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.

 

March madness – sobriety edition

I stopped drinking in March. Although I’ve been dancing with the idea since November, I’ve always had one great reason not to quit: I didn’t want to.

I must have given a different reason to each person that asked why I stopped drinking. I needed to quit smoking and it was too hard with a drink in my hand, I wanted to lose weight, save money, I wanted to NOT text people to choke me, I wanted to adhere to my intermittent fasting schedule, I wanted to get up earlier and actually feel ok in the mornings, I wanted to focus on writing, I wanted to focus on comedy and performing (which I hate to admit I’m better at sober), I want to reduce the cripiling anxiety I get from not knowing what I did the night before, I want to be able to drink water in the morning without throwing it up, I want to wake up in the morning knowing exactly where I am and how I got there, I want to know where every charge on my ATM card came from, I want to make genuine connections with people that are not sloppy, I don’t want people to describe me as loud, I don’t want people to think I can’t handle my alcohol, and I don’t want to drop my phone in the toilet. Again.

You get the idea.

“I drank too much” is an understatement for me. I drink until I can’t walk. I wonder if binge drinking is an accident or not. It’s not like I’m thinking “I need to get fucked up tonight.” It’s that one drink becomes twelve.  I’m lucky I live in a safe place.

Alcoholism is romanticized in my head. Hovering an inch or two above rock bottom, an alcoholic’s life could crash any second. My life was never that fucked up. I didn’t betray anybody, I never got fired. Surely, I didn’t I have a problem. What a fool.

So, I was sober for March. This was the longest I have been sober for nine years. I anticipated being uncomfortable at bars. I didn’t expect to be clenching my teeth walking past the soju aisle during bouts of loneliness. Since alcohol is my only vice here, my addiction bubbled up in weird ways. Mostly in the form of anger and compulsively buying similar shades of red lipstick.

On March 31st at 11:50 PM I was counting down the minutes, let me tell you. I wanted to drink so bad. And I did. I drank a shot of whisky and two beers faster then Cinderella could run back to her carriage. It was the best feeling to have a beer with a good friend.

But honestly, I’m scared.

Stopping drinking, even for a month, made me think deeply about why I do the things I do. It made me stare into the eyes of my addictive tendencies and acknowledge things that I never have. I am not perfect and I’m pretty sure I am not swearing off alcohol entirely. But now I know that there is something within me that takes control over my conscious decisions.

The first step is admitting, right?

Dairyfest

My drool woke me up. I have been back in Korea a week but my circadian rhythm hasn’t realized it yet. Turn my ondol on, turn it off. Browse Tinder and hate it. Open the window. My ankle hurts. I twisted it cramming my foot into my shoe at the airport. It’s been swollen ever since.

I don’t know what it is about 5 AM that makes me introspective. Am I thinking the clearest or the least clear of the day? Blanketed in unnecessary anxiety, but it’s fine. A lot of changes are coming my way.

Maybe it’s all the dairy.


I landed in California. I knew I was home but didn’t feel like I belong anymore. Things felt familiar, but not the same. Reacquainted with old friends, familiar scenery and drugs. Life is good but surreal. I took the requisite pictures one would in California. The beaches, dogs off leash, even the Golden Gate Bridge.

Something besides the California sunshine blinded me though. It was the revelation of the network of badass women that I am fortunate to have. Hold on to your hat, it’s about to get sappy y’all.

From my mother to Lady Gaga. The women in my life are amazing. I am lucky to have made connections with such independent women abroad. It took me a year away to realize that I have as strong of a network at home. Or maybe it’s because I just read Orange is the New Black. Either way, I am glad that now I know.

My mom never forced me to practice the piano. Rather, she always supported me trying new things. Oh, you want to play soccer? I’ll drive you to practice. Oh, you want to be in a play? I will go to every performance. At the time, I wondered why she didn’t force me to stick with one thing and become an expert. I was always bouncing around from hobby to hobby. Instead, I became an expert at adapting — the now necessary skill for my chosen lifestyle. Learning new things, and loving it. I understand now.

Intelligent, beautiful women are invaluable on my journey. I didn’t grasp it until we sat down for brunch. The importance of life is the people who listen to your stories without a punchline. It’s people who tell theirs and you genuinely care.

Sure, you can quantify life by age. But the people you love make it qualitative with shared experiences.

Everything has built up to this point and will continue to build to the next. I love to think that I’m independent, but I’m not. I would not be who I am today without these lovely life-changing people who shaped me along the way. At the time I thought I knew, but I didn’t viscerally appreciate. Years of self-doubt, insecurity, family problems, eat disorders, clinical anxiety. They built me up when I was below sea-level.  If you are in doubt that I am writing this about you, I am definitely writing this about you.

And I love you.


I landed in Korea. I knew I was home but still didn’t feel like I belong. Things felt foreign in a familiar way.

The USA took home silver and bronze in Big Air (holla). In Seoul, I reunited with a friend on her last night.

It is crazy how one person can influence your trajectory. I hate to admit it, but I was so scared coming to Korea. Terrified. I connected with Justine deeply, who made my year all OK. Crazy coteacher? Let’s drink some wine. Sprained ankle? I’ll buy you dinner. Also, let’s climb this INSANE mountain, Sinbulsan.

The tragedy and beauty that is being an expat are the people you get to meet and have to say goodbye to. I have learned so much from her. She taught me how to efficiently chop an onion, pack for a trip, and navigate Ulsan. She helped make me a strong person that I would want to look up to as a kid. She is a forever sister. And I hope this post makes her cry.


I’m crying, but I haven’t lost anyone. I am so blessed, even though I hate the religious ties to that word.

I guess, what I am trying to say is: always have someone in your life to climb mountains with.

Lucky for me, I have dozens.

 

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!

 

Nostalgia in November

It’s getting cold. Freezing cold.

November was a good month. I took a weekend trip to 전주 (Jeonju) with some of my friends. I got a taste of Korean culture and wore a 한복. (I’m so cool, I can type in Hangul.)

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I summited another mountain with my good friend, Justine.

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Most notably and least picture friendly, I wrote a book. I completed my first attempt at the NaNoWriMo challenge and wrote 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve resigned my contract and am staying in Korea for another year.

Somethings amiss though. I’ve been so focused on building my life here that sometimes I forget the one that I left at home.

Now, it’s on fire.

My thoughts are with the residents of southern California. The Thomas Fire is nothing short of devastating. I miss my family and I miss my friends (and In n Out). Stay safe.

Here are some cute dogs.

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Steeper than a hill

Much like Moana, I have always been called to the ocean. From scuba diving to swimming, even to my bachelor’s degree, I never had a doubt in my mind that the sea was for me.

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The ocean is best admired in the absence of pants.

But lately, I mean the past couple of weeks lately, I have been lusting over the mountains. Probably because of the film Mountain that was featured at Busan International Film Festival left my mouth gaping open.

Regardless of the movies that I watched, Korea is the place to fall in love with mountains. 70% of Korea’s topography is mountainous, so I might as well like it.

My non-romantic partner, Justine, invited me to climb Jirisan. I thought of the mouth-watering drone footage from that inspo-doc (a word I just invented for an inspiring documentary) and said yes. It’s the second-tallest mountain in South Korea.

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It doesn’t look that big because it was cold.

We ascended before dawn. Right as we hit the trailhead I felt like I was going into cardiac arrest. I had to sit down for more than a few moments. I breathed thinking “I am connected” and waited until I couldn’t feel my heartbeat in my eardrum. Bless my patient friends.

This hike wasn’t as technical and scary as Sinbulsan (and my ankle wasn’t sprained this time), but it was still challenging. I had to repeat my mantra throughout the duration of the hike. I realized that challenging yourself physically takes a whole different form of mental strength that I am not used to exercising (ha).

Back at home, I would hike. But I would usually go by myself, climb high enough to get a view of my car, then come back down. There was no such thing as “summiting”. The trails in Korea are often steep and difficult, but always rewarding.

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Don’t let my nonchalance fool you, my legs felt like jello.

While I’m probably not going to give up my current life to become a dirtbag in Yosemite, I have a found a new way to challenge and become a better version of myself.

Proverbs from an essay contest

Homework is your flesh and blood.

Daym. The study culture here is no joke. This was a student quoting their dad.

Next day my mom will hitting me with her hands.

Not doing homework is not an option. Daym x2.

Finished off the Voldemort

Fuck yeah, you did.

The hero is very coor

“Coors” and “Cool” are essentially synonymous.  Coors lite anyone?

Maybe I’m tired… and die

Maybe this particular mother isn’t going to kill their kid for not doing their homework, but the monotony will.