from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Entry #2: Sloth and Society

with 4 comments

I’m terminally and incapacitatingly lazy. I can’t help it. I don’t know the reason. Because I’m lazy, I’m too poor to hire a psychiatrist to waste my money trying to figure out why. It isn’t a catch-22, but it sure seems like one.

Because of my handicap, I can’t write at home. My home is a breeding ground for mold and laziness. I can’t stay vertical there. So every day I have to force myself out of bed and come to a coffee shop to accomplish anything. Getting out of my apartment is an accomplishment in itself.

If conversation is an art, then I’m your typical American, preferring the television to a museum. It helps me work when I’m in the outside world—I call it the real world—but I prefer a detached participation in society. It’s almost to a point where I prefer people laughing at me than with me, but I don’t like people laughing at me, either. I do an adequate job demeaning myself without the help of others.

I sit for hours each day in this coffee shop. It has a smoking section where I’m not closed off from everyone else by glass walls like a museum exhibit. I shared that with an acquaintance the other day, that one reason why Korea is better than Japan is because you can smoke practically anywhere, even when you walk. I heard that Japan banned walking and smoking because some guy burned a kid accidentally. God bless Korea.

I like this particular coffee shop, but its clientele annoys me at times. I like to be surrounded by strangers who ignore me, but I don’t like loud people whose noise infringes upon my personal space. Today there are two groups—one of three people, one of five—and I’ve decided that I hate them. Loud people force me to participate in society unwillingly.

The group of three decided to open the window for fresh air despite the fact that it’s fucking freezing outside. If you want fresh air, go somewhere else, somewhere with a functional ventilation system. If I could have my way, this whole floor would be thick with a white haze of smoke, so I could be surrounded by people and not have to see them.

If I were a more assertive man, I would go over and tell them to close the fucking window. I’d probably do it very politely. But I’m a silent sufferer, taking the path of least resistance. I just grin and bear it and settle for being more assertive in my imagination. At least I’m not passive aggressive. I’m far too lazy for that.

* The group of three left, but two more came to take their place, who share the same fucking affinity for fresh air. Damn tree huggers. One of the two was a bartender at a local bar I talked to once. We talked about philosophy and kendo. I never went back. I wonder if the guy she’s with knows that she was a bartender and likes to talk about philosophy and kendo. At least they’re quiet.

** I once decided to visit a hypnotherapist. I wonder who started that field of study, a hypnotist or a therapist? I wanted to figure out why I can’t eat seafood anymore. I called the number and the receptionist said in a very calm and soothing voice, “One session is $175. For a case like yours, you’ll probably have to come in for several sessions.” I hung up the phone. Not being able to eat seafood isn’t such a bad thing.


Written by Young

March 7, 2010 at 1:54 pm

4 Responses

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  1. I love this post, I find it very fascinating. I don’t even know why,
    I remember myself used to go to coffee shop just cause I could smoke there. Korea Korea…people would still stare, point or even cuss at you if you are a female and smoke on the street.
    Seafood…I could eat seafoods almost everyday if I have to. I am not a big fan of row fish (sashimi or sushi) but I like it when it’s cooked. Maybe you should try it a small bite at a time 🙂 Ahhh I know that I will definitely have maeun-tang and haemul-tang when I get there.


    May 22, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    • Nabi,

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I also think the social stigma of women smoking in public (among many, many other things) is unfair. I don’t know if it’s changed at all, mostly because I don’t really leave the house except for work and the coffee shop. I guess maybe that’s why Korean girls love going to coffee shops.

      As for the seafood matter, it’s probably one of the biggest complaints that I hear on a regular basis, that my handicap is an inconvenience to others. It was particularly difficult in Japan this past weekend. It was even more difficult in the army. Nobody cared about me there. Many of my meals consisted of only rice and kimchi.



      May 23, 2010 at 1:15 pm

  2. Are you allergic or did you have a bad food poisoning episode?


    May 29, 2014 at 9:59 am

    • Wow, I didn’t know anybody still read these old posts. It’s not an allergy and I don’t think it was a bad food poisoning episode (I think I’d remember something like that). I’m fairly certain it was a single event that was so traumatic I’ve blocked it from my memory. I think it was from a visit to a fish processing factory my mom was working at at the time.


      June 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm

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