Sunday, December 30, 2007

Women Who Live

My life is strange and gets stranger. I'll get back to mine in a minute as I'm still thinking long and hard about women in power, women who die, women who may be maryters, heroes, figure heads. Women who live.

Women who may be good.

Women who may be bad.

I think about what Tallulah Bankhead said: Only good girls keep diaries, the bad girls never have the time.

I've always been a fan of old Tallulah. She was a brilliant stage actress but not worth much on film. She was also intensely notorious, maybe a lesbian, definitely a doer. She spent five hours on a hospital bed and almost died while having a hysterecotmy for advanced ghonerra. When she left the hospital they say she told the doctors "Don't think this has taught me a lesson."

She was something else.

Bhutto was not a saint, I've said this before. She was also not a devil. She was merely a woman who did what she could with the legacy she inherited. She was braver than I am, because she was willing to face her future, and near certain death very head on. While she was not perfect she was on the whole good.

Her death made me think a lot about a death that happened in 2001 that very few people noted.

But I remember that I was listening to NPR in the morning as I got ready for work and I heard about it. And I wept, probably one of only a handful of people in the US that even knew about her, who she was, what she represented.

Her name was Phoolan Devi. She was most certainly a bad girl.

The worst kind of bad girl.

She was born in India in the lowest class of society. Married at eleven, suffering the abuses and atrocities that will fall on a girl married young to someone three times her age.

Her husband eventually abandoned her, as did her family. She fell in with a group of bandits, used, and abused at first until one of the gang members stood up for her, taking over the gang through murder, and setting her as the his left hand. She couldn't be the right hand. I don't think.

She was a bandit, and a notorious one at that. When later her bandit boyfriend was assisinated, she was caught, imprisoned, and assaulted by an entire village.

And she escaped, and returned to her bandits. She found strength, amassed a small army and went back to the village and murdered most of the upper caste men whom she blamed for her imprisonment and assult. She was cruel and vicious about it.

She may not have killed anyone by her own hand but she was responsible for it. Her reasons are understandable, a woman who was suffered more abuse than any woman should have to suffer, she snapped, she was angry, and she wanted revenge.

She became known as the Bandit Queen. And later become something of a folk hero in India. After the massacre she managed to stay on the run for two more years before she finally turned herself in, surrendering on her terms, quite a remarkable thing.

She was jailed for eleven years without trial and eventually freed.

And what did she do, with her freedom, after the horrors that had been committed upon her, and the ones she had visited up others?

She ran for government, and was elected to power. She may or may not have been a good leader, but she was something.

A woman who refused to be a victim. I find that very commendable.

She said, to those who would listen, that she would die by violence, her life was steeped in violence. She accepted this.

In 2001 she was getting out of her car after arriving home and she was assassinated. I think she would have appreciated this as a vindication. She would know she was right.

And I wept anyway.

I became aware of her story through a film by Shekhar Kapur (director of Elizabeth and E: The Golden Age). He did a sort of autobiography of her life. Dramatic, accurate, blood-chilling. Devi herself condemned the film and tried to get it banned. I can understand. The film is intensely honest about her. It makes her neither a demon or a saint but shows her as a woman, who has suffered, who brings suffering, and who survives.

It was a fantastic film and I'll never watch it again because it was all too close. All too honest.

Bhutto was a woman who suffered and survived. She remained good.

Devi was a woman who suffered and survived. She balanced her good and evil but never repented for either.

Both of them refused be victims. They lived. They lived and damned the consequences.

Today, I will reflect. Tomorrow, I will live.

Damn the consequences.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Day After Christmas

"…….bbbbBBBBBBBBZZZZZZZZZ!"

"Oh, you have got to be fucking kidding me."

That was my reaction at five o'clock in the morning when I had a mosquito buzz my ear. A mosquito. On December 26th. A god forsaken Asian Tiger mosquito buzzing my head at five o'clock in the morning.

I did not have to look at my clock to know what time it is. Those buggers wake up and go for you between five and six a.m. I have had a great deal of experience with this in Korea. I know how these monster work. What bothered me was that these monsters were working in the middle of winter, in what is supposed to be the mosquito down period, the time when I can sleep through the night without worrying about waking up with bug bites. It's winter. Die. DIE you monsters, die!

"……bbbbBBBBBBBBBZZZZZZZZ!"

I dive under the covers, pull them up over my head and sink in claustrophobic, carbon dioxide filling warmness for as long as I can stand it until finally I poke my head back out to breathe. I am incredulous in my rage at five a.m. I just want to sleep, please leave me alone.

"……bbbbBBBBBBBBBZZZZZZZZ!"

"Motherless puss-bucket!"

That is when I started to feel the burning. On the arm near my elbow, in my big toe, on my pinky finger. I'd been hit. Three times by the count of the burning in my body. Three hits and they are still coming for me, how I do hate the Asian tiger mosquito. Already having feasted on me they keep coming because they want my face, the monsters.

"Tino! Here boy."

I call for my dog. He is sleeping soundly in the other room.

"Tino, come on puppy, come be mosquito food."

The dog wanders slowly and sleepily into the room and just sort of looks at me. I pat the bed, warm and welcoming. He gives me that look that says "do you KNOW what time it is" and yawns at me.

"Come on, good dog, come be a little hot-blooded distraction." The dog jumps into the bed and buries himself immediately under the covers and starts to snore. Deep under the covers; much too far under the covers because now the mosquitoes will continue to attack me instead of bothering him. He rolls over and snores louder. "Big help you are, monster." I whisper to him. He breaks wind and snores louder.

I give up and plop back down into the warm soft warm liquid comfort of my bed, sleep pulling at the edges and I feel myself drifting off ever pleasantly into the sweetest dreams and darkness.

"……bbbbBBBBBBBBBZZZZZZZZ!"

"Slimy cock-suckers!" I rage and turn on the bedside light.

I spot one on the wall and kill it. Now I'm awake. I pull the curtains and spot another and kill it. I feel like a hunter in the morning, but now I'm all awake. I shake off the warmth of my bed and get up to go about my business get ready for work.

At least I got them, I think to myself as I have my coffee.

Work was long and dragging. It's the last week of school and unlike the US which would show movies and generally close down, in Korea we expect the kids to work through the last day. The kids have other ideas. The day is long and wearing, I have a sinus cold, the weather is to humid and warm for Christmas, not hot, but still not quite right. I workout, eat dinner, read my book in bed until finally I fall asleep, secure in the knowledge that I shall sleep through this night.

The city sleeps around me and it is all silence, and darkness, the dog snoring from his bed in the other room.

"……bbbbBBBBBBBBBZZZZZZZZ!"

"Ah, she-bal-sekay-ya!"….I hate mosquitoes.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Circle Moves Ever On: Very Happy Holiday

It does my pagan heart good to see the world ending again. A cycle complete as the end of winter falls and the sun sinks down below the horizon on the longest night and the world dies. And I die with it. All the pain, the harshness, the ache that has built up in me and pulled me tight as a high wire is there in the sinking of that sun.



And I set myself free on it.



I awake with the early dawn light and appreciate that the Goddess slumbers, that other forces are working in the now lighting skies. I hear a rooster crow from a Korean rooftop garden as the sun begins to peak up more an more. I wake up. I have died. I have dreamt. I have traveled through time.



I am the mote. I swim in an Antediluvian see with a thousand creatures that are like me and like nothing at all. We are all beings, dead, waiting for rebirth. We have all given up. We are all ready to celebrate life. We are all awash and abandon in our old pain.



And then there is the light, and we break free. We climb the shores, clean, our spirits pure as driven snow. It's holiday and celebration. It is the dawn. It is the new day. It is the new year. It is life, and we are new born two it.



I walk on my own two legs at the beginning again and I am recreated. My history is shrouded again, not dark. It is merely what it is. It exists. It becomes the myth, the epic, neither dark nor encroaching. Nothing now but the fanciful stories of my life.



My history has no power of my future. It is history. I read it. I learn from it. I remember it. I grow, I move one, I experience the cleansing, and I am new again.



Here is my happy happy day. I look forward to what fun the future holds without lamenting to much the past year.



I am reminded that today in the country I left a long time ago that it is quickly approaching the most infamous of holidays. Love it or hate it if you line in the US you know it is upon you. Here in Korea I had plum forgotten. They hang lights to celebrate the New Year, but there is little hint of Santa or Christ. It's Korea, send in the clowns.



My Yule was well and peaceful, I was given a gift of a lamp. I moved into a new apartment and, as is appropriate for the season, I started everything off fresh once again.



I die and I am recreated.



Happy Holidays and Best wishes for the New Year to all of you, or Say-ha-bok-many-pa-do-say-o, as we say in Korea.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Kindness of Strangers

It was four o’clock p.m. I had called a moving company in the morning hoping to have a moving van come to my apartment. As I finish up a job in a few weeks I need to move and as I need to move I need to put stuff in a truck and have it towed over to the new place and as there is a lot of stuff to move I need a service, and so I called the service.

Four o’clock comes and goes and still no movers. So I call the company I had called in the morning.

“Where are you?”

“Ya, no, six o’clock.”

“No, now, you said now.”

My argument might have been more convincing than that but most of it was in Korean and from what I could gather I was not getting a moving service. I needed to move, and I needed to move in the next two hours. I was burning daylight and had to get stuff hauled.

I contemplated calling another moving service but figured I’d have about the same amount of luck. So instead I put on a look of absolute desperation and walked down the street looking for. I knew exactly what I was looking for.

I was looking for a grandmother in a shop window. Or any older Korean woman who might take pity on me, because, as the very famous Blanche DuBois would say “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” In Korea I am strange. I am a stranger. I can live with my status of stranger but it makes finding and communicating with other strangers a bit more difficult, but not impossible.

If you are willing to work for it, nothing is impossible.

If you are willing to be polite, nothing is impossible.

If you are aware enough to be a little self deprecating, nothing is impossible.

And if you are willing, just willing, to depend on the kindness of strangers, you will be alright.

Once, I was traveling in Japan with my friend Monolycus on a visa run. It was late, we were in Fukuoka and it was well past dark. My first time in Japan on Christmas day. The place lit up a neon jungle and the girls and boys stopping about beautiful, Japanese, strange. People spoke in an Asian tongue and I couldn’t understand a word of it. It was like the first day in Korea. It was like the first time all over again.

We wanted beer but couldn’t find any. Either our lack of experience or our general confusion had us wondering the street at eleven p.m. on Christmas day looking for beer. Finally Mono just stopped someone and asked him in English “Where can I get a beer?” The Japanese business man looked at us confused for a second, and then grabbed his arm and we were off. He ran dragging us up and down streets and we were a bit lost, neither of us knowing how to get back to the hotel. Into a restaurant we run and the Japanese gentleman runs up to the bar and starts talking quickly.

It took us a few minutes, but we stood and waited. And then the shop owner turned to us and said in English “My friend says you need beer. I have beer.” And he gave us four very large bottle of beer. And a bottle opener. The business man took us back to where he found us and from there we wandered through the pretty pretty lights until we found where we were staying. We drank ands smoked and toasted the Japanese.

I needed to move, and I’ve always depend on the kindness of strangers. At the end of the block I found an hajuma smiling happily out her storefront window and I went in.

“Chae-son-ham-ni-da” I began. And then I asked for a pen.

I drew pictures of what I needed, rather than trying to explain in Korean. She listened and smiled and shook her head, and then told her assistant and they made some phone calls. She asked me to sit and gave me a coffee. She asked me where I worked and I told her.

“My son is in your class. He speaks about you.”

I asked after the class, as the name is no good for me. Her assistant suggested a picture and so she found one and showed me her grandson who looks vaguely familiar but I can’t be sure. I am a teacher, and I am polite, and so we talked about his class number. I know the class he is in, the kind of work they do, so I could say with a fair amount of accuracy where he would be. We talked and a few minutes later the moving van showed up.

I moved my stuff with the help of the ancient Korean who was driving that truck. He lifted boxes like they were made of air while I struggled with my lot but he helped me and I moved successfully at roughly the time I had expected too. The move was all over much less painless than I had anticipated. I reflected as I unpacked boxes over wine that night with Australian chicky, that I should have just done that first.

I should have just depended on the kindness of strangers. It’s gotten me this fair. And if I know anything, it will get me a whole lot farther.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Shoot out at the OK Cabbie

I walked out the door with that niggling feeling that I had forgotten something. I turned the light on, looked around didn't see anything out of place. Turned off the heater again, did a pat down, figured it was just fatigue and the extreme number of other stressors on my mind and walked out the door. As I turned the key in the lock I felt like I was forgetting something.



I stopped and checked the mirror in the hall just before the door. Everything looked fine. Remembered to remove the eyebrow ring, nothing on my nose, eyes clean. I shrugged feeling crazy and feeling like I was forgetting something. I started walking.



It's about a mile from my apartment to school and the morning is cold but bundled up in my scarf and winter coat I don't feel it. I have good music blaring in my ears, back pack bumping against my ass, life is good at 7:50 am. I walk with the continuing feeling that I have forgotten something. I think about the dog, but the dog is out of town so that's not it. I got nothing, I keep walking.



I hit the half way point, the big bell tower that is on my walk and the way to school. I'm a little bit chilly, which is unusually because under my coat I have my jacket and my blouse and my bra which should be more than enough padding with my coat to keep me from being chilly. But I still feel cold. I think about this as I cross the street. And then it hits me.



My jacket.



Am I actually wearing my jacket?



I peek into the sleeves of my coat and note that the jacket is absent. I'm in the middle of the crosswalk and I have to make a decision, press on and teach jacketless for the day or catch a cab and go home, as I won't have time to walk back at this point and not be late.



I think about this, a few second, blink of an eye, but it's the following that makes the decision.



It's cold.



It's very cold.



And being that I am a female of the species my body has a tendency to react to cold in varying ways. Aside from goose bumps and dry skin scientist have found that nipples react to cold by becoming firm and erect. Probably no surprise there, but in just a blouse and a bra I figured it would not be wise to spend the day in front of boys ranging in age from 13 to 16 without the jacket. So, I crossed to the other side of the street to grab a cab.



I flagged the first guy I saw and jumped in.



"Where will you go?" he asks as I sit down.



Shit. My cabbie speaks English. This is going to throw a real monkey wrench in my smooth plans of going home, grabbing a jacket and having the cab take me back to school. Because he speaks English. Or at least, he thinks he speaks English. I tell him where I am going and he just looks at me and blinks. Because while he understand the questions, he does not understand the responses.



I tell him again in Korean and we are off.



He asks me, "Where are you from?" and we continue through the varying forms of polite conversation that any second language learner will study at the beginning of any second language course. I respond appropriately, while directing the cab in Korean back to my apartment. My Korean is better than his English, but it would be rude to respond in Korean. So I stick to Korean directions and do the rest in English.



As we drive down the block to my street I see some poor early morning girl who must be late for an appointment running down the street in high heels. I feel bad for her, but what are you going to do. The cab pulls up to my door. I look at him and point to my bags.



I explain in Korean that I have to run in, grab something, and we will go again. I will come back. My bags will stay here. I explain again in English. He says okay.



I dash into my place and grab my jacket hanging inconspicuously on the coat rack by the door. I run back out to the cab where my wallet and my backpack are waiting. And in the front seat is the Korean girl who was running down the street just moments before.



I get back in and close the door in the back seat.



The cab driver just looks at me, as does the Korean girl.



"I want you to take me to school," I say exasperated, as I had not paid him yet, I thought it might be obvious that I wanted him to take me someplace else. The Korean woman tells the cab driver that she wants to go to work. I look at the woman and tell her very politely that this is my cab, she can go get her own.



She tells me back this is Korea.



We fight over the cab for a few seconds, but seeing as how I had already run up a bill the cab driver, who also wants to continue his free English lesson, kicks out the nice lady and we are on our way.



When we drove off I could see Ms. High Heels still running down the street. Cabs passed her left and right. I guess she just really liked mine. The cab driver said goodbye to me in English when we arrived and explained how to get to the school in Korean. I smiled, gave him a five for the ride.



"My English is not so good." he says as he shakes his head during my exit.



"No, that's not true. Your pronunciation is perfect." I smile back. As to the rest of it, well, he drives a fine cab.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Elections a Go-Go

It's almost election day in Korea. You would hardly be able to tell if you lived here as there are a number of election rules in place. In fact I didn't even realize an election was coming up until I walked to work last Monday and was confronted by groups of organized volunteers on the street corners bowing, waving and flashing peace signs to passing cars. Ah, I thought, there must be an election soon.

Koreans get elections. There was a law passed a few years ago to prevent any pre-campaign marketing of politicians. No one is allowed to do any kind of promotion until exactly eleven days before the election. On the eleventh day before the election the streets suddenly swarm with pent up politicians promoting themselves. But before those eleven days come around you would hardly know there was going to be an election at all.

I remember once talking to a mother of one of my students. We were driving about in the election day press one day and she was upset by it. I asked her why.

"It's not it used to be. When I was in school I was part of the demo. I was in Gwangju." That is a huge statement. In May of 1980 191 Korean students were killed in the Gwangju demonstrations against the regime. It was a battle for political freedom, for democracy, for real elections. Students were willing to die to have the right to vote. It's just not like that anymore. I appreciated the mother's anger at the boiled down political process.

There are not great demonstrations now during the elections. Instead you have the look-alikes hired to stand on street corners with groups of hajuma's in blaze orange hunting jackets and white gloves. The look alikes wave, and smile, and flash peace signs whiles the hajumas bow respectfully to passing cars. This is democracy in Korea.

It's a strange thing. I walked through downtown Daegu this weekend and stumbled quiet accidentally across an election show. I'm not sure which politician it was but I think he is number three on the ballot. His camp had parked a huge sound truck at the intersection and the volunteers, who must have been practicing for months, preformed boy band style dance routines. In front of the group was a man in an expensive suit with a mike, older than the rest of the volunteers; the look alike hired for this promotion. He danced and jumped along with the rest of the troupe as they want through their routine. It was hysterically funny to watch a middle age balding Korean jump through this teenage dance routine while trying not to pass out from the exertion.

When the dance was finished he would catch his breath and start speaking into the loud speaker, promoting whatever platform it is that number three is running on. He shouts loudly and people stand around waiting for the next dance number. It's all about entertainment. During the next routine a drunk stumbles into the mix with the volunteers and starts going through the dance motions haphazardly bumping into the volunteers. The crowd goes wild.

Anyone his really wants to get elected here will go the extra mile. Having a dance troupe perform is all well and good, even the hajumas bowing to traffic is a good ploy; but if you really want to get elected you need to hire sexy dancing girls. Korea has a number of girls for hire who's job is to stand around in skimpy outfits and when the music is right to dance varying routines. During the pause between songs the girls will talk briefly about whatever product being prompted. Dancing girls are hired for the opening of new business, dancing girls perform at special events, you can hire dancing girls for weddings, and you bet your ass if you want to win an election you hire dancing girls.

For the politicians, though, maximum exposure is the key. So the hired dancing girls are put on the backs of trucks and are driven through the streets, standing around when the truck is moving, talking to the crowd, pushing the agenda. When the truck is still they break into their special routines to inspire the voters to head to the polls on election day. Any politician worth his salt makes sure to hire some dancing girls.

There is a strangeness to it when you think about it. In the US the election coverage started barely a month past January last year. It's been a year of coverage with no end in sight and the first preliminary polls won't happen for another month yet. I get so tired of US election coverage. Here we get eleven days and in the end it's foregone conclusion. On the radio last night the Korean announcer said that polls show the top candidate for president had a 47% lead. The current president, Roh Mo-hyun is already in concession talks to help create a smooth transition. Our newly elected leader isn't even elected and already he has been conceded too.

Lee Myung-bak, who is the leader of the Grand National Party and very likely the next president is a Giuliani type figure. The former mayor of Seoul, hard line conservative and embroiled in numerous scandals is set to take the next seat. Among his many policy changes are taking a harder line on North Korea. What will that mean for us? Only time will tell.

In the meantime it's only two more days till the election. The dancing girls, who at the moment are freezing their pretty little bottoms off, are greatly pleased.

Long Walk

It's the long walk.

I feel crushed and overwhelmed, and this is how it always seems sometimes. I miss the solid comfort of the long walk in safe places.

Korea is nothing but a safe place and sometimes it terrifies me.

Middle of the summer I walk for miles and miles and miles under the pounding heat of a merciless desert sun. When I had finished my walk I was covered in caked sweat, road dirt, sunburn, blistered feet, and dust, dust, dust.

And I felt pure.

I walk in the cold streets of Korea as it thinks about precipitation. Rain or snow? Neither, we get drops of cold wet something and they fall in my hair and cling to my eyelashes and I hold out hope for a moment, brief shining moment for snow. It has not snowed in my part of Korea in five years. I miss the snow. I walk in the cold until my hands are bitten and red with frost, I walk and I walk and I walk, and when it's finished I feel nothing but the chill and the desperate wish for something other.

I need a vacation I think.

Everything is a vacation I think.

I take a short break from my reality and sit on a bar stool with the friends who braved the winter and the night. An odd assortment of things from Korean Joe to Monolycus, Simon the Brit bar fly, Ramon the Kiwi muse, Patrick the owner decked in a thin leather jacket that won't keep him warm. A few GI's pass through and the order grape soju and take a seat in the back corner sloshing about in their glass. I sit with the regulars and we play pool, relaxing and taking in our varied drinks.


"Take a sip" says Joe as he hands me his glass. "I made it myself."

He has concocted his own version of a Long Island Ice Tea with Patrick's permission. Two of them, one for himself and one for a friend. I take a sip because it would be rude not to.

"That's downright undrinkable." I take another sip and hand the glass back over.

Pool ball clink in the gloom and I think about walking, about hot summer days lazing about in the desert, about cool winter nights surrounded by blankets of snow. I sink into my own space and am nothing but my own thought until I'm called for my game.

I play trick shots well enough but get down to real pool and I suffer for it. I win a game, lose a game, win a game, lose to the sharks. Some days I feel like I'm being fed to the sharks.

I ask for more drinks, because I don't want to go home. I'd rather be surrounded by the small group of comrades then alone with my varied demons. It seems easier.

The chill takes me though, followed me in from the street, and I start to shiver. I have to go, I have to go.

I walk through lonely black alleys at one a.m. The cold has chased everyone indoors to home or to a bar that is a second home. I think of walking to the Lonely Hearts Club but I've had enough for one evening.

I want music.

I want walking.

I walk down the streets and wish for heat, and purity, and calmness. And I have nothing but a puff of smoke from the steaming grates. Lights twinkle above my head neon red, pink, green, blue in a foreign language unlike any other. Here and there some dazzling English words. Giant screen project smiling Asian faces at me in the gloom.

And I think of walks in a desert and days of peace.

I need a vacation, I think as I walk.

It's all a vacation.

It's all a long walk.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Silent Muse Cold Inspiration

The studio was so cold.

I didn't want to pull of and strip down naked for my art. Too much chill in the air for that. But I pulled off the nice work blouse and the nice work jacket anyway and stood in the middle of my space.

I grab my raggedy black t-shirt with the paint splatter inflection of a thousands previously spilled thoughts. I pull it on to ward of the chill, on over cold flesh prickling at the touch.

I studied the walls. My walls. The walls are covered with caustic explosion. My thoughts made real, my visions, my dreams, standing and staring at me.

An experiment when I started it, now something that has taken shape. Three flowers sprouting in the frozen room, color vivid, real, pulsing, non-organic living things created for my whimsy and exploration of a form.

I look at the flowers to find the missing space that need to be completed. I fill my buckets with freezing water trying to avoid my hands as I spill into the carafe. Ice water on my hands will freeze me in the cold room and Ill get no art done. I pour carefully to leave myself outside the liquid chill. I create my own illusion in the space.

Three pieces up and three pieces down. I sign my name as an ending and as a beginning. Three pieces down means more go up and I can start on something new.

But what to paint.

I have no idea. I stare at blank canvas on my walls at a loss to create.

Sometimes it is so easy to go up. I go up and I know what Im making its there. With me. An unnamed thing that is part of my thought space; eyes that glint crocked from an ancient shock, a demon, a goad, a lip curled and waiting to praise or sneer. A muse. Sometimes I go up and I know exactly what I want to create, its there in my hands and its waiting for me.

Tonight my muse is silent and I am left with the silent thunder that is the cold, and the room, and the loneliness of early evening without a vision. I flip through pieces, pictures, models gone, forgotten, out of my time space.

I land on one set, a set of three of a soft bodied model with the most exquisite curves. I remember the shape of her neck and the way that her breast fell and they were crocked and uneven. She sat drying after a shower in my apartment.

"Are you going to do this?" she asks me.

"Are you ready?"

"Yeah, I guess." She pushes herself on the bed and she doesn't say anything but I can see in her knowing discomfort. She doesn't know what to expect and is afraid of what my camera might see. My camera will show what is really there and there is a moment of hesitation.

"How much do we really want to see the truth?"

I finish a set of more then a dozen images.

"Can I see them?" she asks looking over my shoulder but I hold her off.

"Let me finish." Photos are fickle. The color is not true to what the eye sees. I adjust the lights and the shadows, no more. I take nothing out and put nothing in. I just adjust the lights and the shadows. Light and dark.

I show her the photos and her azure eyes sparkle back at her as she leans naked over my shoulder with soft breast pushing into my own skin.

"It's..." and she pauses.

"Wow, it's not like I expected."

The best praise and artist can get. It was a year ago, more, less, I don't remember. Such a long time since she lay naked on my bed to have her photo snapped with reluctance and a smile. I think I told her not to smile so much.

"It ruins it. It comes of as forced. Just relax."

I stumble across the pictures in the cold and I think yes. I want to paint softness and curves and all things that are beautiful and voluptuous and that make us what we are. Human varying of shape and size and feel, beautiful in our soft curves and our strangeness.

I started the set while my hands started to turn from warm to cold. By the time I left my hands were as rigid as my nipples from the over-exposure and though I was not finished I left the pieces to set.

Who knows what they will become. Softness and flesh and will. If my muse speaks better to me hopefully they will become something more.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Change in the Air

Korea is changing.

This is one of those things you expect to happen eventually but Korea is changing rather faster than usual and it is leaving a lot of us with our pants down trying to get it all figured out in time to prevent a major catastrophe. Catastrophe seems eminent here.

This may only happen to me but I find when I log into a number of websites to check messages, read posts, enjoy killing my free time and sense of vision, I see lots of advertisements to teach English in Korea. This used to give me a lot more of a chuckle since I actually am teaching English in Korea. I'm living the dream. I am the target audience of all those advertisement. I'm teaching English in South Korea.

When I came over here six years ago (I still can't get over that) it was and was not a big deal. The big deal part was the fact that I'd just packed all my bags and gotten on a plane to fly half way around the world to meet people I had only ever met through the internet. Talk about blind dates. Perhaps I'm trusting. I like the internet. I like meeting people through the internet. And for some readily unapparent reason when I meet people on the internet who offer my jobs half way round the world for ten times the amount of money I am making in the US I put my shoes in a box and send my ass half way round the globe.

The problem then was just a matter of getting my passport and taking it up to the consulate in Chicago, getting a stamp and walking to the airport. The consulate in Chicago is a bit of a trick to find but in the end after some walking in downtown Chi-town I had it figured out, jumped on the nearest sky rocket, and blasted off.

Not anymore.

A few months ago there was an extremely unfortunate event in Korea. I knew, having been here for so long, having heard the stories, having seen what I have seen in Korea, that it was in the end a matter of time. And I still hated it. The problem was created by INTERPOL when it went about looking for a pedophile suspected of hiding in Asia. He was in fact hiding in Asia. They found him, they caught him, and from what I'm given to understand he is currently in jail in Thailand undergoing the various process of the legal justice systems between differing countries on different continents. This is good news. The bad news was that before he was busted in Thailand he was out-ed as a middle school teacher in South Korea.

I know why he was here. It's easy to get a job, the money is good, the life is livable, and you can have varying degrees of anonymity if you want them. I know why he was here. And I'm not the only person among the groups of foreigners who live here who believe that while he was in Korea this guy was pretty straight laced. He kept his nose very clean in South Korea. He was also teaching at an international school where it actually a bit more difficult to land a teaching position unless you have good school experience and submit various papers. Among those papers are a criminal background check from your home country. This guy had jumped through all the hoops and was hired because he was squeaky clean when it mattered.

He got busted and more power to the justice system for that.

But in getting ousted from Korea he managed to leave a hell of a fiasco in his wake. The foreign teaching community here has been under scrutiny for a while, and none of this is good. There was the English Spectrum fiasco, there are several news stations that delight in airing inflammatory stories about foreigners in Korea, there are the fake degree scandals that seem to happen on an almost daily basis. It's been building up and we all knew it was building up and just waiting for the final straw. A pedophile wanted by INTERPOL was definitely the final straw.

So the Korean government has gotten around at long last to changing the process of Visa acquisition for those of us working here. Long gone are the days of handing over a few documents and coming to work in Korea. Now if you want to work here you will need to submit to the following:

An Apostilled Criminal Background Check
A Drug Test
An HIV Test
A Consular Interview
A Diploma Verification Process

The process for an Apostille, by the way, is really something.

It's unfortunate. It's unfortunate for the kids straight out of college who come to Korea to get some money to get their lives started. It's unfortunate for the backpackers who just want to travel. It's unfortunate for those others around the country like me; the teachers who came over to do what we do best, to teach without the varying restrictions of the current school systems. It's unfortunate for the students who may miss out on learning how to communicate with others and appreciate the randomness of foreign culture.

And it is the way it is. In the last two weeks I've explained to a half dozen different people the process of getting a new visa. There are a great deal of people willing to jump through the hoops. It's a bright spot in the bleak horizon, that even with all the new hurdles there are still some who are willing to come over and give Korea a try.

It's crazy.
It's insane.
It's backwards.
It's xenophobic.
It's homogenous.
It's spicy red pepper.
It's the stranger in my strange land.

Forget it Jake. It's Korea.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Say "hey mr. driver man...don't be suicidal..."

It's been a while since I've had to take a bus in Korea as more often than not I just grab myself a nice cab. I'm a fan of the taxi, I can 't help it. However my love for all non-public transportation probably has a lot more to do with the fact that I live immediately downtown and can usually walk anywhere I'm going in fifteen minutes. If I am running really late I might jump in a cab, but most of the time I can walk. I walk a mile and a half to school. I walk the mile and a bit to the bars or to dinner or to hang out. I walk and walk and walk. I managed to be on the other side of Daegu last week and in order to get from point A to B I was forced onto a bus.

That's fine, I like busses over the subway any day of the week. I 'm a not a huge fan of underground travel as you cannot see anything when you are down below. I like to be able to see what is going on. It allows me to find new things that I might otherwise miss. A bus can be great for that. The city busses in Daegu aside from being a bit pricey are usually comfortable. If you are taking anything downtown you can almost guarantee the ride will go smoothly and you won't get killed. I cannot make the same claim for the cab ride as I have had a few cab experiences that have left me with my life flashing in front of my eyes. But a downtown bus is usually a safe bet.

On occasion I've taken inner-city busses to travel about and I find this all fine and dandy. The inner-city bus is a convenient way to get from one city to the next if you can't take the train or have time for a little more round about travel. What you learn on an inner-city bus is to sit in the middle. Any zone past the middle means that you will be tossed about like last night margarita and can be expected to make a mess similar to what would happen if you were to consume, say, ten of those margaritas. You sit well up front towards the middle and you will be fine and be able to enjoy your ride.

My most recent bus experience was neither an inner-city or downtown bus, but rather an on the city limits bus ride. This is a bus that never sees downtown Daegu, is usually meandering out in the sticks servicing areas that are better left unvisited. Yet this area like any other area in Daegu needs essential services and a bus is an essential service.

So I found myself on the bus traveling from my point A towards a point B that would eventually result in my arriving at point C which was home. I found the bus stop after asking some very nice Korean college girls which way to go, and they surprised me by returning a response entirely in English and point towards the appropriate bus stop. I hustled about in the cold huddled in my big warm winter coat and continued in the general direction towards the stop.

I found it quite nearly where it had been purported to be and so I took a space in line to wait for the coming of the bus. There were about six of us all together standing and waiting. The first bus that started to come towards the stop looked like it might the one I needed. I read as quickly as I could the Korean sign listing the destinations and thought that I read the name of the place I was heading on the sign. I prepared, as did the young Korean gentleman in front of me, to board the bus. I wanted to ask the bus driver to be sure I was heading to the right place but I figured he would let me know.

As the bus pulled towards the stop I noticed a curious thing. It was not really slowing down. While it was not moving at top speed it wasn't getting much slower. As it pulled up to the stop I expected it to stop. The Korean gent in front of me with his rolling suitcase expected it to stop. The bus pulled up so that my Korean gent friend was in line with the rear tires. The bus was still rolling at a good clip but it was presumed that it would stop for the Korean who was now walking towards the door to get one.

But it didn't. Instead without ever stopping the bus closed the door and speed away from the bus stop leaving a Korean gentlemen with a rolling bag running after it and swearing in Korean. He was not pleased, and neither was I, but at least I had not started running after the bus. Okay, I braced myself as the next bus came forward as did my Korean friend in front. As this bus pulled up it mimicked the previous roadster by failing to stop entirely. The Korean gent with the bag went running after the door as soon as it slowed up a little and managed to toss his bag onto the stairs before him. I was running at a pretty good clip right behind and gripped the metal bar to pull myself in as three other Koreans behind me followed suit.

But I was blocking the way as I asked if the bus went to my stop.

The driver swore a thousand invectives at me as the rest of the Koreans jumped on board and pushed me forward and the driver took off like a shot without a second glance and the three other passengers who were now left breathing exhaust to make an attempt at the next bus.

This would have been fine but the sudden acceleration, my general confusion, and my status of standing in the middle of the isle without holding on meant I was sent flying straight to the back of the bus, a gigantic foreign missile aimed straight for the head of the Korean gent with the bag. I managed to grab the bar that stood in front of the back door just in time to only kick the already beleaguered traveler in the shin. As I grabbed the bar I found myself floating for a second in the air while the driver sped down the road. I was desperately trying to hang on and get my feet back on the ground.

This bus was going and it was not making a stop. As we pulled towards the next stop I could see several grandmothers lined up and as the bus started to near it opened the door and I though to myself that it can't possible be about to run right past the grandmothers, but sure enough it barely slowed down. I saw one hajuma grab another and push her on before the bus speed away leaving two more grannies eating road dirt while we went on our merry way.


At this point I was gripping the steal position bar with both hands and holding on for dear life as not one, but both grandmothers were jettisoned into the rear of the bus and the waiting laps of some unfortunate passengers with the luck to have a seat. And the bus never missed a beat but kept moving. I was looking about desperate for a map at this point and listening closely to the Korean announcement to hear correctly about my destination. At this point I had been on board for about ten minutes and my arms felt like they would fall off from the strength I had to exert to maintain and upright position. Finally over the speakers I heard the name of my stop.

I did what any right minded person would do. I pushed the button.

What I expected was that the bus would slow to a stop. What happened instead was all the passengers ducking their heads for cover or looking blankly out the window while the driver gave me the longest string of Korean swear words I've heard directed at me in a while. "What the fuck are you thinking, pushing the fucking, you know I have to stop the fucking bus, you stupid foreigner, don't touch anything, and how and …"And it just went on. This guy swore till he was blue, the other passengers prayed dearly to be spared of his wrath, and I started to giggle in border line hysteria as I watch my stop coming forward and realized I was going to have to jump off the moving bus.

As the exit point came close the doors slid open and sure enough we were still going at about five miles an hour with seconds to spare before reaching the stop. And then slam.

The breaks go on, I am tossed towards the Korean girl who has lined up behind me to get off, and as quickly as the bus stops it starts to accelerate again with my foot hanging inches over the concrete in the slightly opened door. I jumped and found the ground and six Koreans jumped out behind me, the last almost losing his hand in the closing door. The bus sped off down the road without further consideration of the derelicts who had now departed.

I stood watching the bus drive off into the sunset with it's still trapped journeyman and started to shake with laughter. I think I'd like to take a cab if I 'm out that way again, at least I hope I can get one to stop a bit longer than that bus.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Terrorism

I admit to being insanely busy. Seriously seriously insanely busy.

However I found this and I have to admit that she could disarm me any day of the week. How I do wish I could be in the States right now organizing a girl group to take over the world.




I think I used to own those boots.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Never look a gift Tokebi in the Mouth

It finally happened about two weeks ago. I walked home after a long day of teaching. I opened the door and stepped inside, closing the door behind me. I put my bag down, took off my coat and put it on the rack, and placed my toes against the heel of my sandal to slip it off. My feet were cold which is to be expected as I was still wearing sandals well into the cold of winter which seems like a bad idea. However it was better than trying to find new shoes which also seemed like a fairly bad idea.

I pushed down the back of my sandal, lifted my foot and swore. The sandal separated from the sole, the shoes where now officially no more.

"Shit."

I held this wonderful pair of sandals in my hand and damn near cried. I loved these sandals. I'd have them for two years and they were comfortable and wearable. I'd wear them all year long if I could get away with it in the winter. I stared at the spot next to my door with the only other pair of shoes I own. A set of boots I bought last year that have a gigantic gash across the top. I'm hard on shoes. The boots were destroyed and my sandals were crumbling before my eyes. I needed to go shopping for shoes.

"Shit."

In my defense I had actually tried on the previous Saturday night to find a reasonable pair of clod hoppers. I walked into the shoe district in downtown Daegu and looked up and down at several dozen pairs of shoes. We pulled bunches off the shelf and tried them on. The Koreans even measured me feet to make sure I had the right size. That would be great if my feet were the right size.

My feet are not the right size.

I have feet the measure at 255 in Korea. Now a 255 woman's shoe is not hard to come by. Unless you have my feet. This is not a new problem as I have the same issue in the US with shoes. I have a fairly small foot. But it's also a wide foot. So the shoe-shucker's would pick up a 255 and be amazed that it did not fit. I skipped the normal in-between step of trying on women's shoes. This would be insane in Korea where foot size, like many other things on the Korean woman, is completely homogenous. There is no way my foot is fitting in a Korean woman's shoe.

We moved instead to the rack of men's shoes and I looked up and down to find something that would be alright, not too butch, not too femme, just in the middle. A nice pair of dyke martin's or something. Alas, there were just none to be had.

I went home with my sandals.

I was actually rather determined to wear my sandals all winter long . Yet when the back of that sandal separated I knew it was time. I pulled on the old pair of craptacular boots and prepared myself for shoe shopping once again. I hit the same markets this time prepared to buy something.

At the market the head shoe-man came around and remembered me. He started pulling off things that fit last time to give them another run. I finally settled on a pair of what he swore up and down where leather boots. I know they are not but I figure it was better then nothing, so said what the hell and asked how much.

"70."

I laughed at him and bent over to try the shoes on again before making up my mind. Nope.

"30" I shot back at him.

He laughed at me.

We continued this dance for a while before we finally settled on forty thousand, still more than I wanted to pay but I figured it would be alright. I tossed my old shoes in the box and set in for the painful, painful process of trying to break in new shoes.

The first two days were alright, but by the end of the third day I had to bandage up the pinky toes to keep the shoes from rubbing to much. The flesh was raw and half scrapped off. I bandaged up my heels as well as the shoes were cutting deep into my ankles with every step, even though they were a size too big. I knew that getting through this process would be painful and I just had to keep going.

Until about five days later I went to pull on the shoes and the leather topper pulled straight off in my hand. I was pissed. More so because I knew that my friend the Korean shoe-shucker would not take back the shoes. Even more frustrated because I had already spent a great deal of time trying to break the damn things in. I was irate. I was annoyed, and more importantly my feet really fucking hurt. I cannot begin to explain just how painful the process of breaking shoes in is for me. The width of my feet means my pinky toes always stick out a bit oddly, in fact I know they were broken several times when I was younger when I tried to cram into shoes. It's hurts like a bitch and the shape of my foot is wrong. It looks like I went through some sort of half assed Chinese foot binding that failed to make my foot smaller just weird looking.

At any rate I sat in my apartment with my red and sore feet looking at the shoes that had just broken and wanted to give up. I contemplated the process of trying to wear ten for fifteen pairs of socks at the same time. Perhaps this would substitute for shoes. I was at a loss.

And that is when I saw them. Next to my bike, on the floor a pair of black sneakers.

I do not know where these black sneakers had come from.

I called the boy and asked if he had left them here. The response was no.

I called Mono and asked if for some odd reason I had a pair of his shoes. Same response.

I called Australian chicky and asked if they might be hers, but still got a negative.

I have no freaking idea where these shoes come from, only that they are in my apartment.

So, I picked them up and tried them on.

Now, this is the strangest thing, not only do they fit, but they actually fit pretty well. They are a touch big for my feet, but otherwise they fit. I still had to leave my toes in bandages for a few days to actually walk without pain, but other than that the shoes fit and were not doing any further damage to my feet.

I still had no idea where they had come from.

On Sunday I had dinner with Mono and mentioned about the shoes.

"They were just there. One minute I'm crying over broken leather and the next minute there is a pair of shoes. I'd swear to the mighty goddess they had not been there before. I have no idea where they came from."

"And they aren't yours."

"They are mine now, you would have to cut these off my cold dead feet. They fit and I love them."

"But you don't know where they came from?" he asked me.

"No idea."

"Tokebi."

"What?"

"Tokebi," Mono repeats.

"Alright, I'll bite, what's that?"

"Probably where the shoes came from. We should stop talking about it now." And we did. I, as Mono, am just superstitious enough to believe that my apartment may have been infiltrated by a Korean goblin spirit for its own amusement. Perhaps it had destroyed the shoes and placed new ones within my grasp. Perhaps it will come again to demand payment for the sweetest fitting pair of shoes I've had in a dark age.

Hard to say.

What I can say is that while my sandals have gone to the never-never far off land of will not be worn again, I do have something to wear on me feet that is not causing me extreme pain and that seems to be for the most part extremely wearable. It's the first time in my life that finding new shoes was as easy as breaking the old pair.

Friday, November 30, 2007

When I'm afraid

When I'm afraid I write.

I write great big gobs of flowing things, spewing my diseases into the clear crystal shining in my eyes.

I give into my fear and let it spill out through my fingers and I find a cleansing there. Soft comfort in words that remember those few moments of fear, that hold, contain, cage the shadows for me.

Confined in a subconscious artifice I claw at the walls of the things that surround me and want to contain me, to hold me, to keep me locked in a cage and terrified. A cruel jailer with my dreaded madre's voice.

I remember when I had finally escaped and gotten free, so free, to lands inhabited by Psyches and Wolves and Lady Luck and sharks and bunnies, and bears and all manner of strange free flowing strangers merged into a massive collection of comfort, of hope, of future.

I remember.

I remembered when the weather turned cold that I was afraid. I watched the snow fall from the second floor window of the vestal house in which I lived; I watched it pile up on the streets while candles burned around me, I watched and I was terrified. I knew what this snow meant, that it meant I would be forced out of this beautiful dream and into a dreary and dreadful and merciless cage that had contained me for so long; a cage where the jailer ruled with pain, and indifference and fury, and I did not want to go.

I sat up a long hours in the evening at a friends knee and he said to me "if it gets to bad write me, just write me, it will be okay."

And I was afraid to write.

I remembered when I was eight years old. So many things started when I was eight years old, so many crushing things happened. I remember one day being bored in school and so I decided that to entertain myself I would make a record of the day. I would write down everything that everyone was saying. It was an exercise in observation, in listening. I wanted to see if I could contain the hustle and bustle of a busy classroom. My youth wanted to lock in a picture of it. I thought it would be interesting. I drew pictures to represent the speakers when there was calm and no speaking. I made fun of the girl who bullied me, and drew hearts about the teacher I loved more than my meek existence. I remember it was good. I forgot about it. Until later, later, when the she-demon rises before me holding my childish whim in her hand, pointing to the page and my demonized pictures of a school bully. She hits me with the notebook. Hits me. Hits me. She demands why I am writing about her. It try to explain that it wasn't about her, it was a silly thing, I was just entertaining myself, I was bored, I was… I was… She yelled you don't write it down, never write it down… and I was afraid of my own words on paper. And I was afraid of myself. And I was afraid she would discover it.

And I wrote it all down anyway. I learned to keep secrets and keep them down deep in my soul, and when the fear crowded up and got to be too much I would sneak into dark places and write, and pour, and dream, and create stories of beautiful places where I could be free.

It hurt me when I had finally found some freedom to travel back into despair, but I did. And when it got dark I found myself frozen, I couldn't write, I was choked on my desperation and the fear. And so I called my friend, Mono, and as I talked to him talking fast, trying to contain myself, trying to keep it all from spilling out so I would not cry…he listened to the shrill screaming in the background and told me it would be okay. He told me to go and write it down, to write out and it would be okay. And I did. I locked myself in a room and wrote. Five days in a bowels of hell and I spent most of it hiding and trying to keep separate from it, to stay as clear of the brutality as possible.

I wrote.

And I wrote. It was the last trip that was the hardest. A different trip and before leaving I stayed clutch to the bosom of a friend on a dingy graying couch, talking late into the night over beer, and I cried, I know I cried because I did not want to go, didn't want to be forced into it, didn't feel strong enough that last time, didn't want to deal with all the bile that it brings up. I was so afraid and so terrified, and I let myself be comforted by the whispered assurances that I was strong enough, and that I would come out, in the end, and be whole.

And I wrote again. Writing to be closer to the people I loved when there was so much unlovely around me. I wrote to the European Psyche though I never sent the words, I wrote to Mono and the Bonnet, I would have written to Lady Luck in Korea if I had thought of it then, I wrote to myself and the sharks within, to anyone who could make me feel like life might be worth living. It was the last time and the hardest, and in my terror I spilled out page after page of bile implanted in my brain so it wouldn't remain there later, it wouldn't be there when I had freed myself.

I was afraid and I hid what I wrote, but I wrote it.

On lonely nights I walk the streets and smell the strange smells, surrounded by strange language, strange faces, I'm just as strange. I buy blank books and fill the pages over and over again, pouring out all my pain, and rage, and self-loathing and fear. Over and over the same fears, the same dark voices that haunt my night and dreams, over and over I write.

Sometimes I write just nonsense.

Occasionally I play my game, writing everything I hear and remember being said, although it scares me to do it.

Sometimes when I've had too much to drink and it overtakes me I come home and spill the words into my screen, must write, must write, and I pick names at random and send words. Sometimes I write for one name alone and pray that I understand it all later. I write because it makes the darkness brighter and becomes a point in the storm. A safe place, something I can trust.

And I am afraid right now because I know about the evil minded lurker who will no doubt read this, the one with my dread madre's voice, and I know that the soulless creature will again try to catch me by surprise with answering words of chastisement, trying to engage that implanted fear of eighteen years to make me feel guilty, and sorry, and ashamed for writing all this down today.

And I'm afraid.

And I'm not. I wrote it all down anyway. Because when I'm afraid I write and it helps. It helps me to read it. And it helps me to know that somewhere, out there, you people who care about me are reading it too.

I am afraid, and I write it all down anyway, and with every keystroke, mindspill, character expelled I feel a little less afraid.



Thursday, November 29, 2007

I love Korea Day

I'm having an "I love Korea" day. This is nice as it offsets the occasional "I hate Korea" days.

I think my love affair with Korea today starts with all the crazy crap that Korea ends up in the news for.

Top stories this month, a 33 year old Korean worker who may have been killed by his cellphone exploding (thanks Gord, you started this).

After reading that article I stumble across another South Korean headline about singing streets in Siheung designed to keep people awake. I used to live in Siheung. I know why they fell asleep, that town was ten times boring.

Then there is the South Korean guy who is just obsessed with toilets. So much so that he built a toilet house with a master toilet sweet.

Speaking of toilets one of my favorite Korean commercials. You figure out what that one is for.







I swear, some days I just love this country to pieces.

Fortunately it is Friday. Let drinking season commence.


P.S. This one kills me. The lunacy of the Korean Wedding.








Sunday, November 25, 2007

Shells

It started with a movie. Movies are entertaining and sometimes enjoying a good movie is exactly what is called for. It had been a long long while since I had attended a proper theater and not just skipped the process in favor of DVD bong. So I went to see a new western release at my favorite little theater in Daegu. It was shown on one of the upper level small screens and the audience was fairly small, so I found my seat and dug in for two hours of disconnection and relaxation.

And I listened. And when it was funny I laughed.

The third time I started laughing I realized I was laughing alone. The film was full of subtle jokes, double entendres, made up words, action and reaction, body language, hints at meaning. This was a beautifully constructed game, one that I am familiar with, one that I engage in whenever I can. The carefully constructed play within a play, words within words within words. All of it a set up that in the end tells a different story and means something else.

The Korean audience didn't sense it, because it was outside of the Korean game. It included a subtlety that could not cross a cultural divide. And so when I laughed I laughed alone.

The fifth time I laughed I heard uncomfortable chuckles from behind me. I realized that the laughter was not a response to the film, but to my reaction. Silly and foolish foreigner laughing alone in the theater. That was the when it happened. When the sense of falling out of existence came over me. That was one I disappeared into what I am, foreign, other, outcast, unaccepted, unrepentant, object, thing.

When the film finished the audience scurried out of the theater before the credits started to play, but I stay and watched, curious, reading, enjoying that last few moments of the isolated warp that is watching a film alone. And when I walked out of the room and into the hall thrumming with a new audience and an old, I was still outside of it.

I could feel the shell around me. The space that wraps itself and folds over me and creates the place. Here is Sara and everything else is beyond my graps. I move in Korea but time is still. There is a world here that is not. I move, but not through the world that I am in. I am in another space place. There is a sense of it in those outside the shell, a look, a glance, stepping aside. Suddenly everything opens like an ocean before me and I just move through it, light and my own sense of space and power.

I fixate on this; this space place that I exist in, here where I am untouched. I am merely present. I am no longer wrapped in a hundred memories, I am not longing, I am not desire, I am not young, I am not old, I am not real, I am real, I am present, I have disappeared. I fill the void with all my thingness but I am without thingdom.

The world moves around me like an envelope and I feel like a fish in water swimming through it watching everything else move but stay the same, all the same faces, the same whispers, the same eyes, the same pointing, the sameness. I am not the same, and I am untouched by it.

I walked home that way, inside and outside; the lights were crisper, the air colder, more vibrant. The red ruddy hue that has taken over the once green trees flashes like bright firelight as I pass under. I feel inhuman and beyond.

It lasted until I got to the door of my apartment and then it all crashed, a waving rolling thing that passed out, all the power fleeing with it and I walk in the door, into Sara space and am merely Sara again. Personhood returned.

Later, I craved a return to the disconnect, yet it is never something I have been able to create willingly. Unfortunately that seems true of far too many things.