dal niente

Month: February, 2008

Millions of Dollars?


Things I Hate about Myself

  • I care about what people think of me.
    • For this reason….
  • I don’t have the courage to always tell people exactly what I think.  In other words…
  • I half ass “tough love.”

And there’s nothing as confusing to those around you as half assed tough love.

There’s a lot of things that Neitszche and I agree on.  I am the kind of person who will break everything into pieces.  I believe that there’s very little to be gained through compliments– they are nice, but they make people lazy.

So let me present you with a scenario where I just kinda was being a spoiled bitch.

Last saturday, I had a test in 대퀀도.  I did pretty well with my sets, and I found out today that I passed the exam with a pretty good score.  But on Saturday, one of my peers, who has is at the same level as me, was awarded a medal and a certificate.  We don’t know exactly what it’s for, but we figure it’s some sort of recognition award for performance.

And my reaction was jealousy.

I was thinking: Why?  Why did he get this award?  I can perform the kicks better than him.  And not only that– when we were studying the 품새, I went out of my way to study the sets and learn the moves– and then I helped him learn his.  I was always one step ahead, and even my performance at the test was better than his.  So why?  WHY did HE get the award and not me?

… and the answer is simple.  It’s because I have years of experience in the martial arts and he has none.  It’s because, as proficient as I am now, I haven’t gotten that much better– I’ve been coasting on what I already knew, modifying the techniques slightly here and there. 

But him?  He’s started from scratch.

Which brings to fore an important point– excellence has nothing to do with your level.  It isn’t a measure of a scalar quantity, static in time.  It’s a vector quantity, that begins from wherever you start that day– it has to do with a constant, everyday improvement, a continual building upon buildings built the day before.

That’s why he deserves the award, and I don’t.

And this is one of the things I hate about myself.  It’s not that I’m comfortable– who complains about comfort?  Comfort is one of the things that we seek out in life, after all!  And when I get old, I want to be comfortable!

It’s not that.  It’s that oftentimes, I’m a quitter.  I join an activity, I do the run and learn all I can about it while the rate of time to learning is efficient.  But I seldom master anything. If say a beginner learns 10 points of skills for every 1 unit of time, the better you get, the lower that ratio gets– an intermediate might learn 10 points of skill for every 1 unit of time.  When you get to the higher levels, you get fractions of a  unit of skill for several units of time.

That’s not the problem– the problem is that I expect the glory of being the best when in fact, I’m not the best at anything– I’m just someone who likes to cilmb hard at first to beat the general population, and then, perched from a certain level, comfortably look down on them floundering below.

This, I think, is pathetic.

But really– would I change?

Is there something that really drives me pationately enough to dedicate my life to it in ways that some others do for their activties?

And therein lies a slight problem– I want it all.  It’s true that half of the reason why I don’t try and ‘master’ something is because the efficiency rate is so low– the other half is because I just want to learn EVERYTHING.

If you gave me a chance at immortality, I’d take it.  I really would.  I want to know it all.  But it’s simply not possible, so I try, perpetuatlly, to optimize the efficiency ratio.  What that translates to is a Jack of All Trades and a Master of Nothing.

Which brings me to another thought.  Even though I think that death frames life itself, I’m terribly afraid of dying.

Role Playing (part 2)

So, with regards to the previous entry,

what struck me about the idea is how a lot of people might simply say that without much hesitation that my kid’s paper is shotsighted and even simply racist.

But think about it.  Can what he’s saying be true?  And further, what makes him say what he did?

The two questions sound completely different, but in fact, they’re very related– the answer to these questions lies somewhere in a look at Korean society.  Granted, there are conflicts (there will be, in any society) but for the most part, the amount of internal conflicts here are seldom to the extent of those in North America.  It’s a different approach to problems. 

In Canada, if there was a problem, everyone’s entitled to their opinion– so you have ongoing debates or downright racial profiling that’s a constant occurence within the cities.  In South Korea, it’s more like an inadvertant zero-tolerance for any such abberations from the norm– that’s why there’s North Korea, in part.

My point is this– in South Korea, you have Koreans, and you have Korean, and you have Korean.  You might have the occasional foreigner here and there but when you compare it to a place like New York or Montreal, the level of multiculturalism here really isn’t anything to write home about.

And that makes for a lot of streamlining.  A lot of things in Korea just work, where the counterparts of similarly sized metropolitain cities in North America just don’t seem to.  One of those things is a strong sense of national pride.

Call it brainwashing or whatever, but from the random encounters I’ve made with Koreans over the past four moths, I’ve found more patriots of all ages than i have in 24 years of living in North America.

And how does that happen?

The kid is right– there are no fights about religion, there are no fights about language.  The whole of South Korea feels like it’s run by LG and Samsung corporation, and while this sounds scary, on the contrary, it has a number of advantages in the same way a ‘benevolent dictator’ might.

It’s sounds like a crazy idea, but for a Korean kid to beleive that “Korea is the Way”, and for him to be just one among a high percentage of his peers as well as superiors, it really does work in a certain way.  And how is it different from the way that North America runs things?

We make the mistake of attributing too much importance to definitions– so, this here is a country, this here is a state, this here is a city and this a ghetto or district and this here is a group of people.  What my student is saying is no different from the person in North America who tends to hang out with people of his own ethnic origin.

And what really is multiculturalism in North America anyhow?

In Canada, multiculturalism means a hundred different ethnicities congregating in ghettos. They exist just a little outside of the government’s vision, who thinks that regulation for immigrants should be minimal.  Every person is sort of like a ‘dual citisen’.  In United States, it’s the melting pot– people all become “American”.

And of course, these are generalizations..  But my point is that if you look at Canadian multiculturalism, it’s just like small South Koreas all over the place.  That’s what a ghetto is.

I can’t exactly remember the point of my post, but it’s something along the lines of these ideas:

  • I don’t like how the idea of multiculturalism is just viewed as ‘good by default’.  It isn’t.  It’s not that simple.
  • I don’t like how countries that tend to have one really large majority are tagged as ‘crazy places’.
  • I guess this thought comes up because, in speaking with my colleagues, the general consensus is that “Korea is one screwed up place to live.”
    • Really… in comparison to what?

I just, in general, don’t like the default imperialist assumption that a non-western society is somehow backwards.  It’s not that simple.

In the end, it becomes to really say what is right and what is wrong– perhaps it’s safer to say that certain answers can only apply within certain contexts.

Role Playing (part 2)

Role Playing (part 1)

ESL, btw, means “English as a Second Language.”  It’s one of those acronyms that’s more or less internationally recognized, and it is used mostly in the context of non-native English speakers who are learning English.  It’s rather different from teaching English to native English speakers, because the focus in ESL tends to be more on the Mechanics of English: grammar, structure, style, etc, wheras with a native English speaker we like to think that most people have a pretty good grasp of those things automatically just by environmental exposure.  So, native English essay writing tends to be more centered around the development of good argumentation and ideas.

Nonetheless, in order to keep it interesting both for myself and my students, I’m a pretty tough grader when it comes to essays– It’s not enough for someone to have a grammatically correct essay.  I require that they think about their topics and present to me their ideas.  Here’s an essay from a Korean ESL student in one of my classes, that makes a case against multiculturalism..  I’ll write more on this subject later, but in the meantime, I’ll let you have the read.

When we got (take
geography lessons, we learned
about in part about ethnic groups in
different countries. In Korea, most people are Korean, In China most people are
cChineseI like that but if many diffent kinds or people live in
Korea, maybe I won’t like it.

  Because I think if many differentt kinds of people live in Korea, Korean

society will be fall into disorder. Whyam I thought ( do I
think )
like that(this)? Because for exemple,
America, this country has many different kinds of
people so I can see they are always fighting.
Exspecailly, Ku Klux Klan club people always fighting.

  So I think if
Korea if has many different people, Korea will be
always fightingaAnd  one
more exemple, Switzerland has many different kinds of people too.  And they
using different langnages. I don’t like it because if Korea using different
langnages, we have to study to muchlanguage
languages )
and we can get (have a
war. Because someone uses another
language they think
‘Oh they use a
different lanuage, but why do we live with
them? We are different.’ sSo
we can get
have a )

  And I don’t like it. Straightforwardly if someone looks not same (different
me but uses Korean, I am very confusin (confused
and impartial. So I don’t like ‘a-half-breeds‘ 
so sometimes think ‘I am very bad person’. But I(it is
hard to change my mind.

I think in Korea we should just live with Korean
people, In China, just live with Chinese people, In Japan, just live with Japanese peole.
I think that is good and easy.

4am in the hallway

It’s 4am in South Korea right now.

I went to bed at about 2am.  Which is about normally really.

I was woken up just now because my neighbor lost his key, and his girlfriend is passing out in the hallway.

Being the good neighbor that I am I offered that they stay over. but naturally, they declined.  He doesn’t want to go to the landlord because the dinner party we threw just on friday (yesterday) got us in trouble as far as noise levels at inappropriate times of the night go.  hahahahahahhaaha

fuck I’m sleepy FUCKING SLEEPY fuckity fucking sleepy

They’re gone now but man, I almost feel pissed on his behalf. Maybe I’m just finding reasons to be pissed because i’ve got this godawful headache now, and my body feels horrible because I really needed this rest.  But I’m not pissed at any of them, I have locked myself out of my apartment twice and I know it’s a shitty thing to happen.  But I think I just feel that I should exercise my right to be pissed. Or something.  I mean, it’s 4am– you don’t get as good an excuse as that very often.

 Does that make sense?

I’m so petty it’s beautiful!


… for the next week, perhaps two, I’m going to write angry posts.

Just because I can.  Because these are the thoughts that I have in my head sometimes.  And perhaps the reason why sometimes the feelings feel familiar is because i run into the same problems.  And perhaps this happens because of my short term memory– so,

… we’ll see what happens when I write down all the bad things that are going through my head.

I’m not going to hold your hand through this.  This blog may offend you.   You’re welcome to post your comments about it, and you’re welcome to subscribe/unsubscribe as you see fit.  But you have been warned.

This isn’t about you, this is about me.


I have a lot on my mind, so I’ll try and put it in sections.  I’m also going to try and be as honest as possible.

While correcting essays, I came across this essay from one of my students.

  A Llong
time ago, I read one
book. It’s the same for this content. This
book gave me to
future’s hope
(hope for
the future)
. lLike
the Ugly duck it gonna be (who
becomes a )

   People are
have their good points. Maybe If do not seem to
have good points, Yyou
must try to find that. You can find you have good point. I think so. 


  For Eexample,
If you do not study verty (very) well. Don ‘t be OTL. Study is not all of life, If
life is 10, study is 1. You must do what you can do
very well.

   And in this story, the Ugly duck was Ugly. It’s
not all that is important in life. Poor people can be
rich, they can be successful in their life. Only Oone
reason, poor. I think many poor people are  throw up (away
their life(lives
. But life is
precious. I want to tell this.

  Don’t be throw up(away
your life)
. Maybe
if Yyou
don’t throw up your life, Iin
the future , profit will come to you.
   Life is

Who I am ( I think ).

On Friday night, I helped get a dinner part rolling.  My apartment building is a lot like Melrose Place or something– a whole bunch of us work together and live in the same building. 

Tomorrow may be different.  Tomorrow, I’m going to be playing badminton.  I’ll probably enjoy it while I’m doing it.  I’ve got my gear with me now, after all– that will change everything.

Tomorrow, I might just wake up and feel like king of the fucking universe.

Today though…

… I was watching an anime about a bunch of of delinquint students.  They torture their teachers for fun.  They do all sorts of shit because they need something to rebell against.

I was thinking too that rebellion is something that requires an empire to rebel against.  And revolutions sort of take turns– what is the solution for tomorrow might be the problematic opression the day after that.

I’m starting to see that things tend to work in cycles.  The scenario may change, and so might the characters, but the point in the general theme just oscillates.  In the same way that the faster you try and push a plane, the more drag you get to resist that change, the same is true of life– getting tired is when things slow down and the frequency and amplitude of those waves becomes constant.

So I hosted a dinner party on friday.  I was one out of three people who were cooking for something like 16 guests.  It was fun  It really was.  But at some point, I just got tired of it.

I want someone to just… understand.  This is no joke.  I think this is something that everyone struggles with throughout their lives– that’s why those who go through enough experiences in life are valued, because they learn something really important called “empathy.”

But empathy isn’t as simple as it sounds.  It doesn’t just mean kind heartedness– it requires what I mentioned before– experience.  The closer one’s experiences are to that of the person who they are trying to empathize with, then the better that connection.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it’d be like to really love someone.  With every ex-girlfriend, I’ve told them I loved them.  At the time, I beleived it– and in the end, it turned out to be something else.  There were things to like about the relationships, and yes, they were love, but in the end, whatever was there wasn’t enough.

And I think this is what it is that I’m looking for.  Someone who understands.

So let me think out the logic of why I can’t find the right gal for me.

First of all, I need someone who understands.  We’ve already established that this requires two things– that the person gives a fuck, and that the person has experience.

The first condition is relatively easy to find.  I mean, to find a girl who cares about someone– that’s not so tough, all things considered.  But the latter is what constantly stumps me.

Because I’ve seen things.  I’ve done this.  I’ve done that.  Things here and there that I really can’t explain– things that people can’t just be told about, that they need to feel for themselves.

This is sort of the cross I carry. I don’t know why I do it.  Is it for the attention?  Maybe– sure, with all that handful of readers here on Xanga, hah!  Nah, who knows.

But I do hope to find someone who understands.  I want to talk about the things I’ve seen.  And I love being a storyteller– but I don’t want to just tell stories.  I want to discuss them with someone who is on my level, who knows what I’m talking about really.

It perhaps sounds like I’m looknig for someone exactly like me, but that’s not the case– I just want someone who has experiences.  I have such a difficult time of dealing with people nowadays, and the dinner party the other day was the perfect example.

The food itself was excellent.  It was fucking awesome!  It was all delicious.  But after the chewing was done, it was time for smalltalk.  And though it’s the bigtalk I want, the smalltalk is generally a good indicator of what kind of bigtalk people are capable of.

… lets just sum it up.  After about an hour of it, I just left the party to go back to my own apartment and watch some movies on my own.  I just got tired of the whole scene. 

Now it’s true that a dinner party is no place to really have a serious serious conversation– people aren’t just going to open up their closet and let all the bones fall out just because I cook them some curry.  But if you judge it (and yes, you must judge, and yes, I do, and there’s no other way) based on what you seee, you can get an idea of who in your context is someone interesting and who isn’t.  You use various methods to test the waters, you try and look beyond the answers and see not what they answer but HOW they answer, and you can get an idea of the sort of person, and how dense their substance is.

Perhaps the ESL field is the wrong place to look.  Most ESL teachers I know are running away from things instead of searching for something.  It’s a fine line, and perhaps the adventure is both in simulatneity, but who knows.

So the problem with me finding a girl is that… well, it’s not finding a girl that’s tough.  It’s that experience part.  You can call it ‘having high standards’ or whatever– but I’ve spent my life living it, and I don’t feel like backtracking anymore to wait for anyone.  I just want to meet someone halfway who’s crusing at around the same speed, and see if we can do the rest of the trip together.  Is that so much to ask?

But how does one find such a person?

Ah, but here is the second part of the problem.  I’m a very proud man– and as such, experienced women intimidate me.

Do I really need to go into more detail?

Today and Tomorrow


…An interesting story.


This package, sent to me from Montreal, makes my week feel that much easier.

It’s a box containing seven of my rackets from back home.  A few weeks ago, I found a place to play badminton in my area.  The problem was mainly that I don’t have any gear with me, except for a pair of badminton shoes.  I bought some rackets from a local store, a pair of once-piece graphites by a local brand called Big Ten, but they sucked– the first week I used them, I simultaneously broke four strings on one racket, and the next week, I broke the overgrip (so I was basically holding a bare wooden handle) and half an hour later I had shattered the grip itself (so that the wood part fell off from the shaft).

In laymans’ terms, what I was using out here for the past two were both garbage rackets.  And though a player isn’t just about equipment, it’s undeniable that all things being equal, equipment does make a difference.  The two Big Ten rackets I were using were essentially dampeners– they ate up the power of my smashes (which aren’t anything impressive to begin with) and worst of all, they were terribly balanced and suffered from a lack of torsion resistence.

But now that I’ve got my Yonex and Sotx rackets from back home, it’s time to step up the game and show my new Korean badminton partners how we play badminton back at RsM!