Thursday, January 01, 2015

projects, not resolutions

Even though today, January 1st, has been pretty much a nothing sort of day for me, I do, in fact, have things to do over this break.

But let's back up: I should point out that this break is a break only from university work: I've still got Golden Goose duties every Wednesday, and KMA has already set up the occasional gig for me. In fact, KMA is awesome that way: I got my entire 2015 schedule over a month ago, and it includes nine sessions this year. At about W470,000 a pop, minimum, that's an extra few million won a year, assuming none of the scheduled sessions is canceled. On the up-side, KMA also occasionally and suddenly offers unscheduled sessions, like the two-day presentation course I just taught this past Monday and Tuesday. My point is that my second and third jobs will be keeping me occupied, to some extent, while I'm on vacation.

This year, I've decided not to think in terms of resolutions. Instead, I'll be thinking in terms of projects, i.e., things on my to-do list that I want to get accomplished. Seen in that way, there's little difference between a project and a resolution, as most resolutions usually take the form of projects: losing weight, for example, isn't something you can do in a single day; it requires time, effort, and a plan. But when I say "projects," I don't necessarily have character-building endeavors in mind. Here's what I mean by "projects" for 2015, most of which can be accomplished over break:

1. Get my old, dead Mac's internal hard drive (which I had salvaged in Hayang) converted into a USB-accessible external hard drive. This shouldn't be that hard.

2. Visit the Baek Nam-jun Art Center, which a Golden Goose coworker had told me about. I need to bring some culture back into my life.

3. Get a pile of clothes repaired. Part of the problem with poverty is that you don't always have the means to buy and buy and buy new clothes when the current clothes start to show signs of wear. I've got at least ten or twelve articles of clothing in dire need to repair, and since the building in which the Golden Goose office is located has several ot-suseon-jip (clothing-repair shops), I'll be ferrying my clothes to those shops over the next few Wednesdays. Two trips ought to do the trick. Oh, and I need to get my running shoes repaired.

4. Find a boxing gym. No particular goal in mind here, other than to increase the intensity of my physical activity. I've been walking and walking over the past several months, without really watching my diet, and the weight loss—which had been going fine before—definitely plateaued. If I can't find a gym within walking distance of where I live, I might grudgingly expand my search to a radius of a few subway stops, but I'd much rather get where I need to go on foot.

5. Finish writing up those promised blog posts. You can find a list of promised posts here. That's only a partial list, though; I've got other posts in mind as well, such as one about a text-message dialogue between me and one of my dimmest students.

6. Travel some. I wrote of "poverty" above, but the truth is that I do now have a tiny measure of discretionary income. Not enough for a grand trip to Europe for several weeks, but enough to tool around, a bit, in this tiny country. So I'm thinking of heading down to Yeosu, a city that utterly charmed me when I went there in April of 2013 to interview for a teaching job at Cheonnam National University. I didn't get the job, which may be a good thing, given the suck-ass hours they were advertising and the possibility that my work would include teaching young kids—a task for which I have little patience. Kids taken on one or two at a time aren't a problem; a classroomful, however, is a different story.

7. Diet. Okay, this is the most resolution-like of my projects, but I'm not resolving to reach any specific weight. It's just that the time has finally come to be more mindful of what I stuff down my gullet, and for the most part this means radically reducing carbs. My brother Sean had suggested a simple strategy last summer, when he visited me: cut out all sodas, and no eating anything after 7PM. I'm going to do that one better this month: starting today, I plan to follow Christian Bale's diet from when he was filming "The Machinist," the movie in which Bale appears skeletally thin. I have no illusions, given my plump starting point, that I'll end up anywhere near as skeletal as Bale did, and I'm not planning on dieting for as long as Bale did, either: Bale dieted for four months, whereas I'm going to stop the regime at the end of January. What was his diet? you ask. Wikipedia says this:

Christian Bale dramatically dieted for over four months prior to filming, as his character needed to look drastically thin. According to a biography of Bale written by his former assistant, his daily diet at this time consisted of "water, an apple[,] and one cup of coffee per day, with the occasional whiskey" (approximately 55-260 calories). According to the DVD commentary, he lost 62 pounds (28 kg), reducing his body mass to 120 pounds (54 kg). Bale wanted to go down to 99 pounds (45 kg), but the filmmakers would not let him due to health concerns. In fact, the weight that Bale dropped down to was actually intended to be for a much shorter actor, but Bale insisted on seeing if he could make it anyway. At the end of filming he was left with just six weeks to regain the mass to be ready for his role in Batman Begins, which he achieved through weightlifting and [bingeing] on pizzas and ice cream.

My version of this diet is going to be 1-2 kimbap a day, and there won't be an occasional whiskey, or any coffee, because I drink neither alcohol nor coffee. So—water and tea, preferably sugarless, for yours truly throughout January, along with a few multivitamins to stave off malnutrition. I'll be curious to see where this leads. Lest you think this will be nothing but self-abuse, though, rest assured that, if I'm out with friends or visiting relatives, I won't say no to eating whatever everyone else is eating, even if this means pigging out at a buffet. Once I'm done with any social gathering, I'll just go right back to dieting. Since I'm not a social creature by nature, there shouldn't be too many January gatherings to worry about.

8. Writing project. Now that I work at the Golden Goose, which is a big publishing company, there's a chance that I might be able to put together a manuscript and get it fast-tracked for publishing. I've got an idea for creating a textbook with a content-based approach, and the content in question will be edited versions of the movie reviews I churn out on this blog. I have enough reviews, at this point, for a full book, and the thing about movies is that, with more coming out every week, there will always be a demand for updated versions of the textbook.

9. Get an apartment. This won't happen until August, unless I somehow earn enough money to move out of my current shoebox a bit earlier, like in July. By August, according to the budget I've created, I ought to have 10 million won in the bank, which will be enough key money for me to consider moving into a real place with a real kitchen, a real bathroom, and real bedroom. As far is timing is concerned, the key here is KMA: if KMA gives me several extra gigs, I could, in theory, end up a month or two ahead of the game, and could be moved in to my new digs by the start of summer vacation instead of by the end.

So those are my projects. Nothing big, nothing fancy, nothing particularly character-building. Just stuff I want to accomplish between now and some indefinite time this year, if possible. And if I don't get around to doing everything, well... I won't beat myself up about it.


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