You’re not ‘stuck in a rut.’

You’re not ‘stuck in a rut.’

How to be happy you’re alive.

 

I’m annoyed, frustrated and generally pissed that people cannot seem to grasp the simple idea that life is monotonous. Just like so-and-so says in The Princess Bride*, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.” When you don’t feel like ripping today a new asshole or you don’t feel like being awesome or you just want to eat junk food and play video games, that’s called Regressing to the Mean. It’s normal. It’s all part of your human existence within a thing called math. At some point, over the course of some time, you MUST regress because growth only and solely upward is impossible; the math says so.

Thus, the thing that every person dumb enough to pick up a self-help book needs to understand is that life is monotony, the everyday experience of experiencing everyday experiences every day. Awesome days cannot be awesome against the backdrop of every day being awesome. And days of misery cannot be miserable against the backdrop of every day being miserable. Get it? The daily routine of monotony is the baseline of your life that really gives your life (all the awesome and miserable days, events and experiences) its meaning.

For the creative types, “one of those days (or weeks or months)” are absolutely necessary. Your brain requires time to mull and digest information. There are input times and output times. The output times are obvious to spot; you’re outputting creatively. Input times have been mislabeled as “stuck in a rut.” Instead of contemplating your life in such hopeless terms, realize the truth, instead of seeking advice. This “rut” phase is your brain’s input time. Instead of forcing and hoping and lamenting about how you’re so unmotivated, realize that this is the time when your brain needs to rest, perhaps even sleep. Read a book. Sit outside in the sun. Do nothing.

You’re not going to feel awesome every single fucking day. Some people never get to experience the feeling of feeling awesome. And I’d even go so far as to say that everyone’s idea of what makes them feel awesome is different. Why are we all pretending as if we want the same thing? We don’t. I have yet to actually meet another writer who has the same sort of aspirations as I do as a writer. And yet, we all lump ourselves in together and hope to gain knowledge from someone who has found “success.” But another person’s success cannot ever be yours.

So now, I understand how hopeless my efforts are as this is, in fact, a piece of advice, but that advice is to stop taking advice. Instead of being just like everyone else who seeks advice, seek truth, knowledge. The only place to find this sort of content is within books. Your local library has a healthy supply of them, and guess what, all the books are free to borrow!

In short, you’re not stuck in a rut; you’re stuck in this thing we all call life. Get over yourself; relieve yourself of the pressure to be and achieve something all day, every day. The only way to find yourself is to actually spend time with yourself, and so, when you find yourself stuck with yourself (whenever you see yourself as “in a rut”) instead of lamenting about how you wish things were, show a little gratitude for keeping yourself alive, alive enough to want more than the mundanity that living affords so well.


*written by William Goldman

Seattle doesn’t look good in sunlight.

Seattle doesn’t look good in sunlight.

A non-native’s ten-month stay in the Emerald City Part I

We moved into our apartment in Seattle, Washington, on 1 January 2019 after living in an airbnb for about three weeks while we searched for said apartment, and we will move out of this place on 31 October 2019. Since I’ve been mentally checked out of here for about two months now (after a rousing experience with some Chinese “entrepreneurs” went sour quite quickly after discovering that the “management” had some serious “issues”), my mind is clearly revealing some of the theories its developed about this place, and one of them regards the rain.

We had lived in South Korea for the past five years, and upon our departure, moved to New Zealand. Our plan was to fly to Auckland and decide whether or not we would stay. Under the assumption that we would love it and want to live there (oh so badly), we booked departure flights ten weeks after our arrival, hoping that would be enough time to decide whether or not we would stay (and we booked that flight to Honolulu [a cheap destination from NZ, quite frankly, and cheap enough to flush if we did indeed stay {and we had to book outbound flights because we lacked visas for our arrival but can easily stay with US Passports for up to three months as visitors}]). Unfortunately, after about ten days, we realized that there was no fucking way we were going to stay there. As urbanites, willful city mice, Auckland was not enough of a city for us, and NZ as a whole is rural. Obviously, we knew this going into it, but we thought that there would at least be some character to the city, some culture, some anything. But alas, Auckland is a little baby city and will require quite a lot more time to really mature into something interesting, a place of real interest. And NZ really feels like the edge of the world, and we were wanting to stay connected, get reconnected.

These things I am saying about NZ may seem obvious to most of you, so just go ahead and call me The Idiot. Despite having about two months to burn in a place we didn’t want to stay (for us, meaning no longer wanting to spend our money in), we tried to make the most of it. I started a Meetup for writers and met a handful of people (one of whom was American, funnily enough) who were all very friendly and amicable but who lacked … ambition. Everyone was so content, and it was a beautiful thing to behold. Just not the place for us.

And so, we also spent many hours of those two months deciding where in the United States we were willing to live. After much debate, we settled on Seattle. The climate in Seoul is a sort of hellish nightmare-scape. I needed some relief from the bitter, biting, relentless cold of winter and the melting, muggy, suffocating weight of summer. Seattle is supposed to be temperate. Seattle is supposed to be gloomy. Seattle is supposed to be wet and rainy. Seattle is supposed to be mild. And it is, but it’s also way too sunny for its own good.

From what I can gather from strangers is that this past summer was unusually sunny. The last winter was unusually snowy as well. The temperatures and climate overall were more extreme this year than past years, which screams to me climate change, duh (and Seattle has supposedly made some major changes, but those changes are not being reflected in the cost of living). And so, to my theory.

Native Seattleans were born into a climate of rain and gloom. Sure there are sunny days but not like the ones of late. Thus, there is a certain air about them, a somber sort of goth depression and a “don’t give a fuck” kind of attitude. This demeanor and thereby aesthetic suits rainy days, the gloom and darkness of long stretches of overcast spitting-type rain very well, extremely well; the two came together out of the climate conditions of Seattle itself. In the bright light of a sun-filled day, the look is a bit heavy.

Seeing a Native Seattlean in broad, cloudless sunshine feels like seeing a turtle out of its shell; they look a bit naked, pale, white. And maybe they are all trying to soak up as much sun as they can, when they can, but the general aesthetic is not pleasing. The worst part, however, is the climate change. This past summer, Seattle felt like a place where there is a lot of sunshine, but the type of people who live in places with a lot of sunshine are not like the type of people who do not. Thus, there were a few instances of people who live in sunshine climates strutting around in Seattle during the height of summer, and even they looked out of place. Seattle’s climate forces people who exist within it to dress and thereby look a very strange way. There’s really no way to look good. Not that looking good is important or even worthy of something about which to be written.

Anyway, Seattle feels full (and I use “full” in comparison here as this city feels mostly empty, either dead or dying or preparing itself for a boom) of mostly people who have been shipped in for work in the tech sector. We have met few natives and we’ve met even fewer people our own age (everyone being either older or younger than us), yet everyone we see while walking around seems to be our age. And obviously, Seattle, too, feels like a little baby city with a little too much sprawl, expensive public transportation, and nothing to offer as far as the fun of “street culture” (street food, street fashion) is concerned.

It’s raining again after about two solid months of hot summer sunshine, and I’m excited and energized by the gloom that rainy weather brings. This is why we chose this place for our ten-month stay, after all. I cannot honestly admit that it has been nice, but it’s been whatever it is that this time was supposed to be. Is it someplace I would ever like to live again? No. Am I upset that I lived here during this time? No. My point is simply that Seattle looks good in the rain; the sunshine only highlights its flaws.

Surviving Seoul Summers

Surviving Seoul Summers

HOY2: D231

Thorough Thursday

How-To: Survive the Summer Heat in Seoul

I don’t believe that it’s a secret that the temperatures in Seoul, South Korea, are somewhat uncomfortable for the average human being. That being said, I am less-average in the sense that I’ve always lived in the mountains, which means, frigid winters and mild summers (of course, these days, that does not seem to be the case up in the mountain region from whence I came). Thus, I have never enjoyed hot climates, and so, I find summertime in Seoul less than desirable; actually I find the general climate of Seoul to be less than desirable all the time, but this is not about that. With that said, I have recently discovered a way to enjoy the heat, just in time, no doubt. Even though the temperature hasn’t hit blistering levels quite yet, I have tested out my new strategy a few times already, and I imagine that my plan will work swimmingly even as the temperature climbs.

None of what I’m about to say will be ground-breaking insight nor will it be anything but obvious.

Nevertheless, I do feel like sharing this little tidbit because, well, I’m finished with my fiction writing quota for the day, and now I’m bored. So, here it is! Well, I suppose the plan is two-fold and includes tips and tricks (a tip, no tricks) for getting to know Seoul as a whole along with my cooling method. For starters, you must know that I have lived in Seoul for three years now, and honestly, the city has become a bit … redundant. The lifemate and I have slowly been discovering that pretty much every nook and cranny of the city has much of the same things going on … shopping …eating … hiking … a level of consumer drivel that’s out of this world. Despite this general lack of diversity (in every sense and form), each neighborhood does usually have one major attraction or eatery that will be new and distinct. And so, my first (only) tip and trick.

When deciding where to explore within Seoul, the best thing to do is find the nearest subway station to your current location. Once you know where you’re located within the city, use this MAP to determine a location that’s about thirty to forty minutes away by subway. I think that most people under the age of forty will have no problem using the map, since it’s pretty self-explanatory. If you are having a hard time figuring it out, just start clicking on the little dots on the screen next to each subway station name, and everything should become clearer to you. If you’re still having problems, leave a comment, and hopefully, someone will help you out.

Okay, so now that you know which subway station is your closest station, choose, at random, a subway station that’s approximately thirty to forty minutes away. Here’s the tip, it takes, on average, about two minutes to travel between stops, i.e. traveling from Dongdaemun to Seoul Station is five stops apart and takes nine minutes. Once you choose a stop, search the station name through whichever web-search engine you prefer (Google it). The web-search engine of your choosing ought to provide enough information about the one interesting thing to see or do in that particular neighborhood. Sometimes the thing will be a traditional-type palace or a traditional-type goods alley or a traditional-type foods market or a Buddhist temple or a contemporary department store or modern-day attraction or, you get it. If the main attraction near the subway station you chose on the map sounds good to you, then go there. If not, pick another station and repeat the process until something really hits ya between the balls with excitement, etc.

What the lifemate and I typically do is we search for whatever thing we’re looking for, a market or a restaurant or a movie theater, search the subway station associated with wherever whatever we’re looking for is located, and then, we search the surrounding area … all virtually, of course. Then, when a place sounds like it has at least two different things going for it, we also make note of all of the immediate subway stops. We usually go straight to our desired destination and scope out whatever it is that we’ve traveled all that way to see. Then, we walk to one of the surrounding stations. It’s a great way to get a glimpse into the actual lives of Koreans.

I would provide more information about the neighborhoods we like to hang out in, but then I risk running into more foreigners, and I’m not really interested in such social meetings. Also, we don’t really go to tourist hot spots ’cause, do I really need to explain myself? Plus, our “it” neighborhood is changing all the time because that’s how Seoul is –it’s changing all the time. Again, this is why this strategy works well for those of you who have or are planning on living here for more than a year. Seoul’s rate of business turnover is … fucking ridiculous. You cannot count on anything being there the next time you visit, and so, we’ve learned the hard way to just soak up each new neighborhood the first time we visit, and then we push it from our minds and never hope to return there for whatever specific thing we loved in the hood the first time we visited. Sure, we’ll repeatedly return to some areas of the city, but we know full well that whatever it is that we’re traveling there for will most likely no longer be available. Thus, the “Pick and Pop” (TM [… jk, who’d be so pretentious]) method through the subway map was born. Sure, these days we have to travel upwards of ninety minutes sometimes to get to a neighborhood we’ve never been to, but since we travel less frequently, generally speaking, it’s not such a burden. During everyday-type weekend outings, we stick to a neighborhood that requires only thirty to forty minutes of travel.

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Make of it what you will.

Now, how to stay cool during these searing hot months? Well, that’s the fun part. There’s nothing better than an ice-cold bevey to satisfy a sweaty profile. And there’s nothing better than a little booze to lubricate a day on the town. Therefore, there’s definitely nothing better than an icy-boozy bevey to keep you cool and emotionally lubricated. What do I mean by lubrication? Well, Seoul is a fucking crowded city, and yea, it’s fun and exciting at first, but then I found that it has become droll and daunting. There are thousands of people everywhere you go, all the time. If you think about a city the size of Seoul with a population of about 10,000,000, that means that there are more than 15,000 people on average packed within one square kilometer. It’s like I said, crowded. Yes, it can be extremely exciting, but if you’re like me, it becomes very draining. And so, I like to get a little (more than a little) tipsy while out on the town. It helps me care less about the pushing and shoving and rudeness and ajumma entitlement and the general sense of,

“Oh my ephing god, these handrails/bathrooms/chairs/benches/door handles must be so disgusting! Think about how many people use them every single minute of every single hour of every single day! And I’m like four stories underground right now in a small tube with thousands of people who listen to authority to such an extent that they will end up dying rather than simply getting off the train!”

I digress. Anyway … So yea, I use alcohol as a coping mechanism for all of my idiosyncratic phobias and general psychosis. Obviously, I’d prefer the all-natural, more-fun beez from our days of yore, but alas, such goodness, perhaps, works well as a carrot. Again, I digress.

And now, the 10 steps to staying hydrated and lubricated during the scorching Seoul summer! (These measurements are for two people hanging out together.) This process works best when undertaken the night before an outing:

  • Step 1: Buy one to three (depending on your desired level of inebriation) bottles of cheap (cheap cheap, you’ll see why below) white wine
  • Step 2: Buy one small bottle of a lemon-lime soda of your choosing
  • Step 3: (If you have an empty 2L bottle of water, skip to Step 4) Acquire or save an empty 2L bottle of water
  • Step 4: Fill 2L water bottle with white wine until it’s about 3/4 full (use your own discretion or fill two 2L bottles, whatever, it’s all up to you!), leave room for the lemon-lime soda and add half the bottle of lemon-lime soda, leave the bottle nearly full, leaving room for expansion
  • Step 5: Place the nearly full bottle of wine and soda mixture into the freezer the night before an outing.
  • Step 6: The next morning, the contents of the bottle ought to be frozen. Wine freezes quite well, but it remains slightly slushy, hence the lemon-lime soda. The soda helps it to freeze to a more solidified state. Remove the frozen bottle of wine from the freezer and wrap the thing up in a hand towel. Any sort of carrying device will work. Whatever suits you and your desires works best. The lifemate and I like to carry the thing around in a small panda-shaped backpack.
  • Step 7: Now, as you’re leaving to your desired destination for your outing, pick up some sort of cold (or hot if you desire, but that seems beside the point) bevey from your favorite (or cheapest) bevey-distribution shop, you know, something of the cup-and-lid-and-straw variety, and drink the bevey on the way to the subway station.
  • Step 8: Once inside the station, your purchased bevey ought to be finished, so now, this is the important part, KEEP THE BEVEY CUP! If the cup is a hot-bevey cup, then you might want to rinse the thing out at a subway station water fountain. Most stations have them. If you have a cold-bevey cup, then just swish the remains out with the last of the melting ice.
  • Step 9: Now comes the fun part! Fill your decoy cup with the frozen wine. Sometimes the wine will still be a bit too frozen, so at this time, you might want to just massage the bottle with your hands to warm it up while you ride the train to your destination. The point is to take it slow, so there’s no rush to get the juice into the decoy cup before arriving at your desired location, especially since the trains are air conditioned quite well. If it’s really hot out, the wine should be a nice slushy mixture by the time you get to wherever you’re going.
  • Step 10: Once at your destination for your day’s outing, you should be happily sipping a delicious wine slushy from your decoy cup. As the cup empties, simply fill it with the contents of the water bottle. Since the thing was frozen, it does a surprisingly good job of staying cold and refreshing throughout the entirety of the afternoon heat. Enjoy the day refreshed and tipsy! (See Exhibit A)
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Exhibit A

The crazy thing is that alcohol is readily available throughout the city, and old grannies and grandpees drink openly in public. The lifemate and I, however, still feel it’s a bit strange and would rather avoid the odd looks, especially since we already have to deal with so many odd looks given the fact that we’re a mixed-raced couple, and Koreans, in general, are surprisingly, quite racist. So, we like this strategy cause it looks like we’re just sipping some frozen concoction from whatever local bevey joint our cup’s label advertises. Also, we’ve tried stronger versions with hard liquor and the like, but vodka, etc., gets us a bit too drunk and being drunk makes me feel even hotter. The wine, I’ve found, takes the edge off without giving me the liquor sweats. Obviously, if you’re a hard drinker, you may want to swap out the wine for something stronger, but the point for us is not to be so drunk that we block out the city completely. The point is just to lubricate my senses so that I can enjoy it without all the … compulsive obsessions.

So, there you have it! My take on how to stay cool and chill while out in the blistering heat that is Seoul in summer. I hope you try it! If you do, let me know! If you have even better tips and tricks, definitely let me know! Lates.