Category: Don't Dwell on the Past


I have been living in the Republic of Korea since August of 2009, and during my ever increasing time here, my opinions regarding many things have changed (an inevitable part of living, really). Learning Korean, I’ve also had a different experience than a lot of foreigners who either don’t try or don’t progress. At first, I really wanted to speak the language very well quickly for whatever multifarious reasons, but lately I’ve been a bit lazy and just enjoying understanding without showing off. Others do know that I understand—the knowing eyes and pained/taxed expression from listening—no need to reply.

With a month to go before my Visa expires, and it being vacation time, even though I’m working at a two week writing camp for Yonsei at the phantom friendly Seongdo campus over in Incheon, I am still able to linger on the job prospects (have been looking for a new one since February or so) and worry. Maybe I was a bit selective, and I did have two interviews, neither of which was offered nor a job I was particularly willing to take. Perhaps I would have worked at either out of convenience, but probably wouldn’t be happy. I’ve thought a lot about leaving the country, especially recently. Haven’t decided what I’ll do yet.

Perhaps it’s more a matter of never staying on the path long enough or being dissatisfied because I haven’t been on the path long enough or haven’t produced as much as I might have liked. Each day is only so long, and not having a computer, facebook or TV has made me so productive, and there’s only so much to do before I start to lose sleep to do what I consider essential. Whenever I feel this way (meaning I’m happy and headed in the right direction), something inside clicks and I start to get in my own way. For instance, alcohol has been a constant problem… I would crave a night of drunken debauchery, and feel numb and indifferent to how/who I was beforehand. Lately though, I haven’t been drinking. Or, when I have, it’s been in moderation, and definitely never when upset. There are plenty of people who drink too much without reason… I know where to find them, yet they’re not my true friends nor ever were or will be; they’re soul stealers who only need a companion in banter and chaos… that companion is no longer me. Now, if I do drink, instead of getting crazy or feeling shitty afterward, I feel fine, and the actual time drinking is usually an affirmation of life and happiness… nothing else. And now that I have been on a level-headed path for so long and should continue, I’ve come to some conclusions:

Grin and bear it. Seriously. Though the world is full of fuck heads and con artists and assholes, those people also have hearts you can access if you yourself are honest and give it a try. Smile, laugh, share the warmth, they hide or you expose from within yourself, and you’ll see those people will open up. But only if you open up honestly, without ulterior motives. I’m thinking of two individuals in particular right now, one a security guard at my job, and the other’s the owner of my favorite restaurant in Hayang. Both are older Koreans: the first male, the other opposite. The first was always grumpy and one day I smiled and laughed when I saw him and he burst out laughing… probably mumbled that I was crazy, but that was the first time in nine months that I’d ever seen him laugh. The other has a serious façade, but when you put time in, she’ll open up and be friendly and real with you.

Maybe it’s not this place that’s the problem, but me. Lately I’ve felt not scattered, but disconnected and confused, being without old friends or a meaningful dialogue with them for so long. What hurts is that they’re disconnected too, so that when I try to contact them… Nothing. Maybe I will never get rid of this blog, but as soon as this round of job searching is over, I’m gonna shut of my phone when I’m not using it. Why? Because I check my email hoping to see responses—selfishly wanting others to contact me, I think it’s selfish if they don’t—just because I’m so focused and on top of things, I shouldn’t expect others to be.

Bottom line, and a somewhat unrelated point, is that everyone isn’t perhaps racist, but has an intense fear sometimes bordering on hatred regarded Others: those whom we do not know intimately, and in many instances, do not wish to know. And that’s the kind of pigheaded bullshit that gets people to say, “My country is the best in the world” and other bullshit that’s fed to them by their Retainers. Ignorance precludes such feelings. You know what? People all over this soiled sphere say that about their countries, political parties, sexual preferences, favorite colors, foods, sports, etc. And do you know what I think?

They’re all wrong. This is the best planet (in the solar system only?) and this is the only life we know… so why worry about what we don’t know? Just go about your day to day doing the absolute best.

We get what we give. We might complain, “Blah, blah, blah,” but it’s really nothing when we consider how others are doing. Sure, life may not be what we want, but it never was nor might ever be, so shut your mouth and use all that built up negative energy to burn a fire toward making this already limited life closer to the way that fits you. Without destroying others.

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While there is always a present movement and momentum, it seems there is both a nostalgic past pulling us back and an expectant future making us daydream… and the past can’t seem to stay dead, can it?

When I got the smart phone, I figured I should call my old boss and have him cancel the old one as it was in his name and the contract doesn’t finish until September. Didn’t call it, just let it slide…

Come this Monday, I hear from the coordinator of my current job that my old boss called the university about the bill. Unable to contain the rage at the old boss’s audacity, I had my girlfriend ask as the mediator… long story short, someone else paid all but $7 of the outstanding bill… old boss asking the girlfriend if he or I should pay the cancellation fee, she went off and told him that since he fired me, he should eat it. Last night the old coteacher sent me a message: Hey Brian, (smile face), how have you been?

Fuck those conartists! MFs don’t contact a person unless/until they need something. And perhaps “Eye for an eye” is not an ample philosophy, but this is more like tooth for an eye or not even close. Maybe the short-term message here is that every type of distraction will come to take you off the path. Thus the archetypal philosophy of the moment and the current theme song:

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Midterm time is close at the university and students are stressed. What about the midpoint of each day? Noon… are you stressed at lunch or just hungry, following your stomach?

What about life: is there a known midpoint? Take, for instance, the bumblebee in the picture. Does it know anything about its present, past or future? Do we?

I realize I need some kind of larger project to keep me going just about everyday. Otherwise I usually fabricate distractions and though until this point I don’t know why exactly, I know I do so and that’s the first step to change, right? Until just a few months ago, I was intent almost exclusively on tail, and thought the chase is sometimes fun and entertaining, it’s leaves one feeling mostly hollow and more alone. In a serious relationship now, I feel grounded and able to work on the things that matter most: always things to take my time and now it’s time to devote myself exclusively to those that require the most. I have the reading project, three (or four) old novels to edit, a new one to begin, numerous stories to prepare for publication, learning Korean, girlfriend and friends, oh, and work!

Stayed in Thailand for a month and enjoyed the break, then returned to Korea for a three week summer camp, a week off and then moved to Daegu near the end of August to start the visiting professor job at the Catholic University of Daegu. Starting writing a new novel and stopped within days because of enrolling in the intensive Korean class. Focused on a new short story collection instead. Been writing a new story a week and editing during the day (in class and during various travels). So ridiculously busy because of teaching, learning Korean, and dating numerous girls. Close to a crossroads with hard decisions on the way; I’ve got to focus on whatever I’ve been slacking on (which isn’t much really).

After learning about the impending end of my current job, I continued with the job hunt, this time adding summer camps to the list. Signed the contract a few weeks ago for a camp in Ansang for July and August. I found and enrolled in a 3 week TESOL certification course held in Chiang Mai in July. Then I applied to twelve universities and had two interviews: getting and taking the job at the Catholic University of Daegu.

Went to the dentist to get my tooth permanently placed, and the girl was excited to see me, yelling, “Hi, Bryan,” while I sat in the waiting area. When she was working on the tooth, I said, “Tell me a story.”

“I don’t have a boyfriend yet.”

“Still?”

“I think I’m beautiful, but no boys like me.”

“Yeah… well what kind of guy are you looking for?”

“Any.”

“You have to have high standards. You can’t just date anyone, unless you want to be unhappy.”

She’s feeling the pressure of being almost thirty and single—why she’s so desperate. Also why she’s scaring any potentials; she probably mentions marriage as her second or third comment on the first date, like so many of these girls.

Last Tuesday after work Paul, the institute’s other teacher, told me that we had to discuss something important and it would take half an hour. I called Yuna and told her I’d be late, then we to Jokki Jokki where we each had a Coke.

“You have to find a new job.” He explained that the hagwon was facing such a tough time financially that our boss could no longer support me. He said that my last day would be June 14th.

Meeting with Yuna couldn’t have been worse. Hadn’t seen her in two weeks, and she didn’t seem too pleased to see me. Told her about the recent news, then asked her how she felt and why she’d been avoiding me.

“I feel uncomfortable, Bryan. I just want to be your friend.” Where did that come from?! She’s the one who said she thought I was her soulmate! She explained that she didn’t think she had the sense to love me and that while I made her happy she didn’t feel as happy as she wanted to and didn’t know if she ever could.

I couldn’t take it—mixed feelings of anger, sadness, and pain. She wasn’t very supportive, and walking home together, she kept walking ahead and not even looking back at me stumbling in the rain.

America

Funny that it took moving overseas to really thrive. Not that I hate America, but I feel that being an American citizen living abroad is enough and doubt I’ll ever return. It will be a number of years before I visit as well.

Maybe I’ll never return to live in the States. I could be an expat living any/everywhere. Sure, I’ll settle down and have kids (much much sooner than later), but must always experience new adventures.

Near Future

A little more than five months left in my contract, thus I’ve started to compose a short (maybe 5) universities where I want to teach in Seoul. Pocheon is much too far from the action for my tastes right now. I want to live there for a year, just try it out and see if I like it.