Saturday, May 28, 2005

Kunstler, Laughter and the Sith

I sent an email to James Howard Kunstler, having just finished reading The Long Emergency. I just suggested that South Africa may survive the Long Emergency (when energy supplies cause a long term global crisis) better than most. He responded, questioning Africa's political stability. More emails. I don't want to come across as someone all-knowing, I'm just offering my opinion, and frankly, I'm more interested to see what his opinion is of Africa. He barely touched on the continent in his book. Will provide more details of our correspondence soon.

I found myself laughing quite few times today, in class and afterwards, at dinner. I felt really fresh, probably from the run this morning and the swim.
I meant to go home and sleep, just felt pretty wasted, then they told me Sey was coming, so I hung around and then we all had dinner. All the teachers at one point started making jokes about the director. He is quite a selfish guy. It's evident, for example, in the sense that we have to clean our own classrooms. He's too snoep to hire cleaning staff. I know in my case he complained about my apartment being too expensive, aswell as my second hand furniture.
I'm not going to relate every joke - suffice it to say it was a fun end to another week.

I met a guy from Virginia, Lonnie, on my way across the street to my building. He says there's a pool nearby that stays open until after 10pm, and it's very closeby. That's ideal.

Did anyone read the comment by 'Canuck' under the post 50, 4? Unbelievable. I did a bit of ranting last night, I basically felt annoyed at how fractured and fucked up (sorry, no other way to say it) some of the westerners are towards each other here. I think it's easy to forget that we're not exactly the pick of the crop back home. Most of us are here because we're not exactly success stories. Some more or less than others of course. But we try to make it work, and we try, hopefully, to turn our lives around, or at the very least, make a living. We need to sometimes give ourselves, and each other a break. We can be supportive, and encourage each other to raise our games.
Here's a guy who stumbled upon my blog and decided to indulge in his own high and mighty repartee. It actually feels like a violation of privacy. I feel, for the most part, that only the people who I have given the website address specifically are bothering to take an interest, and that suits me just fine. I'd expect someone who googles their way onto the site not to really hang around. I tend to not hang around other people's blogs much, with a few exceptions. I think there is a way to restrict access to this site, and obviously if I want to, I can delete comments I don't like. But I'd like to be as transparent as I can be, and hopefully the site inspires more than it attracts cranks and people with chips on their shoulders.

But it brings up an interesting topic.
I see teaching in Korea, to just do that, as not nearly enough for me. I notice a number of people who seem content to teach and drink, and search for a mate. I need something else to make it interesting. So triathlon partially solves that problem. Reading (and researching), and writing (fiction and articles) helps too. I find the lack of space, in the countryside and elsewhere where you go to find it, and the sheer numbers of people, in swimming pools, in the the parks, difficult.

And it's stupid to walk around here thinking you're superior, you're right, and you're all that. Some guys (ja, not so much girls) are so starstruck with themselves it's laughable. Even in triathlon, it's possible to do quite well here, but you're an idiot if you win a race here and then think you're one of the world's best athletes. At best, here is a good place to build your confidence. If you get arrogant about achievements, or about even less than that, like being American or Canadian here, if you think that makes you special I think it shows a pretty weak personality. Being on TV, and getting a bit of extra attention because you're a foreigner, well, that's not going to happen back home. Enjoy it and make use of it. Good for you. But please don't strut your stuff and do the Winner's Walk and Talk, because back home, you're still a cautionary tale, and possibly even a loser. Part of the job here should be to develop the persona of someone who can hack it back home (aka in what is for us The Real World).

The purpose of coming to Korea, in my opinion, is to save money while learning about another culture, learning from the kids - their names, their quirks and cleverness, all the things that are another way of life, and who you are in this mixed up place, with all its mess and magic. Maybe most of all, learn a skill here, or educate yourself, or raise your game so you're in demand, you're wanted, valued and appreciated back home (as a worker, member of society and one's family).
Get the attitude right, make a plan to integrate into a decent job and life back home. Most of those who come here seem to come here to teach, to preach, to spew bitterness forth, and not to learn from their mistakes. I'd like to be counted as one of those who is learning how to live, how to give, and forgive the past so I can be powerful once more in the present.

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