Christina’s Five Questions for May 2020
This is my first time participating in this. I think it’s a great idea and I love reading other people’s answers.
What’s on your bedside table?
It’s a bedside chair.
A cup of coffee, a vape device, a little remote-control thingy for turning off the lights, a kindle (currently reading The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin)
Five items you “can’t” live without.
Nothing that I’m proud of - the vape pen, some kind of container with coffee, my computer (not this computer specifically, but just access to some kind of computing device), my glasses, some form of money. I’m sorry, I couldn’t really think of ‘personal’ forth or fifth items. When I was young and had to go travelling somewhere, my mother always had a minimal check-list: passport, money. Anything else that we forgot could always be purchased with the money. This is especially true where I’m currently living - South Korea. You barely have to walk half a kilometre to find any other ’essential’ items in some kind of store. I realise now that this is quite sad. I have no ‘unique’ or personal items that I’m attached to, I’ve fully (and unconsciously) embraced capitalist/consumerist culture where everything is substitutable. The upside of this is that less attachments to things makes it easier to travel.
What are some words or phrases specific to where you live?
I don’t speak the language much (Korean). And I’ve had to work to change language I do speak (English) quite a bit, since everyone teaches “American” English here. So, I now say “elevator” instead of “lift” and “apartment” instead of “flat” (the first example that came to mind, since there are so many lifts and flats around here).
In terms of Korean words, there is a specific word for “spacing out”/just sitting doing nothing. It’s 멍 때리다. It’s a popular activity here (people work a lot here). During a class on ‘free-time activities’ a middle school student even said that was his favourite hobby. They even have spacing-out competitions where a bunch of people just sit in a park. If you check your phone or fall asleep you’re disqualified.
There are hundreds of unique words/phrases from where I grew up - Donegal, Ireland. Again, I’ve had to suppress most of them. The two that sometimes slip through are “grand” and “good luck”. We say “grand” all the time to mean ‘fine/good’ when someone asks “How are you?” or “How was it?”, and we say “good luck” instead of “good bye”.
What are your healthiest habits?
Another embarrassing one for me, I don’t have many. I go cycling whenever I can, but not in a ‘habitual’/routine way. I just go because its fun, not as exercise. I usually go on really long cycling trips at the weekends. If I wanted to be healthier about it I would go on shorter, more intense, trips daily I suppose. I’ve been thinking about doing that, but I’m always so tired from work in the evenings. I’m always able to get a lot of sleep. I can fall asleep easily. I have to get up early for work, but I still manage around 8 hours a night.
What are the rewarding aspects of your job? (if you have a job quashing your will to live, I provide a bonus sixth question for you)
I don’t really have a high opinion of ‘work’ in capitalist societies, I’ve seen too many friends destroyed - mentally/spiritually - by awful bosses and working conditions. Having said that, I’ve been mostly lucky in that regard. It helps that a lot of my ‘work’ so far in life was as a grad student. Currently, I work teaching kids. I know it is a cliche, but teaching kids really is so rewarding. Maybe just because they’re a little bit more ‘chaotic/unpredictable’ than adults. Just when you think you have them figured out, they surprise you. I think surprise/novelty in an important ingredient in work (and most other things). They are endlessly kind and endlessly funny.