Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

So many kinds of wrong. . .Christmas!

Time to get in the spirit, folks!

Hope you have a great Christmas!

So many kinds of wrong












Friday, December 19, 2014

Paint!

Today around the watercooler I overheard the following conversation between two interns:

I just don't want to end up like my mom!  It's so lame! She had so much going for her, but then to come back and have to get married like that. . . I mean I love my dad, but it's such bullshit! I'd never want to end up like that!

True, but come on. . . most guys will just turn around and say it's the same for them: they have to live up to stupid ideals as well.  It doesn't help at all to think of them as the enemy, that's sooo old school.  Like that guy in planning and development: he knows the score.  He doesn't feed me the same 'oh when are you getting married' schtick that I hear from so many of the old dudes.  

Yeah, but it is pretty easy to suss out the ijits from the chaff!

They both laugh.

I head back to my office for coffee, and wonder how many times I'll have to deal with interns being ijits in their own right, all while resisting the urge to bash my head against the wall until something starts to come out.  But then I do have a coworker or three who think it appropriate to lecture me and all on how calling a woman 'hot' is, like, totally inappropriate.  God forbid that a woman wants to accentuate her physical attractiveness!  If you dare to call attention to it, you are so WRONG! This coming from supposed Ivy League grads that usually get brought in to doll up the company rosters. . . .

Makes me think a good cull may not be such a bad thing.




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Stand!

Today around the water cooler a waeg coworker said: you should listen to this band. 



It reminded me that I should look at less porn at work, as I'd spent several hours reading about the demise of Detroit.  Still, all I could think: Nick Cave hanging out with Joy Division laughing at The Walkmen with Public Image Limited watching in the background.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Me and My Big Mouth

Sometimes people say all kinds of crap without thinking about it too much.

This blog is a case in point.  I just speak my mind, when I should just sit quietly.

Usually, when someone mentions something about my surprisingly good chopsticking skillz, I fall back on my tried and true scripted response.  Occasionally though, some will make some inane pseudo scientific comment, and the scripted response goes out the window.  Today it was about how Asians are more genetically inclined to chopstick better. The standard narrative is how this explains why Asians in general are better at tasks that require small implements or machinery, especially related to genetic engineering.

It was at lunch when Ms. Sohn ventured into this typical small talk venue: Wow Mr. Waeg! You chopstick so well!  waaaaa~~! Wow you do use your chopticks differently! I did not know that about chopsticks! So amaze!  You know, Koreans chopstick very well, it is in our blood!

Usually any salty waeg can easily negotiate this scenario, yet when she went on about the inherent genetic aspect of chopsticking I felt my eye twitch. Before I could stop myself I said:

Ah yes, the genetic chestnut!   Did you know, Ms. Son, that the first person to advocate that theory was a Japanese scientist trying to explain why a Japanese team had been able to successfully reproduce an experiment that had eluded the scientific community for some time?  He basically said that because Japanese had a genetic affinity with chopsticks, only they were able to replicate the results.  Still, you can't help but think this is part of the Japanese national narrative to mitigate the loss in WWII: we Japanese are better at this than westerners!  Westerners can't know this, since it isn't in their culture or their blood!  Instead of looking at what rational explanations may exist for the failed experiments, he chose to instead say it was due to genetics and culture, feelings.  It was actually quit trendy about 20-25 years back for Japanese scientific researchers to add a little extra to their presentations, saying that they had succeeded at negotiating this very difficult task that required manipulating small instruments since the Japanese had genetically enhanced chopstick skills.  Really? You didn't know?  Oh yes!  There were even articles bemoaning the loss of chopstick skills in the face of ever encroaching western imperialism, since the love of all things western meant an end to pure chopstick expertise, or the end of something truly unique and beneficial to Asian cultures in general.

Things around our corner of the table got a bit awkward until someone brought up sports, and then balance was restored in the universe. But I'm sure Ms. Sohn is butthurt.  She wouldn't look at me and is obviously stewing.  She was simply trying to make small talk and be nice, and instead of just playing nice I became asshole incarnate.  Who knows, maybe as Koreans negotiate their love of all things western they'll realize that the exotic is just that, and that Koreans aren't the only ones who have thought a particular group was cool, suave, prestigious, simply because they were different. . .maybe they'll learn one day that Americans used to think the French were awesome for example, and that Koreans aren't as unique and special as they think they are.

Now, I do believe that stupidity is a universal constant, and I'm hoping she won't hold a grudge against me and that her panties aren't in a knot about it.  Still, I'm sure it'll be some time before Ms. Sohn attempts to engage me in conversation. From experience, these types of conversation never end well, and it's best to just smile.  When will I ever learn?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Andong!

Last weekend was quite busy: Halloween on Friday, then a trip down to Andong with a few other families for an overnight stay in a Hanok and a tour of the area.

I'd carved up a couple of pumpkins quick for the kids' Halloween party on Friday; as usual, we had the party at one of the many indoor playgrounds that are so common today. I decided on a lark to bring the pumpkins with me to Andong the next day; they actually seemed to fit well the ambiance of the hanok. The jack o lantern is an old folk tradition from Ireland and other parts of Europe; they would serve to guide the kind spirits to the Halloween festivities, while scaring off the malevolent ones. I explained to the girls this is why at Halloween you dressed up and used the pumpkins, since at the party you'd never really know who was a human and who wasn't. In a country like Korea with a strong folk religion and shamanic traditions, it seems odd that such a practice didn't really take root here, but then pumpkins and squash are a fairly recent introduction to this finest of peninsulas.

The pumpkin was a huge hit, with one of the other families vowing to do the same next Halloween. I showed them several pictures from the internet of awesome carved pumpkins, so now it seems we'll be having a contest next year. I am so going to win.

The night at the hanok was pretty nice. In the morning we went to visit Dosan Seowon, the school that Toegye built (the dude on the 1000 Won bill).  I was most impressed with the museum showcasing artifacts from Toegye's life: I got to see his one and only spittoon and more importantly, his broom.  The youngest was acting up so I threatened to smack her bottom a couple of times with Toegye's broom, promising to buy the replica that would no doubt be offered for sale in the souvenir shops outside.  Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that none of the shops had a replica of this most hallowed of brooms; in fact, most of the shop owners looked at me like I had three heads when I asked them where I could find one.  I mean, come on!  If you're going to show me Toegye's one and only broom as a highlight of a display on artifacts from his life, why aren't there replicas for sale??  Preposterous!

 Anyway, a great weekend was had by all.  Time to get some work done.  Listening to the latest Godspeed You! Black Emperor album makes it go faster:


Moving!

Several months ago I came out of my apartment to find that my car had been vandalized; it wasn't the first time such a thing had happened, and at the time I pretty much chalked it up to just a bunch of kids screwing around. However, I've had to reconsider this position: not just my van, but June's car has since then been repeatedly vandalized. Someone has been putting out cigarettes on the cars, dumping coffee and other garbage, smearing unknown goop on the doors and windows. It finally came to a head a couple weeks back when someone took to ripping up our mail, leaving the pieces strewn about around the mailboxes.

Why someone would do this is pure conjecture, although if I were to hazard a guess I'd say it's because someone is envious of my beautiful wife and children; they must have a shrew of a wife and fat porky disrespectful kids, so when they see me and mine they just naturally get bent out of shape. I understand them.

While I can empathize with what may be their rationale for messing with my shit, it's obvious that we can no longer stay in this area. It kind of sucks anyway, being rather shabby and old, with few decent green places for the kids to play; also, it is rather far from June's business and the girls' school. That June hates the area because there are too many fortune tellers and shamans around doesn't add much to the idea of staying, nor does her saying that she will die if we continue to stay here. So move it is!

I am looking forward to the change of scene, although I have no idea how the hell I'm going to pay for it. The van died a while back as well, so I also need new transportation; where the hell is all this milk and honey I'm supposed to be receiving for living as a waeg on this finest of peninsulas?? All I see is a rapidly diminishing bank account and fewer years ahead to fill it up so I don't have to eat only kimchi rice and seaweed when I'm old.

Ah well, at least in the short term it will be a positive change for all of us. The new digs are pretty new and in a nice part of town, lots of green spaces. And the move is a great chance to toss out piles of old junk, although having a yard sale would be fun. Sadly, Koreans just aren't into that kinda thing.

Time for coffee.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Hitchhiker

Some weird shit. . .sick beat though.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Credit in the Straight World!

Waeg!  how are you?? been so long, thanks for accepting my friend request!

He had felt some trepidation at accepting the request.  But as Waeg these days is more interested in earning credit in the straight world, he clicked yes. Besides, he was curious.

He remembered her from years past.  Obviously intelligent, but lacking the will and focus that would give her the 0.2 points more necessary to earn a top spot for admission to SNU.  When asked by her mom years back, Weag had not sugar coated the pill: she'd never be that top student getting into that top school. She was smart, but needed a more hands on engagement with life.  Her parents responded somewhat uncharacteristically: they didn't send her overseas, or pay for a ringer at a top hogwon to pave her way through math and English into a top position.  Instead, they seemed to take Waeg's advice to heart: they bought her a harp.

Waeg remembers it vividly: this monster of a musical instrument showing up, and the expensive lessons that followed.  Soon, she no longer had time to take his lessons. 

Fast forward ten years.  She had gotten into one of the best music high schools, and then acceptance into an SNU music program.  Waeg was not surprised, as her parents were loaded, and her mom only cared about grooming her to be the brood mare for a scion from another well to do family.  That's the way things rolled pretty much everywhere when concerns for family are paramount.  In her case, buy an instrument that is ridiculously expensive that no one else plays. Who the fuck plays the harp?  Make the right amount of donations to the right people, and rejoice at being 'selected'.

But as he looked at her photos now, he wondered: why, despite the plastic surgery on an already attractive woman with impeccable social standing and background, did she look so. . . unsatisfied?  Incomplete?  Sad?  Waeg writes despite knowing the answer to be obvious: she was always astute enough to know that following what adults told you in elementary and middle school is what is. . . but when faced with lessons on how to make valid decisions based in self understanding, elicited by top hogwon teachers to add verisimilitude to a good college essay, and realizing that the vague details represented have no substance and only serve to ghost an essay for admission . . . and during the process you see things you'd never seen about yourself, yet being told that engaging this train of thought should inspire anathema, since you must win, and you will, but still, it nags, since the persona the hogwon bunnies create is such a total fiction, and who exactly are you anyway? You've never gone out and lived and know only what has been prescribed since grade six, so really, you have no idea. .  .  the look in her eyes spoke that same old story in those photos.

Waeg laughs, as he knows she will lose the existential angst sooner rather than later.  It's a moment that is usually quickly overcome, since family and friends will encourage her to revel in her success, in her plastic surgery, in the attention she'll receive from appropriate suitors.  She had made it after all, so live the life that this entails.  Yet from experience, Waeg knows it won't be enough. Later in life she'll either meet him or his ilk in some random dating app, and while it won't be good for either one of them, she actually may entertain for just a moment why she should raise her kids in the same manner.  She'll tell her story which has been told many times before, blame society, blame her parents, blame the penicillin she takes to clear out that nasty infection she picked up from random Joe Kim taxi driver.  She'll never know why she can't get over it, why she even thought it in the first place, but her daughter will marry someone higher on the social ladder, since well, that's how things are, and what they are meant to be.  To think otherwise is foolish and blind.  Till then, she'll keep herself safe and true, yet not knowing that she's exempt from earning:


Friday, August 29, 2014

Regular Programming will return shortly


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Returned!



We got home around 1 AM local time. The only one who could sleep was the SO, so I've been working on this duty free single malt while catching up on emails, Facebook, watching X-Men Days of Future Past with the girls, Judge Dredd by myself, and generally wondering what I'm to do next.





I find myself back in the land of the morning calm, where I've rarely experienced the kind of calm I did visiting friends and family.  Sure I may be romanticizing the shit out of it, but here, example:















There is much to say.  But this is the F5Waeg speaking, so let's start it off with this vid featuring a sex deprived Asian American dude who brings the party.  I love all the ugly people. Hello summer of 2014!



There.  I couldn't stop laughing after watching it.  Not to belittle the Asian American male angst and frustration at not getting laid enough, since well, dude, been there!  Still, it was amusing to think of while I played croquet with the girls.  The set cost me 24.99 at Toys R Us.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Interlude!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

No Soju!

The only New Year's Resolution that I made in complete earnestness: 2014 would be a no soju year.

I know what you're thinking: you expected a post on how I had run out of soju and was about to share another first world problem, since the nearest convenience store is like, more than a kilometer away.

But listen: hittin the soju everyday is an easy way to a tomb on sugar candy mountain.  The seasoned waeg is well aware of this, but it doesn't stop many of those who finally learn they really have nothing left to lose.

I mention this now despite how I'd promised myself I would not talk about it until I had successfully achieved; thus far in 2014, I have not touched a drop of the devil water.  Yet here I find myself facing the first real challenge to my will: a trip back home.

Every time I go back, I always bring numerous green plastic bottles of South Korea's number one consumer product.  It's cheap, dirty, slightly exotic, and serves nicely as a conversation starter.  As I am about to head back to visit my family in the next couple of weeks, I know I must once again bring about 20 plastic bottles of the soju goodness.

Save: who wants to drink something that the purveyor won't stomach?  You're appealing to the few intrepid and those who don't give a fuck.  It becomes more difficult when you know that liquor back home isn't cheap.  I've already spent more than ten grand on tickets and a rental car.  There will be many expenses, and being able to shave a few hundred by drinking the soj would aid in the procurement of other goods.

We'll have to see how it plays out.  In anticipation, I offer: Please forgive me, great world spirit!  I am not weak, but needs must needs meet!

Time for some more rice wine.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Interlude!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Becoming Adjusshi!

On my way into work this morning I mused over how I should keep more of the balls that get kicked into my yard. As you get old, and see youth being wasted on the young, it's a common response. Being a cantankerous old fuck is always an easy response to ijits who think they know what they can't even begin to perceive. But I digress, and could be labeled arrogant.

A good immigrant works hard to understand the place they've chosen to call home. It's always a hard go, since calling shit for what shit is is far too easy and essentially forbidden.  A true immigrant is busy trying to make their way while hoping their kids don't lose focus of where their folks came from while hoping they don't get so angry they get too much liberal victimhood complex or shrapnel bombs tied all over them.  This is the bane of the perpetual outsider.

Your goal is to to impress upon the locals that you are more than a hogwan teacher or contractor, and it's a steep slope.  You would think that your go is made much easier by stories of all the Asian trash in your country (prostitutes, bear gall bladder hunters, spree killers, etc.), but sadly as you are educated and know better, this is obviously not the case.

So what should you do?  This is the hardest question faced by the long term waeg in this finest of peninsulas.

Gettin all angry and shitting on everything is an obvious response.  It can be highly entertaining and very cathartic.  The plethora of blogs on this subject is testament.

But truly, the best way is to fully assimilate.   As an older male, my goal should henceforth be: become adjusshit.

Only then can you really embrace who you are and what you can fully contribute, since you made the effort to be full on, but were thankfully in the case of the Waeg told to be lacking.

The first step is to embrace and emulate all the worst qualities of what it means to really be an older Korean male.  Go to south east Asia and fuck a bunch of underage whores while on a 'golf'; trip.  Divorce your wife when your kids hit university and marry some Chinese or Fillipina 20 year old.  Demand coffee and benefits from your secretaries, and when they spurn you, fire them.  Put a picture of yourself on the wall of your abode that your family must look at everyday, salut, and ensure they think of you as the center of the universe.  If they refuse, drink soju excessively, frequent room salons, double pole barber shops, and completely ignore your family.  If you've got enough scrilla saved, abandon them and head off to warmer climes.  In other words, become the stereotype ascribed to white men that really is the epitome of the adjusshit as perceived in southern Asia. . .forget whatever ethical upbringing you were given, since it is about full on integration.  This has the double effect of living up to the chestnut of white men and their dating habits in Korea from the 50s to the present day.

This is a mugs game for the waeg of course, since you'll never really get any of the full on adjusshit benefits in Korea as a waeg, which is total bullshit. . . I can never really do as the Romans do, since well, I can't even get serviced at the busiest whore paradise in Pyeongtaek, unless I'm willing to pay a near triple premium due to my 'big' size.  This is fine however, since it will make reconnecting with your roots easier.

For the waeg, it is good to remember that you are intrinsically racist, inferior, and didn't do your military service, so shut the fuck up.  You must atone for all the women your brethren and undoubtedly you have fucked and stolen from us.  If you say anything about how most marriages to waegs in Korea these days are Korean dudes buying wives abroad, you've obviously got a bad attitude.  Atone for the sins of your fathers! And whatever you do, don't post links to porn websites that feature black dudes and white women, which basically strive to feed on the same insecurities in white dudes that the typical Asian lame ass beta / gamma males and females are attempting to negotiate when they go on about said white guys, since this will again serve as evidence that you have a bad attitude and are not fully committed.

The Japanese know this is bullshit, since in Asia if you admit fully to any wrongdoing you'll be constantly riding it for the next 5000 years. . . Koreans like to talk about how the Germans stepped up to acknowledge their history, but the fact is no government agency in Europe is going to harp on about how the Germans never did enough to atone, since well, Europeans understand far more about redemption and forgiveness.  A common complaint from many a waeg is that Koreans have issues with personal responsibility, as they so rarely acknowledge mistakes or wrongdoing, yet are quite happy to bring up the mistakes of others over and over again despite apologies and compensation being offered.  But then, again I digress. 

The main point is that you should let none of this interfere in your pursuit of becoming the best approximation of adjusshit your conscience will allow, all while losing the conscience bit of the equation.  Only then can you fully embrace what it is you really are, and could never be.  We all have to sell out at some point, right?  Best do it in the pursuit of cross cultural understanding.  For me, it's all good, since it's just another example of appreciating what you are when you have no agency, since this position gives you license for a sort of freedom, and at times you can gleefully not give a shit. I expect most of the more intrepid weags on this greatest of peninsulas know this all too well, couched in terms of 'developing perspective'.  Still, still.  It seems most waegs are caught up in the expats' version of second wave feminism, blaming and pointing fingers, while not making serious attempt to be full on in their attempts to truly understand the special situation.  To really do, I encourage all those who are fence sitters to strive to become full on adjusshit or adjucunt, the latter of which will be discussed in a later post.

ugh.  I'm feeling a bit off.  It happens when I get called up by this particular old adjusshi 'friend' to go out and drink. Usually I ignore his calls but as most of my contacts were lost when I drowned my old iPhone, I blithely answered his call.  He's always about getting together, drinking too much whiskey, bitching about his wife, then going to greasy old room salons.  Tonight was no exception.  Best to think about it in the morning I guess.

Time for sleep.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

So many kinds of wrong

Been a while, what can I say?

So little time to earn stars from websites that have earned stars from other websites that have earned stars from reddit that have earned stars.

But I did remember these as I'm sure you've either forgotten, or at least need a reminder of what you used to watch.

So many kinds of wrong




Yuck - Rubber from Yuck on Vimeo.







Saturday, June 21, 2014

Interlude!


Friday, June 20, 2014

Galaxy S5!

Today around the water cooler Mr. Choi was complaining about his crap old phone.  His wife refuses to allow him a new one, since they must save money for their children's education and his old 2G phone still works fantastically thank you very much so suck it up.  I showed him my new Galaxy S5 and told him how he too could get a new phone: simply have an accident and drop it in the toilet or the bath.

You see, last week I was finally successful in destroying my old iPhone4.  Apparently, falling asleep and submerging the iPhone in the bath for 20 minutes is not a good thing.  Trying the old put-it-in-a-bag-of-rice and taking it apart thing didn't work, as the battery and headphone jack were totally shot.

Whether or not I was being a complete idiot or subconsciously trying to get rid of it is a matter of debate and conjecture, although it should be said that I was getting a bit tired of the broken microphone speaker, the repeated dropped wifi and network signals, and the now seemingly tiny screen and slow graphics rendering compared to all the new devices out there.  Having to constantly use my headphones to make and receive calls was tedious, as was the fact that it had uploaded some rather compromising pictures to my shared iCloud account, thus providing opportunity for more tension between June and I.  Whatever the real reasons, after almost 5 years the phone went oops and would cost a fair amount to repair.

So I called up my brother-in-law and asked about deals on new phones.  He runs a number of small businesses, among them a number of cell phone shops.  He said I could get an iPhone 5, but he could offer a fantastic deal on the new Galaxy S5 LTE.  I'd had a love-hate relationship with my Galaxy S2, but the price was too good to pass up.

I can't fully comment on the new phone fully yet, as it's only been a few days, but the speed, screen size, and overall hardware is solid, as I'd felt generally about the SG2 despite how fragile the phone felt.  This version seems more solid.  Supposedly it's also waterproof, but I'll save that test for a later date depending on circumstance. I'll play around with it more before I comment on functionality and software, as this was my biggest beef with the SG2, feeling that in those departments it didn't hold a candle to the iPhone 4.

Still, it is fun and fast.  I did leave out some of the more salacious details while talking with Mr. Choi, but he did seem quite intrigued as to the possibilities of my methods for getting a new phone.

Time for coffee.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mulberry!

Over the weekend the girls and I went out to the mountains outside of Wonju. Years back while hiking, I found a number of mulberry trees; the girls had been lamenting how they were forbidden to eat the berries on the tree next to their school as it wasn't on school property, and the owner was a stodgy old codger who was often heard to mutter about 'damn kids' and regularly kept balls hit into his yard.  Being a Good Dad and as a way to celebrate Father's Day, I thought I'd take em out to collect a few buckets so they could satiate their craving.

We brought along a huge tarp and a saw.  Once at the spot, we could see that 2 of the trees were heavily laden with berries, and that one of them had been blown down some time ago.  No matter, there would be enough berries for all!  After laying out the tarp and cutting a long thick branch off some dead wood, I went to work knocking the shit of the branches as hundreds of delicious ripe mulberries fell and were dutifully collected by the girls.

Once home, I soon realized why mulberries are generally not sold in stores: they are quite fragile, and cleaning them is a serious pain, as the stem runs through the length of the berry; to prepare them for stewing to make jam and pie took considerable time.  By the time we were done, we ended up with 6 good sized jars of delicious mulberry jam. 

My hands are still stained purple, despite using lemon juice then vinegar to clean them.  I'll have to wait a few days for it to disappear.

Time for coffee.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Stench!

It's Thursday night.  While the premise was a company dinner, there are but two left, sharing war stories while working out boundaries.  Male and Female, clearly into the other, save: office. Gossip.  Idiocy.  Both are cognizant of these facts, but here they find themselves, sisters and cockblockers far removed, having an unadulterated conversation.

It's lively and fresh, real.  Fate seems to be drawing them to a pure conclusion, when the male says:

What's that smell?

He only draws attention to it, as he knows he must, even if it did come from his puckered, fetid ass hole.  Yet this isn't an attempt to be gentle and astute, it's more like: how can I ask for a gas mask without appearing too rude?

The female giggles.  The male assumes that this is an acknowledgment that it didn't come from his shithole, as he well aware of his own flatulence power.  He can't entertain this for long though, as another noxious wave near renders him incapacitated.

That was seriously awesome!  I had my mouth open hur hur. . .  good one!

The female looks at him strangely for a moment.  Then it is very obvious that it hits her as well.

Waaaa . . . what did you eat??!  That is so nasty!

When she says this, the male hears her rip another juicy cliffhanger.

Wait, you thought that was me?  LOL?  You think of me as the dog you can blame your gas on??!!  You are so white! hahahaha

The mention of whiteness ruffles the male's feathers; he'd been having a bad week, spending too much time reading Asian American hate websites.  The male appreciates the angst that hanging out with a Korean American can introduce.  In the past, he'd known more than a few who expected they would lecture on what life was like in the good 'ol West for a non Caucasian coming from a relatively well to do family, while dismissing whatever experiences a white dude married to an Asian female living in the east could bring to the table, as the white dude no matter circumstance was obviously fulfilling some weird fantasy related to yellow fever or an inclination towards fulfilling a Lolita fantasy. . .  that is what you are expected to internalize as a person of color at a top school in the US after all, and in need of affirmation.  Living in Korea, dealing with Korean dudes telling all the women expressing an interest in non Korean dudes that they are scum, and understanding the life of a woman who had chosen to do so regardless of social stigma and censure, has always meant nothing to most Asian Americans, since it's always about the white dude stealing women and generally being a loser and never about love or the women thinking they might have something more than what is expected from cows. . .

The male knows it is time to go.  He thought he might have something to contribute, but then he is too old, too white, and too much of a visible target.  If only he were sensitive, working at getting in touch with his feminine side. . . but he really is nothing more than he is, so knows that he is expected to sit quietly and endure the sins of those he could never understand: the forefathers that he is expected to atone for.

As he thinks all this, another ripe nasty cloud occupies his olfactory range.

Wow, look at how late it is!  Guess it would be time to go!  Busy day in the morn!

On the walk home, the male wonders what made him think this particular female was different or special.  He drops the idea, since well, there is no opportunity for engagement, and he'd rather not spend time working at being a bitch responding to only be fed the 'special situation' line.  After all, this male has little sympathy for twinkies who play the race card.



Friday, June 6, 2014

Slav!


There was a moment where I thought I might write something.  I'd suggested watching Into The Wild to a Korean coworker for how you might understand a more pure, ijit, vision of what a liberal arts education can do to a person in their 20s unfettered by sustained study in philosophy and serious reflection in yesterday's 1990s America, despite how so few to none Koreans have ever got it, while even fewer of those who rejected what you were supposed to reject, before you knew what it really meant to reject what had been rejected, all of them too busy lamenting how hard done by they were at poetry slams and lines at night clubs and in articles exposing 'blindness' when really they had yet to come to see, ever really got . . . 

That Mccandless fucker wanted to give himself to the land, there really is no other way to know it.  Why let yourself be so blind if the goal is to self improve through challenge, yet you never listened to those who tried to tell you what was?  At least he had that going for him: real information.  Yet he did die. And it was lame.  But some might argue the land needed the blood. . .

I only speak of him now, some near 25 years on, as I did for a brief time what he had.  What I learned was that most people are twats: I met some fine folks when I went walkabout, but most were fucks.  Serves me right for trying to understand people so much, as opposed to thinking that being blind is the best way to live your life as Mccandless did, since not having to be 100% with those around you is a huge burden removed.  Allow me to educate you!  As opposed to understanding what I've become by being here and now. . .

Bah.  I say all this as I'm about to go camping with three families.  For some reason, the two other dads won't be making it.  Guess I should work at getting my own harlot to lie for  when I'm expected to represent at some social event.  I'm jelly.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Clone!

Taiwanese Special Forces
The phone rings.  It's been a month since waeg's phone has actually worked: the mic finally shat the bed after he'd dropped it a few dozen times.  Damn you Apple!  Now I have to use headphones to make a call!  Yet today he does have them, as he brought his laptop to work to surf porn and post anonymous comments on various websites.  It isn't a spam number so he answers:

Wow, Mr. Waeg!  It has been such a long time!  How are you?  Let's have dinner!

A student from long ago, when he actually still cared about such things.  He hasn't heard from him in well near ten years.

So he goes.  He taught the kid when he was in elementary and middle school, a time that seems near imaginary, save for how easy it could be to find himself there again.  Kid is now a dude, somewhat broken by a bad love affair Waeg soon sorts out from the conversation, but that becomes secondary when dude starts talking about his time in the military.

Well, yeah, I went to the states, a Good School, it was all grand, thanks for your help by the way, but the girl I had in high school, well, I kinda fucked that up, as some random blonde hottie threw herself at me at this frat party, and, well, yeah, I responded, because she was hot, and I'm like wasted, what's a guy supposed to do? so wooooooah!  The pictures got onto Facebook, but whatever, that's not what you asked!  The military wasn't so bad I guess, since I had not such a bad job doing translation, but man!  All I could think was that the military was so fucked!  Most of what I did was bullshit, and yeah there were times when I sweated my ass off, but most of the time I was expected to sit around and wait for the higher ups to make some decision, and I'd leave at five and get called back at six thirty, then sit there until ten, eleven, mostly doing nothing.

So you've been well prepared for life as an indentured servant with your favorite chaebol then!

Haha ya you can say that!  It seems though that most of the problem in Korean society are because of the military, since I know that once I become an old dude after kissing so much ass over time, I'll just expect the same since that's what I had to do.  That's why I'm thinking I should just say fuck it and go work in the states.

Waeg wants to say something about brain drain, commitment to the nation that helped make you who you are, but he doesn't.  He knows this guy will be back.  It's in his nature.  But Waeg knows this is the reality of the situation, since he sussed it out years ago.  Angry educated dudes escape to the West almost as frequently as jilted, maligned women do from this greatest of peninsulas, with the latter far less likely to return; but no matter for the Minjok, as many of these women end up marrying ethnic Koreans in their newly adopted state, despite how they've all been corrupted from the purest vision of what Korea was, is, and should be. . . sadly, it's too late for them to abuse the new fresh off the boats who have run the dry cleaners and grocery stores their parents or grandparents slaved in to afford them the Ivy league cred, now they actually have to earn their way by the same rules as everyone else.  But then Waeg knows talking of this is well, racism!  It's the fault of the white man!  It seems a mantra in the Asian diaspora these days.  But Waeg knows he's gone off on a tangent, so focuses again on dude.  They talk about a camping trip and promise to meet up again soon.

It's late.  Waeg knows he's almost on borrowed time.  Yet something still nags.  It's not how myopic the hyphenated Asians are in western countries.  It's more about what he missed in effectively sublimating the White Man's Burden



Sunday, May 18, 2014

Heat!

Saturday afternoon. Waeg is out with the fam; an old friend who left this most finest of peninsulas years back has returned for a visit with his wife’s family.  The decision was made to spend the day at world number one best amusement park, Everland, as the kids had been pestering them about it for weeks.  There were reservations expressed about this plan, as the incredible popularity of said number one world best park would ensure massive line ups, but the kids had latched on to the plan and would become inconsolable if it were changed.

The crowds are thick as respective broods are led from ride to ride. The interminable waiting becomes near unbearable when a break for lunch is suggested; a cold drink greatly appeals to waeg, and the herding of the kids towards the concession stands begins. The lines seem longer for food, but no matter: sustenance will be procured! The heat and noise of the crowd are starting to affect the band of adventurers, evident as the kids start to bicker. While standing in line, waeg daydreams about pandemics that wipe out 50% of the world population. He imagines how such a scenario would play out when he is interrupted by a yell of pain from his friend. He turns around to see him holding his hand tightly and glaring menacingly at a little girl; she looks bewildered, shocked, then darts off into the crowd.

She freakin’ bit me! She just kept tugging at my arm yelling how she wanted some water and then sank her teeth into my hand!

This is truly a WTF moment, and waeg understands his friend’s anger. His friend rants on about being glad for leaving Korea, how he got really sick of listening to the kids act like such rude little idiots around waegs, always acting so disrespectful since they hadn’t been taught properly.

When I was a kid, the first time I saw a black guy I pointed to him and said, Mom, look, a black man! She smacked me upside the head and lectured me on how rude it was to point, that there were many different types of people in the world and they all deserved respect. Korean parents just don’t teach that kind of shit man, it’s more like randomly walking through Emart and Korean mom or dad tells little Minsoo to go up to the only waeg in the store and practice his English! Or they would come over and start petting my kids, and flat out say how cute the little mixed race kid is! I would just say look lady, be civil or just leave me and my family alone, got it? Man, I can’t believe it, been here less than a week and some kid comes over and freakin’ bites me! Unbelievable!

Waeg can understand, as he too has experienced similar situations. But the tension is too high, and won’t help get cold drinks and food, so he deflects the situation by asking about his friend’s new promotion to district manager. This works reasonable well, and soon they are seated at a bench staked out by the kids enjoying frosty drinks and sandwiches. The mood is much improved as they finish up and decide to try the bumper cars before calling it a day.

They are standing in line waiting when suddenly a little girl a few meters ahead starts bawling her head off. Waeg clocks that it is the same girl that had bit his buddy; she is standing next to a man who is probably her father. She wants to leave, wants to get out; her dad tries to console her, to calm her down, but she will not listen. Dad, annoyed as they’d wasted considerable time standing in line, has no choice but to take her away. As they pass, waeg does a double take. The dad is wearing a lime green polo shirt and tan pants. His buddy is wearing the same. Waeg draws this fact to his buddy’s attention: maybe the girl had been tugging on his arm asking for a drink since she had confused the two, and bit him when he didn’t respond thinking she was biting her dad.

Dude, really? I’m not Korean, don’t you think she would have noticed that?

Possibly. But stranger mistakes have been made, and the big city is bright and loud, maybe the heat and confusion just got to her.

Yeah, sure, whatever. What kind of dad lets it get to the point that your kid thinks it’s OK to bite you when you want attention? Forget it man, I’m glad I left.

For a moment, waeg thinks about what he can say, but nothing comes. His buddy is right: it probably is a good thing he left. Many a waeg gets stuck in a loop, living in cheap crappy housing, surrounded by ijits, doing work that brings no satisfaction and few rewards. Being a long term expat can take its toll on even the most intelligent and hardy traveler; waeg is just happy it’s been a while since he’s had a meltdown or gone off on someone for idiocy, although he knows it will happen again eventually. Such are the trials of living as a waeg. He changes the subject, and talks about happier times in lands far, far, away.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Membership!

Tonight I decided to be a bit more social and meet up with some of the parents from the girls' school.  I have been neglectful of my social responsibilities of late, and figured it would be nice to meet some of the adults attached to the kids my daughters hang out with.

The evening started fairly benign: light conversation over a nice seafood medley.  I quickly clocked who was who, being a bit surprised by one pair of parents who appeared far more Amish than I would have expected.  Still, the mom did have a smart phone.  Whatever.  The rice wine was flowing pretty steady, and I found myself having a pretty good time, chatting up many of the moms and a few of the dads.

As we moved on to the second round at a norae bang, one of the dads obviously had something weighing heavy on his mind.  I'd noticed him brooding in a corner during the meal, and when a moment presented itself I asked how he was doing.

He seemed to mull over the question as if it tasted like some exceptionally sour piece of kimchi, deciding whether it was actually tasty or some foul concoction that would best be reburied, when he blurted out:

You've lived here how long?

Coming on 14 years, yeah.  It's been a long road hahahaha

So why is it you still speak Korean so poorly?

All conversation seemed to cease, and the music seemed to suddenly become sucked into a vacuum.  I'm still in jovial fun mode, so I say:

Yeah, my Korean isn't fluent, sorry about that!  I still make silly mistakes, especially when I am writing.  But language is something that takes a good while to learn, and I'm always working on it!  Come, lets drink!  Where is your cup?

His frown seemed to deepen as he waves off my offer:  

You can't even speak well after having been here so long.  How can you hope to understand Korea and Koreans?  You can't know us since you can't even communicate well!

At that moment one of the other dads intervenes and drags brooding man away.  I don't think too much about what he said at the time, as I figure it wouldn't do much to enhance the mood of the group to go on about it.  I've had this conversation more than a few times; whenever it comes up, I inevitably remember some of the ijits I worked with back home, who were all about: learn English or GTFO my country!  I think of all the immigrant families I'd seen over the years, the parents unable to speak more than a few words in English, being berated by their kids who were fluent because they were busy being social in school while mom and dad slaved away at whatever job they had to bring in the cash.  I'd worked for a few such families over the years, and always respected the parents despite their inability to communicate well with the locals, knowing they knew full well the shit that some dished on them for their broken speech or bad accent while mocking openly: 'don't worry they can't understand!'  But saying all that didn't seem apropos, nor bringing up how if I couldn't understand Korea or Koreans, then only a European could really teach about Europe, only an American can accurately talk about America, and only a native English speaker can teacher English.  It all seemed inappropriate to mention, since, well, there was still rice wine to drink, and I knew I wasn't paying the bill.  So I kept my mouth shut and went to punch in the next song on the machine.  Let the good times roll, at least for tonight!  Pass that jug of wine!




Saturday, April 26, 2014

Interlude



Thursday, April 24, 2014

Becoming Adjusshi!

Living as an expat can be trying for even the most hardy of adventurers.  As a good expat on this most finest of peninsulas, I've worked hard to integrate and understand the pure mind of my most kind and generous hosts. It isn't always easy, and sometimes the learning curve can be steep. But it is a question of manners after all, and as my mama taught me right, everyday I strive to become more adjusshi, since a man does what a man does.

Still, sometimes I mess up a little.  This morning on my way to work is a good example: I was a bit late and driving a tad too fast and blew through the Hipass at well above the recommended 30 km/h. As I had the speed, I cut in front of a BMW on the way into my exit. Mr. BMW was obviously quite annoyed, as he flashed his lights repeatedly at me; every good adjusshi knows that the person with the more expensive car is always given the right of way in this most excellent of nations. I thought it best to speed up, to remove myself from the sight of Mr. BMW; I climbed to 160 and blew past a bunch of traffic to do so. However, Mr. BMW was having none of that and obviously felt that I needed finer instruction on the ways of this most pretigious land: he quickly caught up and tried to cut me off going 170+.

Now this to me was quite shocking, as he was endangering his car. This was not in keeping with true adjusshi, and it was obvious he needed my help. An opportunity to pass him in the traffic presented itself, and as I've seen this kind of situation several times before and knew what needed to be done, in true adjusshi fashion I blew past Mr. BMW then slowed down to about 80 to run parallel with a truck. He obviously was needing the time to calm and slow down, to stop risking damage to his very nice car. I gave him the time to honk and flash his lights repeatedly, then at the last second veered off onto an exit. While he did try to slow down to also get the exit and continue his instruction, he was unable and I was gone.

I know I could have handled the situation better, by yielding to his obviously higher economic and social status, and while I do try my best to meet the expectations based on keen observation over the years, I know I still have much to learn. But really it's what should be done. As it has often been said: when in Rome, do as the Koreans. One day I know I will get it right.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sewol: Blame 'Development'

When a disaster occurs elsewhere, its easy to say that it's a shame, a terrible thing, just awful that it happened.  When it occurs much closer to home, words don't carry the same impact, seem meaningless, as the lives of those you know are affected much more profoundly.

The Sewol ferry disaster is beyond simple words of sympathy or expressions of anger.  So many young people losing their lives because of the inaction and indecision of a few who were supposedly trained to deal with situations that occur at sea renders such statements hollow in a way.

Still, the anger did rise in me today when around the water cooler Mrs. Cho went on about the sickness in Korean society, all due to excessive rapid development; in the process core Korean values were lost and forgotten, since money and fierce competition destroyed the value of life.

I kept my mouth shut for once.  I couldn't get into it, since watching the news unfold that over 300 mostly kids died pointlessly struck home as to how vulnerable we all are.  Still, this tendency for some Koreans to point to some illustrious, idyllic past, where everyone lived in harmony and helped one another, in contrast to the bustle and inhumanity of modern life, all caused by following the western plan to modernize and develop, really gets on my nerves as well as demonstrates a true lack of historical perspective.  Korean society has always been cutthroat from my readings of it, with the majority of the population constantly having to eat shit all the time: the caste system, the Nobi, a general lack of concern for life and welfare, have long been features of all civilizations, and Korea is no exception. Life in the lower classes in Korea has long been brutal and unforgiving, yet some like Mrs. Cho think otherwise. Yet to use this tragedy to grind her political ax was beyond the pale.  I generally avoid talking to her, since, well, idiots, and life is too short to spend time engaging them all; I wish I had done the same today. Next week I wouldn't be surprised if she or someone else went on about how the Sewol being built in Japan was somehow responsible for the disaster.

But enough.  Well wishes for those who have lost and suffered is the best answer.  Stop thinking about morons and their lack of empathy and understanding. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Camping 9.621: Bad Drone!




Today I skipped out of work shortly after lunch.  The tech guys were still messing with my computer to make it compatible for the new system, so I felt it best to take a little me time.

I'm out at one of my favorite camping spots.  It took me a couple hours to set everything up, but I did have some time to collect a few mountain vegetables.  It's still a bit early for many of them, but the younger ones are usually a bit tastier.

I'm 2 bottles of chiaksan #1 world best rice wine in.  The fam should be showing up shortly, and I've got a nice fire going.  It'll serve nicely for the grilling of delicious meat and marshmallows.

Time to crack that third bottle.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Interlude


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cart Man Part II

Im sitting in my office looking at Gmarket when a coworker comes in. Its all small talk and pleasantries when he says: you know, people are just so selfish all the time.  It really sucks that human nature is just so grim.

I look at him. Its obvious hes having a bad day and not making some statement about my character flaws. Without really knowing where Im going, I say: yeah I get that dealing with other people is a trial at times. But I cant think that people are so selfish all the time. They cant be. Like this old guy I see every morning on my way to work. He must be 70 years old, and no matter the weather I see him out, pulling his cart and collecting cardboard and recyclables.  His cart is all blinged out with lights and Taegookis and stuff; hes got this awesome hat that I really like, looks like a fishermans hat. Ive seen him for ten years, out there, smiling, while he hauls his load to the recycle center.  Hes kinda famous in town; word is hes actually quite rich, he just does it because he wants to keep doing something, to give to the community, even though he could be sitting back on a beach somewhere. Word is he spends the money he makes buying lunches and dinners for the other old folks out collecting, those who arent rich and either dont want to bother their kids for money or cant. Whenever Im having a bad day, I think about that guy. He doesnt lie down and die. Life can really suck at times but lying down isnt an option, you have to keep going since thats all you can really do.

There is a silence then he says: thats an interesting story.
You think so?  You know whats really interesting about that story? Its totally not true. That guy doesnt exist, but you believe the story anyway.  Why?  Because you know people are out there, doing this kind of work, youve seen them, and maybe youve heard rumors how some of them are rich, and do it for the reasons I said. He is kind of a composite of every one of those people youve seen in your life. But you believe the story because you want to believe, you want it to be true and have your faith in humanity restored, to know that in a sea of indifference and hostility there are nice people who do nice things. You need to believe that there are people who go out and give back. We need these kinds of fuzzy wuzzy stories to remind us that there is hope and things can always get better.

A deep silence settles in while we sip our coffee.  Then: I get your point. I am just having a bad day, what with my problems and all. I liked your story, thanks.  Ill catch you later.

He leaves and I turn back to my computer: Gmarket beckons. But then I stop: he thinks I was telling the story for him, and I was, but it was also for me, a reminder that even if life isnt going the way youd hoped, you have to keep on living, striving, and becoming. It is good to remember that from time to time. I close the browser and head out for a walk.  There is a big world out there after all.  And I am just a shill for the man.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

When in Rome. . .

The morning starts like most others these days: ignore the first alarm at 5:45, consider dragging ass out of bed at 6:15, finally crawl out at 6:45.  Once in the bathroom it's time to light up and spit repeatedly, all while looking at porn on the smart phone while sitting on the throne.  It is all about becoming adjusshi after all: middle aged man, trying to understand how he became broken, knowing full well the remedies that worked in the past no longer apply, as I'm not about to abandon my kids to strike it out once more, as this is really what would need to be done, but then so few adjusshi have ever had the idea, and the single friends he has mock his inability to do so now.  Embrace mediocrity and learn how to live being dead inside!  But: porn.

That business taken care of, a quick shower brings things into focus: it's Thursday.  A bit of a light day actually, but then you never know.  The jerkoffs in manufacturing or sales just might screw something up, as is their nature.  But still, the day is looking pretty smooth.  As was that hot little Vietnamese number.  Maybe it's time to trade in and have some more kids. . .

Waking the kids up this morning is not such a chore: they went to bed early and so quickly respond.  There is also Nutella for breakfast, a wonderful way to induce sugar dependency, but let no moms at the school say there is no doting on children in our domain!  Hugs and kisses, out the door.

The van was left in the middle of the thoroughfare in the parking garage last night, parking brake off.  The dinner last night hadn't gone too late, but there were still no spots left.  As the day usually starts early, there is no issue with simply leaving the van in the thoroughfare, as if need be any schmo can simply push it out of the way: this is the adjusshi way.  The typical scenarios play out as I walk to the van: it can be entertaining when some ijit leaves their parking brake on, and calling them up with righteous indignation gives opportunity to check out their wives, as they are generally too lazy to take care of it themselves; but this is not adjusshi and should be struck from the record, as it represents the thoughts of a much younger man.  However, if the man actually shows, this gives a perfect opportunity to glare reproachfully, as any noob knows not to fix the parking brake. I don't give a fuck how drunk you were last night, but I do understand your special situation, so hurry the fuck up and move your car.  But nothing of the sort this morning, which gives a mild sense of disappointment, since when your life sucks this can be ignored momentarily by making someone else feel even worse.  But then I haven't succinctly stated the subject: as adjusshi, if you're not rich, or even if you are, your life sucks, since everyone is expecting you to sacrifice it all for family and country, and you do, sort of, and learn how to make it work for you by embracing the martyrdom in a manner that supports room salons and gold trips to Pattaya. Sadly, at this point I am rambling in a way that those not on the ground will need explanation, but as they say: in for a penny, in for a pound.

Musing on just how long it's been since I've left the confines of this most jaundiced of peninsulas is interrupted near the expressway toll gate: some jackass tries to blow past at 120 to cut onto the expressway ramp.  Honking ignites the other driver's indignant angry adjusshi mode, which prompts him to slow down and try to force me to the shoulder.  It's a fairly easy thing to work it, and there is the temptation to forgo the adjusshi pleasantries by simply blowing past him through the Hipass first, as opportunity presents. However, this could well result in a good 100 km chase on the expressway as no adjusshi will be denied the chance to scold, chastise, make someone feel smaller than they already know themselves to be. . . so I let him pull alongside and lower the window: like peacocks rustling their feathers, there is much hollering about questionable ethics and parentage.  This momentary distraction does do wonders to mitigate having no one to bark at for a parking garage violation, as I got the upper hand by not apologizing and drawing attention to just how many laws and civic codes he violated, so let the warm glow of righteousness envelop for at least a short while.

At the exit to work, I need smoke.  As there are no parking spaces available, simply pulling up in front of the GS25 and flicking on the hazards is the way to go.  As I walk slowly to the shop, it is great fun to simply ignore the angry honking from irate drivers that have been inconvenienced by this manoevre, since fuck them if they can't be patient. What a bunch of self centered wankers! It'll only be a few minutes, and a man needs his smoke!  Their honking is disturbing so many people, don't they have any respect or sense of civic virtue?! This is the adjusshi way mothafucka!

As I get back into the piece of shit I drive for a car, while living the normal piece of shit life I'm expected to live as a 40 something male in this piece of shit sticking out of Asia's asshole, I see him: the cardboard man.  70 something at least. I know I've probably seen him 100 times before, but this morning I'm more than impressed by his amazing hat, something that you'd expect a sport fisherman to wear.  The cart he uses to collect piles of cardboard and recyclables is decked out in flashing lights, ribbons, and Taegukkis.  Word is he is rich, he does it as he knows it needs to be done, and fuck those who think otherwise.  He stands up and represents.  I know that most of the older folk who do, do so from necessity, and get maybe a couple hundred a month.  This guy does it because he knows it needs to be done, and you give back what you can as that's what a person does, until they can no longer.  I get that, and I abide.

Fuck you Mr. Adjosshit

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Camping 8.3!

meatGreetings all, Waeg here reporting from the wilds of Gangwon province!

In keeping with good waeg tradition, I'm out camping with a bunch of peeps from work. It's been a great time so far, with much hiking, grilling of animal flesh, and the imbibing of fermented grains by yours truly. Spirits are high and the mood congenial as we share war stories and tuck into some good food.




As I run the defacto camping club at work, and the old tent I bought at Costco a few years back is about to fall to pieces, I went out and bought a new one. I felt compelled, as the Kovea store in Wonju was having a massive blowout. OK, OK, it was only 25% off, but still! It sleeps ten comfortably and will serve well next winter, as the material is good quality. It did rain a bit, and it was nice watching the water just slide right off that bad boy in nice even sheets.


June was pissed when I came home with this massive canvas monstrosity, and I can understand her trepidation: I did spend over 1.3 million won, even with the discount, scooping up another bench and carry all bag in the process. While I will continue to sleep alone in the foreseeable future, no matter since: what a tent! I reminded her that generally when I do camping club activities, I charge the participants 30 thousand won each for gear rental on top of the other fees for food, site rental, firewood and the like, so after a year at most the tent will pay for itself. I won't have to deal with renting gear, which is time consuming and not always reliable, and I'd get to know the tent well. Her anger was somewhat assuaged when I gave her the cash for this weekend, which was almost a third of what I spent.

Back to it. Sadly I'm guessing there will be few mountain vegetables to pick as it is still a bit early in the season, and there is snow in the high mountains. I will be coming out again next weekend and at the end of the month, so I can wait for delicious durup and the like.

Time for coffee.  Here are some tunes I'm listening to on this glorious morning while waiting for the others to crawl out of that new awesome tent:


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Intrepid!

  


Friday, March 21, 2014

Another Week in Paradise!

Monday morning, 5:30 AM: waeg's phone rings. Glancing at the number, waeg sees it's from overseas so he quickly answers. It's his dad:

Waeg, it's your mother. She had an aneurysm and just got out of a 6 hour surgery. The docs say she isn't out of the woods yet, but she is responding fairly well. Good thing I was home at the time, or we'd be having a different conversation.

Waeg promises to call again later. Once at work he looks up how much time he could get to go back in case of the worst, and sees he can get a week. Hopefully he won't need to go right away. After reading up on aneurysms, he knows his mom is lucky to be alive; but then she always has been strong.

After lunch he collects his mail. There is a notice from the police, saying he owes over a million Won in old fines dating back to 2003. Waeg is perplexed, as he has always paid his speeding and parking tickets in a timely manner. After 4 calls and three hours, it is determined there was a computer glitch, and while waeg won't have to pay the interest on the fines, he still owes over a million Won. Waeg muses how he has contributed to inflate statistics on waeg crime, since these unpaid fines would have added to the numbers.

On Tuesday Waeg cruises into work early. He notices that the electrical in the van is acting up; the same thing happened a few months back just before the generator cut out on him. He checks his schedule for the week and sees he has a window Wednesday afternoon to bring the car in, and plans accordingly. He receives a call from the public relations department: a client is upset that they had not received a response from waeg to an urgent request. It turns out that over the weekend the email program had been updated, and all his email had bounced. After contacting the IT department and sorting out the problem, waeg sees a flood of 300 emails suddenly appear in his inbox. He hunkers in and starts through the lot. He is briefly interrupted by a call from his wife, but for some reason she is unable to hear him when he speaks and she hangs up in exasperation. Waeg has a brain fart and plugs in the headphones to call her back. Sure enough, the speaker on his phone is busted, and he briefly wonders when he'll have the time to take it in to get fixed.  His wife tells him that the youngest's teacher wants to have a meeting to discuss the youngest's use of vulgar language towards a boy that had started a fight. Waeg briefly smiles, but agrees to meet Thursday evening.

On Wednesday, waeg skips out after lunch to bring the van in to the shop. The mechanic tells him there is no way to know for sure where the electrical problem is until it gives out, that the van is old and he should just buy a new one, and he should come back later. Waeg explains he is quite sure it is the generator, that he does not have time to come back later, so they promise to check it out as well as replacing the cracked windscreen. He goes back in a couple of hours and picks it up: the mechanic is nowhere to be seen, and the bill is only for the windscreen. He has no time to wait, as he has to also get the van inspected. Everything seems fine during the inspection, so waeg goes home; but he knows the electrical problem is still there, and hopes it doesn't give out at a bad time. That night he calls home: his mom hasn't been able to breathe on her own yet, but the prognosis is overall positive.

On Thursday he heads into work as the snow starts falling in thick heavy globs. He has planned to go camping on the weekend with a coworkers family. He decides he'll go even if the snow continues. The day passes fairly uneventfully, during which he spent some time calculating the cost per month of a new van; his feelings are conflicted, as the idea of having a new car is nice, but thinking of paying it off over 3 or 4 years causes a knot in his stomach.  As he gets ready to leave work the van won't start, as the electrical has indeed given out. He calls his insurance provider to send a wrecker to give him a boost. After an hour it shows up. At this point waeg might just make the meeting with the youngest's teacher if he hustles. The driver he knows well, as he has come out to help waeg more than a few times. He gets a boost and sees that the power is still not working properly, but luckily there is a 24 hour car shop near the expressway toll gate. Once there, the mechanic tells him he needs a new battery, which he quickly installs. However, when he checks the power, he says Oops. . .my bad. It isn't the battery, seems it might be a faulty generator, but you should be able to get into town OK. That'll be 130000 Won please. For a moment, waeg considers entering full on asshole mode and demanding his functioning old battery be reinstalled, but he has no time. The power levels seem OK for now. On the way into town, the power is obviously slowly draining as the lights dim and the heater din changes in frequency. Just as he pulls into a parking spot at his favorite car shop, the engine cuts out. No one is at the shop at this hour, so he locks it up and rushes to the main road; he can still make the tail end of the meeting with the teacher if he can quickly find a taxi. Of course, there are none, and after 20 minutes waeg texts his wife to explain and goes home. His wife's computer is screwed, so he spends an hour cleaning out a host of trojans and malware. As he turns on his computer, he sees some of the same problems.  It seems the girls had been visiting some game site and installing all kinds of crap on both computers. He finishes around one and goes to bed.

On Friday he gets a ride into work with a coworker. The car won't be finished until late afternoon, and will cost a little over 300 000 Won to fix.  With the new windscreen and battery, waeg is down 700 this week on the car.  He had planned to leave at 5:30 to go camping, but that will have to be postponed until tomorrow.  At around nine he is informed that he needs to completely reschedule and replan a major project, as crucial information from manufacturing had been incorrect, an error on their part, but waeg knows this will require a good 2-3 hours of frantic application. 

Just before lunch he takes a breather and goes for a short walk outside.  As he wanders somewhat aimlessly, he muses on when the fantastic life of milk and honey he was promised for coming to Korea will kick in.  He knows he's simply being cynical, as his story is really no different from any other average person's, and that entertaining the idea too much will only lead to rage and invective; his slice of paradise comes from knowing things he never would have known if he hadn't become waeg, gaining a perspective on the human condition that would have remained unknown if he had stayed in his little town.  Still, for a moment the thought creeps in that sometimes ignorance is bliss, especially if you can regularly buy decent beer, cheese, and bacon.  He laughs, tosses it aside, and heads back to the office.  There are more TPS reports to fill in after all, and fresh coffee to drink.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happiness!

waeg had worked the formula several times: if all variables held, the experiment would work.  He would finally move beyond his corporeal frame.

As a good scientist, he turned over all what he could become: with no attachment to fallible finite human affairs, could he still entertain benevolence?  He was only anticipating that after the transformation, if his attention were drawn to the ball of mud that gave him birth, his revulsion towards the insect like species that infested it would cause him to eliminate, despite how he could not be without having been so. . . limited.

It won't happen.  I'm sure once the process is complete, there will be no impetus to acknowledge origins, since such a minute focus of understanding would no longer be attainable. In short order, I will know the importance of fostering life in all its forms.

He was ready.  It was time.

He put the crystals in the machine.  It had been a bargain at 39.99 on Ebay.  He was ready to transform into pure energy and become a child of the universe.  His finger hovered over the button for perhaps a second longer than it should, but then he pressed.

The shock flung him against the wall and knocked the electrodes off his head.  Thoughts scrambled and disjointed, vision impaired.  Colors were more vivid, more attuned to the violet shift that would occur when time no longer mattered, and perception became true. . .   He saw the stars, then beyond, to the white white heat, until the pure essence of what is came to be known. . . it was brilliance, it was purity, it was light. . .

It was the bubbles in the paint in the wall that he'd smacked his head.

The instructions on the box had been clear: do not attempt during misalignment.  He figured it was still worth a go, as the next proper alignment of constellations was a good 300 years off. He'd done the calculations, downloaded the proper manuals from the internet, knew it was not only a question of will and grinding the right crystal, but knowing that the right vision and flexibility were yours, if only you committed. . .

When his mind cleared he got up and got a beer from the fridge.  On his way back he threw the machine in the trash.  Once secured in his bubble of a room, he picked a random book from the floor: Spinoza's Ethics.  He flipped to a random page, and for a second wondered what he could have neglected in the process of becoming 'enlightened'.









Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Morning AFter

Braaaaiiiin

Last night was a full on stupid fest.

The day started off with meetings In Seoul, then after dinner became all about 삼차

Not sure how I was able to crawl outta bed this morning to make it to the train, but I did promise to take the fam to the mountains today.

ok go home

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bass!

Today I came into town and had lunch with my significant other.

We ate pig.  It was delicious.

The only blip was the pair of adjumma sitting across from us: one was trying to convince the other to join her church.  She said her preacher was touched, as he could see the evil in others.  Most Christians were deluded and easily led astray.  You should join my church and sign all your assets over, as this will be the only way to save your brood.

It was pretty messed up.  When June asked me what I thought, I talked about sheeple and how easily people are led to believe: seek contentment!  This is the true way to a healthy life!  For me contentment is for those who give up on life, or for those who have not imagined more than their home town as the center of the world.  And the broken, especially the broken.  People who try to sell you contentment are actually telling you to stop living, to give up striving, as you basically give yourself a pass for not moving beyond broken if you know you are.

For some reason, on the way back to work I bought another bass. I was passing the store, stopped, went in, and within five minutes walked out with a new bad ass bass.  I didn't question or think; it just seemed the thing to do.  Equally, I could question why I've been listening to this album over and over, as I know it will soon lead to Black Sabbath, a lack of morals, and Satan.  But no matter: bass!  Rockgoddom here I come!

)

Time for bed.  But first, maybe one more beer.  It's only 3AM after all, and tomorrow is pretty light.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Best!

Waeg is out visiting an old friend.  He used to laugh at them for being too kangaroo, expecting money from their families despite being in their 30s with good education and children.  But the call he received was to be celebratory, as they'd recently received a prize in design, the second one in so many years.  They were moving up.

Waeg!  It is so good to see you!  How are you?  Good?  Good!  I've got to tell you, I should have received first in that contest!  Sure, sure, second is great, and I know I'll get many more contracts now, but I can't help but feel like Kim Yuna!  I should have been first.

Waeg pauses.  In his mind, Kim Yuna gave up the gold.  She could have earned it, but decided it just wasn't worth it.  In Korean society, if you always get gold, there will always be more than a few hundred thousand who will constantly scrutinize everything you do, and expect you to consistently be the best at everything.  As a Korean coworker told him years ago, you don't want to be at the top, since then you will be expected to do so much only to receive so little, with so many eager to see you fall.  Best to choose the middle of the pack.  Best to be mediocre. Best to simply incrementally add to trash and never suggest what should be done to improve.  Also, best of the best is to let yourself be beat by a waeg at a waeg rigged event, as you can coast easy street for years to come in Korea, as you'd been robbed by the awful, awful, waeg world.  Admittedly, Waeg has only extrapolated this last about the coworker based on said coworker's rants about living in the US, which does take into consideration that said coworker is generally considered a complete asshole, who has obviously spent little time thinking about Nietzsche and ressentiment. Waeg doesn't say any of this, he just asks and listens: so what happened? How was it you were robbed?

Oh, they just asked people who couldn't understand what I was doing!  They brought in people who only looked at the impossible promises made by the 'winner'.  When it came to the pure blend of design and environment I proposed, they chose instead the design that cannot even begin to be fulfilled!  Sure, the first place design was more daring, but the fact that it could not be done while mine was far more artistic is the true robbery!  None the matter!  This second mention certainly marks me as established!

Waeg congratulates, as he knows that this is true: his friend has represented. He raises a glass, and drinks.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Me and my Big Mouth

Sometimes people say all kinds of crap without thinking about it too much.

This blog is a case in point.  I just speak my mind, when I should just sit quietly.

Today around the water cooler several colleagues were commenting on my new hanbok.  I actually like to wear them often, prefering more modernized cotton ones; I find them more comfortable and easier to take care of.  Some were joking about how I was becoming more and more Korean, when Mr. Nam laughed and said:  Mr. Waeg! You are Hamel!

A silence descended on the group as they seemed to sense that some boundry had been crossed and a storm was just over the horizon.  At first I thought Mr. Nam had said Hammington, but luckily for him I understood quickly that he was refering to the Dutch sailor who had been shipwrecked off Jeju island in the 17th century.  I felt my eye twitch as I asked:

Why Mr. Nam, do you say that?  Why do you think I am like Hamel?

You know Hamel?  You live in Korea and do like Korean, you are working for us!

Yes I know Hamel, I'm a nerd who often loves to read a lot.  So do you think I am a slave in Korea, working on Sejong's farm, being forced to stay away from my family and make muskets for the Hermit Kingdom?  Should I be planning my escape?  

Escape?  Haha no you will be here forever Mr. Waeg! You have good life and beautiful wife. 

Before I could stop myself, I felt myself say:

Well, that all may be true, Mr. Nam, but I am surprised you choose to see things that way.  You know, over the years, I used to laugh when people said I looked like Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, or some other famous movie star; this is the first time I get compared to Hamel, so that is something new, thank you!  Still, I find it interesting that when I read many Asian American websites, many writers chose to subscribe to a cult of victimhood, complaining how society in general forces them to fit very narrow ideas of Asianess, which demonstrates a lack of true understanding and overeliance on stereotypical views, limiting their ability to develop true agency and self identity.  But isn't it the same when you say this kind of thing to me?  Hahaha, no I choose not to think of myself as a slave here, not like Hamel, as I'd rather understand that I'm here because I choose to be, and that most Koreans understand this fact and do not see me as simply a charicature of whiteness. Why can't I just be waeg?  How would you feel if I called you Bruce Lee? Hahahaha

When I said this last, Mr. Nam became very indignant: Bwuce Lee? Bwuce Lee??! 
I think he may have been mad at how I compared him to a Chinese dude, or was perhaps upset that I knew who Hamel was, thus stealing his thunder by avoiding a lecture on how I should understand more about Korea, but I digress.  Before anything more could be said, break time was over and we went back to work.  But Mr. Nam is definitely still sore at me.

Now, I do believe that stupidity is a universal constant, and I'm hoping he won't hold a grudge against me and that his panties aren't in a knot about it.  From experience, these types of conversation never end well.  You can't win and its best to just smile.  When will I ever learn?