What do I have to say for myself? Not much and a lot all at the same time. It's been about a year, hasn't it? I'm not even really sure where I left off...
It's been a long year, a very challenging year in a lot of ways -- one of the most challenging of my life, if I had to choose, but also rewarding. It definitely felt like a good time to get off the internet and focus on life. Which is not to say you can't do both at the same time, but for some reason, the desire to write here just continuously dwindled until it was gone entirely. I think a big part of it was that it's hard for me to write when I'm going through a lot of big life changes. When I'm not sure of where I am with things, of what I'm feeling, I certainly don't know how to explain it to others. I also found that the more I turned toward immersing myself in Korean, the less I had energy left to deal with English. In fact, once I hit the higher levels at language school, I didn't have much energy left to focus on anything else at all.
So what's happened this past year? I graduated language school, for one, which was not as easy as I had though it would be. We lost about half of our ranks along the way. I failed to get the grad school scholarship, which was a blessing in disguise. By the time I had finished applying, I had been talking with a lot of professors and friends who had been through or worked with the program I had been considering, and I was already starting to have my doubts. I chose my undergrad program specifically because it was about as far from traditional as you can get, and what I was seeing of lit programs here was that the main focus would be on learning the canonical explanation for what a work means, and how to regurgitate that knowledge properly.
In a lot of ways, looking back on it now, I think I was operating on the assumption that I didn't have any other choice. I didn't know of any other way to try to get to where I wanted to go, and I also wasn't even sure of what I wanted. When the scholarship results first came out, I panicked. But then I got a grip and slowly began to realize that I had been handed a second chance -- a chance to think more outside the box, to not settle for what I thought I had to do.
So, what else happened this year? I went to Vietnam and got a horrific case of food poisoning, which I didn't even regret, because the street food was worth it. I went to Japan twice, once alone and once with Busan and his brother. I took Busan back to the US, where we had an incredible road trip that included my favorite southern beaches and New Orleans for Halloween. I spent a shitton of time with my family, which I really needed. I got married. I started writing a book. I got a few poems published. I became obsessed with cooking, and taught myself how to do things I never thought I could. I read dozens and dozens of books. I did a lot of translation. I had my first job interviews in Korean. I wrote articles. I got really familiar with Korea's indie publishing scene.
I also lost a lot of sleep, cried a countless number of times, doubted myself, threatened to leave the country for good, missed the birth of a new nephew and faced my first few struggles with being a wife and daughter-in-law.
And I got a job which, if I'm honest, I don't think I really deserve. But somehow the powers of the universe came together and everything fell into place. That is, after a nerve-racking five week interview period. I'm now working as an editor at a travel and culture magazine, a job which involves a bit of translation, a lot of editing (obviously) and fantastic little trips around the country to write about food. It's a great magazine and my new coworkers have been amazing so far. It's a bit of a mindfuck working in an all-Korean-speaking environment and doing research in Korean, while also concentrating so hard on English all day, but I'm learning a ton and I genuinely enjoy the work, and the pay is much higher than someone with no quantifiable experience in the field really deserves.
The last six months especially have been a blur, and I wasn't really sure where things were heading for a while, but I feel like things are settling down now. I don't know how often, if at all, I'll be dropping in here, but this is the update for now.
As a side note, let me just say... a couple of months back, for some reason I can't recall, I was searching through my inbox and I came across a number of emails from people who have read this blog. I've never been the best about responding to comments and emails, but rereading them from a distance, it hit me just how many people who have no fucking reason to care about me or my life reached out to me again and again to say the most genuinely kind things, to offer help and support, to cheer me on or make me laugh or even just to relate. I don't know how many of you will still be checking in, but if you are reading this, whoever you are, I hope you are well and that life is treating you kindly. Thank you for being around.