Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gothic Hipster

Should Americans Learn Foreign Languages? In my classes we’ve been doing a lot of debates, and i’ve become overly fond of being the devil’s advocate just so that there’s at long last some meaning in the debates. Whorishly pathetic reasoning sometimes. I suppose I and mine were like that when we first went through debate classes though... and we had a full semester to do it (and that was just high school). I won’t say that this is the same scenario. You can guess if you want ^_^ .(still... your guess may or may not be true. I’ll give no statistics at this time.) Should Americans learn foreign languages? I’ve got this splinter of a question working its way into my bones right now. Its kind of excruciating and I was hiding under three layers of covers last night as a juvenile comfort from the question I was asking and had already half-way answered. Actually... I think i’d 75% answered it and was mostly refusing to fully acknowledge my answer. It burns... like The Clap... in some not nice places (not quite the same place mind you). But enough of skirting, because I enjoy it plenty, but its bound to be frustrating as hell for anyone who’d actually go through the effort to read through this. There are those of us who are white as bread, and equally as devoid of origin. We are nothing like wheat, even though we’d like to be. Bleached and “refined” and then moulded into a shape that is pleasing to somebody with a nice fluffy texture. But we are not as wheat was. We dont have the same taste or value even. We do not nourish, no matter how hard we try, and healthy additives are just a joke. Why wouldn’t you just go with whole wheat to begin with? What is this crack-pot metaphor about actually ~ lets parable it down a notch. As Americans, we can ethnically be divided into about 3 groups (4 if you want to dig a bit more). 1) Advanced age Recent arrivals with a different mother tongue than English, 2) 2nd Generations or those who came young with a different mother tongue but through sweat and toil get to a stage where they are bi-lingual(+) in a way that would shake the foundations of the cosmos and, 3) white breads who have either some or no interest in language learning: the best of which get pretty good, but members of the 1st language (that is to say the members of the community of the foreign language that they studied) may still carry a divisive disdain for their language level and or efforts. (the fourth group would be the theoretical possibility of those who are distinctly from a different mother tongue, but become good enough to sneak into position #2 where the 1st language community doesn’t recognize much of a language difference. Dunno about these folks.) White bread though (“other” mother-tongue speakers... or the average American) may celebrate or despise their “refinement” and there is of course the whole spectrum in between. My predicament, and leukemia grade bone poisoning quandary is whether or not white-bread has any place even joining the bakery for competition in hope for sale. Does white bread want to go home and be consumed by the obese consumer with no palate? White bread wants to be enjoyed and appreciated for its own fullness too? I think white bread is afraid of being seen as having no fullness. {Maybe} it even goes so far as to say that white bread is afraid of having no fullness ~ and of the possibility of waking up to a reality where hope is the same thing as delusion. ---------- I went on top of my mountain today. I like to call it my mountain because there’s rocks on top. I don’t think it actually has to do very much with its actual height. I might very much enjoy going back to the North American West-Coast region and have my definition adjusted. I love it on that height because truth seems more truthful. The wind tears out of nowhere b/c its the highest thing close by and I could see the sun set before me and the moon was rising in near-fullness behind me... The White Face as Gollum would call it. Theres a bit (which i’ve actually yet to come-across in this re-read of the “trilogy”) where Gollum says: “They do not see what lies ahead when sun has failed and moon is dead.” and that is how I feel. It is no comfort to me. Neither is it the seal on my scroll of despair, b/c there is a suspicion that b/c I do not know.. there is in fact something to know. One of the moments of clarity I experienced while I was in my barren place was that i’ve become much more treacherously patient than I was a few years ago, but i’ve also become much more desperately polar than I was. (i’ve taken a liking to the words barren and desolate since before I went to Korea when I was flying over the north-pole in winter. Put that on your bucket list, its one of the most impacting things i’ve ever seen.) I say treacherously patient because I used to be so exasperated by a lack of calling, but I have been developing into this “place” where I have become more willing to wait until my potential matures into reality. The rough thing is that this “maturation” is coming as I am becoming more paranoid about my limitations and how much closer the ground my potential seems. This is not a comparison with my contemporaries. I am not quite so much concerned with what people around me have or are capable of doing. I’m disturbed by what could be done. If there are those who can and do have mastery over languages and cultures and are offering them to pharaoh, then what is it to keep me, the amateur, from making bricks?? And then there is Harriet Tubman--- Moses... Who not only defied pharaoh and the bricks he demanded, the structure he wanted to build and the laws that he would lay, and became one of the most heroic people of all time. She defied her position as a slave and managed to not only lead a gazillion slaves to freedom, but put a slack-ass would-be husband in her past, wrote her place in history and stamped her intricate sigil on the hearts of many... though far fewer acknowledge her than she actually deserved. Idiots... and petty interests... are what have put that woman in a lesser place than she deserves. Most (some) Americans know that Ms. Tubman led a large number of her people to freedom, but what many do not know is that she was so effective in scouting and espionage that she was put in charge of hundreds plus (ranging into the thousands range I believe... lacking sources at the moment) to do raids during the civil war... AND she died at the ripe old age of 93 from pneumonia. Few have her verve - even less who were dealt a shittier hand of cards. --------- One of the things that has been coming with me on this descent into age and morbid wisdom is a preoccupation with “bones”. There is a phrase in Chinese that I heard in my chinese version of Harry Potter that literally means to hate something to the bone. Now when I talk about my preoccupation, I am not always talking about hate. What I am talking about though is that more and more, questions seem to be shaking and questioning the foundation of what I am. More and more it is like my structure and my foundation are threatened ~ if not simply called into question (same thing). And I find that I am in fact a very fragile creature. One moment I feel like I can control the cosmos with my fingertips and the next, I’m blown over and shattered. I am a gothic hipster. I had a gloriously foul tuesday(my mid-week weekend) two or three weeks ago. I realized that I was a gothic hipster when I finally broke and went to Pizza Hut b/c I was craving crispy carbs (all they’ve got in this interpretation of chinese food is chewy carbs). Some yokel was goading his kid into saying hello to me and I was having none of it. So what did I do? like a refined, tactful North-American, I took out my ipod and made a minor show of putting in my ear buds and also took out my moleskin journal and designer pen. (this is where the genuinely interesting people say --- you hipster trash!) That nipped that notion in the bud right effectively. I ordered my pizza and ate it... and then payed for it... and then left. But in the process of sitting there and waiting for the thing to arrive so i’d have something to do with my mouth for once, I started writing exactly what was going through my head. I was feeling really base at the moment, so I wasn’t exactly thinking through things, but things just sort of “came.” I asked myself, “why do they have to stare at me like i’m some sort of animal in the zoo?” And before I even finished writing the sentence, it struck me: “Why do I assume that they have to stare at me like I’m an animal in the zoo?” ~Do I need validation so much that I am imagining gawking and (not at that moment... but in others) downright ill-will so that at least someone is focusing on me enough to give me ill will? I realized that im a total “gothic hipster”, because I am seeking for validation by being so un-known and misunderstood that I am envisioning scenarios where people are too boobish or boring to actually interact with me. Holy crap... I’m the theme of many a vengeful song by broken hearted girls. Dido sings one called “See you when you’re 40” Katy Perry “You’re so gay” (no judging!! : p) Well... the answer... as with many problems... is alcohol... eccentric prayer... and sleep. It may not BRING answers in a timely fashion... but it is at least an answer to the problem (otherwise known as a response.) --- So I suppose I should go full circle and answer my first question, at least in some capacity. Should American’s learn another language. Hell... if it fires your sun- absolutely. If you’re stuck too far in that corner of the room that you call life... YAH -- figure out there are more people in the room than you. You might like some of them. If your sense of meaning and self-worth is based on the your knowledge or capacity to learn (another/other) language(s) ... I don’t want to answer this one.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dalian and The Lorax

Beer-sickles may be the most entertaining thing all day. Maybe not the most fulfilling, but probably the most entertaining (but its only 2 o’clock so who knows whats around the river bend. Pocahontas maybe.) Yesterday I put several cans o’beer in the freezer because they were room temperature, and the little mini-fridge/freezer hadn’t been plugged in. This was around 3pm I proceeded to pass out like the suffering jet-lagger I am, and boopitie shoobop ~ twilight comes around and I realize i’ve doomed my sleep schedule. Gotta start making good habits while you can but... aaaah heck ~ toss the repercussions... im tired. One thing leads to another I wake up at 1:30am and I go through the night until the sun starts to come up again around 5:00 and then take a nap and wake up at 7:30. I finally realize that I should brave the freezer and see if all my cans-o-beer have exploded. What magic ~ not a one of them did. So I moved them to my fridge in the morning and went to climb this mountain/ steep hill thats on campus. its about a 10 minute jaunt to the top of it (past the heaps of peoples trash : / and the cellphone tower : / ... the Lorax would not be pleased im sure). At the top is one of the more breath-taking views of the open sea that i’ve seen in quite a while. I’ll get you all pictures the next time I go up and take my camera (might be a while... or might be very soon ~ the crux is me remembering to take the camera. If only I had an iphone eh?) So anyhow, after lunch I took one out ~ still yet unbusted and put it in my New Zealand cozy and flicked the top twice. The question going through my head with my finger on the tab (Chinese beer cans have the pull tabs by the way~ the oldschool ones that actually pull off the metal opening completely) ~the question was... when beer is frozen... what happens to the carbon dioxide. WELL! It didn’t bust so lets find out. SCHPLAT! some how this pressurized vessel managed a 360* splash zone from a small hole in the top. My glasses, my computer screen, the wall, the closet... we all got spritzed. Evidently its still got some spunk even when its been frozen. Also... alcohol and water freeze a different temperatures (water freezes first...). One of the quirks of a beer-cicle is that once you pop the fun dont stop... no seriously... you kind of have to steadily drink it or the ice will displace too much liquid and it’ll flow all over your desk as it melts. SEEEE?!?!! science is fun. --- But a little bit about the city I live in: Dalian The first person I met when I got to the airport and fetched my luggage (praise be, it was all there) was a super awesome guy named James. He’s from inner-mongolia, which pretty much instantly makes him famous in my eyes. All you have to do is say it and I’m all eyes and ears. And then he has to go and seal the deal by being interesting on his own. Shucks. We take a taxi through a kind of ghetto part of town that evidently sells funeral supply stuff. I asked if the next area was gonna be babies and then weddings: get the whole spectrum of life right?. (so darn clever of me) All the while there are 2-3 things ringing in my head: this is real China and they’re not trying to hide it, the air is clear and I can actually breathe (a step up from my previous city for sure), and finally ~ there is so much potential for this place to be a great new stomping grounds for me. We got me to my apartment which is on campus and “cozy.” now I just have to make it homey : / Where’s that box with all my flags that I mailed here...? I’ll have to ask someone about that on monday. The place is swarming with dragon flies and I mean by the thousands. And my personal favourite common bird: the Azure-winged Magpie. Though I do really like crows too. --- Randomalia aside I have a question for everyone: do you think emotional susceptibility changes based on other events that happen in your life? For example ~ people like me have an irritation-o-meter and the more irritated we get, the more likely we are to blow up about small insignificant things. But the same applies for other emotions too. Like the other day I came in and saw Dalian for the first time, and I was so elated that the ghetto-ness of my apartment even made me laugh. (there is a booby-trap switch out of the three for the bathroom that will flip the circuit breaker... that seems to be its only function: to mess up your midnight bathroom trip...) These are two fairly superficial examples, but I think (and for myself I know) that it applies for deeper more shaking emotions too. To be transparent - I’ve left home to cross the big water 3 times now. Each time has been different, and this time has been incredibly potent. I suppose part of me expected it to be easier (the second time was pretty easy, but this third time was about as potent and moving for me as the first.) Without getting into the details of how that happened, we’ll say for now that I was basically in mourning over leaving my people this time. OK I guess i’ll give some of the why and how. I never really expected to be as close to my family as i’ve gotten. That might confuse you, but I don’t care. Be shocked and amazed if you want. But each step forward that I take in finding who I am, I have also found that i’ve taken another step closer to understanding and wanting to understand these incredible people in my nuclear family (sorry extended family... you’re still on audition : / ) And so to leave them, even though it was completely of my own doing and volition, and definitely the healthy step that I need and want to take, was a separation that I really lament. I started writing something on the topic earlier and i’ll copy paste that in here now. Some of it will be redundant, but it might interest you to see some of the differences in my writing that show up when I write in different moods: ----------------- It always feel so funerary when im about to cross the big water. There’s this feeling like you know the end of what you’re doing now is coming to the end, and you can feel yourself carried towards this “wall of the end” but never know what to expect next. You don’t feel like there is the other side, nor that there isn’t another side, but all you know is that this right now - is ending. I’ve been so touched this last trip home, because I saw, felt and over-all experienced such an immense love and closeness with my people. I never really thought that i’d be in that boat~ where I was so emotionally moved by that kind of separating from my family. This is the third time. And this time in some ways has been the most potent. I think its one of the most healthy and sobering things to feel sadness every so often. And as I have dealt with my sadness today I chose instead of suppressing it, to let it wash over me. Not to wallow in it and count it a misfortune, but to bathe in the feeling and let it remind me of how deeply loved I truly am. Sorrow in most situations is a recognition of lacking or loss. We talk of mourning, but you can’t mourn unless you had something worth having in the first place; so it was a deep and extensive reserve that breached the boundaries of its container within me today: because I have been so blessed and loved so well as to be worth mourning. And I consider that power. I consider that a measure of wealth that has been invested in our lives. And I want as much of that joy and the mourning as my little bones can take. I think to limit our experience of emotion and what they are there to tell us, is a form of robbery. We pillage and loot the depth of what we have had, and are having, and will have if we are so fortunate~ if we don’t recognize and embrace our emotions and seek to understand them. --- I watched a movie about C.S. Lewis and his coping with the death of his wife by cancer. He made a statement in their letters ~ one of which was along the lines of: We are only living in a world of shadows, real life has not yet begun. ---------------------- So thats another part of me for you, not that I imagine it surprises anyone that im super emotional (part of being a drama-queen I suppose). And to round this bit off and finish asking my question about my emotional susceptibility theory... I just watched the Lorax on recommendation of my sister and a friend from Zhengzhou... well he’s from Mexico but anyhow... And I was moved to tears by certain parts of it, and im pretty sure it wasn’t just the movie itself. I tried to explain my take on emotions to someone in the past few months and one of the metaphors that I really stick with is the door in the chest idea. It all goes back to love I think. happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, infatuation, theres a whole slew of “emotions” that come and go without your bidding, and you can’t really do much about them. You can bottle them, or you can experience them. Sometimes that means ulcers, sometimes that means venting them ~ and how you do that is your business. But love, in its many varieties, has a profound effect on, i would venture to say, all of those other emotions. It imbues and augments each of the emotions in a different way. So im here watching the Lorax, and these things that i’d normally brush off my shoulders are all the sudden bringing me to the brink of tears. What gives yo?

Monday, August 6, 2012


When I was younger, and even today if you talk to my mom : p, people would talk about how creative I was/am. But I question these kinds of statements. Am I really? I think “creative” is a word thats inherently bathed in subjectivity. It IS whatever the bump you want it to be. Thats the evasive beauty of it. But that seems like a load of faux-inspirational hooey to me, and I was thinking today about whether or not I really am creative. Some say im creative, but in many ways im just derivative. I see a lot of things. I hear, I feel and I taste just like anybody. Most of what I do is just copy and paste what i’ve perceived before in different contexts and combinations. Am I really creating anything new then? or do I just fractionally perpetuate? Frustrating thought really, but generalities don’t rule out possibility. How do we dream? What is the difference between taking the road already traveled and doing it as best you can and blazing your own trail. Blazing~ burning and forcing yourself into a place that wasn’t open before. Such an aggressive term. Hard work always seems to be connected with success. Sadly enough though its not, at least from what I’ve seen. You can plow on doggedly in pursuit of what was done before, or no real goal in particular... but do you really accomplish what you were looking for? Correct answer is NO because you didn’t know what you were looking for in the first place. You (I) just wanted to “succeed”. Terribly dissatisfying because it never comes to you (me) if you don’t know what your actually looking for : / ~~ This might be completely unrelated on the face of it but i’m gonna talk about it anyway and you can try to bridge the gap or you can just enjoy the ride. And if you dont want to do either of those then you can just sod off and leave me be (snoot of derision to THOSE people). My oldest sister and I were talking the other day about learning styles and the way that we go about remembering things best. Granted this is probably after a conversation about how much we’ve forgotten owing to the effects of binge drinking... but thats a side trail. She and I both identify as more kinesthetic learners in a way because we both learn by doing, but we have some pretty key differences, even in that. She says that most of her best thinking is done when she’s doing strenuous exercise, and im just the opposite. When I exercise heavily I get very distracted and my thoughts are often very erratic (not erotic- mind you). No. I suppose a good part of my best thinking is done when im cleaning. A menial task that makes me be more observant and more thorough and gives me a feeling of accomplishment. It makes me feel like im actually going into the realm of something “good” and my entire being thrums in harmony with a clean, smooth and intuitively organized environment. Its a small thing then when you consider how easy it is to put me in a bad mood by scattering small bits of bullshit in “my space.” things like sand... crackers... sticky bits of childhood, liquid.... or God-forbid ~ crumpled-apart styrofoam. The static electricity that that stuff picks up and its super-light air-susceptible nature make it wildly frustrating for me. But back to cleaning and Zen. I like washing dishes most I think. Warm water and a finishing line. Its a good way to “earn your dirty” as my second sister would say~ to earn the right to be tired by having done something worth-while. WELL! I just earned my dirty by tearing apart the kitchen yet again in my conquest of making this place a little bit less ridiculous. My favourite thing is to take things that dont belong where they are - and throw them. My train of thought is: if its somewhere it doesn’t belong, then it doesn’t matter if I throw it somewhere else it doesn’t belong. Also im gonna sweep anyway. AND the most fun part is watching people crouch in surf-like fear as missiles go flying about the room in every-which way while I go about my business. I figure it has more impact and just MAYBE they’ll think twice about putting shit where it don’t belong! I might be mistaken... but im willing to enjoy it regardless ^_^ Now THATS good gambling. Anywho~ I think the thing that makes cleaning so stimulating for my train of thought is that it gets my mental momentum going. Im huge into synergy, and I think this is just another one of those things. I can accomplish mountains of work as long as I know what im going to do and how to accomplish it. Otherwise ~ relatively simple tasks can make me want to do nothing more than take a nap. And I really do think that environment has a huge impact on people perhaps most importantly on a passive and subconscious level. What the hey ~ the more we can do to get ourselves walking with the right foot forward the better as far as I’m concerned. In fact I was recently in Petsmart with my champion of brother who has a horse of a dog. We were getting him some sort of specific dog food that he likes for its magical health and non-gas producing qualities (red meat... evidently is the gassy killer). And while wandering around trying to find a customer service representative to help us find the humongo bag, I noticed the aquaria and subsequent fish. And I went BOOM! Headshot! That would be the PERFECT pet for me as I travel all over the world. Relatively low cost and I can have something that doesn’t live super long anyway. I’d love to have a cat and/or birds but I just cant respect myself to knowingly get an animal that can live an upwards of 20 years when im only gonna be in a place for 1-2 or something under 5 and have no real intent (or ability) to bring them with me. But Guppies only live like 4 years under the best of conditions and they breed like lies among slutty teenagers. ohhhhh weary sigh though y’all. So i’ve done two things in the time since starting this post: googled “what does it mean to dream big” and used my mac-standard dictionary (the thing is just delicious) to look up creative. The definition search yielded the following: relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. It also had a bit of a debate similar to the one I posted above about derivative vs. creative. They also suggested a few other more specific words to replace creative in certain instances: Original, Imaginative, Inventive, and Resourceful ~ and I thought it was an interesting sort of list. I think this list is interesting and important because, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I think people hide behind the word creative. They use it to spread around fluffy feelings, and the beef i’ve got with that is that fake compliments are hardly more than farts in the wind. They carry good intentions... maybe... but how can anyone be expected to take a compliment to heart if its not grounded in any sort of truth? In fact a compliment that the receiver knows to be a lie (calling a troll beautiful and relying on that “in the eye of the beholder” schtick for example) is more than likely to create mistrust and just further doubt and questioning on the issue. And while im on the issue ~ please don’t fake happiness. Christians and religious folk are some of the worst perpetrators of this life-crime b/c they feel its their responsibility to show the world how “good” their lives are ~ doubtlessly because of how “good” religion is. And I say this as someone raised in a Christian house and Christian community... and have seen FAAAAR more than my fair share of fake lives. But to pretend that everything is delicious and that every moment is “just a joy” then I think we’re covering over the spectrum of life and numbing the clarity of truth. This type of life leads to a lot of treading softly and builds personal closets that we subconsciously know we just shouldn’t open. And I regard that as sub-par. I want the full spectrum and I’m gonna claw and bite my way to it regardless of those who think I shouldn’t. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. (phil 4:8) Is this where we get off track with that “nice stuff only” attitude? And I ask each and every one of you - is truth what it claims to be unless it is in its entirety? If there is only part of the truth, does it remain “the truth”? Life, and subsequently everything in it, has its ups and downs. Where are dreams, there are also nightmares, where there is explosive laughter there is also bitter sorrow, and to not even acknowledge the other parts of these wholes is to spit on and disrespect the whole itself. Anyhow thats my diatribe on that... (Exit soap-box stage left) So on to the second thing: I googled “what does it mean to {dream big}.” I’ve had so many people tell me to dream bigger. I don’t really dream ~ that or im constantly dreaming. This or that. But I wanted to know what other people thought the definition for the thing was, and so I googled it ~ like I do all good questions. And the first page had nothing but one good hit and the rest was either complete bollocks or faux-inspirational tripe. Just like “creativity” ~ “dream big” seems to be this mantra that people hide behind to make the world seem uplifting and supportive without actually having to do any of that pesky supporting or uplifting. Trash. So the one good hit had like one good comment and then a bunch of mildly interesting fluff (probably more succinct in its mildly interestingness than mine... ~snark) To go on though ~ she talked about “creating a life” and living creatively. Fairly non-committal things but she did cue me off on another thought: How much of creativity was really just looking at a context in a new/different way? How do we solve new problems that spring up? How do mechanics fix your car? Anywhich way it all starts with knowing what the situation is, and the more intimately that we know what the thing is, the more freedom we have to explore ways to solve it. And even if its not a problem, what if its just something that just “is”? My brother, his girl-friend and I were talking about Picasso because of one of her frankly disturbing dreams the night before and my brother mentioned an artist called Salvatore Dali. I only knew about the Melting Clocks thing he did. He’s got lots of other goofy awesome/ disturbing stuff. And you know we call these people ~ these artists ~ great imaginative “creative” folk. But I ask myself why, and there is a huge part of me that screams out, “BECAUSE THEY LOOK AT THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY!” Shoot. They’re painting clocks for goodness sakes: what horribly impractical crap. But some of us are deeply moved by what these champions of expression do. I am (at least some of the time : p) Not that i’ve really gotten to spend anywhere near enough time with so-called artists to say these things, but I like to think that they get something in their head that they need to express, and it comes from them in a dynamic and living way. It is their experience and perspective that they birth into the realm where everyone else gets to experience it. And I am grateful that they do it. While I do not appreciate all art ~ in whatever media it may come in ~ I appreciate and in fact CRAVE for people to express. And what are some areas that we have seen people “Dream Big” and “Go for the Gold.” Oh look ~ the olympics. Again... And child stars. Gosh I severely dislike child stars. Those America’s Got Talent and whos-its-whats-its that are non-stop on T.V. A lot of people get confused and befuddled when I say i don’t like the olympics and child-stars. My dad for one. He loves that crap. I cant tell you how much time he spends watching children with full-blown operatic abilities or how giggly he’ll get when he sees these 17 year old olympian swimmers. “Imagine what it’d be like to be going back as a senior in highschool with a gold medal (guffaw guffaw guffaw).” uh-huh... (sneer) It just so happens that when I was in middle school, I had round glasses. And I looked exactly like the illustration of harry potter. I got myself a temporary nickname I did... But you know the killer: when I watched the Harry Potter movies as they came out, I would enjoy them until the credits and then i’d get bitter. You wanna know the petty reason why? Cause I had this bitter envy of their adventures. They had adventures that made them grow. Danger that made their dreams lucid. But lets not dwell on how petty I can be ^_^ I would be mentally “off” for a week: distracted and irritable because I wanted to get swooped up and taken on adventures myself. (Sigh) But I guess I’ll just have to not live a story and instead create a crazy sort of a life. --- I was having a bit of what we in my family call “quiet time” and reading along in scripture and I with this whole inner dialogue about creativity that i’ve been having I came across these bits and read them in a different way than I ever have before. Salt and Light Matt 5: ~ 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. What if this wasn’t the same thing i’ve been hearing my whole life? What if this wasn’t as much about being out-there evangelical Christians doing good works and converting the whole place so help me God?!! Honestly im a lot more likely to believe that this is talking about being the people that we were made to be. This isn’t about religious fervor I don’t think ~ I think this has a lot more to do with giving what you have to give in life and contributing in the unique and glorious way that we were made to. I was talking to a particularly wise friend of mine once and we talk about culture at large a lot. She commented partway through some conversation about how many people in culture aren’t interested in really supporting and cultivating people, but instead are a lot more interested in shaping other people to be more like them ~ to project their own ideas and attitudes and interests on other people. Holy zombie apocalypse y’all. Lets look at one more thing and then I can stop thumpin’ the book ~ don’t worry. Matt 6:~ 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! So we talked about creativity possibly being a way of looking at the world differently right? SO check out the above: The first verse talks about the eyes and its connection to light. Which sounds painfully obvious right? There were old-school philosophies (ancient greek, I forget who...) that subscribed to an idea that light came from within you and the rest of the world was dark, and whatever the light from your eyes shined on - was what you could see. For us its the other way around, but whatever. The kicker for me though is where it talks about your eyes being healthy or unhealthy and your body being full of light or darkness. Then in the last sentence it says ~ if the LIGHT within you is DARKNESS then how great is that darkness! Its a big deal to me and this was the thunderbolt to the dome for me because its a mixed metaphor. Two things that normally can’t co-exist. What if this is actually talking about the same thing I mentioned above ~ creativity just being a different way of looking at the world, and expressing yourself based on that perception. If your eyes are healthy, and you embrace your light and cultivate it (put it on a stand) then your light has a chance to shine out and enrich the lives of those around you. Whereas when we cramp and hinder who we are, or could be, and become something other than what our inner self is (or could be) we kill that light. Our light actually becomes a darkness and we instead spread that nastiness around. Some of the nastiest people i’ve ever met were the ones that either refused to acknowledge who they were, or wanted to cramp the spectrum of what other people could be. “Just” a thought. ---- So the productive area of all this is that I think I’ve just licensed myself with more freedoms. No one is going to schedule my life for me. No one can dream my dreams for me, and I don’t want them to. No - instead im much more inspired in continuing down the road that I was going in, but definitely in a different way. I’ve loved languages and cultures for a very long time, and some of the key reasons that I do are because of how connected those things are to the way people perceive their experience and how they express their thoughts and feelings about their experiences. And I want more of that. I was getting disheartened over the past... probably year, but as long as I pick my venues better, I am convinced that there is a lot left in this world for me to be a part of. And the more I experience ~ the more ill be able to contribute. Why not?

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Flying Standby is one of the most unpleasant things I can think of. It is stress incarnate. Distilled stress. Stress in a bottle: and then that bottle is poured out over ones naked body as you wait exposed and uncomfortable hoping that it’ll pay off! Standby, in case you dont know, is a way of flying, usually used by the families of airline employees. You can fly technically for free (though now its not free... just greatly reduced price) but you have to wait and see if there is room in order to get on. Well... the flight im waiting to get on is overbooked (they sold more tickets than they technically have seats for in “coach” class). And there is only one per day. And there is no other option aside from a flight leaving at the same time but from Shanghai. So it would be pointless to consider. If I miss this flight ~ i’ll have to wait 24 hours. If im very fortunate, i’ll be upgraded to business class or maybe even magical FIRST class :D and enjoy one of the best flights possible to mankind. You’re really tossing the dice on this sort of thing. I am anxious, but at the same time not. There is a sort of dull pressure and unpleasantness on my head and in my stomach that comes with this sort of thing. But at the same time ~ i’ve seen crazy things happen in traveling, and I’ve seen that at least MOST things happen for a reason. And I won’t know what that reason is until later. Maybe a lot later. Or maybe I won’t know at all. --- Lo and behold though~ regardless of how colossal and impossible it may have seemed (and there was part of me that just ‘-.- -. . .--’ i was boned) I managed to get on the flight. ANd I was one of the last two people on the plane. And I got first class ~ on a 12 hour flight. ohhhhh the money shots. i’ll show you later via pictures and graphic description just how glorious it is. It makes sense now ~ why people pay so much for it. If you’re just traveling from origin to destination... no it doesn’t make sense. But if you want to feel like the world is your oyster and that you are like the supreme commander of the world!!! then international first class is something that is hard to replicate ~ even in a mountain top hotel (though Timberline definitely wins hands down) Imagine this ~ do try: An area usually taken up by 6 seats dedicated to your own lay-down district that my dad calls a ‘pod.’ (PS he has only recently started enjoying the wonders of international first class {the only reason he’s had to indulge was to come see me... and to go home after .. -./ ... - -.-- .-.. .}) You have 3 windows. A swiveling chair that could fit an obese kiwi like it was a throne. And complimentary access to unlimited wine, spirits, food, and the generally awesome conversation of my particular flights wonderful flight attendants. There are three that have been regularly attending my area. Ms. Linda has been fawning on my like the queen she is. The first thing out of her mouth as she offers me a drink (champaign, orange juice, or... something thick that im not quite sure... some sort of smoothie maybe) is: Would you like a drink for being the best dressed person on the flight? Its not very often that we see someone as well dressed as you on this flight (and she’s one of the queens of first class ~ WTF??! whats wrong with these people in first class?) All I could do was smile wide and do my (ohhh you DO go on) laugh. I should get into extortion. I’m not meant for the business world... so i’ll just have to make sure that I leverage the business people im involved with in the right way so that I can get this sort of lavish pampering more often. Let it flow like pearls before swine!!!! Ms. Linda came back around another time (there are only 16 seats in 1st class) and offered me some sort of delicious pastry or other ~ and told me: How am I so blessed to have someone as well dressed as yourself on this flight? Look around ~ theres a girl over there in a sweatsuit that maybe fit 2 years ago, and then they go and put on those damn pajamas and take their underwear off! (first class has pajamas provided complimentary... along with slippers, an amenity kit, Bose headphones and a full set of bedclothes... sheets, mat topper, douvet etc. in addition to all the stuff i’ve already mentioned food and booze wise {God bless the booze}). SOOOOo I told myself... im not putting on the pajamas. I want to stay in this wonderful woman’s (these wonderful women’s) good graces. And as of this moment ~ im going back and forth between my three beverages ~ all of which are endless: Coffee, Wine, Water. And then the lavatory.... I feel like royalty - even though the only bit of silk on me is my glorious and evidently eye-catching english schoolboy tie. .-.-.- I got a ticket! I was the 4th non-rev (a category of traveler that is on the standby list) and last... to get a ticket. And I was told to hurry up. Naturally I bolt as fast as I can manage in slippery couture boots. customs was hectic and there was a train... and crazy ass chinese people. And then a herd of Koreans that I recognized immediately because they were all ajossis and ajummas and they were all in their bubblegum colours of outdoor hiking type clothing, but with curled, dyed-black hair, and waaaaaaay too much fake whitening going on. And then there were the anger issues. there was like a 70 year old woman that just raged in the cage on an ajossi (older man) in their entourage. she gave him a vicious kick and punch all in the space of 0.5 seconds. And people wonder why i’ve become all racist. \ Ajumma’s are legitimately scarY! and then the X-ray was taking FOREVER!!! and I was like... good LORD! I have a ticket for first class on a 12 hour flight. What kind of horrid nightmare would it be to miss the flight because of mitigating circumstances??!?? Pizdiets as my russian speaking friends would say. But one of the gate agents came to the x-ray and asked us if we were on the American Airlines flight to Chicago ~ and two of us were... and she told us to hurry up b/c everyone was waiting for us. (Its not my fault dangit!!! PLEASE WAAAAAIIIIITTTT!!) So finally we dash through the safety mark! DASH TO THE GATE!!!! And the wonderful gate agent who gave me the ticket said, “Peter!!! WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!? HURRY UP!” No joking. So they snatched up and tore my ticket stub all lickety quick and then shooed me onto the ramp. I dashed down the gang-plank and they said “TURN LEFT!” And so I did ~ I got to ‘turn left,’ And I was (am) as royalty. .- -. -../ ../ -.. --- -. -/ -.. . ... . .-. ...- ./ .. - (which is morse code for ‘and I dont deserve it’ for those of you who are not Duri... or HAM radio operators...) ---------------- And I am reminded at this time of revelation and reveling... of one of the many lessons I’ve learned from my sister. Even though at the time we really really didn’t get along. If you don’t try new ways of life, new tastes, new experiences of whichever sort ~ you don’t really know the scope of whats out there. And if we dont get a sample of what is out there ~ then how can we go about expanding that spectrum, and add to it in other ways? Thats part of why its important to try new foods that you originally sneer at. I tried lox on this flight already~ I didn’t even know what that was. And seeing as how I don’t have the internet, I decided to put it into my Chinese dictionary. WHY?! Because when things are translated into chinese they usually have a more literal translation that explains what they are. shoot ~ i didn’t even know what insulin was until I had to look it up in my chinese dictionary to explain it to some chinese friends. Evidently its a hormone or something secreted from the ‘isles’ of something in the pancreas. How about that? there are isles in the pancreas. Sounds like an adventure in science ~ someone get the Magic School bus on that please. ANYHOW! Lox is translated as smoked something or other fish ( which as it ends up... lox is a brined salmon which is then somewhat smoked. Quite nice. Especially when its served with capers and diced red onions and a mini bagel with loads of cream cheese and a lemon wedge. Get OUT my way. It changed my mind on the potential that Airline food can achieve.) and then the champaign! So anyway, im just really enjoying the basking in this...ness. And im going to continue doing so for the next like 8 hours XD .-.-.- I know it sounded like I was bitching and moaning in the above portion about waiting for standbye. Because I was... Yes im enjoying myself immensely. But also think of the nightmare that would have awaited if I hadn’t made the flight? ALL Things considered~ the Beijing airport is a pretty good place to be trapped for 24+ hours. They have rooms that you can rent out to shower or sleep in. ~ not sure what the rates are... but when despair sets in... thers a lot of things that would just be “worth it.” Am I right? I’d like to go to Morocco. Just sayin’ Oh but back to the point. 24 hours... on 2-3 hours of snatchy sleep (5-15 minutes snatches each while waking up to make sure your shit isn’t getting stolen.) Is a horrible thing. The hunger. The feeling dirty from traveling. The knowledge that you still have another 12 hours of flight before you even get back to your country... where you’ll have to hope to get on yet ANOTHER flight... its all a bit much you know. But there was a mixture of peace and anxiety within me because i’ve seen this before. Not just standbye ~ but the critical scanarios. The situations where it seems like your stranded on a desert island... or could be. And you may be ~ But who knows what the rum-runners left behind? Who knows what sort of sea-turtles you’ll meet? And so with great apprehension I have flown standby. I suppose its a lifestyle really. (though frankly i’d much rather to just have a blessed ticket and not worry about the whole goosy nonsense of losing a few months of my life and risking a stroke on account of some sodding travel. Seek out the rum-runners and turtles in your spare time dangit!)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Crush....crush crush.

Seems i’ve got a little bit of insomnia ~ and I havent written for a while so here goes. ~ ~ I’ve been riding this totally glorious wave of synergy and euphoria. I’ve got 2 weeks left. I’m not worrying about exams, though I’ll take most of them (not that it actually matters because I boycotted the midterms and its therefore impossible for me to pass~). I’ve got a monster crush at the moment and i’m loving every minute of it. I haven’t actually told them yet ~ though I imagine its painfully obvious. I’m not even really sure what my “tells” are because until about last year... I didn’t really accept crushes as a reality and think I let them just float away on the river of my subconscious. I was/ am / ?? ~ I wanted to stay away from the relationship thing b/c my goals and dreams were what I wanted to put first, and im not willing to ask someone to play second fiddle to my aspirations. Its not what im about. So I basically resolved to not be involved until I got to a point where I felt I could... well I dont think I ever actually had a line to cross where I would definitively feel ok with “being with” someone. But a few instrumental things have happened. Lie ~ many things have happened from A to B. My goals and ideas of achieving something meaningful in life have been shaken for starters ~ and that has led to a developing acceptance of finding and spreading love and joy to as many as possible. So instead of having someone play second fiddle to my aspirations, maybe someone could come alongside and achieve the same ultimate goal. Its a pretty simple aspiration when it comes down to it. The trick is in the details : / ~ So i’ve not told this person b/c I havent made up my mind if thats juvenile or not and I wanted to express my thoughts to the worldwide web before doing anything else. Is this the modern age’s equivalent of proclaiming one’s obsessions from the rooftops. I have a hard time getting to sleep sometimes (that wasn’t tonight though-) b/c I start thinking about what that life might be like and I feel like I might be glowing like Clair Danes in “Stardust.” And the practical side of me says that its doomed from the start. Im leaving in about 2 weeks. They’ll go back to where they’re from and live a normal life with the normal monotony and out-of-left-field surprises that everyone can and cannot expect. Oh indeed~ but anyway, on to more of the recent past and near future. Blessed. Thats what i’d call the past two weeks (minus this heinous cold I caught). I’ve learned new card games and spent enormous amounts of time with incredible friends. Its not everyone that can spend like 4 days straight with other people and still have volumes to talk about and be completely content with doing little else but talking, eating and drinking with those people. And i’ve got like 4 of those at the moment. Thats biblical grade awesome right there I tell you. And so im basically just interested in basking in that awesome. And maybe learning Russian and Cantonese...

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Wave Blown by the Wind

OHHHHH I dunno man. I’m so lazy these days. I dont wanna do something... and you know what: I don’t. So there. I want an apple ~ imma get that apple... unless they don’t sell any apples... then i’ll just forget about it for a while. BUT! when it comes to skipping class, I got some real constitution! Yessir and or madam. I can not go to class with the best of them these days. Anyhow~ I’m bored with that line of thought so lets move on. I dont like being lazy. I frankly think its a second rate existence, and i’d like to go after something worth having. I’ve become obsessed with a chinese word recently (sometime within the past 24 hours): which literally means “eat.bitter” 吃苦 (chi1 ku3) ~ what it actually means is basically “suck it up” and deal with the shit life gives you. Particularly patient and tolerant folk are said to really be able to eat bitter...ness. The question i’ve been asking for the past several months is “Why on earth would you want to do that?” with a little Xtra... “thats nonsense” thrown in after the rhetorical question. The past few days especially its started to kick in that... the 苦 (bitterness) is always going to be there, so if you’re going to have it in your life... you might as well have a good reason to eat it. --- Yesterday this idea of being a wave tossed by the sea popped back into my head. Its a reference from James (to be quoted below in just a hott second.) From my perspective, to always be running from the 苦(ku3) in life means that your being lead by your circumstances. When we do this ~ we’re letting our environment define us. Because if your not willing to 吃苦 to get through this pile of unpleasant to get to the other side ~ you never actually “get” that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (yes I know that metaphor is as tangled as christmas lights in the hands of a three year old...). In that kind of life ~ your always running “from” something, never “to” something. Feel the mighty power of prepositions! So here we go ~ James 1:2-8 Consider it pure Joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4) perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (5) If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (6) But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (7) That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; (8)he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. and that I am ~ TOTALLY unstable. Funnily enough, as I was in the “falling out stage” with my previous boss ~ she told me I was completely unstable. Granted she said it in Chinese and was trying to use that as ammunition to get me to stay and be her evil little henchman... which im not so much about. -- My limited experience has shown me that there are basically 3 reactions to the idea of perseverance stated above. I’ve said it before, but a lot of conservative ~ particularly Christian....~ people push the idea that if you just “suck it up... and tough it out” you’ll get what you want. But if you dont know what you want... how can you get it? Am I supposed to want what you want? where’s this conversation going? Another is being convinced of your goal, and going through fire and water (or not) to get it. And the third is to be of the opinion that nothing is worth having... so we should just forget it all anyway. ... Theres a lot that isn’t worth having frankly. A lot of things that, from their own nature, aren’t worth going through fire and water to get to. Why burn yourself trying to get burn cream? Counter-productive much? And as with most things i’ve found that anything worth having usually is at the core of the thing you see, and that core is what grows and motivates and builds what we see. Like money... a lot of people see what money can provide them, and so they go after it. They know that the money is where the rest of the fun starts ~ so they go chasing after it. But when they get the money... do they have time and zeal left to enjoy what the money can do? (so I ask myself if its worth it...) In my experience, people are worth investing in. Money is only worth anything if it enhances the lives of the people it comes in contact with. -- So where I am at this point is: the kind of wisdom I need is

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spite, Language, People

I’ve had so many breaking points on this, now almost four month, adventure. It’ll get to five and a half months and then the beast may die. I was asked the other day what my biggest regrets in life were, and I wasn’t really able to answer the question. I believe that we learn and grow from everything we do in some way or another, so, if given the chance, would I “give back” what i’ve learned since coming here? No. Its understanding that was given to me, and I shan’t be giving it back thanks very much. I’ve learned many things. I’ve tasted how stubborn I really am and how that clash really hampers my potential if not dealt with. I’ve seen that relatively small obstacles (biting the bullet and getting over like 6 particles in the korean language... and painfully few tenses... though gazillions of “function” additives to verbs...) can become a huge problem for me when combined with that stubbornness. Its unfortunate really. It could have been a good go, but the environment wasn’t really as ripe as I hoped it to be. And then I butted heads with too many of my teachers and the destructive/survival attitude of the culture here. So frankly im kind of burnt on the whole thing. However, I’ve also learned some wonderful violence, and I get to look forward to another month and a half of that before I leave. Its been reinforced just how important people are in my life, and how without the right people, most of what I do is doomed. I am very much so a man of my own decisions, but in many ways most of those decisions involve people. I am not controlled by people, but I am absolutely affected and influenced by them. And I love it. It also breed incredibly strong feelings of contempt when taken in “the wrong direction” however. RE: some of my key teachers here... SO do I regret coming? I dont know how I would have made a different choice under the circumstances, which is something that has been a cause for much struggle between myself and God. However, I will not deny that I have learned loads from this. If you gave me the chance to get out of school, take my money and go somewhere else? would I take the opportunity? Hell yes. If you gave me the same opportunity (bail now), but I had to go back in time and let go of my experiences here ~ would I do it? I dont know that I could say yes to that. Its hurt to be here... A lot. But I’ve had to ask some excruciatingly difficult questions about myself, my goals, and how I fit into this bigger picture. And those are questions that needed to be asked. Will I thank Korea for these lessons? Hell no. I would/will thank the people at my Hapkido dojang for being a credit to their country and their art. But I cannot/will not thank the average person/ the society at large here. --- I used to think that I could study any language just for the sake of studying the language, and that would be an interesting enough task in its own right. And there is/was some truth to that, but the bitter truth (but also an incredibly fulfilling truth in other instances) is how much language and the people who use it are tied together. A new hypothesis is that if (at least for people-people like me) you are going to study a language without knowing the people well... its good to study the language without knowing the people at all... so that you can appreciate the cold dynamics of the machinery you’re surrounding yourself with. A few too many bad eggs, and those quirky irregularities stop being “peculiar” and start becoming “shitty obstructions.” To get back to it though ~ there are many linguistically great things about Korean. Korean sounds cool (the whole freaking thing is a tongue twister ~ and makes for great rap). Its got a HUGE history of loan-words, which I think is interesting, and it has honorific layers of conversation. There are literally at least 3 ways to say every single thing based on the amount of respect you want to convey to the person your speaking to. Thats pretty cool. (or frustrating as the dickens and useless to boot if you dont care.) But at least for me, I need to have some sort of pull to learn the language. I need to have someone to communicate with in order to do the “grinding” ~ that memorization of words and particles and other non-sense that isn’t perfectly intuitive in any language (and Korean has more than its fair share... WTF?! 2 number systems? and no real need for them aside from... b/c we cant let go?) And then there is the full other side of the spectrum where the people actually grate against you. Im very reciprocal. Bite me I’ll bite back. Help me and I’ll help you. Snarl and shame me and I won’t even give you eye-contact... though my feet will be quick to rush into destruction if you give me too many of the right reasons. So thats where I’m at with Korean language learning now (non-violent at this stage...). I’ve been bothered into a lethargic attitude towards studying, and lethargy as turned to downright resistance ~ by degrees of course. We have this week and then halfway through the next are our mid-term exams. I will be skipping a large portion of this week, because I can’t tolerate my teacher any longer. In my opinion her attitude contributes to the shame of her country. so no, I will not just be watching videos of 3 year olds do taekwondo and kittens... I will be using this week to do a hard core review of the things we’ve learned so far and see what I can actually do to just look at Korean from a linguistic point of view. After mid-terms we switch teachers, and i’m hoping against hope that my fortunes are better. --- One of the brick walls i’ve hit recently is that part of me has decided that im done with Korean, and Korea. I’ll finish the end of my semester hopefully, but I don’t see myself studying it too much more after that. There is no tie for me here, and that synergy that can make me phenomenally capable is completely absent (actually reversed...). So I will get what I can out of this experience. Continue to learn some fabulous violence, learn what I can about this language and people. And then... put it on the shelf to perhaps one day get dusted off if someone decides to pick up the torch. -- There are many avenues I can take to fulfill my goals. I might just go after Cantonese for kicks and giggles. I already know I like Chinese people, and the Hong-Kong people i’ve met ~ in at least 3 very different contexts ~ have made for wonderful experiences. Then theres the awesomeness of how many tones they’ve got, and traditional characters.... whats not to love? and Russian. I don’t know a linguist who doesn’t secretly have a thing for Russian (mostly because its the flag toting representative of Slavic languages.) Mountains of literature, history, a huge array of cultures, and swathes of land where the language is understood.... not to mention I have some friends here who did a VERY good job of making me love them ^_^. See what I mean? Im as changeable as the tides of a planet where the moon is a soccer ball for celestial beings. ~ get your head around that... and you just might have figured me out :D Fair faring to you all.

Friday, March 16, 2012


I've been chuckling to myself lately about becoming the bitter old washed-up villians in cartoons. You know... the ones that fester in their hate and malice to give themselves meaning until their hair falls out and their teeth go janky. You know... like mike yagoobian a.k.a. "Goob" in "Meet the Robinson's" I could do that... all I need is a nice heavy cape and some minions ~ possibly even a secret lair. My most recent targets on the list of things i'll crush beneath boot when I rule the world are: Ajummas... its the same thing as A'yi(s) in China... (old women...) and Taxi drivers. I don't think i've ever gotten into a taxi here in my two months in korea where the bastards havent complained where I'm going. Short distances or further distances... there seems to be no where that they want to go. Seriously... why would I want to speak Korean if it creates nothing but difficulties for me with these forsaken infidels of mercenary transportation. They inspire me to play nasty tricks on them and give no quarter. A week and a half a go or something "the other day" if you will... I and three other friends finally got into a taxi after far too many times being turned down by the snarky folk. I sat in front and totally hijacked this mans life with my good old friend: ignorance. I slathered on my nastiest midwest-city boy accent and nominally told the driver that we wanted to go on the five minute drive to Yonsei pyongwon a.k.a. Yonsei hospital (near where our homes were). He started griping up a little storm about the location... and that we had one too many people in the car... and I replied... yup... Yonsei pyongwon. It worked! YAY! screw you santa-claus ~ Peace on Earth good-will towards man fails again. Huzzah, I think my blood just got a couple degrees colder too. Ajummas then? Well the crotchety old livestock of gazillions of restaurants and otherwise run of the mill service sector jobs (restaurant proprietors, convenience store managers etc.) seem to have no pleasure in life but to tell you that you can't have something. For example... their restaurant has no small number of empty tables... but when sat down at two tables pushed together to accommodate our larger numbers, and they hear that we want to order quantities of food that they feel are not suited to how many people we have... they start bellering and snarling at us and pull away the second table. i could have spit in her face and kicked her into a gutter. At the very least, I would have been quite willing to introduce her to an iceberg fragment in Arctic conditions. So if you see me and im cloaked and balding... dont leave your drinks or children unattended around me because treachery just might be afoot...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Service Vs Production

Service vs. Production I’ve been talking to people like usual, and one of the fruits of a recent conversation helped me realized that I really have no interest in production type jobs. I’m so service oriented its almost sickening. So the conversation was with a friend whose mum evidently has factories in China (she’s US-Korean though). I asked him what her factories produced and he said... basically anything that girls are interested in buying at a given point in time. That idea exhausts me. It sounds so dreadfully mountainous and soulsuckingly boring to me. I respect her for doing it because it is such a monolithic feat, but have zero interest in doing it myself ~ even if it is one of those things that can make you fabulously wealthy. Why would I want to spend the larger portion of my life toiling for something that I find dull? and I say nay. The only way I could be involved in production is if it met at the cross section of a service. For example ~ tea, coffee, spice trade etc. The production or more realistically farming/distribution of those things could be ok to me because I am interested in what those things become and how they are used later down the line. But lets go back to it. I dont want to teach English forever. I could... but I’d be settling for much less than im worth. Teaching is still a business and even if I were a dyed in the wool career teacher (which im not), you always have to pander to the desires of whoever is running the school in order to preserve your position. That usually comes at the cost of how you teach (methods you’re allowed to use/ subjects you can talk about or subjects that are considered “a waste of time”). The definition of “quality education” gets twisted by whoever wants to throw the phrase around. At least service is about pandering to peoples preferences. Its honest on at least one level ^_^. I like service because its about understanding societies wants and/or needs. Theres something about that that I find seriously engaging. It leaves you open to learn more about people and to some extent possibly even understand their desires more than they themselves do. Like that one slutty lady on Moulin Rouge... And then there is my obsession with consumption. Theres a certain amount of abstract meaning in taste as far as I am concerned. While everyone has their own preferences and likes, and that is very important. Cooking, eating and drinking in a lot of ways are like a short term journeys to find something that is both objectively and subjectively good. History, tradition, creation and discovery are all wrapped up in the same event. Its not everyone who is so fortunate to be a part of a constant paradox. Naturally im emo enough to enjoy not being understood.... like paradoxes... :D

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Stream of Conciousness

There have been a few times that i’ve heard of an exercise that... I think... is called “Stream of Consciousness” or at least its supposed to demonstrate your stream of consciousness. The way it works to my knowledge is you take a piece of paper and writing implements (fresh blood and a raven quill.... J/K) and you put to paper whatever jumps into your mind AS it jumps into your mind. There is no controlling or focusing, you just put down what it is that you think as you think it. So yes, your thought could change mid-sentence and you would in fact write a different thought halfway through your sentence. It can be really hectic, but really exposing of what is going on “up there.” I’ve also heard it done with pictures I believe. Draw or doodle whatever comes to mind and morphe as the thought morphes. Im terrible at doodling, so I just do my thing switching between Chinese and English and enjoy the heck out of it. My version was definitely more controlled than the experiment I just talked about, because I like to mostly finish my sentences. I was also choosing words that I felt encapsulated my moments. Very interesting results. One thing I think that is just fabulous about the activity is that it shows how many unrelated thoughts we can have bouncing around in our domes. Its stuff like that that keeps me up at night. An inability to resolve ideas and an equally frustrating inability to let them go. Mostly. Its enough to make one an alcoholic. But more of lions and less of lambs, or perhaps more of lions and of lambs depending on your paradigm. I was reading the third book (just started it... again) in the Chronicles of Narnia (The Horse and His Boy) and one of my sleep disturbing thoughts of the evening was the idea of belonging and blood. Its an old idea (like Dracula old), but many cultures share the idea of truth being in the blood. Anyhow, “the Boy” otherwise called Shasta finds out that he isnt actually the child of this mean old fisherman in the southern reaches of the continent and confesses to “The Horse” that he’s always had a yearning to know about the Northern reaches. The Horse (called Bree) tells him matter-of-factly, of course you do, its in your blood. I think my blood is bitter. I know it tastes like copper and what not, but I’m at a juncture of life where I have a frighteningly dark view of the concept of belonging. Its like I estrange myself to some degree from the groups that I can be a part of, the groups that I THINK I want to be a part of I can’t be a part of because you kind of have to be born into them (ethnicities/ social strata bla bla bla) and then there is the third kind where you have to be found, and im just too darn good at hiding. Scary right? Ever thought of a castle dungeon? Dark dank, smells like nasty men, mould and general funk. I’ve always had this sympathetic fear for the person who is stuck there and then the castle is conquered by a different kingdom and everyone is let go, but he’s forgotten somehow, and then the castle collapses down on top of him once they leave. How emo does that make me? maybe I should dye my hair.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

At One with the Concrete

I love distressed women. I always have. But before you go placing me in the box with disturbed, disturbing disturbers of the peace... let me expound on that and say that my heart goes out to distressed women. I like’m when they got that there fire in thur eyes ~ ok im not helping my case here but i’ll go on. Women when they are legitimately pissed off or put out in some way shape or form have this awesome primordial fire that I think is just stupendous. I was on Youtube searching around “why should I learn Korean” to see what peoples crack-pot reasons would be. I eventually found a video with a born Korean naturalized American girl going on this monster diatribe. She was kind of retarded I wont lie... and there is a lot of that in the world, but it was the heat coming off her words that impressed me more. I feel like Koreans always have this sort of snarl when they get angry. White women sneer... black women purse their lips so that they stick out an extra two inches and chinese women just don’t shut up so I can’t tell you what they’re faces look like when they’re angry. The snarl really just grabs me right away ~ I smile every time I see it on a movie poster, on the side of the road or in a movie. Probably not helping the situation but I don’t care too much about that ~ smiles have a power of their own too. So anyhow, I decided that im done being angry with Korea. Im ready to quit half-drowning and just sink. Here I am ~ at a month and a half. There was no honey-moon stage on this one for me... but oh well ~ everything in its way. One of the steps I took as a physical representation of my acceptance of Korea in my life and as a part of my road to wherever the heck it is im going ~ I added the Korean flag patch to my messenger bag. It is now sitting right across from the Chinese flag on the opposite side ~ equally level. Now... to get into that language of theirs. I can feel things starting to click now too though. Its funny to me that the words that stick most easily for me after nouns are “measure words.” They were such a pain to learn originally in Chinese, but now that i’ve got the general conceptual category in my head... its pretty great because I know how they’re supposed to fit ~ and that gives me some serious adhesive to make them suckers stick. What a joy indeed. Verbs are still squirrely sons of ^*#$&’s but all things in good time. And on the road to making that happen, I get to concoct all sorts of wonderfully ridiculous associations for words. For example: Soy sauce is “kan dzang.” “dzang” means ‘sauce’ in both languages and in chinese “kan” means look... So to me its lookin’ sauce... which is obsurd because its pitch black... and not really transparent until its spilled all over a glass table.... but whatever. I remember it. Here I come! Hey... if the mafia tries to drown you in concrete... become a Golem (mythological stone giant... not the murdering ring snatching creature in LoTR) and smash faces.

Slam-Dunk is just too High

Im lost again. Its my perpetual state. I guess its probably more accurate that I feel like im walking around in the densest of fogs and the it only disperses every once in a while so that I can see out and know that theres something aside from the grey-white blur that my life is spent in. I read through Ecclesiastes again of course I cant stop thinking about the idea of meaning and purpose. I’ve hit another fork in the road, and its a good and bad thing like everything else. But this one is sucking the colour out of my world at the moment. Heres an excerpt of an email I sent my sister: My issue right now though is that my head has gotten wrapped around my sense of meaning and worth and im starting to wonder if that sense of meaning that i've been looking for in what a person can do (the fruit they can bear as it were) doesn't exist.  Im worried that the answer to my question is going to be that our actions are more or less meaningless aside from the meaning that other people give it. And I hate that thought. Hate it or not though, that doesn’t rule out any potential truth. For so long i’ve pursued abstract fulfillment (doing something that has meaning by the doing of it, not by whether or not someone else gives it value). People dont have the capacity to appreciate everything, and a large portion of the population is either too stupid or hateful to appreciate it even if they could. I love people, and I love the capacity to grow and become something more that people have. But you cant always help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. And what happens when you go a step further, and the people who are responsible for taking care of people don’t do their job? What happens when those in a position of influence and authority exchange their PURPOSE for whatever happens to make themselves feel good. And just one more step ~ when people start demanding that those who are supposed to seek their betterment (authorities etc.) tell them the lies that make them feel their world is “as it should be.” It makes me want to withdraw from society and do nothing but cook and drink coffee till the end of my days. “There is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they life. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil - this is the gift of God.” But its like the toil isnt worth toiling after. So if that is the case ~ then all that is left is to do something that one finds joy in. So why do we look down on the heroine addict? What right would society have to snub the high schooler or the twenty something (or even the thirty something) that hasn’t found their niche? --- I think the idea of “drive” and “purpose” in English is super combustive. So the following is how i’ve been thinking through this stage of my developmental process: The life of every non-gas fire is the same. It starts of with the ignition that brings it into life, burns through the fuel available to it, and then matures into coals and then passes away into ash. Now with coals, its fairly life or death. They burn towards the core of the fuel and then extinguish, or they become the ignition for more fuel. When the coals are in this stage, they are covered in ash and its hard to tell if they are revivable or not, and its only when you’re close to them that you can tell that the heat is still there. Much less obvious vitality than with flickering tongues of flame. I think that people can be very much like this. There is so much potential life and movement, but when the environment around us becomes less hospitable and the reason that drives us (fuel) starts to run out, we shut down and put distance between ourselves and that environment to help survive a little longer. And if fuel doesn’t come back to us ~ that part of us dies out. --- “I have been to at least six asian countries and met many Americans. You are my first American friend.” Words of a Mongolian man ~ collaborated with by a Russian man while at dinner. Our country is not small, nor is it short of people, but the impression we leave doesn’t seem to match the gravity and depth of the foot-print we leave on the world when we tread on it. It is ours to tread: but what happens when moles tire of tunnels and decide that its the lions turn to dwell in the dirt? I was called a citizen of the world today. I’m not an American evidently. My Chinese friends called me the International Emperor, which I frankly think is super cool, but citizen of the world has a certain inclusive quality that I really like. But what am I trying to say? My life is dedicated to the service of people. I want to understand and serve people. I want to give fully. It is worth it because I was given fully to, and that is something worth being a part of. Being the biggest stick, crushing rock and bone to be at the top of the pile is meaningless to me. Being a part of the biggest pile however, now thats an aim. Now metaphors aside ~ theres always going to be a scenario where something is better or stronger or blah blah blah, but I want to be a part of something bigger than myself. Its an American cliche to say such things, but frankly I see a lot of truth and real wealth in that. That doesn’t go to mean a nerd skulking around with the school bully just because its something bigger than himself. No ~ I think a better way to say it entirely would be: I want to be a part of something bigger than what I COULD be. And why shouldn’t I be a citizen of the world. To understand as many people as I can, and live to serve as impact-fully as I can. That would be something. I can be many things. Give me enough time and I could be come a doctor, ninja, or connoisseur of fine wines. But what I really want to be a part of is something bigger than what I can become. I want to be a part of something that wants my betterment more for me than I could ever want for myself. So maybe I’ll just go to culinary school and retire to vancouver and be the most ridiculous egg ever (white on the outside and yellow on the inside :D)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Waiting for a Train that Just Don't Come

I’d like to start with a little story to try and explain where some of this started so you can possibly see how my wheels turn. Yes it will sound menopausal and all over the place, but bear with me as I “go there.” 그래서 ~ I went to go find this hapkido school on wednesday, which had a great website and instructors with great English at a very reasonable price :D :D :D!. It is kinda far away, an hour by bus or subway, but I couldn’t find any schools in or around my district and my thought process went like this as I was sitting on the bus waiting to get there. If you want something bad enough, you may have to climb a few mountains to get to it. In some ways that makes it better because you were hard core enough to put up with those trials and tribulations. This could be like my ~ walking to school uphill both ways in the snow~ bragging rights. Before I ever got on the bus I recalled my first experience of getting into Seoul and not knowing how to get to my hotel and lugging around my bags for two hours... no thank you... i’d prefer not to repeat that again. SO ~ a week before I emailed the people at the dojang (Korean word for “dojo” ~ a word many of you will be more familiar with) and asked for directions. They replied as follows: Yes you can come to the gym on Wednesday. Take bus 6714. This bus is directly to come our gym. (about 50minute) Also you can take the subway from sin chon stn(line no.2) or take the bus 603, 602 near the sin chon stn.(about 45minute from sin chon stn) The bus stop is sin wol underpass. So I one upped that and checked it out on a google-map and wrote it down in my notebook etc. as I got myself ready to go. I had a cellphone which.. evidently had some issues with it and couldn’t make phone calls that day b/c the store registered it wrong (ㅠ..ㅠ) but thats a detail. I rode my hour-long bus thinking these thoughts and got off at Sinwol underpass just like I was supposed to and then.... looked up the street (like the directions on the website said) and realized that there was know way to know which way was “up the street.” The website also said the gym would be right after the Korean barbeque restaurant.... This is Seoul might I add... the capitol of Korea... talking in general terms about barbecue restaurants.... so I walked “up” one side of the street... until it stopped having things on it and became a “danger zone” and then I walked “up” the street in the other direction. I tried to call the cellphone number and found that my phone was not legit at the moment and then had a crushing realization that I probably wasn’t going to find the gym that night. So I started walking back the way I came from and where I knew (vaguely/hopefully) id finally find the 지하철역 or subway station, inspecting the multitudes of sign-printed windows as I walked towards the terminal (what a morbid word). Frustrated, but not destroyed b/c i’ve had much worse remember, I walked on. As I walked I began to think (dangerous) about how I would phrase the email to the dojang and ask for more sufficient directions. And then the thought started to creep up on me ~ if they’re not willing to think through some of these contingencies (what does 300meters “up” the road on the right past the “korean barbeque restaurant” mean?), do I really want to go to their school? is it a sign for me? Horse patooty ~ I shoved that to the back of my mind and kept walking. As I kept walking though ~ another thought crept in. Do I really need to walk up hill both ways in the snow to get to school or should I just scour the country side nearer me to try and find something? its a maybe.... And then the real Promethian eagle swooped out of nowhere to repeatedly tear out my liver for all of eternity (or at least that night and the next day and a half-ish). Why the hell am I always looking for signs and trying to find “the thing” that is going to happen if you are just flexible and obedient enough to follow it? And that is a bitter thought. A thought that I don’t have the capacity to push to the back of my head: because it deserves an answer - an answer that I don’t have (don’t/didn’t +/-). It’s bitter because, as one who believes in God, and that God loves and directs us, I have to refine my idea of what being directed means. Its bitter and creates bitterness because of how many times i’ve heard horse-shit Christians sitting in a sterile bubble say: God has a plan, you just need to be obedient. Just... I hate the word just. I use it a lot, but I think its a “sort of :D” lesser of two evils type word. It limits. That is what it does. It is there to say that the meaning of what I am saying “cannot” cross this line that I want to establish (even if it actually does cross the line you’re pretending to reign it in behind). Its not fair for me to take all of that context and marshall it as my army against God. I’m not Oprah. Once again, tears and anger are spilt out on account of Christian institution and culture though. Ironic as it may be, I just finished reading Job, so far be it for me to say that God doesn’t care. However this feels like the beginning of an avalanche of sorts. Why should I wade through rivers of my own blood to get to... to get to what? Why should I not seek my own happiness? I see no reason to spill my blood unless it is in service of something better ~ and that truth must be apparent at a foundational level. --- So my thoughts regarding school at the moment are as follows: If this program is not suited to my learning style (which it is not) and I need to spend monumental amounts of time out side of class restructuring my studying so that i am actually learning (which I do). Why am I paying so much? Why would I want to dig myself as big a hole as we are talking about when I can do essentially the same thing (or better) while teaching English and earning money somewhere else in Korea. From my six months (what i’ve paid in tuition so far) I will have established a fair foundation and will be able to grow with self-study from there. Working will provide me with another variety of advantages over my current situation. Access to real Korean people... right now all I have is international friends, and NO social circles that can connect me with the people of this country ~ not that I could speak with them if they dont speak one of my languages anyway... but its absolute murder to try and learn a target language if you have next to no stake in the lives of the people who speak it. Monetary benefits are obvious output becomes input... not to mention my housing would be provided for me as a normal part of a teaching ESL in asia contract (a very significant expense). A different, smaller city. Seoul is awesome in many ways, but I don’t get to access its heart because I don’t speak Korean. I’m not one of those international people that is content to feel like a big international important person just because I go romping around a city in a land far from my own. No. You only get those rights if you have a deeper understanding of what that place is, and can operate on ITS terms within its territories. I cannot claim to do that, and with the financial situation of a student, it would be unwise to. Money for a student is only going out, not coming in, so it is in my best interest to limit how FAST it goes out... and that means restricting certain things, which is fine. However, it does mean that that cuts off how you can go about digging for what a city really is ~ because very few things are actually cheap (cost, not quality) in any major city. So, you tell me ~ does it look like an optimistic prospect to stay where I am? The biggest point in all of this is that ~ I am frustrated with the prospect of holding out further in the program because it seems to me that what i’d really be waiting for is some kind of big maybe. The possibility of having some sort of job opportunity around that time is essentially slim to none ~ a level 4 vs a level 6 ~ regardless of Chinese and Spanish language skills... im not in any sort of social circles that would make my unique abilities and potential stand out. Could it happen ~ of course. Anything can happen. Will it happen? Thats a shrunken malnourished maybe. Once i’ve got some development and more money (CA$Hola) I could do the upper levels if I feel so inclined ~ but for now I think the cost to benefit ratio is just not satisfying enough. Thoughts?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Idiot Savant

The idiot savant, front and center
 Why, oh why didn’t I learn Hangul (Korean alphabet) before I came to Korea!!! I’m an idiot savant. I like the term. Its respectful and degrading at the same time. Does that count as humility? Weird philosophical math I think. Pride + Humility = Moderation. Anyhow, I’ll tell you the answer to the first and kinda rhetorical question. I didn’t learn Hangul because I wanted to know what it was like to learn a language in an academic setting by starting from essentially scratch. I had a friend teach me some phrases and what not when I was in China, but that was nothing compared to what some of these other level ones have. My class is all essentially the same, but the other classes. Boy.... I tell you what. If my self esteem was wrapped up in how much Korean I could speak ~ i’d be the zit besotten hoodie-wearing teen-ager on the top-most bleachers forever! (awkwardly enough though, i’ve noticed a correlation between language capability in an immersion environment and self-esteem. Its a terrible feeling. I’d like to not do it again. Twice is enough.) I wanted to know... not just that I could do it ~ but also what it felt like to do it under pressure. Total glutton for punishment it seems. But i’d have to say im getting my fill of it. I’m building callouses and that makes me feel old. I am getting desensitized to the interest of getting dirty and becoming increasingly interested in clam shelling and weathering the hail storm from the inside of a rustic cabin rather than shirtless in the field. It truly is a harsh way of life. “I’m old Gandalf. I know i don’t look it, but I feel it in my heart. I feel stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” Im 23 and no one believes me. Evidently thats 24 in Korean years.... weirdos (you’re born with 1 year... weirdos.... Gosh and I thought Asians were good at math.) --- What I don’t understand is this. I am homesick and feeling culture shock. I am homesick for China, and feeling culture shock from a Chinese perspective (or at least a foreigner who invested part of their heart in China). I don’t much care about the American side. I love my people, but my people have far too many advocates so they’re not interesting :D Why wasn’t I homesick when I went the first time? Why didn’t I feel so gangly and misplaced when I went there but I do here. I think in many ways my awkwardness and instability has come from once again being uprooted, and not being blessed with roots here. Its kind of funny ~ I got coffee today in the subway (weird I know... but it was actually a better coffee shop than the beautiful 5 floor ones on the city floor... and 1/3rd the price. How cool/ weird is that). But the thing that makes it funny is that I see the glimmer of hope for me bonding with this culture, but I have a few hills to go through in the mean time. Will my lungs hold out on this cross-country track? They’d better... or I might as well roll over and die now, because it’d be meaningless otherwise. No. I am old. There is magic (not just smog) in the air here, and I suspect, not just here. The thing that makes me old though is that I am recognizing it, and the bitterness of that truth is that I am increasingly polarized in the satisfaction I receive from my toil. I’ve become super interested in studying. I’m super un-fulfilled by casual drinking with... new... people. Whats the point in destroying tomorrow if today is meaningless. How disrespectful is that to the hope that might have come? How can you so casually toss away what might be on account of something that clearly isnt worth it NOW. -- I’m like... becoming a monk. Compelled to pursue meaning at the expense of nearly everything. Oh my. There’s some seriously fantastic monks though ~ Sir Francis Bacon for example (or is my history really horrendous? I don’t have google right now....) Inventor of gun-powder. That one guy who started “The Reformation”... you know... Martin Luther. Obsession. A wise man once said and, im sure Plato would agree with me, will continue to say as long as his words are in print.... “I know there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all his toil - this is the gift of God. (Ecc. 12-13) I’ve got the eating and drinking part ~ but once again... im haunted by a need for satisfaction in my toil. This is yet a gift that God has be-Job’d me. (^_^) Eternity has been set in the heart of this man, and I mean to be a part of the field of conquest. Until I learn what field that is, I’m just going to have to continue burnishing my blade now won’t I. And no... that’s not a euphemism. --- Why Idiot Savant? I like the term because it shows an intuition for a field of conquest... but a lack of what other people would consider “common” sense. I have a degree in applied linguistics that i’ve tried by fire and annealed with long hours in the proverbial dirt. Try me out ~ I’ve done some bid’ness. But because of my experience (while it may not be as extensive as some), I have gained an interest in the how and why. Im not just interested in my car getting me from home to work in back, but I wanna know how it works, and have the intimate knowledge to be a part of making a better car, or at least making the car run as it should. (Motorist reference butchered on behalf of my brohakeem ~ the just “normal savant” of automotive technicians...) I want to know how and why. I epiphan’ied recently that I have a lingua-addiction because I felt cheated as an American raised in a monolingual society. I felt cheated because there was something else “good” out there that I was allegedly doomed to forever be unable to grasp... because EVERYBODY knows that after your like 4 and 1/2 years old you cant learn a language well.... but ALL those Europeans can speak like 5 languages. DUHHHH I saw something “good,” and I saw that good as something that would unlock more good in the world: good that I would be a part of. And why not?! Excellent question. I don’t there there is a good answer though.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The First Week ~ Into the Fray

OK ~ Reporting in from the first week of class at Yonsei /tehakyo/ otherwise known as Yonsei University and what is now the tenth of my days being in Korea. There is not a flying rat’s chance in hell that in two weeks you could possibly grasp what goes on here. Me either. And that is a reassuring thing. There are many more things that happen in this world that we don’t even realize or take the time to look at. Thats part of what I find so invigorating about living in a new place. Culture shock is your friend. You know what they say, a wound from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.... is that evidence for biblical sadism? whatever. But back to the point, because im SURE you’re all so very interested in what is going on in my oh-so-exciting life. :D (I imagine that you can only mask arrogance as “charm” for so long.) --- Orientation on the first friday here was... interesting. There was a little bit of a chat about what the school was and then... you can go buy your books now. Not what i’d call the most essential of affairs. Whatever, i’ll attend anything if its part of my program. I was also pretty interested in finding a place to stay.... which to be fair, I did have some phone numbers to call from the research I had done prior to coming. However, not speaking Korean really made that a taxing affair. So what did I do? Found someone who could speak english and Korean to help me ask if there was still room at the places... hahaha... oh sadly insufficient in some ways. Eventually though (two phone numbers later and like five minutes of evidently not talking about all that much...), the English speaking attendant in the office placed a call and within 30 seconds, I get a response to the affect of, “wait five minutes, she’s gonna come her.” I was a little dumbfounded, but more than willing to go on this ride. Well... it must have been a latino five minutes because it was like 15-20 by the time she got there, and tooooootally worth it. She walks into the room and im pretty sure I saw bubbles floating in after her. By she, I mean this like 70 year old ajumma (aunti... the generic term for an older woman.) Trundles into the room all smiles and wrinkles in a fur coat that made her look three feet wide. She looks around the room and then looks at me and goes, “Miguk a%*@#^Djhese23?” all I got out of that was (miguk- american)? I spoke... no korean aside from the... “I dont speak korean”, “American”, 1-10 in both of the korean number systems.... oh! and where is the bathroom. She thought it was funny ~ but not in a derisive way. I knew as soon as I saw her that I was going to live in the right hasook-jib. Oh, and a word on that. A Hasook-jib is sort of like an apartment, but its a little bit more like a dorm than a traditional apartment. Separate room, shared bathroom and these sort of... shower room... things. Nice thing is! breakfast and dinner are included in the rent, and so I get to try homestyle korean food ~ which is an experience in itself. Im not gonna pretend that its the best food ever. Its not. Its simple ~ though it is also pretty good. Honestly though... It gets realllly really repetitive. The soups keep me sane though. The variety in these soups changes so that has been keeping me stable and brightening my interest in soups... they don’t NEED to be complicated evidently. Im lovin’ it. I’ve started to go through a simplification revolution in my cooking over the past few years. When I was cooking before, in university and what not, I would always dash dash sprinkle sprinkle.... pour pour pour. More flavours just ends up making your food all taste... the same. SO! simple is good. But back to the hasook-jib. Honestly it feels a bit like a hostel...but without the shared rooms. There are a lot of people around ~ I think about 30 people over 3 floors... something like that ~ and they’re from all over the place. Seriously... its Ajumma’s favourite conversation (monologue). “We’ve got people from America, Russia, China, Japan....uh... which others? oh yah BRAZIL, France, Malaysia, Canada.... ” It goes on like that for a while and then starts to sound like a broken record or the deja vu moment in the matrix. She’s simple... but really kind. And that makes up for a lot with me in this place. (so long as I don’t have to spend tons of time in the exact same area with her.) The bathrooms though... Clean yes ~ when freshly cleaned by the ajumma’s (there’s two). However, I live on a floor with all girls.... which is awkward for me and has made strategic bathroom trips a new angle on my life. It has also led to additional collateral education about female hygiene or lack there of. By the way girls... you’re not all as clean as you may think you are. Foul. I’ll with hold some of the more grisly details until some night when we’re all exchanging stories and I need my ace in the hole. Last tidbit ~ the stalls are really... economical (too short length wise... so not narrow or (not ?) not tall enough.. but when you enter the stall and the door closes... it becomes a serious task to get your pants down and then sit back down. Oh my goodness. It makes going to school to the huge like japanese hotel-sized toilet stalls (and my goodness are they impeccably clean.) Chinese has really come in handy for me! wow, I’ve met ooooooodles of people that I wouldn’t have been able to communicate with otherwise. Its also a great go-to when I need help figuring things out like... the washing machine, which is all in Korean. Dinner conversation~ another plus. Casting people like Ajumma into complete awe that I can speak Chinese (im on another plane to her now). Sneaking up on people in Coffee shops ^_^. It is good. (aside from the bathrooms) --- Monday was a jolt. Linguistics major on the fourth language... and im beginning to think that one will never get to the point where they can just “easily” learn a language. The idea is hokum. The first three days we essentially covered the entire korean alphabet ~ which was very sensibly designed, though I pity any poor dyslexic bastards out there that are interested in learning korean. The difference between “ah” and “aw” is a vertical mirror (flip the character from left to right).... “oh” and “oo” a horizontal mirror (flip it from up to down). “n” and “k” is a diagonal mirror... yeah... its a chore and no mistake... but once you get it, its really neat. Everything is organized in syllables... at least theoretically. Korean and Japanese evidently share very similar grammar, and I KNOW theres tons of loan word from Chinese, because i’ve seen them just this week in the vocabulary we’re getting. Its a blessing in a curse, because things are easier to remember in some ways, but also easier to screw up by saying the word as I learned it in Chinese. Oh well... take it in stride ^_^. Korean is definitely a significantly more difficult language to pronounce than either Japanese or Mandarin (not counting tones...), but that also makes it really cool when you CAN pronounce it, because you had to work so hard to get there in the first place. Every time im in class, I think of the way that Leelu in “The Fifth Element” spoke English. I think its the vowels mostly which are typically more extreme than English vowels. They’re /o/, /u/ and /aw/ are all pronounced like they’re mouth is a tunnel: you kind of have to push out your lips more to say them “right.” Gosh its just adorable to listen to once you deal with the intonation issues that make Koreans (particularly girls) sound like they’re always complaining. So rather than teach you all the little bits of Korean that I know, which im sure would be just riveting, im gonna tell you about my class itself. Each class at the KLI (Korean Language Institute) at Yonsei tehakyo doesnt go above, i think 15 people, and most are 13 or less. So ~ nice small class sizes. My particular class has 2 Russians (1 with Korean parentage), 1 Mongolian who speaks Russian, 2 Chinese people, A German guy of Korean parentage, a Swiss girl, three Japanese girls, myself, and then a particularly unpleasant girl from Iran. --- Its REALLLY interesting to be in such a mix of different people again. There are people at my school from all over the place. Different faces, different races, different languages and a whole bunch of polyglots (multiple language speakers). And while frustrating, its also really nice to be getting back into the dirty of learning a language. No one in my class seems to think its easy, which is nice. Other classes even at the same technical level as us seem to think parts of it are easy... but those savages had evidently already studied the alphabet on their own and new a few things before coming and/or had korean parents and know a decent amount of Korean from their rearing, but not in a thorough enough way to make it to level 2 (particularly regarding how to write Korean). I may be “beneath” them now... but im not worried ~ hard work and effective studying practices win out over such things in the long run, and there are few things I can think of that are such a long run as language learning. There is always a tomorrow, and as long as you have done your best with today, tomorrow will be better ~ even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Its funny to me to look at my class and my school and look at how many languages are spoken ~ often times people already speak 2-3 languages with some degree of proficiency. Who else would be crazy enough to spend as much money as we do to pack up and go to Korea to study language without much more of an end goal than “I wanna.” Many of the people here will only be here for a semester or two, so I expect level 3 to be significantly thinner than the first two levels. Learning styles are also interesting, because people like myself don’t always completely groove with the repetition that is used for the initial teaching in class. You can hit me in the face with a dictionary a thousand times, and I may learn your words, but it doesnt mean i’ll be able to use those words, remember them for very long, and it will probably take the thousand times for it to stick period (and i’d really prefer to not be black and blue for such reasons.) My rote memory isn’t that great... in fact its kind of terrible. Thats part of why I don’t remember names very well, but i’ll remember extensive details about people after just a few moments talking with them. However, if I can find a way to grasp the meaning of a word and how it would be used in a context that relates to my sphere of influence! I might remember it after hearing it three times. Strange - but cool. much better than getting beaten black and blue with a dictionary. --- And we capped it all off by “going out” last night, which was a singularly difficult task to accomplish because we had about 23 people. Try to fit that in to any one given bar club or restaurant on the spur of a moment. It doesn’t work so well... Anyhow, I decided rather fully that there is no allure to clubs and bars for me. I would much rather consume alcohol in a home or at a park. It is far more agreeable and cost effective. The only reason I can see for myself to go to a bar at this point is if they are particularly good at mixing drinks. Otherwise... if your just looking to “get the job done” with a few good friends... institutions are more trouble than they’re worth. With the possible exception of karaoke places in China... but thats a different world entirely. Met some very interesting people... and realized that some other people were... not... that interesting, and further grew to love this herd of Brazilian Koreans that I have been spending time with. They’re even reversing my previous bias against the portuguese language. How bout that? Most interesting people of the night: A trio of Swedish girls... one with Chilean parents, another with Macedonian parents, and the other with startlingly blond hair and swedish parents (I believe...). Having only been in Korea for around two weeks, their thorough knowledge of K-pop (korean pop) songs was truly, in its purist form, amazing. They evidently listened to a lot of K-pop back home in Sweden on account of there being nothing to do there.... except probably knit fantastic sweaters and mittens I’m sure. A four foot nothin’ 18 year old japanese girl who evidently has the drinking capacity of three viking men and a passion for speaking korean and.... the ubiquitous K-pop. Could she scream it out... oh my. Otherwise, honestly, we spent a large part of that evening walking around in the frigid air trying to find either a restaurant or place to drink...or waiting for people to show up. The logistics for that size of group really are a nightmare. Also... that size of group usually has to splinter into factions just for the sake of having a decent conversation. Its not worth it. If you’re just going to do it to meet new people... i’d say house party would have to be the way to go ~ and who wants to offer up their dwelling to that kind of abuse? an excellent question indeed. Most interesting people of the week ~ the herd of Brazil born Koreans. What... and odd... mix. These super friendly folk, who didn’t really intentionally come together, but happened to come at the same time, are an absolute trip. They told me that Brazilian people anywhere in the world will most likely find each other in a random place and go party together. Its just what they do. --- It is good, and it is as simple as that.