from the Korean Army to being published

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

Random #34: Broke

with 2 comments

I’m broke. Yet another month of tightening my belt. That’s my excuse for this latest period of dormancy. I don’t have the money to go to the coffee shop and write (and I can’t write at home). I don’t have the money to drink at night and so I’ve been dipping into my stores at home (alcohol, not money). I’m neither female nor very cute, so it’s not an option to depend on the kindness of strangers. It’s a sad life, but I’ve dug my own grave and now I’ve got to lie in it.

The last time my finances were in such a poor state was four years ago, the period I wrote about two entries ago. I really was living off 2,000 won a day, which was possible because back then it wasn’t hard to find a roll of kimbap for 1,000 won that wasn’t from the convenience store. I’d occasionally pick up some instant ramen or dduk from a street vendor when I got tired of the kimbap. When I picked up a few private tutoring gigs to make some spending money, I had to jump the turnstiles to take the subway. It was also around that time that I picked up smoking, and I think my habit of smoking cigarettes down to the filter is a result of that time.

To be honest, those days were dark days, a good deal worse than my situation now. I have my own place with food in my fridge. I didn’t even have a refrigerator then. It just feels comparable because I’m not writing. Although I’ve been working on this book for the past six years, I only started getting serious three years ago. I wasn’t writing back then. I would just lie in bed and smoke and drink from the one bottle of Ballentine’s Finest I had lying on the floor next to the bed. Nap, drink, repeat.

But the truth of the matter is that napping, drinking, and repeating sounds pretty nice to me. I’m a simple man. The reason I’m broke at the moment is mostly because of the oddity that is the housing market in Seoul (a ridiculous deposit for a small basement apartment) and partly due to some stupid decisions (a weakness in my personality). There’s plenty of money to be made in Seoul. I just don’t want to go out and get it.

When you have no goal in life, you can get by with very little. The less you spend, the less you need to make. When you’re at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, you don’t have to worry about comparing your life with others. But when you have a dream, there is at least one person you’re constantly comparing yourself with—the you that has realized that dream or at least is in the coffee shop working toward realizing that dream.

Two and a half weeks until payday….


2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I sense an internal battle in progress, and you’ve laid it out quite well. On one side of the battlefield is the “entropic” HB who writes that “napping, drinking, and repeating sounds pretty nice.” On the other side is the “anti-entropic” HB who says “when you have a dream, there is at least one person you’re constantly comparing yourself with—the you that has realized that dream.”

    Which HB will win? Both are honest about what they want, but each wants to go in the opposite direction. Having just reread Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full, I’m reminded of a quote, from the Stoic thinker Epictetus, that’s featured in the novel: “No one can make progress facing both ways.” (These days, I say that applies as much to myself as it does to your situation.)

    Food for thought. And more nifty Epictetus quotes here:

    Kevin Kim

    June 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    • As usual, you’ve hit the nail on the head. There is an internal battle that is being waged inside of me and lately the “entropic” me is gaining ground and digging in. I’m also curious as to which will win. It could go either way.

      As for how I can resolve the conflict, I can only try to convince myself that to struggle against my true self (“entropic” or lazy-ass self) I need to suppress those desires in the short-run for the greater good (the good and lazy life after a measure of success). Isn’t it the conflict that all men go through? They sit and suffer through nine-to-five jobs for decades simply so they can one day sit on a beach and reap what they have sown after they are old and gray? A great part of me doesn’t want to wait until I’m old and gray, partially because I don’t plan on living very long and partially because I’ve never been one for patience. I guess the real problem is finding a productive balance.

      By the way, thanks for introducing me to Epictetus. He really does have some nifty things to say.


      June 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: