Archive for September, 2015

Blogs and other Magic

Posted: September 15, 2015 in travel
Tags: ,

I blogged for awhile. It was weird. I think I was becoming very bored with my life. So anyway, here they are:

At the moment I’m travelling by bus to a clearing in the forest in Northern Alberta. The sun is shining and I’m listening to a song called Lost by Amanda Palmer. There are dark clouds to the East, but it’s not uncommon to see dark clouds out here. It doesn’t mean it will rain.
From Canada With Love
I’ve blogged before. But never have my blogs been sincere, present. They’ve been about externals. Issues. Topics. I’d like to just concentrate on the moment here.

While I was travelling from Vancouver to Edmonton I met a couple of interesting people. I met Fulla, a Starbuck’s barista, but I feel asleep. Later on, a puzzle game app designer named Forseti sat beside me and we talked about all kinds of things. He told me he needed promotion, so I gave him the number of a friend of mine I met in Korea, Ithunn. She told me she only does social media promotion, but she’d do what she could for him.

The trees out here are an odd sight. A layer of newly grown trees sits like a carpet beneath tall-standing barren sticks that trace the outline of once healthy trees. Punctuating the new growth are periodic swamps, which sometimes look like picturesque lakes.

A sandpit of RVs sits below several pyramids of dirt by the side of the road. All around there are improvised dirt roads leading to temporary work sites. Northern Alberta is one giant temporary work site.

This isn’t my first blog post ever, but it feels like it. So let’s say it is.

I’m back at the lodge. I woke up this morning and put on one of my three outfits. I ate a plum and an orange. I walked into the kitchen and said hello to our morning cook. Her name is Eir.
The Didg

I’ve never been much into didgeridoo music. Not that I was avoiding it, or I don’t enjoy it. I just never thought of listening to it. But it’s become my soundtrack this morning. Why?

Last weekend we celebrated my daughter Hretha’s eighth birthday in Victoria. We took her out for a zipline adventure, pottery making, and sushi. All she wanted for her birthday was a didgeridoo. She couldn’t think of anything else she wanted. So my ex texted me to ask if I could find one.

Luckily there was a lady in Victoria named Snotra who had a beautiful didg. It has caterpillar designs on it. After pottery making, I sat Hretha down to make sure she would really value the didg. I told her that it was an investment, mostly in terms of the time it takes to learn it well, and she would need to make sure she wouldn’t be disappointed if she couldn’t play it overnight. Or in a month. Or in a year. But with enough dedication and proper training, I told her, she would be successful.

She began to look at the ground as though she was being scolded. I felt that she was worried that she wasn’t getting a didg. We watched some videos and talked about Australia, about their First Nations and how their conditions compare to Canadian First Nations. To tell you the truth, there were more questions than answers on that topic.

I pulled out the didg and she gave me the biggest hug ever. I thought it was going to last all day. She spent the rest of our visit trying to make the sound. I have no idea how she’s going to do this circular breathing thing. One day at a time I guess.

Turtle power.

The Didg
I need to take this moment to tell you that everything I write in this blog is a complete work of fiction and any resemblances to any person, alive, dead or supernatural is purely coincidental.
Romani in Victoria

While I was in Victoria for my daughter’s birthday, I stayed at a hostel in town. When my daughters fell asleep, I went down to the beach to practice poi, better known as the art of fire dancing.

I picked up this nasty habit about a year ago in South Korea where I worked for a short time. I had never really reflected on my roots or why it was that I so enjoyed environments where people played with fire. But both in Thailand and the Philippines I met some amazing fire dancers, and in South Korea I was tutored by a man named Rainbow Manatee who made me my first pair of fire chains.

I brought these fire chains one night down to the beach. As I was walking through some tall grasses to a suitable area, a woman’s voice behind me cried out, “you are on our path, sir.”

I looked back to where two travelers were following my footsteps. “I didn’t realize it was your path,” I answered. The lady there grinned a wolfish smile and said, “actually, we’ve been stalking you since you left the supermarket. Not intentionally.”

The woman with the wolfish grin introduced herself as Mardöll and her companion was Tig. I learned that they were Romani. Or, as she calls herself, gypsy. Ukrainian-Russian Jewish gypsy to be exact. Tig wore muted clothing, typical to blend in with any crowd. Mardöll on the other hand wore a knit hat with cat ears and a splendid long dark skirt.

We went together to the beach and talked for a long time as more Romani joined our circle and built a fire. Soon there was tribal connection from all over the world in our one circle: Bogota, Marseilles, somewhere in Costa Rica. They began to play songs, improvised, sung in Spanish, French, Ukrainian. I told a story of the little flame and my mountain climbing adventure with Rainbow Manatee, when I first learned to spin fire.

Everyone was ready for me to put on a fire show. Unfortunately, the socks I was using for it were polysynthetic, and they just dripped burning plastic. I was all out of fuel, and the show was nothing. I felt terrible for not delivering.

A little letdown, but again we met and I played some songs from Gogol Bordello to make up for it. Mardöll even joined in a duet of a GB song called Illumination.

Later I came when the Romani were not there. I met a couple of cruise ship deckhands who told me I needed to use kevlar for my fire chains. I went to the store and bought kevlar, and returned to the beach. I even had Mardöll’s number, and I texted to ask if she and her companions would show. She said yes, at nine o clock.

I was ready with my fire chains, and I sat waiting. An hour passed and no one came but a nice couple who worked in mental health. We sat and talked for a while about the famous Dr. Gabor Mate. As they got up to leave, I received a text message from Mardöll. Something had come up.

Not knowing what to do then, I drank all the alcohol I brought. I put the fuel into the kevlar chains and lit them. I put my favourite music into my earbuds, and I danced! It was glorious, even more glorious than if anyone were watching. I donned my guitar and sang loudly into the ocean, screaming, crying, laughing!

Stones sat below me. They sung, “You are beautiful!” They looked at me with jiffy marker eyes and wore back flames of little fires. I planted a flower in the middle of them, grabbed my guitar and fire chains, and left.

Who knows when I will see the Romani again? Maybe never. But that’s the magic of it. It’s all a dream. It’s not like the Romani to make plans.

We are guided by greater plans than our own.

There’s a sandstorm outside. Wood Buffalo Alberta has experienced a reduction in precipitation never before seen. So it looks like hell outside. Like Mad Max. Like Tank Girl.
The Second Coming

That don’t matter. I’m safe inside as some Vietnam War scene is on the other side of the glass. At the lodge we have an air intake system that covers all surfaces with a layer of dust contaminated with industrial refuse. This is the apocalypse. Whoa-oh.

No joke. I’m waking up to ash and dust. I’m breathing in the chemicals.

I play with my chains and ruminate over the second coming of Magdalena. She is transfigured, reborn. She has but one task in this world. To tear it down. She is Freyja, and in her fiery seithr she weaves the magic web to condemn the missionaries who paintballed her with scarlet letters.

I am Frey, reborn with only one task. I will burn the sky and spew demons from my smokestacks. I will laugh loudly as I ride the lightning, telling the humans of this fallen world that they did it to themselves. It’s a big joke. And it just keeps getting funnier.

Walk with me firebreather, among this wasteland, and help me to ignite it. We will grow broken wings. We will fly into oblivion.

I sit down at my computer to type my daily online diary entry. This thing is better than a diary. When I talk to the Internet, even if no one’s reading, I feel like there’s a presence viewing my daily life. The NSA perhaps?
Chiropractice
When I was in Victoria I went to a chiropractor. He told me my head was too far forward. I tried tucking in my chin and found that it was harder to breathe. And it all made sense.
I suffer from asthma. In my childhood I did not participate in sports for this very reason. I was never diagnosed, so I didn’t get put on drugs. My mom just thought I was horribly out of shape. Once I gained some independence, I got diagnosed and got some asthma drugs.

In my adulthood, I’ve decided to occupy my body and get off the asthma drugs. So I visited a guru in India to learn about ancient breathing techniques.

It worked! I was able to get off salbutamol AND discus. For those not in the know, salbutamol is a “puffer” but is now being called a “rescuer” in light of recent harmaceutical innovations. Now you can use a discus, which is a steroid you take in the morning and at night, and it completely erases your breathing difficulties so long as you keep buying and using it. This is CLASSIC DRUG PUSHING. There’s no other term for it.

So really, my chiropractor’s observation makes complete sense. I’m gasping for air, so I’m doing everything to open up my throat.

He warned me that my head is like a bowling ball and my neck is like stick. If the ball is on top of the stick, perfectly aligned, the weight is evenly distributed and the bowling ball will stay up there, well-supported, for however long you’ve decided for whatever reason to put a bowling ball on a stick.

Now if the bowling ball is ten millimeters off, you have problems. The stick will keep bending (that is, if it were as flexible as cartilage) and compromising its integrity. So, I’m trying to tuck in my chin. And I look like I have a double chin because of all the excess skin. No one’s said anything.

Who cares what I look like anyway. I’m on the path to spinal health.
Good evening, Diary. I’m really really really really excited after a period of not being excited and in fact feeling like I’m in the celestial scrapheap of all earth and creation. Why?
It's a Wonderful Day

Gosh, that’s a positively unexcited looking selfie. Do I want to fix it? No. Because I’m ironic, dontcha think? That’s a Canadian joke.

So not only is my daughter right into chess, she’s a frikken genius at it. She nearly destroyed me tonight. She’s 8.

But the real reason I’m excited is that my bestie since grade seven messaged me. We’ve been estranged for a decade. I told him I had bad news, and I felt like a horrible human for not telling him sooner.

My mom, who he also considers a mom, is reaching the end of her life. Hence the celestial scrapheap. I’m excited because he dealt with it really well (or so it sounded) and resolved to come and visit us at the end of the month.

Momentarily I’m excited. That had been weighing me down for a while.

I await daddy phone call time in my office. I’ll play chess with my daughter over the phone. We’ll call out the moves. It will be catastrophic.
Bows

Last night I had a vid-chat with my mom. She read a short story she wrote about her life as a woman with a terminal illness. Drama is an everyday reality for her. There’s a lot of backstory in it, but I don’t think she needs to put so much in. To quote my man JL, let it be.

This afternoon, I wanted to do a bow, but I ended up singing songs and talking on the telephone. My bow is unlike bows from other traditions, but borrows a bit from a bunch of different ones.

I didn’t spend enough time in China, but in Japan and Korea, bowing is a very important part of everyday life. The Jogye Buddhist monks do 108 bows in the morning at 4am. These aren’t any ordinary bows. They’re flat out workout routines. I’ll bet those monks have abs of steel.

I caught the news. Obama made a speech about Charleston. I think he sounds like a tired schoolteacher these days, begging the American people to invest a little interest in trying to combat gun violence. And then the agendas. Oh, the agendas. This isn’t a politics blog. But. The agendas.

Maybe if more people did bows. When you bow, you are filling your body with gratitude. You are telling the world that you love to be alive. People who kill people don’t get that. When you love to be alive, then you love life, every part of it.

I’ll do a bow tonight and thank the spirits of the people who are out there supporting their friend-families, giving hugs and consolation. A hug is like like a bow into someone else. You are showing them how grateful you are that they are who they are.

Find someone to hug today, even if it’s the Earth.

Last night I did my stretches and noticed as I was cooling down with flapping fish while listening to some trancey music that I got a bit too comfortable on the right side. I made it to my bed, thinking I’d be up for a dance. But then, snok! Out like a light until 5am.
A Big Budget Dream

I dreamt I was at a university campus dorm with a couple of well-to-do young ladies. Their dorm rooms were beautiful with soft lighting, opulent decor and fine furnishings. What I really focused on, however, were the colours on their walls: smooth cream with ebony trim, warm, passionate and inviting.

They saw my dorm room and it was… functional. Eggshell walls with a modest bed. Nothing on the walls. Guitar in the corner. What? What do you want from me?

I felt their disapproving gazes and quickly knew I had to remedy the situation or I would be THAT guy.

So I went downtown. Somehow I missed the point where the carefully cultivated gardens and well-maintained buildings of the campus extended into the urban decay of a post-apocalyptic city center. No exaggeration here.

Towers were grown over with ivy vines. Rodents scuttled to and fro. Trash toters tugged rusty old shopping carts listlessly across the crumbling streets. I made my way to the Hudson’s Bay Company building, which was dilapidated on every corner and closed shut with chains. Only a door in the lower east was open, so I went in.

Inside a rather cheerful man sat in torn, dirty garments and asked if there was anything he could help me with. I asked for something to spruce up my dorm room with. He returned with some rather nice draperies and I thanked him. Money wasn’t very useful in this torn-apart dystopia.

I wondered if I could go into the rest of the Bay building, but something prevented me. It wasn’t the man. It was just a feeling I had that I ought not enter…

A friend asked, “Why all the selfies?” Good question. I guess I just want to see the transformation that occurs during this period of growth. And it’s my blog.
Alternate World
Changes? Growth? What are you talking about?

Take today for instance. I had a grapefruit for breakfast. And later an orange. Then, close to noon, another grapefruit. I no longer have any apetite for breakfast. My body has become quite small as a result. Even my lunches consist of only a couple of sandwiches and a multivitamin. Mostly I drink coffee or tea and don’t stress too much if I I go to to sleep with hunger pangs.I haven’t a clue to what to attribute this odd change in diet. Also my stretching and dancing have been taking a backseat to more pressing issues. Like sleeping. And dreaming.Is it possible I’m sublimating? I feel that earthly joys don’t stimulate me any more. They once held such meaning for me. Mostly I live in my imagination and converse with people who aren’t present. So here’s why I’m making record of it:

Could I be on to something? Is there an alternate world brushed right up against our physical Earth that we’ve been neglecting?

I feel like I’m growing legs to walk into that world. It would be more understandable if I had gone mad, or if I were on drugs. But I’m clean, I’m neurotypical, and I’m an unoppressed, unorphaned, able-bodied, hetero-passable young Caucasian male who grew up in a politically-stable country with no siblings and three meals a day.

If I’m discovering an alternate reality, it’s not because I’m trying desperately to escape this one. It’s evidence that there might actually be something out there, or rather, in here.

Yesterday I received a letter from Chet. His children lived in a dwelling of sticks and mud in Nepal. During the disaster, their home was decimated. He doesn’t know what to do.

Why must they suffer while I am so comfortable? Perhaps another world is calling for this purpose. As Mardöll put succinctly: An adventure is rarely comfortable, but it’s always exciting.

What were you trying to tell me?

Sometimes I think back to my days in Korea and wonder what I’d be doing if I were there right now. Probably be at the billiards. We’re more used to 8-ball, which they call pocket-uh-ball. In fact, I haven’t seen a billiards setup for a while.
If I Were in Korea

Actually, no, it’s 5am, Monday morning in Gunsan, South Korea. I would most likely be sleeping in anticipation for a shift at Jinpo Chodanghakgyo (Jinpo Elementary School). Except my coworkers would all be different than they were one year ago. That’s the way they roll.

But it’s VERY likely I would have been out Friday/Saturday at billiards. I used to go with keun heung and chagun hyeung. That means big brother and second brother. After pool, you can have a heck of a night with samgyeopsal (unsalted bacon grilled with kimchi, stem mushrooms, onions and garlic) and sauntering around town.

So right now I’d be just waking with the sun on the longest day of the year, on the other side of the world. I’d be slipping on my biking gloves and pulling up my polysynthetic exercise shorts for an hour and a half ride around the lake in our cozy town.

There would be a bit of a cloud cover, after all, it is rainy season. I’d be doing my best to evade the 50+ crowd on the lake path. I would hazard a guess that the average Korean elder is more physically fit than the average twentysomething in Canada.

On my way home from a productive day of teaching fifth graders how to pronounce the consonant /r/ and letting the afterschool class dance to “In the Jungle” for the seventeenth time, I’d swing by the Lotte Mart.

I would think about how much I miss my family and friends. I’m glad I’m back in Canada. Maybe I’ll make my way to Korea again one day. But I’ve got two very important reasons to be here, and every moment of my time here is precious.

Happy Intl Yoga Day, Summer Solstice and Daddy Day.

Right now I don’t feel like writing. But I’ve committed to writing every day. So this, paradoxically, is the PERFECT time to write. Charles Bukowski be trippin.

Forced Writing

Forced writing. What could I say? I can reflect on why I don’t want to write. Is it because nothing special is happening? Well, nothing special is ever happening, or special things are always happening. It depends on how you look at it.

A big part of it is that I feel like the individuality of people is a commodity preyed upon by social media sites. People care more about themselves than others on the Internet, and web 2.0 knows this well. Advertisers love that we love ourselves. It makes it easier to sell us stuff so we can love ourselves more. This in a way is reflective of our place in the world. We must always care about others in the real world. But on the Internet, we can focus on our own accomplishments, dreams and goals without having to consider others.

My job is to ensure the proper reports are sent at the proper times, error-free. If I make a mistake, I will definitely hear about it. In a way that means that people actually care about what I’m doing. I’m wanted for a certain task, and I receive daily feedback on my progress.

I would love to have this kind of attention for my creative writing, or my dancing. To have a group of people scrupulously combing through the thousands of pages of novels I’ve written and demanding that I edit certain details before publication, that would make me smile. That’s how people treat my professional writing job. And I loathe the spotlight at work, because it usually means I’ve done something wrong. What makes me think I would enjoy the spotlight for my creative writing?

Maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe I would begin to wish I could just write for fun. Maybe I’d get tired of having to fulfill everyone else’s wishes for my writing and just want to write for myself.

This, Diary, is the law of ratios. In the words of Courtney Love, I get what I want, then I never want it again.

Well, I’d say that went pretty well. I’ll have to force myself to write more often. Charles Bukowski:

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

-So You Want to Be a Writer

I continue my fictional blogging hoping that you understand that everything I write is a product of my overactive imagination tainted by certain inside jokes among friends. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s why being half reptile is more of a burden than it’s worth.

I finish up my reports and sigh deeply. Things don’t add up and I wonder how and why after months of doing the same repetitive tasks, half of our primates still haven’t gotten it.

No, if I were pure reptile I would just talk to them on the phone and infect their minds with the imperative required to fix their incorrect behaviour. As it stands, I can only be so persuasive because the primate part of me tells me it’s wrong to mess with people’s heads, and this limits my ability to program others. Trust me, if I could, I would.

But the primate god is all about “free will” and doesn’t understand that things are much better when your collective is unable to rebel, make personal choices, and pursue individuality. Individuality has destroyed your world. Everyone wanting a personal car, a personal TV set, a personal computer and a personal domicile has been poisoned with greed and selfishness, leading them to destroy their planet. Don’t act like it isn’t true; you know it is.

But I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. All the time.

In fact…

This is also most likely my last day working here. If I don’t get fired, I have two more months of, probably, non-administrative work ahead of me in other camps.

Odd dream. I dreamt that I was with the recurring characters of the Two Splendid Ladies. The ones who were unimpressed with my lack of decor in my dorm room at the University, under whose advisement I ventured into post-apocalyptic Victoria to purchase draperies.

Again they framed my dream. This time they were commenting on a certain Ukrainian woman, not Mardöll, but a woman named Vanadís.

They were looking at pictures of her and talking about how pretty she is. And how they would love to get with her. Soon they were gone and Vanadís appeared. But it wasn’t the same Ukrainian lady, but my first lover. I commented on how she looks nothing like Vanadís. But we are the same, she says, and we begin kissing.

I noticed how light this Vanadís was. It was as though she were made of nothing but her outside features without the weight of internal organs and bones. I didn’t feel like I was going to crush her, but at the same time, I felt uneasy with this very light person, who was most certainly my first lover and not Vanadís. But she insisted she was the same person.

“Then why did you lie to me before, telling me about your Ukrainian upbringing, when I know full well you are a painter’s daughter with no such culture?”
“I am the same.”
“How did I not notice you were Vanadís during those months we worked together?”
“I am the same.”

I remember now the few times I talked with Vanadís. I used to work out in the fitness room as she cooked and baked downstairs in the kitchen. I carefully avoided contact with her, until one day I was working in the kitchen and we talked for what seemed like hours. She must have given me her entire life history in the few times we conversed.

How confusing. Are these dreams just fantasy, or do they have a deeper meaning? And why have I met the Two Splendid Ladies for the second time? It’s not like me to dream, let alone to dream the same characters twice!

I underestimate reality. My boss approached me with a big, confident smile and told me, “I received your resignation. That’s terrible news.” He knows I’m going back to school and he seems somewhat proud of me. I’ve only been here a year. I worked my way from hustling to wash the dishes and clean tables to having management responsibilities. Now it’s time for the next chapter.

Oh, no. My writing sounds like something a white male would write. Get it off me. GET IT OFFFF MEEEEEEEE!!!

I’m now bussing through land that is much nicer than the craziness I live in. Clearly the relief coordinator isn’t doing janitorial duties nor does she use the gym. So far she’s been texting me with:

1) I can’t log in to email
2) You’re leaving? and
3) I’m checking people in so I can’t call the manager

…but for some reason she has time to text me.

I got this odd text from her the other day.
“Hey Leif, are you still awake?”
“Yep.”
“Okay…nm.”

Critique: You want to make contact. There’s some embarrassing reason you can’t continue to make contact. Couldn’t you have known that before you initiated? Because now you’re already into it, and you’ve caused weirdness. You may as well follow up, because nothing is weirder than trying to guess why someone texted you out of the blue just to say nevermind.

I keep waiting for real bad luck. I lost my sunglasses. But that’s not bad luck. That’s just carelessness. Bad luck is when you truly couldn’t have done anything to prevent something from happening. You don’t want to lose something on the bus? Check your seat before you get off. Duh.

It makes me wonder what all this luck stuff is about. Above all I think luck is perception. I was unlucky to be in a marriage with someone who didn’t love me. Ask her and she would say if I’d tried harder, you know. Perception.

I was unlucky to find no work and be forced to move halfway across the world for 3 years. But it was an amazing adventure, great experience on the resume, plus I made lots of friends, ate tons of good food and learned a new language.

Sometimes I pray for the unexpected.

I made it to the beautiful Okanagan, where my mom is truly blessed to dwell. It’s a bit hot this time of the year, reaching up to 40 degrees. I arrived late Thursday and since then, we’ve been cramming all we can into the short time I have here.

That’s my just-woke-up selfie, after a night of Okanagan sleep. My mom has a hookup with a rep for a bunch of the majors out here. So we feasted on dolmathes, spanakopita, hummus and tzatziki last night, finishing things off with a Portlandia marathon and a refreshing beverage.

Friday we did what we had to, rushing around from hospital to pharmacy to grocery store. Yesterday we devoted to getting this place clean in anticipation of the arrival of Dellingr and Nótt. There still a bit to do.

Here’s some useful information: if you don’t want to destroy the planet (as much) by using fossil fuels in your fire dance, use ethanol firestarter! It works like a charm. But some precautions:

  • ALWAYS keep your sand and water nearby. First sand, then water.
  • Ensure you are in a fairly isolated area free from dried shrubs and other naturally-occurring kindling. Pavement is best.
  • Wash your hands after treating a ball if you’ve gotten anywhere close to the fuel.
  • IMPORTANT: wind spreads fluid. In your shake off, ensure the wind is blowing AWAY from you. This may sound obvious, but a very experienced dancer in Calgary caught some spray and ended up with 3rd-degree burns.
  • Anything flammable must be more than ten meters away while you dance.
  • Ethanol gel firestarter is crazy stuff. Respect the gel.
On that last point, I did my shake off after ignition. I expected it to behave like usual, a few drops here and there. But this is gel. It lit everything it touched and I had to put it out immediately. That could have been my skin. That stuff just DOESN’T STOP BURNING. So, respect the gel.
I can’t wait to teach. It’ll grow me up.
I think.

This day for me was epic. Not in the way the word is used to describe anything from chewing bubble gum in the nude to sweating after a run. Who am I to say your run sweat isn’t epic? But this was fourteen years in the making. So to me it’s epic.

Twenty-one years ago, I fought with Höðr to be the number one friend of a mutual acquaintance. Months later we were a punk band. For seven years we lived at each others’ houses, ripped it up, did it right, cooled it down, took it around and built it back up. For seven years nothing could stop our awesomeness. But.

Fourteen years ago I drove away from Höðr’s house, thinking I’d see him in a week or so. I’d gotten a job in the city. I was bunking with roommates in The Loop, back when it was two Hs for a room. I fell in love a couple times. Every week I thought of making something happen again, calling up Höðr and doing something. Then I checked out for a decade.

Checking out meant college, meant sitting in my grandma’s car in the Uni parking lot, getting a phone call that she’d made it to the end. Uni, marriage, kids, divorce, then South Korea for a few years to conquer some bad habits.

I’m in Canadaland for a year and Höðr messages me. He’s moving to Vic, where my family lives. I get out there whenever I can. I have some news, I tell him. I feel like a yunowat. He says it’s all good, and I say, no, no it isn’t. Mom’s on death’s door.

So he and his girlfriend hauled it and visited today. The rainclouds parted as the three of us walked along the road in my mom’s neighbourhood. We were killing time while Mom napped.

It was sunny while we dined at a popular restaurant at a lakeside resort, and the sky continued its brightness as we enjoyed an idyllic afternoon at Summerhill pyramid winery, snapping pics, doing a tasting and hijinks.

We hagged and parted, affirmed our intentions to meet up in Vic, and the little white Honda civic sped away. I took my guitar to an outdoor arena and began to play as clouds gathered. Before I finished my set, rain was pelting down. I sang:

The future hangs over our heads
It moves with each current event
It falls all around like a cold steady rain
Just stay in when it’s looking this way

The moon’s hanging low in the sky
Forcing everything metal to shine
The sidewalk holds diamonds like a jewelry store case
They argue walk this way, no, walk this way.

And still I don’t know which way to walk. But I’ll be walking in Victoria, old friend. I hope our paths cross that day. So, don’t walk away, don’t walk away.

To conclude. Höðr and I have met many more times. I relocated to a town in Alberta as far South as Wood Buffalo was north, Lethbridge. It’s very warm here. On my way here I met a witch in Red Deer and sent her this story:

After the cord cutting things became very interesting. I ended up picking up a didjeridoo in Kelowna and eating camel meat with my mom. I wasn’t in Calgary very long, but I did get the chance to visit with an old friend for a little Ethiopian. I’m not sure what I put into the universe for full moon in Victoria, but an intoxicated street man sauntered up to me the night before and said, “you’re meeting with a couple girls?” to which I replied, “No.” He then barked at me, “You’re full of it!”

I took the didjeridoo down to my favourite beach for a practice, and just as I was leaving a couple of girls passed me on the staircase and we ended up chatting. One, who was from the city, was blonde and colourfully dressed and told me she was into all things dark and morbid. The other, from a small town on a distant island, had black hair and was dressed all in black, but claimed she was really into light, happy things. I recited a little Victorian poetry as the city girl stood in the ocean, gleefully enduring the freezing water. I learned they liked Shakespeare, so I recited a monologue from AMND. Soon they asked for a story about hippos. So I told of the stealthy ocean hippos who guard the pearl at the bottom of the ocean. They allow humans with gills to illuminate the pearl if only they are pure of heart. Then the city girl asked me to play, so I played didj until they decided to retire for the evening. For the full moon I wandered back onto the beach and I was completely alone. I realized the moon was the pearl, and to illuminate it, I must play. I played my heart out, but dark clouds kept the pearl covered. I knew then I was not pure of heart and so I left the question unanswered.

She didn’t respond with much, so I pestered her with a part two to the story.
Indeed. Alas the brevity of your reply bespeaks disappointment, as I would anticipate from your letter’s intent. Of course the part of you that trusts your telepathic abilities already had read that in me you would seek maturity, and find petulance; security, and find unmet expectations; and sincerity, the worst, leaving you with tired flattery and evasive judgments. It’s an archetype. Youtube search term: “The Promise”.
However, I was quite surprised that you were preoccupied with the outcome of your inquiry, so much so that you were able to quell your curiosity about the waning moon. I of course had already given you the first two phases: the waxing wherein I met the Two Splendid Ladies for the first time in real life, though previously I had only seen them in dreams, to whom I told the story they requested of the hippos whose pearl is only visible to the pure of heart, and the full phase wherein I determined the moon was the pearl and I was not pure of heart and thus could not see it. The waning tonight was inexplicable. I’ll try.
It began with a dream. Three orbs were presented to me from which I was to choose one. The first orb was the life of a man like my friend Morgan. He is princely, continuing his parents’ law practice, owning a lovely house in Squamish, driving a lovely car and possessing a lovely wife. He is the very image of manliness, though not this sort of machismo posturing that modern men mistake for strength. He’s the man who builds the fire, delimits the boundary lines, speaks for common virtue, and condemns common vice. He’s the man who speaks well with your father, gives sound advice on investment and has the utmost taste in gentlemen’s goods. Truly, I love him, I find no fault with him, but that I will never be him. I could never be him. It’s not even a choice, so don’t let me convince you otherwise. White trash can try to be less trashy, but there’s a glass ceiling to it. Yet still, his orb was presented me and I rejected it. Perhaps I knew I would be living a lie, and could not bear it.
The second orb was more like my friend Josh. He’s lived a racy life. He’s covered in tattoos and piercings. He’s traveled the world, not just as a tourist but as a citizen of the hardcore. The stories he’s told me about the party life of the world would set your mind ablaze. Any man not desiring of the first orb would want this second. Somehow he’s always been proficient at locating the best music, the best scene, the best pubs, the best food, and moreover the best hedonistic delights. He may not be educated in University, but he’s educated in people, in life, in living, and enjoying the world and all it has to offer. Besides that he’s shacked up in Victoria, possessed by a woman a decade his junior. He always finds a way to do awesome things for his community. I could never possess his magic with people, his ability to go down the right dark alleyways, his way of finding the best creature comforts and living life to its craziest. Nor would I make the sacrifices necessary. He knows what to do in dangerous situations and always knows when the party’s over. I do not so much possess this kind of wisdom, and would likely get myself in trouble.
These are the two accepted levels of manhood: for the pagan, Apollo and Dionysus, Baldr and Loki, Osiris and Seth. For the Christian, the Saviour and the Snake. We would approve of either, feeling comfortable knowing the typecast roles they play and afford them their own high positions in their respective courts. But I approached the third orb. What it is I cannot tell. It is the most blurred and obscure of the orbs. Flashing through my mind like searing pain comes the imprint of the face of my former employer, a man who I taught the secrets of stretching, breathing and relaxation I learned in Rishikesh, India. We were friends for a time.
But in this dream it seemed he would have me choose an orb other than the one I was reaching for. The pain of judgement and disappointment coming from this man I had quite admired increased the closer I came to it, but I seized it and realized then that I was alone, truly. Whatever I had chosen, it was some kind of unknown evil. I had chosen a path unlike that of the Saviour or the Snake. But what path would that be? My religious upbringing had only given me two choices! What would I do with this third, cloudy realm for which I hadn’t the slightest understanding? I awoke bewildered and paced about my hostel room. I brought my laptop into the shared bathroom and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
I’m not conventionally attractive, I thought. Mostly by choice. I grow my hair long because I like the way it feels and don’t really like the look of short hair on men. I have odd facial hair because I can’t stand the feeling of a moustache, but don’t mind a little chin hair if it saves a few razorblades. I only wash my hair when it’s absolutely necessary and I shower in cold water. I wear what feels comfortable, which for the most part is comprised of fair-trade organic cotton, hemp or bamboo sweats, a high-quality silver chain with no other jewelry, and canvas loafers from Tom’s.
Two things I cannot bear are scents and domesticated animals. They both redden my eyes, irritate my skin and restrict my breathing, sometimes to a near-fatal degree. This limits my choices in friendships considerably. Google image search term: nobility photographs. I thought I might find some good examples of posh doos for the long of hair. What do I come up with? I was horrified. The one photograph of a gentleman with long hair was a man who I’d studied obsessively years ago, a mystic we know as Grigori Efimovich Rasputin. It was then apparent that Rasputin was the guide in the out of body experience of which I spoke. It is rumoured his favour in the court of Tsar Nicholas II owed much to his charm (though perhaps not to his looks) but garnered some infamy with the Tsar’s most loyal men, particularly due to the fact that he was a hit with many an aristocratic lady. He was known for his lechery, or as some sources report, debauchery, which only tends to invite historical mention when a figure is infamous. It should be noted as publicized debauchery really, as aristocratic pockets can buy history in corrupt regimes such as the one preceding the Bolshevik revolution. Our Anton Mesmer was treated with no greater regard in his time although his studies of human interactions were highly influential to modern psychoanalysis.
Anyhow. I digress. It seems to me that the path of Rasputin would be the path of little esteem, of little regard in the third dimension, but somehow useful in the fourth. If he had been the guide in that out of body experience, it would speak to his success in parting his physical and astral forms, leading me to wonder what it would require to pursue such an undertaking. These thoughts spiralling through my mind I packed a few things for the beach for a third visitation. I filled my pack with my pocket video camera, cell phone, headphones, and most importantly, a mason jar filled with a bottle and a half of soju. As well I brought my new didjeridoo. My intent was to make videos, listen to music and have a nice blow. I went down to the beach where the Two Splendid Ladies and been, but as it was midweek, there were no cruise vessels illuminating the beach with artificial light. The beach looked much different dark, and I decided to go exploring. I walked towards the Mile Zero, the part of the beach corresponding to the corner of Victoria’s famous Beacon Hill Park. I had fun with the challenge of working my way across the inlet rock platforms, the inbound tide splashing at my deckshoes. Not a task for the weak at heart, this journey spanned across the greater part of the southern shoreline. As I looked ahead after the great storm, there were no beach fires, or anyone to be found on the coast. There was just the gloam, depth and wet, deep gunmetal grey boulders stretched out in front of me, with no trail or bridges to rely on. Finally I reached a nice beach, the one cove before Mile Zero, arguably one of Victoria’s finest beaches. It’s often secluded at night because the trail to reach it is a darkly forested canopy half a kilometre in length. Not many would tread there without a flashlight, and even then they’d be scared of thieves. I wanted to continue past the beach, and I was able to scale only one rock face before I tripped and my bag hit the surface, smashing the mason jar. The beverage poured out instantly, filling the bag and deadening the electronics. My plans to listen to music and make videos had in an instant dissipated. Having had wet electronics before, I knew exactly what to do. I separated both devices from their batteries and left them disassembled in my pocket until such a time that I could dry them out by fan (this technique has never failed me). But for the time being, this meant a complete blackout for me. I ascended the stairs, not feeling safe to continue across the rocks. I even felt as though I would be better to start back to the hostel to begin the rescue of my electronics. I had no alcohol or entertainment. There would be nothing to do but blow.
It made perfect sense. There was nothing to do but blow. In the story, only the pure of intent could see the illuminated pearl. That didn’t have to be a moralistic message. It just meant that one’s intent was purely focused on one thing. Of course I would not be admitted to the cove at Mile Zero with so many distractions. I was there to perform an uncomplicated, pure ritual.
I walked half a kilometre through the forested canopy and descended the stairs. Two fellows stood there smoking. It’s a great place to smoke. You probably won’t be interrupted. And my intent was not to interrupt them. I simply said Good Evening and they left.
I sat in the centre of the cove on a massive piece of driftwood. Crowning the sky were dark clouds, but directly above me there was a deep indigo clearing perforated by countless luminescent orbs. This, Veronica, is the world I live in, where there are not the three orbs of human consciousness presented to us at birth, but thousands, each accessible to our higher minds and unlimited in their potential to subsume our consciousness. The beauty of this happenstance theatre radiated through my body and filled me with wonder. Would I have had this experience with earbud static pushing out the pregnant silence of the night? With a pocket video recorder trying like a greedy vacuum cleaner to suck up every small magickal moment? Only to spit it out as a vague rendering, a photocopy, a low-quality reproduction that would be understandable to no one but me? Is it possible that these words I write are the closest representations of reality possible, the only technology being my human ability to transmit experience through language? My cosmic awareness drew to a close as the grand indigo circle above me was tucked into dark rainclouds. Before leaving the cove, I went to wash my cloth bag of its alcohol. I hiked up my pants and went barefoot into the water. I scrubbed my bag and out of the corner of my eye, I saw it. The illuminated pearl. I tussled the sand some more and again, an eerie light beckoned from the water. This was it. This was exactly as the story had foretold, but simply not how I’d imagined it. It was the Two Splendid Ladies who I’d come seeking at the beach. Not finding them I walked until all impurities had been taken from me. Now the pearl was shining in the sand below the water, just as foretold.
After researching the phenomenon I discovered that it’s not unusual to find phosphorescent activity in shallow water. That does not however detract from the experience. I returned to the hostel with this final experience, of the waning moon and the glowing pearls beneath the water. I felt compelled to tell this story to you. 
The End.

For Now.

Tea Stories: Goh Tae-yun

Posted: September 15, 2015 in tea stories
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Professor Goh Tae-yun is the husband of Hong Sun-yi, a teacher at the school where I worked. Sun-yi was astonished to hear my stories about tea. She had no idea a foreigner would be into tea.

So she arranged for me to meet her husband, whose job it was to profile Buddhism and Taoism for his research in religious studies. He used his position to travel throughout Asia studying his secret fetish: Tea.

The evening stunk of haste, for I had planned to get together with non-Koreans after work and had not expected this invitation. Nonetheless, my meetings with Korean teachers always took the front seat to any involvement I had with the foreign community, and most people knew this. I was the Waygook-Hanguk Saram.

Professor Goh picked me up from the elementary school where I worked and stopped off quickly to his University for a package. “So you like the Fwer tea?” he mused.

“Uh, fwer?”
“Nae, Boicha, Boicha!1
“Ah~ Boicha! Nae, boicha joayo!”

So he learned that I had discovered pu-erh in Insadong, and enjoyed the tah-do tea ceremony in Gunsan. He was happy to be among such company, an english speaker who also had a taste for tea.

At his home, he practiced tah-do. He even donned traditional Korean clothing for the occasion. It was a shaky tah-do, though, meant more for function than form. Soon I’d had several full cups of tea, pu-erh varieties and more. He even served a special Black from China and presented me with a red pouch of it, which I humbly accepted. I was not worthy of such a jewel, one that he’d gleaned from his extensive travels through the world’s largest landmass. He had a story about gifting tea.

“You know, US President Nixon.”
“Yes.”

“He went to China to meet with the Chairman Mao Se-Tung. now you know there is a tree for tea at a certain elevation, the only one capable of making this kind of tea. Only one thousand grams can be yielded in a year, and it is China’s most precious tea.

“The Chairman Mao arranged for five hundred grams to be gifted to the President Nixon. Upon the presentation of this special gift, Nixon raised a hand to balk at the offer. ‘I am the President of the United States,’ he proudly announced, ‘and you offer me this gift, a little bag of tea?’

“The Chairman calmly replied, ‘You should not be so indignant. I have offered you half of China.'”

Professor Goh’s eyes and mouth curled skyward together, a silent laugh and smile expressed gracefully in a glance.

My coat pocket was buzzing with calls from foreigners wondering where I was. The rushed invitation to this tea gathering prohibited me from letting my foreign friends know about my whereabouts. Later, I would choose to spend time with foreign friends to battle loneliness, rather than learning the Korean language and studying the peoples’ customs. I would pick and choose, weekend by weekend, rather than prioritizing the one I preferred. Either group would accept me, and I wanted to please everybody. Truly, there was a choice to be made, of which culture I would embrace, and I made the decision to choose neither by trying haplessly to accommodate both.

I slyly turned my cell phone in pocket off.

“You need to get that?”
“No, Professor Goh, it’s okay.”

We talked late into the night. I excused myself once to relieve myself of some tea and quickly message the foreigners, “Be there soon!” even though there was nowhere else I wanted to be but in this livingroom.

Wisely, Professor Goh ended the evening by telling me about the Buddhist concept of “In-hyun.”

“It means, it is fated that you will meet the right people at the right time, whether just for a few hours, or for your whole life. But no moment is more special than another, and if you never see someone again, it does not mean they were unimportant.”

He gifted me a white porcelain tea set, which I treaure to this day. I have gotten much use out of it, brewed many pots of Pu-erh. But I never saw him again.

Later, Sun-yi would arrange for me to stay at a Buddhist temple, Geumsan-Sa, where he was writing his book about Taoism. As soon as I got there, he was gone. The day I left the temple, Sun-yi brought me and her daughter out to the countryside of Jeonju, Jeollanamdo to visit a tea shop that grew its own green tea in a field below its gorgeous structure, the description of which is a novel, not a humble article. Perhaps that’s for another Tea Story.

The sun beat down in the tea field as we strolled about, smelling the fresh August post-pluvial aroma, as of the whole field were a pot of tea we’d been steeped in. Professor Goh did not join us for tea. He didn’t need to. He is still in my mind years later as I sip green tea from a glass jar, an ocean, a culture, a language, two seasons and a nationality away, yet still: in-hyun.

1“Boicha” is Puh-erh tea. The consonant “프” is always “puh” but it transliterates “fuh”. In order to correct the transliteration error, Professor Goh pronounced “pu-erh” as “fwer” although he didn’t need to.

In Seoul you can find just about anything that Korea has to offer within a limited radius. The good stuff can only be found in the rural areas. The exception, of course, is tea. You can find the highest quality teas from Korea and all around Asia on one little street called Insadong.

Insadong is a tourist-friendly shopping street in Seoul close to Korea’s premiere historical palace, Gyeong-buk Gung. There you can eat traditional Korean food such as hae-mool pah-john seafood pancake with makgeoli rice wine, samgyeopsal grilled pork with soju alcohol shots, grilled eel with bokbunja black raspberry wine, bulgogi fried meat or bibimbop, bokeumbop and booribop- all different rice dishes served with kimchi and kongnamul beansprouts.

The food, however, isn’t the main attraction. You can experience these delights and more outside of Seoul, in the country regions, where traditional food is more conservatively- and cheaply- offered.

Also you can see the masks of Ha-wae Talchum here, from the traditional mask-dance of Korea, in particular the maks of Yang-ban, the aristocrat. You can visit Korean calligraphy shops, or find trinkets from Korean religious influences ranging from Taoism and Shamanism to Buddhism and Christianity. Korean musical instruments can be found here too, and there are several chances to view past, modern and innovative art and design.

But the real reason to go to Insadong is the tea.

The most prominent tea house is the O’Sulloc Tea Shop where demonstrations of their light roasting methods are held daily, and visitors are warmly welcomed to come in and sample their blends and infusions, or just catch a whiff of the aromatic tins stacked neatly in every corner of the room.

Sure, when I take someone else there, I take them to O’Sulloc. They love the fragrant fruit teas and exotic blends. There isn’t much, after all, you can do with green tea, except sell the costly ujeong jaksul, “sparrow’s tongue,” a tea picked as soon as it’s ready in the spring, by far the subtlest and finest flavour of nok-cha (from hangul: nok: “green” and cha: “tea”). Unpaid Product placement!

No, my discovery in Insadong was the Chinese “pu-erh” tea, the first tea that opened my tastebuds to a nice, small cup of tea with no sugar or cream.

I had previously preferred flavoured teas. I liked Seattle’s Market Spice, and bought big bags of it whenever I had the chance. I enjoyed the bergamot-flavoured Earl Grey, but shied away from Orange Pekoe and English Breakfast blends. To me those were too ordinary, too Tetley, too English. I could never get into green tea. It’s the diva of teas: if your water is too hot, your steeping period too long or your ratio too heavy, you end up with a bitter cup.

But pu-erh tea is a gem. Its long steeping period and 5-6 re-uses makes it a good tea to brew strongly without inviting much bitterness. And I never would have discovered it if it weren’t for the mad hatter.

Truly. Like a tourist, I was bumbling around the street, looking for nothing in particular. I plunged my face into a dusty window to check out some old tea-pots I’d seen inside. Tea-ambivalent as I was, I traipsed into the dusty old shop only to see a gaunt man with dark chin-whiskers pouring himself a cup of tea from the world’s smallest teapot.

His English was passable and he had a bright look in his eyes, as though he were either very enthusiastic about life, or he’d had too much tea.

Probably the latter.

He invited me to have a seat and he proudly danced about, telling me everything I needed to know about the preparation, consumption and presentation of pu-erh. His shaky hands dropped the golden liquid into a tiny cup and zoomed right into my bubble, lifted his eyes, grinned and chirped, “whattiya think?”

I didn’t know what to say. It didn’t taste like much. It reminded me of carrots when I first tasted it. It tasted nothing like carrots, that was just the immediate association I made. I sputtered out the obvious. “wow, it’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted!”

He jumped to his counter, “Of course it isn’t. I think you should try. Hmmm, wellll. I don’t know.”

He was hunched over a small rectangular block of deep, dark tea that looked like black plastic. It had been moulded tightly and imprinted with a scene of a man with an oxcart atop an agrarian pastoral scene.

“Okay,” he gave, “you try this, and I’ll have some too in the special small pot.” He unearthed a tiny pot and crumbled a bit of the black block into it. After pouring the brew, he divided the tea three times, a little into each cup, when a gentleman dressed in traditional garb calmly strode into the room and sat across from me at the table. Formalities were exchanged, and this new guest was invited to try the pu-erh, which I learned was a hundred years old.

The tea changed the consistency of the water. That was strange.

But Leif Teacher, you say, of course the water will become denser when a flavour is added.

No. The water became lighter. And somehow… wetter. Yes, this tea was wetter than water. I felt like I was having a hallucinatory experience.

I bought a round  of the first pu-erh he gave me. It was a generous amount, probably good for a hundred pots, and it only ran me 50,000 won. I inquired about the century-old brew.

“Well, maybe, I can give you for 200,000 won.” A small black tablet for two hundred bucks? Yes, it was a great experience, but two hundred?

“Tell you what,” I cajoled,” “how about I grab a pot’s worth as a sample, and I’ll return.”

This required some humming and hawing. The notion was ridiculous. I didn’t have the special pot. I could not have replicated the experience. But I’d become so used to bargaining for things in Korean street markets that I felt compelled to make an offer.

I returned to the mad hatter’s shop a few times, but it was never the same as the first time. I began trading tea with other teachers. I found out that there was a Tea Underground in Korean schools. There were Korean teachers who used their summers, or knew others who did, to travel and pick up tea from all parts of the world. This led to many sittings for tea, and I began to get a taste for what “tea” actually is.

Tea is an event loosely based on the “tah-do” tea ceremony, but incorporating a certain frame of mind, a style of conversation, and a manner of etiquette. Topics discussed during tea include travel, art, philosophy, current events and things of interest to the thought-stimulated, caffeinated mind. Just like people talk about sports over beer, discuss their personal problems over hard alcohol, or discuss going to the convenience store for slushies and nacho chips after some MJ, tea is a beverage that pairs well with quick minds and lofty topics.

I wanted very badly to bring this ritual to my foreign friends. But first, I had to see what a real tea ceremony was like.

Tea Stories: Tah-do

Posted: September 15, 2015 in tea stories
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The EPIK program is responsible for ensuring foreign English teachers in Korea have a smooth sail, and in turn, that the local schools get all they want out of the foreign teachers. To this end, EPIK coordinators often arrange outings for guest teachers. Thus we attented a traditional tea ceremony, tah-do.

Tah-do is a Chinese word for tea ceremony, but in Korea it’s practiced with a style unique to the peninsula. Hanboks were worn by two young women during the demonstration. A tea mother presided over the event.

Helpers came to each table and instructed us on how to perform the ceremony: the various turns of the pot, the hand with which to hold the cloth napkin, the number of times to pour considering the number of guests, and the order of guests to be served based on seniority. The level of complexity associated with the ritual filled me with giddy energy. Or perhaps it was the caffeine.

After tea we had soft, sweet rice cakes as helpers approached foreign teachers at the tables to volunteer for a demonstration with the tea mother. Every foreign teacher declined until a helper came to our table.

The helper approached the teacher next to me.
“Ma’am, you like to make tea with tea mother?”
“Oh dear Lord, I could tell you were going to ask me. No.”

Just before the helper, looking quite dejected at the moment, sauntered off to find another table, I called out, “Wait, wait, uh… 잠깐만!”

The helper turned slowly. “네?”

“Uh, I..다도 좋아합니다
His eyes narrowed. “네?”
“May I?”
He smiled. “Yes, of course!”

I approached the stage where tea mother sat calmly. She didn’t look at me. She smiled and waited for her helper to translate.

“아니요,” replied the helper. “이거 외국인 한국어 말할 수있다.”
Tea mother looked confused. “정말?”
She turned to me. “당신은 한국어 알 수 있습니까?”
I nodded. “네, 조금. 한국 이년 에서 왔어요.”
“알겠습니다,” she replied.

We had lovely conversation as I spat out every Korean phrase I could think of, asking her about her favourite foods and rehearsing terribly constructed sentences about my time so far in Korea.

I poured her tea, albeit with a few accidents involving my puerile habit of confusing left and right, and made it through the demonstration without any major mishaps. We parted, very happy to have met each other.

As the group was leaving, I was intercepted slyly by the event coordinator. “Mr. Nordholm,” he whispered, “why don’t you come here after dinner?”
“Uh, sure.”

The dinner was thrift Korean. Thrift Korean is food given to foreigners who are unlikely to appreciate real Korean food, and would complain about anything they were given. Usually it’s made without spices (an abomination in Korean cuisine), made in mass quantities, and resembles bad Chinese takeout. Why spend too much money on food that no one’s going to eat?

I returned to the tea hall after a few forkfuls of the lamentably flavourless foreigner gruel. There the coordinator waited with tea mother. She told me how muh she appreciated our demonstration together and gifted me a box of one of the finest teas I had ever tasted, 황차 or golden tea.

We said our goodbyes and I left. I was sad because I thought I would never see tea mother again. What I would do, however, was introduce tah-do to out foreign community. As one of my favorite photographs boldly proclaims, if tea can’t fix it, it’s a serious problem.

Joey don’t drive no buses no more

Posted: September 15, 2015 in stories
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HEY LISTEN TO ME! I’M ON YOUR VIDEO! VIDEO!
Joey was quite the driver.  I hear he found a new job in the city. He’ll be happy.
Not many envy the difficult task of doing the night drive up North.

P1090617

Story & Music by Leif Reginald Cosmic Sunsplatter Nordgube Jr.