my window. Some days I really like the sound, especially when there are the sounds of other birds and animals to mitigate it, as nature is noisy. But on these really hot still days like today, it’s like an electric arc ready to fry your brain. And it can make a person go crazy, like Chinese water torture.
Looming over my head is entering in Korean translations into the new website I’ve made of every Korean and French article ever written for and about TRACK, as well as hand entering in every menu item in Korean and French, and carefully adding programs to make the site more functional. I work until my laptop is too hot and making weird noises, and then I go have a smoke, have a drink or bite to eat, and continue. Or I cat nap and begin again a few minutes later. Until day and night have no meaning. Still incomplete are reducing the pixel size of all the photos of the art installation and uploading them. I must also figure out how to make WordPress accept Korean hangeul characters. And track down someone to finish the translation on my speech in Korean so that we can then send out a proper press release in Korean. And then there are the letters to Kim Sook Ja and now the translations to get to the intangible cultural property. This is my vacation. I start work tomorrow.
I sometimes flip through the channels in hopes of finding something interesting, but the typical fare is always slapstick comedy with electronic game sound effects and laugh tracks, or poorly practiced choreography of half naked girls behind aging pop stars whose voices are shot, or infomercials and game shows. Even the On Style channel has syndicated t.v. shows that shouldn’t be purchased by any country, and home-grown fare like, “Fashion of Cry” (wtf?) which is some strange half fashion commentary/comedy challenge, and yes, with laugh track and animated enhancements and sound effects. I discovered music channels, though, and there’s a world music channel keeping me company.
I have decided that Japanese people have thin lips. Or maybe it’s just that Koreans have full lips. I have also decided that I don’t hate air conditioning and I am afraid of what my bill will look like next month. Turning it on and off is about the only exercise I get, as I have to climb a stool and I can only stand about ten minutes of it at a time. I am frustrated that friends don’t listen and you can’t tell them that because then you have issues – oh, too late – and I don’t understand how the stupidest people on the planet become interviewers and that it’s not okay to complain about them. I have also decided I can’t buy vegetables because there’s only one of me and they go rotten, and so I live only on meat and starch, cereal and milk, during school break. I can’t find beef anywhere so eat pork or chicken. And I eat tenderloin because Koreans would rather pay 8 bucks for fatty bacon and ignore the tenderloin, so I can get it for 4 bucks. I have rearranged my room in the only other configuration possible, and it only took about a half hour.
I feel like how you feel when you’ve slept in too long, or been sitting in one spot for too long, or been carrying something too long. For a year. I feel – Korean word here – burdened. Every time I turn my neck, it’s like cracking all my knuckles…
Next week is “the Gathering” of 500 adoptees in Seoul from all over the world. I will not be one of them. I’ve absolutely no desire to be there. I do not want to attend seminars about literature and art about adoption. Or talk about adoption politics. Or JESUS, for the love of God, I don’t want to talk about adoptee healing. And I don’t want to go slamming soju all over Seoul and leaving street pizza on the ground with them either. And it isn’t just the gathering. Adopted kids these days – they’re surrounded with being pathologized from the moment they arrive: ( get out the barf bag) by their own parents.
Healing is not gathering in a circle and burning your hate or sending off your wishes in a paper boat or chanting while burning incense or dancing ’til foaming at the mouth. Healing >might< be this: (a recent contribution to my adopted-abused website) But it’s going beyond that. I’ll tell you about healing. Healing is knowing when to look up from all of this nausea and saying, I want a life, screw this. I’m so very very thankful I had my awakening and spent the last two years exploring. I’m so very very thankful I don’t live here permanently: Korea or adoption land. I’m really ready to move on. To a world where all things are not in reference to adoption. I think I’ll be leaving TRACK soon. I don’t want to be a career adoptee.
But you know what is really healing? Laughing, God damn it. (the irony of that last sentence doesn’t escape me) Laughing. And lying in the grass looking up at the sky holding hands with someone. I need to find friends who can listen and be there for me and who can put the toil aside a minute and have a laugh.