29 Days

There is a huge bee flying around in my apartment now. I have bug spray but it’s bad for the environment to kill bees. More importantly, I have been chain smoking in here and I don’t want there to be an explosion. I like to think of myself as environmentally conscious, but at the end of the day, I’m all about self-preservation.


He slept with someone else. It’s not that he did it, it’s that he told me. I see “we’re just friends,” as a challenge — a challenge I accept and will always lose. Nights like this I just write. It makes me feel better, but it would be nice to cum for once.

The worst part about all this is I was in fucking Tokyo this morning. That is so cool! And I am sitting here listening to Lorde festering over an imagined rejection. That sucks!!!!

I’m 29 days sober. And so far, not drinking has done nothing to fix my life. I feel unworthy and damaged. In Japan, I felt awesome. I felt strong, independent, and that I could do whatever I  wanted. It was a vacation high. I want to blame my misery on my location. It’d be so easy to just say that I don’t like Korea. But that’s not the truth. I am insecure and I’m not getting the validation in the particular way that I want. Which today is from a boy. It’s going to take a lot of work to find self-realized validation and I am so tired. I thought I went through this as a teenager, but substance abuse is a thin veil over self-doubt that I just ripped off.

I like the way he makes me feel. I opened up and it felt right. I make him laugh but now I am not laughing. I feel like my impulse to crack jokes hinders me sometimes. I deflect all forms of seriousness. People love to be around that, but don’t want it as their everything.

Now, I feel isolated. I should be open and honest,  but why have a conversation when you know how it’s going end.  I want to ignore this, but feelings are like radiation. They dissipate but never fully go away.

 

한글 for tinder

Korea: A land of culture, beautiful landscapes, and worldwide handsomes.

I’ve gotten some really positive feedback hitting on men in Korean. Expressions like:  “So cute,” “Good job,” and “I’m not Korean.”

 

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Look at them

 

Unfortunately for native English speakers, Korean is not a language that can just be absorbed. It takes persistence, dedication, and motivation to study. What motivates me is skin like porcelain and tinted lips. They are untouchable. They are also scared of my English.

 

I probably should mention that I have been wildly unsuccessful with dating Koreans.  I’ve been rejected with translator apps. A few guys have literally run in the opposite direction.

I am quite comfortable living on the fringe of society. But I want to challenge myself to learn a new language and to further indulge in Korean culture (wink). Dating is an all-encompassing way to do that. I know I’m not the only one swiping on Tinder with a textbook in my lap, so here are some go-to expressions.

안녕하세요

Annyeonghaseyo

Meaning: Hello. Duh

매력이

maelyeog-e

Meaning: charming. I have no idea how to conjugate anything.

dong

Meaning: poop. This is irrelevant, obviously.

잘생겼어요

jalsaeng-gyeoss-eoyo

Meaning: handsomeness. It lets them know that I am serious about learning Korean.

아빠

oh-ppa

Meaning:  father. I think girlfriends use it like “honey.” I really don’t know any Korean at all. I am underqualified to be even writing this blog. The more I study, the more I am like wtf.

 

내 목졸라줘

nae-mogchorachwo

Meaning: Choke me.


So. Things are going well. You hooked up with the person (high five). Is it safe to assume you can drop the ‘요’ and speak informally using 반말? No! Always ask. Some people get offended by the informal language even if you’ve gone all the way. As a foreigner, I’m sure you could get away with it, but it is always better to be polite.

안녕! Bye!

 

A breakup abroad

“You don’t have to wait for me,” I said.

I was laying in his bed on my side. My back faced him as I looked into my relocated fish tank. Ludwig van’s silky red fins rippled in the water and calmed me. He was exploring his new surroundings. In a couple of weeks, I would be doing the same.

“I can be very patient.”


He entered the bathroom while I was in the shower. My friend, the one we were visiting for a few days, must have gone out to collect more firewood.

“Please,” he said stroking his shaft.

Ten seconds later I used the running water to kick his little Jimmies down the drain. Taken aback, yet flattered.


We listened to Hamilton on our way to Disneyland for the last time. L.A. traffic was at high tide and my emotions began to swell. I wore my sunglasses even though it was raining. I couldn’t pinpoint the emotion, but I could pinpoint the reason: it wasn’t going to work out.

Still, I held on.


Every day after work I would call. The time difference was harsh and he would wait up just to speak with me. It was sweet, but I would find myself dragging my feet on my walk home.

He asked me basic questions to imply a surface level of curiosity.

“How was your day.”

“Fine,” was an adequate enough response. I was careful not to share too much because he seemed sad when I did.

“I’m going to Vietnam in May!!”

“Oh… cool.”

or

“I’m going to get a tattoo in a couple of weeks!!”

“No, you should wait. Don’t you want to get one with me?”

I liked this one too:

“I’m going on a trip with my friend for Christmas!!”

“Oh… I thought we were going to spend Christmas together.”

We had obligatory phone sex once a month. We talked mostly about colleagues from a job that I was trying desperately to move on from. That’s how we met and had in common. He still worked there and would relay stories of shitty customers. His details made me feel like I still worked there too. But I didn’t. And I didn’t want to feel like it anymore.


Shangela and I were on the bus to Dong-gu to get some pizza. She was (still is) in a long distance relationship too. That’s how we bonded.

“When you talk to your boyfriend, do you like it?” I was trying to articulate the bitter taste in my mouth.

“Yes…”

“Oh.” Shit.

“Are you excited about him visiting?”

“No.”

“Isn’t he staying for a whole month?”

“No. Five weeks.”


My friends watched me bang my head against the wall all summer. To have him come to Korea, or not.

He already spent the money.

I already have everything booked.

I don’t love him and I don’t know if I even like him anymore.

Rationalizing emotions is futile. These were the thoughts running through my head.

My mother raised me to believe that honesty is the best policy, but that doesn’t vibe with my non-confrontational personality. He bought the tickets and even quit his job. He called to tell me about his new backpack for travel. My head was screaming, “NO! NO! NO!”


I performed my breakup script to him over a Kakao call. This was the second time I’ve dumped some via phone call, and I must say the key to a successful breakup call is preparation. He cried a lot and told me his dreams were being crushed. I hung up and had brunch with my friends.


That was that. Haha, just kidding! I called him to tell him I changed my mind.

“Come visit me.”

And then called him again to tell him not to. I was a yo-yo for a couple of months.


He came up from behind at the airport. He came out of the wrong gate. He bent down to give me a wet kiss which made me realize two things: that I had made a big mistake and I needed to get drunk asap.


Day 2 in the Philippines I told him he had to end his trip early.

“What do you mean?” As if I threw him a curveball.

“Let’s not worry about it now, but you can’t stay with me for five weeks. And you’re not coming to Jeju.” I was proud of myself. Sure, I was being a dick. But I was an honest dick.

Vacation in the Philippines was not terrible. Beer cost a dollar, so.


We arrived back to Korea. We were tired. I had been suffering from diarrhea for four days. He changed his flight but it wasn’t for another, like, ten days.

Readers, this was a test of my character and I failed miserably. In the Philippines, he got a blistering sunburn and it started to peel. Skin flakes were coming off in sheets and floated down to my floor like winter’s first snow. But it was in my apartment and it was DEAD SKIN. I would come home after work and have diarrhea for ten minutes. Without saying anything, I would get my broom and sweep the skin while crying softly on the inside.

Time moved on. But after having diarrhea for a solid seven days, I broke down. Pooping that much does something to your soul. I yelled at him. A lot. About how he shouldn’t have come here despite my pleading.  About money. About his skin.


The morning he left I took him to the bus stop. He seemed sad even though I treated him like shit. After he got on the bus, I went home and cleaned my apartment like a crime scene. For the last time, I swept up his littered skin and washed my sheets to rid his smell.


I learned a few things from this experience:

  • Balance is finding the right volume to watch TV with headphones without causing ear damage while drowning out your ex-boyfriend crying.
  • Your heart is a dumb asshole.
  • TBH your mom is probably right.

Five surprising things about China

China

The look: brown miniature poodle

The sound: Lady Gaga’s Joanne

The smell: Misc. Asian city

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Work it


1. I actually loved it.

I was not really looking forward to this trip, or China specifically. I hadn’t heard the best of things. I read even worse things. I stepped into this country with zero to negative expectations. Boy, was I incorrect — it’s amazing! Maybe low expectations are what made it so great.

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The Bund — it’s less polluted then I thought!

Shanghai is my favorite city so far. It has a unique and charismatic — in the words of Cesar Millan — energy that I fell in love with. A metropolis city full of good food and expensive coffee, I can see why people call it the New York City of Asia.

Noodles for me

Loaded with MSG

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I was applauded getting this photo taken.

The police: handsome and helpful. They made my heart skip a beat and not because I was scared. They were always willing to give directions in exchange for a picture. I don’t know if they have a Chinese version of Cops, but if they did, I would hoard episodes on my nonexistent DVR.

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2. The face of China is a brown mini poodle.

Well groomed and fed, these pups were everywhere. I didn’t see too many strays and the dogs seemed *actually* trained  (cough Korea). Talk about a cute trend!

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3. Disneyland is high tech.

Both a look to the future and one of the best days of my life, Shanghai Disneyland brought the magic. And at a cheaper price! I don’t think I can go back to the one in California because this one was SO. GOOD.

Though the most yelp rave about the ride Tron, and I agree that ride is amazing, the real magic was Pirates of the Caribbean. I have no idea which of the movies this ride was based on, but it doesn’t matter. The ride left my mouth agape.

We broke the day up by watching the production of The Lion King. It was exactly the same as when I saw it in New York and LA — except in Mandarin.

This day was essentially perfect and I learned a valuable lesson: always bring my passport.

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4. Seeing is believing: the air in Beijing.

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The Forbidden City

My first impression of Beijing was that I liked Shanghai better. I stand by it, but Bejing is so oooooooold, I have to appreciate it. For the amount of history it has, Bejing is a small city. It still is difficult to wrap my head around, especially Tiananmen Square. Although I walked past it several times, I couldn’t convince myself to take pictures. I had goosebumps. I guess my history teachers in high school were excellent because I could sense the secondary trauma looming in the air.

OR was it just pollution? Either way, the air was thick.


5. There are literally dead bodies in the Great Wall.

“You are better than the cable car people.”

Our tour of the Great Wall came with a complimentary lunch and pep talk. In some of the renovated area of the wall, they built a cable car for the convenience and to cater to lazy tourists. We were better than those people.

The guide was probably five feet tall. He had a buzz cut, a faded tattoo on his left hand, and a lot of experience climbing the Great Wall. He told us tales of how it took over 3,000 years and millions of people to build it. Each time someone died, they would build over their bodies making their corpse a part of the wall (OMG!!!).

When they say climbing, they mean it. The Great Wall winds up and down a mountainous landscape with stairs of varying depth and dimension. Sometimes there were no stairs at all. It was designed for people to eat it (ie Mongols attacking #GenghisKhan). I was weary, but I did it. Our group was there for three hours taking selfies — er, I mean climbing the Great Wall…

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Meditating on the potential remains of a PERSON.


I thought I would go to China a second time out of mere obligation for such an expensive visa. However, it is a beautiful and historic place that I can’t wait to visit again!

Me, my selfie stick and I: Jeju Island

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“Why did I order this? I am trying to be vegan.”  With a fork I toyed with the muscle in my seafood pasta. I was reliving dissection lab from Invertebrate Zoology three years ago. It’s difficult to find something appetizing when you trying to recall functional anatomy. Regardless, I was enjoying my time alone with a mouth full of bread.

IMG_8080.jpgThat was until I an unsolicited visitor joined me at my corner table. Short and bald, he had an accent thicker than the sauce of my pasta. “Hello there! Mind if I sit?” He asked after he had already sat.

“You are sitting here all by yourself. Why are you alone?” We introduced ourselves to each other. I can’t remember his name, but I can remember the alcohol that scented his breath: gin. “You seem like a normal, nice person. I am not coming onto you, you just seem like a normal person and I wanted to give a friendly hello.”

If I had a piece of chocolate every time I’ve heard this from a white male 50+ years old, I would have diabetes.

He continued his monologue. I stopped eating.  He told me I should leave Korea. He said that I am not happy and my heart isn’t here. He said that I will start drinking and drinking more if I don’t go and pursue my passions. I sat there and nodded my head until he went to tend to his nicotine fit. I paid my bill and skedaddled.

This interaction didn’t sit right with me. It took me a couple of days until I understood why. It wasn’t what he said, it was who said it. Drunk, older men trying to give us life lessons. Fuck them. They are answering questions that no one asked. They do not know the secret to our happiness. This small behavior, this “friendly hello” is actually oppressive.

And then I realized that this small island had made some big changes. I won’t say that I have found myself, but I have become more comfortable with who I am.

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Solo travel is wearing cargo shorts and still feeling sexy.


My impromptu itinerary

Day 1

Land in Jeju and head towards the beach in search for a fabulous brunch spot.

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Samyang Black Sand Beach

After wandering for two hours I acknowledged this brunch spot no longer exists. I settled for the place that it turned into. As serendipity has it, they had one of my favorite beers that is only sold seasonally in California. I ordered one at 11:00 AM.

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“Enjoy your meal,” said the man serving  my morning brew.

Day 2

Scuba diving! I walked into the dive shop early in the morning and told them I wanted to go diving. An hour later, I was on a boat headed towards this island:IMG_7640

We were dropped off on the island and lugged our gear onto the rock. There were tons of soft corals and tropical fish. I was lucky enough to see tuna hunting in a school of sardines. It was some of the best diving I have ever done! I felt like I was in a BBC documentary.

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Me and the eccentric dive master

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Meandering after dinner.

Day 3

I decided not to dive again because I am lazy. Instead, I visited a bunch of waterfalls and went to the healing forest.

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Seojeonbang Waterfall and the effect humidity has on my hair

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Jeongbang Waterfalls

 

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Cheonjeyeon Falls – 1st tier

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Cheonjeyeon Falls – 2nd tier

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Cheonjeyeon Falls – 3rd tier

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This is not a waterfall.

In the afternoon, I went to the Seogwipo Forest of Healing because I had some work to do. I was denied entry on account of my flipflops. I was perplexed. They warned me there were snakes and getting bite by a snake would do the opposite of healing. They called me a taxi and I went home to change my shoes.

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I immediately took off my shoes to enjoy this foot massage.

Day 4

I set this day to tackle Mount Hallasan. An early morning and $30 cab ride later, I discovered the mountain was closed due to bad weather. Vanquished, I made my way back into town to come up with a different plan. I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful scenery unique to Jeju.

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Jusangjeolli cliff

These cliffs were formed from the cooling and solidification of lava from 250,000 years ago. The columns are formed when molten lava contracts during cooling, which splits the rock into polygonal columns. It is called columnar jointing and is pretty badass.

Next I went to Love Land. It is famous for it’s plethora of dick statues. Everyone is immediately immature upon entering. A group of giddy young men behind me giggled as they grazed the exhibit.  It was also refreshing to see a German woman directing her daughter how to pose with pornographic sculptures.

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Love Land


I was sad to leave Jeju but I will be back in the winter. I am excited to see how the island has changed over the different seasons. Until then, I will continue to have adventures on the mainland of Korea.