[This series is a play on ‘writer’s block’.]
Sometime May 2015
Middle of the Andaman Sea
If you want to witness how fickle life can be, find yourself in the middle of an ocean on a bright, clear day when the sky looks so blue you don’t know where the sea and the sky begins and ends.
More than a year ago, I was laughing with friends on a tour boat with a bunch of other strangers while a cacophony of world languages flew over my head. One moment, everything was smooth sailing. The next moment, the boat was lurching against dark giant waves that threatened to topple the boat over. It was only then I noticed that the blue sky was gone and has been replaced by very dark clouds, the type I thought was only possible in movies through CGI.
We have sailed right into a storm.
The boat’s captain has killed the engine and the cheery local guide who has just been performing a one-woman comedy act has turned solemn. As the boat swayed against the rough seas and giant raindrops pelted on us, I clutched my friends’ hands and the first thing that crossed my mind was ~ damn, I don’t know how to swim; I should have taken my swimming lessons seriously then.
Regrets, are those the first thing that cross your mind when you’re faced with death? Or is it the things that you haven’t done yet?
“Shit, I don’t want to die single,” my friend to my left said.
“I don’t want to die at the bottom of the sea,” my friend to my right, who also can’t swim, quipped.
“I still want to watch my OTP in Baeksang,” I blurted out.
My friends looked at me, their faces crossing from worried to gobsmacked before muttering “a fangirl till the end.”
We tried to joke around to ease the tension but even the Portuguese guys who were so rowdy earlier were now huddled shivering under their giant beach towels already soaked from the heavy rain.
Around us, it was just darkness even if it was still the middle of the afternoon. I did not know where the sea and the sky ended and began. And I realized, we really are helpless against nature’s wrath.
So what else to do but to let the storm pass.
Just like in life.
The past year has indeed been stormy in my fandom, though there were sunny spots too; and I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that 99.9% of my fangirl life is devoted to a group whose name when translated to English means…storm. Because truth be told, that side of my fangirl life has seldom given me heartaches and headaches, except when it comes to buying concert tickets and first press CDs and DVDs.
It’s ironic that what constitutes 0.1% of my fangirl life is the one that has been a rollercoaster journey. But on the other hand, it has given me an interesting perspective and that is why I am even able to write this post.
Being on the Korean side of things has given me a true taste of what it’s like to be a fan. To be passionate and proactive, and to engage yourself in the fandom. Unfortunately, what is its interesting side is also its infuriating side. It’s been 70 years since the second world war but in Korean fandoms, it’s a different war every day. And one does not need to watch Korean dramas because all the melo that you need is right here, including the makjang.
It has been one big learning experience, an educational journey that took me through not only music and oppars and OTPs, but through dramas and fanwars, even finding myself the target of harassment at some point. And I learned in the process that it comes with the territory, you just have to learn to roll with it or walk away.
Then there are the scandals. The past weeks have seen scandals one after the other, from sex to stocks, questioning morality or ethics, testing characters, loyalty and fandoms. I’ve seen fangirl friends go through storms because their “bias” (another K-ent term that I cannot and will not come to terms with) is featured in the scandal of the day or week or month, or even year, and it did make me wonder, when will it be my turn?
Because as they say, you will never know how it feels until it happens to you.
Not that I was expecting, wishing or waiting for it to happen, who wants to wake up to a scandal anyway? I’ve had more than enough share of it in my entire fangirl life that I don’t want to go through it again and again.
Believe me, I know how it feels to just want to curl up in a fetal position in bed and hope for things to go away, and it’s not even for your own problems. I get it when artistes say “sorry for making you worry” though it used to puzzle me why they should apologise.
Because that’s the thing. These artistes that we
worship like are human just like the rest of us. No matter how high a pedestal we put them on and treat them as gods and goddesses to our ordinary mortality, they are not perfect and are bound to commit mistakes and disappoint us.
A friend refuses to interview artistes she likes because she is scared of being disappointed. I, on the other hand, have realized that, as the saying goes, stars shine brighter when seen from afar. And to add to that, stars shine longer when you let them remain a mystery, not trying to know everything about them, because truth be told–assume all you want, delulu all you want–unless you are family, you will never know, not even your so-called “sources”.
Because you don’t know oppar (or unnie), and they don’t know you either.
We also shouldn’t forget that it’s their life, not ours, and that they are not six years old who do not know what they’re doing and we have to take the cudgel for them. That even if we buy their CDs in bulk or give them the most expensive or customized gifts, or watch every bloody concert they have or follow them everywhere, it does not give us the right to live their lives for them or fight their battles on their behalf. Because see, we also have our own life to live and battles to fight.
At the end of the day, being a fangirl should be just one aspect of our lives, just like how we compartmentalize, say, the stuff inside our fridge or in our closet. If it takes up your whole life, then something is wrong somewhere and perhaps you need to see a shrink. For me, it’s part of the work-life balance, and if it tilts and ruins the balance, then take it out.
The past year has taught me to always ask: Is this important? Will this still be important a year from now?
As the fox said to the Little Prince: “It is the time you have wasted on your rose that makes your rose so important.”
Hindsight is always 20/20 and only time will prove the truth. And a year on, so many things that I thought were important have ceased to even matter and exist. Yet, those that I’ve always considered important–friends, faith, music, laughter, rainbows, heartstrings–are still here.
In dramas, this is what we call character development.
And yes, fangirl life, just like life in general, is fickle. One moment you’re spazzing, the next moment you’re menboong.
But always remember, the storm shall pass.
This is what we call plot development.
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