Anti-productive

My horoscope told me today yesterday (this post has idled somewhat), “Use your time productively” and I told it right back, “Fuck you, I’ll use my time however I damn well please.” Then I stuffed my face with cheese and turned on my television which, due to indecision paralysis, ended up playing a silent screensaver for the next two hours while I browsed Youtube on my phone.

I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one in this mood.

One of the occupational hazards of working for so long in the K-drama space is that watching shows becomes work. I am aware at how privileged that sounds and is, but it doesn’t prevent me from occasionally envying everyone for whom entertainment is purely entertainment and in no way connected to work or obligation. For me, it is work that I enjoy very much, but very much work. Much of the time, this causes a gentle, ever-present low-key stress that keeps me motivated to stay abreast of content as it comes out, knowing that the minute I take a break is the minute everything begins to build up into a snowball of stress that grows bigger with every unwatched episode until it threatens to roll down the metaphorical hill of my procrastination and smother me with its weight. I prefer the gentle, low-key stress. It is manageable, mostly.

Right now, though, I’m indulging in a tiny rebellion. Anything that smells even slightly of productivity feels like a burden; I am resisting on some sort of principle that rejects the desire to keep up appearances of normalcy. I am putting in the effort to remain functioning and no more, thank you very much. Finally, my sloth has power.

I’ll take my chances with the avalanche this time.

Winter weather

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is about a drama that draws me (and more broadly, us) into its orbit. Not the concrete details of headlining talent, or writing pedigree, or even plot, but that variable element that might speak to you one day but for no discernible reason lacks zest on another. The kind of thing that makes you unexpectedly willing to immerse yourself in a 50-episode period drama when normally you’re strictly a 16-episode rom-com type of person. Or how there might be a drama that’s right up your alley of tropes and setup and genre that you’d normally be itching to watch, but somehow you can’t bring yourself to push play on today. Or how you might get sucked into a drama that under “normal” (other, different, somehow-not-in-keeping-with-your-weird-inclination-today) circumstances would seem so dull, so uninspired, so not your cup of tea — but today it somehow speaks to your heart and makes you feel a little warmer in the world.

Not unrelatedly (I am queen of segues), I liked Chocolate (it was straightforward, but sweet). I struggled to fully appreciate Crash Landing on You (fun, but insubstantial — Hyun Bin was beautiful, but that goes without saying). I initially bypassed Extraordinary You when it aired live, but am burning through the episodes this week (lots of interesting thought-provoking nuggets of existentialism buried under a shiny sugar coating). I find myself enjoying Hyena, despite all the lawyering (at least they’re sexy lawyers?). I got bored of predictable Itaewon Class (haven’t I seen parts of this so many times before?). And I am deeply enthralled by the spare, wintry, fraught, everything-is-spoken-in-the-unspoken-in-between-moments tension of When the Weather Is Fine (aka I’ll Find You When the Weather Is Nice).

I’d like to think I’d appreciate the quiet intimacy of When the Weather Is Fine no matter the circumstance given its introspective writing and earnest character moments, but I don’t know if I can give my fickle taste-meter that much credit. Maybe in a different scenario I’d find it too slow, or frustratingly withholding. I can see a parallel world where I thought to myself, “Oh, another Park Min-young drama, I should check it out” and never followed up because I was occupied with the more accessible, immediate feels of Hi Bye Mama (so simultaneously heartwearming and tear-inducing). Maybe it was more luck than choice that made me start this show, and an unluckier me would have had to go without.

But whatever the case, in the here and now, everything about When the Weather Is Fine feels absolutely perfect. It’s sparse in the right way. Tempered just so. Emotionally elusive while dropping little hints of gratification in just the right balance. Melancholy with just enough sweetness to stave off bitterness. It’s not so closed off as to be emotionally shuttered, but is withdrawn in a way that echoes the hurt souls of Park Min-young and Seo Kang-joon, who bring to mind the kind of skin that has scarred over from a lengthy abrasion, dulling sensation to protect the tenderness underneath.

It’s because it’s partially closed off that I get so much vicarious thrill out of minor exchanges, which is good since a more impatient me would hate that sometimes (or always) we don’t get the dramatic, endorphin-producing version of a scene with the grand gesture or big plot movement. Instead we’re served the muted version, which feels rather like drinking a soda after the cap has been loosened and caused the bubbles to die down till they barely tickle at all. It shouldn’t seem appealing, but in the undramatic version the smallest progress feels like a victory. Each tiny drop of connection that the show gives us has me leaning in for just a tiny drop more, and every time an episode ends I wail that it’s over and I’ll have to sit patiently for the next dose of soothing balm. I’m pretty sure I’ve mixed my metaphors, but you get the point.

I must be in a wintry frame of mind, not quite ready for big demonstrative acts of emotion, but craving small doses of comfort. The world is nonsensical now, and I don’t want to process too much. Just a little. Bit by bit. Maybe I’ll be ready for more when the weather is nice.

(I JUST RUINED A NICE MOMENT WITH LAME WORDPLAY. I KNEW IT WAS HAPPENING AND I COULDN’T STOP MYSELF. I ONLY HAVE MYSELF TO BLAME.)

And I’m in—

Phew, and it only took numerous attempts at blindly guessing my password and getting locked out for a spell (a process that quickly went from “What was my password again?” to “What WOULD I have picked as my password, if I were eight years in the past?” — a strangely existential exercise) to find my way back inside this neglected old space. I’ve missed you, old blog! Even if you’re full of cobwebs and musty corners and a very strange new interface I can barely navigate because I have no idea how WordPress has updated (needlessly, in my opinion) itself. Even if (or perhaps even because?) blogs are a relic of a bygone era. And to think, this is where everything began. *nostalgic tears and snot*

The B-side

This blog has no concept. It used to have a concept, and then the concept grew up, got a job, and moved out, leaving this blog with empty nest syndrome. So it just sits here. I could get existential about it, but it’s too early in the morning for that.

(An aside: It is nice to be able to indulge design changes on a whim. You change one little thing on DB — okay, maybe a lot of little things — and mass freakout ensues. But you know, some days you just want to use a serif font without having to spend weeks deciding on WHICH serif font I want to be saddled with forever. It’s paralyzing, facing decisions like that. I want to date my serifs, not marry them, and sometimes dabble with sans serifs. Um, this metaphor is getting away from me, as they so often do. Also, it’s early.)

Anyway. I’m getting to a point. (I think. It’s hard to tell sometimes.)

Right, the B-side. As in, the part where I get to ramble without purpose and gaze at navel fuzz and only talk about The Main Site in vaguely veiled references. Like how I passed out from recap fatigue last night (blogging: deceivingly exhausting!) and had to get up at my metaphorical brink of dawn this morning (which is, like, three hours later than real dawn) to write a post about Kim Soo-hyun and aliens. I realize this is not early for most people, but after about your 18th straight night recapping into the wee hours, all sense of time and space starts to blur, much as it would in a Joseon-era fusion sageuk about aliens. Hey, if you have to drag yourself up at ungodly hours, at least the reason should be entertaining.

Also, Kim Soo-hyun should really play an alien. He has that vaguely alien-hotness chiseled appeal. Like someone else I could mention. Ahem.

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Look what I got

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Aww, this is the sweetest thing ever. Much love and thanks to Dramabeans reader Kaila, who sent me this care package in the mail. Made my day. The Answer Me, 1997 decorations! The CNBlue face masks! (I can’t believe they have face masks.) The “Stylish in Seoul” Stila eyeshadow-blush palette! In addition to the contents, everything was very carefully and thoughtfully wrapped and packaged (glittery hearts, pink bubble wrap, coordinating card and tissue paper) with a very sweet note.

Thank you again to Kaila, both for the wonderfully thoughtful gifts and for coming to the DB meetup last month to hang out with us. Hope you had fun and enjoyed meeting the other Beanies!

Speaking of the meetup, we did get some pretty cool gifts there as well, from a Song Seung-heon hat (seriously) to a Song Seung-heon pen (which I carry in my purse) to hand-crocheted bracelets. I had no idea what to expect going into the meetup — we were just hoping it wouldn’t be the DB crew drinking in a sad little corner (though admittedly if you get us all drinking, chances are we won’t be sad about it) — so it was a pleasant surprise to meet such a great big welcoming group of folks. We’ve gotta do that again someday.

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