Had the pleasure of being treated to dinner at Casablanca in HBC last night with my friend and renowned blogger Kevin Kim. I wasn’t very good company I’m afraid because I experienced a coughing fit that lasted throughout the fucking meal. Kevin was gracious about it, and I also appreciated his encouragement as I struggled up the hill to my villa. It was a really fucked up situation.
Today I’ve felt mostly fine, not sure what the fuck is up with that. If I’m not fully recovered when this round of meds is completed I am going to have to get more assertive about finding out just what the fuck is wrong with me. Kevin sent me a link to pneumonia symptoms, but given the tests I have had done I’m thinking that’s not it. I hope the fuck I’m right.
Tomorrow is inauguration day and I’m sure liberal heads will be exploding across our fair nation. I suggest putting that anger into meaningful action! Why the fuck not?
And no, I’m not serious. I want all my liberal countrymen to stick around and enjoy the ride of a lifetime. No fucking way he can be worse than Hillary, right?
I wish the fuck I could learn to be more tolerant though…
I’m off to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek at 0700 tomorrow. They say we are in for snow tonight, but the Captain I talked to said the bus would roll regardless. The Army always goes rolling along after all. Fuckin’ A!
These past few nights my dreams have all been Philippines related. Not in any specific way, they just took place in the Philippines or featured Filipinos.
While my sub-conscious has apparently taken something of leap into the future, here in the present I’m consciously aware that I’m withdrawing from my Korean life. Such as it is.
Yesterday was the opening night of the new dart league season, the first season in over 10 years in which I haven’t participated (well, except for the year I was stuck in the states waiting on the green card for Jee Yeun). I was at the bar of course to cheer for the home team, but more and more it feels like I have one foot out the door.
Eight or nine months to go yet, so I need to maintain some focus on reality, but I’m very much aware of the fact that a new life beckons. I’m not so foolish as to expect it will be better, but given my state of mind, different will suffice.
Korea for me has become a land of broken dreams and broken promises. And there always seems to be something to remind me of that sad fact. So I need to let go and move on. I’ve been wallowing in self-pity for far too long, I fear if I stay here I may drown in it.
In other news, it was back to the doctor on Monday morning. Dr. Joe did the honors this time, and I walked out with another impressive collection of pills. I honestly do think I’m slowly getting better, but without the meds I can’t get a decent nights sleep. And it’s no good being sick and tired. Trust me on that.
I will likely feel better about things when I can start walking again. It’s just been too damn cold. No matter how warm I dress, breathing that cold air wreaks havoc on the lungs. Hopefully next week I’ll get back in my routine.
Ah well, enough of this. Things change. Stick around.
If there was an award for most pessimistic, I probably wouldn’t even be nominated.—anonymous
And so here you go. Not much to say, but that’s never stopped me before, has it?
Work is work but it’s been a pretty decent week. In the midst of expanding the role of my office in a way that I think is both overdue and adds value to the command. I’d call that a win.
Still dealing with the cough, albeit not as intense. I’m sleeping better as well. Tonight is my last round of medicine so here’s hoping I keep making progress without it.
It’s been too damn cold to get much walking in. Yeah, I could just man up and do it anyway. Actually tried that the other night after work. About halfway through my planned 1.5 hour jaunt I started having a coughing fit. Finally had to concede defeat and take a cab home.
It’s never too early to plan ahead…
Table for one please. Again.
But I’m not giving up on happiness! My tour guide posted one of my favorite poems on her Facebook page.
Thanks for the inspiration, Loraine.
Meanwhile, Facebook continues reminding me of memories from years gone by…
Like this one from six years ago….
….and this one of my brothers and mother who will be six years dead next week. Miss you mom!
What else? Well this was my epiphany of the week:
I’m not afraid of love. Just like I’m not afraid of poison. I avoid both, because love is poison to me.
I’ll keep reminding myself of that each time temptation rears her foolish head.
And finally, let me share another vignette from a writer who seems to speak to me on a level I can understand, Steve Rosse. Your mileage may vary.
Today I decided not to do something. Later on I didn’t do something else. Tomorrow I may not do one of a selection of other things.
Having said that, one thing I did do was take a 2 1/2 hour hike around Namsan. Not up to the top, wasn’t feeling quite ready for that yet.
I walked at a comfortable pace and experienced no real difficulties with the lungs or the leg. Progress!
I choose to ignore any possible negative consequences of breathing whatever it is in that haze. Zero vaping during the hike, so maybe that cancels it out…
Something else I didn’t not do today…make a hearty breakfast!
Prepared this after getting my pulled pork roast simmering in the crock pot…
Just so you know….
And finally, in the category of things I’m going to miss about Korea…
….my favorite flower ajumma. Been seeing her in the bars for I don’t know how many years now. Always has a big smile for you whether you buy flowers or not. I usually make it a point to drop man won on a bouquet, even though I have no one to give it to.
When I have ceased to break my wings Against the faultiness of things, And learned that compromises wait Behind each hardly opened gate, When I have looked Life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
And taken in exchange–my youth.
It is strange to be totally in the dark and not having a clue as to why.
I did manage to fumble around for my flashlight and then found the breaker box. Sure enough, the main switch was flipped. Reset it, and it popped back off almost immediately. Contacted the realtor who reached out to the landlord. When I got home from work everything was back in order. Nothing like a little excitement in life to spice things up!
In health news, I was back to see the hilarious Dr. Yoo today. A new chest x-ray revealed much improvement in my lungs, but still a ways to go. I’m sleeping through the night now which is huge. Doing my nebulizer at least twice a day which seems to make my coughing more productive. And best of all I’m not having the shortness of breath episodes now.
I’m slowly working my way up to getting back into a regular walking routine again. I’ve noticed a considerable reduction in stamina (real heavy breathing on the slightest inclines) but this too shall pass I reckon. The leg is still sore, but not so painful I have to rest every five minutes like before. So I guess I’ll just walk it off.
First hike of the year along the Han…
A plaintive plea to which I responded “get over it!” In the long run it will hurt less that way.
And in the category of punctuation matters:
I only drink when I’m alone or with somebody…
And so. More and more I’m feeling my Korean life fading away. Shit’s gettin’ real, but it’s no matter. No distance. It’s the ride.
Other than being sick a lot of the time, the trip to Puerto Galera was enjoyable. Here’s the story in pictures.
Woke up early Thursday morning to find some snow on the ground. Took a cab to Incheon and caught my plane. We left and arrived on time. Good job Korean Air!
Met my tour guide Loraine at the Manila airport. She had secured us transportation to Batangas (about 2 1/2 hours away on the toll road) where we caught the ferry to Puerto Galera.
The “ferry” was this banka boat, capacity 110 brave souls.
Every seat was full for the 1.5 hour trip across the water to PG. Seas were relatively calm which is good, because I’m prone to sea sickness…
Looking forward towards arrival at Puerto Galera…
And there it is!
Can’t remember the name of the town we docked in, but it looked like this. It wasn’t White Beach which was where we were going. To get there we had to take a van ride of 30 minutes or so.
As I mentioned in my previous post, we were booked at the Tribal Hills Mountain Resort. The shuttle van met us in White Beach and drove us straight up the mountain (literally). Checked in and proceeded to our room where we saw the sign stating there would be no power from 1:00 – 5:00 while the generator underwent maintenance. With no air con we took advantage of the huge deck outside our corner room.
the deck was larger than our the room, I do believe…
…and afforded views like this…
…and of course, this.
The resort featured a restaurant with fantastic views and average food, a pool with a bar that closed at midnight except when it closed earlier, like the night we went down at 11:00.
The pool area at night.
The resort rented 4 wheelers, had an archery range, and a guided hike up to some mountain falls. We partook in none of the above, although I really did want to take the falls trek. Lungs and leg convinced me otherwise. The WiFi was spotty at best, but we made do. Mostly missed it on those sleepless nights I mentioned in yesterday’s post.
So instead I hired one of the hotel vehicles to drive us into Sabang, a comparatively large town best known for its diving resorts. 1000 pesos round trip (about 20 bucks). Saw lots of downed trees and storm damage along the way. There is only one road into and out of Sabang, and like most other roads I saw in Puerto Galera, it was quite narrow. Our expert driver managed it quite well however.
Once we arrived, the tour guide recommended a steak house she was familiar with. Once again, the views were much better than the food. I had a fish fillet that was so salty it was inedible. But the mango split we shared for dessert was outstanding.
Loraine the tour guide sets up my phone with a local sim card. It gave me a usable phone number, but I was more interested in the data network for internet. It even worked some of the time!
Beer was cold, which is how I like it!
From our dining perch, the view to the right…
…the view straight ahead…
…and the view to the left.
After lunch I treated Loraine to getting her hair treated. Turns out it was a three hour long process, which gave me time to wander around a bit. More than enough time, because there just ain’t that much to see there. Luckily for me, I’m easily entertained…
Found me a beachside bar featuring cold SML beer and enjoyed the view and watching the passerby…
Lots of dive boats coming in and going out…
And a walkable beach if you were so inclined. I was not.
By the time Loraine’s hair was finished, I was half(?) drunk and hungry. There was a Korean restaurant across the street from the salon so I figured we’d give it a go.
It’s hard to go wrong with samgyapsal, even though I had to cook it myself.
Sabang has a smallish nightlife entertainment scene. We sampled three bars, all of the go-go variety which I pretty much disdain. One drink and out in each of them. One difference from the bars in Angeles City and Subic I’ve visited is that the gals danced one at a time, rather than as a group. I didn’t see the value in that, but what do I know.
Called our driver for the return trip to Lost Hills and he got us there in due course (about a 45 minute drive). Once back in our room I had another bout with my bronchitis issues. Feeling trapped in the room, figured I could be just as miserable at the poolside bar. Which was already closed, more than an hour prior to the posted closing time. Oh well, sat out there anyway. Suggested to the tour guide that we check out one day early and celebrate New Year’s Eve in Manila. There was really nothing left to see in Puerto Galera and I had a desire to be closer to reasonable medical care should my condition continue to worsen.
After breakfast the next morning we caught the banka boat ferry back to Batangas. Upon arrival had several touts offer to drive us back to Manila at a discounted rate of 2500 pesos, including tolls. Although that was a bargain price, I was uneasy about riding in an unlicensed “taxi”, weighing the odds of robbery or some other scam unworthy of the savings. Took a comfortable bus ride instead for 1/3 that price.
I had previously booked a room for January 1 at the Red Planet Hotel in Aseana Center. It’s near the airport, the Mall of Asia, and a couple of casinos. Just prior to checking out of Tribal Hills I went online to Agoda.com to add the 31st to my Red Planet booking. When we arrived at Red Planet there was a long line for check-in, and the clerks didn’t seem particularly competent. When I finally got to the counter and provided my ID the clerk couldn’t find my booking for the 31st. I explained that I had just made it that morning and didn’t have anything other than the email confirmation, which I pulled up and showed her.
She said “sir, this booking is for the Red Planet in Makati”. Damn, I hate when that happens. So, we had to “grab” a taxi across town. (Grab taxi is the Philippines version of Uber apparently. I like it.) On the way to our hotel I noticed an oddly familiar neighborhood–the P. Burgos street nightlife district! I had visited there on my previous Manila adventure back in June. Our hotel turned out to be within easy walking distance, so at least the location of our New Year’s Eve activities was taken care of. I like when that happens!
Got settled in the room then took a cab to the Greenbelt shopping district that the tour guide had suggested as a good place for dinner. She had a Filipino dish, I went with the chicken-on-a-stick (although it had a fancier name (and price) on the menu.). When it was time to head back to our neck of the woods we had a helluva time getting a taxi. All the queues were long and the cabs few and far between. I’m not known for my patience and it was shortly exhausted. I said fuck this, let’s walk away from this area where there is less competition for cabs. Loraine told me later she was surprised how I was brazenly walking down dicey streets with no apparent fear of being robbed. I wasn’t brave, just clueless. Regardless, my plan was not working as there didn’t appear to be any cabs to be found here either. (If I lived in Manila I would definitely get the Grab app on my phone).
In frustration, I walked over to the doorman at a small hotel and offered him 100 pesos if he could fetch me a cab. His efforts standing in the street were no more successful than mine. He asked Loraine in Tagalog where we were going and how much we were willing to pay to get there. After consulting with me, we said 300 pesos (six bucks, about double the taxi fare). He had a friend nearby, and after some discussion he agreed to drive us to our hotel for that price. Problem solved–money talks, we didn’t walk!
Rested up and cleaned up then headed out to Burgos for a night of bar hopping. Surprisingly, many of the bars were lacking the usually ubiquitous numbers of bar girls. Apparently many go home to the provinces for the holidays. No problem as I wasn’t in the market for that anyway. We had a pretty good time bar hopping until the clock was ready to strike 12.
My first kiss of the new year!
After another rough night and little sleep because of my health issue, we decided to make a visit to the Mall of Asia. Loraine had a hankering for pizza, and Shakey’s is the place for pizza in the PI. Which was surprising, because when I was a kid growing up in Southern California, Shakey’s was the big thing! I still remember their commercial jingle:
I’ve been to Mall of America, and this one seems bigger to me…it’s HUGE!
We serve fun at Shakey’s. Also pizza!
A nice little amusement park behind the mall…
Which is situated on Manila Bay…
Later that evening we hit a casino but I wasn’t impressed or in the mood. Did hit an 800 peso slot win, with only a 1000 peso investment!
Then we took a cab to the Ermita area of Manila and visited the famous L.A. Cafe. It’s a notorious hang out for freelance hookers, but also a fun, albeit smoky, bar. Glad I got to experience it.
Next morning it was up and out to the airport. And the rest as they say is history. Except for the being sick part, it was a good time.
Welcome to my first post of 2017! I’d wish you a happy new year but…
….I will wish you more good days than bad instead. My goal is to get out of this year alive!
So, regular readers know that I rang in the New Year in the Philippines. The trip turned out to be about half as good as I hoped. I’m going to do a post about the travel portion of that visit soon. This post is about the bad part.
Here’s a helpful hint: Don’t take a vacation when you are sick. I had my meds and figured I’d either get progressively better or stay about the same. Didn’t think things could get worse until they did.
I arrived with my “tour guide” at our chosen Puerto Galera lodging, the Tribal Hills Mountain Resort pretty much on schedule at 1600 on Thursday the 29th. I’d left home at 0430 though, so that constituted a long day of travel and I was pretty bushed. Now, the day after Christmas PG had taken a direct hit from Typhoon Nina. Lots of downed trees and the roads were pretty much a mess, but the resort was not in bad shape. Except that the power was out. No worries, they had a back up generator. Although from 1300 until 1700 it was down for maintenance. So, we arrived in our room without power, or more importantly, no air conditioning. Took advantage of the wonderful deck off our room with outstanding views of the surrounding mountains and the ocean.
It wasn’t long before I noticed a bite on my arm from what I presume was a mosquito. I belatedly got out my insect repellent and liberally applied it to the exposed areas of my body. Shortly thereafter, a worrying rash appeared all over the arm that was bitten. Then it spread to my neck and chest. And then the other arm. What the fuck? I took a long shower and after a couple of hours the rash receded into nothingness and I felt no further ill-effects from the experience.
I had no idea just how isolated the Tribal Hills Resort actually is. It’s on top of a mountain accessed by a narrow road that goes straight up. I’d judge it to be a steeper climb than getting to the top of the stairs on Namsan. And given my diminished lung capacity and bum leg, that was a non-starter. They resort does offer a free shuttle to the base of the mountain near White Beach. Although truth be told White Beach seemed like a sleepy little village with nothing much of interest to do there. And the shuttle stops running at 2200 hours. So the resort has a restaurant and pool bar, who needs to leave, right?
Except late on the first night I experienced a new low in my battle with my lungs, as in a prolonged period where I had shortness of breath. Which felt like drowning to me. I tried not to panic which would lead to hyperventilation, but it felt like I was going to pass out at any moment. My tour guide asked if I wanted to go the the hospital in Sabang, a good 45 minutes away under the best of circumstances. And these weren’t the best of circumstances in Puerto Galero. Imagining the nightmare of a small town provincial hospital in the PI, I declined the offer. Back home during coughing jags I’d work up a sweat and found some comfort and relief having my fan blowing into my face. I mentioned how I really longed for that fan now, and to her credit my tour guide set out on a midnight quest to find me one. I assumed it would be fruitless because the resort basically shuts down after the last shuttle run, but she had roused a staff member who came to the door with fan in hand shortly thereafter. It did provide a modicum of relief and I made it through a mostly sleepless night.
Things went better for most of the next day, which included a visit to Sabang. So glad I didn’t try to go there for medical assistance! That night I had some breathing problems again, but with the fan and some deep breathing exercises I learned from the web I was able to deal with it. Again, just a couple hours of sleep though. Decided to check out one day early and head back to Manila. Call me a pussy, but the thought of not having access to emergency medical care should it be required was fucking with my mind. Besides, there was just not much to see or do in PG and it seemed like a pointless place to ring in the New Year.
Had a nice New Year’s Eve celebration on P. Burgos street in Makati, coincidentally located very near the hotel I accidentally booked (I’ll cover that in the trip report installment). More of the same, felt fine mostly until it came time to lay down for some sleep, which brought back the coughing fits and shortness of breath. Managed a little more than 2 hours sleep from pure exhaustion, and woke up with the zit from hell on my cheek. What’s up with that?
Last day in country had the worst bout yet and the tour guide suggested I get a nebulizer. I considered it briefly, but figured what I really needed was a doctor’s opinion, so I opted to wait until I got back to Seoul for that. The plane ride from Manila went without incident, even managed a bit of sleep. Once we landed I made it through immigration, bag claim, and customs in a jiffy. Started walking to the AREX station and got hit hard with the lack of breath thing again. The train departed in five minutes so there was no stopping to rest. Made it on board and collapsed in my seat. I did my breathing exercises and told myself to suck it up and calm down, and eventually I did. No other option really, it was after 1900 so my doctor’s clinic was long closed.
Caught a cab from Seoul Station and somehow managed to successfully navigate the cabbie to my villa’s front door through grunts and gestures. Good thing too, because carrying my suitcase up two flights of stairs set off another lack of breath incident. This one wouldn’t go away. Around 0100 I was seriously thinking I needed to go to the emergency room for some oxygen. Couldn’t think of anyone I felt comfortable calling to take me at that ungodly hour, and I figured trying to explain to 119 where I lived was pointless. So I somehow managed to get through the night. Through the power of sheer exhaustion I even managed a couple hours of sleep.
As I prepared to depart for Soonchunhwang hospital this morning, I stepped on the scale. 201 pounds! A new record low for me, and down an amazing 6 pounds from last week. I obviously haven’t been walking at all and on vacation I don’t strictly keep to diet (had a fantastic mango split for example). The weight loss I’m certain is the result of my body and heart working overtime lately. My fit bit advises that my resting heart rate has been in the high 80s to low 90s. During my fits I’ve pushed it up to 130. Prior to my illness my resting heart rate was around 70 and I only saw 130+ at the summit of the stairs to Namsan. I DO NOT recommend this weight loss program however!
Arrived at the International Clinic without an appointment. Receptionist asked if I preferred to see the hilarious Dr. Yoo or the sexy Dr. Kim. I opted for Dr. Yoo who has been treating me for years. But I felt compelled to mention in all other things I would pick Dr. Kim. The receptionist smiled and said she understood.
Explained to Dr. Yoo (who coincidentally also has a cough and he blames Chinese pollution) what was going on, basically everything I’ve said above in more abbreviated form. I know, why is HE so lucky? Get over it! I told him I needed to get this fixed. He said if I had a fever he’d want me in the hospital. I told him being hospitalized was something I really wanted and needed to avoid. So, he had me do blood work, an EKG, a chest x-ray, and a nebulizer treatment. After completing these rounds, I returned to see what Dr. Yoo’s conclusion might be. I was happy that my hard working heart was still doing it’s job. The blood work showed all indicators in the normal range. The x-ray revealed that my lungs remain congested (no duh). And the nebulizer treatment as far as I could tell was a success. At least I wasn’t coughing.
He told me I was on the “borderline” for being hospitalized, but if I was willing to come in everyday for some nebulization we could try that. I suggested that I just purchase my own nebulizer and do that at home. Dr. Yoo was down with that. He also had mentioned having me hospitalized to administer intravenous antibiotics, but he was willing to try something stronger in pill form to see how that works out. So, as of now I remain a free man!
My new best friend!
Don’t we make a nice couple? And check out that zit! Massive!
The doctor does wants me back in the morning for a follow-up, I guess to see how I’m reacting to the meds. I’ve done two nebulizer treatments at home now and have had no issues with the cough or breathing problems. I also had an uninterrupted two hour nap today which left me feeling surprisingly energized.
I’ll go to bed tonight feeling hopeful that the corner will indeed be turned and I can avoid the nightmare of being in a Korean hospital alone with no one to assist me.
I tagged this post in the “me, me, me” category which obviously fits. I’m thinking I need to add a category of “aren’t you glad you’re not me?” I suspect many of my readers come here to feel better about themselves. Hey, glad to be of service. No man is totally worthless, he can always serve as a bad example.
Almost anyway. Depart Incheon International at 0755, which means I’ll depart the villa around 0430. Gonna play it safe and take a taxi to the airport.
Destination: Puerto Galera, Republic of the Philippines. From Manila I’ll cab or bus (depending on how much time I have and how much the cab driver wants to rape me) to Batangas. There I will catch the ferry to PG, about a one hour trip. Bringing along a barf bag in case the seas are rough.
I’m flying on Korean Air at least, having learned my lessons the hard way about “low cost” airlines. I’ll pay extra for comfort and service.
Bag is packed. Once I finish this post, I’ll pack the laptop.
Gonna be a weekend millionaire. Yep, that is an actual 100 dollar bill!
In unrelated news (well, the Japanese did attack the Philippines on the same day as Pearl Harbor, so…) I discovered evidence that it would have been impossible for the Japan to attack Hawaii. Hey, I found it on the internet, it must be true!
What else? Well, always the procrastinator but I did manage to beat the 31 December deadline for filing my medical claims with Blue Cross.
It’s not been the healthiest of years for me. Wore out my scanner last night, but got it done…
“You take a risk giving your heart to anybody. But every time your heart gets stomped on, you pick it up, brush it off, and start looking for somebody else to give it to. You know the risk and you accept it, gladly, because the payoff is worth it. And any love that qualifies itself, any ‘I love her but I don’t trust her’ love, isn’t really love. If you’re not risking everything you have, it’s not love. Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances.” –Steve Rosse
I’m not sure I agree, but I appreciate the sentiment.
And I really enjoyed this story, Call It What It Is. It’s a quick read. Tell me if the main character sounds like anyone you might know…
Alarm set for 0400, reckon I ought to get this shut down so I can get some shut eye.
Back to Soonchunwhang hospital this morning to deal with my leg issue. The hilarious Dr. Yu was not available, but the affable Dr. Joe was there to assist. After describing what had happened, he opined that it was either a back issue or something muscular.
Well, I don’t think it is my back. And I’ve had a similar, although not as severe, issue with my leg in the past. I asked Dr. Joe to review my medical history from a couple of years ago and see what Dr. Yu had prescribed. He did, and I walked out with a prescription for muscle relaxants and pain meds. Oh, and a shot in my ass as well.
Hopefully this will carry me through my holiday vacation plans.
I am pleased to report that it appears I’ve turned the corner on recovering from my persistent cough. Sleeping through the night is wonderful thing indeed!
Sadly, a new issue has now arisen. Yesterday morning as I prepared for my shower I got a sharp, stabbing pain in my back, right at the base of my spine. Took some Motrin and the back pain subsided. When I tried to walk at lunchtime though my left leg was having none of it, the pain was intense. Took some more pain pills. It is fine as long as I am sitting, but once I stand up and start to move, the pain returns.
I suffered through a walk to my Thai massage joint last night hoping a good rubbing would help. Nice massage, but no dice on the pain relief. Getting home last night proved to be a real bitch, I could walk no more than five minutes before I’d have to sit down and rest. The pain is immense and relentless.
Been taking it easy all day today, including a long hot bath. No noticeable improvement thus far. Hopefully I’ll heal soon, otherwise it’s back to the doc on Monday with a whole new issue to discuss. My real concern is not being in shape for my trip to the Philippines next weekend.
If it ain’t one thing it’s another. C’mon! Give me a break!
We were honored today with a visit to our office from the Eighth Army Commanding General, the Command Sergeant Major, and the Eighth Army Chief of Staff.
Our office was competing in the Christmas decoration contest. Haven’t heard the results yet, but I’m expecting a big win for the Directorate of Human Resources Management!
LTG Vandal gave us two thumbs up. I’ll take that as a good sign…
And my boss, the Chief of Staff, seemed pleased. That’s definitely a good sign…
Anyway, we appreciated the kind words and support from the CG. Happy holidays everyone!
UPDATE: Yes! We were awarded the honor of best bedecked office space. Not sure what we get besides accolades and kudos. Will find out on 3 January when I’ve been advised to show up in the Van Fleet Room at 1250.
Let it be forgotten, as a flower is forgotten, Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold, Let it be forgotten forever and ever, Time is a kind friend, he will make us old.
If anyone asks, say it was forgotten Long and long ago, As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall In a long-forgotten snow.
Today marks the sad one year anniversary of the date my wife sent me packing. I’m mostly over it by now, although I do still frequently think of her. I remember when she loved me and wanted to share in my life, although truthfully those days ended a long time before my ultimate departure. I also remember the promises and vows we made to each other that she coldly broke, walking away because she decided she didn’t “have a happy life with me”.
It has been said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And I guess it only hurts until the pain goes away. In one sense this breakup did kill me because I am certainly not the person I was anymore. I’m bitter and cynical and have no faith or trust in the whole concept of “love”. Fuck love, who needs it? I’m no longer in pain because my heart has become a heaping mass of scar tissue. These days I’m satisfied with being comfortably numb.
But don’t mistake my epiphany about the meaninglessness of love as an indication that I’ve abandoned the pursuit of happiness. To the contrary, I’m actually quite optimistic that I will achieve a satisfactory level of joy and contentment on my own terms and in my own way. I know what I want and what I need to be happy, and I expect I will find it in due course.
This is one of my favorite photos of me and Jee Yeun. It was a private moment, not posed, and captured by a friend. As I recall we had spent the weekend in Songtan and we were returning home from my victory in a darts tourney. She was by my side all the way, proud of me, and we loved each other. Or so I like to believe. That’s what I miss, and that is what I hope to find again sometime. Minus the pretense of love. Just someone who will stay by my side, share in my life, and take care of me. I’ll give the same in return. It can and will happen. Someday, somewhere.
So, looking back over my journey this past year I can say I’ve had some adventures, some happy times, and yes, my share of sad days. But nothing worthwhile comes easy and I believe I’ve learned and grown and gained some wisdom that will serve me well in the future. Here’s a quick recap.
I moved into my overpriced but comfortable villa on this day in 2015. And then I proceeded to get drunk every fucking night for two plus months. I guess I was exploring the Leaving Las Vegas option, but really it was more about shutting down my brain so I could sleep at night. I still did my share of shouting at the ceiling though.
Instead of drinking myself into an early grave I wisely chose a more sensible course of action–diet and exercise. The diet was the low carb lifestyle, the exercise was in the form of walking. The former gave me a healthier body, the latter worked wonders on my tortured brain. Together, they resulted in a loss of over 60 pounds. I look better and feel better about myself. That was huge in overcoming my depression.
I did my share of travelling these past 12 months as well. Cambodia, Thailand, and three trips to the Philippines. In fact, I will be returning to the PI to ring in the new year in Puerto Galera, my first time in that locale. My current thinking is that I’ll begin and end 2017 somewhere in the Philippines. Of course, since when have my plans ever gone as planned? That’s why I will remain in my living one day at a time mode, until such time as I run out of days. Heh, that’s the plan at least.
I had two women profess their love for me this year (not at the same time of course!). Both ended in hurt and sadness and re-enforced my belief that love is a sucker’s bet. I feel bad for whatever part I played in bringing pain into those lives, but I will also cherish the memories and good times we shared.
I achieved my goal of becoming debt free.
I presided over the dismantling of my American life. I sold my house and everything in it. In some ways it felt like a funeral for a life I was forced to leave behind. But there is also a sense of freedom now in not being tied down to stuff and the old dreams that that stuff represented. I’m now unencumbered emotionally and materially. That’s a good feeling. Well, for the most part anyway.
I got promoted to the job I retired from six years ago. It’s an even bigger pain in the ass now than it was then, but I couldn’t say no to the money. I’d invested everything I had in a future with Jee Yeun that was not to be. And now I’m in full recovery mode, including financially.
And so as this year ends I’ve come full circle in my life. At some point next year I will re-retire and once again pursue the dream I abandoned six years ago when I chose Jee Yeun over the Philippines. Of course, I’m also six years older and there is no recovering from that.
Life goes on, and so do I. I’ve got a few more adventures in store yet I reckon. Stay tuned!
The only time I feel the pain Is in the sunshine or the rain And I don’t feel no hurt at all Unless you count when teardrops fall I tell the truth ‘cept when I lie It only hurts me when I cry
Long time, no post. Regular readers have likely observed over the years that I periodically have to take an unplanned hiatus from blogging while I engage in the mundane tasks of actually living my life. Not sure why, but sometimes I get in a place where I have to withdraw and re-calibrate. It’s no big deal really and I always find my way back here so that you may share in the boring and often pathetic details of my so-called life. And here I am!
During my absence, I reckon this was my big epiphany: My life is not all that I hoped that it would be. But it is better than I ever imagined it could be.
That’s good enough I suppose.
The other day someone asked me if I had a good memory. I honestly answered “I don’t remember”. Bada bing! Stick around, I’ll be here all week!
Well, I’m still sick. Going on six weeks now and I don’t recall ever being ill for such an elongated period of time. The coughing fits keep me awake at night and consequently I’m always exhausted. Which makes it hard to maintain focus and motivation. Most concerning has been a shortness of breath and lack of stamina. Which continues to impede my walking routine. Not to be overly dramatic about it, but I’ve taken to leaving my apartment door unlocked, just in case I need to be rescued at some point. Although truthfully not many folks would know where to find me should I call out in the night for help. Heh, living on the edge!
I did go back to the international clinic and Soonchunhwang hospital yesterday. It was my fourth visit regarding the cough from hell. This time I got to see my regular physician, the hilarious Dr. Yoo. He didn’t seem to be all that concerned and reassured me that the coughing was natural and needed to excrete the phlegm that is stubbornly clinging to my lungs. He reviewed what the sexy Dr. Kim had previously prescribed and concurred with her course of action. He prescribed a slew of new medications to take over the next ten days and professed his belief that I would be healthy in the new year. One of the pills is supposed to help me make it through the night, and at least last night I did have an uninterrupted sleep. Of course, I was drunk when I went to bed so I can’t attest to the impact of the new medicine. We shall see, but I do feel good enough today to actually sit down and write a boring blog post, so that’s kinda being back to normal.
Well, enough of my drivel. Let’s look at pictures!
Last night was the dart league banquet. Took home the banner for winning the regular season…
….and the plaque for winning the end of season playoffs…
I also took home the “Top Gun” award for B Division. Honestly though I didn’t meet my own performance expectations. Ah well, I have now retired from darts. Or at least I’m done with darts for the remainder of my time in Korea…
We’ve got our office all decorated up for the holidays There’s a contest for best office. The Eighth Army Commanding General will be the judge next week. We expect to win. That’s me supervising the effort…
A fantastic finish to the dart league season with a hard fought victory over the guys and gal from Dillinger’s. Shenanigans came from behind and seized the victory in the team game. It was a great match against an outstanding team. Proud of my teammates because they had to overcome some adversity; one of our top guns was absent and I may as well have not been there either. Can’t remember the last time I threw such shitty darts.
What the Bulls? Seoul International Dart League “B” Division Champions!
We had dedicated our season to our former team Captain, Bridget Werner. She was our “ghost player” all season and I know she would have been thrilled seeing WTB take the regular season and playoff crowns.
Last night was also my swan song for a 10+ year career of darting in SIDL. As I’ve alluded to in previous posts, I’m winding down my Korea life bit by bit. And truthfully, I’ve just lost my passion for the game it seems. Time to move on to something else I suppose.
In unrelated news, I purchased this fancy-dancy throw blanket:
Ain’t she a beaut? It’s a memory from my working life here in Korea that I’ll be able to pack up and move with me where ever I wind up in the world. And hopefully I’ll be leaving all the bad memories behind.
Also renewed my villa lease yesterday, which may seem odd given that I feel like I have one foot out the door already. Well, gotta keep a roof over that other foot. Plus, I committed to seeing Eighth Army through the move to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek. That’s supposed to happen in June/July. My current employment appointment expires in September. So, then or shortly thereafter you can color me gone.
It’s time. My heart can’t take another beat down from Korean women.
I’ve paid my dues Time after time. I’ve done my sentence But committed no crime. And bad mistakes ‒ I’ve made a few. I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face But I’ve come through.
(And I need just go on and on, and on, and on)
We are the champions, my friends, And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end. We are the champions. We are the champions. No time for losers ‘Cause we are the champions of the world.
The good news is I slept through the night without a coughing jag for the first time in a month or so last night. That’s huge, trust me.
This was my bedroom floor on Friday night. It looked about the same on Saturday night. Tissues for the snot, the towel for phlegm.
I got up Sunday morning and did up some steak and eggs…
And a pot roast for dinner…
Then I walked the Han River. 24,000 steps, which is significant because it was the first time since November 21st that I broke 10,000.
The weekend wasn’t all good. Sometimes you just have to let go of someone you care about. That’s never easy for me, but I’ve learned the hard way that love is just not enough. No matter what, you have to take responsibility and be accountable for your actions. The consequences for not doing so are much worse than a broken heart.
I saw this on my walk and took it as a sign…
What else? Well, Shenanigans now has Miller Lite beer on draft.
I had one to celebrate. But beer is not on my menu. And when I do drink beer (primarily darts night) it’s San Miguel Light. I’ve got one foot in the Philippines already, might as well drink the local brew, right?
And since I was having the beer, I figured pulled pork quesadilla’s were in order. Damn the carbs, full speed ahead!
Speaking of which, I climbed on the scale of after my hike yesterday. I figured my lack of activity and undisciplined diet was gonna cost me a few pounds in the wrong direction. To my surprise, I actually lost over a pound–down to 206.9, a new low! I think the coughing fits turned out to be good exercise. I know they caused me to break out in a sweat and made my heart pound. Quite the cardio workout, although I do not recommend it.
I’ve been doing some trolling on Facebook.
I do enjoy making liberal heads explode…
Very happy with this selection as Secretary of Defense…
Bring it on biatch…
And then there was this…
Anyway, I’m marching forward and trying not to look back at what I’m leaving behind.
Oh what’s love got to do, got to do with it What’s love but a second hand emotion What’s love got to do, got to do with it Who needs a heart When a heart can be broken?
Four weeks in and still coughing like a motherfucker. But only in the wee dark hours of the morning. Back to the lovely Dr. Kim, Sun Hee for a follow-up. I was surprised her skirt was even shorter this week than last, and she was surprised the antibiotics hadn’t solved my issues. She listened to my heavy breathing and declared that my lungs sound clear. She prescribed some cough medicine and something to open up my bronchial passages and invited me back to see her again in five days. Hopefully I’ll get a better offer before then.
Here’s hoping the fix is in!
Meanwhile, my dart game has been as sick as I am…
First time I’ve ever been skunked in singles league play…
The dart news isn’t all bad though…
My Monday night team, What the Bulls?, took the semi-finals match 14-3 and will face off Monday night against Dillinger’s for the B Division Championship.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. At least at the DHRM building…
The staff wanted a Christmas tree (or in government parlance, a Holiday tree) and apparently my Bah Humbug! response did not translate…
…sometimes you just gotta roll with the flow, right?
The combination of being sick and the meds to fight being sick along with my nighttime coughing fits depriving me of sleep has left me feeling exhausted and lethargic. In addition to lacking the energy to blog, I’ve pretty much not walked for well over a week. To avoid depression I’ve also refrained from stepping onto the scale. I hope to get back into my routine soon. Maybe even tomorrow if these new meds allow for a night of uninterrupted slumber. We’ll see.
I’ll close with a passage from Stephen King which I rather like (I like it so much that I’ve committed it to memory and have likely posted it here before. It’s worth repeating.
“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
I like Thanksgiving. The food of course. But also the whole concept of stepping back and recognizing that blessings abound and most of us can truthfully find something in our lives worthy of giving thanks.
My life has certainly not turned out the way I envisioned. Last year I celebrated the holiday surrounded by my kids and grandchildren and with my wife comfortably by my side. This year I face an uncertain future, but one that appears more and more likely to feature a solitary existence. And yes, that is my choice. Oddly enough, I feel optimistic that I will discover a way to find happiness as I leave the past behind and explore new adventures and opportunities. I’m thankful for that.
I shared this Thanksgiving with my nephew, a co-worker, and some of my “bar family” from Shenanigans.
We enjoyed turkey…
…and the traditional sides: corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, green been casserole, candied yams, fruit salad, and dinner rolls…
Pecan pie and a pumpkin pie for dessert… Oh, and beer and wine of course.
Put it all together and it looked something like this…
Put us all together and we looked something like this. (excepting Choonae who took the photo).
Asia was well represented at our feast, left to right we have Sonya (Mongolia), Qian (China), and Choonae (Korea).
Speaking of Choonae, she was thankful for having published her travel guide to Cuba. I made sure each of my guests had a copy of their very own. Signed by the author of course!
It was a good day with good food and good friends. I’m thankful for that!
One thing I am not thankful for is this damn cough which continues to bedevil me in the wee hours of the morning. This afternoon I returned to Soonchunhwang hospital’s International Clinic to see if they could fix what’s broken. I didn’t have an appointment. The hilarious Dr. Yoo was gone for the day, Dr. Joe was not working, but the lovely Dr. Kim, Sun Hee was available to feed my fantasies assist me. Prettiest doctor I ever did see, and the first time I’ve been treated by a doc in a short skirt. Yeah, I’m pathetic I know. Regardless, she agreed with me that three weeks was too long to be coughing. She took my temperature (no fever) and listened to my lungs. Then she said “let’s get a chest x-ray”. I bit my tongue and as it turns out, I was the only one getting my chest examined. We reviewed the results together however. She had pulled up an earlier x-ray and compared it with today’s. She said the expanded areas of white on the screen were indicative of infection. She told me she’d prescribe some medication and if I wasn’t better in a week, I should come see her again. Talk about conflicting motivations!
I didn’t say no to these drugs. Hope they work this time!
I’m still in a low energy mode as well, which is reflected in my pathetic step counts. My nephew beat me for the first time ever last week and I’m not happy about that. I’m hoping to get back into the program soon. Maybe even tomorrow. We’ll see.
Today was a little bit out of the ordinary. I attended the Joint Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) Committee meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
I didn’t want to look like a rube in front of all the brass and big shots by taking tourist pics, but I did sneak this one in…
And I fed my hungry ego with this one…
I’m the co-chair of the Labor Subcommittee, but I was glad none of our issues were deemed worthy enough to require my active participation in the discussions, although a couple were mentioned. Obviously I can’t talk about anything that took place, but it was fascinating to watch the Alliance working through issues of mutual concern. This is the 50th anniversary of the SOFA and despite language, cultural, and political barriers the ROK/USA partnership marches on. Katchi Kapshida!
My biggest fear was I’d go into one of my coughing jags during the meeting, but good fortune was with me today. I’ve been mostly cough free since an early morning bout so maybe I’ve turned the corner. If not, I’ll go back to the doc on Friday.
Tomorrow my office will have an “organization day” during which we will enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast hosted by my Deputy.
I’m contributing a sweet potato pie and a pecan pie…