PERSONAL FILE: When We’re All Where We Belong

IIMG_0052 sometimes forget I’m living abroad. You’re probably thinking, How is that possible? And it’s a perfectly logical question. I understand little to nothing that anyone says and I stand out–with my white skin, green eyes, brown hair, beard, and frequent flamboyance–sort of like a red prom dress would in a funeral procession. Nevertheless, now that comparatively little about Korea or Korean culture is unfamiliar to me anymore, I do sometimes forget, if only for a few moments or so at a time, that I haven’t always been here. Maybe that seems odd to you, and that seeming oddness might make sense if you’re the sort who’s always felt an integral part of something. I haven’t, though. This is a tired old confession, which it seems that everyone makes (honestly or just in a moment of depression) at some point in their lives, but, in fact, I’ve never felt as if I truly fit in anywhere. A fairly large part of that is due to the fact that I’ve spent all but the past six months of my life in the closet, but that’s only one reason among a vast multitude, the host of which I don’t intend to share with you simply because I’d like to maintain your interest in what I have to say.

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THE KOREA KRONICLES, PART VIII: Blood, Sweat, and Tears

IMG_0019I have never had a nosebleed. Nope, not one. I say this because a lot of people find that little tidbit about me really interesting. “You mean you’ve never had a nosebleed?,” people ask. “Not even once?” I know, crazy right? I’m not sure about this, but maybe nosebleeds are like flammable flatus. Only about a third of humans have the bacterial cultures and genetic background necessary to produce methane-rich farts. And, yes, before you ask, farts are indeed flammable if they contain methane. That said, it’s not advisable for you to attempt to light your body’s natural gas on fire: if it does catch, it burns faster than it can exit your body and can burn your intestine (or so I’ve been told). True or not, it’s enough to make me not really want to try it as that’s an injury I’d be mortifyingly embarrassed to explain to an emergency room doctor. Continue reading

THE KOREA KRONICLES, PART VII: Why Han’guk Is Better Than Mi’guk

ChilgokHow do you tell your best friend he or she really doesn’t sing that well, despite whatever strong beliefs he or she may have to the contrary? How do you tell your wife, husband, or partner that while you definitely appreciated the thought and the effort, he or she should take more care to put two cups of sugar, not salt, into the cookie batter next time? How do you tell the people in your home country they need to extract their heads from their collective asses and get their shit together? I’ll be honest on the first two: hell if I know. The last one, however, is a much easier conversation to provoke. Simply remind America using cold, hard facts that this self-perpetuating mythos that its the greatest thing to ever happen to humanity amounts to little more than a national circle-jerk. Actually, it’s even worse than that: we’re talking about a massive sausage party consisting of old, balding, obese men who’ve long since passed their primes repeatedly telling each other they’re still God’s gift to women and, since it’s so often repeated, actually believe it. That’s really sad, folks.

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