Sunday, August 7, 2005

I've been tagged.

Space Nakji has tagged me. If you are mentioned in #17, then you are tagged, too.

1. Ten years ago -- In Korea. I fear this might sound boring as heck because answers #1, #2, and #3 will all be in Korea. Ten years ago I was beginning my adult life in Korea (don't think you can figure out my age based on this, though), and I was working at a certain Catholic university's Department of Continuing Education (I'm trying to be vague). I was doing GRE and GMAT courses, a "Cultural Seminar" that advanced English students would take to learn about cross-cultural issues. I had also started work at a mom-and-pop television network where I was doing on-air and behind-the-scenes work on educational programs.

I was always going back to California for four weeks at a time, twice a year (until 1998), so I would just have been getting back from one of those trips. This trip, though, was preceded by a trip to Italy where I tried to woo (re-woo?) my then-fiancée to come back to me. It did work, eventually, and I was enjoying a rekindled relationship. I had also just seen my newborn niece (the first 조카 in a series of five so far), my sister's kid; the baby looked like a raisin (and my sister was asked regularly for the next year or so when the next one is due).

After a series of crazed roommates ("Psycho Bi--h Helen," aka "Hormonal Helen" and "Naked Chick"; Greg the Nazi; and "The Guy Who Wouldn't Leave") I finally had my old but sizable apartment with the huge terrace all to myself, and I let my dogs Nanjido and Kunpo roam around there. Unfortunately, the owner of the building kept trying to jack up my rent, so I was always feeling I was on the verge of leaving.

2. Five years ago -- Still in Seoul. After accountants took over the Jesuit-run university, someone got the idea in their head that they should kick the Jesuits out of the administration. They then decided that they could make money hand over fist by raising tuition and cutting salaries. Imagine their surprise when the good profs/lecturers left and the students stopped ponying up good money to take bad extracurricular courses. After my boss, Father N, got fired and the guy who hired me, Mr. H, was forced to retire, I decided to leave. Them telling me they wanted to redo my contract and cut the "overly generous" salary I was making did have something to do with it.

So I went to work-- temporarily--at another university. Many of my students followed me (I was just like Socrates). A lot of my students had worked me into their Saturday and/or evening routines, and they really wanted to keep taking classes with me, which helped console the major loss of income (standing on principle can hurt the pocketbook). I ended up doing more and more work at the mom-and-pop network, and I was pushing them to make news programs in English, which they were convinced was crazy.

After tiring of the landlady's antics, I found another place to live, just up the street in that old neighborhood in central Seoul, which was a house-house. All to myself. It was two stories, with a small garden in front. It was built around 1935, but it was very sturdy and had since been refurbished. It was a nice, charming place with character. The owner was one of the original occupants, but after her husband died a few years earlier, she decided to live somewhere else.

I was driving around a new LP-gas-powered Kia minivan my company had purchased the previous Christmas. It was big enough to drive around all our performers to on-location shoots (and it was tinted dark so people could change their clothes there instead of in bathrooms that had wet floors that you hoped were covered with water and not something else), and I would sometimes sleep in it or use it as an office.

A few months later I would "audition" to write a language guide for a major travel guide publisher; the audition would be successful and writing the book would end up occupying most of the next year. I was also about to enter a well-known Graduate School of International Studies, seeking an M.A. in Korean Studies, so I would have something tangible to show for my time spent in Seoul.

3. One year ago -- One year ago this weekend, I was just getting done with our mom-and-pop network's "English camp" (which we radio personalities called "stalker camp"). I was doing an evening news program, since the network finally tried my proposal and it turned out people loved the idea of listening to news in English. I was busy applying to teach college-level courses about Korea to military folks at the education center Yongsan Garrison.

I was now living in an apartment I had actually bought (the wonderful old house, which I had hoped to live in until I no longer lived in Korea, was sold when the owner's daughter decided to make some quick money), and I was busy fixing it up.

4. Yesterday -- Yesterday I spent the entire day in the studio doing the pilot and first two episodes of a TV program for our mom-and-pop network. On my feet all day, with hair that looked funny because the k'odi (coordinator) had put too much hair spray in my coif. Between takes I checked my cell phone for word that the script for a documentary translation I was working on would come through. Afterwards I and the other on-camera people went to the local mall and ate "Sizzling teriyaki." It was delicious. I went home by subway and passed out, from exhaustion, on the bed all sweaty-like.

5. Today -- After breakfast at the Dragon Hill Lodge with a friend who is leaving Korea for a while, and then an unrelated trip to the dentist, I "snuck" into the commissary and bought $90 worth of hard-to-find items. Including ice cream sandwiches and decaf General Foods International Coffees. Now I am working on some network stuff. It never ends!

6. Tomorrow -- Documentary translation (this documentary hypothesizes that some concepts of work will change, like people working for twenty hours straight and then not working for three days). I might drive someone to Kwangju.

7. Five snacks I enjoy -- Though I look quite slim to the naked eye, when I am naked, there is a slight pudge. I try to get rid of it with regular exercise and by not eating the following delicious foods I enjoy: ice cream sandwiches; Mother's brand iced macaroons; Mrs. Field's cookies of any flavor, but especially Debra's Special; tiramisu; pumpkin pie; and that rich chocolate dessert thingy that they serve at Starbuck's that has more calories that a box of Mrs. See's candies, which is what I would write down if this asked for seven snacks instead of six.

8. Five bands (or singers??) I know the lyrics of most of their songs -- This would have to be stuff from when I was very young or somewhat young, because I sort of gave up memorizing lyrics after college: the Beatles (which I know because of my parents playing tapes), Johnny Cash (again, the 8-track tapes), Prince (my choice, not my parents', t this applies only for certain albums); and possibly the Cars. I can't think of any more, but it's okay, since I wrote down six desserts.

9. Five things I would do with $100,000,000 -- Huge-ass houses for my immediate family, my aunt in Vegas who is like a second mom, plus my closest friends; nice cars for the same people; some serious money donated to help fight some disease that isn't getting the money it needs; a scholarship fund (in my name, of course) for people studying how medical issues in Korea or among Korean-Americans are affected by traditional mores and modern socio-cultural norms; my own damn network.

10. Five locations I’d like to run away to -- Tuscany and/or Lazio, Italy; Kyoto; an isolated part of Cheju (if there still is such a thing); Orange County; Hong Kong.

11. Five Bad Habits -- Procrastination, including taking too long to do things I promised to do; paying too close attention to the people on the side of the road while I'm driving; eating more than I exercise off; not writing to people who deserve email/snail mail from me; letting my apartment, car, and office get too cluttered.

12. Five things I like doing -- Eating, watching movies, sex/snuggling with someone I love, writing/reading, traveling. Or any combination thereof.

13. Five T.V. shows I like -- I'm going to sound like I'm parroting Space Nakji but: The Simpsons (I'm even the moderator of a major Simpsons-related list and Futurama), Friends (it seemed to dovetail my life, including a serious relationship with a woman very confused about her sexual orientation), M*A*S*H, and either St. Elsewhere or Scrubs (that's three medical shows).

14. Famous People I’d like to meet -- Prior to February 25, 2005, I would have said Bill Clinton first, but I met him when he came to Seoul for a book-signing. Al Gore, Harrison Ford, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, Marissa Tomei, Halle Berry. I think I have to think about this more.

15. Biggest joys at the moment -- Finishing a load of work, eating, getting out of Seoul (whether it's to a place inside Korea or outside), doing the news, writing something people thought was thought-provoking or funny.

16. Favorite toys -- Rubik's Cube, Go-stop cards, my Macintosh.

17. Five people to tag -- Well, I would have tagged Space Nakji, but she already did this. I think it would have to be people I know would possibly read my blog, but who haven't been tagged already. Curious, Jodi, Nora, Plunge, and Baduk (just because I want to see his nutty answers).


  1. Oh, I've been tagged! I guess I'd better starting working on the might motivate me to keep on with my recent attempts at getting back into blogging!

  2. I'm a little disappointed that you're the only one who responded so far. I thought a couple others would have already been on it.

  3. It seems the trick is that the taggees have to check out the tagger's blog once in a while, or the whole thing falls apart!

  4. (I'm not saying that Jodi, Nora, Plunge, and Baduk don't check out your blog...I'd be interested to see what Baduk's replies are too, by the way!)

  5. Jodi said she saw it but didn't respond on my blog because she didn't want to have to sign up for a blogger account. I'm not sure about the others. Baduk, I think, has left a comment since then. And I know you have, too. So that's three for five.


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