Immortality

Reflections upon nearly completing a long four day weekend:

If I only had 80 days to live I’d want to spend them in Anjeong-ri. Every day here seems like an eternity.

Coincidentally, I have 81 days left in my life. My working life that is.

I’m ready to be reborn in re-retirement.

Hurry sundown!

Making friends

Well, I achieved the 500 facebook friends milestone. That’s my limit. Any additional adds means someone gets cut. Won’t be a problem though since I’m probably only interacting with 50 or so of these “friends” anyway.

In the realm of “real” friends, I want to give a shout out to Evangeline. She’s someone I’ve “known” online since 2009. When I made the decision to marry Jee Yeun I needed to end our contact. That hurt her I know, but I didn’t have any choice. Once I committed to married life, I had to leave the Philippines and Filipinas behind. A lot of good that did me.

Anyway, after the breakup Eva left a comment on my blog and we reconnected. I had her over for a visit last year and showed her around Korea. It was nice to finally meet her in person, but we were in different places emotionally. I was in denial about my love for Loraine and she was I think hoping to rekindle our previous online romance in the 3D world. Well, that didn’t work out, but to her credit and my good fortune we have developed a very robust and satisfying friendship. I actually consider her my best friend these days. We are open about the things happening in our lives, good and bad. We share words of wisdom, comfort and support with one another. There is a level of trust and honesty between us that has been pretty rare in my life. It’s meant a lot that she has stood by me during my recent heartbreak. Thank you for that, Eva!

Also in the realm of online friendship, I reached out to a fellow member of a PI Forum I’ve communicated with in the past as he hadn’t posted in quite sometime. Turns out he is doing quite well these days. He read about the spectacular failure of my “brand new plan” (hiring someone to be my caregiver/girlfriend) and shared these insights:

Hi John,

I remember your plan about the care-giver. I have not kept up with the PA updates since June of last year. I am reading now your developments since then. quite an emotional trip you’ve had.

We have some similarities in our experiences, you and me. As you know, I struggled for a couple of year to understand what I was going through. This is not easy stuff. PA addicts helps open our eyes and put things in perspective a bit, but it does not solve the problem. The Filipina is on one extreme of the continuum and the BMs here are on the other extreme, but the solution for you and me is in the middle-ground.

You are right in your description of the old foreigners in the bars and in SM, how they look lonely and empty. I see it in the eyes and on their faces every time I am there. Don’t buy their bullshit that they prefer to live this way, just meeting up a girl for p4p twice or three times a week, then live a lonely and empty life the rest of the week. This is all bullshit, they just don’t want to spend the money or they can’t handle a basic relationship. I feel sorry for them too – to drag their asses all the way to the Philippines so that they can live a lonely and purposeless life there? How sad is that?

There are a lot of foreigners who live in the PI who are in very happy relationships with Filipinas. Some have a traditional type relationship and some are swingers and are in open type relationships. If you are willing to spend the money, you can have any type of relationship you want over there. This is what I have learned. The girl will give you anything you want for the money, including affection and loyalty… everything for a price, and yes, that includes devotion and loyalty. Their minds just work different than ours, it is all about survival and the long game. BMs tell you that Filipinas live day by day and don’t think of the future? This is the biggest piece of crap I have heard, it is all about the long game and about the future with Filipinas, all about security in the LONG RUN. You have seen it with your girl and I have seen it with mine.

When I am in the Philippines, I stay in Angeles with my girlfriend. If you recall, she purchased a town home on the hills above Clark, I stay with her over there. We have an open relationship and we are having a lot of fun playing together with all kinds of other people. We are pretty much like Timanglove and his partner. After all that soul searching and deliberation, I have found that this is the only way I am comfortable in a relationship with her. It is not what she prefers, but it is what I prefer. And since I am the one with the resources, this is how it is.

Am I taking a chance that one day I might lose her to a Kev? Yes, but I have learned the hard way that the only way you can have a decent relationship with these Asian beauties is to make your rules clear and be willing to let them go if they cannot meet those rules. So far she is sticking around and she is fully devoted to me.

I will talk to you soon, keep your chin up, what you experienced is normal over there, her choice is about her not about you… long-term security is in their DNA, you cannot separate it from love, the sooner you accept that, the better off you are and the more likely you are to succeed and to enjoy your relationships.

I would love to meet you when I am there so we can chat a length. My girl is only 23 and she is truly a very decent person and very loving and very caring… yet, I know that what keeps us together is money and I accept it now… And until I accepted it, I was not happy, and I could not enjoy myself or optimize the relationship, or my life…

Best,

George

Now, me and George see things a bit differently I think. I’m hoping that someone real will find me in the wilderness of my life and love me for who I am, not for what I have. And I honestly believe that is possible if I’m patient and refuse to settle for something less than that. But I’ll give George his due for accepting his reality for what it is. And choosing to be happy and satisfied with that. Anyway, I do hope to meet him one day and share our joys and sorrows over some cold beers.

Here in the real world I had the pleasure of some company this weekend.

Nephew Justin, and friends Becky and Wan Jun came down from Seoul for the wedding reception….

After a dinner of meatballs and shrimp (hey, it works!) we ventured out to IDK bar for some darts while we waited for the reception to begin at 8 p.m.

Except it didn’t begin at 8:00. The bride and groom arrived at around 10:30. So there I sat, a lonely guy.

The groom, Daniel.

The bride, Dela.

The bride and groom. At their request I offered up a drunken toast in honor of the marriage….those sober enough to remember tell me it was well done. Hope so!

Don’t you think Daniel and my nephew bear an uncanny resemblance?

Breakfast with my guests before their afternoon departure for Seoul.

I did the Hash this afternoon. It was just me and the “Hare” (the guy in charge of making the trail). But we had a pleasant walk together and some good conversation. Then I told him about the new Wolfhound Pub in the ‘ville (he frequented the one in Itaewon). He was pretty excited about the news, so we headed over for some beers. Made for an enjoyable afternoon with a new friend.

Life is good.

I hope the day will be a lighter highway
For friends are found on every road
Can you ever think of any better way
For the lost and weary travelers to go?

Making friends for the world to see
Let the people know you got what you need
With a friend at hand you will see the light
If your friends are there then every thing’s all right

Doggone

Happy Lunar New Year and welcome to the year of the dog!

The Korean Employees Union President sent me a kind holiday greeting and a gift box of assorted dried seaweed. Yummy!

In a rare alignment of the stars I’m at the beginning of a four day weekend (Monday being the American holiday in honor of our Presidents).

So, what’s in store? Mountain hikes today, tomorrow and Sunday.

There’s also likely to be some drunkenness. Got some practice for that in last night.

My friends Daniel and Dela are now legally married and we will be celebrating with a huge reception here in the ‘ville on Saturday night. The nephew, and friends Wan Jun and Becky are coming down to stay with me and join in the festivities. Always nice to have company….

Saw this alongside the trail I was hiking the other day. I assume they are those tectonic plates I read about after Korea’s recent earthquake activity.

It’s funny how that works out…

Speaking of time travel, It was one year ago I was falling in love (unbeknownst to me) in Olongapo. I can’t go back and make it right, so I will plod on to the unknown and uncertain future.

And that’s it for now from your humble correspondent. I’ve got mountains to climb!

Fat and happy

So, some ruminations on spending another Valentine’s Day alone. Yeah, it is going to be one of THOSE kind of posts. Read on at your own peril.

It’s been an interesting week, full of insights and inspirations from seemingly random sources. For example, I had occasion to view this old video of me winning a Korean Darts Federation tournament way back in 2012.

I was astounded to see and be reminded of what a fat old fuck I truly was. At least I was fat and happy back then. Little did I know that the woman I was sharing my life with would desert me three years later for reasons I still don’t fully understand. Maybe it’s as simple as she found my appearance disgusting and couldn’t bear the sight of me. Although truthfully I was fat when she married me. So, who knows?

Anyway, I am skinnier and sadder these days. But perhaps my new healthier lifestyle will afford me a few extra years to figure this whole love thing out once and for all. Hey, it could happen! And it is good to remember that I have been loved in the past which gives me at least some hope for the future.

Karen Rush, my first love joined me for the high school prom way back when.

Now I need to find my last love. I hope it is something like this:

You know, I’m thinking I shouldn’t settle for less than that kind of love. Lord knows, I’ve paid my dues.

“How goes the search?” I imagine you asking. Honestly speaking, it’s not. I’m taking a break from the dating sites, it’s just too depressing sifting through scammers and pretenders looking for someone real.

Well, there’s Gem. You remember her, the woman who joined me for the New Year in Olongapo. For the life of me I cannot understand why she is unable or unwilling to engage in any meaningful conversation. Sure, I get the regular good morning and good night, but nothing of substance in between. I’ve tried to draw her out to no avail. Now, I’m sure some wags would say a woman who doesn’t talk is a feature, not a bug. But for me it is a deal breaker. I desire companionship, and being able to talk together is a big part of that for me.

On one of the forums I belong to, I posed the question about this non-responsive woman I know and asked for suggestions. The best advice I received was this:

someone said to me when I first arrived in the Philippines… do not be in a hurry to find a girl… there are so many here searching for a man like you… you do not have to be lonely too long… relax.. you will be like a kid in a candy store… but if you are looking for a true loving relationship…take the slow road….

So yeah, that’s what I’m going to do. If my “last” is worthy, she’ll find me. And later in my internet trolling, I came upon this:

Where no one knows you and you hold life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time

During this week’s Command Staff meeting, the 8th Army Chaplain shared this tidbit that resonated with me:

If you are depressed, you are living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
To be content, you must live in the present.

Simple to be sure, but true. I’ve been working hard at letting go of the past but I’ve found myself increasingly anxious about the future starting my new life alone in the Philippines. I assumed I’d have the woman I secretly loved by my side. Now I need to find my way ahead without her. I can do that I know, but I’m only going to be able to get there one day at a time. I listen to this song whenever I need to be reminded:

Anyway, I’m sorry to ruin your Valentine’s Day with my sorry rambling. But there’s one last piece of bad news:

Fucker was trying to shoot an arrow at me. I swear!

Scenes from my beautiful life

It’s not all gloom and doom all the time here at LTG. There are some good moments too.

This came in the mail from my sweet granddaughter Sydney. She really loves me. Or pizza. One of those….

Had a wonderful lunch with the staff at the Hwa Hwa restaurant in Anjeong-ri. My work family is a constant source of joy in my life.

The food was excellent too!

And today I tackled a new mountain–Younginsan, about 20 minutes drive from the house….

Nice trails…

…and much like my old friend Namsan, a stairway to the summit.

Made it to the peak without much trouble. Air not as clear as last weekend, but the view was still awesome…

Rafael, a friend from work, was my tour guide once again…

I wonder what this looks like in summertime?

This looks like a pretty cool cabin to camp out in…if I could only find a date.

Anyway, this is the best hiking I’ve done since I left Seoul. Really enjoyable and there are many more trails on this mountain to explore. I have my new Saturday routine now!

The Hwa Hwa restaurant reminded me of my first Korean girlfriend, Se Hwa. I came across this old picture of us from 2007 and it made me smile.

Exactly 90 days left in my working life. A brand new beautiful life is on the horizon. I’m looking forward to that.

Back to the future

Well, we are on the cusp of another government shutdown. Which complicates my working life in so many ways. Like forcing me to, you know, actually work.

So, the last two days have been filled with meetings and planning sessions. Oh, and if the Congress critters don’t pass a funding bill I’ll be starring in a Facebook Town Hall sponsored by the 8th Army Public Affairs Office. Had a hoot at the rehearsal yesterday.

Nothing to be done now but wait and see if the clowns in DC can get their shit together and do the right thing. I’m hoping for the best and prepared for the worst.

May 11th. That’s the day I’ve chosen as my last day.

It’s always the last place you look…

…but I’ll find it again someday. Or so I keep telling myself.

It seems James Kavanaugh is speaking to me from the grave lately, offering words of encouragement and reminding me that I alone control my destiny.

“I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know – unless it be to share our laughter.

We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we love and want to be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.

For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves.”

I actually had several of his books in my personal library back home. Of course, that’s all gone now in the wreckage of shattered dreams. But reading this again tonight is comforting and strengthens my resolve to continue the quest. I must not settle for less than I want and deserve in life. Perhaps she is also searching for me at this very moment and if destiny allows our paths will one day cross again.

It could happen. Will I be wise and brave enough to know and embrace it?

That reminds me

So, I come across this article about a guy who got arrested for flipping the bird or giving the finger or whatever you call it:

Fuck you very much.

You can read the story at the link, but basically this guy flipped off a cop and the cop chased him down and arrested him. The ACLU is suing the police department for infringing on the man’s First Amendment right to free expression.

Been there, done that. Except for the suing part. It was July 4, 1973. Me and the girlfriend Gail were heading out to Huntington Beach (Gail was driving her father’s 1965 Ford Mustang, a sweet ride!) for the Independence Day parade. There was a barrier saying “road closed” but folks were driving past it, so we did too. At the bottom of the hill sat Huntington Beach’s finest writing tickets. It was a classic set up and it really pissed me off. After we received our ticket and were driving away, I leaned out the window, gave a two finger salute and shouted “fuck you pigs!”.

We continued on our way to the ocean when the Huntington Beach police helicopter appeared overhead. Then a cop car with lights flashing was behind us, so Gail pulled over. Shortly thereafter another police vehicle pulled up, a cop jumped out and shouted “yeah, that’s him!” I was removed from the Mustang and the interrogation began. I turned over my ID and the officer started asking other questions. When he said “do you have any tattoos?” (don’t know why he asked that) I responded yes, I have a battleship tattooed on my ass, and when I shit it sinks. That’s when they slapped the cuffs on me and hauled me of to the jailhouse where I sat on the concrete floor in a holding cell for a few uncomfortable hours. That was the first and last time I was ever arrested. I was a juvenile so my conviction for “disturbing the peace” was dismissed upon reaching my 18th birthday.

I was such a smart ass punk back then. I’m proud to say I outgrew that phase and became the grumpy old man I am today!

Anyway, one of the Philippines Vloggers I follow is Steve Montelli. He did vlog a few months ago lamenting not being able to find his “purpose” as a retired guy in the PI. He had a new video up today, and here’s how he answered my question on whether he had a purpose now:

Expect less and lower the bar. No, you don’t want to be the guy drinking beer at 10am. Filling the days can be a challenge. You just have to show up and muddle through. This place is not a tropical cure-all. It’s taken me a lot of trips to be happy with the day, but it can be done. The idea of “good enough” weaves through all my days. Expect less.

Yeah. I will try to find a life that satisfices. But I’m also reminded of this quotation:

“One person is missing and your World is a desert” (Alphonse de Lamartine).

I could be fucked.

Against the wind

And another weekend draws to a close.

I climbed a mountain. Played darts. Did a Hash. And learned of a death in the family.

Much easier climbing Mount Asan without snow on the ground…

Made it to the top….

….and planted the flag.

And we were rewarded with views like this…

….and this.

Yonder lies Camp Humphreys and lovely Pyeongtaek city.

Rafael, a guy from work was my hiking partner. It was a cold day with a brisk and frosty breeze, but we enjoyed our time on the mountain regardless.

Saw several of these grave sites on the way up and down. Maybe they are for the unfortunate hikers who make a tragic misstep….

Also came across this Buddhist Temple which appeared to be abandoned.

Last night I broke out the darts and played for the first time in several months. I was rusty of course, but still managed a second place finish. Tournament kept me out later than normal (and caused me to drink more as well). It was after midnight when I stumbled on home.

Did a two hour morning hike today, then met up with the Humphreys Hangover Hash House Harriers for my second Hash with the group.

Learning the trail markings for the Hash. Today’s hike was really easy and on terrain I have incorporated into my own walks. The biggest challenge is finding the chalk markings on the pavement and interpreting them correctly. I’m getting a little better at that now.

I enjoyed the company, which included my friends Daniel and Dela.

This morning I learned the sad news that Jee Yeun’s younger brother (technically still my brother-in-law) died. Not exactly sure of the cause, but Jee Yeun said he’d been drinking heavily since his marriage broke up. Sounds oddly familiar. Anyway, Jee Yeun is obviously upset and I offered all the comforting words I could muster. At least he is no longer suffering.

And that’s that.

Heart and Seoul

Back from a quick jaunt to Seoul.

On Thursday afternoon I did a some strolling down memory lane. This is my first residence in Seoul (2005-2010)

And the last Seoul abode (2015-2017). Now of course I live in a palace…

Met up with the nephew for an early start at Shenanigans….

My friend Eve captured the Thursday night action at the bar…

I got comfortable and suggested we just enjoy some pub fare for dinner. Loaded nachos, lemon pepper chicken wings, and my favorite, pulled pork quesadillas. We were joined by our mutual pal Wan Jun. A good, but drunken, night for me.

Of course, the purpose of the trip was for some medical tests, an ultrasound of my abdomen and a CT scan of my lungs. They did the ultrasound first and while I’m waiting for the next test my phone rings. Well, sadly my phone rarely rings, but it was more than a little disconcerting to be called by Dr. Lee from the clinic on Camp Humphreys. She had the results of the ultrasound and advised that I had an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Shit. What do I do about that, Dr. Lee? Nothing now apparently. It is 3.5 cms (normal for males is 1.7. They don’t consider surgical correction until 4.5. There are no symptoms to deal with and the only course of action is to continue to avoid high blood pressure, which I’m doing through meds. Based on my internet research, if the aneurysm ever bursts I’ll be a dead man. Ah well, we all have to die of something, and I reckon that something will be something else. At least that’s my plan!

I’ll make an appointment with Dr. Lea soon to go over the rest of the results and she has graciously agreed to go over my report from Good Morning Hospital with me as well.

Alright, gonna go climb a mountain now.

Sorrow floats

“Human beings are remarkable – at what we can learn to live with. If we couldn’t get strong from what we lose, and what we miss, and what we want and can’t have, then we couldn’t ever get strong enough, could we? What else makes us strong?”
–John Irving

The village of Anjeong-ri is a sad and depressing place. And yes, I’ve considered that I might just be projecting the sadness that permeates my life. But it is not that. At least not completely that. It is just hard to ignore the barren streets and sidewalks. The pathetic bars full of desperate juicy girls hoping for an overpriced drink to augment their meager salary. The old ajummas digging through trash for cardboard to recycle. The emptiness that seems to ooze from every crack in the sidewalk. Okay, maybe I am projecting on that one.

I guess I should be used to the “life” here by now, but I frankly can’t wait to get the fuck out of this burg. I guess the genesis of this rant has been watching several new businesses being opened that I know are destined to fail. I’ve watched these folks pour in their heart, soul and money as they worked so hard in pursuit of their dreams. Now I walk by on my nightly excursions to the bars, and see nothing but empty chairs and tables and the forlorn expressions of the owners as they wonder where the customers are.

Exhibit A. Pippi Burger. Watched these folks working hard for two months preparing to open for business. They’ve been open over a month now. I walk by at least twice a day at what should be peak hours. I’ve seen a total of 2 customers so far.

The newest bar in town. Just opened this past week. It has a bar that seats 4, a pool table, and a couple of other chairs. Even if they fill the place up (which hasn’t happened yet when I’ve walked by) I don’t see how they can turn a profit. I’ll have to drop in soon and see what it’s all about.

And finally, our new Philly steak sandwich joint. Looks nice. I’ve seen a couple of people getting take out, but it is really too far from the main gate to get much soldier traffic I reckon. Good luck!

Ah well, I’ll have a whole other kind of sorrow to view when I’m living among the poor folks in the Philippines. Barrio Baretto is similar in size to Anjeong-ri, but the expat residents are mostly old fuckers like me. At least we can share tales of our glory days. I’m focused on having meaning and purpose in my life there, I’ll just have to figure out what those are. Just over 3 months to go!

“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” John Barrymore.

“I dream of having no regrets” John McCrarey

I did have some company this past weekend.

My old Shenanigans crew from Seoul came down to see what life here is all about. They too were shocked out how empty the streets and bars are. They may have even felt sorry for me a little.

On Sunday morning I fed them a hearty breakfast and they were back on their way to the big city.

I was actually even more lonely and depressed after they left. I guess once you are used to being alone, you don’t miss people so much. Until you get a taste of what is was like to have friends.

Well, I do have my bar friends here I suppose.

It was funny, I had no idea “JJ” was including me in her selfie. I had to laugh when she shared this pic with me. It might explain why I’m always alone. I’m oblivious to what is going on around me. I got to thinking, hey maybe she likes me. But then I remembered there is no point in pursuit. I’m leaving soon and she’s Korean. Been there, done that.

The quote at the beginning of this post is from one of my favorite authors, John Irving. The “Sorrow floats” reference is also from one of his books. It got me to thinking, when did I stop reading? It’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed a good book. I’m thinking that will be one activity I resume once I wrap my arms around retired life.

And I do love poetry. Recalled this poem today when I was chatting with a dear friend of mine (thanks for everything Eva!).

Will you be my friend?

There are so many reasons why you never should:
I’m sometimes sullen, often shy, acutely sensitive,
My fear erupts as anger, I find it hard to give,
I talk about myself when I’m afraid
And often spend the day without anything to say

But I will make you laugh
And love you quite a bit
And hold you when you’re sad.
I cry a little almost every day
Because I’m more caring than the strangers ever know,
And, if at times, I show my tender side
(The soft and warmer part I hide)
I wonder

Will you be my friend?
A friend
Who far beyond the feebleness of any vow or tie
Will touch the secret place where I am really I,
To know the pain of lips that plead and eyes that weep,
Who will not run away when you find me in the street
Alone and lying mangled by my quota of defeats
But will stop and stay – to tell me of another day
When I was beautiful.

Will you be my friend?
There are so many reasons why you never should;
Often I’m too serious, seldom predictable the same,
Sometimes cold and distant, probably I’ll always change.
I bluster and brag, seek attention like a child.
I broud and pout, my anger can be wild,
But I will make you laugh
And love you quite a bit
And be near when you’re afraid.
I shake a little almost every day
Because I’m more frightened than the strangers ever know

And if at times I show my trembling side
(The anxious, fearful part I hide)
I wonder,
Will you be my friend?
A friend
Who, when I fear your closeness, feels me push away
And stubbornly will stay to share what’s left on such a day
Who, when no one knows my name or calls me on the phone,
When there’s no concern for me – what I have or haven’t done –
And those I’ve helped and counted on have,
oh so deftly, run.
Who, when there’s nothing left but me,
Stripped of charm and subtlety,
Will nonetheless remain.

Will you be my friend?
For no reason that I know
Except I want you so.

I actually cried when I read it again. Sue me!

Anyway, I’m off to Seoul now. Will spend a lovely evening in Itaewon with the nephew, then hit the Army hospital at 0800 for some CT scans.

Life is grand, ain’t it?