Tag Archives: woman troubles

Erin’s Problems are Hipster Bands

We are Erin's Problems. sitarmustachehat*fart*

I’m coming to you live, internet, from my office. I’m eating a Tootsie roll pop. It’s Friday afternoon. The kiddies are gone for the day and I get to doink around on the internet, writing frivolous blog posts and what not.  They pay me to do this guys. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of actual work involved too, and I’ve had a few crappy weeks prior to this. But today was a good day. And tomorrow will be a good day because I’m going to Seoul to stare at some North Koreans and then I’m going to bathe myself in IPA. (More on how orgasmically exciting that is next week.)

The thing is, I can’t think of anything to write about.

At some point, I transitioned from being Uberforeign, to Mute and  Uncomfortable, to Not Terrified Anymore, to Partial Understanding of Everything, to I Get It, to I Live Here, to I’m Stagnant Again.

Yeah, we're called Uberforeign. You've probably never heard of us...

“As Erin awoke one morning from uneasy dreams she found herself transformed in her bed into a gigantic ennui-machine…”

We are Ennui-Machine. Here's a 20 minute keyboard solo.

It’s a welcome feeling, I mean, compared to the first few weeks of peeking cautiously out of your windows and around corners lest you come in contact with a native. And I couldn’t claim to be acclimated. I just claim to be much less surprised. And that makes me sad.

We are Dread the Hipster. This is a song about....Galesburg. Whatever.

But in 90 days I’m out. And in 90 days I have no idea where I’ll be. Safety net = home, but home is so full of hipsters….how I dread the hipsters…The answer is, I guess keep moving. Which is what I did when I got bored with Chicago. And Omaha. And good God, who wouldn’t have been bored with Galesburg? And Cheyenne!? Come on.

So tell me Hipster Band, am I doomed to constant movement? Am I lost to the world of Normals and Happies?? Will the conclusion of 90 days find me in my parents’ basement or living out of a van somewhere?

Here's my pocket Nietzsche. There are no Normals and Happies.

 Cold comfort, hipsters. Cold comfort.

And the Living is…Easy?

We are on the brink of summertime in Gwangju.The trees are green, the skies are hazy with heat, the street cats are shrieking to breed beneath my window. The shorts are getting shorters; the heels, higher.

Jacket longer than shorts? HAWT.

For most, summer is a time of splashing and beaches, tans and pina coladas. And sometimes my summers are like this too. But guys, I fear the coming season as I fear few other things (ie: death, tight spaces, death inside tight spaces, Kate Hudson movies, etc). You see I was here, if only briefly, LAST summer. And I remember it all too well…

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Sound Defense

When I’m finished with work, when I’m done saying “Hello” 3000 times to the sincere and wicked students alike, when I’ve been stared at by the old men on the bus, harassed by the ajummas on the street, when all that is through, some days I just want to go to my teeny apartment and forget that I’m in Korea for a little while. Just be for a few quiet hours. It is the simplest of desires. And so it is the most difficult to achieve.

I am all too aware that I, Erin, am in the beginning phases of reclusedom. Meh, don’t worry about sweeping the floor today, no one else can see your cracker crumbs. Don’t worry about that t-shirt with the food stain on it – it’s only one food stain. You don’t have plans – maybe don’t put pants on today. Or tomorrow. Maybe you should start collecting newspapers and stack them from floor to ceiling, like reinforce the ceiling with newspaper pillars…make a newspaper pillar maze that will one day collapse on your body only to be found 3 years later…

Aaaaand I may have done this once or twice, but never with a Snuggie:

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One Douchebag, Three Outbursts

I am a notorious coward when it comes to quitting jobs. I blame the Catholic upbringing. I feel guilty about things like eating (but not drinking) and definitely about disappointing employers (but not about hating them passionately).

My last job was a gig as a secretary. That job juiced my soul right out of me, pureed it with some ice and tequila, tossed a paper umbrella in it and forced me to serve it on a golden platter to my boss, who then declared it unfit to drink, took a crap in it and threw it on my face. (GRR, VISCERAL IMAGERY!)  Soulless and spiteful as I was, I had to psych myself up to actually approach my terrifying boss and drop the news that I was moving to another continent. I had two months in which to do this. The pep talk I gave myself took the entire two months. At it’s conclusion I stood outside my boss’s office door.

Erin: Hey….can I talk to you for a minute?

Angry Boss: No. Busy.


Then I ran back to my desk and hyperventilated. Continue reading

First I Was All…But Then I Was Like…

Vacations – they’re the greatest, right? You leap into a distant time zone, reset the wristwatch, listen to the strange but beautiful language, smell the air, taste the food, make out with the locals, sample the music, note how the light is just a little bit different at sunrise and how people dress just left of how they do back home.

And then you’re on a plane again with a camera full o’ memories and at least two months’ worth of dinner conversation. “Oh you simply must summer in Sardinia, Geoffrey, it’s divine that time of year! And the natives do the most darling thing with cheese…

Ah, glossy candy-coated travel memories! Like this:

Geoffrey, I’m telling you, you’ve never even seen a chin until you’ve seen his chin.

Immigration – now that’s a whole different bag. You get Vacation Wonder for a few weeks, a couple months if your lucky. Then things starts to look like this:

Ugh. Nobody cares about your gross exposed musculature anymore, Korea.
Ugh. Nobody cares about your gross exposed musculature anymore, Korea.

So that’s where we’re at. 7 months in, and the shine has worn off. I still love teaching and my students and stuff. But nothing is….weird anymore.  Which is sort of the whole point of me being here. Everything has settled and I find myself back at Normal. I hate Normal. I flee Normal by doing things like moving to Korea. And yet stupid Normal finds me. Everything is boring and I hate it.

Even worse than being discovered by Normal, though, is that I’m getting close to dropping the Polite Foreigner Act all together. Things driving me to an American outburst include the following: The from-the-depths-of-your-rotten-lungs spitting; the trend of getting off an escalator/stepping into a doorway and then stopping as if you don’t know the people behind you are on an irrevocable crash course towards your ass; walking up to me to look into my shopping basket; getting asked if I’m Russian (that is, a prostitute)…

I hesitate to go on; nobody likes a whiner. But I think maybe it was this, that tipped the scales against Korea:

The old man that changed everything.

Obviously the most comfortable place to sit on a bus is between my legs, slowly settling in against my junk as we ride merrily down the mountainside. Because there is nothing uncomfortable about this at all. You’re bumming me out Korea. You’re bumming me out.

Here, Use My Eyes

“An unexpected and unknown visitor allows you to see a familiar place as if for the very first time. I’m thinking of the meter-reader rooting through your kitchen at 8 a.m., the Jehovah’s Witness suddenly standing in the living room. ‘Here’, they seem to say, ‘use my eyes. The focus is much keener. ‘” – David Sedaris, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

For the second time this week, there was a loud, insistent pounding on my door, followed by the always-a-pleasure “Have You Ever Seen A Lassie?” doorbellphone. This sudden barrage of loud and obnoxious sounds always scares the piss out of me, if for no other reason than proximity. I am usually seated on my bed, which is about six paces from the front door, and even though it is only about six paces from the door, I somehow NEVER hear the knocker coming and end up jumping out of my skin when the attack begins. Continue reading

Stroke Me, Stroke Me

Last weekend I went out with a couple English speakers, and as typically occurs over dinner and drinks, we got to telling stories about our experiences in Gwangju. One person would start off with “Hey, you know when X happens?” And then the rest of us would be like, “Oh man, X! That shit is cra-zay!” And we would empathize, and then the next person in line would offer up a shared experience and we would repeat the  chorus of foreigner recognition.

We landed on the topic of ajummas.

Note the ajumma’s unquenchable lust for perms and visors.

Feeling that I had something to contribute to the conversation at this point, I was all “Oh man, guys, ajummas! Isn’t it weird when they pet you?”

The laughter accompanying our conversation sort of petered out.

“Wait, what?”

“Pet you? Like, pet you? Like a dog?”

“This doesn’t happen to anyone else?”


“…” Continue reading