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!

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…

 

 

Ghosted

Well, there’s a first time for everything.  Unfortunately.

Ghosting is breaking off a relationship (often an intimate relationship) by ceasing all communication and contact with the former partner without any apparent warning or justification, as well as avoiding or ignoring and refusing to respond to the former partner’s attempts to reach out or communicate.

Ghosting may be especially traumatic for those on the receiving end, causing feelings of ostracism and rejection;[6] those with low self-esteem may be especially vulnerable to negative emotional and psychological consequences as a result of it.[citation needed]

Some mental health professionals consider ghosting to be a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse, a type of silent treatment or stonewalling behaviour, and emotional cruelty.[6]  

My “friend” Mi Young has apparently broken off all communication with me without any explanation.  We last talked on Thursday (via messenger) and I had invited her to join me for some American BBQ at a new place in town.  As usual, her schedule was ambiguous so I said I’m free whenever you are, just let me know.  And that’s the last I’ve heard from her.  I sent a message on Monday asking what was up which she saw but did not respond to.  And so that’s it I guess.

Never experienced a “ghosting” before.  It sucks.  And it hurts.

Similarly, my “ex” Loraine, who had professed to want to remain friends, has not responded to a series of messages I sent.  I wished her a happy new year and got nothing back.  A week later I sent a message simply asking if she was okay.  Nothing.

How hard is it to say “I don’t want to ever hear from you again, please don’t message me”.  Sure, that would be painful but it is better than just being ignored as if I didn’t exist.  It’s just a chickenshit thing to do.  I was good to both of these women, I think I deserve the dignity of a response, even if that response is “fuck off!”.

Oh well, life goes on.

The present

Presently, my wonderful life finds me immersed in my WWD routine.  That’s the lovely Pyeongtaek skyline reflected in the glass…

Work: As I wind down my career (again) it sometimes feels like I’m closing a loop.  Yesterday I was preparing for a Monday meeting dealing with whether our Korean Service Corps (KSC) employees are direct hires or indirect hires.  Not to get into the weeds on this, but direct hires are people who are hired by and paid by the Army.  Indirect hires are employees of the host nation government and supplied as needed in support of the Army.  All of the Korean Nationals working for the Army are direct hires.

This shouldn’t be an issue at all.  Except there is a Department of the Army regulation that states KSC employees are indirect hires.  This probably dates back to the Korean War when the ROK government did provide the manpower to support the KSC battalions.  I vaguely recalled dealing with this issue in the past and asked a staff member to pull up anything she could find.  And sure enough, there was a memo I signed and sent to Army HQ noting that the regulation was in error and needed to be corrected.  That was in September 2010.  Army responded that our KSCs were indeed direct hire and the regulation would be amended accordingly.  Except it hasn’t been.  Hence the need for a meeting to once again explain the difference to local leadership.  And by God, I’m determined to see that regulation updated before I leave Korea!

I’m getting some arm twisting to stay until my current appointment ends in September.  I actually do enjoy my job and the people I work with and for, but the other 16 hours of my day pretty much suck. I know it is time (past time perhaps) for me to move on with my life.  May it is!

Walking:  This morning I hiked to and through Pyeongtaek city and back.  Took almost four hours.  I’ve discovered there is a local Hash House Harriers group here and I’m excited about doing my first (well, second) Hash with them tomorrow afternoon.  Hopefully I can meet some interesting people and discover new trails to hike.  I’m pretty bored with my current walk routines.

Yeah, that’s pretty much the only way I can get through the night here in Anjeong-ri.  Five more months!

Drinking: Nothing significant to report.  I’m friends with the bartender at Shooters and enjoy cutting up with her.  There’s a couple of other places I frequent to change it up a little now and then.  And I’m somewhat smitten with the Filipina bartender at AR, even though she is half my age.  I invited her to join me for dinner but have not received an affirmative response.  Yet.

That’s Hanna. What’s not to like, right? What I enjoy about her is she has a great sense of humor (i.e. she laughs at my jokes) , she’s witty and can hold an intelligent conversation. I fear I’m the creepy old guy in her life though but she is too kind hearted to tell me so.

But I am philosophical about it all.  The owner of AR was wearing this wisdom on his back last night:

Yep, that’s my plan!

And there is the latest update on my so-called life.  Wonderful indeed!  And things can always be worse I suppose:

Yeah, maybe not having a girlfriend is a blessing…

UPDATE: She declined dinner.  “Headache”.  Haha, told you she was a smart girl!

The first day of the rest of my life…

…this year.

As days go it was a pretty fine one all and all.

Gem and I “kissed” and made up. We’ve got some communication issues we need to work on, but it’s early yet…

I’ve been very impressed with Gem’s willingness to indulge my walking habit. She hangs right in there on our 20,000+ step days. Hell, the other day she even said “I’m bored, let’s go for a walk”. Nothing seems to get her goat out on the road either…

During a trek out to Baloy Beach I found this place that may very well work for me…

Talked to the owner, “Lucky Mike” who said the current tenant is leaving in May which of course is when I expect to arrive…

It’s small, only one bedroom, but…

…it has this huge ass patio/deck/balcony thing going for it. My vision would be to convert it to outdoor living space. You know, table/umbrella, hammock, chair swing, and of course a nice grill. It’s on the 3rd floor and features outstanding water views from the patio and great mountain views from the house. 20,000 pesos a month ($400.) works for me too.

The highlight of the day though was participating in my first Hash House Harrier event.

We started out with the administrative stuff (250 peso dues) at Johannson’s Bar and Grill.

Then we loaded up in the back of this truck for the drive out to the Hash starting point.

The days route included hiking up and down two mountains. It was honestly much more difficult terrain than I’ve experienced on Namsan or Bukhansan in Korea. There were a couple of spots where I was even a little fearful. Only fell on my ass a couple of times though.

Let’s get started!

And we are off!

Passed by some residences that show just how lucky I am….

The trail was more difficult that it appears…very steep with dicey footing in places.  Next time I’ll definitely bring a walking stick!

Gem kept right up with me the entire way…and she was much better at spotting the trail markings (chalk arrows on trees) that I am. I can truthfully say I would have been lost without her.

From the top of the mountain we were rewarded with amazing views of the bay like this one…

And there lies Barrio Baretto in all its glory. I’ll be calling here home one day soon…

The local kids were quite amused to see the crazy foreigners walking about in the hot sun for no particular reason.

The Hash finished up on the roof of the Hot Zone bar…owned by the leader of the Subic Bay Hashers.

Now, there are certain rituals associated with the Hash that take place at the conclusion of every hike. I don’t fully understand them all yet, but they include sitting bare bottomed on a block of ice and drinking from a toilet plunger. I was happy to just observe.

As a Hash House “virgin” I was required to engage in an initiation ritual…

Which concluded by my having to guzzle an entire bottle of beer in one shot. Anything remaining in the bottle after it left my lips was unceremoniously poured over my head. I missed it by just a sip…

Anyway, it felt like a fresh start and a step in the direction of a new and better future life.  We will see how that works out for me.

Dead and buried

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Rest in Peace motherfucker.

And welcome to the new born year of 2018.  Chances are I’ll fuck this one up as well, but hopefully in new and more interesting ways.  For sure my future fuck ups will primarily be taking place in the Philippines.  So there’s that.

Spent the last night of the year at Lollipop enjoying more live music.

The actually put on a pretty good show playing some outstanding classic rock songs.

Last night a big dick walked into the bar. That really took some balls…

Welcomed the New Year on the rooftop of the Paradise Hotel where we could view the firework show from the old Navy base.  Then had a fight with Gem and woke up pissed.

This year is going to rock!

And so it begins. Again.

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

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

Waiting for my flight in style and comfort…

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

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

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

That’s me looking cautiously optimistic…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You take a risk giving your heart to anybody. But every time your heart gets stomped on, you pick it up, brush it off, and start looking for somebody else to give it to. You know the risk and you accept it, gladly, because the payoff is worth it. And any love that qualifies itself, any ‘I love her but I don’t trust her’ love, isn’t really love. If you’re not risking everything you have, it’s not love. Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances.”
–Steve Rosse

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

So this is Christmas

Ah, Merry Christmas to each and every one!

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

That about sums it up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

In the comments

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

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

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

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

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

As always, thank you for the education Kevin!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The giant marshmallow harvest is now complete. Apparently.

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

Stay tuned!

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

 

 

Everything changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Who’s keeping score?

Well, I am.  Apparently.

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

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

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

Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Too low for zero

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

Not bad for a cold ass weekday, eh?

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

well, at least more delightful than usual.

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

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

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

These days

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

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

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

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

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

Looking out my front door.

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

Story of my life.

But, it can always be worse I suppose:

I hate when that happens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Kahlil Girbran

Landslide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

229,179 total steps

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

total floors

593
total floors
▲ 172 floors over last week

total miles

109.52
total miles
▲ 21.24 miles over last week

avg. daily calorie burn

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

total active minutes

1773
total active minutes
▲ 448 min since last week

exercising this week

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

avg. restful sleep

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

avg. hrs with 250+ steps

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

avg. resting heart rate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Carefree Highway

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

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

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

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

I was mildly optimistic…

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

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

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

Passed the Dongchong-ri gate at 6364 steps…

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

Made a left turn on the river at 8405 steps.

Passed the railroad trestle at 12,347 steps.

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

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

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

Got to the CPX gate in 26,397 steps.

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

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

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

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

The KTX blew by me at 38,311 steps.

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

I arrived at Pyeongtaek Station in 43,610 steps.

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

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

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

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

Things are bound to keep getting better.  Right?

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

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

C’est la vie

Sometimes you have to let love go before you can find it again.

Old dreams must die before new dreams are born.

Go ahead and call me Captain Obvious, but those were insights gleaned during this past week’s walking extravaganza.

And what a week of walking it was!

184,658 total steps

Avg. 26,380 steps per day. ▲10,281 more than last week

total miles

88.28
total miles
▲ 13.60 miles over last week

 

I do believe that was a record breaker.  This week my goal is to cross the 200,000 step threshold.  That will require some massive walks over the weekend, but weather permitting I’ll push myself to achieve new heights.  Is 50,000 steps in a single day possible?  I aim to find out.  And if I fail, well, I will just take it in stride (ahem).

And I’m down to an even 208 pounds, a loss of 18 pounds in a month.  Nine more to go to reach my goal!

Anyway, life goes on much as it always has.  I’m sad, but less often.  I continue to strive to look forward to the future and not back on my past failures.  And there is much to look forward to.

My upcoming trip to Subic/Olongapo for one.  It will be difficult in some ways because much that I do there will be filled with memories of Loraine.  But I need to man up and move on because I still plan to make my home there come (what) May.

Speaking of which, I discussed the recruitment plan for my replacement here with my Deputy today.  We agreed to announce the pending vacancy in mid-February which should afford ample time to get the new person on board around the time I depart.

My days remaining at Camp Humphreys are dwindling down. Less than six months to go by my reckoning.

I’ll probably miss these noisy birds that are always flying around my office…

And the beer is still cold and wet in Anjeong-ri, so there’s that at least.

Heh, I can be both!

Life is good and bound to get gooder one day soon!

There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down, you know they hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you, ’cause life goes on
You keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you up inside

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you, baby
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again
I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter
But everything changes
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

 

 

Wasted on the way

So in those rare moments when I’m not wallowing in self-pity I have been busy with a couple of other things to keep my mind engaged in positive thinking.

For example, today I booked a flight to the Philippines where I will once again welcome in the new year.  It’s a positive step in the direction of getting my shit together and moving forward with my future plans.  It won’t happen the way I once imagined it would, but there are new dreams to be found, I’m sure of it.

I’ve also been more involved with Asan Angels dog rescue shelter.  This place houses 300+ dogs that are in constant need of something, including food.  My friend Mi Young has heroically done most of the heavy lifting these past four years almost single handedly.  I was able to post some stuff on the Pyeongtaek Living facebook page about the situation and some good hearted people stepped about and created a volunteer group.  Now there are dozens of people stepping up to fill the void. It’s been an amazing response and I feel really good about the small role I played in making that happen.

I’m also just now getting involved in helping out a local orphanage.  I was hoping to donate some money to the King’s Fil-Am home in Olongapo, but they never responded to my request for where to send a donation.  I’m meeting up with one of the volunteers this afternoon to assist in purchasing a washing machine for the orphanage.

Heh, I’ve decided to donate the monthly stipend I was sending Loraine to charity.  It feels good to be making a small difference for those who are in a much worse situation than I am.  Perspective is a wonderful thing.

Look around me
I can see my life before me
Running rings around the way it used to be

I am older now
I have more than what I wanted
But I wish that I had started long before I did

And there’s so much time to make up everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way
So much water moving underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away

So much love to make up everywhere you turn
Love we have wasted on the way
So much water moving underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away
Let the water come and carry us away

A snowy Thanksgiving

It’s been a tough month, but I’m making progress.  I hope.  Reflecting on this day set aside for giving thanks I know that I do indeed have much to be thankful for.

My kids are healthy and immersed in making the best of their lives.  My grandchildren are happy, beautiful, and smart.  They all represent something good I’ve done in this world, regardless of how much credit is due me.

For an old fucker my health is relatively good, certainly much better than it was a year ago when I had episodes where I couldn’t catch my breath.  I’m thankful I’ve been able to get the right meds and make the lifestyle changes to hopefully scratch out a few more years here on earth.  Oh yeah, I’m down to 209 pounds, minus 17 since I started the broken heart diet plan.  Still drinking too much, but one step at a time.

I’ve got a good job (for the next six months anyway), some money in the bank and I am debt free.  Very thankful to not have to worry about finances.

It has been a blessing to have so many people showing how much they care about me.  I may not have anyone to love in life, but I am loved by many.  That means more to me than you will ever know.  Thank you!

And I can even say I’m thankful to Loraine.  She taught me that love will find you whether you want it to or not.  Loving and losing seems to be my destiny, but I’ve learned that trying to avoid that pain will only lead to more pain down the road.  I’ll be smarter and more honest about my feelings in the future.  Who knows, maybe one day I might even get lucky in love.  It could happen!

It is indeed a beautiful life.  I’m thankful to be in the game and I’m looking forward to a future of contentment.  Hell, maybe even happiness.

This morning I got up and took an almost four hour walk.  It snowed for the first half and that was a nice change of pace.  Let’s go to the photos.

I crossed the river and walked along the bike trail

The path less traveled. Heh, Frost and snow…

A thousand miles from nowhere….

See that tower in the distance? That was my destination. I thought I could do it in an hour. Took almost two though.

It stopped snowing just about the time I arrived.

I was a onesome in A Twosome Place. Seems to be my destiny…

So I enjoyed some hot coffee and the views…

And a little later my friend Mi Young, who lives in the neighborhood, dropped by to say hello.

Did the long walk back home without incident, so I’m thankful for that as well.

No feast for me today.  My nephew Justin and a couple of friends are coming down from Seoul on Saturday and we will do the traditional turkey and sides then.

Ain’t life grand?

I gotta thank mama for the cookin’
Daddy for the whuppin’
The devil for the trouble that I get into
I got to give credit where credit is due
I thank the bank for the money
Thank God for you