Now we are in the season of the windup and wind down. One move over, one to go.
This one has more permanence than the last, as this one means I will be saying goodbye to my fair Korea, and trying (very hard) to reintegrate into an American lifestyle.
I do not know what this will lead to. I do not know what kind of adventures I will have—if I have any at all. However, I generally tend to find entertainment and take it where I can.
I’m looking forward to more music. Already I have tickets to Riot Fest and Alt-J. There will be more. The fall is a good time for bands and I plan to explore them.
Work is a transitional, lateral move. I think it interesting to say that, since teaching about lateral thinking is something I do in one of my workshops. Lateral, yes, but not totally gone is all the dedication and commitment I have put into my career.
Korea has been good to me.
Korea has loved me.
Korea has forever changed me.
Korea has hurt me, too.
I am stronger for my time in Korea.
I feel a sense of overwhelming sadness and loss to be going.
I will need to work out several thousand things perhaps, but all of this can be done with time.
Today I am thinking about the future and the future seems bright, but at the same time sad and filled with ennui. Yet change is the only constant.
I am both better and worse now than I have ever been. Does that make me neutral or indifferent? Perhaps; sometimes I feel that I am this way.
What does that mean to me anymore?
Out there—somewhere—is an inland sea waiting for me, with a dog, a Boy, a job, a city, music, and adventure. Things I love. Things I have often missed.
Fall is coming soon. I think it will be a good fall.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Now we are in the season of the windup and wind down. One move over, one to go.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Two hours is a lot of time to anticipate something, and I had two hours to think about this bath I was about to take. I still had a bit of bubble bath left, so I had brought it with me. I dumped it into the bath, but after two hours even an awesome bubble bath can dissipate. There were still some bubbles but it was perhaps not as strong as it could have been:
I didn't mind. My book in hand, my glass of wine nearby, I slipped out of my robe and climbed (literally climbed) over the side of this thing and slipped under the water. This was no ordinary tub; it was more like a small swimming pool. I slipped, and slid and tried to maintain some semblance of balance in the water. It was freaking huge and I was holding on to the sides like someone who had just learned to swim. This was awesome.
I leaned back into the batch, into the captain’s chair, and found the button that would turn on the whirlpool jets. To my delight and surprise the bath started to buzz and blow water around me, and now I really did need to hold on to the sides to avoid getting pushed under the waves in the small sea that had been erected somehow in the middle of this Korean love motel. The sea, which was fast moving and had crests and eddies and glowing lights in the bottom—what an interesting and awesome place this was to be.
And then the lights went out.
As I should have been aware (and as is the habit in many love motels) the lights were on a timer, and I had been filling the bath for quite a while. The lights, had in fact, flipped off once while I was working to fill the tub, but it had not occurred to me when I turned them back on that this could happen again. Instead, I was mostly concerned with just getting enough water in to immerse myself. Immerse I did, but now, with the lights off, what I was immersing myself in was a glowing, cascading sea of water.
Thus, glowbath was born.
It was the most awesome glowbath, and I had the best time sliding around in waves and lights and taking silly pictures of my feet in water, until finally I just sat back, relaxed with my book, and found a way to prop myself against the sides so I would not get blown away. It was all rather awesome—so much so that in two days I had something like four baths. Glorious.
I shall go again. Glowbath and I are bound to each other. Once glowbath has been experienced, no mortal bath can possibly hope to replace it.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
The move was hard. Work was hard.
So, after having finally finished the move and finally getting to a place where I did not work weekends, I decided to celebrate by checking into a hotel for the weekend. It would be nice to have air-conditioning, and that really was the selling point for me. I talked about it with the Trainer on my session.
“You know, I’m going up to Seoul; why don’t you take my place for the weekend?”
It was a sweet offer. The air conditioning was a big selling point. But also, “Well, I’m really looking forward to a bath.”
Yes, there is a bathtub at the new place, but since the new apartment has been trying to kill me, the prospect of bathing there was not enticing.
Yes, the new apartment—a catalog of injuries if you will:
- A bruise on my arm for two weeks
- A ripped-off toenail
- A smashed toe
- An earring ripped out
- A concussion
It’s been emotional.
The last straw was the concussion. The concussion was the result of me sleeping out on the porch and the fan that was there to cool me; instead, it shook off the shelf and hit me in the head, hard. A seven-pound fan. This in and of itself would maybe not have been so bad, except for the fact that I had minorly concussed myself in the same area a few days prior, hitting the exact same spot getting into a cab on a bad night.
Getting out of the apartment and into a bath seemed like a really good idea, and one that I wanted to explore further and so, while the offer of a free room was sweet, I decided against it and check into the hotel. Work was hard with the concussion, I was dizzy and nauseous all day, but managed to maintain. Fortunately, Friday was a short day.
With a plan in mind I left at one. Went straight home. Got the dog. Went straight to a hotel. Turned on the air conditioning. Pulled back the covers.
And passed the fuck out for two hours.
When I woke up around four, I was feeling much better about life in general. Sleep had soothed me, although my head still felt damned bumped. It was then I realized that all I had brought with me to the hotel was the dog, and I had no clothes, no food, nada, nothing, and I was planning to stay for two days. I would need to go back to my hot apartment and at least get a change of underwear. And so it was that I ventured back out into the thirty-seven degree Daegu summer heatwave weather to get a bag with clothes, some coffee, and some food. I ordered chicken as that seemed easy, and as I waited for it to be delivered I packed up.
The chicken came quickly, and I was in a cab within minutes of the delivery, realizing I had not eaten all day. When I got to the hotel the first order of business was, in fact, to eat. Then I realized I could have a bath. I went into the bathroom that—up unto that point—I had only really glanced at.
In the bathroom I stood.
There, in front of me, was the most magnificent beast of a bathtub I had ever seen.
It had captain’s seats.
I was in love with this inanimate object. I wanted to be inside it more than I had ever wanted to be inside another man or woman. So strong was the attraction that I actually felt weak in my knees for a moment standing in front of it. My head raced with thoughts, one of them being: how long will it take to fill this thing?
(Answer: two hours.)
Two hours later I had a glass of wine, a belly full of chicken, a good book, and was ready for a bath.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
The move is over.
Work is over, or rather almost over.
The best friend has returned.
Our friendship is a skitter thing, but it will heal in time. It will be different. It will have scars. It will not be the same.
And so, life goes on.
Now I am preparing for yet another transition, which will include a rollicking trip to Seoul in the near future. I expect to spend with the Kiterunner and the Editor. Goodness know what ridiculous stories will follow.
The last time I went out with the Editor it ended in a bottle of vodka that we both thought better of the next day. A bottle of vodka always seems like a good idea at the time until you wake up the next morning with that moment of realization: the realization being that a bottle of vodka is never really a good idea and should have been left where it was.
There is that.
The Monkey is coming with me, since the Irish feels too over-stressed with return worries to deal with my fuzzy little overlord. I understand.
The dog, in his infinite wisdom, has discovered that fans cool. Since I do not have air conditioning in the apartment, laying in front of the fan is the only way to sleep. With the most recent heatwave in Korea, the fan is the only thing that is getting anyone through it. The dog, however, has discovered that with a little effort he can sleep in front of the fan. (That effort being pushing me out of the way in the middle of the night.) For this trouble he will spend a week and a bit with the Editor, helping to train their white jindo dog. It will be hilarious.
My heart is still broken in some ways.
My heart is healing.
The Bodhisattva phoned me a few nights ago. We talked.
“You just need to relax.”
“But I try,” I say out loud.
“You need to calm down, man.” He is full of wisdom that one.
But it did calm me down.
And now, here I am, with all of Korea around me, thinking about it, contemplating it, wondering about how it will work and what will happen when I move back to the States.
“You have people that love you,” the Bodhisattva says.
I have people that love me. The continent, the country, borders do not matter. My heart will love a thousand times more from today, and break just as many I am sure. I will have friendships that will grow and bloom and live a glorious existence before they become something else, transition, grow, bloom, die, and grow again. Some friendship, like the Irish and me, will melt down, only to be recreated, forged into something new, different and wonderful in its own way. Bitterness is easy; anger is easy; embracing change is never easy. But as I love my best friend, I will do this, and I will find new ways in which we compliment each other, and new ways for us to exist.
I shall love a thousand loves and they will mark little changes in me, and I will be different for each. There will be no sadness there.
There are endings coming soon.
And new beginnings.
I am terrified.
I am elated.
Life goes on.
Friday, August 16, 2013
I'm just gonna leave this here. Now, I can be officially excited and amused about the next CHCW Erotic Fiction contest.
Read about the previous experience here: http://saradevil.blogspot.kr/2011/05/erotic-fiction-contest.html
There are phone calls and he is directed to meet me at a no-name motel, where I have arrived much earlier.
Preparation included the table that is in front of me, which my feet are propped on. Under my feet are an assortment of floggers, paddles, dildos, restraints, and lubricants.
There is a small bag of condoms as well—if my mind wanders that way after the scene.
I light a cigarette.
I pour a glass of wine.
I wait like a spider in the web.
Waiting makes me feel cool, powerful. I feel myself slipping into the mantle of control. I wrap it about myself, building power.
Thinking about pain.
There are three sharp knocks at the door. As instructed, the supplicant enters, placing items by the door, coming in to stand before me. He stands, head down, not speaking. I smoke. I read my book. I sip my wine.
His head peaks up, looking at me, trying to make eye contact. I can tell he wants to speak. I can feel the tension in the air but I do not allow him words. Cool, quiet, patience, and inattention are all that greet him. I flip through another page.
“Take off your clothes,” I say.
As he disrobes, I continue my book. His nudity is not the prize that I seek.
“It’s been hot. You’ll need a shower.” He turns and marches away to attend to himself in the bathroom. Smoke tendrils wisp around my head and I feel my power concentrated in my center: becoming, blooming, solidifying, taking shape. When he comes to stand back in front of me I am in the seat of my power.
I stand and point to the seat, having him replace me there.
In my hand is secreted a small device (omitted from my table). I allow him to sit and contemplate my table and the meaning implied there, the direction my thoughts may have wandered in creating this scene.
He sits quietly, naked, still somewhat wet from the shower. His eyes are on the table, then they are on me.
Quick, catlike, I jump across the table and straddle his lap. He sits back, head still down, eyes not meeting mine. Then he feels it, as his neck, a small point, just a touch of pressure.
“I am going to speak to you," I say. "I will ask you questions. You may answer these questions in one-word sentences only. Do you understand?”
Smiling, I press my point against his neck just a bit more, make it felt, real.
“You know about the gom jabbar?”
“Do you know what it is?”
“May I answer in more than one word?”
He is smiling, cheeky.
“And what kind of test?”
“And how is the test conducted?”
“Now, you are going to experience my gom jabbar. I will give you pain, and we will see if you are human.”
Stiffness; his shoulders stiffen, his body stiffens; there is a faint patina of fear. I smell his fear on him.
“Do I frighten you?”
I smile again, and slide off of his lap, making him stand against the wall. I choose from among my array of devious device to test his body. I bring out cries and halts, watch how flesh moves into and away from falling strands of leather, or the stiff slap of my hand, watch the body avoid what it wants and craves and the pain that I wish to drive into it.
Pain that brings one to their knees.
Pain that can be withstood.
And he stands.
And he does not buckle under my pain.
I am the maelstrom, the whirlwind, in the middle, wheeling a wind of colored strands whipping through the air, interspersed with bites, and sharp slaps. I am an angel and a demon, bringing punishment, followed by ease, only to bring punishment again.
I move my victim from wall to bed, to wall, so stand facing front or away, to endure the spirit of my tests.
Finally, covered by a soft sheen of sweat on my own flesh, I yield.
“I must have wanted you to fail,” I say.
Smiling. Smiling returned, mirror smiling. Mine with cat-like teeth.
“My turn,” he whispers.
And the test is endured, ending in shared pain, shared pleasure, shared humanity.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
The Artist was drunk. The Geisha was not far behind.
“We should spend his money,” the Artist slurred.
“Okay,” I said.
“I have to go to Busan,” said the Geisha. She had a tattoo appointment.
“Let’s go to Busan. We can go to a casino,” slurred the Artist.
“I’ve never been to a casino in Korea,” I chime in.
“Yeah; let’s go to a casino and spend his money!”
“I’m not sure about this,” from the Geisha. Being the girlfriend, her prudence was appreciated.
“There are casinos in Daegu. We could go here,” I suggested.
“Yeah! Let’s go to a casino here, but you have to come,” said the Geisha. The Geisha is polite and poised and puts off all of our advances until we eventually all parted ways, with the Geisha going back to her home. The Artist at this point was failing badly, so I decided what we really needed was a hotel. While we had the new apartment, it was not really unpacked, it had no air conditioning, and after two days of working her fingers to the bone, my lady love needed a freaking break. We tried for a more expensive actual hotel first.
“We don’t have any rooms.”
“But I’m an employee of this very well-known company,” The Artist slurred, showing her company badge.
Sadly, the hotel we were trying for did not have an agreement with said well-known company, and as such, we were unable to get in. Although we tried to con, trick, and connive to get ourselves there, all we got eventually was an escort out. The Artist—still in her alcohol-induced haze—chatted up some Finnish engineers outside until I eventually dragged her away. The two older ones seemed happy to be rid of us, but the younger one smiled.
“We have to go now,” the Artist screamed toward our escort, “and I have to go have sex with this beautiful woman.” I smiled, the young Finish engineer smiled, the escort rushed us, and I hustled us into a cab before he could catch up and managed to get us toward where we were going, a place with many comfortable hotels. Eventually, after some work, I managed to get her in a room, undressed, and into bed. Within seconds she was asleep.
I sat up next to her for a while, watching her snore soft bourbon-fueled snores, while recounting the many wonders of her existence before finally, a few hours later, I allowed myself to wind my way toward sleep.
And as I drifted, I thought here is a woman who has done more for me than I can possibly imagine, and because of this, I shall never be able to repay her, and can only love her even more. I fell asleep holding her and feeling the deepest love.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Throughout the day there were calls and texts. As I should have known, the moving company screwed us in a way, demanding money from the Artist even though I had arranged to pay by wire transfer on Monday. I tried to call but things were tetchy, and eventually I was left just wondering what was happening, unable to get a hold of either of the girls.
Work was a torment that I simply wanted to finish so I could go and deal with the new apartment (albeit with an impending sense of dread).
At 4:30 I grabbed a taxi home.
Up the elevator; into the new place, I came upon the Artist and the Geisha on couches facing each other. The moving company and thrown things willy-nily everywhere and the place was a fearsome disorganized disaster area. Nothing was where it was supposed to be.
“They got really angry with us when we told them where to put the beds. After that, I think they just didn't care anymore. Also, I’m drinking all this good bourbon,” the Artist slurred.
The good bourbon was some sort of hand-numbered, hand-labeled, oak-casked bourbon I had bought in Seoul, which had been discounted a hundred dollars. It was expensive and I was glad she was drinking it. They told me the fiasco: there had been three trucks of stuff lifted into the new apartment, the movers had basically ignored them, and there was resulting chaos that ensued with the money. I was pissed, but it was over, and now it was just a matter of sorting and putting things into place.
I also heard about the problems with the old landlord over lost keys, and the issues with trash that needed to get brought downstairs.
“The landlord showed up?”
“Okay. I checked on the way home, though and he hasn't paid the key money back.”
The key money was a big deal. Renting in Korea requires a down payment to secure the key. This is not like a "first month/last month rent thing", but like a "five-to-ten thousand dollar investment thing." The apartment we had just left had required a large amount of key money and I needed to get that back ASAP to pay off the key money on the new place. Without key money finalized on the new place we might have to move again. This was not going to happen.
With the Irish out of the country, my only backup was to get a hold of his occasional drinking and “bitching about the womens” buddy to try to find out the phone number of the landlord. After a few tries, I got a text message with a number.
“And, then he was like measuring me dick. And I was standing there with my dick out. And I didn't know what to do.” The Artist was slurring in her drink; this was the third time she'd told the story of what asshats the movers had been. The big problem with the movers was they understand Korean style, but anything else was unacceptable. I’d left instructions for where things should go, but they decided I couldn't possibly be right, and so just really started to throw things willy-nily wherever they wanted to put them—without a care for what was wanted. This had resulted in the ensuing madness that made a rather large apartment look shoe-box sized. I knew I could fix it, but it would take a few days.
In the meantime, I needed to call the landlord.
“And then he was all pissed, but I was pissed, and my dick was out,” the Artist continued.
“Lovely, give me a moment, I need to make this call.”
So I called the landlord.
Right: landlord doesn't speak English.
“Yeah, Ahjussi, nanun Sara-songsaengnim. Peadar-chingu. Key money piryo hada.” Which is (in my horrible Korean) something to the effect of, this is the Irish’s friend, and I need the key money.
This resulted in a ten-minute explanation in Korea of the landlord being angry that the keys to the old place has been lost. I could appreciate the anger: the place had all electronic locks and after I had learned the key code I didn't care about keys, but the Irish enjoyed handing out the fancy dongles and key cards and they had all disappeared sometime int he past two years. I also knew that during the morning move the girls had paid for the keys, giving the money directly to the landlord—so this was a non-issue.
“I need the money, now.” I repeated in Korean. I was thinking in my head Give us the fucking money Lebwoski. Where is the fucking money?
“Yeah, but you see the keys—“ he started in.
“Can you have the money in the bank in five minutes? I need to pay the key money on the new apartment. I need to pay it now. I need the money in five minutes.” Or I’ll cut off your Johnson!
I basically continued to repeat this regardless of what he said in Korean. Finally he gave me a yes, yes, and hung up.
Ten minutes later I got a message on my phone that the money had been deposited.
“And I’m standing there with my dick exposed,” the Artist slurred again.
“Honey, do you have your bank account number so I can send your money back to your account?”
“I, just…how do I get that? I had my dick out,” the Artist comes back.
Somehow I managed to make it through the fog of her drunkenness to get the account book from her, and with that and the Irish’s account book I headed to the bank. Sure enough, the money (which I was seriously worried would not get paid) was all there. Three minutes later it was all gone to the accounts it had to go to in order to settle all the debts up on the place we had just moved into. I also pulled out enough money for dinner (as I had promised the girls we would do that) and smiled at myself as I walked home, knowing that even though it wasn't done, at least it was closer to finished that I could have hoped for at this point.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
The week was full of baths. Seriously; it was so hot the following week that I did mostly nothing but work and bathe. With work on Saturday and only one day to recover the week felt long. I tried every night to get something done with packing and while I managed to accomplish a little, it was too much, I was in over my head, and I had to figure out how to get it all done on Saturday. I ran into a Korean on the elevator who started speaking to me in English.
“You’re the Irish’s girlfriend?”
“Flatmate; you've met him?”
“Yes, yes. You are moving, aren't you?”
“Yes, but I have to find a moving company.”
“I can help with that.”
And, much to my surprise, he actually did help with that: calling a moving company for me, having them come over and do the assessment, and helping me to bargain with the company about how the payment was going to work. By Wednesday I was thinking I might be able to pull this whole thing off.
“Do you want help?” I was talking to the Artist about the move.
“I’m pretty sure I have it under control. I think.”
“You can’t do this all by yourself.”
“I have a moving company.”
“I want to help.”
And it turned out it was help I would need, as scheduling the move was one thing, but then I realized that I was going to have to work on the same day the move was happening. While an apartment had been procured almost within minutes of my landing in Korea, getting everything into that apartment and laying it out was going to be a whole-day thing.
“Do you realize what is going to happen with the movers?”
“They are supposed to do everything.”
“I want to help.”
“I want your help. Will you please come and help me?” And so it was agreed that the Artist would come and assist with the move. Around the same time, the Geisha was returning from Ireland and promised she would also come over and help pack up at least that last of the Irish's bedroom, so that all that would be left would be my room. On Friday night everyone had descended on the place, though the Artist had seriously kicked ass on Friday when she worked all alone to put together the kitchen, and the porches.
“I love you,” was all I could l think to say when I came home.
We went out and got Mexican food, and the Geisha joined us there. At first I was trying to be sociable, but I realized soon after that I was angry, and more than just tequila angry. I was angry at having to do this whole thing, and angry at having to involve so many people. Even the poor strangers in the Burner and the Bodhisattva had been dragged into it (I had explained what was going on as we sat on the porch after our drinking binge, and they had helped me put things in boxes the next morning, for which I paid in kind with breakfast and coffee). The move was overwhelming my life and it felt—still feels—like it was crushing my soul.
I got really quiet in my anger.
Then we got back to the place to have some wine, and the Artist made me pack up my room, which I ranted against like a petulant child.
“Just do it and you can have more wine.”
“Fine, but I hate you.”
“I know. Do it anyway.”
And I did.
Then I had more wine.
Then the three of us sat on the couch and my rage cloud snapped and I poured out my anger at the Irish, and the apartment and everything else. (Girl talk can have its cathartic moments.) I slept hard and well that night, snuggled up to my lovely Artist, and woke the next morning thinking I should work out before the movers came at seven.
“We should eat,” I said. “I’ll take some fish out of the fridge for us to eat, since it won’t move well.”
I put the fish on the counter to thaw a bit while I worked out and got my shower. I was in the shower when suddenly the Artist came knocking, “Sara, I don’t know how to let them in.”
“Yeah, I can’t let them in.”
“Shit.” I dashed naked down the hall and let them in. “I need to finish this shower.”
“Go, quick, hurry.”
I did, and a few minutes later I called out to the Artist to see if I could get down the hall.
“Yes; it’s all women right now.”
I hurried to my room and got into clothes, with the Artist knocking, goading me to hurry. When I emerged dressed and ready for work, she handed me a cup of coffee and she, the Geisha, and I stood there in a bunch, absolutely shell shocked.
“What the hell?” I whispered.
The Koreans—now a troop of about eight people—had descended on the apartment like a freaking kimchi-powered tornado. They grabbed things and put them into boxes without question. They moved and threw and tossed and I just stood there, flummoxed.
“I told you,” the Artist said.
“I had no idea,” I said back, and then we watched as the ajjuma that was in the kitchen poured out the water that was being used to thaw the fish, put the fish back into the bowl it was thawing in, put the bowl in a box, and then put tape on the box and shoved it down the hall.
“So much for breakfast,” the Artist laughed.
“My gods. I love you. I could not have done this. I don’t think I can do this.”
“I've got this; you go to work. Go, go; we will take care of it.”
“Okay, okay; keep me posted.”
“We will; get out of here.” And so I went, leaving them in the maelstrom that was a Korean moving company, the Artist and the Geisha standing there looking out of sorts as the Koreans moved liked worker ants with a purpose. I felt dread leaving, but knew I had to. I knew it was going to be a long day.
I feel like I am in the space inbetween all things. Love, sorrow, transition, and becoming. Awareness supersedes all things. There is everything here.
Part of it is upheaval from the move. Yet there is a storm here, powerful, moving.
Everything is about to change.
I am embracing change.
Twelve years in a place makes that place your home. There is no way to avoid that, you just spend long enough in a place and it becomes a part of you. I’ve made a happier life in the twelve here than I had in the eighteen in which I was—under some descriptions—raised. Yet I am alone here, utterly, and completely alone and feeling that separation, that loss, that lack of being more and more acutely. A sense of longing and nothingness and desire.
And yet here I have loved more deeply, been loved, allowed myself the freedom to be loved. Perhaps this is what I am afraid of, in that moving back I will no longer find a way to be acceptable, and yet all evidence to the contrary says this is untrue.
So, what is it that I am afraid of?
Not just the change.
It is a fear of myself.
I love my best friend. I have for some time. And I never want to see that same person again. Caught in a paradox that seems all too familiar, where I bridge love and hate. I love, deeply, and yet I’d rather excise that existence (and all it’s accompanying thoughts) from me like some gangrenous wound. Perhaps if extracted I will heal.
I will heal either way, in the end, I think to myself. It’s just a question of the scars.
I feel like I need to explore this, although the exploration may be damning. I need to know why I am so angry, because I am angry, as well as sad and hurt.
Perhaps it is the feeling that I have been used. One could argue that I have only done what I volunteered to do, and I would not argue this. I did volunteer, yet…to know me is to know that I will take on all responsibility as if it is my own with the belief that in doing so I somehow ameliorate the sins of my own past, reclaim myself from being this immoral, base, and despised thing I was raised to think of myself as. Aren’t I, in reality, constantly trying to redeem my childhood sins, the guilt trap I was born into, fueled by El Diablo Madre, and powered further by my own childish decisions?
I am capable of great love. I will do what is asked of me out of a belief that it is my duty, and that it is the right of anyone who shows me any affection that they can ask anything of me, and I shall do to my utter destruction whatever they ask. Those who I end up becoming deeply entwined with know this. Feeling angry or bitter because they take advantage of this seems unfair, and yet I am angry and bitter because of this. I allowed myself to trust, and that was abused, and now I am angry.
I have no right to be angry.
I am brutally angry.
The anger comes from the past, that trauma trigger from being constantly placed in the middle of great burdens, from constantly having to feel that I shouldered a burden of responsibility that was beyond me. It was too much, but I could not protest because I was a child, and I resented it. I should not have felt that kind of terrible purpose; I should have been protected, allowed to experience my own childhood, and yet I wasn’t. I was asked to do something and I did so out of a sense of burden.
In the end, I turned my back to all of it—walked away and never looked back.
I want to walk away again.
How much family am I willing to lose over this?
That is the question that is rattling in my head. Because my friend—my dearest and sweetest friend who has been a pillar of support and love, who has shared with me...doesn’t that make us family? Not that I didn’t provide the same pillar; not that I didn’t give as much as I received, but to strike it all down for one request that asked me to go beyond what I was capable of: should I be so angry about that? Shouldn’t I, instead, embrace it as the expected?
My best friend will come back to the country tomorrow, and for the first time in five years, the thought of standing there, face to face, saying hello after a long absence, fills me with nothing but dread.
I need to fix it.
I’m not sure how to fix it.
And I am floundering.
Monday, August 12, 2013
As the dancing died down in the Korean bar, we were ready to hit the road again. The Bodhisattva (being a friendly sort) tried to say goodbye to the Korean friends he had made and only narrowly missed somehow being on the wrong end of a bar fight, so our exit was perhaps wisely timed. We ascended the stairs and were back out into the streets again, down the road a short hop, and then back down the stairs into a western dance bar. This one had all the seediness that I remember from my first year in Korea: it was so dark you almost couldn't see your hand in front of your face, with a small compact dance floor and a few holes for sitting scattered about here and there.
We pulled up a table and since I hadn't had a drink in about an hour, I took in a vodka, while the boys got some drinks. The Burner immediately took to dancing and wanted to drag me out onto the floor with him, and I was happy to go until I saw a flash and realized that a small gaggle of South African girls was trying to take my picture in the dark bar. At first the Burner turned to flash a sign and pose for pictures, until I nudged his arm and shook my head.
“I can’t be in those pictures.”
“Ah, right, yeah.”
So I had to move off the dance floor. I stood against dark wall, hoping that this would keep me in the dark to make it difficult for them to snap shots of me. The downside of fame is that having a bunch of people post pictures of me drinking is not great for my reputation or my professional career, and while they might have thought it was it funny, I was pissed. I nursed my anger and my vodka and was annoyed that I could not dance.
I watched the small crowd come and go and change, the Korean men desperately trying to hit on foreigners and failing, the Korean girls wanting to be hit on foreigners and not finding enough foreigners to satisfy them, the small collection of foreign ladies who seemed both unsure and unhappy, but also wanting someone to take notice of them instead of the Korean girls. I enjoyed as much conversation as the thumping music would allow, chatting alternatively with the Bodhisattva or the Burner, whomever was nearby, until finally the South Africans left and I was able to actually dance a bit.
Between the heat, the swaying, the music, and the vodka, I was feeling near ready to pack it in.
“So, good birthday?” I asked the Bodhisattva.
“Well, if you two are crashing on my couches, how do you feel about doing that soon?”
There was agreement and so we swirled back into the sweaty night and toward a cab to wind back to my apartment, with a sense of nostalgia in it. So often—because the place is so big—had random strangers found a couch to crash on when in need, and I wondered now, as I sat on my couch and looked out over my sit, enjoying a nightcap with my strange new friends, how it would be different. How it might be better or worse. The night sparkled as we talked and laughed and gave attention to a small dog, before finally it was time to give into the tender tendrils of sleep on a hot summer night.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
We climbed this time, up the stairs into the dark cavern that is the antique bar. The bartenders there were happy to see me and we grabbed a stool at the bar and ordered our absinthe. I explained to the bartender that it was the Bodhisattva's birthday, and was immediately chastened when he started to speak quite good Korean. The bartender was happy to discover this too, and soon the poor birthday boy was being plied with more alcohol than he had perhaps bargained for.
In the meantime the Burner and I enjoyed our espresso martinis, sipping them at the bar as we watched the Bodhisattva entertain the green fairy for the first time. Eventually we retired to a couch in the corner where pictures could be taken and more plans for the evening could be made.
“How is it going?” I asked, checking in.
“Well, I’d like to have some soju next, I think,” said the Bodhisattva.
“That can be arranged. There is a place I have been interested in checking out if you don’t mind going along. It’s a Korean bar.”
“That would be great.”
So we finished up our drinks at the bar and headed back into the night, ending up quite literally across the street from where we started. It’s a very cool bar (being that all the air conditioners were running on high) and it had only a few handfuls of people in it, all Korean groups—most likely college students or just out of college students scattered around the bar. We found a corner in the back and the boys got some soju and anju and offered to get me something, but since I was in a Korean bar, drinking and eating were basically off-limits. I became friends with a bottle of water instead and started to hydrate like I had just discovered the rehabilitating properties of water.
After a moment we lost the Bodhisattva, who somehow ended up mingling with the nearby group of Korean girls and boys, and within a heartbeat I discovered both boys had managed to make new friends and were in a corner having an arm-wrestling match. I went back to my happy bottle of water and worked on seeing how quickly I could finish it and get another one, until I was rejoined by my drinking companions. My companions, however, on the way back to the table discovered rhythm, and within a few seconds were bopping away with the beat while I watched. The Burner finally danced over and asked me to join him, which resulted with some swaying on the dance floor.
It had been a while since I'd danced in a Korean bar, and while it can be enjoyable, I wasn't in love with the Korean music and always found the ooohs and ahhhs of the Koreans when I dance annoying. I barely recall the days before it annoyed the pants off me, but this night it was grating. I also discovered that I really did want to dance, so I floated the idea of a different dance bar with slightly more western-friendly music that might inspire my dancing booty after. This met with a warm reception from the boys, and so we danced, drank, and I waited for them to eat so we could head off to bar number four on our evening.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
“And what do you want to do for your Birthday,” I ask the Bodhisattva.
“Well, after this, I don’t know. What would you recommend?”
“Someplace quiet with good music,” the Burner pipes in.
“Yes. We will go to the Lonely Hearts Club.”
“You will see.”
I encourage the boys to finish their drinks and we head out into the hot and sticky and sweaty night and down the street towards the Lonely Hearts Club. The Club makes my heart lonlier than ever at the moment, to think of. My dear bartender had called me on Friday when I was on my way home from work.
“Sa----ra! What are doing tomorrow?”
“I have to work Hyun.”
“Call in sick.”
“I can’t I’m the lead.”
“I have a free ticket for you to come with me and see the Cure.”
“You have got to be fucking kidding me.”
“I hate you.”
“Call in sick.”
“Okay, well we leave at 7 a.m. You should come join us.”
I could not join, though, which was more the sadness and the night out was sort of my way of trying to deal with the sadness. We weaved our way through sticky, sweaty throngs of Daegu and toward the bar, avoiding traffic and drunken revelers. I tossed an eye back for them every now and again to make sure the boys were able to follow, and eventually we descended down the stairs into the dark, cool, cavern that is the Lonely Hearts Club.
“Where has this been?” commented the Burner.
We ordered good drinks, sat and chatted and ordered up some excellent music served on vinyl—which really, when you have been listening to music on nothing but an MP3 player for a year, you forget just how sweet vinyl is. We lost ourselves in some Doors, and some Stones and some other fun sounds while sipping away at our vodkas or beers.
“This is awesome,” the Burner commented.
“Are you having a good birthday?” Me to the Bodhisattva.
“Yes, yeah, this is great. Next I want some soju.”
“Well, if you don’t mind walking back the way we came I can do that. Have you ever had absinthe?”
“Wait, you know a bar where we can get absinthe?” asked the Burner.
“I know many things. They also have good martinis, and espresso martinis, and all—"
“They have espresso martinis?” asked the Burner with a sudden happy lilt in his voice.
“Then let us go there. Today, my burner friends in the states are having an Espresso Martini night, and now I will be able to join them.”
“Done and done.”
And so we shuffled back into the night, after Hyun regaled me with the concert I could not see, and pushed on toward the next stop on the birthday ride.
Friday, August 09, 2013
The bar is the same I frequent for the quiz, and I sat on a stool, with my book, and a will to drink. At that point my plan was just to read for a bit, drink for a bit, eat some chicken wings, and then probably bugger off home. This seemed like a good, although rather tame, plan for a Saturday night.
About an hour into this plan two strangers sat down next to me. I kept my eyes on my book, but the boys were close enough to me that it was hard to ignore. They were talking and I was doing my best not to listen, though listening occurred and what little I was hearing was peaking my interest. Some sort of philosophical conversation about the nature of something or other and try as I might I could not help but to be somewhat intrigued. Then the burner orders a vodka.
“You have to tell them what Vodka you want,” I say.
“If you don’t tell them they pour bottom shelf. You have to tell them the name of what you want.”
“Yeah.” He grabs the drink that has been set in front of him and smells it.
“Okay, yeah,” and he orders again.
“Glad I could help.”
“Well then, hello.”
My fame, as usual, precedes me.
“Yes. We’ve met?”
“You trained me.”
Of course I did.
“And you are?”
“I’m the Burner.” The Burner really was the quintessential Burner sort, reminding me of all the Burners I have ever met. Burners have this special quality about them, a sort of devil-may-care attitude about life. They live so in touch with it, appreciating the drift of being alive and being both one with and one apart from, individuals and society, sex, and drugs, and rock and roll and all the other fun of life that makes this an interesting ride. They are fun at a party.
“And this is my friend.”
“Hi, I’m the Bodhisattva,” said the tall, lanky, and dark man sitting next to the Burner.
“Aren’t you just,” I responded; however, a name is probably not more apt for someone so dark of skin. He had a large nose, thick lips and dark eyes, and reminded me very much of images I have seen of ancient Hindu gods.
“So,” the Burner asked, “how can you read on your phone?”
“I’ve been reading on an e-reader for awhile, had an e-book reader, transitioned to this to try to cut down on the amount of stuff I have to carry around.”
“I don’t think I could do it. I love paper.”
“I do too, but when you’ve been in Korea as long as I have, something like this is easier,” I said as I slipped my phone away. “And I never go anywhere without a book.”
The Bodhisattva stood up and pulled a book out of his pocket. I recognized the cover before he had completely extracted it.
“Have you read this?” He asked, holding out his copy of Dune.
“'I must not fear.'” I broke into the refrain, and not the bastardized shorted version, but the full version, “'I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.'”
I breathed out as I finished, a practiced response. The Litany Against Fear has been my personal mantra for many years; it has helped me deal with my PTSD, with the stress and trauma triggers that can paralyze me with fear or through me into a rage. I know it well, as I know the book.
The Burner laughed.
“Yeah, man, yeah, fate. She knows it inside and out man. She’s a cool chick, man. This is gonna be a good night.”
“So, what are you boys up to tonight?” I asked.
“Well, it’s his birthday so we are gonna head back home and celebrate.”
“Why would you do that when you have all of Daegu?”
“Yeah, but we don’t know Daegu, and we have no place to stay.”
“I can fix that.”
Thursday, August 08, 2013
Before heading back to the Korea, the Irish pinged me online.
“We have to move.”
Thus, I had a move looming over my head on the way back to Korea. After landing, the first thing I did was get off the plane and find the Irish a new apartment. Thing is, I was fairly sure when I landed that I would not be staying for long this time.
“This place will do, but are you sure? You can stay for as long as you like.”
Our conversations about it were cut short with him getting ready for a trip to Ireland. Here was the problem: the Irish and the Geisha were flying to Ireland so the Geisha could meet the parents. I would be in Korea, and the person who would be responsible for the move. The Geisha would theoretically be back in time to help.
Basically it was on me.
“Do you want help?” This from my lady love.
“Beautiful, I don’t want to ask.”
“I want to help.”
“I’ll think about it.”
As the two of them took off to the plane I was left with an apartment to pack and less than a week to do it in. With all of it hanging over my head I managed to get absolutely nothing done, I also had a course starting that week and really no time do much of anything. I decided after my rather long first day of work on Saturday that what I really needed was a drink. Having not been out on the town in Korea since damn near April, I decided that I was due. It was dinner time and I suspected that chicken wings were in my future. I said goodbye to the dog and hit the road for some vodka and some wings.
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
“What do you want to eat?”
We had decided to eat in St. Louis, and since it was on the Mississippi, I thought it might be nice to have some fish or something. Much to my surprise though, even though we did a lot of looking, there was no trout to be found anywhere. So we ended up at some sort of city institution called the Broadway Oyster Bar, which we found quiet, quaint, and quick to accommodate us.
They served Cajun, which was close enough to what I was looking for to make us both happy.
He has some sort of gumbo and I had a blackened chicken. We shared some really lovely crawfish poppers as well, and that was most awesome.
I pursued the drink menu while we waited and discovered the Sazerac.
That seemed like a yes.
“So, the Sazerac, you think you can make this without the simple syrup?”
“Let me ask.”
After confirming, they brought me said drink, and it was…yes, it was yes. Of course, there was the part of me that remember that night with an Absinthe martini (it ended in eighteen-year-old girls) so I was sure I knew better, but I drank one anyway. And before we left had another for good measure.
The place had the feel of a seedy Mississippi bar, and as such, was a perfect compliment for the city and the river. The food was good, the music a proper mix of delta blues, dust-bowl folk, and the occasional blues-y rock to make it work. We enjoyed our stay before heading outward and onward on the road again.
“That was nice,” said the Boy.
“Crawfish. Who knew?”
I smiled and tripped on the sidewalk as we made the way back to the car. Running around with the green fairy was the next two hours of the drive.
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
The 7th of July happens to be an anniversary of sorts, and as such, I wanted to do something special. I had started to think about it the weekend prior when we were at the seafood dinner, and finally it just solidified in my mind. I wanted to go to a cave. I like being in the dark and underground and I thought it might be nice to do in the states for a change. Though Korea does have some gorgeous caves, I realize that I had never visited one in the US.
I also found myself recalling, during my US tour, that in a year or so prior I had been contracted to write a bunch of books about the US. Though the project itself was, like many others, a project that drove me batty, I did learn a lot of things that I had either not known or forgotten about the American states. One of those things was that Missouri is the cave state, having close to 6,000 caves. After reading this factoid it must have stuck itself deep down in my brain waiting for just the right moment to reveal itself. That moment, apparently, was while sitting on a couch and thinking about what to do for the 7th. After some research I discovered just the thing, a cave in Missouri that has special tours done by flashlight only. The cave has no installed lighting, and is a bit more advanced then some of the other touring caves nearby. It was perfect!
I told the boy about it.
“Let’s go to a cave.”
“Okay, which one?”
“Cathedral Cave, you have to walk through it and bring your own light.”
“Okay. When are we going?”
I love these conversations. So the following weekend we packed up and drove the six-odd boring hours through the state of Illinois to get to the much-less-boring-to-drive-through state of Missouri, to discover that I had the wrong time for the cave tour, and that there was not, in fact, a tour at four in the afternoon, but there was one the following morning at ten.
We drove on to find the hotel and crashed hard, discovering as we turned on the news about the Asiana flight that had gone down. I had actually been on that flight before, so we listened with alarm for awhile, until finally we had some food and crashed out for some much-needed sleep.
In the morning we woke bright and early, packed up the dog and headed off for what I hoped would be the most awesome cave tour. I waited while the Boy walked the werewolf, and we eventually met up in front of the old shed in the Onondaga State Park and waited for the ranger who would take us on the tour of the caves. While waiting we were eventually accompanied by a nice couple of women with their son, and another couple—who were mostly likely from Poland—with their very young daughter. The ranger commented when he got there that this was perhaps the largest group he had ever taken on the tour.
To get to the cave we did a half-mile hike up the mountain to the great big steel gate that was all locked up. It was explained that the security was necessary, as some twenty years ago the cave did have lights until someone stole all of them. This was not an easy cave to get to, making this a rather audacious crime to commit. At the entrance the ranger bid us wait while he went in ahead, after a few moments he waved us in while he closed and locked the door behind us. In the entry he pointed out some spiders and a few of the other insect residents that lived near the front of the cave.
“We have a big mother wolf spider in here, but I don’t see her at the moment. I didn’t want her to frighten anyone. With a large spider, the best thing is to just let them be. Especially a wolf spider. They carry their young on their bellies, so stepping on them is only going to release about a thousands smaller spiders to crawl up your leg, which will definitely make your problem much worse.”
We all stood in sort of hushed awe after the speech while he opened the door to the cave for us, and down we went. I had a headlamp on loan from the Boy, and he had a flashlight. Since all of us had lights, actually, the Boy never really turned his on unless he was lighting up a feature for me to take a picture of. In the cave it was quite, peaceful and cool. We worked our way down the first set of stairs and up to one of the easier features.
Our ranger explained a number of things to us as we walked through.
“You see this puckering here that looks like popcorn? If you are ever stuck or trapped in a cave that is what you need to look for. This happens when outside air reaches down into the cave. If you see this, you know you are near an entrance.”
We walked further in and he pointed out the stalagmites and stalactites that had formed over many thousands of years.
Later, he pointed out the straw like objects hanging down from the ceiling.
“These are soda straws.” I couldn't remember exactly what that meant, but apparently it was Albert Einstein who eventually discovered their purpose in a cave.
“This is cave bacon,” He said as he pointed out a long hanging-down piece that seemed to cascade off the wall.
“As you may have noticed, those who study caves are sort of obsessed with eating, so a lot of things get named after food.”
We laughed and continued in to the dark depths. Even though we spent a lot of time looking, we never did see a Cathedral Cave snail, which is apparently rather unique. Although it has rather a large cave population, no one is quite sure what it eats, though the running theory is that it might live off magnesium. We did manage to see quite a few of the cave salamanders, and at least three bats, only one of which did a flyby, practically brushing my ear. We climbed down about five hundred feet and hit the end of the cave where we saw the impressive Cathedral Cave feature: a beautiful towering spire of rock that looked much like an alter from a church. It was at this point that we all turned off our lights together to experience a moment of total silence and total darkness.
It was absolutely blissful.
I grabbed my boy's hand.
It was the perfect way to spend a day together.
On the way out we revisited some of the more interesting points, until finally, back in the hot sun, we prepared for our trek down the mountain. It was there that one of the group discovered the wolf spider hanging out in a dead log. We all went over to have a peak at her. She had what seemed like a thousand eyes and looked to be a bit bigger than a tarantula.
“You can see why I didn’t want you all to stumble upon her in the dark.”
The walk down the hill was quiet and contemplative with my love and I hanging in the back, taking in the quiet of the wood and thinking about the deep dark depths we had discovered here. We were silent for a while on our drive home.
Monday, August 05, 2013
I had just gotten off the train and been picked up and taken home. My love was chattering about and as we pulled up to the house he asked me how my day was; around the same time he mentioned that he had only just gotten up and the dog had not been walked.
“Love, take the dog for a walk and I’ll tell you about my day when you get back, okay?”
It being agreed, he hopped back into the car, and I walked into the house. Being that it was a warmish June afternoon, I did the only thing that one would normally do on a June afternoon: took off most of my clothes, grabbed my favorite hanging-out big shirt, a glass of wine, and my computer so I could watch some TV.
Seemed like a good idea at the time.
Mind you, when wearing a big shirt to beat the heat, generally one does not wear much else, and so the reality was that I was in my big shirt and my panties, sitting on my couch, enjoying my wine and watching my TV. That was when I heard a rather large and nasty clap of thunder.
“Huh, storm is coming,” I thought to myself, having not checked the weather today.
Another big clap and I decided I had better get up and shut the windows.
Now, see, I was watching the TV on my computer, and so I just figured that I would take the computer with me since it was portable. As I walked into the main room, what I noticed as I looked out the window was that the rain was starting to fall. Unfortunately it was not falling down. It was rushing horizontally across the lawn and the brush across the street.
I grabbed the computer and dashed to the basement, just as the sky got about seven shades darker. I heard a huge crash, more lightening, thunder, and the sound for all the world of a train rushing by. There I was, fairly sure that a tornado was touching down in my backyard, hiding out in the glow of my computer as the lights crashed out, and not thinking very clearly.
I listened to the wind overhead, wondering if it was in fact a tornado.
Then I started to wonder if I was safe.
Then I started to think about whether or not the house might come down on top of me.
Then it dawned on my that I was—for all intents and purposes—standing about in nothing but a shirt and panties and I was very quickly about to become one of those people on the 9 o'clock news rescued in their bra and panties.
As the wind passed, I decided that as soon as possible I needed to at least get myself in some pants.
About ten minutes later I was in pants and realized that I had sent my love out into the storm and that it was headed his way. This lead to me making a dozen phone calls to a dead phone. I started to freak out pretty quickly after that, and the only thing that kept me from jumping on my bike to try to find the Boy was the Irish, who I was chatting up online.
“Do you even know what park he is in?”
“You have pants now?”
“Sit, drink wine, wait.”
And that is what I did. Until the car pulled back into the driveway and I went running straight after it to find my love. Together we assessed the damage, and tornado or not, it had done a bit, cutting in half a tree in our backyard that destroyed the fence between our yard and our neighbor's yard and pulled down the power on practically the entire block.
Everyone was safe, although we were without power for four days.
Sunday, August 04, 2013
Among the more notable adventures in June during my brief time at home was a very fun wine tour in the part of Michigan that is actually close to Indiana. This came about after an accidental discovery of the wineries last year when driving out to see the Grand Mere. On the drive back from the dunes, I kept noticing signs for wineries, until eventually I convinced my love to pull over so we could go see. He happily drove me around to two of the places that were open, but as it was late (and I was entirely unprepared for surprise wineries) I did not manage to do too much but sip a few things and then pack back into the car.