Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Home Sweet Hell

My bar is overrun by the pretty young set looking to get laid. Ah the fickle nature of Korea. Where are my ugly, unattractive dykes, where are the flaming homo boys, where are the socially inept rejects that come here to work because at home they are unemployable? Why am I surrounded by hot young twenty somethings traveling abroad for a year of experience? Why? In my bar! In my place, my space, my little slice of home, turned into a college pick up joint.

The girls primp and preen themselves with the blond hair moving and shaking in the wind. They travel to the bathroom together to powder noses and discuss the prospects. The men puff up their chest and volley and jockey for key positions at key tables full of loose girls so obvious it makes my eyes bleed. Men are so stupid, they think there is a challenge. All the need to do to get laid is ignore the pretty girls and they'd have a harem around their feet before they could kick through the crowd to get their next beer. Stupid boys. Stupid girls. Everyone making me uncomfortable.

I sit in my little corner, my space, claimed, mine, and drink my tequila slowly, annoyed by it. I came for the live music. I came for the band. Where are my musicians? The voices cut on hard living and full of something real, life, pain, experience. The first guitarist up tonight sings pop songs. The second group a band which meticulously announces all the players hits a few drums beats and launches into some neo-fascist punk that rapes my ears. Fuck it. I'm going home.

My bed is warm, and quiet. I cry myself to sleep and wish sometimes that my home sweet home did not change every single minute. I wish, sometimes, for something lasting, something to hold onto. I have nothing but myself to cling to. My home sweet home a cold nightmarish hell.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Perverse Joy

At work they have put my desk directly in front of the office door. I sit and work at my computer but the person who is entering the door can only see the back of my head when they enter. My office chair is long deep and so usually the only thing that can be seen is my dark curly hair, my typing fingers, and a bit of my suit jacket.

I take perverse joy in hearing a Korean call out from the door for me, or tap me on the shoulder to get my attention, and watching as when I turn and they look into my wide round eyes they either jump, pull back, or swear in their horror that I am not Korean.

I want to believe it is wrong but I take too much such simple pleasure from it to believe it is really that bad.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Red Mug

Traveling through ice and wind and snow, traveling cross country and stopping here and there, traveling around, many places to stop and no places to stop, and all this wandering making a soul weary. The soul was already weary. So it was that on a cold cold night I went in search of magick after a long hard day. Looking for magick in the falling snow, looking for magick in enchanted forests in the middle of the city, looking for magick in old friends. I looked for magick in places that would warm my heart, and found in a red mug.

The thing with traveling hard core, which is they way I tend to do it, is that it rides on the soul after a bit. You forget who you are; you forget that you are doing this for a reason and that the road is not actively trying to do anything to you. My frame of mind did not help during this traveling season. As soon as I found a focus on one thing, a focal point to pull me out of myself and lock my brain into a singular direction I would find some reminder to throw me back into nonbinding wavering; tittering on a precipice with only emptiness and nothing waiting at the bottom.

So it was that I found myself at the end of another long day making decisions about what to do with another evening at hand. Continue on the road or stop, make a change, something else. It was then, at this point that it was realized that further travel would make it impossible to see one whom I wished greatly to see. Further travel would take me the wrong way around and make it impossible to return to find my way. What I needed was to rediscover myself. Explore those dark places in my psyche that were holding me down and not letting me go, preventing my mind from freeing itself and that is when it came to me. I didn't need more travel, I needed more Psyche.

The problem of course was more in finding Psyche. Where do you begin to look, where could someone like Psyche live? I had a general sense of where to go, but where to find her? After driving for some time outside of Philly it was determined that the correct street had been located, but even on the right street the right house was no were to be seen. Such is the nature of Psyche. I read house numbers several times and finally determined that the house in question did not exist. I started walking behind street houses in the hopes that maybe, just maybe it might exist somewhere.

There was a wood, a fairy type wood that was deep and dark and full of small lights around the ground. A magick wood in the middle of the big city, and I knew I must be close to Psyche; such a place is made for Psyche. The paths were buried under snow, but eventually I was able to find a path that lead deeper into the magical forest and closer to a door. A pretty little log cabin peeked up in the moonlight, a brownish red jewel in this mystic land. I knocked on the door and was disappointed to find no answer. I looked in the window and knew I had to have the right place. I could see a fire place that stretched from floor to ceiling, a lamp that looked like it belonged in some brothel, a portrait of a fairy princess and a pair of wings. This had to be it.

I started to walk away thinking perhaps to wait somewhere warmer, as the cold air pressed down even in a fairy wood, and there walking towards me was a figure I recognized. I might not have seen that walk in six years but it didn't matter, I looked and I knew who it was before the arms wrapped around my neck and the warm lips hit my cheek. I knew who it was before I heard the "Sara" gasped from the delicate throat. This was my Psyche, and I felt for the first time in five days like I was actually home.

Psyche was exactly what I needed, or at least Psyche was exactly what I needed to understand. We sat on a deep couch in front of the fireplace that stretched up forever and drank cups of tea from red mugs that she produced like magic from her kitchen. The tea made everything seem easier, but it was the red cup that captured my imagination. Something about holding it to my lips in a mirror of my friend, of knowing that her hands had handled it, of knowing that she filled it with her herbs and held it to her bosom on cold nights; all these things in the lift of a glass and the sharing of words; all of this in the bottom of a red mug.

"I'm going to keep this mug." I said to her.

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am."

"Dammit. You know I won't stop you if you really want to."

"I know."

We drank tea all night and talked. We talked about all those things that were driving us over the last month, both of us, our separate pains, or madness, our horrors, our remembrances, or friends, our loves, our pasts, and our futures. We laughed, we sighed, we came to just this side of weeping without ever crossing it and collapsing into tears. Night stretched on before us without ending, but time moved so slowly that even after talking for a hundred years we had only passed a few hours of the evening and around three in the morning we finally decided to rest and continue in the morning.

I heard her moving around when it seemed like I had hardly slept, but it didn't matter. I woke and I went to her and we sat around her kitchen table while she boiled more herbs for her mug. We talked more, chatted, now more uneasily, knowing that this was coming to an end, knowing that all this talk had only gotten us so far and that I in my foolishness and maybe selfishness was taking myself away again, would leave the fairy kingdom and go back to Korea with all my own problems and so far away from so many good friends.

Psyche left me, walking off her wooden porch into the morning, leaving me alone in the kitchen to contemplate locking up her apartment. I made sure the light was for her immortal fish. I made sure that the windows were locked and the heat was adjusted. I took a few pictures as I went, to remember it all by, so when I thought about it later I would know that this was real, even if it was highly fantastic. Before shutting the door and walking away to follow Psyche's tracks in the snow, I reached into the cabinet and plucked the red mug from where it rested on the shelf, leaving a note in its place on the shelf. And now, home, surrounded by Korea I found myself sipping my warm drink form the warmly colored mug and feeling a kind of peace I had not expected to know; a wonderful powerful magickal connection to a friend left behind, a solace at the bottom of my mug.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Brightly on the Turnpike

I couldn't help as I stared at the brilliant red glow thinking that it was absolutely beautiful. It was the kind of glow you imagine red hot iron being just before the black smith heads in to place the blows that will bend and shape that metal into the most beautiful weaponry; the blazing deep orange-ish red that in the hands of a skilled craftsman can become a beautiful thing. It was a warm, satisfying red glow. I remember thinking all of this followed quickly by, "If only it weren't the car engine."

Unfortunately for me however, as I stood on the Pennsylvania turnpike a mere three minutes before the kick-off of the most anticipated Superbowl a Chicagoan can hope for, it was in fact the glowing of the car engine, the death sign, the end, and it was very very cold. Sam had been the driver and just a few moments before the car came to a stop we were discussing the age of the car while trying to find an a.m. station that might be carrying the game. Suddenly a power surge, a dead whining, and loss of power had the car pulled over and us looking under the hood. To make it all a little more interesting the wind chill that night was about twenty-two below (Fahrenheit for you State dwellers) and I suddenly had to pee.

After standing for a few more minutes in the warmth of the melting engine it was decided that it would be better to get back into the car before we froze to death and so we did. At this point we had a problem. No cell phone, no flares, no emergency kit, no nothing and stuck on the turnpike. Sam started to scribble out a note to tape to the windshield but I figured that considering the 25 to 40 mph wind gusts, lack of tape, darkness, and freezing cold, that plan would not work out. Sam used a flashlight to write the note. I had an idea.

I grabbed the flashlight first and though about my father. My father, who in the particular situation would have been very proud of me, was convinced that I need to be a survivalist. I'm not really sure why, maybe at some point he had met my mother, but as it were he felt very strongly that I be able to get myself out of any kind of emergency situation. This lead to among other things him guaranteeing that I knew how to drive a stick, making sure I knew how to start a fire without matches, mathematics, and small amounts of Morse code. I figure at this point the only code we really needed was an S.O.S. so I started breaking up light beams out the back window while the car grew cold around us.

A few minutes later and freezing fingers I realized that we were going to freeze if we didn't change up the plan. Sam and I piled in the back seat with the warm fuzzy Chow dog between us, pulled up some sleeping bags we had packed for just this purpose, and hunkered down. I continued with the S.O.S and we discussed how long it might take us to get seen or get help; while this particular discussion waged a car suddenly pulled over and few minutes later I saw a flashlight responding and someone running back to meet us. When our help got to the door it took me only a second to recognize the person as an volunteer fire fighter equipped with among other things a walkie-talkie and a CB radio in the car. He called in about our problem and said he'd be back in a second. While we waited a junior member of the team (kid could not have been more then twelve) ran up to the car where a short sleeved shirt, sweat pants, and nice green John deer hat. He tapped on the window and when I rolled it down he said very politely "You folks just stay calm." I think at this point I would have been a bit more calm if the teacher in my didn't want to yell at the kid about getting out of the cold and putting a coat on. I managed instead to agree that we would and he ran back to the other car. The first VFD ran back to tell us he had called for help and someone should be out shortly.

They waited for a bit but eventually after twenty minutes and no help decided to push on. I already knew it might take a bit for us to get off the highway and so sleeping bags were arranged to cover the doors and most of the back of our head to prevent the chill that was setting in. Bags were further tossed from the front seat to the back and after some shifting around I finally decided that I had to pee badly enough to brave the extreme freezing and just go for it. Thank goodness for my Korean training. If nothing else I have learned how to take a nice squat without peeing in my shoes and this particular came in handy because ice pee on top of netherworld frostbite would not have worked to make me a happier camper.

About an hour later a tow truck finally pulled up to investigate us and give us a hand. I suspect that the tow truck waited until half time to actually answer the previous emergency call and I can't really say that I could blame him. Unfortunately since the engine was in fact melted radio was not accessible which prevented us from listening to the game as we sat in the back seat. After a few minutes of discussion we were moved from the back of the car to the front of a super warm tow truck and on our way down the road to Donegal, PA just outside of Pittsburgh. The car was dropped at a just of the turnpike mechanic and I was taken first to a motel to make arrangements for the night that would include us staying in a room that permitted dogs.

Of course, the motel did not permit dogs, however I was able to find in the long haired stringy stoner behind the counter and instant comrade. A few minutes later and a twenty-five dollar bribe shorter a room was opened up with unlimited phone access and an extra bed for the dog. The gods smile upon the happy stoner, and I must say that Earl, if you are out there reading this, may the smile well upon you. When you light up I hope you buds glow as brightly as car engine melting on a cold winter night.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Implacable, Intractable, You

The thing that sucks about having a computer with Wifi access is that you can pretty much enter the internet from anywhere in the world. I have proved this particular point numerous times already on my little vacation. I cannot get away from you, so I will write anyway, even though I did not anticipate writing at all until I returned to Korea. Such is my addiction to the internet and the people who read me. Such is my addiction to those lurkers out there who might chuckle or laugh in their beer over silly stories crafted by Sara.

And so it is that I found myself sitting in the snow on darkish evening at the end of Philadelphia in a car wondering if I had the right address, and fairly sure that I did. I was thinking as I was sitting in the car that I was not perhaps sure the address was correct, so I opened up my computer. My faithful companion and driver doubted my ability. "No, no, we are in America, land of the free internet, home of the people who don't know how to secure a connection. I know I can get online."

And with these fateful words I push the buttons on my computer to make it click and flicker and start and then do a quick search for available networks, and sure enough within ten minutes I've hacked a loose feed and have pulled up ye ol' Myspace page to figure out what is going on the big bad world. The snow started falling and I checked knowing I was in fact in the right place yet again.

This was only the second time that having a live feed appear when needed had proved a special trick. While sitting in the parking lot of a Chinese Restaurant in Atlantic City I decided to take a moment to look up directions to this very same spot I was know parked in front of, and sure enough, after a few clicks and misses I had a hot feed that got me directions to the end of Philly and cottages in the woods.

And even before this, as I lamented and despaired while sitting in a shabby motel in the middle of Pittsburgh. As I lamented and lonely and wondering what to do about the cars that were not working and the life that seemed to be getting out of hand, well there we are sure enough, access was at my fingertips when I wanted it, and I found it, and logged in and checked my email. I'm so angry about all of this.

This trip home was supposed to cure me of my addictions. It was supposed to force from my head, my fingers, my mind, this insatiable need to thrust my presence ever more onto the growing black hole that the internet has become for me. America was supposed to be backward enough to dissuade me from all my sometimes passions and insane writing. But no, no America, you have failed me. At some point you stopped being lackadaisical and actually caught up with the rest of the universe so that the same tricks I can pull so easily in Korea I can now pull just as easily here. Oh, America, how you have failed me.

And so it is that even now I sit on a wireless connection upon a couch luxuriating at the fabulous Ms. Skimmel's and writing. Why do I write? Because I can, surely, but much more so because I know that somewhere deep down people may read it, and that fact that you are out there with your own connection, your hotwire into the collective mindshare that is the web, that drives me to write this even though I'm supposed to be on vacation.

Ah well, I relent and do what must be done. I'll write you stories, my pretties, stories and stories, but I must decide how to write and what, but oh the stories I will eventually tell. For now I will continue to be annoyed by my inability to get away from it all when I tried so hard to do it.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Technicolor Madness

The States is a technicolor madness, I had forgotten how much color there is here in this land of Oz. There is no sameness, everything is different. Everyone looks different, smells different, speaks different.

There is an idle slowness of pace here that makes me uncomfortable and nauseous. Maybe it was my own experience with my forty hour day that made it seem so endless, but I don't believe that to be true. Time crawled as people moved around and I took up the role of "pleasant small talk" maker to entertain the crowds. I sing and sing and sing, because this is what I must do to maintain the roles I've carved for myself with this family I've carved out of nothing.

My mind is a furor and fancy. Flitting about flighty and still unhinged and I begin to wonder how long someone can go mad before they really are? Not much longer, I'm well, my head is settled, but the things around me seem to gnash at more then they have before.

I'm afraid of the US, I realize. Too much living here, too much hope, and dream, and unrest, and things unfilled, unsatisfied; too many wants and desires, too much stasis. Have I changed so much that without the fast moving, fast talking pace of my own private hinterland that I am nothing? Life is a projection. I listen to the conversation around me because I can hear it and understand it for the first time in a year and the idleness frightens me, horrifies me. I think on Peggy Lee and hum to myself while I'm listening "Is that all there is?" Everyone looks at my strangely. I unsettle and upset. I can see it in the subtle body movements of those around me. A hand pulled away quickly, eyes averted, arms cross, people move closer to their friends, and talk slower, and try not to see me, and I try not to be seen. We have a mutual dislike of these unknowns. We have a mutual desire to disassociate with this self construct that we are living. Perhaps I will be lucky and dissemble completely.

I make my plans and send out the phone calls and shouts in the dark. Heavy planning is how I will get through this. I know where I will be and when, there is no down time, no time to think, no time to mull on anything or over anything. Still too much time, I sleep at night and my dreams remain a carnival of all my worst nightmares and I cannot settle. I wake up with arms around me and I weep anyway because I have no control over my thoughts. My therapist would lament all that hard work gone for naught. Where is my power if I can't take it here?

Too many memories here, too much living, and all of it no longer me. No art for a month, and I find my mind full of thought. Creative urge is taking over and needs release, outlet that I have not had. I push creativity into everything else. I push it into idle conversation, reading, emotion, sex, memory, pushing and shaping and changing and renewing and remaking and still it's not enough. Manic desire, manic artist, I wonder if the other artists ever felt this. I wonder if I will ever achieve more then my own mediocre self satisfaction; a mind fuck that works only on me.

I write and I write and I write, otherwise my thoughts would still haunt me. I weed out thoughts, find them where they hide and push out. Push those thoughts onto the screen because I have become accustomed to pushing those thoughts out and setting myself free. I want the allusive freedom that comes with confession, but I know me too well. All those things I need to say will never come out completely and this is a good thing.

The States are strange. I prepare to drive across the country in a two days and I wonder how much more madness I can take. A sign I read on the turn towards the stopping place at this leg of the journey says "Wanted Alive: 10 families." The sign stood outside a church and I nearly wet myself for laughing at the absurdity and horror of it as I try settling my mind back around this cast-off home.