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Earlier this week, I was writing a “Top 5 News of 2017” feature article for my client. It was a big year for Microsoft, from opening a datacenter in Korea to launching its mixed reality platform, a first for the industry.

My 2017, on the other hand, was rather uneventful. But a lot changed within me that made it a very significant year. I also didn’t want to go yet another year without having written anything on my blog, so voila. My 2017, in top 5 news:

#1 Finding a lifelong passion and career

I changed tracks in my career from education to PR in 2015. While a lot of the work in PR came naturally to me, it definitely was not an easy ride. The first year was an extension of my editing career, with the opportunity to apply my writing and editing skills to the field of PR and digital content marketing. I learned how to make content calendars and interview executives for stories.

Year 2 is where things got rocky – I was juggling work from two teams – tech PR and digital – and found myself liking media PR more. I was adjusting to working with newly hired team members. In the end, I transferred to the tech PR team and it’s been full speed ahead since. Managing PR and IMC campaigns for challenging clients who are also some of the biggest names in the tech industry has taught me a lot, not just PR knowhow but lifelong skills of persuasion, diplomacy, and decision making. I think the next step is to learn leadership and stress management, and I look forward to the challenge.

I also learned that I truly love the work I do, because I talk about it all the time. I love coming into work every day and reading what familiar names at familiar media outlets wrote overnight. I love getting calls from journalists and clients, because it means they trust me and respect my opinion. I get to help them, which I find rewarding. I want to do PR for tech companies for as long as I can foresee – I can’t imagine myself doing anything else for the time being.

#2 Becoming comfortable with Korea

It took 7 years. I came here in 2010 to teach English, and socialized with mostly foreigners and gyopos (Koreans raised overseas) like myself. Even at my office job of curriculum development, I worked with mostly foreigners, gyopos, and Koreans who had worked with foreigners and gyopos for most of their career. Exposure to the full breadth and depth of Korean culture didn’t happen until I started my current job, where the mostly-Korean staff and corporate culture hit me with their Korean-ness full-force.

This year, I found myself wanting to express certain things in Korean and posting certain contents on social media in Korean. And writing in Korean has become enjoyable – I still have a long ways to go, but I’ve become comfortable enough with the language to write in it at length and on various topics. I’m going to keep working at improving it and extend my practice to hanja (Chinese characters), and eventually, Chinese. I also learned that I will always want to work in a bilingual capacity – it’s just more fun that way.

I owe a lot of this assimilation to the patience and understanding of my friends and coworkers. I’m not gonna say it doesn’t still trouble me when attitudes deeply rooted in Korean culture – such as Confucianism and cutthroat competition – affect me directly. But America isn’t perfect either, and in some ways, Korea is more malleable and receptive to cultural change.

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Currently writing:

  1. Issue No. 1’s Letter to the Readers
  2. Two features in the Learning section
  3. #61 (a short story)

Currently reading:

  1. 김애란 – ‘침묵의 미래’
  2. 박완서 – ‘친절한 복희씨’
  3. Kerouac – On the Road
  4. Hemingway – A Moveable Feast
  5. Solzhenitsyn – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

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I have no idea where my head is. I only know it still exists because it is throbbing.

To do:

  1. 1 English transcript – due tonight
  2. The last of the magazine articles – due Sunday
  3. Essay on Othello as an Aristotelian tragedy – due Monday
  4. Translation of 5-page excerpt from a Korean short story – due Tuesday
  5. Application for a literary translation fellowship – due Tuesday
  6. 2 English transcripts – due Tuesday
  7. 1 job application – due next Friday

Had to cancel doctor’s appointment and dinner date. Struggling with translation, procrastinating the articles. Actually looking forward to writing the essay, but must prioritize the translation.

All I want right now is a good sandwich. And a mimosa. 🙁

Also, with much gratitude, here’s a shout out to Yoo, my new partner-in-crime! 😉 She’s so smart and inspiring and helps me manage all of my work. Don’t know what I’d do without her.

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The book I mentioned in my last update is on hold while the first issue of a magazine I’m helping to create comes together. This week is all article deadlines. Rough copy will be ready for design next week, and pretty soon, we’ll be having meetings with advertisers.

If all goes well, I might make a Project Reporting series on this venture, as it could provide some insight into how a magazine startup can begin with a handful of dedicated, creative individuals who get paid very little or nothing at all.

It’s a beautiful day today in Seoul, a sunny 68 (20) degrees. Hope everyone is enjoying it!

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Since the past few days, the first thing I wanna do when I wake up is write. I open my eyes, I lounge about in bed, check my messages and mail, maybe play a round or two of Candy Crush. Then I get up and start writing. And it’s the happiest way to get out of bed besides morning sex.

I’m working on a book. I’ll still try to update this blog at least once a week, but expect fewer posts in any case.

Thank you for reading my writing, and wish me luck on my first book ever. Love you all!

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photoHow does one transition from one notebook to another?

Strange that this particular switch came at an emotional transition point in my life.

My last notebook was my first dedicated notebook. I’d kept journals before, but this was a bigger, all-purpose notebook in which all of my work, both professional and personal, was brainstormed and executed. I used it for studying Korean as well. And doodling, of course.

I once left my bag at a restaurant; my notebook was in it. I left a bar in a panic and ran back to the restaurant. It was closed, but the bag—and the notebook—were safe and sound on a chair behind the counter. I felt uneasy, guilty, anxious, separated from my notebook like that, and my friend and I had to call it a night because I was kind of an emotional wreck.

That night when I returned home, I scribbled on the wall of my bedside bookcase. I consoled myself by imagining that Notebook was taking a much-deserved vacation. After all, it had served me so faithfully and it should be free to take time off from me when it should so desire.

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It’s lunar new year weekend (happy new year!), and I find myself busier than ever. A job interview went fairly well this week, so I have to prepare a teaching demo for next week (the second stage of the recruitment process). The position doesn’t really appeal to me, but I still have to make this demo perfect. It’s a matter of pride.

So the following are in progress:

  1. Literature and Social Studies lesson demo
  2. Essay #25, inspired by recent events in my life
  3. An important cover letter

Since the last update, there has been a major glitch with #20 (the Korean text with images), so that is on hold for now. And poem #24 is on hold as well.

Also, my friends are ridiculous:

“Please give me something and then ask that I respond to it in such and such manner. I am reactionary.” – Computer Scientist / Artist

“A man could disappear staring into the blackness of your hair.” – Intellectual Pothead

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Currently working on…

  1. Researching the company I’ll be interviewing with tomorrow
  2. #20, a collaborative work of Korean words and images
  3. #24, a poem
  4. Waiting for the right day to publish #12

After 60 hours of no (voluntary) human contact, I feel refreshed and calm.  I did nearly have a breakdown about 17 hours in, but I worked through it, and I felt much better afterwards.  I felt energized.

Although I had to break my rule of not talking to anyone by answering some important phone calls and making a visit to the doctor, I’m not disappointed because the point of this experiment was not to cut off all human communication, but to take a much-needed retreat and reevaluate certain things in my life.

So here’s what I learned:

  1. Life’s better when it’s slower.
  2. Sometimes it’s better to retreat within than to voice concerns.
  3. When you can’t find inspiration around you, visit your memories.

Maybe these are obvious, but they weren’t obvious for me, and though I didn’t get to write as much as I would’ve liked during this experiment, these realizations alone made it valuable. In fact, I think I’m going to set aside a time daily or weekly to do this, so I can escape obligations for just a little while and do a mental reset. Just like Sheldon and his locked room.

Old me:  “I have to talk to someone about this!”

New me:  “No you don’t. But you could write about it.”

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I just got back from the doctor’s office, and I’m sicker than I thought, so I won’t be able to do much work on here today. Sad. 🙁

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12:30am:  Woke up from light sleep, had a snack, and took more meds

4:00am:  Still can’t sleep.  In too much pain.

10:45am:  Woke up and went to the clinic and pharmacy across the street.  Then stopped by the convenience store for microwavable food, snacks, and juice.

12:20pm:  Came back home, ate lunch, and cleaned humidifier.

12:45pm:  Blog work

1:03pm:  Paid rent, took meds

1:07pm:  Reread email I received in the morning from the company I’ll be interviewing with next week.  Still don’t understand why I got it.  Something about “salesforce request.”  I don’t even know what that means.  I don’t know if I’m supposed to reply, and if so, how.  I can just imagine how that would go.  I’d reply, in my rudimentary Korean, sounding like a confused child, confusing them even more.

1:16pm:  Can’t think.  God, I hate being sick.  Need to work on happy writing.  Started working on poem #12.

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