Twenty-one days later

As it turns out, yes, I have not written anything here in the past twenty-one days.

And trust me - not that anybody is reading this - I have been meaning to. It's just that, well, the past few weeks have been weird. Well, not so much weird as busy, on many fronts.

I have been writing, yes. I have been writing elsewhere. The past couple of months have seen a lot of activity over on earthings!, the music blog I edit, the music blog people keep on calling "earthlings" for some non-obvious reason. For one, Rainy and I have been working on a seven-week series on K-pop, something that has surely made me the most uncool person ever, according to some of the supposed coolest people ever. Well, I should know, because I was that person at one point.

We have been writing about K-pop for a while now, but the series happened because, in a week - this Saturday, actually - we're both flying to Seoul. It's a family trip, sure, but she's going too. My father asked me to ask her, and she giddily agreed, unknowingly sucking both of us into the trauma of gathering visa requirements, buying winter outfits and making sure we're both ready for the trip. That meant her brushing up on Korean phrases, and me mocking up an itinerary for everyone.

We're screwed, in that case. Rainy's been listening to an audio lesson, but one, she keeps on falling asleep to it, and two, she just realized it wouldn't do her any help at all.

"How do you say goodbye to someone who's leaving?" the instructor guy asks.

"Ka juseyo," Rainy found herself muttering.

"That means 'please leave,'" she points out to me, "and it's super informal! I'm screwed! It's not even in the lesson! I just heard Nel say it to Semin's cat!"

Nel, by the way, is a high school friend of hers, who I've met a couple of times. Semin's her South Korean boyfriend, who's so nice I actually feel guilty about it.

For my part, well, I have some idea where we are and where we're going, but I haven't gotten as far as mapping out any solid plan for the week we'll be in Seoul. The only advice I could give everybody is the same advice Jackie gave me when I flew to Taiwan: get one of those stored value cards for the train.

Frankly, the only thing we both really tried to do is to get tickets for one of those year-end K-pop concerts. And why not? It's free (save for the reservation fee, which isn't much) and it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But tickets inevitably sold out after five minutes or so. I knew when tickets will be sold, but one, the language barrier is insurmountable, and two, I had other things to do - things I didn't want to do, if I'm being honest with you, but things I unfortunately had to do. Half-heartedly, but still.

Some things still keep me sane. The Seoul trip meant Rainy and I have been meeting almost every weekend. It's an expensive thing, because we're shopping for winter outfits - a two-kilogram winter coat for me, for one - but, you know, it's fun. We actually found ourselves enjoying one of our shopping trips, even if we carried, between us, seven bags that contained boots, coats and other things that we're really only likely to use for one week. (Although I try not to.) And then, tired from all the walking and browsing, we both went for a beer. Just one pint each, but that was enough for both of us to go home a little, uh, happier, Artificially, perhaps, but still.

We've been dating for three years now. (Our anniversary was low-key, which we both prefer. Facebook was more excited than we are.) In all that time, we haven't really shared a beer. There was that one time, sure, but she had wine and I had beer. Fill in the rest of the blanks, I guess. So that night was a new thing for both of us. And so is traveling to a foreign country together, although, yes, we have yet to do it by ourselves, which we fully intended to do until this came along.

There are a lot of things we have checked on this bucket list of sorts. We've watched a concert together. We've gone to a museum together. I haven't kept track. Yet, after all this time, we're still learning new things about each other - or I'm just old and forgetful and I'm actually relearning those things. Oh, how I wish I had all the time to do just that. But, you know, the other thing I've been up to, the other thing that's kept me from writing on this blog for twenty-one days. You know, work. It's been a weird past few weeks at work. Everything is in flux. I now know how it feels to have a panic attack - a full-on panic attack, where your chest heats up and your heart beats fast and you move to the pantry for some solo time because you're breathing so heavily you think you're going to pass out.

What's there to be scared about? Everything, actually. Everything. Will I still have a job next year? Have I been coasting all this time? Is everything I knew about myself wrong? Was I set up to fail in this world? Is this why all my friends seem way more successful than I am? So that's why they can now afford to fly out whenever they want, for vacations and EDM festivals and all those other things. So that's why they can now get married. Or maybe it's because the system is just stacked against the rest of us, because everything - from the construction of parks to the creation of roads to the payment schemes for cars - favors those who have money in the first place. In that case, I am not earning enough, and that means I'm not saving enough, and that means I'm screwed. I'm screwed. I may have all the time, but in this increasingly impossible world, I have none of the means.

It's been an incredibly frustrating past few weeks. I thought I had a good rhythm going, but that is not enough anymore, apparently. This thing I'm writing, well, it's not earning me anything. It's not benefiting anyone but myself, and that's even arguable. Why am I even doing this? Or that other blog people can't even pronounce right? Going to one gig and trying your hardest to look cool with it and being awkward anyway? Why am I even looking for ownership, when all I am is a drone, left with no choice but to give other people a better chance to own a condominium unit, or enjoy a park, or buy a car?

I have to give something up.

And your responses...

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