Archive for August, 2006

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Checking in…

August 31, 2006

Hello faithful readers~

Where are the apartment pictures? Where are the first posts about my new digs? Well, they’re coming, I promise. But after I take a short break. Truth be told, I’m beat. Coming to Korea was really tiring, the week before and now the week after, so, I’m trying to slow down a little bit. Consider my horrible jet lag that continues: after a great morning run on the Han gang (a whole 7 miles on my first time out, yeay!) I proceeded to slag through the rest of the day, collapsing at 8.30 pm. I awoke feeling rested, content and wide awake… only to realize it was 2.20 am and I wasn’t gonna get back to sleep. Argh.

Also, I wanted to get the apartment organized/decorated a bit before letting it go public ) I’m almost done though, so you’ll see it soon. But, not immediately, because as I am wont to do, I escaped Seoul the first chance I got to go to my old Korean hometown, Gwangju. Here in Gwangju I have two of my best friends in Korea, Bob and Hwancheol. They own a little English academy and have a nice little place here near the World Cup soccer stadium. Gwangju is such a nice respite from Seoul – cleaner, quieter, gentler…. and my friends’ hospitality is just too dang inviting to resist. I expect to making a few visits here over the year.

For now, that’s all I can add. I’ll try to get my pictures online soon for all to see… and I’ll try to find some exciting things to write about. Most importantly, I just need to get my “sea legs” here on the wild peninsula. Until next time… I miss you all!

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Checking in…

August 31, 2006

Hello faithful readers~

Where are the apartment pictures? Where are the first posts about my new digs? Well, they’re coming, I promise. But after I take a short break. Truth be told, I’m beat. Coming to Korea was really tiring, the week before and now the week after, so, I’m trying to slow down a little bit. Consider my horrible jet lag that continues: after a great morning run on the Han gang (a whole 7 miles on my first time out, yeay!) I proceeded to slag through the rest of the day, collapsing at 8.30 pm. I awoke feeling rested, content and wide awake… only to realize it was 2.20 am and I wasn’t gonna get back to sleep. Argh.

Also, I wanted to get the apartment organized/decorated a bit before letting it go public 🙂 I’m almost done though, so you’ll see it soon. But, not immediately, because as I am wont to do, I escaped Seoul the first chance I got to go to my old Korean hometown, Gwangju. Here in Gwangju I have two of my best friends in Korea, Bob and Hwancheol. They own a little English academy and have a nice little place here near the World Cup soccer stadium. Gwangju is such a nice respite from Seoul – cleaner, quieter, gentler…. and my friends’ hospitality is just too dang inviting to resist. I expect to making a few visits here over the year.

For now, that’s all I can add. I’ll try to get my pictures online soon for all to see… and I’ll try to find some exciting things to write about. Most importantly, I just need to get my “sea legs” here on the wild peninsula. Until next time… I miss you all!

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I made it

August 27, 2006

Hello from tomorrow. I’ve made it around the world and am all set to get going…. to bed.

Seriously, the flight went really quickly as I was able to sleep the first seven hours, then watch three hours of “The Wire” on my laptop and then sleep some more. Unfortunately, the two Filipina housewives blocking me from the aisle had cast-iron bladders and didn’t budge once during the flight, forcing me to get up out of the window seat and climb over them about 10 times. Other than that, though, no problems. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Here we go again…

August 26, 2006

This upcoming December 2006, Matty and I will celebrate 15 years together. Of that decade and a half, we have spent 36 months apart (24 of them on separate continents). One might think that we are used to this routine by now, but the sad airport goodbyes (of which we’ve now had 10) never do get easier. (I always wonder whether we would have had any fewer separations if Matty had made the decision to go back to the Air Force Academy.) On the other hand, I think we have gotten very good about keeping things in perspective: reminding ourselves that we are separating out of choice and not obligation, remembering how quickly time passes after the tears dry, and keeping in mind how important our work/travel/research is to both of us (and therefore why our frequent separations are ultimately worth the sadness they cause).

With that thought in mind, Matty, I wish you the most wonderful of Fulbright years ahead. Live, work, and play well, then come back to us safe and sound – I know you’ll (continue to) make us all proud. Can’t wait to read your updates.

p.s. If you are reading this post in time (i.e., before Sunday afternoon), you can check the status of his flight here (Asiana #235).

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Here we go again…

August 26, 2006

This upcoming December 2006, Matty and I will celebrate 15 years together. Of that decade and a half, we have spent 36 months apart (24 of them on separate continents). One might think that we are used to this routine by now, but the sad airport goodbyes (of which we’ve now had 10) never do get easier. (I always wonder whether we would have had any fewer separations if Matty had made the decision to go back to the Air Force Academy.) On the other hand, I think we have gotten very good about keeping things in perspective: reminding ourselves that we are separating out of choice and not obligation, remembering how quickly time passes after the tears dry, and keeping in mind how important our work/travel/research is to both of us (and therefore why our frequent separations are ultimately worth the sadness they cause).

With that thought in mind, Matty, I wish you the most wonderful of Fulbright years ahead. Live, work, and play well, then come back to us safe and sound – I know you’ll (continue to) make us all proud. Can’t wait to read your updates.

p.s. If you are reading this post before Sunday afternoon, you can check the status of Matty’s flight here (Asiana Airlines #235).

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회자정리 – 會者定離 – hoi-ja jeong-ni

August 26, 2006

“those who meet, must part”

It’s often said, some say, I’m now making it up that Korean people act Confucian, pray Christian, and think Buddhist. I don’t have time to unravel that too much right now, as I’m saving a longer primer on the fascinating religious culture of Korea for later, but for the purposes of this post I needed to at least introduce a basic explication on the fundamental religious influences laying at the heart of Korean culture.

The phrase I quote here as a means of saying goodbye to Ann Arbor, the United States, and all my loved ones here, is one of a million or so “four character phrases” that make Korean (and Chinese, obviously) such a poetic language (i’ll have a post on language later – but for now, i’ll just say that Korean is made up of both Korean script and Chinese characters). The power of these poetic sentiments are more often than not, and especially in this case, very much influenced by Buddhist thought. As such, they are always trying to explicate suffering, its roots, and the means to transcend it.

The gist of “hoi-ja jungni” is this… if you don’t want to feel the pain of separation, there is only one surefire way to avoid it – don’t meet anyone ever. Save that, the eventual sting that comes in parting is inevitable, intertwined with the very first joyful moments of a first meeting. This doesn’t apply only to friendships of course, but also the grander scale of life itself. So, for instance, “meeting guarantees separation” could be translated into “birth necessitates eventual death.” Such seemingly morbid wisdom is what lies behind the somewhat odd (at least to Western notions) take that Buddhists have on the occasion of a child being born. To the Buddhist, this seemingly joyous occasion has within it the seeds of guaranteed suffering and eventual death. This isn’t to deny the many joys that the newborn will certainly encounter on the way, but it is a rather sober vision of the reality that, as my dear Grandpappy told me the other day, “This life is a very hard thing. Very hard indeed.”

That said, every somber truth in Buddhism always contains its liberatory opposite. So, while meeting may be separation, separation is itself the seeds of a new meeting. Saying goodbye to one life is saying hello to another one. Separating from one group of friends (click on the link to check out photos of the going away festivities) means meeting a whole crew of new ones. Life is very hard, yes, but one thing is guaranteed, it keeps on keepin’ on, so, as long as we keep on rolling with its changes, everything is gonna be allllllllllllllright.

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Less than a day – now i’m ready….

August 25, 2006

This is the first of what will hopefully be a recurring feature of vagabondage – the video blog – or vlog or videlog or viblog or vidog or videog or…whatever… computer geeks are so stupid sometimes, right?

Anyways, just a way to bring multimedia functionality to this here record of this part of our lives. This one is more a test of the process more than anything else, so forgive the high lame-osity factor.

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Click on the image to make it work… If you have problems, let me know. )