Korea Update: So close…

I got my paperwork in from Alistair yesterday. Today I went and applied for my visa.

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It’s funny how little summary sentences like that completely leave out everything in the middle. This is the main reason I want to keep a daily blog in Korea. There’s sure to be certain big things that happen, like visits to historic places and the inevitable absurdly different culture. (Kimchi? Did you mean kimcheeseburger, because that’s about the extent of my Korean food knowledge…)

But I don’t want to forget the little things that come in the middle, the daily life that, even in a country foreign to my own, is sure to become mundane eventually. Celebrating the mundane is difficult, but being able to look back on and remember the small details, the little victories and defeats of each day, well. Hopefully that will add something to the experience.

What that something might be, I haven’t the slightest.But then, I’ve never done this before.

The small details of the week I was referring to earlier are these (in no particular order):

-It is hot. Absurdly, mind-meltingly hot in Atlanta. And my car has no air conditioner. And although I’m staying with my sister and brother-in-law rent-free in the exciting metropolis of not-quite-Marietta-not-quite-Woodstock, Georgia, (an excellent arrangement for me, if not them), every time I get into my car to go to Atlanta, I look forward to a miserable, dripping wet, stifling, hour-long ride into the city. I say dripping wet because leaving every window down and blasting hot air on oneself does nothing to stop the cascading floods of sweat pooling in the leather interior. You heard it here first, folks. It’s sexy.

-The inhuman heat and long ride are coupled with insane traffic. Standstill, kill-everyone-in-sight traffic. It’s funny, I always used to say traffic didn’t bother me, because I’m usually more than happy to just sit and listen to audiobooks and wait it out. Those statements came from the old me, though. The me with an air conditioner. How young and naive and, let’s be honest, completely idiotic she was. Bless her. Atlanta traffic with no air conditioner is not the environment that instills empathy and goodwill towards your fellow man, take it from a highway screamer. Also, have you noticed people are idiots and they shouldn’t be allowed on the road? Yeah, me too.

-Nowhere in Downtown Atlanta has its own parking. I mean nowhere. Every single place, even the UPS store, even Bank of America, even the Korean Consulate (my three stops today), rely on bloody paid Public Parking with bloody eight stories of hot ass concrete and bloody $5 minimum fees. It’s a fresh hell, especially in the summer. Or perhaps that’s my heat-induced anger talking.

As you may have seen in my last post, patience is not high on my list of held virtues. Neither is temperance, or, let’s face it, any of the others. So this waiting nonsense has been particularly hard on my motivation and general temper. But at last it (seems) like the waiting is coming to an end, and now that it’s here, it’s daunting. In less than a month, I will be living in a new country, 13 hours ahead of my current home, where every street sign and restaurant menu is in a language I can barely grasp the alphabet of. I will know no one, I will be untrained and inexperienced at my job, and I will be on my own.

Am I scared? Yes. I’m not sociopathic. But it’s a strange fear. It’s a fear that says: yes, this is different, and it’s scary. But sameness is scarier.

As Proust says, (yeah I’m quoting Proust, I’m #literary #educated #adeptatgoogling):

“The thirst for something other than what we have…to bring something new, even if it is worse, some emotion, some sorrow; when our sensibility, which happiness has silenced like an idle harp, wants to resonate under some hand, even a rough one, and even if it might be broken by it.”
― Marcel ProustSwann’s Way

More posts soon,

W

Korea Update: (The update that isn’t)

I figured I would update this blog on some news on Korea, except there is no real news on Korea at this point. Well, none that I have any burning desire to dwell on, at least. I have once again come to a plateau of waiting: the weeks spent agonizing over my federally-apostilled background check possibly being lost in the mail (it wasn’t), the weeks spent agonizing over my possibly-forever held transcripts being kept by the now-demonized (in my mind) university (they weren’t), the weeks spent waiting and waiting and waaaaaiiiiiting for a sign of an interview? All gone, leaving only the scars that come from nearing on three months of constant anxiety and waiting.

Now I’m waiting again, this time for the paperwork to come from Korea, for the visa process to begin, so that when I have the visa in my hand I can buy my plane ticket.

I’m not very good at waiting. I’m not patient when it comes to things I want. I can’t distract myself very well (though believe me I try), because no matter what my mind wanders back to the waiting, the endless waiting. Being left on tenterhooks is so uncomfortable, worse than outright failure, because there is nothing to get over. Because of course, the waiting is a good thing. The waiting means all of my efforts so far have succeeded, that I’m still firmly on the road to move abroad, that what I’ve been waiting for is still coming, though in inching, crawling increments.

Yes, you guessed it, this post is a distraction. For myself, mostly. Because I am realizing something that I’ve realized many times before then quickly ignored: when waiting, I go stagnant. It’s like my mind tries to protect itself from going completely insane with the waiting and goes into hibernation. I can’t work on big projects, I can’t make small goals, I can’t carry on happy, excited conversations about What Ever Shall I Do First In Korea, because I can’t shake the waiting feeling, the feeling that I’m not there yet, I’m just almost there, like I’ve been almost there for months now.

It’s disconcerting, being almost. I don’t recommend it.

So to shake the hibernation, (both for my good and, let’s face it, for the good of everyone who has to interact with this more-zombified version of myself), I’m going to try for some goals. Some pre-Korea, post-job hunt, present-waiting goals. (On a side note, what’s the present equivalent prefix of pre or post? Presi? Preta? Preso? Google is a distraction from this distraction, so I choose to not know until someone leaves me a comment informing me that ENGLISH DEGREE HOLDERS SHOULD KNOW THIS *SNIFF* *PUSHES GLASSES UP* *HUFFS BACK TO THE LIBRARY*)

Goal 1: Finish my 52 books challenge before I leave. I had a goal to read 52 Books in the year 2015, and because I am absurdly motivated by progress bars proclaiming “Wow, you can do it!” and imaginary internet competitions, I have very nearly completed this goal, and it’s only July. My new goal is to finish the 52, then make a new goal for the end of the year (104 has been suggested, as the natural doubling of the original goal, but it doesn’t really have a nice ring to it. I’m thinking I’ll stick to the book a week goal I had, which would make it… *does painful math in head and on fingers* 72? That is also not a nice ringing number. We’ll figure it out later. Anyways, 52 before I leave. Yes. Doable.

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Goal 2: Upload two book tube videos. This is a goal I have constantly, but because I am both camera-shy and editing-lazy, it hasn’t happened yet. How shall I ever make more internet friends if they can’t see and hear me waffle on about books I read? Precisely. I shan’t.

Goal 3: Keep up with this blog.

But really though.

Ok, that’s a good post. This is a good place to end a post. You are all good people. Kiss your children. Feed your pets. Goodnight.

W

Weatherly Reviews: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Format: Kindle (Kindle Unlimited, thankfully FREE)

*Mild spoilers, possibly*

I have been hearing rave reviews about this book since it came out. The booktubers I watch regularly LOVED IT, raved on and on about it, couldn’t talk about it enough. So when I saw it available on Kindle Unlimited, I checked it out.

First of all, it took me a day to read, on the way back to Atlanta from Alabama (reading on my phone, which is actually one of my favorite ways to read even though the tiny screen is mildly annoying.) And I really, really wanted to love it.

But.

I liked it. I didn’t love it, but it was a solid 3 stars for me. (Not a bad thing! Unlike my horrible former boss, who gave me 3 stars as an act of total douchery, I’m giving 3 stars on the Goodreads scale. As in, ‘I liked it’ but it wasn’t tear-my-heart-out amazing.)

I loved A.J. Fikry, the bookstore-owning, grouchy but lovable main character. Amelia, his bookseller love interest, I liked… ok.  Her #quirkiness, what with the weird fashion sense and the doll-like hair, and the galoshes, reminded me a little too much of the main girl from The Future for Curious People by Gregory Sherl (Eleanor?). She was just a little too ‘well golly gosh, ain’t I adorable and adorably flawed but mostly adorable’ for me. I liked their romance, mostly because it was from A.J.’s perspective, and his cynical-but-soft personality made me feel like I was getting to read a kindred spirit.

I also love Maya, and I hope my future child is exactly like her, what with her book-loving, bossy, Hermione-Granger-Would-Be-Proud attitude. Sigh. Smart children are so adorable. You know, when they’re not right in front of you.

My problem with the book, at least, my main problem: the author tries way too hard for subtlety. Now, ok, I usually like subtlety. I don’t want things spelled out for me. I want there to be a little mystery, even if it’s not a mystery. I want to have to think a little to stay engaged. And I also usually like when stories reflect real life in the way that sometimes, even when you’re anticipating something SO MUCH that it’s eating you alive inside, the resolution of it just fizzles, anticlimax-style, lost in the flurry of everything else in your life going on around it. That’s fine with me.

But not every. damn. thing. is. like. that. It was almost like Zevin was afraid to write a climax. I’m not talking a big flash-bang, someone pull a gun fiasco, either. Any sort of situation, big as a proposal or small as almost-but-not-quite winning a school writing competition, was built up and built up painstakingly, and then just *whoosh* glossed over. On to the next thing, before the reader has time to reflect. Either that, or the resolution to this big build-up is mentioned offhandedly later on, after the emotions of the moment have passed.

Again, I’m alright with this every now and then. But for it to be effective it has to be shuffled in with some moments that have an dead-stop moment of climax and clarity. Something has to happen in the moment, I guess is what I’m trying to say. And that didn’t happen enough to make me feel present for the story. I kept thinking I was getting to the climax, waiting for the big thing to happen, only to see I was only 30% of the way into the book, not even close, then later 85% of the way through, after it probably already passed. It just didn’t make an impression worth remembering on me. I do remember being really moved by the Tamerlane’s reappearance and the circumstances surrounding it, but it wasn’t enough to really make me LOVE it. And by the end, with the cancer introduced, I was just kind of over it, ready to move on.

I will say that it’s also a little unfair, I guess, that I read Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore earlier this year and LOVED IT. Because I couldn’t help but draw similarities, not just between the settings (bookstores, obviously), but also between the old crotchety main character, the just-quirky-enough side characters, the relaxing but building plot.

But the difference is I adored Mr. Penumbra’s, and this one was just… Nice. That’s the word. It’s a pretty relaxing read, it has great book and short story recommendations sprinkled throughout, and it has a heavy-handed but genuine sentiment backing it all up, and it’s… Nice.

3 Stars = Nice. Nice = I won’t recommend it, but I won’t turn anyone away from it. Like eggshell paint, or those magazine holders made out of cereal boxes. Just Nice.

W

Major hitch in the plan…

My job interview went really well!!

Until she asked if I had my background check, which unfortunately I do not. And I didn’t realize how long they take to get.

Shit. Shitsticks. Shitty mcshitterson.

I haven’t lost faith– I’m going tomorrow for fingerprinting and mailing the application, hopefully rush mail will work in my favor. The possibility of being so close and having it ripped out of my hands is just not something I’m willing to accept quite yet. But goddammit, this really sucks.

I’m taking faith that this is also what happened when I went to Italy– my passport took forever to come in, so long that I thought it wasn’t *going* to come in, and that I’d be waiting around looking at pictures on Facebook while all of my classmates were seeing the Duomo. That came through, squeaking by at the very last second. Hopefully that’s a good sign.

I know, they have nothing to do with each other. I’m literally just thinking *ANYTHING* to make myself feel better.

ughhhhhhhhhhhhh ahhhhhhhhhhh blahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

wish me luck

W

Helicopter Rides in the Woods

Helicopter Rides in the Woods.

A blog looking into the real life of the South in a way that transcends the regular ‘Southern writing’ in a way that shows the real personal life of someone born and raised in the South. This is not a Flannery O’Connor knockoff, this is the new voice of the South- real, hard-edged, laser-focused memoir, and excellent. So excited for the rest of the series.

Life Lately… Insta Update

Instagram wrap-up posts are a thing, right? Here’s what I’ve been up to lately!

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This is Baby Beatrice, one of the necklaces I made recently. I’m really obsessed with plants, ok? Stay tuned for a post with details and the other jewelry I’ve made!

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I went to Indie Craft Experience in Atlanta with my friend Chelsea and this is my amazing haul! Full post coming soon. It was so hard to stop from buying literally everything there.

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This is the only picture I took at Indie Craft Experience because I’m a terrible blogger and was wayyyyy too visually stimulated.

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Since I’m bouncing between houses at the moment (not a fun situation, tbh…) I’ve been missing a lot of the weird cute things I’ve collected, including these Dalek and Tardis ice cube molds from my best friend Xander. Margarita night just got REAL. Real nerdy.

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Lumberjanes. Omg Lumberjanes. Maybe the best book I’ve read all year. (Kidding. But it is absolutely amazing.)

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My best friend from high school had a baby named Charlie! I’m a tiny bit still stunned about this fact, how is she a mother? How? HOW THOUGH? Charlie’s cute, but his mom is even cuter and I’m so psyched ;)

May Wrap-Up

So May was the month that I really really stepped it up, reading-wise. I’m halfway through my 52 Books Challenge for 2015, and I finally feel like I’m really in the zone as far as reading regularly goes. May was still pretty audiobook-heavy, because of the commuting and spending my free time learning how to teach English and generally being a layabout. I haven’t decided exactly how I feel about audiobooks yet. I mean, I feel like I still get the stories and the experiences, I still learn things, but compared to physically reading a book, audiobooks feel a little detached to me. I feel like I’m much more likely to give a book a chance based on story alone when I’m reading, whereas with an audiobook the narrator can absolutely make or break it for me. Maybe I’ll write a post about this. Or MAYBE I WON’T. I am, as the TEFL professor Ron Somethingsomething was very fond of saying over and over until the words became meaningless, the Benevolent Dictator of this class blog.

Books

At time of writing, I’ve read 24/52 books of my challenge, not including the two I stayed up wayyyyy too late last night (the first days of June) to finish. That’s 3 books ahead of schedule, a fact I am quite pleased about. I am nothing if not easily motivated by arbitrary goals. Thank you, Book It and AR, for making me see reading as a competition like everything else!* I’ll post reviews later of most of these, but I wanted to round them up here:

1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Several of these books make me want to start their reviews off with “this is my favorite book of the month…” and then I remember all of the other amazing books I read and I have to temper my enthusiasm, but this… this really may have been my favorite book of the month. It is SO. GOOD. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world after a SARS-like epidemic kills off 99.9% of the population. There are several stories woven together, but the most prominent is one of the Travelling Symphony, a patchwork band of musicians and actors who have assembled (now 15ish years after the fall) to travel between the settlements of leftover humans and entertain in an old-world style, performing Shakespeare and classical music. The book also flashes back into the character’s lives pre-fall of civilization. Weirdly, though I picked the book up for the post-apoconightmare and Shakespeare, these flashbacks were my absolute favorite part. Nothing really important happened, I just felt so drawn to the characters, so interested in everything they were doing, that the “actual” plot of the book became secondary to finding out exactly what made each character make the decisions they make. Honestly, read this. I know, every review is going to say this probably, but really– do it.

2. Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest

I’m not a regular reader of poetry, but this book CHANGED ME. It’s so beautifully written, and Tempest uses the myth of Tiresius to discuss gender roles, isolation, social structures, and SO many more topics. I’m planning on a re-read later this summer, and it’s also inspired me to read more poetry. READ IT!

3. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Review here.

4. The Future for Curious People by Gregory Sherl. Review here.

5. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

I LOVED this book. Loved it. I’m not a runner (yet… though this is my ‘get healthy’ month just like every other month has been my ‘don’t give a fuck quite yet’ month, so maybe soon), but I found this book had so many interesting things to say about meditation and self discipline that I was absorbed. Murakami also draws parallels between running and writing, and the idea of living a healthy lifestyle so he can continue to write for the rest of his life. I highly recommend this, I gave it 5 stars and I’m DEFINITELY going to read more Murakami (this was my first! Cherry popped)

6. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

I’ll write a review of this later but holy moly it was difficult to get through. I can understand why it won the Pulitzer– it was an extremely in-depth, well-researched, and realistic view of life in North Korea under the rule of Kim Jon Il. I went into it with a good basis of knowledge on the subject (took an independent study in the subject), but this book really helped flesh out the idea of North Korea and made me think about the people there as… well… real people. When you read enough histories, the masses tends to gain more importance than the individual, and Johnson’s book is definitely not guilty of that. However… I’ll say it again… jesus it was hard to read. SO. LONG.

7. The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian was a pretty huge departure from my normal book tastes. When I do sci-fi, I usually gravitate to classics (think Brave New World or Ender’s Game), or ridiculous crazy sci-fi (Hitchhiker’s Guide). This was more like… speculative fiction with a huge heaping of science lesson on top. The concept: an astronaut on a Mars mission is presumed dead and abandoned alone on Mars. That’s it. From there, the story plays out in what seems to be exactly what would happen if it were real life. There are so many spaceship details, flight path explanations, botany and chemistry jargon, so much research that went into it, that when I was done I felt like I could immediately go to Mars and survive alone. Seriously, someone send me up there. Just kidding, NASA, I would totally die. Four stars, it was pretty involved and at times tedious, but it was a satisfying read.

Seven books! I’m pretty proud of that number, especially because so many of these books turned out to be SO GOOD. Several of them will probably make it into my top books of the year (I say, halfway through the year…) and I’m hoping to get reviews up for all of them soon.

Media

Life Events

-Moved out of my apartment. It’s a couch-surf life for us.

-Finished my TEFL course. Also found out Marley, who went through the course at the same time, is applying through the same recruiter, so it’s possible I’ll know someone when I get over. Again, this doesn’t feel real, but it is, in fact, real. When I look back through these posts I feel like I’ll be doing a lot of “*shakes fist at sky* Weatherly your life is real come back to it you numbskull and say something else” but at the moment, the reigning emotion in my life is shellshock.

-Subscribed to Scribd through Scribd.com/bookriot and my life has already taken a turn for the even-more-bookish.

-Acquired luggage and extra soap (the necessities) for Korea, and really started to begin to understand the fact that I am, in fact, going. At least I hope (still no job, of course. Who needs that kind of certainty in their life? psh)

Quotes

Don’t rush me, I haven’t yet finished becoming. -A letter to myself, Weatherly Richardson.

*Actually not sarcasm, for once. I loved the Accelerated Reader program, though it wasn’t for everyone. A competition of something I’m actually good at, in the midst of all of those doomed Kickball and Perfect Attendance contests where I was *the* most competitive loser? Yes plz.