It’s a small town after all

Apparently.

One of the things I like about Barrio Baretto is that while it is a small town it has easy access to major conveniences, such as dining, shopping and of course, bars.  I’d reckon it is similar in size to Anjeong-ri (where I currently reside) but with more of an Itaewon vibe (lots of expats from around the world).

So anyway, earlier this week I walked into Rolling Stones bar for the first time ever.  And a guy shouts out, “hey John, I know you!”.  Well, it turns out it was a guy named Scott. He is a member of the local Hash club that I made Facebook friends with.

Yesterday I popped over to Cheap Charlie’s bar for a quick beer while Gem was napping.  The place was packed but I scoped out one open stool at the far end of the bar.  Once I was seated I noticed that the guy next to me was Scott, there with another Hasher friend.  After they left I saw a woman across the bar who looked vaguely familiar.  Finally, I recognized her as the sales girl in a small shop who had sold me a ball cap earlier in the day.  We made eye contact and I saw the confusion on her face. I called out that I was in her store earlier…then she remembered me.

Later as I was walking back to my hotel I was thinking about what a small town this truly is so hopefully it won’t take long to make friends and see lots of familiar faces while I’m out and about.  Then a Jeepney pulls ups, and out hop John and his girlfriend Mango, the only two people I actually know here.  Weird, huh?

And oh, later that evening while Gem and I were enjoying the floating bar at Arizona Resort, in walks Scott and his friend who sit at the table next to mine.  Turns out Scott was from Huntington Beach, CA, right next door to my hometown of Westminster.  I couldn’t help but remind him how we always kicked their ass in football on Friday nights.  Small town, small world.

Snapped this photo of the sun going down from the Arizona floater. Made it my FB profile picture. Later I noticed that Scott had taken a similar photo and made it HIS profile picture. Yeah, it’s getting a little strange, I know.

Had a fish and chips dinner at the Midnight Rambler. Saw this sign on the way out and thought it was good advice. So I took it.

We went to the Velvet Touch bar to hear some live music on a Saturday night.

Apparently the new “no smoking” ordinance is even more restrictive than I thought if this sign in the men’s room is any indication…

Enjoyed my final breakfast of the year at Treasure Island.

Then Gem and I hopped in a Jeepney for the short ride to the Navy base to get some walking and shopping done.

My challenge for the final night of 2017 is to stay sober enough awake to enjoy the countdown to 2018 and fireworks show.  We shall see.

 

Judgement day

So kept busy yesterday working on the transition to my new life in the Philippines.  Walked through a subdivision called Santa Rita.  Most of the houses appeared to be Filipino occupied and were in various states of disrepair.  The guard shack at the entrance was not manned, so much for security.

There was this place…brand new. Called and was told it was a 2 bedroom 2 bath, partially furnished for 25,000 pesos ($500) per month. Given the dicey nature of the neighborhood I’ll give it a pass…

I hired a car and driver to take me out to Club Morocco to look at that big ass house I mentioned yesterday.  It’s a great house but…

…much as I’d enjoy waking up to this view every morning the distance from everywhere (over 30 minutes from Baretto) and associated inconvenience makes it not worth the trouble.

I next had the driver take me out to the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (aka the old Navy base) to do some grocery shopping.

Not for me, for the kids at the Fil-Am orphanage.

When we delivered the bounty it was the first time I had actually met the children.  On my previous visits they had always been in school.  I was very impressed with how well-mannered and happy they seemed to be.  Glad to be able to provide a little support and I told the administrator that once I make the move I want to set up a monthly event for the kids to celebrate birthdays and share a big meal.  Should be fun!

Last night was the weekly Sons of Baccus (SOB) dance competition. Once again I was asked to sit in judgement.

The other judges concurred with my opinion that the gals from Wet Spot had the best routine last night…

I wound up getting drunker than usual but Gem was a good sport about it.

I also put in some efforts at exorcism trying to free myself from the ghosts of times gone by.  Can’t say that I succeeded in slaying them, but I did confront them head on, intentionally visiting those places where the memories were made.  Other then feeling a little sick in my stomach I came through unscathed.  I’d call that progress.

Had breakfast in one of those old haunts…Treasure Island.

As you can see I’ve suspended my war on carbs for now. Damn, it was good eating!

Gem opted for a traditional Filipino breakfast and she declared it “masarap”.

The journey continues.  Stay tuned.

Ghost on the coast

I despise Manila.  Getting from the airport to Subic took nearly four hours, most of that stuck in Manila traffic.  It’s an ugly and filthy city and even after all these years I find the poverty shocking.  To be fair, there are nice parts of the city you just don’t see them on the trip from the airport.  I much prefer flying into Clark in Angeles.  Just hard to score a ticket this time of year as it is a very popular tourist destination for Koreans.  Well, Korean men anyway.

Anyway, leaving the city behind it is a quite pleasant and scenic drive.  Arrived safely at my lodging for the week and got checked in.

The Palm Tree Resort was my third choice, everything else was booked. I’m not happy with the “no view” room, but otherwise the place is clean and comfortable.

I normally stay on Baloy Beach at the Blue Rock Resort.  But I knew I’d be dealing with the ghost of Loraine this trip and staying there without her would have been overwhelming.  Honestly, I’ve been haunted quite a bit so far as it is.  Nothing to be done but face up to the fact that the memories will always be there, I can only control how I choose to react to them.  Gem has been a nice distraction.

Speaking of Gem, I’ve introduced to some of the elements of my lifestyle.  She hung in there for a pretty decent walk, some on the beach, some on the highway.  Gem also has now experienced her first “go-go” bar and she was not shocked or offended.  Even seemed to enjoy herself.

Gem is actually a non-drinker. She’s a good sport about my enjoyment of a cold brew though and she’ll even occasionally have a few sips with me.

One of the things I’m hoping to accomplish on this trip is to nail down at least the general area where I will find my house when I move here permanently come what May. (ahem).  Revisited a nearby subdivision called Alta Vista.

Most of the houses in Alta Vista feature bay views like this…

…or mountain views like this.

Some houses even have both views. I liked this one because it was about my size (lots of the houses are McMansions in scope).

I did not see any indication that there were any available rentals in Alta Vista however.  I do have a phone number where I can at least make some additional inquiries.  I did find a house that seems perfect and it will be available for rent in late January.

It has everything!

Including a view to die for.

And what a kitchen!

And the rent?  A whopping $500. a month! The only problem with it is the location.  Club Morocco is 14 kms from my preferred area in Barrio Baretto.  Going to hire a car today and see just how inconvenient living that far out would be.

Met up with my only friend in town for dinner last night.  He brought along his new girlfriend.  Very lovely girl, and very sweet.

They seem very happy together.

As we finished dinner I was rewarded with this lovely sunset view:

It was a good day.

Onward!

 

And so it begins. Again.

Up at 0330 to to catch the 0430 Airport Limo that arrived at Incheon at 0550 in time to make my 0750 flight to Manila.

I had scored a business class seat when I booked which paid off in many ways.  Firstly, I avoided an incredibly long line of cattle coach class passengers waiting to check in.  And my checked bag also got priority handling, which made it one of the first ones on the carousel at bag claim in Manila.  And one thing I hadn’t actually thought about, my ticket came with access to the Asiana Business Class Lounge!

Waiting for my flight in style and comfort…

Free coffee and breakfast. Damn the carbs, I’m on vacation!

I perched myself by the windows and took in the view while I dined.

So, this trip is my first post-Loraine.  There will be no escaping the memories we shared together during my past travels.  But I’m going to try and accept that what is done is done and what will be is yet to be seen.

That’s me looking cautiously optimistic…

Well, when I checked in I was advised my flight was delayed for 30 minutes because of “connection problems”.  The thirty minutes became almost two hours.  Ah well, nothing to be done about it.  Got some steps in while I waited.

And of course, once I did board I got to enjoy the luxury of life as a business class traveler.

Big comfortable seats. Good food served on china. And very attentive flight attendants.

I may be ruined on coach forever.  Not sure how I wound up with the business class seat to begin with.  I booked like I always do through kayak.com.  I rarely pick the cheapest flight, instead opting for convenient flight times and major airlines (the budget carriers are just too damn cramped and uncomfortable).  Still, I never request business class as an option because spending an additional three or four hundred dollars for a 4 hour flight is just not worth it to me.  My ticket this trip was $578., about a hundred dollars more than what I usually pay, but given the holidays not too bad.  It as only after I booked that I noticed I had business class on the outbound.  Stuck in coach coming home though.

After a comfortable flight which included a nice nap in a fully reclined seat, we landed in Manila.  One of the first off the plane, I had no wait at all at immigration.  My bag was promptly retrieved, I exchanged some dollars for pesos, and headed outside to enjoy the first day of the rest of my life.

And this little Gem was waiting to greet me. Let the adventure begin!

Coincidentally, it was exactly one year ago when Loraine met me at the airport for the first time.  And on that day I had posted this to my Facebook:

“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

Well, I have a long way to go yet.  Let’s see what happens.

Everyone needs a little Seoul…

…so here I am.

My flight departs at 0750 and getting to Incheon from Pyeongtaek is a pain in the ass.  I just didn’t have confidence I could get there earlier enough.  So, I’m spending the afternoon in the big city, will drink some beers in Itaewon tonight, then set the alarm for 0400 in the morning.  I’m just going to grab a taxi from the hotel.

Been a while since I’ve had a brisk hike on the Han, rather enjoyed it.

Settled into my hotel room and figure I’ll log a couple of more hours on the road before nightfall.

Stay tuned for all the excitement that I’m almost certain to experience during my journey to the Philippines…

So this is Christmas

Ah, Merry Christmas to each and every one!

You know, I’m not a religious man so the holiday has no spiritual significance to me.  It’s a day I’ve always enjoyed with family.  My sweet mother loved all the festivities.  I sure do miss her.  I have no family here to share the day with, but I’ve been invited to a Christmas celebration later this afternoon.  Tonight my friend Mi Young will be joining me for dinner, so all is not lost.

That about sums it up.

Christmas is just one of those days I suppose.  Three years ago on Christmas Jee Yeun told me for the first time she wanted a divorce.  Two years ago when she repeated her request I moved out.  And of course two months ago Loraine stabbed me in the heart.

But…in two days I’ll be flying to the Philippines to begin preparing for the rest of my life.  And yes, I’m doing much better at looking forward these days.  The old memories may make me sad, but there are new memories just waiting to be experienced.  I’m so ready to get on with it.

So here’s to 2018, the year I’ve been waiting for!

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

 

 

 

Christmas Eve

Seasoned Greetings!

Have a gander at the Christmas lights on Camp Humphreys to put you in the holiday spirit…

They actually look better than my photography skills demonstrate…

Even Anjeong-ri is making the effort…

Didn’t cook last night….

…..well, I did fix up some Brussels sprouts…

And Fitbit awarded me the NIle badge…

 

Superb!
You’ve earned the Nile badge
By walking 4,132 miles, you’ve walked the length of longest river in the world and added a new badge to your stream of accomplishments! There’s no deNILEing how impressive that is.

 

And so I rewarded myself:

Nothing like a pedicure for tired aching feet…

Speaking of rewards…

I bought me these new hiking shoes…

…and sexy long underwear as Christmas presents to myself…

This morning when I woke up my computer was updating Windows software, so I had to busy myself without the assistance of the internets…

Regular readers will know what those ingredients add up to….

Yep, Aunt Pat’s Recipe World Famous Fruit Salad!

Damn computer was still not ready (upload 84% complete).

So, I got most of my packing done for my upcoming trip.

Still at 84%…damn…might as well commence walking!  I planned a longish walk to Pyeongtaek city….

Damn, it was raining though…oh well, grabbed the umbrella and started walking.  At least it wasn’t very cold out…

And beauty is where you find it, even in the rain.

Wound up walking almost 5 hours. That’s the longest I’ve done non-stop…felt it in my left foot this time…

So guess what?  I get home after that long ass walk and my computer update was still at 84%!  What the fuck?  Turned it off and turned it back on again (contrary to instructions on the screen), but no result.  Turned off and waited awhile, and when it rebooted, it still had the 84% screen.  Shit.

Well, I went into a panic.  It is Christmas Eve.  No way it’s getting fixed before I leave on my trip.  And I’ve got to have a computer when I travel.  Smart phones just don’t cut it for me, especially in the PI where coverage is spotty at best.

Well, I rushed over to the PX and bought a new laptop.  Merry Fucking Christmas to me!

First blog post on my new unit.  I see no improvement in quality.

I’ll get the old laptop repaired when I return from vacation.  I actually planned to take a new computer with me when I moved anyway.  Electronics are pricey in the PI.

Alright, that’s where things stand on the night before Christmas.

I’ll come back tomorrow and wish y’all a very Merry Christmas.  Now it’s time for the drinking portion of my day….

 

‘Tis the season!

On the best of days I’m not exactly full of the Christmas spirit.  My kids and grandkids are thousands of miles away and even the nephew is leaving the country for the holidays.  As things stand now I’ll be spending a solitary Christmas here in the countryside.

But all is not lost because I spent a wonderful day yesterday with my work family.

I lead an amazing team of hard working professionals. It truly is an honor and privilege to be associated with this cheerful bunch!

Were it not for my Deputy Donna I’d actually have to work for a living!

The staff did an amazing job decorating our office suite…

Me and the Mrs….

And we treated ourselves to some sweet treats. I baked the cupcakes and brownies, Leb prepared his renowned rum cake and it was damn the carbs, full speed ahead!

We went off site to AK Plaza in the afternoon for a Korean buffet dinner…

Played some games and did a gift exchange…

It’s good to be the boss man! I know I am going to miss my working life more than I care to admit. But all things must end. Going to do my best to enjoy every minute I have left before my May departure.

Best wishes for the holiday season to all my faithful readers.  Here’s hoping 2018 will provide many cheerful experiences to blog about.  Hey, it could happen!

In the comments

I always appreciate comments from my long suffering readers.  Especially when they give me pause to think.

My friend and fellow blogger Kevin Kim left this simple comment on my post “Everything changes”: You, sir, are Heraclitus’ river.  Well.  Heraclitus was vaguely familiar in my muddled memory, but I had to go to Wikipedia to see exactly what he meant.

Heraclitus was famous for his insistence on ever-present change as being the fundamental essence of the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”.

So, yes.  Everything does in fact change, including the water in the river I often encounter on my walks.  Heraclitus also said “the path up and down are one and the same”, which resonated with me as well.

I also had to chuckle when I read that Heraclitus was known as “the weeping philosopher”. Sounds like the perfect mentor for me!

As always, thank you for the education Kevin!

I also received this from a long time reader but first time commenter (thank you!) JTthomas:

None of my business and you’re more than welcome to tell me to F off; but your life seems to be made up of work, walking, and drinking. I don’t think I’ve ever read where you watched a movie, binged on a TV series, read a book, finished a crossword or jigsaw puzzle, or anything else relating to a pastime or hobby.

Yes, you are exactly right and that has been on my mind as well.  My descent into being boring is a relatively recent event.  Back in the day I was big into binge watching my favorite TV shows, especially in the USA iteration of my life.  I still have my Netflix account active, but honestly I just can’t seem to sit still long enough to watch even a full episode of a series I’d otherwise enjoy.  I also used to be big into darts but I seem to have lost my passion for the game somewhere along the way.

Well, honestly those were things I did when I was enjoying the relative stability of married life.  I’ve kind of gone off the rails these past couple of years.  And the drinking thing…well, I know I’ve got to start moderating my self-medication for psychic pain.  I drink 4-6 beers every night in what passes for my social life here in Anjeong-ri.  And it helps me to shut my brain off long enough to get some sleep.

But I do have a more robust vision for my future life in the Philippines.  I’m going to join the local Hash House Harriers (a drinking club with a running problem).  I fully intend to get back into darting on a regular basis.  I’ll join a gym and do volunteer work with local charitable organizations.  In short, I’ll try and rediscover a more fulfilling lifestyle.

I’ll also continue to walk so I won’t miss out on fascinating observations like this:

The giant marshmallow harvest is now complete. Apparently.

Seven days out from my return to the Philippines for a short vacation.  Something interesting is bound to happen, right?  And you’ll read all about it here on LTG.

Stay tuned!

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the remainders
Of every glove that laid him down
And cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains

 

 

Everything changes

Courtesy of Facebook comes this memory from December 19, 2014;

That was me, fat and (relatively) happy as a married man.

Little did I know that one year later the wife would tell me she wanted a divorce. These past two years have been a soul crushing emotional roller coaster ride.  I’ve been wrong about so many things and learned some painful lessons along the way.

BUT. Everything may change but not all change is bad.  For example, I’m more than 60 pounds lighter now.  I may have lost seven years of my life to a failed marriage, but perhaps I’ve gained at least that much in longevity with my new found healthier lifestyle.

I don’t know that I’m a better man than I was back then, but I am a changed man.  The guy in that photo no longer exists.  Now I need to get on with finding out what happens next.  And learning to enjoy the ride.

The sun may be setting on my Korea life, but new adventures await.

 

Out on the weekend

Winding it down on another boring Sunday evening.  Changed it up a little bit though with a quick trip up to Seoul on Friday.

Had a lunch meeting with the Korean Employees Union leadership, President Choe and Secretary Sohn. One of the things I’m proud of in my working life is the cooperative relationship I’ve established and maintained with the KEU. Katchi kapshida~

After work I did a Namsan hike…

Hello my old friend…

And nice to see a real city again as well…

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

everywhere you turn.

After the hike, I cleaned myself up and went out to visit my old haunt Shenanigans…it was good to be back. Still treat me like a regular there…

Met up with my nephew Justin and buddy Wan Jun for some cold ones…

Up early Saturday morning to beat the traffic.  On the drive home I had to pull over to get a picture of this:

May the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten…

Dropped off a trunk load of toys for the local orphanage…

And did my usual Anjeong-ri hikes…30,000+ both yesterday and today…

Even ran out of road!

And it was colder than a woman’s heart as well…

You find words of truth in the strangest places, like the back of a Korean kid’s jacket…

And so now I’ll gear up for another week in my beautiful life.  After a few beers of course.

The woman I’m thinking of,
she loved me all up
But I’m so down today
She’s so fine, she’s in my mind.
I hear her callin’.

See the lonely boy,
out on the weekend
Trying to make it pay.
Can’t relate to joy,
he tries to speak and
Can’t begin to say.

Who’s keeping score?

Well, I am.  Apparently.

One of the side effects of spending hours alone on the road is it gives me time to think. That’s not always a good thing, but my brain seems to have a mind of its own in that regard.

Anyway, I’ve recently had occasion to be thinking about my love life.  Such as it is.  And the truth of the matter is that despite appearances and current circumstances, I’ve been blessed with more than my share of love relationships in this lifetime.  And so I decided to do a little self-assessment to see what pearls of wisdom I might glean from these past experiences as I move forward in my quest for finding true and lasting love in my lifetime.

A caveat:  I am defining love relationships as being a mutual thing—both parties actively engaged in the pursuit of love in all its glory.  For example, since the failure of my last marriage I have had two women profess their love for me, love that at the time I was unwilling and unable to return.  They are not on this list, and I know they were both hurt by my lack of reciprocity.  I’m happy to report that both of these people remain true and supportive friends to me, and that has brought me great comfort during the past few difficult weeks.

Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?

  1. Karen.  My first love.  My high school sweetheart.  Interestingly, we have remained in sporadic communication over the years.  Including an amazing couple of nights at our twentieth high school reunion.  She had moved a couple hours away in senior year and I didn’t prove to be a faithful boyfriend doing the long distance relationship thing. I broke her heart.  Score (0-1-0)
  2. Gail.  I started seeing Gail after Karen moved away, but before I had ended things with Karen.  In the end Gail got tired of waiting for me to make up mind, so she made it up for me. She broke my heart.  Score (1-1-0)
  3. Bridget.  Became wife #1.  We were both teenagers (19 and 17) when she became pregnant with our first child, a daughter.  Five years and a son later we had grown apart and she wanted a life that did not include the obligations of being a wife and mother.  She gave me custody of the kids and moved on.  I had also met someone else as well. Mutual decision.  Score (1-1-1)
  4. KaraLynne.  A woman who changed my life in so many ways.  The love of my life in the sense that I’ve never again gone “all in” like I did with her.  She was going to graduate school in Idaho and met another man (whom she eventually married).  Almost 40 years later now, but I’m almost over it.  Almost. She broke my heart.  Score (2-1-1)
  5. Pamela.  In my devastation over KaraLynne, I sold everything I owned that wouldn’t fit in my car and moved to Oklahoma to be with my kids on my parent’s small farm.  Pam was a sweet and innocent country girl who gave me her virginity.  In time I grew bored with her and knew I had to move on. I broke her heart.  Score (2-2-1)
  6. Darla.  Another country girl I met while working together at the Fort Smith, Arkansas post office.  Seven years my junior and such a sweet young thing.  She came over at midnight the day I turned 30 saying she wanted to do something with me I’d never forget.  I haven’t.  Not sure what happened after that, but one day she said she was ready to move on (Karma perhaps?) and left me.She broke my heart. Score (3-2-1)
  7. Beckie.  Wife #2.  Probably the best woman I have ever known.  The kind of woman I wanted to help me raise my kids.  To her credit, she is still a big part of their lives.  Once the kids were grown though, I realized we had nothing in common.  And I had an affair. I broke her heart.  Score (3-3-1)
  8. Carol.  The woman I had the affair with and who became wife #3.  We had such a passionate relationship.  Full of fire, but not always in a good way.  We argued ferociously about politics but in a weird kind of way I really miss the intensity of that relationship.  We cared enough to fight about things.  I moved to Korea, she was supposed to join me here.  She changed her mind about that and I was unwilling to return home. Mutual decision.  Score (3-3-2)
  9. Se Hwa.  My first true Korean girlfriend.  Met her on a dating site.  Twenty years younger than me.  Her dream was to go to graduate school in the USA.  I helped her achieve that goal knowing I wouldn’t be going back with her.  So, I knew early on that the relationship had an expiration date.  What got me was the way she chose to end it.  By email.  While we were living together!  I told her she couldn’t do that, she had to break up to my face.  So she did.  A couple of days later she called and said she was leaving for the states the following month to start school and asked if she could stay in my guest room until she left.  And like a fool I agreed.   That was a torturous time for me, the woman I loved being so close and yet so far. She broke my heart. Score (4-3-2)
  10. Jee Yeun.  Wife #4.  I met Jee Yeun shortly after Se Hwa had departed.  She worked in the beauty salon on base and did my pedicures.  I asked her out to dinner, she came home with me, and as I tell the story, she never left.  I had warned her that I would be retiring and moving to the Philippines the following year.  But she wanted to stay with me until I left.  I eventually came to realize that her love was genuine and I decided that having her love in my life was more important than my Philippines dream.  So I made a new plan, bought us a fine little house in the states, and went about living the life I thought would always be mine.  Until one day it wasn’t.  I still have no understanding about why she turned her back on me and everything we had built together. She broke my heart.  Score (5-3-2)
  11. Eun Oke.  Losing Jee Yeun had shaken my understanding and belief in love to its core.  I really thought I was done with all that madness once and for all.  And then nine months later I got introduced to Eun Oke.  She was fun to hang out with, good company, and a good cure for my loneliness.  And I’ll be damned if I didn’t start having feelings for her.  I invited her along with me on a trip to the Philippines and we had a blast.  Right up until the night before we returned home when she woke me up at o’dark-thirty to tell me she was breaking up with me.  A week or so later we decided it was all a misunderstanding and gave it another go.  A month later she walked out on me again.  This time a mutual friend intervened and convinced me to give her another chance.  A few weeks later while I lay coughing on the living room in the middle of the night (my undiagnosed COPD) she packed upher shit and drove away.  I’m a “three strikes and you’re out” kinda guy, so that was it for me.  And I vowed then and there never again would I be sucked into loving someone. She broke my heart.  Score (6-3-2)
  12. Loraine.  I met Loraine on Filipina Cupid early in 2016.  We chatted for most of the year.  I invited her to join me in Puerto Galera as my “tour guide” and welcome in the New Year 2017.  She was amazing, especially when I got sick.  That got me thinking that I should hire her to be my caregiver, the idea being I’d get everything I needed from a relationship without all the baggage that comes with love.  It seemed like the perfect plan.  Until it wasn’t.  I wound up falling in love with her, but was not honest with her or myself about that.  I just assumed she would always stay by my side.  Until she didn’t.  When I finally confessed my love for her it was too late, she had found someone else.  I’m sad about that because she never got to experience what my love would have meant or the life that I had envisioned us sharing.  I think she made a mistake giving up on me, but I hope I’m wrong about that.  I do want her to have a happy life.She broke my heart.  Score (7-3-2).

And there you have it, the sad and sordid story of my love life.  Writing about my past has proven much more painful than I anticipated.  There are many lessons to be gleaned from this history of mistakes and broken promises.  Hard lessons to be sure, but with every goodbye you learn.

I know I am a better man now than I ever was before.  For example, I was a good husband to Jee Yeun.  She’s the only wife I never cheated on and I always did my best to take care of her.  I also think I’m less selfish now than I used to be and my expectations from a relationship are much more realistic.  I simply want someone who will care for me in the same way that I will care for her, who will be loyal and stay by my side through good times and bad.  I’m easy to please!

Anyway, I’ve come full circle.  I’m resolved to live in the moment.  Will there be a lucky #13 who will be my lover in the future? I’m open to having love in my life again, but if that is not my destiny then I can at least take comfort in the knowledge that I’ve had a lifetime full of being loved, if only for a while.  I can’t live in the past or change those things that have led me to this moment in time.  I can only resolve to be the kind of loving and generous man I know I can be.

I will remain optimistic and take comfort in knowing that it only hurts until the pain goes away.

Let her cry, if the tears fall down like rain
Let her sing, if it eases all her pain
Let her go, let her walk right out on me
And if the sun comes up tomorrow, let her be
Let her be

 

Too low for zero

Two pair of socks. Underwear and long underwear. T-shirt, dress shirt/tie, fleece jacket, sweatshirt, ski jacket, scarf, gloves, knit cap, hat with ear muffs. That’s how I make winter my bitch and walk to work when it’s -12 C.

Not bad for a cold ass weekday, eh?

And even though the weather outside is frightful, Anjeong-ri is looking delightful…

well, at least more delightful than usual.

My last winter in Korea.  Gonna make the most of it.

I’m too low for zero
I’m on a losing streak
I got myself in a bad patch lately
I can’t seem to get much sleep
I’m too low for zero
I wind up counting sheep
Nothing seems to make much sense
It’s all just Greek to me

You know I’m too low, too low, too low for zero
You know I’m too low, too low, too low for zero

What’s cooking?

One of the lonely paths I traveled yesterday on my way to…

…over 40,000 steps. A good day for sure. Followed with 30,000 today. And I weighed in at 206 pounds, down 20 since October and 7 pounds away from my goal.

Started the day with this hearty breakfast.

Then pulled together the ingredients for a pot roast.

Put them all in the crockpot…

Set the timer, then slaved away all day cooking…

Decided to ingest some carbs, so I whipped up some corn muffins…

Pot roast is finished…

Let’s eat!

…and so ends another rainy Sunday from yours truly…

And if you think my blog is boring, you should try living my life!  It’s bound to get better.  Or so I keep telling myself…

 

A river runs through it

More of the same from my so-called life.  Working, walking, drinking.  Luckily, I am pretty damn good at all of them.  Anyway, just filling in the hours, however comfortably and well.

So I drive to the office on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Drop off my garbage and take care of errands (shopping, getting my mail, banking, etc). Then I come home at lunch to drop off the car and walk back to work. So, yesterday I get home and this car is completely blocking my driveway. Who does that? I called the number on the windshield and expressed my displeasure in English while some woman expressed not understanding in Korean. Eventually she figured out that I did not approve of her parking. A few minutes later she came out of the beauty salon across the street from me and moved her vehicle. Pain in the ass!

Took a long riverside walk home from work yesterday. The river looks nice at dusk, don’t you think?

Last night I did my typical beer drinking tour of Anjeong-ri.  What was atypical was running into a woman I was formerly acquainted with.  I had met her several months ago at Galaxy bar where she is friends with the owner.  I had a falling out with said owner and no longer frequent the joint.  I popped into Crystal Bar for a brew and was surprised to see Yun in there calling me over to the barstool beside her.

We had a nice little chat and then she asked me if I still had her phone number.  I checked and I did.  She said “how come you never call me?”  I honestly told her because I never thought you were interested.  We’d been out as part of a group a couple of times, but I didn’t get the sense she was looking for more.  Last night (and maybe she was drunk) she gave every indication that she wanted to see me.  So, I finished my beer, said it was good running in to you, and left.  Why?  Well, she is pretty enough and I’m damn lonely, but 1. She is Korean and 2. I’ve got six months left in country.  I’ve had a bad history with Korean women and what’s the point of starting anything that is destined to end in a few short months anyway?  Just not worth it to me.

I’m still looking forward to meeting Gem at the end of the year, but I’m also keeping my guard up with her.  Yeah, I have some trust issues.  Go figure.  For example, today I logged on to Filipina Cupid for the first time in a couple of weeks.  It’s time to renew my membership so I was going to cancel and save the money.  While there I noticed that Gem had been active within the last hour.  Kind of a red flag don’t you think?  I asked her if she was still looking and she said “no, I only chat with you”.  Maybe, maybe not.

Anyway, I finished my Friday night at the 3 Stooges Bar.  Only the second time I’ve been in there, and I was enjoying myself and the music.  Especially this song which features a really great video:

See how happy it made me?  A bit later I was told I couldn’t vape in the bar, so of course I left and I’m unlikely to return.

Up early this morning for a long cold walk into Pyeongtaek.

I took the river route of course…

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
–Robert Frost

Two hours later I was on the mean streets of Pyeongtaek city…

…where I rested up with a warming cup of coffee before the long walk back home…

Admired these pillars which seem to have been erected for no apparent reason in a little neighborhood park I passed on my journey home.

I was damn hungry when I made it home so I grilled up a steak with a side of asparagus. Hit the spot just right.

27,000+ steps all told.  Going to head out for another hour now and get that up to 35,000 for the day.  That should have me primed for a beery Saturday night.

And they say I have no life…

The river flows
It flows to the sea
Wherever that river goes
That’s where I want to be
Flow river flow
Let your waters wash down
Take me from this road
To some other town

All I wanted
Was to be free
And that’s the way
It turned out to be
Flow river flow
Let your waters wash down
Take me from this road
To some other town

These days

Well I’ve been out walking
I don’t do that much talking these days
These days-
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
For you
And all the times I had the chance to

And I had a lover
It’s so hard to risk another these days
These days-
Now if I seem to be afraid
To live the life I have made in song
Well it’s just that I’ve been losing so long

I’ll keep on moving
Things are bound to be improving these days
These days-
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don’t confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them

This pretty much captures my “acceptance theory”, although it has proven to be easier said than done. I am however making progress each day, so I’ll be satisfied with that.

Woke up to a snowy morning and more is predicated tonight.

Looking out my front door.

In other news, single life is not all it’s cracked up to be:

Story of my life.

But, it can always be worse I suppose:

I hate when that happens.

Actually, it did kind of happen to me in a way.  My first Korean girlfriend (some long time readers may remember Se Hwa) broke up with my via email.  While we were living together.  That’s about as fucked up as it can get I suppose.

Well, in the category of “what comes next?”, I’m trying to stay in the game, more or less.  Finding a suitable woman on dating sites like Filipina Cupid is like looking for a needle in a haystack.  I didn’t find a needle there, but I did come across a Gem.  Well, Gemma, but she goes by Gem.  Technically, she found me I suppose, sending the first tentative “how are you?” message. We’ve been chatting for three or four weeks now, and so far I’ve found nothing wrong with her.  Other than she is not the one my heart is aching for.  Still, letting go of what’s gone and being satisfied with what remains is my new modis operandi.  More or less.

Gem was formerly an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) where she worked as a caregiver in Israel.  She got fucked over by her Israeli boyfriend in a way that puts my sorrow to shame.  He cheated with her best friend (some friend) and knocked her up.  That was two years ago and she tells me I’m the first guy since that she’s been willing to take a chance on.

Gem seems to have her shit pretty much together.  She tells me she owns a house and condo which she rents out, freelances in real estate, and is doing alright financially.  She she just wants someone to love to make her life complete.

And the other night she told me she was sorry, she knows I just want to be friends for now, but she can’t help falling in love with me.  Damn, that does freak me out.  I guess everyone defines love in their own way, and I’m certainly now open to being in love (better late than never, right?), but like I told her, there’s no way I’d ever fall in love with someone I’ve never met in person.  She said she understands that.

I told her she was welcome to join me in Subic for the New Year and she has agreed.  She even has a car and is willing to drive us there (she lives in Manila).  So, we will see if the in-person chemistry and compatibility tests are successful when we meet and go from there.  She seems excited about the week I have planned for us, so it’s a start.

Gem. 49 years old. Two grown daughters. Smart and fun loving. What’s not to like?

Today Facebook reminded me that exactly one year ago I posted a poem on love by Kahlil Gibran.  My comment on the poem at the time was “it almost makes me wish I believed in love again”.

I was so arrogantly stupid to believe that I could avoid love or live without it long term.  And that stupidity cost me big time.  So my heart is now wide open to all possibilities, but I’m not going to be in any hurry.  I’m looking forward to getting to know more about Gem and I hope that we get along as well in person as we do online.  After that, we’ll just let nature take it’s course.

But at least I’m moving forward again.  Baby steps, but forward motion regardless.  Wish me luck!

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

–Kahlil Girbran

Landslide

Normally I avoid trite phrases like a plague, but today is in fact the first day of the rest of my life.  And when one door closes, another one opens.  Completing the trifecta of tired cliches, I’m still riding the emotional roller coaster, but hell, it feels almost normal now.

Anyway, each day is a new opportunity for adventure (shit, I can’t help myself).  This is how the past couple have gone:

Last night I attended the birthday party for Hanna, my friendly bartender at Arirang Bar. I baked that cake, but damn, my oven is not level apparently because the cake came out lopsided. I had a bite though and it was very moist and tasty.

I also purchased a nice ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins.

There was also an array of delicious Filipino dishes to sample (not the staff!).

Anyway, it was a nice gathering.  Started feeling old (young crowd, young music) after awhile, so I moved on with my evening.

What else, well I continue my mission to feed orphans and dogs and that brings a small measure of satisfaction to my joyless life.

Had an amazing week of walking, which I very much doubt will ever be replicated by me in this lifetime:

229,179 total steps

Avg. 32,740 steps per day. ▲10,281 more than last week

total floors

593
total floors
▲ 172 floors over last week

total miles

109.52
total miles
▲ 21.24 miles over last week

avg. daily calorie burn

4,578
avg. daily calorie burn
▲ 427 cals. over last week

total active minutes

1773
total active minutes
▲ 448 min since last week

exercising this week

7 of 5 days
exercising this week
▲ 1 day since last week

avg. restful sleep

6 hrs 6 min
avg. restful sleep
▲ 0 hrs 2 min over last week

avg. hrs with 250+ steps

8 of 9 hrs
avg. hrs with 250+ steps
same as previous week

avg. resting heart rate

78 bpm
avg. resting heart rate
▼ 2 bpm since last week

Although I’ll continue to search out the roads less traveled.

Oh yeah, today I made arrangements to participate in the Subic Hash House Harriers run/walk on New Year’s Day.  Looking forward to my first ever Hash and also joining the club after the big move in May.

-10 Celsius this morning, but I walked on in to work anyway. I do believe it is colder down here than it is in Seoul.

Anyway, I’ve done my working and walking for the day.  That only leaves the drinking aspect of my life.  I reckon I better get out there and get it done.  Cheers!

I took my love, I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
‘Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too

 

Carefree Highway

I mentioned the other day that I was going to attempt a 50,000 step walk today.  I came up with a two-phase plan.  First I would walk around the perimeter of Camp Humphreys, from outside the fence.

This is a crappy picture but the only one I could access. It basically shows Camp Humphreys overlaid on Washington, DC. The point being, it’s a big ass base.

Phase 2 would be taking the long way into Pyeongtaek city.  I figured both walks to be about the same in length and I thought they’d get me pretty close to the 50,000 step total I was looking to achieve.  But could I actually walk that far?  Let’s find out!

I began by putting some fuel in the belly then headed out into the cold morning air around 0715.

I was mildly optimistic…

So, I expended 2058 steps getting to the main gate, then had to return home…

Because like an idiot I forgot to bring my vaping pens…

So as I continued my circumnavigation of the base, I passed the walking gate at 4075 steps.

Passed the Dongchong-ri gate at 6364 steps…

Passed the back side of Eighth Army HQ where I work (the grey building) at 7084 steps.

Made a left turn on the river at 8405 steps.

Passed the railroad trestle at 12,347 steps.

Turned off the river just before the highway bridge at 17,508 steps…

Near the Dodu-ri gate at 18,605 steps.

Entered the deadly quite village of Bonjeong-ri at 21,950 steps.

Got to the CPX gate in 26,397 steps.

And completed the circuit around the base in 29,318 steps.

Made it home at 30,411 steps. I was tired and hungry. Made me this fine lunchee and rested for an hour.

Time to start Phase 2. I usually do this park after work because I can walk it in the dark. But I gave it a once around today as well at 31,648 steps.

Back to the river, but this time I turned right towards Pyeongtaek city which you can see off in the distance. 35,269 steps to this point.

The KTX blew by me at 38,311 steps.

Made it to the bridge into Pyeongtaek at 41,725 steps.

I arrived at Pyeongtaek Station in 43,610 steps.

Ah. Civilization does exist in these parts. Only required 44,183 steps to get there.

And there it is! My I just walked exactly 50,000 fucking steps face!

Made it the rest of the way home and preserved the evidence of a successful day of walking.

I do believe this was a once-in-a-lifetime event for me.  I’m tired and sore, but thankfully no blisters or other signs of wear and tear.  I do feel a sense of accomplishment which is a good thing for me.

Things are bound to keep getting better.  Right?

Turning back the pages to the times I love best
I wonder if she’ll ever do the same
Now the thing that I call living is just being satisfied
With knowing I got no one left to blame

Carefree highway, got to see you my old flame
Carefree highway, you seen better days
The morning after blues from my head down to my shoes
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you