Category Archives: death

No Tokyo Olympics, Please

It’s really time for the Olympics to get cancelled. It’s time. We all can see the Olympics for what they are. They are a company interested in their own profits. They’re not about sports, camaraderie, or triumph over adversity. The sports and the athletes are just a secondary concern. What the IOC values more is licensing, advertising, and broadcasting the games.

The games have been slowly showing its hand in the past few Olympic games. A couple of years after the games were held in Beijing, people noted the abandoned structures that were hastily built for the games. Then people started questioning whether it truly is worth it to host the Olympics, especially when the money used for infrastructure could be used for so many other things. This was especially true when the Olympics were held in Rio. Last year, the Olympic park was closed due to safety concerns. Hosting the Olympics means spending money on infrastructure that would never be recovered, infrastructure that has a high probability of not being maintained after the games. But yeah, the countries/cities are losing money, but someone is getting rich out of all of the construction and other Olympics-related logistics.

As for the sport, Sochi Olympics has demonstrated that widespread cheating can occur with very little consequences to the athletes. After Russia was caught having a national doping program, they barely suffered any consequences for it, and many of their athletes were later allowed to compete under no flags. Pointless.

And now Tokyo, despite rising coronavirus cases, insists that the city will continue to host the games as scheduled. There will be no spectators, and athletes will not be required to get the vaccine, but will however be required to sign a waiver that they risk illness and death by competing in the city. Why is the UN allowing this? This is akin to South Korea’s old law of revoking foreigner’s visas should they learn they are HIV positive. What if they caught the virus in South Korea? (Instead of having brought the virus into the country) Isn’t that not their fault fully but also the fault of the environment they are in? The UN saw it as discrimination as well as a backwards policy that unfairly treats visitors to the country. In Japan, what if the athletes catch covid in the country and dies? Doesn’t the country or the IOC have any responsibility for it? Doesn’t this shift the blame for catching diseases fully on the visitors and not the country the same way South Korea did before with HIV?

Inviting a host of people from countries all over the world could potentially turn Tokyo into a hotbed for the pandemic and naturally, many of the people in Tokyo are against it. Around 80% of people in a recent survey wanted to have the games cancelled altogether. So the games aren’t really for the benefit of the city either. They don’t want to risk dying from covid should the worst happen as a result of thousands of athletes visiting. Even a group of Japanese medical professionals want the game cancelled. Japanese cities are not doing well with infections and vaccinations. As much as some people are saying that Tokyo has handled the pandemic well. They truly haven’t. They came into the pandemic with so much hubris, even allowing people to go out cherry blossom viewing in spring 2020. And now Americans are officially warning people not to visit the country for the Olympics.

As much as I love Japan, I can’t stand the conservative Japanese government. The Olympics has a policy of not allowing politics to be part of the games, and yet recently, Tokyo has been using a map that shows Dokdo, a Korean island, as part of Japanese territory. This revisionist claim is just par for the course for the Japanese government in the past couple of years. They have denied wartime atrocities and downplayed claims of sexual exploitation. South Koreans are understandably unhappy about the recent Dokdo fiasco and many are pushing to boycott the Olympics altogether.

I believe this push to have the Olympics in Tokyo this summer no matter what is simply companies trying to make good on their investments. I’m sure contractors and other beneficiaries to the Olympics, be it the Japanese government side, the corporate side, or the IOC, who were disappointed last year are still hoping that they can make money off of the event. And it truly doesn’t matter whether the events have people watching them on the ground. What truly matters is how many people will be watching the games on television and online. As for me, I think I’ll be watching better shows on Netflix instead. I can just read about whoever won whatever event on Twitter or Reddit.

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Suicide, it’s a suicide. II

Korea has the highest suicide rate in Asia, and depending on the year, has the highest suicide rate among the OECD countries. I didn’t really feel how significant this is until after some sad news last night and much reflection.

Last night, my friend’s mother-in-law passed away. They believe it was suicide. It’s especially tragic since my friend just got married last year, and I do remember meeting her mother-in-law in the ceremony. I noted how she doesn’t smile much even during such a happy occasion. I suspected she might not be too thrilled with the marriage at the time, but looking back now, she might just be dealing with depression. The tragic thing is, the death was days after the Korean holiday Parents’ Day. She was visited and presumably showered with love and attention by her children, and yet days later, she takes her own life.

Two years ago, someone committed suicide in my parents-in-laws’ apartment building by jumping from the 14th floor. Last year, the mayor of Seoul committed suicide by jumping off a cliff. This is the same way the former president Roh Mu-Hyun committed suicide. It’s also quite common to hear about suicide attempts among celebrities in the media. I myself have been thinking and writing about suicide more often lately, I admit, to an unhealthy amount.

Looking back to my life in Canada, it’s very hard to think of anyone who has committed or has flirted with suicidal thoughts. Honestly, as of this time, I can only think of one person. But here in Korea, it’s scary how commonplace it is, not just cases of suicide, but reminders of it. Bridges have messages of encouragement and affirmations in order to prevent people from jumping. There’s a law that makes the victim’s family responsible for paying for the recovery of their body in the Han River, making it seem like the family is at fault for the victim’s actions and perhaps adding a burden of guilt to people in order to dissuade them. Train platforms in the country have full suicide prevention barriers, not like other countries where there are sometimes none or only a waist high fence prevents accidental jumpers. Despite all of these preventative measures however, the rate is still high, and even higher in the past year due to the pandemic.

According to a report by the OECD, Koreans complain more often about “relative deprivation” than other countries. This means people compare their lives more with other people and end up being dissatisfied with their current situation. This is not unique among South Koreans, but I can honestly attest that I’ve seen this several times, and instead of viewing this as petty or just thinking “be happy with what you have,” people view this as legitimate reactions or good conversation. “Did you know he drives a BMW?” “Did you hear that his house is all paid for?” “I think he earns more money than his friends.” It all sounds extremely shallow. And of course it’s a neverending struggle. Someone will always be more successful than you.

This, compounded with financial stresses, societal expectations, relationship problems, and a negative attitude towards seeking mental help, no wonder the suicide rate is so high in the country.

Suicide is like a constant grim specter that haunts the country. It was shocking last night, and I feel like it won’t be the first time I’ll be hearing about similar deaths or attempts in the future. Get some help, everyone. Talk to someone. And be happy with what you have. There’s a heaven and a star for you.

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Suicide, it’s a suicide!

Not my proudest moment, but I flirted with suicide last night. I’m not going to go into details, but I was in a really bad place and I just tested the waters, trying to see if I could ultimately check out.

가장 자랑스러운 순간은 아니지만 어제 밤에 자살해봤습니다. 세부 사항은 다루지 않겠지만 저는 정말 안 좋은 곳 이었는데 그것을 시도했습니다.

The truth is, I’m actually a pretty awful person. Aside from being horribly cynical, I’m increasingly depressed, have low self-esteem, hedonistic, self-centered, no dreams for the future, not to mention I have a crippling sex addiction (which probably stems from low self-esteem and self-hating issues). Ultimately, I tend to be pretty shitty to the people closest to me. And quite frankly, they are probably much better off not getting caught up in my bullshit in the first place.

사실은 저는 정말 꽤 끔찍한 사람이요. 냉소적 인 것 외에도 저는 점점 우울 해지고, 자존감이 낮고, 쾌락 주의적이며, 자기 중심적이며, 미래에 대한 꿈이 없으며, 심각한 섹스 중독이 도 있어요. (아마도 낮은 자존감과 자기 증오 문제에서 기인 할 것이요). 궁극적으로 저는 가장 가까운 사람들에게 꽤 나쁘게 경향이 있어요. 그리고 솔직히, 그들은 아마도 처음에 내 헛소리에 빠지지 않는 것이 훨씬 낫어요.

As I mentioned before, I’m only good in small doses. Anything more, and you get to see how awful a person I am. But that’s for people around me though. Unfortunately, I am the person I live with. The call is coming from inside the house. It’s awful. And last night, my self-loathing got to the level of low-stakes suicidal tryouts.

앞서 언급했듯이 저는 소량 만 잘해요. 그 이상이면 내가 얼마나 끔찍한 지 알게되요. 하지만 그것은 내 주변 사람들을위한 것이요. 불행히도 제 자신을 함께 사는 사람이요. 집 안에서 전화가 오고 있어요. 끔찍 해요. 그리고 어젯밤, 저의 자기 혐오감은 자살 시도 수준에 이르렀어요.

The thing is, coming out of it, I’m not sure if I’m happy I didn’t succeed. And I’m not sure I won’t try again either. I’ve been having suicidal fantasies for years now. I’ve been rehearsing different scenarios over and over again on my head, weighing the pros and cons, etc. I even wrote romantically about it a couple of times. But the dumb thing is, when I finally attempted one scenario, I came away with nothing. Just back to the fantastical drawing board.

그것에서 나오는데, 성공하지 못했어 내 행복하지가 잘 모르겠어요. 그리고 다시 시도할 거야. 수년 동안 자살에 대한 환상을 가지고 있어요. 여러 시나리오를 머리 위에서 반복해서 연습하고 장단점 등을 비교했어요. 그것에 대해 몇 번 로맨틱하게 썼어요. 그러나 멍청한 것은 마침내 한 시나리오를 시도했을 때 아무것도 얻지 못했어요. 환상적인 드로잉 보드로 돌아가요.

Now, this isn’t a cry for help. This is just me writing things the way they are in my head. I’m an awful person who hurts others, and last night, I tried to hurt myself. That’s just the way it is. No lessons learned, no interesting insights. I don’t need people’s help either. And if you talk to me in person about it, I will wave it off and spin a different but far more interesting tale. Maybe I’ll tell you a long drawn out joke as a distraction. Ever heard of the suicidal moth? What about the systemic racism in the world of olives?

자, 이것은 도움을 구하는 외침이 아니요. 이것은 내 머릿속에있는 그대로 쓰는 것뿐이요. 저는 상처를주는 끔찍한 사람인데 어젯밤에 자신을 다치게하려고 했어요. 그것이 바로 그 방법이요. 배운 교훈도, 흥미로운 통찰력도 없어요. 사람들의 도움이 필요하지 않아요. 그리고 그것에 대해 나에게 직접 이야기한다면, 저는 그것을 훨씬 더 흥미로운 이야기를 회전시킬 것이요. 주의를 산만하게하는 긴 농담을 말할 것이요. 자살 나방에 대해 들어 본 적이 있어요? 올리브 세계의 조직적 인종 차별은 어떼요?

This is just my version of r/SuicideWatch, so don’t be too alarmed. And quite frankly, if I do succeed, the keyword is “succeed.” It would be a pleasant surprise that no one should be mourning over. BTW, this thing I’m in is no one’s fault but mine. I screw things up, I make myself miserable, and I just make things worse. It’s all me. 

이것은 r/SuicideWatch의 제 버전 일 뿐이므로 너무 놀라지 마세요. 그리고 솔직히 내가 성공하면 키워드는“성공”이요. 아무도 슬퍼하지 말아야한다는 것은 즐거운 놀라움이 될 거예요. BTW, 내가있는 것은 누구의 잘못이 아니라, 내 잘못이요. 저는 일을 망치고 자신을 비참하게 만들고 상황을 더 악화시켜. 다 나야.

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The Myth of Sisyphus

I started watching this Korean drama entitled, “Sisyphus, the Myth.” I’m only two episodes in and I’m already not liking it. I can’t stand Tony Stark and the Tony Stark fantasy. I can’t stand how Koreans and Marvel fans love and worship the idea of a genius billionaire, when billionaires should be villified for hoarding wealth. The main character is basically a Tony Stark type and the first episode couldn’t help but cheese me out a bit in building him up. The filming and the writing, while very ambitious, also reeked of ambitiousness. It’s very hard to explain, but it reminds me of the first two episodes of Star Trek Picard, with the mixture of action, mystery, and plot holes.

한국 드라마 ‘Sisyphys, the Myth’을 보기 시작 했어요. 2 화 밖에 안 보아는데 벌써 좋아하지 않은것 같아요. Tony Stark와 Tony Stark의 환상을 참을 수 없어요. 억만 장자가 부를 축적해야하는 상황에서 한국인과 Marvel 팬들이 천재 억만 장자에 대한 아이디어를 어떻게 사랑하고 숭배하는지 이해 할 수 없어요. 주인공은 기본적으로 Tony Stark 유형이며 첫 번째 에피소드는 그는 약간이 즘 너무 진부해요. 촬영과 글쓰기는 매우 야심적이면서도 야심이 넘쳤어요. 설명하기는 매우 어렵지만, 액션, 미스터리, 이야기의 불일치 혼합 된 Star Trek Picard의 처음 두 에피소드를 생각 나게했어요.

So instead of the drama “Sisyphus, the Myth,” let me just quickly discuss “The Myth of Sisyphus” instead, a book by Camus, the one which I suspect the writers borrowed the title from. As I understood it, the book looks at absurdist philosophy. Life is essentially absurd. We toil all of our lives and the world constantly brings us unexpected hardships. And the closer we are to achieving our dreams as we age, for the lucky few that is, the closer we are to death. Now, looking at the absurd nature of life, isn’t the most logical solution suicide? After all, if you’re in an absurd relationship or stuck in an absurd job, isn’t the most logical solution to just quit?

그래서 드라마 “Sisyphus, the Myth”대신에, Camus의 책인 “The Myth of Sisyphus”에 대해 간단히 이야기하겠습니다, 그 드라마를 제목이 빌린 것으로 의심됬어요. 내가 이해했듯에 이 책은 터무니없는 철학을 본이요. 인생은 본질적으로 터무니 없어요. 우리는 모든 삶을 일하며 세상은 끊임없이 예상치 못한 어려움을 겪서요. 그리고 우리가 나이가 들어감에 따라 꿈을 이루는 데 가까울수록 죽음에 가까워집니다. 자, 인생의 어리석은 본질을 보면 가장 논리적 인 해결책은 자살 아니애요? 헊시, 어리석은 관계에 있거나 어리석은 직업에 갇혀 있다면 그만두는 가장 논리적 인 해결책이 아닙니까?

Now, I’m guessing the Korean drama will be touching up on the absurdity of life since the show deals with time travel, etc. But yeah, that’s the last time I mention that show.

이제 그 드라마가 time travel등을 다룬 쇼이기 때문에 인생의 부조리에 대한 이야기가 될 것 같아요. 하지만, 이게 그 드라마에 대해 마지막으로 말해요.

But thinking about aging and death. I suppose this is the reason why young people are generally seen as more attractive than people who are more mature. Forget biology and the ability to procreate. Young people are much farther from death than people who are older. The touch of death, as it starts getting in people’s skin, they become less attractive.

그러나 노화와 죽음에 대해 생각하며, 이것이 젊은이들이 일반적으로 더 성숙한 사람들보다 더 매력적으로 여겨지는 이유라고 생각해요. 생물학과 번식 능력을 잊으십시오. 젊은 사람들은 나이가 많은 사람들보다 죽음에서 훨씬 더 멀렸어요. 사람들이 죽음의 손길와 냄세를 피부에 들어가기 시작하면서 덜 매력적이됬어요.

Another thing which I found interesting about the book is the idea that “if the world were not absurd, art would not exist.” This is similar to the old idea of art illuminating truths, that artists see the world in a certain way, and use art to express the truths that they see. These all sound very lofty, which makes me wonder why artists are often undervalued as a calling or profession. Unless you’re making millions out of your art, it’s often just treated as a quirky hobby.

이 책에서 흥미로운 또 다른 점은“세상이 어리석지 않으면 예술은 존재하지 않을 것”이라는 생각이요. 이것은 예술이 진실을 말하는 오래된 아이디어가 비슷해요. 예술가들은 세상을 특정한 방식으로 보고, 그들이 보는 진실을 표현하기 위해 예술을 사용해요. 이것들은 모두 매우 고상하게 들리는데, 왜 예술가들이 자주 부름이나 직업으로 저평가되는지 궁금해요. 예술로 수백만 달러를 벌지 않는 한, 그것은 보통 그냥 흥미로운 취미로 취급되요.

Actually, this kinda reminds me of an episode of Peep Show, where a woman was complaining about all of the bad news on the news, “What about the good news? The news where things actually went well?” Well, if the news was like that, it would just be a long, insufferable list of observations of things functioning as they are. The news needs tragedy, otherwise it won’t be news. That’s why I can’t stand news that aren’t really news, like the announcement of the oldest person in the world. There will always be a new oldest person in the world. As Camus would probably attest, the oldest person in the world is probably the one closest to death.

사실, 이것은 Peep Show의 에피소드를 생각 나게해 한 여성이 뉴스의 모든 나쁜 소식에 대해 불평하고 있어요. “좋은 뉴스은 어떻습니까? 실제로 잘된 뉴스?” 글쎄요, 만약 뉴스가 그랬다면, 그것이 그대로 기능하는 것에 대한 관찰의 길고 참을 수없는 목록 일 것이요. 뉴스에는 비극이 필요해요. 그렇지 않으면 뉴스가 아니요. 그래서 세상에서 가장 나이 많은 사람의 발표처럼 진짜 뉴스가 아닌 뉴스를 싫어요. 항상 세상에서 가장 오래된 사람이있을 것이요. Camus가 생각했듯이 세상에서 가장 나이 많은 사람은 아마도 죽음에 가장 가까운 사람 일 것이요.

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I’m so tired.

Long weekends are horrible nightmares. They are catalysts for depression. I had half a mind to just jump off a building and kill myself already, but then I figured, I should at least finish the book I’m making before I totally commit. I realize I won’t be missed at all. I’m an incredibly shitty human being. But I like to think that my work would be missed or at least appreciated after I’m gone. At least there’s that. So maybe leave off failed nighttime parkour accidents for a while until I’ve printed a copy of the book I’m working on.

Speaking of works. This latest one was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and the covers of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys novels. I know, the references are ancient and outdated, but I don’t care. In this piece, I tried to draw things which intimidate me to draw, specifically, wheelchairs or anything with spokes, the mirror on mirror effect, pool reflections, and directly referencing another famous work of art. This one references Juan Luna’s ‘Spoliarium.’ Juan Luna, just like me, is also a shitty human being. He shot his Spanish wife and his mother-in-law. I can’t stand him, and I can’t stand how his boring works are venerated. What a piece of shit! But really, almost all good artists are pieces of shit. Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Paul Gaugin… the list is long. Of course, I’m not saying I’m a great artist like the people I listed. I’m pretty certain I will be easily forgotten when I’m gone. But I believe I’m equally a piece of shit like the rest of them.

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I Notice There’s a Lot of Suicide in My Entries.

Fountain

So a neighbor committed suicide on Monday evening. She jumped from the 13th floor of the building and landed on someone’s car. This was after a series of fights she and her husband had been having, at least according to the security personnel in the apartment. Apparently, she didn’t pass away immediately, instead, they lost her on the way to the hospital. I only hope she immediately lost consciousness and was brain dead by the time she hit the ground. What keeps most people from committing suicide is the dread of immeasurable physical pain on the way to dying. The thought of suffering through minutes, seconds of dying horrifies me.

Compounding the tragedy, she leaves behind two children, both no older than 10 years old.

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced suicide around me. I still remember a few years ago seeing someone’s leg twitching after falling a mere four floors. What’s always constant through these experiences, and I guess with death in general, is the surreal feeling, the numbness. It takes a while for things to register. For one, it takes me a while to realize that the building will now be haunted, and elevator rides (with the window peeking into every floor hallway) will now be a tad creepier.

Korea is consistently high on the suicide rate list, surpassing its neighbor, Japan. It’s not unusual to hear about high-profile suicides happening. Just recently, I wrote about the mayor of Seoul committing suicide after sexual harassment allegations. I believe these high-profile deaths only fuels more suicides in the country. And as someone who suffers from waves of depression and anxiety, I must admit I occasionally toy with the idea of dying in my lowest state, often approaching dying much like an engineering problem: how does one do it quickly and with the least pain? And I always end up distracting myself or my cowardice overcoming my despair (a win?).

Anyway, there’s been a couple of interesting artsy developments that happened this week (a couple of commissions, being included in a magazine), but a stranger dying close by just kinda overwhelms everything at the moment. 2020 continues to be a shit show.

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A Long Wave

Busy

People need to stop talking about a “second wave” or “the next resurgence.” Outside of China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea, the world is still pretty much dealing with the first wave. It bothers me that people have been itching for businesses to re-open, to get their hair cut or their nails done, only after a few weeks. So much so that there are protests in some countries which could inevitably spread the virus even further. South Korea has been dealing with the virus and social distancing since February. The rest of the world needs to calm down.

South Korea has been enjoying a good record on getting infection rates down. The country had zero local infections for a number of days. Then over the long weekend, one person came from out of town to Itaewon in Seoul and partied in five bars and clubs. He ended up spreading the coronavirus to a number of people. Just this morning, the number was 52 cases. Unfortunately, the area and a couple of the clubs are popular among the gay community. So contact tracing will be extremely difficult. People would be more secretive about their presence in the area compared to how tight-lipped people were about their relationship with the Shincheonji cult during after the initial outbreak this year.

The incident highlights the greed and hubris of some people, both the business owners and the patrons. Club and bar owners have been itching to get people coming in. I realize they have bills to pay and everything, but this rush to open and fill their venues with people paying in often un-taxable cash has inevitably hurt their business even more. Now the bars and clubs are forced to shut down.

A bit of history. Itaewon is multi-cultural district near the army base in Seoul. A few years ago, due to the music video “Itaewon Freedom,” it became a very popular hangout spot not just for foreigners but also the locals. It caused a lot of Koreans to start their own bars and restaurants and even pushed out many of the foreign establishments which gave the area its distinct character. Later, with news that the army base nearby will be shutting down, real estate prices began to rise dramatically, and many of the businesses began to shut down as well. The place is now filled with buildings being torn down, presumably for bigger buildings to be built. Business hasn’t really been good for the area recently due to a Japanese boycott and the coronavirus. The place looks like a shell of its former self if you walk around during the day. Then a few weeks ago, ‘Itaewon Class,’ a popular webtoon-turned-K-Drama gave the area a bit of push, especially since the drama focused on upbeat nightlife and gorgeous young people. Unfortunately, I think the bar and club owners got ahead of themselves. Many clubs opened with sanitizers at the door and masks laughably “mandatory.” And now with these businesses being forced to closed, the area is dead both during the day and at night.

It annoys me how lame (yes, LAME) the people who insist on clubbing and partying during the pandemic are. Can’t they read the room? And yes, I’ve had my clubbing phase before, but I’m sure the minute someone tells me that masks and sanitizers are mandatory, I’d probably cool it a little bit. How fun could it be going out and partying wearing a mask outside of Halloween?! There are other ways to get laid! Or better yet, DON’T get laid. Stay in for a few days. It won’t kill you (It won’t kill your old relatives either). Even Pornhub is famously helping by providing their premium content for free. It annoys me still that with Itaewon bars and clubs closing, many are going to Gangnam and maybe even Hongdae to party. This is utter hubris. This is the Korean version of spring breakers in Florida.

And now people are on alert again. One of the infected happens to be US military as well. A few are foreigners. More than ever, people are talking about how many foreigners in the country seem to walk around thinking that they are invulnerable to the virus by not wearing masks. They don’t seem to understand that the reason why the masks and the whole sanitation and social distancing works is that if everyone does it, the greater the chance it will be effective. They can afford not to wear a mask because everyone else is. And that’s just being a selfish, ethnocentric ass hat. At least wear one because “when in Rome…” A collective effort is how Korea managed to get its coronavirus situation under control. It’s when actors stray from this collective effort that leads to an outbreak: the cult breaking protocol, and now with these dumb clubs.

It annoys me even more that the incident is probably reinforcing the stereotype of foreigners (and perhaps gay people) being too carefree or not being serious people. Just this morning, I was encouraged out of nowhere to tell my friends who went clubbing over the weekend to get tested. Huh?! Why me?? For years, people assume I have connections to the club/party scene simply because I’m a foreigner.

The thing is, even during the worst of the pandemic. I still went out to restaurants. I still went out to bars. But the establishments I go to are around my neighborhood. They are in the community which I would probably have contact with at some point since work was never really shut down for me. I don’t think it’s smart to travel, go to crowded places with other people from out of town or wherever, and inadvertently spread the virus. People still need to be wary of spreading the virus and not indulge in overly unnecessary risks.

So with Korea reeling and in a bit of a panic over the recent (hopefully) mini outbreak, why are other countries so confident that they can ride through it like more people won’t get infected? I realize companies want people working just so they wouldn’t cover their unemployment insurance costs, but other than that, how do you explain everyday Joe-Schmoe itching to go out there, get a haircut, and maybe catch the virus and kill grandma? There’s no second wave, folks. Korea, which is a model country in terms of the coronavirus is still dealing with the virus like it’s the first wave. Businesses are still hurting. People are still strapped financially. But with much of the virus still being unknown, it’s really best to just stick to social distancing and calm down for a bit. Get used to this new life for a while. I know, I know. It’s easy for me to say that while I still have a job. But, I have a feeling it’s going to be a very long and painful ride, and pushing life to normalcy regardless of the risks would simply make things worse.

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Wearing Me Down

Space Man

I was done worrying about the coronavirus. I was done. Dammit, this thing has been on my radar since January, and I was done. Granted, I haven’t really been too worried about it until there was a resurgence in South Korea after Valentine’s Day, but the fact that my office is still responding to calls from customers, re-scheduling, informing them about the virus, has got me tired. I’m tired of worrying about my health, about people’s health, about my job, about other people’s jobs. This constant atmosphere of high alert, it’s stressful. It’s like we’re witnessing another global historic event that will affect the way we do things, much like Sept. 11, except this one is dragging along through the year.

Last Friday, I went out with some friends. I think because of the sudden drop in temperature, I got a bit of a cold over the weekend, but I’m almost over it. I usually get really bad colds about twice or three times a year, but this one wasn’t too bad. Still, it didn’t stop me from being overly anxious about it. “Do I have it? Is this it? If Tom Hanks has it, then maybe I have it, too! After all, cases of infection have been documented around the neighborhood I work in. Am I endangering everyone right now? Am I going to be Internet famous as the Canadian guy who got everyone in his office sick?”

Korea’s doing well right now. It’s not quite like Singapore, but it appears that the government has got the whole thing under control. The infection rate has gone way down, and more people are recovering from the disease in comparison. People everywhere are still wearing masks, and we are constantly getting updates on television and online regarding the disease.

The problem is now that Korea and China are on their way to out of the coronavirus hole, the rest of the world is just experiencing the brunt of the disease. Looking at the numbers, Spain and Italy have gone past Korea in terms of infections. Germany, France, and the US appear to be catching up within a week’s time. These countries didn’t take the virus seriously. Just a couple of days ago, people were out celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, crowding bars and restaurants, despite news of the pandemic being ubiquitous.

Quite frankly, I think the reason why the rest of the world didn’t take it seriously for so long is because the initial victims were Asians. I suspect western countries saw it as a foreign matter. “It couldn’t happen here!” When WHO declared the coronavirus a global health emergency in January, they explicitly said it was not because of the tremendous number of infected people in China at the time but the few numbers of infected people in other countries. When the disease exploded in Iran, I don’t think people took that too seriously as well. The world has gotten too used to seeing dead Muslims. The WHO didn’t declare the disease a pandemic until the number of infected Europeans starting rising dramatically. That was March 11. Korea was already in the middle of getting the virus under control.

I think Japan is in denial as well regarding their strategy of suppressing their infection numbers by not testing as many people as they should. “It’s not a Japan problem. It’s a problem with other countries.” I realize it has a lot to do with politics as well as trying to keep the Olympics. But even if Japan looks good on paper regarding their infection rates, the rest of the world won’t be able to participate in the Olympics if they are dealing with the coronavirus come July. Just cancel the Olympics already!

So if Korea’s starting to look fine and the rest of world isn’t, why am I stressing about it? I’ll be okay, right? Well, not really. I have friends and family overseas. Aside from that, I worry personally about the economy. People are already predicting a recession in the US, and I can only imagine how that would affect the rest of the world. How would that affect the company I work for? Fear of the disease and self-isolation has already affected many of the industries here in Korea, particularly restaurants, bars, saunas, and gyms. But all of that, couple with the global economy is bound to affect me at some point. Whether I’ll still have a job next month or if my contract will be renewed at the end of the year worries me.

And even though there are good signs in the country, the constant flood of distressing news from abroad is stressful. I love Twitter, but right now, most everything on Twitter is about how Americans and Europeans are totally dropping the ball in responding to this pandemic. This is really the worst time to elect a failed casino owner as the leader of the free world. I wish I could insulate myself and just ignore all of the news out there. But when I look at some of my art friends who are oblivious to what’s happening, just going about their merry way, I get frustrated as well.

And speaking of art (this is still an art Web site), I haven’t stopped making art. However, I stopped looking for art shows to apply to. I imagine galleries are suffering at the moment. Who wants to attend an art opening right now? Same goes for theater productions. Luckily, there’s plenty of opportunity to get my work seen online.

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On a Friend Dying

Mother Too

A friend of mine died recently. A few years ago, he came out with his HIV diagnosis… then a few days later, he confessed his love for me. I’m a cis gender male. He knew this. But it was something he just needed to simply get off his chest. He wasn’t asking for anything, nor was I expected to do anything about it but listen. In the spirit of confessing his health crisis at the time, I suppose it was time for him to come out with his feelings as well.

That was a healthy thing to do.

If you love someone, regardless of what the circumstances are, tell them. It doesn’t have to be reciprocated. We’re all grown-ups, and love doesn’t work that way. In any case, just tell them. Best case scenario, such feelings might eventually be reciprocated. At the very least, it tells that person that whatever they’re doing, they must be doing something right since someone loves or admires them.

This was a good lesson that he demonstrated. He also showed that a good life is possible despite a dire reality. The looming shadow of a grim health diagnosis can be very difficult to get over, but as he later moved on to a simpler life, he appeared happy… I’d say even much happier at times compared to when I used to hang out with him. Maybe it’s because he was more honest with things. Maybe it’s because he was closer to his family at the time. Who knows? But I noticed that after his diagnosis, he seemed more upbeat, or at least more fulfilled with what I would’ve foolishly judged as a simpler, slower existence at the time.

Rest well, buddy. It was good knowing you. I wish I was a much better friend, however. I guess now you’ll know the ultimate truth about your online “prison skanks.”

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Soon to be Deleted

Chest_Pain

I’m trying my hardest not to write anything about depression at the moment. Unfortunately, listening to Elliott Smith, Sparklehorse, and old episodes of Dopey, there’s really not much that comes to mind.

One thing that keeps coming back to my head however are suicide scenes they sometimes broadcast here on television. In Korea, it’s common for people to just lock themselves in a car and burn something in order to die from asphyxiation. Afterwards in the news, you might see cigarette butts and bottles of liquor unblurred as the camera explores the car. I’ve been wondering why you don’t often see food in these scenes. Of course it might seem pointless to be eating food as you try to end your life, but I figure eating is probably one of the most distracting and pleasurable thing to do as you await your death in a sealed room or vehicle. With me, they’d probably find my sad body with bucket of KFC chicken nearby. It’s very difficult to think of anything, much less smell faint, toxic fumes, as I soothe my depression with greasy bites of chicken. So yeah, if you see me checking in a hotel alone with big bucket of chicken, call 911. You just might save my life.

If I was to give some advice though, other than seek help if you’re depressed or thinking about suicide, is that people should never look up suicide scenes online. I looked up suicide scenes online checking for food (we live in a frivolous era) and stumbled on the darkest, most depressing scenes of the human condition. Alan Black’s ‘Faces of Death’ didn’t prepare me for this. Most of the scenes, usually from what appear to be educational presentations, and they look like they are from developing or Eastern European countries, and without much context, I began to build stories explaining the scenes. It’s a rather grim exercise. Save yourself the misery and watch highlights of Pawn Stars instead.

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