Korean people LOVE to ask what you do for a living (next to “how old are you,” “are you married” and “do you have children” and “how much do you weigh” and various remarks on appearance RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE). It’s a sign of interest and caring, coupled with judgment. So bizarre. Most of the time I find it terribly endearing, it’s such a familiar act.
My dad likes to tell people I’m a writer. I got to see this firsthand when i went to visit him in the hospital. Normally, at least these days, when I go to visit my parents, there are no other people coming by. So, life proceeds in a vacuum, just our nuclear family unit and no one else. The same old behavior patterns, operating in the silo with the same old people/variables.
This time, while he was in the hospital (especially before he went into surgery), I sat in a room while people paraded by and listened as my dad introduced me over and over. “She’s a writer!” he would exclaim, thereby answering the “what do you do” question for me. He loves that I’m a writer and the few short stories I’ve published in litmags might as well be Pulitzer Prize winning novels, he flaunts them so much. (The first time I had a story published, he asked me for 20 copies of the issue so that he could pass them out to friends).
I have never felt awkward about describing myself as a writer. While my other MFA classmates tried on the title very awkwardly after graduation, I eagerly took on that eponymous mantle throughout the program.
But now? I don’t know. I feel like I’ve strayed a bit from this focus. Maybe it’s because of the dreadful followup questions: Oh! What have you written? Are you published? Where? Do you have an agent? (okay, Korean people generally don’t ask that last question as so very few Korean people are actually writers and thus do not know much about the actual business of writing).
That’s when I plant a smile on my face and provide answers through gritted teeth.
I’m home, decompressing before I head into work. It was, I think, a very hard week last week. I don’t really know, because I wasn’t really there. I hid the fearful part of me very very far away in a very secure place and let the brave and optimistic part of me take over my life, over my body.
I was going to go into work at noon today, but now I am not so sure. I don’t really know how to make sense of it all, and the meetings on the phone sounds super silly to me. “It sounds so–meaningless,” I whispered at one point to my husband who is busy getting ready for work. He nodded. He knows what I mean–he has had more than his fair share of crisis in the last year.
What the hell am I doing? Why do I spend all my time on my paying job and none on my writing. I’ve got to figure this out.