Wednesday, 26 August 2009


So in my last post I committed myself to a fresh start; start living life as I ought to, no more depressing BS when I get drunk, to start taking things in my stride.

Great. Sounds great to say it, looks good to read it. But how the hell do I reverse 17 years of fatnerd mental conditioning, topped off with 5 years of self-imposed "cancer boy" stigma?

Well, I've decided that Stage 1 is being more positive. Just in general, I've been selling myself short for too long. It's time that I looked at my positive achievements and lauded them. For example, I have now been living here for damn near 6 months. 6 MONTHS. In the Far East. For a Hartlepool born, Bradford bred guy that isn't bad going.

Stage 2-owning my fear. Everything I do, my brain second guesses it to the point where I bottle it or the opportunity has passed. The thing is that I have become so used to letting my fears own me that I cannot fathom how to live outside of its shadow. It's hard to describe, but its best likened to a blind man trying to find his way through a maze. I am aware that that is a retarded analogy, but it is 2:40 am here.

So Stage 3? I know what it is, but it isn't as easy as just bigging myself up. I need to end my crippling shyness. And fast. I reckon that once my fear is appropriately owned, then this will be relatively simple.

So, as per usual, I am open to comments and suggestions on how to realise my 3 stages. And, as ever, your patience in helping me deal with my own unique brand of mandrama is appreciated.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

A New Dawn, A new Day...a New Life?

So today marks the 5 year anniversary of my finishing chemotherapy. I have a lot of random thoughts in my head, some of them serious, some of them not so. First impressions are good ones-I have succeeded where very many people have not, but then I think about those who I knew who didn't make it: Hoody, Emma, Tom, Christian, Fliss, Dave, Dan, Karen, Jen and Ian (to name a few)-RIP.

These people deserve to be remembered. And the best way to do that is to live; something I haven't really been doing since 2004. I've been letting my fear own me. Last night, all of these things popped into my head into a massive rush. It occurred to me that I need to make a major shift in my attitude. Firstly, I owe it to the people that didn't make it. Secondly I can't use what happened as some sort of justification for, well, not living my life. So, in the interests of making a fresh start, it's time to get several things off my chest:

1) Until a few moments ago, I was a compulsive liar. I cannot help it-I would make up shit to compensate for the fact that I feel my life is somewhat lacking in interesting experiences. I don't think there is anyone outside of my family who knows the whole truth about me. These lies range from little to absolutely stinking huge ones. But no more lying.

2) I have crippling self confidence problems. I realise that that announcing it on my blog is somewhat paradoxical, but it's true. Outside of my circles of friends I have a total inability to have a relaxed conversation with anyone. Amplify this by 1000 when a cute girl is thrown into the mix, as anyone who saw me completely bottle it last night with the blonde in Jane's Groove (along with any cute girl in Korea thus far, and 90% of cute Newcastle girls) will testify. Despite all the positive reinforcement in the world, this is one thing I just haven't been able to get over yet. This in turn leads to a major inferiority complex, despite the fact that that is the one thing in the world that I *shouldn't* have. I'm very well aware why this is-I have a mental image of me being a morbidly obese, bald, nerdy, awkward 17 year old that I can't shake the hell off no matter how hard I try.

3) I can't figure out how to deal with number 2. And until I do, I'm going to stay the sad-sack drunk in the corner.

Those are the most coherent of my thoughts right now. More will probably come. And, at this junction, I'd like to thank those of you who helped me make sense of these things over a period of weeks, as well as actually listening to my ramblings: Crystal, Jessica, Tara, Joel, Jalice, Krista, Big Dave, Stuart, Jason, Hyun, Amanda and Taylor.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Now that I have a second to think...

Right, much has happened in the intervening times when I updated this with my Korean misadventures. So here we go:

The reason I have been so stressed out lately is that I have been working what our academy calls "Summer Intensives". We switch from our usual 3pm-10pm working day to an 8:30-6:30 marathon. While I'm sure many of my kindergarten teacher friends will tell me to man the fuck up, I, as both a semi-nightowl and a lazy bugger, have reason to complain. We teach all our regular classes, plus a 40 minute extra class for each one (during which we cover an insane amount of boring-ass material), then some of the other teachers teach a 1 hour intensive class, THEN I teach a reading club Monday/Wednesday/Friday. It's given me a chance to work with the lower level kids, and the lessons are way funner than the normal ones. Mainly cos the company gives me and my coteacher the books and then we plan our own lessons. It's probably the closest I've felt to being a real teacher since I got out here. And while it'll be good to get back into the regular rotation of 3-10, I'll be sad to give up that class.

Also, I've lost a few good friends over the pst month or so and its bummed me out a tad. So, big shout outs to Chris, Alex "Busta" Bustamante, Travis "Eye of the Tiger" Hauan and Dee. Plus I stand to lose 4 friends over the next fortnight. Which kinda sucks.

The other big thing that has happened recently is that my thoughts have turned to what happens on the 4th of March. For those of you that aren't me, that is the day after my ARC (and my work permit) expires. Whilst the original plan was to return to England and conduct interviews for PGCE, I have been invited to go travelling with a friend of mine for a few months instead. I guess it's the classic fun vs. career debate. I'll report back once I've made a decision.

Oh, and scratch #1 off the 10 Things To Do in Korea list.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Baby P and the triumph of mob attitudes

So I frequently read the UK newspaper websites during my breaks. I find it especially amusing to see different slants put on the same story. So, seeing as they're political (and quality) opposites, I read the Guardian and the Daily Mail's pages. The story that has dominated the news the last few days has been the lifting of the identities of the killers of a certain Peter Connelly (or Baby P during the trial), who was subject to a frankly horrific experience at the hands of his mother, her partner and their lodger (revealed to be his older brother). The reason given by the presiding judge was that the move would "restore faith in the legal system". The vitriol raised at the case is partially understandable, as it is part of our nature to be protective of the very young, regardless of relation. It's a survival instinct. This is not the issue. The issue is that the legal system should not be subject to the whims of easily riled up emotional people. And my two sources are interesting opposites of the reactionary spectrum.

The Daily Mail reverts to its Modus Operandi of using emotionally charged language, bandying about words such as "evil", "helpless", "inept" etc. in order to stir up a burgeoning e-mob. And by and large, they have succeeded-Facebook and comment boards the world over are sharpening knives and pitchforks and preparing a mobile gallows. It's not their reaction that peturbs me; as I outlined before, it's a human instinct to be protective of the young. However, what riles me is that this mob will die down as soon as Russell Brand gets back onto primetime radio. Like most things in life, it reminds me of the Simpsons. At a moment's notice, and for no real reason, the citizens of Springfield turn into an angry mob and then disperse just as quickly. The same is true of cases like this; no less than 30 children have died in similar circumstances to Connelly since his death-where were the moral watchmen then?

The Guardian, in its inimitably reasonable style attempts to appeal for calm. It calls for restraint and an attempt to understand the nature of the crime so that future crimes of this magnitude can be avoided. It's a noble idea, to be sure, but at the same time far-fetched. Any attempt to persuade the mob that this is an important and worthwhile practice (it is, in my book) is the equivalent of a gerbil standing up to a steamroller. People think it is akin to locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. Without remembering, to stretch the analogy to ucomfortable levels, that there are a multitude of horses left in the stable. Unfortunately, this baser instinct permeates through decision-making bodies who are scared witless of the tabloid press. So rather than letting the seeds be sown to intercept and cut down on cases of this type in future, they're stuck on reviewing the events of the past. This is the problem with the Guardian-until its contributors can incorporate gut human instinct into their solutions, it will forever be dismissed as a pretentious liberal paper which wipes the arse of Twitter on a weekly basis.

As for where I stand, whilst I believe that anonymity should be awarded for all suspected criminals during high-profile trials (after all, being acquitted on paper is one thing but recovering one's reputation is quite another). After conviction, well, that's up to people more qualified than I. It certainly shouldn't be influenced by a group of armchair NIMBYs whose actions are informed by hypocritical, emotionally charged articles about "the hunt for Maddy" or "How the wonder drug that we promoted several months ago may now actually KILL YOUR CHILDREN AND PETS". But at the same time, it shouldn't be left in the hands of people who are intrinsically incapable of offering realistic solutions.

Fuck it, I'm going to read Al-Jazeera.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

List #1: 10 Things to do in Korea

So, in spite of a lack of contributions, I have decided on my 10. In no particular order:

1) Nude up at a Korean Sauna-just like home, except I'd have a bunch of Koreans staring at me. Somewhat off-putting. Did this in Samcheok.
2) Go to the DMZ- Well, duh. It's the only place where the Cold War is still hot anywhere in the world and it's on my doorstep.
3) Take up Taekwondo again-probably the one that's least likely to happen to be honest-I have issues about being beaten up by small children.
4) Step up my Korean- I want to be able to have a rudimentary conversation by the time I go.
5) Teach my kids 10 outdated slang words-Gadzooks, Egads, Ahoy-Hoy, Contraption, What-What, Tally Ho!, Spiffing, Top Hole, Salutations and what the Dickens?
6) Get beaten by a Korean kid at Starcraft-not too hard. Go to a PC Room, boot up Starcraft and find an opponent. I could probably do that now.
7) Buy a midrange camera and use it ALL THE TIME-with the extra scratch I'll make from intensives, this will happen pretty definitely.
8) Chat Up a Korean girl (in Korean)-loosely connected to number 4. Did this at Global Gathering.
9) Do a temple-stay- like a sleepover, but in a temple. Give a bit to the monks for the upkeep and its apparently OK.
10) Go to Jeju Island-my window for this is fast closing.