I don’t know

While I was in the Philippines I received a message from a Filipina I know that used to work in a bar I sometimes frequented.  I Don’t Know the name (ahem).  Anyway, she quit at the end of September and got engaged to some lucky guy.  Apparently, the bar owner was not happy with her leaving and decided to punish her by not giving her the salary she had earned.  Was there anything I could do?

I suggested she contact the ROK Ministry of Employment and Labor whom I would surmise take a dim view of a business owner treating an employee like a slave.  She told me she couldn’t do that because she was working without a visa.  But of course.

Well, that kind of exploitation really pisses me off.  I promised her I’d see what I could do when I returned.  What we have is a bar that hires undocumented workers knowing they have no recourse for whatever abuse they may dish out.  But not paying someone for work performed is completely over the top.  So, USFK has strict rules regarding prostitution and human trafficking.  Bars that violate those rules are subject to being placed off limits to USFK personnel (soldiers, civilians, and contractors).  That’s the kiss of death for any bar that is placed off limits because that’s the entire customer base in Anjeong-ri.

I know of no prostitution in the bar I Don’t Know the name of.  But as I reviewed USFK’s definition of what constitutes human trafficking, one example was refusing to pay an employee for time worked.  I thought I could make the case to the Provost Marshal should I be compelled to file a formal complaint.

I didn’t want to do that if I didn’t have to.  It’s the nuclear option and I figured it would make me persona non grata with the local bar association.  So I reached out to a couple of friends that know this bar owner and asked them to intercede and try to convince said owner to do the right thing.  I also asked them to convey to her that if she failed to pay what was rightly due to the former employee I was prepared to raise the issue with USFK.  I said I was moving forward if she wasn’t paid by Monday.

Apparently that created a bit of a shit storm, but today my Filipina acquaintance advised the bar owner said she would pay her tomorrow.  Mission accomplished!  She also told me the bar owner wants me to come to the bar and apologize to her!  What the fuck?  Obviously that ain’t happening and I have no intention of ever patronizing that bar again.  I Don’t Know why I would.  Except for the darts.  Oh well, I’ll take the game up again after my move to the PI.

Well, it’s Sunday so I reckon y’all are expecting to see some photos of my glorious weekend.  Here you go:

That was me living life on the edge in the Philippines.

That’s me drunk.

That’s me sober.

That’s what an autumn day looks like here in the countryside…

That plant is known as “the answer” or so I surmised when I observed it blowing in the wind. Ahem.

That’s one big ass spider!

That’s my Sunday dinner…

And that’s me at 25 and totally clueless. Now that I think about it, not much has changed.

And there you have it.  How about some Hunter S. Thompson for dessert?

What he said.

Serving a purpose

Back in February 2008 I wrote about my friend and soulmate on the anniversary of her death in a post entitled “Remembering Linda Ketner”.  She was an amazing woman and I still miss her very much.

So it was a great surprise when I received this email:

Hi John.  I read your article about my grandmother today.  My wife had searched our last name and found it. I appreciate everything that you had to say.  I’m 25 now and it is getting hard for me to remember her.  Reading through your letter brought a little clarity as to who she was.  I hope to hear back from you.  

Linda and her grandson. Sorry the quality of the photo sucks.  It’s the only one I have.

There is really not a lot more I can say about Linda beyond what I wrote all those years ago.  I’m not a religious man and I have no belief in a Biblical afterlife.  But still, hearing from her grandson brought forth an avalanche of memories and emotions.  And I guess we all live on as long as there is someone on earth who remembers us.

I couldn’t help but wonder what Linda would have to say about my life today.  She was always my touchstone that got me back on track when when I was recklessly leading myself astray.  She always called me “John-boy” (I guess being a couple of years older gave her the right).  She was never judgmental, but was quick to point out the flaws in my logic, especially in matters of the heart.  I could use her wisdom now more than ever.

Dear Linda, it seems I’ve fucked up yet again.  I’m not sure where to go or what to do next.  Any ideas? John

Dear John-boy, give yourself a break.  Yes, things didn’t turn out the way you wanted, but there will be other things and new adventures.  Never give up and never stop believing in yourself.  Take comfort in acceptance and don’t worry so much about the things you cannot change.  And always remember that I love you. Linda

That last day we shared while she lay dying in the hospice, Linda squeezed my hand and said emphatically “this is not goodbye!”. I guess maybe she was right about that after all.

Thank you Linda, and thanks to your grandson for reminding me to remember all you tried to teach me.

 

Acceptance

My week in the Philippines allowed me to practice patience by accepting the fact that much there is not as it could or should be.  If you cannot accept that simple truth, you will be very unhappy living in “paradise”.  I’m still a work in progress in that regard, but I am getting better at “taking a deep breath, relaxing, and accepting the Filipino way”.

One afternoon as I sat drinking ice cold San Miguel Light beers beach side, it occurred to me that the concept of acceptance might have some applicability to what remains of my life here in Korea.  Accepting that things are not always as I would desire them to be doesn’t make my “problems” go away, but it allows at least some additional perspective that in the grand scheme of things those problems are relatively meaningless.  Certainly being in a poverty ridden third world country underscores that point.

I am not so naïve as to think that acceptance will equate to happiness, but I’d certainly settle for a little peace of mind.  Practically speaking, here’s how I see the concept of acceptance working:

  1. Accept that the past is the past.  There’s no going back, there’s no fixing it, there’s nothing to be gained by feeling sad about what is lost.  It’s gone, let it be.
  2.  Accept that negative thinking doesn’t make things better.  I spend a lot of time in my head pondering about what I don’t have, lamenting my solitary existence, wishing for something better.  It’s pointless.  Instead I want to focus my attention outwards, helping others where I can, and taking satisfaction in my existence making a positive difference for those I am able to touch.  That’s certainly my post-retirement plan, perhaps I can get a head start now.
  3.  Accept that future plans are fraught with potential disappointment.  Instead, I’ll keep an open mind to whatever may lie ahead in life, while endeavoring to live in the moment.  As the old saying goes, “today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday”.  I’m going to seek to be satisfied with each day as it comes, knowing that a bad day will give way to a new day.

So, that’s the idea.  It’s in the early stages of implementation, but already I’ve noted that I can repel the sadness (more or less) by simply uttering “acceptance!”  People probably think I’m crazy when I do, but I can accept that.

Home again

And I learned some things along the way.

Plane landed wheels down at 1730 in Incheon.  A 747 and it appeared every seat was full.  I was relatively close to the front (row 37) so hustled on down to beat the crowd to the immigration queue.  Success!

Had to wait for my bag about 10 minutes, but I’m not one to complain.  Much.  Anyway, I was undecided about how best to get home.  I went out to the Airport Limo ticket stand and asked about the next bus to Pyeongtaek.  It left at 1900, and my watch said 5 minutes past 6.  Fuck that I said to myself (hopefully I didn’t say it out loud!).  So I made my way to the airport railroad.  I reckoned on taking the “all stops” line, figuring to get off at Yongsan station and catch the train home.  Well, once I was on board the AREX slow train I looked at the map and saw the fucker didn’t stop at Yongsan.  Every other goddamn burg along the way, but no Yongsan.

So, I got off at the stop prior to Seoul station and caught the subway over to Yongsan (2 stops).  I arrived at 19:30 and the Pyeongtaek train departed at 19:50.  So the timing was good.  In retrospect, I’d been better off taking the express AREX to Seoul station and cabbing or subway to Yongsan from there.  Might have saved me 30 minutes.  Not sure if there was an earlier train to Pyeongtaek, so maybe it didn’t matter.

Anyway, I got back home a few minutes after 9.  I probably beat the Airport Limo bus, but not by much.

Traveling is such a pain in the ass.  Can’t wait to do it again!

Bowed but not beaten!

And tomorrow I’ll blog about my new attitude.  Now it is off to bed.

Boracay adventure–finale

Kinda got settled into the drunken laid back beach lifestyle and couldn’t be fucked to post here.  In Manila now and will head out to the airport in an hour.  Let’s ketchup!

This is where I stayed. As mentioned previously, a bit inconvenient in that it is at the end of the beach with no road access. I guess you might call it a “boutique” hotel, small and older but not without its charms.

Probably the best thing going for it was the friendly staff. Everyone I encountered was smiling and helpful.

Now, getting up to the room could be a bit of challenge, especially on those nights when I had a bit too much to drink (that would be all of them). Narrow and twisting stairway from the lobby…

….leading to a second flight of stairs…

….and finally to the balcony in front of the room.

Sailboats on the beach….

I got a kick out of this dog. He held that plastic bottle in his mouth like it was the best chew toy ever. I’m really hoping to own a German Shepherd once I make the move.

Doggone.

A breakfast view…

A view of breakfast…

Speaking of food, it was generally a disappointment. Subic Bay has a lot more choices and higher quality preparation in my experience. This pulled pork sandwich was pretty nice though…

Unlike Subic, Boracay has a lot of franchise chain outlets. Hadn’t seen a Johnny Rockets since I left NOVA in 2005. Had to give it a try of course and the double meat burger I ordered was quite tasty.

Sunday was my last night in Boracay and so I spent it on the beach. Where else would I go?

Made it back to the airport with a minimum of trouble and in less than an hour.

The view from the very small terminal was quite pleasant.

Back in Manila and I needed to get some walking in. Hoofed it over to the Mall of Asia. Huge it is!

Christmas season is in full swing here. Crazy!

In a land of beautiful brown skinned people I was quite shocked to discover this outlet in the mall….turns out it is an inappropriately named restaurant.

After the mall I paid a visit to the EDSA entertainment complex. The entertainment being a group of several bars featuring dancing girls and overpriced drinks. This blonde didn’t have much to say, but she was friendlier than most of the gals I’ve met lately…

And now I’ll begin the journey back home.  But before I go I will share this nugget the daughter sent me:

Ha! She inherited her father’s sense of humor!

 

Boracay adventure Day 2

Take a deep breath, relax, and accept the Filipino way.  Repeat as necessary.

I said that a lot on the way to Boracay.

The one hour Cebu Pacific flight from Manila to Caticaylan airport went without a hitch. Getting from that small airport to Boracay requires transport to the ferry depot, a short ferry ride to Boracay island, and then transport to your hotel.  During the flight it was announced that Cebu Pacific was now offering a package that would take you from the airport direct to your hotel all for just 550 pesos ($11).  Well, that seemed like a good deal just for the convenience factor so I ponied up the money.

So we land and deplane onto waiting buses.  Not unusual for small airports with no jet ways.  What I had never experienced before was having the bus exit the airport, drive through some small villages, and arriving at a small terminal 15 minutes later.  Well, I call it a terminal, it just seemed to be a room for bag claim.  Anyway, retrieved my luggage and walked outside where I was besieged by touts offering transportation.  I said no, I’ve already bought a ride from Cebu Pacific.  It took me awhile to figure out that Southwestern Tours was the contractor for this service.  Someone eventually pointed to a waiting van across the street.  The van driver told me I had to go this nearby window to get my ticket.  The ticket I got on the plane was just a voucher for the real ticket.  And so began the ordeal.

I was only second in line, but damn, you wouldn’t believe the paperwork.  I had to fill out a form, then receipts were printed, taxes (a 75 peso “environment” tax) collected, and so on.  I was then handed a stack of paper to carry with me and directed to board the van with about 20 other travelers.   We drove through some fairly heavy traffic for such a small village, but arrived at the ferry in due course.  Where we stood in line to go through security, including x-rays of the baggage.  Then we stood in another line where some of the paper I had been issued was collected.  We were then directed to the line for the ferry entrance, where more paper was taken from my stack.  There were lots of ferries to choose from, but I eventually found the Southwestern Tours boat.  I boarded and waited.  And waited.

Once we were full-up we made the quick trip (maybe 10 minutes) across the water and finally arrived at Boracay island.  Where we waited some more for a van to take us to our hotel.  I guess we had ten people in our van, and of course my hotel was the last one on the list.  Worse than that, it was just shy of total gridlock the entire way.  Who knew there could be so much traffic on such a small island?

Two hours later (no shit, two hours from the airport to my hotel, a total distance that couldn’t be more than 15 kms or so) I arrived.  Sort of.  My hotel is at the far end of the beach and the road doesn’t go that far.  Seriously, it was a two block walk through the sand to get to the hotel.

I repeated my mantra like a Catholic praying to Mary for most of the ride.  Welcome to the Philippines!

So, that was the bad part.  So far, Boracay has been pretty nice otherwise.  Just some quick geography before we go to the pictures.  Boracay is divided into three stations. The ferry arrives at Station 3, most of the tourist resorts are in Station 2, and my hotel is at the far end of Station 1.  At first I was distressed at being so far from the “action” but after witnessing that action, I’m very pleased to be on the relatively quiet end of the island.

The ferry port, Station 3 Boracay island.

The view from my hotel..the Aritista. Not bad, eh?

The beach at Station 3 Boracay. My hotel is at the end of the beach…

The Station 3 water view…

The Spider House. Had dinner here the first night. Interesting set of stairs to get up there and really cool ambiance and views. Food was mediocre and the service was worse than terrible.

Sunset on the water…

And the harvest moon…

The water is crystal clear here. Puts Subic to shame in that regard.

Took a goodly long walk yesterday (22,000 steps all told). Most of it was on the beach, but this was part of the trail as well. Would not walk it at night or after drinking though…

Who says there are no virgins in the Philippines?

Lots of beachside bars like this…

Beautiful places, smiling faces…

I’ve only tried muff diving…

Station 2 beach scene. Now you can see why I’m glad to be in Station 1. I’d say 85% of the tourists here are Korean and Chinese.

Lots of Hanguel signage and Korean food. And to a lesser degree, Chinese as well. Clearly catering to their tourist base.

Lots of diving places back in Station 3.

This is the National Highway that runs the length of the island. The only highway apparently. Very narrow two lane. And as I mentioned, it often results in gridlock. I walked back to the hotel this way and it was not pleasant. I’ll stick to the beach from here on out.
This is also why I’m unlikely to ever return here. Lots of new hotels under construction but no work on the supporting infrastructure. What is bad now is only going to get worse.

Last night I helped my tour guide/caregiver Loraine celebrate her 50th birthday…

A restaurant I will NOT be trying. What next, a building named Trump?

And that pretty much captures the highlights of Day 2.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Boracay adventure Day 1

Greetings from the Philippines!

Getting here was half the fun.  Well, less than that.

The bus I rode from Anjeong-ri. It arrived 10 minutes late and not at the stop I had been advised to catch it. Actually, after waiting awhile I decided to go catch a cab to Pyeongtaek. While heading to the taxi stand I found the correct bus stop. Lucky me!

It was a little disconcerting being the only passenger for the first part of the trip.  We were taking narrow backroads through rice paddies and I’m thinking it’s gonna be a long ride to Incheon.  As you can see, the bus I rode indicated it made stops in Songtan and Osan before going to the airport.  Nope.  We stopped at a bus terminal in Ansung and picked up a handful of passengers.  Drove past some random roadside stops where no one was waiting, stopped at another bus terminal in Suwon (I think), more backroads, then a highway with bumper-to-bumper traffic for awhile.  All told, it took just over three hours to make the airport.  Interesting ride but one I have no intention of ever taking again.

Still, I had three hours more to kill before my flight was scheduled to depart.  That’s fine, I much prefer being early than late.  I had checked in via the internet, so there was no waiting when I dropped my bag.  Sailed through security and immigration.  The terminal was packed with holiday travelers, which kind of surprised me.  I figured most folks would have departed earlier in the week.  Ah well, it made it a pain in the ass to get my walking in, but I managed.

Plane boarded 30 minutes late.  Apparently they didn’t have enough ground crew scheduled on Chuesok to get the job done.  Almost all the flights seemed to be getting out late for that reason.  Despite departing late, we arrived in Manila right on time. Good job Korean Air!

Well, our Boeing 777 was fully loaded and I was near the back of the plane, so…

…this is what I encountered at immigration. Must have been more than our flight arriving at the same time. 45 minutes to get through, but I expected it would be much worse than that.

Baggage claim was a bit of a fiasco.  Because everyone was stuck at immigration, the belt was jammed with bags and golf clubs to the extent that new bags could not exit the conveyor belt until passengers retrieved bags to make room.  Alas, my bag was not one of those already on the belt.  15 more minutes and I was able to walk through customs without an issue.

Met my tour guide/caregiver and she suggested we catch a “grab” cab (similar to Uber) because the airport taxis wanted 600 pesos for the short ride to the airport hotel.  So, we went to find a Grab and that fucker wanted 500 pesos for the two mile trip.  A legit metered taxi might be all of 200 pesos.  It was late and I was tired, and really the difference amounts to 6 bucks, so why argue.  I hate being ripped off, but when in the Philippines…

Hotel was clean and comfortable and convenient, except for the internet password which is like a VIN number for an automobile.

So, that makes three times so far I’ve used my mantra “deep breath, relax, and accept the Filipino way.”

Quick walk around the poverty stricken neighborhood after breakfast.  Lots of destitute people eking out a living, filthy homeless children sleeping on the streets, desperation filling the air, but that is the life here.

Oddly enough, I’m already feeling much better.  Not sure if I’m just in vacation mode or if being out of Anjeong-ri has helped clear my mind of self-pity.  Certainly being reminded of just how fucking lucky I am may be part of it.  And here’s the thing–I can make a difference here.  I’m ready to get started.

Flying on to Boracay in a couple of hours.  More to follow.

Expecting to fly

Happy Chuesok to those of you who celebrate Korean holidays.

If everything goes according to plan I’ll be on an airplane to the Philippines tonight. Getting to Incheon from Pyeongtaek ain’t nearly as convenient as it is from Seoul. Basically my options are to take a cab or city bus to Pyeongtaek station, grab the train to Yongsan station, then transfer to the slow airport train (or cab or subway to Seoul station to catch the express).  Alternatively, I can catch the airport bus here in Anjeong-ri and ride it on in to Incheon.  I’m going with the bus.

I don’t arrive in Manila until 11:00 p.m., so I will overnight there and then catch an afternoon plane to Boracay island.  First time I’ve every visited there.  From what I read it is pretty much a touristy beach area.  Considering my difficulty in securing a hotel room I’m assuming it is a popular spot for Koreans on this long holiday period.  I should feel right at home.

It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling of late.  I’m hoping this vacation will help me get my head on straight so I can man up and stop being such a pathetic whiner.  You know, that whole changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes thing.

Stay tuned.

Reading departure signs in some big airport
Reminds me of the places I’ve been.
Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
Makes me want to go back again.
If it suddenly ended tomorrow,
I could somehow adjust to the fall.
Good times and riches and son of a bitches,
I’ve seen more than I can recall

These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,
Nothing remains quite the same.
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands,
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane

Should I stay or should I go?

Came across this site in a wooded area on yesterday’s hike. Thankfully, civilians are not allowed. Unless I wasn’t supposed to take the picture.

It should come as no surprise that I’m not particularly happy with my life here, so why stay?  As commenter Brian pointed out, you can’t add time to the back end of your retirement.  Well, here’s my thinking on the subject.  Although my thinking is subject to change.

To begin, technically I’m still retired since I’m drawing my full pension.  In the parlance of Uncle Sam, I’m a re-employed annuitant.  So one way to look at it is that I’ve taken up a forty hour per week hobby with some pretty lucrative benefits.

When I originally left government service on December 31, 2010 I had a plan and most importantly, someone to share my planned life with.  Initially I was kept engaged with seeing my parents off on their voyage to the afterlife, then dealing with matters of their passing as the executor of the estate.  I also had to set up residence for myself and Jee Yeun, finding a house and having it remodeled, and furnishing said house.  There were the kids and grandkids to spend time with, dart leagues to found and run, and some travel to enjoy as well.  And with the six months there, six months in Korea routine it kept things from getting stale.  Which is not to say it was never boring, but it was a comfortable life that I expected I would live until the end of my days.

Then one day it was all gone.  A betrayal I’ll never fully understand or completely recover from.   Well, life goes on (until it doesn’t) and having a job and what passes as a social life with my work family gave me some meaning and purpose.  I’m not sure I would have made it otherwise.

Now I find myself back in the job I left when I retired and living in lovely Pyeongtaek.  I had planned to re-retire prior to the the move, but was convinced to stay through the transition to Camp Humphreys.  My employees (bless their hearts) think I’m the greatest boss ever and don’t want me leave.  I seem to be respected and appreciated by the command leadership and that feels good.  And not to brag, but my organization has really stepped up and filled some voids.  We have a “can do” reputation and I’m very proud of all that my team has accomplished.  Which is a long way of saying I do derive a lot of satisfaction from my working life and it is not really a burden to show up each day and do what (little) I do.

Well, all things must pass and I have told my people that I will not stay beyond May. Nothing real magical about that day, other than it is when the lease expires on this big ass house I’m living in (for free).  And in reality, I can leave anytime between now and then (with a 30 day notice to the landlord) if I decide circumstances warrant bailing out.

And there’s the rub.  There is nothing wrong with my life here.  Other than the fact that I’m unhappy with it.  I’m bored, lonely, and far too often, drunk.  That lifestyle is unsustainable.  But I know that until I figure out how to transform myself, those symptoms will likely continue wherever I am living.

What to do, what to do?  A girlfriend would be nice except that a) I’m incapable of love and b) I don’t want to get roped into a relationship that is doomed to end in just a few short months.  So I’m going to have find a way to deal with the boredom and loneliness on my own.  And preferably without the alcohol crutch.  I’m floundering some now, but I’m confident I’ll find my way out.

Does it get any better than this? I sure as hell hope so!

So looking ahead to my new life in the Philippines, what will I do to keep myself occupied and engaged without the benefit of a full-time and meaningful job?  Good question.  Here’s what I envision:

I’ll have my employee available to assist me and take care of me.  That should help some.  I’ll have a dog or two.  Dogs never complain about not having a happy life and then abandon you.  I could use that kind of loyalty in my golden years.  I’m still struggling with what my “purpose” will be in retired life.  I envision myself becoming more engaged with the Fil-Am orphanage  I have assisted during my recent trips to the PI.  And I have it in mind to do some other regular charity work, I’m just not sure what that will be yet.  I’ll play in the dart league and join the local Hashers  hopefully making some new friends along the way.  Maybe that will be enough.

So there’s lots of work to be done in the meantime.  I do appreciate all the support and encouragement my loyal readers provide in the comments.

Onward!

 

I will survive

To a Friend

I ask but one thing of you, only one,
That always you will be my dream of you;
That never shall I wake to find untrue
All this I have believed and rested on,
Forever vanished, like a vision gone
Out into the night. Alas, how few
There are who strike in us a chord we knew
Existed, but so seldom heard its tone
We tremble at the half-forgotten sound.
The world is full of rude awakenings
And heaven-born castles shattered to the ground,
Yet still our human longing vainly clings
To a belief in beauty through all wrongs.
O stay your hand, and leave my heart its songs!

–Amy Lowell

Why not start off with a little poetry to cleanse the palate?

But seriously, Anjeong-ri is proving to be unhealthy for me both emotionally and physically.  I continue to self-medicate with copious amounts of alcohol and I’m starting to feel the effects.  Need to slow down and pace myself so I can make it until May.  By god, I’ll do it or die trying!  Heh.

Anyway, I’m staying relatively busy and grounded at work.  Speaking of which, when I got my pay stub (well, leave and earnings statement which is posted on line) today I brought home a whopping $31 dollars and change.  My first thought was oh shit, they are paying me what I’m worth!  Then I remembered I work for the government and there is no such metric.  It seems that through some incompetence my original appointment expired on 3 September and somehow my re-appointment was never processed.  I’m told it is being “worked on” and I’ll get the money I’m owed sometime in the undefined future.

I keep extra in the checking account for contingencies such as this, so no doubt I will survive.

An atypical Sunday

No walking, no bike riding.  Here’s what I did instead:

Browned some ground beef…

Did some laundry…

filled the candy dish…

diced an onion…

gathered my chili ingredients…

mixed it all up in the crock pot…

beat the carrot cake batter…

marinated the ribeyes

Made a banana pudding…

thawed the shrimp…

Iced the beer…

baked the cake…

cleaned the grill…

prepared a vegetable appetizer with ranch dressing…

baked some potatoes…

set the table…

cooked the corn…

greeted my guests (nephew Justin and friends from Seoul Wan Jun and Beckie…

…the buffet…

garlic bread and grilled meat…

More than enough to go around…

Might have overdid it a tad, but it was fun.  Nice change of pace.

Welcome to the Friend Zone

So, a Korean friend sent me this in messenger. Even personalized it. Yeah, I got the message.

friend zone

noun

informal
  1. a situation in which a friendship exists between two people, one of whom has an unreciprocated romantic or sexual interest in the other.
    “I always wind up in the friend zone, watching them pursue other guys”

Lord knows over the course of a lifetime I’ve both been locked up in friend zone jail and done the incarceration.  I understand the frustration and disappointment that goes along with unrequited emotional attachments.  But, there are worse things.  Honestly speaking, in this case it was almost a relief.  I’ve been down that road too many times to think it will lead to anywhere other than a dead end.

I’m not going to love or be loved, notwithstanding the occasional weak moment of temptation.   The fact of the matter is that I do get lonely and I do crave companionship. And yes, I wouldn’t mind getting laid now and then.  Friends with benefits would work just fine, but alas there are no prospects on the horizon.

Seven months left in Korea.  Ten days until my next visit to the Philippines.  I’ll get by I reckon.

In other news, these three stories were listed in order on Drudge yesterday:

Walking to work staves off death.  Okay, I do that just about everyday.  I should be good to go, but…

Loneliness is as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.  Good thing I’m into vaping now!

And finally the secret to happiness is revealed: Sex and Sleep are the keys to happiness.  Well damn, I’m so horny I can’t sleep.  I’m not happy about that.  I’d say I’m screwed but I’m not.

At least I have the friend zone.

I hope the day will be a lighter highway
For friends are found on every road
Can you ever think of any better way
For the lost and weary travelers to go?

Making friends for the world to see
Let the people know you got what you need
With a friend at hand you will see the light
If your friends are there, then everything’s all right

 

I walk the line

Walking home from the office today:

Sorry, but I walk alone.

And courtesy of Facebook, me two years ago today:

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

And yeah, this is me too:

Damn, I hate when that happens…

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

Carry on

Well, I see it has been a week since my last post.  Regular readers have probably discerned that I must be in one of my moods.  Yeah, I’m in a funk but don’t worry, I’m not going to go there.  Much.

Let’s just say that I continue to struggle with the emptiness that is my life.  I won’t allow anyone to fill that void with love (and yes, the opportunity has presented itself) and so I have to fight to keep the sadness at bay.  Some days are worse than others in that regard, but I know I’ve been blessed in so many ways that I don’t let myself sink too deeply into despair and self-pity.  I have the power to change my life but for whatever reason I seem incapable of doing so.  So far at least.

Okay, enough of that!  I continue with my WWBD (work, walk, bike, drink) lifestyle.  Work is work but it at least provides some purpose.  Walking gives me lots of time to think, but that’s not always a good thing.  Biking is something to fill some weekend daytime hours.  And lately, drinking is what I do best.  Every fucking night of the week (but only to excess on the weekend).  But hey, it’s what passes as my social life.

Well, I’m a bar stool genius – I can solve the world’s problems
Without even trying
I have dozens of friends and the fun never ends
That is, as long as I’m buying

Who knew I’d be living the lyrics to an old Styx song?

Hey don’t go!  I’ve got pictures!

See, I can still find something to smile about. This was posted above the urinal in an SK gas station I visited on one of my weekend walks…

So near and yet so far. On this side of the fence is where I work, on the other…freedom! Well, I’ve postponed my imminent retirement date. I’ve already announced to my staff that I’ll be gone no later than May. Sooner if need be.

So, I get this weird email from a stranger asking me if I knew how to contact the owner of this beached boat. A victim of Hurricane Irma. I spent the night with my old high schools friends on the Second Chance for New Year’s 2012. When I asked the emailer how she found me she said a Google search turned up this blog post. Interesting. I’ve lost touch with Rod and Patty but I’m not sure it’s the same boat anyway.

And the seasons they go round and round. I watched the rice being planted when I arrived down here. And now I’m watching the harvest.

My trusty river rider parked at the only restrooms you’ll find for over an hour in either direction…

On Saturday I rode to the end of the trail on one side of the river…

And on Sunday my way was blocked by this collapsed bridge which had been under construction. That’s only one section, the whole damn thing came down.

But at least there were flowers to enjoy along the way.

It seems I keep missing this delivery truck when he comes by my place…

I took a trip out to Osan AFB to do some shopping. And that meant rewarding myself with some Arby’s. The French Dip was outstanding!

There’s no Namsan to walk around here, but I make do…

The weather has cooled off to where I can almost walk in comfort…

So many choices in life. Maybe one day I will make the right one…

A park…

And another park.

The path less traveled. But I took it anyway.

Death always looms large, but I just walked on by.

A juxtaposition. Gawd, I’ve been wanting to find an excuse to use that word!

And then it was “back” home. Ahem.

Been keeping the grill fired up…

And I was even on TV! CCTV, but still…

That’s how I look on a drunken Saturday night. Kinda crazed, don’t you think?

It’s not the life I chose nor the life I wanted, but it is most assuredly the life I have.  And I can live with that.

Peace out!

One morning I woke up and I knew you were really gone
A new day, a new way, and new eyes to see the dawn
Go your way, I’ll go mine and carry on

 

I’m not the man I used to be

Facebook tells me this was exactly two years ago.

This is me last night. Still need to drop 20 pounds or so, but I seem to have flatlined. Of course, all that beer drinking isn’t helping I’m sure.

Ah well, fatter and happier versus a less fat lonely wretch.  You don’t get to choose, you just learn to deal with it.  More or less.

I don’t know

I unilaterally ended my boycott of IDK bar last night.  Regular readers may recall that three months ago the bar added drinks to my bar tab without permission.  Sadly enough, IDK is the only bar in town with dart tourney.  During my exile I had simply quit playing darts, but I’ve decided I need to get off my lazy ass and start throwing again.  I mean, if I’m going to be in a bar drinking, I want to do it productively.

Anyway, I played the tourney last night.  I paid for my drinks as I ordered them thus avoiding the bar tab scam.

Me and my blind draw partner took a second place finish. Not bad considering how much my game has deteriorated during my self-imposed hiatus.

Today I took a walk, took a nap, then took a bike ride.  Did laundry then took another walk.  In the meantime my crock pot was cooking up a nice juicy pulled pork barbecue.

Rode around the base perimeter (inside the fence) today. That’s the new golf course behind me…

Oh, the irony! (that picture is from the internet, but I thought it was pretty funny)

I saw this church on my walk today. Not sure of the denomination, but it seems holy enough….

And that’s all I got folks.

Look what I saw!

*Ahem*

There are plenty of things to see and do in this world.  Sadly, not so much in Anjeong-ri. Still, you do the best you can with what you got, right?

The river flows, it flows to the sea, wherever that river goes, that’s where I want to be…

This is where the bike path ended today. Nothing to do but turn around.

Enjoyed the serene green acres of farm living though…

“Go Back”. Your meaning may vary.

Witches need to use the restroom too. Apparently.

I’ve been eating good though…

Dinner last night.

Breakfast this morning…

And some lunchtime nourishment.

Took time to smell the flowers on today’s hike…

I have absolutely no clue why these water faucets were installed smack dab in the middle of nowhere.

A lonely road for a lonely man.

The sun goes down…

…and the moon rises.

Another day in the life out here in the countryside.

Pay it forward

Some of you may remember the movie Pay it Forward.  I got to thinking about it the other day while walking.  The basic premise is that when someone does you a favor, rather than pay it back you pass it along by doing someone else a favor.  It’s actually a pretty sweet concept.

Well, I’m a notoriously selfish bastard (just ask my ex-wives).  But that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of performing a good deed now and again.  And sometimes through an otherwise selfish act you can end up unintentionally helping folks out.

For example, I’ve mentioned in passing the woman I’ve employed in the Philippines to be my personal assistant/caregiver once I retire there.  Obviously that has not happened yet, although Loraine does serve as my tour guide when I visit in the interim. While I’m not there I’ve been sending her to school to learn the skills (massage and caregiving) that will hopefully make my retired years more comfortable and lengthy.

Now, I didn’t have to employ someone months before I retire but Loraine seemed like a good fit for the job and she needed the income.  I guess you could characterize that as an act of generosity (charitably speaking), but also a clearly selfish motivation on my part (didn’t want someone else to hire her before I arrived).  And she’s doing good stuff for me, like keeping track of my blood pressure (I send her the readings each morning), scouring the internet for articles that pertain to whatever I may be complaining about at any given time, and being an understanding ear when I need one.  So far I’d say it’s a win-win.

Loraine is a smart gal who’s never really had the opportunity to pursue formal education.  She’s spent her adult life working in mostly menial jobs to support her family. These often required her to toil long hours in far away countries (Hong Kong, the Middle East, Vietnam).  I certainly respect that like so many Filipinos she sacrificed and did what was necessary to survive.  So it has been especially satisfying for me to see how dedicated she has been to taking full advantage of the opportunity to learn new skills. She has this thirst for knowledge that is quite impressive.  With my luck she will use her training to get a better job, but I’ll still be proud of her for making the effort.

But here is the point of this post (yes, there is one!).  As part of her caregiver on-the-job training she has been working long shifts at a school for special needs children.  Some have physical disabilities, others have emotional and learning disorders.  It’s been a real challenge for her in many ways, but she has risen to that challenge.  She’s been going above and beyond the program requirements, spending her own time and money to prepare visual and other learning aids for the kids.  She told me about one malnourished child who never has food at break time, so she shares hers.  Most of all she feels satisfaction with knowing she is making a difference for these kids by being there.  And she says that would not have been possible if I hadn’t put her in the program.

So, she is paying the opportunity forward.  And if in some small way my selfish act in hiring her has facilitated that, well hell yeah, I’ll share in the joy.  I’m already thinking that when I retire I may have her do volunteer work at a school or nursing home as part of her job.  Heh.  Hiring folks to do the charity work on my behalf seems to suit my nature, don’t you think?

At work…

Filling a void…

Making a difference

Keep up the good work!

 

Labor Day

The long weekend is over.

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

So, I baked a carrot cake…

Made a banana pudding…

Marinated some rib eye steaks (herb and garlic)…

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

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

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

It was a good day for it…

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

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

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

Where have you been all my life?

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