Tag Archive | The Queen’s Code

K-drama Review: Because This Is My First Life

This will be more a review of the second half of this sweet contemplation on couples in their thirties trying to adjust to the work, social, and romance demands that come with being an adult. For my thoughts on the first part, please see Winter’s Last Hurrah. Because This Is My First Life stars Lee Min Ki (Shut Up Flower Boy Band) and the awesome Jung So Min (The Smile Has Left Your Eyes). The writing of this series is good, which is always a helpful thing when one of the characters is a writer, too. Somehow, the show managed to hit the right combination of sentimentality, comedy, and drama.

Would you enter a contract marriage? In America, living together while not being married is pretty commonplace, so it’s more difficult to imagine that people would find it necessary to do a contract marriage unless some huge amount of money was involved or some high stakes circumstances. South Korea’s a bit more conservative and traditional still, so the plot works in this show and they highlight especially the family pressure on the two: Living as landlord and tenant like they want to do would not be at all acceptable to their families.

Would I enter into a contract marriage? As a forty-something-year-old single lady, spinster if we were in Jane Austen’s world, the thought of it is sometimes tempting. Dating has never really been a fun thought for me, though romance and marriage always have been. And my family is conservative Christian, so living together wouldn’t be acceptable, for me or for them. I just couldn’t carry on the charade. And they’d be so disappointed with the lie and really disappointed that there was no love, not to mention being a huge diss on the institution of marriage itself. We often joke about marriage being just a contract, but it’s not, it’s absolutely not. It’s a commitment unlike any other, which is why so many cohabitate instead of taking the plunge. Jumping with both feet in takes real courage, and I don’t get writers like Agatha Christie, for example, in which her characters get married after a couple of weeks. It boggles the mind. Besides, what would I have to offer in a contract marriage: Money? Nope. Carnal favors? Yikes. No, marriage for me would have to be about love, but it is hard sometimes. I have four weddings to go to this spring and summer and they are all for beautiful young women in love and loved, and it seems something, well, only for the young. It seems something that’s passed me by, or I’ve passed it by. Did I mention it’s going to be a difficult season?

Back to the review: I last watched, I think, episode six, when writing the first half review, and the writers had just introduced a corny love triangle. I am happy to report that the love triangle really isn’t one, merely a vehicle to test the main characters’ contract–is it really that, or is their marriage more a real marriage than they want to acknowledge? Of course it’s the latter. Both have already given each other their hearts by this time, and there’s no going back. The biggest problem they have, is really the Korean traditions of one having to help one’s in-laws for certain events. We have a little bit of this in America, but it’s not this pressure of making one person do all the work for something just because they are the new daughter-in-law.

On the night they first met, Jung So Min’s character, Ji Ho, kissed Lee Min Ki’s Se Hee out of the blue because she’d never kissed anyone before and wanted to have a first kiss. Later on, when he’s acknowledging how into her he is, he scoffs, “That wasn’t a kiss, that was a peck, a touching of lips at most,” and shows her what real kiss is. It was very swoon worthy and had me thinking of Crocodile Dundee: “That’s not a knife, this is a knife.” 🙂 Se Hee is so hilariously robotic and analytic, yet he is sweet and alluring as a man in love, and probably more dangerous, too. His goal is simply to not be a hindrance to Ji Ho. If that’s not romantic, I don’t know what is. Like I said before, there was no way she would not fall for him. He’s offering her safety, stability, security, and love that allows her to be who she is instead of asking her to become a pretzel.

More on the pretzel thing: A few posts ago, I talked about Alison Armstrong, her Keys to the Kingdom and The Queen’s Code. Because she’s truly curious, Armstrong has a learned a lot about men, women, and their differences. She often gives the advice: Don’t go for the people you’re super physically attracted to. It will never work. Why? You can’t be yourself. You won’t be yourself, you will constantly be trying to be someone else that you think will impress them. And you won’t be able to turn that off. It’s true, when you think about it. Mostly, I hate all exercise except walking and dancing, and I have professed a profound interest and love in running all to impress a guy that would have never have been the right one for, and who would have never been right for me. I know now, I would have exhausted myself, turning myself into a pretzel for him and still wouldn’t have felt good enough. Armstrong says it best: The people you’re most attracted to, don’t really like you, mostly because they’ve never met you and never will. The people who are attracted to you, but you’re not so physically into them, they’ve actually met you and know you quite well, which is why they like you so much. She says if you’re not having any luck in romance, to give those people a chance. Se Hee’s kind of that man that’s not super attractive, mostly due to his manner, but for the woman he loves–and the love probably came a lot sooner that he thinks it did–he is gold. He is the perfect one for her. With him, she is loved for who she is and she doesn’t have to be somebody else to please him.

The two of them do end up happy, though it takes a mild separation for them to get there. They first have to acknowledge just how much they’ve been dissing marriage and each other, as a whole, but they do end up getting married for real, but keep their “contract” part for fun. And that is great, because, that kind of communication about the relationship is vital to keep it going. They assess where they are, what their expectations are of each other, etc. It’s actually very romantic. As for the other couples, they, too, end up happy, but the women especially have to put aside timelines and expectations. There’s no year in life in which you absolutely have to be married by or have a baby by. Some people have families under the most dire of circumstances and thrive; for others, not even a six-figure salary and a mansion is enough. The question is, what do you want? Do you want marriage? Is it something you can plan for or do you just want to jump in with both feet?

Babies are trickier. In our whole march on the feminism road, we often forget that women’s bodies are built to have babies when their young. Instead it’s encourage in their 30s or even 40s and more as an afterthought after they’ve accomplished career goals or other kinds of goals. As a woman whose time is running out, whose biological clock is ticking: Don’t wait. Your body will drive you crazy wanting to make a baby, and failing the ability to do that, you will want to mother and take care of everyone–the whole world!–with comedic, yet, decidedly disastrous results. All I’m saying is if you’re in your twenties now, I can say as a forty-one year old, you might someday regret that you didn’t have children sooner, and this is a choice that cannot be corrected. There’s no cure. You could have a baby in your forties, but you would every day realize how much easier it would be if your body was younger. Am I being too depressing? I don’t mean to be, it’s just as a person ages, you start to look back on your life and see all the missed chances. The times where if you’d just taken the time to stop, or given that person a chance, that maybe now, you might be so happy in love and family. And I expect it only the gets worse the older one gets. I don’t see it as anything to be depressed over, just contemplating the new perspectives, the new information. Because this is my first life. As Se Hee says, this is all our first lives. We’ve never done this before, and of course we will make mistakes.

Honestly, I am glad to be a Christian where we only have one life to live. If I could go back and relive my life, not only would I likely make the exact same mistakes, but I’d probably make even worse mistakes and would always have the memory of how the first life went a lot better when I couldn’t anticipate what was coming. Like a time traveler who keeps going back to save the life of the woman he loves, but he can never do it. She was always supposed to die. You were always supposed to be as you are now and with who you are with now. Reliving life won’t make you a cooler more sexy person. You might win at sports gambling, but if you didn’t have money in your first life, in your second you probably wouldn’t be able to hang on to it. This first and only life is precious, every second. And a commitment like marriage should be honored, not brushed off as merely a business contract. If it’s a contract, it’s one of the heart, and hearts shouldn’t be navigated idly. Who can win another’s heart? It’s just given, isn’t it? In this, our first lives, we should appreciate that.

The Keys to the Kingdom: book review

Happy 2019, everyone! I think it’s going to be a great year! Ok, I think that about every year, but every year does turn out to be great in its own ways. Even the hard years–and 2018 was a very hard year for me–have their own greatness. Difficult times challenge us and help us learn so much about ourselves–and, boy, did I learn a lot!

One of the biggest things I have learned in 2019 so far is that if I’m not ready to hear something or learn something or really see something, I won’t. It’s quite literally, impossible. 2018 was a struggle because I finally admitted to myself just how bad I was at relationships, especially romantic ones. This is hard to admit because–and maybe it’s a woman thing–but I also thought “there’s no way I can change. It would be too difficult and I just am who I am.”

It’s funny, though, how God works. We say these things to ourselves and then He puts a person or people in our way as if to say, “You can’t change for the better? You can’t do it? Not even for this person?” It’s a friendly test, if you will. So that’s what happened to me and why I was in such distress. You meet a person that is so special that you want to change for them. You would do anything for them, but you just don’t know how to begin, and then your brain becomes open to new information, like: “Am I actually seeing things or people as they are? If not, that means I may be the problem.” But now that thought isn’t so scary because perspective is something we can change, totally change.

This past weekend I read two books. (Don’t be too shocked, they’re not very long and I read quickly when I’m interested). I often enjoy reading comments on blog and articles on the internet. People often share video links, music, and books that inspired them. Well, someone mentioned this amazing book about women understanding men called Keys to the Kingdom by Alison Armstrong. Something about the enthusiasm of the commenter nudged me to give it a chance.

Keys to the Kingdom is primarily written for women, but I think men can get a lot out of it, too. With most self-help or relationship advice books, the information is written in a nonfiction, rather bland way. Although we may agree with what the writer is saying, we often struggle in how to apply that in real life. This book (and its sequel, The Queen’s Code) are different. While they are still instruction manuals, they are told completely in story format, with somewhat cringey dialogue at times and goofy people to boot. At first, I was irritated–“just give me the information, already!”–but then I started reading, and I couldn’t put it down for two reasons:

  • 1) Much of the information resonated as being true about both men and women. It seemed so true that I was surprised I didn’t know it already–but the reason I didn’t know or haven’t known was because I wasn’t ready to see it, to register it, and to act on it.
  • 2) I love stories. They are both the joy of my life and the bane of my existence. If I get obsessed with a story I often lose track of everything and everyone else. Want to win my heart? Tell me awesome stories! (Yikes, that’s scary to learn about oneself, right?) By the second chapter I realized that I was understanding the information and thinking how it applied to real life because it was given to me in a story. A list of bullet points, or notes like were listed at the end of each lesson really did nothing for me, as I was still focused on the story and eager to read what happens next.

The biggest takeaway of the story for me was that as women we are continually not giving men the “benefit of the doubt,” that is, we automatically assume the worst about them and their intentions instead of the best. In fact, we probably do this a lot with women, too, and people in general. Our modern society has a great disdain for the two sexes, but especially for men. The fight for more equality of opportunities for women is and has often been accomplished by denigrating and pushing men down. We all know this, but it’s quite different to finally see it in action, especially if you’re suddenly given new information about men, what they think, how they act, and what their intentions towards women truly are. Oh, also women really suck at communication. We are so wordy yet don’t say the important things, like what we need, or what we need even looks like.

Well, I don’t want to give too many details of either book as it’s much more fun to discover the information for yourself, but I recommend reading Keys to the Kingdom first and then The Queen’s Code. Although they can be read separately or out of order, you won’t get the full “story.” I can tell you these books made me laugh and cry, and the crying came mostly because: They give women hope. Men, too, but mostly women. Men don’t have to be women and women don’t have to be men and we can still be partners in life. It’s a great, breathtaking, life-altering thing. After reading Keys, the next day at church I was glowing and grinning from ear to ear. I felt different and I wanted to tell all the women I know to read this book. And I can tell you people noticed and some even asked what was up. It’s amazing what hope does to the soul.

As a Christian, one of the most exciting things I took away from the books were that God said He created man in his “own image.” After reading all the positive, amazing things about men, it struck me that God is this way, too. And in the same way that women often misunderstand men or think the worst of them, this is how we, too, often misunderstand and think the worst of God. “Life-changing” doesn’t even begin to adequately describe the difference. It a time when we are now quite literally trying to turn men into women and women into men, these books and ideas are truly revolutionary. What a great gift it can be to see people as they truly are. How exciting life can be when we really see and get people. What an impact we can have on another’s life and also appreciate and be thankful for their impact on our lives.

In her work, Alison Armstrong has tapped into something wonderful. You can tell by how enthusiastic the reviews for her books are that they resonate with women in a way other books of this topic do not and have not. The jaw dropping thing is that Armstrong herself was once the harshest of man haters and transformed into one of their biggest advocates, truly loving and understanding men in a way few other women bother to do. Armstrong has a few of her talks on Youtube, and I highly recommend watching them if you can, especially about asking for what you need. She says she feels she would cry out this information from the street corners if that was the only way to tell people. When people feel like that, I think they have truly tapped into the truth. Good news is something you automatically want to share with everyone around you.

Happy reading!