Friday, April 9, 2010

Dusting This Blog Off

I have returned to this blog after a three month hiatus.  I needed to collect a few stories, contemplate as to what (or how much) I wanted to reveal to any readers in "webland" and spare anyone the doldrums of the day-to-day bullshit.  You can follow me on twitter for that crap.  Just kidding, I don't and won't ever have a fricken twitter account.  How full of yourself do you have to be  to collect followers.  It is like a high school popularity contest on a global level.  Disgusting if you ask me.  Isn't text messaging enough?  

Life in Seogwipo, Korea... where to begin.  I guess I will have to do what I wasn't going to with this blog.  I cannot bother to edit my life thinking that my family might be reading this blog, therefore, I will be upfront and honest.  Sorry gramma... I won't be giving you my blog address.  I am your reformed little angel spreading his wings overseas and finally maturing as a human being.  The crazy stuff is the interesting stuff more often than not... to me at least if i am choosing to read something.  At least if I document this shit, I can possibly(?) learn from it.  At least I can reflect upon it later if I find myself in a sorry state of "whoa is me" and check myself.

 For some reason I always create these "situations" usually due to excessive drinking that are fucked up, shameful, absent minded but hilarious to others, somewhat funny to me and make me out to be a complete asshole to those directly and indirectly by proxi who may have been involved.  Other times alcohol has absolutely nothing to do with the shit I come across that drives me nucking futs.    

I have found that it is incredibly easy to lose friends before you even make them.  This is due to my snap judgement mentality.  It only takes me two to three times (sometimes two to three minutes/hours) hanging out with someone new before a personality flaw that instantly, or will eventually drive me batty, rears its head in a social situation.  My senses are highly acute while drinking under the influence of a threshold that lies between four and eight beers.  Anything more than that and I sometimes turn into a hyper critical being with an out of control mouth and sloppy faculties (those that know me well might attest that "sometimes" is an unrealistic figure, but "always" is just as inaccurate).  

This might explain my general disgust with many people that hang out in drinking establishments.  I am positive that the likes of a person of my caliber pisses a multitude of others off.  I can recall going out of my way numerous times where I am purposeful in attempting to agitate the crowd gathered that I disdain so much.  I am not really proud of this and I am surprised that I haven't got my ass beat more often, especially since I do this whether I have friends around me or not.  I do believe that the older I get I am more conscious about my surroundings and attempt to avoid such confrontations... until the lights go out. 

 Why do I find most people so lame???  I do have some really solid best fucking friends though.  These guys all come from different backgrounds and lifestyles but we vibe together, the best of friends.  Not all together at once though, mostly one on one or small groups.  I have only made a few in the last ten years, all in Hawaii.  The rest are from my hometown (or I met them there) and a few I met in Alaska.  Good friends are hard to come by and the world is filled with kooks if you ask me... but we do gotta try to all get along somehow in this crazy-ass-fucked-up world we live in.  There are good times awaiting you around any bad corner of the block you might have just come around, so it is worth it to dust off the bike and get back on.  

In the subsequent posts I hope to shed some light on life in Korea beyond the bullshit that is going to fill these pages.  I cannot promise weekly updates just yet, but i hope to get back on the keyboard soon to write about my New Year's alone on Jeju Island, Korea... stay tuned.  

Monday, January 11, 2010

Jeju by Daybreak

When I woke up I knew it was early.  Surprisingly I felt refreshed.  I peered out of my curtains to find snow blowing sideways in the parking lot behind the building I now lived in.  It was swirling around in the air violently as the wind whipped it into tornado like gusts.  Not exactly what I had imagined to wake up to.  I checked the time.  It was 7:30am.  I decided to lay down  a bit longer not knowing exactly what the day would consist of.  I thought I was supposed to start teaching.  I imagined an orientation of some kind with the other teachers followed by sitting in on some other teachers class to observe. 

 I managed to fall back asleep until around 9am.  I lazily figured out the water heater, turned it on and took a shower.  It felt amazing.  This time when I opened the curtains the sun was out and the snow was gone but the palms told me that the wind was still prevalent.  I could feel the cold through the sliding glass doors.  

After I showered I put on some clothes and decided to walk to the end of the block and check out the corner market that I noticed during the cab ride the night before.  I put on pants and a jacket.  I pulled a beanie over my noggin.  As I walked up the street towards the corner store, the blue sky peppered with clouds revealed a glimpse of Mt. Halla off in the near distance.  It was beautiful.  

When I reached the storefront I opened the sliding glass door and stepped inside with no real clue what I was looking for.  I had cashed some travelers checks in Seattle and exchanged them for Korean Won and I was prepared to make my first purchase with my new currency.  The old Korean shopkeep said something to me, a greeting I imagine and I mumbled some apology for my ignorance that he most likely didn't understand.  Looking around at the cramped store I balked.  I wanted to be quick I suppose and none of the weird packaged items looked like anything I might try under the pressure, so I bought a few Korean beers and a bottle of Hallasan Soju, the local kind made here in Jeju and some instant noodles.  I fumbled with the money and maintained a look that no doubt appeared as dopey as I felt.  He held up four fingers and the transaction was made in a truly awkward fashion.  

I walked back to my apartment and went inside.  I checked the time.  It seemed it was getting on in the late morning and I was starting to wonder if I was going to get scooped up for work or not.  I figured if nobody showed then my day was free.  I waited around maybe a half hour or so when finally I heard a knock at the door.  It was my boss.  It was a good thing I cut my taste test short and brushed my teeth after sampling two of the domestic beers and chased it with the cereal that my boss had provided for me.  For some reason I was certain I wasn't going to teach my first day.  I later found out that I was wrong.

My boss took me to an incredible lunch.  We ate for an hour and towards the latter part of that hour he kept asking me "have you had enough?"... I didn't get the hint because there was so much food still left.  Eventually I understood.  He said he had to pick up his daughter.  We grabbed his child and he said to her "this is the new teacher".  She seemed less than impressed, said nothing and we were on our way to the hagwon.  

When we arrived, I saw my school for the first time.  It is on the second floor of an office building.  There were a few foreign teachers waiting for the meeting and the bosses.  The meeting went like this:  "This is the new teacher from America... he is going to teach this class and this... here is the schedule... o.k. break."

We all dispersed to our respective classrooms and whammo... I'm a teacher.  I was given my books and a room and no co-teacher to speak of and I was on my way in the world of foreign education.  

Thrown to the wolves, as little as they were, I tried my best to introduce myself and start my first class.  I got eaten alive.  Some of them were climbing off of the walls and no sense of order was even possible.  The rest of the day went as chaotic as the beginning.  I winged it for my first five classes teaching in this life.  Somehow, without enough time to take a damage assessment it was over.  WTF happened?  I was at a loss about any sort of structure or knowledge about the books and where we were supposed to be in them at all. My nerves were shot and I was aching for some sort of direction.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Seoul to Jeju

De-boarding in Seoul I was anxious to elongate my body but hating my big ass bag.  Blisters had started to form on my hands from gripping the bag straps when my shoulder hurt too much.  I wandered out of the plane into the airport at Seoul/Incheon.  I followed the others and found my way to the immigration line for non-Koreans.  There were two different lines going, both about fifteen people deep.  I saw a clock and decided not to worry too much about the time because things seemed to be moving efficiently so far.  I weighed my odds on which line to get in and of course I picked the wrong line.  This always happens to me at any supermarket.  The fellow travelers in my line were a string of incompetent slow pokes fumbling through their pockets and bags in search of the one thing that they should have already had in hand while waiting in line.  Their Passport.  I brushed it off for awhile until it seemed that everyone in front of me was on acid or something.  I started to grumble a little looking at the minutes tick by as the line next to me moved through Immigration efficiently at a rate of three to every one person in the short bus line that I picked.  I started silently hating on the effeminate white guy in front of me in his Lacrosse Euro-sneakers with a pet cat in a cage.  I guess he couldn't leave the pussy at home.  I assessed that he wasn't one who was up for the pussy by the way he swished.

Finally it was my turn to pass through Immigration.  I was excited to get my Passport stamped.  "Jeju", the man said and smiled.  He probably took his honeymoon there as many Koreans do.  I tried to ask him about where to catch a train and he just pointed to where I needed to go to get my bags.  I put in one last prayer for my bags to be there before I descended the escalators to baggage claim.

Down in baggage I was all confused as to which carousel would have my bags on it and after waiting at  one for a few minutes I decide it would be better to try an ask someone.  I made gestures to some airport worker guy towards my ticket and he pointed me to three carousels down.  My carryon had shot my shoulder by this point and I could feel the skin want to rip from my palms as I struggled over to the correct carousel.  There were my bags.  I stacked my carryon on top of one of them and pulled the strap over the extended handle hoping it would balance better.  Now I had to switch hands as I pulled the one stacked bag setup that weighed 120 lbs. easily.

I needed to find the train to Gimpo Airport and was informed that I should make my way three exits down and across the street.  I could only see as far as two exits down, approximately 100 yards.  I was not pumped up about this and started hoofing it with the awkward, extremely heavy luggage and my skateboard that I tried to fix to one of the bags needing to switch hands every 70 feet or so until I finally reached the exit to the train terminal across the street.  It was cold with snow slush outside but I managed to be sweating from the strain the bags put on my arms.  I felt like I was pressed for time now because of how slowly I moved while trying to move as quickly as I could with the stupid suitcases, carryon and skateboard.  I found my way to the Train Ticket machine and thankfully a Korean woman helped me purchase my one way ticket and I found myself waiting with about five other people for the next train to Gimpo.

The train pulled up about four minutes later and I had just collected a little strength finally.  The doors opened and I was determined to get on first because of size of the bags I had with me.  There was a four inch space between the depot floor and the train.  I tried to force my bags over the gap pulling them quickly and my bags got stuck!  My carryon swung off the top of the suitcase and fell to the floor.  It was a cluster-fuck of bags blocking the entrance to the train.  A few people waiting to board helped me lurch them into the train.  I felt like a big, fat loser and could do nothing to not wear the insecurities that were mounting, exhaustion and uncertainty on my mug as the train began to move forward.  I felt like all eyes were on me.  I had to stand with my bags in the aisle of the doorway on the opposite side that I had entered because all the seats were taken.  The ride took about 25 minutes and three stops until it was time for me to get off.  After sitting without moving for eleven hours I was more than happy to stand the entire time.

Gimpo Airport was confusing.  Thankfully there were some native English speakers that pointed me to the escalator that would take me to check in for my Jeju flight.  I hurried as best as I could and when I reached check-in the attendant told me my flight was delayed for an hour and a half.  All that rushing for no need.  Again I welcomed the pause in the action and found a place to sit with my bulky gear.  I massaged my red blistering hands before it was time to board.

The flight on Asiana Air was brief and I had a seat to myself.  Once again the stewardesses were cute.  They wore Santa hats and a flight attendant who had a seat by the emergency exit right next to me said "Melly Clismas" and gave me a green pencil case.  When we landed, there was an announcement on the intercom.  Passenger (my name here) report to the office at baggage claim.  I was surprised to hear my name.  Was it the welcoming committee?   I gathered my bags and a gentleman took me to the office.  There was a phone call for me.  It was my boss.  She informed me that their was a taxi outside that would take me to my apartment in Seogwipo.  It was late and snowing and the roads were slick she explained, so the cab driver would take me.  It was paid for.

It was dark and freezing-windy.  I got in the cab and tried to make small talk with the cabby.  He spoke no English what-so-ever.  It was a slightly uncomfortable and high speed, hour long trip to Seogwipo in virtual silence.  I tried to map out the roads from the airport as we drove.  Heading up near Mount Halla-san their were flurries of snow with a little dusting on the ground.  We passed a car that had spun off the road at one point.  I was surprised to see snow.

When we arrived, the Director of my school was there to let me into my apartment.  This was my new home for the year ahead.  It was late, around 12:30 at this point and I was left wondering what Monday would bring.  I knew I was supposed to go to school and figured someone would rally me in the morning to take me there.  I unpacked a bit, looked over the apartment briefly, but fatigue set in fast.  It was a solid 24 hours of travel that I had just endured.  Three airports, three planes, a train and a taxi got me to where I needed to be.  I wanted to shower but the bathroom set up was funky and there was a hot water heater to deal with.  I decided it would be easier to figure out in the morning.  I was so happy to be done with the heavy bags ordeal and caught a few winks without any real trouble.  I was curious about Jeju, Korea by daylight but the wonder faded as did I off to sleep.

I had made it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Alaska to Seattle... Touchdown Korea

The reality set in during the drive to the airport.  I sat in the back of the SUV silent, watching the Alaska winter landscape pass in the dark of night.  My father was driving and my stepmom was sitting shotgun.  I searched for words to thank them one last time but failed to form any sentences.  I was nervous and not looking forward to the daunting task of navigating through airports with three heavy bags, the heaviest of them being my carry-on that lacked wheels.  Separate from the luggage was my skateboard deck that simply wouldn’t fit in any of the bags because it is too long.  This created some stress as I imagined getting hassled boarding three planes with an extremely heavy and over-sized carry-on bag and a skate deck.  I could picture the overhead bins full with the luggage from other passengers and the bag and board not fitting anywhere near my seating assignment.  When we arrived at check-in we said our goodbyes keeping them short and sweet.  This was it.  Goodbye comfort zone.

 What I didn't foresee was the line to check-in at the airport at midnight on Christmas.  I was a good 70 passengers deep to check into my flight.  Three different youth hockey teams flying into Seattle were waiting in line with all their gear and coaches and parental chaperones as well.  All of them plus thirty or more regular folks all flying the red eye to Seattle.  Behind me dozens of people filed in.  I was severely bummed as I strained, inching my bags three to four feet every couple of minutes.  I was tripping at how awkward and heavy all three bags and a skateboard were to carry and tried a different way of holding them each time I moved.  I began to sweat and stressed about that because I knew I was going to be in the same clothes for nearly twenty-four hours of travel before I reached my final destination.

When I reached the check in counter and all my bags were weighed (nearly maxed out), the woman looked at the size of my carry on and looked perturbed.  I was sweating, she was frustrated (looking at the long line still behind me), but kindly figured out that if I removed a few things from my carryon I might get lucky about boarding in Seattle.  I frantically pulled some novels from the end pockets of my carryon and stuffed them into the other bags now weighing the maximum 50 lbs. with the new items forced into their bulging mass.  My carryon was four and a half pounds lighter and she said I should give it a go.  What else was I supposed to do?  I explained to her that I was moving to Korea and everything must come with me.  She waved me through.  After all that jostling I moved to the side and pulled my carryon over my shoulder and winced at its weight and began my way to the departure terminal.  Its awkwardness created problems and its weight overcame my strength.  Every sweaty 60 feet I needed to put it down and readjust the bag.

I made it to the gate and sat down feeling like I just threw my back out.  I felt the wetness pooling under my arms and beads of sweat forming along the brim of my hat.  It didn't help that I had my heaviest of coats on, but it wouldn't have fit in any of the bags so I intentionally wore it to save space and weight.  All the while I was stressing about the skateboard deck too.  It wasn't going to fit into the overhead compartment with other people's stuff or under the seat in front of me.  I boarded the plane and found my seat.  It was a window seat so I just kept it against the side of the plane out of sight from the stewardesses.  Nobody was seated next to me for 3 hours thankfully.

I arrived in Seattle around 7:30am the 26th of December.  My bags were automatically transferred to Korean Airlines and onto my plane that wasn't set to depart until 1:00pm.  Once I figured out where my next plane was departing from, I slowly made my way with that ridiculously heavy carryon and my skateboard to the first open bar in sight.  It was close to 8am and I decided to have a beer and a shot.  I wasn't the first one there having a drink at this hour, but had i been it wouldn't have mattered.  I needed to rest my shoulder.  I asked the bartender who was nice enough to verbally direct me to the area where my friend Vince could meet me in a pre-security zone for a coffee.  I was thrilled that he was making his way over to see me before I left the USA for a solid year.  I had called him and informed him where we should meet according to what the bartender lady had told me.

When I reached the coffee shop area I saw Vince in the airport.  It was awesome seeing what would most likely be the last familiar face for quite some time.  We spoke about many things; Matt, tattoos, art, surfing, hackysack, Hawaii and the wonders of life over coffee and it was a pleasure being in his company.  He set me at ease and filled me with words of encouragement.  By this time it was after 10am when we parted ways.  Vince headed home and I, after checking in with Korean Air and getting my boarding pass, lugged my stupid ass carryon up to the international travel security gate.  Surprisingly I had no problems with my bag that was packed to the hilt with random things after it went under xray.  I was relieved that they didn't pull me aside at either airport to examine my belongings.

With a little over an hour to kill I went to the bar around the corner from the departure gate.  I sat at the bar and struck up conversation with the guys sitting on either side of me.  One was a military fellow who had spent time in Busan.  The other was a guy who had married a Thai girl and was working overseas.  They expressed their opinions about living overseas and informed me of what a good experience it is and how important it had been in their lives.  After two beers, a shot of Jager and a plate of hot wings I made my way to the line forming to board my flight to Seoul.  It was soon time to board.

I was surrounded by mostly Koreans (go figure) boarding the plane.  It was a trip walking down the ramp to the aircraft and seeing welcoming Korean flight attendants.  The language bubble was quickly forming around me.  I managed to get my bag in the overhead bin above my seat before anyone else and was relieved once again to have the window.   I put my skateboard deck against the side of the plane next to me.  A young military kid in a sweatshirt sat next to me sitting bitch.  He seemed not too thrilled, or maybe just exhausted as he pulled his ball cap over his eyes and shut them without saying a word.  I was fine with that because I wasn't in the talking mood either.  Next to him in the aisle seat sat a Korean gentleman.  We sat quietly ready for take off as the rest of the passengers filed in and got situated.  Goodbye USA, I thought.  The Korean stewardess in charge of our side of the plane was absolutely beautiful and refined.  She came by and asked to me to shut the blind on the window and I stole one last look of everything familiar to me before closing it.  Suddenly we were in the air.

In the back of the seat in front of each passenger was a video screen with movie options and other forms of media at our disposal.  I decided that with 10 and a half hours ahead of me I would get into that later.  I was tired from being awake since Christmas morning already twenty four hours earlier.  Refreshments were offered once we reached cruising altitude and I had a white wine and quickly fell off to sleep.  Maybe an hour later I woke up to lunch.  I opted for the Korean fare; some meat, rice, kimchi, veggies and sweet pastry.  After, I floundered with the video screen.  The words to select a video were in Korean.  Thankfully there were pictures accompanying the choices.  I started watching some documentary on Freud in English and again dozed off.  When I awoke it was time for food and more refreshments.  This time I had water and some beef bowl thing.  After I had finished eating, I hoped that I wasn't going to have to get up to take a shit at any point during the flight.  I didn't want to piss either if I could help it.  I was planted.  I was comfortably uncomfortable in my seat and had no intentions of moving.

Later I decided to watch 'G.I. Joe' and the action kept me awake for the whole movie.  It was visually entertaining.  I used to watch the cartoon as a kid and was pretty stoked on the story that they made for the big screen; the origin of Destro and what not... "Knowing is half the battle!"  With no concept of time I decided it was better to just not know (the time).  I was a little restless but decided it would be better to kill time with another flick.  I watched 'Land of The Lost' with Will Ferrel and laughed my ass off!  Talk about an adaption from a childhood favorite of mine that had little to do with the story line of the TV show.  I recommend this movie to anyone who needs a good laugh, likes potty humor, sexual innuendo and blatant slapstick for sure.  It was silly... I almost watched it a second time.

Hours later the pilot announce that we would be landing soon.  (I had survived without leaving my seat.  It is possible that stretching would have felt good, but I still had another flight to catch and it would have been a burden trying to climb over two people...)  It was around 5:15pm in Seoul at the time of the announcement.  We were scheduled to land at 5:30 so everything was going to plan.  Minutes later there was another announcement.  Apparently there was snow on the ground that delayed our landing for another forty-five minutes as we circled above the airport waiting for the groundskeepers to clear the landing pad.  It was at this point I started to stress a bit because I needed to take a train to Gimpo Airport and board an 8:30pm flight to Jeju, Korea.  I was uncertain about the amount of time that I would need to make the transfer.  I assumed three hours would be enough since my boss in Korea had booked the flights for me.  I didn't know how close I would be cutting it with the delay.  I breathed deeply and thought happy thoughts.  Everything will work out.  My bags will be on the ground waiting in Seoul.  I will find my way to the train and make my connecting flight at Gimpo... wherever that is.  Hopefully someone will be able to direct me in English.  

Touchdown Korea...


Friday, December 25, 2009

Giving Thanks: Holidays, Friends and Family

It's Christmas Eve and three dog's and a cat are stirring and I am wired in the coziness of my dad and stepmom's house.  It is hard to believe that six months have gone by living here in my parents abode, warm, secure and able to sleep in.  I will be boarding the first of three planes to get me to my final destination in Korea early Saturday morning.  The wait is over, the time is near.  It is hard to believe but I couldn't be more excited.  Tomorrow is Christmas.  It will be my last full day in the United States of America for at least a year, unless I find a way to squeak a vacation stateside sometime late next year.  The journey begins the minute I board that first plane.  My life is about to change in ways I cannot grasp until I am living it.

The gratitude I feel towards my father and stepmom for taking me in and letting me invade their home and disrupt the organized comfort in which they live is insurmountable.  The money given to me is huge, in the sense that nothing can be accomplished without it unfortunately.  This is my least favorite thing about life.  It takes money to get anything done.  There is money needed to simply take the most basic first step in any process to achieve a goal and without their help none of this would be happening for me.  It irks me to even try to put it into a dollar figure, because the cash is only a fraction of the help that has been provided to me.

I have been allowed for six months, to sleep in as late as I want.  I was able to stay up late watching the boob tube (something that I enjoy but can and do live without when on my own), and wake at noon to a half full coffee pot ready to reheat at my slow rising leisure.  I maybe had a small list of chores involving yard work of some sort on a day or three here and there (which I was paid cash for), but I was pretty much free to surf the internet, stuff my face and get a little exercise if I wanted.  I was hardly pressed to keep up the room that was mine to stay in.  It got a bit cluttered with piles of clothes and stuff, but I never got too much grief about it.  The bed I'd sleep in is large and soft with more pillows that any self respecting single male needs, but I enjoyed it none the less.

I have been treated to home cooked dinners nearly every night seven days a week for six months.  If it wasn't cooked from scratch which it often was, it was still prepared and presented.  My dad is a lucky fellow for that and I a spoilt over-extended guest reaping the benefit of his wife's talent in the kitchen.  I drank vita-water and quality beers at will.  The "at will" part with the beers probably garnered me the most consistent disapproving vocalizations from my dad, granted he paid for them.  What's a guy supposed to do faced with such a bevy of beverage glory?  Not to mention the snacks!  Chips and artichoke dip, macadamia nuts and stuffed olives calling me during the late night movie watching hours.  I am lucky to have a treadmill to use as well and some weights or a fat-ass by now I would have become for sure.  Americans are assumed to be fat by other countries and I want no part in being the fat "ass" in their assumption further perpetuating that sad truth overseas.  Thankfully my metabolism hasn't shut down.

I have yet to come up with a way to properly thank them both as we part ways late tomorrow evening.  I will be driven to the airport and sent on my way.  I have tried to verbally convey it, spouting many genuine thank you's at the appropriate times and expressing my appreciation whenever possible, but I feel that they don't realize how much everything that they have done for me is appreciated.  Maybe if they could see how happy I am to have the opportunity to do what I am about to do, they will realize that I owe much of my progress as a human to their financial aid and mental support... and I couldn't have done it without them.

 One day I will figure out a way to give back.  I guarantee any family member would be happy with  artwork that I made versus something bought in a store, but I haven't made much lately and I need to feel settled to create.  I am hoping I can settle in enough to get back to making art for the love of it and maybe the content would even be fit for sharing with my gramma.  She is very supportive of me making art, but finds anything recent dark and morbid, not the kind of stuff to hang in her house.  I love her reaction when I show her my stuff.  She is like, "oh gawd... I don't know about this... maybe for a cover of a rock album or something"...  I hope to find a groove soon in Korea... I need some inspiration.  Something to inspire some positive imagery fit for gramma's walls.

I am stoked to have some really great friends too.  I feel loved and supported by these peeps who lack the unconditional family obligation of their time invested in me, yet they openly support me in this trip and everything I try to do.  I feel blessed to have peers wishing me the best on this journey.  I realize I have some lifers in my corner however brief or extended our journey, we are lucky to enjoy it together.  I don't feel all alone in this thing and am blessed to have such a great support system to reach out to when I need a morale boost.  Thanks to my immediate and extended family members along for the ride... going brah!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Officially Packed, But Am I Ready To Go?

The deed is done.  My bags are stuffed to the gills.  I have managed to pack everything I need to bring and quite a bit of what I want to bring.  Some things have been discarded out of necessity due to weight restrictions and space limitations in my bags.  These things consist of a dozen books and a few clothing items.  As it stands, my carry-on bag contains far more books than I should bring, but I can't seem to do without them.  Should I feel the need to lug around a carry-on bag pushing 50 pounds?  I deem it necessary.  I will be checking two bags that are just under the 50 pound limit and lugging my slightly smaller, yet just as heavy carry-on with my skateboard deck duct-taped to the bottom of the bag.  The trucks and wheels are packed in the carry-on.  I was going to tape the skateboard to the bottom of the bag fully assembled so that I could wheel it around the three major airports I will be spending time in, but I don't want to draw any unwanted attention.  It is probably wiser not rolling my bag through the x-ray machine at customs anyhow.

So the packing part is over.  It was a semi-stressful process, but I have packed and unpacked, selectively reduced and sorted my life's belongings more over the last 10 years than most humans.  I have lost count of how many times I have moved, but on average I would say once every six months making it close to twenty times.  It does get easier when you have condensed your life for transport like a professional vagabond.  However, there is always that ever present nostalgia that makes packing time consuming and somewhat emotional.  You realize that you only have so much room for the keepsakes and mementos that tend to take up much needed room with their often times, odd shapes.  You sort through these items and put some aside, retiring them after so many moves together and say goodbye in a makeshift memorial.  It can be quite sad.  You realize that you are human and things grow on you, shaping you in ways you never realized until it comes time to part with them... time to move on.

A new beginning should be just that.  It is probably unhealthy to lug too much old baggage to a new locale.  Shedding some of this physical baggage does actually help shed bits of the emotional baggage that is carted around wherever one goes.  To evolve as an individual one needs to adapt to their new surroundings and take in aspects of their current situation so that it can mold them into a functioning member of their new life.  A few memories of their former self is good to keep ones' roots alive, but to hold on to too much could interfere with new growth.

This openness is really important when I think about what I have gotten myself into.  This is no move to a different state in the US or a vacation in a foreign land.  I am moving to East Asia.  My sleep patterns and dreams are all over the place these days and my nerves go through cycles of excitement, calm, confidence and anxiety.  I have to admit I am psyched though.  Disappointment in the good 'ol USA has grown tenfold and life here predictable.  My surroundings lose their luster rather quickly and life seems a bit stagnate.  I am looking forward to a challenge and from everything I have read about Korea, a challenge awaits me without a doubt.  A monkey wrench thrown right in the middle of the mundane cycle of life that continues like clockwork...    

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Cheer As My Arrival Date Draws Near

Anxiousness coupled with insomnia equals late nights and eventually crashing in the early morning hours around 4am these days... uncertainty about my preparation for the rapidly approaching overseas venture fills me with perpetual anxiety.  This has been the pattern over the last many nights.  Watching movies until the wee hours of the morning gives me back pains from the recliner.  My posture:  impotent and sloven as I munch on chips and dip and pickles sweet and sandwich dills, green olives stuffed with garlic and jalepenos and slices of block cheddar while my vision blurs from the bright, throbbing plasma TV barking at me in Dolby stereo.

On this night a few beers has allowed me to digress into some crude Photoshop Christmas card making.  Sending these juvenile creations to my friends via the internet has made me happy.  Bill Maher pasted next to Paris Hilton and Tiger Woods with the phrase Merry XXX Mas! at the top and HO! HO! HO! placed under each image complimented my demented mood as I sent it off to many a buddy.  I used the paint tool to write the words in Xmas colors and haphazardly cut out the images of the celebrity sex addicts using the magnetic wand.  Cut and paste, technology, minimalism.  What more do modern day artist's need?  I feel a similar satisfaction with the end result of this 15 minute defecation as I do when I finish a piece after 120 hours or more of labor... my blood and sweat in charcoal.  Instant imagery is all the rage no?  One need not make art by the skilled hand any longer, ability is trumped by accessibility.  Appropriation saves the day with some whimsical negativity... Fine art is dead and so are our idols... true or false?