Category: Work


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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Almost finished reading the first manuscript (“novel”) after not looking at it for six years. Had about a hundred pages to go, but had to leave for camp. Busy with camp, but will read the second one this week. Then I’ll know what to transfer from the first to the second. Parts from the first can probably be used for three different novels, one of which is still unwritten. Looks like work on the next novel will begin in March, before which point I hope to have finished editing most of the epic novel from 2008. That’s all for now…

Wild is the World

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Had an interview at a university just outside Seoul today. Had to reschedule from camp classes in order to go, and took the KTX then subway then bus (all in all almost four hours).

Arrived fifteen minutes early, and the interview included one of the Native English professors, but only for five minutes. Otherwise it was one on one for about forty. She asked me to make a lesson from the textbook she wrote, asked why I came to Korea, how to motivate university students and the extra classes and optional vacation camp with elementary age children. I explained some of my philosophy and also that I can be a 사고뭉치 (trickster). She laughed. Finally, the clincher:

“What about if a female student wants to hang out with you after class?”

“Oh, I’ve heard about teachers dating students… no, it’s dangerous. It’s okay to go to dinner with the entire class for a good reason, like the end of the semester, but not one on one. Also, I have a girlfriend.”

She seemed relieved, and asked about my girlfriend, who she thought was a foreigner. Explaining that my girlfriend’s a 백조 (white swan), she asked if I hadn’t meant 백수 (white snake), and I explained that the later has a meaning closer to 사기꾼 (conartist). Her response:

“Ah! 백조 is for girls and 백수 for boys. You kids know it better than I do.”

She remarked that I look so young (as old as the students) and said I could see the dorm.

Thus 유빈 (the girl pictured) escorted me there. She spoke barely English, and told me she was studying English alone, and planned to study hard and learn a lot. (They almost always say such.) It started to rain, and as I’d brought my umbrella, I opened it. She asked if it was alright for foreigners to be touched, and I acquiesced. Thus she wrapped her hands around my arm like I was some benevolent rain guardian.

Later, waiting at the bus stop together, we took a few pictures: silly, serious and smiling faces. While I don’t mind overt friendliness, she seemed a bit too like a puppy for my liking.

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Nearly fifteen hundred pages to edit. Add another thousand and it’s pretty much everything in book/manuscript form that I’ve written in the last ten years: the first decade in a hopefully long and fruitful career. Cheers!

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“…An idea. All writers are unhappy. The picture of the world in books is thus too dark. The wordless are the happy: women in cottage gardens: Mrs. Chavasse. Not a true picture of the world; only a writer’s picture. Are musicians, painters happy? Is their world happier?” Thursday, September 5th, Nineteen Forty. A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf.

While I agree with her sentiments especially regarding journals/diaries, and the brunt of classical literature catches an inherent deep human sadness, I’m writing against that trend with this book. Focused; on fire. And if not this book, then another. And another’s another…

Failure: zero books finished. Maybe 700 pages, but spread amongst five or six books, and none completed.

Instead I completed another draft (fifteenth and final?) Of a novel that’s taken six years too long.

It’s just about ready. Along with a number of stories. Said I’d send them out this month… April is over. Time to act on those tasks I’ve put off for too long…

Oh, and the typewriter is broken, so it must be fixed before work commences on the newest novel.

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A book takes years. This one has been in the oven for six… fifteen drafts and it’s just about ready. In a few weeks, when it’s all retyped, I’ll send it out to agents. Promise!

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!

Being a writer, an artist isn’t romantic or exciting in the least. At times. Here it is three in the morning with wake up at six-fifty and I can’t sleep because I realized the most recent novel doesn’t begin right and I’m actually stressed out about it, something that’s not even real or wasn’t until I created it. And I don’t care if that’s a run-on sentence, cause if this ain’t insanity, what is?

Today I destroyed my computer. I threw it off the balcony, and retrieving it from the pit where it was partly smashed, brought it back to my room and tore it apart. My efforts were interupted by a phone call from the girlfriend, but I will continue the destruction later. Spread it out over a week or a few days. Savor it.

Two weekends ago I had left it at a computer repair shop and picked it up last weekend, paying around $100 total for some hardware repairs and a Windows reinstall. It worked okay for a few days, and started having problems again almost right away. Problems I’ve fixed in the past, but I learned to hate the computer so much without it for those nearly four months.

Not having a computer has been nothing but a blessing. It is nearly impossible to live without a computer, and that doesn’t mean I must own one. I pledge not to get one ever again, and want to stick to that pledge. Seriously. What I want more than anything else right now is an amanuensis, someone to help with the administrative aspects of editing and manuscript preparation; I will merely focus on writing and reading. Writing. Reading. Writing. Reading. Etc. Instead of using a machine to compose fiction, I will be the machine for it’s creation.