11.20.2010

Law and Order: Criminal Intent, OR, Where Did Saturday Go?

Dear Law and Order,

     Please return my four hours of time that I unknowingly invested...I turned on the TV today for some reason, I cannot remember why exactly, right before I logged into blogger and facebook and whatever else I do when I'm bored, and I caught the setup for an episode and saw the victim... Well, approximately 55 minutes later I was thinking how great it was and then realized that there were going to be another 3-4 episodes following the first.  I could have seen it coming but why did I do nothing to stop it from happening?  I was so young and had so much potential!  I just walked right into the trap.

     It's not really that big a deal, honestly.

     Lately the topics of job and future are ever before me... You know I finished my job in Korea on August 24th?  It's been a few months already and I wasn't really planning on being unemployed so long but it has happened.  I was hoping to come home and swiftly find myself a job speaking Spanish, since I'm good at speaking it, of course... and, well, start making some money and buy a car and all of that while we're waiting for the whole military thing to pan out.  They want to see the green card before I can start the waiting process for boot camp.  Very unfortunate for us since we would love to start this soon!  God knows it will all turn out perfectly, don't let me convince you otherwise, but for the meantime I can only hope that it will be quick.  I'm starting to lose some of my motivation since it is all very unpredictable and it's hard to keep up all the excitement for an eternity.  I keep closing my eyes and imagining that we're opening the mailbox and there it is: the letter from USCIS that tells us what to do next.  Shortly after, of course, we'll be going to get fingerprints and pictures and then in the blink of an eye we'll notice it has arrived in the mail.  This means we can start the waiting with the military, of course.  The whole thing sounds relatively pain-free, excepting the boot camp, which is going to be a growing experience in many ways.  I'm not really one to comply and follow orders silently, which is something that surprises me about this choice but it has a ring about it... It has a ring that makes it sound like it was never my idea at all.  It's not too surprising though, considering the living in Chile and later going to South Korea, and all the things I have done in between.

     It's as crazy as the things I have done to date and that's what makes me feel a bit more calm.  Just when I was getting predictable I have thrown everyone a curve ball, including myself.  So I guess it's safe to say that it was never my idea at all.  I'll call it divine inspiration.  You can call it something else, but I will relate a few more details that make it all a bit more exciting and lend it what I would like to call credibility.  Of course, what's necessary for me to consider it divine and for you, dear reader, are probably as different as our personalities, and we can be grateful that we're as different as we are.  I don't think I could possibly bear people with as much energy as I have and what I had only a few years ago.  I sometimes get upset with even my own family for being so averted to slowing down but I was the extreme.  How could even my best of friends bear me?

...Apple Cider break...

     Two-hours later...Well, I guess sometime after we came back from our visit to the states in December, 2009, we had this epiphany that we wanted to go to Hawai'i and we were looking for ways, or excuses rather, to go there.  Somehow I got interested in the Air Force and started reading a bit about what they had to offer and read about the Crypto Linguist job.  There was a lot of wrestling about how and when and why and money and things like that...Of course, that's to be expected.  Any serious decision, regardless of what I have done in the past, needs to be wrestled with, of course.  Some time after I proposed the idea to Olivia and she mentioned that she didn't think it was a bad idea at all and also to my mother, whom I always talk to about anything important--she's sort of my litmus test for major decisions... It turns out that Olivia's mother had some vision or dream years ago about her daughter marrying a man in uniform and/or a teacher and I only realized this after I had proposed the idea and some more time had passed.  It was like this little detail that was somehow overlooked but yet I had been a teacher for the past two years, making me a teacher by trade, not necessarily by profession, and an aspiring linguist for the military.  The Air Force was the logical choice since it seems a bit more like me--more brains, less brawn.  I corresponded with them for ages and they gave good responses but not very many guarantees and told me that I must be willing to go into any field essentially to join.  I really didn't like that part since I'm not 18.  I'm enlisting for God's sake, and only for this position, not to be a deck scrubber!  I'm 26 years old!

     Fast forward--We're in America, trying to talk with the Air Force, and I had even tried to talk with the Army a bit while I was in Korea and made some efforts to contact some people but the Army was not really right... The Air Force basically told me we were never going to get in and even if we did I would have to do Special Forces or get on the list.  Someone at my father's small group, ex-Marines suggested the Navy and I opposed it vehemently.  After several days of struggling with it, talking, reading tons of stuff on the internet, praying, I decided to call up the Navy and talk to them and ask a few questions.  You know what?  It was like a completely different response.  Sure, you know, if you get the scores for the job I feel strongly you can get the job... That was the response.  The Air Force was all dead ends and I will understand it all better later, I'm sure, but for now I can only keep moving forward in the direction that seems best.  The Navy made great strides and leaps to get me in the office, get me to take the test--in Wilmington, and later set me up to take only the DLAB, which is what was required of me to assess my skills to see if I could learn languages for this job.  I did well on the ASVAB, and passed the DLAB.  I felt like I would do very well on the DLAB--I speak Spanish well and can manage fairly well in Korean for a 위국인, or foreigner, and didn't feel like it would be anything impossible.  Tough test.  That's all I will tell you.  I was surprised and since there really aren't many study guides and it changes so often there need not be anything done in terms of studying before.  It's like vocab for major tests (SAT/GRE), you either know the words or you don't--there's no use memorizing crap the night before.

... I guess this is where I say that I have plans to join the Navy as a CTI guy, Linguist, you know, and it's all on hold, even though I am qualified... We are still waiting...waiting...waiting... But it's bedtime and I haven't the patience or energy to write more.

11.17.2010

Ironic Timing?

     After all of these years I have been living abroad and travelling I cannot really give you a good answer as to why I have begun now and not when I was doing something interesting.  Going to Chile?  Most of the world would probably enjoy reading some white guy's stories about crazy parties and life in Viña del Mar, or Valparaíso, Chile.  Even going to Asia, for the two years and two months I lived in Seoul, South Korea, 대한민국 as they call it, I would have had tons to write about yet the idea was a much more recent revelation.

     Chile made a lot of sense to my friends once they found out I was going but this was not so true for Korea.  I searched through some of my notes from years before when I had written some things on facebook and realized that I had mentioned the possibility of going to Asia and teaching English.  That made me feel better since I feel impulsive even when I should probably be weighing decisions out a little better... I mean, it's life!

     Last night I was listening to music by a girl named Yozoh (요조) who I found out about in Korea at my favorite coffee shop, well, I had a couple, so I don't want to go making anyone think I love their shop more than another... I mean, people are sensitive... My favorite two were most certainly Snail's Coffee and Jo & Bean, which were located near Seoul National University Station (서울대입구역)... At Snail's I would spend a great deal of time reading and drinking coffee and I really grew to love the owners who were such lovely people.  They are a very young couple, about 30 or so, and they are to be married this week and I haven't talked with them for two months.  They are probably wondering how my wife and I are doing but we haven't called them!  Sorry, guys!  Back to the story... So I was listening to that girl sing a few cute songs that I originally heard while I was drinking coffee and it took me back to Korea.  It reminded me of those feelings that were so clear when I was there at the beginning but seemed to disappear as I grew accustomed to living there.

     Does anyone in this world understand the feeling of being alone in a country, far far far from home, and enjoying the overwhelming nature of the surroundings, and that sense of wonder because it's not altogether unfamiliar but it is new for the time?  I was in Chile for 5 weeks originally, with UNCW (University of North Carolina at Wilmington) and a fantastic professor named Valerie Rider.  If you ever have the chance to meet her for find out more about her I can assure you that she is one of my favorite people on this planet.  I must have had great luck with Spanish teachers, even from high school, I had a very young, enthusiastic teacher who had very exciting ideas and ways to teach us the language.  Anyway, when I was there it was the first time I did many things--not all of them good--but it is what it is since it is all in the past.  Everything I did left a very distinct taste in my mouth and by the time I had finished up my short stay I had no desire to leave.  Of course I had to come home and I later returned for a year.  I really mean to say that I felt this before.  I did it in Chile and it changed the way I viewed every single thing I had ever seen or thought about from that time forward.  It was one of the most fantastic experiences and after I learned to speak Spanish it threw me into another world of opportunities which I could have never contemplated before.

     That's out of the way.  It was my first few months in Korea and I generally just left work as soon as my classes were finished, which was generally between 5 and 7pm, and set off to walk around the city.  I would eat dinner as cheaply as possible because I had made some poor financial decisions (no pun intended) and for a long time did very little that cost money.  I built a computer and that took almost all my available money.  I guess it was worth it!  After dinner I would just take off by myself and walk until I got tired and then try to find my way back home.  I used to walk behind my house close to the Gwanak Government Building (관악구청) and head towards Shillim (신림) I believe it was... Needless to say I got very lost one night and was scared because I didn't really have enough money to pay someone to take me back!  Haha... I did find my way back home eventually and made sure not to go quite that far after.  I really enjoyed those long walks.  I would walk and since I am ADD I like to walk fast and look all around at anything bright or shiny since they grab my attention.  I was in bed last night and I heard Yozoh and it brought back all of those times when I was new in Korea, when I had only feelings of wonder and love for the country and had really no desire to ever feel anything but that... It was before I met my wife and had learned much Korean and didn't know my way around town.  I was such a newbie and that feeling you get when you think that everything can be done and seen, when you have no obligations and no one to answer to... Not that this is all good, but it really has a certain "feel" to it now that I am reminiscing.

     When I was in Chile I had dated a few times and you always have to ask yourself: "Where do I see this going?  How will this affect my life if I continue down this path?" and things like that... It always had to be answered and the way you live because you are contemplating the future is very different than the way you would live if you simply asked yourself: "Does this feel good?" Haha... I really hate that mentality... That whole, "OH, but it feels so good!" and it somehow absolves us of all our responsibility (in our own minds).

     This time of my life in Korea, walking the streets, was very unique--because of where I was in the world, and also because I had left everyone and everything and was largely alone yet surrounded by millions in an Asian New York.  I walked up and down streets with people staring at me, smiling if I could, looking for coffee shops, wondering if I would meet my future wife in Korea... Hoping, wishing... All of that anticipation and it's hard to just dismiss it as being young and crazy.  I was 24 for heaven's sake!  Later on in Korea I had very different feelings which weren't just simply soaking it all in and learning the language... I grew to hate so many things about the culture and I think I could have done great damage if I had written with much seriousness at that time.  I'm back and while I have not completely given up my feelings of anger and frustration I felt in Korea, very often, I can say that I am remembering more of the simple times... The times when I could have done anything and every person that passed by was an opportunity to learn and my future was so moldable.   Now, of course, I am married and back with my family at home until my job works out and we're a bit anxious to see something that resembles action and adventure... This is all beside the point really.  The timing of my starting this whole journal of times past and times to come yet is probably better than I can imagine since I will likely throw a much more positive spin on my time in Korea.  Ironic timing!  It's also now that I have time to write since I'm not fighting tooth and nail with her parents to bring her back to North Carolina...

     Music has power to take us back to times past and it really brings with it a wave of emotions that are more than we're really able to process when we hear it... I slept on it and I still had all of this to write... I guess we all carry reservoirs of emotions like this and it's interesting to process it all when it comes out.

11.16.2010

Quietly Back In Action...

     Back in town?  Yes, I've been back a while, but I should probably say 'we' because I am now no longer myself, but us.  It is still going to require much adjustment but I'm confident that given enough time I'll prove a very good disciple of all that my parents have taught me about oneness.  It's hard to believe that it has now been two months since our return but given our pace of life as of late we haven't been able to get out as much.  We've watched my brother marry, married ourselves a few weeks later, and will soon find ourselves in Texas for Thanksgiving to visit my sister.

     I've been working towards a new job and career in the military but that will require another post to explain in full.  Besides, most people have been out of the loop for most of the time I was in Korea, and that was about 26 months of sequential non-communication, it's a wonder you even recognize my name on a sheet of paper.  After a couple months I hope to have already begun the military journey and have stories to tell, hopefully all good ones.  The future is mostly what we make of it so I don't expect to have many bad stories about these would-be experiences.  That's not really how I've lived in the past and not how I plan to live in the future.

     Today I have the honor of accompanying my wife and mother to an old friend's house to help, or just sit, while they cut fabric in preparation for a new quilting project they will complete "as a family".  It's really quite cute, and if you could see how excited everyone is then I can assure you that you would be supportive no matter the boredom our family suffers as a result.  Haha.  I am a supportive husband.  I'm learning.


     I'm back in town, and so is they wifey, and if we love you, or if I loved you when I was just myself I can assure you that I still love you every bit as much as I used to... I just haven't been able to extend my arms that far yet since they have been so needed at home.  You wouldn't believe the projects I've been involved in since our return!  I've been a cleaning and remodeling madman.  I helped re-roof our house, or at least half of it this past weekend and feel like a piece of meat under the tenderizing hammer of doom.  I don't really think I mean doom, I really think it's good since I need to be in shape.  To all of our mutual friends, we love you and hope to see you soon, either by accident or on purpose.  Both would be good but the latter would be better!