Posts Tagged With: isolation

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.

7-12-2013

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7-13-2013

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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There’s this other blog see…

And I’ve started messing around with some sort of an online portfolio…

I’m kinda new to it as a concept, but if you’re into “language-learning worksheets” then buddy, you wanna go to http://graphicallyteaching.wordpress.com/ to see what that is.

If somehow, that doesn’t seem like the most interesting thing, you can sit this one out and wait until my next post about life in general…

They are some pretty awesome worksheets though.

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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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Shelter from the Storm

(Today my neighborhood was threatened by nuclear weapons, foreigners directly warned.)

-_-

Shelter from the Storm~

Sure could use some~ Looking around in the April skies the wind is blowing hard.
I offer to play cards, but all they are are words that fall on the deafest of ears busy ignoring more important noise.

Living in the shadow of imminent nuclear destruction is less warm and fuzzy than is sounds…

World leaders are ever so proud, not caring the crowd has to listen to the bellicose sounds they make wondering if we’ll lose the game ~ all for a game…

It’s nothing but a game to the ones who write the embargo pages, these ever-tightening strangle holds on wild beasts that are known to strike out when threatened.

It’s as if they kinda like the feeling of the old-fashioned brinkmanship game, but forget that the opponent is someone new.

Someone unbridled by memory of terrors, emboldened by new guns, old generals and a lack of access to fancy cars.

You think it’s more complicated than that.
It’s not.

I’ve got 4 months left in this country…  I’ve made it 20.  20 months and I’m really wanting to cut out~

Contract requires 60 days notice, and they’ve locked up well over 7,000 usd in holdings they won’t let me have until I leave~ Real nice.

Even if I gave it today, it would only be two months early and I’d lose 2,000 usd more in bonus for the early ditch.

Math is this~ If I leave in two weeks after my next check, I take 2,000 usd.  If I leave in 16 weeks, I receive over 18,000 usd in the closure.

So I’m in for the haul until  the last day possible. Ultimately, I know that there’s more than math to it, but I don’t always make the salad like this, so it’s important to harvest on time and not early.

Applications are now in play~ I am now open to trade as a free-agent~ I just hope that the coliseum doesn’t collapse underneath me.

Life is short enough without the settling possibility of local annihilation.

Cross your fingers for us over here~

It doesn’t look like anyone with actual impact is doing anything to help.

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Waiting out Winter

I’m blogging because I am noticing that dozens of people are reading this blog on a daily and weekly basis, and I haven’t even added to it in a boat-load of time.

And sorry, but no photos this time. I’ve been trying to upload for an hour. Something’s a bit screwy in the interweb today, and my upload won’t go. So anyway, here’s the ramblings of the day…

Tell you what, sitting in my apartment for the winter-time is not what I imagined… Okay, I didn’t really think about what it was going to be like here in the winter… My other two years were in the SouthWest, and they were really kinda warm.
I think I should have just gotten a bike right off…. But it’s coming soon! January 23/4th approximately, I’ll be getting my next motorcycle which will open the roads up once again. I’m just not in the habit of using buses or even the train as much. When I know a point on the map, I want to be able to get there, not within 3 miles. It’s a different thing. So by this time next week, the roads are gonna be open again. This is certainly a happy thing. Cats here are scarce, and the more I can get mobile the happier I’ll be, for sure.

I think I’m blasted back a bit for the vacation I just took. In it was a party that reminded me of how it used to be. Man, that was something else! Two days of music, art, expensive booze, beautiful people around sharing themselves and their bliss in a most eclectic of styles. I guess I miss that a bit. The openness that can come from being surrounded by English speakers and active artists alike. That’s all right though. In the book that I’m reading about C.G. Jung, there is a discussion about a person in my place, one who has removed himself from where and what he knows on a mission for personal growth. I’ve really advanced in three particular ways since being here that I’m happy about, and I’m hopeful that they can be useful later. Even if just for pleasure. Such is. And in another realm, my writing for creative purposes has taken on a new angle. Not that I’m creating quality writing in the material, but I’m getting into writing absurd fiction. I find it’s a good exercise for expansive expression. I’m not even tying metaphor in yet. Just getting a few portions of crazy fictional tales sketched out so that I can look at them and laugh. I wonder what they’ll become. Time will tell I guess.

On the jobfront: It’s Winter-Camp time, which means no-book, just me. So I’ve been teaching the kiddies ways to talk about words. Phrasing like “How do you spell _______?” and “_________ begins/ends/rhymes with_________.” Things like that… Then there’s a board game that uses all the phrases and they can play against each other and learn at the same time (and if they land on the right squares, they can win candy which I brought back from the USA for them.)
So that’s nice. Way more relaxed than during the normal school year ~ and only half a day! That’s extra nice. So I get to go home after lunch. Works out pretty well.

I’m just glad I brought some intentional hobbies, and know how to exercise now and then. I see people around with none, and who don’t, and they’re at pains to explain the emptiness they feel.  Other cats, with hobbies, have fine times.  Welcome to Earth, right kids?

I keep just saying the thing about needing to be productive – I could only watch so many videos, sitting still, before my mind would turn into a vapid glutton for that.  Yikes!  I’ve taken a tip from an acquaintance I had the good luck to run across and perform with, Grammy Award winner Anand Bhatt, when he told me to learn how to play guitar by keeping it in hand while watching videos/tv shows etc. so that it becomes a second nature thing. I’ve used that tip to its fullest, as I often feel like I want to practice, but the redundancy blows my mind. Now, I’ll sit and play for hours while watching a film or a few shows. It’s not always the most focused of study sessions, but that’s not the point. The point is to get my fingers in the zone of having the muscle memory of going over the same things time and time again.  His and the comment from Simon Clark about the Circle of 5ths and playing till my fingers bleed are the two pushes I’ve taken the best this year as far as my guitar work goes.

I had been working with Illustrator a good bit, bit I haven’t lately. That seems to have its best working home while I’m in schools. Sometimes while in a school setting, I’ll have two or three hours in a row that are free, and I have my own area, and I can sit and practice. Well that’s great, that works. Somehow, I don’t find the same groove in my own apartment. So be it. I get writing done here, and that counts for a lot.

Something that I can’t applaud enough is the project of my friend Canton Becker, who has recently designed an online project for writers, or anyone who likes the idea of a literary time capsule, and I’ve signed on as a beta-tester for the deal. What it does is it pops a question into my email’s inbox every two days, and I answer it the best I can. It goes in a lot of directions, and often I write there things that I wouldn’t otherwise. As a result, I think I’ve been writing for it a lot more than here because of the immediacy of the thing itself. You can check it out at http://www.myfutureself.com if you like.

What else is going on? Ahh! It’s the year of the Dragon this weekend! For sure, should be something. Not sure what exactly, of course, but it is the thing itself. So there’s that. Headed to Daegu to meet a friend of a friend for a drink and a smile tomorrow. It is a small world indeed.

Happy New Year Earthlings!

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Believe it!

( if you want to maximize any of the photos – just click on them.  Cheers.)

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I’m writing again!

Long-neglected is this blog. Hopefully, this lil’ note’ll make it feel better a bit.
Where to start? Well, I”m still here in Gimcheon – doing my best to stay as isolated as possible for the sake of my guitar skills. I actually sound like a mediocre player these days – that’s exciting. It’s been 6 months, half of which doesn’t count. Listening to such a diversity of music that I don’t know where to start for picking one or six to focus on – so I have focused on the circle of fifths. Working on how the tones work together, rather than putting myself into someone else’s song just yet. So this is where my brain is. My fingertips have changed to where I can either barely feel with them, or they hurt. But just the tips.

It’s kind of a nice place to be doing this.

Teaching – I”m actually teaching. It’s nice – every day I have a different set of kids except for the set that repeats on Mondays and Fridays. I’m even on the verge of trying to remember three of the kid’s names. What a surge that is – huh? I like being a teacher that they both like and that makes them work. I can do that as a once-a-week’er more easily I think than I’m used to. Usually, students get a sense of regularity with a teacher where the balance is hard to find. But because I teach the same lesson to different groups, I can focus on it for one, then I can refine it as I pass through it. It’s cool like that.  Lots of teachers that aren’t my co-teachers are fun.  Some really go out and try to be friendly.  Here’s a science teacher who can speak about 24 words of English – but always kind.

I found a huge collection of educational games today that I’m going to start integrating. I’ve been keeping it to the lesson for the whole trip – but the 3rd graders (of the middle school) just took their finals, and they’re actually finished and will start high school in February, after a month off in January. I’ve no idea what we’re expected to teach them for December, so I’m getting ready for anything.
Recently we had an expo of the kid’s art and such.  That’s where I took that picture from above.  Here are a few more.

I’ll warn you that this site is not for your kids to peruse.  It is peppered with comically-engineered material that is as they say “not suitable for children” at times.  That being said – That link is here: https://sites.google.com/site/englishdroid2/teaching-tips/not-hangman-again

Grading is different here – in a big way. Kids don’t need to pass to pass. They just get promoted, no matter what they did on their exams. Wow. So if anything – the ones that are inspired to do well, are genuinely inspired – not just because of pressure to do well on tests. I’m sure that involved parents have a lot to do with it as well. I saw the final – it was 25 questions. 25. Some kids were done in five minutes. Seriously. Weird.

As far as it goes though – the classes are still on par with what I would expect in a country town in the states – I mean – seriously, my experience is very skewed. I teach at four schools that all have 60 kids or less. I have classes with five kids. It’s kind of ridiculous, in a nice way. My time here is more academic than anything else. I’m forced to focus more on myself than I ever remember being able to do, much less not having the option otherwise. There are a few Westerners here to hang out with, but I really only see them on the weekends, and so between Monday and Friday, it’s just me and the co-teachers for company. To be fair, two of them are genuinely interesting. That’s three of my days. So that’s cool. I can’t sit and talk stuff on the others, they’re lifers in the gig, and set in their ways – ways that I neither understand nor find reasonable for spending my time getting to know. But they aren’t trouble. They keep to themselves pretty directly, and that serves me fine. I hope I don’t come off like that.   Trying to focus on my guitar and all.

Meh – whatever.  I’m having a fine time, if not for the isolation that spins the brain a bit now and then.  Like right now – I just went for a walk to this cafe – took 20 minutes to get here, been sitting in the window for for nearly an hour in the busy, walking district of town, not one foreigner has passed by.  Some high school boys tried to talk to me – got as far as hello, and that was it.  They seemed pretty proud of themselves for getting there – got uncomfortable and left.  Heh.  I did kinda vibe privacy for the sake of this note, but still, one word in the last three hours, and that’s more than normal.   Thank god for headphones.

And I hike.  I’ve been able to get out and see some amazing places for sure.  Sculptors, check this out:

Then there’s

Which as situated somewhere near this…

… in this amazing scene…

,,, which leads to a 15oo year old temple called Jik Ji Sa.

Jik Ji is one of the oldest temples in Korea, and has some fun hiking around it too.  I’ve been through it a few times now, and it’s still a good time.  The following picture is of the main building – now, mind you – the compound is something like 40 buildings, but this is the center one, the main one – inside are three giant paintings that are about 600 years old – the structure is about 400 years old, and the stone pieces in front are at least 800 years old.  Dig:


Then there was this time that one of my schools took me up to a mountain to check it out and have dinner under it….

Tell me it ain’t a good-lookin’ spot.

Then there was this…

and these…

So it’s understandable why I stay I think.  I have time to practice at arts that I’m trying to master, and am surrounded by all this weird coolness – and I’m fed fairly well.  All that’s missing is you.  I’ll get back when I can…  And you know I can.  But it’ll be a minute.

Peace!!!

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