Stayin’ alive

Welcome to my first post of 2017!  I’d wish you a happy new year but…

….I will wish you more good days than bad instead. My goal is to get out of this year alive!

So, regular readers know that I rang in the New Year in the Philippines.  The trip turned out to be about half as good as I hoped.  I’m going to do a post about the travel portion of that visit soon.  This post is about the bad part.

Here’s a helpful hint:  Don’t take a vacation when you are sick.  I had my meds and figured I’d either get progressively better or stay about the same.  Didn’t think things could get worse until they did.

I arrived with my “tour guide” at our chosen Puerto Galera lodging, the Tribal Hills Mountain Resort pretty much on schedule at 1600 on Thursday the 29th.  I’d left home at 0430 though, so that constituted a long day of travel and I was pretty bushed.  Now, the day after Christmas PG had taken a direct hit from Typhoon Nina.  Lots of downed trees and the roads were pretty much a mess, but the resort was not in bad shape.  Except that the power was out.  No worries, they had a back up generator.  Although from 1300 until 1700 it was down for maintenance.  So, we arrived in our room without power, or more importantly, no air conditioning.  Took advantage of the wonderful deck off our room with outstanding views of the surrounding mountains and the ocean.

It wasn’t long before I noticed a bite on my arm from what I presume was a mosquito.  I belatedly got out my insect repellent and liberally applied it to the exposed areas of my body.  Shortly thereafter, a worrying rash appeared all over the arm that was bitten.  Then it spread to my neck and chest.  And then the other arm.  What the fuck?  I took a long shower and after a couple of hours the rash receded into nothingness and I felt no further ill-effects from the experience.

I had no idea just how isolated the Tribal Hills Resort actually is.  It’s on top of a mountain accessed by a narrow road that goes straight up.  I’d judge it to be a steeper climb than getting to the top of the stairs on Namsan.  And given my diminished lung capacity and bum leg, that was a non-starter.  They resort does offer a free shuttle to the base of the mountain near White Beach.  Although truth be told White Beach seemed like a sleepy little village with nothing much of interest to do there.  And the shuttle stops running at 2200 hours. So the resort has a restaurant and pool bar, who needs to leave, right?

Except late on the first night I experienced a new low in my battle with my lungs, as in a prolonged period where I had shortness of breath.  Which felt like drowning to me.  I tried not to panic which would lead to hyperventilation, but it felt like I was going to pass out at any moment.  My tour guide asked if I wanted to go the the hospital in Sabang, a good 45 minutes away under the best of circumstances.  And these weren’t the best of circumstances in Puerto Galero.  Imagining the nightmare of a small town provincial hospital in the PI, I declined the offer.  Back home during coughing jags I’d work up a sweat and found some comfort and relief having my fan blowing into my face.  I mentioned how I really longed for that fan now, and to her credit my tour guide set out on a midnight quest to find me one.  I assumed it would be fruitless because the resort basically shuts down after the last shuttle run, but she had roused a staff member who came to the door with fan in hand shortly thereafter.  It did provide a modicum of relief and I made it through a mostly sleepless night.

Things went better for most of the next day, which included a visit to Sabang.  So glad I didn’t try to go there for medical assistance!  That night I had some breathing problems again, but with the fan and some deep breathing exercises I learned from the web I was able to deal with it.  Again, just a couple hours of sleep though.  Decided to check out one day early and head back to Manila.  Call me a pussy, but the thought of not having access to emergency medical care should it be required was fucking with my mind.  Besides, there was just not much to see or do in PG and it seemed like a pointless place to ring in the New Year.

Had a nice New Year’s Eve celebration on P. Burgos street in Makati, coincidentally located very near the hotel I accidentally booked (I’ll cover that in the trip report installment).  More of the same, felt fine mostly until it came time to lay down for some sleep, which brought back the coughing fits and shortness of breath.  Managed a little more than 2 hours sleep from pure exhaustion, and woke up with the zit from hell on my cheek.  What’s up with that?

Last day in country had the worst bout yet and the tour guide suggested I get a nebulizer. I considered it briefly, but figured what I really needed was a doctor’s opinion, so I opted to wait until I got back to Seoul for that.  The plane ride from Manila went without incident, even managed a bit of sleep.  Once we landed I made it through immigration, bag claim, and customs in a jiffy.  Started walking to the AREX station and got hit hard with the lack of breath thing again.  The train departed in five minutes so there was no stopping to rest. Made it on board and collapsed in my seat.  I did my breathing exercises and told myself to suck it up and calm down, and eventually I did.  No other option really, it was after 1900 so my doctor’s clinic was long closed.

Caught a cab from Seoul Station and somehow managed to successfully navigate the cabbie to my villa’s front door through grunts and gestures.  Good thing too, because carrying my suitcase up two flights of stairs set off another lack of breath incident.  This one wouldn’t go away.  Around 0100 I was seriously thinking I needed to go to the emergency room for some oxygen.  Couldn’t think of anyone I felt comfortable calling to take me at that ungodly hour, and I figured trying to explain to 119 where I lived was pointless.  So I somehow managed to get through the night.  Through the power of sheer exhaustion I even managed a couple hours of sleep.

As I prepared to depart for Soonchunhwang hospital this morning, I stepped on the scale. 201 pounds!  A new record low for me, and down an amazing 6 pounds from last week.  I obviously haven’t been walking at all and on vacation I don’t strictly keep to diet (had a fantastic mango split for example).  The weight loss I’m certain is the result of my body and heart working overtime lately.  My fit bit advises that my resting heart rate has been in the high 80s to low 90s.  During my fits I’ve pushed it up to 130.  Prior to my illness my resting heart rate was around 70 and I only saw 130+ at the summit of the stairs to Namsan.  I DO NOT recommend this weight loss program however!

Arrived at the International Clinic without an appointment.  Receptionist asked if I preferred to see the hilarious Dr. Yoo or the sexy Dr. Kim.  I opted for Dr. Yoo who has been treating me for years.  But I felt compelled to mention in all other things I would pick Dr. Kim.  The receptionist smiled and said she understood.

Explained to Dr. Yoo (who coincidentally also has a cough and he blames Chinese pollution) what was going on, basically everything I’ve said above in more abbreviated form.  I know, why is HE so lucky?  Get over it!  I told him I needed to get this fixed.  He said if I had a fever he’d want me in the hospital.  I told him being hospitalized was something I really wanted and needed to avoid.  So, he had me do blood work, an EKG, a chest x-ray, and a nebulizer treatment.  After completing these rounds, I returned to see what Dr. Yoo’s conclusion might be.  I was happy that my hard working heart was still doing it’s job.  The blood work showed all indicators in the normal range.  The x-ray revealed that my lungs remain congested (no duh).  And the nebulizer treatment as far as I could tell was a success.  At least I wasn’t coughing.

He told me I was on the “borderline” for being hospitalized, but if I was willing to come in everyday for some nebulization we could try that.  I suggested that I just purchase my own nebulizer and do that at home. Dr. Yoo was down with that.  He also had mentioned having me hospitalized to administer intravenous antibiotics, but he was willing to try something stronger in pill form to see how that works out.  So, as of now I remain a free man!

My new best friend!

Don’t we make a nice couple? And check out that zit! Massive!

The doctor does wants me back in the morning for a follow-up, I guess to see how I’m reacting to the meds.  I’ve done two nebulizer treatments at home now and have had no issues with the cough or breathing problems.  I also had an uninterrupted two hour nap today which left me feeling surprisingly energized.

I’ll go to bed tonight feeling hopeful that the corner will indeed be turned and I can avoid the nightmare of being in a Korean hospital alone with no one to assist me.

I tagged this post in the “me, me, me” category which obviously fits.  I’m thinking I need to add a category of “aren’t you glad you’re not me?”  I suspect many of my readers come here to feel better about themselves.  Hey, glad to be of service.  No man is totally worthless, he can always serve as a bad example.

Cheers!

What’s up doc?

Back to Soonchunwhang hospital this morning to deal with my leg issue.  The hilarious Dr. Yu was not available, but the affable Dr. Joe was there to assist.  After describing what had happened, he opined that it was either a back issue or something muscular.

Well, I don’t think it is my back.  And I’ve had a similar, although not as severe, issue with my leg in the past.  I asked Dr. Joe to review my medical history from a couple of years ago and see what  Dr. Yu had prescribed.  He did, and I walked out with a prescription for muscle relaxants and pain meds.  Oh, and a shot in my ass as well.

Hopefully this will carry me through my holiday vacation plans.

It only hurts me when I cry

Let it be forgotten, as a flower is forgotten,
Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold,
Let it be forgotten forever and ever,
Time is a kind friend, he will make us old.

If anyone asks, say it was forgotten
Long and long ago,
As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall
In a long-forgotten snow.

–Sara Teasdale

Today marks the sad one year anniversary of the date my wife sent me packing.  I’m mostly over it by now, although I do still frequently think of her.  I remember when she loved me and wanted to share in my life, although truthfully those days ended a long time before my ultimate departure.  I also remember the promises and vows we made to each other that she coldly broke, walking away because she decided she didn’t “have a happy life with me”.

It has been said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  And I guess it only hurts until the pain goes away.  In one sense this breakup did kill me because I am certainly not the person I was anymore.  I’m bitter and cynical and have no faith or trust in the whole concept of “love”.  Fuck love, who needs it?  I’m no longer in pain because my heart has become a heaping mass of scar tissue.  These days I’m satisfied with being comfortably numb.

But don’t mistake my epiphany about the meaninglessness of love as an indication that I’ve abandoned the pursuit of happiness.  To the contrary, I’m actually quite optimistic that I will achieve a satisfactory level of joy and contentment on my own terms and in my own way. I know what I want and what I need to be happy, and I expect I will find it in due course.

This is one of my favorite photos of me and Jee Yeun. It was a private moment, not posed, and captured by a friend. As I recall we had spent the weekend in Songtan and we were returning home from my victory in a darts tourney. She was by my side all the way, proud of me, and we loved each other. Or so I like to believe.
That’s what I miss, and that is what I hope to find again sometime. Minus the pretense of love. Just someone who will stay by my side, share in my life, and take care of me. I’ll give the same in return. It can and will happen. Someday, somewhere.

So, looking back over my journey this past year I can say I’ve had some adventures, some happy times, and yes, my share of sad days.  But nothing worthwhile comes easy and I believe I’ve learned and grown and gained some wisdom that will serve me well in the future.  Here’s a quick recap.

I moved into my overpriced but comfortable villa on this day in 2015.  And then I proceeded to get drunk every fucking night for two plus months.  I guess I was exploring the Leaving Las Vegas option, but really it was more about shutting down my brain so I could sleep at night.  I still did my share of shouting at the ceiling though.

Instead of drinking myself into an early grave I wisely chose a more sensible course of action–diet and exercise.  The diet was the low carb lifestyle, the exercise was in the form of walking.  The former gave me a healthier body, the latter worked wonders on my tortured brain.  Together, they resulted in a loss of over 60 pounds.  I look better and feel better about myself.  That was huge in overcoming my depression.

I did my share of travelling these past 12 months as well.  Cambodia, Thailand, and three trips to the Philippines.  In fact, I will be returning to the PI to ring in the new year in Puerto Galera, my first time in that locale.   My current thinking is that I’ll begin and end 2017 somewhere in the Philippines.  Of course, since when have my plans ever gone as planned?  That’s why I will remain in my living one day at a time mode, until such time as I run out of days.  Heh, that’s the plan at least.

I had two women profess their love for me this year (not at the same time of course!). Both ended in hurt and sadness and re-enforced my belief that love is a sucker’s bet.  I feel bad for whatever part I played in bringing pain into those lives, but I will also cherish the memories and good times we shared.

I achieved my goal of becoming debt free.

I presided over the dismantling of my American life.  I sold my house and everything in it. In some ways it felt like a funeral for a life I was forced to leave behind.  But there is also a sense of freedom now in not being tied down to stuff and the old dreams that that stuff represented.  I’m now unencumbered emotionally and materially.  That’s a good feeling. Well, for the most part anyway.

I got promoted to the job I retired from six years ago.  It’s an even bigger pain in the ass now than it was then, but I couldn’t say no to the money.  I’d invested everything I had in a future with Jee Yeun that was not to be.  And now I’m in full recovery mode, including financially.

And so as this year ends I’ve come full circle in my life.  At some point next year I will re-retire and once again pursue the dream I abandoned six years ago when I chose Jee Yeun over the Philippines.  Of course, I’m also six years older and there is no recovering from that.

Life goes on, and so do I.  I’ve got a few more adventures in store yet I reckon.  Stay tuned!

The only time I feel the pain
Is in the sunshine or the rain
And I don’t feel no hurt at all
Unless you count when teardrops fall
I tell the truth ‘cept when I lie
It only hurts me when I cry

Wassup?

Long time, no post.  Regular readers have likely observed over the years that I periodically have to take an unplanned hiatus from blogging while I engage in the mundane tasks of actually living my life.  Not sure why, but sometimes I get in a place where I have to withdraw and re-calibrate.  It’s no big deal really and I always find my way back here so that you may share in the boring and often pathetic details of my so-called life.  And here I am!

During my absence, I reckon this was my big epiphany: My life is not all that I hoped that it would be. But it is better than I ever imagined it could be.

That’s good enough I suppose.

The other day someone asked me if I had a good memory.  I honestly answered “I don’t remember”.  Bada bing!  Stick around, I’ll be here all week!

What else?

Well, I’m still sick.  Going on six weeks now and I don’t recall ever being ill for such an elongated period of time.  The coughing fits keep me awake at night and consequently I’m always exhausted.  Which makes it hard to maintain focus and motivation.  Most concerning has been a shortness of breath and lack of stamina.  Which continues to impede my walking routine.  Not to be overly dramatic about it, but I’ve taken to leaving my apartment door unlocked, just in case I need to be rescued at some point.  Although truthfully not many folks would know where to find me should I call out in the night for help. Heh, living on the edge!

I did go back to the international clinic and Soonchunhwang hospital yesterday.  It was my fourth visit regarding the cough from hell.  This time I got to see my regular physician, the hilarious Dr. Yoo.  He didn’t seem to be all that concerned and reassured me that the coughing was natural and needed to excrete the phlegm that is stubbornly clinging to my lungs.  He reviewed what the sexy Dr. Kim had previously prescribed and concurred with her course of action.  He prescribed a slew of new medications to take over the next ten days and professed his belief that I would be healthy in the new year.  One of the pills is supposed to help me make it through the night, and at least last night I did have an uninterrupted sleep.  Of course, I was drunk when I went to bed so I can’t attest to the impact of the new medicine.  We shall see, but I do feel good enough today to actually sit down and write a boring blog post, so that’s kinda being back to normal.

Well, enough of my drivel.  Let’s look at pictures!

Last night was the dart league banquet. Took home the banner for winning the regular season…

….and the plaque for winning the end of season playoffs…

I also took home the “Top Gun” award for B Division. Honestly though I didn’t meet my own performance expectations. Ah well, I have now retired from darts. Or at least I’m done with darts for the remainder of my time in Korea…

We’ve got our office all decorated up for the holidays There’s a contest for best office. The Eighth Army Commanding General will be the judge next week. We expect to win. That’s me supervising the effort…

Good job ladies!

Our Christmas luncheon on Thursday….

…and the dessert table…

My imitation of a motivational speaker.

It’s all good.

In deference to my illness, I’ve switched to a medicinal alcoholic beverage–The hot toddy. Hey, you can look it up. The science is settled…

Said goodbye to my crazy Chinese friend Qian. She’s returning to China on Monday…

As seen on the mean streets of Seoul…

A lover’s moon in the sky and and an empty bed in my villa…

Such is life.

 

 

What’s love got to do with it?

The good news is I slept through the night without a coughing jag for the first time in a month or so last night.  That’s huge, trust me.

This was my bedroom floor on Friday night. It looked about the same on Saturday night. Tissues for the nose, the towel for phlegm.

This was my bedroom floor on Friday night. It looked about the same on Saturday night. Tissues for the snot, the towel for phlegm.

I got up Sunday morning and did up some steak and eggs...

I got up Sunday morning and did up some steak and eggs…

And a pot roast for dinner...

And a pot roast for dinner…

Then I walked the Han River. 24,000 steps, which is significant because it was the first time since November 21st that I broke 10,000.

Then I walked the Han River. 24,000 steps, which is significant because it was the first time since November 21st that I broke 10,000.

The weekend wasn’t all good.  Sometimes you just have to let go of someone you care about.  That’s never easy for me, but I’ve learned the hard way that love is just not enough.  No matter what, you have to take responsibility and be accountable for your actions.  The consequences for not doing so are much worse than a broken heart.

I saw this on my walk and took it as a sign...

I saw this on my walk and took it as a sign…

What else?  Well, Shenanigans now has Miller Lite beer on draft.

I had one to celebrate. But beer is not on my menu. And when I do drink beer (primarily darts night) it's San Miguel Light. I've got one foot in the Philippines already, might as well drink the local brew, right?

I had one to celebrate. But beer is not on my menu. And when I do drink beer (primarily darts night) it’s San Miguel Light. I’ve got one foot in the Philippines already, might as well drink the local brew, right?

And since I was having the beer, I figured pulled pork quesadilla's were in order. Damn the carbs, full speed ahead!

And since I was having the beer, I figured pulled pork quesadilla’s were in order. Damn the carbs, full speed ahead!

Speaking of which, I climbed on the scale of after my hike yesterday.  I figured my lack of activity and undisciplined diet was gonna cost me a few pounds in the wrong direction.  To my surprise, I actually lost over a pound–down to 206.9, a new low!  I think the coughing fits turned out to be good exercise.  I know they caused me to break out in a sweat and made my heart pound.  Quite the cardio workout, although I do not recommend it.

I’ve been doing some trolling on Facebook.

I do enjoy making liberal heads explode...

I do enjoy making liberal heads explode…

Very happy with this selection as Secretary of Defense...

Very happy with this selection as Secretary of Defense…

Bring it on biatch...

Bring it on biatch…

And then there was this...

And then there was this…

Anyway, I’m marching forward and trying not to look back at what I’m leaving behind.

Oh what’s love got to do, got to do with it
What’s love but a second hand emotion
What’s love got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a heart
When a heart can be broken?

Fighting!

The struggle continues.

Four weeks in and still coughing like a motherfucker.  But only in the wee dark hours of the morning.  Back to the lovely Dr. Kim, Sun Hee for a follow-up.  I was surprised her skirt was even shorter this week than last, and she was surprised the antibiotics hadn’t solved my issues.  She listened to my heavy breathing and declared that my lungs sound clear.  She prescribed some cough medicine and something to open up my bronchial passages and invited me back to see her again in five days.  Hopefully I’ll get a better offer before then.

Here's hoping the fix is in!

Here’s hoping the fix is in!

Meanwhile, my dart game has been as sick as I am…

First time I've ever been skunked in singles league play...

First time I’ve ever been skunked in singles league play…

The dart news isn’t all bad though…

We took the semi-finals match 14-3 and will face off Monday night against Dillinger's for the B Division Championship.

My Monday night team, What the Bulls?,  took the semi-finals match 14-3 and will face off Monday night against Dillinger’s for the B Division Championship.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  At least at the DHRM building…

The staff wanted a Christmas tree (or in government parlance, a Holiday tree) and apparently my Bah Humbug! response did not translate...

The staff wanted a Christmas tree (or in government parlance, a Holiday tree) and apparently my Bah Humbug! response did not translate…

...sometimes you just gotta roll with the flow, right?

…sometimes you just gotta roll with the flow, right?

The combination of being sick and the meds to fight being sick along with my nighttime coughing fits depriving me of sleep has left me feeling exhausted and lethargic.  In addition to lacking the energy to blog, I’ve pretty much not walked for well over a week.  To avoid depression I’ve also refrained from stepping onto the scale.  I hope to get back into my routine soon.  Maybe even tomorrow if these new meds allow for a night of uninterrupted slumber.  We’ll see.

I’ll close with a passage from Stephen King which I rather like (I like it so much that I’ve committed it to memory and have likely posted it here before.  It’s worth repeating.

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.” 

I’ll be back!

It’s not so easy to be hard

Sunday sucked.  An emotionally exhausting day full of drama and sorrow.  And that’s before I succumbed to another bout with hacking coughs.

And yet another fit of the coughs this evening, this one starting after work when I popped into Shenanigans for some liquid refreshment.  How bad was it?  One drink and out bad.  And if you know me, that says a lot.

Today was the last day of my prescription medicine which the doc thought ought to clear up the source of the cough.  Apparently not.

I guess I will just have to wait and see what happens next.

 

Sick and tired…

…of being sick and tired.

Had to take the day off work today because I have a cough.  I’ve actually had the cough for over a week now.  It wouldn’t be a problem except that I have coughing fits during the night.  Hacking coughs that are almost painful and result in mucous saturated tissues piled on the floor next the bed.  Last night’s commenced at 0100 and lasted until I apparently passed into a fitful state of sleep sometime after 0230.  Then I woke up again at 0400 to a case of diarrhea that had me in and out of bed until the alarm rang at six.  I just couldn’t answer the bell.

I didn’t leave the house today although I had intended to see if I could get in to see the hilarious Dr. Yu.  I mean, it is just a cough right?  I have a tickle in the throat, but the cough seems to originate from deep in my chest.  When I lay on my back I can hear myself wheeze.  I didn’t experience any coughing fits today except when I laid down for a nap. So apparently being horizontal exacerbates whatever the fuck is wrong with me.  Ah well, this too shall pass.  Or I will.

My new best friend.  On my second bottle.  12 bucks at the PX.  I suppose it is better than nothing.

My new best friend. On my second bottle. 12 bucks at the PX. I suppose it is better than nothing.

Whether it is related to the cough condition or not I don’t know, but I have also been extremely lethargic of late.  Totally unmotivated, lacking in energy, and just feeling plain ass tired.  As a consequence my step count has dropped significantly and my willpower to avoid eating unhealthy is diminished.  Not a good combination!  Hopefully I will rediscover my motivation soon.

In other news, we had our last match of the regular dart league season last night.  Sadly, we did not accomplish our goal of going undefeated, losing to Sin Bin 14-13.  It came down to the last leg of the night, I had a the winning dart in my hand, but failed to execute.  Sorry Bridget.  Well, we still finished first for the season so there’s that.

What the Bulls?

What the Bulls?

I didn’t do shit on Sunday.  On Saturday I ventured down to Songtan to participate in the dart tourney.  Mostly I just needed to get out of town and change my perspective.

Tom , Mike and his wife Eve also made the trip.

Tom along with Mike and his wife Eve also made the trip.

And it proved to be a pretty successful evening at darts for the Seoul contingent.

And it proved to be a pretty successful evening at darts for the Seoul contingent.

After darts we hit the street for some street food, which is the generally the best place to find it.

I went with my old standby chicken-on-a-stick.

I went with my old standby chicken-on-a-stick.

The night being younger than I am, I was enticed by the other members of our cadre to join them at a local Filipino oriented nightclub which was conveniently located in the basement of my hotel.

The band was good and I was drunk.  A combination that resulted in me dancing. Such as it were.

The band was good and I was drunk. A combination that resulted in me dancing. Such as it were.

Friday was a holiday and once again my lazy ass didn’t do shit.  I barely got 10,000 steps in.  That may have been due in part to the fact that I stayed out way too late on Thursday night, arriving home in the wee hours of Friday morning in a state of intoxication.

Work is work.  And I’m doing my best to avoid letting the stress get to me.  Hopefully it gets better soon.

A rare photo capturing government in action.  You saw it here first!

A rare photo capturing government in action. You saw it here first!

It was pretty cool to find myself featured in the latest edition of the Darts Thailand newsletter.

 

Our group of competitors in Bangkok.

Our group of competitors in Bangkok.

I was honored to be named MVP and don the cap!

I was honored to be named MVP and don the cap!

What else?

While I'm still a big fan of Korea, I'm growing increasingly aware that my time here is winding down.  Well, things change.  Including my mind.  So, we'll see what happens.  Maybe I'll like Pyeongtaek.  And it would certainly be more affordable for pensioner than Seoul...

While I’m still a big fan of Korea, I’m growing increasingly aware that my time here is winding down. Well, things change. Including my mind. So, we’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll like Pyeongtaek. And it would certainly be more affordable for a pensioner than Seoul…

But in the meantime I'll continue to follow the yellow brick road and see where it takes me.

But in the meantime I’ll continue to follow the yellow brick road and see where it takes me.

Assuming I get off my lazy ass and start walking again.

 

Walk on

Nothing like a good hike to get your head right.

26,000+ steps along the riverside yesterday.  22,000+ on the mountain today.

And I’ve finally made some progress on the weight reduction after being more or less flat lined for the past several weeks.

208 pounds at this afternoon’s weigh-in.  Down 61 overall, 9 pounds to go to achieve goal.

Hope I can make it by Thanksgiving.  I’ve got big plans to load up on everything I’ve been missing when I enjoy the traditional feast.

 

Thanks for the memories

It was a hell of a week.

Lots of work stuff that keeps my life more intense than I like.  But it’s what I signed up for, so why complain?  Much.

Woke up Saturday morning to a coughing fit.  Hocked up all kinds of juicy junk from deep in my innards.  Not a pretty sight.

Later that morning Eun Oke packed up her stuff and left me. Again.  To her credit, she sent me a message suggesting a “break up date”. Well, that was a first. Which at my age I don’t get the opportunity to say very often. Eun Oke decided to end the relationship for reasons I think are legitimate. So no hard feelings on my part. And then she suggested we have a last fling to memorialize the event. Obviously I had nothing better to do. And it was a nice way to finish what had been for the most part a good experience. I’ll miss her.

For those who are curious, her reasoning is that our future plans are incompatible (i.e. me retiring and leaving Korea) and we are both too selfish to compromise.  True.  She also mentioned the age difference (I’m 18 years her senior).  She told me “it’s fine now, but when I’m 52 you’ll be 70!”.  And yes, I’m definitely way to selfish to die early to preclude that event.

Anyway, it’s fine and I’m fine.  I had intentionally held myself back as a matter of self-preservation.  And the sad fact is I am not sure I’ll ever be able to go “all in” in a relationship again.  I think Eun Oke sensed that which I’m sure was a contributing factor in her decision to flee now.  I think it was the right call.  We’ve agreed to remain friends and I’m happy about that.

So far in 2016 I’ve had two women profess their love for me and I have no reason to question the sincerity of those professions.  Still, I have become bitter and cynical to the point that I just don’t really believe in love anymore.  And that’s really a big deal, tantamount to losing my religion.

This week Facebook provided a sad reminder of why the “I love you” words leave me cold.  They have a feature called “Your memories on Facebook” that pops up in your newsfeed on a daily basis.  I can’t seem to stop myself from taking that journey to the past. And that’s where I encountered this nugget from three years ago:

Thank you so much to my lovely husband! He take care of me so good and feed me good…he help me a lot! Even one my arms pain a lot but he make me pain less and inside my heart is full of love and feel warm..I am so lucky and happy woman because of John McCrarey! My life is much better because of you! Thank you and I love you so much!

Things change, obviously.  I’ve moved on pretty much but I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. Part of my problem is I have no understanding as to what the fuck happened.  How do you go from the sentiment expressed above to “I don’t have happy life with you” in less than two years?  I believed in Jee Yeun and never imagined she would abandon the life we made together.  And I know now that if her love wasn’t real and lasting, no love truly can be.

It’s all just words.

Third time’s the charm…

…or three strikes and you’re out?  Time will tell.

Sorry for the lack of posting here at LTG.  Sometimes life intrudes, but I’m doing fine for the most part.  Here’s a little of what’s been going on in my world:

Work has been more intense than I’ve been accustomed to, but that was not unexpected. It does sap a goodly amount of my excess energy, which may in part explain the unscheduled blogging hiatus (or I could just be lazy).  A couple of months into my new/old job I can see that we are making progress towards the objectives and initiatives I hope to accomplish.  The big deal of course is all the civilian issues surrounding the upcoming move to Pyeongtaek.

 

Here I am serving on the "panel of subject matter experts" at a recent Town Hall...

Here I am serving on the “panel of subject matter experts” at a recent Town Hall…

And me on the bus to take a tour of the new facilities at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek.

And me on the bus to take a tour of the new facilities at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek.

and that's me unwinding after a stressful day at the office.

and that’s me unwinding after a stressful day at the office.

Me with my "What the Bulls?" dart mates. So far we've managed to remain undefeated. So, it's not all about work....

Me with my “What the Bulls?” dart mates. So far we’ve managed to remain undefeated. So, it’s not all about work….

This coming Friday I’m off to Thailand for the first time.  Looking forward to looking around and getting a feel for the place.  Rather than plan out the entire trip, I booked a room for the weekend in Bangkok and then I’ll just play it by ear.

The good news is I might actually have something worthwhile to blog about.  Hey, stranger things have happened!

Stay tuned.

 

Spare your heart…

…everything put together, sooner or later falls apart

Sorry for the lack of posting recently, lots going on but I’ve not felt up to write about it.  Until now anyway.

The holiday weekend was good up until it wasn’t.  Thursday night I had Chuseok dinner with the nephew and a co-worker friend.  Eun Oke joined us later and we had a good time drinking.  Then hit the norebang.  My singing has not improved.

On Friday Eun Oke joined me for a pleasant walk on the Han riverside.  I prepared a meal of pulled pork and cole slaw for her.  Then we hit the bars.

On Friday Eun Oke joined me for a hike along the Han riverside.

On Friday Eun Oke joined me for a hike along the Han riverside.

Saturday afternoon we joined a couple of friends for a cookout featuring ribs, potato salad, bacon wrapped asparagus (a first for me and it was delicious) and a veggie salad.  I contributed a banana pudding for dessert.

Saturday afternoon we attended a barbecue at Mat and Sohee's place. Good food and good times.

Saturday afternoon we attended a barbecue at Mat and Sohee’s place. Good food and good times.

Saturday night it was back to the bars where I bid farewell to some new old friends.

Said farewell to Dale and his wife Gwen. Dale is a Sergeant Major who has completed his Korea tour and is returning to the states. The occasion dictated that we do shots. Which required reciprocation. So you can see how that went.

Said farewell to Dale and his wife Gwen. Dale is a Sergeant Major who has completed his Korea tour and is returning to the states. The occasion dictated that we do shots. Which required reciprocation. So you can see how that went.

The front...

Dale honored me with his coin.  The front…

...and the back. Thanks again, Dale.

…and the back. Thanks again, Dale.

Eun Oke left Sunday morning to care for her dogs.  She called me later and said she didn’t have to work and that she missed me.  So I invited her on over.  We met at Shenanigans and did some drinking.  Work night though so we came home early.  I fixed her some brats for dinner.

And then at two in the morning Eun Oke wakes me up and says she is leaving.  I’m like “what this all about?”  It seems she has decided that our future dreams are incompatible so she sees no point in continuing the relationship.

I was gobsmacked.  Although she had done this exact same thing once before, but we managed to talk our way through it and I assumed the issue was resolved.  Apparently not.

The first thing she did when she left (and I mean before she was out of the driveway) was block me on Facebook.  Apparently she’s the type that once she decides it is over, it is over.  And I have to admit her actions hurt me deeply.  I got pretty sucked in and I foolishly thought she had similar feelings.

And so it goes.

Back to the solitary life of which I had previously grown accustomed.  Luckily, my heart is primarily scar tissue so the bleeding shouldn’t last too long.  I’ve arranged for some therapy in the form of 11 days in Thailand.  I’ll leave on the 7th of October.

You can’t live in the future.  You take each day as it comes and it will lead you to whatever the future turns out to be.  I couldn’t make Eun Oke understand that.  And it’s a shame really.  She was a lot of fun and I enjoyed her company.  I imagine I’ll be missing her but will remain grateful for the temporary reprieve from loneliness she gifted me.

And that’s all I’ve got.

Good intentions

Starting off slow, but after completing 25,000+ steps today I came home and did a little exercise.  30 push ups (3 sets of 10 reps), 45 crunches, and 30 leg raises.  I’ll incorporate some additional features over the next couple of days.  Ideally, I’ll do 30 minutes of strength work every morning.  Maybe that will kick the metabolism up a notch or two.

I was actually pleasantly surprised I could manage a push up…

And then there is this:

Maybe if we crushed Kim Jung Un, he'd look like a marshmallow?

Maybe if we crushed Kim Jung Un, he’d look like a marshmallow?

The weight

Well, I got down to 209.  And then I was stuck there for two weeks.  Then I started weighing in twice a day (as opposed to the once weekly routine)..  Ever since I’ve been fluctuating between 211 and 215.  Not exactly gaining, but I’ve definitely hit a wall.  I may have to say goodbye to my weekly smoothie and the peanut butter on my celery..  I so want to find my way (weigh) to 199.  Fighting!

Hansum man

Eun Oke likes to draw and she is quite talented at it.  Even when she has crappy material to work with.

You can't fix ugly!

You can’t fix ugly!

So, she posted this rendition on Facebook saying:

“My handsome boy friend for apologize gift. But I have been thinking about drowning him one day. I feel it’s the day.”

I *think* she misspelled “drawing”.  But just in case I’m not taking her anywhere near the Han river tonight.

Sand to the beach (finale)

Back home from the Philippines.  A mostly good trip.  I’ll let the photos do the talking…

The breakfast view each morning...

The breakfast view each morning…

I was forced to cheat on my diet when I spotted a Monte Cristo sandwich on the menu.  Haven't seen one of those in over 20 years!

I was forced to cheat on my diet when I spotted a Monte Cristo sandwich on the menu. Haven’t seen one of those in over 20 years!

A typical lunch.  T-bone for Eun Oke, smoked pork for me... Everything was well prepared, service was friendly and efficient...

A typical lunch. T-bone for Eun Oke, smoked pork for me… Everything was well prepared, service was friendly and efficient…

And it was hard to beat the specials!

And it was hard to beat the specials!

The night life was a lot of fun too.  Eun Oke made friends everywhere she went.  She was very kind and generous with the bar girls.  I was impressed and I guess they were too…

Two of her favorites were Wennie and Cherry.  It was Wennie's 27th birthday so we bought her a cake.  She cried when she saw it...

Two of her favorites were Wennie and Cherry. It was Wennie’s 27th birthday so we bought her a cake. She cried when she saw it…

It was a happy birthday for a hard working working girl...

It was a happy birthday for a hard working working girl…

Eun Oke got into the spirit of things by joining the girls on stage for a dance...

Eun Oke got into the spirit of things by joining the girls on stage for a dance…

Eun Oke also gave Cherry and Wennie the dresses they are wearing in this photo.  She loved making the girls smile...

Eun Oke also gave Cherry and Wennie the dresses they are wearing in this photo. She loved making the girls smile…

A new night, a new city (Angeles) and new friends...

A new night, a new city (Angeles) and new friends…

And when "Gangnam Style" was played Eun Oke did what any self-respecting Korean would do...she got up and danced....

And when “Gangnam Style” was played Eun Oke did what any self-respecting Korean would do…she got up and danced….

...on stage!

…on stage!

It was fun while it lasted.

 

Sand to the beach (part 3)

Day 2 of our long weekend in the Philippines.

The pool side bar at Orchid Inn.

The pool side bar at Orchid Inn.

Eun Oke slept in so I enjoyed a pleasant breakfast poolside at the Orchid Inn.  This is where I stayed on my cherry trip to the PI ten years ago, so it was nice to sit with my old memories.

And the pool. Lots of fun memories here...

And the pool. Lots of fun memories here…

I had arranged a 2:00 p.m. checkout so once Eun Oke roused from her slumber I walked her over to Norma’s to exchange some dollars for pesos.  Then we sat street side at Kokomo’s where the girlfriend ate lasagna and I drank beer.  Also arranged for a car to take us to Subic through Kokomo’s.  Poor bastard got a ticket on the way though.  Either speeding or an illegal pass (or both).  He was in a foul mood afterwards of course.

The infamous Walking Street in Angeles City is not as scary by day...

The infamous Walking Street in Angeles City is not as scary by day…

Enjoying the food and passersby at Kokomo's...

Enjoying the food and passersby at Kokomo’s…

We checked into our room at Arizona a little after 3:00 p.m.  Nice spacious room (#28 for those in the know) with a fair view of the bay.  10% discount thanks to Gavin and Philippines Addicts (a web forum I’m a member of).  After getting settled in and changing clothes we popped downstairs to check out Score Bar.

The view of Subic Bay from our balcony...

The view of Subic Bay from our balcony…

The view of Eun Oke all decked out for a Friday night on the town...

The view of Eun Oke all decked out for a Friday night on the town…

Five years since my last visit and the place had been remodeled.  Sat down where the bar used to be and ordered us a couple of SML’s.  And then the same thing that had happened the previous night occurred again—Eun Oke was surrounded by the curious Score bargirls.  She actually seemed to enjoy being treated like a rock star (or in her case, a K-Pop star).  And soon enough she had bought her entourage a round of lady drinks.  I told her she should save money by handing out autographs instead of drinks!  Anyway, I think seeing a Korean female in the bars is unusual and I was surprised at how pervasive Korean “culture” is amongst Filipinas.  They were all talking about their favorite Korean drama stars and singers.

Miss Popularity in Score Bar.

Miss Popularity in Score Bar.

Knowing I wasn’t going to permit a second round of drinks I suggested we check out other venues.  Walking up the road I saw a nail salon, noticed my overgrown toenails, and popped in for a pedicure.  The GF didn’t want the foot work but she was talked into a back massage.

Next up was the SOB (Sons of Baccus, and no, I’m not sure why it’s called that) at Hot Zone.  This event features a dance competition from the dancers at various bars.  The girls go all out with costumes and choreographed dance routines. Eun Oke seemed to really enjoy the show and we both agreed the pole dancer after the show was incredible.  I did pretty well in the raffle drawing as well, at least well enough to make the P1100 (per couple) entry fee a relative bargain.

The joint was jam packed with revelers...

The joint was jam packed with revelers…

Here’s a video of the pole dancer.

Walked back to the Arizona, and not ready to call it a night just yet dropped in for another visit to Score Bar.  Most of Eun Oke’s new friends were still there and invited themselves to join us.  I had already impressed upon her the need to end the practice of buying mass LDs, advising that she pick one or two girls to drink and engage with.  Of course, when there are 10 or 12 gals surrounding your table with puppy dog eyes thirsting for a drink it’s tough to pick two and disappoint the rest.  I came up with the bright idea of giving Eun Oke her first ever body shot experience.  She didn’t freak out at all.   So, I bought her another round from two girls this time.  Eun Oke got into the spirit of things and insisted I join in with body shots of my own.  It was fun while it lasted, but I decided we’d best bail before things got completely out of hand (and pocket).  It was the right call, because the tab exhausted the last of my pocket money.  More in the room safe, but I try to not spend more than I bring out for the night (5-6,000 pesos).

And let’s just say the night’s festivities put the GF in a happy mood.  So day 2 ended sweetly.

Sand to the beach (part 2)

After dropping off our bags I took Eun Oke  for a quick tour of Walking Street in Angeles City.  It was late of course, but she was still amazed.  I gave her a quick lesson in how to ignore the touts and street vendors.  And then it was time for me to introduce her to her first girly bar.  I chose Voodoo because it was small and maybe not too overwhelming.  Not surprisingly, the lineup of girls at that late hour was not impressive, they were all overweight and lacking in the pretty qualities.  Our waitress was very friendly and engaged  Eun Oke is some conversation.  When the waitress left for our next round of drinks Eun Oke commented that she was surprised how friendly people are in the PI.  And then without prompting from me, she offered a drink to the waitress.  She accepted, and then gave us each a free drink!  That was a nice touch.

We then moved down the street to a larger venue, Dollhouse.  I was shocked at just how obese these gals on stage were.  Eun Oke commented that fat and t-backs are not a good combination.  There was a group of Korean men upstairs making it rain (throwing money on the stage) which of course set the dancers off in a mad money grabbing scramble.  Eun Oke was not impressed and shared my view that it seemed demeaning to the girls. I did point out that they were working for a living, and money is money no matter how it is earned.  Still, my preference is to reward with generous lady drinks one-on-one.  To each his own I suppose.

We decided to walk on up the road and popped into Angel Witch.  We sat down at a table near the stage and I noticed we were the only customers at this late hour.  About the time our drinks arrived there was a rotation of dancers.  And to my surprise the girls coming off the stage immediately surrounded our table.  That’s never happened to me before!

I guess it still hasn’t, because I wasn’t the attraction.  Apparently they had never seen a Korean woman in the bar before and they treated Eun Oke like a movie star.  They besieged her with questions, rubbed her arms and shoulders, and made her feel special indeed.  I think she loved the attention because again, unprompted by me, she ordered a lady drink for all ten of them!  Yeah, waste of money perhaps but they were all having a good time and you really can’t put a price tag on that kind of fun.

 

1sep3.jpg

The happy dancers at Angel Witch

We then returned to our room, relieved some tension, and fell into a happy sleep.  I reckoned the trip to be off to a better than hoped for start, so I was very pleased indeed.  Next up—day 2 in Subic.  Stay tuned!

Sand to the beach (part 1)

I’d written in an earlier post about my plan to bring my new Korean girlfriend along for my weekend jaunt to the Philippines.  In the monger parlance I’m bringing sand to the beach.  The potential for disaster with this plan is evident, but the chance that this woman might just enjoy this aspect of my life made it worth the gamble.  Here’s how it is going so far.

Prepared for any contingency.  Monetarily at least...

Prepared for any contingency. Monetarily at least…

The first stage of the journey obviously was getting here.  Eun Oke was supposed to meet me at my house at 1700 which would give us plenty of time to make the airport for our 2100 flight.  I walked home from work so she could park her car in my garage (parking on the street in Seoul can be a bitch).   She calls at 5 and says “what time do I need to be there?”.  I told her now and asked her where she was.  “Home” (an hour away).  I told that’s not going to work, so she said I’ll take a cab to Incheon airport and we’ll meet there.  I was a little frustrated about this turn of events but nothing to be done but make my way to Seoul station and catch the airport railroad on my own.

Eun Oke arrived about 30 minutes before I did and to her credit she had worked her way through half of the longish check-in queue when I joined her.  And she was looking smokin’ hot in her cut-off jean shorts, so all was forgiven.

Who could stay mad at that?

Who could stay mad at that?

Our Asiana flight departed 15 minutes late and arrived at Clark a little after midnight.  We were seated at the back of a full flight, so of course we were at the end of the line for immigration.  It was here that the Eun Oke made an astute observation: out of the hundred or so folks in line (primarily Koreans) she counted only four other women.  “What’s up with that?” she asked.  “Probably here for the golf” I lied.

If getting there is half the fun I expect we will have a blast!

If getting there is half the fun I expect we will have a blast!

After clearing immigration, we made our way to baggage claim.  What a fiasco!  My bag came out early and hers came out last.  Apparently they only have one trailer to haul the bags from the plane to the terminal.  Or so it seemed.  Bags would come out in spurts, then stop for awhile, then start again.  During the hiatus, I could hear the tractor starting up to fetch another round of luggage.  I took this opportunity to remind Eun Oke that in the PI frustrations like this are best just laughed off.  So we did.

As bad as the wait for our bags was, getting through customs was infinitely worse.  Now, I’ve done my share of traveling over the years.  But in no airport I’ve been in anywhere in the world did customs search every fucking bag!  I don’t know if this is something new or if they were looking for something specific based on a tip.  When I made it to the front of the line they had me unzip my bag, gave it a cursory glance, and sent me on my way.  Didn’t even ask to look at the backpack I was wearing.  So it was an entirely pointless exercise.  Ah well, grin and bear it, right?

The driver arranged through the Orchid Inn was there waiting.  Now this is on me, but I *assumed* he worked for the hotel.  Nope.  I was preparing to give him a tip when we arrived at the hotel when he told me “that will be 450 pesos”.  I’m thinking what the fuck, I could have taken a cab for that price.  Eh, I’m committed to maintaining a “who cares” attitude this trip.  Paid him the 450 and checked into our just before 2:00 a.m.

Stay tuned for part 2.  Eun Oke’s first experience on Walking Street in beautiful downtown Angeles City.

That suits me just fine

Here I am in my birthday suit..

Here I am in my birthday suit..

I never expected that I’d ever be buying a new suit.  But a new job and new requirements conspired to make such a purchase inevitable.  I’ve learned the hard way not to talk about work here on this humble blog, but I guess it is safe to say I attended a meeting with the U.S. ambassador, to Korea, Mark Lippert, today.

You may recall that Mr. Lippert was attacked by a razor blade wielding assailant last year. As fate would have it, one of the attendees at today’s meeting was also present on the day Mr. Lippert was slashed.  According to this gentlemen, he was the third person to restrain the attacker.  By his account it was his foot that was placed on the throat of the slasher. You can see a video recreation at the link above if you so desire.

Anyway, no violence at today’s meeting thankfully.  Mr. Lippert was *ahem* very diplomatic during the meeting and there were really no surprises, which is the best possible outcome in affairs of this nature.  So I left pleased.

Rode over to the embassy with a 2-star general in one of those fancy cars, so that was a treat I suppose.  One thing I learned is that I need to get me some business cards made. It seems so 20th century but it was awkward during the introductions when I didn’t have a card to share.  Aw well, I’ve had worse occasions of a faux pas I suppose.  Next time I’ll be better prepared.

Here’s a random shot from my birthday that I rather like:

My Commie friend Choonae (right front) treated me, my drinking buddy Hae Young (left front) and my yoja chingu to a birthday.  Yes, I'm lucky.  Get over it.

My Commie friend Choonae (right front) treated me, my drinking buddy Hae Young (left front) and my yoja chingu to a birthday shot. Yes, I’m lucky. Get over it.

Tomorrow I fly to the Philippines.  I guess I should say we, because I’m bringing “sand to the beach”.  What the hell.  Might as well find out if Eun Oke can handle the lifestyle.

Anyway, it’s all good.  That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.