Saturday, December 27, 2008


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


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!


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


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.


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


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.