Here now and now here or nowhere

The title of this blog comes from a play on words that "now here" is also the same letters as "nowhere" just with a space added in the middle. I am always trying to get better at being in the here and now, and I've always been a bit of a joker so that is why I chose this name.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

don't let our youth go to waste

it's another rainy, grey day in Korea. I need to leave where i am staying and move on to other regions. But the language barrier is providing some difficulties of contacting the other farms. so for today I'm listening to Galaxie 500 and working on the next steps.

this video is the only one i could find of the Galaxie 500 version of this song. never saw rumble fish, though read that and I think every other S.E. Hinton book.

Monday, March 29, 2010

cold feet

Today while cleaning the guest house I got the non proverbial cold feet. The guest house is not used very much so they don't heat the floors there like they do in our residence. So while cleaning it today I found my feet to be incredibly cold, if not freezing. You leave your shoes at the front door in Korean houses, so I found myself barefoot and incredibly cold in the feet. Luckily, upstairs there are a pair of slippers that just sort of barely fit me. So I put them on to get my feet a bit more warm Below is the picture, in all gloriousness that is them.

Fasting sucks

No, I don't have the wrong holiday. I know it's passover and not Yom Kippur. I'm not fasting for religious reasons, per se. Zarina, the other girl staying at Santi-Suk (my current residence in Korea) fasts every monday as part of her religious practice. I decided that this monday (today) I would fast with her as well. It would not be for any religious value but more so because yesterday I ate a good amount of food while in town and also because currently I am going through some life things and I felt the fast could be good for body and soul.

Well, I'm not sure how good it is but I know that I am incredibly hungry right now. I took a very big nap today either because I was actually tired or just had low blood sugar. I have 45minutes more to go and I am ravenous!!! But I did stick through with it, even though I had many times when I thought it was pointless and I should just go eat a bowl of rice and kimchi. I know that taking one day off from eating isn't really that difficult and I am sure there is more meaning behind the why and how and what I did or could learn from this.

The good news is that each minute I take writing this post, is one minute closer to dinner :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

this is how i sleep

From talking with a few people back in the states today, i realized that i've talked a bit about my sleeping arrangements but not too in depth. So here it is in word and graphic form.  I essentially sleep on a small foam/padded thing and that is it.  it's very light and thin and extremely comfortable.  on top of me is a cover.  the key to the goodnights sleep is the heated floor. What an ingenious idea!  you can read a bit more about it here   as for me, i'm going to bed in a warm bed now, powered by the wood i chopped down a few days ago. :)

Jinbu Day 2

Today we went back to Jinbu.  What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday was snowy and cold. Today, sunny and well not as cold (but still cold. brrrr)
The reason we went is because the little girl who was staying with us really wanted a red bean fried cake, so Zarina and I were the babysitters and also were given a little list of things to pick up.  There was an open market today though so we got to have a fun little experience.  The girl was just like an ahjumma (an older korean lady, usually bossy) which was really funny for Zarina and me.  I got to try a lot of different foods which i really dig. Soondae, pigs feet/ham hocks, some type of larvae, and PICKLES!!! (the pickled soy sauce garlic was the shit!).  So all in all, it was a pretty fun day. Also, some old scary korean lady told me I was very handsome. So i got that going for me, which is nice!

Fried food vendor in the market

various snack foods. we got some of those red things in front. very tasty

a vendor selling roots and herbs

vendor selling tons of random stuff.

pigs feet and hamhocks.. delicious

pickled products. YAY!!!! banchan or side dishes

more pickled products.

larvae... not so delicious.

dried stingray. sort of curious about this one


no idea what this was at all

cute puppies for sale. cute puppies who were rolling around in their own feces.

quail i presume

soondae!!! yum

a Fntastic shirt or maybe F'n tastic. :)

couldn't figure the deal with this dude but a good photo shot none the less

heading into town

Today Zarina and I decided to go to Jinbu, the closest town to where we are staying. The is a bus about 2km away from where we are staying that can take you into Jinbu, however we didn't know how often it comes and it was also snowing incredibly much and not too warm. As we walked to the stop I half jokingly suggested hitchhiking and stuck my thumb out as a car passed by. The car stopped and we decided to get in. This is Korea after all, it really may be one of the safest places I've ever been to. The driver and his friends were going to a nearby hot springs and were able to drive us a few km up the road. We passed the bus stop but decided that since our stop is the last, that we'd see the bus coming past us first before turning around and we could walk to each next bus stop or maybe be able to hitch a ride. After about 15 or 20 min of walking and still no bus we got to a busy intersection and were able to hitch another ride with a nice older gentleman (and his cute dog in the front seat) to Jinbu. Success!!!

Zarina's blog post about it here

what we were up against walking to town

A tasty looking cake in town

i got mandu (veggie ones) Zarina got the red bean cakes

a view of the town

I was so excited to see another white face in town. We didn't get his name but he is a local school teacher and he doesn't love the town. alas...
Fish market, nice octopus tentacles in front

hanging fish

an impressive little coffee shop. single drip cups.

super cute kid in the coffee shop

zarina dipping her red bean fish shaped cake into the coffee

the bus ride back home

the countryside as we walked home from the bus stop

Friday, March 26, 2010

and all of a sudden my night got a lot more interesting...

Another friday night in Gangwon-Do South Korea.. hanging out, watching The Wire on my laptop and then watching the baby sleep, wake, cry, feed, back to sleep.  Then at 8:20pm the night turned for the better.  4 people showed up at the house, friends of the family I presumed but didn't know for sure as a) I don't speak a lick of korean and b) the parents of the house weren't home.  Two kids and their two parents came into the house, said hello to Hojin and Haein (the kids of this house) and then they asked for rice. They were hungry. Unfortunately the house was running low on food but fortunately these visitors brought some of their own food. Pig, actually. I have been easting only veggies and squid/cuttlefish since being here so the site of raw meat was both a little sickening and appetizing (pork belly/bacon always looks good, doesn't it?)  Within minutes I was helping them (barely helping at that) make kimchi chigae, a dish i really love to eat and now have the know how to make. And let me tell you this, it's easy... REAL easy.  Sadly, I already ate kimchi bokumbap (kimchi fried rice) and was too full to eat, but i look forward to leftovers for sure!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

a walk in the woods

It's around 40 degrees fahrenheit (if that warm), snowing, and I an sweating. Why? Well Santi and I just went for a walk and ended up climbing a local mountain peak. The place where i am staying in Korea is in the valley surrounded by numerous mountains. It's stunningly beautiful everywhere i look and today I decided to get the birds eye view.  The hike wasn't too bad or steep as this was a smaller peak, but it was beautiful and full of nature none the less. I am contemplating running it tomorrow with her. :)

Santi looking at me as we stop for a photoshoot near the top

Skyline view near the top

Santi and the view

Skyline view from the top. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

And once in a while

"And once in a while,
I know our hearts beat of time.
And once in a while,
I know they'll fall back in line."

Been listening to "In the Summertime" off of The Rural Alberta Advantage's album "Hometowns" a lot recently. Though I'm in Korea in the cold winter far from summertime weather, I feel so connected to this song right now. Our hearts are beating out of time right now. But as long as we're alive, and our hearts are still pumping blood then we'll figure it all out. Because our love is strong, our love is strong, our love is strrroooong.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

snowy days are meant for cutting wood

today was a day that a guy can really like. waking up to the mountains around covered in snow. a chill in the air but so much natural beauty surrounding us.  I didn't feel that i had been doing too much work here at the wwoof spot and my jewish guilt was getting to me a bit. but today more than made up for it. today we played with wood.

Mr Lee, the brother to the mother of the house i am at, and I got to cut some logs  with a chainsaw. i don't know any guy who doesn't love playing with saw and power tools. combine them together and you got yourself a chainsaw.  these things rock. and using them to cut into logs that are lying in stacks on the front law is down right AWESOME.  

once done cutting and moving them from one side of the lawn to the other with a wheel barrow came the next fun part of the day. we chopped wood. the tools of choice? these axe heads that had handles of either small trees or big branches.  this was old school, this was rugged. at one point one of the handles split so we had to take the wood left in the axehead out and put a new "pole" in. this was how it was done for years, it worked then and can work now. here's the process we used for chopping the wood.  we'd land the axe into the center of the log. next the axe swinger would hold the handle while the other person would take a sledgehammer like mallet and hit the axe head, delivering it deeper and deeper until the wood would split. next the axe swinger would take, usually, one chop down the halves to split them. then we'd move to the next log.

needless to say, it was very, very, VERY fun. Tiring, but fun.

After that we demolished a cement well in the yard, but that wasn't as fun as playing with wood.  

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

yoga as prayer

In the school of raja yoga there are 8 different limbs or subsets. the most commonly associated limb with yoga in the US is asana, the postures. I got into yoga as a way to stretch more to help my running out. pretty soon running became second to yoga. i was doing it 7 times or more a week. i couldn't get enough. but it was purely the asana i was doing, and it was purely physical. sure i got little touches of other things here and there, we all do when we do yoga it's one of the reasons we keep going back for more. but it's mainly about physicality not prayer for most. I went to yoga school for a few reasons. 1) a second skillset i could fall back on or use if needed/wanted to. 2) to "deepen my practice" and become more skilled at the postures. 3) to learn more about this things that i had been practicing for so long. what is yoga? what is the origins… etc.

Of course yoga is different for each person. but part of the school of yoga that isn't a limb is prayer. you have your mantras and your pujas and your kirtans. all forms of prayer to the higher gods and the gods within ourselves. but this is not asana. asana is not prayer. or is it?

Yesterday I had Zarina, my fellow WWOOF housemate here show me how to practice Salat, or the muslim prayer 5 times a day. though it didn't really click with me (don't worry mom, i'm not changing my Judaism to Islam) i did appreciate it what it meant. There was a lot of movement going on it. Bend over, stand up, kneel, sit down (in a position similar to virasana), stand again. repeat. almost like a vinyasa of sorts.

After learning Salat, i went to practice my yoga for the day. I kept thinking of the similarities of the asana practice with Salat. then i started to think of the asana as a purification of the body and a prayer to the god within myself. I went through my practice and kept thinking that this time it was a prayer, that asana can be seen as a prayer for ourselves and i felt that having this view also helped deepen my practice for the day. If you are an active practicer, maybe you would want to try this as well and see how it works for you.



It's another cold day here. I wake up on my sleep mat under the cover, a completely different sleeping experience. no memory foam coil spring mattress with duvets and comforters to keep you nestled up in a warm cocoon of soft goodness. no, this is a mat and a cover. and you know what? it works just fine. I wake up on my side, another night dreaming that i was sleeping next to my girlfriend. but she isn't there and I am alone in this big cold room.

how many days has it been? 4, 5 maybe? feels like an eternity. I've traveled for longer than 5 days before and it never seemed like this before. time never moved so slow. i'm sure when it's all done and i'm back home, I'll have wished that i had more time, but now that i have the time i just wish i was back home. or that a part of home, jill, was with me. I guess when i traveled alone in europe for a month i had some friends and family along the way and i didn't have anything waiting for me back home. that was part of this trip and why i could go for so long, originally i had nothing at home. no house, no kids, no pets, no mortgage, no girlfriend. somewhere along the way home i rediscovered my amazing love with Jill. now i have a girlfriend (an amazing one at that), and i am not home with her. instead i am in the near siberian climate of eastern korea and wondering if maybe i should just come home early. I know it sounds silly, 4 days away from your girlfriend is nothing. and it really is nothing. but i think it's more of the adding up of 4 days here, 4 days there, 3 months here… etc… etc… I feel that in time this will get easier for both of us. as we settle into the facts and get familiar with the lack of touch from the other but constant email and phone call contact, things will get easier. we're just in a new uncharted territory at the moment. give it time to breathe, as my yoga guru's would say.

even as i write this, i know it's true. also, the sun starting to come out as i type these words also helps my disposition out. ahhh, sun. my old happy friend. you really do make things seem so much happier and brighter.

still in jetlag mode, i slept for 10 hours last night and could easily sleep more but i want to see what Nandida, my host mom here, would like me to do today. i'm hoping to either chop wood or stay inside, as it's cooooooold outside.

Monday, March 15, 2010

bus travels

on a bus traveling to Jinbu from Seoul. clearly a different geographical landscape on the eastern roads of Korea compared with Seoul. Mountains covered in traces of snow surround us as we pass through the valleys beneath. I'm never really sure where i am. I see signs and buildings decorated in characters and words that I don't recognize. But I recognize the nature, and i soak it in as much as i can from the bus. we make the first stop in some town I can't pronounce and will soon forget. I ask the bus driver what time we'll be leaving so that i know if i have time to hit the bathroom and/or get a beverage for the road. of course his lack of english and my lack of korean make this simple question extremely difficult. I chance it and do both with a little time to spare. the next stop is Jinbu, my stop. I arrive and go to the pay phone, what looks to be an old archaic thing. i put the change in, make the call and talk a little before being disconnected. hang up, repeat until i find out that the car is out at the place i'm staying so i am told to take a taxi. I walk to the taxi stand and attempt to tell the ppl there where i need to go which ends up with me pointing the phone # i have and having them call the place to find out where the heck i need to go. 17,000 won later and i'm at the "farm." this farm is actually a small hotel, however it's off season so no guests here. I'm a little confused on what work i'll need to do but am hoping small carpentry and help with cooking will be needed. hey, a guy can dream right? wood and food skills are two things i wish to learn more about.

after arriving i get a small tour, take a well needed jetlagged nap and then get woken up for dinner. a white bean broth soup and various panchan (small dishes). i make small talk with the host family, as small talk is all we both only know or are able to get by with with each of our litle knowledge of the others language.

now it's time to sleep for the night, and see what tomorrow brings.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bon Voyage...finally

I'm somewhere over the Pacific and flying to my destination of Incheon Airport, Korea. Having just finished watching one of the inflight movies, 2010, I'm left feeling these emotions that I've been putting off for the last 6 weeks or so. Though 2010 was far from a good movie by any means, (actually quite predictable and unfathomable in almost every way) I found myself getting heavily worked up at some of the generic "tearjerker" scenes. Thoughts of family, my girlfriend, and other loved ones rush through my head. thoughts of people I won't see for quite a long time. I don't think I knew then, nor now, what I actually signed up for when I booked this journey. But now it is slowly, very slowly, sinking in. A flash of tears and pain rush through my body, salty water drips down my cheeks.

The last few weeks I was too wrapped up in tying up the loose ends to get to this spot. I missed seeing a lot of friends and saying good bye to them, and I am sorry for that. I didn't call a lot of people back or missed correspondence with others. where as previously I could just wait a week or more to return a call to anyone, now it will be a much longer delay. this is something that made sense logically to me, but being in the situation itself proves opposite. It's something I couldn't fathom until I got to this spot. and now i am here, and not sure where to go or what to do from it.

Yeah, I'm scared. I feel lonelier than i've ever felt before, and I've barely begun. But, as people keep telling me, I've got a great journey ahead of me.

Leaving Jill's apartment today just seemed like another day. Sure we kissed goodbye a lot longer but it felt like I'd be back later that night to swoop her up in my arms and sleep comfortably next to. I didn't cry as i left, and of course i didn't say goodbye. how could i? I'd be back quickly. It didn't feel like a goodbye, it didn't feel sad. it felt like every other day. I was in a denial of sorts. I'm now holding comfort in the words of my friend Jessalyn when she said, "goodbye is such a stupid word, nothing is ever goodbye". So it wasn't a goodbye, just an extended "see you later, lover." Yet, I'm left still wishing that i could have done more for her, for me, for us.

Before the boarding process I made my last calls to the family and my best friend tom as well as numerous texts back and forth with Jill. I'll call when i can from abroad, but hearing the voices and "see you laters" of my brother and parents really helped cement in the upcoming trip more and more, and I could feel the distance already creeping in up and over and all around me.

When I boarded the plane i broke down again for just a minute, the sunglasses hiding my saline filled eyes. I called Jill to tell her that i love her and i could feel the sadness i was holding in myself as well as causing upon her. what I wouldn't give to have her here holding my hand as we travel to uncharted territory. but that isn't the current plan, and at this moment this can not happen.

so now I sit in my seat, preparing to take a nap next to a pleasant japanese fellow instead of falling asleep in my beautiful girlfriends arms. Instead of falling asleep in the room I grew up in. Instead of falling asleep in my brothers guest room. Oh, I'll be ok, I know this. I'm just in a new territory both geographically and emotionally. It's something I guess i just need to work through and we'll see where i come out on the other side.