My friend Kit told me about a great way to get your creative juices flowing each day. First thing in the morning, she sits down and writes three full pages by hand. She just writes about memories and anything that comes to mind. She says that this causes her to be much more aware of her day and her surroundings. It also helps her to approach everything more creatively. I was so inspired by her that I decided to do the same, but with a few alterations. I don't have to write right when I get up, but I should write in the morning and instead of 3 handwritten pages, I will do 1.5 single-spaced typed pages on my computer. I want to have my writing saved in my computer so I cut and paste it into any future stories or pieces that I write. Here is what I wrote today. It may be quite rough because you are not allowed to edit.
I still miss Korea so much when I think about it. I miss my friends and having so many people to do things with. I miss that each day was a little adventure. Things are so stagnant here in Ocon and I just want to get out of here. At least yesterday I took some pictures. I had Mom drop me off at the post office in the morning on her way to work and I walked home. I took about 100 pictures and that felt great.
I loved walking in Korea from station to a couple of stations down and taking lots of pictures of all of the surprising things. I wish that I would have taken even more pictures now of the things that I took for granted. I should have taken more pictures of the food and of the people. I realized at the time that I wasn’t taking enough pictures of people, but I have a difficult time with that most of the time. I am just too shy.
It’s interesting how an exotic life can feel normal after only a short time. I tell people stories here of things that happened to me in Korea, that to me don’t seem surprising, and they are amused by them. For example,
After spending a few hours sleeping and waiting in the emergency room at the hospital in Korea, my boss came back to check on me. It was about 9:30am. The group of four doctors and one nurse came over to my bed and one gave me my diagnosis. He said something to the effect that I had atypical pneumonia and a gastro viral infection, so I should take this medicine three times a day. No other directions or recommendations. I was tired and out-of-it, so I just accepted it. Then the doctor told Mrs. Cho in Korean what was wrong with me. As he began to talk, the room full of patients went quiet. The patients and their families, leaned forward and had a look of curiosity on their faces. They all wanted to know what was wrong with the Western white girl. I didn’t notice what their reaction was, but it didn’t surprise me at all that they would take such a concern in my diagnosis. For me, it was just life in as an expat in Korea.
Another story that I told my mom was about a day that I was waiting to meet Paddy by Bucheon station. A mentally retarded young man came up to me and asked where I was from. I told him that I was from the United States. He then began to sing the National anthem. I was taken aback that this man would have the whole song memorized and could sing it so well when most Americans can’t even sing it. Paddy arrived just as he was finishing up his song. The young man asked Paddy where he was from and Paddy said England, so the man started to sing the British national anthem and then he went straight into the Canadian national anthem. I guess that this guy had sung frequently for Paddy and he would sing again for me one day in November while I walked around Bucheon shopping center with Aaron. While surprising at first, I started to take experiences like this for granted.
I am trying to think of other things that I took for granted while living in Korea. One may be all the color everywhere. I was aware of the noise, crowds and energy but I took the colors for granted. I didn’t think that it was so much more colorful than the USA, but now that I am back here, things seem kind of lackluster. It is winter, so most things are in shades of white, gray, black and brown. In summer, we will have bright blue skies and lush green grasses and plants. But right now, things seem kind of dull in more ways than just the colors.
"You take your material where you find it, which is in your life, at the intersection of past and present. THe memory-traffic feeds into a rotary up on your heard, where it goes in circles for a while, then pretty sooni magination flows in and the traffic merges and shoots off down a thousand different streets. As a writer, all you can do is pick a street and go for the ride, putting down things as they come to you."
--Tim O'Brien, "The Things They Carried"