Friday, May 30, 2008

gas works

yeah here's that park i was talkin about
i would love to come back here again - best view of seattle ive ever seen
you're looking out over the water and the city just hugs around it so you can point out everyplace you know
and there's lots of kites :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

weddings, beer, good times

i am sitting in a park in seattle, quietly reading a book and waiting for my brother to pick me up
i have just arrived via greyhound from spokane where i had taken part in my friend chris’ wedding and the many festivities surrounding it
it had been hot in spokane, but when i got off the bus in seattle, the air was chilled with the shadowy dampness that comes just before a shower
heavy clouds trundled slowly overhead
the breeze picked up into a shivering wind
drops started to fall here and there, making little dark spots burst out of the pages open before me
a homeless man walked by
noticing me, he stopped momentarily and half turned toward me
‘between the drops,’ he said
‘you have to look between the drops; that’s where they are’
becoming fascinated with a fern, he squatted down to peer closely at a frond
‘they’re like aphids; minuscule; devouring’
i agreed they sounded pretty insidious, though I didn’t quite understand the beef he had with these mysterious creatures
it was difficult for him to decide whether he should move on or not; he seemed to find lingering distasteful
but he turned to me again to assure me that he was not crazy and to remind me that everyone is crazy anyway, so what does he care?
his logic seemed to have a few loose threads, but I reassured him with a smile and nod
as he walked off, he repeatedly turned back to give me several thumbs up
then some pigeons in the street caught his attention
‘filthy bastards!!’ he shouted and ran away barking at them
I wished he would have stayed longer

in terms of fun and fullness my week in spokane was far greater than anything I imagined
I stayed the first 3 nights at the house of a friend of chris’ named rod
in that backyard we held many a nightly-fire-pit-gathering
especially for the first few days I spent a good deal of time with chris’ college buddy patrick who showed me around spokane and was a great companion for all the wedding shenanigans (we were both groomsmen) and surrounding free time

(pat and me)

in addition to the many cool people I met, I was also really happy at the number of friends I knew already who were able to make it for the wedding (including my bro whose attendance was uncertain until the last minute and whose whereabouts were even more uncertain even when he was supposedly in spokane)

the wedding was incredibly hot but spectacular!
it was unencumbered with over-organization and the reception was a blast!
especially with the oodles of delicious homebrew chris made in prep for the event(robbie - chris' friend and musician for the wedding)

(chris and sarah) (someone's clothes) (at the reception)(rod and matea)(me an' lucas)(vandalism)(groomsmen & beer)
after the wedding, lucas, patrick, and I drove to cor d’leane – a beautiful lake park in Idaho – for a picnic, relaxation, and dice games
for the next few days afterwards I stayed at chris and sarah’s house where I was able to relax a little and take a break from all the running around
there was a LOT of bar-patronage - far more than im used to
(at the beer supply shop)(materials for making BEER - notice the garlic)
(yes, garlic)(checkin' da recipes)(toastin' da oats)(da oats be toasted)(boiling da toasted oats)(strain out dem boiled, toasted oats)(addin' da malt)(hops)(maplebrau II oats are finished and straining)(pokin' da bag ta get at all da GOOD JUICE)(malt extract added)(pourin' in da garlic for garlicbrau)(yum yum beer smells)(delicious elixir is strained into the fermenting vats)(measuring concentration)(reapin' da rewards! ....of a different beer that had actually finished fermenting already)
go team!

as soon as i have the opportunity, i really want to try doing this myself
chris made is look pretty easy, and i know it's more complicated than all that
but i definitely feel like it's do-able
i hope the necessary equipment is accessible in seoul....
look out, south korea!

my time in seattle was for the most part quieter than in spokane
but by no means less enjoyable
the approaching date of my departure to fairbanks was looming a little over me, but tim and jocelyn made things quite comfortable
one of the more notable experiences was going to the "who's the wisest wizard?" party in which, over the course of the night, you construct a staff by taping on top of each other the beer cans you consume
it gets pretty tricky trying to drink out of the top of a staff whose bottom hits the ceiling every time you lift it for a sip
but most of the evenings were spent in leisurely board games of which tim is a connoisseur
one morning jocelyn and i walked down to Gas Works - a park in seattle built around an old, rusty gas plant
the view there of seattle is really incredible

im really glad i'll have a chance to visit again when my summer is over(thanks, you guys, for a marvelous farewell!)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Always, Time After Time

as my remaining time in the northwest is running short, i feel the need to put a postponement on my Adventures of Pete on Distant Shores segment featuring Korea: A Land of Passion and take some time for some account and reverie on my endeavors and circumstances here in Portland, ORfor the past month i have been unemployed
this has led me to discover a great many of the advantages (and be reminded of the disadvantages) of having free time
i have found that for myself the greatest evil in coping with such huge gaping deficits of responsibility is not laziness in and of itself, but the fear of laziness
as irrational as that sounds (and indeed it is), i notice in my unencumbered hours (and i dont believe im alone in this) a sort of nagging doubt that i am not well employing my time
occasionally this is quite an accurate assessment as from time to time i am a perfectly festering heap of lethargy
nevertheless, i do think that i use the vaster portion of my time in productive endeavors and strangely enough, i have found that even after a full day of commendable exploits, i am still left with feelings of depressive unaccomplishment
certainly this is not a feeling reserved to my experiences back at home by any means, as i have encountered it frequently enough wherever i have gone
but part of my hopes for what i would gain from living at home again was an anticipation of coming 'head to head' so to speak with these emotional dilemmas (which is precisely what i believe i have done)
part of this i attribute to loneliness (as i spend quite a large portion of my time in mostly comfortable solitude)
yet i have experienced enough time living in various settings of solitude and isolation to learn how to face loneliness - i no longer experience loneliness as a fear of facing oneself, one's negative thoughts and feelings (which have done for sure) - now it represents to me merely a feeling of need for social connection
which i often lack in adequate quantities these days
but the deficits are not sufficient to really put me down in the dumps
the biggest issue at hand has been, as i mentioned, anxiety over proposed inactivity
i guess i never really found an answer to that one except through experiencing it enough to recognize it as an irrational emotion
it comes and goes without warning and i have to brush it aside like any other lurking negative thought or feeling

interestingly enough, i've discovered some unexpected passions through my dabbling in various hobbies with my free time
i anticipated that i would use this time to do a lot of writing - things that i have been working on for some time while being at school or abroad but never had the time to commit to fully
actually, i was really looking forward to using this time to finish up some writing that i've been doing
but i found that what with the struggles of living in suburbia with my parents and my girl far away in hong kong, there are too many emotions floating about to be able to find consistent enough peace to be able to write with much clarity
instead, i have turned to more immediately expressive outlets such as writing music and painting
in my other periods of solitude i have found these hobbies to become increasingly valuable to me in dealing with emotional turmoil
and i consider myself extremely lucky to have made the choices earlier in my life that introduced hobbies such as music and painting (and writing for that matter)
(this is my biggest inspiration for teaching - to offer these chances to others)
as my needs continue to call for them, they grow more and more meaningful to me
surely that is a blessing

for me the last month can be best defined as an exploration in watercolor
i love the balance between composition and spontaneity
as im planning out a picture and directing its formation, the water and paint take me places i could not have imagined before the brush touched the paper
i have made half a dozen or so paintings, some of which have taken a day, some weeks
soon i will post these for you to see, but i want to complete the one that im still working on for a very special occasion :)

as always, my interest in asian studies keeps me pretty occupied (and lately ive been dabbling in oriental watercolor styles as well)
ive been trying to prepare for my return to korea this fall
this mostly means studying korean (which i regretfully have not devoted as much time to as i would have liked) but i also have been reading some korean fiction (namely this book on short stories by korean women which is FABULOUS)
i also got this book called Korea Unmasked which describes a lot of korean mentality, social characteristics and history in comic form

although it's not entirely accurate in its depiction of other countries, it's pretty sweet and explains a lot to someone relatively unaware of korea

but of course i always find myself returning (even if only in my mind) to japan
i am so incredibly fascinated with japanese mythology, literature, language, and tradition
so much of what i have discovered in exploring these areas of japanese culture ive really resonated with
the other day i became entranced once again in the spirited away theme song いつも何度でも (Always, Time After Time)
i was learning it on the guitar and had to stop for an hour (yes, that's how long it still takes me) to translate it
and i just have to put it up cuz it's so friggin' sweet
my translation is probably not entirely correct, but it's beautiful nonetheless:

yondeiru muneno dokoka okude
itsumo kokoro odoru yume wo mitai
よんでいる むねの どこか おくで
いつも こころ おどる ゆめ を みたい
it's calling somewhere deep within my heart
I want to always have exciting dreams

kanashimi wa kazoe kirenai keredo
sono mukoude kitto anata ni aeru
かなしみ は かぞえ きれない けれど
その むこうで きっと あなた に あえる
there are countless sorrows but
beyond them I will surely meet you

kurikaesu ayamachi no sonotabi hito wa
tada aoi sora no aosa wo shiruくりかえす あやまち の そのたび ひと は
ただ あおい そら の あおさ を しる
a person who always makes mistakes
just knows the blueness of the blue sky

hateshinaku michi wa tsuzuite mieru keredo
kono ryoute wa hikari wo idakeru
はてしなく みち は つずいて みえる けれど
この りょうて は ひかり を いだける
it seems like the road has no end,
yet these hands can hold light

sayonara no toki no shizukana mune
zero ni narukarada ga mimi wo sumaseru
さよなら の とき の しずかな むね
ぜろ に なるからだ が みみ を すませる
my hollow body listens carefully
to the silence of my heart at times of farewell

ikiteiru fushigi shindeiku fushigi
hana mo kaze mo machi mo minna onaji
いきている ふしぎ しんでいく ふしぎ
はな も かぜ も まち も みんな おなじ
the mystery of living, the mystery of going to die
for the flowers, for the sky, for the towns, it is all the same

yondeiru muneno dokoka okude
itsumo nando demo yume wo egakou
よんでいる むねの どこか おくで
いつも なんど でも ゆめ を えがく 
it’s calling somewhere deep within my heart
always, time after time, ‘paint your dreams’

kanashimi no kazu wo iitsuku suyori
onaji kuchibiru de sotto utaou
かなしみ の かず を いいつく すより
おなじ くちびる で そっと うたおう
‘instead of counting up your sorrows,
from the same lips, sing out’

tojiteiku omoideno sono naka ni itsumo
wasuretakunai sasayaki wo kiku
とじていく おもいでの その なか に いつも
わすれたくない ささやき を きく
always within the memories that are being shut away,
I hear the whispers I hope I never forget

kona gonani kudakareta kagami no uenimo
atarashii keshiki ga utsusareru
こな ごなに くだかれた かがみ の うえにも
あたらしい けしき が うつされる
a new image can be reflected
even in a mirror that has been shattered into dust

hajimari no asano shizukana mado
zeroni narukarada mitasarete yuke
はじまり の あさ の しずかな まど
ぜろに なるからだ みたされて ゆけ
in the quiet window of dawn
my hollow body is filled

umi no kanatani wa mou sagasanai
kagayaku monowa itsumo kokoni
watashi no nakani mitsukeraretakara
うみ の かなたに は もう さがさない
かがやく もの は いつも ここ に
わたし の なか に みつけられたから
I no longer search beyond the ocean
for what shines has always been here
and I have found it within myself...hmmmm
i usually say that i relate to south korea socially/interpersonally and to japan emotionally/personally
you can imagine my dilemma in choosing where i wanted to live for the next couple years of my life!
but korea it will be!
this fall
largely because i have been to japan most recently
but mostly because of the amazing friends i have in korea, most of whom i have not seen in much too long
and to my dear friends in japan, fear not!
if i can, i plan to work in seoul and take my vacation time in japan
and where will i find the time for china?
i might have to stay in asia for ten years :)
sometimes i feel frustrated with the limitations of time and brain capacity
if anything, studying in hawaii for the last two and a half years has thrown open before me countless doors behind which lie innumerable paths of discovery
and im itching to get underway

but first!
the summer
and alaska
and (joy!) hiuyan
and school, albeit briefly, once again
only a matter of finding a place to live...
which is proving to be more difficult than i was hoping for
well, im not worried
ive been in tougher binds for accommodation (and financial support for sure!) before
what i have going for me this time is the money ive saved up working in the lovely warehouse for my wonderfully gracious uncle

so i'll pack my bags for korea,
head off to spokane, wa where my everpresently valuable friend chris dreyer is gettin' hitched,
take a train to seattle for a week to stay with my bro,
and launch into the unknown, untamed wilderness of fairbanks, ak!