Roomies

So a guy moved into my house last night.  I haven’t had a roommate (excluding girlfriends) since my older brother and I shared an apartment back in the 1970s.  I honestly don’t know much about the guy who moved in other than he’s a decent dart player and he came here from Alabama a few weeks ago.  He’s been staying in a hotel since his arrival which as you might expect is a budget buster.  So I offered up my guest room which he gladly accepted.

I have a Korean-style mattress in that bedroom and I warned him it was hard.  I remember when I first moved into my Korean apartment it had a similar bed.  Those first couple of weeks were uncomfortable but I got to where I prefer a hard mattress.  When I went shopping for a bedroom set here in the states it took me awhile to find a mattress anywhere near as hard as to what I’d become accustomed.  Finally after visiting several stores and describing what I wanted one place offered up a mattress they called the “back breaker”.  Still softer than I’d prefer, but it works.   Well, I asked my new roommate Brandon how he slept last night and he just grunted and said “it’s gonna take some getting used to”.

Anyway, I’ve gotten to where I prefer my solitude but hopefully this arrangement will only be for a couple of weeks.  I plan to get out of Dodge as quickly as circumstances permit.  When I leave Brandon is going to rent my house.  He’s basically taking it “as is” which means I don’t have to deal with the hassle and expense of storing my furniture and other worldly possessions.  That works for him as well because all he brought with him from Alabama was a couple of suitcases.   The rent income will also help defray the expense of finding a place close to the Army base.  My goal is to be close enough to walk to work.

Speaking of work, my potential employer advises that things are “looking good”.  The hiring package is with USFK awaiting approval.  He thinks I’ll have an answer Monday.  The last thing I need to provide is my university transcript which should arrive early next week.  I’ve got to pay my own way to Korea so I’m guessing I’ll be screwed on airfare with a short notice purchase.  Maybe I’ve accumulated enough frequent flier miles to get a free or at least a discounted ticket.  We’ll see.

If things go as I hope I’d like to arrive in Korea on or around December 12.  A lot to get done between now and then, but I’ve got nothing but time on my hands I suppose.  Now that I’ve completed this post I can re-cross my fingers.

What a friend we have in Jesus!

call jesus

Regular readers know that I’ve been feeling a little depressed lately.  I had a particularly bad time of it yesterday, so I called the suicide hotline number.  Got transferred to a call center in Pakistan.  When I told they guy who answered I was thinking about killing myself he got all excited and asked “can you drive a truck?”

Bada bing!

Boaring

What the fuck are you doing on my mountain?

What the fuck are you doing on my mountain?

Heard from the wife today and she related an encounter she had with a pack (herd?) of wild boars whilst hiking on Bukhansan.  She said there were five or six of them and they were very close.  She was so scared that she stood completely still for thirty minutes until the beasts moved away.  She ended her story with the statement “I thought I was gonna die”. Although she was genuinely frightened by the experience I thought it was pretty funny. Then I read up a little on the South Korean variety of this beast and learned they can and do attack humans.  In fact, by standing completely still Jee Yeun did exactly what the experts suggest to avoid provoking the boar to violence.

A South Korean boar in the wild.  They are bigger than I imagined.

A South Korean boar in the wild. They are bigger than I imagined.

Nothing so exciting taking place on this side of the Pacific.  It’s Thanksgiving day and I’m spending it alone.  By choice mind you.  I had a gracious invitation from the mother of my children to join them for a family celebration of the holiday, but I declined.  I can’t say why precisely and I hope I didn’t hurt any feelings.  I’m just not feeling sociable these days I guess.

This will have to do.

This will have to do.

Vaporized

So the daughter gifted me a vapor e-cigarette set tonight.  I’ve tried the vapor route before with several different varieties but found them all wanting.  This one though seems quite satisfying thus far.

Getting my nicotine fix without all the other poisons!

Getting my nicotine fix without all the other poisons!

Tried it out at a darts match tonight.  Competition always brings on the urge to smoke, but I made it through an entire singles match with just a few puffs of vapor.  Won 15-1 too, so I call that a successful debut for my new tool.

As a reward for my good behavior I broke out the new blender.

With a push of the button this...

With a push of the button this…

...became this.  Not bad if I do say so myself...

…became this. Not bad if I do say so myself…

In other news, there is none re: the pending job.  So, they haven’t said no yet which is good.  I’m told that given the short holiday week it will be Monday at the earliest before I learn my fate.  Hope springs eternal and all that.  But I wasn’t hoping I’d be able to tell my prospective boss “Thanks for Giving me a job”.  Oh well, I’ll settle for an early Christmas present.

Gone to South Korea in my mind

Two o’clock in the morning and it looks like it’s gonna be another sleepless night…

Feeling homesick so I watched a couple of Korean movies tonight.  My Sassy Girl and Old Boy. I’ve seen them both before, but what the hell.  My Sassy Girl is a sappy romantic comedy but it works for me every time I see it for some reason.  You can watch it on YouTube if you are so inclined. Old Boy is just crazy whacked.  I didn’t remember just how fucked up it truly is until I saw it again.  You’ve got to see it to believe it, and I won’t spoil it for you here if you haven’t.  It truly is an outstanding film.  Interestingly, both of these movies were remade in the USA.  I’ve not watched either American version though and the reviews I read were not very kind.

I guess my self-inflicted immersion in Korean film arts and culture was somewhat of a song writing inspiration.  Because I sat down and wrote stole appropriated one.  So with apologies to James Taylor here you go: [Update: sorry about the pagination, I’ve tried six ways to Sunday to get it right but WordPress refuses to cooperate]

In my mind I’m going to South Korea,

Riding on the Blue Line,

Having galbi with some rice wine

And it seems just like a friend of mine that I’ve left behind

Yes, I’m going to South Korea in my mind.

 

Jee Yeun she’s my smiling sun,

Want to hike with her and watch it shine,
Watch her climbing Bukhansan.

The lonely fear’s disappearing now, I’m flying, ain’t I?

I’m going to South Korea in my mind.

 

There ain’t no doubt in no ones mind

That Seoul’s the finest town around,

The cars and the bars it all suits me fine.

And hey, babe, we’ll be together, I’m trying, ain’t I?

I’m going to South Korea in my mind.

 

Dark and lonely late tonight,

I think I might have heard Incheon calling.
Want to catch that flight and drink some Hite.

And signs that might be omens say I’m going, going,

I’m gone to South Korea in my mind.

 

I’ve done my best to make this work

But I’ve got to cross that ocean soon

And it seems like I’ve been far away forever,

You must forgive me

If I’m up and gone to South Korea in my mind.

 

In my mind I’m going to South Korea,

Riding on the Blue Line,

Having galbi with some rice wine,

And it seems just like a friend of mine that I’ve left behind

Yes, I’m going to South Korea in my mind.

Yeah I know, I won’t quit my day job.  Provided I ever get one.

Damn, speaking of Korea I just got an alert on my credit card about a potential fraudulent charge.  I called and found out that a charge was made at a clothing store in Seoul.  I told them that was an authorized purchase.  Unfortunately, they declined the charge.  Must have been embarrassing for my yobo.  Anyway, they promised not to decline future purchases in Korea and they were very apologetic, so what are you going to do?

Hey, let’s end the night (or more aptly, start the morning) with James Taylor playing the song his way…

Blender rendered…

…useless.  I had the jar in the sink to be washed and I broke the damn thing.  Rather than look for a replacement jar I just went to Amazon and bought a new one.

May you live long and render many tasty smoothies.  Which is all I ever use it for.  Strawberries, bananas, peanut butter, ice cream and milk.  Yum!

May you live long and render many tasty smoothies. Which is all I ever use it for. Strawberries, bananas, peanut butter, ice cream and milk. Yum!

Three months into my enforced bachelorhood I finally had to admit defeat and hire a maid.  Oh, don’t get me wrong I do the laundry and dishes and wipe down the counter tops now and again.  Hell, I’ve even swept the floors once or twice.  But my vacuum doesn’t suck (which paradoxically means it does) and mopping and dusting and the like are just not my forte.  So I’ll pay someone to do the work I won’t.  Of course, this morning I’ve been busy cleaning the house in preparation for someone else coming in to clean it.  I do have my pride and exposing my general piggish-ness to a stranger is more than I can bear.

What else?  Well, my hiring package was submitted Friday to the folks at USFK who will judge whether I’m fit to be employed.  More precisely, they will determine if I am indeed a resident of the USA.  Which should be a no brainer, but then again no one ever went broke betting against the government acting intelligently.  I just hope a prompt decision is made so I can escape my current state of limbo.

Looks like I’ll be spending Thanksgiving alone.  The kids are going to their mother’s house for the feast.  I was given an invite but seeing as how that marriage never happened I reckon I don’t belong.

And I do believe that’s all she wrote.  Or all I did anyway.

I’ll take a pass on that thank you very much

As I pursue my quest for gainful employment I continue to overcome the hurdles and obstacles placed in my path so as to be found an acceptable worker bee by my Uncle Sam and his minions.

Today I was tested.  Everyone who comes to Korea to work for USFK is required to complete a course in “Theater Specific Training” prior to their arrival on the peninsula.  The course is intended to make you familiar with certain USFK policies and procedures, familiarize yourself with Korean law and requirements for SOFA personnel, and provide you with a general understanding of the expectations that will ensure you are a worthy ambassador for the USA.  I had actually done the training before back in the day, but it is amazing just how much you forget.

Anyway, just getting to the training was a bit of an adventure.  I was sent a link to the training website but for some inexplicable reason my laptop would not open any .mil webpage.  I was more than a little concerned about this, and in desperation I fired up my old desktop computer.  It worked like a charm.  I’m surmising that my laptop must be infected by some malware that the government website blocks.  I’ll have to see about getting that fixed I reckon.

Once I had accessed the USFK page and followed the link to the Joint Knowledge Online (JKO) training site I was faced with a classic Catch-22.  I couldn’t access the training system without a CAC card, but I can’t get a CAC card until I am in Korea.  And I can’t come to Korea until I have completed the training.  Fortunately, on page 14 of the training instructions I found a work-around.  This required completion of a form which I emailed to a compliance officer in Korea who then vouched for my authenticity to the folks at JKO who then provided me a temporary log-in good for 24 hours.  So this morning I got busy.

I wound up taking the test twice.  There were four “Theater Specific” training options.  Two for PCS (permanent change of station) and two for TDY (temporary duty).  Well, I’m going for PCS but I wasn’t sure which one of those  to take.  I did the first and decided it was more military oriented, so I did the second which was indeed more civilian centric.  I will say that my test taking skills are a tad rusty as I missed a couple of questions by not carefully reading the multiple choice options.  I was also a little perturbed that the training permitted me to skip the module on Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) since I have no dependent children.  But both tests had questions pertaining to DoDDs on the final exam, and those I got wrong.  Well, I passed so mission accomplished and all that.

So as things now stand I’ve signed the counseling memo for my ration control violations, my Military Police check came back clean, my security clearance is in the system, albeit “archived” and I am assuming it can be resurrected.  I think all that is left is a determination of my status as an “ordinary resident” of the USA.  Hell, I consider myself extraordinary but it’s not my call.

Feeling cautiously optimistic at this point, but keeping my fingers crossed regardless.

trainingcert

 

 

That was quick

Last week I wrote about a letter I received from the Catholic Diocese in Charleston asking some questions regarding the circumstances of my first marriage (39 years ago).  Today’s mail brought the news that since we “did not follow the required form of marriage (canon 1108)” I am not bound to that marriage and I am “now free to contract a marriage in the Catholic Church”.   Ain’t that sweet?  Although I do wonder how my current Buddhist wife would feel about me marrying a Catholic.  Of course, I’m not sure the Diocese intended to grant dispensation for my other previous marriages (to a Baptist and a Maronite version of Catholic).

Speaking of wives, I was speaking to my present absent wife tonight.  It was our first contact in 12 days and our conversation was pleasantly reassuring.  As I suspected when my rational mind was in control (which isn’t often of late) she had been in the countryside with her mother without access to the internet.  And then she had to participate in the annual kimchee making rituals.  And now she is sick.  I gave her a verbal back rub and we promised to do a better job of staying in touch until I can physically touch her again.  Which I hope won’t be too much longer in coming.

Anyway, I’ll rest easier tonight.  Carrying the burden of having married in contravention canon 1108 must have been weighing heavier on my soul than I imagined.

Pursuing plan “A”

I’ve got another iron in the fire in my quest to secure employment in the ROK.  Submitted an application and a boat load of other documentation for a gig as an Admin Test Monitor.  Trust me, it’s not as exciting as it sounds.  As I understand it, my duties would essentially consist of logging people in and out of the examination room.  I don’t have a clear understanding about what the tests actually are for exactly, I’m assuming it’s related to military personnel qualifying for promotion.

This particular job is part time, three eight hour days per week.  The pay is pretty embarrassing, $15. or less per hour.  There are no benefits, I even have to provide my own transportation to Korea.  On the plus side, it does afford Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) status, so I could access the commissary, PX and other on post amenities.

I’d be working for a guy I’ve known for years.  He also intends to promote me to a full-time Test Administrator position he expects will become available in January.  I don’t think it pays much better though.  Anyway, he wants to hire me (I did a pseudo-interview via Skype the other night) but there are three hoops to be jumped through prior to that happening.

The first of those was running a ration control check which has now been completed.  I was a little surprised and embarrassed to learn I had four violations on record.  While I was working as an Army civilian I was entitled to spend up to $550. per month in the commissary.  There were three instances where I exceeded that amount by less than $100.  To the best of my recollection those occurred on occasions when I did team building events for my staff.  As a GS-15 I probably had authority to do that, although I never did the supporting paperwork required for approval.  The last violation was about $400 over the limit.  No excuse for that.  It was my last month in Korea before retiring and it was Christmas, so I went a little wild with a steak-filled parties for friends and co-workers.  Anyway, my future boss doesn’t think it will be a problem.  He sent me a counseling memo reminding me of my obligation to abide by purchasing limits and I expressed my remorse for past transgressions and assured him there would be no future incidents of this nature.

I also have to have a record check through the Provost Marshal’s office.  There should be no issues there as my only “crimes” during my six years of working in Korea were a speeding ticket and a parking violation, both paid in full prior to my departure.

Oh, the boss also needs to check to see if my “secret” clearance is still active.  That’s not a deal breaker, it would just mean doing a bunch of paperwork and having to wait for an approval prior to actually starting to work.  Keeping my fingers crossed on that because it is a royal pain in the ass to complete that process.

The one hurdle (or should I say hoop to avoid mixing metaphors) he’s concerned about is whether I’ll be considered an “ordinary resident” of the USA, a requirement for SOFA status and employment with his company.  The issue is the six months I spent in Korea as a tourist earlier this year.  I’ve submitted utility bills, tax records, mortgage records and the like to hopefully satisfy the SOFA compliance officer that my permanent residence has been and remains in South Carolina.

Anyway, I expect to learn my fate sometime next week.  I’m obviously hoping for a favorable resolution because for the life of me, I can’t seem to come up with a Plan “B”.  Well, I guess what I would have to do is return to Korea again as a tourist.  I’m frankly worried about my wife.  Or more precisely, whether I still have one.  It’s been nine days now since I last heard from her.  No calls, no texts, not even a friggin”‘ “like” on my Facebook posts.  The good angel on my shoulder keeps telling me she is in the “countryside” caring for her mother without internet access.  What the devil on my other shoulder is saying keeps me awake into the wee hours of the morning.  Regardless, I’m feeling abandoned and I’m depressed.

So, one way or the other I need to go back to Korea.  “Did you know that loneliness will kill you deader than a .357 Magnum?”

 

 

 

Ins and Outs

We have a new guy in our singles dart league who has been tearing everyone a new asshole.  He won his first two matches by scores of 15-1 and 14-2.  Last night was my turn in the lion’s den.  I fully expected to be dominated as well (yeah, he is that good) but I surprised myself by hanging with him most of the night, eventually losing 10-6.

He beat me 4-1 in the 501 set.  I actually had a shot at the out in three of those losses, but failed to execute on my first attempt.  He’d hit his out shot on the first try which is what successful darters do.

I came back to beat him 4-1 in cricket, but I had to throw some amazing darts to do so, coming from behind to win most of those legs.

He finished the night by waxing me 4-1 in 301, a game that requires a double in and a double out.  His superiority in doing both gave him the match.

Still, it was a great match.  He may have been a little off his game and I probably threw a little better than usual which kept it interesting.  I’ve always said I don’t mind losing to a better player as long as I don’t throw like a chump. It’s good to have someone like this in the league to push you, even if he is a carpetbagger from New York.

My first loss of the season, but I didn't go down without a fight.

My first loss of the season, but I didn’t go down without a fight.

Slow cookin’

slow cookin'

I broke out the crock pot for the first time since I’ve been back in the USA and slow cooked some tasty pulled pork barbeque and served it up with the traditional sides.  Not pictured is the banana pudding dessert.  I don’t make the effort when I’m cooking for one, but I had a visitor last night so I went *ahem* whole hog.