Thursday, September 30, 2010

have you ever looked at a recent photo of yourself and thought, "damn, i look old?"
you know when your plane just lands and everyone on board is antsy as hell and in a rush to get their bags from the overhead compartments to exit the aircraft? well, that was not the case for me.

when the plane landed on the runway at kansai airport in japan and was pulling into the gate, i watched everyone begin to unfasten their seat-belts and wait for the overhead signal to indicate they were free to get up from their seats. as soon as that light went off, everyone dashed for their belongings and rushed into the airport. i just sat there and stared out the window, wondering where the hell i would go and where i would sleep that night. i purchased my ticket with less than twenty-four notice and was completely unprepared for my trip. i didn't know anyone in osaka, wasn't able to book any lodging, don't know how to speak japanese, am on an extremely limited budget, and wasn't able to purchase any travel guides because every bookstore in seoul seemed to be sold-out. i was really excited, yet slightly nervous while stepping off the plane.

i walked out of customs and ended up wandering inside the airport for a while, trying to figure out what the fuck to do. for a good fifteen minutes, i think i was in complete culture shock and didn't grasp i was actually in japan. with all honesty, i felt nothing and was numb to my surroundings. i repeatedly went up and down different escalators and roamed wings of the airport, dazing at people's faces and attempting to listen to what they were saying. i watched people's lips move and heard sound come out of their mouths as they conversed, and i realized i didn't know what the fuck anyone was saying. grasping my current situation of no destination in unfamiliar surroundings, i think i panicked for a total of two minutes before i got my shit together and cleared my head.

i went to the information desk and inquired about the buses and subways from the airport. the lady asked where i wanted to go and i replied, "osaka." she sort of had a bad attitude and seemed frustrated when she responded, "where in osaka?" i looked at the map and realized how big it was. i guess it's similar to landing in jfk and telling the people at the information desk that you want to go to nyc haha. osaka is really large, and i was not sure where to even start. i noticed on the map that there was an "osaka station" that's accessible by train from the airport, and randomly decided that would be where i was heading.

the trip from the airport was over one hour, and i arrived smack dab in the middle of rush hour. people in japan walk really fast, and it reminded me of being back home in nyc---it was a nice feeling. i left the station and meandered around the neighborhood for a while. i didn't see any indications of hostels or accommodations for lodging nearby, but thankfully did manage to find a tourist center. the lady behind the counter was extremely helpful and was able to help me find an inexpensive hotel at the last minute. she told me i was extremely lucky since i arrived on a tuesday and not anywhere near the weekend.

suffice it to say, the rest is history...

i've been here for two nights now and leave tomorrow afternoon. i've been having a blast just walking around by myself and people-watching. it also happens that i'm about a fifteen minutes walk away from the gay district of osaka, and i explored the area on my first night. there are over a hundred bars here, and some are more than thirty years old. thankfully, i was able to borrow a friend's camera and have been taking loads of pictures since i arrived. i can't wait to upload them when i arrive back in seoul.

Monday, September 27, 2010

i am going to Osaka, Japan this week from tuesday (28th) to friday (30th).

anyone want to grab a beer there?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

sometimes, you just have to swallow your pride and do what needs to get done...

that's not to say that i don't fucking absolutely hate it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the bar i work at is in a triangular shape in the third floor of a building, and the largest wall is comprised of window from the halfway point and up. the view is of a busier intersection in the low-key neighborhood, which is again one of the two largest gay sections in seoul, and i can always see drunk dudes outside showing pda, trying to hail a cab, knocked-out cold on the floor, vomiting, or stumbling like they're about to pass out from alcohol poisoning. anyway, gaping out windows in general is a favorite personal past-time of mine and i do admit there are instances when i mindlessly daydream and lose a sense of where i am for a moment.

sometimes my boss notices me aimlessly gazing into nothing outside the window, and he always asks what i'm so deep in thought about. 99% of the time, i'm usually thinking about how i wish i had more job options in seoul and didn't have to work for chump change and feel like a low-budget escort---but i always respond to him with a sigh and comforting, "oh, nothing."

on a side note, i'm going on a date tomorrow with another guy who asked for my number the other night. he came in with a friend and gave me and my coworker these cupcakes that were so beautiful that i didn't want to ruin them by eating it. then he eventually ended up asking me out. from the brief conversations we did have, he's 24, is studying tourism, and has worked in the kitchen of a bakery for the past six years. i doubt it'll go past the first date (because i have commitment issues and am a serial dater) but i guess we'll see.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

just because my blog is desperately void of images, here are some taken from my shitty camera phone.

the buses and subways in seoul don't run from midnight-5am, so sometimes i'm forced to drink until the wee hours of the morning since i can't be riding taxis home all the time. my boss took me and my coworker out for some good old soju last night after we closed the bar. the neighborhood where i work has this one street that's lined with street-food-vendors and you basically can sit there, eat some good korean food and drink lots of soju while having good conversation (this especially is my favorite way to drink). while there's countless other busy streets in seoul lined with these sort of places to eat and drink, what's different about this particular street of establishments is that all the customers at these street-food-vendors are gay. it's fun to people watch at these places and all the older women who run these stands are gay-friendly so the environment is comfortable. i've also been told that if you go alone, some of the ladies will even introduce you to other customers and try to play matchmaker.

anyway, this is me drunk and wasted on the bus going home this morning at 6am.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

i started a part-time job this past weekend at a bar in seoul.

the pay is pathetic and absolutely sucks (yes, it's really that bad and i am not exaggerating), but i figure at the moment, it's better than nothing. there is no tipping in korea, so imagine working around drunk people in a nine hour shift on something that's less than minimum wage and having to deal with the monster that is the service industry in korea.

the intriguing thing about the whole situation is that it's a low-key gay bar in one of the largest gay neighborhoods in seoul. i NEVER would have imagined that i would be doing this sort of work, but life is funny like that. thanks to my experience of working in nyc restaurants and bars, i find the job pretty easy and interesting to say the least. one of my favorite parts is seeing so many different types of gay koreans. they come in all walks of life and i love people-watching them in the background of their natural habitat. i feel like i'm tuning into a really long episode of a program on animal planet sometimes.

most of the customers are pleasant and cordial, but of course there's always some fucking idiots who makes me want to shake them violently. i would say the hardest thing for me is the language barrier, and sometimes i don't know what the hell customers are talking about. they'll order a black russian in a korean accent, and i have to repeat their order a few times with a confused look on my face until i'm sure i have it right. this awkward back-and-forth dialogue does get cumbersome, but i try and tell myself that i'm not doing anything that's changing the world and that i need to not give a fuck.

this might seem like a generalization, but wouldn't you agree that many gay men strive to be more cultured and worldly than the average joe schmo standing next to them on the street? with that being said, it's nice that some of the gay koreans who come into the bar speak a little english and i'm grateful at those moments when i don't have to speak in broken korean. there's also quite a number of foreigners who come in, and interacting with them is nice as well. i've already talked with people from ohio, alabama, california, japan, etc. diversity is awesome.

as for many of the gay koreans who come in, i usually always have the same exact conversation with each one of them. the following is a transcript:

customer: your accent sounds like you've lived outside of korea for a while.
me: oh yes, i'm actually from america.
customer: oh wow. how old were you when you immigrated?
me: i was actually born in nyc.
customer: what are you doing here?
me: i moved to seoul a few months ago and am looking for work. i'm just doing this part time until i find something.
customer: why did you move here??
me: i just needed a change. i was bored in nyc.
customer: bored in nyc? *shocked laughter* how is that possible?
me: i was born there. lived there. went to college there and was working there afterwards. i just wanted to do something different.
customer: your korean is pretty good for a korean-american!
me: thank you. *humbly laughs*
customer: did you have a boyfriend in nyc?
me: i was single.
customer: why not? you've never had a boyfriend?
me: nope. i had one once for a short time.
customer: what's your 'style' aka type?
me: i don't really have a type.
customer: of course you do, we all have a type.
me: okay i guess i'm not into immature people and prefer more low-key guys.
customer: do you have a boyfriend in seoul?
me: nope.
customer: have you met any special people since you came?
me: mmm, not really. *laughs nervously*
customer: are those tattoos in korean?? what do they say?? *grabs my arms to study them*
me: oh. they're poems. this one is my mom's favorite poem, and the one on my other arm is my favorite poem by the same poet. this one is an illustration from my favorite book that changed my life when i was a kid, and this one i got with my cousin when i was eighteen.
customer: and you really don't have a boyfriend?
me: nope. *awkwardly laughs*

i have slightly modified versions of this very conversation a countless number of times throughout my shift. i'm thinking of getting a t-shirt printed that lists all my answers so i won't have to explain it a million times a night. of course i'm also very friendly when i engage with customers, but what we talk about has become so predictable (including my answers) and i need to think of ways from zoning out mid-conversation.

i will admit that one of the biggest ego-boosters of the job is getting hit on by customers, which surprisingly happens a lot more than i would have ever anticipated. i'm always extremely humbled by the compliments and don't know how to react to them, but it does get awkward when they ask for my phone number... however, i usually give it to them because i haven't yet mastered how to politely decline these dudes in korean---i'm working on it, though.

anyway, until i find a full-time job that will provide me with a visa, i guess i'll be pouring drinks and cleaning ashtrays on the weekends.

life is awesome. (no, it really is).

Thursday, September 16, 2010


confront it.

always continue to grow.

my failures do not define me.

my insecurities do not define me.

stop thinking about the past or the future, and think about today. rewinding and fast-forwarding life is a negative distraction and does nothing to help with the present.

opportunities will come.

be patient with people.

have a good attitude.

true love is out there somewhere.

learn to let go.

...i surrender.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

if i don't either smash something made of glass or have a good sob session, i think i might lose it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

it rains a lot in korea. like, fucking a lot. and if it's not raining it's humid as hell. and if it's not humid as hell it's cloudy and on the verge of raining. someone please tell me where i can buy a t-shirt that says "i survived the summer weather of seoul in 2010 and all i got was this lousy t-shirt." i hope i'm i'm still able to stay in korea through the winter to see the first snow fall of the season, that's all i ask for. i need to sleep, i feel delirious. i realized that i have way too much free time that is spent alone. i have nothing but my own thoughts and anxieties to obsessively mull over---it's an ugly, vicious cycle. however, i can momentarily pause the cycle by keeping busy. i've met some really amazing people in seoul in the short time i've been here. some are people i can't imagine not knowing here, and it just solidifies my belief in fate. you know how the plots of some korean dramas are absolutely nuts and just so far out there? the crazier thing is after being in korea, your life can slightly start to resemble a korean drama as well. if only i had the energy to discuss all my seoul dating stories, it would sound like a a korean soap opera that's destined to conjure scoffs and eye-rolling in disbelief by viewers. there are just so many random story-lines and characters in unexpected settings, it's all pretty hilarious. i started smoking cigarettes here on a regular basis. a pack costs about $2.25 and lasts me a few days. culturally, smoking cigarettes as a male is widely accepted because i believe it makes you look more like a man, and smoking cigarettes is just what korean men do (according to korea). you can also basically smoke anywhere in this country and there's even ashtrays next to urinals. i always get the strong urge to drink and get obliterated every night. i just want to drink soju and have good conversation while getting wasted. i guess i switched substances/vices from the ones i had in nyc, but my underlying issue of addiction is still going well and strong. i moved into a windowless room last week. i sometimes like not having a window because i can go to bed at 7am and not feel crazy. there's no sunrise or noise of people starting to wake up to the world and start their days. there's no sound of cars honking or rain pouring down, but just complete darkness and silence---i can appreciate it sometimes. i like to go on the rooftop of the building to smoke cigarettes. i live off a huge road in a part of seoul that has the country's number one art school, so the neighborhood is always bustling. i usually stand on the rooftop and stare at the cars and people passing by. recent polls done by the voices in my head have resulted in the following stats---after midnight, from the seoul-ites who are out walking on the street: 50% have consumed at least one alcoholic drink, 30% are shit-face wasted, 15% are on their way to drink more, and 5% of people are on their way home from work. i like being on the rooftop when t's raining and there appears to be hundreds of cars waiting for the stoplight, and all their windshield-wipers seem to be moving simultaneously. left-right, left-right. they all suspiciously look to be moving in in unison. maybe just like the moon effects the tides in the ocean, the rain does the same for windshield wipers? actually i have no idea since the wipers wouldn't even be on if it wasn't for the rain. sometimes i go to 24-hour cafes late at night when i'm feeling lonely and need to be around people. it's most interesting on friday and saturday nights around 3-4am because the cafes are filled with inebriated kids waiting for the subways to start back up at 5am in order to go home. most of them drunkenly pass out on the sofas or with their heads on the tables, but there's always one person in each group who stays up to watch over them and wake everyone up as soon as it turns 5am. i always i want to give kudos to that member of the group and congratulate them for being a reliable pal. then i wonder if they all drew straws at the start of their night to designate who would be the time-keeper/subway lookout for the night, or if they all take turns within the group and switch every time they go out. or maybe it's just that person's paranoid personality and they choose to be the one that stays awake since no one else ever does. on the night i departed nyc for seoul, my best friend/roommate gave me a framed group photo with all my other friends/roommates. the photo was taken at our housewarming party last year, and we're standing in our kitchen while one of my roommates is holding madden (our fifth, canine-friend roommate). sometimes i stare at the photo and realize how much i miss them. when i'm alone and in my windowless room trying to figure out what the fuck i'm doing with my life here in seoul, i study the photo and wish i was back at the apartment. then i think about how much i miss my sister and wish i could call her and hear her voice. but we have to take chances in life, right? if people didn't take leaps of faith or walk blindly into a situation, society would be very boring. but what if these risks and leaps of faith don't turn out the way you planned, and instead you feel royally fucked? at least i took a chance. well, that's what i like to tell myself to make me feel better. truth is, i've never known what i've been doing with my life. no matter what my job is, or what i'm doing in life, i still always question everything and never feel fulfilled. i am a perpetually miserable person. i've accepted it but am still learning how to use the trait into something useful in life. i'm trying to write more, and i guess being a miserable person makes it a lot easier to get some of my thoughts on paper. i can't imagine writing about sunshine and rainbows, it's just not me. but if it was me, i'm pretty sure i'd wonder how people wrote about morbid and depressing stuff. i know we all are to some extent, but god, i feel so fucked in the head sometimes. i don't feel normal. but the world will always have people like me around, as well as all the happy people who consider themselves normal. i mean someone needs to fill the quotas of all the different types of personalities that exist, right? i have irrational anxieties. when i'm near anyone fishing, i always make sure to not be anywhere behind them when they're tossing out their line into the water. i always fear that one of my ears of nostrils will get caught in their hooks. i hate riding in cars because i think we're going to get into an accident. for most occasions, unless it's raining or i'm feel tired or miserable, i always rather take public transportation than step inside a car. being inside a subway or city bus feels makes me feel safe. i guess the upside to that is i'm doing my part to save on fuel and lessen my carbon footprint. i'm craving good vietnamese food from flushing and halal from the cart on 6th avenue and 43rd street. i don't know what i'm rambling about. i need sleep. it's 6:23am and i have no idea what time the sun rises anymore. having no window does have its ups.
does anyone else think that people who hold up "free hugs!" signs while standing at intersections busy with foot traffic are just really desperate for attention?

Friday, September 10, 2010

you know how sometimes in movies, someone is sleeping and then they hear a voice whisper their name into their ear and it immediately wakes them up?

yeah, totally happened to me today. i was sleeping and i heard a man's voice whisper my full name in korean. it scared the shit out of me.

Monday, September 06, 2010

i moved into a room in hongdae with no windows and just enough free space for me to take two small steps... but who needs natural light or room to stretch when i have my own toilet.
i've been wandering for too long.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

one of the great things about korea is that korean food is so cheap and delicious here (duh).

in nyc, i rarely went to korean restaurants to grill meat because the prices seemed so outrageous in comparison to just doing it at home. but in korea, grilling meat is really inexpensive and sometimes cheaper than going to mcdonald's and getting a #1. i think you also save money by not grilling meat at home because you'd also have to prepare all the vegetables, sauces and side dishes that are a standard part of the meal. also, drinking a bottle or two of soju at these establishments doesn't add too much damage to the bill either, so a good time can always be had.

i try not to go out and eat grilled meat too frequently here, but if i had a choice and didn't give a shit about my body, i would eat it everyday.

here our a few photos that my friend, and also a fellow BLOGGER, took when we out for dinner and beers a few nights ago.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010