I highly recommend Catch-22 by Joseph Heller if you like verbose descriptions. It’s not from the 20s but the 50s.
Gracias, I’ll give it a shot. I’ve tried to read it several times, but that was back in high school. Maybe I’ll have better luck this time around.
I think I’m starting a love affair with the 20’s.
I’m certainly not talking about age—my quarter-life crisis has been quite the doozie— but rather the prohibition, disillusioned, over-the-top, flapper, Lawrence/Fitzgerald/Pound, roaring era of the 1920’s.
What gets me about the 1920’s is the philosophical, social similarities to the 2010’s: an excess of time, wealth, words, and stuff. We drink, we sing, we buy expensive things, we’re the centers of our own world and won’t take anyone’s no for an answer.
Even the way they write reflects the abundance (of words!) of the era:
Most of the confidences were unsought—frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon; for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions.
-The Great Gatsby
But despite all our stuff, we’re facing a crisis. The Great Depression and World War II hung just over the edge of the decade— and look at the current unemployment rate in Spain, the government-debt crisis in Greece, and the subprime mortgage bust in the US. Americas have an average of $13,000 in personal credit card debt, not counting student loans, which amass to nearly $1 trillion.
So I’m making a twenties to-do list:
Drives me nuts when someone argues with me about an obscure fact/story I’ve heard to be true. I read a lot of blogs, so I’m always mentally adding or correcting tidbits of information. (And don’t get me started on Scrabble.)
Friend: “I was always scared of the beach when I was a baby.”
Me: “Aw, have you ever seen videos of those infant swimming classes?”
Friend: “Babies swimming? I don’t actually think that’s a real thing…”
Today was my first day of training at the store.
Post-training conclusion: what’s so bad about retail?
I’ll admit, I’m in it for four main reasons:
Today I used my first employee perk and when the total rang up to $400+ for the six items, I gulped. After the manager applied the discount, I was very pleased to go home with a bunch of stuff I’d never (EVER) have otherwise purchased at this store.
A coincidence: I met a manager who spent two years at a hagwon in Gangnam. We chatted for a couple minutes about subway stations, though she regretted having forgotten a lot of the geography of Seoul.
Anyways, now I have the rest of the day to chill and begin planning a curriculum for the new ESL course, which begins at the end of May.
Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky (via burcinaks)
Another aspect of moving back to America: you meet more people who have lived the majority of their lives in America than those who have not.
Conversations become tricky as you describe your travels.
At a gift shop on the beach last week with two friends, the cashier and I chatted.
“Where y’all from?” She asked as she rang up the earrings I’d chosen.
“Well, she’s from Ohio, she’s from Missouri, and I’m sort of from all over. How about you?”
“Well I’ve only been here for about a few months. This is my mother’s shop.” She bags up my jewelry and asks if I want a box. My two friends come up to the counter. “I’ve actually just finished my second round-the-world trip.”
“Oh, wow!” One of my friends exclaims. “I’ve always wanted to do something like that!”
The woman at the counter proudly explains, “I bought an around-the-world plane ticket with Star Alliance and went to every country but Antarctica.”
“Ever been to Korea?” I ask.
“Oh, well, no, I didn’t make it there.”
Out in car, my friends are bubbling about how amazing it would be to travel around the world for their honeymoons.
“I’m not much of a backpacker,” I admit.
My best friend spins around to look at me in the backseat. “What are you talking about? That’s your whole life!”
I pause, “Well no, I usually live in places, but I don’t enjoy bouncing from place to place.”
It’s hard to talk about travel when not everyone agrees on/understands the terms.
Life in the States is not picking up as quickly as I thought it would.
I think part of the issue is that Red Shoes and I are still dating: I have one foot over in Korea, and the other here in America.
Before I came home, my idea of success was, loosely, to:
Well, I found two jobs (both part-time) and am expanding my network gradually. My best friend lives in the same state, so at least I have her, but other than that, making new friendships has proven to be… difficult.
Life seemed fuller and simpler in Korea. There were places to go, people to meet, lessons to plan, students to teach, new foods to try, festivals to attend.
Here in America there’s so much space.
Got an ESL teaching position (paid this time, 오예).
I’ve come a long, long way from the times I swore, back in college, that I’d rather be dead than teach ESL for the rest of my life.
And I’m still keeping that retail job (@Mom)…
There comes a time when you just can’t take anymore language exchanges, shallow small-talk, and awkward gatherings. And on these nights, you just need to order a pizza, open a bottle of Trader Jose, and watch sappy feel-goods like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
I realized the other day that I was probably taking things a little too quickly. I’d been so gung-ho about starting a new life and getting “plugged in” to my new city (all a guise covering my insecurity about being able to fit into America), and maybe I needed to take things down a notch.
When you move and travel so often, you learn to settle. With jobs. With friends. With parties. Sure, it might not be exactly what or who you’d hoped for, but it’s all temporary, so just deal! This is a great way to break out of your usual social bubble, but it can create the habit of settling for the route of least resistance, rather than forming a social circle of like-minded friends.
Korean class, for example— sounded like a great idea!
There’s only one actual Korean woman who attends (the teacher) and she’s very nice, but everyone else is… not at the same place in life as I am. There’s a 40+ construction worker with an affinity for dramas, a 19 year old university student with an endearing laugh that more resembles a “guffaw,” and several other business men who are learning Korean just for the heck of it.
Anyways. Quality over quantity.
I have this dream/delusion that I’ll meet some really sweet girls at the store and make friends with them. We’ll see.
Overall, in regards to making friends and joining social circles, my main complaint is the following:
Drinking is NOT a meaningful hobby.
There are these special hours at the store where I work called “on call” hours. Having never worked part-time retail (and still waiting to do training next weekend), I didn’t know what these special (in parentheses) hours were.
So I called up the manager on duty an hour and a half or so before my shift was due to start, and I asked her:
“Hi! I’m JW, one of the new girls, and I had a quick question about my hours tonight. I haven’t filled out my forms or done training yet so—”
“Hi, JW, well, actually we won’t be needing your hours tonight. And, just so you’re aware, we typically request associates to call two hours in advance (that would’ve been at 4 o’clock) to check to see whether or not you need to come in. So next time, please call ahead of time.”
“Oh! I’m really sorry about that. Again, I, uh, haven’t done training so, thanks for bearing with me on this.”
I really hate to start off on the wrong foot, but what can I do?
And here I thought I’d stretched my patience to the limit in Korea.
Retail is a whole different beast.
“One of reasons that I got married is that my husband can kill cockroach but I can’t.
I really hate them.
Guess …most women are the same as me.
Guys! please don’t run away from the cockroach in front of your girlfriend.
If you wanna get married.”