See this post for an explanation. And here are some things I love beginning with E…

1. Eeyore.

“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning,” he said. “Which I doubt,” said he.

“Why, what’s the matter?”

“Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”

“Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.

“Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”

Not only is Eeyore my favourite Winnie the Pooh character, and not only is he drop dead gorgeous (What? He is.), but he’s a wise old sod, and the sort anguished, tormented soul that I am for some reason particularly drawn to in real life. Sad people don’t make me happy, but they bring out something in me that wants to take care of them, love them back to themselves, take the pain away even when it’s obviously impossible. I think that’s why I’ve loved Eeyore since I was a little girl reading about his missing tail for the first time:

“That Accounts for a Good Deal,” said Eeyore gloomily. “It Explains Everything. No Wonder.”

“You must have left it somewhere,” said Winnie the Pooh.

“Somebody must have taken it,” said Eeyore.

“How Like Them,” he added, after a long silence.

Poor Eeyore! My 8-year-old heart was broken on his behalf, and therefore I went on to spend much of my childhood feeling sorry for a fictional toy donkey. Which really tells you quite a lot about the person I am today, and all the donkeys I fall for.

2. English.

The longer I spend in parts of the world where English isn’t the primary language, the more grateful I feel to have been born and raised somewhere where it is. Only through travel have I realised what a complex language it is, and how insanely difficult it is to learn. And yet learn it you must, if you want to travel outside of your own country. Being a native English speaker cuts out a lot of hard work! Oh, and plus, it’s a wonderful language, full of quirks and eccentricities. Much like myself. ;)

3. Eastern Europe

Well, Europe in general, I suppose, but there’s something about the East. I really, truly loved Estonia, and I’m now at the point where I know I can go back without being haunted by memories of what went before. Tallinn is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life.

But as well as all the old, pastel-coloured buildings and cobbled streets that characterise the Baltic states in my mind, there’s so much more. It’s the history, I think. The grey Soviet architecture and monuments that remain amongst the picturesque towers and turrets. The intermingling of the cultures and languages of the now independent nations with those of Russia. The struggles and sadness of the past remembered in the determination and progress of the present. I will probably live in Eastern Europe again, if only to indulge my strange fascination with Soviet history once more.

Hails and Stalin in Tallinn

4. Eggs

Boiled, the yolk still runny, with hot buttered toast, for the perfect breakfast. Fried, served atop a plate of kimchi bokkeumbap, the yolk breaking and seeping through the rice in a delicious gooey mess. Scrambled, for the ultimate hangover food. Hard-boiled and dipped in a little salt at a picnic. Poached or Benedict, with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Stuffed/deviled at a buffet table, the first thing I’ll go for.

I love eggs so much that I had to stop writing at this point and go make deviled eggs at 11pm. 

5. Emotional reunions

Not my own… I’m not very good at them. But one of the things that makes spending time in airports more bearable for me is watching people come and go. The loved ones they can’t bear to say goodbye to. The frantic searching of the crowd at arrivals until they see the one face that matters to them, and break into a run. The hugs, the tears, the kisses. The stories I write in my head to explain the brief moments I witness before the characters are lost in a sea of faces. The goodbyes provide much better material for me as a writer… but I friggin’ hate goodbyes, so it’s the reunions that bring me the most pleasure.

6. Equality

Something has been bugging me lately, and it’s getting to the point where I’m either going to have to accept it as a cultural difference, or accept that I can’t accept it, and move on. I’ve been aware since I first got here that women don’t have quite the same status as in the West. I always took equality for granted, and can’t think of a single incident in my life where I lost out or received ‘unfair’ treatment simply because I’m female – at least, not that I was aware of. In Korea, women appear to have equal rights, and no one could deny that there are plenty of successful, independent women here, but it doesn’t quite filter down to the core of society. If a woman pays the taxi driver, for example, he will often ignore her outstretched hand and pass the change to a male passenger instead. In restaurants, I’ve asked questions about the menu, only to have the waiter turn to look at Irish Friend One as he replies.

We mostly laugh it off, of course. That’s just the way they are, here. We joke about it. Why are you asking me? I’m just a woman, what would I know?! What I do find hugely upsetting, though, is the way it plays out in my workplace. My male colleague (the only male teacher in the school) arrived when I had already been here for a year and a half. Within a few weeks, he was the golden boy. He practically has a fan club, and I struggle to keep my head held high and know that I am still valuable in my own way. The appreciation shown to me for the work I do and the hours I put in is minimal at best, but I try to remind myself that it comes in a different form – being given more responsibilities, being  trusted with designing my own curriculum, being asked for my input and advice. I know I’m doing a good job, and I know my employers see it. But the one who gets all the recognition and praise, and who is always the first to receive information (and has recently been delegating work to me as if he is now my superior – which you couldn’t really blame him for thinking), is my male colleague, who has been here for a third of the time that I have. It makes me want to scream “It’s not fairrrrrrrrr!!!” but I tend to just kick things occasionally, when it all gets to be too much, and then get on quietly with doing my job. For that is the Korean way… if you’re a woman.

7. Evenings

Mornings are really the bane of my existence, and I would have them banned if I could. They make me angry with the world, and I want to kill everyone when my alarm goes off. There’s a wee mobile shop thing that goes around our neighbourhood approximately 2 minutes after my alarm sounds (for the first of many times between hitting snooze), every single day. It plays a voice recording in a robotic and distorted-sounding man’s voice, through an echoing megaphone. Blah-blah-blah it goes. Then: Odeng. Ddeokbokki. Kongnamul. The only three words I can pick out. Over, and over, and over. Every. Fecking. Morning. I do not know the man who recorded this spiel, nor the person who drives the van past my window at 2mph, nor the one who cooks the foods on sale.  It does not matter. I want them all dead.

Evenings, though, are wonderful things. The sun setting, the city lighting up in a sea of neon, the people heading out for dinner, the steady drone of crickets outside my window. Evenings are when I have achieved things with my day, and am ready to wind down and relax. Evenings are for cooking, writing, reading, relaxing, thinking, talking to friends, savouring a cocktail or a nice meal. Evening is my time, and it kicks morning’s ass!

8. Elton John

I can’t help it, I am a slave to Elton’s ballads. It may be that they are just so much fun to sing, either alone as I do the housework (because I never, never grab a hairbrush as a microphone and strut around the apartment like a pop star), or at an actual karaoke night. Your Song, Sacrifice, I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues, Daniel… all much-repeated favourite karaoke songs of mine. Thank you, Elton. I love you.



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