Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Naughty Tables

I don’t want to do anything work related this morning so I’m doing this instead. Also I know my readers seem to really enjoy hearing me talk about buying sex toys in Korea. This story is out of order, as it actually happened sometime in November of 2010; however, it has not been told. However, rarely do I attend a sex shop and not remember the details, so have at it for another adventure in sex-toy shopping in the good old ROK.

We’d had dinner and some drinking somewhere nearby and decided on the coldish night to walk back to the apartment. The troupe included myself, the One, the Irish, and the Apprentice. The boys were walking a bit faster than the girls, and we decided to let them, agreeing to meet up back at the apartment at some point in the future.

As we walked we talked about getting a bottle of wine, but much to our disenchantment we couldn’t find anything that resembled drinkable wine in the shops on the way home. As we walked I asked the One if she was ready to go home yet.

“What do you have in mind?”

“A wander. Also, I’ve been wanting to check out that sex shop near your place if you’re interested.”

“There is a sex shop near my place?”

“Yes. Yes, there is.”

“That would be fun.”

“Just as long as you promise never to go in there without me.” I said.

“Why not?”

This is when I explained that in her neighborhoodand with her insanely good looksgoing in there by her lonesome would be a no-no. One, men would look at her lasciviously, two, they would probably think she was a prostitute, and three, that was not baggage she wanted to have nearby her house. In agreement we turned down the street to the sex shop.

On the way we found a furniture stop. In the window, gleaming like a beacon from heaven was a wooden folding table that reminded me of one I had very long ago.

“You must buy that table.” I determined. Or I would buy it for her, because a table was always useful when you needed it and never a waste of time or money. I went in and haggled with the shop owner for a bit and in the end it resulted in having a large wooden folding table.

This, however, did not distract us from the original goal of going to a sex shop. So we took turns carrying the table down the street, and into the sliding door of the Korean love shop.

When we walked in the proprietor was talking with another Korean gentleman, who looked about ready to swallow his tongue at the sight of us. Granted we must have been confusing, walking in with a table between us and setting it down in the corner. We did look a bit like we were about to set up shop ourselves. The poor guy stumbled and sputtered and mumbled before eventually getting out as quickly as possible after arranging to come back later to get his pleasurable body segment of a love doll. (I did not indicate that I understood what he was saying, but I totally understood what he was saying.)

After he left the One and I wandered about the tiny place looking at what was for sale. This one was slightly more modern than the tiny little sex shop that I had visited once upon an age ago. It had dildos and bullet vibes, and we even found a little cleverly disguised lipstick vibrator that amused the One to no end. Then we stumbled upon the flavored lubes.

“They have cherry.” I pointed out.

“Ooohhhh...but

“But what? They have cherry.”

“Yes, but it’s not my cherry.”

“Uh…”

This discussion continued for a while as we checked out the different flavors that included vanilla and also pineapple which seemed to achieve a level of wrong I found difficult to put into words. In the end, while the shiny plastic accessories were exciting, nothing inspired a deep enough passion for us to desire parting with 50,000 won, which seemed to be the bargain-basement price the shop owner was willing to let merchandise his merchandise go for. I’m sure he did a lot of business at those rates.

After a few more minutes of browsing we finally picked up our table and left. The shop owner watched us walk down the street, carrying our table between us, chattering, and shifting it from hand to hand as we pushed it up the mountain toward home.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shopping in Korea

There is this realization that I do things in Korea that most people wouldn’t even consider trying to do. The Irish and the One want to move into a different apartment, so I go around and find a real-estate agent and negotiate to get a new apartment for them. This requires some walking about, getting in and out of strangers' cars, and generally relying on the Korean I know not to lead me astray. Surprisingly enough, this works out more often than one would believe.

When anyone asked me I said with all honest that I didn't actually speak that much Korean. This was true. I didn't really speak that much Korean. What I did very well, however, was refuse to give up when I wanted something. I believed that if I wanted itand I have a basic understanding of what I need to dothan there was no good reason why I should not be able to get what I wanted.

Perhaps it was conceited, but it worked.

So it was that I found myself standing on the street after dinner, about an hour and half before my ticket to Harry Potter, wanting a smartphone.

My reasoning for this was simple enough: going out to the sticks, living in a love motel for five weeks, and the chance of being completely without a WiFi connection were enough to make me want a smartphone. I knew that with a smartphone I could link up my computer to the data connection and have WiFi. And WiFi was what I really wanted. It made sense to get a smartphone.

The Irish, having nothing better to do but to tag along, came on my little adventure. While the most likely place to go in Daegu would be Phone Street, I decide to eschew Phone Street for some of the various phone shops on the main strip. We walked together into the first one and I just asked for what I wanted.

Smartphone pirohada.”

ARC isseyo?

Crap. This was when I realized that I not only didn’t have an alien registration card, I also didn’t have my passport, as both of these forms of identification were currently residing at the school and I wouldn’t get them until Monday. But I really wanted my phone to be much smarter before Monday.

With this in mind I wondered how exactly I was going to pull of the getting of a phone, but pushed on.

Yeah, ARC isseyo, jiggam opseyo. Number ara.

The guy asked me what type of visa I had. So I told him.

“No. No smartphone for you. Only this.” He held up my phone.

I’m pretty sure that the only answer that guy liked to give to waygooks was that based on the visa it was impossible to get a smartphone.

I wasn’t buying that.

We said okay and walked down the street to the next phone shop. I walked in and walked straight up to the smartphone counter. A friendly, much older, Korean guy walked up to me.

I told him what I wanted.

“Yeah, okay okay.”

He asked about my ARC and I told him I didn’t have it with me.

“Okay. Okay.”

He grabbed my phone, asked me what I wanted, and started the process. The only big demand I had was not changing my phone number. They guy promised that it wouldn’t happen and ran off with my phone. I deleted pictures, took the SD card out and waited. The Irish and I had discussed my situation while we waited.

“You don’t have your ARC?”

“Nope.”

“Isn’t that going to be a problem?”

“So far, not so much.”

“But

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure technically this is illegal as all hell, but hey, he is doing something.”

“You really think you are going to get a smartphone?”

“Probably.”

The guy came back over and asked for my ARC number, which I give him. He was able to quickly verify that I had in fact had an account with SK for several years and had no intention of changing it up anytime soon. He seemed pretty confident and had me sign a contract on several dozen pages. We talked for a while about a phone number. He told me the number wouldn't change. I was pretty sure he was lying. We went back and forth for a while and he disappeared.

He asked about my enhang.

Enhang. Crap I know that word.” I turned to the Irish. “I know I know that word. Enhang.”

“Yeah...I don’t know.”

“Crap. I know I know that word. Crap.”

I played this dance in my head for a while, trying to figure out the word. Finally the guy came back over, grabbed my credit card, and wondered off again. I was wondering about the time, but we still had about forty minutes before the show. “Bank!” Bank, enhang means bank!

The Irish figured there was no time like the present for boozing, so he left me to negotiate while he went and picked up a couple of bottles for the movie. I negotiated some more and finally determined that the guydespite all promises to the contraryhad in fact changed my phone number. This annoyed me, as now I would have three business cards that would all need to be updated with new phone numbers. To pay for this misstep, the guy gave me a free smartphone cover as a consolation prize. Ah well.

As he explained, I would have number forwarding for at least one year, after which time I would need to update my number. While still not amused, it did result in him handing me a smartphone, while I sat and waited for my credit card and the Irish to come back.

The guy walked over with a business card and explained that tomorrow I would need to have my school fax over my ARC and passport info. I told him no problem. He said this three more times while I waited, and I said three more times that it was not a problem; I would fax everything over.

When the Irish arrived I showed him my phone.

“Cool. Can we go?”

“I’m waiting for my card.’

The guy came over and said something else. I was totally distracted by the shiny lights and oooh ap store...droolllll…

Ten minutes later, the Irish asked again if we could go.

“I’m waiting for my card.”

Then I remembered they guy coming over.

“Wait.”

I opened my wallet. My card had been in my wallet for the last ten minutes. Genius. I asked the guy if we could go, and received an affirmative, so I collected my new phone and the Irish, and together we wandered into the muggy Korean night to go catch a movie.

In the morning I sent an email to the school and asked them to fax over the documents for me. As I wrote, I thought rather amusedly to myself, that while my mission was almost certainly impossible, I managed to accomplish it completely, with a minimum of fuss and a minimum of Korean ability. Sometimes it was just all about being willing to engage and be completely incapable of taking no for an answer.

This message was sent from my computer using the phone as my WiFi connection, because, as predicted, my love motel room has no interwebs.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rain and ROK

My return to Korea was marked by white arms, long blonde hair, and monsoon rain.

Nights on the couch, wishing that the air conditioner worked at all when the temperature was 30 degrees with 100% humidity.

I got back to the house from a long meeting in Seoul. The Irish and the One took one look at me and demanded I sleep.

“I’ll be fine.”

They tossed me into bed anyway and I was asleep before I could argue with them more. I woke up thirty minutes later, staring into the flowing canopy of the mosquito net over the bed, although July in Korea meant the net was not really necessary.

As I sat up in bed trying to reorient my brainwhich was trapped in a body that had decided not to sleepI heard a deep thundering rumble on the streets below. I looked out the picture window and saw white smoke rising up from the street. The mosquito fogger was hard at work. It was early enough that there were probably some children playing in the noxious fumes I could smell rising up and into the third floor apartment.

The rains fell and fell.

I tried to sleep again, but found myself still awake at one a.m., and again at five with no help for it. I tried to sleep, tossing and turning, but the falling rain was the trickling tick, tick, tick in my waking mind and it would not let me go.

Rain, rain, my inner five-year-old hummed. The rains keep falling down anyway.

The morning monsoon was full of thunder and lightning. I watched the sky as it crackled with light flashes and listened as thunder rolled through the valley that is Daegu city. Drip, drip, drip.

The rain fell off the buildings in waterfall-like waves. A never-ending stream constantly replenished by the moist, water-laden sky. The weather broke a little around the storm, but it was still humid and moist, retaining all the water that was tossed into it.

I hopped into the shower for my morning meeting and wondered at the irony of it.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Wings and Things

On the way home from my trip East, after a long and tiring flight (although one where the crew decided to show up on time) it was determined that I needed food. The Electrician was playing chauffeur, and it only took a few minutes for me to figure out how to give accurate enough coordinates to get picked up from O’Hare. Fortunately, he knew the airport better than I did.

Unfortunately, my phone chose that exact moment to die, so I found myself scrambling in O’Hare looking for an outlet so I could jump-charge my phone enough to get a message out about my potential coordinates. The tiredness, lack of sleep, fear of missed connections, fear of heading the wrong way, and fear of forgetting general things all contributed to my unease. By the time my chariot arrived I was a tad more strung out that usual.

With patience the Electrician got us on the highway and toward home, the monsters, and the Boy.

“Food.”

“You know, funny you should say that cause I didn’t get my dinner.”

“What now?”

“Well, I was having dinner at the usual on my way over here, but somehow my order got shuffled off to someone else at the party and by the time it was figured out I needed to leave to pick you up.”

“That sucks.”

“Yes.”

“Buffalo wings.”

“What?”

“I want Buffalo wings.” Buffalo wings were my favorite default comfort food after anything that put me on edge, and I figured I was in the proper country for them. Granted what I REALLY wanted was Kocheon chicken wings, but I was definitely in the wrong country for that, so an American Buffalo wing would have to suffice.

“Sounds doable, but I don’t know where to go.”

I consulted with the magic box of knowledge as we drove down the highway in the dark. The night sky was as clear as glass and stars twinkled overhead in the temperate cool Chicago evening. Downtown glittered as we passed through it, and the nighttime road opened smoothly before us, ushering toward Buffalo wings and home.

As we drove the dark highway we passed the line from city to city outskirts, where the strips clubs and off-track betting establishments held more real estate than houses or Buffalo-wing establishments.

“There be naked women in there.” said the Electrician.

“Indeed. You ever been in a strip club?”

“No.”

“Heh.”

“Have you?”

“I spent a weekend working in a strip club once long ago. Also I paid my rent in strip clubs for a good six months once upon a time.”

“What now?”

“Let's find Buffalo wings and I will tell you a story.”

It turned out that Buffalo wings were across the border and served up at a place that was essentially a chain and did mostly nothing but Buffalo wings.

“Is this okay?” I asked.

“Sure; I like Bdubs.” More nicknames for restaurants. I obviously did not spend enough time living in this country.

We walked into the mostly empty place, which was not surprising seeing as how I was making my run home at something like 10 p.m. We found a table and I asked the Electrician to get things he liked, since I had no idea and I knew that would not have Kocheon chicken wings.

With food ordered it seemed most appropriate to tell the strip-club story. To fill the time.

“So, I was destitute.” There really was no other way to start that story. After two years of volunteer service (which I do not regret in the slightest) I was basically destitute. I have not had money overflowing in my bank account in many years, but that was a particularly lean period.

During that time, looking for work, taking any odd job I could get, I was also becoming good friends with my landlord. I cooked dinner one night and he was duly impressed. He offered to take me out for dinner and a few weeks later there invited me along on a group outing to dinner and a movie. A good time was had by all.

My landlord was looking for conversation and found that the two college-educated people who had landed in his housing were much more entertaining than most of this residents. So we started to hang out a bit more often, enjoying movies, discussing life, the universe, and everything. I think once we even had him over to sit on the floor with us and watch a movie in the TV closet. (Literally. It was a long closet under a flight of stairs and we had put the TV in it to keep it from taking up room anywhere else. We’d sit on the floor to watch TV on the few occasions when we did.)

Norm, my landlord, was a pretty normal guy, and I liked him. During the lean months before I ran off to Korea he asked me if I might like to go out to dinner with him by my lonesome, and I said sure. He seemed harmless enough. We had dinner at a Greek restaurant in Chicago and afterward, since we were both riding hi on great food and a small amount of wine, he asked me if I wouldn’t like to go out and meet some of his friends.

I said sure, again. I’m adventurous.

We hopped back into Norm's car, drove around a bit and then into a parking lot for a bar. The bar was named Wiggles.

It was a strip club.

I did a mental check to make sure I wasn’t leading anyone on, and followed him into the club. We sat at a table and he asked me what I wanted to drink. At the time I was on a gin kick so I ordered a gin and tonic. As we drank and talked I looked around and took in a bit of the stage show, then turned back to Norm and asked “So, when do your friends get here?”

“They are here. They work here.”

“Ah.”

“If you want to talk to anyone, just let me know.”

In a strip cluband I know this from working in onein order to talk to girls you buy girls drinks. The girls more often than not have a standard drink that is either juice or cola based. More often than not the drink has no booze in it. The girls only have four or five real drinks a night; the rest are just plain juice or soda. If the girls actually drank the amount that was being bought for them the conversations and the dancing would suffer.

We enjoyed our drinks and continued to talk and finally a few of the girls (and Norm's favorite girl) came over to join us.

Girl 2 asked me if I’d like to buy her a drink.

“I’m with Norm.” I answered. We looked at each other and she knew, as I did, that I was doing roughly the same thing she was. I may not have been taking off my clothes, but I was earning my keep through conversation and entertainment. She asked Norm who confirmed with me and then he got her a drink. Then he gave me a stack of singles so I could tip the girls later when we moved to sit closer to the dance floor.

By the end of the evening (if dinner and drinks were included in the tally) Norm had spent more than double my rent on the night out. It was the first night of many that would take place over the next several months. I became friends with several of the girls. On several occasions I brought my sketch pads and paints in and did portraits of the girls for Norm. He paid commission for the drawings as well.

It was an amusing time.

The Electrician cracked a wide smile and giggled.

“What?”

“You’re life is really more interesting than mine.”

“Not really. I just never pass up an opportunity to be amused.”

“Indeed.”

The wings were all right, but in the end we had to reject one batch and get something different. All around it was tasty, and the conversation more than agreeable.

I paid for the dinner.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Captains and Conductors

I was on a plane that was flying to Philly. The plane was an hour late taking off. As I was not on a specific traveling schedule it didn’t really bother me that it was an hour late taking off. What bugged me was that it was an hour late taking off and I had to get up at 5 a.m. to catch a plane that was going to leave at 8:30 am instead of 7:30 am. Had I known that this would be the case I would have slept in a bit. The flight crew, apparently, thought better of the early hour and decided not to show up for the flight at all. I understood completely, since I was pretty sure my brain was still in bed.

The funny thing about Monday morning 7:30 a.m. flights to Philly was that apparently many of these flyers were going someplace important, or to a meeting. Had the flight been on time, all would be well. Since it was not, people were missing connections, meetings, and the random minutia that made up their lives. People with schedules get righteously pissed off when someone else decides to interrupt their schedule. I knew exactly how they felt as I didn't like it when people interrupted mine, but I felt a bit bad for the flight crew that got boos and catcalls coming into the concourse carrying McDonald's breakfast in hand. On board the captain asked us to please reign in our ire as they were actually the afternoon crew who had been called to come in early to help out with our missing flight crew situation. The flight, once in the air, was uneventful.

Being that I was now in Philly I needed to get a connecting train to 30th Street Station to get to my final destination on another train. I made calls to let people know when I would show up and mentioned that I was at the mercy of the train as far as that went. Then I asked several dozen times if I was in the right place for the train and still almost got on the wrong train until a friendly conductor informed me that the NEXT train was the one I wanted, and then continued to wait for the next train for Philly.

Something at this point should have been bugging the back of my brain or tickling my synapses to think about something other than getting to point B. But my synapses were clearly focused on  reading my book and finding just the right song on my MP3 player for the train. It was not until I  boarded the train and started to look around at small pieces of parchment stuck into seats that my brain put the brakes on.

My brain had a little conversation with itself:

What is that little piece of parchment?

That one right there, with the numbers on it?

Yes, that very one.

Why, that is a ticket.

A ticket, yes, to indicate destination.

Indeed. You need to purchase one of those to get to Philly.

Of course.

Oh shit.

Oh shit.

At this point my brain was catching up with the fact that I had not stopped at any point this morning to get cash. The blame for this rest squarely on rushing to catch a flight that was an hour late. Had I not rushed I might have had coffee, had I known the crew was not going to get there till eight, I might have had coffee. Had I had the coffee I might have reminded myself to get cash.

If I had cash I would have been able to easily buy a train ticket. It played out, however, that I was sitting in a seat, suddenly realizing that I had nothing but credit cards and some change, no idea how much the ticket was, and a pit in the bottom of my stomach of getting kicked off the train. I watched with dread as the conductor walked toward me. I flipped open my phone, seeing my 10 a.m. alarm announce my ride to Chicago and realizing why I didn’t think about getting a ticket: I always had one for my more normal commute, but this was not my normal commute.

As the conductor approached I dumped out every hidden and secretive nook and cranny I could find looking for change. I rejected all the Korean Won and Japanese Yen to come up with a grand total of $2.38. I was pretty sure that was not going to do it.

The conductor stopped.

“I forgot to get cash. I’m really sorry. I have $2.38.”

“How much is that?”

“$2.38”

The conductor looked at me for a moment, shook his head and said he would come back for me.

I sat on the train feeling like an ass. We hit the next stop and I do not get ejected from the train. I was waiting for it when the conductor called out for 30th Street Station, Philly. I gathered my bags and walked off with the rest of the crowd. As I left I caught the conductor’s eye and said Thank you. He smiled and nodded and moved the rest of the passengers along.

One end of my trip may not have included the best service, but I cannot complain at all about the kindness of the conductors on the Philly airport transit line.

Friday, July 01, 2011

On being non-Korean in Korean Medical land

The worst thing about not being Korean in Korea is that doctors simply don't get it. End of the day I'm from the good ole USA and that means a couple of things. First, even the lowest back-birth has some education in the field of medicine particularly in diagnosis. At an early age Americans learn to diagnosis illness, determine the cause, create a treatment plan, and then implement a treatment plan. This is a necessity because, as all Americans know, going to the doctor is too damned expensive or requires insurance and one are both will prevent going.

However being very well versed in the medical sciences we also know when it has become apparent that a doctor must be brought in damn the cost. You know how it is you are having a conversation with your neighbor....

"Bill, you think that bone should be poking through the skin like that?"

"Well, no Chuck, that looks like it might need a doctor."

Or...

"Bertha I been coughing up blood for a few days, what you think?"

"You try mustard?"

"Yep, lot's of mustard."



"Time for a doctor then."

Or....

"Joe, take a look at this rash will you?"

"Um, dude, go to a doctor, seriously, that's disgusting."

So, yeah, we know when it gets to a certain point that The Doctors Book of Home Remedies has been maxed out and it is time to hit up the local quake and get either a)antibiotics, b) the prescription for actual condition, c) a diagnostic to find out whats wrong, or d) surgery, jesus man it's freaking broken already.

As an American, when going to the doctor it is a safe bet that I have spent some time researching the possibilities of what is wrong with me (god bless Google and Web MD which saves Americans thousands in insurance and health care dollars each year). And yet, I live in Korea.

There is a basic Korean truth. Koreans don't know the first thing about the human body.

I had a girl in class once that was pale, flushed and running an easily 103 degree fever. She was shivering and sweating. I brought her personally to the office and asked that she be taken to a doctor. The teacher talked to her for a few minutes and then told me she wanted to go back to class. I was irate. She needed at the very least an IV and definitely something for the virus she was suffering from.

In other instance in the middle of summer I would excuse students to go drink water. I kept telling teachers that hydration would help calm the kids down and get them to concentrate. I was told that they kids had water at 10 am and should be fine after a day of sweating and gym at 2 for a class.

Had a kid with a broken finger. Took him to the office. Said, pointedly, "his finger is broken."

"No, it's not, he's fine."

He came to class the next day with a splint on.

This is Korea. Korean's don't really know if something is wrong until an actual professional diagnoses them. At the same time, while stubborn, Koreans will go to the doctor for pretty much anything. Docs are a three dollar visit with not waiting. You have a tummy ache, go to the doctor after work. Kid not well, take them to the doctor (after school, you leave classes only on fear of death). You have a runny nose, head to the doctor and get a three day run of antibiotic to clear that up. It's a little wacky.

Doctors here are also completely infallible. You go in, the tell you what is wrong, you thank them, pay them, and come back for every follow up visit they demand.

So imagine the surprise of the doctor I went to see on Tuesday when I practically begged for a blood test diagnostic.

Instead he told me I had an interesting story and he wanted to do some trials. At first I was all for it. What kinds of trials.

What he then lays out is the exact same "trial" I've been running on myself for the last six years. I pointed this out mentioning that I did not believe that his "trial" would be effective, that what I needed was to stop hypothesizing and to actually test some freaking theories. What was his response....


"Sara, Sara. You don't listen. I'm a doctor. Okay? First I will talk with some other Doctors about your problem."

I hold out my arm. "Take my blood. Please, run some kind of test on it."

"First I will discuss the case with another doctor."

I want to kill.

The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that illness in Korea is like Korea itself. It's homogeneous. Most people here get the same sick. Even major illness have consistency. Stomach cancer, gall bladder problems? Come to Korea you can't get better care. Have a strange disorder like say celiac disease? You will die before they figure out what is wrong with you.

It is both the blessing and the curse of the Korean system. Here I have full health care coverage for $25 dollars a month, no co-pays, or deductibles or premiums or being told what doctor to choose or confusing plans. I can walk into a doctors office and see someone within five minutes and pay three bucks for the visit no matter how long I'm there. For getting my prescriptions refilled or for other basics its no problem. For something that might be major, though, the cheapness and the ease truly fails.

And so here I sit a week later still wondering what is wrong and trying to find out if I can order home kits on the internet to test myself.

American medical know how, Korea style.

A Burlesque Bake Sale

Tendrils of music were still flitting through my head as I jumped into a cab to head for the Green Door Tavern where a number of very strange and altogether left of the normal people would be gathered for the Burlesque Bake Sale. This Bake Sale was an event by the local area Chicago Burners to raise money for Burner projects in the Chicago area. Specifically it is run by the Bold Urban Renaissance Network NFP, or BURN for short. Among other things funds from these events go to supporting grants for artists and performers who can use the extra cash. You can find out all sorts of things about them and their fantastic projects at either http://www.boldurban.org or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/boldurban.



As I got out of the cab I admired the big and gaudy signed the signified my entrance to the Green Door. As I walked in I was sure that I had somehow managed to go to the entirely wrong place. I checked the address and knew I was where I was told to go, but it just seemed so…normal.



It was overwhelming normal, far to normal for me to really trust that I was in the right place. There were a number of girls that looked like just out of college cheerleaders in cami tops and short shorts. Beside the girls were a series of men all with short cropped hair, polo shirts, or stripped button down shirts and half cargo shorts. The smell of the place was that overwhelmingly alcoholic stain of high end perfumes, the smell that makes them all smell alike even though individually they cost a hundred dollars a bottle. It just felt wrong.



I was sure I was in the wrong place.



I started heading towards the back thinking there must be a secret door, or secret room, I was feeling a bit out of me league surrounded by so many obviously normal people. And then I saw her, my dancing partner from the Firewater lounge, looking lovely in a flowing skirt.



“Thanks the gods.” I said to her.



“Hey, you made it.”



“Yes, where is it? I feel like I’m lost.”



“Just go downstairs, it’s in the basement.”



She points out the direction so I find myself down the stairs, and like Alice down the rabbit hole, suddenly the world makes sense again. I’m greeted by a jester in a cowboy hat, and Krueger, who tells takes my price of admission and tells me to go buy some baked goods. I walk into a room full of the most wonderful collection of people. Girls in tight corsets, steam punks, regular punks, Goths, freaks, all of them; surrounded from left to right by a throng of the most wonderfully unique and individual people. On stage a girl was performing her burlesque out, starting out as a Mexican cowboy. We laughed as she removed her boots to take off her jeans, revealing red fishnet stockings. We laughed harder when she nodded at the audience as she put her boots back on.



At the bake sale there were so many tantalizing goodies to eat, but I had to be aware of the fact that a) not supposed to eat flour, b) not supposed to eat too much sugar, c) allergic to milk d) allergic to eggs. It’s the last too that make me very wary of baked goods, as they tend to always contain more than a fair share of eggs and milk. I gave the lovely goth girl in a black corset with purple dreads a breakdown of what I couldn’t have, and she directed me to some vegan balls.



“Just what I needed tonight,” I quip back “a bag of balls.”



“Actually you get three.”



“That gives me a ball up on the competition.” My dancing partner laughs. I ask her where I can get a drink and she directs me towards the bar upstairs, which requires us going back up to normal land. We venture up stairs through the throngs of people there to talk about sports and look for random casual hookups. Dancing girl accompanies me as we put in for some drinks and get back out as quickly as possible.



Downstairs we grab seats for the next round of burlesque that includes among other things a great performance with a hula-hoop, the wonderfully classy Feral Kitty, an amazingly nice strip tease done under sort of sheer see-through cover up. While this was all going on, it was also morning in Korea when it is prime time for conversation. As it happened the Irish popped up on the phone having some extreme stress and, being that I am a good friend I felt obligated to discuss with him the particular stress. However discussing the stress with him also meant not watching the stage.



I do believe at least one of the girls took some offense at having me looking at my phone because suddenly I had a whole lot of bra in my face. This being followed later by panties. Dancing girl started laughing. I tried to explain to her, and while doing so got pelted by another piece of underwear. With all that happening I was finally forced to tell the Irish :Look I have to go, I keep getting pelted by women’s underwear.



In between the acts there was also an auction of the baked goods and some excellent performances by our master of ceremonies at the keyboard, with a great deal of help from his lovely assistance Sin. In all a good time was most certainly had. The sweet potato cheesecake was auctioned off for $40 dollars, and the nipple red velvet cupcakes were also popular. There was an all out bidding war for the bacon laced maple and onion cupcakes. Which sounded delicious I’m sure, but still weird.



As the show wound down, decisions were made about eventual after-parties, Dancing girl took my arm and asked me if I would car to join her. I took the offered hand and happily followed her into the chilly Chicago night and out for more adventures.

And they Said: The Artwork

My camera is now fixed. These are the five new pieces that went into the art show. Part of a series titled: And they Said...


And Ramon Said, "Transiency."


And Psyche said,"Psyche."



And Michael said, "Punk."


And Marla said, "Empty."


And Tom said, "Jesus."


Me at the Eternal Reflections 2 art show with the excellent graffiti art background. More to come on that end.