Blogging is a little tricky. Even when we write with the mask off, without the anonymity that the internet could afford by posting pictures and reporting truths as best we know them, effective composition is not a simple or straightforward process. Especially if you want someone else to read what you have written.
I began the blog just before my 26th birthday, right after notifying Bill that I would not be returning to teach at Roosevelt for 2007-2008 because I was moving to Korea to teach ESL. My first post (which is not really effective as a blog introduction) demonstrates the transitional nature of this last year for me. I had just made several major life decisions all at once and did not really knowing what the purpose of writing here was, but knew that I needed to write it. I will admit that it was not very readable initially for that reason.
I feel that over the last few months it has comfortably settled into the category of adventure and travel journaling. I must have initially wanted it to be such, since I titled it (oh so cleverly and puntastically), Going Places. Of course, the adventures, and the writing about them, inspire some frequent and healthy bouts of self indulgent reflection--but I only burden you, my readers, with such pontifications, once in a while. Like today.
I aim to please, delight, amuse, inspire--if only just a little bit. Most of my blog readers, as far as I know at this point, are my family/friends back home, a few fellow bloggers from Korea and beyond, and people looking for advice/insights into teaching ESL in Korea (or nude beach pics from Martha's Vineyard... but that is a different issue entirely). Good rhetor that I am, I do consider my real audience when I write. And I really appreciate those of you who have commented on my blog to that effect or sent me e-mails about your own adventures.
However, after my parents called me a barfly in jest after reading my last post, I read back over my blog as a whole and realized that my intended audience and this project of blogging is much more ambitious than the current reality.
I have affected a persona not entirely of who I am, but of who I'd like to be--in some respects. I may be labeled brave, or adventurous, or called a free-spirit, or even (as I have labeled myself in the subtitling) a wanderer by people who frequent my writings on this site. However, the reality is that I'm a neurotically cautious and obsessive over-planner tortured by the intoxicating need for risk-taking and adventure. I used to spend a lot of time worrying/reading/thinking about things over which I had no control and it made me depressed and anxious. After years of therapy, now I just call that "research" and limit it to things for which I can plausibly invent some reason to care.
For example, a part of the story I didn't tell from last night went like this, including the running interior monologue for your amusement:
"What are you drinking?" Uh-oh. Is this Alex fellow going to offer to buy me another one?
"Kaluha and milk." Yep. Tone in check, I sound cool and sophisticated--just like I planned.
"That's sweet. Have you ever had a mudslide?" Um... yeah it was the only way I could drink alcohol when I first tried it because it didn't taste anything like booze. And yes, I was six months from my 21st birthday when I had my first real drink (not sipping someone else's). God, I'm a such a dork.
"Yeah. They're good. Like a milkshake!" See? Dork.
He laughs. I think he might be tipsy. "What are you doing in Korea?"
"Teaching." His look of shock is played up for effect, but may have a hint of true surprise.
"Not many teachers who go out and party." Little of what he says and does seems genuine and this bores me a little. And irritates me because I'm being hit on by a drunk GI, and it feels exactly like the meat market scene at bars at home. Including the generalizations about teachers. Sad thing is that Alex might even be dorky cute if he weren't trying so hard to be cool.
Then I realize that I am also trying to be (or to seem) cooler than I actually am. Bars have a funny way of doing that to you. "I don't, really. Party. Just a couple drinks. Dancing. Fun on the weekends." And exchanges like this make me want to go back home and read the rest of my book.
He asked me for my number. I have too big a heart. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and my digits, even though I'm not really interested.
Later on, sitting on a couch with Roy while Shelly played her last game of Foosball, high from dancing at Club Frog and feeling much more comfortable and relaxed at Thunderbird Lounge than at Bubble Bar, I reflected on my evening's insanity. I call it that, but really it was rather PG-13 rated--mostly for my use of the word "fuck" and for Club Frog's bizarreness. There was no sex, no violence, no drugs, and (for me anyhow) not even that much alcohol. I forget the words, but I said something ridiculously nerdy and afterschool special about how I don't often go out and just save up all my "wild and crazy" for evenings like this.
"Yeah. I can tell you're the wild and crazy type."
"Shelly!" I call out in a mocking, whiny student voice. "Roy just sarcastically implied that I am not, in fact, wild or crazy."
Shelly and Roy laughed, but it's true. I'm tame. And shy. Korea is forcing me out of my bubble, but I refuse to "fake" who I am, like I noticed some expats doing. I guess I'm comfortable enough in my own skin to be a dork, which is good, even if it means other people notice.
But that's the kind of insecure second guessing I usually leave out of the stories of my adventures because, gosh darn it, I want to be fun and whimsical and cool--in my own weird way.
Funny thing is that the upbeat, adventurous persona concocted for blog writing purposes, who certain acquaintances of mine from other points in my life might suspect is entirely fiction, is a part of me--one of the best parts of me, I'd like to think. And the more I compose here, the more I become the better parts of me. The wacky adventurer. The eternal optimist. The thoughtful reader. The independent thinker. I'm more confident than I was six months ago when this project began and writing here had at least as much to do with it as all the other stuff I've done in the meantime, like work at the hotline, get over a failed relationship, and move to another country.
I'd just like to say thanks to those of you who support my writing by bothering to read it. Here's to you becoming the best parts of yourselves. I like to think that a good life is one where we choose to be the person we want to be most of the time; if so, I'm definitely living the good life lately!