Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I'm different now

Author's Note: I'm fully aware that you'd rather hear about how I chased seagulls on the beach than my sappy life reflections. Unfortunately, as my dear friend Angie once said, this isn't a blog about Korea; it's a blog about me while I live in Korea. I love writing stories, but I don't want to look back and only have stories. I'm changing more than I ever knew I needed to, and I want to remember what all this growing up feels like.

As I close in on the halfway point in my adventure, I find myself reflecting even more than usual. Okay, so I'm more reflective than a well-polished soup spoon on an average day; I'll give you that. I've been keeping lists (upon lists upon lists) in my planner of blog topics to commemorate my six-month anniversary, and tonight I decided I'm going to start writing them out. I like making lists, and the next handful of posts are sure to be chock-full of them. I'll change the formatting on the bullet points to spice things up. Don't worry about thanking me; I know you appreciate it.

Without further ado: The Ways Korea Has Changed Me: For the Better.

I wear makeup now.
I never really wore makeup before I moved to Korea. Well, that's not exactly true; I always had powder on my cheeks and mascara on my eyelashes, but I usually put those on without looking in a mirror, so on a good day they were in their proper locations on my face. One night on the way home from work, Tiffany needed to stop at a cute little cosmetic shop to get eyeliner, and she talked me into buying purple eyeshadow. I bought it and kept it in a bag on my dresser for about a week before I decided to give it a shot; the first day I wore it, I was terrified I had put it on wrong. Much to my surprise, people complimented me! It's almost as if makeup makes me look prettier. Who'd have thought?

I'm more independent.
My parents hate this one because it means I don't think twice about visiting Japan sans a chaperone, but I really can't get enough of being on my own. I thought that navigating a ginormous Asian city would be cripplingly terrifying, and it never ceases to amaze me how much I really can do on my own. Right after college, my parents bought me a GPS because I got lost nearly every time I tried to get to Springfield from anywhere but Springfield despite having lived in Ohio my entire life. With that kind of track record, I can see why they were concerned about the prospect of my trying to find my way around a city that has no street names, but look at me go! I've only gotten "I'm-gonna-die-oh-my-gosh-where-am-I?" lost once in six whole months; in fact, I usually face geographic confusion with a sense of mild amusement. It turns out that panic actually doesn't help you find your way hardly at all, while looking at a map and using common sense are almost guaranteed to assist.

I'm more independent, part two.
I remember right when I got here, I wrote a post (this one, actually) where I talked about how beautifully content I was sitting in a coffee shop alone, watching thousands of people walk by the window. I said in that post that one day, sitting alone in a coffee shop was likely to make me homesick and unbelievably lonely, and I'm still kind of waiting on that day. I've discovered in the last six months that I really enjoy my own company. I like hanging out at a coffee shop alone, shopping alone, walking down the street with no specific destination in mind alone; I like being alone. I always kind of had the idea that if you're in public by yourself, it's probably because you're too annoying to have friends (which I suppose I shouldn't entirely rule out as an explanation for my solitude). Don't worry; I still really enjoy being around people and it's unlikely that I'm going to turn into a hermit or anything. I've just come to appreciate myself a lot more, and I don't need people around to make me feel like I'm worth something.

I write things more.
This point feels kind of silly considering I've been quite sporadic in my posting in the last month or so, but I honestly have been writing more things. I'm keeping most of them to myself for now, and I'm going to be obnoxiously cryptic for the time being so I don't have to be embarrassed later on if my writing ends up just taking up space on my hard drive. I've written a decent amount in the past (most of which will never be seen), but I've become more intentional with what I write, and I've been using words to explore life as I try to figure it out. I'd like to take this opportunity to be the first to acknowledge that my paragraph about how I'm becoming a more practiced and focused writer is entirely incoherent. A little dose of humility is always good for the spirit.

I join different things.
In Cincinnati, I was really involved in the Children's Ministry at the Vineyard. When I say "really involved", I mean I used to live with the family who ran it. I'd take my shoes off when I got to church, and I'd taken naps just about everywhere I could find something soft enough to be considered a pillow. I belonged in DiscoveryLand, and I liked it that way. In fact, if you're not a member of my family or one of my college roommates, five bucks says I met you while I was stamping kids' hands or giving a puppet a Texan accent. Therefore, when I came to Korea, the easiest thing for me to join would have been the Children's Ministry, but I decided that would be the one place I considered off-limits. I wanted to challenge myself to try something that didn't come as easily as breathing, and I'm so ridiculously glad I did. Thus far, I've been involved in the Christmas play, the homeless ministry, the orphanage ministry, a human trafficking conference, and a prayer team. I know I overload my schedule like a high school senior desperate for community service hours, but I honestly can't see my life any other way. I love all the things I do, and I just feel so crazy-blessed that I have the time and opportunity to do them.

And now... The Ways Korea Has Changed Me: For the Worse.

My eating habits suck.
At home, I was a decent cook. I never made gourmet meals or anything, but I cooked for myself almost every night, and I was really good with a CrockPot and a toaster oven. Here, I've got two gas burners. That's it. No oven, no microwave, no George Forman grill. Two gas burners. In the last six months, I've gotten a little better at making food that looks moderately edible, but my primary diet still consists of American junk food people have mailed to me. Basically I subsist exclusively on Cheetos and Peanut Butter M&M's unless I pick something healthy up on the way home (like Burger King).

I don't clean, like, ever.
I never really thought I was a messy person, but I never lived by myself either. It turns out my propensity to clean up my messes was really only a ploy to get my roommates to like me. Now that I have no one to impress but myself, my apartment looks like crap. I still have Christmas decorations up, my laundry stays on the drying rack until I wear it (folding is for losers), and I must have decided at some point that keeping dishes in the sink is more practical than, you know, washing them. Every purse I own is in a pile on the floor, and I can't even sit at my table because of all the crap covering it. Every single time I walk in the door, I wonder who the heck left such a train wreck of a mess in my apartment before I throw my bag on the ground and dig out a space to sit on my chair. I really should be more embarrassed about my inability to do anything domestic.

I watch a lot of TV.
Here's one I actually am embarrassed about. When I worked at the library, I read a few books a week, and I really only kept up with House. However, since coming to Korea, I've gotten addicted to nearly every television show in America. I guess I could blame it on my desperate desire to feel like I'm still a part of American culture, but really I think I'm just lazy and cheap. Reading a book involves strenuous activity, like moving your eyes back and forth and occasionally turning the page, not to mention the seven to eight dollars I'd have to spend purchasing a book to read. It's so much easier to pull up and dramatically collapse onto my bed to watch shows I've never heard of. I am actively trying to fix this one, though, so if you have any books you think I should read, um, mail them to me.

I had about twice as many things on the original list I wrote, but I think if you made it through all that, you deserve a gold star. Next up: things I already know I'm going to miss about Korea.


  1. dear nikki,

    if you watch Community, don't be embarrassed. its the best show ever.

    also...i wear make up like twice maybe even three times a week now! and before i put it on maybe...once a month?

    it may have more to do with turning 25 and worrying that if i don't wear it people will see my age written all over my blotchy face. is overrated. if i don't clean for just one day my house is a complete disaster, i don't know how it happens, but it just seems so annoying to have to clean all the time when it will just get dirty again.
    heres my rules on cleaning:
    1. clean if you know people are coming over
    2. clean if it starts to smell funky
    3. clean as an excuse to not do homework (thats how much i hate homework....and ends up being the reason my house is clean)
    4. try to play 20 minute clean up every 2 to 3 in smaller spaces mean even two dishes on a table make the whole room seem disastrous

    also, i like you.

  2. I used to wear make up in high school and college...but now at 25 I hardly put it on from a day to day basis. I think this is because I never see anyone I know having just moved here. Sometimes it's fabulous not to be known! But I'm 110% sure I'm prettier with my purple eyeshadow on too :) I agree on your "enjoying your own company". It can be nice :)


  3. I don't think wearing makeup belongs in the "things I'm better for" category. Not that it belongs in the one either, I suppose.

  4. Well, you know how I feel about makeup. :) Thumbs up. Did I ever tell you this story? In my first year of teaching, I had my first "no makeup day" literally THREE MONTHS into my career. I was so good about applying every day. And then the one day that I was running super late and decided to go au natural, my students said, and I quote:

    "What's WRONG with you? You look so tired!"

    Me: ...

    And then I blanched. Out of embarassment.

    Me: "Ummm... this is just what I look like. This is what I. LOOK. LIKE."

    Them: "Oh." (Cue awkward glances @ one another.)

    So, yes. Makeup is our friend.

    And now that you don't have roommates, no one cares about your messes! (Although your roommates thank you in retro for being a clean roomie when we lived together. :))

    Ain't life grand?!