Tag Archives: life

Driving

I had to spend most of the day yesterday at the DMV. I don’t really drive in Korea. I think the last time I drove a vehicle was over ten years ago. The thing is, driving a vehicle isn’t really necessary if you live in Seoul. Transportation here is wildly convenient. There are buses everywhere, the subway is cheap and easy to navigate (compared to the confusing mess that is Japan’s), and taxis are cheaper than in Canada. Navigating through the city and figuring out schedules are also made more convenient by using apps.

To operate a vehicle in the city, not only will you have to worry about paying for your vehicle, gas, and insurance. You also have to deal with the notorious parking problem in the city. Koreans can also get their license rather quickly if they put their mind to it (And most Koreans DO put their minds to it when it comes to any test). Getting a license involves a written test, a car functions test, and a road test. With luck and skill, one can whiz through these. But with others, especially foreign drivers, they might get stuck dealing with the computer system in the car functions test. This is to say that some people might whiz through the test and get a license not really having enough experience driving, making the roads a bit more dangerous for other motorists.

So yeah, driving is expensive and dangerous. Add to that, Koreans are also very particular with their vehicles, not driving anything older than ten years old. If you’re not driving something that is fairly new, then you’re basically driving a hooptie in the eyes of locals.

But with the pandemic preventing me from traveling outside of the country, there’s been more pressure to get into a vehicle and drive around outside of the city, the only reason for me to own a vehicle. I’ll be getting a vehicle before the end of the year (an Audi A4), but I’m not really too excited about it. I’ve lived my life not caring about cars, and I feel like now I have no choice but be a car guy. Next, I’ll become a glamping guy. Glamping! Disgusting. The Canadian in me is dying in shame. The minute I load a $400 portable grill into the trunk of a car, I would have to surrender my flannel shirts.

Interestingly, today I learned that many famous people actually either don’t drive, never learned how, or just have a thing against driving. Norm MacDonald, Tina Fey, Javier Bardem, Elvis Costello, Kate Beckinsale, Charlie Watts, etc. Maybe owning a car and driving around isn’t really a key part of adulting.

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What now?

Over the weekend, I had a bit of a panic attack in the middle of a public argument. Personally, I find public arguments quite immature and I really hate being a part of them. I say a part of them, but usually I’m just on the receiving end, trying to calm the situation down. Being a visible minority in Korea, you’re most likely to be seen as a villain the minute something scandalous breaks. But having been particularly anxious for days now, then having a public argument after a night of drinking, I just started getting tunnel vision, had trouble breathing, and a panic sensation rushed to me. I had to run to a convenience store for something to drink and a bit of space to breathe.

I’m not sure if the Xanax is working. It’s not smart, but I quadrupled my dose the other day, but I can’t even tell if it’s working or not.

I don’t know if I’m good with people anymore. An acquaintance of mine called me a raconteur the other day, but that energy… the smiles, jokes, and anecdotes… they take a lot out of me. I can’t maintain that for a long time. And that doesn’t work too well with people who really know me. I’m still convinced that I’m only good in small doses. A bit more of me and you’ll realize I’m trash. It reminds me of something I read the other day, “I don’t know you. That’s why I love you.”

I believe it was Chappelle who observed that women in relationships create folders in their head where they file every mistake a man makes, ready to pull it out for an imaginary divorce that may or may not happen. That could very well be true. But I find that I also make my own folder of my own failings, of awful things that are said to me, of all of my blunders, and that my mind accesses it every time I get anxious, or worse, randomly in importune moments. I could be peeing in the bathroom, holding my genitals, then all of a sudden I’m sad and could no longer pee. Am I alone in this? Does this happen to others? I suppose I should save these questions for Reddit.

I’m rambling, I know. But it’s been a minute. Enjoy the art.

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A Wellness Check

It’s weird being emotionally numb. I try to feel more, connect more with the people around me, but it’s weird. As much as I try to be a better person, be a much better person to the people around me, especially the ones I love, I feel like doors are closed right on my face. Either that, or truly no positive feedback is coming my way. Am I reading people wrong, or am I just not feeling any joy recently? It’s really weird. Even my depression lately has not gone through any wild swings, but it’s just become this dull background noise.

I celebrated my birthday last week, and instead of being joyful or excited, I found myself being more anxious than anything. What the heck is going on? My medication and therapy has been working for a while lately, but recently, I’ve been in an odd place. I remember my birthday anxiously waiting for things to go bad. I was waiting for the evening to turn for the worse.

Work has been a good escape. My activities are automatic and I don’t have to think much while I keep busy. It’s when I have time on my hands that I get anxious or depressed. Art has been helping, and I’ve been making more art recently than usual. It’s not a good thing when I’m making more art.

The problem is, outside of my therapist, I don’t really have many people to talk to about these things. Either I feel embarrassed or guilty, or the conversation inevitably turns into the other person making the situation about them, like a suffering Olympics of sorts.

I’m a shit person.

……………………. No, I’m a shittier person.

Can we talk about me being a shit person first?

……………………. Sure, but you have to understand that I’m shittier.

Okay, fine you’re shittier.

……………………. Excellent. And my shitty life is all your fault.

Thanks.

It’s been a weird few days. I am extremely grateful that I don’t have it any worse. I am always grateful for the people around me and the blessings and kindness that I experience. I truly don’t deserve good things. But I’m not sure if I’m getting as much joy out of them, or maybe my joy is just being dampened by me telling myself that I’m an extremely shitty person (because I really am).

I wish my doctor would prescribe me with better medication. Either that or give me better strategies to dealing with anxiety or this state of numb joylessness. I feel like I’m just passing time. And if time passed without any major incidents, without me making things worse, then it’s a good day. How is that for an existence? Maybe I deserve that. But the people around me, especially the people I love most don’t deserve that. They don’t deserve that from me. God, please, help me get better. Help me be better,

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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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Gah! Art block!

It’s weird to actually have a perfectly good and normal day. Looking back, it’s rare to have an objectively good day, a day I could just repeat over and over again. Maybe my medication is finally working, but I genuinely felt that last Sunday was a good day. I wish I took more pictures of that day. The sun was out, people were nice, no depression or anxiety, things were great.

Then Monday came along and I have to deal with new problems at work. Good-bye, serotonins! It was nice knowing ya!

Thinking back, it’s hard to remember many pure, perfect days… perfect holidays that I just want to re-live over and over again. I think I’m not alone here. People have a few perfect days that they re-live in their minds. Last Sunday wasn’t particularly special, but it was just a good, anxiety-free time. And in this day and age, at this stage of my life, that’s a big deal, I guess.

Been suffering from artist’s block lately. It’s been a week now and I haven’t been inspired to draw anything. I hate this. I hate this as much as the nagging need I have to draw or make art when I’m inspired by an idea. It’s always nice to finish a piece and finally be able to walk away from it, admire it from a distance. But afterwards, there’s the gaping hole where art-making should be.

I’ve tried to force myself to make art before, to basically just power through and make something until it looks like something inspiring, but I’ve never been happy with the results. They end up looking like something that cringes me out months afterwards, which is far less time than my regular art makes me cringe afterwards. Usually, it takes two years.

Anyway, I hope the art gods are kind to me and bless me with inspiration soon. I want to make art. I have so much time I could be filling with art that no one will buy.

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Therapy Progress

So therapy is going well. It’s going slowly, but well. I feel for my therapist who has to put up with my drama and listen to how much I hate myself. It feels good to just have someone there to vent my woes to, someone who just happens to able to prescribe me anti-depressants.

It’s going to be a long crawl to wellness however. After each session, I feel more and more awful about myself. I KNOW he’s supposed to help me, and we’re coming up with strategies with how to cope with my awfulness, but most of the negative things I see about myself is reinforced in my head after every session. So how he is helping? He’s listening, giving me advice, telling me that I might be right about my scum-of-the-earth nature, then prescribing me medication. God bless him for that. God bless that it’s covered by my insurance as well.

One thing I gotta say though, the most important skill for psychiatrists, and really for anyone during a conversation, is the ability to let someone speak until they are finished. Too many people are not really listening and are just really waiting for their turn to speak. I can see it in their heads sometimes, probably because I do the same thing, too. Halfway through their point, I’m already rehearsing my response in my head. This is why writing about my problems or making art are such convenient outlets for me. Neither talk back. However, neither give me advice or provide me drugs either.

Anyway, everyone needs to talk to a therapist. Everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve talked to a therapist and yeah, I could think of a couple of times when I did without therapy when I really shouldn’t have.

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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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My Obsession With One Photo

Ever since I saw it back when I was studying art in university, I’ve always been haunted by Duane Michal’s work, This Photograph is My Proof. It is one of my favorite images. It talks about longing and holding on to things which may or may not be true anymore. It is both sad and happy. It is mourning for love that is no longer there, but it is also celebrating love that used to exist.

대학에서 미술을 공부할 때 그것을 본 이후로 저는 항상 Duane Michals의 사진이 This Photograph is My Proof에 매료되었습니다. 제가 가장 좋아하는 이미지 중 하나이에요. 그것은 더 이상 사실 일 수도 있고 아닐 수도있는 것들을 갈망하고 붙잡는 것에 대해 이야기해요. 슬프고 행복해요. 더 이상 존재하지 않는 사랑에 대한 애도이고, 존재했던 사랑을 축하하는 것이기도해요.

Back when I first saw it, I was in a sad pathetic time in my life. And I guess every time I’m in that space, the picture always comes back to me. “Look, there was a time I was happy!”

처음 보았을 때 제 인생이 슬픈 한심한 시간을 보냈어요. 그리고 그 상황에 있을 때마다 그 사진이 항상 제게 돌아 오는 것 같아요. “이봐, 내가 행복했던 때가 있었어!”

It really applies to any picture and any situation. Here, I can put it on my image and it can equally apply even though my photography does not compare to Duane Michals’.

모든 그림과 상황에 실제로 사용할수 있어요. 여기에서 내 이미지에 붙일 수 있어요. 내 사진이 Duane Michals와 비교하지 않아도 똑같이 사용할수 있어요.

The picture also talk about how pictures communicate moments in the past, and because of that, they might not be true anymore. Pictures lie. In This Photograph is My Proof, the image says something, but the words elaborate things more and perhaps contradicts what is going on. But really, the writer could have written anything else as well. The writer could’ve lied if he wanted to. “Things are still great between us. She loves me. I love her.”

이 사진은 또한 사진을 과거의 순간을 어떻게 전달하는지에 대해 이야기하며, 그로 인해 더 이상 사실이 아닐 수도 있어요. 사진은 자주 거짓말이에요. This Photograph is My Proof에 이미지는 무언가를 말하지만, 단어는 상황을 더 정교하게 만들고 무슨 일이 일어나고 있는지 모순되요.

A friend of mine recently broke up with his girlfriend and purged all of her images on his Instagram. You know why? Because, “those photographs are proofs” that love existed between them once. And now, he would rather pretend that it didn’t exist in the first place. Online, people controlling the message on their images is more pervasive than Duane Michal’s pen. But still, he saw that people control their images, people are sad, and the past is often never as good as the present.

내 친구가 최근 여자 친구와 헤어지고 Instagram에서 모든 사진을 삭제했어요. 왜 그런지 알아? 왜냐하면 “그 사진들은 그들 사이에 한때 사랑이 존재했다는 증거”이기 때문에. 그리고 이제 그는 애초에 그 상황이 존재하지 않는 척하고 있어요. 온라인에서 사진의 메시지를 제어하는 사람들이 Duane Michals의 펜보다 더 널리 퍼져 있어요. 그러나, 여전히 그는 사람들이 자신의 사진을 통제하고, 사람들이 슬프고, 과거가 현재만큼 좋지 않다는 것을 알았어요.

Notice how I’m trying to write some of this in Korean? I’m trying to be more serious with my Korean studies, bad grammar and all.

제가 이걸 한국어로 왜 쓰려고하는지 알 겠어요? 저는 한국어 공부하는것은 진지하게 노력하고 있지라도 잘못된 문법이 보통 사영해요 .

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Grandma

My grandmother on my father’s side passed away last night. Due to COVID-19, I won’t be able to make it to the funeral. 2020 really knows how to make an impression.

I never met any of my grandfathers. Both of them passed away before I was born, Less than two years ago, my grandmother on my mother’s side passed away in Hawaii. I officially don’t have any grandparents anymore. And my father, he is technically an orphan. As I’m writing this, he’s trying to catch a flight to the funeral, but with COVID-19, quarantines and all, who knows if he’ll even make it. But yeah, as a son, at the very least, he has to try.

It’s been many years since I last saw my grandmother. At the time, she was proudly showing off the dress she planned to be buried in. Even back then, she had a very comfortable relationship with death, and she planned and paid for everything. It was morbid, pragmatic, and in many ways hopeful. Perhaps death isn’t that scary. Unfortunately, as I have mentioned, I haven’t been the best grandson to her; I barely kept in touch. And though I love her, I was mostly absent from her life.

She was an educator, teaching elementary school students. I have some memories of her teaching me some math when I was younger. I remember starting out being notoriously bad at math, although later, it became one of the more easier subjects for me. Maybe it was thanks to her, or maybe it was thanks to a cosmic triangle I wore on my head to make myself smarter.

My grandmother raised my eldest sister when she was young. She was like a second mother to her. When I and the rest of my siblings were born, we had nannies take care of us, but that doesn’t mean my grandmother wasn’t a part of our lives. I still remember her homemade remedies for minor ills which she administered to us when we were young. I always thought of them as superstitious gypsy magic.

Growing up, she hated me playing video games. She said that it would ruin my eyes. Admittedly, back then, my eyes were a bit dry and itchy, and I did blink quite a bit. But right now, I’m the only one in the family not wearing glasses. So maybe it was the opposite. Maybe it made eyes better. Also back when I was ten years old, she taught me and my sisters how to play mahjong. God bless her.

There are more odd stories about my grandmother, including hypnotists, dancing statues, and dead Japanese soldiers, but I’ll just leave that for another time. For now, I would like to remember her as a selfless woman who cared for everyone, made our lives more colorful, and mourned for my mother as if she was her own daughter.

I love you, Grandma. May your soul rest in peace.

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Wasted Year

This coming weekend is the long Korean Thanksgiving holiday. It’s a short work week, but outside of seeing relatives, there’s really not much to look forward to outside of just staying indoors. The Korean government is asking people to stay at home and don’t visit their hometowns during the holiday in order to keep the coronavirus infection rate low. Ever since the resurgence of the virus a few weeks ago caused by a right wing religious group, Korea’s been bouncing back and forth between over 100 to lower than 100 infections per day and people are worried that the long holiday will make the infection rate skyrocket. It’s been even more dangerous lately because most of the cases have been untraceable. So yeah, this means more staying at home, more Netflix, and more getting frustrated/bored. A long weekend sound horrible right now. It is literally making me anxious.

And really, what is there to be thankful for? 2020 has been a depressing slog. I can’t think of any way that I have progressed this year outside of getting a small raise at work. I suppose I should be thankful that I’m still employed, and I am, but that’s been a really low bar in this horrible, horrible year. I mean for crying out loud, Burger King and McDonalds just announced that they won’t be able to have tomatoes in their burgers due to floodings and the tremendously high price of vegetables this year. Tomatoes… we don’t even get tomatoes this year. What a joyless, depressing year!

I’ve noticed it recently, and I’ve heard from a couple of my friends about it, but Instagram isn’t really letting people grow in their platform these days. I had a bit of a growth spurt two years ago, but lately I’ve been seeing myself plateau to maybe just a handful of followers a week. I’ll even get bots following me and unfollowing me after a while which really makes my weekly analytics totally unreliable. I think Instagram has been infected by the awful that made Facebook an awful platform. It is now openly discouraging people to grow their followers outside of paying to promote their posts for more visibility. It’s always there, that “promote” button waiting for people to push their content to more people. As for it actually working, a couple of Youtube videos tell me the investment isn’t really worth it. It doesn’t really add up to more views or followers.

I’m not really trying to grow my followers or anything. I have no grand delusions of making a living out of social networks. I just want people to see my work. But with this new Instagram algorithm making the platform a pay-to-play scheme, it makes it that much harder to get my work out there. And what gets to me is that I’m just an unknown artist who could die unknown and it wouldn’t really make that much of a difference to me. It must really suck for full-time artists who live and die from marketing themselves on social platforms. Seriously, everything Facebook touches turns to absolute shit.

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