About John McCrarey

Born and raised in southern California. My career exodus has taken me to Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, DC. And as of 23 January 2005, Seoul, Korea. Married with 6 grown children (blended family). First grandchild is in the oven! I created this blog to document my adventures as an expat living and working in Korea. I'm also pretty confident that I will on occasion feel the need to express my views on current events and other matters I find of interest.

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?

Frozen

Damn, it’s been cold. Coldest I can remember it ever being in Korea.

I’d mentioned my water pipes freezing, well yesterday the plumber came over and “fixed” the problem. The result was not what I expected.

Impressive, no?

From the inside…

And they cut a hole in the damn ceiling. Well, the landlord was here so I guess he approved the work around.

Bottom line is the result I suppose, and I do have water downstairs again.

In other weather related news, yesterday I had my car washed. Maybe not a good idea because this morning the driver’s door was frozen shut. Wouldn’t budge no matter how hard I pulled on it. Had the bright idea of pouring some hot water around the door frame to loosen things up. The result? A puddle of frozen water on the ground. I finally crawled in through the passenger door and put my shoulder to the door until I busted it loose. Oh boy, that was fun.

Anyway, it is my last winter so I might as well feel the full force of it. I reckon some sweltering future January in the PI I might just be missing the cold. Naw, I doubt it.

Let’s get physical

I made it through the invasive probing relatively unscathed.

Let’s get started! Not exactly confident, more like resigned to my fate.

After being violated in the mouth and ass. I survived the abuse though.

And Good Morning Hospital rewarded me with this free lunchee… I’m sure the porridge was rich in carbs, but after fasting for 24 hours I didn’t give a damn…

So the physical examination was W800,000. They found some polyps on the colon and surgically removed them while I was blissfully unconscious. Something else on the walls of my stomach being biopsied as well. That was another W860,000.

Anyway, full results in two weeks. I expect I’ll live.

Let’s get physical, physical
I wanna get physical
Let’s get into physical
Let me hear your body talk, your body talk
Let me hear your body talk

The only thing worse than getting older…

…is the alternative.

Saw the urologist today and explained through the cute female translator that yes, I’m peeing less frequently at night now and indeed, my volume is pert near equivalent to a fire hose. He seemed pleased and prescribed me an additional 60 days of medication (a total of 4 pills taken each night after dinner).

So I take my blood pressure meds in the morning, along with my COPD inhalation regimen. And before bedtime, I do an allergy tablet and more COPD powder sucked into the lungs. Put it all together and it looks something like this:

My own personal pharmacy. Ain’t life grand?

Now tomorrow I’m back to Good Morning Hospital for my complete physical examination featuring the joy of endoscopy and the unique thrill of a colonoscopy.

The fun begins tonight at 8 pm when I begin drinking the juice that will clear my bowels of all lingering excrement. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

It could get interesting if the plumber who is supposed to be on his way doesn’t get my running water to run. Thankfully, I discovered that the unoccupied upstairs portion of my palace apparently has a separate water line, as I was able to shower there this morning. Oh shit! I better go see if that is still working. BRB. WooHoo! It is. Set the faucets on slow drip. If need be, I will sleep up there near a functioning toilet. Because tonight, shit is gonna get real around here.

Oh, and one more thing. GET OFF MY LAWN!

That’s a first

First time I had to concede to mother nature this winter.  -13 with a brisk breeze just made it too damn painful to walk outside.

I managed 6000 steps by walking around in the HQ building. And then I put my mostly vacant house to work as my indoor walking park.

Up the stairs…

And back down….

And then circuits around the unoccupied upstairs living area…

Pretty damn boring exercise though. I wound up settling for 13,000 steps, far short of my 20,000 daily goal.

Made me a simple but tasty low carb dinner…

And then I had to make a decision. Be smart and stay home or brave the cold to partake in my daily dose of beer drinking.

Fuck you mother nature!

I guess mother nature said fuck you back because this morning there is no running water in the house. Frozen pipes I reckon.

And so it goes

Well, the government shutdown has come to a screeching halt two days after its implementation.  But not before some damage was done.

In my little corner of the Army alone I had to cancel long planned professional development seminars scheduled at Yongsan and Humphreys this week.  60+ participants were disappointed, but damn, the instructors who flew in from DC on Saturday had to get back on a plane Monday morning (no travel expenses allowed during shutdown) and go home really suffered.  By the time they landed, the furlough was over.  Government at it’s best ladies and gentlemen.

I’m especially disappointed because I didn’t get the chance to try out any of these pickup lines…

There is no question that the Democrats blinked.  Their lame efforts to blame the shutdown on Trump weren’t fooling anyone but the most ignorant of partisans.

It’s all about the math.

Ah well, enough of politics.  I need to prepare an AAR (after action report) sharing the lessons learned with the CG.  I’ll be better prepared come the next go-round in February.

In other news, I’ve got a slew of medical stuff on the horizon.  Went to the on-base medical clinic today to get new prescriptions for my COPD drugs.  Had a nice female Korean doctor who had actually treated me way back in 2008.  She didn’t remember me (other than from my medical records on her computer) so I told her “yeah, back in 2008 you said I only had 10 years left to live!  Oh hell, it’s 2018!”  I guess my “humor” went over her head, but the young soldier nurse chuckled.  Anyway, she wants me to get a CT scan to check out some lung nodules.  I’ll have to go up to Seoul for that, which gives me a good excuse to visit the big city.

Thursday I go to Good Morning hospital to see my prostate doctor.  The pee is flowing better these days, so that’s a good thing.  Need those prescriptions renewed too.

And then on Friday I’m doing the complete physical regimen at GMH, including the dreaded colonoscopy and endoscopy.  Hope they knock me out for both.  But I want to have a clean bill of health (or at least be aware of any potential problems) before I make the big move to the Philippines.  So, another step down that road.

And finally, a friend posted this on Facebook and it really resonated:

Commenter Kevin had quoted a Gibran poem I really liked a few days ago. And this quote, well, damn. It is so fucking true it hurts. Love. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

Hope springs eternal nonetheless….

What he said

I rarely engage in political discussions these days.  I can’t even recall the last time I’ve used the “politics” tag here at LTG.  But Kevin Kim of Big Hominid fame has crafted a balanced and thoughtful take on year one of the Trump presidency that is quite impressive in its depth and breadth..  Whatever your political persuasion I encourage you to pay him a visit and give this the read it deserves.

Accolades and kudos, Kevin!

I’m exceptional!

Well, excepted anyway.  Excepted from the furlough I mean.

As most of you are surely aware, the Congress critters have seen fit to not pass a funding bill, thereby forcing the government to shut down.  Which means that most federal employees will be furloughed come Monday morning.  Our workforce in Korea has been spared that fate because of our national security mission of deterring northern aggression.

Here’s what the big boss had to say about it….

Practically speaking, the impact here is that we are required to work but we will not be paid until such time as Congress gets its shit together.  We also can not take any type of leave–if you get sick you get furloughed.  I devoted 4 hours of my Saturday in meetings with Eighth Army leadership as we planned the way ahead.  Fun times!

Got a late start on yesterday’s walk due to my unplanned work intrusion, but I did get to see a colorful sun. So there’s that.

And then up early this morning for a walk in the fog.

Here’s a throwback to 1986. I was transporting our horses from Oklahoma to the new residence in South Carolina. That would mean I was 31 years old. I’m happy to report that I judge my current belly to be similar in size to the one on the younger me.

On the subject of moving, today Facebook reminded me that it was on this date in 2005 that I first moved to Seoul.  Thirteen years gone by just like that.  And I’m very aware that my remaining days in Korea are drawing to a close.  Things are getting real.  And a little scary.

Interesting times await!

Seven year ache

Today marks the seventh anniversary of my mother’s passing.

Mom and me.

mom and dad.

Mom died at home where she wanted to be. The best night occurred during her last week when her sisters from California came to visit. She was surrounded by people who loved her and she seemed to really perk up. She actually made a little speech about what’s important in life and she said all that matters is love. Mom told us to always love one another and everyone else we encountered. When it was done she smiled and said, “well, I guess I gave a sermon”. Mom was clearly loving having her family with her, that’s for sure.

I had retired on January 1 and was there for mom’s final days.  She thanked me for coming back home to her.

Miss you mom!

Mother, don’t worry. I’ve got a coat and some friends on the corner
Mother, don’t worry. She’s got a garden we’re planting together
Mother, remember the night that the dog had her pups in the pantry?
Blood on the floor and the fleas on their paws,
And you cried ’til the morning.

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten
Sons are like birds flying always over the mountain

Who’s whom?

Sorry, Kevin Kim.  I saw this and immediately thought of you.  Don’t know why.

In other news, I’m glad I stopped listening to those voices in my head.

And finally, it was two years ago today that I posed with this elephant (I’m the one on the left) in Cambodia.

I’m a lesser man these days.  269 pounds back then.  204 at yesterday’s weigh-in.  5 pounds more to reach my goal.

And life goes on…

 

 

Smoked

I gave up on waiting to get a date to join me at the new BBQ joint here in town.  So last night I dined alone at Smoke Town.

I had walked by before but never checked the inside or the menu.  It did come highly recommended to me however.  When I entered I was surprised at how small the place was.  Three tables and counter seating along one wall and the front window.  I also didn’t see a restroom and thankfully didn’t need one.  I assume there is a community CR located in another part of the building. They seemed to be doing a brisk business (tables full and several folks waiting for take out).

Here’s the menu. Somewhat limited and a little on the pricey side. I really dislike eating out alone and one of the reasons is that whole “for two” bullshit. Us single guys need to eat as well!

I opted for the pulled pork sandwich ($7) and sides of beans and slaw ($3 each). Cheapest beer was a Hoegaarden for five bucks. Although the menu shows dollar pricing, I paid W18,000 so it was actually a little cheaper than it appears.

How was it?  Well, I thought the sandwich was one of the best I’ve had.  The beans were very good and the slaw average.  As you can see, the portions were fair.  How does it compare to Linus’ or Manimal in Itaewon?  Eh, too soon to tell, but I’d rate Smoke Town as competitive with those venues.  Of course, Smoke Town wins hands down for location convenience.  So there’s that.

Spent the remainder of the night getting drunk at various venues in the ‘ville.  I came home in a foul mood and woke up feeling depressed.  I’ll see if I can’t walk those blues away this morning.

I really need to get out of here.