Copied from a document, done away from home, on my dying laptop, while my school computer gets reformatted, and quickly pasted once home again to beat the cat at its own game of killing the computer by pulling out the plug…
Sorry I haven’t written in awhile. Actually I’ve written lots, but it’s a disorganized mess and not fit to share with anyone. I’ve spent the last few weeks editing my life in preparation for returning to America, and I’m only now beginning to make order out of that chaos. (and of course Momo’s an attention hog and won’t let me access the computer more than ten minutes) Every day I stack my things into piles of keep or give-away, and then the next day I re-visit the piles and pare them down, and then rearrange or move the things to a staging area for packing or to a finished area for giving away, things which will go to the unwed moms.
I certainly have collected a lot of stuff in three years here. It seems I have a problem with attachment to things. And yet, I know that these things are not so much, comparing the quantity of what I have with my former world-traveling friends, who had houses or condos and brought back wonderful mementos from all corners of the globe. I’ve nothing so nice with my meager budget, and I’ve no home base to deposit things from my leisure travels. I’m a middle aged lady living in a position created for people still in their twenties. Me – I’ve got a wooden lamp given me by the Korean Emigration Museum for donating my adoption documents, some gomu (rubber) shin (shoes), a fan painted by nine stones’ mother, a Thai sarong hand-woven by some tribe from my visit there, and too many books on how to learn Korean. The rest of the stuff is just crap by most people’s standards. But it’s all I own, and I can’t afford to just start completely over from scratch, even though I’d love to.
The real problem I have with my relationship to stuff is wanting to always be prepared. Any lover of tools (In fact, I think part of the reason I got into Architecture was because it combined the need for precision tools and supposedly creativity) can understand this: there is a right tool for every job and there’s nothing worse than being shut down when inspired because you don’t have the right tool at hand, and to keep life stress-free there needs to be a place for those tools. This isn’t a problem if your interests are focused, but it’s a big problem when you’re interests are scattered and you’re a jack of all trades like me! It is really hard to part with tools you KNOW will satisfy a future need.
Prior to coming to Korea, I had to part with my entire art studio (we’re talking band saw, circular saw, drills, workbench, wrenches, soldering gun, alcohol burner, melting pot, oven, etc. Etc.) and it was sooo hard, sooo hard. Because all I want to do is make things, test ideas. Usually I fail, but I haven’t had the luxury or privilege of time to fail enough to learn enough for an experiment to succeed. But I was at least completely fitted out for any eventuality.
Even though I’ve only been here on an extended temporary visit, I’ve still been pretending to repatriate and, due to the isolation and hoping I’d have more company, I feathered my nest a little more than those just passing through normally do. Though on a limited budget, it’s been a comfort. It’s been a comfort to imagine the next project and to prepare for it by gathering tools.
And so I sort, and I rescue. I rescue the mini hand drill. I rescue the miniature Japanese model-maker’s swivel exacto knife. I rescue the circle cutter. I save the glue brush. I keep a jealous eye on the side-cutting nail clippers. I save the cone thread holder, and any useful thing I got here that is hard to replicate or find in America. I save my yoh mattress, because it’s cheaper to ship than to buy a new bed as soon as I get to America. I will exceed my free luggage limit by one bag even though I will be sending yet another bag with a friend the following month, and I pray that U.S. Customs will allow smart carts in the inspection line. I will look like some greedy importer, were it not for the cat carrier slung over my shoulder…
Other than that, I am trying to lose the ten pounds I’ve gained in Korea and throwing myself back into adoptee advocacy work from my desk at school. Which, by the way, I am feeling more and more confident in my position, since I tend to focus only on things which are concretely fix-able, and with collaboration are totally do-able, and we collaborators are finding each other. I’m also enjoying doing research for the book I plan to edit. With my typing hands tied down by paws at home, I watch a lot of BBC nature t.v. with Momo and am looking forward to another season of last season’s Work of Art and Project Runoway. Lasek surgery (more on that later) in a week will put everything on hold for a few days, and I’m hoping to get my hands on some Salmon Rushdie or Kipling or something else on tape that is lyrical but tells a beautiful story. My best friend here is going to by my nurse during the worst day of recovery. Unfortunately, the best treasures are people, and I can’t pack her into a bag.
I have many many reflections, but most of them circle back to where I talk about my struggles with one popular person I hurt but nobody sees the damage she did to me. That, too, is something I need to let go.
Momo had to experience a time-out to write even this little piece, so I’m going to call it a day and hopefully will be able to check back in more frequently now that I’m back at work and as soon as my computer there is repaired.
Happy New Year!