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.

Labor Day

The long weekend is over.

Yesterday I did a cookout in honor of the newlyweds, Sonya and Joey.

So, I baked a carrot cake…

Made a banana pudding…

Marinated some rib eye steaks (herb and garlic)…

And then the party started and I totally forget about taking pics.  Anyway, we had shrimp (with cocktail sauce), celery, carrots, and potato chips (with ranch dressing) and nuts for appetizers.  Garlic bread, corn on the cob, asparagus, and baked potato to go with the steaks.  Also had some BBQ spare ribs. Way too much food!

Anyway, it was a good time.  Oh, we did a little drinking too!

Today I got up and as is my wont when I don’t have to work, I took a bike ride on the river.

It was a good day for it…

The ride was cut short though when I encountered this barrier…

Apparently that brand spanking new bridge had a collapse issue.  Oh well.

I managed 23,000+ steps on my afternoon walk.  And best of all, I finally found love!

Where have you been all my life?

And that’s about it for this drunken weekend.  Back at it tomorrow though!

About last night

Smack dab in the middle of a long weekend.  Here’s how Saturday went down.

Started the day with my usual river ride…

….managed to kill a couple of hours of a beautiful day.

Then on my afternoon walk I ran into this chill dude. Asked him if he was early. Apparently he never left.

My new hometown, the lovely village of Anjeong-ri. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

The best way to start a Saturday night is by putting some food in your belly. And with that done, it’s time to hit some bars…

First stop on my bar crawl was Shooters. Always dead, but I’m pals with Dela, a bartender from Cameroon.

Then I moved up the street to one of my other regular haunts, Galaxy.

Made friends with this gal there, but she was a real dog…

I don’t frequent Crystal all that often. It’s usually got a good crowd and they don’t really need my business. Staff is friendly and attractive though, and with an open seat at the bar I took advantage and popped in for a cold brew.

Having caught a buzz I figured I ought to get some religion. So I attended Mass….

I probably spend more time and money here than any other bar…

Mi Young is certainly one of my favorites…

The fifth bar of the night was Casbah. Kind of a throwback place that never seems busy…

So the bargirls were happy to see my wallet me.

Next I stumbled wandered over to Ariang. Not here too often, but it’s a friendly place.

Cute Filipina bartender. Don’t remember her name though… Damn, I just noticed how creepy I look when i’m drunk…

Ended the night at Horse and Cow. It’s an okay place I guess, just doesn’t seem to have much personality if you know what I mean…

But Lana from Uzbekistan is always pleasant to chat with..

In summation–

Cooking up some steaks and fixin’s this afternoon for some friends.  Might be marginally more interesting than this post.  Stay tuned!

On this day in history

Courtesy of Facebook comes this photo from August 29, 2010.

Go ahead and laugh sucker! I’ve seen your future and it ain’t pretty…

“It was a night of early spring,
The winter-sleep was scarcely broken;
Around us shadows and the wind
Listened for what was never spoken.

Though half a score of years are gone,
Spring comes as sharply now as then—
But if we had it all to do
It would be done the same again.

It was a spring that never came;
But we have lived enough to know
That what we never have, remains;
It is the things we have that go.”

― Sara Teasdale

Only the good die young

Heartbreaking news from South Carolina.  Christopher Werner II, aka “Fooey” and “Mini-me” passed away today.  He was in middle school, witty and sweet, and born with a bad heart.  I understand that during a routine check-up procedure he succumbed.

His mother Bridget loved him dearly and she died last year at age 49.  I wrote about her here.

I’m not religious but if there is a heaven it is comforting to think that they have now been reunited.

That’s Bridget and Fooey with us on the West sea circa 2012.

And that’s me and Christopher “dicking” around. The boy seemed to enjoy a similar sense of humor.

My heart goes out to his daddy Chris.  I cannot even begin to fathom what he is going through now.  I hope he finds the strength to persevere through such a devastating loss.

Rest in peace, Christopher.  You were an amazing young man and will not be forgotten.

Damn.

Sexy too

 

“Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom. Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.” 
― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Well, another journey around the sun has been completed.  And man am I tired.

Honestly, it’s a struggle.  I’m stuck somewhere between being unhappy and being depressed.  Today was not one of the good days, but I’ll keep on fighting regardless.

I’m not sure why I just can’t seem to embrace acceptance of what my life has become. When I look around me I can see that I have it better than many folks.  I’m grateful for my blessings, and regretful for the things I’ve lost.  Perhaps most significantly, the capacity to love.  A couple painful reminders of that this weekend have thrown me off my stride.

Oh well.  I can always hope for competency,

You just got to know where to look I suppose.

This too shall pass.

On a sunny Saturday in August

A really nice day here for a change.  Perfect day for a ride on the river.  Don’t believe me?  I’ve got pictures to prove it!

Your intrepid reporter…

A river runs through it.

Farm life…

Pyeongaek city on the horizon…

Nice rice.

I guess I should have used zoom…that’s a KTX passing by on the elevated tracks. I liked the juxtaposition of the country road and high tech transport. Oh well.

And now it’s another Saturday night.

another opportunity to explore my cognitive dissonance.

Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody
I got some money ’cause i just got paid
How I wish I had someone to talk to
I’m in an awful way

It wasn’t what you said…

…it’s what you didn’t say.

Well, let me say this–I’m cruising through a rain soaked week but I don’t have much to complain or blog about.  Not that that will stop me!

On the one day it didn’t rain it was quite beautiful on Camp Humphreys, don’t you think?

As I suspected, the bars in Anjeong-ri are nearly vacant with General Order #1 in effect. I snapped this photo because I thought it was cool seeing a bar that is even older than I am. I haven’t gone in there though (yet). I’ve been spreading myself around to my four primary favorites (Horse and Cow, Mass, Galaxy, and Shooters. I’m usually the only customer and I just don’t have the capacity to keep them all profitable during the exercise. Sorry!

Speaking of getting older, I do have a birthday on the horizon. My wonderful staff treated me to lunch at the Alaska Mining Company on Wednesday…

Treated me like a King they did! Crown and all!

And in one of those rare first time in a lifetime events, I blew out the candles on a Winnie the Pooh cake.

What else?

Well, I thought this was funny as hell…

Speaking of relationships, I recently heard that a couple of my friends are getting a divorce.  I hope it is not true and/or they patch things up.  They are both cool people and I thought they made a fine couple.  Having said that, I took the news as affirmation of my belief that love is a sucker’s bet.  I actually recall when I attended their wedding (last summer!) and watched them making their vows to one another thinking “yeah, I’ve heard that before”,  Anyway, love should be for more than the happy times.  Otherwise it is meaningless.  Least that’s how I see it.

No one belongs where they’re not wanted
You’re just a ghost, and my heart is haunted
When I said goodbye, you didn’t even beg me to stay
It wasn’t what you said, it’s what you didn’t say
No baby, it wasn’t what you said, it’s what you didn’t say

In my life

Time for another installment in the fascinating journey of my so-called life.

Well, I reckon it can be summed up as WWBD.  Working, Walking, Biking, Drinking.  I suppose it could be worse.

Work is work.  My Deputy has been on leave for the past three weeks which means I am staying somewhat more active than usual.  Even had a couple of days of coming in early and leaving late.  I expect things will quiet down for us during the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) military exercise.  It starts today and runs for the next two weeks.  I have no part to play which is a good thing because I’m not subject to General Order #1 (forbidding consumption of alcohol during the exercise among other things). Anyway, things are good with the Army.  We are ready to “fight tonight” if need be, but I expect Mr. Kim will not be so foolish as to test our resolve and readiness.

 

I’ve been working on the walking and making some progress in re-losing the weight I gained when I was sick.  Although technically I’m still sick I suppose (COPD doesn’t go away, best you can hope for is that it doesn’t get worse).  The meds are controlling the symptoms though and I’m feeling pretty good for an old fucker.  I hope to keep it that way!

Always something interesting to see when you are hiking about. I guess we know what the secret ingredient must be in those waffles!

Weather wasn’t that great this weekend but I did manage to get in a couple of nice bike rides between rain storms.

The quality of this photo is crap, but the water lilies were in full bloom on the backside of Camp Humphreys.

And so that leaves the drinking aspect of my life.  I do that every night.  I consider it self medicating for my physic pain.  Not sure that it helps all that much, but I do seem to be getting a good night sleep lately.

That’s what the inebriated me looked like on Friday night…

So, as I mentioned above with the exercise ongoing for the next two weeks the bars will be even lonelier than normal.  I’m guessing some won’t even bother opening.  On the other hand, I stand to be the youngest customer in some.  I’ll probably even be more popular than normal with the bar staff.  We shall see.

In other news, I did some shopping at the Osan Air Base on Saturday. That always includes a lunch at Arby’s. America’s Roast Beef Yes sir!

What with civil war fixing to break out any day now back in the USA, I’m wanting to get me one of these.

Can you hear me now?

And finally, it seems Facebook is fucking with my mind lately.  It has this feature where it shares a memory from the same day in the past.  Yesterday I got this:

That was on a trip to the East Sea on August 19 several years ago.

And this one was August 19 one year ago.

Today featured a 2011 post commemorating my proposal of marriage to Jee Yeun and her acceptance.  That certainly didn’t go as planned.

Anyway, it hurts to be reminded sometimes.  I constantly reassure myself though that there are worse things than being lonely.

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

 

Potpourri 

Which is French for “random shit I posted on Facebook this week”.

So, this is where I come down on the bullshit in Charlottesville…

 

Having said that, the extreme left is every bit as bad if not worse…

And this kind of racism is what causes Charlottesville…

Two years ago I achieved “regular” status at Shenanigans…

Two 4 star generals on peninsula to sort things out…I do believe Trump has called Kim Jung Un’s bluff.

My daughter and son circa 1983 or so. Captures their personalities quite well. They are about the only thing left that I love in this world…

…because no it does not.

And that’s about it from here for now.

On and On

Whatever gets you through the day.  2.5 hours on the bike and another 2.5 spent walking.  Lots of time to think, although in my case that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Another drunken Saturday night in the Ville.  Not to worry, I confine my drinking to days that end in a “y”.

Saturday night in Anjeong-ri…

Compare and contrast this street scene with Itaewon.

Shut your Korean Man Hole.

Took the long trail to Pyeongtaek lake this morning. First time I made it out that far…

I was rewarded with this view.

Finishing up the walk by the main gate at Camp Humphreys I encountered a protest group doing Kim Jung Un’s work I suppose. The police were out in force as usual…

But at least now I know what number to call when I see a hot babe walking down the street. Sadly that is pretty infrequent in this hick town…

Ah well, life goes on.  And on.

On and on
I just keep on trying
And I smile when I feel like dying
On and on
On and on
On and on

Moving forward

Ah geez, been too long since my last post, hasn’t it? Let’s ketchup.

The days are slowly pouring by…

Well, there is work* and it seems to be going pretty well overall.  I’m blessed with an outstanding staff of professionals who work hard and seem to enjoy their jobs.  I’m fortunate to not have to deal with “people issues”.  I treat them right and they respond accordingly.  That’s just simple management 101, I’m no genius.

But having said that, I reckon I’m doing pretty good at what little I do do.  No shit!  People come to us for answers and solutions and we provide them.  We’ve filled some voids for the command and I do believe the leadership appreciates our contributions.  I take a lot of pride in that.

Our new building is a bit of a pain in the ass.  The biggest adjustment for most of us has been getting used to the prohibition on electronic devices in the building.  That means no cell phones and no Fitbit!  God knows I hate losing all the ancillary steps that aren’t recorded during the day.  My poor Fitbit is confused about being locked up at the front entrance and accuses me of taking a nap during the day.  Oh well, these days we all have to be cognizant of OPSEC (operational security) and do our part.

Several of my folks have not physically moved to Pyeongtaek as yet and that commute from Seoul is a killer.  For now at least I’m allowing them to telework 2 days a week, so that helps relieve some of the burden I suppose.  Anyway, we’ll all adjust.

So you may be asking yourself “I thought he was planning on retiring in September?”  I was.  And I still am in the not too distant future.  I’m just going to be flexible in my planning.  As mentioned above I do derive some satisfaction from working and damn, it is hard to walk away from my ridiculous salary and my ridiculously big and paid for house.  I’ve got a goal on how much money I want to have in the bank when I hang it up and I’m making steady progress towards achieving that goal.  Meantime, I’m just going to enjoy the ride and try to decide what my “purpose” will be in life once I retire.  So far the best I’ve come up with is enjoying bay views while I watch the world go on without me.  We’ll see.

Ms. Choe, Song Won is one of my superstars. It was my honor to recognize her with the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service.  (We had to go outside to get a photo.  Everyone’s camera is on their phones these days)

What else?  Well, I’ve had some visitors which is nice.  Joey and Sonja (the newly engaged couple I wrote about here) have moved to Pyeongtaek.  In fact, they wound up renting a place just about across the street from me.  Heh, it’s a small town!  We enjoyed a grilled meat dinner and then I took them on a tour of my favorite bars.  That was a great time.  Last night Jessie, one of my old time Seoul friends, was in town on Army business and he got to enjoy my upstairs guest room.  We had some beers out on the town to facilitate a good night’s sleep of course.

I found a small house with the attractive coffee on one of my walks…

And if you can’t afford the best, this place is very good…

Still enjoying some quality time bicycling on the river…

That was not a bridge too far…

I kept to the straight and narrow. It’s jut the way I roll…

Serious business biking is.

What about my love life?

It’s probably for the best.

Tensions are higher than I’ve ever seen here on the peninsula.  But we’re pulling out our big guns…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

I’d still rather be here than in the USA.  Much easier to avoid the silly PC social justice warriors.  I have zero tolerance for that bullshit.

Well, they will be well-suited for future employment with Google I suppose…

I was just talking to the moon, hoping someday soon that I’d be over the memory of you. Too hard to hold on…

*  The views expressed here at LTG are my own and are written on my own time and dime.  My opinions are not sanctioned or endorsed by my employer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the United States Government.  What are the odds?

A table for one

I saw this on yesterday’s walk about and for some reason it made me sad:

A metaphor for my lonely life perhaps?

It turned out to be a very strange day.  Out of the blue I heard from three different women that in the past have professed their love for me.  I guess it’s nice to be remembered and I also sometimes think of them.  But I’m alone by choice.  It’s safer that way.

I do feel sorry for whatever pain I’ve caused them on account of my bitter selfishness, but there is nothing I can do to change that.  I’m a broken man and loving me is a big mistake.  I have nothing to give in return.  That’s just the way it goes.

.

Past forgetting

Meetings in Seoul yesterday necessitated a return to my former hometown.  Rather than fight Friday afternoon traffic I opted to spend the night.  I’ve had a hankering to get out and revisit some of my old familiar trails.  Couldn’t decide on whether to do Namsam or the Han river.  So I did both.  It was a hot motherfucker of a day but I got it done in three and a half hours.

I didn’t dare to tread there though. Truthfully, Seoul is a city full of memories for me. Quite a few of them make me sad these days. That’s one advantage to Pyeongtaek–nothing here to remind me…

Hello old friend, long time no see!

Truth be told, the street didn’t look all that old to me…

The Han is always a pleasure…

A nice way to end the day.

It was hot and sweaty work out there though…

Nothing like walking to Incheon, but not bad for an old guy…

Up pretty early after a night of drinking chatting with friends in the bars.  On the road before 0700 but still got caught in traffic leaving Seoul.  Went pretty quick after that though.

Rested a bit then broke the bike out for a river ride.

I foolishly picked the hottest part of the day for my endeavor…

But it was a good 2+ hour ride regardless…

The buzzer on the oven timer just went off so I was expecting to enjoy some baby back ribs.  Alas, I must have failed to ignite the oven, so now I’ve got another hour before I can eat.  Need to get today’s walk in as well, but I’ll let it cool off some first.

And that’s the latest installment in my exciting life.

 

 

It was a good night

So I took the base bus to Seoul after work yesterday.  I was on a mission.

It was my good friend Sonya’s last day working at Shenanigans…

Now, she thought all the folks who showed up were there to just say thanks and goodbye.  But we were in on the secret.

Sonya’s boyfriend Joey was due to arrive in Seoul on Friday, or so she thought.  Instead he came in last night.  And his plan was to propose to her in the bar in front of their friends.

My job was to distract her.  So, on the signal from the bar owner Willie, I called her over to my table and started asking her what would be the appropriate shot to order for my nephews.  As I was keeping her busy, “their song” started playing.  I could see her thinking “who’s playing that and why?”, but I kept up my ruse of not knowing what to order.

And then Joey was standing behind her.  When she turned around, the look on her face was priceless.  Disbelief followed by unbridled joy.

And then Joey popped the question…

And Sonya said YES!

Congrats and best wishes for a lifetime of happiness. Now, I personally don’t believe in love anymore, BUT I will admit to getting a little choked up and teary eyed seeing how much they love each other. It was a bittersweet reminder of what I’ve lost.

And Joey and Sonya will be moving to Pyeongtaek soon so I reckon I’ll be seeing them around and about.  Always room for some friendly faces in my life, that’s for sure.

Man in motion

Yesterday I walked through the rain so I could get my requisite steps in.  Then my phone chirps and I have a message from my “stalker” with this photo:

I had on my headphones and was focused on the task at hand, so I had no idea someone I knew had spotted me on the road. Ah, the joys of small town living. Everyone knows your business.

I made it to the river without further incident. The bugs were biting. Not mosquitoes who tend to be stealthy, but some kind of biting fly. Going to have to remember to spray on the off next time I’m on the water.

Life is good.  At least that is what I keep telling myself.

Ain’t she beautiful?

I finally have a new grillfriend.  It all came together yesterday.  And she’ll be residing here at my house.  I think she’s really hot (or will be soon enough).  Big thanks to the nephews for helping making it all possible.

How many McCrareys does it take to assemble a grill? Apparently three.

Well done guys!

Welcome home baby!

Rarer than a solar eclipse

For the first time in the long and storied history of Pyeongtaek, three McCrareys graced the fair city with their presence.

Nephews Justin and Joshua came down for a visit with their favorite uncle.  I showed them around the army base and they were suitably impressed.

Fed the hungry boys lunch at the Alaska Mining Company, one of the fine dining establishments on Camp Humphreys. Justin declared it the biggest burger he’d ever seen in Korea.

Luckily both the nephs were up for a hike.  I took them on my “3 parks” hour and a half loop walk.  They seemed to tolerate it well, although we were  all drenched in sweat when we finished.

Rested up some and showered then it was time to introduce the boys to the Anjeong-ri nightlife.

First stop was Horse and Cow where we were well served by the Lana, the bartender from Uzbekistan.

Next stop was Mass bar where my favorite barkeep Mi Young gave the boys a friendly welcome. Hmm, she never welcomes ME like that..

The owner of Galaxy bar came in to Mass (which is owned by her mother) and gave me some good natured flak about cheating on her bar. So I promised we’d visit Galaxy next. Promise kept!

Then it was on to Shooters bar. Della, the African gal from Cameroon is a hoot. She can parry all my witty jabs and pay them back in spades. Always have a good time there. The gal in yellow is the owner, Tee. Well into our afternoon hike she spotted us on the street and called out to me insisting I visit her bar that night. The boys were impressed that everyone in town seems to know me. Well, everyone in the bar biz anyway…

I left the youngsters at Shooters and stumbled on home.  Just can’t hang the way I used to.  They continued their good times without me then made it home safe and sound on their own.

They are both still snoring away the day.  While I wait for them to get their asses moving I’ll share some other photos from my bar life this weekend.

“Mama” and Lana from Horse and Cow.

Me and So Yeon, the owner of Galaxy.

An action shot from Friday night in Galaxy. I’m usually the only miguk in the place.

Hanging with Della from Cameroon at Shooters…

Mi Young from Mass bar. Interesting gal. Spends all her free time working at the animal rescue shelter. Says she has 8 dogs at her house waiting for adoption too. Can’t imagine what that’s like, but good for her to be so committed to a worthy cause. I told her I was a sick puppy but I don’t think she got what I meant. Ah well.

Seems neither reason is good enough these days…

Yeah, well who needs it?

My personal assistant/caregiver from the PI is always sending me encouragement from afar.

Thanks for looking out for me Loraine.

Still need to get a bike ride in and then do my 2 hours of walking.  Assuming the nephews ever wake up…

 

Something to blog about

Well, settling into my small town life.  Not much happening that is blog worthy, but I do feel a sense of obligation to keep my loyal readers informed about the mundane details of my so-called life.

But what to write about?  Well, sometimes inspiration just comes walking through the door.  Literally.

Last night I’m sitting in Shooters bar finishing my final beer of the evening when a couple walks through the door.  I had to turn and look because people actually coming into Shooters is an infrequent event.  The guy looks at me and says “I know you, John”. Now, I’m pretty drunk and my memory ain’t what it once was, but he didn’t look familiar at all.  Seeing my confusion he tells me “I read your blog”. Outstanding!  Nice to meet you David!

In over 12 years of blogging meeting a random stranger who follows LTG has only happened a handful of times.  It’s always surprising to me.  I know a couple of friends and family members visit here regularly, but I usually just write as if I had no audience (yeah, I know it shows).  That people find enough amusement or interest or maybe pity that keeps them coming back for more is really quite humbling.  Sincerely, thank you all!

Anyway, David and his lovely Korean wife (sorry, the name escapes me now) invited me to join them at their table.  How could I refuse?  David also works on base and he was wearing a Scrooge Pub shirt (a bar I also used to frequent in Seoul).  Plus, he enjoys throwing darts.  So we had quite a bit in common. Had a nice chat and a couple of friendly dart games.  It was a nice way to end the evening for me.

It’s a small and random world after all.

New friends in town and the inspiration for this post.

The End of an Era

On Friday afternoon I drove up to Seoul for the official close down of my office building.

Building #1377 has now been signed over to the Yongsan Garrison Department of Public Works.

I climbed those stairs for the first time on January 23, 2005. They led me to a life I could never have imagined.

The trailing group of my employees who remained on Yongsan during the transition. They’ll all be reporting to Camph Humphreys on Monday morning.

I was here at the earliest stages of the planning for the move. It feels good that I was able to return and be here for the completion of those plans.

I stayed the night and met up with my old pal Alastair who was visiting from Scotland. Had us some beers and samgyeopsal and reminiscing.

Back home in the countryside Saturday morning where I enjoyed a nice long bike ride on the river.

On my afternoon walk I encountered this big ass sunflowers. They stood about 8 feet high…

Tried a new bar on Saturday night called the Eagles club. It was a huge place with just me and the (male) bartender. Maybe I was just too early. It was one beer and out for me, but not before I captured this sign with a somewhat unusual sentiment. I’d say it is more true of Korean women, but that’s just been my experience…

I was able to capture this image of the Saturday night action on the streets of Anjeong-ri. Powerful stuff, no?

And finally, talking about the end of an era, my daughter posted up this picture of me from the 1980s.  Good times!

Wish I still had the shirt.