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?

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?

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

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.

Just how cold is it?

Almost as cold as my damn love life. Almost.

 

Or to be precise, minus 16 Celsius.

Here’s a useful tip: Don’t leave a 12 pack of diet Coke in your trunk when the temperature drops to -16. Just sayin’.

Still getting my steps in, despite the cold. Actually, I can dress warm enough but the black ice is treacherous. I pretty much have to curtail walking after sundown.

The snow covered bicycle trail along the river. I managed to get in a two hour walk here after work today.

 

Cold nights, hot food. Ribs? Aye!

Make no mis steak about it. With a side of Frankenstein’s brains.

Anyway, it was just about a year ago that I received my COPD diagnosis.  The meds have been working great, I have rarely had the coughing fits and shortness of breath I used to experience.  But this cold air has given me some trouble, especially after long exposure.  Been hocking up some nasty shit along the trail.  Ah well, doctor says the hot and humid air in the Philippines will do me good.  In the meantime I’ll just try and enjoy my last winter weather.  Or endure it.

Also one year ago I posted this Charles Bukowski poem on Facebook.  It was a good reminder for me to read it again:

Into the great wide open!

Friday night and cold beer and cold air await me!

The Dating Game

Well, as the old saw goes, when you get bucked off the horse you gotta climb right back on and ride that motherfucker.  Been dipping my toes in the dating pond, at least virtually.  In between walking and drinking I’ve filled some hours on the Filipina Cupid dating website.  It’s a swamp full of scammers and pretenders, but if you are patient you can ferret out some folks who seem at least mildly interesting.

So the way I see it, I’m a well-educated man, successful in most things (excluding love, but no one’s perfect), financially secure, and reasonably attractive for an older gentleman.  When I retire to the Philippines next year I’ll certainly be able to give some lucky Filipina a life beyond her wildest imagination.  The trick is finding the one who is worthy of all that I have to offer.

I’ve had literally hundreds of women “expressing interest”, indicating I’m their “favorite” and messaging me thus far on Filipina Cupid.  While this is certainly soothing to my wounded ego, it’s also a bit of a pain in the ass to sort the wheat from the chaff.  My parameters are age 35-50, reasonably attractive, and intelligent enough to hold a decent conversation.  The qualities I require include honesty, loyalty and a willingness to stay by my side and care for me through good times and bad. Of course, discerning those attributes over the internet (even pictures can lie) is no easy task.  I do read the profiles carefully, and if someone has put forth the effort to actually write something of significance about themselves, I’ll sometimes shoot them a message and start a conversation.

Thus far I’ve identified four potentially worthy of my time.  The first one is 41 year old caregiver named Teri, who happens to live in the exact part of Manila where Loraine resides.  I’ve not broached the subject, but I expect odds are low that they may actually know each other.  Then there is Cora, a 39 year old nurse from elsewhere in Manila. The third is Prences, 38 who does something or other for the city government.  And the latest find is 36 year old Jhanez who purports to be some kind of “artist” and lives in a part of the Philippines I’ve never heard of.  It’s very early in the vetting process and I’ve only had a video chat with Teri thus far.  There’s a long way to go with all of them and I’m in no particular hurry to get there anyway.  I certainly won’t be making a decision on any of them (and there will certainly be others) until I’ve met them in person.

And that’s the thing.  May is still over 6 months away.  I’m not going to start another relationship until I’m on the ground and settled.  I could conceivably offer someone the opportunity to be my tour guide when I next visit at the end of December.  Teri and Cora have already volunteered to do so but I’ll need to have a lot higher comfort level with anyone I commit to spend my vacation with.  Chemistry indeed!

Meanwhile, here in the 3-D world things are much the same as they have always been. I’ve been trying to get a little Joy (a 49 year old Filipina-American I met who works on base) in my life, but thus far we’ve only connected once for dinner at my place (and she brought her roommate with her).  We do have regular FB messenger chats.  My attempts at courtship are for some reason not being reciprocated.  I expect it could be because my departure from Korea is only 6 months away, so what’s the point?  My counter argument is that we could at least have some fun and companionship in the interim.  I haven’t given up, but I’ll cop to being somewhat frustrated.

I’ve also taken up an English tutoring gig to help my friend Mi Young better her skills so she can get the dental hygienist position she covets at the army base clinic.  It’s mostly just conversation, but I do assign her homework which consists of me picking out a blog post from my archives and requiring her to read it and discuss it with me over coffee. Yeah, I’m a bastard to make her suffer through my blog ramblings. We had a very nice conversation last night and she is showing improvement.  I’m still stuck firmly in the friend zone with her, but honestly I’m very comfortable there.  She is full of wisdom and insights and has really helped me come to terms with this latest heartbreak.  I admire and respect her and would not want to ruin that by trying to pursue a romance (which she has made clear she doesn’t want anyway).  She did give me a peck on the lips when she left last night, so there’s that.

And that’s where things stand.  I’m in no man’s (no woman’s?) land—stuck somewhere between my life in Korea and my coming life in the Philippines.  In the meantime I will practice being patient and learning to be satisfied with this beautiful life I’m living.

Stay tuned!

I can see clearly now Loraine is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day

Oh, yes I can make it now the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day

 

 

I walk the line

Walking home from the office today:

Sorry, but I walk alone.

And courtesy of Facebook, me two years ago today:

Lost some weight, lost the ‘stache, and lost the wife that gave me the ring. But life goes on…

And yeah, this is me too:

Damn, I hate when that happens…

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine, I keep my eyes wide open all the time…

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.

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!

All in a day’s work

My workday started at 0445 with a call from the Eighth Army G1 advising that a “phone alert roster drill” was in effect.  This meant that I had to contact all my employees to make sure they could be reached in case of an actual emergency.  I was also instructed to report on my progress every 20 minutes or so.

No problem!  I worked the phones and woke my folks up like a pro.  I had a little math problem though.  I know I have 19 souls in my organization, but for the life of me I could only come up with 18 names.  And then I realized I hadn’t counted myself.  Duh!  Anyway, it took 3 hours but I accounted for all my people.  Mission accomplished!

The other big event in my day was deciphering this:

3.E.3.B. (U) CIVILIAN CORPS INDEX (CI). BECAUSE METHODS OF EFFECTIVENESS (MOE) AND METHODS OF PERFORMANCE (MOP) FOR SO2 ARE RELATED TO BUILDING COHESIVE TEAMS AND A CULTURE OF TRUST, THE OPERATIONAL OBJECTIVE FOR THE CCI IS TO INCREASE POSITIVE BEHAVIORS BY 2% FOR TWO YEARS FROM THE DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THIS FRAGORD AND BY 5% OVER A 5-YEAR TERM. TO REACH THIS GOAL, MSCS TRACK AND ENTER METRICS QUARTERLY INTO SMS. HPO / R2 CHIEF DETERMINES-WITH COMMAND APPROVAL-WHICH CHPC WORKING GROUP TAKES LEAD ON THIS
INDEX ASSESSMENT. ALL DATA COLLECTED IS AGGREGATE./

Yes, I can speak Army, but not fluently.

It was a great day to be an American in the Republic of Korea!

All washed up

The dryer installation went fine, but when I asked the installer about the washing machine he gave me a look like I could do it myself, gesturing at the two hoses that just needed to be connected to the machine and to the faucets.  I shrugged, it seemed simple enough.

Nothing ever is.

Alright, connecting the hoses was easy enough. The faucets didn’t indicate which was hot and which was cold. But what the hell, I’ve got a 50% chance of being right.

Now, since these are “American” appliances they come with 110v cords. Luckily, my house has both types of outlets…

…except when it doesn’t. Those are 220v cleverly disguised behind the 110 v panel. Now what?

Improvisation baby! I happened to have this transformer handy and put it to use.

Another issue was the hose drain was not attached properly so the hose wouldn’t stay in the drain pipe. I put to work some duct tape, but didn’t really expect it to work.

It didn’t.

Trying to do a load of whites right now, but something doesn’t seem to be working right.  Gonna have to get the landlord out here I suppose.

What a life!

Sexy-one!

Random songs appropriate for this last Saturday in August.

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
But you are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
And shorter of breath and one day closer to death

The longer I live the more I believe
You do have to give if you wanna receive.
There’s a time to listen, a time to talk.
And you might have to crawl even after you walk.
Had sure things blow up in my face,
Seen the longshot win the race.
Been knocked down by the slammin’ door.
Picked myself up and came back for more.

Life’s a dance, you learn as you go.
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.
Don’t worry ’bout what you don’t know,
life’s a dance, you learn as you go.

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.

White line fever, a sickness born
Down deep within my soul
White line fever, the years keep flyin’ by
Like the highline poles

The wrinkles in my forehead
Show the miles I’ve put behind me
They continue to remind how fast I’m growin’ old
Guess I’ll die with this fever in my soul

Every time I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It went by like dusk to dawn
Isn’t that the way?
Everybody’s got their dues in life to pay

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

I ain’t as good as I once was
I got a few years on me now
But there was a time back in my prime

When I could really lay it down
And if you need some love tonight
Then I might have just enough
I ain’t as good as I once was
But I’m as good once as I ever was

 

Have a dream and hope!

At least that’s what this sign told me:

Lately, I just hope my dreams aren't nightmares...

Lately, I just hope my dreams aren’t nightmares…

Best compliment yet on my new look– Bartender at Srooge Pub said ” I used to call you ajussi (uncle) but now I call you oppa (brother).” Should have shaved years ago!

Speaking of being not quite as invisible as I once was, while waiting to cross the street in Itaewon I caught this group of young ladies staring at me.

I'm not a piece of meat girls. I am a human being!

I’m not a piece of meat girls. I am a human being!  Alright, so it was a bus stop advertisement.  I can hope and dream!

With some of that free time I mentioned in my previous post I peruse the reader submissions at a Thai-centric website called Stickman Bangkok.  As is common with this type internet venue, the quality of writing runs the gamut of truly awful to “this guy should be making money as a wordsmith”.

I’ve never been to Thailand (yet) but I do enjoy visiting vicariously through the submissions by those who have experienced the Thai life up close and personal.  And my favorite writer who frequently posts at Stickman is Steve Rosse.

This story is a good example of his work.  It’s a quick read and entertaining.  Go now, I’ll wait here for you.

Good stuff, huh?  I’m not all that interested in girly bars and whoring around these days, and neither is Steve.  Although quite honestly, I’m never quite sure where truth and fiction reside within his work.  That doesn’t lessen the genuine pleasure I get from his stories though.

Anyway, a few months back I read this story by Steve called “Cellies” and it was like being hit upside the head with a brick.  He had artfully expressed in words something I had been doing frequently in the last few months of my ill-fated marriage–escaping to a better life in a world that existed only in my mind.

I was so moved I felt compelled to send him an email and thank him for his effort.  I was a little surprised when Steve wrote me back.  In his email he mentioned that if I enjoyed his writing I might consider purchasing some of his published work on Amazon.  I told him I most certainly would.  But then I went of my six month bender life intruded and I never got around to it.  I did use one of his quotes in a blog post though.

Well fast forward to a week or so ago when I was catching up with StickmanBangkok where I read a submission by Steve called “The List”.  And a couple of days later some anonymous asshole wrote a post that started off by attacking Steve and then went off on a rant delving deep into the sewers of misogyny.  I was pissed and was working on an appropriate response in my head.  I needn’t have bothered, because before I could put words on paper (or pixels in Word if you will) Steve came back with perhaps one of the top ten take downs in internet history.

I sent Steve a congratulatory email and told him his evisceration of “Anus Moony” had finally provided the motivation for me to keep my promise to buy some books.  I guess for a writer that’s about the best thank you of all, right?

14June5

I’m quite certain these will provide excellent beach side reading entertainment next week.

And what beach might that be you ask?  Why, lovely Samal island in the Philippines. Never been to that particular part of the PI, but it looks nice in the pictures.

My friend Maria will be my host and tour guide during my visit...

My friend Maria will be my host and tour guide during my visit…

And that’s about where things stand at this particular moment in time.

Except for this:

I've been studiously avoiding engaging in Facebook banter with my friends on the left who all want to talk gun control while ignoring the hulking elephant in the room--Islamic terrorism.

I’ve been studiously avoiding engaging in Facebook banter with my friends on the left who all want to talk gun control while ignoring the hulking elephant in the room–Islamic terrorism.

Liberal logic.  Now there’s an oxymoron for you.

 

 

In remembrance

Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

–Alfred Edward Housman

My great uncle Frank is the only family member I'm aware of who gave his life in the service of our nation.  So I honor him today.

My great uncle Frank is the only family member I’m aware of who gave his life in the service of our nation. So I honor him today.

Korean War memorial--Washington, DC.

Korean War memorial–Washington, DC.