Sunday, December 15, 2013

Yuppie Chain Mail 2013

I hope this finds you all happy and healthy. 

I have had an amazing year of both excitement and challenges. My two years of study at teacher's college came to an end in March. I then moved for the seventh time in the last seven years, back to Everett from Bellingham. 

I drove across the country in March from Michigan back home to Washington with my then girlfriend. I will never forget the migrating birds at sunset over Nebraska. I was sad to see that relationship come to an end shortly after her arrival. 

I put myself into my work a lot this summer as it was the only thing I had. I created both a kindergarten and adult ESL curriculum and helped my company expand into markets in China and Indonesia. My Adult seminary students in Indonesia ended our last day of the fall semester recently by sharing a praise song to the lord. The students there called me Brother Matthew.

This summer was sunnier and more beautiful than any summer in memory. The days were warm and dry from May all the way until September. I enjoyed the summer walks down Grand Ave. here in Everett and seeing the gardens grow. 

I read the Lord of the Rings for the twelfth year in a row, mostly under shade trees in the afternoon by beach. One of Elrond's quotes stuck out to me: "You will meet many foes, some open and some disguised; and you may find friends along the your way when you least look for it." 

I met an unexpected companion along the road who shares my love for Tolkien, Lewis and magic. Our first date was to Disneyland with my family back in August. I am so thankful for God's promises and blessings in my life. She is one of them. 

Next year I will be 34. Life just seems to be getting richer and better each year and this too is unexpected. I really like being in my 30's in ways I could have never understood in my 20's. Life is an adventure, maybe not the kind of adventure you see on TV, with extreme sports and backpacking trips to Thailand...but there is magic right under our noses, there is adventure in the smallest details of our everyday lives. This year I had to surrender and let God take the reins of my life and he has taken me to places I truly never expected. 

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! 

Matt 


Monday, May 21, 2012

A Wall

I live in a little one bedroom apartment. I painted it before I moved in last year. Hung on the walls are some traditional Korean prints I picked up in Iteawan before I moved back home. My bookshelf is over flowing with books, though unlike 10 years ago, today, all the books on my shelf are books that I have actually read. My grandfather's recliner sits in the living room. My grandmother gave it to me last year after he died. I don't sit in it much probably because I feel like it is still his. Most of my time is spent in front of my computer. That is where I do all of my work. I have 3 computers for work. The wires are everywhere. Seeing those cables and wires makes me anxious and I day dream about a time when I can get rid of it all and never have to deal with tangled wires again.

My apartment is pressed up against the freeway--I-5. The noise of it is ever present. Sometimes, while on my front porch, I think about all the people whizzing by and where they are going and where they are coming from. The freeway has energy: a blend of people and machines. If you walk just one street over the noise disappears. But I live in the energy of the freeway. It has a voice like the ocean. I am so used to it that I sometimes forget about it. Then on nights like tonight, after teaching my online class, I go outside and there is a lull in the traffic. For just a few moments it is silent. I wish the silence would last but just then another car speeds by and breaks the silence.

The state has built a sound barrier, a tall cement wall to block the sound--to contain the energy. When I stand on my porch I see the wall. And there is a door in the wall. I am not sure who has the key, but sometimes I think about opening that door. I day-dream that the door in the wall is a doorway to some other secret land. A place just beneath and to the side of this land.

Very few people walk or drive down this street. It is the boundary between the city and the highway. Though I live in the middle of the city, this street feels like a frontier. The wall is the border between the real world and the sideways world.

I can't explain the wall very well or what it feels like to live near it but I wonder if the wires that are all tangled under my desk are connected to the feeling of the wall in someway.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Update

Has it really been seven years since I started this blog? It's the future 2011! I'm old now!

I arrived home from a 2 and half year stay in Korea, hopeful about the future with big plans to go back to school and earn a teaching certificate and settle down. What ended up happening was a year of working in my apartment 10-12 hours a day. In the past, the jobs I've had were in my own community. I would wake up in the morning to an alarm, make a pot of coffee, fill up the thermos and commute to work. The people in the lanes beside me on the highway had that same morning look that I had: slightly damp hair and muscles in their face that hadn't quite warmed up. And seeing those people made me feel connected,like a citizen. On weekends, driving around town, I could point to a job that I had done in my own community. I painted that building over there. I cleaned that office. I hedged that bush and so on.

But working with Koreans from my home office has changed that feeling. All the seeds I plant, the people I touch, the work I do is an ocean away. I have to trust that I am making a difference and deep down I know I do.

I am going back to school and that to me is very exciting. I moved back to Bellingham. I have come full circle. Once upon a time I despised the ideology of this liberal arts college town. But that doesn't much matter to me anymore. What matters is that I now have a vision for what I want to do with my life.

So I am back in Bellingham. I'm 31 rather than 21. I will be the old guy on campus and that is scary but I am excited to learn and commute and be part of a community again.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Revolution

I woke up a little bit late today. Even though I work most nights until 2AM teaching students in Korea from my home office, I try to wake up early. I've always liked mornings best. The first thing I do when I get up is shower and get ready for the day. I iron my shirt and vacuum lines in the carpet. Then I make a pot of coffee and check the news. An ironed shirt and a good shave are essential to survival when you work at home, otherwise you can turn into a shite bag real quick.

So after my morning routine was finished I decided I needed a good mid morning meal. I drove to the store and got a whole bunch of groceries: so much I couldn't carry them in on one trip when I got home. When I was driving home, I remembered something I needed but had forgotten to pick up at the market. I saw a drug store and cut across two lanes of traffic and made a frantic left turn into the driveway. I went in the store and picked up a new plastic garbage can, the kind that if you press a lever with your foot the lid opens up. I figured that would make life easier and cleaner than ever. But while I was in the store I realized something I have not noticed before because I have so rarely shopped in the middle of a weekday--the only people shopping in middle of the day are older women. There were a few young moms pushing kids in strollers. But most of the women were middle aged. Their kids were either in school or grown. And they were picking through things I'd always wondered about, like crystal wind chimes and hair dye. So these are the people that buy that stuff. I would never know because when I go to the store at 8pm people are buying different things. They live different lives.

I was digging all these women and I could tell they were digging me. Not every day they see a 30 year old man strolling down the kitchenware aisle in a pressed shirt before lunch.

I guess that is all back ground information, a precursor to the real story. A little more background information: 1. I have spent the last two years living in Korea. I admire Koreans work ethic. That's it. No stories of bongo circles on the beach or an awakening to the evils of capitalism or a Buddhist enlightenment. I just admire the way Koreans work and study. And 2. That damn health care bill passed yesterday. It isn't the bill itself that worries me, it is that it reflects what I perceive to be an ever growing attitude in this country, my country, that we don't have to work hard for what we want, that it will be provided for free...it is owed to us, and slowly, I see men acting less free.

So this is where my head was when I was walking out of the drug store with my combed hair, my pressed shirt--holding a brand new white trash can that smelled like a new car. The woman walking a few paces ahead of me out to the parking lot, held her crystal wind chime. I felt connected to her some how because we had stood in line together--and that for me, recently anyway, constitutes a relationship of sorts. If for no other reason, she is American and I have wanted to be around Americans so often in Korea when there were none around.

A young man approached her. He was about 25, maybe younger. He wasn't a bad looking guy. He had a beard. Not a Charles Manson beard but a scraggly one. I knew what he was going to do. I started talking to him in my head, "Don't do it, man. Not to this woman. She is my mom's age. She wants to go hang up this wind chime on her porch. Let her be." I said this to the guy in my head but he didn't listen. He steped in front her and asked for some spare change for a bus ride. I sighed. She looked frightened and walked briskly away, wiggling her head back and forth.

Then he asked me but I said, "No, sorry. I really don't have any money." As I walked away though the situation started to get me going about everything: my country, kids today, my own complacency. I started to think about a society where youth beg money from elders and men need the support of women. I started thinking about the beggars I saw in Korea, who laid face down in complete humiliation--too disgraced to show their face in public--many of whom were missing limbs or were crippled with age. And then here, in my own city, a man healthier than I, in the prime of his life, asking for spare change for a bus. Who knows if there was really a bus. But as I unlocked my car I wanted a revolution to happen. Not a tea party where people hold signs but a revolution against all evil. The final retribution--Thy Kingdom Come!

I got in my car and watched as the young man asked more women for money. They ignored him but I could tell what they were thinking. It was the same thing I was thinking. Who will speak?... Who will speak?... I have to speak. My heart was admittedly beating faster than usual. I pulled out of the parking stall and cruised slowly over to where the guy was. I rolled down my window and asked him, "Hey, how much do you need for the bus?" He said, "Well to Seattle....at least a dollar seventy five."

"Come here, man." And I waved him over. I pulled out 5 dimes from my ash tray, "This is really all I have. But hey, don't beg money from these old women. Be a man. Get a job. Be a man. Okay?" I really meant it. "Be a man!" Are there any good men left today? To my surprise he looked ashamed. He hung his head a bit and said, okay man, You're right. Thanks for the money, I won't let you down. Who knows if he was just saying that or not. But I drove away feeling better. I had spoke and stood up for what was right. Why don't more people do this? Or do they? It was for me at least the start of a revolution, if only in my heart. "Be a man."

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009

There's only a couple minutes left in 2009. The fire works will go off at the beach just a few blocks away and I have a front row seat from my high rise apartment in Pohang, South Korea.

Reflecting on this year, I have to admit it has been one of the hardest of my life but as it comes to a close, I am so happy about my future. A year ago, I was preparing to come back to Korea and writing from home for students I had never met. Almost all of that work was based on theory--how Korean education worked in my imagination. This year I have learned a lot and for the first time in my life, I feel like I know a little bit about something.

At one point this summer I had 5 roommates sharing a small three bedroom apartment.

One day I was so frustrated, I stormed out of the office proclaiming, "I quit!"

I lost 15 pounds and then gained it back plus 20 more.

I met new and interesting people, learned how to cook Korean food and read the Korean language.

I read the Lord of the Rings for the 8th time.

I went back to college. I wrote 6 books.

All in all I did a lot this year. But I am most excited to come home and hopefully meet interesting people and become more stable.

I want to get healthy and become a better son, brother, friend, and hopefully boyfriend.

I didn't think the world would last past 1999. The 21st century was not real, it was just science fiction and Y2K would send us back to the stone age. This past decade, I lived my 20's. This coming decade I'll live my thirties.

My one hope for the next decade is that people would become more optimistic about the future and work hard to make our world better. I think Christians need to stop being political and start being loving. People are ignorant about the Christian faith and so it has become popular in recent years to reject religion. I hope that doesn't continue.

2009 has put hair on my chest and I am excited for 2010.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Confessions of an English Teacher in Korea


Hey brother,

Went on a trip this weekend to Jinju--that is about three hours south west of here. Went with my boss and a coworker. The highlight of the trip was visiting an ancient castle and learning the history of a Japanese invasion. This was a pretty great story man. So this Korean hooker is a national hero. A long time ago like in the 1400's this Japanese general came and occupied Jinju, a former city of great importance. This guy was the brains behind the whole operation, planning strategy and having the balls and guts to drive his men to glory. Well one night this hooker gal. She started rubbing on the General and dancing with him. Then when they got near the edge of the castle, where it drops off a great wall on to the rocks beneath, she clung to his ass and dragged him down to their deaths. Dude this broad sacrificed her self for the Country. I guess the Japs tucked tail and booked out of there without their mighty general. It is amazing to think that people like that effect the flow of history. I visited her shrine and saw the place where she jumped to her death with her claws around the general. Pretty cool to see ancient history.

However, history aside, Korea looks the same no matter where you go. Every damn street in this country is indistinguishable from the next. I guess diversity in it's true sense, (not the PC commie Barrack Obama propaganda sense) is really beautiful. Our country even though it is new has so much more cool things to look at.

Anyway, it was another weekend trip of feeling out of place as I ate dinner and lived with my work mate's family for three days. We couldn't communicate a damn word to each other. Just bowing our heads off and smiling like there was no tomorrow. It was a blessing really. But it gets old man. Everyday not being able to say simple things like, "I appreciate your hospitality" or "I just want to be loved".

On Friday I flipped out. I have been so composed and put together here. Just smiling and bowing like a maniac. But man working around computers (full of bugs and tech problems) combined with a major language barrier, paired with the prospect of spending a weekend living on a Korean family's floor for the weekend was too much. When my computer broke down in the middle of class I started yelling and said, "that's it! I've had enough! I QUIT!" and stormed out of the office. I think all my Korean work mates were in amazement and half scared out of their wits. My manager came running after me and pulled me back and was forcefully blocking the door, saying you must teach, you must teach. F it man, we are lucky in America, someday a brother needs a sick day or personal day. I have been teaching my butt off for two and a half years without a break. Even working on Christmas and Thanksgiving. I feel like a prisoner here.

I guess I needed to get that off my chest. I keep telling myself that few foreigners ever come to Korea and experience this life. I count my blessings everyday and have learned to appreciate my home, my country, and begin to realize what is really important in life and how much we take for granted back home. I can't wait to come home. So have a great December, enjoy the weather, the snow in the mountains, Christmas lights and slay bells with your family. Peace Brother,

Matt

Monday, October 19, 2009

Far from Home

I click out of the program. Class is over. It's remarkable how when teaching at home from your lap top computer, the transition from work to home life is as fast as the click of a button. With the buzz of the classroom gone--I'm left alone. The refrigerator dully hums. I've got slippers on--I'm wearing a dress shirt and athletic shorts. I'm like an anchor man in my own home; But really, this isn't my home so it's not exactly like that. More like: I'm an online English teacher living and working in Korea. That is strange enough.

It's 8pm. The apartment is too quiet. I decide to go for a walk--to the beach. It's cold now and I take a sweater out of my suitcase. I've lived out of a suit case for two years. The beach is nice. It is clean and I feel cleaner as the wind blows over me.

I walk miles. Just keep walking into the night. I end up on a pier far from home, staring out to sea. The red light blinks above me in the light house. The world is dimly illuminated in red and the disappears into black then reappears. It's pulsating. The waves come in and out. I'm staring out to sea. When I've seen enough, I walk miles back home, go up the elevator. My reflection in the elevator mirrors looks older than it should. The elevator doors hiss open. I unlock my apartment door--back where I started. The refrigerator is humming.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Drab Text books

I wrote the first little story for the first lesson in the seventh grade text book yesterday. There wasn't much too it. Though I long to write deep thematic, fantastic epics, I've come to grips with writing watered down stories for ESL students. And even though my editors don't have a lick of imagination, I try to drop subtle pictures in that I hope the students will pick up on and perhaps, peek their interest in dreaming.

The story I wrote and sent away yesterday was less than three hundred words. A girl goes on a field trip with her class to the Natural History Museum and goes floor to floor visiting the different exhibits. The top floor, the fifth floor, was the MAN EXHIBIT. The girl sees displays of people playing chess, writing symphonies, constructing skyscrapers, and in the last exhibit, traveling to space.

I got the notes back from the editor today. She suggested changing that exhibit to show the history of man. "Maybe you could write about cavemen building fires and hunting with spears" she wrote.

No. No. No. Why should I change that? Why do educated people scoff at romantic portrayals of Man, replacing them with brutish cartoon characters?

I am seeing now that almost every shred of imagination is ringed out of educational material. They bore me to tears. I know that children respond when you ask them to open their minds. I have schools requesting that I teach their students. You think someone would ask me why my students don't fall asleep. Why my classes are fun. Why kids open up to me...

I am just tired of people unwilling to believe in magic--the nobility of Man. Children do, that is why we get along so well.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Two Breakfasts

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is check my email. Both accounts, then Facebook. I want to get email. I crave it. I love it when I do.

This morning, after checking my email and finding my inbox empty, I decided to clean and cook. It is the weekend. That is what I do on the weekend. While I'm doing it, I imagine how great it would be if I had someone else to do it for me. To sweep and mop the linoleum floors--to put my dirty laundry in the machine and then take it out again and hang it on the clothes rack to dry--to iron my work shirts--to cook my meals. I'm not sure if I need a wife or a maid. I might even settle for a robot.

The kitchen table was damp and spotless and the dishes drip dried in the dish rack when I sat down with a cup of coffee. I was full from the eggs and ham breakfast I had cooked for myself for breakfast. I put my feet up and tried to relax. I want to relax more than anything but I want it so bad I start to stress about it and in the end I can't. So relaxing has become mythical, like a promised land or better yet, a fairy land. I think just a little more cleaning, just a little more work, just one more week of thirteen hour days at the office, then I'll relax. Yeah. But the next day always brings more work. I wonder if that is what people really want when they talk about heaven, if some just give up on peace here on earth and look for it in the next life. In the next life we will relax.

My roommate woke up. I felt a bit bad about cleaning and cooking in the morning but it is eleven o'clock. Eleven o'clock! The phone rang. It was 11:03. "Hello Mah-tyew. I am Hae-seoung." That's right he was going to cook breakfast for us this morning at eleven o'clock. I wanted to stay home and relax with my coffee and the view out my window but he sounded so happy.

My roommate took off, right out the door, looking like he just woke up: his hair disheveled and a greasy glean to his skin. I tell him I'll catch up. I throw on some jeans and a button up dress shirt and roll up the sleeves, then ride the elevator down eleven floors. I step out into the day. The sun is shinning and the east wind feels like fall. There are children everywhere! They all giggle and say "Hello! How are you today!?" in English and then run away laughing when I say hello back.

Hae-seoung lives right across the street in a tall apartment building like mine. I can look right into his window at night when his lights are on. But with the elevators and walls and gates, it takes me about ten minutes to walk to his apartment building.

"Mah-tyew! Hello!"

I look up and Hae-seoung is hanging out of the twelfth story window waving.

I'm coming, I tell him.

I ride the elevator up. There are three big mirrors in the elevator-one on each wall. They are at eye level for Koreans but I can only see my reflection from the chest down--an infinite loop of my ever growing belly reflected back at me. I turn away and look up at the numbers change on the display as I go up and up. When the door opens, Hae-seoung jumps out and says, "Boo!" He is happy. He loves to eat.

We walk down the hall to his apartment and take off our shoes. His apartment is simple and clean: wooden floors, a sponge on the aluminum counter top, a low table in the corner with a ten year old TV on it, his laptop computer on the floor playing the best of classical music, and in the middle of the room--the breakfast table was set. Mushroom spaghetti took it's place of honor as the main course in the middle of the table and around it were three empty bowls for the spaghetti and three bowls, one for each of us, filled only half full of vegetable cream soup. There was also a board with nine fresh French rolls laid out in three rows of three. For silverware, he had put out two plastic forks for Paul and I, the Americans. How thoughtful!

He dished out our spaghetti and we ate and talked well past lunch time with the window open and the ocean sparkling not two blocks away. The sea breeze, mixed with the Mozart and the smell of mushrooms, was almost too much. Eating breakfast with those guys, even if we do speak in broken Korean and English--was relaxing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Airport Lounge

I'm waiting at the airport. It's a small rinky-dink airport. Looks more like a bowling alley than an airport. I decide to kill some time so I go to this greasy spoon cafe-bar type place. The bar tender is a real cute girl, maybe a little older than me. Kind of hippie like. Everyone is sweating a bit cause it is hot in the bar. I ask for change to play the arcade game they have there. I also order a coffee. She tells me the coffee is nine dollars. I ask who in their right mind would pay 9 dollars. She tells me she'll give it to me black for $8.50. I pass. This couple next to me is eating french toast. He has on glasses. Looks a bit like a cars salesman or lawyer from the 80's. His wife I can't make out. She is probably younger but she doesn't make much of an impression on me. We strike up a conversation about coffee. How expensive it is.

I am hungry. I really want some french toast. She tells me a joke but I don't get it. She tells me I wouldn't understand. I tell her she can't tell me a joke and then not explain it if I don't get it. The bar tender tells me I'd have to dance to understand. She tells me to stand up. She puts a quarter in the jukebox. We start dancing. It's kind of a fast dance. I still don't get the joke but the dancing is fun. A black girl cuts in and I dance this fast hot dance with a black girl. I thank her when it is over. She has a big white toothed smile. When it is over I go back to the bar and drink water while waiting for my plane to arrive.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Adjusting

What a busy summer I have had. I took a college course. I wrote three children books. I created a summer program for our school. I traveled home to Seattle and then back to Korea again. Part of me loves the work. It makes me feel useful. After all what would I be doing if I wasn't working. But part of me is getting lost each day--the part of me that longs for coffee on the porch with friends; who writes silly poems about the woods in my journal; that introspective piece of me that feels connected to God and nature--so, this is what being an adult is all about. I feel a bit thin, almost like a wraith sometimes and that can't be good. But then something small reminds me again how wonderful life is and that I am connected to all of it. I ran into two old students today at different times. They both said the same thing--"Oooh! Hello Maht-yu." That made my day.

It is nearly impossible to explain my life in Korea to people back home. Living in Asia, teaching, living with Korean room mates is after all something I never dreamt I would do and even while I do it, it feels both familiar and strange at the same time.

I was just up on the roof having a cigarette before bed. I opened the door to the roof and it was pitch black. I stumbled over a vent as I walked out to the edge to look down on the city at night. After my smoke I looked around at the roof top and realized my eyes had adjusted to the darkness, that walking back to the door I was able to see the vent and go around it. My eyes readjusted to the light of my apartment when I came inside. Living in Korea for two years is kind of like that. I am adjusted to it. What seemed so alien at first is becoming common place. Now it is home that is strange.

Thing is I am always going back and fourth between light and dark, city to city, friends to friends. I guess that is life. But something in me is really longing to settle down. To stop moving, to be part of a more lasting community.

I am proud of my books I made this summer. Proud of graduating university, of coming to Korea by myself and being completely independent. I am amazed at how much I have been able to do by just saying yes and plugging along. But--I am looking forward to the next adventure to come my way. Settling down after all is probably the biggest adventure of all!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Five Years Blogging

Five years ago I started a blog. Feels like hundreds of years have gone by since that day.

Today I am flying back to South Korea after a week long vacation at home in Washington State. I can't really describe this longing I have for home. I think we all have something like it. But living in South Korea is strange a lot of the times and I always imagine my home as this special thing. A strong place, a fortress...but homey, like a warm oil painting of the shire. It is familiar. It is where I belong. It needs me. I need it. I need a conversation in English about simple things--like tomato plants.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Starving

I woke up hungry today. My stomach felt as if it was a an empty pit. But I wasn't hungry for food. I wanted to eat a forest in fall, or a love story, or Leavenworth at Christmas time with the hobo barrel fires and fudge smells.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Back in School

Today I started my first day at the University of Maryland! I am taking an ESL certification course online. It was a good first day.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

American Women

I went to the cinema to see a movie. I walked into the theater with nachos in one hand and a coke in the other. I saw three American girls! I found my seat and thought about going up and introducing myself but I held back and watched. They were so loud and big! and they were sprawled out with their feet hanging over the seats in front of them. I actually became frightened. I looked around at the tiny little Korean girls nestled into their boyfriends shoulders and I sighed.

Is it ridiculous to stereotype all women in America as big and loud or is there some truth in this? I wonder if a whole generation of women in America have turned into teenage boys, and I wonder, do they know how very unattractive it is!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shirt

My boss bought me a shirt in America and gave it to me today. I was happy because I need a new summer polo shirt.

I opened the package. The shirt looked big. I unfurled the tag and read the three letters with a smile: XXL

I wear large.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Daily Life In Korea

I have lost all perspective of what I should or should not expect in life. Part of me says work hard and be thankful that I have a job in a down turned economy but another part of me says that my daily routine is absurd.

Monday-Friday

Wake up at 6am in a pool of my own sweat.
Walk to work at 7:30. Arrive at work with a red face and sweat dripping from every pore in my body. Fantasize about having talcum powder.
Teach my first class at 8 AM from a tiny TV studio in a 4 ft. by 5ft closet. (Door shut)
Walk home again at 9 AM and eat breakfast and use the restroom. 10 AM to 12:30 PM Teach in said closet.
12:30 to 1 PM eat good, but admittedly, strange food consisting mostly of fish and garlic for lunch. My workmates speaking Korean and me not participating in the conversation.
1PM to 2:30 PM. Get caught up on emails and class prep.
2:30-4:00 Teach in the closet.
4:00 to 7 PM teach at onsite center. 90 percent of that is just getting the kids to settle down and show me an ounce of respect.
8PM Finally get to go home, unless there is a meeting.
10PM: G chat with American Staff. Today I was guilted into signing up for an on line college course for an ESL certification that all our workers are participating in.
11PM Check face book every second hoping that I have a friend.
1 AM sleep.

Saturday and Sunday

Head to the office around 10 write text books until 8PM.

Miscellaneous

Learn today that I need to design a summer intensive course by next week.
Participate in meetings where there is a major major language barrier.
Get stared at constantly for being sweaty and red, not to mention a towering giant freak.
With less than one minute notice get called to an online presentation to show our product to people wearing ties.
Have students draw pictures of me as a bald man.
Worrying about a possible nuclear war.

I can't tell you how good I feel when I finish a task. I think, If I can survive this then I am the strongest person alive. And after locking myself in a tiny room at the office on the weekends and finishing my stories for our books, I feel so proud of myself. I enjoy being in the fantasy worlds I am creating for students, and I'm so proud also to have the opportunity to publish my work that will be read by thousands of people. That is a good feeling. But I just pray that there is a reward at the end. I know that is selfish but I hope there is a reward. I am tired of being alone, and tired of sweating, and tired of not being able to communicate...I am tired. I don't know if I am whinnying or doing something that few people ever do. I just am not sure.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lunch

"Matthew, do you like ja-jen-myuen?"

"Is that the black noodle stuff? Yeah, why?"

"Ji-hyun is not here today, so we order food for lunch-a."

"Uh, so, no woman means no food?"

"Ha ha, that's right, we order today."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hypothetically Speaking

During lunch my workmates talk about a possible conflict with the North. I can't understand the language they are speaking but there is no mistaking their concern.

Today waking up to more bad news about the north I asked my American roommate, "Hypothetically speaking, what would we do if war broke out? How would we get out of here?" "I guess we'd have to wait it out on the military base and be evacuated from there."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Top Ten Signs That You Are a Zombie

I am amazed at the major rise in media hype recently, from something small like hyping a piece of garbage movie like The Watchman to the hysteria of the swine flu. But what really gets me is how these ideas, opinions, and doctrines, that first appear on the Internet, soon become the mantra of the public.


Here is a list of topics that I think people have lost their minds over, they don't think about them anymore, it is just cultural fact and to question it is a grounds for being called "small minded", "backwards thinking", "neo-con" or the ultimate insult-- "Fox News watching Bush lover":

1. Gay marriage--If you so much as utter that marriage is a union of man and woman, well forget about it, you should die.

2. Global warming--Science said, Science said. You're not coming to the BBQ on saturday.

3. How Did Everything Come to Be?--A once important scientific question is now settled. Dude, it was The Fly Spaghetti Monster.


4. Anything to Do With the Middle East--Go watch the video blog posted up on Democracy Now, then we can talk.


5. Teenage Vampires, Goths, and Other Trendbots-- Memo to Teachers: When talking to a student in a black cape wearing vampire fangs, pretend that it is normal, we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Failure to comply carries a sentence of one week of sensitivity training during your lunch break.

6. Hollywood Movies-- It's so subversive. And oh, go see Slumdog. It's a movie from a different country.

8. Organic Food and Bottled Water--Don't I look cute with this hemp shopping bag.

9. Wanting To Start a Revolution of Responsibility--You're using the word wrong man. Revolution means sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I don't know "t-e-a-p-a-r-t-y". You must mean tea-bag.

10. The Simple, Happy Life--What a naive ignorant person you are. Let me direct you to hand full of literature, most of which is online which points out everything bad about the world, like how the world is going to end in 2012 because of solar storms.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Star Trek Review

The best part of this movie was when it was over, when Leonard Nemoy says: Space, the Final frontier....To boldly go where no man has gone before...

Sadly this movie didn't take me anywhere new. Here is yet another Star Trek movie where there is an evil alien dressed in black who is bent on destroying the earth. Oh yeah, and time travel for the sake of bringing back an old cast member.

I did enjoy seeing it in Korea though as I was able to arrive 10 minutes before the movie started, buy nachos and a large coke for less than five dollars and get a good seat! I didn't have to wait in line for three hours with a bunch of mouth breathing nerds.

I love Star Trek but I am not buying into the hype that this is a fresh start for the franchise. It looked like a lot of the same stuff that has come out in the last 10 years. I really would like to see a Star Trek movie that could show us "new life and new civilization", a life not yet imagined, a visionary movie. Not this comic book garbage! I am sick of nerdy comic book movies.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I get to be a kid for a living...

Yesterday I asked the students to write their own stories. They had to decide on characters, setting, and action by answering some simple questions. We took notes before actually writing the story. This one girl, She is probably 15 years old, was cracking me up. You probably had to be there:

Who? Waterman

What? drinks water

Why? thirsty

Where? Jejudo

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mountains

I want to see mountains and hike deep into the wilderness. Dry mountains are preferable to wet ones. I hate it when this feeling of restlessness comes on. I want to get out of here, go somewhere real. The mountains seem real.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Evening Thoughts

I have been enthusiastic about the future since I was young. Star Trek probably had a lot to do with that--watching the crew of an intergalactic star ship cruising around on diplomacy meetings with aliens and meeting far out aliens with strange god like powers. Who wouldn't be excited about that? I might not be able to go Vulcan but Korea was as far as I could reach for now. Educating children has also seemed attractive to me if for no other noble reason than to see if I could do better than those teachers that so miserably failed at inspiring me but also to honor those few that did really blow my mind and encourage me.

But today, alone in Pohang, I've had a few thoughts about the world we live in. One thought comes from the pastor's sermon today from the book of Romans chapter 7. The other from hours of mindless Internet surfing that came after the sermon.

First: There seems to be this truth that I find absolutely true in my life and I think if people are honest they will acknowledge is true in their own. That I try and do good but I end up doing bad. Why is that?

Second: I am convinced that the best education is a father walking with his child through the woods, or a mother cooking with her children. All the gimmicks we come up with only lead to more stress and in the end. I have to wonder if, for example having a global online education actually increases happiness. I am pretty sure it doesn't.

So if my efforts to do good so often end in failure and the global project to advance technologically and culturally are not a means to happiness than what is it we are all doing when we work so much?

I saw a movie called "Knowing" yesterday and the narrative has become all too common today in art and culture. Man fouls up the world so bad that it brings about destruction but aliens or angels or both step in in the final hour and save us from certain destruction. It is a sad and helpless plot line.

So again, I'm coming at this from around the edges, whittling away at the corners, but I can't help but feel that this project we have all agreed to work so hard on is in the end a lie. And today I have this urge to tear it down and start over, start fresh. I'm not looking for aliens to save me or angels. I'm simply wondering where the wild at heart go these days when it looks as though more and more people are becoming face book drones and work-a-holics. I want to go to a wild frontier, not to control it but to be part of it. There is something wild and powerful and AWESOME that my heart longs for but I can't find, it isn't in Korea and it isn't on Deep Space 9. But it is there, in the old poems, behind wardrobe doors.

The pastor gave it a name today, and I shifted in my seat when I heard it named. I realized, yes, that is what I've been looking for: Grace. I want to find Grace.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gee



Last year it was The Wondergirls and I guess this year it is Girl's Generation. I have to admit these K-pop girl bands sure are catchy and the girls sure are cute. I went to to a restaurant tonight and this song was on a loop. I kid you not. Over an hour of this song over and over and over again.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Watchmen: A Total Piece of Garbage

I had little else to do yesterday than wander around like a Yankee hobo in the orient. I ended up at a theater and to my disappointment there were only two English movies playing. Benjamin Button and The Watchmen. One of which I had not seen. I paid for my ticket and sat down in the enormous theater by myself. A few couples sat here and there around me.

I am not a comic book kind of guy. I find it hard to relate to people in tights fighting crime. It is something that was interesting to me when I was 6 but not so much anymore. But one thing that is highly disturbing to me are the dark comics that are being adapted for screen.

The only super hero I think is worth a damn really is Superman. An extraterrestrial living among us, a god, come to earth, who looks after humanity with humility. But The Watchmen are different, the movie was different. It was filled with anger, violence and sex. Superheros with broken psyches and emotional baggage, who live in a world of relative morality--mercenaries. Who has time for such garbage. When we make our superheros as fragile and weak as men, what is super about them anymore? Lose the costumes and just make a Life Time channel drama.

There is geek and then there is demented, live-in-your-mother's-basement-watching-porn-and-playing-dungeons-and-dragons-all-day geek.

I've had this experience many times in the last couple years: watching American movies and TV in a foreign country. I always feel shame watching these things with Koreans. I want to tell them that not everyone in America is that dark, is that violent. And would you feel anything but shame, when the people in the audience gasp and turn their heads, as characters are sawing each others arms off?

Does anybody have the guts to create something beautiful, something new, something to rally around, a piece of art that lifts people up in troubling times. Are there people like that out there? Are there people who are willing to dream, that see people not as animals in dungeons but as children playing in green fields? Is everyone scared of being gay? What's the deal?

The Watchmen: a total piece of garbage and truly small.

Friday, February 20, 2009

No Fear

I was taking an online questionnaire yesterday to entertain myself and this one question popped up, what do you fear most: #1. giving a speech #2. meeting the president of your company #3. taking a long road trip with a stranger #4 being alone in a foreign country without speaking the language.

I felt kind of proud. I have been terrified of all of those things to the point of near insanity. No joke. I used to turn red and almost poop just thinking about talking in front of a group. Now I've given some speeches and speak in front of people for a living. And then just two months ago, I crossed two more off the list. I had to ride in the car for eight hours with the president of our company who I had just met! And flip, the last one is an everyday occurrence. I felt pretty good about myself after reading that.

Then today happened. I had to get my physical for my alien registration card. I hate going to the doctor. I hate being touch and examined. But what I really hate are the machines that can see right through me. I can compose myself for the most part for people but the computers know when my heart is beating fast. The computers know if I have been eating bad. That's the stuff I don't want people to know.

Everyone stares at me, which is hard to get used to, but having everyone stair at me while holding a cup of pee is really hard.

I lived. I like that I am conquering my fears.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gym

I don't know if it is a fault, I think most Americans are this way, we like our privacy, our individual space, we like to be left alone. I am extremely that way. I am a private person. It is nearly impossible to live that way in Korea.

I joined a gym today. I did this so that I will have something to do in the evenings. So after work I went to my new gym. What I wanted to do was put my ipod on, run on the tread mill and space out but it didn't work out like that.

When I arrived, I saw that one of my Korean co-workers was also there. I told him that I had joined this afternoon and he had went and joined too. A work out buddy! A woman trainer greeted me on the way in and she used my Korean co-worker to translate. She told me all about the gym. Now honestly, these were my thoughts: I've been to a gym before, let me work out in peace. Before I knew what was happening her and another man were pulling me to a scale, measuring my body fat, hooking me up to a computer to see my muscle mass and vital signs. I was dumbstruck. So much for my space out time.

I am a fat flipping old guy now and when the computer spit out my health chart, she giggled, telling me that I needed to loose 14 Kg. I didn't need a computer to tell me I'm a fat ass. So after that station, she pulled me to a stretching chart and we did stretching together. Then we were carted off to the bike where she set the timer and speed for us and pushed my back in so I would sit up straight. I'm not going to fight it. What's the use, I'm part of the collective. When the bike timer went off she whisked me off to the tread mill and, same as before, set all the settings for me. When I had jogged for a good half hour, she took me over to a strange vibrating machine. I stood on and it just vibrated my guts out for five minutes. I could feel every fat roll on my back jiggling. It was amazing.

Off to the showers.

I'm not a shower in public sort of guy. Here in Korea people bathe together for fun. So I'm in the locker room with my co-worker and I know I am being awkward but I have to pretend I am cool being naked in a locker room full of young buff Koreans who I know are staring at me. I know they've never seen a guy with red pubic hair. A guy comes up to me half naked and sticks out his hand. "Hello, nice to meet you," he says. I shake his hand. I shower and get dressed. When I am leaving a young guy follows me out and says the same thing, "Hello, nice to meet you." His name was Jahoon. I have to remember that for tomorrow when I see him again.

I prefer to be a loner, but you know, the alternative isn't that bad. I love the Korean people.

Monday, February 16, 2009

There and Back Again

Well I am back in Korea. I got in early Friday morning after over 24 hours of air and bus travel.

It was surprisingly easy traveling this time thanks in part to the virtually empty plane I was on. I had a whole row of seats to myself.

After clearing customs, I headed outside into the cold. I lit up a cigarette at the bus station and guarded my mountain of luggage. Was I really doing this again? I just couldn't believe that I was back in Korea.

After a five hour bus ride, I finally arrived in Pohang. It was after midnight. My new workmates picked me up and wouldn't you guess, took me to McDonald's. Afterward it was off to see my new home.

I have two roommates. One is my boss, a twenty six year old Korean-German American, the other is young Korean guy who speaks maybe a word or two of English. Both really nice guys.

I did almost cry when I saw our apartment. It is so small and I have never had real roommates before. I'm sleeping in a twin size bed. The first time I have done so in over 15 years.

With no friends and nothing to do this past weekend, I took another five hour bus ride north up to Seoul. I visited my old neighborhood and learned a sad lesson. I got off the subway and there I was, as if I had never left. Janghanpyeung. I walked by my old work, past my old apartment, past the GS 25 food markets. It was all there but it was different somehow. It was just as weird and strange and backwards as ever but my buddies weren't there to understand the weirdness with me. I do have two buddies left there and as I waited over three hours for them to show up, I couldn't help but feel as lonely as I ever have in my life. It was like being Holden Caulfied from Cather in the Rye--everything just looked so sad and lonely.

I realized then what I have realized before. You can not go back to happy times. You have to create them constantly and that is life. Maybe not the purpose of life but a reality of it. When I went back to Bellingham the same thing happened, except less extreme. The place was the same but the people were gone, or different. I was different and there was no going back to college.

There is no going back to those times in Seoul.

Once I met up with Brandon and Laura, we met some new people and had dinner and beer. Then it was cool.

It's all about the people you surround yourself with.

Today was a great day. The sun was shining and I took a long walk on the beach. Pohang is a beach city. I have a feeling when the weather warms up I will be spending my mornings on the beach with a book--if I can find an English bookstore.

So yep, here I am. Korea. My last year in my twenties. It is going to be a good year. I'm not scared, but I do know how long a year really is.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hell's Kitchen

I was watching that cooking show called Hell's Kitchen with Gorden Ramsey. People are yelling and cussing and practically having heart attacks. Chef Ramsey is calling everyone an f-ing doughnut and throwing steaks against the wall.

Went out to eat with my brother the other day. He pulled a hair about three feet long out of his salad and then just went on eating.

I think those guys in Hell's kitchen are taking it a bit too serious.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bragging, Maybe a Little

This visa thing is taking forever! In the mean time I started work at home yesterday. It felt so good to work after weeks off! I felt that it was a dream come true actually, the beginning of something awesome! I will be designing a weekly reader/magazine thing for the school I work for. I was stressing out about it and you know, when I sat down to start writing, (I'm being paid to sit at home and write!!!) a story just came out. It wrote itself! I didn't even have to try. And then I started working with Andy on the lay out and we were in his humongous room/art studio, listening to music and writing and drawing.

I mean this is what we've been working for, right, and it was happening. We sent it off this morning and kids all over Asia are, this morning, reading our story book! How awesome is God's plan!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Donut Shop

I can see the donuts being fried in the vat in the kitchen. It's late, after midnight, and the man says we can pick any donut we want, he'll just go in the back and get them for us. Give me a maple, I say, and how about one of those sprinkles too.

While he's in the back getting our fresh hot maple bars, Andy and I are waiting by the counter, making small talk about the Vietnamese decor on the walls, but I can tell he is really excited about getting the donuts. I'm happier than I can remember, I can barely stand the anticipation. I can't even contain my smile and laugh out loud. This is awesome, man! I can't wait to get our donuts!

The man comes from the back with two bags, each with a maple bar sticking out a little bit. He's holding them like they are antique glass-ware. Be careful, he warns, rough up the bag and all that hot maple will come right off. He puts in a couple Christmas sprinkle donuts and we order a milk to boot. It's the highlight of my night.

In the car, I'm opening the milk with one hand and shoving a bite of maple bar in with the other. It's hot and gooey. There's sticky maple all over my face and fingers. It's warm in my mouth and so sweet. A gulp of cold milk washes everything down--even enhances the flavor on the back of my tongue. I'm not kidding, I'm over joyed to be eating this donut. Andy and I are eating and describing the eating and comparing descriptions. There are multiple layers of pleasures expanding and carrying me to unexpected levels of contentedness.

We drove to the next city to get these donuts and have them polished off not five blocks down the road. Man what a night!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Another Night in Paradise

Jack's Tavern.

Third time in four nights the police have come to good ol' Jack's. This time the shouting and cussing starts up. Andy and I turn off all the lights and run to the window. Let the good times roll. This time a drunk middle age dude starts running at the mouth. A real classy chick has about enough of it so she slugs him in the face. The man pushes her and starts swingin'. Her gang of dignified suitors immediately jump the guy and start beating him. "Don't hit a girl man!"

With in seconds, five police cruisers pull up and surround the place. People start running. They take the lady to jail.

I am losing faith in women today. No one should hit a lady, ever. But come on. Be a lady. These broads are thug life!

One result of the smoking ban means that all these people that need a smoke after a few beers end up out on the street drunk. No bouncers, no security to keep them in line. Once these girls start running their mouths, then the guys have to get into it and wal-la--no sleep for me.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Jack's Tavern

I'm awaken at 2:30 AM to shouting outside my bedroom window, same as every night. Bunch of drunks. I lay in bed and listen. The shouting gets louder, guys calling each other f@#ers. One guys says, "Come on mother f@#*er!" There's crying. I get out of bed open my blinds and look down into the ally next to the very classy Jack's Tavern. A totally sauced chick is curled up sobbing on the wet pavement while her low life boyfriend is rolling around with two guys, punching and kicking. One guy runs up and kicks the low life boyfriend in the face with his boot. "Don't hit a woman, man!" Apparently the boyfriend had just hit his girlfriend, thats why she's laid out on the ground.

A car pulls up and a woman in the passenger seat rolls down the window. "It's New Year's guys. Stop. Don't do this. Peace and love! It's a new year. Peace!"

The men are still fighting. Fireworks are bursting in the sky above them lighting up the whole scene in a festive glow.

I lean my head out the window, "I'm calling the cops! Knock it off! I'm trying to sleep!"

Andy is in my room calling 911.

Last night one of these drunks busted out my front windshield, looks like with maybe a bowling ball, and now tonight a massive brawl below my window.

I hate bars. I feel bad for these people. What a way to ring in the new year.

Someone Broke my Windshield Last Night

Dear Robert,

You have to go see the movie Grand Torino, starring Clint Eastwood. In the movie, Clint Eastwood is this old school Marine. He received a silver star for his valor in the Korean war and now lives as an old man in his house that he spent 50 years working for at the Ford plant. In essence, he represents the greatest generation, a caricature of our grandparents ethics. Slowly the white working class has moved out of the neighborhood or died off and ethnic minorities have moved in. This once Americana Michigan neighborhood is now a place where blacks, Mexicans, whites, and Asians all have to live together without a clear purpose or role to play. They have unique cultures but all share in a culture of violence. I think that in itself is very representative of our nation as a whole. Eastwood's family turned yuppy and moved out of town up to the hill and their children are spoiled emo kids that have no inkling of the hard work that their grandparents put in to build what they have.

But the thing I loved the most is that Eastwood is a marine throwing racial slurs around galore but he isn't a bad guy, not a racist, in fact he is the hero of the movie. It isn't cool that he is throwing these slurs around but that he can still be a hero in spite of this shortcoming. He does'nt compromise his values by adopting political correctness. He is a man's man. The gangs are threatening his neighborhood and he doesn't wait for someone else to fix it. He doesn't stand on the corner with peace signs or write his representatives. He reacts. He basically takes on the gang himself and by doing so saves the neighborhood from violence.

After Andy and I saw the movie last night we strolled around the mall and I wanted to puke when I saw all these fairy looking young men with studded belts hanging off their waists and gay looking hair styles shopping with slutty looking girls in pink. I thought, what would Clint Eastwood say to these boys. I am so sick of men being unmanly. A man doesn't use violence but commands with his voice. A man works for a living, providing for himself and his family. A man doesn't apologize for being himself but tries and better himself. A man is honest and open and says what is on his mind. When a man sees wrong it is his duty to make that wrong a right. A man leads. An older man councils the younger man. A man does not break windows out of cars in darkness of night and then hide or flee!

I am so sick of the wimpiness I see all around me. and, as I've said before, I'm sick of waiting for a real man to fix things. I'm at the point where I am forced to believe that I am the man! You are the man and together we are men of the west! Grab your sword my brother, look people in the eye, give them a firm handshake, hold yourself with dignity and speak out against those that would be lesser men! Together, ourselves, we can make this world a better place. We don't need Batman, or Clint Eastwood, or Barak Obama, we need to become our selves men worthy of history! They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!!!

Sincerely,
brother Matt

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Insecurity

I went and saw "The Curious Case of Mr. Button" tonight. Andy and I dug my old Suburu out of the snow and hit the road. My windshield wipers do more smearing than clearing and my headlamps are so dim it's like driving by candle light. But we made it up the road just fine.

We found our seats twenty minutes before the movie and as the place started to fill up a man about my age with a bald head and big arms asked if the seats next to me were taken and I said, no, please, have a seat. So, he motioned for his girlfriend and soon the two of them were getting comfortable next to me. I had to uncross my legs. She was a girl about my age too, very pretty. And as the advertisements and previews played they talked away. I always have a hard time not listening in to other people's conversations.

I heard that she worked in a retail store selling perfume. The man said that he didn't know what he wanted to do yet. He was working his job for two reasons, he said. First, because it was easy and second he worked with his friends. She said he should do what he loves--find a career. He agreed, but again, what was there to do, he wondered? She got quiet and the lights dimmed. He had his hands on her the whole time. She cuddled into his shoulder.

The movie was so good. You have to see it. But as I was sitting there watching this movie about life and love, I kept seeing the man's hands on the woman's legs, caressing her thigh, patting her butt. He couldn't stop touching her. And every time I started to really get into the movie, to let my mind fall into fantasy, I'd hear them start to whisper.

Made me suspicious I guess, why the man was so handsy. What was he going to do for a living? That started to trip me up. Another man's life, a strangers life, started to worry me. Would she leave him in a few months because he wasn't ambitious? How long would they cuddle before they didn't any more?

It scared me a little bit to think about being that guy. I am that guy or something like him. But tonight I wasn't worried about my career, about my future. I was just watching a movie the day after Christmas with my brother and we drove through the snow. I guess what I'm getting at is that the best way to watch a movie is with someone watching the movie.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cute



If an extra-terestrial archelogist were to come to this planet in the far distant future and dig through tarnished ruins of human civilization and were to unearth this letter, what would that being think about the people that once lived here? This is a relic of cuteness that has no rival. If I were a great king I'd make it the crowning jewel of all my kingdom!

Jiwon has to be the most beautiful creature I have ever come across in my life. Going back to Korea is going to be a trial. There will be loneliness, displacement, unrest, hardwork. But how could I say no to working with creatures such as these!?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Yuppy Chain Mail #3

Dear Friends,

Happy Winter Solstice. As the year comes to a close, I want to take this time to fill you in on what I have been up to in 2008. I can only hope that this year has been as good to you as it has to me.

The weather is turning colder now in the Pacific Northwest and snow is even in the forecast this weekend. How ever cold it might be outside, I urge you not to get in your car. I have found that taking the public transport saves me money and, moste importantly, saves the planet. It makes any errand I am running at least three times longer and sometimes I only accomplish one small thing a day but the pride I feel sitting on that bus is all worth it. So please abandon comfort and sacrifice for the earth this Solstice. I do.

I am still single and for a large part of the year I was without a job. This was not wasted time however as I created an account in Second Life. Second Life turns out to be more exciting than my real life because in the game I can fly. Which means I can look for wives and jobs all over the world without any carbon footprint. I bought a piece of virtual property and put a building on it. It kind of looks like an old Gothic chapel inside and at the far end is an alter made of stone. On the alter is my resume. It is really cool because it is an interactive document and employers can actually click on it and stuff. What I'm really learning is that employer's don't have time to look into your eyes and search for something concrete like honesty or integrity, but what they're really looking for is that you have the ability to market yourself using modern software. Oh and get this, my avatar in Second life has long jet black hair. The hair graphics are sweet, especially when the wind makes individual strands blow around.

I also bought a new pair of jeans in October. I was watching Project Runway and America's Next Top Model on-line, sometimes devouring entire seasons in one day. And I guess I started feeling things I had never felt before. I'm not gonna say "gay" feelings, but definitely a feeling that fashion forwardness is important, possibly the most important thing about my life right now. I went to Fred Meyer and looked through all the jeans and finally settled on a low rise skinny leg jean with faded patches on the thighs and butt. The waist is low enough that my love handles stick out and in the crotch region it appear that I have a man camel toe. When ever I bend over my butt crack totally hangs out. I'm not going to say that I'm 100 percent confident wearing them yet but watching "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" is really helping with my self esteem. And also, you know, I just think that style is a reflection of my strong belief in tolerance. I personally think celebrating and embracing collective androgyny is as important as maybe even the civil rights or anti-war movements of the 60's.

Lastly guys I just want to say that, "Yes we can". This election year something amazing happened. A nation of people with one goal in mind, to be "progressive" elected a man that embodies the future hope of our nation. I hate it that he smokes, in fact that might even be a deal breaker for me, but lets hope together. Happy Solstice everybody!

Love,
Matt

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Washington State

I live in one of the most whacked out leftist regions in the country. The attitudes that people have here astound me. Living in Bellingham, a college town, I thought perhaps the ideologies being preached from the street corners were perhaps just a result of young university students lost and immature. But I see the same ideas being espoused by full grown adults in Everett, a working man's town, and even from the governor of our state.

Here some examples of what I mean: 1) An irrational hatred for George Bush.
2) A proclamation of tolerance by those that are so intolerant that they call those that see differently from themselves "bigots".
3)Rejecting the idea that there is objective truth
4)A victim mentality

The president of our country is an elected official. The highest office of service in our country. It is not the president, but the people who make this country strong. People seem to forget that we do not live under a monarchy or tyranny. If we do not like the job that the president is doing we vote him out of office which is what has occurred and which points to the health of our democracy. Anyone who when asked what they are doing to make the world a better place responds with some rant about George Bush makes me want to cry. I don't know what to do for a person that far gone.

I have a certain world view. Mainly that I want the government to stay out of my way as I try and make it in this world, taking responsibility for my own destiny. What others do with their life is their own business and I wish people would be more private about it. There are some that believe that government should run our lives for us. That is their preference and if one holds to this ideology, fine with me, my brother! We can debate the issues civilly and sway our country men to our own points of view letting our voice be heard through the democratic process of voting. And this: I don't have a problem with someone being gay. I don't care. Let me say that again. I don't care! Just don't try and change definitions. Get a job.

For some there is no such thing as truth. None at all. You believe that way if you want but that is your truth. My truth is something else. Yeah maybe you have different tastes, for example you like dark beer, I like light beer and so on. But your computer, the highway system, even crowd control is governed by universal truths. Science! Don't politicize it, please.

And finally victimization. Anyone who can't take responsibility for his own life, who blames others for where he is at is not a viable part of our free democracy but a prisoner of his own mind.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Beatles

I'm up late reminsicing.

There is this pub down an ally way in Janghanpyeung called Beatles. The walls are covered in slips of paper with notes and song requests. On one of those slips of paper is a picture I drew one very late night. It's a little home with a pathway leading from the door and winding through the grass yard and out the little picket fence that surrounds the scene.

The man who runs the place has a huge room filled with old records. He sits in the room all night and plays the records. His beautiful daughter would bring us plates of fresh fruit as a gift. Sometimes we wouldn't leave until sunrise just listening to music.

I knew it was special and a lot of the times I'd just breath it in trying to hang on to the moment but it was always so slippery.

Pohang

It is interesting how life unfolds and how things done yesterday create unexpected challenges and joys today. I am headed back to Korea.

This year will be much different than last as I will be not in the big city of Seoul but the smaller beach city of Pohang. My responsiblities will be greater and I am half scared to death that I might fail. But a door has been opened and I am going to walk through and trust in the Lord to help me.

Next week I will be in Washington DC, and then Christmas at home, and then over the Pacific, to Korea.

Merry Christmas!

Housing Market Crash

The value of a home is not the resale value. A home's value comes from it's ability to keep you warm when it is cold. To bring comfort after a long day's work. A solid ground on which to rise a family. A castle to call your own. Many homes put together create a community, a government, and finally a nation. Home is where the heart is. It is a place to ache for when you're in foreign lands. A home is filled with memories, with smells, with laughter--sometimes unrest. Babies become boys, become men, become fathers and grandfathers in a home. A home is inter-generational, a place to plant the family tree. Homes tame wild lands and wild hearts. The value of a home is not monetary. Ultimately our home is not in this world but in heaven. Our homes are reflections of the otherworldly, a manifestation of our spirit. A gift.

A home is not a market bubble.

I have been priced out of the home market for sometime. It is exciting to think that in the future, I too, might, through hard work and blessings, be able to afford a wood house to indwell with my spirit and perhaps to start my own family in.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Set Free

Andy and I were in the work truck taking the long way to the job site. The man on the AM radio was talking about the violent shootings that happened this weekend in the Seattle area. Eleven shootings, three dead, some wounded--possibly gang related. The shooters were in their teens.

I sat there thinking for a while about how to solve such a problem. I found a solution but it sounded pretty terrible. How could I have such a thought. "Listen, I know this sounds very evil but hear me out. These criminals are destroying society. Do you think it's wrong, in an attempt to rid society of these kinds of people, to kill them before they kill us? Like a Batman type character who just roams around killing bad guys!"

It sounded terrible as soon as I said it. But it is a solution and we thought about it some more. The guy on the radio moved on to more stories of violence and rebellion.

Criminals have to pay for their crimes, don't they?

Part of me wants to believe in rehabilitation but another part of me knows that every crime has a price to pay and then it struck me for the first time ever. It really sunk in. We're all criminals. I've lied, cheated, thieved, I've hurt other people, I'm a criminal, maybe my crimes are not as severe as some other crimes but they're still crimes. And it hit me, I deserve death. The world only offers death. People have built systems of repentance but they always come up short. That really made me sad.

My mind wandered to The Book of Revelation when the Mighty Angel asked, "Who is worthy to open the scroll?" And no one was found worthy and there was weeping and great sorrow. But then the lamb stepped forward, and only he was worthy to open the scroll.

I am called to die to myself and be reborn through the blood of the lamb! After all my searching, and man have I searched, I've finally found something solid, the great hope--Jesus, the son of God, who payed the price for my crimes on the cross!

We spent the rest of the morning working on roof tops with the November sun shining down on us.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

She told me not to take any crap, to be a man, to stand up for myself. She said it plain as day, taking puffs on her cigarette. We were at the Irish pub. I thought that was cool. It felt good to have someone on my side. I didn't get to know her as well as some but I'm glad I knew her exactly the way I did.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Waiting for the Cable Guy

I'm waiting for the cable guy to come. That's what I'm doing. It isn't very exciting but neither is the handy-man business I've been working for the last couple weeks. It pays well, for now. I've at least fifty resumes floating around and a couple interviews lined up.

I put the coffee on a while ago and now I'm here at my new antique writing desk, a mug of coffee is steaming away next to me. The salt water smell from the marina is coming through my window and mixing with the coffee smell. It smells like a nice morning. I can see the navy base from my window and the destroyers docked in the bay. Every morning at 8am the navy base plays the revelry.

It's been raining a lot too. Today looks like it might offer some relief but the rain is ugly and I've been dreaming about sunny places, like maybe just packing up my stuff and heading to Arizona or Texas--maybe even Dubai.

I got a notice from a social networking sight notifying me that one of my friends has joined a women's group against Sarah Palin. In the newspaper a college age woman says, "At least [Palin] is a good role model for women. Oh wait, no she’s not—she doesn’t support abortion or same-sex marriage, and she relies on her looks, not her brains." I guess I'm at a loss as to what people consider role models.

My buddy texted me yesterday while waiting for his lunch in a pizza parlor. Out of eight women in the pizza parlor, seven were obese. I don't know how that relates to Palin or handy-men or rain or even if it is relevant, but in the handy-man truck, heading slowly south on I-405, I looked up from my phone and counted, four out of eight women sitting in traffic were big girls.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

How Can I Be Sure?

I went to the Alderwood Mall yesterday and was just tripping out on the future we now live in. Andy and I are balding men too old to really be checking out mall chicks. I remember when that mall was just a dark maze and we were young bucks and all the girls were blond and blue eyed. Now it is some kind of multicultural hub of wealth. There were so many Arabs and Indians there. The girls at Macy's were wearing head scarves. And the few white people waddling around were obese. This is the only country in the world where you would see so many different kinds of people walking around. I'm not saying it is good or bad just that it was tripping me out after seeing so many Koreans over the last year.

I went to the ProActive Solution cart and bought some skin products because I am addicted to them. We were walking through the halls and I was thinking out loud, "what a trip the future is bro, two late twenty single guys roaming aimlessly through the mall buying beauty products so that one's face will look pleasant on his job interview to teach kids on the other side of the world English from his living room. And look, all these people drinking 5 dollar-frothy-sweet-milky-mocha's. It's like adults are still suckling from mommy's teet."

It was a kind of out of body experience. You know that old song, "How can I be sure, in a world that constantly changing?"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Homeward Bound

How do I go home? Who will I be when I get there? Talking about my year in Korea will bore people after ten minutes and I don't want to talk about it too much anyhow. All the memories I've made here will be just that, memories and all the people I call my friends will be scattered around the world. The few words I've learned, the subway map, how to catch the 2112 bus downtown, the polite gestures, the conversations about work--they'll all be meaningless at home. Can you ever really go home? What was this year but a strange dream? In a week I'll be home in Seattle eating scrambled eggs and I just hope I'm not strange to the people there.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Monsoon Season

We open the front doors to our neighboring apartments at the same time. The doors click behind us as we step into the day. Rain, lots of it, comes town in hot torrents. I start sweating immediately. Our eyes meet. He has a lost look in his eyes. "Yep," I respond to an unsaid remark. Here we go. Gesturing wildly at the brown sky, Steve says, "I got home last night and had six shots of whiskey one after the other."

We open our umbrellas and walk through blocks of 30 story apartment buildings and fish markets. The whole neighborhood smells like fish. My sweat smells like garlic.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Open Doors

Being in the subway is like being rocked to sleep by a giant metal mother. My head is nodding, my eyes are heavy. I open my eyes suddenly. I'm made out of wood. I can see the grain in my arms and legs. I'm a giant wooden man. Children are poking me. They are young children one of them only has one eye. I don't speak their language but they don't know there is more than one so I smile. This is my stop.

The doors hiss open. I step out of the car but I'm not in the station. I'm walking on a desert plain. Dust on my boots. Ecstacy of Gold. Is this where I should be? Is this my destiny-- to live forever in fantasy?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Love

You ever stop and think about being human and get fuzzy inside? Between rushing from this place to that, bashing this politician and the next, when we aren't reading the paper or talking about steroids in sports--do you ever love yourself for being weak and ignorant and start to love other cause they are just like you?

Being away from home has made me love it all the more. I love my country. My State. My city. My friends. My family. I got a box from my mom today in the mail. She sent me some sweaters and some candy but on top she put a calender from my bank back home that came in the mail. Its just a junk mail calender with pictures of Bellingham in it. If I were at home I would have hucked it straight in the dumpster but here it's a piece of home. I showed my students the pictures and hung it on my classroom wall next to my desk. I kept looking over at it every five minutes. It is humbling being a foreigner.

It's humbling.

I love my home.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentines Day '08

I get an email this morning from my bank back home. The teller wants to know how to reach me. Her name is Samantha. We write back and forth all morning. This concerns my account, she writes. It's the closest thing to a conversation with a new woman I have had in months. I think about sending her chocolates for Valentines day.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Let it Be

Gold with a hint of rose, that's the color of light pouring in the classroom windows. The students mention that they are tired. I'm tired too, I tell them. They don't know how far from home I sometimes feel, how much of my life is consumed thinking about them and preparing their lessons. I'm tired too. I understand the Korean devotion to education even less than they do. I want to tell them that the sunlight on this morning and their childish innocents are all I have.

Let's get back to our books, I tell them, we're in this together. And I swear this really happened: one student starts singing "Let It Be". It's the most beautiful sound I've ever heard. Other students start singing too and before I know it I'm singing with them.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Kimono Dragons

It is twenty three degrees outside and I've locked myself in my room with a cup of coffee. The window is all fogged but I can see the sun clearly through the trails the water droplets leave as they run down the window pane.

I'm teaching this new speaking course on Saturdays which I find ironic being that speaking classes were my greatest fear in school. I'm actually designing the course. This is exciting because it allows me to use my creativity while also building my resume. Bad news is, no weekend for me. I'm working six days a week. I feel that my boss is taking advantage of me--paying me the same as last term except giving me so much extra work. I've talked to some Koreans about this and they have told me that it is the Korean work ethic. That one does what the boss says for the greater good of the company. Who has the greatest good in mind? The boss. The Koreans work like maniacs, on average working about 60 hours a week. Forty hours a week is considered part time.

And forget about sick days. I have never been sick as often as I have here. This is my fourth cold in four months except this week I've had a terrible flu. I told my head instructor that I was feeling sick and that my voice was pretty much gone and asked if there was anyway I could get someone to cover my classes. He said he'd see what he could do. Two minutes later my boss is in the room asking me if I had been out drinking the night before! NO! He gave me some Aspirin and told me to go get 'em.

Even the kids come to school sick. That is why I am sick. The other day the students were coughing and hacking not even covering their mouths. I was at the front of the room looking like death, squeaking in a hoarse voice. Time seemed to stop and I was looking around as if in a dream... Swimming all around me are countless germs in the shape of Kimono Dragons. They are Virus's that have been mutating and adapting for millions of years, attacking the bodies of Orientals, shaping their thoughts, philosophies, changing their history--and then--me, a foreigner with a very different history. A body built to resist the chicken noodle soup cold not the spicy beef variety. I realize this epic biological drama is happening all around me and I'm losing. My body demands that my mind fight back. "Class," I said, "please cover your mouths. Understand that each time you cough your germs are going up my nose into my lungs, into my blood and making me sick. Please, you're making Teacher sick. Cover your mouths!!!"

I've always wanted to be the kind of person that could be nearly dead from illness and people wouldn't even know because I'm so strong. But I've never really been like that. When I get sick people know and it becomes a topic of conversation. What is really frightening is broadcasting my sickness for sympathy on a blog.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dixie Cups & Paper Plates

It is the end of class, our last day of the semester. As soon as the bell rings the students run out the door dragging their backpacks behind them. They yell, "bye teacher," mouths still full of the pizza I'd bought them to celebrate their last day of fall semester.

Three of the brightest students hang around a bit--pack up their books slowly. "Teacher, I love you." one of the girls says. "Yours-a is-a the best-a class-a I've-a ever had-a in-a my entire life-a. I'm going-a to miss-a you!" They leave with waves, "We love you Teacher."

I'm left in the room, picking up dixie cups and paper plates.

I'm exactly where I should be.

I'm smiling.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Captin, My Captin

Have you ever lived a life time in a nights slumber? Have you ever felt like a refugee when waking, like a displaced citizen of a kingdom that only exists in dreams? Have you ever mourned a lover who never was? Have you ever teared up while watching Star Trek?


The Claw

After work we get some people together and head out to find something to eat. We end up eating at our favorite chicken joint where they cook a stew in a pot on our table. The beer and the Soju flow like milk and honey.

We're cheerful after dinner, after the drinks. Phil tells me that there is a lot of money to be had here if we don't waste it on frivolous stuff like beer and women. I would never buy a woman. I'll leave a wealthy man.

After dinner we head out onto the street. We're Foreigners in ties, blond haired giants. A man passes us carrying a passed out hooker on his back, maybe to a subterranean neon lit cave. We start the walk home, our shiny shoes clicking on pavement, splashing in the puddles. On every corner there are claw machines. I've seen them back home at bowling alleys and carnivals, places where people in greasy amusement craved frenzies hang out. My neighborhood, the red light district, Janghanpyeung, is like the inside of a bowling alley. A very gigantic, sprawling bowling alley.

We see a machine and head there for entertainment. We put in our spare change in turns. Ion wins a lighter. How exciting. We head to the corner liquor store to exchange our bills for coins. We feed the claws on every corner. Each machine holds a prize that will improve our life: a pistol shaped lighter, a golden mermaid with butane filled breasts. I fantasize about lighting cigarettes for hookers out doors in beer gardens. The waitress would bring us squid and kimchi.

More coins. Bigger bills. A few cheap trinkets keep us hooked. Soon we've created a game. Competition. A hunt. Who will bring home the most prizes? And our journey begins through alley ways behind brothels, past chicken restaurants, the hof that serves pork spin soup. Our wallets get a bit lighter after each intersection. I've turned my pockets inside out leaving trails of lint like Hansel and Gretel. I'm on a pathway away from rationality.

Phil remembers, he'd seen some men stocking a claw machine a few blocks away just this evening. There was a Nintendo DS in that machine, designer watches, pots of gold, the fountain of youth. We're buzzed now. It's agreed we've got to make it to the fabled claw. Past trolls, witches, and prostitutes we'll travel. We're crossing an intersection our stroll has turned to a brisk power walk. I've lost my umbrella maybe at one of the countless claws machines somewhere behind us in the night.

"Phil remember what we were talking about at dinner. Remember what you told me. He smiles. "Yeah, don't spend money on stupid shit. Here we are doing stupid shit."

We make it to THE machine. Sure enough there is the Nintendo DS. Underneath is a torch lighter. A violin lighter. A pair of work out gloves. A friggin power drill! We each have a go. Three bucks down. Another round. I finally win. It is a drink coaster with a disco light that twirls inside. A martini would become a beacon of cool atop that coaster and already I'm imagining having a party. I'll need olives.
Maybe decorations--possibly party hats. A punch bowl for sure.

Phil goes next. He wins the work out gloves. He has no need for them. Never dreamed of needing such a thing but he swears he's going to take up boxing, no, taekwando.

Ion's excited. This legendary machine pays out but he is out of money. He needs to break a ten. Lynn gives him the look. She reminds him of his promise that he had made to her, his wife, when we weren't listening, that his next turn was it. He says, you only live once. This is Korea. She's pissed. I can tell.

He wanders off to the dark bar next door.

I want to win that violin lighter. I used to play the violin. I need that violin lighter. But all I have is a ten. 60 turns for 10 bucks. It is tempting. Lynn says I'm crazy. Gives me a look. I admit I feel shame. "Phil I'm putting in 10. Pay me back 5 tomorrow. 30 turns each, Okay?"

Yep.

The claw carries the violin to the lip of the tray, to the edge of our happiness. Each time it falls short. Each time we try again. The turn counter is counting down from 60 to 45 to 30. The sense of urgency is higher each time. The chemicals flooding our system are more dangerous than any bottle of soju or whore. Phil's turns count from 30 to 12, from 9 to 4, 3, 2, 1. Oh! Oh! Yes, Yes, YES...aww. We let out sighs--our anticipation replaced by guilt. The shame. I can feel Lynn's look.

Where's Ion?

Moments later here comes Ion with two plastic sacks. "Hope you guys are hungry," he says. "What's in the bag Ion?" from Lynn. She's had enough of all this. Ion has a sheepish grin on his face. Embarrassed but sober. We look in the bags. Two huge bags of soup. Soup!

He had gone inside the bar to get change for a ten. Without Korean he had resorted to making clawing gestures with his hand to communicate his need for change for the machine. The woman had motioned for him to wait and given him some free coffee to wait as she went in the back to fetch what he assumed would be a bag of coins. She came back with two bags of soup.

What a wholesome turn of events.

Claw Machines, hookers--the hunt...maybe it's frivolous. Maybe not. They make for good stories on winter days in kitchens, with friends sitting around bowls of hot steamy soup.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Redemption

We were done with chess. I won, barely. The room was filled with happy people, drinking, lounging, eating, some even settling into their beds laid out on the wooden floor. Charles and I went to the front door and put on our shoes and stepped out on the porch for a cigarette. We were up near the Northern border outside a beach town for our company weekend retreat. It had rained all day. The wooden deck was covered in beads of water. We lit our smokes and exhaled. We stood in silence for a minute. I was listening to the wind through the trees, breathing in the clean air, face red with drink. The Crickets chirped. I can't remember ever being as content.

"mmm, You like, ah...wait, wait," He took his cellphone out of his pocket and with one hand typed a Korean word into his English dictionary. I watched the screen in anticipation. The word popped up. Romantic. "Ah romance," I said. Yes very much. He was smiling. He told me he likes to be romantic with his girlfriend, how he can't wait to marry her. "Where is your girlfriend? Why is she not here?" I asked. "No come. Work." "Ahh." "I come, I drive in car four hours to see you, and Bryan and Ben. You good friends. Your mind, my mind, same." I smiled, same minds. "Thanks Charles. I'm glad you came."

"You want to walk?" So we walked down the dirt road that winds through small rice fields and eventually climbs over a little hill covered in pines and slopes down into the Pacific. "You know what is awesome Charles, that I can come from over the sea and meet people like you, people with like minds. We don't even speak the same language but we communicate through games like chess or through music." I drew the word communicate with my fingers on the air. "I'm glad you made it tonight." "Ah, mmm hmm," he said.

"You have tattoos?" He asked.

"No tattoos. You?" He told me he had one on his back. It meant something, peace I think he said. "Are you going to get more tattoos?"

"Yes. I want more."

"What is it about tattoos that you like? mmm, Why do you like tattoos?"

Ah, he said. "I don't like my life. Tattoos, mmm like, mmm, ah..." he was frustrated. "You don't like your life?" I asked slowly, perplexed.

His brow creased at the center and he looked up and searched right and left in his brain for the right word. "I get tattoos, because I don't like my life. I get tattoos for..." and he brought out his cellphone again and typed out a word. The light on the phone monitor was bright in the country night. There was a word on the screen that made my stomach twist and my eyes nearly fill with water. Redemption. "Ahh, redemption," I whispered.

"You know word?"

"Yes. I know that word."

You get tattooed for redemption. I understand. Yes, I understand."

I patted him on the shoulder, and smiled. Come on, let's get back to the house."

Charles, my new friend and I walked back to the house, like minds, like hearts.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Harder Than It Looks

One of the words on the children's vocabulary list was chemical. Chemical--n. a substance. "Who can give me an example of a chemical?" I asked them. Blank stares. “Okay how to illustrate this one,“ I thought, like I do so often these days when explaining something that to a native English speaker is second nature.

I went to the white board with three different colored pens in hand. I began by drawing a simplified periodic table, filling in the first box with an H for Hydrogen and the second with an He for Helium and so fourth, after each box looking back at the kids to see if I was enlightening them. Blank stares.

Do you know what the periodic table is? No? It's a chart listing elements from the lightest to the heaviest. "Has anyone heard of the hydrogen atom?" No, no one had heard of Hydrogen. One boy in the back asked, "Teacher, what is atom?" Oh gosh, "An atom is the smallest bit of matter. Here, let me draw it for you. I turned back to the board and drew a circle inside a circle with rings around it. Turned again. Nothing. I put an "e-" on one of the rings to illustrate the concept of an electron shell. Each time I turned I saw the same horrific glossy eyed stare coming from my students which compelled me to draw anther interesting chemistry model.

After about five minutes of this madness I became aware of my surroundings, that but for the squeaking of my furiously moving pens there was dead silence. I told myself, "Stop, your being paid to teach ENGLISH. It is okay if they don't know chemistry yet, they just hit puberty.” I looked at the board and for a moment was terrified. It could have been taken from the wall and hung in a museum of modern art. I abandoned my effort and repeated to the students again, "a chemical is a substance. Everything we can see and touch, everything in the universe is made out of chemicals. I left it at that and moved on. They half smiled.

After class a Korean staff member came up to me and said one of the students had complained that my vocabulary was too high. I had to laugh. If the staff member had seen what I’d done to the white board, I probably would have been fired.

@#$! it.

Like Roger Clemens, I am back from retirement. Thanks for understanding.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Keeping an Inn On Ramandu

While drinking Cass beer on couches at a bar that looked like the Cantina from Star Wars, my new friends and I discussed the internet. If not for the internet we would not be here in Seoul. It's true. The world is very small.

As soon as I got the internet hooked up recently I visited Micheal's site, Yummy Brain Gravy, and was very surprised to find that he had retired his blog. He said that he felt trapped there. It is strange to think about a code trapping you, or choking your creativity. Just exactly how does an immaterial object obstruct you? I'm not sure but I feel as Micheal does.

I love Adventscribing. It is nostalgic--it is where I grew up. I can remember walking the streets of Bellingham thinking about literature and politics. I wanted to change the world and make it a romantic place where my ideals would grow like a vegtable garden. I would sit down at my computer and my hands would move like a blur. The words would just come out. It hasn't been like that here for many months. I'll type and then delete half the line and then type some more and delete. It is slow going. I've always thought of this blog as a story. I've shared with you pieces of me that when put together add up to something. I'm not sure what. The themes in my life now are very different than they were when I started this blog. Maybe I'm not as confused as I used to be. But I want to get my fingers moving again, and so I'll say good-bye, maybe not forever, but until I find exactly how these two chapters in my life relate to each other. Until we meet again, good-bye.