I do this kind of regularly…not as regularly as I like to talk about myself, which I’m going to do a lot about in this post.
I see a blog post that someone else has written and then change the contents and talk about myself. I think you call it a meme. The more I read blogs, what with the whole blogging that I do myself, the more I’m inclined to copy other people’s posts and give my own take on a particular topic. There were a few about Korea and particular articles that were poorly drafted and spoke poorly of the land of the morning calm (heaven forbid). The thing is, I’ve no idea how I managed to ever get into this because I hardly read any blogs about Korea, at least not intentionally (a few links pop up on twitter and give them an ould click and my five minutes, but only every so often, and I won’t go into why I don’t do this now)
One blog that I read is a blog called Broadside written by journalist and author Caitlin Kelly. I enjoy a lot of her posts, especially when she offers tips on the working world of writing and journalism, but also because she talks about particular aspects of life that give me food for thought about myself. It’s not what you could call a cool blog, or something that is going to change the world, but I think that these kind of blogs are what make the blogging world that little bit interesting. Oh, and she’ll almost always comment back.
Anyway, recently she popped up a post ‘My Life in 10 Objects‘ where she talked about ten objects that have defined her life through the years. I’m a lot younger than she is (half her choices come from before I was even born – now you know how old I am), but I reckon I could pull together ten things that have defined or changed me over the years. So, here it goes…
My Life in 10 Objects
(not really in any order of importance…save for a few)
- My Passport:
I have had three passports. My first one lasted three years and I basically only needed it to go to Germany to study German (please don’t ask me to speak German now). When I was 19 I got my next passport which I used for 10 years and had to replace last winter. I felt a little sad as I was looking back at this amazing document, packed with stamps and visas for places like the US, China, Korea, and Laos, full of memories and stories. Of course I know I now have the new goal of getting myself another passport full of stamps. Still, there was always something cool about have an old battered passport that the immigration officer struggled to find blank pages in, and also struggled to recognise my face. I just had a look through the pages and found that there were only five pages unstamped. If I had an extra couple of years I probably would have filled it. Sniffle.
When I left Korea in 2008, I left a big box of unread books here. It’s still in storage somewhere in Gangwon-do. When I came back two years later I brought several small boxes with me (there’s an international agreement on shipping books cheaply). In between this period I bought and brought more books in between Ireland and England and back to Ireland. Blame my student ways, or blame Amazon for selling second hand books so cheap. I think I just go mad for books. I’m always sticking my head in a bookshop, although I do my best to keep out of them these days (with great difficulty I should add) because I end up spending money I don’t have, and ultimately never get around to reading the bloody books. I wouldn’t say it’s a waste of money (some would) but it is a questionable expense, considering I don’t even read that many books any more – more online and magazine reading mostly. Every time I go somewhere I have a bag with books, often too many, but still books, books, books! But books, yes, if only I could get off the internet then I might read more of them, because I’m mad for them. Books! Yay!
I’m writing Moleskine in here as a symbol for all the other notebooks I’ve had and written in. and also because my brother bought me a Moleskine a while back and since then I’m hooked on them. Writing since I came to Korea has been a big part of my life. Before that it was always just a notion that it was something I could be good at, but when I arrived I finally found out that I could be if I tried. Notebooks were always bought, and I’ll regularly enjoy walking around the pen and notebook section of a stationary shop more than many other men. Having a computer has taken away a lot of the need to buy so many notebooks, but still I treat myself. Moleskine, especially the neat pocket sized A6 (maybe) sized ones with the soft coverr are ideal for my needs. I can quickly put it in my pocket if I’m running out the door just in case I find myself at a loose end. More often than not though I end up doing something else (I have an iPhone so inevitably I’m fucking around on this). Often, it’s only when I don’t bring one do I find the need to write something…
- My computer:
My computer is around four, possibly five years old. It’s a fujitsu model but don’t ask for the exact one because I don’t know it. I could probably look, but that would take away from the fact that this bad boy is just my fujitsu model. It’s the only computer I’ve ever owned and it has served me very well over the years. I wrote my masters disertation on this, several poems that got published, all the magazine articles I’ve ever had printed, and thousands of words on this blog. I’ve stored photographs from as far back as 2007, videos I rendered and put up onto youtube, and I’ve spent hours literally wasting my time looking at nothing important on the internet. Better still, I’ve bought presents, flight tickets, booked hotel rooms, checked all kinds of event schedules, organised Saint Patrick’s Day and the HBC Fest all with the power that this little engine of mine provides. Before I used to have to wait until I went to work, or find a PC room (in Korea), but after I bought this for a massive 1.1 million won (a huge price at the time that I paid off with 12 monthly installments of 90,000 won) my life changed. I was better in touch, more inclined to write, more inclined to take photographs. Sure it’s just a piece of technology, but over the past five years my life would have been very different without it.
I suppose many people would write down that their camera is something that defines them. Maybe mine would be too, but I prefer to think of my life in the photographs I’ve taken throughout my life. I’d say I’ve taken thousands, the majority of which are from my time in Korea and the life which has grown around this important period, but I’ve always been into taking photographs. I’m a lazy photographer and I take photographs only for myself really, and for Herself also. I’ve spent several hundred Euro on a good camera, but I’ve never sat down and learned how to use it properly. I take photographs almost obsessively sometimes, often to the point that Herself shouts at me and tells me to stop taking pictures and hurry up. Having an iPhone takes the photograph taking to an even higher level. I’m hooked on Instagram (ID: conzieinkorea). Twitter doesn’t help this either. I put some photographs worth putting into an album on Flickr, but usually I just keep hundreds of photos at home and occasionally look back at them and wonder why I never do more with them. But yes, photographs, I’m mad about taking them regardless of what it is I use to do the taking.
- The Internet
I’m not sure if this can be construed as a positive or negative thing… Ever since I first logged on with the old dial up modem at home, pulling the cable across the kitchen floor and plugging to plug it in, I’ve been hooked. Remember chat rooms? I was there. What about Yahoo clubs? I had one (no one was in it, but I had one). Then came chain mails, and I was ridiculed to the point that people blocked my address(they later accepted me back). Then social networks; bebo, Myspace, Facebook, a pile of other little ones that I probably still have accounts on but I’ve forgotten, Linkedin, this beautiful manifestation of a blog, and now Twitter. Usually, I tend to obsess with the posting and interaction, and even more so when there’s a lack of interaction. On top of that, I’ve online profiles with countless numbers of websites from stumbleupon and lastfm, to accounts with Amazon, Gmarket, and Ryanair. These are just the big ones that I know about. There are probably more. If anyone ever hacks one of the two passwords I use, them I’m in all sorts of trouble. Anyway, the internet, I’m all over the bloody thing, and yes I’ll be all over it for a long time yet, even if I never actually do anything worthwhile on it. I’m not even sure that I can claim the internet is useful… Did I mention I’m planning a Phd on the effects of the internet on writing?
- My masters degree
Sure it goes without saying something like that is valuable, but why am I putting it in here? Well, for starters it got me my current job. But when have I ever been one to go on about the merits and importance of worthwhile and gainful employment? What this object has done for me, more than anything, is that it has given me the confidence and the resources to take a more direct path, both as a writer and a reader. The both are intrinsically tied together. These are the two things that I see as most important for myself progressing in the future, and this year long period of study equipped me without enough knowledge about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the written word for a long time to come. I never did it to become a better teacher, and I never did it to get a better job (maybe these were consequences that I expected). I spent a long time thinking about what to do; should I take an arts based course or should I do something practical, like education. In the end I think I made the right decision.
- The Stone Roses recorded onto an old BASF tape
I wrote about this before, that time when I good friend of mine gave me a tape with The Stone Roses songs on it. It made me look away from heavy metal and other bad choices in music enjoyment. I even went on to be a bit of a music know-it-all for a while, unfortunately South Korea ruined any chance of me ever having a good back catalogue of music knowledge. That being said, it inspired me on to greater things, like organising the HBC Fest, and getting involved with the Irish Association of Korea, which I’m now the chairman of. Still, since that day when I was a teenager I’ve listened to, and enjoyed so much more music with much more ability to actually recognise quality. I don’t compare them all to The Stone Roses, just some. This has made my life happier.
- A newspaper clipping from The Irish Times that I stuck on wardrobe when I was in my early twenties
I came across this quotation taking up almost a full page of the Irish Times weekly music and culture supplement, The Ticket. It was by some trumpet player I’d never heard of before, and to be honest I can’t even remember who the guy is now. Maybe I should check someday. I cut out the piece of the newspaper and pinned it on my wardrobe in my room. It’s all really vague right now, and a little embarrassing that I’m writing about something I can’t really refer to that well, but it’s still there, still on my wardrobe, and the man’s message is still in my head. That quote by that person is how I try to think about how I should go about living my life today. I know what it says, but I can’t quote it here because I can’t remember exactly what it says. Basically be yourself, but also don’t let anyone else stop you being yourself. Regardless of what it says, it’s mine and that’s what matters to me. Other words may matter to someone else. I suppose you could call it a personal motto, but I’d be wary of labelling it that way…
- My Wedding Ring
This simple white gold ring with a JW and COR roughly inscribed inside is the symbol of all that is good in my life. I reckon that if it weren’t for this small object, I wouldn’t be anything close to the person I am today. I would hasten to say, and Herself would kill me if she heard me say it, that this ring (and more importantly and obviously the marriage it symbolises) is my life. I saved this for last for a reason; it’s the most personal but also the most important thing about me. I won’t go on into long tracts of text about why Herself is the most important thing to ever come into my life, and the fact that her becoming part of my life has been the most significant and life changing event I’ve experienced, ever, ever, ever. All you need to know is that she is, and that I would throw away everything I mentioned above if it meant that she would be with me for as long as I am alive. But you know, I can say that kind of confidently because I know she would never throw any of these things of mine away, because these are what make me the the man she loves equally (well, maybe except for the internet).