Thursday, April 1: My friend Kathy may be in danger of becoming a Korean. Another native English teacher in the lovely “yellow melon” county of Seongju, she teaches at the boys’ middle school. She’s in-the-know about Korean life because she’s been here a year longer than us newcomers. She opted to renew her contract with EPIK (English Program in Korea), and now she’s truly settling in. She made the leap to becoming a true resident by purchasing a car, a Daewoo Matiz, a 5-door hatchback “city car.” Some people call it a disposable car. It’s truly inexpensive, about 1.4 million Won, or about $1,200. She named the car Lucy. If she becomes Korean, she may have to change her name to the Korean style, with family name first. She’ll become Daegu Kathy and her little car will be Daegu Lucy Matiz.
It appears to be a tiny vehicle on first view, from the outside, but inside it’s perfectly roomy. Surprisingly, it even feels safe at high speeds on the highway. It has a GPS that Kathy turns on only when we’re on our way back to Daegu, since the system is in Korean only and she doesn’t know how to program it for anywhere but home.
Kathy is a funny girl. She is one of the most open and blunt people I’ve ever met. She doesn’t mind telling anybody about her failed career endeavors, and refreshingly, she makes fun of herself in the telling. When I listen to her, I feel that I might have had an identical or parallel life, except I’m not as artistic as she is, and I was lucky enough to have a husband who supported me financially through all my failed career attempts. She hasn’t been married, so she has soldiered through by her own sheer will and with the help of family and friends. She told me a story once about a radio program she thoroughly botched that led to end of her radio career, and she makes it a funny story, although I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time.
She’s a photographer and a writer, and a radio and TV show producer. She’s also an English teacher in Korea. But she has aspirations to succeed at these former pursuits, to have an artist’s studio/loft in L.A., to produce TV and radio shows, to exhibit her photography, to publish books. She periodically suffers setbacks to her dreams. On her recent vacation to Bangkok, she was in a taxi with her very expensive camera and lenses in tow. When she went to pay the taxi driver, she reached into her bag to get more money, setting aside the camera. Then she jumped out of the cab, and the taxi drove away. She tells how she got on the elevator in her hotel, and just as the doors closed, she realized she left her camera in the taxi. Thousands of dollars gone, just like that.
She’s gone through periods where she did Bikram yoga religiously, others where she meditated an hour or more each day. She wears a cross because she believes it keeps her safe. She believes in miracles and for asking the universe very clearly for what you want in life. She inspired me to write a list of the things I want in my life, and I look at it, sometimes revising it, every night before I go to sleep. She encourages me to frame things in a more positive way, to avoid saying negative things. I’m trying, though not always succeeding…..
She was worried about driving in Korea because Koreans are crazy drivers. She discovered one day that when she flipped off another driver, he immediately backed off. So, we decided she should get a rubber hand with a bobbing middle finger (like those dogs with the bobbing heads) and attach it to the hood of her car. That way she can make a statement wherever she drives.
Kathy is kind-hearted and tries to look out for us by planning social events such as coffee shop Boggle, Poker night at Hard Rock, movie nights, dinners out, etc. I’m sure sometimes she feels unappreciated, as Myrna and I are often homebodies and don’t always jump on board with her plans. Hopefully, she’ll forgive my lazy tendencies…. and you will read more about our continuing adventures in Daegu Lucy Matiz……