Cock Night

Had cock night tonight, this being the name we've lovingly given to our weekly "guys night out". We went to our usual manly haunt, this wooden place on the main drag near our apartments that serves decent chicken and wicked duck. Decent lighting, benches that look like pieces of tree, accommodating staff, and a centrally located canopy-sculpture that looks like a giant mushroom are among the winning points of this fine establishment. ("fine establishment" being a euphemism for "I don't know the name of the place") After food, we headed to this place right beside our apartment complex that we lovingly refer to as "Min-gyun's". It's a quirky looking wooden place, with a screened in upstairs porch, and an outdoor eating area with a campfire, dripping in ambiance. Apparently it was once owned by a man named Min-gyun, who then left it to his friend Joon, and is now owned and has been renovated by a new owner, whose name we don't know. It was nice to get out of the house, as my broken collarbone has kept me inside the last couple of nights, save for a walk I took last night with Jason to the local college campus, the architecture of which makes me feel like I've wandered a few thousand miles east. We drank beer and did Madlibs, Jason was sent a book of them by some friends back home. It was a good time and we talked a little about when we are all respectively leaving. This has a fair amount of importance, mainly because the three of us are the only guys really left who hang out and speak freely together. Jason swims home in December, Robert's contract is up in June, and mine next May or June. Robert joked about Jason re-signing for another year, which is hopeless, Jason kinda hates his job. I too am thinking of moving on after the year. With the won doing so poorly and the dollar so well, the money here is not as good as it was when I signed on. There are a few places where I could make a lot more money teaching english, a couple of arab countries and spain being the two most likely at this point. Talking about this, I realized how much I'm going to miss Robert if I go and he stays. He's working on a master's now with his better half and they've got a pretty nice set up, owing to their gorgeous new apartment and gorgeous old Sokcho. This post is now going to end as abruptly as most of them: I'm tired, going to bed.


Fuck fuck fuck fuck Motherfucker fuck fuck!

Awoke to the whining drone of a mosquito buzzing toward and away from my ear. Reached to smack it onto my left shoulder, forgetting both my broken collarbone and the figure eight sling I'm in that guarantees any large movement of my shoulders to send shooting pains through where the bone is broken. Slapping and scratching at mosquitoes (some real, some imagined) in the dark, I feel my whole body with nerves and itch from being dirty, uncomfortable, and relatively helpless. The first thing out of my mouth, echoing in my empty apartment, was the title of this post. Followed by an absurdly serious "alright motherfuckers..." Who are these "motherfuckers"? We'll probahly never know. Fighting better judgment and doctor's orders with animal panic, I removed my sling and the damp, chafing shirt it held to me. I turned on the light and squinted around for my glasses. Naked, I stood poised on my bed, listening for the high-pitched whine of one of satan's little bloodsuckers. I have done thorough, scientific, wikipedia-based research on these little bastards and have come to the conclusion that, scientifically speaking, they have been sent from hell. I killed three of them tonight, one of which wasalready full of my (?) blood. With mosquitoes and itch on the brain, and since i've already taken the sling off, i've decided to take a hot shower. I am so tired and angry right now I could punch someone in my sleep.


Alone but no longer lonely.

I had a wonderful, revelatory day today.
I just got home from Jangsudae, the first place I ever climbed outside, about an hour north of here. The climbing was great today, did some of the most difficult lead-climbing I've done which was awesome and makes me feel accomplished. Also climbed some familiar routes with greater amounts of ease than I imagined two months of experience could give me. That was great. The climbing, however, was only a small part of why I had an incredible day. We decided to take the scooters (henceforth referred to using the verb: to scoot) up to the crag. The past times, we've either been driven by a local friend, or taken the bus. Seeing the scenery through the window, we conceived the idea a while ago of scooting to Jangsudae, expecting that it would take a while, but that there must be the way. Last night I found a mapquest-style website for Gangwondo, and saw that the route was actually pretty straightforward. So early this morning, Robert strapped a milk crate to the back of my scooter, for extra carrying capacity, and armed with kim-bap from family mart, pears and ham (gifts from the boss for Chuseok), coffee, and a bleary eyed sense of optimism, we took off from Sokcho. The road there was unbelievable. After taking the number 7 highway down the coast, dodging the usual insane korean drivers, we came to number 44, which took us into the mountains. Once 44 enters the mountains, it's a winding maze of switchbacks, ups and downs, and blind corners made slightly safer by the presence of the ever-ubiquitous fish-eye mirrors to see what's coming around the corner. The whole route is surrounded by a dominating, gasp-inspiring mix of mountains, rivers, boulders, and trees. It was one of the most beautiful drives I have ever seen, and as my parents would proudly tell you, during trips to the Rockies as a child, I saw a few that were pretty incredible. We made good time to Jangsudae, about 1 1/2 hours. There's a sense of joy and danger riding a two-wheeled vehicle that can do 125 km/h. Not that I was going anywhere near that fast in the mountains. In fact, at a couple of points I discovered that if my scooter isn't at least at the top of first gear by the time it hits an incline, it won't accelerate going uphill. Luckily, the route is so inconsistent in its inclines and declines, I was never put-putting along at 30 for more than a couple minutes. We were met in Jangsudae by a couple we met climbing yesterday in Seorak-san, Mark and Jenny. They're damn cool people, very relaxed and they set up a slack-line (tightrope) on the ground, which I took a few comical stabs at. Grace even joined us later in the afternoon, reading and talking with Lisa on the grass. After climbing was finished, with the sun an hour from setting and us not wanting to risk the mountain roads in the dark, we headed back. The ride back was every bit as beautiful as the way there. Much more downhill coming back, the switchbacks and tight turns were a blast as we slowed down for them and sped up during the straightaways. The mountain air was cold now, and a mist moved over everything, shrouding the world twenty feet higher than us and above in a shifting mystery. Incredible. After getting back to Sokcho, when Robert and I got off the scooters, we were giddy with the satisfaction of a new and wicked adventure. Lisa laughed at us, but she definitely made multiple arm-waving, grinning gestures of freedom on the ride home. I had a shower, and now we're planning a late dinner with Mark and Jenny.

What was so incredible about the day, besides spending great time with people that I have come to love, was that for the first time in a very very long time, I had this overwhelming sense that absolutely nothing is missing in my life. I've been a mess lately, trying to improve upon myself and failing, irritated with myself and my job and generally taking a lot of things for granted. I've been lonely. A friend of mine wrote to me recently that loneliness is everywhere, but wants you to think somewhere else, it isn't. She also said that loneliness is wanting, and wanting can be replaced by joy. I felt that today. I don't feel lonely. I miss people, I have catches in my throat at the thought of seeing some people I miss, but I feel pretty complete in my incompleteness. I also had one of the most interesting contradictory feelings I've ever had today. Hanging out with these two couples, these people that have become as big a part of each other's lives as themselves, I thought of how great it would be to have that kind of partnership again. This feeling was accompanied by a real sense of independence and a sense that I don't "need" someone, I just want someone. And that when it's "meant to happen" it will, and that I'm actually okay until then, and can be happy as a clam without. I seem to remember a similar feeling just before I got together with the former most important woman in my life, so who knows what the future holds. All in all, damn good time and place to be alive. Happy Chuseok.


And that's when it hit me...

It's funny, I've been a bit reclusive and morose lately, but every once in a while something happens to wrench me out of a funk. I just got back from "French Club". Two of my fellow teachers are starting a master's program and have to become fluent in another language, they've chosen French, so here I am, in Korea, learning French. A little ironic. After French club adjourned, I played a few games of chess with Robert, who has been teaching me bits of what he knows about the game. We tried a new stew he had on the boil, and listened to a Beta Lounge set by Pantha du Prince, which is pretty wonderful. I had a great night. It served to remind me of how grateful I am for these two (Robert and his lady, Lisa) from Buffalo that have become such a big part of my life here. Friends are hard to come by in a foreign country, and I'm damn lucky to have such interesting, warm, fuckin' funny, and open-minded people to be around and soak up with my spongy brain bread.

I've also got a couple of ideas on the make for theatre pieces for the spring. The roof of the kindergarten below Robert and Lisa's apartment has this overhanging platform as access to a maintenance room or something and it would make a great stage. I've been less than focused and driven in any particular direction lately, so I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm not going to finish any show before winter comes. The nice thing about this is that it gives me until spring to prepare. betalounge.com, for those of you that don't know, is a free online archive of the betalounge sets going back to 1996. These sets are broadcast from hamburg, are five hours long apiece, and are awesome. I can personally reccommend the latest set from Assoto Sounds Connaiseurs. Check it out, registration is free, and gets you access to ridiculous amounts of great music. Click on the title of this post to take you there. They're not paying me anything. But maybe if their fandom in Toronto spikes after people read this post, they'll intuitively send me a check. I'll be checking the mailbox for weeks now.

Not sure what to do about Christmas. Thailand, Japan, Russia, all possibilities. More on this later.