Posts Tagged With: Gratitude

)'( And the beat goes on…

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I’ve left Korea for an extended time now. The trip is that I pulled out a couple months ago and have had a wild time since.

I started in LA, went to Burning Man, then to Symbiosis, bought 9 plane tickets since my last post, met a particular woman as a key co-operator in this trail I’m on, am writing from Ecuador, and will need to change the title to and/or address of this blog. It will need to migrate, as I have done so as well. The new name and address will be created and published at a later time.
For now, a blog-post:

View from Quito off the edge of the rooftop lounge of The Secret Garden Hostel.

View from Quito off the edge of the rooftop lounge of The Secret Garden Hostel.

Wow!  What an amazing ride! I am in-fact in Ecuador at this moment at a cool little hostel made of stone, bamboo, palm fronds and hard wood. Populated by as many dogs as people, this place is a chill reality here in the mist of low-season on the beach-side of Montanita. I arrived here yesterday after a strenuous trip that brought me and my travel partner to places that had no name, places that were closed, places that were inappropriate-but-perfect and included a whole freakin’ lot of sitting on bumpy buses through the countryside of Ecuador.

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For the first leg, I was kept awake as much by the need to pop my ears as we came down from the highlands as much as anything else. Unfortunately, it was night-time and couldn’t see the scene roll by. What I found the next day as our journey continued, was that the scene going by was questionable at least, and considering more, sad. There’re a lot of broke folk here in Ecuador, and it was apparent as we traveled that where people sometimes don’t have the same access to certain material elements, they can certainly improvise to create and maintain a way of life that brings about a happy and beautiful existence. Am I wrong to totally appreciate the graffiti? There was so much of it that I couldn’t get enough of!

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Further in, I landed at a cool town that is finally chill enough that I can get some writing done. I’ve put pages into paper, I’ve caught up on some letters, and am finally re-emerging here in the text of Dataland. Not that I wasn’t in great places, but I need places that don’t have external elements popping about in order to write. I need to have something of a space that isn’t talking at me and asking for me to go have fun~ And lately, I’ve had a lot of fun!

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To begin with, I landed in Los Angeles where a friend put me up in a space she runs that contains hundreds of artists in dozens of studios and shops that were all creative in their own ways~ This was a brilliant way for me to land after two years in Korea~

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For two years, I’ve been able to work on being a graphics man, but nothing with weight to it, nothing that required a power-tool or anything of the sort. That was brilliant~ August 9th, 4pm, I got on a plane in Seoul, got off a plane in LA August 9th at noon. From there, I fell straight into the action of creative design and activity provided by that space. That~ was simply elemental.

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After a few weeks there ~ only leaving for deli sandwiches and evening events- either with my cousins or hosted by Burning Man camps ~ I finally found myself headed to Burning Man with a band of strays from the City of Angels who were both organized and disorganized at the same time. Quite the cluster-f*3k at times, I was somehow able to have quite an amazing time in the center of the storm. Later named Gasket by my campmates for my positioning as an instrumental if somewhat only marginally effective buffer between two strong forces that were pressed uncomfortably against each other in the form of people in my camp, I was able to participate with some success such that I left the event feeling much better for the experience, including the meeting of the above mentioned lady-co-conspirator.

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Coming from Burning Man, I was planning on visiting a friend who was in Utah~ An old friend who I consider one of the rare few who are worth extra effort, and as such, had planned a visit for a week with her. The visit was fun, peaceful, pleasant. As an odd overlap, the lady I alluded to earlier happens also to be a resident of Utah and had invited me to visit with her as well. Initially, I had expected it would be impossible. Luckily, there was an unplanned business trip that allowed me to visit with her for three days in an Idaho cowboy-town built around a set of hot-springs that provided quite a nice cleansing after the dusty event that Burning Man is, not that I hadn’t cleaned off, just~ very centering~ especially as I was hoping to get to know this particular human a bit better.  I went back to my other friend’s home with clear eyes and an open mind, enjoyed the rest of my visit and traveled on to the Bay Area where I had two other friends expecting me within the plan of both social visiting and a design of a new tattoo for my back. The first friend I met was an old friend who sketched the lines, the second laid me down and scratched my back with needles for an extreme amount of time resulting in a beautiful bit of art adorning my epidermis. To those two humans, I am deeply grateful.

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Oddly enough, parts of the same group I camped with at Burning Man were also planning on being in the Bay Area at the same time and they asked me to join them to another festival for another production. As such, I went to Symbiosis and helped create a piece of art named Occam’s Razor. It was a 25 foot steel structure that we both produced on-site as an installation of performance art and utilized in a final show at midnight of the Friday/Saturday (I forget) of the event in a percussion format where we put all the people up on top and showed it off. The full video is here. That was fun.

Following that~ I went to SEATTLE~

Have I expressed to the internet (read: you) how much I love Seattle lately?

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See, it’s the city that so amazingly welcomed me when I was looking for a place to call home so many years ago with the warmest embrace that I can never forget or lose the feeling of. It was the most amazing thing to me to have been travelling between 1995 from place to place until 2001, when I arrived to Seattle and found a community that was able to take me in all my weirdness and animation and show me how I could be useful and appreciated at the same time, with gusto. So, of course I’ve called it home ever since, even if I have mostly lived in Asia since 2007. No matter. Seattle is still where I go back to. I have my closest friends in the highest density there, I like the weather, the city still prides itself as being a leader in the world of arts and all things cool. Just try and sell me on another city, I’ll show you a hard sell.

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So I went back~ for three weeks I planned on being there~ Friends had offered their homes to me to use while I was there, and events were planned, leaned in on, and improvised so that I could see as many of my friends as humanly possible while I was there. That was good.

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Okay, so dig~ Not only all that~ but the lady I mentioned that keeps requiring extra words came north to visit… She induced me to become a tourist in my own city~ much to my pleasure~ where we went as far as actually signing up for one of the underground tours through the old city- which I had never done~ Glad I did~ She was great company~ we went all over the city together~ To many places that I recall as my favorite places just so she could see them, and I was pleased as punch to share them with her. So pleased~

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So now I’ve left Seattle and am chillin’ on the coast in Mantanita, Ecuador getting ready for a 5-week class based on becoming a better teacher by relaxing on a beach.

So that’s how far I’ve gone since my last blogpost~

Freakin’ far~

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Goodbye Korea~      So long and thanks for it all…

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Birth of a Snapshot

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Heh heh heh

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From the notebook:

As I look over the stone schoolhouse, Korean flag waving in the light 35 degree wind, I imagine exactly where I’m going to be in one month’s time. . .

Los Angeles, preparing for a festival to blow minds off in record time. Heading with a troupe of characters that will be setting up the kind of amazing spectacle that can only be seen intentionally.

But right now, I have a view, as I’ve had every Thursday and Friday for the last two years, that will remain the same for years to come. Nothing in this image will change. The building in the window has been there for 50 years and will likely be there 50 more. The sky is wide and void of other buildings. The area doesn’t require buildings higher than two or three stories. Why should it? There’s plenty of space. Plenty of time to walk from one to another. So much stillness…

It’s 10:30am and I’ve already had a liter of water. Already sweated through my shirt twice and am tasked with exactly nothing for this afternoon’s activities. After work, I will go home, clean up my apartment, and have a house-sale and dinner with friends as I prepare for my departure.

There are times that I remember with clarity, others are lost. My thoughts are on writing, but not here. Not in this box. I must use a pen.

And so I did…

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The systematic overflow of the population is a residual of the medical and social advancement in the last few generations, but it’s worth wondering if it can peak like any other graph that gets pegged. That being said, I don’t think it’s a bad thing per se, more of an interesting balancing act.
Considering the fluctuation has me thinking about the cities that are so crammed full of people, together with the rural elements, it seems that there will always be a balance.

Right now is simply the product of an extremely prosperous time. I think our greatest void is our self-esteem ~ both micro and macro-scopically ~ in a sense that every day, people couple successes with self-depreciating ideas and comments habitually, ritualistically, and we (as a species) tend to look at foreign cultures as adversaries rather than neighbors on the same path. The cultural prejudices that inspire people to belittle achievements or to accentuate the faults of others (so as to look or seem superior) have got to be checked. The self-depreciating commentary I witness among peers is tantamount to the equivalent of abuse if it were coming from somebody else. Yikes! If we’re headed to Hell in a hand basket, we don’t need to paddle down stream. It would seem to me that we would do well with a little of the opposite. We have come so far. Even if it is not your fault personally, you should feel proud for the achievements that other people outside your family, town, country have done. You should use their successes as inspiration, to prove that anything really can happen. The world certainly has surprised before.

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Philo of an Expat:   See, once a body has made it out of the bubble, it’s clear the world has got to be seen, felt, experienced, walked through, smelled, sensationed beyond description, beyond imagination, beyond the expectations, abandoned years ago having noticed their inapplicability to the world at large, along with common sense when it became obvious that such constructs are simply more appropriately termed cultural or regional norms, rather than any inherent human reflex of the wise.

And once that happens, the method of travel, of financial stability while living on the road has got to be figured out. I have chosen English teaching for now. Maybe one day, I could be a buyer for somebody who runs a shop in the states, maybe another profession completely ie: writing for travel mags or something. But the business is rather competitive and I’m not a big fan of being competitive in formats like that most of the time.

Theoretically, once the loans are paid, I can dive into the world with even more reckless abandon. Spending instead on the best possible health insurance plan or diving from place to place. I could see the whole planet and write about it as I pass through.

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Today’s Snapshot:

Woke up late and laden heavily with a properly earned headache from a bit of dehydration created from sleeping in the heat of my room after having a gloriously successful party just last night. I had about a dozen people at my place for gnocchi and a house sale where we visited and hung out, had dinner, picked through some of my old gear and decided to keep on to a norae bang or singing room, afterwards.

So, of course everyone left all the things they wanted from me at my house in little piles for themselves to get later, and we went out to sing. I went to sleep looking at 4am on my telephone’s clock and checked out for the night.

As I woke this morning, the hangover combined with the small mountain of dishes in the sink led to a slow venture into my day. Finally, put the house and my head into order, to where I could leave the house around noon. Got to the station to find that the next train to Seoul was leaving in over an hour!! I had some time to kill.

The train station is very close to one of the schools that I teach at, so I figured it would be a good plan to walk to it to gather some sunshine, keep myself occupied and otherwise bring a smile to the situation.

It’s a beautifully hot and sunny day today, so it was good I had my water, and was pleased to find shade now and then. The school is a couple kilometers away, so I had more than a few nice moments with my camera, and eventually burned about 45 minutes on the walk. I still had 45 minutes to wait, so I figured on a slow stroll through the station to bide my time.

It’s a small place. Only two tracks. One sitting room with two cafes, one restaurant and a convenience store, and in the main walkway there is an area that has pictures of the buildings that are being built in the area as part of a massive infrastructural installation that is featured around the station. So I walked slowly and looked at each one of the artistic representations of what is to come.

While doing so, I have to say, I was brought to laughter by a simple oversight that the artists/planners showed in their pictures. A few of them had shadows pointing in three different directions! Always within the same 90 degree quadrant, but as much as, wait, no, there was one that could have been 140 degrees off. Seriously, just a funny thing to see on what was surely an expensive and otherwise thoughtful image.

So I had my fun with that and yes, I snapped a few photos, but soon I was done there and had to go sit down.

***A few of those shots***

Consider the shading. Notice where the shadow from the tree in the foreground lays almost at 20 degrees west of north, then the ones from the railing in the left look like they are heading 85 degrees west of north, then with the building, the smaller wing that comes off on the right, the shadow lays coming towards us, as if the sun is now off to the right and the shadow is now coming in at us.

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Now for a few from the walk.

The path from the station from two angles.

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A couple shots of my school during the walk up to it.

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Some locals just below my school.

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Up close.

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Back at the station:

The wooden benches weren’t exactly built for comfort, but nobody seemed to mind. More of a Zombie-limbo-parking-lot-for-the-digitally-inclined vibe than anything else. So I sat, and I waited between the tv seething garble and the friendly texter.

When it came time for the train to come, I went up to the outdoor platform, enjoying the warm air that welcomed me as I stepped up from the climate controlled zone I’d been in. Found yet another flat wooden bench to sit on and copped a squat.

The sun was shining and I put on my shades and just leaned back. Arms behind me just relaxing, when up lumbers a fella who’s obviously drunk and totally interested in my tattoos. Now, I’m kind of used to the attention that they get now and then as a lot of Korean folk don’t get tattoos so they’re a bit of a spectacle but this guy was something else. He leaned in like he couldn’t see’m ‘less he could smell’m. Head about 3-4 inches from my arm, totally bent at the waist to do it. I let him stare like a mentally challenged fella, but then he reaches in for my other arm and I calmly make like I’m gonna pour my water on his shoes to let him understand he is no longer welcome.

He gets it. So he’s traveling with two other fellas who don’t seem as drunk, but they are there, so he wanders over to them then plops down on the bench I’m on. Now, there’s another guy between us, but he gets up on account of the other dude’s smell and the way he just dropped down on the bench. Just read of trouble. So then it’s just him and me. I ignored him until I felt his hand on my arm which I instinctively and quickly swat away ~ telling him “That’s twice” and go back to chillin’. He’s obviously shaken, his friends come in closer, but I continued to enjoy the sunshine. No bugger like that’s takin’ my sun-time away from me. Hah! Good times.

Then it was time for the train we got on at different doors. While walking on the train later to find a coke, I saw him passed out – (at noon mind you!) in his seat. Heh.

The train ride was good. Quick. It got me to Seoul in about one and a half hours.  Seoul is a known variable. I needed to get to Insadong for some gift-shopping, burned a hundred bucks there or so and am now on the subway to the south end of the city to meet a buddy for a pizza before a poi jam.

Damn fine day~ Hmm. 6 more stops. Let me share a little bit of what Insadong is with you.

So, it’s this overly marketing-filled arts district that actually has a bunch of great restaurants, galleries, tea shops and nice things for gifts if all the redundancy of bookmarks and fans don’t get in the way. I bought myself my first watch in many years, a cool leather banded piece, simple, inexpensive, $20, but cool style. For gifts, I bought 3 business card holders that are inlaid with abalone, a pair of fans, some Korean paper to wrap things in, a stash of masks for burners, some more of these crazy-comic all-so-Korea anime socks and a collection of note cards with pressed flowers that will come in handy when the time is right to use them.

My stop is soon and this paper is valuable and almost filled, so I’ll call it for the day’s snapshot. Almost at Maebong to meet Seoul-Hunter on our way to Manshigan Studios.

July 13, 2013.

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Back from London~ Part 1

On the bus from Incheon~ Finally.

My flight was delayed last night, resulting in a wonderfully long conversation with a lady from GuangXi who told me many things about her area that make me reconsider my plans of location. See, I was just in London for an interview with a Saudi oil conglomerate, and simply didn’t get the job. No big deal to that effect. I had no expectations, just a glimmer of hope and in the interview, I did in fact fail at one or two of the grammar questions in a way that resulted in me being denied the 4-5000 dollar a month salary that I otherwise could have enjoyed. Maybe some other time. Not to worry.

So the delay also made me miss my bus home. As a result, I’m missing a day of work that I otherwise would have disliked as it is with a teacher who has recently changed her attitude towards me and is getting increasingly argumentative with her interaction. As such, I don’t mind in the slightest the fact that I missed her school’s day. And ultimately, it wasn’t my fault at all. I had the ticket to make the trip, and simply wasn’t able to do so on account of my flight being delayed for a full two hours coming out of Guangzhou, China.

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The hotel that I was given was really nice. It had a giant room that was basically a small apartment. It was complete with a full-sized refrigerator, a washing machine and stove. Not the normal hotel room. They even gave me a meal ticket for the restaurant next door and covered my taxi on the way there (there was a free shuttle to get back to the airport in the morning anyway). So now I’m on a bus at 2:45 in the afternoon instead of landing back at my home 12 hours earlier. I had a great night’s sleep and am ready for work tomorrow. Should be good.

So London!!!  Omagahd!

What a wild ride! First thing I noticed was that all the signage was purely in English~ I know, that may sound silly as a concept, but I’m used to English being a secondary language, if available at all. So that was super cool. I got off the plane, walked with the bunch through the corridors and eventually arrived at the queue for getting my passport stamped. About ten minutes into waiting, I realized that I had forgotten my duty-free bag that had all the things from Amsterdam that I had bought during my layover there! Of course, I consulted the nearest person, and decided to go back. The thing is, these corridors aren’t marked with numbers or names, as they’ve been created for one-way access, with no effort given to people’s needs on the way back. So I worked my way back through the winding halls to the final passageway to my airplane where a bloke was sitting with a newspaper. As I headed down the passageway, he called to me and I explained my sitch~ He said it was no problem, that he’d go and get it. So I wrote him a thank-you card on a Cambodian post card and felt the joy of reconnecting with my giant block of cheese and other random trinkets I’d picked up while wandering the Amsterdam airport.DSCN5790

Headed back to the customs line, I was a bit behind schedule. Maybe burned a half hour on it. So I was the absolute last soul to pass through the line, and made my way down the escalators into the Tube and on my way to my friend’s place in North London. The fare was a surprising seven quid and some change, which comes out to about ten US dollars for the international reader who hasn’t opened XE.com in the last few weeks. So, it was quite a lot to me, coming from Seoul where all trips, no matter how long are usually under three dollars worth  of Korean won.  But whatever, I had known coming into the visit that all  things met would have price-tags larger than I would expect, that I should just pay them and move on with my day. And so I did.

Into the Tube! It was a treat to see such an old and legendary tunnel system. It was celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, not that I saw much more than the occasional note on a signboard with a 150 on it, but none the less, that is an old system!

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It had stops that were war memorials reminding folks how the tubes had been used as bomb shelters in WW2. Others had interesting old-school wood-paneled doors that seemed to be interesting entryways that surely were cut off to the general public, but had served as something of a passage to authorized people. There were ads completely in English…  Oh, what a treat to not have to try and translate!

The trip ultimately took about an hour and a half, including the bus from the station to the neighborhood that my friends lived in and the walk from where I got off the bus to their house.

When I arrived, my friend was just walking in from a friend of his having come by and was just leaving, so I was able to call out to him to leave open the gate. He was of course surprised someone would call to him, but when he saw me it was all smiles. He and his lady-friend live in a lovely abode in the back-garden of the home of her parents, who clearly built this space with their children in mind. The building was covered in camouflage and on the inside was absolutely a treat! The door opens into a large sitting room with thick, plush couches, covered in giant pillows of all sorts, walls covered in well-framed art of all styles and a thin but sturdy table six people could sit for dinner at, including the ends. Off from the living room was the kitchen, bathroom and their bedroom, which reached even further to an additional bedroom for guests like myself, and then on into a small office where they had a computer under a window overlooking the yard we’d walked through to get in, in the first place.

Staying with them added such a wonderful dimension to my visit; it’s hard to imagine what my trip would have been like without their pleasurable company and physical presence. That being said, we began our collective adventure by heading out to a classic English pub, as that is on my short-list of things needed from my life’s first foray into the island’s life. So they took me to a spot that was in the neighborhood of 400 years old as a pub, and had a kind of draft-beer I’d never seen before, and I don’t just mean the brand. The way it was taken from the keg was by a pumping that reminded me of a hand-pump that brings water from the ground. It was that. There was no secondary gas providing the pressure to bring it up, just the pump. I thought that was cool. So we sat down in the old seats provided at tables that looked like they’d come from the middle-ages, only well-thickened by years of polishing. It was cool, definitely cool. But alas, British pubs close early in North London, and we only had time for one pint before the house was ready to see us out. None-the-less, achievement unlocked! A pint of local beer in a 400 year-old English pub~ hell yea!

We weren’t done though. We stopped by a store on the way, grabbed a few more and headed back their lush pad for the remainder of our evening. We proceeded to crack out the bottles of soju that I’d brought as a house-gift and we proceeded to play games and share life-goals and chat whimsically into the wee hours when we fell into our respective beds, I waking in exactly what I’d worn the day before, and none the worse for wear for it. Rather a nice factor. So, hangover-free, I began to sift my real logistics about the project of being in London. I isolated my clothes to wear, text-messaged my second friend in the city, and dove into my email where a spot of information was waiting for me to help prepare me for my interview the next morning. By three o’clock I was ready to leap into the city and agreed to meet up with my hosts later in the evening with the help of my second friend whom I planned on meeting at 5:30 that same day. As I ventured out, I felt the mist. It was a pleasant, mild mist that hung in the air not falling or rising, just keeping all things ever so slightly damp for the English ambiance that it allowed. My trek to the train station was a good 15 minute walk and I had a plan to stop in on a computer shop on the way to print a few documents that were needed for the meeting in the morning. Otherwise, I was all about just checking out the little bits around me, like the markets that had bowls of fruit for a pound and the folks waiting for double-decker buses on the left side of the street. At the computer shop, I read an email that shared there was no need for the printing, so that simplified my bits a bit. Then I stepped up and finished my tromp to the station. In I went, and down I sat to watch the walls buzz by me. I was to sit in the tube for just a few bits, maybe 20 minutes, then shift to another line and travel one or two stops up to where my second friend would be meeting me.

During the transfer, I was able to again enjoy the unique architecture of the London Tube. Its walls were old, red, laid-brick that showed its age yet was certainly not going anywhere soon. Its solidity was surely tested a generation ago when the German bombs echoed above, and it stood through that, so no summer breeze was going to chip that last crumble, that’s for sure. So as I popped into the second train, and then out into the sunlight above, I was taken by a sight of great achievement. In front of me was an open-air atrium-like area that was a vast expanse and was clearly a newly redesigned space. Directly in front of where I stood was a building that was likely a hundred years old or more. A straight-bricked, cream-painted large jut from the ground who’s upper floors were hidden by the new-age wide, rolling roof over the square that was constructed of round tube-steel and was twisting and curving all around. I took a quality panorama-shot of it. The photograph almost looks fake, but isn’t at all. Maybe I’ll be able to attach it here for posterity.DSCN5798

Ah, okay. There it is. It does fit nicely here in the writing. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, then I’m up to nearly 3,000 for this (really only 1,878).

I decided to head directly for my friend’s location as I figured it would take plenty of time to find and I could just mill about for a bit. So that’s what I did. To the left from where I stood at the point of the photograph, there was an information booth where a fellow was able to look up the name of the hotel and point me in the right direction. I was only about three blocks from where I needed to be. So I thanked him, told him that my students were super big-fans of his and explained that I was honored to meet the famous Simon from the legendary Simon-Says game. He laughed and I headed out.

Eventually, I found the hotel, a modest but elegant one located across from a park with questionable occupants, but a tall fence, and I noted the time. It was five o’clock, which gave me 30 minutes to burn before our planned meeting. Remembering a pub around the corner, I headed that way, bought a pint and sat at a window booth in the mid-afternoon sun to go over some of the notes that were sent to me the previous day regarding my interview in the morning. As my clock ticked on, and my notes grew longer, I finished my pint, shut the lid of my laptop and set out to meet my friend. When I arrived, I found him sleeping in a large leather couch with the look of a fellow who’d just finished a large holiday meal and has fallen asleep during the football match following it. There he was, feet up on the table, mouth and arms open for the world and quiet rested in the room. My greeting was laughter at the sight and we began to catch up.

From here, I will begin again later as my computer’s battery is about to fail. A good day it was.

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12 Weeks left

As I notice the clock on the wall, I notice that the alarm is about to ring.

I’ve spent nearly two years in this small town, and it’s almost time to go.

My time here has been all over the map with how I’ve felt about it. There were times that I would have liked to go home, and times that I could stay forever if I thought hard enough about it. The thing is, I’ve got to let go of this peninsula and all the people on it so that I can get back~ get back to where I once belonged…

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Obviously, I’m seeing good sights around here. But the time is coming, and I’ve got to be off.

The plan is to get back to the states, Check out Burning Man with an angle on the arts, Travel to visit my family and friends, and Get back out into the world again.

Right now, it looks like I’ll be headed to a city in Saudi Arabia that is known for its large sculptures. I’ll see if I can’t get aligned with the artists in the area and we’ll see what we can do about some good sidelining. What a great way to learn the language and the culture, yea?

So that’s what I’m looking at. And so I thought I’d poke my head into this blog to smile a broad sunshine warped smile because the summer’s come, and that’s what I get to remember.

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Poemesqeishness

So I found what might be a poem about love, loss, transcending, and remembering…Written in Busan, August 2012 about a lady in Utah, Seattle. Sing it again Smokey…

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~For Kg.

Lookin’ out at the wind
I’m reminded of your grin
That I can’t seem to find.

Our times were timeless
And not nearly long enough together

Blastin’ caps over the waterside
Gets the energy of emotions out.

Blastin’ caps over the ocean side
Allows life to be danced to.

The jazz bar on the 7th floor
Has never heard a saxophone before.

The completely interactive
Amplified player’s
A comedian.

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The long strange trip continues

Somehow the experience of my Korean phenomenon is still in action almost two years into the third go here. It’s absolutely amazing the abstraction of actually being here. It’s late April, we were celebrating Spring’s arrival yesterday, and woke up to snow. It just never ceases to amaze me how strange the planet Earth can be sometimes. But I feel like I’m still ahead of the curve, no matter how bent it all seems to get. Went out with some friends for dinner and drinks afterward and understood them all to have woken up with hangovers. I’m not sure how that happened. Maybe they just drank more than me. Maybe my body is comfortable more easily with a barrage of sedative chemicals than theirs. One of them seems genuinely damaged. I hope he feels better soon. Life is hard on folks when they land in a new land sometimes. There’s the local bacteria to get used to, the local allergens, local languages and customs… It ain’t always easy travelin’ the planet. I like it well enough though.
I’ve been applying for jobs in the Middle East all week. I finally got my hair cut and a good mugshot made for professional purposes, so now my applications can be submitted completely. Not to mention the lovely reference that my co-teacher wrote for me.

Yesterday…
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Yea, I know, I won’t have any more late night bar-hopping if and when I go, but that doesn’t really bother me. I like booze, but I like chocolate and apples too. It’s just a random substance that makes me happy. I can swap one for the other and not worry too much about it. It feels kinda cool to be going somewhere that’s dry anyway. It’ll be an interesting juxtaposition with Korean style which puts ratty cheap booze with every social gathering possible. Why am I dismissive of the style? Because it’s cheap, ratty booze. Soju’s lame. Their beer is lame. It’s like shifting from fresh apples off a tree to one that fell off a week ago and got lost under some grasses, turned brown and kinda got soft. Yea, that’s measuring soju against nice beverages such as Bowmore, or Jameson, or Laphroag, nice things. Things that you don’t gulp. This is a land that Jack Daniels is treated as an expensive, classy drink… Carlo Rossi is sold in 700 ml. bottles and given shelf-space half-way up the wall… Do you get what I’m sayin? Anyway, I certainly won’t miss it… Fun fact~ Diesel was found in soju last week. http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2013/04/116_133238.html Seriously, the stuff is poison.
Okay, so clearly I’m good letting go of that. 🙂

Today…
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Wow~ the country is pretty awesome when it isn’t snowing on what was supposed to be the first summer Saturday~ I really look forward to the summer here. It’s bound to be right around the corner. I guess… Anyway, with it will come long bike rides, warm winds and blue skies. My last summer here in Korea for a while I figure~ Then off the USA~ I haven’t had a summer there since 2010~ I love the idea of going back the way I’m doing it.
Going back for Burning Man~ It’s going to be so chill~
Can’t talk about that until it’s in the past tense, but the future looks good from here, real good.

To warm weather!!

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How to be totally tied up with nothing to do.

I showed up at work today with my worksheets already printed and ready to copy. First two periods of the day were scheduled as two of the three that I would teach all day. I rode in on my motorbike a 14 km ride through the winding country roads on a warming spring day feeling like I was going to accomplish tons today! I had 15 tabs open in my Mozilla browser, ready to hit and work with~ Jobs to apply for, for January 2014 when I plan to re-enter the work-force, Articles to read and consider to comment about for the ongoing conversation that is the sociological paradox of lots of noise but little shift, and Arabic on my mind, as I had printed some worksheets out yesterday to practice my handwriting. I was feelin’ good!

I rolled into the office, made my copies, made a coffee with a hint of chocolate and went upstairs 5 minutes early to get the Powerpoint ready to show… And then it began… The saga that was to engulf the entirety of my free-time for the rest of the day…
Korea’s schools have created a security firewall that won’t let me use my flash drive, but I can offer it to the system if I don’t ever want to use it in my own computer……
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that security in a school (read: government office) is a reasonable and useful thing… However, there is a purpose for the USB flashdrive, and that is the transfer of files from one computer to another. See, here’s the thing… That is no longer an option… As of today, my flash drive will only work on computers within the system, and will also require three passwords on the way in and two on the way out. Seriously?
Wow, okay. So, gone are the days that I could just pop my flash drive in with the new work I’d built on my computer at home and have the kids actually dig on their learning experience…
Ultimately, there is a work-around. I can email things to myself and then capture them in the system. Then move them around otherwise… Which kind of defeats the purpose of the whole system if you think about it. If I can just upload and download, there’s no actual security. So that’s fun.
I guess it’s all about monitoring. What else could it be?
Well, whatever. At least I deal well in analogue too. With the worksheets I printed out, I was able to have interactive classroom experiences and the kids had a good time practicing their English.
Funny!

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That Awkward Moment When…

…you find out that a poem that you thought you had written was actually written by someone else 4 years before you were ever born…
http://mylifeyoga.com/2011/10/01/i-am-nothing-and-i-am-everything/

When I published the poem, I genuinely thought it was one of mine. This is as timely a bit of notice to any reading public that I can give that I can see it clearly is his. This was not brought to my attention by anyone, I just noticed it.

The method Rainshine was born was that I wrote in notebooks that I kept for years and years…  When I decided to build Rainshine, I literally had cases of notebooks that I simply dumped out and tore through pulling out whatever seemed cool enough to keep, throwing away the gnarled scribbles of a youthful haze.

When I transcribed the pages (a process that took a whole year creating over 600 documents, both long and short), I copied what was on the page~ and many pages did indeed have citations of other people~ as seen in three locations in the book. I don’t at all mind giving credit when I know it’s due.

I honestly thought it was mine~ so I took credit for it because I found it in my notes looking like something that I would write. My work is not for money or glory, it is for the beauty of the word. I will continue to share the poem, but add the citation of “by, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj” from now on.

This error was noticed recently (maybe two or three days ago) ~ a friend of mine posted it in its original form, to his Facebook timeline and I had to start looking into it…  I believe that at some point, I read his poem, loved it, re-wrote it, then simply neglected to cite it due to my lack of forethought.  Another friend has reposted it in his timeline, but without citation since then.

I would like to set it straight that I no longer claim to be the original author of a poem I previously did claim. I stand by the entirety of my work otherwise. This was a stoned teenager’s mistake. It’s a beautiful poem. I guess I’ll have to write more stuff now…  Oh, I wrote a 37 page short story recently about a ladybug in love~ if you’d like to see it in beta, let me know.

Wisdom and Love

When I realize I am nothing,
That is Wisdom.
When I realize I am everything,
That is love.
And between these two,
My life moves…
by, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

~Respect~

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Bypassing the Obvious~

Truth is, my vacation in Cambodia and Vietnam was so stunning, so mind-blowing, it’s hard to put it into words. I’m not even going to give it a go just yet. This post is about a weekend that lasted four full days, covered three cities and I’m not even sure how many events that absolutely rocked my status~ Yes, it was a 5 train, 4 sauna, 3 meeting, 2 evening show, and 1 achieved primary goal of getting to all people and seeing all things possible~ kind of weekend.
Typically, I’d finish writing in the notebook where I start, but as I’ve put over 12 pages into handwritten format, I’ll start putting it down here so that I can continue from where I left off, here in typographic form.

2April_tnFrom the notes:
February 24th, Sunday, Itaewon Station.

I’m just now heading back from an incredible weekend that began mid-day Thursday from Gimcheon, where I live when I headed south-east to the city of Ulsan where I had plans to meet friends for a bit of an event. Taking the train is my favorite way to travel long distances in Korea, so I went to the station in town to catch one. A fairly uneventful ride in itself, it did offer the views I’ve come to find commonplace, but still enjoy. My train stopped in Dong-Daegu, or East Daegu so that I could transfer to another line as the train I was riding at first wasn’t going to take me all the way… Speaking of trains… I just took one to Samgakji Station where again, I wait for the connection… which is now arriving… That one brought me to my new way-station, Seoul Yuk, or Seoul Station if you like, where I will wait for my next train for the final leg in this epic loop ~ which last had us at a stop-over in Daegu headed East last Thursday. And that’s where I will resume from now.
As I said, my stop at Dong-Daegu was to facilitate a transfer, one from a Mugunghwa level train (regular) to a high-speed KTX line that would take me on to Ulsan. Of course I had a bit of time between the trains so I began walking around the concourse which is a grand installation of pillars, glass and shopping that an engineer somewhere is surely very proud of. As I walked, I not only enjoyed the creative design of the semi-circle shape of the overall environment, how it provided layer upon layer of relaxed spaces for people to sit, shop, congregate or walk, I also considered the shops myself, as I was a little hungry and I did have nearly half an hour to work with.

Eventually, almost all the way to the end of the ring of shops, I found a dumpling shop that was steaming a collection of buns and dumplings that seemed like the perfect answer to my hunger.
I sat down, ordered the variety set and enjoyed the collection of mandu set in front of me until it was time for me to go to my train. When I did, the race was on ~ we glided at over 300kmph on to our destination at the coast where I hopped out and caught a bus into the center of town. My intention was to catch up to an open mic session so that I could perform and record a few bits. It was incredibly fun.

I might as well have been licked clean by a team of nymphs, I felt so good with a microphone and a pair of guitarists who were completely into it. We simply rocked the night. I realize I shouldn’t equate musical performance with surreal pleasure so decadent, but honestly it is just heaven when it works ~  If only because it happens so rarely ~ or maybe it just feels as right as rain on a spring’s breeze. I performed at first with a friend who traveled with me in Vietnam and had already heard me sing, and I knew his guitar work, so we both went into the improvisation with a bit of knowledge for the other’s style, but ultimately it was improv and we had never played together before, so we had fun feeling it out as it went down.

I sat with a circle of friends who didn’t know me but we all had friends in common. As we had been sitting together before the performance, when I was finished I went back to visiting with’em. They were a fun bunch of folks, and I’m sure if I go back, we’ll enjoy each other again. The second guitarist for my second set was also really good. He and I hadn’t played together before, but what the hell, we had a good time. Now that I think about it, I remember jumping stage on him because he was floundering on stage, starting and stopping and obviously having a hard time figuring out what to play. But he was playing some really cool licks. Just chords really ~ and they needed to be hit like I did, so I did. We built about 6 songs there. Unfortunately I didn’t record our set.  Too bad, one of the songs was a cherry. Oh well. It was a fine night. The bar owner bought me a tall glass of old scotch when it was over. That’s always a nice thing. So I ride with my buddy to his place on his scooter after the show and crashed out after a minute of thinking about it. Woke up recalling a dream in which I had magical children ~ it was pretty cool.
DSCN5268 - Copy_tn
~ Right now, I’m in Seoul Station and I have to go down to the next train on the list of transportation used this weekend…
As I sit, I think back with a few moments to spare. This ride will last for the next three hours when I will step off to go home, taking a taxi to my apartment from the station so I can rest a bit from this trek. Tomorrow morning I will get up to go to work, but I don’t actually have any work to do there. I will be “desk warming” as it’s called, for the entire day since the students are on vacation and we’re getting new books next year, but they’re not in yet so I can’t even lesson plan. So I’ll work on graphics and create an environment for myself that is productive while sitting at my desk in my own way for the day.
But back to the story…
I set off for Seoul to meet with the folks that I’d arranged to meet and do the things I’d planned to do…
For Friday, my pre-built plan was a late afternoon meeting with a traveler from the US, a meeting at ten PM to discuss the Korea Burn and a jjimjill bang for the evening.  Then on Saturday a lunch, an evening beer, and another meeting. Well, I met them all, and added even more.
Let us review.
Beginning with the travel, I’m already having an adventure. At 8:30 AM, I left my friend’s apartment in Ulsan for a local bus that could take me to a station nearby since the ride to the KTX train station would be an hour from there and the regular train would have been a fine way to travel at the time. However, when I got there, the ticket master told me that I would have to wait 2 hours before leaving, burn a transfer-stop half-way and the cost was only 3 dollars less than the high-speed train ~ ugh! I left. Went outside to the buses and found one that would take me to the KTX. An hour of reading Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols and I was there. Walked up and was told I still had to wait ~ The next three trains were nearly full with the first only having one first-class seat, the second completely sold out and the third with six seats left. So I decided I’d rather sit and wait for the 3rd train instead of taking the first-class (read: expensive) one figuring I had more time than money to burn at the time. So I sat down at a cafe and designed a poster for an event a friend is putting on soon.
(*Bam! Solid Graphix studies~~)
Ultimately, there was a time I got back onto a train to head north-west across the nation to find myself in Seoul. That time was mostly spent reading the Jung text I have. My writing from that trip reflected on creating a sense of ritual in my life and an interesting happenstance where an old friend asked for pictures of my tattoos so that she can design more for me. Now that’s a happy thing. I rather like the idea of her staring at my skin, considering her impact in the past, considering the future in a very real way.
My arrival in Seoul was early enough that I still had many hours until my first meeting so I imagined where a playground would be and decided on Hongdae ~ a neighborhood around a college which has a lot of interesting places. So I sat down in a cafe and worked on some graphics. I figured out how to have a smooth image manipulation of a complex gradient inside a clipping mask. Very happy about that.
Soon enough, I heard from the traveler and we met at the metro. He’s a US govt. analyst for the Dept. of Energy who is also a Burner and got in touch with me via the Burn Community.
We had good conversations on a number of topics and shared a few beers over a hamburger at a little boutique hamburger shop before he was off to meet another friend and I headed off in another direction. I then settled into a cafe for some tea as my mind was a little abuzz for the cap of a Jagger shot he shared as we parted ways. ~ A little peppermint tea was a perfect assuagement for my time in the next sitting. I found a cafe near the college and just parked for the next two hours, giving myself an hour for travel from where I was in the western reaches of the city to the area I was headed in the south east, near the omnipresent, internationally-known Gangnam neighborhood. I needed that time too. I eventually arrived 20 minutes late after initially arriving on time, but decided to wait at the station for a friend who was also coming to the meeting who was just a bit behind me, but would need to be guided from the station and so I waited. In that 20 minutes, I learned about Kobuki, the Japanese theater style that she’d mentioned in a text, via the Google access in my telephone. Great theater style! Must read more about it.
Today’s train ride inspired a nap.
As such I will put this down for a moment and begin again soon as my stop is approaching.
March_tn
^And that was that for entry-one of the weekend…
Now typing from the computer~ Eumo Myeon, Gimcheon, February 27th.
We left off walking into a meeting~ This meeting is the first of what will surely be many meetings regarding the Korea Burn that will happen later this year. The meeting consisted of five individuals, all interested parties. The content of that meeting has been related in a format for another venue, and is not for this particular public venue, but suffice to say, it was a good meeting that covered many topics and was both useful and productive. From the meeting Shin (the most active Burner in the Korean Community) and I went back to Hongdae where I was looking for a place to crash and he was going to a show. As we walked past the show, which I didn’t know to be where he was heading, I mentioned it would be cool if we were headed there instead. He said that was where he was going and I was sold.
The front of the venue was like an old Catholic church with the stone carvings etc. and the music coming out was thick rolling beats of drum and bass that spelled good dancing on any night. We went in. He knew everyone in the VIP section and introduced me~ I was decked out in Buddhaful wear and the new cap by Hologram Raja, so one look at me and they were all impressed by this foreigner in their midst~ not to mention my shining smile~ We got drinks and spun around a bit. It was plenty packed~ ladies were dancing cool, fellas were there to cool the later hours when it was fade-out time. A few of the fellas invited me out for food and drinks about 4am, and so we went around the corner for spiced noodles and beers. Cool blokes yo~ Tattoo artist one, rock band manager another~ the other was just high for it being his birthday. We had a good time. My Korean’s good enough, their English, the same. It was a good time.  Seriously, that night was fantastic~
Eventually it was time to head out, so I spun to the nearest sauna, which was ultimately full~ which sucked, so I hopped in a cab and went to one up the road. Jumped in the tubs, and at first sign of falling asleep, hopped out, went upstairs to sleep and noticed the time on the wall said 7:30am.  Heh~ Okay~ unfortunately at 10am somebody came in and woke everyone up, so my day began then.  Went down, tubbed again and met my friend in Itaewon for a lovely breakfast and chat.
She’s headed to Vietnam and it would be the last time I could see her, so we decided a while ago we’d have this lunch both to visit and so I could share my experience there with her to help out a bit. It was really nice. She brought me to a sweet little spot on the side of a hill that I got what amounted to a tip chilli with kick-ass bread and a cup of coffee. Well, she was meeting friends for an afternoon tubbing and board-game experience so she invited me along. Sounded good to me. Who doesn’t like going to a sauna three times in 24 hours? It was funny, one of those board-games that has monsters and points.
Afterward it was time for me to be headed somewhere with an invitation, so she joined me on to a ridiculously awesome micro-brew tasting event that had something like 25 beers, all free, in a basement that was basically showing off the location of a new spot that would be a new venue for drinking and food, starting after their cleanup from this event. It was a good time. I haven’t had well-crafted beers in a really long time. Going there was also me meeting up with a friend that I haven’t seen in years, so that was nice. She’s an artist I used to hang out with back when I was living in Gwangju. She’s been living up in Seoul for the last couple years now. From the beer-tasting, we stepped out to a poutine restaurant that offered me my first. It was good~ I liked it with pulled pork too. We put blueberry makkoli with it and called it a win.
My breakfast-date had to break off near 8pm and I went on with my artist friend to the next bar where another friend, one from the show in Ulsan, was planning on meeting up with us.
Needless to say~ we had a brilliant time~ ended up crashing in a jjimjil bang in Itaewon and eventually called it a trip the next morning.
Zam~~ and people wonder  just why I laugh at my time here.
12 hours on trains or in train stations, half a dozen events, great people, saunas, all in one amazing weekend… Now do you understand why it’s hard for me to write regularly here?
December_tn
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More photos from the trip~

As it stands, I’m spending so much time working on photo-editing and training otherwise, I’m not quite feeling the push to write yet this week about the trip itself. I think when I’ve finished processing the photos, I can look back and use individual bits to rattle on about. For now, enjoy these:
Hanoi http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimmerdcheshire/sets/72157632627877907/
Near Angkor http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimmerdcheshire/sets/72157632632193992/

Enjoy!

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