Category: 2009 Review

November, December, and Now

This time is too close to the present to properly evaluate, so I’ll do so in 2010. I’m all packed and ready to go to Japan, reading the FINAL pages of Infinite Jest. Happy New Year!


Told a girl on the way to her parent’s house for Chuesok (Korean Thanksgiving) that I liked her. She freaked out, dropped me off at home, and hasn’t spoken to me since.

Lots of drinking this month, realizing I was too busy, and signing up for a six month gym membership trashed, drinking more afterward. That night, I met some businessmen in the street, went to karaoke with them, not remembering how I got home.

There was actually one night where I turned down three separate (3!) drinking invitations to workout instead. I began to get addicted, especially to the weight gain, but what’s wrong with wanting to better myself?


Recurring nightmares that I kept missing my plane here, showing me that this was the place I have to be, here already a month, in fact. And a busy first month: many new friends, and taken under the tutelage of the Japanese teacher, Mr. Kang and his wonderful wife and children (my students).

My hagwon (private English institute) changed hands, drinking with the new boss and an adult student one night and then going out alone and meeting a new friend and chatting until 6 in the morning. The new boss and I really clicked (more so than the old one and I).

At the end of the month I took the KTX high speed train (301 km/h) to Busan on the south coast with Martha, a fellow English teacher from New Zealand. We had a great time—refreshing to get out of Pocheon and explore Korea.


Read and thoroughly enjoyed Hopscotch, so-so House of Leaves, and a few other books. Finished another draft of the short story collection I turned in for my manuscript in the spring, and still had to do a lot before I could leave.

Went hiking for the first time in months, and started writing my fifth novel a few days before my birthday, then I had to pack up and prepare for the trip. 12 hour flight from San Francisco to Seoul on Singapore Air after a two flight from Denver.

My life before Korea was totally different: no job, too much time. Now I barely have time for anything, but am busier and more productive: go figure.


Only two weeks left before the end of my academic career, there was a moment where guest faculty ganged up on me about cutting my hair and fixing my tooth for Korean conformity. That these writers, who should have open minds, ordered me to do that dumbfounded me.

My student reading was during the third week—closing, same as the year before—overly critical even after listening to the recording. I got a refund check the next day, which sustained me into South Korea (I had had to save and scrimp and save before that). Thus I purchased some pot, working on Mister Pothead drafts eleven and twelve.

Cried at the end of the SWP, old tears—letting them out something new. After finishing the final manuscript, I was afflicted with a deeper spiritual hunger than ever before, reading books I had put off reading for a while.


Shed some Fears, a turning point: Boulder (and finishing the Masters Program) was in sight. I was reconstructing myself around new models for a fulfilled life. I’d had enough of suffering and had learned to be optimistic—it didn’t matter what happened, just how I felt—happiness a natural side effect.

Didn’t make a killing from CDs sales, just enough to finance the trip and barely survive June. Still a little sad (at times), I was so overwhelmed and busy with the Summer Writing Program, getting much work done and meeting many new and cool friends.


A week late turning in the first draft of my graduate thesis—I finished, printed and sent it at Steph and Phil’s—the related stress instantly dissolved, but then the ever increasing stress of financing my return to Boulder to finish my graduate degree crept upon me.

Started the long process for teaching in Korea: passport application, recruiter application and interview, notary and MA State Consulate certification of police record and BA diploma copies; two trips to Boston because the Notary didn’t sign it properly—the first trip a certified adventure (helping some girl move into her Comm Ave apartment and her mother paying me $40 for 20 minutes of flirting and light lifting, meeting with an old professor, and The Missed Connection on the T), the second nothing special.

Decided to sell the vast CD collection I had spent years and countless thousands acquiring—material objects meant nothing to me after moving cross-country three times in a month. Dark times with drugs (I won’t say what), making me want to quit everything forever.

Nothing could diminish my hope, as I was offered a job in South Korea, where I knew I had to be…


The month started some surreal dreams, a month full of mostly tears. I had been mesmerized but miserable in love, overwhelmed with eternal melancholy. Chaotic reverberation. Lost, I wanted only to lift myself beyond the veil of sadness in which I found myself confined, a new place where I could be me—for real.

Realized I had to give up on everything I’d lost—not looking or turning back—shedding the shell that hindered true expression and sensation. Seeing close friends I hadn’t seen in almost two years helped solidify the changes I had made and those yet to fructify. This was the turning point, as I realized I had always had it deep down inside, and close connections with others to help in the quest.


Nightmares every night, March was a bit easier, albeit still unhappy. I never expected to return at all (or so soon), and felt uneasy, uncomfortable, out of place. Being home was beneficial, (I know now in hindsight), able to confront people and things I had always been afraid to confront—when pushed over the edge, the anger was not directed inward as before, but at those responsible.

Falling asleep near dawn and sleeping most of the day, I couldn’t concentrate on my shattered heart or torn soul, as I had to finish my thesis: a week late with the preliminary draft. At night as I tried to sleep, I replayed my months in Boulder, a terrible time with intoxicants, self hate and overall destruction.

Of the three boxes of CDs I mailed myself from Denver, the one with my favorite albums went missing, the labels returned (probably ripped off by some postal person). It was also a hopefully time, dedicating myself to the thesis, and being in a familiar place, knowing how much I’d changed. Also, I began to stop focusing my essential essence to the writing, instead focusing on the one thing I had always neglected: myself.


February was easily the worst month of my entire life. I moved in with my love, and on the 9th my overexertion finally caught up with me: burnt out, without even enough energy to sleep. Then she left on Valentines Day, and I had no where else to go, so I had to return home.

“It is so hard to think of good things about myself when I so constantly put myself down.” Hard times forced me to express necessary personal revelations, obvious things like self-love and self-worth that I had always been too afraid to embrace. I was honest with myself for the first time about these deep issues, and I grew a lot in the two weeks I had to myself before I retuned home.

I had grown up too fast (and forced myself to), so I never enjoyed my childhood or let myself have the fun I wanted, always so critical and cynical. My exgirlfriend had so many issues that she imposed upon me, so once I sorted through those, I was able to work on the ones I had held inside since I was eight. My emotions were up and down as if I bought a season pass to some psychological amusement park.